Monthly Archives: May 2010

I’m going to Fanime!

Hey everyone!

I wanted to bang out another blog post before I went to Fanime, but I ran out of time…

Anyway, I’ll be at Fanime this weekend and if you’ll be there too, why don’t you come over and check out the panel I’ll be hosting with Manga Recon’s Sam Kusek?

Interning in the Manga Industry
Saturday 7 p.m.
Check the schedule for room details

Bye everyone! Have a great memorial day!

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May MMF: To Terra, A Space Holocaust

There was something chilling about reading To Terra from Vertical for the first time this weekend. I couldn’t really put my finger on it until I started thinking about how I wanted to write up the series for this month’s MMF.  It reminded me of the Holocaust in different skin.

The obvious comparison, is the on-going oppression of the Mu. The Mu are killed when found before or after the Maturity Checks (think eugenics) and any Mu hiding in human society is likely to be killed on the spot as well. There’s no death camps or labor camps for Mu, but they are discriminated against for their telepathic abilities and weaker bodies despite the fact that they are still human. While the Jews didn’t exactly have telepathy, there were plenty of other “qualities” that the Jews “possessed” that made them so reviled by other Europeans.

On top of that, human society uses the Mu as lab rats, much like the infamous Josef Mengele. Much like the Jews, the Mu go into hiding and must use the most desperate measures in order to stay hidden, moving from place to place and hoping they are safe there. My grandmother did the same thing after Kristallnacht, moving from Austria to Hungary and then into the Hungarian countryside when the Nazis came for the Jewish men and took my grandfather away. (He later was freed from Auschwitz-Birkenau by American troops while waiting in line for the gas chambers.) That intense journey to find a safe place to call home reminds me of the Mu in so many ways. Much like the Jews, the Mu have their own resistance and there are even a few humans who are against the Super Domination regime like Seki Ray Shiroe.

Even the human side of things reminds me very much of Nazi Germany and the anti-Semetic attitude of the rest of Europe at the time. All the humans listen blindly to the super computer, Mother, while she dictates every detail of their lives, from the level of the education to whether they get to marry or not. That may not be totally Hitler-like, but it certainly matches certain aspects of the Nazi regime. Educational Station E-1077 isn’t that far from the Hitler Youth, weeding out the elites of society from the inferior chaff, preparing new leaders and also new soldiers. Keith Anyan is the perfect example of this. He’s breed right down to the very last gene to be Mother’s perfect child. The foster parent system on Ataraxia and other planets in To Terra are similar to Nazi eugenics that attempted to promote Aryan dominance through careful marriage choices and create the perfect genetic and mental environment. There are even some hints that Mother is not what she seems or promotes,  much like Hitler’s supposed Jewish ancestry.

Of course, the comparison isn’t perfect. There’s no real equivalent to Jomy Marcus Shin, Physis or Soldier Blue as the Jewish resistance was scattered at best and the Jews in hiding certainly did not have one leader.  However, if I were to make a comparison on a smaller scale, you could equate them to being like the rabbi of a shtetl, many of whom kept their communities together after being taken to concentration camps. Such people were pillars of their communities no matter what happened to the people and Jomy and Solider Blue are similarly exalted by the Mu.

A quick edit: I forgot to add that the Mu’s spirit and drive to return to Terra is never extinguished, much like the Jewish spirit was never truly trampled no matter what indignities they faced.

Don’t get me wrong, To Terra isn’t about the Nazi regime or the Holocaust, but the similarities struck me so hard when I realized it that I can’t help but wonder if Keiko Takemiya researched the time period as an example for her totalitarian society and it’s victims. All of this is making me so eager to read the third volume and see if this similarity continues.

As for the the quality of the story and the art, both are amazing. Like I said before, I’m kicking myself for not finding volume three a little sooner before the MMF started. Takemiya’s writing kind of smooth in that way that I keep reading without noticing how far I’ve gotten or really noticing the craftsmanship of it. I think that’s the best kind of writing, where you just sit down, finish and go WOAH because you’re suddenly hit with awesome. The art is just what I want out of a scifi story. A lot of scifi manga decide to do something I like to call “detail porn” where every little technical aspect of a device is drawn. I’ve always thought that kind of art was overdone. Instead, Takemiya uses her shojo stylings and some of the aspects of the story to make the background art not just about the machines behind the people, which is great because this manga is very much about the people. Another thing I noticed was the way she differentiated between the soft, ethereal Mu and the somewhat harsher humans. The Mu all have light hair, clear eyes and slightly pointy but delicate features whereas the humans are either sharper or fleshier. I like how the Mu are sort of fairy-like while the humans are very real and kind of pudgy or something.

