Otakon is the last big convention for manga publishers before New York Comic Con in October. It’s not usually a place frequented by publishers, especially not from the west coast, but this year saw some exciting license announcements, and appearances by west coast publishers Dark Horse Manga and Viz Media with Shojo Beat.
Viz Media does a pretty decent job of spreading out its license announcements. They aren’t always big or mind-blowing, but at all three conventions in July they made sure they had something to for fans to look forward to, and I think that in itself is pretty cool.
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?
I already discussed these new licenses in my Anime Expo manga roundups. I’ll give the two new shojo manga, Behind the Scenes and Shuriken and Pleats a try. It would be nice to find a good Drama club manga. I could do without another Dragon Ball Z release just to add some color. I also really want to read School Judgement: Gakkyu Hotei. I really enjoyed the few chapters I read in Shonen Jump back in January, so I’m thrilled it’s coming out in print.
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, Viz, Vertical, Crunchyroll, Kodansha Comics and Yen Press all announced titles, some of which nearly had fans swooning from shock and excitement.
Yen Press started out the last day of the con with an overload of licenses and announcements. They just piled on the titles, some digital only, some digital going print, some light novels, and plenty of manga.
Starting with print, a title that had been previously announced as a digital only at Sakura Con has moved up to print before even coming out. Handa-kun is the prequel series to Barakamon, which as been doing really well in Japan, reportedly better than the main series. I really liked Barakamon. I binge-read the first four volumes, so this series has moved up from a wait and see to a want. It was also announced to be a simul-pub which Yen Press will begin in October with several other Square-Enix titles.
My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong As I Expected started as a light novel series. It follows antisocial high school student Hachiman Hikigaya who has a distorted view of life. He has no friends or girlfriend and has a very pessimistic view on his classmates and his future. In order to change his twisted outlook, he his forced by one of his teachers to join the volunteer service club, which also has Yukino Yukinoshita, the school’s prettiest girl as the sole member. There are 11 volumes of the light novel series and four of the manga series, both of which Yen Press has licensed and scheduled for release in 2016. Despite the long and awkwardly worded title, this series sounds interesting as it looks at the psychological motives behind teen interactions in high school.
Log Horizon: The West Wind Brigade is a side story to Log Horizon and follows Sojiro and the members of the West Wind Brigade. Yen Press already has the main manga and light novel series of the users of the online game Elder Tale being trapped in the game and having to fight to survive. There are 5 volumes so far, but no release date was announced. Fans of Log Horizon or this genre will enjoy the side story. I will pass.
These next two titles are no brainers. Sword Art Online: Phantom Bullet and Mother’s Rosario continue the 3rd and 4th story arcs of the light novel series Sword Art Online. Yen Press has already licensed and released several other manga adaptation and side stories, so these next to arcs should come as no surprise. Phantom Bullet is at one volume so far which will be released in September 2015 and Mother’s Rosario is at two with the first to be released in December 2015. I wasn’t impressed with SAO, so I don’t think these two titles will do anything to change that.
Demonizer Zilch is a supernatural series that follows Io Haruomi. He is haunted by his past where his sister and friend died and he was powerless to help them. Despite his guilt, he tries to live a normal life as an average high school student, until he meets a girl with glowing red eyes known as an Eda. She has escaped from the “Seven Great Gospel Organizations” and shows Io that he is an Eda too, throwing him into the midst of the battle between humans and the devil. There is only one volume so far, and Yen did not announce a release date. I’m getting a “meh” feeling from this one.
Taboo Tattoo is an action title about Justice Akazuka, aka Seigi, a young man who is good at martial arts. He rescues an old homeless man from some thugs and is given an object by him that imprints a tattoo on his palm. The tattoo imbues Seigi with supernatural powers such as warping space-time. He is then pursued by Ijii, a female American agent sent to retrieve the tattoos, which are actually secret weapons in an arms race. Seigi offers to help Ijii, and becomes entangled in a cross-nation conspiracy. This title sounds interesting, but has a lot of male-gaze potential as well. I hope the former will be greater than the latter. I’d give this one a read. I love conspiracy stories.
