April 29, 2005

Largo

Reports of Animerica magazine's demise have been spot-on: Now comes a new report that subscriptions are no longer available, and remaining subscription issues will be replaced with Shôjo Beat. (This doesn't change the fact that the new-format Animerica will still be available as a convention exclusive and also in limited runs at bookstores.)

Manganews.net has started a new Manga Discussion series: This week's topic, "How do you feel about the increasing gaps between official English releases, esp. for titles that have finished their run in Japan, and/or nearing completion in N. America?" Personally, I didn't realize this was a problem except in the case of ADV Manga. Right now the discussion looks more like a bitch session about how ADV is completely slacking off on so-and-so's favorite series. When I think about my favorite manga titles, I mostly worry about how Hot Gimmick is just a few steps behind the Japanese tankoubons now, or how Evangelion comes out so slowly mostly because Yoshiyuki Sadamoto himself can't draw fast enough. So it all depends on your perspective.

And the point about Sadamoto is verified by Animania's link to a Japanese interview session with manga editors. One of the questions was how the editors deal with manga-ka who fall behind schedule, and the editor who manages the serialization of Evangelion in Shonen Ace magazine said: "I give up." Ouch.

ICv2 has images of the new Princess Ai doll, which looks like perfect snark material if it had been in Previews or something.

James @ Reading Along has the first look at Del Rey's new releases, Nodame Cantabile and Genshiken. With Nodame Cantabile we finally get a classical music-themed comic, which is clearly the new alternative/underground, because all the other music-related comics out there are either rock or hip-hop, it seems.

April 28, 2005

The Pop of Tokyo

More late-breaking Tokyopop news at Love Manga. TP is just about to reach their 1000th manga release, though I have to wonder if they really need to be throwing this much Princess Ai merchandise and promotion out there. A cosplay contest? Don't you normally need a fanbase before cosplay even starts to happen? Last I checked, there weren't a whole lot of people getting into this series. Hell, if you're going to sell fashion dolls, I'd license the material in Paradise Kiss before anything else. Now THAT would sell. There are also webpages up for two upcoming OEL* manga, Dramacon and Steady Beat.

*Original English-language.

Dorian got Baron: The Cat Returns at his store, which makes me sad, because I swear I didn't see it at all at my comic store. But he's right, I guess the distribution is a little spotty.

Digital Manga jumps into the latest manga publishers' trend with online previews for Bambi and Her Pink Gun, Twilight of the Dark Master, IWGP, Worst, and a bunch of How-to books. Oh, and they also got some nominations in the ALA Young Adult reader awards for Only the Ring Finger Knows and Desire.

And fanservice fetishes go too damn far with a French-maid and cosplay cafes in Tokyo. As one restaurantgoer puts it: "We just came to watch the otakus, but this is too much."

April 27, 2005

Periodical

From Manganews.net, we're reminded that Tokyopop will be releasing Fruits Basket, Get Backers, Saiyuki/Saiyuki Reload and Samurai Deeper Kyo monthly from June-October to tide over the schoolkids on vacation.

TP is also premiering Tokyo Mew Mew a la Mode this June, which introduces a new girl to the cast whose animal genetics are half-cat, half-rabbit. The series is popular enough that it should be quite promising, although the sheer cuteness does seem to intimidate more refined readers. >:D

Love Manga also muses over the dirty side of things with a link to more Tenjho Tenge discussion and an article on some creepy hentai guy who was stopped at the airport. On a more positive note, there are a handful of new Tokyopop licenses which include Kingdom Hearts (yes, the cheesy-ass Disney/Squaresoft video game) and the mysteriously mysterious Spiral.

Animania catches up with some new manga anthologies starting up in Japan. (It's funny how in the US, we get like ONE shoujo anthology and it's the event of the year.) Osaka Geijutsu Daigaku Daigaku Manga looks interesting as it's a compilation of old works from manga-ka who graduated out of the Osaka University of Arts, such as Rumiko Takahashi and Hideaki Anno. We've got two new boy's love magazines, and I wonder if DMP is getting any ideas yet. On the more mainstream side there's Shônen Sirius and Chu♥Girl, while alt-manga is represented by the mysterious and unlinked magazines Angel Share, Flamingo R and Platinum. (I hope Kotonoha gives some of those a try.)

Speaking of which! Look who updated today. Definitely check out Fumiko Takano's The Yellow Book - A Friend Named Jacques Thibault, winner of the Tezuka Cultural Prize, manga's highest award; Kotonoha makes its first dive into yuri with Ebine Yamaji's Love My Life; and another chapter of Smuggler is up.

