I already discussed these new licenses in my Anime Expo manga roundups. I’ll give the two new shojo manga, Behind the Scenes and Shuriken and Pleats a try. It would be nice to find a good Drama club manga. I could do without another Dragon Ball Z release just to add some color. I also really want to read School Judgement: Gakkyu Hotei. I really enjoyed the few chapters I read in Shonen Jump back in January, so I’m thrilled it’s coming out in print.
Anime Expo occurred over the Fourth of July weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and there were certainly a lot of fireworks as publisher exploded with new license announcements. Over the four-day holiday weekend, Viz, Vertical, Crunchyroll, Kodansha Comics and Yen Press all announced titles, some of which nearly had fans swooning from shock and excitement.
Yen Press started out the last day of the con with an overload of licenses and announcements. They just piled on the titles, some digital only, some digital going print, some light novels, and plenty of manga.
Starting with print, a title that had been previously announced as a digital only at Sakura Con has moved up to print before even coming out. Handa-kun is the prequel series to Barakamon, which as been doing really well in Japan, reportedly better than the main series. I really liked Barakamon. I binge-read the first four volumes, so this series has moved up from a wait and see to a want. It was also announced to be a simul-pub which Yen Press will begin in October with several other Square-Enix titles.
My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong As I Expected started as a light novel series. It follows antisocial high school student Hachiman Hikigaya who has a distorted view of life. He has no friends or girlfriend and has a very pessimistic view on his classmates and his future. In order to change his twisted outlook, he his forced by one of his teachers to join the volunteer service club, which also has Yukino Yukinoshita, the school’s prettiest girl as the sole member. There are 11 volumes of the light novel series and four of the manga series, both of which Yen Press has licensed and scheduled for release in 2016. Despite the long and awkwardly worded title, this series sounds interesting as it looks at the psychological motives behind teen interactions in high school.
Log Horizon: The West Wind Brigade is a side story to Log Horizon and follows Sojiro and the members of the West Wind Brigade. Yen Press already has the main manga and light novel series of the users of the online game Elder Tale being trapped in the game and having to fight to survive. There are 5 volumes so far, but no release date was announced. Fans of Log Horizon or this genre will enjoy the side story. I will pass.
These next two titles are no brainers. Sword Art Online: Phantom Bullet and Mother’s Rosario continue the 3rd and 4th story arcs of the light novel series Sword Art Online. Yen Press has already licensed and released several other manga adaptation and side stories, so these next to arcs should come as no surprise. Phantom Bullet is at one volume so far which will be released in September 2015 and Mother’s Rosario is at two with the first to be released in December 2015. I wasn’t impressed with SAO, so I don’t think these two titles will do anything to change that.
Demonizer Zilch is a supernatural series that follows Io Haruomi. He is haunted by his past where his sister and friend died and he was powerless to help them. Despite his guilt, he tries to live a normal life as an average high school student, until he meets a girl with glowing red eyes known as an Eda. She has escaped from the “Seven Great Gospel Organizations” and shows Io that he is an Eda too, throwing him into the midst of the battle between humans and the devil. There is only one volume so far, and Yen did not announce a release date. I’m getting a “meh” feeling from this one.
Taboo Tattoo is an action title about Justice Akazuka, aka Seigi, a young man who is good at martial arts. He rescues an old homeless man from some thugs and is given an object by him that imprints a tattoo on his palm. The tattoo imbues Seigi with supernatural powers such as warping space-time. He is then pursued by Ijii, a female American agent sent to retrieve the tattoos, which are actually secret weapons in an arms race. Seigi offers to help Ijii, and becomes entangled in a cross-nation conspiracy. This title sounds interesting, but has a lot of male-gaze potential as well. I hope the former will be greater than the latter. I’d give this one a read. I love conspiracy stories.
How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend is a manga adaptation of a light novel series that surprising Yen did not license as well. It is about otaku Tomoya Aki who meets a beautiful girl over summer vacation. He models her after the heroine for his own doujin game he is working on for Comiket with two of his fellow students helping with the art and writing. She turns out to be his classmate that no one seems to notice. There are five volumes so far. I’m not seeing the point of this series. Tomoya has no talent for writing or art, and yet he wants to create this game? Is he the coder then? This is too much of a head scratcher for me to get behind.