As for the editorial side, the translation is excellent and I noticed only a few mistakes like not erasing the Japanese text behind the English text. The biggest recurring problem I saw was with word flow that occasionally split out into the art. I kind of come from the school where art is top priority in manga and we’d best not interfere with it.

Overall? I’d recommend it. It’s a masterpiece of a different kind and it’s wonderful to see different kinds of classics released in English.

If you’d like to check out other Manga Moveable Feast entries on To Terra…, please check out Kate Dacey’s roundups at The Manga Critic.

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The End of CMX, Two Days Later

Two days ago, I gave the middle finger to DC for shutting down CMX.

I don’t feel much less angry about it today. I loved CMX as a manga fan. They put out great titles that should have received more love from other fans, let alone their parent company. They didn’t get that and I assume that’s why DC is closing CMX. One big hit can’t ALWAYS pay for all the losers.

But the biggest reason I said “fuck you, DC” was because it was obvious to me that DC never understood what it was doing with CMX and regarded it with the usual up-turned nose attitude a lot of comics fans take towards manga fans, illustrated best, I think, by David Welsh’s reaction post at Manga Curmudgeon. It was pretty clear to the manga blogging community in general that DC didn’t care about CMX whether it made money or not and that hurt the most.

I can’t say I hate DC in general. I certainly do not hate all the writers, artists, editors, accountants, marketing managers or anyone like that. They did not kill CMX, the highest echelons of DC did. Even then, I can see where those executives were just making another business decision. If an imprint is losing enough money to make your boat sink deeper into the water, why bail yourself out pail by pail with leaky buckets when you can just stop the hole from leaking entirely?

I understand it. If I were running DC, maybe I would have done it myself (albeit, very very very hesitantly), but it doesn’t make me less sad or less angry to understand that. Why? Because I’m a fan and I always have been, even if now I can go to Comic-Con as an industry member.

For more commentary about the CMX shutdown, visit Deb Aoki’s summary of blogger reactions at About.com. I’m not the only one who said “fuck you!” to DC.

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DC Drops CMX Manga

As if last week wasn’t enough of a blow to U.S. manga publishing, DC is closing CMX Manga, its manga publishing arm, and will cease publishing any new titles after July 2010 except for webcomic-turned-print Megatokyo under another DC line.

There’s nothing really to say about this other than a big: FUCK YOU, DC. What the hell do you mean you won’t finish Swan or Apothecarius Argentum or Stolen Hearts or From Eroica With Love!?

What about Deka Kyoshi? What about Nadeshiko Club vol. 1 (which is also by Stolen Hearts mangaka Miku Sakamoto)? What about all the series from DC I’ve been looking to collect  but haven’t been able to find easily? Thank goodness you’ve finished Emma! At least I won’t be denied my victorian romance unless I can’t find a volume in stores.

I know this is fan entitlement, but I think it’s only fair when DC’s made about all of the manga blogging community (and surely  many, many readers) so completely depressed by their announcement! I’m sure with all the Blackest Night/Brightest Day pandering could fund CMX long enough to finish what they’ve started. At least Del Ray is doing THAT MUCH.

And as if that weren’t bad enough, Amazon let slip a new CMX title YESTERDAY. JUST YESTERDAY.

I am completely disgusted with you, DC. And mad and sad and pretty much ready to cry if I hear more bad news about manga…

Goodbye, my sweet...

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(Hopefully) Brief Hiatus

For those of you who haven’t heard the news through twitter, I am currently having internet troubles at my current apartment and the internet at my new apartment won’t be turned on until Wednesday at least. To make matters worse, I have gotten a lot of assignments from Tokyopop, so obviously those are my biggest priority at the moment. Hopefully a friend will be helping me out on the internet front for a few days until I can do so in my own place. Luckily, this hiatus shouldn’t last more than a week.

Thank you everyone for your continued patience with this blog and your readership. I hope these problems will all be settled soon so I can get back to regular posting!

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Layoffs for Viz; Death Rattle for Go!Comi

This week has been a truly terrible week for manga publishing.

First the news swirled around the manga community that Go!Comi’s forums came down and last week it was reported that their domain name registration had expired. There have been no moves to revive the publisher’s website and a contact number came up as the personal number of Go!Comi’s CEO, David Wise. The publisher had not released any new books since September 2009,  well over six months ago.

