In this week’s news: September’s Movable Manga Feast, digital manga vs print, Twitter on AX, Del Rey’s future, manhwa, banned books week, New York Times best sellers, podcasts, and the Manga Village roundup.
It was starting to become a tradition for me. Going to San Diego Comic Con and by Saturday afternoon, stopping by the Yen Press booth and picking up the anniversary issue of Yen Plus. I didn’t go to SDCC this year, and by the same token, Yen Plus wasn’t given out this year. It had gone digital, with a free preview available until September 9th, so I am still able to do my annual One Year Later post.
So, what’s changed in the move from print to digital? First off, the August/Preview issue has no Japanese-licensed titles in it. It’s all Korean/OEL manga. Compared to the last two years, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I didn’t care for the Japanese offerings in the premiere issue, but there was definite improvement by the 1st anniversary (namely Black Butler and Hero Tales). But the Korean/OEL side still held sway over me, so having this issue be mostly that didn’t bother me.
One of the things about going digital that might not be as Yen Press planned is how much easier it is for me to skip over the titles I don’t want to read. In print form, I would generally start at the beginning and read through all the chapters, whether I really liked them or not. I’m going through every page, whether I’m actually reading them or not. I’ll skim the things I’m not all that interested in, but that usually ended up with me reading the whole chapters anyway. This meant I gave titles I wasn’t too interested in more of a chance, because I’d at least read them. With the digital version, I had no problem just skipping past Maximum Ride, a title I have read chapters from and didn’t really care for, and Gossip Girl, one I haven’t even tried to give a chance.
Actually, my reading of the this issue had me skipping all around, something I don’t think I’m going to do again. The way the digital magazine is set up is identical to the print version, with articles and ads interspersed between chapters, and as I prefer to read print, this made the flow of the digital version much easier to get into. It felt like the print magazine on the screen which is an experience I prefer. So, let’s take a look at the chapters I did read.
This title continues to be a strong anchor for the magazine. Even though I haven’t read vol 3 yet, reading this chapter made me want to go out and get it. The sohrem and their hosts, Alex and Ronee had been captured and nearly had the power sucked from them by Night Lords, but they are rescued by Marina also a sohrem host, and some of the Hunters. The person responsible their capture is also responsible for breaking their seal. He is caught when things don’t go according to plan and turns out to have an interesting connection to Mr. Roi, who had sealed the sohrem away in the first place. Very good chapter that kept the action and story going.
This is a new title based on another series by James Patterson. It’s got a sci-fi feel to it. As this was the debut of the series, we get to chapters to introduce Daniel and his special powers. He can change his shape as well as create people and things out of thin air. And not just holograms, real, flesh and blood people with independent thought and memories. The story has Daniel going after Most Wanted #6, Ergent Seth, who is currently in Malibu, CA, working in the film industry. Daniel enrolls in a local high school as a cover and is distracted by a girl, Phoebe. Meanwhile Ergent Seth strikes, and there’s a cat in his house. The story has me intrigued, so I’ll keep reading it. The characters are interesting too, and the art is really nice. I’m taking to this one much better than Maximum Ride.
This story is a one shot by Madeliene Rosca, the creator of Hollow Fields, a OEL series published by Seven Seas. It’s about a young girl, Catherine, who is learning to be a Ghost Hunter, like her father. One night when he goes out to work, the police come looking for her father, but Catherine decides to take on the haunting herself. With her book, lantern and bell, she pieces together what’s really going on. It’s a cute story with a funny ending. I don’t know that I’d want to see more of these characters, but more from Rosca would most certainly be welcome!
This is a color 4-koma, or comic strip, series. It’s about a rich, spoiled young man who decides to become a pirate. His only crew is Robin, a guard from Aron’s estate that will do anything for money. He is a good fighter, and quickly increases the crew after a show of force when another pirate ship tries to take them over. It’s cute and funny, in the way that clueless leads who beleaguer their smarter subordinates can. It’s good for a quick read, but it’s not anything I would want to keep for the long run.
