AS I promised, here are a few reviews of some Tokyopop titles. There won’t be too many more though, as they keep canceling my favorite titles. I’m down at least three titles so far, and the bad news just keeps coming… Oh well, I’ll just have to enjoy what I’ve for as long as it lasts.
The Kindaichi Case Files, Vol. 16: The Magical Express
Story: Yozaburo Kanari, Art: Fumiya Sato
Age Rating: Teen
Kindaichi is summoned to examine a mysterious note declaring that a train bound for Hokkaido will be transformed into a “magic train of death.” When Kindaichi boards the train to investigate the threat, he meets members of a magic troupe who perform on the train. But as the magicians go missing before they can complete their tricks, it’s up to Kindaichi to uncover the identity of “Hell’s Puppeteer” — who has announced that he has planted a bomb aboard the train. Is this the end of the line for Kindaichi?
What was supposed to be a trip to police headquarters for a commendation turns into another tantalizing mystery from Kindaichi. A package has arrived at the police station containing a twisted marionette and note promising magic and death on a train to Hokkaido. Kindaichi, Miyuki, Kenmochi and videographer Saki get on the train, where the Magic & Illusion Troupe perform on the way to Shikotsu-ga-hara to the hotel and theater at the end of the line. The first murder happens on the train. The Troupe’s leader, Gentle Yamagami is found dead, and just as quickly his body magically disappears, only to reappear in the hotel. Soon after, other Troupe members are murdered. Who is responsible, and why is he/she doing it?
What I’ve been dreading has finally become official: Kindaichi Case Files has been canceled. As part of Tokyopop’s slashing, the January 2009 solicitation of volume 18, Burial Francs, is on the list. I was hoping against hope that this title would some how survive, since it was one of the few good titles Tokyopop had to offer. Even though it’s a shonen title, it’s mysteries could keep an adult guessing. Engaging characters and intriguing mysteries made this a series a must for mystery aficionados.
Even though I love mysteries, I didn’t pick up Kindaichi immediately. Wanna know why? Because Tokyopop can’t market a title properly to save their life! When this series first came out, they advertised it as a Japanese “Scooby Doo”, emphasizing the supernatural parts over the mystery. That was a failure on so many levels. Kids looking for short, quick mysteries with goofy characters would be disappointed, and people looking for a good murder mystery series (like me) would avoid it like the plague. I’m not quite sure what made me pick up the series. I think I just kept seeing it in our local Waldens Books, and finally gave it a real look over. I bought the first volume and was sold! If this title had been marketed as a proper mystery series, and/or put closer to the mystery section, it could have had a chance of selling. But that’s not Tokyopop’s way of marketing it seems. They seem to prefer the “throw it at the wall, and see what sticks” method, which is probably why they are in the position they are in today.
So, Kindaichi, I must bid you a fond farewell. I loved following you on your many adventures with Miyuki and Detective Kenmochi. I’ll miss your lecherous, yet foiled ways, and your swearing by your grandfather’s name to solve the mystery. Reading your adventures was like getting together with old friends, as I had come to know you all so well. I am glad to have been able to know you even for the short time we’ve shared. I will miss you and your 10 remaining volumes. Perhaps we can meet again, if I ever learn to read Japanese.
Or ever better. Kodancha USA picks you up. (Please, Please PLEASE!! ONEGAI!!!!)
There is a lot of speculation going on about Kodansha and it’s reasons for joining the US Manga market. I think it’s a little premature to speculate now, but I guess that’s what bloggers and fans like to do. This is obviously something Kodansha has had in the works for a while. You don’t get $2,000,000.00 in capital without some planning, and to throw in my .02 about this, I would say it’s Tokyopop restructuring that has more to do with things than Kodansha wanting to “cash in” on the US market.
Tokyopop, being one of the few companies to embrace the potential of online manga is doing it again. Starting this week, and until Wed. 7/2/08, you can read all of Bizenghast Volume 1 on their website. And for every week after, you can read another volume leading up to Volume 5, which will be available to read on 7/15/08 only.
I got hooked on this series through reading it online. Last year Tokyopop did this for the first two volumes, for the release of the third. If you want to check out a series, reading it online is a great way to sample it. And if you do like it, buy the volumes. Online manga lets you taste the series, but having the book in your hand gives you the real experience.
By Ki-Hoon Lee/Seung-Yup Cho
Eric, Athena’s sniper, rescues the beautiful female cyborg from extermination, he holes up until he can get the evidence of Iron Corporation’s dirtiest secret, the genetically-engineered cyborgs, back to Athena’s base. Unbeknownst to him, however, the worst is yet to come as Iron unleashes their human-reptilian attack beasts to take back their lost cyborg or kill her. Unfortunately for them, Eric has rigged the whole place with traps and even though he’s badly injured in the process, manages to kill the two alpha beasts.
Kat & Mouse Volume 1: Teacher Torture
Story by Alex de Campi / Art by Federica Manfredi
Age Rating: 8+ (Tween)
What is the story about?
Kat moves in to a new city and a new school. She meets someone named Mouse and makes friends with her.
What did you like about the story?
I liked Kat and Mouse’s style. I liked the story. It was ineresting. There was a weird mystery going on. I thought the experiment would be fun to do.
What did you dislike about the story?
There was nothing I disliked about the story.
Would you recommend the story to kids your age?
Pick of the Litter Volume 2
By Yuriko Suda
Age Rating: Teen
Satsuki pays an unexpected visit to Riku at his School. His mission: deliver a family picture to Riku and investigate what rival store Echigoya is doing in Japan. Meanwhile, for Riku’s birthday, Ichiya shows Riku his old room before he disappeared. But is it really his room? And if not, what is Ichiya trying to hide? A trip down memory lane promises to bring Riku closer to the truth about his mysterious family!
