Category Archives: Articles

Stories and musing about specific manga titles or manga in general.

No Such Thing as a Sure Thing

Tezuka World KickstarterIt seems like the impossible, but it happened. The Digital Manga Kickstarter campaign, Tezuka’s World Release failed to meet its goal of $380,000 in 30 days. It was an ambition project. The entire kickstarter consisted of 6 series’ totaling 31 volumes to be published all at once. But it was a little too ambitious. The $380,000 as the initial goal only covered 2 titles totaling 20 volumes. Two more titles totaling an additional 5 volumes would become available at $475,000 and the final two titles totaling the last 6 volumes would become available at $589,000. That’s a lot of money, over half a million dollars for fans to pony up for just six titles.

Controversy surrounded this project right from the start. The cost and the levels needed to pledge just to get print copies of books was the first and foremost concern of many supporters. At the beginning, backers had to pledge at the $750 level to get copies of the books. That’s a lot of money for 31 books. There was a lot of questions about the tiers, mostly filled with promotional items and why getting books, the reason most people were looking to support the project, were at such a high price. Alex Hoffman of Sequential State did a 3 part post analyzing the project and discussing the issues he saw with it.

Not everyone saw the project as a negative. The Tezuka in English tumblr posted a defense of the kickstarter, asking people to not look at the project as a way to preorder books, but as an investment in DMP and their vision. DMP president Hikaru Sasahara seemed to think the same as a message from him in video and text was posted to the kickstarter page as updates. In his message, he explained why the cost of the kickstarted needed to be so high and what were the company’s ultimate goals. His message still wasn’t enough for backers, and a FAQ page was posted to answer further questions.

Ultimately, all of these explanation weren’t enough. It really appeared that DMP was asking Tezuka fans to fund, not just the project, but the operating expenses of the company. This isn’t what Tezuka fans were used to being asked, or were expecting. Past kickstarters run by DMP were about getting a few books out and fans were happy to fund them. But what DMP tried to do with this project was an entirely different animal and the backers made it very clear that they weren’t interested. In the end, only 115 people backed the project which raised $26,971.00, or 7% of the first goal.

With the information that has come out of this project, I do wonder what DMP said to Tezuka Pro to get them to hand over the license of 500 volumes and what they expected. Was part of DMP’s pitch the numbers from their kickstarter, and other successfully funded Tezuka kickstarters? It does seem that Tezuka was the one creator that you could put up a kickstarter for and people would just throw money at it. But it’s now apparent that even die-hard fans have limits. In DMP’s follow-up answers, it was implied that kickstarter was integral to the success of the license. Possibly even in them getting it. DMP was vastly overestimating western fans means and desire for Tezuka titles if they were counting on them to fund the entire project.

The thing I found most troubling was the expectation that backers would pay for DMP’s operating expenses. They should have had that all planned out and funded before even taking on such a monumental project. Kickstarter has been and continues to be about funding a project. Backers fund projects. Investors fund companies. Maybe DMP should look into Patreon if it’s going to be that much of a hardship on them.

I do hope DMP does try another, more modest kickstarter. There are still plenty of Tezuka titles that western fans want and will fund. They just need to find that balance between what fans want and what they will pay for. As DMP found out the hard way, this wasn’t it. Osamu Tezuka may be the God of Manga, but even with a god, there’s no such thing as a sure thing.

Amazon and Hachette Bury Hatchet For Now

YenPress_logoIt’s been going on for a while now. Amazon, the mega online book seller, and Hachette, the fifth largest publisher in the US, and parent company of Yen Press, got into a bit of a disagreement last May. The publisher had been in talks to renew contracts the book seller. A sticking point was that Hachette wanted to set their own e-Book prices, while Amazon wanted that power. When an impasse had been reached, Amazon did the only thing a mega book seller with 60% of the online market could do; they crippled sales of Hachette books on their site.

Amazon stopped taking pre-orders, increased shipping times, dropped discounts for all Hachette titles. This included Yen Press. The batter became bitter as both sides pointed fingers at the other being the problem. Authors jumped in as well, feeling the pressure as sales of their books dropped. They didn’t pressure their publisher to back down though, they put the pressure on Amazon for being the bully in all this. They even formed a group, Authors United, to help in the fight. Amazon tried some tactics to turn the authors against their publisher, but it really didn’t work.

Finally, as of last Thursday, Amazon and Hachette came to terms and signed a new agreement. In it, Hachette gets to set their own e-Book prices, though they get an incentive from Amazon to set them lower, and pay Amazon less when they do. A lot of people see this as a win for Hachette, but I have my doubts. If Amazon hadn’t taken a loss the quarter before, and had to show better earning for the holiday season, would they really have given in? I find the timing highly suspicious, but am glad it is over just the same.

