June 30, 2005

The real Cromartie

Hoping to make a bigger push into the manga market, three major Korean publishers join forces to further the cause of manwha. Studio ICE is the gestalt of Sigongsa, Seoul Cultural Publishers and Haksan, and will be modeled after Viz Media.

Former baseball star Warren Cromartie has sued the makers of the Cromartie High School movie for defaming his name. The movie is based on the oddly humorous manga that parodies the Yankee/tough-guy fighting genre, although the humor has apparently escaped Mr. Cromartie himself.

Drawn and Quarterly is publishing a manga title? That's crazy talk. But Yoshihiro Tatsumi's The Push Man and Other Stories hopes to secure a bigger place on the map for alternative manga in the US, and it has Adrian Tomine's stamp of approval as the writer of the introduction.

And with that, I'm off to Anime Expo, which despite its name is also the place to be this summer (at least on the West Coast) for manga. 24-hour library! Someone get me a 24-pack of Mountain Dew.

June 29, 2005

And I bet they don't smell as bad as the guys.

I missed this a while back since I don't normally check up on Mainichi's WaiWai column, but here's a surprisingly even-handed take on fangirls in Japan and how they compare to their male counterparts. Forget Harajuku Girls, it's all about Ikebukuro! There are also valuable tidbits about the finer points of yaoi and boy's love:
"We may very well be rotten," giggles a 21-year-old who works as a shopkeeper. "When I'm on the train, I might see a pair of good-looking young guys and my imagination starts churning scenarios and won't stop. I'm a rotten girl, so I guess it just can't be helped."

Other examples of their specialized vocabulary include "yaoi" and "boizu rabu" (i.e., boy's love, sometimes abbreviated BL). Yaoi applies when the progagonist in a manga or novel makes a reappearance in a spin-off or sequel. BL refers to an original work. Other often-used terms include the letter "x," which is used to link two male characters who engage in "coupling," pairing off to form a romantic relationship (or engage in sex), with the former indicating the active participant and the latter the passive. In the popular comic "The Prince of Tennis" (abbreviated "tenipuri") for example, "Tezuka x Fuji" means Tezuka took the more aggressive male role and Fuji the passive role in the relationship.

Yes, there's a huge female fanbase for The Prince of Tennis, and they're not in it for the tennis. ;)

June 28, 2005

School of Manga

Everyone's talking about Gentosha Inc.'s new online anthology of manga in English, the first Japanese publisher to provide such a service. "Web Comic GENZO" features five titles, although I'm sure most people are just going for new chapters of Gravitation. The first issue is free, but each subsequent issue will cost about US$2 each (depending on how exchange rates behave).

Everyone is also a tad miffed about Tokyopop's new e-mail referral contest, which basically says spam people like crazy to trick them into reading an online excerpt from Princess Ai. Come on guys, if it won't sell, it won't sell, just accept it already.

Animania has the past week's Top 10, with School Rumble placing first (this is going to be HUGE once it's licensed -- there's already a big US fan following) and the familiar Genshiken placing second. (Hm, two shounen comedies topping the list, that actually doesn't happen very often.)

Meanwhile, Kyoto Seika University because the first Japanese university to open a Manga Department, with all the academic trappings that entails. I'm aware that SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) is the only US university to offer an accredited Sequential Art degree program, but even they don't have a separate comics faculty, I believe. Anyway, Animania also notes that a lot of the students applying to KSU's manga track are only there because they don't have another interests besides, well, the comic and cartoon arts. In other words, fanboys. That's a bit depressing.

Johanna wonders if maybe manga ought to be shelved by genre. In Japanese bookstores they usually go by which magazine the series is serialized in, as that publisher information is given right on the spine and covers. Since each magazine targets a certain demographic, you end up with the major categories of shounen, shoujo, seinen, josei, and then random crap artcomix etc. In the West it might make more sense to use categories that you would find at the video store, like Sci-fi/Fantasy (which would be huge), Romance, Comedy, Mystery, Action, Children's, and so on.

Love Manga is nice enough to put up images and descriptions for CMX's new acquisitions, Chikyu Misaki (which looks like an interesting modern-day fairytale kind of story) and Pieces of a Spiral (another blahblahblah fantasy adventure story).

Meanwhile, Viz has acquired Tomo Matsumoto's Beauty is the Beast, a shoujo series with the following description from Manganews.net:
Because her parents have to relocate, high-schooler Eimi decides to board at school. But, the female dorms are not only old: the facilities are much worse than the male dorms! Before she even has time to complain to the school, she is hustled into the dorm's traditional welcoming ritual-- the courage test! Adapting is essential for survival, so Yumi bravely sneaks into the male dorm, but she just had to get caught by that guy, of all people... and so an exciting shoujo love story begins!


Speaking of Viz, isn't Shôjo Beat great? Yes, yes it is.

June 24, 2005

I am back from the DEAD!

Animania's Top 10 in Japan for May has One Piece and Fruits Basket in first and second as the shounen and shoujo flagship titles ... and Nos. 4-8 is practically a catalog of what's popular in the States (or ought to be): Tsubasa, Negima, xxxHOLiC, Nodame Cantabile, and Eyeshield 21.