How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend is a manga adaptation of a light novel series that surprising Yen did not license as well. It is about otaku Tomoya Aki who meets a beautiful girl over summer vacation. He models her after the heroine for his own doujin game he is working on for Comiket with two of his fellow students helping with the art and writing. She turns out to be his classmate that no one seems to notice. There are five volumes so far. I’m not seeing the point of this series. Tomoya has no talent for writing or art, and yet he wants to create this game? Is he the coder then? This is too much of a head scratcher for me to get behind.
Along with My Youth Romantic Comedy, Yen Press licensed two more light novels. Another: Episode S is a spin-off of the horror novel Another, of which both the manga and novel was released by Yen. Episode S features the story of Mei and her cousin Fujioka Misaki before the start of the novel. It will be a hardcover like the first novel and will be bundled with manga Another 0, which is a prequel that tell the story of Kouichi’s mother’s time in Class 3. I loved Another and am totally looking forward to this, especially with the manga bundle. No release date was announced unfortunately.
The final OMG of the con was Yen Press’ license of Baccano!, a light novel series by Narita, the creator of Durarara!! The story takes place in America, 1930. Each story in the series involves unrelated plots that intersect, causing events to spiral further out of control. Rooted in a desire for immortality by some alchemists 300 years about, they have scattered around the world, and the incident on the soon-to-be-retired train Pussyfoot starts the chain reaction of atrocities. This series had an anime back in 2007 which propelled it to the top of many fan’s wish lists. The series is currently at 21 volume and is still ongoing. No release date was announced.
Yen Press then announced eight digital only titles. Aphorism is a school survival story where the students of Nara Shika High School must fight to survive everyday. There are currently 13 volumes. It’s first volume will be out in November. Pass. I am so done with all the high school survivor titles. Sekirei is a male-gaze battle series that follows Minato Sahashi, a total loser until he discovers he is an Ashikabi, one who can master the 108 human-like creatures, who all turn out to be girls. It is 18 volumes and will also be out in November. Another pass, not doing a title where the girls are constantly getting their clothes ripped off.
Saki is a game manga about Saki Miyanaga, a high school student who hates mahjong, but due to circumstances has learned to play a zero sum game. She gets dragged to her school’s mahjong club by an old friend. There are currently 14 volumes and the first volume will be out in November. I love gaming manga, and this is a series I’ve been interested in for a while. I will definitely be checking the first volume at least. Corpse Princess is about Makina Hoshimura an undead girl who must hunt down 108 corpses in order to go to heaven. It is complete at 23 volumes, and the first will be out in November. It’s about zombie killing, so I’ll give this a pass.
Crimson Prince is a romantic comedy about Kojiro Sakura, a demon prince who has come to Earth to start taking souls. Due to circumstances, he ends up meeting Hana Koumeda, starts living with her, and maybe having a change of heart. There are 16 volumes, but it has gone on hiatus indefinitely due to the artists’ health. The first volume is slated for November. This series looks sweet so I would give it a shot. I love detective stories, so Black Detective is another title that needs to go on my must have list. It is about naive Arata Toiro who is tricked into become the assistant to Yu Kuroba, aka The Black Detective, who likes to use his deductive powers to destroy his targets physically and mentally. There are six volumes so far, and the first volume will be available in December.
Aoharu x Machine Gun follows high school student Hotaru Tachibana, a girl disguised as a boy who gets drawn into the world of survival games by host Matsuoka and his childhood friend ero-manga artist Tohru Yukimura. There are seven volumes available, and the first will be released in December. Again, survival games, not interested. Renaissance Eve is a supernatural title about people who have strange blood that bestows special abilities. The story follows Chiaki Kaminaga who has blood type “C” for clairvoyance, and his friend Kaguya Daidoji who has blood type “D” for death. This is a short 4 volume series and the first volume will be out in December. This series looks interesting so it’s another I’d be willing to check out.