I’ve read the first three volumes of this title and it’s still just as awesome. This is the best of the manhwa titles. Baek-On Ju is a traveling exorcist who is accompanied by Ho-Yeon Won, his bodyguard. The tales in this title are mostly episodic, with Baek-On being presented with a problem, and him solving it without making a bit of trouble for Ho-Yeon along the way. The overarching stories in this title have to do with the main characters past. This chapter relates to a past wrong Baek-On committed and can’t forgive himself for. It’s an emotional chapter as are most of the chapters dealing with him. It’s an excellent read, and a series that is easy to jump into at any time.
Not a great title, but one of the originals from the magazine’s beginning. Jack Frost is a horror title that likes lots of gore and panty shots, but not so much on plot. This chapter has the North side recouping from an attack from the South Side and Helmina and Jack scheming for more fighting. And a new character Avid decides to going to battle to take on Jack Frost for title of most powerful in Amityville. I’m not sure why I keep reading Jack Frost, for all the lackluster writing and characters and fanservice, but I think I’m being hopelessly optimistic for a real story to come out. Well, since it comes with the magazine, I guess I’ll keep following it. Just on the off-chance it surprises me.
The reading experience wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. I’ve tried Yen Plus out on three different monitors. My 19″ LCD at home, 17″ CRT at work and my 4.3″ HTC HD2 phone. All the regular manga chapters looked good on all three screens. Yes, surprisingly, even the HD2 was readable. The popout window made everything crystal clear, and zooming on the HD2 worked well. The only problem I had was with Aron’s Absurd Armada. The only way to be able to clearly read this title was by going Full Size in the popout window, and even then I was scrolling up and down and back and forth on the screen, especially on the 17″ monitor at work. It’s enough to give one carpel tunnel! So Yen, even if it’s on a desktop computer, Zoom is a necessary option, especially with a 4-koma where the windows are smaller and the text gets lost in the background. The reading experience needs to be at least as good as the print, in that it shouldn’t feel like work for me to read the pages. If I have to get closer because of my eyesight, that’s one thing, but if it’s blurry even then, then the problem is on your end.
Other issues I had were also minor, such as a page “sticking” in Daniel X. The previous page appeared twice, but after going out and going back it fixed itself. And some screentone just doesn’t work online. If you want to go blind, just view the Jack Frost chapter. The plaid screentone used through most of it is painful.
I like the navigation bar on the side for chapters and the pulldown menu at the top that also lists the articles. The side bar is only available in main browser window. If you go to the popout window, you will have to use the pulldown menu. There is a minor page turn animation as you flip through the magazine which you can do with a click on the page. It will take you back and forth through the magazine, though jumping chapters was easiest with the side bar. There are arrows at the top that will also control page turns, but the most ideal would be arrow keys on the keyboard.
And as for archiving, I don’t think that’s necessary. The digital magazine is for marketing. To make an archive available would be the same as saying “Don’t buy the books, just read your manga here for super cheap”, and I don’t think that is Yen Press’ intention. Now, I could see them selling digital copies of the books when they come out at a discount for Yen Plus subscribers. Maybe as a bonus for being a subscriber. But I don’t see a reason for Yen archiving the issues themselves. I did once, but with years of Shonen Jump and the thought of digging them out to read One Piece doesn’t make it worth it. I would rather buy the collected books than try to read a series through the mags.
Overall, this first version of a digital Yen Plus isn’t bad. Neither is the price. At $2.99 a month, I don’t mind paying to read even just the three titles I enjoyed the most. It’s still a good deal as far as I’m concerned. And with more on the way, Yotsuba!& has been hinted at, there is a lot of potential here. I think I’m going to stick it out this time and see how it progresses.
And the Con Goes On
It’s been two weeks since Comic-Con, but reports are still coming out with video and transcripts from the manga panels that were held that. While that might be bad (and stressful) for the writing and transcribing them, it a bonus for those us of who couldn’t go! Deb Aoki posts about the manga events on Friday and takes a closer look at the Yen Press announced titles. Comics Journal has video of the Manga for Grown-Up panel and Carlo Santos from Anime News Network talked with guest Moto Hagio. And yes, there will be more links coming. But if you couldn’t make it to the con, they will be worth it.
