Yokai, the ghosts and monsters of Japanese folklore, appear alot in manga, but how often do they get to be one of the main characters? This list features titles where they yokai is the protagonist of the manga, and not just a monster to be beat up before the hero moves on.
We’ve all heard urban legends–stories that we tell one another late at night., Just to make us cringe and freak ourselves out. WE dismiss these stories as just plain old creepy. But what happens when they become real…? Enter Detective Aso Daisuke. When he isn’t dealing with cheating spouses, con artists or his ero-manga collection, he dives deep into the intense fear of these horrors. With his first case–the man under the bed–can he stop a disturbed killer with a blood axe?
I’ve always loved stories about myths and legends, and urban legends are the mythology of modern-day. We don’t believe in witches, vampires or werewolves. Instead we have axe murders, men with hook-hands, and ladies with slit-mouths. So, I was intrigued by the premise of Hanako and the Terror of Allegory which looks at what happens when these legends become real, and fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed.
In Hanako and the Terror of Allegory, urban legends are just that, legends that get passed around by word of mouth. But every once in a while, a person can hear a story and start to believe it. As they believe it more, it becomes more real. The person is then possessed by the allegory. To be honest, the stories aren’t really spine tinglers, but I still found them to be entertaining. The first chapter with the man under the bed was pretty cliché, but the second with slit-mouthed woman had a nice twist at the end, as did the final story with the human-faced fish. I liked seeing each legend in action. The stories written for them were competently done. While it was fun to see the monsters in action, it’s the humanity in the stories that really make them work. As Hanako says, the allegories can’t exist without humans, and it’s the human elements of the stories, and their resolutions that I found to be the most interesting.
The same goes for most of the characters. I didn’t really care for Kanae. Just as the cover shows, her only purpose seems to be someone for Aso to rescue. She is useless for most of the volume, and even though she acknowledges her uselessness, I still didn’t really like her. Hopefully things will improve for her in the next volume. Aso on the other hand, really drew my attention, especially in the last story, where we learned more about him. He became more than just a porn-reading loser. And Hanako’s thoughts at the end of the Human-faced fish really stirred my curiosity. Hanako herself had her moments. Her talk with Kanae about the nature of allegories made her fascination with technology all the more interesting. Though, the use of that same technology against the allegories somehow lessen the effect of the endings of the stories. I don’t know, but it felt like a crutch to use computers to stop the allegories.
The art is serviceable. It’s fairly average in the portrayal of the humans, but the monsters are the show of this title. Every one of them is creepy and sometimes downright disturbing, particularly the human-faced fish. I also really liked the man under the bed. He was really creepy with the one eye staring out of the darkness. There is also some mild fanservice, porn magazine covers not withstanding. But it’s kept to a minimum, and I think I missed a panel or two of them the first read through.
I’m going to keep reading Hanako and the Terror of Allegory despite, or perhaps because it isn’t really a horror title like say Hellsing. It’s more of the psychological horror that I prefer, and I just can’t get enough of its folktales, yokai and urban legends. If you’re looking for a light read with just a touch of the shiver factor, then check this title out.
Halloween is a favorite time of the year for kids, not only because they get to dress up in costumes and wear masks and makeup, but also because of their second favorite activity of the year (right behind Christmas), Trick or Treating! So, in anticipation of that big day at the end of the month, here are some manga that might try to trick or treat you.
In this week’s news: September’s Movable Manga Feast, digital manga vs print, Twitter on AX, Del Rey’s future, manhwa, banned books week, New York Times best sellers, podcasts, and the Manga Village roundup.
Hetalia: Axis Powers Does Digital
Tokyopop, who has tried to be a leader in digital manga, takes a step to try to reclaim that title. Hetalia: Axis Powers is a title that been highly anticipated by fans, but the print copy won’t be out until Sept 21. But if you don’t mind reading manga on a computer screen, you can get it now through the Zinio service. Tokyopop has made this title available early through the download service and for about half the price, $5.99. But that not all! Hetalia will also be available through the Overdrive, the digital checkout service for libraries. If you’re library uses Overdrive, but doesn’t have Hetalia, tell Tokyopop. They get a digital copy to them for free! I was going to pass on this title initially, but if I can check out a digital copy from my library, yeah, that would be worth it. It would be nice if publishers made more titles available digitally through Overdrive. With libraries budgets getting slashed by cities, online will be about the only way 9-5 workers can get library books. I know I can’t get to my local library now with their hours slashed to closing at 5PM most days.
Where Do They All Keep Disappearing To?
With digital rights being a big deal, not just with books and publishers now, but with music and movies for over 10 years now, you would think a publisher like PC World would know a copyright infringing site when it saw it. Apparently, even the tech industry has no respect for manga. I guess that makes them no different from most other manga fans. On their website they ran a review of an android app, Manga Browser. Now, normally I wouldn’t expect a tech journalist to know everything about the manga world, but this guy sounds like a manga fan. He’s familiar with what manga is, where to find it online, and what some of the most popular titles are. And what’s his biggest complaint of the software? It relies on scanlation sites. And he’s not upset that it’s scanlation sites it’s linking to, he upset because sites go down and are “unreliable”. Yeah, good sense of reporting there, guy. No mention that the titles he’s mentioning and reading are illegally posted, just that it’s a lot more work to get to them. And if he’s been reading on OneManga (which he bemoans the loss of at the beginning of the review), he surely knows why OneManga went down. But like so many other fans, he just doesn’t care, and gives the scan sites just that much more legitimacy to the rest of the world who doesn’t know better.
