With Tokyopop’s closing, a lot of attention has been paid to the loss of the Japanese licenses. Of course, this is what most manga fans are concerned with. The loss of such an extensive line, for what will probably be forever really hurts. But Tokyopop had another line of books that were actually doing quite well, that as a parent, I am acutely aware of losing; the HarperCollins YA adaptations.
Manga has had a tough go of it lately. Publishers have been cutting back on titles and people, and now, we’ve seen the first casualty of 2011. Tokyopop, one of the three biggest publishers of manga in the US is closing down its publishing division. I’m not going to go into the details about why this may have happened. I’ve already given some of my thoughts in this post, and other people have dissected Tokyopop’s 14 year history already. No, I’m looking at the final message from Stu Levy, president of Tokyopop. After the announcement was made, he put up a message at Tokyopop.com, now long gone, but other people posted copies on their own sites. He talks about the history of Tokyopop and it’s accomplishments, and then gives himself a pat on the back with this:
Fourteen years later, I’m laying down my guns. Together, our community has fought the good fight, and, as a result, the Manga Revolution has been won –manga has become a ubiquitous part of global pop culture. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished – and the incredible group of passionate fans we’ve served along the way (my fellow revolutionaries!).
“Won” the revolution? Really? And how do you come to that conclusion? Tokyopop can definitely claim starting the “manga revolution”. Comics for girls were practically unheard of in the late 90s and early 2000s. Manga has been responsible for creating more readers of comics, some that even jump over to floppies. But Tokyopop isn’t responsible for that. They had some hits early on with Sailor Moon and Fruits Basket, but if anyone was responsible for bringing manga out of shadows and into light of mainstream, that has to go to Viz Media, and their mega hits with Dragonball, Rurouni Kenshin, Naruto and Bleach. It’s these titles that really sold and made the mainstream really take manga seriously, not Tokyopop’s catalog of mostly ‘B’ and ‘C’ list titles.
Survived the revolution, maybe I could see. But how is it a win when you start-up something only to drop it before it has a chance to go anywhere? Where would the US and Europe be right now if Patton had had the same follow-through as Stu did at Tokyopop? How is it a win when the company had to go into reorganization in 2008, putting several titles on “hiatus” and putting even more on a once-a-year release schedule? With all these lost battles, how can anyone claim to have “won?”
I really hate this excuse to get out of Doge. I’ve heard the same thing from old-time, former anime fans who want to give an excuse for no longer being interested in anime, and need to justify all the time they spent promoting anime through clubs. If Levy was so “proud” of what was done, why was he so anxious to pull the plug, especially when Tokyopop was starting to become relevent again? They had some good titles coming out that was making people (like me) take them serious again.
Please, Stu, just spare us the lip-service and tell us the truth. You weren’t getting the attention you wanted anymore as a publisher and wanted the spotlight again as a “director”, so you’ve left thousands of “fellow revolutionaries” out in the street and killed lots of titles that will probably never see the light of day. Good job Stu.
With Mother’s Day this Sunday, retailers are pushing tablets, and especially e-readers as gifts for dear old mom. There are ads for the Amazon Kindle, which can be found in Staples, Target and Best Buy, the Barnes and Noble Nook Color, which are at Barnes and Noble and Best Buy, as well as tablets from Apple, Dell, Motorola and Samsung. But you don’t see anything for the Sony e-Reader.
The Drive-Bys are a little late this week do to the blog moving to a new host, the Manga Movable Feast, and most importantly, I didn’t get my subscription again, and had to go out and buy it. This is the 4th time in the last 6 months that I haven’t gotten my subscription. I can’t blame SJ though. I know it’s my local post office and mail carrier that can’t seem to figure out the difference between the streets Alabama and Tennessee, which is where a lot of my mail ends up. Oh well, I’ve got my sub extended to August now. One thing I learned from having to buy this month’s issue it that Yu-Gi-Oh CCG cards are more popular than Naruto. Last issue I had to buy had all the Yu-Gi-Oh cards removed from the magazines at my local Barnes and Noble. This issue has the Naruto card intact.