Yen Press is probably just as relieved, though, they didn’t just take Amazon’s strong arming sitting down. They did a lot of promotion with Barnes and Noble, offering sales through the retailer’s website, and reminding people Amazon wasn’t the only place to order books. I know I linked to the Barnes and Noble site when I needed a Yen Press purchase link during this. Fans can also breathe a sigh of relief for now. Yen Press titles have returned for purchase in time for the holidays and for the all important pre-orders. Kindle users will also be able to start downloading their favorites again.

AmazonBut can we really feel relieved? Amazon has shown its true nature. They don’t care who they hurt to get their way. Publishers, writers, and readers are all ripe to be thrown under the bus when Amazon goes scrambling for what it wants. Before they could position themselves as the “champion” of the consumer against the greedy publishers who want to keep e-Books from diminishing print sales, but their suit of armor is tarnished now. You can be sure they will do this again. Simon & Schuster just penned a similar with Amazon, no doubt not wanting to incur the retailer’s ire. If you’ve ever wondered where the saying “throwing one’s weight around” came from, here is a perfect case study. It’s also not too bad a case for the beginnings of a monopoly.

The big question we as readers and fans need to ask, are we willing to sacrifice price for availability? It seems that is just what Amazon is banking on us doing.

Viz Media at NYCC

West Coast publisher Viz Media was the only publisher from this coast to attend NYCC and hold a panel. While their panels this late in the year usually consist of reiterating want was licensed at the beginning, this year they had two new licenses to announce. Tokyo Ghoul will be a Viz Signature title and So Cute It Hurts will be a Shojo Beat title.

Tokyo Ghoul Tokyo Ghoul comes from Shueisha’s Weekly Young Jump magazine. There are currently 14 volumes out in Japan. The series follows Ken Kaneki, an ordinary college student. Tokyo is being haunted by “ghouls,” who devour humans and whose identities are shrouded in mystery, leaving people in the grip of panic. While at a coffee shop he likes to frequent, Kaneki meets Rize, an avid reader just like him. But his life is changed forever when he becomes the first half-human, half-ghoul hybrid. Straddling both worlds, he must survive Ghoul turf wars, learn about Ghoul society and master his new powers. Tokyo Ghoul recently had an anime that was streamed by Funimation, and has been on fans radars for a while. For me to enjoy a good action/horror title, it really has to be something really good. I just not sure Tokyo Ghoul will have the appeal I’m looking for. But there are plenty of fans out there it no doubt will. The first volume will be out in June of 2015.

So Cute It HurtsSo Cute It Hurts comes out of the gate not being something I’m too interested in. This title runs in Shogakukan’s ShoComi magazine and there are currently 8 volumes available in Japan. This series revolves around twins Mitsuru and Megumu Kobayashi. Megumu is good at history, Mitsuru not so much. In order to keep from loosing his weekends to extra history classes, Mitsuru convinces his sister to switch places with him, and help him pass his tests. What Megumu doesn’t know, is that Mitsuru has been going to a school for delinquents, and when confronted by a gang of bullies, she meets a mysterious boy with an eye patch. I really don’t care for gender swapping in titles, and this one doubles the whammy by it being twins doing the swap as well. This series will have to get a big wait and see from me. It might have potential. The first volume will be out in June of 2015.

Also discussed at their panel was the two initiatives started for Weekly Shonen Jump digital magazine. Jump Start and Jump Back. Cute names, huh? Jump Start is a way to bring over and preview new titles simultaneously with Japan. Several chapters of a new series will run as well as one-shots. Jump Back is a way to bring back older popular titles from their catalog. The first of these Jump Backs will be Death Note. Besides having cute names, I think these initiatives are great for readers of WSJ. They give new titles a wider reach, and could possibly lead to new licenses as well as introduce older titles to a new generation of fans who may have missed them the first time around.

Vertical At NYCC

At New York Comic Con which occurred recently, Vertical, Inc. announced some new licenses, as well as a new imprint. Continuing with the roots of the company they announced two light novels, based on the wildly popular Attack on Titan property; Attack on Titan Before the Fall: Kyklo Arc and Attack on Titan: Harsh Mistress of the City.

AoT Before the Fall LN 2Attack on Titan Before the Fall: Kyklo Arc makes up the last two light novels of the Before the Fall series. Vertical has already published the first novel, which follows talented smith Angel Aaltonen as he develops the maneuvering gear for the Survey Corps. The new license is for story that follows Kyklo, the “son of a Titan.” This second part takes place at around the same time as the first volume and follows Kyklo, a boy who was in the womb when his mother eaten by a Titan and survived, and became dubbed “Son of a Titan.” Kodansha Comics is releasing the manga based on the novel. Vertical will release the Kyklo Arc as one 2-in-1 omnibus. It will be available next summer. I’m currently reading the first volume and have liked it so far. Even with Kodansha releasing the manga, I may still read the light novels of Kyklo.

