Viz Media made their debut at Anime Boston this year, snubbing the closer west coast con Wondercon for an east coast outing. They brought some new licenses including two new hardcover deluxe releases. Tomie is a horror manga by the master Junji Ito that hasn’t seen print in over a decade. It truly deserves the deluxe treatment. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 3: Stardust Crusaders already had a print run here in the US, where it barely made an impression. Just a decade later, the stardust has been re-ignited with Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 1 and 2 not only selling gangbusters, but as deluxe hardbacks as well. It seems only right that Part 3 get the same treatment. Not having matching releases on the bookshelf can be maddening, and you don’t want to make Jojo fans mad. They might pose furiously at you.
While Yen Press was kicking it up in Seattle at Sakura-Con, Kodansha was staying cool at Anime Boston. They had announcements for 5 new titles as well as news about current titles.
Starting with the new titles, Kodansha picked up Ninja Slayer Kills. This is another adaptation of the novel series Ninja Slayer, about salary man Kenji Fujikido, who is possessed by the Ninja spirit Naraku. Kenji’s wife and child was killed in a ninja turf war, and his thirst for vengeance matches Naraku’s lust for killing. Together they become Ninja Slayer. Veritcal Comics already announced another adaptation, Machine of Vengeance. It’s not surprising Kodansha picked up one as well, especially with an anime set to run this year. This series has two volumes out so far and is ongoing. I will probably pass on this one, since ultra violence just isn’t my thing.
A title I am excited about is Cat Diary: Yon and Mu by horror manga creator Junji Ito. A semi-autobiographical comedy, it is about a horror manga artist and his fiance’s cats. I’ve been interested in this title since I heard about it in 2009. Ito’s creepy art combined with the mysteries of cats who are probably planning our demise anyway, just seems to be the perfect combination. I will definitely be picking this one up. It’s about cats, you shouldn’t be surprised. It is complete in one volume.
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth P3/P4 are adaptations of the Nintendo 3DS game. Each title features the protagonist from Persona 3 and Persona 4 and their friends attending a school cultural festival when a mysterious bell rings out. Each title starts out as their own story line, but they begin to merge as the story progresses. I’ve been learning a lot about Persona Q, as my oldest daughter as been obsessed with it, and has played it through twice now. It will be interesting to see how the manga handles the merging of the storylines. Kodansha has pretty much guaranteed sales for both these titles. The titles just began at the beginning of this year, so there is no volume count or release date, but for those who can’t wait, Crunchyroll has both titles available for streaming. I’ll be happy to wait for the print books.
Related to Persona Q indirectly is Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. This title is also the adaptation of a Nintendo 3DS game. The Persona series is also a spin-off from the Shin Megami Tensei series. The Comp is a popular portable game system that doubles as a smart phone. It has also become a portal for demons to come to our world. Protag Kazuya receives three Comps from his genius programmer cousin, and he and his friends must learn to use them to fight and capture the demons before they take over Japan. I’m game to check this title out as well. I was interested in the Shin Megami Tensei that Tokyopop had licensed back in the day, but only one volume was released. There are currently 5 volumes out of the ongoing series.
Kodansha also had two bits of news. First, Vinland Saga, which had gone on a sort of hiatus was given release dates for Volumes 6 and 7. Volume 6 will be out in September and Volume 7 will be out in December. They also warned these would be the last two volumes in English if sales didn’t improve. When the original release date for Volume 6 was pulled, there were lots of thoughts that is was because of low sales. Kodansha has now confirmed that, but the series hasn’t been abandoned as was also thought. It is now in the fans’ hands if this title lives or dies. Pre-order if you want Vinland Saga in English to continue.
The second bit of news was a new limited edition of Attack on Titan Vol 16. It will be released in August on the same day as the regular edition, and will include a set of playing cards printed by US Playing Card Company. Each card will have different full color art. There will also be a variant dust cover by an American Artist that is yet to be announced. All of this, and it will only cost $19.99 MSRP. Attack on Titan fanatics will definitely want this.
Anime Boston/Wondercon Roundups
Two comics/manga related cons occurred this last weekend. On the West Coast was Wondercon, the smaller, younger brother of SDCC, located in San Francisco. While more comics based, it seems Hollywood is taking every opportunity to jump on the popculture bandwagon. Manga related, Viz Media had a booth, as did CMX, Last Gasp, and EigoManga. Deb Aoki of Manga.About.com has an overview of the con as well as links to other coverage. Over on the East Coast, Anime Boston took place. While mostly an anime con, many manga bloggers attended and even held panels. Vertical, Inc. had a panel, and Ed Chavez, marketing director for Vertical as well as creator of Mangacast hosted a panel of manga bloggers. The big news from the Vertical panel was the license of a title from a mangaka once published by Viz Media. Calling it “Manga Series R” the clue is that the “R” refers to either the mangaka’s name or manga’s title. I voting (hoping) its Leiji/Reiji Matsumoto. Brigid Alverson has a full rundown of the Vertical panel at Robot 6, and you can hear the audio from the Manga Mania panel by scrolling down to the Ninja Consultant’s like in the Manga For Your Ears section of this post.