Bad Manga Fans!
Black Butler is a popular manga and anime series in both the US and Japan. And for good reason; it’s a fun title. But when mangaka Yana Toboso calls foul on fans that send her letters saying how much they enjoyed reading and/or watching her series for free on streaming/scan sites, what is the reaction from fans in the US on the ANN Forums? To completely diss the mangaka and call her things like “Overly dramatic”, a “complete idiot” and my personal favorite “…insane catlady.” Yeah, good job US manga fandom. You have succeeded in making me ashamed to even be associated with you. Really? You are going to diss on a creator who makes something you like just because she wants to defend her work? How absolutely self-centered and entitled can you be? Honestly? She has to be crazy to want to make money from her hard work? And you call yourself fans? The thread for this story went 28 pages before being locked. But one commenter went through the trouble to translate the original blog post, which you can see here. There’s nothing there that makes me think she’s an idiot or insane. Just very upset. And I certainly don’t blame her.
Spotted on Twitter first. Entries for Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan have been spotted on both Simon and Schuster’s website as well as Amazon.com. Tentative release date is set for February 2011 from Viz Media. I’ve been saying since they announced the streaming of the anime at SDCC, that there had to be an announcement of the licensing of the manga. There is no way Viz would release an anime and not have the rights to the manga as well. These entries pretty much prove I was right. But with a release of the first volume in February kills my hopes that it would be added to Shonen Jump. It’s a WSJ title with an anime showing in the US. It just screams SJ material. I was really hoping it would give me another reason to keep subscribing to SJ. Oh well.
NYT Best Seller List
Both of Tokyopop’s gains from last week are gone this week. Twilight is still hanging on the Hardback list. It moves up 2 to #6. With the Scott Pilgram craze slowing down, Twilight seems to be move slowly back up. Guess who rules the manga roost. No, it’s not Naruto. Last week’s #2, Rosario + Vampire: Season II vol 2, moves into the #1 spot vacated by Warriors: Ravenpaw’s Path vol 3. Black Bird vol 5 stays right behind its fellow blood sucker to #2. Naruto vol 48 moves up 4 to #3 and Bakuman vol 1 moves to #4, also just vacated by Return to Labyrinth vol 4. Negima! Magister Negi Magi vol 27 holds on to #5 while Fullmetal Alchemist vol 23 moves back up 3 to #6. D. Gray-Man vol 18 moves up 1 to #7 and Skip Beat vol 21 moves up 2 to #8. Returning to the list are two titles never far away, Vampire Knight vol 10 comes in at #9 and Black Butler vol 2 at #10. Once again Viz Completely dominates the list taking 8/10 spots. Tokyopop is removed completely and Yen Press and Del Rey just hold on with their biggest sellers.
NYT List: Second Opinion
What’s Matt Blind’s list got to say about all that? Not too much. The top two are the same and one the list only three titles are different. His list still favors Maximum Ride over Black Butler from Yen, and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle seems to do better in his numbers than the NYT’s.
1. Rosario+Vampire Season II 2
2. Black Bird 5
3. Negima! 27
4. Naruto 48
5. Fullmetal Alchemist 23
6. Maximum Ride 3
7. Maximum Ride 1
8. Vampire Knight 10
9. Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle 27
10. Skip Beat! 21
And if you’re interested in how Yen Press is doing over all, check out Matt’s breakout of that publisher by manga, manhwa and OEL.
This Week At Manga Village
What I’m Reading
- One Piece vol 45
San Diego Comic Con Con’t
San Diego Comic Con wrap-up dominated the news this week. But this shouldn’t be too surprising considering the size and breath of the con. Friday night ended with the Eisners, where manga may have had great representation in nominations, but in the end, it was only Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life that was able to take away anything, and saw Naoki Urasawa shut out once again. A Drifting Life won for Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia as well as Best Reality-Based Work. While I’m happy for Tatsumi and Drawn And Quarterly for their win, I think Pluto deserved more recognition than it got, and the Eisners need to look beyond tradition comic publishers for good titles.
Saturday brought the Tokyopop and Viz Media: Shonen Jump panels, the only other two publishers to have panels at SDCC. Tokyopop’s panel was filled with lots of announcements, including a new title from Min-Woo Hyung, the creator of the Priest manhwa, called Ghostface. They will be making more of their titles available digitally, including through Zinio and Overdrive. They announced three new licenses, Sakura no Ichiban, Pavane for a Dead Girl and Mr. Clean: Fully Equipped as well as providing more information on other titles previously announced/discovered. It’s good to see Tokyopop getting back into the swing of things, and I have to say I’m interested in all the new Yuna Kagesaki material. I really enjoyed Chibi Vampire.