So I finally sauntered over to check out the Squiddie Award pseudo-nominations, and I'm impressed that Hot Gimmick got picked for both best manga series and best ongoing comic series. However, I am rather sad that Scott Pilgrim is nowhere to be found among the best comics characters.

April 26, 2005

Chronicle

Love Manga is consistently terrific and covers all the news that I missed over the past day-and-a-bit, but here are the highlights that caught my eye.

CMX continues to be everyone's whipping boy for What's Wrong With Manga in America (and justifiably so). Even Diamond gets a chance to stick a fork in them, and hell, Diamond's usually the whipping boy for What's Wrong With Comics Distribution in America. That's pretty damn sad.

Yes, yaoi is fascinating. Even The Boston Globe thinks so.

It's awards season in the comics biz, and Tokyopop got a few nominations for releases like Fake and Tokyo Tribes.

Speaking of Tokyo Tribes, manga-ka Santa Inoue is starting a new series called Tokyo Drive, as reported by Manganews.net.

Animania has the Top 10 manga in Japan for this week, and look who's on top. Hahaha. The one that I'm pretty sure will never make Top 10 in the U.S. just because it's so badly hacked up.

In the multimedia field, Seven Seas' manga-on-PSP gimmick has garnered 12000 downloads in 5 days. Meanwhile, Viz plans to tie-in an Ultra Maniac manga preview with the first volume of the anime*, and have announced similar plans for Fullmetal Alchemist. I won't even try to put a spin on the resounding sales potential of "moe" (that's a two-syllable word, not the Stooge), because that's its own brand of creepy.

And finally, Production I.G has put up its website for the anime movie adaptations of Tsubasa and xxxHOLiC. There's not a whole lot of preview imagery available yet, but considering that this is the studio that produced the highly lauded Ghost in the Shell franchise, I expect the animation to be nothing less than stellar.

*I just realized I do have this DVD on hand. The preview ... has left me feverishly counting the days until the July release. Wataru Yoshizumi won me over back with Marmalade Boy, and it looks like she's done it again.

April 24, 2005

Top!

Animania has the list of Top 10 manga in Japan for March:

1. NANA Vol. 12
2. Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 10
3. BLEACH Vol. 16
4. Berserk Vol. 28
5. D. Gray-man Vol. 3
6. Konjiki no Gash!! (Zatch Bell) Vol. 20
7. KareKano Vol. 20
8. 20th Century Boys Vol. 18
9. School Rumble Vol. 8
10. Aishiteruze Baby Vol. 7

Numbers in bold indicate titles that have been licensed in the US, which as you can see, is pretty impressive. The industry is doing a good job of keeping up with what's popular.

Keep an eye on your local comic store, because the Shojo Beat Issue 0 preview is coming out!

And you know you want to read the next chapter of Kobato ... well, I do.

April 23, 2005

Late! Late! For a very important date!

Chris @ 212 reports that 20th Century Boys has been delayed until 2006. This makes me a sad panda, and I share his concern that this better not end up censored.

However, hope springs eternal for Midori's Days, which has been left untouched by Viz in their Sneak Peeks volume, as Gump @ Keromaru found out. Apparently, naked boobs are okay if they're on some tiny girl stuck to the end of your right arm. On a sadder note, the release date got moved to August. Oh well, at least the anime DVDs are coming out on time.

AoD has updated Viz's release dates up to October, but they still need to fix the ones that got delayed.

The Book Standard looks at pseudo-manga releases aimed at kids in the American market. Titles to look out for include Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys graphic novels, and Chynna Clugston's Queen Bee. “We’re not trying to imitate Japanese-style stories. We’re using the manga style because that’s what kids know. We’re trying to capitalize on the fact that kids are coming back to comic books in significant numbers.” So that's what it's all about.

The Japan Times reviews Japanese the Manga Way, a primer on Japanese language that uses manga for its examples. Sounds like a promising book, although the review could really have laid off that condescending "har har, they use manga so it'll be easier for stupid people!" attitude.

Ian @ Brill Building raves about Sharknife, the latest entry in the newly-minted genre of "Nintendo realism" that counts Scott Pilgrim as one of its prime examples.

April 21, 2005

It's in the game

Love Manga documents the winners of the not-too-well-publicized International Manga and Anime Festival, which seems more like a Europe-and-North-America festival to me.

There's also a summary of Publishers Weekly's feature on sports manga, where we learn that the genre is taking a while to catch on in the US. Maybe part of the problem is that the demographic of "hardcore sports fans" in America doesn't really cross over with "manga readers." Think about the 40,000 folks who might show up for a Major League baseball game; how many of them do you think would be interested in comics, much less Japanese ones?