The final announcements from Yen Press was several titles would be starting simultaneous release with Japan starting in October. The titles include Black Butler, Today’s Kerberos, The Royal Tutor, and three new titles: Kake Gurui, a psychological drama that is currently at 3 volumes. My Monster Girl’s Too Cool for You is a comedy about a boy attending a human-yokai co-ed school who gets dumped by a Yuki Ono. There is only one volume out so far. Demon King Ena-sama Goes to Manga School is another comedy with two volumes out so far. I can’t find anything else about it.
None of these simultaneous releases really stand out which really makes me wonder why Yen Press is doing it, especially for the titles that are 2-3 volumes in and haven’t been released yet. And how are the releases going to work? I hope they aren’t going to continue their $2.99 a chapter like Secret was. It not worth it to buy chapters at $3 when the collected volume will be $10 in print or less in digital. But Yen Press has said so little about their digital initiative other than pile on the titles, it’s really hard to say where it will all go.
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.
Comics and manga publisher Dark Horse made a surprise appearance at Anime Central, a Mid-west con held in Chicago, IL. They had an even bigger surprise for attendees as they announced four new titles to ship in 2016.
Giganto Maxima is a one shot volume by Kentaro Miura, who is best known in the west for the series Berserk, which is also published by Dark Horse. The series takes place 100 million years in the future, and is about the war between the forces led by Zeus, and the Nether forces led by the giant Alcyoneus. The series is the first original work from Miura in 24 years, since the start of Berserk, and fans will either be happy or disappointed that this volume will be more light-hearted and idealistic. Dark Horse will publish this series in February 2016.
Danganronpa: The Animation is the manga adaptation of the TV series which is based on a video game. The series follows a group of high school students, each of whom possess a different exceptional talent. They are all locked in at school, and told that the only way to escape is to kill a fellow student without getting caught. After a student is murdered, they hold a trial to find out who is responsible while their own lives are on the line. My oldest daughter was obsessed with this series for a while, so I’m familiar with it somewhat, which just makes me more interested in reading the manga. Or at least I can say I’m getting it for her and then just read it myself. The series is complete in four volumes with the first volume set to be released in March 2016.
I Am A Hero is a bit of a coup for Dark Horse. The series is published by Shogakukan, whose titles are almost exclusively published by Viz Media. It is the company’s first Shogakukan title since they published Godzilla back in 1988. I Am A Hero is about Hideo Suzuki, a struggling manga artist who might also be mentally unstable. One night, he sees the victim of an auto collision with a twisted leg and broken neck, get up and walk away. As more of Tokyo’s dead start to rise, there are two things that allow a crazy man like Suzuki to survive; the belief that he is destined to be a hero, and something that is a rarity in Japan, a gun. The series has quite a pedigree as it was nominated for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Manga Taisho Awards, and won the 58th Shogakukan Manga Award in the General Category in 2013. I’m on the fence about this one. I’m not excited about more zombie manga unless there’s a good twist, and I don’t know if Suzuki will be enough of one to make it interesting. But all those award nominations make me think there might be more here. I might check it out. There are currently 16 volumes out, and Dark Horse will publish the series in a 2-in-1 omnibus format starting in April 2016.
The final series is a CLAMP title rescue. RG Veda was CLAMP’s debut title. It was originally published here by Tokyopop ten years ago, so needless to say, it is very out of print. The story is about Yasha-o, the Guardian Warrior of the North who discovers the last child of the Ashura-o clan, Ashura. The pair go on a quest to find the Six Stars and defeat the tyrantical King of Heaven, Taishakuten. The series features elements of Vedic mythology, and takes its name from one of the four Vedas. This series was the first CLAMP manga I read that I liked enough to read to the end. It was originally published in 10 volumes, but Dark Horse is basing its release on the 5 volume omnibus version released by Kadokawa. They are further condensing the series down to 3 omnibus volumes of around 600 pages each like their editions of Cardcaptor Sakura and Tokyo Babylon. These will be killer books. The first volume will be out in August 2016.
For the past two weeks Seven Seas Entertainment has been raining down manga license announcements. Four titles have been announced. Some were surprising not just for Seven Seas to get, but just to plain see in print in the US. The collection does have a little something for everyone.