Along with My Youth Romantic Comedy, Yen Press licensed two more light novels. Another: Episode S is a spin-off of the horror novel Another, of which both the manga and novel was released by Yen. Episode S features the story of Mei and her cousin Fujioka Misaki before the start of the novel. It will be a hardcover like the first novel and will be bundled with manga Another 0, which is a prequel that tell the story of Kouichi’s mother’s time in Class 3. I loved Another and am totally looking forward to this, especially with the manga bundle. No release date was announced unfortunately.
The final OMG of the con was Yen Press’ license of Baccano!, a light novel series by Narita, the creator of Durarara!! The story takes place in America, 1930. Each story in the series involves unrelated plots that intersect, causing events to spiral further out of control. Rooted in a desire for immortality by some alchemists 300 years about, they have scattered around the world, and the incident on the soon-to-be-retired train Pussyfoot starts the chain reaction of atrocities. This series had an anime back in 2007 which propelled it to the top of many fan’s wish lists. The series is currently at 21 volume and is still ongoing. No release date was announced.
Yen Press then announced eight digital only titles. Aphorism is a school survival story where the students of Nara Shika High School must fight to survive everyday. There are currently 13 volumes. It’s first volume will be out in November. Pass. I am so done with all the high school survivor titles. Sekirei is a male-gaze battle series that follows Minato Sahashi, a total loser until he discovers he is an Ashikabi, one who can master the 108 human-like creatures, who all turn out to be girls. It is 18 volumes and will also be out in November. Another pass, not doing a title where the girls are constantly getting their clothes ripped off.
Saki is a game manga about Saki Miyanaga, a high school student who hates mahjong, but due to circumstances has learned to play a zero sum game. She gets dragged to her school’s mahjong club by an old friend. There are currently 14 volumes and the first volume will be out in November. I love gaming manga, and this is a series I’ve been interested in for a while. I will definitely be checking the first volume at least. Corpse Princess is about Makina Hoshimura an undead girl who must hunt down 108 corpses in order to go to heaven. It is complete at 23 volumes, and the first will be out in November. It’s about zombie killing, so I’ll give this a pass.
Crimson Prince is a romantic comedy about Kojiro Sakura, a demon prince who has come to Earth to start taking souls. Due to circumstances, he ends up meeting Hana Koumeda, starts living with her, and maybe having a change of heart. There are 16 volumes, but it has gone on hiatus indefinitely due to the artists’ health. The first volume is slated for November. This series looks sweet so I would give it a shot. I love detective stories, so Black Detective is another title that needs to go on my must have list. It is about naive Arata Toiro who is tricked into become the assistant to Yu Kuroba, aka The Black Detective, who likes to use his deductive powers to destroy his targets physically and mentally. There are six volumes so far, and the first volume will be available in December.
Aoharu x Machine Gun follows high school student Hotaru Tachibana, a girl disguised as a boy who gets drawn into the world of survival games by host Matsuoka and his childhood friend ero-manga artist Tohru Yukimura. There are seven volumes available, and the first will be released in December. Again, survival games, not interested. Renaissance Eve is a supernatural title about people who have strange blood that bestows special abilities. The story follows Chiaki Kaminaga who has blood type “C” for clairvoyance, and his friend Kaguya Daidoji who has blood type “D” for death. This is a short 4 volume series and the first volume will be out in December. This series looks interesting so it’s another I’d be willing to check out.
The final announcements from Yen Press was several titles would be starting simultaneous release with Japan starting in October. The titles include Black Butler, Today’s Kerberos, The Royal Tutor, and three new titles: Kake Gurui, a psychological drama that is currently at 3 volumes. My Monster Girl’s Too Cool for You is a comedy about a boy attending a human-yokai co-ed school who gets dumped by a Yuki Ono. There is only one volume out so far. Demon King Ena-sama Goes to Manga School is another comedy with two volumes out so far. I can’t find anything else about it.
None of these simultaneous releases really stand out which really makes me wonder why Yen Press is doing it, especially for the titles that are 2-3 volumes in and haven’t been released yet. And how are the releases going to work? I hope they aren’t going to continue their $2.99 a chapter like Secret was. It not worth it to buy chapters at $3 when the collected volume will be $10 in print or less in digital. But Yen Press has said so little about their digital initiative other than pile on the titles, it’s really hard to say where it will all go.
Anime Expo occurred over the Fourth of July weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and there were certainly a lot of fireworks as publisher exploded with new license announcements. Over the four-day holiday weekend, Vertical, Viz, Crunchyroll, Kodansha Comics and Yen Press all announced titles, some of which nearly had fans swooning from shock and excitement.
