Tag Archives: Kodansha

Del Rey Folds; Kodansha USA to Take on Their Titles

If you pay attention to manga news at all, you’ve probably heard that the Del Rey Manga imprint has folded and Kodansha USA will be taking over on a title-by-title basis. The manga blogging community has been sharing the news as fast as it possibly can. Melinda Beasi was the first to post after Deb Aoki broke the news over Twitter.

Some are saying this is no surprise after it was revealed that Del Rey had no new volumes being released after November 2010.

While it certainly feels a bit upsetting, there is hope for the future of your favorite manga being published by Del Rey. For one, it seems like Kodansha might be getting serious. But at the same time, Kodansha USA has an awful publishing track record, having only done re-releases of Akira that were no different from the old Dark Horse version.

No doubt that right now Kodansha is looking to get their shit in order and isn’t thinking like an American fan who might be grieving at what they see as a loss. Here are some suggestions for them to transition a little bit more smoothly and ease the minds of fans…

1. Do a Q&A panel at NYAF– It seems Kodansha has pulled their panel at NYAF this weekend, which has caused more panic in fans than understanding. Most likely, the people at Kodansha USA feel like they just don’t have anything to tell their fans yet. Forget that. Turn off the PR speak and turn it into a Q&A panel and beginning sharing the details behind this move. If it’s possible, tell the fans when they can start to expect new Kodansha releases, even if specific titles aren’t set in stone yet. It’ll assuage manga fans fears that Kodansha is just a giant corporation toying with their feelings. I’m sure that NYAF will be more than happy to prioritize getting a Kodansha panel back up, so do it ASAP! (And if NYAF is no longer a possibility, I suggest finding the next large anime con and setting up a panel immediately.)

2. Actually publish something new- I’m pretty sure that most manga fans would breathe a sigh of relief if they heard Kodansha was releasing a new volume of an old series or a new title at all. This one is pretty simple, so my suggestion to Kodansha is that you work on this first. Just name one new, never-before-published-in-America volume of manga and when it will be published. If Kodansha wants to keep all the attention it’s getting right now, try and do this before the end of October. The end of the year at the most. Once we get into 2011 and we STILL haven’t heard a single peep from the company, fans will not think well of Kodansha USA at all. My guess is that this change has been relatively long in coming, so Kodansha must have an idea what’s going to be published first and foremost by now.

3. Make a big splash- Ever since Kodansha started pulling the licenses of their titles from American manga publishers, Kodansha has been much like Cuba–everyone else can get the cigars, but Americans can’t. There are many fantastic titles hidden in the Kodansha vaults, so please, Kodansha, don’t keep all the top notch Cohibas locked away in a drawer. Publish Sailor Moon or another popular title that fans have been clamoring for and our attention will be solidly fixed on Kodansha. I know this goes against the previous suggestion, but if it’s done in tandem, I think it could really work well for Kodansha.

There are, no doubt, more things Kodansha could do at this point, but these are what the company needs to do in order to show us it’s not just for show.

Here’s some titles I think Kodansha should publish as soon as possible…

Sailor Moon Omnibus– Omnibi are a great way to get a re-release out to the masses. Plus Sailor Moon is old enough that while many fans think of it fondly, there are plenty more fans who have NEVER gotten the chance to read it, but have probably heard so much about it. Really a no brainer.

Hataraki Man Well, Kodansha (or at least the English-language site for the Japanese side of things) thinks this manga is good enough to be profiled on the site! I personally love this manga, so this suggestion is a tad bit biased, but the shoujo manga that Del Rey published was usually well-received and this is just a tad bit more mature…

Hajime no Ippo or Ashita no Joe– Kodansha, this is your chance to show us the classics that we always hear about in manga. These two get referenced left and right in manga. I know sports manga doesn’t have the best track record, but perhaps these two are good enough to change the minds of US manga fans everywhere. I know I’d certainly be curious since I can think of about 10 different manga that have mentioned Ashita no Joe off the top of my head. (There are more, I just know it.)

Saint Young Men I can tell you right now that a number of people think this manga is too controversial for the US just because it portrays Jesus (despite the fact that it’s pretty tame, I know.) Controversy tends to be a great bookseller, so surprise us all and take a leap of faith. I’m sure your company will get tons of exposure and I’m sure that’s something Kodansha could use right now.

One last bit of advice, Kodansha. Just blow our minds RIGHT NOW and we will be your manga-buying slaves for a long, long time. Right now you’ve nothing to lose by being quick, but you’ll lose a lot by being lazy or paranoid about what you can tell us yet. This is the time for a fast and loose game.

