Tag Archives: Tokyopop

The Dual Nature of Tokyopop

I may as well jump into the Tokyopop fray, as I’ve had a draft about the TP.com website sitting here for a while. I may as well add my two cents (rant) to the current discussion as well.

Tokyopop’s Pilot Program pact has stirred up a lot of people in the last few days, with it’s casual language and questionable practices. But, is this really a surprise to anyone? Tokyopop is about as two-faced as you can get in the manga publishing industry. Their public face, the one they put out in press releases and at conventions, is one of a teen friendly publisher that is trying to help new artists get a break in the comics/manga industy, get them published, and give them a place to meet, talk and share their work online. Take a closer look at them, and you’ll see the truth that lies hidden underneath.

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Brian's Spot: Phantom Volume 3

Phanto Volume 3Phantom Volume 3
By Ki-Hoon Lee/Seung-Yup Cho
Publisher: Tokyopop
Genre: Action
Rating 13+
RRP: $9.99

Rating: ★★★★½
Reviewed by Brian Henderson

After K activates the untested Cerebus with the newly installed Aurora system, he takes on Kas Stein, the evil corporate warrior who has a mysterious past with Matilda the drill instructor in the skimpy outfit. We find that AIs like Cerebus aren’t very useful for fighting against experienced TC pilots, except this time when K and his mech sync perfectly and take out Kas at the last second. Everyone gets picked up just before the base self-destructs; K and Matilda are injured but will recover, but Kas, dragged out of his mangled TC, has lost his arm and likely his sanity.

Continue reading Brian's Spot: Phantom Volume 3

Krissy's Korner: Kingdom Hearts Volume 1

Kingdom Hearts Volume 1Kingdom Hearts Volume 1
By Shiro Amano
Publisher: Tokyopop

Rating: All Ages
Genre: Fantasy
Price: $5.99

Rating: ★★★★★

Storyline:

It’s about Sora, Donald and Goofy trying to destroy the Heartless. They go through space, and go through stories like Alice in Wonderland.

What did you like about the story?

I liked the characters Sora and Riku. I also liked it when this guy used a camera like the Kamehameha from Dragon Ball.

What didn’t you like about the story?

I was scared by Sora’s happy face. (Page 73) (Not really)

Would you recommend the story to other kids your age?

Yes.

Review: Genju no Seiza Volume 4

Genju no Seiza Volume 4Genju no Seiza Volume 4

By Matsuri Akino
Publisher: Tokyopop
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 16+
RRP: $9.99

Rating: ★★★★★

After a string of animal murders are discovered throughout town, Fuuto and his guardians vow to bring the killer to justice. But after the return of Sohki leads to a startling turn of events, the young king begins rethinking what justice really is. Also, what happens when Fuuto pays a visit to the mysterious new pet shop that just opened in Tokyo? Find out in this volume’s bonus story starring Pet Shop of Horrors’ Count D!

This volume is all about fathers and what it means to have great responsibility. Is helping people the right thing to do? Or should their destinies be left to fate? What is the true responsibility of a king?

Continue reading Review: Genju no Seiza Volume 4

Brian’s Spot: Phantom Volume 2

Phantom Volume 2Phantom Volume 2
By Ki-Hoon Lee/Seung-Yup Cho
Publisher: Tokyopop
Rating: 13+
Genre: Action/Mecha
RRP: $9.99

Rating: ★★★★½

Reviewed by Brian Henderson

K agrees to work for the anti-corporation organization Athena, mostly because they promise to help his girlfriend recover if he does. He goes off to their training facility in the middle of the desert to prepare to fight against the mega-corporations, still not quite convinced that the people he’s fighting with aren’t just as much terrorists as those they fight against. Unfortunately, the mega-corps discover their secret base and launch an all-out attack to cut off the head of the serpent. K and his fellow trainees are left to defend the base and allow the civilians to escape and finally, K is reunited with Cerebus, the super TC that no one but him can operate.

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Brian’s Spot: Project D.O.A. Volume 1

Project D.O.A. Volume 1Project D.O.A. Volume 1
By Jeffrey Nodelman & Wagner Fukuhara
Publisher: Tokyopop
Genre: Action
Rating: 13+
RRP: $9.99

Rating: ★★★★½

Reviewed by Brian Henderson

I’ll do this review, even though I don’t really consider Project D.O.A. to be a manga. To me, and some may disagree, it needs to be written and published initially in Japan in order to be a manga. Graphic novels that come from Korea or China or France or the United States, while they may be generally modeled after the manga artform, are not manga, any more than animation that comes from anywhere but Japan is not anime.