Let’s get the elephant in the room out-of-the-way. The iPad was released this weekend. Yes, it sold 300,000 units. But I believe that Apple’s entry into the tablet/e-reader market isn’t the be all/end all that people are making it out to be. The iPhone was a surprise hit (even to Apple), and hardware developers have been working hard to catch up, and you can say the Google Nexus One is a good if not better competitor. And as Matt Blind so wonderfully points out (don’t let all the numbers weigh you down), the iphone is only a small percentage of the cellphone market, and the iPad will be as well, especially with more hardware and software makers throwing their hats into the e-reader/tablet ring. He also links to an article by Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing that makes a very good point (whether you agree with the rest of his argument or not), that publishers shouldn’t put all of their e-books in one Apple basket. Then Rob McMonigal of Book Stew lays it all out on why he’s not getting any e-book readers right now. My personal opinion, after listening and reading about iPad first impressions is to wait. There are so many e-readers/tablets in the wings, that committing right now just doesn’t seem like a smart thing to do. As much as I love the “pretty-shinnies” this just isn’t the time for what could be tossing money to the wind.
Final Nails in the Coffin?
Some of the smaller manga publishers have been quiet, implying that they’re not weathering this tough economy very well. Aurora has been especially quiet, with they last release being some time last year, and books sold at fire sale prices. Another nail in their coffin, the titles they had up on Netcomics.com are being pulled down next Wednesday, April 14, 2010. It could be that they tried online with Netcomics and it didn’t work. Or it could be a sign of something worse. Then, from Icarus Publishing, comes news that a “Manga Publisher in the Southern California area” was up for sale. This seemed to fit Aurora to a T. Digital Manga is located in SoCal, but they don’t seem to fit. Go Comi! is as well, and could be a possibility. ANN has been researching the story, and say Aurora denies they are for sale, but I wouldn’t be so sure. They’re Ladies Comics line never really took off, and their BL didn’t get much attention. But it’s all just speculation at this point.
Shonen Sunday Cross Over
Word came in March through a Simon and Schuster listing that Viz was going to be releasing the baseball manga Cross Game. Finally official word has come that Viz will not only release the manga, but will also preview it on their Shonen Sunday website starting in May. I think this is a good move on Viz’s part. Cross Game has a visual style that may not appeal to readers at first, enough to buy the first volume. Letting them read it online first, especially 5 months in advance of the first volumes release could really build up some hype for the title, beyond the mangasphere.
Two New Rescues from the Seven Seas
Seven Seas Entertainment has announced they have rescued two manga titles from two different publishers that were also fan favorites. Gunslinger Girl was first published by ADV Manga, who over 5 years released 6 volumes. Seven Seas will be re-releasing this 6 volumes with new translations and lettering in an omnibus format, and then beginning releasing new volumes starting at volume 7. Blood Alone was released by Infinity Studios, with 4 volumes released over 2 years. Seven Seas will release the first 3 as an omnibus edition with the 4th volume to follow soon after. These titles will be available in 2011. I was never too interested in Gunslinger Girl (Ed Chavez of the MangaCast is if you want more info), but I heard some good things about Blood Alone. It’s good to see these titles return.
Manga as Eisner Nominees
The Eisners were announced this week, and manga made quite a showing, and not just in the Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia. Best Continuing, Best Reality, Best Graphic Album, Writer/Artist, Lettering, and Comics-Related Book all had nominees from manga. Of course, most of those are from Naoki Urasawa for Pluto and 20th Century Boys, but that because it’s most definitely deserved. A Drifting Life and A Distant Neighborhood also got nods. It’s good to see manga stretching out from the International category, and into more general comics related categories. Now, if only we can get a win. I know Pluto blows out a lot of its competition.