The first manga panel on Saturday was for Viz Media’ Shojo Beat. The imprint is celebrating its 10 year anniversary which included tea with mangaka Julietta Suzuki, the creator of Kamisama Kiss. They announced two licenses, sadly one of which was NOT Suzuki’s Karakuri Odette. It would make a great Viz Select title. Instead, Shuriken and Pleats by Matsuri Hino, the creator of Vampire Knight, was announced. It is about school girl Mikage, who has trained as a ninja to work in her family’s security company, which is a front for her clan’s ninja activities. She worked as bodyguard for an English businessman, who cared about her like a daughter. When he is killed, she learns he has bought her freedom from the clan, and follows his wish to go to school in Japan like a normal girl. The series started in September of 2014 in Hakusensha’s LaLa magazine, and will end in the September issue this year. The series will be two volumes, with the first coming out in Japan this month. Viz will release the first volume in Winter of 2016. I’ve been hit and miss with Hino titles, but for such a short series, I’d be willing to give the first volume a try.
The second license was also from a well-known mangaka to western readers. Behind the Scenes is by Bisco Hatori, the creator of Ouran High School Host Club and Millenium Snow. It is about Ranmaru, a super negative college student. He runs into a mysterious drama group on campus who end up turning his life into turmoil. There’s only one volume out so far. Viz will release their first volume in the spring of 2016. I’ve only read Millenium Snow by Hatori, and first two volumes were a lot stronger than the final two, so I’m not sure where to stand on this one. I guess I’ll just wait and see.
Kodansha was the second manga panel of the day, and announced three new titles. They also dropped the second bomb of the con by announcing that they would be releasing the Princess Jellyfish (Kuragehime). This title has been on people’s wish lists for several years now, especially after the anime was released. It is a josei series, and follows Tsukimi, a young woman who lives in a “fangirl-only” dorm. She has come to Tokyo to be an illustrator. She has loved jellyfish from a young age, and sees one in danger at a local pet store. A beautiful woman comes to its rescue, and they go back to the dorm, Amamizukan, together, where Tsukimi discovers the woman is really a man. Kodansha has licensed the first 12 volumes of this title, and will release them as 2-in-1 omnibuses starting in February 2016. Whether or not they pick up the remaining 3 volumes will depend on sales. At least they are being up front about it this time. I’ve heard this title bantered about, but never really looked into it since is seemed so unlikely to be licensed. But now that it has, it sounds really interesting. It’s one I’m definitely going to want to check out.
Real Account is another “virtual game becomes deadly in real life” series. This time, it’s a Twitter like game, where members of a social networking site known as Real Account find themselves inside a virtual world. The rules of the game are simple, if you die, all of your followers die too. If you lose all your followers, you die. There are currently 5 volumes, and Kodansha will release the first volume in March 2016. I am not a fan of these virtual reality becomes deadly titles, so it’s not one I’m looking forward to.
Kodansha’s third license fits with their male gaze titles. Magatsuki is about 15-year-old Yasuke Arahabaki. He wants to ask out his childhood friend and crush Akari Inamori. While rushing to do the chores at his family’s shrine, he accidentally breaks a mirror and is cursed by the goddess it releases, Seoritsuhime, a goddess of misfortune. Now, Yasuke must stay close to Seoritsuhime, or he will die, and the only way to life the curse is to help her achieve happiness, even though she is constantly surrounded by bad luck. The first volume will be published in February of 2016, but if you want to check it out first, Crunchyroll is simu-pubbing the series. I’m gonna pass on it though. It doesn’t sound like it would pass my standards on rom-coms.
Two other tidbits announced at the panel; Noragami will begin publishing monthly starting in October 2015 to catch it up with the Japanese releases, due to “excellent sales.” See? Buying pays off! Fairy Tail will also start to see omnibus editions. The first was announced for September and will collect he first 5 volumes. Build up those hand muscles now. That is going to be a killer book to try to hold.