AOT Harsh MistressAttack on Titan: Harsh Mistress of the City takes place just after the beginning of the Attack on Titan manga. After Wall Maria was breached, Titans began streaming in, reaching even far off Quinta District. The story follows Mathias and his allies and Rita, a soldier in the brigade of occupying troops. Rita wants to protect the town which has fallen into chaos with the appearance of the Titans, but due to forceful tactics used by the brigade, the town becomes afraid. Mathias must use whatever he can to meet up with Rita, including the “helping hands” of a band of thieves. This single volume will be available in the Fall of next year. This time period in Attack on Titan has not been explored much, so it will be interesting to see what happened to some of the areas affected by the fall of Wall Maria.

Vertical Comics logoWhile not announced at NYCC, Publisher’s Weekly made the exclusive announcement during the con that Vertical was creating a new imprint for the company. Vertical Comics will be the place for all Vertical manga and anime-related titles. With this new imprint, Vertical will be expanding its manga offerings to 20 volumes this year, including 7 new properties. Eventually, the line will expand to 30-40 titles a year. Vertical decided to start this imprint to keep the manga separate from their core business of publishing Japanese prose novels. I think this is a great move by  Vertical, especially the expansion. They always pick up unusual and gripping titles that many other publishers won’t touch. While I’m not always comfortable reading some of their titles, I’ve never regretted reading one.

Chics Dig Yokai

Since it is now officially October, it’s time to start breaking out the spooktacular stories! I have long proclaimed by love of Yokai, so I couldn’t pass up this story about a poll asking Japanese women to vote for their favorite anime and manga yokai. There are a lot of familiar names on the list. All but one title were manga before becoming anime. What’s really cool about the list, is that of those manga titles, we have access to all but three!

HellTeacherNube_vol1_CoverJigoku Sensei Nube, which placed 4th in the poll, is a Shonen Jump title from the 1990s, the same era as Yu Yu Hakusho, Slam Dunk, and Ruroni Kenshin. Jigoku Sensi Nube follows elementary school teacher Meisuke Nueno, aka Nube, who not only teaches his students, he also is a skilled exorcist. He protects the town of Domori from supernatural threats with the help of a powerful demon sealed in his left hand, a technique he calls the Demon’s Hand. This horror comedy ran for 31 volumes and had an anime made of it. It’s returned to the limelight recently with a live action drama set to debut this month. I would live to read this title, but it has a lot of strikes against it. It’s pre-2000s and is over 10 volumes long. It does have one very big plus going for it. It was drawn by Takeshi Obata. His name could balance out against one of the strikes, and maybe going digital could balance the other? With Obata being Viz’s guest at NYCC this year, wouldn’t it be awesome if they announced this title too?

Yokai WatchYokai Watch, which placed 6th in the poll, is a title that been getting a lot of buzz in the anime community lately. Starting out as a video game, it has been heralded as the next Pokemon. It follows Keita Amano, a boy who discovers a capsule machine in the forest next to a sacred tree. When he opens on of the capsules, a yokai pops out. The yokai, Whisper, gives Keita a special watch that lets him see other yokai that are haunting people. He and his friendly yokai fight off the ill-intentioned yokai.There are currently two manga running for it, a shonen that runs in CoroCoro Comic and a shojo in Ciao, both from Shogakukan. The shojo follows the female protagonist from the game. The shonen series was nominated and won the 38th Kodansha Manga Award in the Best Children’s Category. It might seem strange that a children’s manga placed in a poll for Japanese women, but with lots of cute yokai, including a two-tailed cat yokai, how could it not be loved. What is also strange, is that this series hasn’t been brought over; not the manga, anime or video game. Well, maybe the manga, since it’s just started and won’t have a lot of volumes for a while since both magazines it runs in are monthly.

Hozuki no ReitsuHozuki no Reitetsu, which placed 10th,  is a Kodansha title and runs in Weekly Morning. It is a supernatural slice of life comedy about a demon ogre, Hozuki, who works with King Yama and other demons in the afterlife. He tries to manage and troubleshoot problems there with calm demeanor and super-sarcastic tongue while his free time is spent fawning over cute animals and raising “goldfish flowers.” The series is currently 15 volumes long and was nominated for the Manga Taisho in 2012 as well as the 38th Kodansha Manga Award in the Best General Manga category. It just received an anime adaptation in January which was streamed by Crunchyroll, and is still available to watch. This is a title I would love to see picked up anyone that can license from Kodansha. The series is too long for Vertical which is a shame, since it seems quirky enough to fit into their eclectic catalog, so maybe Kodansha Comics or Yen Press would be interested.

