Yen Press surprised manga readers last Friday, when it announced that they had rescued the license for Fruits Basket, as well as two other titles by creator Natsuki Takaya, Liselotte & Witch’s Forest, and Twinkle Stars.
It’s a question that’s been plaguing manga readers since Tokyopop quit publishing in 2011. Who would get the license to Fruits Basket? I don’t think there’s been much doubt that the title would be picked up again. It was Tokyopop’s license to print money back in the early aughts, and kept the company afloat throughout the decade. It was a Kodansha title, so that seemed a sure bet, but the last four years have been a wasteland of news. But Yen Press gave readers an early Christmas present by announcing the return of the shojo series. I missed it the first time around, so I will be picking it up.
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?
Mythical Detective Loki is a series I have wanted released in the west for years. It’s had a bumpy history here. ADV Manga first licensed the continuation of the series, Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok, and released two volumes before they folded. Jmanga licensed the first series and managed to release five volumes before it folded. A third series, Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok: Gods of the New World, never saw translation here, but has now ended in Japan. The series is about Loki, the Norse god of mischief, who is banished to Earth in the form of a young boy. To return to the land of the gods, he must collect auras of evil, so he opens a detective agency. As well as collecting the auras, he has to deal with other Norse gods who come to visit and/or taunt him, some of whom do not want him returning.
I love boy detective titles, as well as any kind of mythology, so I’ve been dying to read this series. I still have the two volumes ADV Manga released, but lost the Jmanga titles when they went under. But this is a series that so deserves another chance! It’s not the manga’s fault it never finished with either company. Both folded before the manga had a chance to finish. Jmanga was just two volumes away. I don’t think Ragnarok would have done well for ADV Manga anyway, since it was a continuation of the first series, and ADV Manga didn’t provide any background information on the characters or story.
Thanks to the Marvel Avengers and Thor movies, Loki has become a really hot property. Some publisher should really pick this series up. Each titled series is short too. Mythical Detective Loki is only 7 volumes. Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok is 5 volumes, and the final series, Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok: Gods of the New World is 6 volumes. None of the titles are too long for publishers and still fit into the post 2000s requirement. I think the series would be a good fit for Seven Seas Entertainment or Yen Press, and the Japanese publisher, MAG Garden isn’t tied down to any one English publisher.
I know I’ve written a Wish List for this series before, but with all that’s happened since then, it really needed this update. We really need a Japanese manga about Norse gods solving mysteries! There is no such thing as too much Loki! This series needs an English release stat!
With Con Season is full swing, the license announcement are coming at a fairly steady rate. Whether in between cons, or publishers not planning on panels, the word of new licenses and rescues still make the steady rounds of news sites, and especially social media like Twitter and Tumblr.
One Peace Books is a boutique publisher that has been dabbling in manga with such titles as Whispered Words, Aquarion Evol, and Crayon Shin Chan. This time, the publisher picked up a light novel series and its manga companion. The Rising of the Shield Hero is a light novel series that is currently at 10 volumes and ongoing. It is about Naofumi Iwatani, an otaku who is whisked away to a parallel dimension where he discovers is he one of four heroes equipped with a legendary weapon and tasked with saving the world from its prophesied destruction. Naofumi starts out as the Shield Hero, the weakest of the four, and soon finds himself alone, penniless and betrayed. He must now start his journey to become the legendary Shield Hero the world needs. The first volume will be out September 15 with the second being released October 20. The first volume of the manga, which is at 3 volumes and ongoing, will be out in November. This plot is very standard for fantasy novels, so unless it does something really interesting, I will probably skip it. I would be more inclined to check out the manga first, since I wouldn’t be as much as a time suck for me.
Dark Horse isn’t know for making license rescues, until it’s a CLAMP title. So their announcement that they picked up Planetes came as a bit of a surprise. Planetes was originally published by Tokyopop back in 2004, and even back that it was a difficult title to collect. It’s by Makoto Yukimura who is also the mangaka of Vinland Saga, which Kodansha is currently publishing in 2-in-1 deluxe hardback editions. Dark Horse will publish Planetes as 2 omnibus editions complete with bonus color pages. The story centers around Hachimaki, a member of a space-garbage crew, who collects everything from satellites to screws, anything that could damage a spacecraft when traveling at high speeds. Hachimaki dreams of owning his own spaceship, and decides there’s better money in joining the first manned mission to Jupiter. It’s been a long time since I last read Planetes, but it was a fun short series and very good sci-fi. The first omnibus will be out in December, just in time to put under the Christmas tree.