The questions about Riku’s past become the driving theme of this volume. What did happen to him 5 years ago, and why doesn’t anyone want to talk about it? The return of a sixth brother who drops mysterious hints about what happened spurs Riku’s need to know.
For a weekend, the news has been unusually busy. I open up Thunderbird, and find that 2 Tokyopop titles are not going to be printed. Rivkah has announced on her Livejournal blog that her series Steady Beat Volume 3 will not get a published book release, but will be put up as a web comic. Bettina Kurkoski has reported on her Deviant Art page the same for her series My Cat Loki, except she’s not even getting online publishing (Wah! I liked MCL! 🙁 ).
So, what does this mean for Tokyopop’s Global manga? Continue reading Dropping Like Flies
In the article by Publisher’s Weekly, and picked up by AnimeonDVD.com, Tokyopop has pulled out of it’s exhibit space at the San Diego Comic Con. Some might see this as another sign of them going down. I see it as another smart move.
Exhibit space has no doubt become very expensive at Comic Con International, as it’s at a premium. The Exhibit Hall (aka Dealer’s room as it was once called many, many moons ago), now takes up the entire convention hall first level. And the space Tokyopop has been getting for the last few years was an entire block, enough to fit at least 10 vendors in, but they weren’t doing anything really productive with this space. Maybe 1/4 of it was used for a local vendor to seel books (not them), the other 3/4’s was used for computers to log into their website (last year) and hold autograph sessions with their creators. For the money that they must have been pouring in, that’s not a very effective use of the space, if you ask me.
Now, just because they pulled out of the Exhibit Hall, does that mean they won’t show up at the convention? Hardly. San Diego Comic Con has been becoming less and less of a comic convention and more of a media convention. This is the place you come to to show off you new TV shows and Movies, strut your stars in front of the fans, and run trailers and scenes from upcoming shows to gage fan reaction. It’s also the place you go to to make deals. There is a lot of behind the scenes deal-making going on at SDCC, that we as fans don’t see or hear about. And with a new media company that is going to want to get comic licenses made into other media, there ARE going to be people from TP walking around.
Also, Tokyopop is based in Los Angeles. It’s just a 2 hour drive down the I-5 (give or take) to go. So it’s not like they are flying across country to attend the event. I expect to still see a Tokyopop panel, and Tokyopop representitives on other panels, in the portfolio reviews area, and maybe even some creators (local) in the autographs area.
Not having to maintain space down on a floor that already overcrowded, impossible to walk in one day, and more media circus than productive business, Tokyopop is making a smart financial move. And in these tough times, that’s something we all have to do.
Jumping on the bandwagon once again, I’ll throw in another 2 cents about Tokyopop. No ranting this time though. I think this is a good move for Tokyopop. Attention can be divided up properly, and well as investment. Tokyopop has alway tried to be on the cutting end of bring manga to new technologies, something I wholeheartedly believe in. But, I think these new digital mediums may have been distracting to the publishing side, and the publishing may even have been at odds with the digital side. Separating the two may help both grow without having to worry what the other is thinking or may do to stop them.
I think the reduction of releases is also a good idea. Quality is always better than quantity, and Tokyopop seemed to be doing the latter. I did some number crunching of TP titles at the end of 2007, and in just a 5 month period, they had 212 releases, with 37 new titles and 34 titles ending. About 1/6th of their titles monthly were either starting or ending. A lot of these titles were mediocre and short. As has been mentioned elsewhere, TP doesn’t have access to the super hot titles. Narrowing down their catalog to those titles that create the buzz and/or sell well is better in the long run both for the company and readers. We won’t have to wade through the chaff to find the wheat.
There have been worries that Tokyopop will work more on it’s OEL titles than import titles. I don’t see this as bad. If TP can do a proper editing job, and not be sneaky or condescending in their contracts, I think creating more OEL manga is a good thing. There have been some good titles to come out of these first few years. Dramacon, Bizenghast, and My Cat Loki are titles I’ve really enjoyed reading. We shouldn’t shy away from creating more works inspired by manga. We can’t rely on the Japanese, or Koreans for our reading material forever. We should want to create our own graphic novels (whatever we end up calling it), both original stories and adapatations of successful novels. I’m glad Tokyopop started the OEL line and hope they can learn from their mistakes and make the books better.
With the economy in recession, a lot of changes are going to need to be made. People are changing their spending habits to accommodate the rise in gas and food prices. Companies like Tokyopop that rely on people spending spare cash have to make changes just like everyone else. Becoming more competitive like this will be for the better.
In case you missed it the first time around, Bookcloseouts.com has another sale on Tokyopop books. They range in 50%-75% off, but most of the books I’ve looked at are 60% off. That’s still only $3.99 a book. It’s a steal if there are some older titles that you’ve been thinking about getting.
- Pet Shop of Horrors
- Genju no Seiza
- Dragon Voice
- Dragon Knights
- Vampire Game
- Crescent Moon
- RG Veda – For Clamp Fans
- Clamp no Kisenki – For Clamp Fans
- Comic Party
That should be a good start. Some of those series are only the first couple of volumes. For others, you can get a near complete run! The books are in good shape with maybe just a black mark on the bottom of the books to mark them for closeout. I couldn’t find an expiration date for this sale, but the last one was for a month, so I’m gonna guess the same for this one.
On an unrelated note, but I wanted to point out that Walmart and Amazon.com has the One Piece Season One Uncut Collection for only $22.00. That’s half off the regular price! It’s only for half a season (13 episodes), but at that price it’s a good deal! One Piece really is a great series, and if you’ve been following the manga, it’s really worth it to check out the anime, done properly.