The Viz Media: Shonen Jump panel didn’t have any new licenses to announce, which quick frankly surprised me. I was sure there would be an announcement for Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan. Maybe they’re saving it for NYCC. Most of the panel seemed to be about SJ branding and tie-in products which is disappointing to me. I want SJ to be more than just a marketing tool for things OTHER than manga. There are supposedly changes coming to the magazine, but none of them sound all that great. I don’t need more information on anime tie-ins. New, better manga would be nice. The panel also covered already announced titles, and announced a new omnibus edition of Death Note. Hiroyuki Takei, creator of Shaman King and Ultimo, made a surprise appearance. No Stan Lee at the panel. I’m disappointed in the SJ panel, but that isn’t really any surprise. I have been excited by an SJ panel since the first one. The mag just isn’t exciting to read anymore. It’s probably because I’m not their core audience.
Another license announcement to come out of the con, though they had no panel was from Drawn & Quarterly. They announced two titles from Shigeru Mizuki, the creator of GeGeGe no Kitaro. Onward Toward Our Noble Deaths is a semi-autobiographical story of the final days of World War II, and NonNonBa is about a young boy being introduced to the world of Japanese folklore by an old neighbor woman. Considering one of their license choices took an Eisner as well as getting a lot of acclaim, these are probably titles to watch out for.
The only other panel of interest in manga fans was the Comics and Digital Piracy on Sunday. The panel included prominent manga bloggers Deb Aoki and Jake Forbes. They discussed the problems of piracy and how it affects both comics and manga as well as digital manga in general. The Q & A brought up many of the same arguments we’ve been hearing from scanlators. The panel is interesting if you haven’t been following all the piracy posts lately, which considering the SDCC audience, probably don’t, so it’s good to see these things being talked about in another open forum.
After the con is over and everyone has recovered, that’s when the individual reports start going up. Deb Aoki of Manga.About has reports from Preview Night, Thursday, specifics of the Viz Kids panel and a roundup of manga at SDCC (so far). Also at the con looking at kid’s books was Eva Volin for the Good Comics For Kids blog. Anime Diet had a man on the floor that live blogged the Best/Worst Manga, Yen Press and Tokyopop panels. Daniella of All About Manga writes up about her first two days, and Heidi MacDonald of The Beat has her own coverage of the Piracy panel. Keep watching for more about people find time to write and upload their thoughts and reactions.
While not strickly manga, but manga-related, is the Scott Pilgrim series. The Monday before SDCC, the final volume in the series was released, and at SDCC, there was heavy promotion for the movie. Now you can go to the movie, which will be released August13 with this contest being sponsored by Daniella of the All About Manga blog. Just tell her your favorite scene from the comic for a chance to win one of three t-shirts from the Mighty Fine t-shirt company. Run, don’t walk to the nearest computer and enter now! (Ad sponsored by Doctor Who SDCC 2010 con exclusive toy and Viz bag. Thank you Daniella! Again!)
Manga Movable Feast: Kissing Up to Paradise
Just as SDCC ended the Manga Movable Feast for July started up. Held this week at the Soliloqy in Blue blog run by Michelle Smith, this month’s title was Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss. You’ll find the introduction to the series here, and an archive of all the links here. This seems to have been a slower Feast than some of the past ones, though it’s hard to tell if it’s because of the material (Paradise Kiss is out of print and not as easy to get a hold of) or because it’s coming on the heels of such a big event as SDCC. But there are still two days left, so keep watching for more entries and for the announcement of the next Feast.
NYT Best Seller List
The list for this week starts out as a truly dark day. Twilight: The Graphic Novel has been pushed not just from its top spot, but from the top 5 all the way down to #9 by mostly Green Lantern: Blackest Night tie-ins. What will Team Jacob and Team Edward do? Happier news awaits on the manga list as Fullmetal Alchemist, one of the best reads out there, debuts and takes the #1 spot with vol 23, pushing Naruto vol 48 back to #2. Ouran High School Host Club vol 14 subsequently falls back to #3 with pal Vampire Knight vol 10 at #4. Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 1 returns to the chart at #5 with the only survivor of CMX (which really doesn’t count as far as I’m concerned, since they were forced into the imprint and not really made for it) Megatokyo vol 6 at #6. The 8th volume of the VizBig edition of Vagabond debuts at #7 while Naruto vol 47 returns again to #8. The VizBig edition of Dragonball Z vol 8 debuts at #9 and Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 5 ends the list at #10 and the series as well. This is an odd list indeed. The appearance of the VizBig editions are unusual in and of themselves, but to have two at the same time? That’s really weird! Some of the returning titles are odd too, though nothing is more odd that then complete disappearance of Black Butler, a staple to the list for so long. Can this be a sign of the apocalypse?