SJ continues its celebration started last month by spotlighting the heroes from all the Shonen Jump manga that didn’t appear in the magazine. It’s quite a list with over 30 titles, both new and ongoing as well as complete. This month’s manga highlight is Blue Exorcist, and I’ll have more on that later. Also featured are the new 3-in-1 omnibuses that Viz is releases with Naruto, Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Kekkaishi, as well as a re-release of the One Piece 3-in-1s that cover the East Blue arc.
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s starts off the magazine with the arrival of a new duelist, Jack Atlus who is obviously not looking to make friends. Fresh off his duel with the Skeleton Knight, Yusei is taking Sect to the hospital when he is attacked by Atlus and forced into a duel. Atlus has all the making of a typical archrival. He’s gunning to be the “king” and is taking on all duel runners to prove how great he is. I do like Yusei still. He acts a lot like “Other Yugi” and even looks a little like him. His hair though, looks like he has dragon antlers, which just makes him all that more cooler. Yeah, I’m still liking this title.
Naruto continues the story of the day Naruto was born and the attack of Nine Tails against Konoha. We the man who calls him Uchiha Madara (I have my doubts about that) is the cause, and had his crazy plan to take over the world back then. Minato faces him, and breaks his control over Nine Tails. But, in order to save the village, both he and Kushina must sacrifice themselves and make baby Naruto the new Jinchuriki. With the end of the story, so ends Kushina’s chakra and she disappears. While we learn a little more about “Madara”, and how far back his plans started, it’s still just tidbits. Naruto himself takes the story of his birth pretty well, but I wonder if it’s just going to make him all that more determined to stop “Madara.”
Bleach finally ends the battle between Kenpachi and Nnoitora, where we get a few flashbacks of Nnoitora and Nelliel, and some insight into why Nnoitora did what he did. Not that I really cared. But he’s no longer a problem. With this battle over, Aizen makes his move, taking Orihime as further bait for Ichigo while he, Kaname, and Gin prepare to destroy Karakura Town, gloating first. But it seems the Soul Society might not be as unprepared as he believes. I really hope this ends the Hueco Mundo arc. It went on way too long, and had no point other than to have lots of fighting with zero plot movement. If that’s what Kubo was after, he should have just held a tournament like everyone else, and left us thinking the arc might go somewhere.
One Piece continues the story in the past with Luffy, Ace, and their friend Sabo. Background is given about the Kingdom of Goa and the set up of the capital city. Sabo’s past is revealed as well, as is his reason for waiting to become a pirate. A plot by the nobility of Goa though threatens their lives and lives of everyone in Trash Mountain. Luffy and Ace try to fight the pirate Bluejam who did the bidding of the nobility but gets betrayed by them. Dadan comes to their rescue, just as Dragon, who has returned to the land of his birth does some rescuing of his own. These chapters show just how oppressive society can be in the world of One Piece. Not just of the wealthy over the poor, but over each other as well. Freedom is just a wish for someone like Sabo who has to fight not just society, but his own family as well. I liked seeing Dragon as he was just starting out as a pirate. Goa is a great reason to start a revolution.
In Psyren Ageha and Hiryu finally meet Matsuri, Sakuranko’s psi teacher. She was once a Psyren Drifter, who survived game. She explains what she knows about the game, and confirms that it is happening in the future. There is a mystery about what happened to Japan, and where the Taboo came from. She also explains about the psi powers and starts Ageha and Hiryu on their training. Sakuranko takes over, where Hiryu catches on quickly, but of course it takes Ageha longer. We are also introduced to a new character, Oboro. He is a famous actor who has acquired a Psyren card, but hasn’t tried to use it…yet. I really liked all the background Matsuri gave about Psyren. I like that Nemesis Q just might not be a villain, but is actually trying to save the future. But I’m not taking anything on face value. Hopefully more info in the future will reveal more about his and his goals.