That said though, Project D.O.A. is from one of the minds that brought you the wonderful Cartoon Network show Venture Bros.and in a lot of ways has that kind of vibe. In other ways, it strikes me as similar in feel to Buckaroo Banzai and maybe a little bit like Crusher Joe although officially, Jeff Nodelman attributes his inspirations to films like Indiana Jones, Flash Gordon and the works of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. In any case, it’s a not-quite-serious romp around the world, adventure-style.

Meet Dr. Dylan Oliver (also the name of Jeff Nodelman’s real life son) and his team of scientists and adventurers. Like Buckaroo Banzai, they seem to be doing science because it’s fun, not necessarily because it’s profitable. Unlike BB however, they’re not fabulously wealthy where they can just do whatever they want with no thought of the consequences, there’s a lot of worrying about the money. Luckily, Dr. Oliver always has a plan, some cockamamie scheme for finding lost treasure in some far-off locale that will give them enough cash for their short-term scientific schemes.

As the book opens, an experiment goes horribly awry and one of his team, Lilly, loses her life when she’s trapped in the same room as an unshielded nuclear reactor. Wracked with guilt, Dr. Oliver thinks that maybe he can find a way to bring her back to life but his plan will be expensive and dangerous and the only way he can figure to fund his little experiment is to drag the whole team around the world in search of a lost temple hidden inside an active volcano on a deserted island. Of course, there are Nazis involved. Why does it always have to be Nazis? Read the volume and find out.

Project D.O.A. really is a sort of fun, mindless romp through campy adventure-film tropes but it’s clear that Nodelman not only recognizes them as tropes, but he tips them on their heads often enough that what happens is unexpected. In fact, a lot of the fun is trying to figure out where the various ideas, from the giant-gorilla-filled temple to the Amazonian warriors, come from. It’s not all that deep, it won’t keep you in suspense, it certainly won’t win awards for realistic artwork, but it all comes together into something that’s fun to read and interesting enough to hold your interest and make you look forward to the next volume. I recommend it.

Making the Tough Calls

It was really hard getting through Previews this month. In the catalog, May is Manga Month, so along with all the regular series, there were new ones coming out that had to be evaluated. Top that with a weakening economy, and you get some really tough decisions to be made with this month’s order.  More after the cut.

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Brian’s Spot: Phantom Volume 1

Phantom Volume 1
By Ki-Hoon Lee/Seung-Yup Cho
Publisher: Tokyopop
Rating: 13+
Genre: Action/Mecha
RRP: $9.99

Rating: ★★★★½

Reviewed by Brian Henderson

K is a mech pilot for the Neo Seoul Police, chasing down terrorists in his TC (Tactical Costume) in the near future. This is after the deadly “Meteo Rain” that showered the Earth, toppling governments and bringing about the rise of the mega-corporations that now rule the planet. K has never really given much thought to his job but when an arrest goes horribly wrong, he’s trapped in a world that wants him dead and forced to side with the terrorists against the megacorps at the helm of a new type of TC, controlled by the AI Cerebus which identifies K as it’s sole pilot.

Continue reading Brian’s Spot: Phantom Volume 1

Take Down List = Wish List?

Wandering around the web yesterday, I stumbled upon a Livejournal group for an unlicensed manga called 07-Ghost. It’s a shonen sci-fi that I read a few chapters of a few years ago and liked. No new chapters came out after the initial few, so I figured it was dropped as happens so often in scanalations. But, on the community, there was a message about the possible licensing of this manga based on a Take Down notice Tokyopop had sent to this manga trading website. The list of manga Tokyopop asked to be taken down can be found here. The Take Down notice was sent in January of this year.

I found this list rather odd though. Yes, all of Tokyopop’s titles were there, as well as 07-Ghost. There were also a couple of other titles on the list that were not announced licenses such as Saiunkoko Monotagari, Sayuki Gaiden, and Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam. These are all series I would love to have, and Sayuki Gaiden just makes sense since Tokyopop has published Saiyuki and Saiyuki Reload.

