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.
When ever there is a disaster, whether it’s an earthquake, tsunami, or both in the most recent case in Japan, calls immediately go up to donate to the Red Cross, or any of the dozens of other charity organizations set up to send relief to the people affected by the devastating event. But there is another group that is just as affected, if not more, that rarely gets any attention. Pets.
Recently Viz has announced a new round of releases. A lot of the titles in the announcement aren’t new. They are just release dates for titles previously announced, or running in Shonen Jump, such as Yu-Gi-Oh! 5DS, Psyren and Mameshiba. But there were some new titles announced too. One of them was Pokemon Black and White, which is based on the new Pokemon video game that was just released in the US. This really isn’t a big surprise. Viz has been releasing Pokemon in one form or another since the early 2000’s.
The news broke Tuesday that Tokyopop had gone through another round of layoffs, which this time included long-time editor Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, another editor Troy Lewter, and Line editor Asako Suzuki. The Manga tweet-verse was abuzz about the news mostly with sympathy for the folks laid off, and a lot of wonderment of what Tokyopop was thinking to let go of some great people. Most of the speculation for the lay-offs was that is was a desperate cost-cutting measure. With Borders going under, Tokyopop seems to be losing a big outlet, that also owes them money. But a lot of people
Over on her blog, The Manga Critic, Kate Dacey talks about how she’s moved away from reading longer manga titles, that now she has a “fear of committment” for titles more than 4-5 volumes long. Johanna Draper Carlson of Manga Worth Reading sympathizes with Kate and talks about some longer titles that she’s lost interest in as well. Reading these two posts made me think about how I look at the titles in my collection. I have several titles that go well beyond 10 volumes. In fact, I think I might have MORE titles that go over 10 than not. Is it because I’m really committed to these titles? Not so much.
I’m a collector. I love to collect things. Books, comics, toys, if I have an interest in it and it’s part of a series, I’m probably gonna get it. All of it if possible. And in a lot of ways, that how I’ve treated my manga. It’s become something I collect more than something I get to read. Just like the toys on the shelf and the comics in boxes, manga has become in many ways something with holes to fill in and a lined shelf of different colored spines to look at. I don’t even always read everything I collect. I have a run of The Wallflower from 1-15 and I haven’t read a volume of it yet. For a while, I was getting the volumes to keep my collection complete, and ready for the day I would start reading it. (That day still hasn’t come yet, but I sense it’s not too far away.)
I don’t shy away from long titles, and even though I don’t read everything I buy immediately, I can’t say I’ve lost interest in too many titles because of length. I suffer more from the same ADHD as Kate does. My problem is to not stop buying even when my attention has drifted to other titles. I know I’m just filling in holes when I buy or trade for manga. But you know what? I’m okay with it. It makes me happy to find a volume that fills a spot that’s been empty for long time. Sales and trading is a great way to feed this since they don’t happen often, and the discovery is more exciting than just going out and buying the missing volumes. I didn’t think I enjoyed the chase of collecting, as a discussion with my husband revealed is what he enjoyed about it. He’s a hunter. I seem to be more of a stalker. I’m happy to just watch and wait, and then strike when the time is right. I still get the thrill of collecting, I just spread it out.
Vertical is a publisher that never fails to surprise, or deliver. Whenever licensing time comes up, Marketing Director Ed Chavez would get on Twitter and ask for license requests. In variably, there would be several people who would pipe up with Princess Knight, Osamu Tezuka’s first shojo, and invaribly, Ed would shoot the request down. Now we know why. On Anime News Network’s AnnCast, Ed was a guest where he announced not one, but two licenses, one of which was the oft-requested Princess Knight. The other was Drops of God, a wine manga that has been getting some press in the media for the affect it can have on a wine’s price that is featured in the title. It was hinted at last April by the creators that the manga had been licensed in the US, but no publisher had stepped up. Now we know why.