Crunchyroll Manga had the final panel of the con, and added 5 new titles to their streaming service, one of which will sound familiar. Princess Jellyfish will be streamed starting July 15 with the first 4 volumes. If you can’t wait for Kodansha’s print volumes, then check out the digital, and then go buy the print ones. Also out July 15 is Sweetness and Lightening. It’s another “single dad must cope with raising a child alone” title. This time it’s math teacher Kouhei Inuzuka who has lost his wife and must raise his daughter Tsumugi by himself. He’s not a very good cook, but with the help of one his students, Kotori Iida, cooking becomes a new homemade adventure. There are currently 4 volumes available. It looks like something foodies will enjoy.
Already available is Takahashi-san is Listening. This gag-manga is about high school student idol Ena Takahashi. She has a hobby she can’t tell anyone about; she likes to listen in on the ridiculous conversations of class representative Nara-kun and plain-boy Mikage-kun. She wants to retort, but if anyone found out about it, everyone’s trust in her would be destroyed! There are currently five volumes available. This title sounds like shades of My Neighbor Seki, so it might actually be fun, depending on what the conversations she eavesdrops on are about. I think it would be fun to try out at least.
Crunchyroll’s description of Scum’s Wish doesn’t do the series justice. The description and cover makes the series sound like something dark and dirty. It’s about a couple, Hanabi and Mugi, who seem perfect for each other but have a secret they are hiding from the rest of the world. They are both in love with other people. They are drawn together by loneliness and a need to share their hopelessness. Crunchyroll only used the first sentence to describe the series, it the remaining two that make this manga appealing. It’s currently at 5 volumes, and sounds like something I like to read. Get it together Crunchyroll! Series descriptions should attract readers, not repel them!
Morose Mononokean is a title that is definitely up my alley. It follows the a mononokean, the owner of a small tea room that helps to guide yokai that wander into this world, to go to the next. We meet him through Ashiya, a boy who missed the first 5 days of school after a yokai attached itself to him, and he has to go see the Mononokean to ask for help. There are currently 4 volumes. I love yokai, and will always be interested in checking out a new series about them. This title also has the plus of having bishonen as the leads. It’s definitely one I want to check out.
I was hoping to only do two post about the manga licenses at Anime Expo, but after seeing how much Yen Press announced, I’m gonna need a third post just for them to cover it all! And I haven’t forgotten Tokyopop’s announced return. That is another thing that needs its own post. With them reportedly having a panel at SDCC as well, I am very interested to hear if they have anything new to add.
Anime Expo occurred over the Fourth of July weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and there were certainly a lot of fireworks as publisher exploded with new license announcements. Over the four-day holiday weekend, Viz, Vertical, Crunchyroll, Kodansha Comics and Yen Press all announced titles, so of which nearly had fans swooning from shock and excitement.
Vertical Comics got their announcements out early, with their panel on Thursday. They first added to their comedy line with a title that has been showing up in their surveys; Nichijou. US fans are familiar with the title through Crunchyroll streaming the anime, and Jmanga having published the first four volumes. It follows a group of female students living what should be a normal high school life, except for all the talking cats, robots, and deer wrestling going on. Vertical did good with their pick of My Neighbor Seki, so I’m gonna trust them with this one too. Actually, they had me at talking cats. It is currently 9 volumes. The first will be out in Spring 2016.
Their second manga license was Fuku Fuku: Kitten Tales by Kanata Konami, the creator of Chi’s Sweet Home. This title is a spin-off from an earlier series, Fuku Fuku Nya~n, a story about the everyday life of a domestic cat and owned by an old lady who runs a local provision shop. Kitten Tales is also about the everyday life of an old lady, but this time it’s with a new kitten. This is so a must have! Just getting more cat manga is great, but getting more Konami cat manga is a boon! Maybe if Kitten Tales does well we can get Nya~n too! The first of the two currently available volumes of this series will be in the spring of 2016 as well.
In the prose department, Vertical picked up another Attack on Titan novel. Lost Girls is another spin-off and is composed of three short stories. They center around Mikasa and Annie, the two butt-kicking girls from the first half of the manga. “Lost in the Cruel World,” “Wall Sina, Goodbye,” and “Lost Girls will make up the 220-page volume and will be out in the Summer of 2016. I’m not too crazy about Annie, but I would totally be up for some stories about Mikasa. I’m glad Vertical is keeping with the Attack on Titan novels. They’ve worked out well filling in story and time wise while waiting for new volumes of the main story.
