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Apr 25, 2011 9:37 AM
Seven months ago I talked about being mad at Tokyopop. Well, recently it was announced that Tokyopop has ended their North American manga publishing business. And yeah, this sucks. I mean, as I said in my previous post Tokyopop has pissed me off before by discontinuing four different series that I was following from them. But they were pioneers in the US manga market and released the first two manga series I ever read: Love Hina and Chobits. Love Hina remains to this day one of my most beloved series. And yeah, aside from the cancelations, they have pissed me off in other ways. What they did to their release of GTO was horrendous. And they spread themselves way too thin at one point, licensing just about everything they could get a hold of regardless of quality or popularity (sales potential) and releasing too much OEL (Original English Language) and Korean manga that many people (including myself) just weren’t interested in. I just thought that was dumb business planning.

But anyway, now they’re gone and with that my list of titles left incomplete from them increases to 6 with the addition of Deadman Wonderland and Future Diary (which only had two volumes left to be finished!!). There was also Qwaser of Stigmata, but I actually decided to give up on that series with only one volume before this news, so that doesn’t count. So yeah, this really sucks. And it’s really sad that I actually predicted such a thing in my old post: “Who knows if Tokyopop will even last as a company?” Yeah, oh, and look, I also mentioned Del Rey in that entry. You know what? They ended too! Although their situation isn’t quite as grave since Kodansha USA took over most of their titles. Moyashimon and Nodame are still MIA, but most of the other titles I haven’t finished with Del Rey are continuing. But man, all this uncertainty sucks. The article about Tokyopop also says, “Tokyopop will announce the future of specific titles and other releases in the coming weeks.” But again, who knows.

I’m just going to say it again. You just don’t know with manga in the US. Is it really even worth it anymore? Just the uncertainty of it all. “Oh wow, this series looks really interesting! I hope the company releasing it doesn’t close up or just drop it because it wasn’t making enough money!” I mean, yeah, similar things happen in Japan. If a series isn’t popular enough, it might get cut. But you know what? The difference is that in Japan, in most cases, the editors are like, “Hey man, sorry but we have to cut your series. Can you work on ending it?” The ending might be a little rushed if the creator had a more grand idea for the series, but hey, at least it ended. Unlike here when it’s like, “Hey guys, this series just isn’t selling as well as we hoped. We’re going to have to cut it. Volume 6 is going to be our last release.” And the series is just cut off right there! And you know that there is more of the story out there and you have to deal with the fact that you may never have it on your shelf in English. I’m glad I didn’t decide to pick up the Aqua/Aria series from Tokyopop like I mentioned before. I’d only have half of Aria’s 12 volume run in English. Maybe if I ever get around to it I’ll read scanlations and buy it in Japanese if I like it.

So where are we now and what should I do when it comes to manga? Should I just wait for series to finish in English before buying them? Should I just start to say screw it all and not buy any new manga series in English again, ever? Just import my manga from now on and read fan translations until I can read Japanese fluently? But I still love manga and still love the idea of having manga in English. Admittedly, it’s also really cool to have actual Japanese manga on my shelves and in a lot of cases it’s not much more expensive than buying the English counterparts if you know where to shop. But having it in English is good to have for friends who can’t read Japanese or don’t like reading on a computer screen or whatnot. And who do we have now for English manga? We have Viz and probably will always have Viz with Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece taking up 20% of manga shelf space in most stores. They can also usually be trusted to finish their releases. We actually still have Del Rey for a few xxxHolic and a few other things, but for the most part it’s all about Kodansha USA now. They’re sort of brand new so we don’t really know what to expect. If their sales don’t meet expectations, will they just pack up and go home? Hopefully they can be trusted, especially with revivals of titles like Love Hina and Sailor Moon which should bring in good money for them. Maybe they can even rescue some of the titles left unfinished by the Tokyopop closure. But only time can tell. They’ll start releasing their books in May, some of which I have pre-ordered already, so we’ll see then. And of course there is Yen Press. Like I said before, they are pretty much my favorite publisher right now. I’d like them to stay strong as long as possible and I think they’re working smart right now. We’ll just have to see. And yes, there are more US manga publishers like Vertical and Dark Horse which kind of deserve mentioning, but they mostly work on small more underground titles that don’t get as much attention. I have virtually nothing from them on my shelves (got Clover and a few volumes of Megatokyo from Dark Horse and that’s about it from what I remember). Viz, Yen, and Kodansha are pretty much it right now when it comes to high profile titles in the US.

So in the end, I don’t think I’m quite ready to give up on US releases just yet. Getting into manga was one of the big turning points in my Otaku development and without US English releases (particularly Tokyopop for me), I wouldn’t have had that. At least not as soon as it happened. I would hate to take that away from other developing fans. But then again, most developing fans these days probably just read all of their stuff online so it probably doesn’t matter for them. So whatever. We’ll see.

Posted by pluvia33 | Apr 25, 2011 9:37 AM | 1 comments