I have to give Ed a lot of credit. He has quite the poker face/text. From his tweets in the last wrong, I got the distinct impression that Princess Knight was off the table as a request. He had said they were working on a Tezuka license, but with his catalog, that could mean just about anything! From the reaction to the news when it broke on twitter, I don’t think anyone suspected Vertical would get either of these titles! That is being a good marketing manager. Vertical really scored when they got Ed for that position.
I myself am looking forward to Princess Knight. I read the preview that was run in Shojo Beat for it’s 5(?) anniversary, and I really liked it. It definitely has a lot of merit beyond its historical significance. Drops of God….I’m not so sure about. I don’t drink wine. I have no interest in wine, so a manga devoted to going out and finding the 13 best wines doesn’t sound all that interesting. But, I’ve been wrong before. Most of the praise that it has gotten is for its detail about the wines, but according to one twitter-er, the title is written by the same time as writes Bloody Monday, another title that I’m really looking forward to, so this is a wait and see.
Back in 2009, I wrote a post expressing my desire to see the manga series Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro licensed after its end was announced in Japan, based on the anime series from 2007. It’s been a long 4 years, hoping and waiting for that announcement that said I would finally get to read the adventures of my favorite demon detective, and now I believe we are half way to that point. Viz Media has confirmed that the anime will begin streaming on the Vizanime.com website in February.
Why does this give me hope of a manga license? Look at the last time Viz started streaming an anime; Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan. They streamed nearly the whole series before they announced the license of the manga, officially. What did Viz say when asked about Neuro? It’s “not on the schedule through September”. That doesn’t mean it won’t be announced though. Con season is starting to gear up. I wouldn’t be surprised if Neuro isn’t one of the licenses announced at San Diego Comic Con, assuming a listing for it isn’t found for it before then. Anime licenses have been a good gauge of manga licenses for the last several years, especially with Yen Press. I sincerely hope it becomes the same gauge at Viz. I REALLY WANT this series!!!!
Once again, I dive into the list making with a “best of” list for 2010. All of the titles on this list are books I’ve read at least one volume of, and most started this year. The few exceptions should be obvious.
Continuing the tradition from last year, I’ve decided to put together a new gift guide for the manga reader(s) in your life. I changed up some of the types this year, and am featuring all new titles. Check out last year’s guide for some other types that might not be on this list or for more variety. And check out All About Manga for other lists part of the Great Manga Gift Guide for 2010.
Sometimes it feelings like time has just flown by, and sometimes it feels like I’ve been doing this forever, but today marks the 3rd anniversary for Manga Xanadu. Yeah, three years of reviews, ranting and maybe just a little real information imparted. I started this blog to share my love of manga and technology and point out the places where they can/should intersect, and it’s been a lot of fun. There have been some bunpy spots along the way, but I’m happy to say I’ve weathered them, blog and me intact.
As Manga Xanadu goes into its fourth year, I’ll be keeping to the routine I’ve been going with, as it’s comfortable and works well for me. I’ll try to keep the mix of reviews and articles up, as inspiration hits. I’ve also discontinued posting about other fandom on this blog. Manga Xanadu will remain for manga and e-reading technology only. I’ve created a new blog, Fangirl Xanadu, where I will occasionally post my thoughts and reviews of books, movies, TV and comics. It won’t be updated as regularly as here, as this is my main blog. But I wanted someplace to post my other fandom musing without alienating the readers here. It’s a work in progress, but does have thoughts on Doctor Who, movies, toy collecting, and general life in my corner of So Cal.
