There’s been a lot of talk lately about the new paper Tokyopop is using for their manga. Most of it has been bad. I had a few recent printings of some of their manga and decided to check it out for myself. I pulled out Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo volume 4, NG Life volume 1 and Animal Academy volume 1. I then pulled out Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo volume 3, which was printed on the old paper for comparison. After getting sucked into both Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo volumes, I actually got down to the comparison.
The first thing I noticed about the new volumes is that they are very floppy. If you shake them, they easily flip back and forth. There is no stiffness to them like previous printings. The second thing is that the new volumes are much thinner. Though both are supposed to have the same number of pages, the new printings are noticeably shorter when compared to and older printing. Finally, the actual paper it’s printed on is thinner, and in general was whiter, though it did vary by volume.
John Jakala has a pretty detailed post at his blog, Sporadic Sequential, that includes shots of the size difference and issues he noted with the thinner paper allowing scenes from the opposite pages to bleed through.
Here’s what I got from my observations. The three books I looked at did have some bleed through. Mostly they were on pages with good sized empty areas, and the next page has dark black printing. In all the books I looked at though, it wasn’t that much of a distraction. And when I got into the story, it was barely noticeable. The paper is a lot more flimsy from previous volumes, but not enough to put off my reading experience. I did worry some about tearing the pages. It reminded me of the paper used in Shonen Jump/Shojo Beat, or a floppy comic book. It doesn’t bother me in those, but then I don’t expect as much from those as they don’t cost much.
And that’s the crutch of this. If Tokyopop did this to reduce costs, I’m fine with that. But that they did this AND raised the price of their manga, I’m not fine with it. A raise in price should mean either higher quality or at least a maintenance of the status quo. Tokyopop provided neither. They did the opposite.
CMX manga volumes are printed on paper very similar to these new Tokyopop printings. I always noticed that the CMX manga was floppier and thinner than the other publishers, but there is no problem of bleed through in those books. The paper seems to be inbetween the sturdy paper everyone else uses, and the new Tokyopop paper. But they have always been this way, and they haven’t raised their prices.
Will this make me drop Tokyopop manga? Not really. I already don’t buy a lot of their titles, but the ones I do get, I’m very loyal to. Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo, Chibi Vampire, Tactics, and Saiyuki are the extent of my TP catalog now. I’m still holding out for the final volumes of Dragon Voice and B’t X, but I don’t see a lot of hope for them ever coming out, if something like Tactics gets axed for low sales. Those were probably lower than that! But this change won’t get me buying new titles unless it’s a new Saiyuki or Matsuri Akino series.
In this economy everyone has to do what they can to stay afloat, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the customer, the very people you’re relying on to keep you afloat. Other publishers may be raising the prices on some of their manga, but none of them have lowered the quality of their paper as an excuse for keeping their product “affordable”. It looks more like “cheap”. I’ll take my cup of noodles cheap, but not my manga.