The first title announced was Franken Fran. This dark parody series is about Fran Madaraki, the “daughter” of a highly skilled surgeon who has disappeared. Fran, takes up the family profession by performing surgeries in her secluded gothic home with her “sister” Veronica and a monstrous entourage. If you are willing to pay her price, Fran will perform any operation, including bringing back the dead. Her creed, “Lives must be saved, no matter the cost,” means the end justifies the means when fulfilling her duties. The title will be released in 4 2-in-1 omnibuses and will include color inserts. This title has gotten a lot of good word of mouth recommendations, so I’m looking forward to checking out the first volume at least. It will be coming out February 16, 2016.
Their next pickup was Not Lives, a “virtual gender-bender” manga. It is about game designer genius and high school student Mikami whose next big project is a romance game. Among the materials he received for research was a game he didn’t remember getting. Curiosity gets the better of him and his plays it, only to find himself thrust into a survival game and transformed into a girl. And in this game, it isn’t just his character on the line, but also his own life. This series sounds a like BTOOOM! meets Sword Art Online meets any generic gender-bender series. None of these titles really interest me so this looks like a series will pass up on. There are currently 7 volumes and the series is ongoing. The first volume will be released with color inserts on March 29, 2016.
The third license announced was Orange, a time-travel shojo. In this series, 16-year-old Naho Takamiya receives a letter from herself 10 years in the future. In the letter, she tells of an incoming transfer student named Kakeru Naruse, and that her biggest regret was that Kakeru was no long with them. She asks her past self to look after him. Naho didn’t believe the letter at first, but as things in the letter start to come true, including Kakeru’s transfer, she has to decide what the letter means for herself and Kakeru’s future. The series will be printed as 2 omnibus volumes with wraparound covers and color inserts. They will each be 380 pages long, or the equivalent of 2.5 Japanese manga, confirming the length of the series at 5 volumes. There are currently 4 in print. I was intrigued by this series when Crunchyroll announced it would stream it digitally. But now that it’s coming out in print, I will definitely be checking it out. The first volume will be released January 26 and the second in May, 2016.
The final series announced was Hour of the Zombie. Guess what genre this title is from. The story is about Akira, a typical high school student who has dreams and aspirations like everyone else, an unrequited crush on his childhood friend Kurumi, who seems to be more interesting in his best friend Umezawa. Their love triangle is trival in comparison to the drama that hits their school. Students start to turn into zombie, eating their friends and fellow students alike, and just as quickly, stop. Soon the school is divided between the turned and the unbitten, with unanswered question looming; how long will this peace last, and why did the students turn in the first place? I’m not normally interested in Zombie manga. Much like vampires, I feel they’ve run their course, but this series has some intriguing aspects that I might just want to check out. There are two volumes out and it is ongoing. The first volume will be released with color inserts April 5, 2016.
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.
Easter weekend was a busy one for conventions. On the east coast was Anime Boston, and on the west coast, Wondercon was held in Southern California and Sakura-Con up north in Washington State. Manga publishers split up to cover the anime cons, with Yen Press taking Sakura-Con.
Yen Press has already been busy this year with the manga and light novel announcements, and their appearance at Sakura-Con was no different. They stuck with just manga licenses this time, announcing a whopping 13 titles to be released in either print of digital.
Starting with print manga, one of the biggest announcements and surprise was Yowamushi Pedal. This is not only a sports manga, but also a long running series, currently at 39 volumes, features that tend to make publishers shy away from a title. Yowamushi Pedal though is already fairly well-known among Western readers. The anime was streamed by Crunchyroll, and fujoshi have been obsessing over the manga for a while. The story is about Sakamichi Onoda, an otaku whose passion for figures and anime was so great that he would ride his bicycle 60-miles round trip to Akihabara to shop there. His bicycling skills get him into competitive bike racing. I’ve seen plenty of references to Yowamushi Pedal on my Twitter feed, but I never knew what it was about, nor had much interest in finding out. Now, I think I’d like to check it out. It will be published in 2-in-1 omnibuses.
Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-kun is another manga that fans have been clamoring for. The anime was also streamed by Crunchyroll, and quickly became popular with viewers. It is about high school girl Sakura Chiyo, who confesses her feeling to classmate Nozaki. Nozaki mistakes her as a fan of his shojo manga, and ends up recruiting her to help him with it. The series is at 6 volumes and is just as much about creating manga as it is a rom-com, so there’s little wonder it was popular. This is a title I’ve been waiting and hoping would be licensed, and figured it was just a matter of time.
Sakura no Himegoto is a short two-volume shojo. It is about a girl, Aoi, who comes from a prestigious family, and Kei, a boy with a mysterious background. Thanks to a debt Aoi’s grandfather owes to Kei, Aoi is stuck repaying it as she gets pulled into a master-pet relationship with him. While this is a short story, it doesn’t hold a lot of interest for me. I don’t care for the master-pet/rich girl under poor boy’s power plots that seem to pop up in shojo manga lately. I will probably give this one a pass unless some of my fellow bloggers rave about its virtues.
Dragon Rioting is another titles I think I can do without. It centers around Rintaro, a boy who has been diagnosed with a disease that could kill him if the gets too sexually aroused. So, what happens to him? He gets accidentally enrolled in an all girls school and has to deal with the three “Dragons”, the three girls who control the school. If the cover wasn’t enough to make me back away, the “getting sexually aroused could kill disease” certainly did. There are five volumes out that will be passing up.
Aldnoah.Zero Season One has a lot more potential. It also has an anime. It is a sci-fi mecha series about a hypergate to Mars being found on the moon. Colonists to Mars discover advanced tech on Mars and form an Empire that declares war on Earth. The Moon is destroyed in the war, creating a debris field around the Earth. Martian fighters set up bases in the debris field and a truce is called, until 15 years later the life of Vers Empire Princess is threatened and the Empire declares war again, intent on taking Earth this time. This title sounds really interesting, and fits historical context really well. It has three volumes out so far that I’m looking forward to reading.
On the digital side, 8 Square-Enix titles that have not appeared in English previously were announced. Handa-kun is a spin-off of Barakamon, another Yen Press title. It is about Sei Hanada, a second year high school student and calligrapher. His is admired around his school for his cool charisma, but he thinks everyone at school hates him. It is three volumes so far. I want to check out Barakamon before I pass any judgement on this title, but so far it sounds like it has potential.
Today’s Kerberos is a title I’ll give wide berth. It a harem comedy, a genre I rarely find funny. Chiaki is a boy who no longer feels joy or fun after a childhood incident. His traveling father sends him a gift. Inside is a girl who calls herself Cerberus, and has three personalities. She vows to protect Chiaki from all harm. It’s currently three volumes and is ongoing. This will be an easy title to pass up.
Shut-In Shoutarou Kominami Takes on the World is a senien series about shut-in Shoutarou Kominami who, instead of getting the allowance he was expecting from his mother, gets a note telling him he’s been cut off. Shoutarou hasn’t left his place in months, but must now go out into the world and get a job. The series is complete in three volumes and sounds interesting. I’d be willing to read the first volume.
Servant X Service is a 4koma as well as being another senien. This slice of life comedy follows the staff of the Health and Welfare section of a ward in the fictional city of Mitsuba, Hokkaido, and their everyday hijinks in the office. It is complete in 4 volumes. I’m really intrigued by this series. It seems to be aimed at an older working person like me.
Unknown is a supernatural shonen action series. It follows Ox and Ivan, a pair of “wisemen”, who collect “wisdoms” that are too powerful and too dangerous in the wrong hands. The series is complete in 4 volumes, and is a title that would like to check out.
When a Magician’s Pupil Smiles is about Ouka Namae, a boy devoid of emotions. He must learn what it means to be alive, and to feel. The cover art work and hint of a mystery makes this a title I’d be willing to check out. It is complete in 3 volumes.
The Royal Tutor is about Haine, a newly minted Royal Tutor ready to get to work. But he’s in for more than he expected when his new charges, four princelings are more interested in testing his patience than their knowledge. This series could be interesting, but I don’t know. I’ll have to read the first volume to see. It is ongoing and there are 3 volumes out so far.