Stuck in SDCC’s Shadow
One week after SDCC was Otakon over on the East Coast, in Baltimore, MD. There wasn’t a huge manga presence there in either publishers or journalists. Ed Sizemore of the Manga Worth Reading blog not only held his own panel on Anime Journalism, but he also did writes up on Manhwa at the con for Manhwa Bookshelf, and days Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Audio from his panel can be found here, a transcript from Anime Diet here, and a report from Animemiz on it. Otakon also had a spin-off con: Baltiport. Comprised of Otakon attendees who were stuck in the Baltimore Airport, the 5 hour impromptu gathering also resulted in a license announcement. Bandai Entertainment will be releasing the Code Geass spin-off manga A Record of the Strange Tales of the Bakumatsu Era: Code Geass. You just never know when or where a new con will pop up.
Digital Manga Roundup
Yen Press’ move of their magazine Yen Plus to the digital world has really had people talking. Deb Aoki had a Q&A session JuYoun Lee, the Senior Editor about the changes in the magazine and some readers concerns. Brigid Alverson of Robot 6 then took on Kurt Hassler, the Editorial Director and pressed for more, specifically about whether any of the Japanese titles such as Black Butler would be returning…. OneManga did indeed do what they said they would, and pulled all manga from the site by Monday morning. Manga Fox is still going strong as of this writing… BL Manga Kindle readers can rejoice as Animate USA puts up another round of digital manga from Broccoli and CPM’s former catalog. I’ll have my own review of the new Yen Plus this week, but let me just preface it by saying thank you Yen Press for making your site readable on mobile devices. I will be more likely to keep up with your releases than the others you use flash.
NYT Best Seller List
So, what does the New York Times list have in store for us this week? Starting with the hardbacks, the sparkly-vampires are getting their butts beat by guys with sparkly rings as Twilight vol 1 remains at #9, well behind several Green Lantern books. Over on the manga list, there’s been quite a shake up! Del Rey finally decided to release some books and 3 of the 5 top spots are filled by them. Negima! Magister Negi Magi vol 27 debuts at #1. Right behind it is the CLAMP title Tsubasa: Resevoir Chronicle vol 27 debuting at #2. Naruto vol 48 at least keeps a top 5 spot by coming in at #3, followed by Fullmetal Alchemist vol 23 at #4. Shugo Chara! vol 9 takes up the #5 spot with Ouran High School Host Club vol 14 falling another three to #6. Vampire Knight vol 10 takes #7, staying ahead of Megatokyo vol 6 which is now at #8. Debuting at #9 is vol 2 of the Spice and Wolf manga, and the apocalypse is averted as Black Butler vol 2 returns at #10.
NYT Best Seller: Second Opinion
The manga rankings have gone up over at Rocket Bomber. Let’s see how the top ten stack up:
1. Naruto 48
2. Fullmetal Alchemist 23
3. Ouran High School Host Club 14
4. Vampire Knight 10
5. Maximum Ride 1
6. Hellsing 10
7. Negima! 27
8. Naruto 47
9. Maximum Ride 2
10. Bleach 31
Only 5 of the 1o titles between the two lists are consistent. Four of the Viz titles and 1 Del Rey. Once again, the NYT list features more of the newly released Del Rey titles than RB. If you remove the Del Rey titles then the NYT would match RB’s top four. RB does have Negima charting, but it’s the only Del Rey title to make it to the list. Maximum Ride and Hellsing continue to hold on in RB’s list, but not Black Butler or Spice and Wolf. They don’t show up until 22 and 48 respectively. If the RB list only gets its data from the three biggest sellers online and retail (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders), where is the NYT data coming from to skew their list so far toward new releases?
Manga For Your Ears
Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews
Spiraken Manga Review
This Week at Manga Village
- Maiden Rose vol 1
- The Tyrant Falls in Love vol 1
- Nabari no Ou vol 1-4
- One Piece vol 40-42
- Weekly Picks
What I’ve Been Reading
- Paradise Kiss vol 2
- One Piece vol 43-44
- Natsume’s Book of Friends vol 2
- Himeyuka and Rozione’s Story
- My Cat Loki vol 2
- Yen Plus vol 3 issue 1
- Shonen Jump September 2010
YEN PRESS LAUNCHES THE ONLINE VERSION OF YEN PLUS WITH A FREE TRIAL SUBSCRIPTION THROUGH AUGUST
NEW YORK, JULY 27, 2010 – It was announced Friday at San Diego Comic-Con that Yen Plus, the monthly manga anthology from Yen Press, is now available online at yenplus.com. And for a limited time, Yen Press will offer free access to the August issue from now through September 10th.