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A Rare Review: Planetes vol.1

I got this volume of Planetes by Makoto Yukimura through Ed Sizemore of Comics Worth Reading via my Anime and Manga Blogger Letter Exchange. It actually wasn’t the first time I’d come across Planetes as my (really ridiculously awesome) college anime club showed the anime last year. I’d also gotten a chance to read vol. 1 while at TOKYOPOP, which is probably the one of the few remaining places to have a complete set. Sadly this manga will not be returning to print as it is an old Kodansha title and the two companies don’t do business together anymore.

Planetes (the manga) is about a team of debris collectors working in space 58 years into the future. Their job is to be the space-age garbage guys, except it can get pretty dangerous. The debris can ruin space ships and kill people, which we learn right at the beginning of the manga, as well as make it difficult for ships to pass between Earth and space.

This first volume shows us the lives, ambitions and motivations of the three main characters, Hachimaki, Fee and Yuri. Each chapter and arc carefully shows us each character’s normal lives in the most authentic way possible, despite the (relatively) unrealistic setting. Hachimaki has big plans for himself, but keeps getting hurt on the job, Yuri has deep emotional reasons for being a debris collector and Fee just wants a smoke every once in awhile in order to help her relax after a stressful day.

This attempt at showing us how life is in space is my favorite part of this manga. There is no pioneering some ridiculous new space mission, just what life would be like if you had a job as a debris collector in a time when humans were living in space like it was not a big deal. Drama comes from real issues like eco-terrorism,space-related diseases, families separated by jobs in space and the serious damage that space debris can do if left unchecked. If this isn’t what real life would be like up in space in the future, I don’t really know what life WOULD be like because Yukimura has done such a good job in painting a realistic scenario. He also uses the current history of space exploration as a means of creating this world, which is a nice touch. It certainly shows to me that Yukimura loves the idea of living in space and knows his stuff.

Planetes is all about the story-telling for me because the art just doesn’t really do it for me. That isn’t to say that the art isn’t serviceable or doesn’t have it’s good points, but overall, I cannot get very excited about it.  It’s plain old seinen art that has decent-looking characters and incredible technical detail and way too much dark tone. I don’t know if this is JUST me, but a page filled with various shades of super dark tones make things a little hard to read for me. I applaud the skill it takes to draw this well, but it’s not the most eye-appealing art out there either.

Now for the comparisons to the anime!

I have to say that I like the anime a little better. It starts off from the perspective of Ai Tanabe, a character who we don’t see in vol. 1 of the manga, but I am certain joins the cast in later volumes. She plays an important role in the anime of introducing the rest of the debris team to us through the eyes of someone completely new to life in space and to the main characters. Because of this, we get to learn as she learns instead of just being thrown into this new society in space at a very dramatic flashback in the manga.

While Ai’s importance as a main character lessens in the anime over time, she also provides us with a bit of levity when it’s needed. In comparison, the manga is just a huge chunk of heaviness. I missed Ai even though the first volume was chock with some of my favorite stories, because Ai would come in with her cluelessness and cheerfulness, the audience has something to smile about. There’s no character in this first volume like her that allows us to do that. She makes the pacing a bit better in the anime and does wonders for people who aren’t that into seinen,or serious moods as well. She’s the reason why a girl like me has no problems sitting down to watch or read this series in the first place.

I can see why this manga wasn’t as popular as it should have been. It’s hard to digest, the art isn’t that terrific and it came out at a time when the majority of Americans as manga consumers weren’t quite ready to accept something with ridiculous depth and not much else. It makes me sad, but I can’t help it.

I would like to recommend this manga, but I feel that it’s a little hard to recommend it ALONE and JUST after this first volume. This volume alone isn’t enough to hook me on the series (assuming I was reading it before I’d seen the anime, that is)  so I would give it another few volumes.  If you’re able to get your hands on copies of Planetes, go find a store that sells the anime too.  Watch the anime first and THEN dive into this manga. You will enjoy the anime a lot better, but you will also enjoy the manga little bit better than if you would alone or before watching the anime. I would most certainly recommend the anime ANYTIME because it is quite fun and is of a higher quality than your average futuristic space anime out right now.

Thank you again to Ed Sizemore for giving me this copy of Planetes. I certainly enjoyed it IMMENSELY, but for the sake of this review I had to be truthful. I do rather hope that all of you buy both the anime and manga because I feel it’s worth it.

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