NTY Best Sellers: Second Opinion
Matt Blind over at Rocket Bomber has something different to say about this week’s top 10 list:
1. Naruto 48
2. Ouran High School Host Club 14
3. Fullmetal Alchemist 23
4. Vampire Knight 10
5. Hellsing 10
6. Maximum Ride 1
7. Naruto 47
8. Maximum Ride 2
9. Bleach 31
10. Alice in the Country of Hearts 1
Notable differences: Matt has no VizBigs on his list. Hellsing, Bleach and Maximum Ride continue to persist on his list while they are no where to be seen on the NYT list. There’s no Yu-Gi-Oh! R and Fullmetal Alchemist didn’t make it to #1 on Matt’s list. This week’s list is a little more consistent with titles, if not with places, with 6 in common. It really makes me wonder what is going on with the NYT numbers that Maximum Ride doesn’t show up, but a lot of Viz new releases do.
Manga For Your Ears
Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews
This Week at Manga Village
- A Drifting Life
- My Girlfriend’s A Geek vol 1
- The Clique
- Manga Sutra vol 4
- Taimashin: The Red Spirder Exorcist vol 2
- Weekly Picks
What I’ve Been Reading
- Swallowing the Earth
- Yokai Doctor vol 1
- Jack Frost vol 3
Yukari wants nothing more than to make her parents happy by studying hard and getting into a good college. One afternoon, however, she is kidnapped by a group of self-proclaimed fashion mavens calling themselves “Paradise Kiss.” Yukari suddenly finds herself in the roller coaster life of the fashion world, guided by George, art-snob extraordinaire. In a glamorous makeover of body, mind and soul, she is turned from a hapless bookworm into her friends’ own exclusive clothing model.
When Paradise Kiss first came out, I passed on it, thinking it wouldn’t be a series I would be interested in, and quite frankly, I was turned off by the cover art. This was before I knew how awesome Ai Yazawa and her work was. Paradise Kiss is about a group of fashion design students trying to make their own line with normal exam student Yukari as their model, but this first volume is more about the relationships of this group of new friends than fashion, and as is typical of a Yazawa manga, the relationships are anything but simple.
Yukari Hayasaka is a high school student preparing for exams for college. She walks around with her nose in a book, goes to prep-school, and just generally worries about doing well and getting into a good school, just like everyone else around her. In Yukari’s world, your rank in school equals your rank in life. She doesn’t have any dreams or ambitions beyond getting into college. Her whole world revolves around this single goal. Until she meets the members of Paradise Kiss.
As one would expect for a group of art-school students, Paradise Kiss is filled with some eccentric characters. Arashi looks and speaks like a British punker, complete with safety-pin piercings and slang. Miwako looks and acts like a little girl, often referring to herself in the third person. Isabelle is a tall, male transvestite who also likes to cook, and takes any opportunity to make rice balls. And then there’s George, the leader of Parakiss.
George is a mysterious character. He always has a straight face, making it difficult to tell what he’s thinking, or when he’s being serious. He’s impossible to read or predict. The members of Parakiss are used to him and can just go with it, but Yukari becomes intrigued with George. He starts out playing with her, to get her to come back to the studio and convince her to be their model, but she gets completely caught up in him and his games. Yukari’s thoughts become dominated by thoughts of George, but she also wonders if he’s just playing with her. In the end, she can’t stop herself from falling for him.
Yukari also becomes friends with Miwako, who is a childhood friend with a boy in Yukari’s class that she’s had a crush with from afar, Tokumori. Without getting into the whole tangled mess of that relationship, it’s Yukari and Miwako’s friendship that plays a big role in Yukari finally deciding to help them. Through Miwako she has come to understand what Parakiss is trying to do. They have dreams and goals, and aren’t just the slackers she thought of them at first. She is able to see past the surface, and is even a little envious of the group. They have a dream they are working to achieve, while Yukari is just going through the motions. By choosing to become their model, she has taken the first step toward her own freedom, and making her own decisions for her life.
The art of Paradise Kiss doesn’t seem very different from Nana, Yazawa’s current manga series. I can see a lot of Nana O. in Yukari. The fashions Yazawa comes up with are sometimes outrageous, but always fitting of the character. Her realistic style works well with the fashions, but I do still enjoy the comedic faces she comes up with. Though I hope to never see one of them on George. It just wouldn’t feel right.
Just like with Nana, I was pulled into this series from the first chapter and hooked by the characters. Their complex relationships really draw you in, as does the enigmatic George. It’s easy to get just as caught up in his games as Yukari does. Like Yukari, I made the mistake of judging this title by its outward appearance. I’m glad the MMF gave me a push to check out this series. I’m now looking forward to reading more and seeing the fashion come into play, as well as where George and Yukari’s relationship will go, or if it will last.
From Aurora’s Ashes
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the people behind the company have banded together to create a new manga publisher. Calling themselves Manga Factory, former staffers from Aurora have created a new independent company instead of being a subsidiary of a Japanese company, as Aurora was. They have already announced one title, Teen Apocolypse: Guilstein for the Kindle and promises to do more electronic books in the same genre’s as Aurora; shojo, fantasy, josei and yaoi. This seems to tell me that Aurora wasn’t doing too bad, but maybe they just weren’t doing good enough to please the exec back in Japan. For these former employees to come together and create their own company, in this economic environment must mean they seen a reason to keep plugging at it. I look forward to see what they offer, especially in the digital format.
Tokyopop + Zinio = ??