On top of Go!Comi’s demise, it was announced today that Viz has laid off 55  employees, approximately 40% of their workforce. While this likely doesn’t mean the death of the U.S. manga giant, it certainly means that they might be having a little trouble money-wise and need to cut the chaff in order to survive. My heart goes out to those laid-off, as I’m sure it was quite a shock for them to hear. It’s definitely quite a shock considering the large number of releases Viz puts out and the company’s recent aggressive new initiatives such as SigIKKI and the New People building.

I would like to commend Gia Manry’s excellent reporting at  Anime Briefs on both subject matters. I’m really just doing a quick rehash so I can add some commentary below.

I would have to say that Go!Comi’s slow, quiet death hurts me the most. They had quite a number of great series and even though some of their later licensing choices were probably the worst decisions they could have made, I would have still bought them if it meant saving the company. Since the California company was in the Greater Los Angeles area, I had been hopeful that the company would resurrect itself so I could go bother them for a job. I say that not because I wanted more money or anything like that, but because I really DID want to go work for them. (I mentioned in a previous post that I’d met some of their employees and loved their attitudes.) I loved Tenshi Ja Nai, Cantarella, After School Nightmare, Bound Beauty and many others from the bottom of my heart and it kills me to know that I won’t be seeing the end of some of those wonderful series anytime soon. I’m sorry this is goodbye, Go!Comi.

While Viz’s huge layoff’s are a little shocking because everyone thought Viz was doing better than any other manga publisher at the moment, I’m not as surprised as I thought I would be. Viz is putting out a large amount of titles right now and not all of them are as successful as Viz would like, I’m sure. The company has clearly gotten a bit too big for it’s britches and now it’s legs have been cut out from under itself. This reminds me a little of what happened to TOKYOPOP a few years back and while it sucks that people have lost their jobs, perhaps it will be better for the company overall. I also can’t help but think that maybe a few of TOKYOPOP’s recent recovery strategies, such as publishing fewer books per month and spacing out releases more, might have saved a few jobs. Again, I am worried that Viz won’t be hiring soon (I would also really like to work for them as an editor someday. A girl can dream.), which puts a damper in my plans to seek out more manga publishers as my clients. Maybe in another year or so, Viz might think it needs another editor to keep up with the demands of it’s rigorous publishing schedule or might hire a few freelancers such as myself in the meantime. Until then, I am crossing my fingers and hoping my friends who work as freelancers for Viz aren’t affected by this too.

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My Life as a (Rookie) Editor: The Joy of Being Published

Have I talked about how awesome seeing your name on a published piece of work is? If not, then let me explain the joy…

People instantly have more respect for you. I am not kidding. Tell them you’re a published writer/editor/artist/whatever, then somehow you get street cred. Even aspiring writers and artists admire people with actually published work. It’s a big accomplishment. And when you think about it, it really is, getting ANYTHING published takes a lot of time and money from somewhere. People admire scientists and other non-writerly types with major published studies in some related journal they’ve probably never heard of. YOU have something to show for yourself. You’re not so hackjob that no one’s heard of because obviously someone published YOUR thing.

I won’t lie, it’s a huge ego boost. It’s hard to avoid getting a big head.  After all, having people read stuff with MY name on it is what got me into journalism in high school, made me decide to be a journalism major and eventually led me to going into the manga industry. Sure, there were a lot of other reasons like hating my high school Spanish teacher and really really loving manga, but seeing my name on a published book keeps me there no matter what. I could compare it to ecstasy, but that would be overdoing it. It just makes you feel like you’ve got something to really really brag about AND it’s your job.

Seriously, though, even my MOM wants to read manga now. And show it off to her friends. If you asked me 10 years ago if hell would freeze over before my mother cracked open a manga, I would have said “YES” with no hesitation and maximum emphasis.

Not quite enough yet for a new banner, but it feels so awesome.

Making the joy of being published even greater this week, Fruits Basket Fanbook Banquet got onto the New York Times Bestseller’s List.

I also found my name in Aria vol. 5. Ironically, my first name was spelled with only one ‘l’ (which is more common in Latin American countries where Daniela is a popular name, but it’s not the way my mom named me, you know.)  Before you ask me why I didn’t copy edit the credits page, let me tell you that I’m fairly certain that it was misspelled after I finished my internship and therefore I wasn’t there to catch it.

Oh, and I got to work on Hetalia volume 1! (I loved it.)

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