The news broke Tuesday that Tokyopop had gone through another round of layoffs, which this time included long-time editor Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, another editor Troy Lewter, and Line editor Asako Suzuki. The Manga tweet-verse was abuzz about the news mostly with sympathy for the folks laid off, and a lot of wonderment of what Tokyopop was thinking to let go of some great people. Most of the speculation for the lay-offs was that is was a desperate cost-cutting measure. With Borders going under, Tokyopop seems to be losing a big outlet, that also owes them money. But a lot of people
Have We Lost Our Soul?
Monday started out with a bang as new spread quickly on twitter and then the blogs that Go! Comi’s website had expired. Gia Manry of Anime Briefs caught the expiration first, and attempted to contact someone through voice, but couldn’t get ahold of anyone. No official word has come back from any reps of the company, which doesn’t bode well for its future. The speculation that the manga company for sale in Southern California was Go! Comi gets stronger by the minute. Even though this news wasn’t all that surprising, it is still a bit of a shock, and I hope there are some publishers out there willing to “troll” the Go! Comi licenses and give us some hope of seeing them through to the end. Jus don’t look to Yen Press for that.
Another Tremor in the Manga Market
And the news didn’t improve any on Tuesday, as Publishers Weekly broke the news that Viz Media had laid off 60 employees, or 40% of their total. The Doomsayers didn’t come out for this, but there was a lot of worry for the Signature/Ikki line, since it’s not a cash cow in regards to sales. Viz later posted on their blog that the layoffs were a part of a company restructuring, and that no titles were in danger of being cancelled. They must have gotten a lot of worried inquiries in order to post a message like that. It’s good to hear that none of our favorite titles will be going away anytime soon, but also sad that so many people had to lose their jobs. Here’s wishing them well and that they find new work soon.
The Path to Hell…
David Welsh of The Manga Curmudgeon writes about an email he received advocating a “new” way to get manga piracy sites shut down; tell the site advertisers that the site has child p_rn on it. While I’m sure the person/persons who came up with this approach had good intentions in wanting to stop the pirates and help manga publishers, I have to say it’s a terrible idea. I’m in complete agreement with David when he says this approach will demonize the content, which is the last thing we need. Manga and anime are still fighting the perception that is filled things bad for children to read (see next story), so we don’t need actual “fans” adding to that bad image. Publishers need to do the work to stop these sites from putting up their rightful content, and they don’t need this kind of “help” which would very likely backfire and make their product nearly impossible to shelf and sell since the perception will be that manga is for child p_orn.
Death Note:1 Book Banners:0
ANN reports on the results of an attempt to ban the manga Death Note from high schools in the Albuquerque Public School District. In short, a parent complained about the death in Death Note, going so far as to compare it to the Columbine shooting. This is a clear example of a parent either not reading or understanding what the title is about. There is not comparison between the two. Death Note is about justice and morality. Just who should get to decide who lives and who dies. Columbine was revenge. Death Note can get a kid thinking about things they probably never thought about before with respect to justice, and the death penalty, which as an adult they will have to deal with as a voter and juror. These are things that can’t be taught. But if presented properly can get the wheels turning so one can come to their own decision. That is the value of a series like Death Note.
Did You Remember to Call?
Sunday was Mother’s Day. Did you remember to call your mother and wish her a happy day? She could be lying on the floor of the kitchen right now, unable to get help and you would never know… Jason Yadao remembered Mother’s Day by giving a list of mothers in manga. While I didn’t do it this year, the previous two years I did posts about moms in manga as well. Jason hits a lot of moms I didn’t so check out all the lists for some great moms in manga. And for goodness sake, call your Mother. She’s worried about you.
NYT Best Seller List
Despite of, or maybe because of, Viz holds the 8 of the 10 slots again this week, and the biggest shock of it, Naruto is nowhere to be found on it! Let’s start off with checking in on Twilight in the Hardcover list. Is it back at #1? You betcha! Over in manga, Black Bird vol 4 holds the #1 slot, a book I wouldn’t have thought would make or deserve it, but it does, on both counts. Otomen vol 6 takes the #2 slot with D. Gray-man vol 17 coming in at #3. One Piece vol 44 takes the #4 position, with the only Yen Press title, Yotsuba&! vol 8 taking #5. One Piece cuts its way through again with vols 46 and 45 at #6 and #7 respectively while last week’s #1, Tsubasa vol 26, falls back to #8. One Piece then finishes out the list with vols 47 and 48 taking #9 and #10 spots. It’s another list of debuts, with Yotsuba&! and Tsubasa being the only titles to hold over from last week. All of the Viz titles are debuts. We’ll see how long this will last though. One Piece never seems to last past the first release week, though it is good to see all five making the cut again. But with Yen Press’ Black Butler coming out this week, I’m sure the #1 title next week will have Black in the title, it just won’t be a bird.
This Week at Manga Village
- One Piece Omnibus vol 1
- Kurashina-Sensei’s Passion vol 1-2
- Welcome to Wakaba-soh vol 2
- Weekly Picks
- Contributors Wanted
What I’m Reading
- Black Jack vol 7
Anime News Network has an article about Viz Media having to restructure and layoff some employees in this difficult economy. In the comments to that story, of course, someone has to drag out the dead horse of piracy. Every economic problem that a manga or anime company has is not always related back to piracy. Can we get over this please?
This is a tough economy right now, and things aren’t going to be getting any better any time soon. Don’t fool yourself. If Google, the giant of the online world has to lay off people, then you know this is a widespread problem. And Viz, despite it’s hugely popular properties is not immune to it. In fact, it may be hit harder than other companies.
Look at Viz’s releases and schedule. They are about the only company that has several titles that come out every other month. When money gets tight, you start looking for places to cut corners, and let’s be honest, manga is a luxury item. If you have to cut down your manga order, you’re going to go for the titles you like most, and that’s not always going to fall in Viz’s favor.
This economy will weed out the men from the boys, both in companies and in titles. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of the “C-listers” start to get longer releases times, if not disappear completely. Viz night not be able to afford Saint Seiya or Detective Conan, since Naruto and Bleach will have to cover themselves more.
Piracy and/or scanalations are not the cause of Viz’s problems here. It’s people (me included), having to make choices about what they can continue to afford to buy, and what they truly want to keep reading. Titles that people bought just for fun aren’t going to be making it onto ordering/shopping lists. It’s just going to be those that they absolutely, positively have to have. And it might be surprising to see that alot of Viz titles don’t always make it on the have to list.
Sometimes a rose is just a rose, and a drop in sales is a drop in sales, and not because of piracy.