Tokyopop has been a pioneer of digital manga. They were the first to put their OEL manga on an e-reader, they feature sample chapters of new manga, and whole volumes on their website, and now they are teaming up with digital magazine and book publisher Zinio to make their OEL manga available for download for both PCs and Macs. Jenkei of the Apurikotto Waffle blog took the Tokyopop manga on Zinio for a test drive. She does a very thorough review of the features and ease of use. If you are thinking about checking out Zinio, read her review first. I like that Tokyopop is stretching out and looking at more ways to get their titles out digitally, I just wish they would stop with going with so much of the proprietary formats. That isn’t going to be the way to success in the digital world. Didn’t work for music, so why does anyone think it will work for books, a format that is more highly traded in the analog world than music ever was?
The Recon is Over
More bad news hits the manga world, though this time it affects the mangasphere directly. Manga Recon, one of the blogs at Popcultureshock is being shut down along with the rest of the site. The current reviewers hold a roundtable to say their farewells and share their memories of the site. Manga Recon was one of the first review sites I started reading regularly, before I started writing my own. I met Kate Dacey through the Tokyopop site, but remember her starting as the editor for Manga Recon. I even got a manga from her, Samurai Commando, for suggesting ideas for columns. It’s been bad enough to be hit with all the news lately of publishers struggling, but it’s worse when it’s people you’ve come to know and read regularly. But it’s not all bad news, as many of the reviewers have their own blogs and/or other columns where they will continue to write and review. I still wish them all the best of luck. It was fun while it lasted.
Rational Response to Irrational Request
Found via Twitter. Usually, a new article about some crazy mom starting up a petition and going to the city council to get manga removed from the public library will raise my hackles. But this news article from Crestview, Florida shows that there are rational people out there to face off against the irrational. Basically, a mother blames a manga that her son took (not checked out) from the adult section of the local public library for his mental illness. The article doesn’t go into specifics about the boy’s condition, or even mention which title is in question. Instead it shows how both the city council and public library dealt with the irrational claim. Brigid Alverson has more details at Robot 6, but I think it’s refreshing to see a calm and sensible response, especially from local politicians. It’s usually everyone takes the allegations very seriously, and promises to get the bottom of it. Instead, in Crestview, a city councilman goes to the library and looks at their selection and how adult are handled as opposed to the YA, and finds no problem. Instead of going for the manga defense, she should be looking in her own home, or even the mirror for the source of her son’s problems.
Anime Expo Begins
Anime Expo started on Thursday, and while it’s a con devoted to Anime, some of the manga publishers make an appearance here. On Thursday, DMP held a panel and announced 10 new titles over their three lines. They also announced a new, original manga for the online site emanga drawn by Nao Yazawa, the creator of Wedding Peach. Lissa at Kuriousity has more information, color-coded by imprint and with covers of DMP’s licenses. I like the expansion of the Hideyuki Kikuchi library. His horror manga are titles I’m coming to enjoy. Don’t know about novels yet.
Friday, Tokyopop took the stage and announced 4 new titles, 2 new Blu titles, and a OEL based on a film by Joss Whedon. Tokyopop is doing something unusual. They don’t have a booth in the exhibit hall. Instead, they have a bus parked outside as part of their search for “America’s Greatest Otaku.” It’ll be interesting to hear how it worked out, especially from the fans.
Since this is an anime con, the manga news will be light, but watch the anime licenses. They can be clues of what publishers have working in the wings, and are waiting to announce as SDCC and NYAF.
NYT Best Seller List
Viz loses some of its dominance on the list this week, going from 5 to 4, though they still keep a tight rein on the top 5. First, Twilight reaches its 15th week on the Hardback list, most of which it spent at #1, where it still rests. Over on the manga list, Naruto vol 48 remains at #1, followed by it best vampire friend, Vampire Knight vol 10 at #2. Soul Eater vol 3 holds at #3 for second week in a row as does Bleach vol 31 at #4. The first change to the list is also a debut, with Fairy Tail vol 11, a woefully underrated manga materializing at #5, which pushes back Hellsing vol 10 to #6. Black Butler vol 2 moves back on to #7 and the only other debut on the list, Ninja Girls vol 3 comes in at #8. Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 5 falls back two to #9, while Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 3 holds on to #10. Good shows for Del Rey with had the only debuts on the list. Otherwise there wasn’t much change, not even in position. Dark Horse is doing really well with its last volume of Hellsing. Too bad it is the last.
Manga For Your Ears
Manga Out Loud
Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews
Spiraken Manga Review
This Week at Manga Village
What I’m reading
- Children of the Sea vol 3
- Twin Spica vol 2
- Shonen Jump Aug 2010
- One Piece vol 40
It’s been tough to be a manga fan lately, with one bad piece of bad news after another, and publishers being yanked out from under us. But there is one company that’s weathered the storm of fans and economy and is slowly, but surely making its way back. Back in 2008, when Tokyopop did their whole restructuring, many doom sayers didn’t they could return to be the company they once where. That part is try, but in a good way, that’s a good thing. Tokyopop before the restructuring was a mess, stretched out too far, and using the “throw it against the wall and see if it sticks” method of licensing.
