Wondercon, for those who may not know, is a younger sibling to Comic-Con International’s San Diego Comic Con. For many years it was held up north in San Francisco, but starting in 2012 is moved down to Southern California in the LA area. It’s first four years were spent taking over the Anaheim Convention Center, but this year, the con moved up to the Los Angeles Convention Center. Since its move down to SoCal, its major manga publisher presence has been practically non-existent. Other than a Viz Media booth the first year in 2012, there have been no panels or booths on the exhibition floor. Not even vendors selling manga come to the show. So imagine my excitement when I learned that Kodansha Comics would be coming to Wondercon, and have both a booth AND a panel!
New York Comic Con saw its largest number of manga publishers not only attending the show, but in having panels and making announcements! And manga publishers really made this last major con of the season count.
At the last big convention of the season, New York Comic Con, manga publishers appeared to make their last big announcements for the next year.
This last week was New York Comic Con, the last big con of the season. All of the major publishers were here, as well as some online newcomers. Everyone had something to announce, from new licenses to something a little more home-grown.
To close out the con season, Viz is going all out with the show special and con exclusives. Naruto fans can get pre-street books, a variant cover of the final vol 72, exclusive figures and a special Ukiyo-e print that will set you back a pretty penny. Sailor Moon fans can stock up on DVD season sets, and manga fans can get pre-street copies of One-Punch Man, Tokyo Ghoul and Yokai Watch. If you can’t go, make a friend who is and get them to pick you up something!
Con season is winding down with NYCC being the last hurrah of the year, and Viz is making sure to make it a memorable one. Their superstar guest is Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of Naruto who will not only have his own panel and signing events, but will also give the opening remarks at the screening of the Boruto: The Naruto Movie. It’s a rare opportunity fans of Naruto will not want to miss.
Otakon is the last big convention for manga publishers before New York Comic Con in October. It’s not usually a place frequented by publishers, especially not from the west coast, but this year saw some exciting license announcements, and appearances by west coast publishers Dark Horse Manga and Viz Media with Shojo Beat.
This year SDCC was held earlier than usual. It is usually in the last two weeks of July. This year, it was the second week in July, one week after Anime Expo. Manga publishers were at SDCC too, with only a two-day break before the five days of geeky madness began down south. While they had more announcements, they weren’t quite as numerous or as ground breaking as AX. Mostly.
Viz started the con again with their panel on Thursday. The only new announcement they had was that they would be releasing a print edition of Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgment. The series originally ran simultaneously with Weekly Shonen Jump and sadly ended with it as well. Written by Nobuaki Enoki and drawn by Takeshi Obata, the series followed Abaku Inugami, a defense attorney at his elementary school. Under the new School Judgement system, students accused of crimes are now tried by their peers, and Inugami is the best for the defense, but when the prosecutor is the cute and rich Hanazuki, things might get tough. I enjoyed the few chapters I’ve read in WSJ, so I will be looking forward to the first volume set to come out in February, 2016.
Dark Horse had its panel on Friday, and had one announcement, but for nothing new. It would be releasing omnibus editions of Blade of the Immortal, its longest running manga series which just ended in March. The omnibuses will be 3-in-1, with the final volume including the novel Blade of the Immortal: Legend of the Sword Demon. The omnibuses will also retain the original release’s left-to-right orientation and trim size. Considering how much work went into creating them, it’s not surprising. The manga follows Manji, a ronin warrior in feudal Japan who is cursed with immortality until he kills 1000 enemies. He is joined on his quest by Rin, a young woman looking to avenge her parents’ deaths. There wasn’t a planned release date announced.
On Saturday, Kodansha was the first publisher with a new license announcement. Paradise Residence is by Kousuke Fujishima, the creator of the very long running Oh! My Goddess. This series is about tomboy Hatsune Takanashi and her life in an all girls dorm, and will give a behind-the-scenes look at life in the all girls school and dormitory. It’s slice of life series and shows Hatsune’s battle with waking up, her grade school aged dorm mother, and her desire for conquest! The series started in 2008 and was put on hiatus in 2012, but just came back in May of 2014. There are two volumes available, a vol 1 and 0. There was no released date announced for the first volume here. I’m not too sure about this series. A man writing a series about the life of a high school girl for an adult male demographic? Yeah, it not hitting any buttons here.