But, what made me wonder about the reliability of this list is that there were several series’ on this list that were licensed, but not by Tokyopop. Mamotte! Lollipop, MPD Psycho, Shugo Chara, Star Wars, and Togari have all been licensed and released by Del Rey, Dark Horse and Viz. So, is Tokyopop looking out for the well being of their competitors as well as themselves? I hardly think so. It seems to me that the list, beyond the Tokyopop titles that have been released, is just a wish list of titles they wanted to get.

So, how serious should a list like this be taken? Not very I would think. Tokyopop has a right to demand that titles that are licensed and in print be taken down from sites that offer them for download. But, I think it’s going too far to demand a laundry list is really just a working print of titles they wanted but couldn’t always get. At the very least, they could take off the titles licensed by other publishers.

Decisions, Decisions…..

Oh! Pay me! (If you get that….)

It that time of the month again. Yes, that’s right. It’s time to do my Previews order. It wasn’t so bad this time. Only eleven titles on my first count, and two weren’t too hard to drop. I had considered getting the title Kannazuki no Miko. It’s only two volumes longs, but it’s an “only if I’ve got nothing else to get”, and I’ve got more to get . The other was Good Witch of the West. That was a little harder to give up. The story was finally getting good. We’re out of the courts and into the wilds, facing the “dragons” (dinosaurs), and finally searching for the meaning behind the Star Queen. But the other titles that are scheduled to come out are more interesting to me.

That takes me down to 9 titles, and a total of $60.72, right at the top of my limit. There are some new titles coming out in April that I’d like to read. Two are from Viz; Fairy Cube by Kaori Yuki. I’ve become a big fan of her work. And Record of a Fallen Vampire. I don’t know much about this series, but before it was licensed, I had gotten the first volume in scanalation. It obviously sounded interesting to me. Some publisher should hire me to scout titles. I’m obviously doing pretty good at it since most of the books I pick to check out get licensed soon after.

There is one title I’m going to see if my youngest might be interested in. Tokyopop has another Disney based title. This one is Fairies, about Tinkerbell and her fairy friends. My youngest actually likes being a girl, and she might be interested it. I wonder, why is it the Japanese are faster to take advantage of licenses like this than we are? Is it more expensive to get a domestic license? This is second Disney manga (not cine-manga) that Tokyopop has released. The first was with the Disney Kilala Princesses. Think there’s any chance of getting Deltora Quest brought over here?

So, now I’ve given the background of my order, here’s my problem. CMX is soliciting a new series. It’s by the same manga-ka as The Palette of 12 Secret Colors, Nari Kusakawa, and is called Two Flowers for the Dragon. It’s a teen shoujo title with a girl that can turn into a dragon, who is faced with two suitors that she must choose between. Two reasons make me want to check out this series: it’s by Nari Kusakawa, and it’s got a dragon in it. That’s about all I need. But, I’m already at my limit. So, I’m going to leave it up to all you readers. Do I go off my “diet” and get Two Flowers for the Dragon, or do I be a good girl? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.


Tokyopop.com Goes to the Darkside

Avatar to Support Sixxx

A situation has arisen at Tokyopop.com that I don’t think should be kept only there. As many of you may know from Brigid’s posts on the Mangablog, people have been frustrated about the condition of the Tokyopop.com website. Namely, since the “upgrade” to 2.0, it has been buggy and not well managed. One of the users of the site, an artist known as Sixxx, has been very vocal about the bad code and poor management on her blog. Last weekend, she was banned from the site and her profile was wiped from the system.

Sixxx was a popular person around the site. She was on the front page every day as a “Most Popped” user. Her art was used as avatars, and was often featured in other blog posts. She also spoke her mind about the problems on the site. Her posts weren’t mean or nasty. They were written by someone who obviously cared about the site and was frustrated at what it had become. Apparently, after another venting on her blog, which Sixxx had the comments set for moderation before posting, the webmaster of Tokyopop.com, Matt Paladino, aka MP (who was also on Sixxx’s ignore list) left a comment on the blog that appeared without Sixxx’s approval. The only way he could have done this is by using his power as a webmaster. This was a blatant abuse of power, and Sixxx called him on it. A few days later, while Sixxx was logged in, she was kicked from the site and banned. Her account was removed and not a word has come from Tokyopop.com to Sixxx or to anyone inquiring about it. For more information, check out this Live Journal.