But after two years of streamlining, they have been coming back to life as it were, and bringing with it some titles some of the fans never thought we would see again. One of the titles I thought never be finished was Pick of the Litter, a B-grade comedy about cats and an alternate world. I really liked the comedy, but I’m sure it wasn’t a spectacular seller. Still, Tokyopop finished it last month by releasing the last two volumes in an omnibus edition. Another title that I didn’t think would EVER be completed is B’TX, the title Masami Kurumada did after finishing Saint Seiya. It’s been sitting at 15 of 16 volumes for years! But now there is a solicitation for the final volume to be released in November. It is such a relief to see the light at the end of what was a dark tunnel for so long.
And the titles keep returning! On their twitter feed came this tweet, announcing that Genju no Seiza would be returning with volume 8, which Amazon has scheduled for August. This title by Matsuri Akino is such a good title, that it had to come back! I’m happy to see that Tokyopop agreed. And right behind it you can get Pet Shop of Horrors volume 7 which is scheduled for September. Another title that’s been in limbo but has been getting a lot of talk from bloggers is Gatcha Gacha, which has had its 8th volume scheduled for early November. To find out why, check out Sean Gaffney’s reviews at his blog A Case For Suitable Treatment. There are reviews of the first three volumes, but by November you can bet all 7 available will be there.
I think it is absolutely awesome that Tokyopop is doing its best to bring back these titles, even though most of them were not stellar sellers. Whatever else you say about Tokyopop, they really do care about the fans. The fact that they bringing these titles out really speaks volumes. But for Tokyopop to succeed, they need our help.
TOKYOPOP: @swanjun Yes, it is. However, retailers are lukewarm on supporting it, so please tell all your friends to order it early&often.
While this tweet was directed at Gatcha Gacha, I think it really applies for all these titles. They wouldn’t have been put on hiatus if they didn’t need more support. The best way to do this is by pre-ordering the titles and then telling all your manga friends to pre-order too. With manga publishers dropping like flies (or so it seems), we as fans should support the ones that continue, especially when they show they are putting out the effort for us. We as fans of the titles should do the same. With all these titles reappearing, it’s like 2010 will be the summer of Tokyopop.
Now if we can just talk them into rescuing some CMX titles. I could see Stolen Hearts, My Darling! Miss Bancho and Nyankoi! fitting into their catalog really well.
Do you “Size” Up?
Inspired by a conversation on Twitter about what it means to be a fan, Ed Sizemore of the Manga Worth Reading blog tries to clarify his position. I bring this up because there has been a lot of talk about digital piracy and it’s effects on manga publishers. Ed’s view is basically that you can only call yourself a fan if you invest yourself, time and money, in the thing that you love. While I can see where he’s coming from, I can’t say I completely agree with his position. I don’t think there should be parameters put on what makes someone a fan of something. Being a fan of something, whether it’s TV, movies, or manga, shouldn’t be contingent on how much time you spend talking up a show or buying everything sight that branded with it. I’m a fan of Castle, but I don’t feel a burning need to buy the book or DVDs. I’m fine with watching the show every week. Does that make me less of a fan than someone who makes Lego Castle and Beckett figures? I don’t think so. By the same token, people or borrow manga from a friend or the library can still be fans of manga without actually buying the books, or obsessing over them. I would say you could start to draw the line at people who read licensed material at illegal aggregator sites, but I would still be reluctant to do so. Stealing the material doesn’t mean you’re still not a fan. You’re just a bad fan. Trying to put up walls about what makes someone a fan will only keep more people out than what should be the desired effect, to get more people in.
When It Rains, It Pours
What a depressing way to come home from work. The news about DC pulling the plug on CMX not only shocked me, it completely ruined my week. Yes, the news of other publishers going under was sad, but most of them hadn’t released a title in at least 6 months, some longer. CMX was not only continuing to release titles, they were putting up new titles. They were active on Twitter. There was nothing, no sign to indicate that there was a problem. The way it looks is that DC is run by a bunch of asshats who don’t like anything that doesn’t appeal to the male 13-21 demographic, and if anything like that still exists at the company, it must be stamped out immediately. But don’t just take my word for it. Check out the many articles and blog posts people have written about it, expressing their feelings as well. DC really struck a nerve with this one, and not in a good way. But that’s “business as usual” for them, isn’t it?
Cross Game Online
On Monday, Viz started the serialization of Cross Game, a coming of age story and the game of baseball. The first two chapters are up and can be read for free online. I guess Viz’s experiment with online manga is working for them, or else we wouldn’t keep seeing new titles being introduced. I’m curious to see how successful this title turns out to be. Sports manga hasn’t traditionally done well in the US, despite us being a very sports oriented culture.
Manga companies and fans alike would do well to listen to the words of Audrey Taylor, former creative director of Go! Comi. She delves out some advice from her experience at Go! Comi, much of which has been said before, but perhaps coming from a fellow publisher, the words won’t go unheeded. While most of the advice is directed at publishers, readers can take something away from her words too. Once a book has been licensed and published, you don’t need to “build an audience” for it anymore. Posting legal copies online DOES hurt the company you are supposedly trying to help. If you want to “build an audience” then promote the publisher. Don’t scan their book to put online, and don’t continue to scanlate them. I know some people will claim they have to keep scanlating since there’s no guarantee the publisher will complete the series, but that’s just a self-fulfilling prophesy. By continuing to make illegal copies available, less people will buy the books, which makes it harder for the publisher to stay in business, so that when they go out of business you can justify your illegal acts.
