Tag Archives: CMX

Kodansha USA Becomes More Than a Deadbeat Publisher

It was made public a few days ago that Kodansha USA would be having a launch event today at the NYC Kinokuniya store. Manga fans across the internet were abuzz with excitement and demands that the publisher print what they want or else. I personally set my licensing announcement bar pretty low. All I hoped for was a new volume of manga that had never before been published in English and I’m happy to say that Kodansha  USA delivered that and more!

Lissa Pattillo of Kuriousity has a great comprehensive post up, but I’ll give you the basics. (Also, Scott VonSchilling did a great job of livetweeting the event.)

Kodansha USA will be publishing these former Del Rey titles beginning in May 2011:

Arisa, Fairy Tail, Negima!, Ninja  Girls, Shugo Chara!, Air Gear, Negima?! Neo, Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, The Wallflower, I am Here!

Many of these titles already have another volume listed for release later in the summer, so if you’re particularly worried that Kodansha USA is going to publish one volume more and then ignore the series to focus on others, that won’t be the case. It seems like Kodansha USA has carefully prepared which series it was going to focus on first and will be devoted to giving them a bi-monthly release schedule.

On top of that, Kodansha USA listed a small wealth of new titles to be published (also following a bi-monthly release schedule) including: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Monster Hunter Orage, Deltora Quest, The Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Mardock Scramble, Animal Land, Bloody Monday and Cage of Eden.

Kodansha USA also rescued two titles- GON from CMX and Until the Full Moon from Broccoli Books. Both are series I’ve heard good things about, so I am excited to hear that I’ll get to try them out. Another interesting announcement was that CLAMP favorites Tsubasa and XXXholic would be continued to be published under the Del Rey brand. Perhaps a concession to Del Rey for handing over their entire manga publishing line?

Michelle Smith of Soliloquy in Blue said on Twitter that this is probably the best manga industry news we’ve seen all year. I’m inclined to agree. Hearing that Del Rey’s manga line up was lost to a sort of deadbeat publisher was awful news, but Kodansha USA has now delivered and is on it’s way to becoming a more serious manga publisher. With the loss of multiple other companies this year, the Del Rey/Kodansha USA switch has now turned into a win. In six months, there will now be a bevy of new manga on the shelves and that’s more than enough to make me happy. I’m not terribly interested in any of the titles announced yet, but there is hope for the future and I will be sure to take a look at what’s coming out once I start seeing Kodansha USA at my favorite booksellers.

You may remember that I commented about what Kodansha USA should do next to turn mistrustful fans back into loving fans a few months ago. I asked simply that Kodansha USA hold some kind of informational event ASAP, that they at least publish one new volume of never-before-been-published manga, that they license something big and that they blow our minds. They’ve now delivered on three out of four of those requests. (Kodansha USA rep Dallas Middaugh, formerly of Del Rey Manga, said that they had nothing to say about Sailor Moon yet.) Once again, I’m awfully pleased with them, but I still have some potential next steps:

1. Shape up the website:

This isn’t a potential so much as a necessity. Right now Kodansha USA’s website is one page. To say it is sparse is a vast understatement. Now it’s been updated with the news, but it looks very unprofessional. Once cover designs start coming in, build a proper website with listings of the summer releases and a company news blog. Once that’s done, start on social media, get a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Even if there’s nothing to post now, at least it’s there to play with in the future. Kodansha USA also might want to start looking into digital publishing

2. License something big:

So far, a few of the titles taken from Del Rey have hit the New York Time’s best sellers list, but it would really help establish the company further if an extremely popular title was published. Again, Sailor Moon is a prime candidate, but something already popular amongst U.S. fans would also work. Something with a large enough and loving enough fanbase that there will be sales despite pre-existing scanlations. There are too many well-known titles in Kodansha’s catalog to really pick a few myself and it’s difficult to determine what will spur good sales, but I’m sure Kodansha USA can fish around for something good.

3. Keep announcing licenses:

I imagine the next reasonable time for license announcements would be summer, right when big cons like Otakon, Anime Expo and San Diego Comic Con roll around. Having Kodansha USA at any of these events would be ideal, not only to promote the company and the new releases, but to assure fans that the company isn’t just sticking to what it’s already picked up. Plus, it will be good for Kodansha USA to keep its name in the news. If they could do something like bring over a popular mangaka, that would be even better. (Although I wouldn’t count on it.)

Best of luck to Kodansha USA. I can’t wait to pick up some titles and check out their editorial style!

What are you hoping to see from Kodansha USA next?

