viz_media_logoA lot has been going on at Viz Media recently.  First, back in April, Viz started running Rumiko Takahashi’s new manga, Rin-Ne, concurrent with it’s Japanese release online for American fans to read.  A first for legal simultaneous manga releases.  Next, Viz quietly announced that they would be releasing up-to-date One Piece chapters in Shonen Jump.  Then they confirmed that they were discontinuing it’s manga magazine for girls, Shojo Beat.  This was a major disappointment to many people (myself included).  But, right on the heels of that, as if to try to make amends, Viz then announces the start of a new manga magazine.  Online.  Ikki is a Japanese manga magazine that specializes in seinen, or young men’s manga.

In conjunction with Viz’s Signature line, this new website will feature serializations of new manga, with the most popular getting published.  It is soft launching with the manga Children of the Sea,  a title already solicited in Previews, so it will be coming out.  Other titles, starting with  Bokurano and Ore wa mada Honki Dashitenai Dake (I’ll Give It My All…Tomorrow), will be published in book form based on popularity.

Finally, a manga company is embracing the new media!  Putting manga online should not be seen a threat to print sales.  There are actually two different audiences, and starting an online venture like this reaches out to both.  And, believe it or not, there are people (like me) who will buy the print books even after reading them online.  I’ve found several Tokyopop OEL titles that way, mostly because they are the only ones who would put anything online.  And, not so ironically, they are also the ones that have been touting online posting increases print sales, not decrease.

So, finally we’ve got somebody who is willing to take this change and is putting new licenses up and letting the audience decide which will succeed.  That’s the way it’s supposed to work, right?  Right now, with magazines being threatened to go the way of the newspaper/dodo, seeing a move like this does inspire some hope.  If Viz is willing to take a chance on such a small market, like manga for adult audiences, maybe us girls can get our Shojo Beat back in online form.  Just like seinen manga, shojo titles would do better with a promotional vehicle like Ikki.  I certainly wouldn’t have started reading half the shojo I do now without Shojo Beat.

Viz should be applauded for this first step and encouraged to take more.  Not just for bringing more manga online legally, but also for bringing more adult manga out.  And then we can hope, in the “monkey see, monkey do” model of business, maybe some other companies will get their feet wet too.

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5 Comments for this entry

  • John Jakala says:

    I agree, I’m really impressed with the online offerings Viz has done so far. I know some people don’t like the Flash interface, but I find it really elegant. Most importantly, the art and text is clear and legible no matter what size I’m viewing the manga at. I think it’s the best online viewer I’ve seen from any comic publisher.

  • It’s about time a company stopped whining about not making sales and actually did something about it. It’s a simple reality that the Internet has introduced a new paradigm in merchandising and marketing but far too many media companies are terrified of it and would rather point their fingers at boogiemen like “oooh… piracy”.

    It’s funny that every time someone actually gets off their backside and does what we’ve been suggesting for years… IT WORKS! It’s successful! It makes money!

    There are a lot of companies that I’m happy to see go out of business because they really do everything they could possibly do wrong, but VIZ is one to look up to and admire, at least they’re taking a chance and those chances are paying off more often than not. Too bad most other companies won’t learn from their example.

  • Brack says:

    It’s worth mentioning that this initiative geoblocks any web-user outside North America. And doesn’t even warrant those users with a message to that effect, instead the manga reader app. just appears broken to them.

    So as a British manga reader, I’d prefer other companies NOT follow Viz’s example, and instead actually embrace the worldwide nature of the web instead of having their efforts hamstrung by the internal bureaucracy of different divisions and sublicences.

  • They don’t have a choice, they legally do not have the right to distribute outside of the very narrow confines of their particular license. If you want someone to do it for the UK, you need to find a company willing to buy the license and set up the service in the UK.

  • Brack says:

    @Brian You mean someone like their own subsidiary Viz Europe? Seeing as they are essentially licensing from themselves, AND have a European subsidiary, it all smacks of a lack of joined up thinking on the part of Shogakukan.

    Which doesn’t surprise, just disappoints me.

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