The rest of the list, available in English, broke down as follows:

1. GeGeGe no Kitaro
2. Yu Yu Hakusho
3. Inuyasha
5. Natsume’s Book of Friends
7. xxxHolic
9. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan

One thing I noticed about this list, is that. other than GeGeGe no Kitaro, all of the male protagonists are drawn for the female gaze. They are very appealing to women, some even crossing into bishonen territory. Yusuke, Inuyasha, Natsume, Watanuki, and Rikuo are all drawn to appeal to a female audience, and by the looks of this poll, succeeded.  There might even be some nostalgia at work, with the top four titles being at least 20 years old or more.

I would add Majin Tantei Neuro, or Neuro: Supernatural Detective. We’ve only gotten the anime in English so far. It passes the post-2000 test, but went 23 volumes. I was so hoping when Viz announced the anime for their site, they would accompany it with the manga.  It was not to be, so I can again only hope for a digital release from Viz. Being a Weekly Shonen Jump title, no one else will get the chance.

Banned Books Week: The Manga Edition

This week was Banned Books Week, a yearly reminder of the importance of protecting our right to read what we want. This year focused on comics, graphic novels and yes, manga. You might think with manga not being so well know it would fly under people’s radars, but as manga has grown in popularity over the last decade or so, it has come increasingly under fire. Some of the titles challenged are also among the most popular.

Dragon Ball 1 bigDragon Ball, the first series, wasn’t just challenged, it was straight out removed from Wicomico County Public School libraries in Maryland in October of 2009. Based on a complaint by the mother of a 9-year-old, the series was removed from elementary, middle-school and high school libraries for depicting “nudity, sexual contact between children, and sexual innuendo between adults and children.” If you just looked at some of the panels in Dragon Ball with no context, you might agree. But in context, most of the claims made against the series are for comedic purposes and are closer to what you would see on “America’s Funniest Videos” than you would the Playboy Channel.

Death Note 1In May of 2010, Death Note was challenged by the mother a student in a high school in Albuquerque, NM. She tried to get the series removed by saying “killing is just not something we should put out for our kids to read this way.” The city’s public schools committee met to discuss it, but rightfully denied the request. Death Note has it’s faults, but none of them warrant a ban. If anything, the moral questions it brings up are probably explored more deeply that anything kids will get at school or at home.

Color of EarthIn 2011 the manhwa, The Color of Earth, was not only challenged, it got the dubious honor of reaching #2 on the ALA’s Top Ten most challenged books for the year, the only manga/manhwa to make it to the list to date. The reasons for the challenges stated were: nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. The volume is the first of three about a young girl coming to age in mid-twentieth century Korea. Publisher First Second also included discussion questions for educations and book clubs to discuss the topics in the book. Yeah, it’s sooo bad for a book to have some sex education when so many kids don’t get it. And it’s veeerrry unsuitable for an age group that is starting to explore the same things as the protagonist in the book.

Vampire Knight 1And just this year, our newest addition to the manga challenge list is Vampire Knight. It was included with several other YA novels that featured vampires that was challenged by a Reverend in Cleveland TX. Reverend Phillip Missick of the King of the Saints Tabernacle Church has petitioned the Austin Memorial Library to remove the series’ for perpetuating the “theme of vampires in relationships with young teens,” as well as being demonic. Once again reason prevailed as the city council sided with the Library Director, Mary Merrell Cohn, who addressed the Reverend’s concerns in a 123 page rebuttal. I never cared for Vampire Knight, but I would never say one of its faults was that it was demonic.

Library Wars 1There is never a good reason to ban a book. If you don’t like something, then don’t read it, but you do not have the right to tell others what they can read, or by extension, think. Most of the challenges listed here are from people who don’t understand or even try to understand the media. They are from people who want to force their own beliefs on others and control what others can read under the pretense of “protecting the children.” If any of these people took a step back they would see that not only are their arguments ridiculous, but that their kids are a lot smarter than they think, and don’t need that kind of “protection.” What really needs protecting are books and our freedom of speech from these kinds of people. And if you think there isn’t any harm in letting one or two books get taken down, then just read Library Wars: Love and War, and see a worse case scenario if the censors ever did win.

