Tag Archives: manga

Tokyopop Blog Discusses the FAQ of Manga on Hiatus

One of the questions publishers tend to hear the most (aside from, “when are you going to publish [insert name of manga here*]?”) is “when are you going to publish the next volume of [insert name of manga here**]?”

This tends to be one of the most aggravating for publishers to hear, actually. It’s not that publishers don’t WANT to answer it, it’s just that they’d prefer not to have to answer it 100+ times and have to disappoint fans over and over. (Not a very fun part of the job.) Sometimes there’s no answer to give people because the next volume just isn’t on the schedule yet. The typical vague and neutral statements issued in response satisfy no one because such questions are often asked in environments where a more detailed answer cannot be given.

But now, a Tokyopop blogger (presumably an employee, but I have no idea who it is, so it could be an intern) has taken to the time to give fans the lowdown on why series are put on hiatus and what you can do to pull them out of limbo.

The post is extremely thorough and well-written, answering not only why releases are put off, but how pubs get manga into bookstores, whether or not bookstores are bigger sellers than online retailers, why older titles are out-of-print, just why you SHOULD put your money where your mouth is and a lot of other insight into how book publishing works from a sales point-of-view.

Here’s a choice quote:

So sometimes we put a title on hiatus to see if fans manage to find what copies we have out there before we invest in producing more. How fast things come back from hiatus is heavily reliant on how existing stock performs, and whether we see an increased demand as people browse and pick up the early volumes and tell their friends about them, and then their friends go and pick them up. We’ve had some things reemerge from hiatus and perform well (Silver Diamond and Your & My Secret are good examples of this), and some things that in spite of their apparent popularity among the fans and buzz in the blogosphere, just don’t quite pick up enough steady business.

It’s worth checking out, which is why I’m posting about it. Bravo, TPHenshu, this is a great post.

*Quite possibly the name of something already published by another company. I’ve seen this happen.

**Quite possibly something that is already available for purchase, just had the next release date announced or is not even on hiatus.

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What Manga Do You Want The Most?

Manga licensing is a tricky business. There are companies that won’t work with other companies, titles that are too expensive to reasonably bring over the U.S., mangaka who are wary about having their work brought to an English-speaking audience and many other things to consider before licensing a title for the finicky U.S. market. It’s especially hard to judge demand when there are so many people reading scanlations. Is this title popular enough despite all those people who’ve already read it for free? Will fans devote their money to a manga regardless? It’s hard to judge a risky market like manga publishing sometimes. The best that can be done sometimes is to listen to their demands, but that might not always be the easiest thing to do because of all the restrictions mentioned above.

But what if we pretended to wipe the slate clean and have our own publishing companies for a moment? You’re given the opportunity to license any two manga titles that you wanted to, regardless of price, publisher politics or the relative lack of demand for the titles you pick. What would you license?

Rose of Versailles? Sailor Moon? Jungle Emperor Leo? What are you dying to publish the most?

I’ve tried to give the subject matter a lot of thought. It’s really hard to pick just two titles because there’s probably two dozen on my mental shortlist. Do I really want this one over this other one? I’m not sure, because I’d probably buy either in an instant.

But I’ve decided. I would want to bring over Osamu Tezuka’s Nana-iro Inko (Rainbow Parakeet), which I’ve mentioned wanting before, and Saint Oniisan (Saint Young Men) by Hikaru Nakamura.

Had I a chance to bring over a third title, I would have probably picked Moto Hagio’s A Cruel God Reigns, but I think the above two titles would have to be my first two picks. Nana-iro Inko because it sounds like a fun, under-estimated Tezuka title and Saint Oniisan because I read it (when I felt less guilty about scanlations) and loved it so much. (I would buy for myself in an instant and recommend it to all my friends who have a good sense of humor about religion.) It would break my heart to never ever see either title in English, in my lifetime. (Whereas I just want to see more of Moto Hagio’s work and had a hard time picking between A Cruel God Reigns and Poe no Ichizoku.)

So I’ll ask again: If you could have any two titles published in your language, regardless of any extenuating circumstances, what would those two titles be?

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Hollywood Gantz Premiere Report

Ughhhh, I don’t want to start off another post by apologizing for my absence, but I’m sure all of you understand that I have gainful employment matters to take care of before I can post sometimes. Making my car payments and being able to pay for groceries is unfortunately more important than blogging. There WILL be more posts very, very soon and that is a PROMISE.