We get a bullet-point examination of Tramps Like Us Vol. 1 and The Wallflower Vol. 1 at PreCur, and only one book is worth getting the next volume of. Click the link to see which one it is!

ICv2 notes that, not surprisingly, graphic novel sales are outdoing periodical comics (Direct Market). A full Top 100 GNs list follows, with Fruits Basket Vol. 8 ranking as the top manga at #14. Also making strong showings are Hellsing Vol. 6 (#17), Battle Royale Vol. 12 (#20), and Rurouni Kenshin Vol. 12 (#25).

Just in case you want to drown yourself in Miyazaki, Viz is planning a Howl's Moving Castle artbook, film-comic, and picture book.

Want to "break into the industry"? Live in California? Anime Expo is looking for recruits and will be holding a job fair in Redwood City this Saturday, April 23rd.

April 20, 2005

Chu!

Love Manga swept up a ton of news today, so maybe y'all should just read that blog instead. ;)

Seven Seas offers first chapters of their four current titles on PSP (Playstation Portable), bringing a whole new meaning to "digital manga." Definitely a smart move though, considering the multimedia possibilities of the device.

Tokyopop UK's Rising Stars contest starts on 15 May 2005, so now let's see what the British talent pool of comickers can devise. C'mon! Show those Americans a thing or two!

The latest licenses and release dates:
Tokyopop has Girls Bravo, because you can never have too much fanservice.
Viz has, among other things, Monster Vol. 1 and Death Note Vol. 1 scheduled for October 4th. Watch out for Death Note, as it already has a strong fan following, thanks to its mindbending thriller plot centered around a notebook that can kill people.

If you dig fandom comedy, Del Rey has a preview of Genshiken on their site.

AoD's underrated title of choice this month is Iron Wok Jan, which should never be at the bottom of anyone's pile. Ever.

Shôjo Beat not girly-girl enough for ya? Kodansha is releasing a new shoujo mangazine, Chu♥Girl, this summer. (Yes, with the heart.)

And Manganews.net has a feature on Fujiko Fujio, the creator(s) of Doraemon, whose iconic quality and recognizability is second only to that of Tezuka's Astro Boy.

April 19, 2005

That's all there is, there isn't any more.

The great manga edit-o-rama of 2005 continues, with something as brief as an I''s preview being too hot for Shônen Jump.

April 18, 2005

Special Ed.

As Adam @ Completely Futile reminds us, make sure to get your TCJ Special Edition 2005 on manga. You will be a wiser person for it.

Start off your week right with some yaoi discussion, going on at Comic World News and also a more scholarly piece by Sueen Noh.
Thanks to Love Manga and PreCur for the links.

David of PreCur also tackles the delightful subject of fanservice in the latest issue of Flipped, with a particular focus on Negima! ... speaking of which, according to Ken Akamatsu's Love Hina timeline, today is the day that Keitaro and Naru get married. Umm ... okay then.

James @ Reading Along checks out the football-themed Eyeshield 21, which kinda makes me wish I hadn't passed it up at the bookstore.

And this week in Japan, the top 10 manga feature Detective Conan (Case Closed) at the top, with strong showings by Naruto, BECK, Worst, and Prince of Tennis as well.

April 15, 2005

Unshelved

As Shawn reports, some bookstores are shelving CMX and Marvel Age books with other Marvel and DC GNs rather than manga. Okay folks, whatever floats your boats.

From the Previews Review roundup on CWR, Hot Gimmick Vol. 9 comes out in April! And it's Subaru/Akane-centric! THE CUTE, IT KILLS! (Also, they're really starting to catch up with the Japanese publisher, as I saw Vol. 10 in the "New" section of Asahiya just a couple of months ago.)

On Love Manga's analysis chart, we see that Star Wars III is now the hot GN of the week. Fruits Basket Vol. 8 makes a respectable #2 showing though, and the Sin City books are still hanging around there in various places.

AoD has Tokyopop's latest solicits, of which only Sgt. Frog Vol. 9 (07/12) and Tramps Like Us Vol. 6 (08/09) seem like winners.

Hey, did Kotonoha just upload a new release? Yes they did! Part B of Coo's World Ch. 1 is now available.

And this is strictly for cool points: Kaneda's bike from Akira.

April 12, 2005

Flight away with me

Just one quick news item today ... Yaoicon 2005 announces Kodaka Kazuma as their guest of honor. Kazuma is best known for creating Kizuna: Bonds of Love, so you can bet this'll get the yaoi fans in there.