Manga Dome Podcast on Hiatus

Manga Dome headerI know I did an episode already about how much it sucks for something you like to go on hiatus. I’m making a big assumption that people like my podcast, but this is something I need to do. It’s been starting to weigh on me for a while. Coming up with topics, doing the research, the recording and editing and video; I’ve been coming to dread it. It’s become more of a chore than something fun. I’ve been putting it off more and more each week, a sure sign that I’m not enjoying it anymore. Added to this is stress from RL, and doing the podcast just seemed to add to my frustration instead of taking away from it.

So, as of this weekend, I am putting the podcast on hiatus. If and when things settle down I may come back to it. One of the things I’ve come to realize is that I want to work more on my writing, and I’ve found that working on the podcast has been eating up those precious hours I have on the weekend. I will continue to write and review manga. I may even bring some of my podcast segments to written form and try to post more often. I’ll see how things work out.

In the meantime, thank you to all who have listened to my gravelly voice as I have ranted and reported about manga over the past year and a half. It can’t have been easy. I truly appreciate any and all who have listened and maybe found something I said interesting, or completely disagreed with everything I said. I hope that you will continue to follow my blogs and enjoy my silly ramblings.

Sparkler Monthly Year Two

sparklermag 01It was one year ago that I first spoke about Sparkler Magazine, mentioning it as one of the stories on my podcast. It was just one of the news stories, but I used the cover of the premiere issue as my featured image and got the attention of the editors, which got me a  review copy, and the issue an in-depth look on my next podcast.

I really enjoyed that first issue. Back then, the issue was broken down into 6 features; two manga, Dire Hearts and Off Beat, two prose novels Gauntlet and Tokyo Demons Book 2, an audio, Awake, and a subscriber only feature. Dire Hearts was very intriguing. Gauntlet was heart-pounding. Awake set up a great sci-fi thriller. I enjoyed the magazine and digital format so much that I dropped my subscription to Yen Plus, and picked up Sparkler, even though Sparkler cost more. But I was getting more of what I wanted and enjoyed with it.

sparklermag-aug2014Twelve months of updates later, a lot has changed. Dire Hearts sadly has to go on hiatus due to health issue for its creator Christy Lijewski. Off Beat, then Gauntlet and Tokyo Demons Book 2 ended. Plenty of new titles have taken their place. Dead Endings, Dusk in Kalevia and Skyglass joined as regular prose titles. We started to see short stories as well with The Maiden and the Fish in prose, and Dinner Ditz, Before You Go and Rings of Saturn in Comics. With the start of Year 2, new titles Windrose and Gatesmith have joined as well. The have forums on the site where readers could not only talk about their favorite series’, but subscribers had access to the editors who would answer questions about writing and drawing, and they would post articles to help creators improve in areas they saw as weak in the submissions they got. Because they openly accepted submissions. Certain months were dedicated to a different form, comics, prose, and audio.

SparklerSamplerIssue_coverThe key to this venture succeeding though, is dependent on its readers; getting subscribers. As the magazine moves into year 2, the editors have laid things out for us. They need 2,000 people subscribing at least $5 a month to keep the magazine going past this second year, so their running a membership drive. That’s really not a lot of money. What’s the comparison that always gets thrown out? The same as a cup of Starbucks coffee? It should be easy to skip on cup a month to give these women who are working to provide us with something few other publishers are; a magazine focused on the female gaze. They’ve done some great work so far, and really deserve the chance to keep doing more. Not so sure about that? There is a sampler issue available for download for free that features the first chapter of every series available so far.

And they are making it worth your subscribing while. They have dropped the full year price to $50 and thrown in a free eBook from their shop, and added a new tier, VIP that can download every chapter of every series anytime for a yearly price of $125. And like a kickstarter, for every subscriber goal met, new perks open up, such as raffles, dropping the paywall, adding more title slots and even a video game!

But even with all the perks, really, you should just subscribe for the content. It really is great and there is so much variety that just about anyone will find something they enjoy. And with support there can be even more.

Play with Mistress Fortune and Princess Sakura!

Shojo Beat, Viz Media’s romance and drama imprint has a fun surprise for fans of Arina Tanemura. They have available quick flash games based on the manga Mistress Fortune and The Legend of Princess Sakura.

Mistress Fortune GameThe Mistress Fortune game is a Whack-a-mole style game where you have to hit the EBE’s popping out of holes, but you don’t want to hit the bunnies! There is also a special attack when you fill up a status bar which can be used to hit all the EBEs on the screen. You get a rank at the end. I made Standard Angel on my first try.

Princess Sakura GameThe Princess Sakura game is a basic platformer. You control Princess Sakura with the left and right arrows, up to jump and space bar to strike the enemy monsters that inhabit the level. There is a spell, Thunder Strike that will freeze the monsters for a few minutes and a piece to pick up. I generally suck at platformers so after a few tries I could only get to level two. But it’s simple enough for any one to play and if you have more skill or patience, you can see how high the levels go.