The preview this month is the new title Blue Exorcist. Viz did the thing that I really HATE them doing with their previews. They didn’t start with the first chapter. This preview starts with the second chapter with a note to go find the first volume to read the first one. Jerks. Anyway, the story picks up with Mephisto Pheles, the President of True Cross Academy taking Rin and Yukio with him back to the Academy. Yukio already goes there, and Rin will just be starting. Rin wants to become an exorcist to stop his real father, Satan, the god of demons. His first day in his first class comes with quite a shock when he learns who his instructor is. I’m on the fence about this series, especially started from the SECOND chapter. Sorry Viz, this isn’t the way to convince me to buy your first volume. I really don’t care for the way Yukio treats Rin at the end. It felt really wrong to me. I may, or may not, try to find out more.
There were 4 chapters online for Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, finishing up the fight with Gyuki as well as the second volume. Gyuki’s history is also revealed, explaining why he has such a problem with Nura becoming the Third. But, at least Nura finally commits himself to taking on the role. In the final chapter, Kana’s jealous really starts to grow as she spys on Nura and Yukio, thinking they might be dating, but she’s got bigger problems. A yokai seems to have targeted her… I’m glad Viz put Nura online, because I never would have made it past the first volume. The end of the second volume does give me hope for the series, and that it will move out of the internal squabbles about Rikuo taking over, and into more serious conflicts with more yokai. Cause really, I’m just into it for the yokai. And the Night version of Rikuo.
Alright, I’ll admit it. I’m hooked on Bakuman now. The four chapter preview of volume 4 really sold me on it. Moritaka and Akito try going solo after Akito couldn’t come up with a story by the deadline. Unknowingly, they start working on the same kind of story. Mr. Hattori realizes it, and tries to slow the boys down. But after a month, they start talking to each other and realize they are better as a team and decide to trick Mr. Hattori just as he tried to trick them, and come up with 10 storyboards for their detective manga. Mr. Hattori then challenges them to do a one shot for the next Gold Future, and at the same time, a final draft every two weeks to see if they can handle it and go to school. If they can, he will submit their story at the next serialization meeting. It’s hard to explain why I was so hooked in by these four chapters. I think I just find the whole process of making manga fascinating. Because these are the parts that really keep me reading. I don’t really care about Moritaka and Miho’s relationship. I like the insights into the decision-making at Shonen Jump. And the competition between would-be mangaka isn’t something that has to be made up. With these chapters, Bakuman jumps into my must read pile.
I’m not sure when next month’s post will go up. I’m not sure I’m even going to get my subscription issue! But I do wonder what is going on with next issue. Viz is calling it the June/July issue. Does that mean it’s going to be a bigger issue? Is the magazine going bi-monthly? Nothing has been said so far in press release or on the Shonen Jump website. Maybe it’s something they are trying to push through quietly?
Yen Press continues to add to the Japanese side of Yen Plus (finally!) with a new series, The Innocent. It’s an interesting collaboration of an American writer, Avi Avad (yes, THAT Avi Avad) with a Japanese writer and a Korean artist to create a unique story about love and vengeance. It has me intrigued to say the very least. Yen Press’ talent search round is over (and they emphasis talent search, not competition),but nothing was found to be showcased in the magazine. It was interesting to hear that they are not just taking their time to find good creators, but that they are also giving advice on where promising creators can improve and be ready for the next round. I wonder if Tokyopop had taken as much care, if OEL would have actually taken off.
Milkyway Hitchhiking – In this chapter, Milkyway is just an observer, as the story is about Baek-Ryun a gesaeng and Chung who is a shoemaker. They seem to be constantly fighting, this time it’s over Chung’s cat Miya (Milkyway). He accuses Baek-Ryun of taking her, which she denies, but did. Their bickering leads to a confrontation where they both end up in a lake, and though they don’t stop fighting, there is an implicit acknowledgement of feelings. It’s a cute story of budding romance, though what happened to the premise of the series, that Milkyway is a cat that grants wishes? Did that get worn out fast, or is this just a long break? Or are we to think that Milkyway grants wishes that are left unsaid?