And a quick comic review:

Flight Vol. 2
Editor / Art Director: Kazu Kibuishi
Contributors: More than you can shake a nib pen at

If Flight Volume 1 was the defining book of Comic-con 2004, then the follow-up is the defining book of Alternative Press Expo 2005. The constantly crowded booth at APE made the message clear: "Hey you guys, Flight 2 is out!" Although it's still jam-packed with diversity, the second volume shows a unifying move towards certain popular themes: space travel, adventure, fantasy and alternate worlds, love stories, and of course, flight. Once again the young artists extend their abilities in what the language of comics can express. Stories range from wordless sequences to poetic abstraction to personal narration, with artwork that can fall anywhere between Don Hertzfeldt's stick figures, Sonny Liew's intricate penciling or Hope Larson's ingenious use of weather symbols as art. The influence of modern-day animation is strong, as is the convenience of digital coloring, although Jen Wang's watercolored "Destiny Express" proves that hand-coloring is not dead. Kazu Kibuishi's vision of "real mainstream" comics is growing ever stronger -- and at $25 for over 400 color pages, you'd be a fool to miss out on this book.

April 11, 2005

It's over!

Alas. Thought Balloons ran out of air. (Please excuse the dumb pun ... ) But as everyone else on the sphere has noted, Kevin will continue to blog at Dark, But Shining, with a focus on "Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Christ Knows What Else."

Who likes pretty pictures? David @ Love Manga has picked up (among other things) a couple of cover images for Viz's new Shôjo Beat GNs, Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden and Full Moon wo Sagashite.

This one's kinda sneaky ... scroll way down to find that director Darren Aronofsky is "developing" a Lone Wolf and Cub movie adaptation, 'but setting it in the US west instead of feudal Japan. "It's a very hard piece to adapt. We'll see what happens," said Aronofsky.' We'll see indeed.

Tokyopop delves into the world of variant covers with a FLCL Limited Edition.

It's shônen week in Japan as titles like Naruto, Death Note, Detective Conan ("Case Closed") and Prince of Tennis hot the top of the list.

Could it be? Dave @ YACB gives pseudo-manga Amazing Agent Luna a pretty good review! And you know he grades hard, so this looks quite promising.

And CLAMP No Lumiere officially brings out Kobato Chapter 2, so now all you CLAMPheads can get your fix.

April 10, 2005

Let me know if there are plans for X-Men on Broadway anytime soon.

Tite Kubo's energetic action series BLEACH will be turned into a rock musical. 'The production will be directed by Takuya Hiramitsu, of "HUNTER x HUNTER" and "Morning Musume" musical fame, and the script is by Naoyoshi Okumura. Most importantly, the music will be handled by Shoichi Tama, who has previously composed for over 50 original rock musicals as well as the Japanese version of "RENT".'

AoD has a report on Tokyopop's new acquisitions, straight out of SakuraCon ... new titles include Samurai Champloo (should be quite highly anticipated thanks to the success of the anime), Earthian, Life, and Kamikaze.

Here's 2005's first new entry into the pool of manga publishers. DramaQueen announces two upcoming releases: Brother, a "hard-yaoi" title, and Taiwanese shoujo story Vision of the Other Side. There's also a link to the company website.

Love Manga has The Book Standard's Top 10 for the past week, where Sin City continues to rule. However, BookScan's figures prove that Negima Vol. 5 wins all. I guess even the toughest, grimiest city ever is no match for a precocious boy wizard surrounded by thirty cute girls ...

April 7, 2005

Monstrous

Wow, here's a comic-book movie that I didn't see coming: New Line Cinema acquires rights to Naoki Urasawa's Monster. (I picked that particular link because it has a nice picture with it.)

Did you like Planetes? Well, guess what -- creator Yukimaru Makoto is now starting a new series, Vinland Saga. That's right, folks. Viking manga!

Some release dates of note:

Viz's non-magazine Shôjo Beat titles:
Full Moon [wo Sagashite], Arina Tanemura
Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden, Yuu Watase (the adventure lives on!)
Ouran High School Host Club, Bisco Hatori
Tokyo Boys and Girls, Miki Aihara (well, we all know what other series SHE works on)
Ultra Maniac, Wataru Yoshizumi (creator of Marmalade Boy)
MeruPuri, Matsuri Hino
All Vol. 1's, debuting in July.

And from DMP, Bambi and Her Pink Gun Vol. 2 and Yellow Vol. 2 are slated for September 30.