NYT Best Seller List
Once again Twilight: The Graphic Novel vol 1 rules the Hardcover roost. But why isn’t it considered manga? Robin Brenner of Early Word and Librarian Extraordinaire looks at just that question. Warriors: Clan in Need vanishes from the list completely after only 1 week, allowing Naruto vol 47 and Bleach vol 30 to return to their #1 and #2 spots. xxxHolic vol 15 is pushed back one to #3, and Black Butler vol 1 moves back into the top five to #4. Soul Eater vol 2 falls into step at #5 and Vampire Knight vol 9 falls back another spot to #6. Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi vol 5 moves up one to #7 while Fairy Tail vol 10 falls back two to #8. Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 1 switches with vol 2 to come back in at #9, and the only debut title of the week is Trinity Blood vol 12 at #10. It’s good to see Del Rey hold some traction and stick around for this week. I do think it’s odd that last week’s #1 would vanish so quickly, but this isn’t the first time, and surely won’t be the last. The ratio remains at a good level with no one company dominating. This is the way I like to see the list.
Manga For Your Ears
Manga Out Loud
Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews
Spiraken Manga Review
This Week at Manga Village
What I’m Reading
- Honey Hunt vol 4
- My Darling! Miss Bancho vol 1
- Calamity Jack
- Cirque du Freak vol 4
Tokyopop, after serious reduction in their catalog, has been slowly building it back up. Part of that build up is a reprinting of older titles that had become scarce, and difficult for fans to get a hold of. Now, fans no longer have to hunt high and low, go to trading sites or bid up to ungodly prices to get volumes of their favorite series’ as they reappear back in print. I’m of two minds about manga as a collectible. While I understand that demand can set the market price, is there really such a demand for titles to justify prices up in the $100s? Or is that just greed? As much as I enjoy my manga, it’s not enough to ever justify that kind of pricing, so kudos to Tokyopop for thinking of the fans and making these books available again.
Bento Comics To Go
A bunch of former Tokyopop creators and employees have gotten together and created a really interesting website. Bento Comics is a place where you can read comics online from creators like Queenie Chan and Svetlana Chmakova. Then, if you want to keep the stories, you can choose your favorites and create your own anthology in print on demand, to be mailed to you. I think this is a great idea, as it lets people choose their favorites and not be tied down by some editors choices that may include some, but not all titles they would enjoy. I think the a la carte model is the way to go with web comics, and I hope they can get more artists to join in and put their stories up. I’ve really come to love the idea of anthologies, and getting to make your own just plain sounds fun.
Thursday was April Fools Day, and there were plenty of fake news stories all over the web, trying their darnest to fool readers into believing their stories were true. But the best I saw, and the most clever and original was from Kuriousity.com. Lissa Pattillo, owner of the site, posted a review of a new title called Kuriousity, the story of one manga fan’s attempt to run a manga review site. It’s really well done, and if it was made into an actual title, I would pick it up! There’s even a book cover, that looks a lot like a Tokyopop cover, that would fool anyone at first glance. Definitely check this one out. Maybe we should see if we could get this to be a series and get it on Bento Comics.
Con season is really starting to gear up, with two cons starting this weekend, both manga related. On the West Coast is Wondercon, run by the same people as do San Diego Comic Con. It’s more comics focused and much smaller than SDCC. Manga Publishers Viz and CMX will be in attendance as well as several of the manga press , including Deb Aoki of manga.about.com and Kate Dacey of mangacritic.com. Watch there websites for highlights and their twitter feeds for updates.
Over on the East Coast is Anime Boston. Although it’s an anime con, manga is well represented with several manga panels, and well represented by the east manga community including Brigid Alverson of Manga Blog, Melinda Beasi of Manga Bookshelf, and Sam Kusek and Ken Haley of Manga Recon. Vertical is the only manga publisher in attendance, but with Ed Chavez running that panel as well as some general manga panels, it would prove to be a good show all around. Check their sites and twitter feeds for updates and highlights as well.
NYT Best Seller List
Twilight once again rules the Hardback graphic novel list, which is no surprise, but the manga list this week does have some in store! Tokyopop rules the roost with Warriors: Clan In Need taking the #1 spot. Del Rey returns with xxxHolic vol 15 which jumps in at #2. Last week’s #1 and #2, Naruto vol 47 and Bleach vol 30 are now #3 and #4. Vampire Knight vol 10 falls back one to #5, and another new entry from Del Rey, Fairy Tail vol 10 comes in at #6. Black Butler vol 1 takes a real dive, falling 4 spots to #7, but Yen Press gets a boost with new entry Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi vol 5 at #8 while Soul Eater vol 2 also falls four to #9. Tokyopop’s Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 2 also falls four to hold on at #10. Del Rey’s return to the top 10 keeps Viz from returning to dominance this week with the publisher count coming out at Viz – 3, Yen Press – 3, Del Rey – 2 and Tokyopop – 2. If only the list could keep this variety.
Manga For Your Ears
Manga Out Loud
Spiraken Manga Review
This Week at Manga Village
What I’m Reading
- Twilight: The Graphic Novel vol 1