Republication Boom in Classic Manga (Yomiuri)
The Yomiuri Shinbun has an article examining the growing popularity in Japan of reprinting classic manga from earlier eras, catering to older, original fans and people interested in the historical significance of earlier titles.
Nostalgic Works of the Past Bringing Joy to Middle-Aged Readers One More Time
Basking in the adventures of the heroes of manga magazines and rental books - fulfilling the dreams of middle-aged readers, the classic mangas of yesteryear is being reprinted. We pursued the republication boom, which has seen the re-introduction of numerous hidden gems long out of print.
Inside the office of publisher Pan Rolling, which controls the "Mangashop" brand, the bookshelves are lined with classic anthology magazines from the 1960's such as "Manga-Oh" "Shonen Gahou" and "Weekly Shonen Magazine." Pan Rolling spent 50 million yen ($435,000) collecting 4000 volumes of manga: from these books, they brought back Ikki Kajiura's gutsy sports titles "Champion Futoshi" and "Koshien no Tsutchi (Koshien Soil)"; classic action heroes such as "8-man"; Jiro Kuwata's "King Robo" and "Denjin X-Man"; more than 50 titles from the 1960's in all.
"Even if you wanted to read older titles, they would cost tens of thousands of yen (tens of hundreds of dollars). For the sake of the manga culture, we would like to make titles accessible and offer them at prices of less than 2,000 yen ($20)" says Kosuke Kusaka of Pan Rolling.
Episodes which were missing from volumes published in the past were also recreated from magazine prints, and for many titles this is their first graphic novel treatment. The company faces many hurdles in collecting the work and negotiating rights, but they receive numerous exhaltations from their readers, such as "I finally got to read the one chapter I missed when I was a child because I was sick."
Publisher Chikuma-Shuhan runs a similar line, dubbed the "Legend Archives," which has reprinted 14 classic sci-fi titles from the 80's and 90's, such as Yukinobu Hoshino's "Yojo Densetsu (Legend of Erotic Beast)" and Tori-Miki's "Yama no Oto (Sound of the Mountain)."
Chikuma was a small printing company with roughly 10 employees: but marketing director Kazuyuki Sugiura, 48, wanting to put out a collection of short works by Nao Sakaguchi, whom he was a fan of, made a leap of faith, and between 2000-2003 published 5 volumes of "Nao Sakagauchi Collected Short Works," From there, he created a separate proposal which tied into the publication of the Legend Archives.
"None of us had any editorial experience, so we started from scratch, working all day and weekends. I want to use high-quality paper and make books that can be passed onto future generations." says Sugiura. Starting in July, they will be begin publication of a new series, which will reprint titles such as Akira Mochizuki's "Yuhigaoka no Sori Daijin."
Yet another player is Shogakukan Creative, who focuses on republications of "historically significant" manga: their work is centered around the periods between 1923 and 1925, and titles like "Sho-chan no Boken (Sho-chan's Adventure)" by Shosei Oda and Shoichi Kabajima; Noboru Oshiro's 1941 publication "Ksiah Ryoko (Travels by Train)"; from pre-Second World War story manga to recent works such as Kazuo Umezu's "Mori no Kyodai - Soko no Nai Machi (Brother & Sister in the Forest - Bottomless Town)" and Leiji Matsumoto's "Uchu Sakusen Dai Ichigo (Space Strategy #1)", they recreate debut works written by masters of the genre when they were still in their teens, complete with faithful recrations of the covers and bindings.
President Akio Ueno explains that "we have had many surprising discoveries, such as the fact that visual angles used in cinema had been incorporated into manga before Osamu Tezuka's work."
Each company's line is a small-run print of 3000-5000 copies, but they are being buoyed by the boom in manga research, which has seen results such as the creation of specialized departments in universities. Along with the opportunities brought about by a greater focus on the culture of the Showa era (1926-88), the republication boom looks like it will continue for some time,
2006-06-28, Yomiuri Shinbun