Yen Publisher Kurt Hassler said: “It’s no secret that there is a huge demand for the digital delivery of manga content. Our responsibility as publishers is to grow and change both with the industry and the readers to meet that demand. Relaunching YEN PLUS in a digital format is our first major step in that direction, and as we look at expanding the selection that the magazine has to offer in the coming months, we look forward to not only hearing from our existing readers but reaching out to new audiences as well.”
Each issue of Yen Plus includes the latest installments of popular manga such as Maximum Ride, Daniel X, Nightschool, Time And Again, and more. A new online edition will appear on the first Tuesday of each month.
Subscriptions will cost $2.99 per month (sales tax may apply), and members will have access to the two most recent issues of the magazine. Each month the oldest issue is removed and a new issue is added, so readers always have access to fresh new manga.
Yen Press, founded in 2006, is the manga and graphic novel imprint of Hachette Book Group. For additional info, visit www.yenplus.com
From Aurora’s Ashes
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the people behind the company have banded together to create a new manga publisher. Calling themselves Manga Factory, former staffers from Aurora have created a new independent company instead of being a subsidiary of a Japanese company, as Aurora was. They have already announced one title, Teen Apocolypse: Guilstein for the Kindle and promises to do more electronic books in the same genre’s as Aurora; shojo, fantasy, josei and yaoi. This seems to tell me that Aurora wasn’t doing too bad, but maybe they just weren’t doing good enough to please the exec back in Japan. For these former employees to come together and create their own company, in this economic environment must mean they seen a reason to keep plugging at it. I look forward to see what they offer, especially in the digital format.
Tokyopop + Zinio = ??
Tokyopop has been a pioneer of digital manga. They were the first to put their OEL manga on an e-reader, they feature sample chapters of new manga, and whole volumes on their website, and now they are teaming up with digital magazine and book publisher Zinio to make their OEL manga available for download for both PCs and Macs. Jenkei of the Apurikotto Waffle blog took the Tokyopop manga on Zinio for a test drive. She does a very thorough review of the features and ease of use. If you are thinking about checking out Zinio, read her review first. I like that Tokyopop is stretching out and looking at more ways to get their titles out digitally, I just wish they would stop with going with so much of the proprietary formats. That isn’t going to be the way to success in the digital world. Didn’t work for music, so why does anyone think it will work for books, a format that is more highly traded in the analog world than music ever was?
The Recon is Over
More bad news hits the manga world, though this time it affects the mangasphere directly. Manga Recon, one of the blogs at Popcultureshock is being shut down along with the rest of the site. The current reviewers hold a roundtable to say their farewells and share their memories of the site. Manga Recon was one of the first review sites I started reading regularly, before I started writing my own. I met Kate Dacey through the Tokyopop site, but remember her starting as the editor for Manga Recon. I even got a manga from her, Samurai Commando, for suggesting ideas for columns. It’s been bad enough to be hit with all the news lately of publishers struggling, but it’s worse when it’s people you’ve come to know and read regularly. But it’s not all bad news, as many of the reviewers have their own blogs and/or other columns where they will continue to write and review. I still wish them all the best of luck. It was fun while it lasted.
Rational Response to Irrational Request
Found via Twitter. Usually, a new article about some crazy mom starting up a petition and going to the city council to get manga removed from the public library will raise my hackles. But this news article from Crestview, Florida shows that there are rational people out there to face off against the irrational. Basically, a mother blames a manga that her son took (not checked out) from the adult section of the local public library for his mental illness. The article doesn’t go into specifics about the boy’s condition, or even mention which title is in question. Instead it shows how both the city council and public library dealt with the irrational claim. Brigid Alverson has more details at Robot 6, but I think it’s refreshing to see a calm and sensible response, especially from local politicians. It’s usually everyone takes the allegations very seriously, and promises to get the bottom of it. Instead, in Crestview, a city councilman goes to the library and looks at their selection and how adult are handled as opposed to the YA, and finds no problem. Instead of going for the manga defense, she should be looking in her own home, or even the mirror for the source of her son’s problems.