Witch and Wizard – Celia, Whit’s friend, appears to Whit and Wisty, and tells how they can escape by going to the Shadowlands, though a brick wall that is guarded by several vicious dogs. The pair make it through, as well as one of the dogs, and gain a new friend. They are joined by Byron the ferret and introduced to Sasha who will take them to Freeland, one of the realms in the Underground not under the New Order, or,N.O.’s rule. But before they can get going they are surrounded by residents of the Shadowlands, the Lost Ones, who don’t seem to want them to leave. Now that the story is out of prison, and the angst of their torture is past, the story is starting to take a turn for the interesting. Hopefully when they reach Freedomland, we’ll get more information on the N.O. I’m not happy though that it’s Wisty’s girly scream that gets them into trouble at the end of the chapter. Realistic, maybe, but very cliche as well.
Aron’s Absurd Armarda – Aron’s feeling a little paranoid, and believes that the crew is out to kill him. It turns out he’s not too far off, as the new crewman, Mercedes, is actually an assassin, sent to kill Robin. But why Robin? I have an idea about that. There’s a short break while the crew celebrates the 100th strip (yes, it’s that kind of comic) And the ship’s cook gets some more abuse, not just from his shipmates from this his own body parts, when an attempt to appease his fellow shipmates goes awry. Aron’s is that great breath of fresh air that keeps you from taking anything too seriously, especially after the angst of the James Pattison titles.
Daniel X – Using a time machine (of sorts), Daniel is able to see what happened with No. 5 first appeared on Earth and how he got the townspeople to forget about everything alien after a scene has been ‘shot’. He takes Judy out on a date, which becomes a spying foray. He gets rid of the alien block for her, so she can truly understand what is going on. Though, I still don’t completely get what’s going on. What is No.5 up to? Is he filming a show, or is he planning an invasion? Or is it a little of both? It’s still hard to tell. There still aren’t enough clues to piece it together. Hopefully things will start to make more sense soon.
Jack Frost – As I predicted, there was a flashback with Avid, that showed how he became a vampire. Seems he and Sigfried were in competition for control of the South District. Guess who got betrayed. But it seems the Iyel that Avid met may not be the real one. With Avid gone now, Sigfried feels safe in declaring war on the Ethan and the East District. Hansen meanwhile has found No-Ah and Ethan. He tries to get No-Ah back, but Ethan’s control over her father’s soul keeps her from escaping. I’m not sure if this is an interesting turn of events or not. I suppose it all depends on what happens when Jack and Sigfried meet up with Ethan. I don’t think it’s going to go well for him, but then, that might not be such a bad thing.
The Innocent – The story starts with an angel being sent to find a man who has been executed for a crime he didn’t commit. Johnny, a detective before he died, has been chosen by the mysterious Committee to help out others in order to clear out his misdeeds so that he can get a chance at reincarnation. Angel, is there to show him how to use his powers and keep him in line, which isn’t going to be easy. He picks up quickly on his ability to use ash to affect the physical world, but is just as quickly swallowed by vengeance when one of the men who helped to frame him shows up while he is trying to help a woman. While playing by the rules isn’t his forte, he decides to go along with the Committee, just for another chance at the men who framed him. There isn’t anyone nice in this first chapter. The angel who is sent to help Johnny has nothing but contempt for humans, but has a job to do. Johnny himself is an anti-hero. He’s definitely no angel, but he really cared for his sister and will do anything to avenge her. And there are indications that he has a greater power than most spirits. Is that why he was chosen? Or has the committee bitten off more than they can chew with him? It will be interesting to find out.
Highschool of the Dead – This chapter introduces more survivors. School nurse Shizuka Marikawa and Saeko Busujima,the captain of the Kendo club (of course). They pick up a military otaku Houta Hirano and self-proclaimed smart girl Saya Takagi. Takashi and Rei get out of the astronomy club room and meet with the new characters, and make a break for the school van, intent on finding their families. A newscast has shown them that it’s not just their town, but the whole world that is dealing with the zombies. As they make a break, another group of students, led by Shidou follow. Rei warns not to help Shidou but they do anyway. He is obviously not a nice guy. The addition of this obviously power-hungry opportunist doesn’t fill me with hope. I really am not interested in reading “Lord of the Flies in Zombie Land”. I’m really hoping he doesn’t stick around long. Though, he’s obviously going to be thorn in everyone’s side if not now, then later.