Last week I went to the Gantz movie premiere in Hollywood, which was also broadcast live across the country to other theaters. There isn’t much to say about the Hollywood premiere other than that Patrick Macias of Otaku USA hosted the event, there were tons of screaming fans for the stars of the movie, no one upheld the no photos policy and that Deb Aoki’s About.com article has much better coverage of the witty banter between the stars during the Q&A.

So now that it’s been almost a full week since the Gantz one night event and lots of people have already had their say, here’s what I think about the movie:

It shouldn’t have had Kazunari Ninomiya in it. For one, I’m not a fan of his acting. He was horrible in the live-action movie adaptation of Ooku: The Inner Chambers, where he had the emotional variations of a stone.(Seriously, half the charm of a Fumi Yoshinaga manga is the way she draws people’s emotions. Acting fail.) Gantz was better, but only because Ninomiya could smile like a creepster at the appropriate moments. Second, I’m pretty sure the fact that Ninomiya is a popular idol, singer and actor under the management of Johnny’s Entertainment is the reason why Gantz became a PG-13 summer action flick instead of the gory NC-17 mess it was supposed to be. Idols have carefully crafted images to maintain after all.

Admittedly, I haven’t read the Gantz manga yet and I didn’t go to the premiere expecting to care about the movie, but talking to Deb Aoki of About.com and flipping through a copy she had, I wanted the movie to have tits, gore and a dog in it. A dog. Who left out the dog? That was a bad choice and I am mad at them.

Which brings me to the point that watching the movie did make me interested in the manga. I managed to get past the bad dubbing, where the leads sounded like ESL students and all the background characters sounded like they were from the Bronx, and see the enjoyable movie that lay beneath. I probably would have been creeped out to death by guts flying everywhere in movie form, but in manga, I find that kind of stuff bearable. There were also some really great aliens that the people under the control of Gantz (that big black ball, in case you didn’t know) had to face. The first set, ugly looking aliens with green hair weren’t all that great, but the second alien was a smiling plastic robot with a boom box who made great faces despite the whole plastic face thing. The third was a set of possessed Buddhist statues that had the essence of the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who at first, sneaking up on enemies while they weren’t looking. Also the idea of a giant Nio or thousand-armed Avalokiteshvara statues as villains is just cool to me.

In essence, Gantz really just committed the same error a lot of action films have–not leaving enough time for the audience to care about the characters, why they’re fighting and how they die. I’m not entirely sure why this happens, since I’m pretty sure a normal scene developing the characters must cost a lot less than a CGI-ed action scene, but the attractive actors will spur movie-goers into shelling out the cash anyway.

So in other words, Gantz is an entertaining movie. But if you’re a die hard fan of the manga, you’re going to be disappointed by the cheesy idol flick. If you’re an idol fan, then you’ll be just fine. Everyone, wait for the DVD release because the subtitled version should be better than the dubbed premiere for sure.

And sorry idol fans, but Kenichi Matsuyama, the other star of the film, is so much more fine than Ninomiya.

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Life of a (Rookie) Editor: Dealing with Taxes

I apologize that this post is a little off-topic. I tried to bring it back around to manga, but it’s a little shaky. Here goes:

If there was one thing I wish someone had taught me how to do when it came to life’s many lessons, it would have been to sit me down and tell me how to do my taxes.

Let me explain: having to do my taxes is one of the few things I’ve dreaded about being an adult. I’m horrible at math more complicated than basic arithmetic and I don’t understand economics in the slightest. Before becoming an independent, all I did in terms of taxes was sign the forms my mom got from her tax guy.

So after said tax guy gave me a quick de-briefing on when to pay the IRS, what to deduct and all that jazz once I became a freelancer, I kind of forgot about it all. I knew I had to set aside a certain amount to pay the IRS, so I did that every few months. Then I came home off my trip to Thailand, caught up on work and realized that I had to pay the government soon! In only a few days, actually! Oops.

I tried desperately to understand the tax forms, but it just read like gibberish or there was information I couldn’t provide blocking my way. It was frustrating. It’s not like I didn’t know how to fill out other stuff, but somehow I couldn’t get over the hill and into “this makes sense”-land.