Viz Media had their first panel on Thursday, for their non-imprint titles, and gave fans their first OMG moment, when they announced they had picked up the novel series Legend of Galactic Heroes for their Haikasoru line. Please notice that is novel and not light novel. Legend of Galactic Heroes is a title a lot of old school fans will be familiar with, it had a 110-episode OVA series that began in the late 80s. It is an epic story of political intrigue and war as the story follows the conflict between the Galactic Empire and the Free Planet Alliance. It is space opera at its finest as it focuses on the personal stories of Admiral Reinhard von Lohengramm and the Alliance’s Yang Wen-Li. Now, the source material for the series, something at most fans thought was a long shot at best, has been licensed. The series is 10 volumes long as well as 4 volumes of side stories. They were written by Yoshiki Tanaka, who also penned the novel for Heroic Legend of Arslan, which is basis for the manga and anime out now. The first volume will be out in the spring of 2016, and remainder of the series will depend on the success of the first three volumes, so be sure to pre-order if this sounds like your kind of thing.
On Friday, Viz had their Shonen Jump panel that didn’t have anything really new to announce. The closest they came was to announce that the Naruto manga spin-off, Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring that has been running in Shonen Jump would be collected and released as a print volume. It ran for a total of 10 chapters, the final of which came out in the issue that was released on Monday. The story takes place several years after the end of Naruto, and follows the new generation of ninja, including Naruto’s son Baruto, and Sakura and Sasuke’s daughter Sarada. I liked Naruto enough that I would check this volume out despite not knowing how the series ended. It will be released in the winter of 2016. If you can’t wait that long, check the Shonen Jump back issues, or watch for a possible early digital release.
That’s it for the first two days. Things are starting off slow, with Vertical having the most titles announced so far, but fans got two good OMG moments with LoGH and Nichijou. I’m still thrilled for more cat manga. There can never be too much cat manga. But Saturday is the big day. It the day when all the biggest announcements are made, and Yen Press, Kodansha and Crunchyroll do not disappoint. I will get to those, as well as Shojo Beat tomorrow.
Persona is a video game franchise that has built quite a following here in the west. It has also received quite a few manga adaptations, most notably for Persona 3 and Persona 4. Kodansha recently licensed the manga adaptation of the 3DS game adaptations Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth P3/4 which crosses over the two incarnations. But there are also adaptations of the original games. This is what Udon Entertainment announced picking up.
Persona 4 follows a group of high school students in the rural town of Inaba who start out forming a group to investigate a series of grisly murders. As they work to uncover the truth and stop any more murders from happening, they discover they might be connected to an urban legend of about a paranormal television phenomenon called the “Midnight Channel.” Their simple investigation turns dangerous, as they go on an action-packed journey of self discovery that crosses two worlds, and dark truths will shake our heroes to the very core, while helping them discover an inner strength they never had.
My daughter was really into Persona for a while, and told me most of the video game’s plot. If the manga is a faithful adaptation, then the series will be filled with plenty of suspense, horror, comedy and drama. I’m really curious to check this out, after hearing so much about it. I’ll never play the game, so this is the next best thing.
There are currently 10 volumes of Persona 4 out in Japan. Udon Entertainment will begin their releases in September, and the series will come out bimonthly. Maybe if this series does well, we will see the manga adaptation of Persona 3, done by the same artist, Shuji Sogabe, which was teased as ending with volume 9 back in March.
Didn’t I just write about this last week? Oh, wait, that was for Anime Expo! SDCC usually doesn’t come this early, and it leaves fans and companies with barely any down time before they’re packing up for the next show. At least it’s only a 2 hour drive between LA and San Diego. With SDCC being the bigger of the two cons, Viz has more activities planned for SDCC, with more giveaways at their booth, more panels and some con exclusives that SDCC is becoming just as known for. Badger a friend who’s going to get you some.
When Viz Media announced the license of the new Ultraman manga, it was a big deal by itself. But this new announcement that they are bringing the creators of the manga to SDCC just levels the awesome up a notch. The new series, which will be available for purchase early at the con along with a collectible Ultraman figure, will have its own panel, and there will be plenty of opportunities to have that early release manga signed with several autograph sessions. It’s too late to try to get into SDCC now, but if you know someone going to the con, badger them incessantly to attend these events for you, and live vicariously through them!
Back in 2013, Drawn and Quarterly introduced Western readers to Kitaro, a yokai boy who grew up in a grave yard and is the last of the Ghost Clan. Kitaro is the creation of Shigeru Mizuki, the mangaka who is credited with the yokai boom that started back in the 1960s. The 400+ volume was a collection of some of Kitaro’s best stories and was named as one of YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens in 2014.