I don’t know if these are temporary or if they’re going to be around for a while, so check them out while you can!



Viz Picks Up Moribito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit

MoribitoI very rarely talk about amine here, since this is a manga blog, but there are times when I’ll make exceptions. Just recently, the return of an anime I love has been announced. Viz Media has rescued Moribito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit. This 26 episode series first aired in 2007, and had a difficult time in licensing here. Geneon first licensed it, but then halted their US distribution, and the license went to Media Blasters. It showed on Cartoon Network during their late night Adult Swim block, but it took a while for a full run to show there. Now Viz Media is running it as part of their Neon Alley network.

Moribito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit is based on the first volume from a fantasy novel series published in Japan in 1996. It is about a woman named Balsa, who, after saving the second prince to the Emperor, Chagum, is charged by the Queen to protect him. Chagum carries the egg of the water god. The Emperor sees him possessed by a spirit, and other spirit chase him to eat the egg he carries. Balsa takes the assignment. With her mad spear-wielding skills, and help from friends in the mountains, she protects the young boy until the egg can come to fruition.

There is practically nothing bad you can say about this series. Balsa is awesome as a character and a bodyguard. She is still my favorite female antagonist of any anime ever. The animation is beautiful and the writing and score it top-notch. I loved this series so much, that I not only bought the series on DVD, something I save for only my most favorite shows, but I also bought the novel it was based on, of which Scholastic released the first and second novels.

Do yourself a favor and watch this show. It is one of the best shows to come out of the last decade, and still stands up with its well told story and fluid animation. Just the fight scenes with Balsa makes it worth it. Oh, and the opening theme, Shine, by L’Arc en Ciel is one of the best songs you’ll ever hear too.

Hey Viz, can we get the manga to this is the series if the anime does well? It’s only 3 volumes! Read the full PR below.


San Francisco, CA, January 8, 2014 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest distributor and licensor of anime and manga in North America, opens 2014 with the announcement of the mid-season Neon Alley debut of MORIBITO: GUARDIAN OF THE SPIRIT on Friday, January 17th at 10:30PM (PST). The 26-episode fantasy/action anime series is rated ‘TV-14’ and new installments will debut every Friday.

VIZ Media has also acquired the North American home video and web streaming rights for MORIBITO: GUARDIAN OF THE SPIRIT and plans to release the complete series on DVD and Blu-ray in 2014.

MORIBITO: GUARDIAN OF THE SPIRIT is based on a bestselling collection of Japanese fantasy novels by author Nahoko Uehashi. The anime series tells the story of Balsa, a nomadic warrior who has vowed to atone for eight deaths in her past by saving an equivalent number of lives. On her journey, she saves a fallen prince who carries the burden of a sacred spirit – one who has the power to save the world and bring new life to a broken empire.  But, she must first protect the Prince from those who would do him harm – including his own father, the Emperor, who has ordered his assassination!

Neon Alley is VIZ Media’s innovative 24-hour English-dubbed linear anime channel that is available for general web access as well as for the Xbox 360® and Xbox LIVE® and the PlayStation®3 (PS3™) gaming system and the PlayStation®Network. Fans can also take advantage of the platform’s Video-On Demand “Catch Up” option which offers the flexibility to watch shows such as MORIBITO anytime. The “Catch Up” option also allows viewers to search for specific content by individual series or by latest additions.

“MORIBITO: GUARDIAN OF THE SPIRIT is the latest addition to the Neon Alley anime roster and we are very excited to kick off 2014 with this critically acclaimed action packed adventure that was developed by the famed animation studio Production I.G.,” says Charlene Ingram, Senior Animation Marketing Manager. “Balsa and Prince Chagum embark on a dangerous quest to discover the Prince’s mysterious connection to a legendary water spirit with the power to destroy his kingdom, or save it. Tune in every week for new episodes and also look forward to the forthcoming release of the series on DVD and Blu-ray later this year!”

“Working with VIZ Media is truly a pleasure, and as the group continues to expand Neon Alley, we are pleased to look into our library and make more quality titles available,” comments Mr. Yuma Sakata, President and CEO, Dentsu Entertainment USA.

Neon Alley’s diverse programming schedule includes a mix of action, adventure, sci-fi, supernatural, fantasy, and horror anime, all uncut and dubbed into English and presented in HD (when available), for a low monthly subscription rate of only $6.99.

For more information on Neon Alley, please visit

For more information about other anime titles from VIZ Media, please visit:

For more information about Dentsu Entertainment, please visit

About Dentsu Entertainment USA, Inc.