I hope you’ll stick with me as I move into this next year. I’m really gonna try and start writing shorter reviews and revive the Mini-Musings reviews I used to do. I have a large pile of to be reviewed, almost as big as my to be read pile, and I do want to move these faster. I may also revive Confessions of a Mangaholic as I work through the process of letting go of titles I probably won’t read again. As much as I would love to have a giant library of nothing but manga, that’s just not feasible. And as much as I talk about it, I really need to change the talk into action. What really makes me sad to think about, is that there are titles that I thought I would never want to let go of, but as I look at my severely dwindling shelf space, I realize how quickly they can be replaced by newer titles that excite me now. And how these newer titles will probably be replaced as well. What strategies do you use to reduce your manga collection? I don’t mean what to do with them, but how do you convince yourself to let them go? How to you tell yourself it’s okay to say goodbye to a series that had once brought you lots of joy? Or is it a problem for you? I’d really love to hear what you think.
It’s been a tough last few years for the manga industry. Companies have either stopped publishing manga or have disappeared altogether. For us fans, the thing we tend to lament most is the loss of titles, and the pleading to the remaining companies that they pick up them up so we can keep reading them. But there are other things lost when a company goes under, namely the people who worked there and put so much into their love and passion for manga. Most of the time, we don’t know who these people are, as they often go unnamed, just one of a number of people who have to find new employment now, in an industry that is shrinking. So, I think it’s worth pointing out when one of those people who reached out to the manga community then finds work again with a manga company.
I am of course speaking of Asako Suzuki, formerly of CMX Manga, and who has recently joined Tokyopop as a Manga Line Editor, according to ICv2. Essentially she will be handling the majority of Japanese licenses, including acquisitions. This really is fantastic news. Asako was very active on Twitter, engaging fans and finding out what they liked, and keep everyone up to date about releases and new titles. Tokyopop did good in snagging up Asako. At CMX, it was her choice of titles that turned me around about the imprint. Until then, CMX was a company I skipped over when looking at manga titles. But in its last few years, CMX came out with a lot of fun, quirky titles. They really appealed to me in ways many of the more popular, mainstream titles did not. And a lot of these titles were appropriate for tween/middle schoolers, which is a difficult age to find books for. I know from experience. It was nice to have a publisher that filled that gap with books that could appeal to them but to older audiences as well. I know Asako will do well at Tokyopop and will continue to find us good, fun books to read again.
ICv2 also spoke with Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, the Senior Editor at Tokyopop about rescuing some of the CMX licenses. She brought up the hit and miss record Tokyopop has had with license rescues and some of the issues associated with it, such as dealing with retailers and what to do about translations. While I can see these things being an issue with some of the incomplete, long running titles such as Swan and Eroica With Love, but CMX has a batch of licenses that had either just started coming out, or never got the chance. If Tokyopop wanted to look at rescues, this is the place to start. I’d love to see Tokyopop beef up its tween titles again, since so many of them went OOP when Kodansha took their licenses back. My Darling Mis Bancho and Stolen Hearts were fun and charming tween titles that only had 1-2 volumes released. I know this is my wishful thinking, but I’d love to see these continue.
Other titles that I think would fit in with Tokyopop’s catalog are 51 Ways to Save Her, Nadeshiko Club, and Nyankoi!. 51 Ways to Save Her has that disaster/post apocalyptic vibe that fits with some of their older titles. And it’s only 5 volumes complete, so it’s a small investment. Nadeshiko Club is a crafty title like VB Rose and is only 7 volumes. NyanKoi! is the title I think is most like Tokyopop’s catalog, being a harem title with cat gods,cat allergies and curses. It’s only 3 volumes so far and is ongoing, but would be a perfect fit.
While I would really love to see these titles rescued, I also can’t wait to see what Asako will be bringing us in the future. She has such a knack for picking the cute, quirky and fun titles, I know she’ll be finding some great hidden treasures. I might even start buying Tokyopop titles regularly again!
Viz has been hyping changes lately. Back in July, at SDCC, they promised big changes for Shonen Jump. Two weeks ago, they started hinting at “big changes” coming “soon”. Those “big changes” have finally been revealed. Shonen Jump will have some exclusive online manga that only subscribers can access, and they will be selling manga through an iPad app. Whoo. Big changes. Yeah….uh, no. There is nothing really big about these announcements, nor are they any real changes.