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My Manga Birthday Wishlist

As I’m sure none of you know, my birthday is fast approaching and I looooove getting presents. (I can be so spoiled, I know.) But instead of getting me things I’m just going to get myself eventually like a nice, long massage or a puppy, I’d rather get people get me something both easily obtainable and relatively cheap: MANGA!

Now, this July is shaping up to be an excellent month of fantastic manga releases, so why don’t we start with some of the hottest titles about to hit shelves?

First we’ll start off with the manga-influenced Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour, which hits stores July 20th. Actually, I’m just going to pin this one on my boyfriend since he so lovingly got me the first five volumes as my Valentine’s Day gift two years ago. Tamar, I’m expecting a copy of Scott Pilgrim and a pair of tickets for the movie adaption with a nice dinner to accompany it. (Don’t ever say I don’t tell you what I want!)

Next up on the list is a bunch of stuff from Vertical, which has a whole BUNCH of awesome manga, including the ones coming out this month. Peepo Choo comes out this month, but I’m probably going to get it for myself so Felipe Smith can sign it at Comic-Con, so skip that and head onto Chi’s Sweet Home and Twin Spica (vol. 1 & 2 because I haven’t gotten to pick up volume 1 yet!) If you really love me, then you’ll throw in a copy Buddha vol. 2 as well.

The next manga publisher that will automatically get me to love your birthday present to me is CMX. I spent a whole day at Anime Expo looking for From Eroica With Love volumes 12 and 13, despite the fact that I had 14 and 15. I’d also love a copy of Stolen Hearts vol. 2, My Darling, Miss Bancho and the first two volumes of The Name of the Flower. There are some other titles that I’d love certain volumes of, but that would make the list too  complicated! (Apothecarius Argentum volume 9!)

Other than that, I’ve been into collecting old TOKYOPOP series like Beck, Planetes and Queen’s Knight (volumes 2, 2 and 11, respectively.) I’ve also been collecting copies of Nextworld (Dark Horse Manga, volume 3, please), Club 9 (Also Dark Horse Manga, volume 2) and Chicago (Viz, volume 2 as well.)

If that doesn’t give you an idea what to get me, then just go find a Borders and hook me up with a nice gift card.

Giving me a birthday gift really is as simple as that.

Oops! I forgot about Mushishi vol. 8! Definitely looking forward to that one!

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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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Review: Stolen Hearts

Ever since February or so, I’ve gotten a lot better at spotting editorial changes in manga that I’m reading outside of work. Often it’s something little, sometimes it’s a bit bigger, so I’ve decided to include my notes on where I find the editorial decisions to be a bit lacking along with a review. Sure, I’m only a beginner at this whole editor business, but I figure my two cents can’t hurt and it gives me a little practice on the side! All I really want is to assess a different side of manga in the U.S., so I hope you readers enjoy this little extra perspective and my new take on reviewing manga.

Stolen HeartsStolen Hearts volume 1 by Miku Sakamoto

Shinobu Oguma is a regular high school girl until she spills milk onto one of her classmate’s bags. Unfortunately for her, the classmate just happens to be the scariest dude in class, Miharu Koguma. Koguma then ropes her into helping his grandmother advertise her kimono shop by walking around in kimono and handing out flyers. Shinobu quickly learns that her terrifying classmate is actually a big softie and the two fall in love. The rest of the volume follows their relationship working at kimono shop together, on their first date, at their school festival and in similar situations.

I have to say that this manga has one of the cutest couple-getting-together scenes I have ever EVER seen. It might be a little too contrived for real life, but you can really tell how Koguma feels about Shinobu as well as what Shinobu’s feelings are leading up to this scene. In that sense, it feels very very real. It definitely goes down in my book as one of my favorite shojo manga scenes ever.

The rest of the book progresses nicely with the couple going about their usual business and getting involved with Grandma’s schemes. I find it so adorable that they are just happy to spend most of their time together outside of school that they don’t even noticed they haven’t been on a proper date yet. I also enjoy Shinobu’s little schemes to show her friends how charming Koguma can be, which is something I think every girlfriend who is really in love with her boyfriend kind of does automatically. Fujiko, the grandmother, is also a treat as she is fiesty and a little bit of a slavedriver/obstacle, but is still considerate of the young lovers. I really hope to see her get fleshed out more in the next volume.

What I liked best about this story is how it used common cliches (a grand scheme to push the main couple together, school festivals, first date mishaps, etc.) but didn’t make a big fuss about them unlike some shojo manga. (ahem, ahem Love*Com) I also enjoyed the fact that it didn’t take Shinobu and Koguma very long to get together. I have to say I am starting to get a little bit sick of shojo that takes forever for the leads to hook up! Hopefully this will not make their romance go through one big cliched hurdle after another or that, at least, those hurdles will seem more original.