Dentsu Entertainment USA, Inc. was formed in 2010 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Dentsu Inc. (Tokyo Stock Exchange, Code 4324).  Dentsu Inc. is the world’s largest advertising agency brand, and a leading producer of Japanese animation, with over 37,000 full-time employees and more than 700 subsidiaries and affiliates worldwide.  Dentsu Entertainment USA develops original animation programming and media content for domestic and international markets, and manages licensing programs for new and existing properties.  Current projects include Chub City®, featuring evolved vehicles and savvy young drivers, currently in development as an animated series; LBX™ (a.k.a. “The Little Battlers eXperience“), a highly successful animation, video game and toy franchise, based on miniature customizable robots;  Deltora Quest®, a 52-episode animated series airing globally, and based on the international top-selling fantasy-adventure book series of the same name; and Monsuno®, an innovative toy line and animated boys action adventure series currently airing on Nickelodeon, Nicktoons and free-to-air channels in more than 150 countries.  Dentsu Entertainment USA is headquartered in Santa Monica, CA.  For more information, please visit

About VIZ Media, LLC

Headquartered in San Francisco, California, VIZ Media distributes, markets and licenses the best anime and manga titles direct from Japan.  Owned by three of Japan’s largest manga and animation companies, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media has the most extensive library of anime and manga for English speaking audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa. With its popular digital manga anthology WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP and blockbuster properties like NARUTO, BLEACH and INUYASHA, VIZ Media offers cutting-edge action, romance and family friendly properties for anime, manga, science fiction and fantasy fans of all ages.  VIZ Media properties are available as graphic novels, DVDs, animated television series, feature films, downloadable and streaming video and a variety of consumer products.  Learn more about VIZ Media, anime and manga at

Second Chance Manga

Going digital can be a big decision, especially if you are like me, and still like to hold paper in your hands. But there are times when buying digital is an advantage, as is when a publisher, like Viz, has a big backlist of titles that are lengthy or difficult to find. One thing you can say about Viz, they have been working hard to make their backlist titles available again in digital. With Viz having their 20% off holiday sale, now is a good time to catch up on some older titles you may have missed out on.

Dragon Ball 1 bigViz really made a name for itself with Shonen Jump and bringing over many of the well-known and loved titles from that magazine. Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z is probably the most beloved series to come out of Weekly Shonen Jump. The first half is action and comedy, while the second half all action that set the standard for fighting shonen manga for years to come. It is 42 volumes, but if you haven’t checked it out yet, what are you waiting? Rurouni Kenshin was another series that helped establish shonen manga in the US. This title brought both men and women, with it’s heavy action, historical backdrop and hints of romance that is realized in the end. It is 28 volumes over 3 story arcs. Yu Yu Hakusho came on the heels of Rurouni Kenshin in the world of anime on Cartoon Network, and was one of the debut titles in the US Shonen Jump. It is a mix of supernatural and action, with a punk lead and an ensemble cast to please any taste. It’s shorter at only 19 volumes. Shaman King was another debut title in Shonen Jump, and is also a supernatural action series. It veers more into the ghost and spirits side of the supernatural, and has a health dose of comedy to balance the more serious action. It’s a healthy 32 volumes.

Hikaru no Go 1Hikaru no Go is a very different kind of shonen, as it’s battles take place on the Go board instead of an arena. It’s smart and intense writing matched with beautiful art keeps is a must for any gaming manga fan. It’s 23 volumes and worth every one. Black Cat is an action title that skirts the supernatural, but is more about being true to yourself and following the path you’ve made despite where others think you should go. It’s the shortest, at only 20 volumes. Almost all of these titles are complete at, except for Black Cat, and Yu Yu Hakusho which has been coming out for past several weeks and making the top 5 titles every week.

Basara 1Viz isn’t one to ignore the lovers or drama and romance. Over the years they have brought out a lot of shojo titles. Basara is a historical title that thrusts a young woman into the role of her brother to protect the oppressed while gaining allies against her enemies. A late 90s-early 2000s title, volumes for this series are hard to come by, and later volumes can go for big bucks on eBay or Amazon. This digital release puts the series back in a more reasonable price range. It is 27 volumes. Boys Over Flowers is another early shojo title. It is a poor girl against the elite boys story, though the girl is no shrinking violet and stands up to the boys. It been made into live dramas all around Asia and even has an adaptation coming out in America. It is a whopping 37 volumes. From Far Away is a big hit with librarians, who like to recommend it for tween girls looking for action and romance. It features a girl from modern-day being swept away into a fantasy world of adventure. She is rescued by a boy who holds a great evil that she can unleash, binding the pair together. It is only 14 volumes. Fushigi Yugi is the title that started the girls swept to a fantasy world plot and is often the one most other titles are compared to. A teenage girls is pulled through a book to a world where she is believed to a priestess to one of the four gods and must find her seven warriors to save the kingdom before she can go home. It is available in the VizBIG edition in digital, which was a high quality three-in-one release. It only 6 volumes, but are double the price.