K-On! – It’s the start of another school year, that has the girls now seniors. They have their class trip to Kyoto, which they proceed to spend at a music shop. They have to decide on their future plans after high school, which of course Yui and Ritsu can’t seem to come up with anything. And then Azu starts to get panicky about possibly being the only member of the Pop Music club next year. Yui’s past is revealed, and it shows she hasn’t changed much from elementary school, and Yui freaks out about leaving her guitar at school overnight. The best thing I can say about these chapters, is that at least they are different from the first two volumes.
Yotsuba&! – Yotsuba, Koiwai and Jumbo are headed to the electronics store to buy a camera. Fuuka decides to come along since her midterms are finished. Once they arrive, Yotsuba finds the cellphone displays, and her imagination takes off again. This single chapter doesn’t really go anywhere, and it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, if you care about what it is that Yotsuba is imagining.
The addition of The Innocent continues to add to the breakup of the moe block that dominated the Japanese side for so long, but it’s only a one volume story, so it’s only going to last for 6 months or so. K-On! is also coming close to its end. With the last volume scheduled to come out in December, you know it’s going to end the magazine well before that. We already know that Yen has another OEL planned with the adaptation of Soulless, but do they have anything more planned for the Japanese side? Or is it becoming the neglected side with no Japanese publishers willing to serialize online? Square Enix shouldn’t have a problem with it. It’s not like it’s putting content that isn’t already available in print in English and has been for months or even years.
Viz finally made their big announcement. The new digital platform that they are making their manga available on that will expand their audience is….iOS for iPhone and iPod/iPod Touch. This is a “new” platform….how? The iPad is nothing more than an overgrown iPod Touch. The first apps for the iPad were iPod apps with a new resolution (mostly). So for Viz, porting over their iPad manga just meant a change of resolution, and maybe some touch up here and there. But that doesn’t make it anything new or exciting. They are still courting the same audience. While this will give them a small boost as people with only iPhone/iPods will now have access to their manga (a large number being teens), it’s not really expanding it like an actual platform jump would.
In an interview with Publisher’s Weekly, Viz vice president Alvin Lu said the reason for going in this direction was:
It’s a natural extension obviously, being as that we’re on iOS with our iPad app. It broadens our reach with mobile devices significantly, also obviously. For the fans who graciously requested the app be made available on a more widespread device—this is a step or two in that direction.
It’s certainly not a step up. This more like a step to the side, something that Viz is very good at and has done before. I hope they don’t try and call this an “evolution”, because going from one device to another on what is essentially the same platform isn’t evolving. It’s treading water at best.
I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised. But when Viz spoke last month about going to a new platform I thought (and hoped) that would mean something non-i, non Apple. I should be used to the disappointment I am met with time and again. I had a much rant-ier post I was going to do, but I’ve toned it down a lot. I guess I just had my hopes up way too high. I’ll try to be more jaded with the next announcement.
Is putting out apps for the Android easy? Maybe not, but you know what? The things that aren’t so easy are usually the ones that end up really being worth it.
Yuta was a simple fisherman until a fellow fisherman brought some special meat to share. It was the flesh of a mermaid, said to grant eternal youth and longevity. But it can also be a deadly poison. For Yuta, it was the former. Hundreds of years later, Yuta searches for a mermaid that might be able to help him return to normal.
To new mother Sachiko Azuma, her baby boy is the light of her life. Accordingly, she names him Hikaru, Japanese for “to be bright.” Eager to raise her son, Sachiko gradually begins to notice that Hikaru seems a bit different from other children. He is reluctant to be held or hugged, and his growth and development appear slow. Sachiko’s suspicions are confirmed when it is suggested that Hikaru, at a year-and-a-half, may be deaf. A specialist, however, reaches a different diagnosis: autism.
With No-Ah’s childhood friend/tormentor added to the mix, all sorts of new adventures are brewing at the green-roofed house. Nanai the dog, Guru the cat, and Rang the mouse have cooked up even more fun this time around: visiting the library, searching for treasure–and tailing Rang on her first date?! But life isn’t always strawberries and cream — it’s all kinds of experiences that make happy times taste even sweeter.