I wound up asking for many people’s help, including other freelancers, former freelancers and that tax guy I mentioned earlier. While many people were more than willing to try to help, still nothing pushed me over the hill into understanding until I finally got a hold of my mom’s tax guy again.

And then he did it all for me. I was kind of flabbergasted at how simple it was. I just told him how much I made, what my various deductions were and he sent me an invoice to send to the IRS with how much money I owe them for my quarterly estimated payment. (What freelancers/small businesses have to pay the government.) Why isn’t doing taxes on your own this simple? (Seriously, there’s something wrong with our government if taxes can’t be done by someone who isn’t trained to do them.)

What does this have to do with manga? Very little. But to be honest, I see the manga industry heading in a direction where a large part of the work is sent outside the company. I see very few full-time job listings from publishers except for sales people, programmers and the occasional executive or designer. If another type of post pops up, it’s because someone has vacated a job the publisher deems vital enough to keep. So what’s left? A network of freelance translators, adapters, editors, letterers and designers. To be frank, I think this entire nation is heading towards freelance because so many Americans don’t have jobs except for the ones they can create themselves. Anyone preparing themselves to try and enter the industry needs to be aware that their taxes are a bit different from everyone else’s and you aren’t going to be panicking with everyone else on April 1st.

Here’s a few quick tips:

1. Get help from someone: Unless you studied to be a CPA in college, you probably won’t understand the tax forms and myriad of literature that tells you how to fill them out. If your parents, other family members or friends can’t help you get things sorted out, it might be worth it to pay someone. I’m super glad my mom had a trusty tax guy under her sleeve because I went into panic mode once things really stopped making sense. Worth it.

2. Don’t wait til the last minute: Trust me, you don’t want to be at Step 1 wondering how you’re going to all this two days before that estimated payment is due. The ensuing panic attack is horrible.

3. Keep good records: This totally saved my ass this time. I had all the information I needed to give the tax guy, it was just a matter of putting it all together, which didn’t take very long. It will also serve you well if the IRS ever decides to audit you, so don’t throw things away just because you’ve made your payment.

4. Learn what you can deduct: I was hoping to deduct some of my rent, but since my home office is pretty much just the extra chair on our small dining room table and not a whole separate room used only for work, I couldn’t deduct it. Bummer.That being said, deductions won’t be the same for everyone, so double check what you CAN deduct.

5. Deduct your manga: If you freelance in the comic book publishing industry, or at least as a freelance editor, all your comic book purchases are deductible. This is a super-awesome fact that I grin about every time I hit the comic book stores. It makes me so happy!

Anyway, I hope this post does some good for someone who is just as clueless about taxes as I have been. Educate yourself if you’re a freelancer!

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Traveling With Manga

As I leave for my trip tomorrow, I find myself with a bit of a dilemma. Do I pack manga or not? I wish I could bring enough for the entire trip, but doing so would probably mean packing more than one suitcase and nowadays that’s going to cost a lot of money.

Still, I’ve tried really hard to bring a good library to keep me entertained. Once I did it for a month I spent studying Spanish in Havana, Cuba. I wound up giving half of my library to a Cuban comic book fan in desperate need of more current material and the other half got ruined by rain leaking into my bedroom. If I’m lucky, I’ll stumble upon manga during my trip. I remember when I went to Argentina and wound up stumbling upon Cardcaptor Sakura being sold at ordinary new stands in the street. But I’ve tried to stop bringing much manga on my trips because it’s simply tough to bring so many heavy books when your trips are as active as the ones I usually go on…

Nevertheless, It’s tough to go without a manga fix for a long period of time, so here are my suggestions. I’m going to base them on the length and nature of the trip, but first, a suggestion that covers any sort of traveling you might do:

If you have an e-reader or other device that can play anime or allow you to read manga (without wireless handy), load it up and USE IT.

Man, I wish I had an e-reader. Maybe next year.

Now then!

For most trips, but especially if you’re flying:

-Try to avoid bringing more than 5-10 manga if you can manage it. Manga is heavy and airlines like to charge for luggage when they can. Domestic flights are usually the worst culprits, charging for every piece of luggage check, but international flights will also charge if you go overweight. You’ll also want to pack light if you expect to be doing a lot or expect to be shopping. You’ll want room in your luggage for all your goodies.