Drawn Quarterly has now announced that they will be releasing 7 more volumes of Kitaro, and packaging them in more “kid-friendly” size and price. Kitaro follows the adventures of an inhuman boy who straddles the line between the world of the living and the supernatural. He helps both humans and yokai, who are troubled by either other humans and yokai. The first volume announced is “The Birth of Kitaro”, and features stories about Kitaro’s origins, introduces popular recurring character Neko Musume, a girl who turns into a cat when she is hungry or angry, as well as drawing heavily on Japanese folklore. Kitaro will have to take on legendary yokai like Nopperabo and Makura Gaeshi, as well as recurring villain Gyuki.
The first volume will be out in March 2016, with successive new volumes coming out in the spring and fall through 2018. The other six titles have been announced as:
- Kitaro Meets Nurarihyon
- The Great Tanuki War
- Kitaro’s Strange Adventures
- Kitaro the Vampire Slayer
- Kitaro’s Yokai Battles
- Trial of Kitaro
Each volume will be about 150 pages and will retain for $12.95. It appears each volume will be a collection, collecting similar stories to create a theme. The stories will all be translated by Zack Davisson, who also translated the first volume, and who is a big avocate for Kitaro and Shigeru Mizuki. Critics have wondered why Drawn and Quarterly would release more Kitaro after the first volume didn’t sell as well, but the first volume was designed for older fans and collectors that can afford a higher price point for a thicker volume. By making the books smaller and at a lower price point, it can attract younger fans who have been discovering yokai their other manga like Nura Rise of the Yokai Clan and Black Bird, and may be looking for similar titles. And you know it’s not just teens that will be picking up these books. Older fans have been clamoring for more Kitaro, and finally their wish has been granted.
It’s the 4th of July next week, so that means just one thing; it’s time for Anime Expo! I’ve never been to Anime Expo, with my diverse interests and limitation of one convention a year being taken up by Wondercon, but it seems I’ll have plenty of time to plan to possibly attend since it’s been announced AX will be staying in LA for the next 5 years. Viz Media likes to come down for the con, and they’ve got plenty of things planned, including pre-street manga, exclusive Yu-Gi-Oh cards, raffle for Shojo Beat’s 10th Anniversary, panel and autograph session with mangaka Julietta Suzuki and a day just for Sailor Moon! Start making your plans now if you intend on attending.
Despite my growing finickiness with shonen titles, this one sounds like it might be fun. I naturally gravitate toward supernatural titles, and with both action and romantic elements, it sounds like it might not be too bad. I do enjoy titles where the couples are competitive, so I hope these two get strung along for a while, but please don’t let it turn into a harem like Nisekoi.
I’ve made no bones about my support for Sparkler Monthly, the online monthly female-gaze magazine that started two years ago. I loved the idea of getting books, comics and audio dramas that were marketed directly for me, and I’ve been a subscriber since the 4th issue. Sparkler Monthly is a subscriber supported magazine, and for Year Two, they did a subscription drive to try to up membership to increase material in the magazine as well as advances to the creators. The drive is currently at 231 members, having made it past the first two tiers. But for the magazine to really be self-sustaining, a minimum of 1000 subscribers were needed for Year Three to go forward. While the move to 231 was quite an improvement, it wasn’t really enough. But instead of throwing in the towel or downsizing, the resourceful women at Chromatic Press, the publisher of Sparkler Monthly, have put together a Kickstarter campaign to help fund Year Three.
Over 40 days, Chromatic Press is looking to raise $15,000 to put out 12 issues of the magazine as well as new surprises in bonus content, as well as experimenting with different formats and distribution. There are plenty of reward tiers, most of them relating to the magazine. Basically, a pledge to the Kickstarter is like paying a subscription, but with a few more benefits. They are set up in groups, letting backers choose how they want their content; serial, eBooks, or print. The lower tiers feature eBooks and/or paperbacks of the backers choice. At the $50 tier, the magazine subscriptions kick in, with eBooks and download access to the previous two years, as well as their adult line Cherry Bomb becoming available.