Finally we are seeing some progress from Tokyopop’s restructuring from 2 years ago. First TP announced a film based on the manhwa Priest, and now they have plans in the works for The Dreaming, an OEL manga by Queenie-Chan, to become a film. It will be interesting to see if this venture pans out. The Priest production has gone through a lot to get to a release date. Hopefully, The Dreaming won’t have the same problems.
Two possible new licenses were also sighted on Amazon this week, purported to be coming from Tokyopop. Both are shojo titles from Hakusensha. Sorairo Kaigen is a high school romance about a girl who is rescued on a bus by a boy who may be from her past. It’s complete at 6 volumes. Kirameki Gingachou Shoutengai is a little long at 10 volumes and is a romantic comedy about 6 friends who grew up in the Galaxy Street Shopping Center. Both look interesting, and with the loss of CMX, we need a new source of Hakusensha titles.
NYT Best Seller List
Viz holds 8 of the 10 titles on this week’s list again, and it’s back to business as usual. First, over in the hardback comics list, Kick-Ass and Twilight have switched places again, with Twilight falling back to #2. Over on the manga list, Black Bird vol 4 keeps hold of the #1 spot for a second week, while Naruto vol 47 returns after a brief stint off last week at #2. D.Gray-man vol 17 holds on to #3 and Inuyasha vol 48 debuts at #4. Black Butler vol 1, one of the two non-Viz titles, returns at #5 as does Rosario Vampire: Season II vol 1 at #6. Falling 5 spots to #7 is Otomen vol 6, while Viz Signature title Biomega vol 2 debuts at #8. Yotsuba&! vol 8, the othe non-Viz title falls back 4 to #9, and only one One Piece, vol 46, hangs onto the list at #10. So Viz continues to dominate with Yen Press being the only other publisher able to hold their own against them week to week. Most of the changes are in which Viz titles will make it to the list, and while not a lot of changes are surprises, it’s nice to see some of the older titles like Inuyasha charting, as well as a Signature title.
Manga For Your Ears
Manga Out Loud
- Episode 07 – Mechamedia with the Reverse Theives
Spiraken Manga Reviews
This Week at Manga Village
- Club 9 Volume 1
- Lizard Prince Volume 1
- A Royal Proposition
- Weekly Picks
- Farewell CMX, We Hardly Knew You
- Contributors Wanted
What I’m Reading
- Otodama v1
- Antique Bakery v1-2
- Dinosaur King 1-2
April’s Movable Manga Feast
The third edition of the Movable Manga Feast began this week, with Ed Sizemore of Manga Worth Reading taking over the hosting duties. The series this time is Mushishi published by Del Rey Manga. An introduction to the series can be found here, while the full list of participates can be found here. The Feast lasts until Sunday, so keep watching for more posts on the series. I made my first contribution to the MMF with this series, which you can read here. If you have had any interest in this series, definitely check out some of the perspectives on it. You might be surprised.
How Much would you Pay?
Last week Yen Press announced they would be publishing Yen Plus as a digital magazine. This week Deb Aoki of Manga.About.Com has a poll asking how much would you pay for an online anthology. The results so far aren’t too surprising. I myself wouldn’t pay more than $5 for an online magazine the size of Yen Plus since I don’t enjoy reading manga online. I need it to be portable and an e-reader or tablet isn’t in my future anytime soon. What this poll does show is summed up pretty well by a comment made by David Welsh (@mangacur) on Twitter:
Just that manga purchasers seem kind of like public radio members these days. They opt to pay.
And just like public radio, it’s too bad more people don’t opt to pay as enjoy the content.
Chibi Vampire: Axis Powers
Tokyopop has been putting their Facebook page to use by announcing new licenses on it first. Last week came word of a new Chibi Vampire (Karin) volume called Airmail, that is comprised of short stories published after the main series ended. It will include side stories about the main characters as well as stories about some that were never seen. This week finally comes the announcement every has suspected but hadn’t been able to confirm. Tokyopop will be publishing the Hetalia: Axis Powers manga. Hints have been coming from the publisher for a while now, but it was made official on Friday.
Go Comi! Forums Down…But Are They Out?
Go Comi! is a publisher that a lot of people have worried about lately. They’ve been quiet, maybe too quiet. Kate Dacey of The Manga Critic caught on Twitter that their forums are down. This isn’t a good sign. Their blog has been silent since the fall, and their twitter account hasn’t seen an update since February. The forums was the last place we heard anything from the publisher and with it gone…maybe that ad a few weeks ago for a manga publisher for sale was Go Comi! I do hope it isn’t. They have some good titles that many would like to see finished.