Anime Expo Begins
Anime Expo started on Thursday, and while it’s a con devoted to Anime, some of the manga publishers make an appearance here. On Thursday, DMP held a panel and announced 10 new titles over their three lines. They also announced a new, original manga for the online site emanga drawn by Nao Yazawa, the creator of Wedding Peach. Lissa at Kuriousity has more information, color-coded by imprint and with covers of DMP’s licenses. I like the expansion of the Hideyuki Kikuchi library. His horror manga are titles I’m coming to enjoy. Don’t know about novels yet.
Friday, Tokyopop took the stage and announced 4 new titles, 2 new Blu titles, and a OEL based on a film by Joss Whedon. Tokyopop is doing something unusual. They don’t have a booth in the exhibit hall. Instead, they have a bus parked outside as part of their search for “America’s Greatest Otaku.” It’ll be interesting to hear how it worked out, especially from the fans.
Since this is an anime con, the manga news will be light, but watch the anime licenses. They can be clues of what publishers have working in the wings, and are waiting to announce as SDCC and NYAF.
NYT Best Seller List
Viz loses some of its dominance on the list this week, going from 5 to 4, though they still keep a tight rein on the top 5. First, Twilight reaches its 15th week on the Hardback list, most of which it spent at #1, where it still rests. Over on the manga list, Naruto vol 48 remains at #1, followed by it best vampire friend, Vampire Knight vol 10 at #2. Soul Eater vol 3 holds at #3 for second week in a row as does Bleach vol 31 at #4. The first change to the list is also a debut, with Fairy Tail vol 11, a woefully underrated manga materializing at #5, which pushes back Hellsing vol 10 to #6. Black Butler vol 2 moves back on to #7 and the only other debut on the list, Ninja Girls vol 3 comes in at #8. Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 5 falls back two to #9, while Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 3 holds on to #10. Good shows for Del Rey with had the only debuts on the list. Otherwise there wasn’t much change, not even in position. Dark Horse is doing really well with its last volume of Hellsing. Too bad it is the last.
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
- Children of the Sea vol 3
- Twin Spica vol 2
- Shonen Jump Aug 2010
- One Piece vol 40
RIN-NE Volume 1
By Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Price: $9.99/Free online
Ever since a childhood incident Sakura Mamiya has had the power to see ghosts. Now her life has gotten a lot more complicated with the arrival of her mysterious classmate Rinne, who seems to know a thing or two about detecting ghosts himself!
Having enjoyed so far Takahashi’s shonen titles since Urusei Yatsura, I was thrilled to hear that we in the US would not only be getting her newest, Rin-ne, at the same time as Japan, but it would available for free online to read. Having now read the first volume’s worth of chapters, I have to say my initial excitement may have been premature.
The Mysterians Volume 1
Story by Jay Antani, Art by Matt Hentshel
Age Rating: Older Teen
My name is Vox. I am the last surviving member of an underground resistance. Our mission: Expose and destroy a vast and sinister plot to take over planet Earth. Aliens have infiltrated the Earth’s entire political, industrial, military and socio-industrial complex. They are determined to extinguish life on our planet. Since birth, the five of you were fated to receive this message. You are possessed of extraordinary abilities… Logan, you have superior strength and superhuman intuition. Leelee, no Olympian has ever had your level of agility. Jenna and Jamie, your parents knew of your telekinesis and ESP when you were still children. Tony, your intellect is off the charts. The entire world needs you. You must use your talents to join together and stop this invasion…And in doing so, the five of you will become…The Mysterians!
Science Fiction doesn’t get nearly as much love in manga as it should, but this title seems to be trying to make up for lost time, and does a pretty good job of it! Even with the fairly generic plot of “5 strangers from all walks of life coming together to save the world”, rich character development makes the difference.
Dark Metro Volume 2
Story by Tony Calen; Art by Yoshiken
Age Rating: Older Teen
Terror awaits the people of Tokyo, with gruesome lessons only the dead can teach. In this second collection of shorts, a waitress at a maid café sparks jealousy. A mother who can’t handle the responsibility of raising her child commits a horrible crime. An ancient sword awakens a psychotic samurai. And finally, the solemn guide Seiya reveals his own tragic past and the nature of his gifts that are his curse.
