Yen Press warmed the hearts of many manga and light novel fans with more announcements, some of which have already seen their first release.
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.
On Friday Yen Press announced new licenses for their manga and Light Novel lines through their Twitter account. There are a total of 8 titles; 3 Light Novels and 5 manga, but two of those are adaptations of the light novels. Still, that is a lot of content to commit to in 2015.
The first manga announced was Rust Blaster. This was the debut work of Yana Toboso, the creator of the very popular Black Butler series that Yen Press also publishes. The story follows the most unvampire-like vampire Aldred and a human transfer student Kei. They meet by chance at a vampire academy, but there meeting wasn’t just an accident, it was fate. The one volume series ran in Square Enix’s G-Fantasy. There was no release date announced. Vampires are really my thing, but at one volume I’d be willing to give this series a go.
The next two manga titles are from the Puella Magi Madoka Magica series. Puella Magi Homura Tamura is a slice of life 4 koma comedy series. This spin-off is based on the main manga series by Magical Quartet. It ran in Houbunsha’s Manga Time Kirara Magica and there is one volume available. Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Homura’s Revenge has both Homura and Madoka traveling through time. This series also ran in Houbunsha’s Manga Time Kirara Magica, and is complete in two volumes. No release date was announced for these titles. I will definitely be checking out these titles. I love the Puella Magi * series and spin offs. The 4 koma sounds especially fun.
Black Bullet is a light novel series that also has a manga adaptation. The series follows Rentaro, a boy growing up in a world where an alien parasite, Gastrea, has killed most of the human population. Rentaro is a high school student living near Tokyo 10 years later. He is a member of the Civil Security, and with his childhood friends Enju Ahari and Kisara Tendo, fight against the Gastrea, using the special powers they gained by being infected by the virus at birth. The light novel series has seven volumes and is ongoing, while the manga adaptation only went four volumes. It also had an anime adaptation which was licensed by Sentai Filmworks. No release dates were announced for either format. I can’t say this title sounds interesting to me. I’m not big on post apocalyptic titles.
Strike the Blood is another light novel series with an ongoing manga adaptation. This series is about Yukina Hirameki, an apprentice “sword shaman.” She was selected to watch over, and possibly hunt, Kojou Akatsuki, the “fourth-progenitor”, a vampire from legend that is said to be the strongest and will bring disaster to humanity. Armed with a powerful anti-progenitor spear, she goes to Itogamijima, a demon city located in a special zone to find him. There are eleven volumes of the light novel and the manga has five volumes. No release dates were announced for either format. I’m not seeing any fireworks with these titles either.
The last light novel series announced is one that we’ve been waiting to hear about for a while. Durarara is a manga series that Yen Press has been releasing for a while. It is based on a light novel series, and so far the manga has only adapted 3 of the 13 volumes currently out. But now, we won’t have to rely on the manga adaptation since Yen Press has FINALLY announced the light novel series! Of all the light novels that have been announced for the YenOn line, this is the one series I am most excited about. I fell in love with Durarara after the end of the first manga adaptation, and now do not want to wait to read more. This is so exciting and the best news that Yen Press could give. The first novel is scheduled to be released in July, 2015.
That’s quite a windfall to start the new year with. Yen Press is fully behind their YenOn line, and Durarara could be their cash cow that helps carry the rest of the line. All of the titles announced fit perfectly with their catalog, so no fan will be disappointed.
At New York Comic Con which occurred recently, Vertical, Inc. announced some new licenses, as well as a new imprint. Continuing with the roots of the company they announced two light novels, based on the wildly popular Attack on Titan property; Attack on Titan Before the Fall: Kyklo Arc and Attack on Titan: Harsh Mistress of the City.
Attack on Titan Before the Fall: Kyklo Arc makes up the last two light novels of the Before the Fall series. Vertical has already published the first novel, which follows talented smith Angel Aaltonen as he develops the maneuvering gear for the Survey Corps. The new license is for story that follows Kyklo, the “son of a Titan.” This second part takes place at around the same time as the first volume and follows Kyklo, a boy who was in the womb when his mother eaten by a Titan and survived, and became dubbed “Son of a Titan.” Kodansha Comics is releasing the manga based on the novel. Vertical will release the Kyklo Arc as one 2-in-1 omnibus. It will be available next summer. I’m currently reading the first volume and have liked it so far. Even with Kodansha releasing the manga, I may still read the light novels of Kyklo.
Attack on Titan: Harsh Mistress of the City takes place just after the beginning of the Attack on Titan manga. After Wall Maria was breached, Titans began streaming in, reaching even far off Quinta District. The story follows Mathias and his allies and Rita, a soldier in the brigade of occupying troops. Rita wants to protect the town which has fallen into chaos with the appearance of the Titans, but due to forceful tactics used by the brigade, the town becomes afraid. Mathias must use whatever he can to meet up with Rita, including the “helping hands” of a band of thieves. This single volume will be available in the Fall of next year. This time period in Attack on Titan has not been explored much, so it will be interesting to see what happened to some of the areas affected by the fall of Wall Maria.
