If you’ve been following Tokyopop’s Boys of Summer online releases, you’ll notice there hasn’t been an update for a couple of weeks. No, I don’t know why. All Tokyopop has said is that it “won’t be back up for several weeks.” What I want to bring attention to though is the title they’ve moved up to fill in. Earthlight. This wasn’t supposed to be going up until January 2010, but now it’s been pushed up to this Wednesday, October 21. So, if you’re one of those rare sci-fi manga fans, and had given up on this series (like a friend of mine), take heart! You’ll finally get the finish of your series!
Back in 2008, I wrote a post about subtitles helping my younger daughter to read. While the subtitles did help her reading improve, it didn’t do anything for her desire to read. She still preferred playing video games and watching DVDs (granted she did much of this with subtitles/closed captions on, just because I guess), but getting her to read was still a chore. We got her titles she showed interest in, but they never lasted. Then, something happened over the summer.
Manga’s version of the “Sub vs Dub” debate
And that’s the reason. Semantics is the study of meanings, and to writers and historians, meanings matter. Fans and businesses exploiting the power of the word ‘manga’ are tapping in to one of the oldest magics known to man – the belief that real names have real power, and that attaching a name to a thought or act can give it weight, can bring it into being. But to me, attaching the word ‘manga’ to non-Japanese comics doesn’t change anything important about those comics, and may well dilute and weaken the power of the word in its original form.
I’m gonna try and make this a weekly feature, rounding up the stories from the week I found most interesting from the web and twitter. Of course, I’ll be adding my own two cents with some commentary on the news items.
Anime Expo – 7/2-7/5/09
Normally associated with anime (obviously), manga pubs usually have a presence at AX, as a booth and/or panel. Though, with the tough economy, smaller pubs seem to be fleeing the crowds and expense of SDCC, in favor of a more targeted audience. Here ae some items I want to highlight.
Orange Crows Volume 1
By: James Perry II and Ryo Kawakami
Age Rating: 13+
Five years ago, a young witch named Cierra broke the one unforgivable law of the witch society: attempting to create her own magic. Her unlawful tampering burned down a research room and injured the Mayor’s daughter, Cierra’s best friend. As punishment, she was exiled to the Wilderness, a barren wasteland crawling with witch-devouring Fairies and the bloodthirsty Forsaken…After surviving for five ruthless years, her exile has now ended, and she has been ushered back to civilization, only to discover that the world around her has changed greatly. Will Cierra be able to adjust back to a society that abandoned her? And if her freakish new ability that links her to the terrifying Fairies is discovered, she may not be let off with mere exile this time…
Orange Crows is a new OEL manga from Tokyopop. I really knew nothing about it, and the cover didn’t intrigue me in anyway, but with a link to read the whole volume for free coming in my email, I decided to check it out.
I don’t hang out at Tokyopop.com anymore, but I still get all their newsletters, just to keep abreast with what’s going on. In the newest newsletter, there is a poll about e-books. Which would you prefer? Apple iphone, Sony e-Reader, Amazon Kindle, or none, reading paper books. Accompanying this in the newsletter is a video of a comparison review of the e-Reader and the Kindle. Viewing the video shows Tokyopop’s bias for the e-Reader (as that is where they have OEL manga available). The influence of this video seems to be reflected in poll, as the e-Reader has the second most votes, and most for a digital device.
I have to hand it to Tokyopop for continuing to show some support for ebooks and the e-Reader. With it’s recent problems, publishing books electronically can be a good call to keep the fanbase happy while Tokyopop struggles through these tough times. It could also help to grow ebooks, in the same way that they did with OEL. If they would keep their books updated and make them easy to get, they might just make ebooks successful.
In my continuing evaluation of Yen Plus to decide if it’s worth subscribing to, I picked up issue 2. I read it the same way as last issue, reading the Japanese side first, and then flipping to the OEL/Korean side. With this second issue, most of my original impressions stand, if not becoming more ingrained. The entire Japanese side is a complete and total waste. The fan service continues unabated, and overrides any story that might be there, especially in Soul Eater and Sumomomo Momomo. Bamboo Blade has really deteriorated in it’s next two chapters. Higurashi and Nabari stand on the edge, but they are not intriguing enough to hold up the other three. The whole Japanese side is a write off as far as I’m concerned.
The OEL/Korean side carries this magazine. Nightschool and Pig Bride stand as the strongest titles, with Maximum Ride and Sarasah close behind. One Fine Day is a take or leave title, and Jack Frost continues to show it’s Hellsing influence. Actually it’s just plain a rip-off, but still has some potential.
