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Keep up with the weekly happenings in the world of manga.

Manga at Anime Expo 2015 Part 1

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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.

NichijoVertical 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.

Kitten TalesTheir 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.

loghViz 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.

naruto-gaidenOn 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 4 Main Manga Licensed by Udon Entertainment

persona4-manga-vol1Persona 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.

 

 

PR: Viz Media’s Panels and Booth Activities for SDCC 2015

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.

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PR: Viz Media to Bring Ultraman Manga Creators to SDCC 2015

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!

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Shigeru Mizuki’s Kitaro Returns with 7 More Volumes

kitaro_coverssmBack 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.

PR: Viz Media’s Panels and Booth Activities for Anime Expo 2015

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.

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PR: Twin Star Exorcists From Viz Media to Debut

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.

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Sparkler Monthly Kickstarts Year Three Campaign

Sparkler Kickstarter

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.

DMP Goes for Shojo for Next Tezuka Kickstarter

Storm Fairy KickstarterIt’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.

PR: Shojo Manga Artist Julietta Suzuki at Anime Expo

Viz Media is celebrating Shojo Beat’s 10th Anniversary by bringing Shojo manga artist Julietta Suzuki to Anime Expo this year. Her latest title, Kamisama Kiss, is published by Viz, but she’s got a few other titles that would be to see brought over/back. Karakuri Odette was her first title to be published here by Tokyopop. It’s a short series at 5 volumes and was actually published complete. It would be a great addition to the Select line. Then there’s Akuma to Dolce, a two-volume series that is unfortunately on hiatus, possibly due to Kamisama Kiss‘s popularity. Hoshi ni Naru hi is both the name of her debut title and a collection of short stories that would also make a great license since it also includes the prototype story for Kamisama Kiss. Any of these would make a great Anniversary present!

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PR: Viz Media Celebrates 10 Years of Shojo Beat

I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since the debut of Shojo Beat. I remember resenting my Animerica subscription being turned into a Shojo Beat sub, but I never regrets not canceling it. I loved Shojo Beat the magazine and still have every single issue. I wish there was a way to resurrect it digitally. I didn’t just love the comics, I loved the features and stories that were in the magazine as well. The magazine introduced me to so many titles I would never have read otherwise. It was great and I still miss it. At least we still have the line that is still going strong!

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PR: Viz Media Releases Junji Ito’s Fragments of Horror Manga

I must confess I have read any Junji Ito titles. They either freak me out or gross me out too much. The one title I will even try is his cat manga, Cat Diary: Yon and Mu that Kodansha is releasing. I’m not sure if a collection of short stories would be either better or worse than a full length title. Being short they would be over fast, but sometimes a shorter story can be more creepy, and gross. I’ll just have to wait to see if I can stomach these stories. Fans of Ito and horror in general should snag this title up regardless.

Continue reading PR: Viz Media Releases Junji Ito’s Fragments of Horror Manga