Here is Greenwood 1Hana Kimi is a girl disguises as a boy to get close to the boy of her dreams at an all boys school, and has to keep her gender a secret. It’s got lots of humor using the gender-bending a lot, though is more a romance than comedy. It is 23 volumes. Here is Greenwood is another cross dressing all boys school story, but this time, it’s a boy cross dressing as a girl. The boy lead is trying to escape heartache at home, and is thrown into the craziness that is Greenwood dormitory. It is another early aughts series that can be difficult to find volumes of, though it ended after only 9. Please Save My Earth is a rare sci-fi/romance story. A group of teenagers start having the same, recurring dreams of being alien scientists observing the Earth. It deals with love and fate and is another title that is difficult to get volumes of. It is 21 volumes. Red River is a historical romance for the older teen to young adult. It features another modern girl drawn to past to fulfill a destiny, but this time, the past is ancient Mesopotamia, which is in conflict with Egypt. It’s romance is more mature and throws plenty of action. It’s 28 volumes.

There are so many more titles available at, but these are taste of older titles that you might not have heard or known about. Many of these are from the 90s and the art might seem a little dated, but the stories are strong, with some of them being the basis for whole new sub-genres. There’s a lot her to take in, so take your time in checking them out. They all feature first full chapters to give you an idea what the stories and art is like. The 20% off sale lasts until December 31, 2013, so don’t take too long. But definitely give some of these titles a try.


Why I Don’t Read BL – Manga Movable Feast

I’ve never understood the whole Boys Love phenomenon. I’m not a shipper, so I don’t see the appeal of putting two characters together, let allow two characters of the same-sex. But to be honest, I’ve never read any BL either. I’m not someone who goes out of their comfort zone easily, and I was going to skip this month’s Manga Movable Feast. But then I remembered I had one volume of BL I had received as a review copy back from when Aurora was still around. I had kept it to try, and then it got buried in a box of half read/half unread manga. So I pulled it and decided to read it.

Two of HeartsTwo of Hearts is by Kano Miyamoto. It is one volume long and comes from Aurora’s Deux imprint. It is about Haruya Ito, a writer for an arts magazine who writes articles month to month, but doesn’t seem to have any ambition beyond that. One day, he meets a troubled teenager, Maki Hidaka on the beach near his home. Maki has issues; he’s a germaphobe, OCD about washing his hands, hates to be touched and is malnourished as his mother is an alcoholic and doesn’t provide meals or enough money for Maki to get his own. Haruya becomes interested in Maki, both professionally and personally. He has become a sort of muse for Haruya and he starts working on a novel. His partner and editor, Yasigawa, doesn’t care for the attention Haruya gives Maki which leads to some melodrama, but it’s too late. Haruya has chosen Maki, which Yasigawa finally accepts. The story ends happily with Maki turning his life around, and Haruya being able to write again.

At its most basic level, this is the story of two lost and broken people finding and healing each other. The gender of the characters aren’t really important. It would work just as well with a man and woman, or two women, because the basic relationships are the same. I didn’t have a problem with the story. It’s actually a kind of story I enjoy. But I can’t say I enjoyed this one. The problem for me was the characters. I really couldn’t connect with any of them. It’s not that they were badly written. On the contrary, the characters were portrayed very realistically. However, they felt very dull to me. For me to really enjoy a story, I like to feel some kind of connection to at least one character, but I really felt nothing for any of them. They were exactly as they appeared on the page; flat characters that didn’t speak to me. If they looked more in the  story as they did on the cover, I might have liked it more.

Now, this could just be this individual story. Maybe this one wasn’t the one for me. Maybe it didn’t have the right hook. But I have to be honest, I just don’t get it. I don’t see what’s so great about putting two guys together in bed. The descriptions on some many of the BL books I see usually has one character dominating and forcing himself on the other. This kind of thing is usually decried when it’s a heterosexual couple. What makes it better when it’s a homosexual couple?

I can now truthfully say I’ve tried BL, but it just isn’t my bag. I’m going to stick to my shojo and josei manga for my relationship drama. The closest I think I will ever get to BL is shonen-ai, with stories like Godchild by Kaori Yuki, where the relationship is implied and can be read either as BL, or bromance by the reader. I’m happier that way.

If you want to take home this manga, leave a comment on the post and I will pick one at random to win it. MUST BE 18 OR OLDER.