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Business trends

Boom to bust for Japan's manga madness?

Dropping circulation forces industry to rethink approach to win back fans

The main characters from "Dragon Zakura 2," left, and "Unofficial Tales Behind The Kindaichi Case Files: The Criminals' Files"   © Kodansha/Norifusa Mita; Seimaru Amagi, Yozaburo Kanari, Fumiya Sato, Shimpei Funatsu

TOKYO -- Japanese manga needs a new superhero. Battered by a shrinking population and changing consumer tastes, the once undisputed champion of the country's pop culture is on the ropes as readership plummets.

The days of big moneymakers like "Dragon Ball" and "Captain Tsubasa" are fading into the past. Now, after more than two decades of steady decline, editors and artists are casting about for ways to win back fans to what has arguably been Japan's most successful cultural export.

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