-Try paperback light novels. They’re lighter than manga, but are written in similar style. There are more than a few out in English including Twelve Kingdoms, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and the more mature Haikasoru line from Viz.

-Heck, try reading normal novels. There are a number of splendid books out there. I’m particularly fond of Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series at the moment, so I’ve gotten a bunch of his novels for my trip.

-If you’re studying Japanese, bring your dictionary and a couple of tankobon. It takes a lot longer when you’re trying to comprehend something in another language, so your entertainment value will be stretched further and you’ll improve your vocabulary!

For trips to conventions:

-I really only have one suggestion for this one- just bring some magazines for the trip over and then buy your fill of entertainment for the trip back. I always like to pack light for conventions anyway.

For boring trips to grandma’s:

-If you’ve got the space to do so, bring as much as you’d like to keep yourself entertained. But, if you can, see if you can’t get someone to take you to a local bookstore so you can stock up and only have to haul a heavy load one way.

-Sneak over to your cousin’s place, borrow their computer and read some digital manga. Oh, hey, look, here’s a bunch of FREE and LEGAL manga to read online.

That’s really it, there’s not a lot to packing manga for trips beyond common sense and a bit of cleverness.

And with that I’m off. You can look forward to a few guest posts in the next two weeks and perhaps a quick word from me when I can fit it in. Perhaps I’ll go looking for the Thai manga scene (I’ve been told they have one, but I’m not sure if Laos does) in between riding elephants and looking for tigers. :D

(Yeah, I’m excited for the tigers and the elephants too.)

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Wrap Up: The 2010 Great Manga Gift Guide is over!

Wow, isn’t this time of year busy? Everywhere I turn, people are preparing for various holiday festivities. It almost makes me happy to have gotten Hanukkah and my own gift guide out of the way earlier this month.

Still, a lot of manga bloggers worked long and hard on gift guides for a wide variety of manga lovers (or anime lovers, or comic book lovers, etc.) and we had a great turn out this year. You can check out the complete list of participants here. There might be some gift guides popping up, so if there are a significant amount, I’ll add a late-comers section.

Here are some of the gift guides that have been added to the list in the past week and a half:

Our latest contribution is from Jason S. Yadao of Otaku Ohana in the Honolulu Star Advertiser. I have no idea what his gift guide is like because he passed me a preliminary link for when the post goes up later tonight. Someone PLEASE tell me if the link doesn’t work. Knowing Jason, it’ll be a fun gift guide.

Next up is a gift guide for yaoi beginners from the Red Queen. I’m not sure I’d want to try and sneakily get someone into yaoi like that,  but I’d recommend reading a good number of manga on this list for sheer literary value and because I love them dearly myself.

Linda over at Anime Diet has a fun gift guide focusing on the recipients’ interests. Got a foodie or a pet lover? She’s got a few recommendations for you based on what your friends like reading.

Over at ComicAttack.net, Kristin has a gift guide that includes some of my favorite new manga of the year, including Twin Spica, The Story of Saiunkoku and Grand Guignol Orchestra.

Melinda Beasi of Manga Bookshelf focused on only on manga and manhwa that debuted in 2010, but her list is also full of great choices for the manga-loving ladies on your list. In case you were totally stumped on what you should get your gal pals.

On the other hand, Alex Hoffman of Manga Widget has a list full of selections good for manga-loving guys, but he doesn’t leave out some of the year’s top shoujo manga either.

Got someone who disses manhwa or OEL manga? Lori Henderson of Manga Xanadu has just the gifts to change their minds on her list as well as a few other choices that your recipients might have missed on the bookstore shelves.

That’s it! It’s only minutes until 12/16/10 and no one’s passed me a new link to share with you in a few hours.

The reason I volunteered to host and organize the 2010 Great Manga Gift Guides this year was because last year it was such a fantastic boost for my newbie little blog that no one knew about yet. I hope that in addition to getting great suggestions for your holiday manga shopping, everyone has found a new blog to read and love or felt the holiday spirit while participating in the Great Manga Gift Guide!

Happy holidays and here’s to another year full of great new manga to read!

Additional links:

Announcing the 2010 Great Manga Gift Guide

Week 1

Week 2

Complete Archives

My Shoujo Manga Gift Guide for 2010

 

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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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