All of these titles together as a package just doesn’t do it for me. I’m paying $9 a month or $50 a year to read half a magazine? I don’t think so. Yen Press’ best bet would be to divide the magazine up and bring out two different mag and market them to two different audiences. The Japanese side is purely for the guys. It’s hard to find anything substantial for females to really latch onto and enjoy. I don’t mind some fanservice, but these just go too far for even my tastes. Actually, most of it is just plain offensive pandering. The OEL/Korean side is closer to what a general audiences magazine should be. Action, fantasy, romance, and slice of life all together. This is the side that has the best chance of surviving as it has the greatest ability to appeal to a wider audience. The Japanese side for the fanboys. Why not just give it to them, and leave the rest of us to have 1 or 2 titles we don’t like rather than 6-7.
I will not continue to pick up Yen Plus, but will follow my favorite series in graphic novels. It was a good idea, but the titles in Yen Plus just doesn’t make it worth it. Maybe when Hero Tales is added, as was just announced at NYAF, things might change. I may pick up the first issue with Hero Tales and see if there is any improvement, but at the moment, I don’t have a lot of high hopes for it. I’ll pay $4.99 monthly/$29.99 yearly for the OEL/Korean side, but I’m not sinking my few spare dollars into a year of titles I couldn’t care less about.
Story by Joshua Elder; Art by Erich Owen
Age Rating: 8-12 (Youth)
Genre: Comedy, Action
What is the story about?
It is about Timmy ordering a ninja from a catalog named Jacques Co. Industries.
What did you like about the story?
I like the drawings. I also like the ninja. And I like the comic ad for Jacques Co. Industries.
What did you dislike about the story?
Would you recommend the story to kids your age?
Picking up where I left off last post, the OEL/Korean side starts out with lots of ads, mostly for Yen Press and related, as well as some other company ads. Since this is the side that read like normal for Americans, they probably thought they were best placed here.
The Mysterians Volume 1
Story by Jay Antani, Art by Matt Hentshel
Age Rating: Older Teen
My name is Vox. I am the last surviving member of an underground resistance. Our mission: Expose and destroy a vast and sinister plot to take over planet Earth. Aliens have infiltrated the Earth’s entire political, industrial, military and socio-industrial complex. They are determined to extinguish life on our planet. Since birth, the five of you were fated to receive this message. You are possessed of extraordinary abilities… Logan, you have superior strength and superhuman intuition. Leelee, no Olympian has ever had your level of agility. Jenna and Jamie, your parents knew of your telekinesis and ESP when you were still children. Tony, your intellect is off the charts. The entire world needs you. You must use your talents to join together and stop this invasion…And in doing so, the five of you will become…The Mysterians!
Science Fiction doesn’t get nearly as much love in manga as it should, but this title seems to be trying to make up for lost time, and does a pretty good job of it! Even with the fairly generic plot of “5 strangers from all walks of life coming together to save the world”, rich character development makes the difference.
Dark Metro Volume 2
Story by Tony Calen; Art by Yoshiken
Age Rating: Older Teen
Terror awaits the people of Tokyo, with gruesome lessons only the dead can teach. In this second collection of shorts, a waitress at a maid café sparks jealousy. A mother who can’t handle the responsibility of raising her child commits a horrible crime. An ancient sword awakens a psychotic samurai. And finally, the solemn guide Seiya reveals his own tragic past and the nature of his gifts that are his curse.
Things don’t get any better with this second volume of this series. Following the same unsuccessful pattern of the first volume, there is some slight improvement story-wise, but technical issues with the formatting wipe it out.
Dark Metro Volume 1
Story by Tokyo Calen; Art by Yoshiken
Age Rating: Older Teen
What lies below Tokyo’s subway system is more frightening than you could have ever imagined…in its subways there exists a boundary between this world and the next–the land of the dead, and the mysterious young man Seiya is its guide. In this collection of bone-chilling shorts, follow the twisted tales of death and hauntings that inhabit this horrifying underworld, where innocent youth fall victim to the ghosts who inhabit Tokyo’s underground.
Dark Metro is a title in a category all it’s own. It’s not a come-uppance theater title, as the main characters in the stories aren’t bad. They are just ordinary people experiencing the supernatural in Tokyo’s subways. But it’s not like the Twilight Zone, as Seiya, the guide to the underworld, doesn’t narrate the stories either. He possesses the power to decide who lives and who dies in the subway, just appearing somewhere in the story to save the protagonist from whatever horror is after them. This title falls through the cracks of horror genre and should probably stay there.