New and more permenant characters open up the story opportunities as Aleriu becomes a regular, Rang gets a suitor in the form of a stray cat, and No-Ah takes on a renter, the just-as-poor girl Lili. Even with all the new friends, Nanai, Guru and Rang still find all kinds of fun and adventures to go on their own.
The days continue to roll by in these next, and last, two volumes of One Fine Day. Aleriu, who was introduced in the first volume, now lives with No-Ah and the animals. Aleriu has a knack for finding (or creating) trouble. A magician like No-Ah, he is better skilled and tends more toward the dark side. He like to place curses on people, which has become his livelihood, and has a dark shadow living in his room that is always laughing. While his pranks in the first volume were annoying, Aleriu is toned down, with more threatening looks and less actual follow through. Captain, the gray cat who takes a liking to Rang, is very soft-hearted for a street cat. He likes cute things, so of course he falls for Rang. This human form is a tall, rather bishonen man, making walking and holding Rang’s hand rather difficult.
The last new addition is Lili, who is introduced in volume 3. She seems to be as poor as No-Ah, though we never see if she has a job. She moves in to the green-roofed house since it’s the cheapest room she can find, despite discouragement from the real estate company. She takes the weirdness of No-Ah’s house and roommates fairly well, and even ends up not minding finding Aileru in her bed. I really didn’t see a point to adding her to the cast so late, unless the series ended sooner than expected. Lili only appears in three stories, and only does anything in two.
There are some very enjoyable stories in these two volumes. “Night with the Moon” has a fairy tale feel to it, where the animals try to help the moon and a star return to the sky. “Talking About You” is funny as the animals all complain about Aleriu. “Mabrit’s Treasure” and “Home Sweet Home” have an innocent magic to them, as the animals go on a treasure hunt set up by No-Ah and Aileru, and we finally hear from the house they have all been living in. The dancing furniture was fun and the what the house had to say was sweet. “Little Voyage” tells of Rang’s past and is a real bittersweet tale. “Summer Explorer” shows the animals exploring the woods near their home and getting into general trouble. “La Vie En Rose” is another magical tale of everyone working together to fix up a doll for a little girl. My favorites are “Mabrit’s Treasure”,”Summer Explorer” and “Home Sweet Home”. The ending of “Summer Explorer” was especially heart-warming.
Overall One Fine Day is an enjoyable series. There is nothing objectionable in it, and the simple, straightforward stories make it great material for younger readers. The art is cute, and the kids are especially so when they are in their animal forms. The stories are fun and light, and makes a good pick-me-up after a stressful day.
Now in France at one of Arun’s family’s homes, Kyousuke starts trying to control his new tuner abilities, but things don’t go so well. The group goes to find Tena’s teacher Kokyuu for help, but are attacked by Bell Lyre Ricercare, who turns out to Mezza’s sister as well as head of the 5th Ochestra and Tuner Intelligence. Escaping her traps, the group is then caught be Lord Chord who locks them up while the Tuner Headquarter’s plan is finally put into action. A revolution within the Tuner organization stops the plans, and the truth about Kyousuke’s past is finally revealed.
Viz Media has really embraced digital publishing in the last few months. Ever since they announced their iPad only app, they have been releasing new volumes practically every week. They now have over 100 volumes from their Shonen Jump, Shojo Beat and Shonen Jump Advanced lines available for download, mostly from older well-known titles such as Dragon Ball/Z, Naruto, One Piece, Bleach, Vampire Knight , Otomen, and Ouran High School Host Club. They have also started dabbling releasing digital content before or in the same month as print releases, with Bakuman and Blue Exorcist.
Yen Press is really taking advantage of having their magazine online. Back in January we got the debut of a new manhwa in color, Milkyway Hitchhiking, and now this month we get, not only a new Japanese title, but we get it in color! Highschool of the Dead is a zombie title that combines brain munching with fanservice, and it’s made to be put into color. Finally, a new title in the Japanese section that isn’t about little girls being cute! Is it a good addition to the magazine? You’ll have to read on to find out!