Scarlet Empire is a time-bending historical, martial arts shonen. Souzou Sagara is the leader of the Sekihoutai in the Bakumatsu era. Kotetsu Miyasaka is a kendo student in the modern era aiming to be at the top with his younger brother. These two men are connected by the red string of fate as their struggle to protect and change their prospective worlds transcends time. Key words historical and martial arts are enough to pull me into this series enough to check out the first volume. It is at 3 volumes and going.
While no release dates were given with these announcements, I think we can expect titles to begin coming out in late 4th quarter or early next year. The digital titles could come out even sooner. Hopefully Yen Press will update their site with direct links to the digital titles. The easier they make it for reader to find, the quicker they’ll make the sale.
While Yen Press was kicking it up in Seattle at Sakura-Con, Kodansha was staying cool at Anime Boston. They had announcements for 5 new titles as well as news about current titles.
Starting with the new titles, Kodansha picked up Ninja Slayer Kills. This is another adaptation of the novel series Ninja Slayer, about salary man Kenji Fujikido, who is possessed by the Ninja spirit Naraku. Kenji’s wife and child was killed in a ninja turf war, and his thirst for vengeance matches Naraku’s lust for killing. Together they become Ninja Slayer. Veritcal Comics already announced another adaptation, Machine of Vengeance. It’s not surprising Kodansha picked up one as well, especially with an anime set to run this year. This series has two volumes out so far and is ongoing. I will probably pass on this one, since ultra violence just isn’t my thing.
A title I am excited about is Cat Diary: Yon and Mu by horror manga creator Junji Ito. A semi-autobiographical comedy, it is about a horror manga artist and his fiance’s cats. I’ve been interested in this title since I heard about it in 2009. Ito’s creepy art combined with the mysteries of cats who are probably planning our demise anyway, just seems to be the perfect combination. I will definitely be picking this one up. It’s about cats, you shouldn’t be surprised. It is complete in one volume.
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth P3/P4 are adaptations of the Nintendo 3DS game. Each title features the protagonist from Persona 3 and Persona 4 and their friends attending a school cultural festival when a mysterious bell rings out. Each title starts out as their own story line, but they begin to merge as the story progresses. I’ve been learning a lot about Persona Q, as my oldest daughter as been obsessed with it, and has played it through twice now. It will be interesting to see how the manga handles the merging of the storylines. Kodansha has pretty much guaranteed sales for both these titles. The titles just began at the beginning of this year, so there is no volume count or release date, but for those who can’t wait, Crunchyroll has both titles available for streaming. I’ll be happy to wait for the print books.
Related to Persona Q indirectly is Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. This title is also the adaptation of a Nintendo 3DS game. The Persona series is also a spin-off from the Shin Megami Tensei series. The Comp is a popular portable game system that doubles as a smart phone. It has also become a portal for demons to come to our world. Protag Kazuya receives three Comps from his genius programmer cousin, and he and his friends must learn to use them to fight and capture the demons before they take over Japan. I’m game to check this title out as well. I was interested in the Shin Megami Tensei that Tokyopop had licensed back in the day, but only one volume was released. There are currently 5 volumes out of the ongoing series.
Kodansha also had two bits of news. First, Vinland Saga, which had gone on a sort of hiatus was given release dates for Volumes 6 and 7. Volume 6 will be out in September and Volume 7 will be out in December. They also warned these would be the last two volumes in English if sales didn’t improve. When the original release date for Volume 6 was pulled, there were lots of thoughts that is was because of low sales. Kodansha has now confirmed that, but the series hasn’t been abandoned as was also thought. It is now in the fans’ hands if this title lives or dies. Pre-order if you want Vinland Saga in English to continue.
The second bit of news was a new limited edition of Attack on Titan Vol 16. It will be released in August on the same day as the regular edition, and will include a set of playing cards printed by US Playing Card Company. Each card will have different full color art. There will also be a variant dust cover by an American Artist that is yet to be announced. All of this, and it will only cost $19.99 MSRP. Attack on Titan fanatics will definitely want this.