Manga, music, movies and… more manga? Japan’s favorite entertainment in 2022

From video games to anime, there is an overwhelming variety of locally-produced entertainment to keep oneself amused in Japan. Thankfully, Rakuten makes things simple with its vast catalog of digital and physical media, covering every genre one could possibly desire.

To mark the end of the year, Rakuten Books, Rakuten Kobo, Rakuten TV and Rakuten Music pooled their expertise and sales data to reveal Japan’s favorite media of 2022.

Physical reigns supreme at Rakuten Books

Splatoon 3 for the Nintendo Switch was at the top of everybody's list this 2022.
Splatoon 3 for the Nintendo Switch was at the top of everybody’s list in 2022.

If the popularity of Rakuten Books is anything to go by, Japan still has plenty of physical media enthusiasts. From its vast catalog of CDs, DVDs, books and games, Rakuten Books tallied up sales numbers for the year until October to determine just what Japanese users were buying.

Winning this battle of the genres was a video game: Splatoon 3 for the Nintendo Switch. The game was so popular that a second version bundled with merchandise ranked once more at #8, with reports indicating that the game sold around eight times as many copies as its predecessor, Splatoon 2.

Much of the remaining list was driven by music lovers: Three CDs made it into the top 10, all from breakout boyband Snow Man. Their 2021 album “Snow Labo. S2” continued to sell well throughout 2022 to snatch the #10 spot, with new singles “Orange Kiss” and “Brother Beat” coming in at #5 and #7.

Coming in at #2 was the only DVD in the Rakuten Books’ top 10 — specifically the “Thank you 2021 Hello 2022” new year concert DVD from superstar talent agency Johnny & Associates. Featuring an impressive roster of J-pop heavyweights such as pop duo KinKi Kids, long-running idol group Hey! Say! JUMP and boyband of the hour Snow Man, it’s little wonder so many J-pop fans opted to immortalize the concert in their personal collections.

Manga mania at Rakuten Books and Rakuten Kobo

2022's most popular manga series for the second year running: Jujutsu Kaisen
2022’s most popular manga series for the second year running: “Jujutsu Kaisen”

The Rakuten Books list wasn’t entirely devoid of books; several popular manga volumes made the cut. Volumes 102 and 103 of the swashbuckling serial “ONE PIECE” came in at #3 and #4, with Volume 19 of fantasy manga “Jujutsu Kaisen” sneaking in at #9.

Manga had an even bigger presence on the franchise rankings of eBook service Rakuten Kobo, taking all 10 of the top spots.

“Jujutsu Kaisen” was revealed as 2022’s most popular manga series for the second year running, followed by hit historical fiction series “Kingdom,” “ONE PIECE,” time-traveling thriller “Tokyo Revengers” and action-comedy “Spy x Family” rounding out Rakuten Kobo’s top five.

“Kingdom,” “ONE PIECE,” “Spy x Family” and youth soccer saga “Aoashi” (ranked #6) all received new anime adaptations over the course of 2022, which undoubtedly boosted interest in their manga origins.

Listening on repeat: Japan’s favorite songs according to Rakuten Music

Jazz-rock ballad Mixed Nuts by Official HIGE DANdism.
Jazz-rock ballad “Mixed Nuts” by Official HIGE DANdism.

The manga mania even made its way into the streaming rankings of Rakuten Music. The streaming platform, which is popular among J-pop and J-rock lovers, revealed its most streamed song of the year was the jazz-rock ballad “Mixed Nuts” by Official HIGE DANdism — known by many as the opening theme of the aforementioned “Spy x Family” anime.

It wasn’t the only anime-associated song on the list: “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Entertainment District Arc” opener “Zankyo Sanka” by Aimer, “ONE PIECE FILM RED” theme song “New Genesis” by Ado, and “Jujutsu Kaisen 0” theme song “Ichizu” by King Gnu also featured high on Rakuten Music’s list.

The #2 spot was nabbed by “Suiheisen” from rock trio back number, and #4 by “Habit” from SEKAI NO OWARI — both songs found popularity online during the latter half of the year. Last year’s winning song “Yoru ni Kakeru” (Into the Night) by YOASOBI demonstrated lasting appeal, sneaking into the rankings once more at #10.

Historical Chinese drama "Word of Honor"
Historical Chinese drama “Word of Honor”

Bromance endures on Rakuten TV

If anything is clear from Rakuten TV Japan’s 2022 sales rankings, it’s that the world of “bromance dramas” is a very dynamic one. The top 10 shows from 2021 — which almost all fall under the sub-genre “Boys’ Love” (or BL) — were replaced by an entirely new roster of 10 different BLs.

Crowned in the top spot was the historical Chinese drama “Word of Honor,” followed by modern romance “Plus & Minus” out of Taiwan and Korean BL “To My Star2” at #3. 2022 also marked the first time a Japanese drama made the rankings, with salaryman BL “Old Fashion Cupcake” (yet another manga adaptation) snagging the #5 spot.

Beatles and Beasts: Rakuten Books’ biggest blockbusters

While no individual movie made this year’s rankings, Rakuten Books is also a popular destination for DVD hunters — particularly blockbuster films. Rakuten Books crunched the numbers to see just which movies shoppers sought out the most.

 Tom Cruise's Top Gun: Maverick
Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun: Maverick”

Highlights of the top 10 include recent Marvel hit “Spider-Man: No Way Home” at #2, with “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and the star-studded “Eternals” also ranking in.

Harry Potter fans also showed up in force, sending not just the recent “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” to the rankings, but also the Blu-ray box set of all eight “Harry Potter” movies. The DVD release of Peter Jackson’s miniseries “The Beatles: Get Back” also had Beatles fans flocking to Rakuten Books, as did 007 fans for Daniel Craig’s final outing in “No Time to Die.”

But topping Rakuten Books’ DVD list was perhaps the blockbuster of 2022 — none other than Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun: Maverick.” In fact, the film’s release even prompted a revival of the Blu-ray version of the 1986 original “Top Gun,” which came in at #4.

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