Another fun part of the story is the emphasis on kimonos, and kitsuke, the process of dressing oneself in kimono. It was great fun to see all the inventive ways you can wear kimono, especially since most shojo heroines don’t bother with kimono save for a yukata during a summer festival. While the manga is definitely a romance, it’s great to get a little bit of cultural education in the same package.

I love the cover, but was a little disappointed by the inside art. Most of my disappointment has to do with Shinobu’s face, which seems a bit off balance too me with her long bangs and super-big eyes. I felt a little bit of the same thing with Koguma, although I feel like Sakamoto will be able to draw him looking handsome more often in upcoming volumes instead of portraying him as scary with those lines across his face. Perhaps Sakamoto just needs time to feel comfortable drawing the characters. Other than that, I was delighted by the rest of the art, especially the attention paid to the kimono, and although the faces bothered me, I wouldn’t say no to this manga just because of that.

On the editorial side, I noticed a lot of little mistakes that I would have changed.  There was an aside that hit the edge of the art, blending it in with a black background. Another page had part of a letter cut off, although there was plenty of space where the entire word could have been moved to. And finally, on one page I noticed that there was an ‘Uwaaaa’ before a line where a side character was teasing Shinobu. The ‘Uwaaaa’ made no sense there, as the line should have been said straight with a sense of slight disgust,and took me out of the book, as did the other incidences despite their insignificance to enjoying the rest of the book. It says something to me that the editors weren’t able to catch the first two errors, although the last one isn’t an error so much as a stylistic choice.

Overall I am really really really looking forward to the next volume where we apparently get to deal with Koguma’s own brother trying to steal Shinobu away! If anything, I am looking forward to excellent way Sakamoto makes such cliches seem original. I would definitely recommend this book to girls who love shojo and anyone who’s open to the idea of shojo, but turned off by the idea of a cliched romance story.

Review copy provided by the reviewer.

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The Great Manga Gift Guide- SHOJO STYLE!

So it’s that wonderful time of year again and it’s about time for me to shrink into a little ball and wait for Christmas to be done with.

Yeah, I don’t like this time of year, but DO I really like getting presents. Who doesn’t? I find giving presents to be a lot of fun too because you get to see the delight on someone’s face when you give them the right gift. But there is that problem of knowing WHAT gifts to get someone, especially if they’re into manga. There’s a Jewish saying about opinion that goes: for every five Jews there’s at least eight synagogues.  For manga fans, it’s for every five manga fans there’s probably about two dozen series they’re currently reading and about four dozen more they’d love to start reading!  While that kind of does help widen the search radius, it doesn’t make manga fans easy to shop for. ESPECIALLY shojo fans…

So you’ve got a girl (girls really like manga, what can I say?) that you need a gift for. There’s a TON of shojo titles on the shelves, then there’s josei series, even sunjeong manhwa titles and not to mention non-shojo series that girls also like to read. (But I’m not even going to touch non-shojo.) So I’ve compiled here a little list of good shojo manga to get for girls.

Kare KanoFor the budding fan: Sometimes it’s good to start someone off slow. Kare Kano is a good manga to start with because it doesn’t have a lot of complicated references to Japanese culture that could throw off a beginner. Plus, Kare Kano is a very simple, but very engaging romance. There’s plenty of comedy mixed in with drama and, most importantly, it’s very realistic and easy to relate to. Even better, it’s a pretty good manga for younger teens as well as older readers because it starts off light and by the time you get to the more mature later volumes, you’ll probably have a few years on you.  Tokyopop is re-releasing the series in omnibus editions, so you can pick up the first three volumes a lot cheaper than you could individually!

For the comedy-lover: There are plenty of shojo rom-coms out there, but never have I seen more love for Love*Com and its unique sense of character dynamics. Sure, the series is pretty typical when it comes to the cliches of shojo manga, but you will never see another couple quite like this. Also, Aya Nakahara has a fantastic sense of design which really shows in her art.