I don’t normally get involved with these kind of situations, especially since I don’t even know Sixxx except by repuation. But what Matt Paladino did, and Tokyopop.com approved of my their inaction really gets me riled. It was completely wrong for MP to abuse his power like that and flaunt it so blatantly. His actions are more like a petty tyrant than a webmaster. But then, we all know what happens when the wrong people get power. If MP didn’t like what Sixxx was saying about the site, he should have just fixed it and not played little games. Users should not be afraid to speak their minds, especially when they have been violated. It’s one of the basic freedoms in the Bill of Rights, and part of what this country was founded on.

Some might contend that Tokyopop.com was in their right to ban Sixxx, as it is their site. And honestly, in their Terms of Service, it does say:

“TOKYOPOP reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to reject, refuse to post or remove any posting (including email) by you, or to restrict, suspend, or terminate your access to all or any part of the Website or Services at any time, or to terminate your Membership for any or no reason, with or without prior notice. “

Employers can terminate employees as well if they are “at will”. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have to have a good, justifiable reason for termination. Employers who don’t end up paying for it. I see no reason not to hold Tokyopop to the same standards. From the evidence I’ve seen so far, there is no good justifiable reason. A bruised ego is NOT a reason for banning. Not if you truly want to build a site for users to come together. But with the way the site “upgrade” has been handled, I am really beginning to wonder if that’s what they want.

Tokyopop can continue to ignore this, and try to pretend that Sixxx never existed. But to continue to do so will only hurt their reputation more and more. How can you trust a publisher that censors it’s fans? Businesses that treat they customers badly will find that they have no more customers. And with more and more competition out there, I don’t think Tokyopop can afford to be pushing away it’s customers. If they want to keep on good relations with their users, then Tokyopop should issue some sort of statement. Whether it’s to Sixxx directly or on their site, it doesn’t matter. My personal opinion is that they should lift the ban immediately and issue a public apology. But, I think there’s too much pride at Tokyopop.com to do such a thing. They should say something. The longer they stay silent, with their heads in the sand, the worse they are going to look. There is no “innocent until proven guilty” in the court of public opinion, and there is no greater proof of guilt than silence.

Reading (Subtitles) is Fundamental

As many parents with school age children know, getting your child to read can sometimes be a real hassle. This is especially true if your child is struggling in school. In this post-“No Child Left Behind”-world, this can mean pressure from teachers and schools to get your child to improve. I was having this problem with my youngest daughter.

Now, I’ve always believed the way to get someone interested in reading, was to give them a book about something they were interested in or enjoyed. So with my youngest, we tried finding books that she would like, and let her choose the books she wanted to read, but she still struggled with her reading, and never wanted to do it. We were at a loss of what to do, until we found a breakthrough in the form of an anime.

As well as reading manga, I enjoy watching anime based on manga. One series I got interested in was Sgt. Frog from Tokyopop. When I found some fansubs online, I downloaded them to check the anime out. So, I’m out in the living room, watching the shows, and both my daughters come out to see what I was doing. Since these are fansubs, in order to understand what was going on, you had to read the subtitles. Now this isn’t the first time I’ve watched fansubs, or other anime with subtitles. It’s how I prefer to watch my anime. But, this was the first time the girls, especially my youngest, really showed an interest sitting down and actually watching it.

They not only liked watching it, they hijacked the series from me! My youngest starting sgt-frog-dvd.jpgtaking the episodes and watching them in her room. She also started searching Youtube to find videos and more episodes. After doing this for a few weeks, I noticed her reading was starting to improve. She didn’t mind sitting down and reading. She didn’t keep asking if it had been 20 minutes yet (as dictated for homework every night). She was reading whole books (about 60 pages, early chapter books)! Nothing else had changed in that time period. The only thing I could think of that could have spurred this change, was her watching and having to read subtitles.

So, while TV is still a wasteland, it can still have it’s uses. I’m not going to say that this will work for everyone. I think it worked for us, because the girls were already used to the idea of subtitles. It wasn’t until she found something she was really liked and couldn’t see in english, that my youngest finally put an effort into improving her reading skills. But, if you have child prefers TV to books, and they enjoy anime, maybe encouraging them to check out the japanese tracks with subtitles might yield some results.