Animania has the current top 10 manga in Japan ... already-licensed titles that made the list include NANA Vol. 12 at #2, Naruto Vol. 27 at #4, DearS Vol. 7 at #5, and Comic Party Vol. 5 at #7.

April 6, 2005

Viz sweeps the board today

IGN highlights some upcoming new manga releases from Viz, Mär and Kekkaishi, both firmly entrenched in the realm of shounen adventure. Eclipse Magazine one-ups them with a look at Eyeshield 21, a sports manga about American football. There, now you can't complain that you "don't get all that Japanese stuff."

Check out David's snarktastic takedown of the Shôjo Beat cover @ Love Manga. Watch out! It's secretly disguised as a copy of YM! But I hear the comics are pretty good. :p

April 5, 2005

Countdown to Manga Censorship Crisis

Still can't get enough of manga edit discussion? Flipped takes a long hard look at ... the problem. (You thought I was going to make a dumb joke, didn't you?)

The fascination with the manga and anime subculture continues as New York's Japan Society hosts an exhibition called "Little Boy: The Arts of Japan's Exploding Subculture." (Did you really have to name it after the A-bomb that hit Hiroshima?) Some of the big names that will be featured in the show include Hideaki Anno (Evangelion), Leiji Matsumoto (Captain Harlock, Galaxy Express 999), and Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira).

And this is just too funny not to blog about: Pope John Paul II becomes comic book superhero, "battling evil with an anti-Devil cape and special chastity pants." As the artist explains, "He isn't John Paul II any more. From now on, he's the Incredible Popeman."

I'm sure he is.

April 4, 2005

Aiiiiin!

At Worlds Within Worlds, Shawn has a handy summary of the new manga-editing craze, and it looks like a lot of the fan indignation is gathering together at AoD these days.

Viz's merger with ShoPro Entertainment is now complete as they combine forces to form ... INSPIRATION GUNDAM I mean, Viz Media, LLC. "This merger combines the forces and properties of Shueisha, Inc. (40% owner), Shogakukan, Inc. (40%), and Shogakukan Production Co., LTD. (20%)." New logo, too.

April 3, 2005

There goes another one

The manga censorship-go-round continues with ADV Manga's By the Sword getting some nipple erasure. You know, right now I'm getting so desensitized to all this rampant editing that I don't care enough to be righteously indignant anymore.

Viz responds regarding their editing of I''s. "We follow and respect the wishes of the creator to the letter, as we did in this instance. There are never, at any time, any edits done without the creator's full knowledge and approval." Feel free to interpret as you wish.

On a more positive note, Animefringe interviews Bryan Lee O'Malley and has a fairly even-handed retrospective on CLAMP. (Thanks to Thought Balloons for links.)

April 1, 2005

Who likes girly comics?

Say, did you want to subscribe to Shôjo Beat? Because now you can!

Love Manga has the scoop on upcoming Del Rey releases and upcoming Tokyopop releases. I remember reading the first volume of Gacha Gacha once. The level of fanservice is either frightening or awesome, depending on your point of view. But never let it be said that Hiroyuki Tamakoshi doesn't know how to draw cute girls. And Sugar Sugar Rune ... wow, Moyoco Anno doing a magical girl series. That's a complete turnabout from Happy Mania. ;) As for Tokyopop's stuff, ehm, I could take 'em or leave 'em.

Oh, and there's another sales chart. Sin City rules the roost for now. Darn those Americans and their crazy left-to-right comics!

Dorian weighs in on just about every major manga discussion of the past few weeks. He's a lot smarter than I am. And yeah, the whole "American manga" thing still irks a lot of people, but folks are trying to find new definitions and classifications for it as we speak.

In fact, just what defines manga anyway? You know, forget Steady Beat, someone get this girl a book deal so she can draw the manga equivalent of Understanding Comics.

Over at 212, the discussion on flipped vs. unflipped manga continues. I think the conclusion is clear: unflipped is the standard, and it's here to stay.

The sphere's very own Franklin Harris has written an article on the manga effect, with special emphasis on a Japanese immigrant family that's found manga to be their bridge between home and America. '"I was amazed to see that some boys in my class were reading what in Japan would be considered girly comics," Nanako said. "In Japan, that would be unthinkable."'

Ooh, did you know that you can read manga scanlations on the PSP (Playstation Portable)? That's almost as cool as reading it on your cell phone!

Here are some preview pages of the psuedo-manga Josie and the Pussycats. It actually looks more like "anime comics" ... but we'll see once the colors are applied.

iComics has a review of the sweet and silly Yotsuba&! (or, for easier pronounciation, Yotsubato!).