For fans of either the stories or creators, there are also special tiers that include commissions by the creators. Starting at the $170 tier, backers get all the benefits of a VIP subscriber, as well as a commission from the following creators: Kaiju (Art; The Ring of Saturn, Mahou Josei Chimaka), Alexis Cooke (Art; Dinner Ditz, For Peace), Onorobo (Art; Dusk in Kalevia), Jen Lee Quick (Art; Off*Beat, Gatesmith), Jenn Grunigen (Story; Skyglass), Lianne Sentar (Story; Tokyo Demons, Shut In, Shut Out), Romy-Chan (Art; Tokyo Demons). All of the creators have volunteered to make these tiers possible. There is also one tier that is sponsored by a fan of the magazine.
The people behind Sparkler Magazine are really amazing, and I’m glad to see them continuing to push to keep the magazine going. They are great with their time, willing to interact with both fans and prospective creators not only through the forums, but in social media as well. To be honest, I was a little worried when I saw how slow the subscription drive was going, and that things might get cut back. If I was better off financially, I would totally go in for the $165 I WANNA READ THIS AS A MAGAZINE: YEAR 1-3 COMPLETE VIP TIER so I could get eBooks of the stories that started before the magazine. I don’t mind reading on a computer screen, but I don’t want to be restricted to being online. Let me download them and read them at my own pace! But for now, I will have to suffice with being a monthly subscriber and show my support as one of the 231.
I recommend people check out the Kickstarter and pledge if they’re interested. All of the back issues are available to read for free at Sparklermonthly.com, so you can try before you buy. I’ve read all of the comics that have run so far, but have fallen behind on the novels and audio dramas. It just means I always have something to look forward to. I highly recommend Orange Junk, a recent comic addition. I also really enjoyed the short comic Shut In, Shut Out. Knights-Errant, Witch’s Quarry and Windrose have been great reads as well. As of this writing, the project is at 30% after only 3 days, with several of the commission tiers already gone, or nearly gone. Hopefully this bodes well for the project and the magazine reaches new audiences.
It’s been just over a month since DMP ended their last Tezuka Kickstarter project, the printing of Clockwork Apple, with the stretch goals of printing Brave Dan, and reprinting of Barbara and Swallowing the Earth. On June 16, they launched the next project, to print the shojo short story title Storm Fairy. After 4 days, the project is $823 shy of hitting its base goal of $14, 200.
Storm Fairy is a collection of the 3 short stories. “Storm Fairy,” or “Fairy of Storms,” is the main story that the collection is named after. An Empress fleeing her burning castle and meets a wood fairy. In exchange for the fairy’s favor, the must give up the face of her next born child. That is Princess Ruri, who must wear a mask to hide her disfigured face. Ruri is usurped when an unscrupulous man learns her secret and steal her mask for his daughter. On the run, Ruri meets the samurai Tonosuke who takes her in, and the fairy Hanoke, who unknowingly has Ruri’s face.
The second story, “Kokeshi Detective Agency,” is described as having a similar tone to the Encyclopedia Brown detective stories. Paco is not afraid of things that go bump in the night, so she not bothered by the spooky mysteries she solves with Waco, her dog friend protects her. In the “Pink Angel,” the fair Pink from the realm of beautiful sunsets tries to make people happy and in need by morphing into what it is they need while King Brown and Sepia, from the realm of Thunderstorms, try their best to make people miserable.
I think this is the first title DMP has kickstarted that has me tempted to back. While all three stories sound appealing, I’m really interested in “Kokeshi Detective Agency.” I have a fondness for detective stories and a nostalgia for Encyclopedia Brown, so getting a taste of both is a boon for me. The rewards structure is pretty sound, with the first tier to get the book digitally being at $10, a reasonable amount for a kickstarter, and $20 for in print. Some new rewards are t-shirts, a dress, and a tote bag, all actual useful items that let people show off their Tezuka love.
There are two stretch goals set on this project. At $26,000, Unico will get a reprint run, but for an addition $1000, it will get a reprint run with higher quality colors. For another $5,500, or a total of $32, 500, the previously digital-only title Crime and Punishment will get a print run. I’m not too big on the Unico reprint, but I’m always for giving a digital-only series a print run, even if it’s one I’m not interested in. Though considering the subject of this project, I think another shojo-y title would have been more appropriate.
Considering DMP still has 25 days to hit its goal, there is little doubt Storm Fairy will be funded. What it’s going to come down to once again is if the stretch goals are hit. Clockwork Apple went down to the wire to get all its stretch goals, but it did make it. It will be interesting to see if this, the first Tezuka shojo to kickstart will do as well as its shonen and seinen siblings.