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.
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.
Crunchyroll, the anime and manga streaming service, continues to add manga titles to their all-you-can-eat manga service. This time, they are pulling titles from the Square-Enix library, and are available world-wide.
Aizawa-san Multiples is a rom-com harem series. The frail beauty of the school Shino Aizawa confesses her feeling for Souta Mizutani. Soon after another Aizawa appears, and another, and another! Each one is slightly different, but they are all Aizawa. Are they twins? Clones? Dopplegangers? This series sounds like it takes the comedy in romantic comedy very serious. It might be interesting to see how this gag manga handles the harem model with the boy being surrounded by several of the same girl. There are currently 2 volumes of the series out so far.
Father and Son is a slice of life shonen comedy. It follows former gangster You-san who has to take care of his wild and unpredictable son Shou and the eventful everyday life of the lively pair. This series sounds like it would not just make a good light comedy, but could also be suitable for younger readers, with slap-stick as part of the otherwise easy-going comedy. It would be a good pick up for Yen Press as an Yotsuba&-esque title, if it does well. There are currently 4 volumes available.
Tales of Wedding Rings is a fantasy series. Sato has been in love with his childhood friend Hime since she and her grandfather became his neighbor 10 years ago. When she suddenly says good-bye, he chases after her and is transported to a fantasy world. He catches her and they marry, leading Sato to become the legendary Ring King. This series is created by the duo Maybe, who also created Dusk Maidens of Amnesia, a manga that got an anime adaptation recently. The title initially caught my eye, but the description didn’t do anything to pull me in. But, I am intrigued by Dusk Maidens, so there might be something more here, that not coming through in translation. The series has two volumes out so far.
Donyatsu is probably one of the strangest titles I’ve ever seen. It is about an animal/snack hybrid, in this case a cat who looks like a donut, living in a post-apocalyptic world where all the humans are gone. He is joined by other animal/snack hybrids such as Bengaru, and feline bagel composite. This titles just sounds completely bizarre. I know cat manga can be weird, but combining them with snack foods is just plain out of this world! Such a quirky cat title is hard to pass up. This title so needs a print edition. There are five volumes available.
It’s interesting that all of these titles are relatively new. This should make catch-up easy. The longest is Donyatsu at five volumes, and I can’t imagine it being dialog heavy. It’s also good to see more publishers get on board with Crunchyroll’s all-you-can-read streaming. There is such a wide variety of titles available, and if streaming the only way we can get some of them, (I’m looking at you Donyatsu), then I’m all for it.
Crunchyroll has been really been working hard to become the legal streaming site for manga. Their “all you can read” plan puts a lot of titles at readers fingertips for one monthly price, and they are adding new titles all the time. Recently, they added two new titles, The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer and Kippo. Kippo is a new title to western readers. It is by Hiroshi Tanaka and runs in Shonengahosha’s Young King magazine. The story is about some boys whose family life is anything but happy, and the people they meet in their “spot”, who become more family than their own. When disaster strikes, it’s these people who come together to protect what is important to them. The first chapter is available for anyone to read, while the rest of the first and only volume published so far is behind the subscription wall. It’s violent and disturbing at times, but does appear to have potential for some real drama.
The Lucifier and Biscuit Hammer is not a new title to western readers. Jmanga started releasing it and got out 5 volumes before they closed up. Crunchyroll has been rescuing a lot of Jmanga’s titles, and hope they continue to do so, but not everyone is happy about this license. Print publisher Seven Seas Entertainment already announced this title for print. They will be releasing 2 volume omnibus editions starting in November. There was a bit of a brouhaha on Twitter after Crunchyroll made the announcement, as some say it as stepping on Seven Seas’s toes. There seems to be some resentment among fans, and possibly publishers (though they’d never say anything openly) over Crunchyroll licensing and releasing titles digitally, often well before the print licensers can get theirs out, and possibly undercutting sales. They did it to Vertical with Ajin, and are now doing it again with Seven Seas. Crunchyroll has the whole series around up for premium members to read a whole month ahead of Seven Seas’s first omnibus. The possible good/bad thing about this is that there are different translators for each project, but that can be a whole different can of worms.
Over the last few weeks Crunchyroll manga has been busy adding new titles to their growing library. Three of the titles are traditional manga, and three are part of their “Manga 2.5” line, which I would recommend avoiding, but your mileage may vary.