While not announced at NYCC, Publisher’s Weekly made the exclusive announcement during the con that Vertical was creating a new imprint for the company. Vertical Comics will be the place for all Vertical manga and anime-related titles. With this new imprint, Vertical will be expanding its manga offerings to 20 volumes this year, including 7 new properties. Eventually, the line will expand to 30-40 titles a year. Vertical decided to start this imprint to keep the manga separate from their core business of publishing Japanese prose novels. I think this is a great move by Vertical, especially the expansion. They always pick up unusual and gripping titles that many other publishers won’t touch. While I’m not always comfortable reading some of their titles, I’ve never regretted reading one.
Over the Labor Day weekend that traditionally ends Summer for most kids (though may schools start in August now), Yen Press announced several titles for both their new Yen On imprint of light novels and their regular manga line. Included in this license bonanza was both the manga and light novel series of Log Horizon and The Devil is a Part-Timer, the light novel series No Game No Life, Pandora Hearts Caucus Race, and the manga version of the Disney movie Big Hero 6.
Log Horizon started in 2010 and follows the very familiar premise of 30,000 Japanese gamers being trapped in a fantasy online game world called Elder Tale. The story follows Shiroe, Naotsugu and Akasuki, three friends, as they band together to survive their new reality. Yeah, this screams Sword Art Online to me. But it seems to be doing well enough as it now has seven volumes out and 2 manga adaptation. Yen will publish the first light novel in March 2015. And speaking of manga series, Yen did announce the manga adaptation, just not which one. Though best bet would be on the straight adaptation Log Horizon. No date were announced for the manga. Like most of the light novel adaptations from Yen lately, I will probably be more likely to read the manga over the light novel, unless the manga really impresses. So I will most likely at least check out the first volume of the manga.
The Devil is a Part Timer has another familiar premise, but one that I think I’d like more. A demon king named Satan is about to conquer his alternate world when he is transported to Tokyo in our world. To make ends meet, he ends up working in a fast food restaurant. but he hasn’t given up on his world-dominating. His first step in taking over Tokyo is to go from a freelancer to an actual employee! He is also pursed by heroine Emilia, who has followed him to Tokyo. There are currently 12 volumes in print, and an anime adaptation was also released here by Funimation. I expect this series to do well with an anime already available. This series sounds a lot more appealing to me, and it has a manga adaptation as well, that Yen Press has also licensed. Again, I’ll probably read the manga before the light novel. The first volume of the light novel series will be available in April 2015, but no date for the manga was announced.
No Game No Life centers around siblings Sora and Shiro, reputed to be brilliant NEET hikikomori gamers on the net. They are so immersed in gaming that they treat life as just “another crappy game.” One day they are summoned to an alternate world by a boy named GOD. In this world, war has been outlawed and all disputes are decided by playing games. Humanity has been driven back to one city, and need Sora and Shiro to save them from losing everything. This series has just started with one volume out so far. It also has an anime that Sentai Filmworks has just licensed. The manga adaptation was licensed by Seven Seas Entertainment, with the first volume scheduled to be released in October. I’m not as interested in this series either. I do like gaming manga in general, but the premise of this series just doesn’t intrigue me. I’m just not that interested in NEET or hikikomori. The first volume of the light novel from Yen Press will be out in April 2015.
Pandora Hearts Caucus Races is a series of short story collections about the manga series Pandora Hearts that Yen Press also publishes. There are currently 3 volumes available, the last of which came out in May of 2013. The manga has only one more volume left, so this series will be a good way for fans to keep their Pandora Hearts fix going just a little longer. I’ve found Pandora Hearts strangely addictive. I didn’t really care for it at first, but the second half of the series has been filled with twists and surprised that I’ve just loved! I will give the first volume of this collection a look, though there was no release date given for it.
Finally, Yen Press announced they would be releasing the Japanese manga adaptation of the Disney movie Big Hero 6. The movie is scheduled to come out in the US in November, and Japan in December. It is about Hiro, a boy who lost his older brother Tadashi in a mysterious accident and the robot Baymax who was built by Tadashi, and takes place in San Fransokyo, a fictional city that combines Tokyo and San Francisco. This series is a prequel to the movie, and a first for a Disney movie adaptation. I wondered why Yen Press got this, since Big Hero 6 started as a Marvel comic, and is where Disney got the property from. Why wouldn’t Marvel or even Disney do an adaptation? This Bleeding Cool article gives some reasons why. As a writer for kids comics blog, I have an interest in this series, but beyond that, I’m not so sure I would pick it up.