Kodansha also discussed the disruption in their digital manga distribution. With the creation of Kodansha Advanced Media which was announced back in February, the transfer of the digital manga to them has caused some delays. But things have purportedly been resolved and digital titles should be back on Amazon and Barnes and Noble in the next month.
Later on Saturday, Udon Entertainment had their panel. The boutique publisher has dabbled in manga in the past, though they mostly do Art Books and Street Fighter comics. They announced three new manga licenses.
Steins;Gate is the manga adaptation of the video game of the same name. It is the second of the “scientific adventure game” series. The story is about eccentric college student Rintaro “Okarin” Okabe and his circle of friends who turn their microwave into a machine that can send texts to the past in a realistic Akihabara. Their activities attract the attention of SERN, an organization that has been studying time travel and now want Okabe and his friends. The series is three volumes with the first set to be released this August along with the first volume of Kill la Kill. Both the video game and anime based on it have been released in English. It looks like an interesting series, and with only three volumes not too big of an investment to just try out.
The second announcement was Sugar Sugar Rune, an all ages license rescue by artist Moyocco Anno. Del Rey originally licensed and published all eight volumes starting in 2005, but the series has since gone out of print, and finding volumes is difficult at best. The series is about two young witches, Vanilla Mienux and Chocalat Meilleure, who have been chosen to be candidates to be the next Queen. They are sent to the human world where they must compete to capture as many boys’ hearts as they can. The one that wins the most becomes Queen. They are assisted by guardian and mentor pop idol witch Rockin’ Robin and familiars Bianca the mouse and Duke the frog. The two girls must figure out how to keep their friendship while not only competing for hearts, but also dealing with the strange boy Pierre who looks just like the evil king Glace, and seems to be going for Chocolat. The first volume will be released in the first quarter of 2016. The series was well received the first time around, and Moyocco Anno is well known for writing good stories with great female leads. This is also a boon for teachers and libraries looking for all ages titles to add to their graphic collection.
The third announcement was all the biggest for the manga community and really rocked their world. Rose of Versailles is a classic shojo manga. It was first launched in 1972 and takes place in the intrigue-filled court of Queen Marie Antoinette before and during the upheavals of the French Revolution. It revolves about Oscar Francois de Jarjayes, a woman raised as man to serve and eventually take over as leader of the Palace Guard. She becomes torn between class loyalty and her desire to help the impoverished, as well as her conflicts between wanting to live as a militant and a regular woman. She must also deal with her relationships with Marie Antoinette, Count Axel von Fersen and best friend Andre Grandier. Originally there were 10 volumes, but creator Riyoko Ikeda started penning one-shots for Shueisha’s Margaret magazine in 2013 and will release the 11th volume in August with includes the first 4 stories. Udon will print it as 2-in-1 omnibuses, with the first volume set to come out in second quarter 2016. This series as long been a holy grail for fans, and few thought it would ever see publication in the US due to age and licensing costs. Udon had touted that they would have a classic manga announcement at their panel, but this title was only ever brought up in jest. Now, Udon has a lot of people’s attentions. I would like to check out this series, both as shojo, and as a classic that inspired a lot of artists today.
The final publisher panel was Tokyopop on Saturday night. Like their Anime Expo panel, they didn’t have any titles yet to announce, but they did tease a possible deal with Disney to create original “manga” for the properties Star Wars and Frozen. The stories would be original and would possibly feature Japanese artists. This isn’t new territory for Tokyopop. Before closing, they had published original stories for properties such as Star Trek, Warcraft and Spacecraft. They have also worked with Disney, creating “Cine-manga,” of TV shows such as Hannah Montana. While it’s nothing I’d get excited about, I’m sure there are still plenty of Frozen fans dying for new stories of their favorite princess sisters Anna and Elsa. Books and manga are still the better way to reach a female audience, though comics publishers may finally be seeing the light.
Not as announcement heavy as Anime Expo, but July isn’t done with manga publishers and possible announcements yet. Coming up this weekend is Otakon out on the East Coast. Several publishers will be there, with some hinting at more exciting licenses. After AX and SDCC’s big surprises, can the manga community handle any more?
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.
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!