The Kawaii Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior is published by Shonengahosha in their magazine Young King Ours. It follows Usa, a boy who starts living on his own when his parents move for work. His residence is filled with eccentrics and perverts, but so does his crush, Ritsu. This series is a rom-com that has 5 volumes and is ongoing. It also has an anime that just streamed on Crunchyroll in the spring. The current chapter is now up, and new chapters will be added monthly. No word yet on when/if previous chapters will be available. The inclusion of the description “perverts” is enough to turn me off from this series.
The Legend of Onikirimaru sounds much more like my kind of title. It is published by Leeds Publishing in the magazine Sengoku Bushou Retsuden. A demon boy with no horns or name wields the blade Onikirimaru, the Demon Slayer. He is fated to kill his kin and slay the demons that have been awakened during the brutal battles of the Sengoku Jidai, when samurai ruled and leaders such as Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hidetsugu fought to unify and control Japan. The first 5 chapters are now available, and new titles will be put up bi-monthly. The series is rather gory, but since it is a horror title sent in a brutal time, that is of little surprise. Still, I’d wouldn’t mind checking out the first several chapters.
The third manga is a Kodansha series that is published in Bessatsu Friend. They are doing something different with this series by letting readers vote on the title; What’s the Good of Me Being Popular vs Boys, Kiss Him Instead of Me. The series is about Kae Serinuma, a fujoshi, who likes to imagine boys in wild fantasies. When her favorite anime character dies, she looses a ton of weight, and gains the attentions of four hot boys at school. But she’d rather they were after each other instead of her! There are currently 4 volumes available in Japan, and Crunchyroll with release the first chapter along with its new title on September 18. This series sounds like it could be funny, if you’re a fujoshi anyway. The one good thing about this title is that it’s aimed at the girls, something that has been showing up much on Crunchyroll.
There are three “Manga 2.5” titles. After School of the Earth, a post apocalyptic title where only four people are left on earth, one boy and three girls, and their sometimes sad, but mostly happy days enjoying life. The manga is six volumes long and was published in Akita Shoten’s Champion RED magazine. Renai Senka -The Special Class of Love-. This series follows Nobuta Yabuta, a new teacher at the all girl’s school Sakura Gakuen and who is afraid of women. Five girls in his class are part of a special class that must get their homeroom teacher, Nobuta, to kiss them to graduate. This series is 5 volumes and was published in Houbunsha’s Manga Time Kirara Forward. The third title, Kashiwagi-san Next Door, is about otaku Yuta Sakuraba. He mostly only likes 2-D girls, but he becomes interested in a 3-D girl for the first time when he has to sit next to Kotone Kashiwagi. Kotone hates otaku, but she may have some secrets of her own. It is also published in Houbunsha’s Manga Time Kirara Forward. It has 8 volumes and is still ongoing. None of these titles really interest me since they are all male-gaze oriented, but even if I did, I would completely avoid the “Manga 2.5” format that Crunchyroll is putting them in. That is creepy enough.
This week I check out regular features the Weekly Wish List, stories In the News, Crunchyroll Corner, and the Top Ten Department. Then I rant a bit about translating names in manga.
This week I check out new licenses from Viz Media and Crunchyroll, the top 10 from Vizmanga and New York Times Bestseller list, and I look at what was new in manga 10 years ago.
This week I check out some new stories, regular departments Weekly Wish List and top 10 at Vizmanga.com and the New York Times, and for Valentines Day I features some titles with couples that aren’t so lovey-dovey.
This week I examine several news stories that piled up at the end of the year, the Nielson Bookscan for December, and regular features, the Weekly Wish List, the Vizmanga.com update and the New York Times Bestseller list.
This week I take a look back at 2013 and some of the trends in manga that were seen over the year; What became popular, who started and who stopped publishing and comment on what I’d like see more of in 2014. I also have regular features the Weekly Wish List, Vizmanga.com update and the New York Times Bestseller List.
This week I talk about my weekly wish list, what new at Vizmanga.com, the New York Times Best Seller List and for the main feature I have Alex Hoffman of Manga Widget as my guest, where we talk about the Vizmanga Platform and pricing, and the new Crunchyroll Manga roll out. This is a long episode!
- Weekly Wish List
- Vizmanga.com New Releases
- New York Times Best Seller List
- Manga Widget
- Crunchyroll Manga
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Music courtesy of Kevin MacLeod of Incompetech