Square Enix Isn’t Just a Gaming Powerhouse – It’s a Manga Titan, Too

Square Enix is a household name for most of us -- in the gaming industry at least. The company is mostly known for its JRPGs, such as Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Kingdom Hearts, which are staples of many people's childhoods.

However, Square Enix isn't just a powerhouse for Japanese RPGs. The company also has a publishing branch for manga, light novels, and other forms of media under the name Gangan. Gangan is in charge of comic adaptions of Square Enix's beloved video games and has been around since 1991, but that's not all it does. Many of the titles it has published over the years are ones that you're probably familiar with -- like Fullmetal Alchemist, Black Butler, Soul Eater, and many, many more.

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Gangan Comics has different magazines catering to several genres. Monthly Shonen Gangan was one of its first publications, launched in 1991. This magazine is the one that serialized Soul Eater, A Certain Magical Index and Fullmetal Alchemist, as well as the print adaptions of Kingdom Hearts and Dragon Quest. It remains one of the publisher's biggest magazines, competing with big names like Weekly Shonen Jump, and usually contains manga with action, adventure, science fiction and fantasy themes to appeal to the shonen demographic.

Gangan Joker and Monthly GFantasy are other branches of Gangan Comics that also publish shonen manga monthly. Monthly GFantasy is the magazine responsible for Toilet-bound Hanako-kun, the popular supernatural series that aired earlier this year, as well as older favorites like Black Butler and Pandora Hearts. It has even made comics for older Fire Emblem games and The Legend of Zelda. Meanwhile, Gangan Joker has produced hits like Akame ga Kill and Kakegurui. Kakegurui has even reached celebrity status overseas. Megan Thee Stallion cosplayed as the main character, Yumeko Jabami, on Twitter recently.

Though Gangan tends to cater to the shonen demographic, it does have other magazines for older readers. Young Gangan started in 2004 and is catered towards the seinen demographic (young adult men). Some of its titles that you may be familiar with include Arakawa: Under the Bridge, Mononoke, Space Dandy and Working!!. Monthly Big Gangan is its other seinen imprint, which produces the likes of Goblin Slayer and Kusuriya no Hitorigoto.

As the technological shift has affected reading, Gangan has followed its print publications up with two online apps. Currently, neither publish in English, but with Shonen Jump's Manga Plus app offering English-language simulpublishing, there is hope Gangan could follow suit if manga in the western world continues to bloom. The Gangan Online app, operating since 2008, has published many popular comedy and slice-of-life titles, like Barakamon, Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular, and the Hori-san to Miyamura-kun Omake, which is getting an anime in January. Manga UP!, which started in 2018, is steadily following up with promising titles. Its series, Wandering Witch, has an anime adaptation that is currently airing as part of the Fall 2020 season, as does its other title, The Misfit of Demon King Academy, which aired this summer.

It may be surprising that Square Enix has a subsidiary for manga -- but many big companies have stakes in different industries you wouldn't expect them to. You may have stumbled upon Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts comic while trying to piece together its extensive lore, or bought an art book to admire Final Fantasy's concept art. Gangan is the company publishing these books and has quietly provided the source material for some of anime's biggest and most-loved hits of the past decade or so.

Sure, Gangan doesn't have Naruto, but it does have Fullmetal Alchemist and Soul Eater. And it continues to keep its hold on the industry with manga that often receive popular anime adaptations, like the aforementioned Toilet-bound Hanako-kun and Kakegurui, as well as more niche favorites like Mononoke and ACCA. With titles across many different genres, like comedy, slice-of-life and fantasy, Square Enix is a huge contender for the title of top manga powerhouse and continues to make waves in the industry.

Gangan Comics are localized by different publishers in the US, but you can check out Square Enix's range of manga in English here.

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