NY Times Best Seller List
The balance of power shifts once more with new releases from Yen Press on this week’s list. First, let’s check on Twilight. Still #1 on the Hardback list? No?? The Hardback of Kick Ass, which debuted in theaters recently, has taken #1, relegating Twilight to #2. The Paperback list has another movie related title at #1 with Losers. Comics do benefit from movie tie-ins. We’ll see how long it lasts. Over in manga land, #1 belongs to Rosario Vampire Season II vol 1 once again. Yotsuba& vol 8 debuts at #2, sending Naruto vol 47 back one to #3. Spice and Wolf vol 1 also debuts at #4, and Black Butler vol 1 move up one to #5. Gentlemen’s Alliance Cross vol 11 falls three to #6 as does Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 4 to #7. Nightschool vol 3 debuts at #8, Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 1 returns once again to #9 and Soul Eater vol 2 falls back one to #10. It’s quite a respectable showing for Yen Press, with 3 debuts, including an OEL title that not based on a novel series. They dominate with 5/10, and three of those being in the top 5.
Manga For Your Ears
- Episode 20 – 27:43 – Twin Spica/Vampire Hunter D on the PSP
This Week at Manga Village
- Antique Bakery
- I’ve Moved Next Door to You
- Twin Spica
- Weekly Picks
- MMF: Mushishi at Manga Village
- Contributors Wanted
What I’m Reading
- Black Bird vol 3
- Black Bird vol 4
- Goong vol 2
- Goong vol 3
Tokyopop, after serious reduction in their catalog, has been slowly building it back up. Part of that build up is a reprinting of older titles that had become scarce, and difficult for fans to get a hold of. Now, fans no longer have to hunt high and low, go to trading sites or bid up to ungodly prices to get volumes of their favorite series’ as they reappear back in print. I’m of two minds about manga as a collectible. While I understand that demand can set the market price, is there really such a demand for titles to justify prices up in the $100s? Or is that just greed? As much as I enjoy my manga, it’s not enough to ever justify that kind of pricing, so kudos to Tokyopop for thinking of the fans and making these books available again.
Bento Comics To Go
A bunch of former Tokyopop creators and employees have gotten together and created a really interesting website. Bento Comics is a place where you can read comics online from creators like Queenie Chan and Svetlana Chmakova. Then, if you want to keep the stories, you can choose your favorites and create your own anthology in print on demand, to be mailed to you. I think this is a great idea, as it lets people choose their favorites and not be tied down by some editors choices that may include some, but not all titles they would enjoy. I think the a la carte model is the way to go with web comics, and I hope they can get more artists to join in and put their stories up. I’ve really come to love the idea of anthologies, and getting to make your own just plain sounds fun.
Thursday was April Fools Day, and there were plenty of fake news stories all over the web, trying their darnest to fool readers into believing their stories were true. But the best I saw, and the most clever and original was from Kuriousity.com. Lissa Pattillo, owner of the site, posted a review of a new title called Kuriousity, the story of one manga fan’s attempt to run a manga review site. It’s really well done, and if it was made into an actual title, I would pick it up! There’s even a book cover, that looks a lot like a Tokyopop cover, that would fool anyone at first glance. Definitely check this one out. Maybe we should see if we could get this to be a series and get it on Bento Comics.
Con season is really starting to gear up, with two cons starting this weekend, both manga related. On the West Coast is Wondercon, run by the same people as do San Diego Comic Con. It’s more comics focused and much smaller than SDCC. Manga Publishers Viz and CMX will be in attendance as well as several of the manga press , including Deb Aoki of manga.about.com and Kate Dacey of mangacritic.com. Watch there websites for highlights and their twitter feeds for updates.
Over on the East Coast is Anime Boston. Although it’s an anime con, manga is well represented with several manga panels, and well represented by the east manga community including Brigid Alverson of Manga Blog, Melinda Beasi of Manga Bookshelf, and Sam Kusek and Ken Haley of Manga Recon. Vertical is the only manga publisher in attendance, but with Ed Chavez running that panel as well as some general manga panels, it would prove to be a good show all around. Check their sites and twitter feeds for updates and highlights as well.
NYT Best Seller List
Twilight once again rules the Hardback graphic novel list, which is no surprise, but the manga list this week does have some in store! Tokyopop rules the roost with Warriors: Clan In Need taking the #1 spot. Del Rey returns with xxxHolic vol 15 which jumps in at #2. Last week’s #1 and #2, Naruto vol 47 and Bleach vol 30 are now #3 and #4. Vampire Knight vol 10 falls back one to #5, and another new entry from Del Rey, Fairy Tail vol 10 comes in at #6. Black Butler vol 1 takes a real dive, falling 4 spots to #7, but Yen Press gets a boost with new entry Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi vol 5 at #8 while Soul Eater vol 2 also falls four to #9. Tokyopop’s Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 2 also falls four to hold on at #10. Del Rey’s return to the top 10 keeps Viz from returning to dominance this week with the publisher count coming out at Viz – 3, Yen Press – 3, Del Rey – 2 and Tokyopop – 2. If only the list could keep this variety.
Manga For Your Ears
Manga Out Loud
Spiraken Manga Review
This Week at Manga Village
What I’m Reading
- Twilight: The Graphic Novel vol 1