Things don’t get any better with this second volume of this series. Following the same unsuccessful pattern of the first volume, there is some slight improvement story-wise, but technical issues with the formatting wipe it out.
Dark Metro Volume 1
Story by Tokyo Calen; Art by Yoshiken
Age Rating: Older Teen
What lies below Tokyo’s subway system is more frightening than you could have ever imagined…in its subways there exists a boundary between this world and the next–the land of the dead, and the mysterious young man Seiya is its guide. In this collection of bone-chilling shorts, follow the twisted tales of death and hauntings that inhabit this horrifying underworld, where innocent youth fall victim to the ghosts who inhabit Tokyo’s underground.
Dark Metro is a title in a category all it’s own. It’s not a come-uppance theater title, as the main characters in the stories aren’t bad. They are just ordinary people experiencing the supernatural in Tokyo’s subways. But it’s not like the Twilight Zone, as Seiya, the guide to the underworld, doesn’t narrate the stories either. He possesses the power to decide who lives and who dies in the subway, just appearing somewhere in the story to save the protagonist from whatever horror is after them. This title falls through the cracks of horror genre and should probably stay there.
The Japanese are at it again… Digital manga via Nintendo devices is in the news again. This time though, it’s from the people that it matters most; the manga publishers. From a news article from Manga Jouhou, the four largest manga publishers Kadokawa, Kodansha, Shueisha, and Shogakukan have formed a joint venture with a software house that will bring digital manga to the Wii console. The venture is called Librica and is the first serious step from the creators of the content to bring to a wider audience.
In a previous post, I spoke about the Kindle as being a possibility for reading electronic books and manga. But, a little searching around the web has brought to light another possibility that is much more inexpensive, and more readably available. As a matter of fact, you may have on in your home right now! It’s the Nintendo DS.
Nintendo’s newest handheld game platform can be a tool for more than just games.While Nintendo has been announcing products that bring manga to the Japanese DS users, we here in the US can only hope and pray that these products are brought over. But, thanks to good, old, hacker ingenuity, (and some hardware from Asia), programmers and others can and often do make their own programs, or “home brews” to run on the DS. For more information on Home Brews for the DS, see this wiki.
For purveyors of portable digital manga (and who are willing to risk their DS) would be two home brew programs: PictoDS and Comic Book DS. A review of the software running on a DS, with pictures can be found here. It uses the dual screens and touch screen to really give a customizable reading experience. You will also need to convert your files to a .nds format, but you’re going to have to find that part out on your own. Disclaimer notice here though, it won’t work unless you have hardware described in the wiki article linked above, and there is no guarantee that it will work properly. Don’t ask me for help, I haven’t tried this. Yet.
What makes me bring this up though, is some unrelated but very interesting news that was announced by Nintendo about a month ago. You will be able to download content for the DS wirelessly through the Wii. DS/Wii owners will be able to download additional levels and demo games from the web onto the Wii and then transmit them wirelessly to the DS. This seemingly innocuous news can actually have some big implications.
Imagine being able to buy a slot-1 card that comes with a program like Comic Book DS that will allow you to read comics and ebooks on your DS. Now, imagine being able to download books and manga through the Wii connection and transferring to the card. An electronic device that allows you to carry and read several books at a time. A program written like the Comic Book DS wouldn’t require publishers to reformat their books before publishing. Digital manga offered at the same time or shortly after the print release, at a lower price point could bring in more readers. And putting them on the most popular handheld device in the hands intended target audience can only mean more business. I know as a Mom, having lots of things to keep the kids busy while on long trips, etc. is definitely a good thing. Being able to keep lots of books in an electronic device made to be handled by kids is even better.
For now, this is only a pipe dream. We will have to wait and see how the DSvision does in Japan, and if Nintendo thinks it’s worth bringing to the US. Until then, there is the homebrew route, that offers to make your DS more than a gaming machine, if you’ve got the money and are tech savvy enough to get it working. There’s plenty of unlicensed, scanalated manga to try it out on. I’m really hoping that Nintendo wakes up and does the right thing.
The Kindle just might have some competition for the “iPod of Books” title.