Yen Press just couldn’t want to get their new license announcements out. Just look at this list of titles, and its’ still early in the con season! What else are they going to have after announcing this impressive list?
I loved the anime of Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, and now not only is the manga, but the light novels that started the phenomenon are coming over here! The anime was great, so I expect the source material to be even better! Haruhi is fun and quirky, and Kyon’ sarcastic wit is the best. Don’t pass these up! Press Release after the cut.
The Kindle has been getting a lot of press lately. It was feature on the cover of Newsweek, it’s back ordered because of the demand, but is it really all that the hype is making it out to be? And what’s this going to mean to manga and other j-media?
The Kindle is Amazon’s entry into ebooks. Since Amazon sells books, this seems to make sense. The Kindle uses a new technology know as “electronic paper”. It uses black ink, in a way similar to an etch-a-sketch, to electronically charge the ink so that it clings to the screen. This gives the appearance and readability of paper without the flicker or glare of a computer screen. It has wireless connectivity that makes getting books and other files fast and easy. No need to search for a WiFi hotspot. Anywhere Sprint service is available, so is your Kindle. You can buy and download books from the Amazon Kindle Store with the keypad at the bottom of the reader. It comes with an account and email address for your purchases and correspondence. You can also download magazines and daily newspapers, so no more paper cluttering your house or needing recycling. It can receive blog feeds, and you can email yourself pdfs, word documents and pictures. Even in this first generation, the Kindle looks to be revolutionary. So what’s to stop it from taking the world by storm?
It’s certainly not perfect. It’s priced way too high. The reader itself is $399.00. There are no wireless charges, but each book costs $9.99, magazine and newspapers have subscription costs, and even blogs and email will hit your pocket book; $2.99 and .10/ea respectively. It has some design problems, and it needs to work on formatting for pdfs, but these are minor issues.
The bigger problem is one for ALL E-reader devices; convincing people to use an E-reader. E-readers have been around for quite a while now, since about 2001. And in all that time, the sales haven’t yet hit 100,000 units. This isn’t a good track record for E-readers. Lots of the bells and whistles aren’t going to push sales if the basic reading experience doesn’t compare to reading a print book. People expect electronic devices to be the same or better than the regular experience. If E-readers and ebooks are to succeed, they have to do this. They have to make people believe that holding an electronic device is just as good as holding a book, and that the electronic experience is going to be better than feeling the paper in your hand and turning the pages yourself.
Despite these problems, I think the reason the Kindle has gotten so much hype is that it is loaded with potential. The basic technology isn’t new. It’s the way that’s it’s be used that’s really captured people’s imagination. Download a free preview, and if you like it then download the book! The ipod was just another mp3 player until Apple introduced the itunes store, and revolutionized the way we get and listen to digital music. If Amazon can do the same for books, then the Kindle WILL be the ipod for ebooks.
So, what’s all this got to do with manga? Nothing at the moment. Only a few manga publishers have been doing anything with digital manga. Netcomics has the most obvious model, following their Korean model of rent chapters for .25 a chapter. They have their own viewer (for copyright protection) . Tokyopop, the only other publisher that has really taken online viewing seriously, has their own viewer as well, and makes many of their original manga available. Most of the other publishers only have previews of some of their series’ available. No one lets you download the manga to keep. Tokyopop has dabbled with manga downloads with the Sony E-Reader, but since the E-Reader hasn’t take off, neither has the downloads.
The best place for manga publishers to start is with light novels. We have been seeing more of these books being licensed and published. They are often serialized in anthology magazines along side manga, and they will have illustations to accompany the text. Viz has put out light novels for Ruroni Kenshin, Naturo and Full Metal Alchemist. Tokyopop has snatched up some novels that were the source of several popular manga and anime here including Full Metal Panic, Karin (Chibi Vampire), and Welcome to the NHK. Seven Seas Entertainment has licensed a few such as Ballad of a Shinigami, but they have yet to see the light of day. Since these are just text novels, there is no formatting necessary. And without the publishing costs, the prince should be able to drop as well. $5.99 would be much more palatable than the current $9.99 publishers charge. This would be the ideal place for manga publishers to start.
Even though for the initial launch, Amazon seems to have chosen to go after the businessman on the go, just imagine what the implications would be for manga if the Kindle were to become commonplace. Being able to carry whole series’ with you anywhere. Downloading previews of new titles and buying the book if you like it. Even being able to rent titles like the Netcomics model and still be able to read them anywhere and not worry about returning them or being tied to your computer! The possibilities for manga are as limitless as the Kindle. Let’s hope that the E-book’s time has finally come. Publishing’s been due a revolution for some time now. Maybe the Kindle can be the one to raise the flag and lead the way.
Edit: Fixed browser references.