For the one who likes her shojo unusual: I picked up a copy of Love Attack! Junai Tokko Taicho! by Shizuru Seino yesterday and enjoyed it a lot. It’s basically about two kids who aren’t afraid to throw punch falling in love with each other, but what really gets me is the two of them acting like a bunch of thugs. Every once in awhile, one of them would pull a face or react to something and suddenly don a “yakuza” face. I couldn’t stop laughing. Perhaps I’ve been watching too much Black Lagoon lately…

For the guy who LOVES shojo: What a small percentage of the manga-reading population! I wish more men read shojo, if only to be able to talk to guys about my favorite kind of manga more. Otomen by Aya Kanno has recently stolen my heart, especially since male protagonists are rare (the only other shojo mangaka I can think who uses male protagonists regularly is Ai Morinaga and another manga further down on the list.) Instead of going Morinaga’s usual route of hilarious character torture, Kanno makes Asuka Masamune pretty relatable. He tries really hard to be manly in order to fit in, but deep down he’s super-girly at heart. The series is hilarious and says a lot about self-acceptance and being comfortable in one’s own skin.

For the history lover: Does your giftee looooooooove history? Well, shojo manga usually tosses aside history in favor of romance and whatnot, but Red River by Chie Shinohara is still pretty damn cool. History fans will drool over the detail of her drawing, especially in jewelry and scenery, and be satisfied by the way her characters strategize and factor in the technology of the times. Plus, Shinohara pays some lip service to famous historical figures like Nefertiti and Ramses I (known as User Ramses in the manga.)  It’s not totally accurate historically, but it’ll get a history/shojo fan’s juices flowing.

For the fantasy lover: Technically, Red River falls under fantasy too, but since I’m a huge history nerd, I wanted to have two separate categories. For fantasy, I’m going with another pick from an older manga artist, Kyoko Hikawa’s From Far Away. I cannot even tell you how much I adore this story. The relationship between Noriko and Izark is so tender and enthralling to watch. You get totally swept up in their heart-wrenching story and it’s got pretty good action as well.  Unfortunately, this one might be hard to find because Viz finished publishing it a few years ago. BUT IT’S SO WORTH IT!!

For more mature reader: Please, Please Me by Kisun is a fantastic josei-style (is there a manhwa term for josei?) manhwa that’s pretty good for someone who is more mature in what they read. It follows the stories of two roommates looking for love in some odd places. Unlike some josei manga, which tends to follow the romantic exploits of office ladies, Please, Please Me‘s main characters don’t have typical office jobs, which is delightful and makes them a bit more relatable in my opinion. This manhwa, however, is online only. It’s extremely easy to get an account and buy some manga to read, but if you’re looking for a hard copy gift for a josei fan, go with Suppli by Mari Okazaki instead.

For a light-and-easy read: Land of the Blindfolded by Sakura Tsukuba is an excellent choice if you just want to give your shojo manga fan something to just plain enjoy reading. There’s a lot of drama involved with the different powers of the characters, but they are able to overcome it and learn to have more normal lives. I think what really makes the series a good read is the warm sense of community the characters have with each other. They really bond over their experiences and you can feel it as you read. Again, the series has ended, so it might be hard to find, but you’ve got plenty of time before most of the gift-giving holidays start.

For the manga fan who says they don’t like shojo: Are you shopping for someone who says they don’t like shojo,  but you think otherwise? Sometimes it takes the right series, but I think it also helps to ease them into it. Here’s where Mad Love Chase comes in. This new Tokyopop release about a demon prince trying to escape an arranged marriage by Kazusa Takashima, who is better known for her yaoi than her shojo. Mad Love Chase is undeniably funny and features a male protagonist to trick your giftee into thinking it’s not shojo. (But it is.) Anyway, the characters are fabulous and make up for the fairly weak storyline and all the times where the protagonist slips out from under his pursuers way too easily.

For the impossible giftee: Despite this list, you’re stuck on what to get as a gift. The solution? A gift card to their favorite bookstore or comic book store. No seriously. My friends apparently ALWAYS have trouble getting me gifts (I find this hard to believe) even though I’ve told a number of them to just get me a $20 gift card every time. Gift cards are impersonal, you say? Mm, maybe. I say they just give the giftee the choice to get what they want. You don’t always have to gift something that you’ve picked out for someone. If you still feel it’s too impersonal then get them a large sum gift card. That way you’re saying that YES, I may not have picked out something JUST FOR YOU, but I’ve given you enough to buy yourself something awesome. Any serious manga fan will dash straight for the graphic novel/manga section and stock up on their favorites.

I really hope you enjoyed reading this list and that it helps you give great gifts to shojo manga fans! I’d also like to thank David P. Welsh over at Precious Curmudgeon for suggesting this idea after both the NY Times and the Onion failed to deliver any manga suggestions on their own gift guides.

If you’d like to see more manga gift guides (in case you need more than just shojo) check out other Great Manga Gift Guide participants here and here.

Have a happy non-specific holiday season you guys!

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