Yen Press just popped up with two new licenses on their Twitter feed, both of which fit right into the publisher’s catalog. School-Live! is a horror/slice of life series. It follows four girls, Yuki Takeya, Kurumi Ebisuzawa, Yuri “Riisan” Wakasa, and Miki “Miikun” Naoki, who camp out at their school and end up the only survives of a zombie attack. They decide to stay at the school and make it their home. Yen has really embraced the zombie/school survival titles, starting back with Highschool of the Dead. This series appears to feature cute little girls, but the premise may have a darker edge to it. There are currently five volumes and the series is ongoing. It might be interesting to check out the first volume, which will be released in November.
The second series is Of the Red, the Light and the Ayakashi. It’s based on a doujin game released in Japan back in 2011. The manga adaptation started in 2012. It is about Yue, a boy born and raised in a certain shrine on the outskirts of Utsuwa City. His close childhood friend, Kurogitsune takes him to the winter festival, where he experiences the outside world for the first time, and meets a mysterious boy. Seven volumes have been released so far. Yen Press also loves their visual novel stories, from Higurashi and Umineko. This series is a must read. I had it on my wish list at Baka-Updates Manga for who knows how long, but I enjoy titles with spiriting away themes and supernatural mysteries. This first volume will debut in December.
As I was pulling together titles for my post update on crafting manga, I remembered I had a couple of volumes of V.B. Rose. I won volume 7 from a blog a few years ago. I remember there being a lot of hype for the series back in the day, and being ever curious, wanted to see what all the hoopla was about. Then found volume 1 on Paperback Swap and snatched it up.
V.B. Rose is about high school student Ageha Shiroi. Her older sister Hibari, who she idolizes, is getting married and Ageha doesn’t approve. But, Ageha loves weddings and can’t resist when she is invited to see the dress design with Hibari at the boutique Velvet Blue Rose. The boutique is run by two men, Yukari Arisawa and Mitsuya Kuromine. Ageha gets off on the wrong foot with Yukari when she explodes over the wedding, and Yukari literally throws her out of the shop. Ageha, with the help of her friend Mamoru, realizes she did wrong and goes back to apologize. Things go awry again, and Mitsuya hurts his hand. Ageha volunteers to help out in Mitsuya’s place. Yukari balks at first, but Ageha is very crafty, and already know for the handmade purses she makes for Hibari and her friends, so he relents. It becomes a race to get the Hibari’s dress done on time as Ageha has to learn bead embroidery and how to deal with Yukari’s strict management and Mitsuya’s constant glomping.
I read volume 7 first and at the time wasn’t too impressed. I passed on reviewing it since I didn’t have anything useful to say. For this re-read, I read volume 1 first and then volume 7 and found I liked the series a whole lot more. The first volume set up the characters and relationships really well, so when I got to volume 7, it wasn’t difficult to see how they got there. I think when I first read volume 7, it just didn’t work as well without that context.
Ageha and Yukari are amusing characters. Ageha is rather hot-headed and speaks without thinking, or worse, saying things she doesn’t really mean. Yukari can be just as abrasive, saying exactly what he means, when he chooses to speak. He more often reacts first without full explaining why. This poor communication, or complete lack thereof, leads to misunderstandings between them. It’s not so bad at first, when the misunderstandings are Ageha getting the wrong impression about what Yukari thinks of her craftwork. When it gets into their budding relationship, it’s easy to see how this will only complicate things.
Ageha and Yukari are the main couple, but Ageha seems to have plenty of suitors for Yukari to worry about. Mitsuya isn’t serious about his advances, but there are other men around who could be serious competition. Mamoru’s younger brother, Nagare has feelings for her and declares them over Christmas, while Ageha is talking to Yukari. His anxiety over Ageha being courted by other men is fun to watch. Ageha has her own things to worry about as she wonders if Yukari’s ex-girlfriend Kana, who he still works with, still has feelings for him.
Since the setting of this series is a wedding dress boutique, there are plenty of beautiful gowns. In volume 1, there is a gorgeous Chinese inspired gown I would have loved to have worn. The gown that Kana makes the corsage for in volume 7 is just elegant. Ageha’s handmade purses are both cute and useful. What I wouldn’t give for a friend that could make a custom bag.
V.B. Rose is a romantic comedy that is a lot of fun. Tokyopop originally licensed the series, and nearly published it complete. They released volume 13 the same month they shutdown, making this one of the most difficult volumes to find in English. The series was originally published by Hakusensha in Japan, a publisher that doesn’t have an established relationship with a US publisher. This title would be a perfect candidate for Viz Media’s Viz Select program. While I would prefer getting this series digitally, I do have to admit that Tokyopop’s early prints of the series were very nicely done with gold imprinting on the cover to make it extra sparkly! Viz Select has already picked up and published several of Tokyopop’s old titles digitally. V.B. Rose would be another great addition to this program. It is probably completely translated, and is a shojo title that would an ideal fit their Shojo Beat catalog.