As for what is popular in the US, Bookscan has Fruits Basket Vol. 9 at the top. Surprisingly, the Book of Bunny Suicides (which has been around for a while, and I saw it sitting forlornly at Tower Records for ages) cracks the GN list at #10.

Chris @ 212 is too cool to need paragraph breaks, but he makes a good point about Tokyopop dropping its licenses for Sailor Moon and Marmalade Boy. When MB mysteriously disappeared off the TP site last year, about two people noticed. Kodocha also went missing around the same time. The licenses had expired and TP didn't feel like renewing them, because the unflipped concept had worked SO well that there was no way the Japanese publishers would let the license go again for the same low price. But the coolest thing is that Chris, being a true industry insider, hints that Del Rey might pick up Marmalade Boy and Sailor Moon and do a special edition some day -- but don't bet on it.

In any case I'm glad to have all 8 volumes of the English-language Marmalade Boy on my shelf, as it is apparently a "limited edition" now. And that was some damn good shoujo; everyone ought to take lessons from Wataru Yoshizumi on how to create clear and flowing visual narrative. (And study Yuu Watase too.)

Would you like some alchemy with your pizza? Pizza Hut Japan is offering a chance to win FMA goodies as a tie-in with the movie release this summer. Prizes include a life-size replica of Alphonse's armor, an Ed and Al alarm clock, or an Ed pillow. (Of all the things to sleep with ... )

David @ PreCur talks some more about the crinkly issue of shrinkwrapping manga at the bookstore.

"Great... just what the Internet needs ... another manga column." But Jake Forbes is writing it, so y'all better shut up and read. The MSPaint art is kind of scary, and the fairytale analogies are rather contrived, but he looks back at how manga volume size was standardized in 2001 and started flooding the bookstores. Now that was the year of manga ... (although, I'd say it was really 2002 when titles started coming out in force.)

Dorian does manga capsule reviews all in one terrific go at PoMoBa.

Tokyopop's Takuhai magazine is out, and while the online version focuses on OEL manga, the in-print version covers a broader swath of the TP catalog. Already the anti-OEL backlash is starting to rush in from the Japanofanboys. Remember kids, when you say "Amerimanga," you sound like those xenophobic old guys who say "Japanimation."

I missed a bunch while I was away, but Jen Quick's Off*Beat is the next in Newsarama's OEL manga-ka interview series. Sadly, the article writer does not realize how to punctuate the Scott Pilgrim series ...

Erm. Newsarama's article on the Dark Horse/Harlequin deal is probably most notable for its mislabeling of Oh My Goddess! as being "in some ways" a shoujo title.

June 16, 2005

Pata's Moving Castle

A note to my lovely readers: I'm moving this weekend, so there won't be any posts for several days.

Ninja shoujo zombie hunters!

From the newsroom at Love Manga:
The Tokyo High Court upheld the guilty ruling against the president of Shobunkan for distributing obscene material in the manga Honey Room. However, they did reduce the sentence from imprisonment to a 1.5 million yen fine.
Funnier stuff ensues as Newsarama interviews Van Von Hunter creators Ron Kaulfersch and Mike Schwark, and now I see why it's easier to just refer to them as Pseudome Studios. Also, I'm apparently to blame for the fireball-shooting ninja shoujo zombie ferrets. But I could've sworn that was neopunkBLUE's idea ...
And ICv2 ponders the "hidden" manga readers who read stuff at the bookstore or borrow it from the library. And the only reason this matters ... is if you want to play numbers games with sales figures. Or you're concerned about that lone volume that you really wanted, but it's had its cover folded, or pages dog-eared, or someone spat in it.

It's con season! Is your portfolio ready? Tokyopop will be at the deviantART con this weekend in Los Angeles (insert your own joke about internet drama coming to life), while occasional OEL-manga dabblers Oni Press will be having a talent search at San Diego Comic-Con this year. They've provided a very specific set of hoops for you to jump through, so read carefully! It's what will separate truly great comickers from those who are just too stupid to follow instructions.

ANS (did MNS die or something?) reports that Tokyopop has launched its publishing division in Japan, which is kind of like coming full circle, although their releases will be focused on releasing Cine-manga of American properties. (Oddly appropriate.) Star Wars is the first.

AoD has the first word on Viz's latest solicitations, and you can all look forward to NANA Vol. 1 in December (which is also currently running in Shôjo Beat, but of course you all knew that already).

June 14, 2005

It's the end of the world!

From Manganews.net comes the tragic report that Hot Gimmick will cease serialization in Betsucomi magazine this July. Based on where the volumes are at right now in Japan, that means it'll probably end at Vol. 11 or 12. As a well-known bad guy once said: NOOOOOOOOOO!

Newsarama's next Rising Star interview summons Irene Flores, one half of the team that produces Mark of the Succubus. Demons are everywhere these days, aren't they?

Mely talks about the girls' club that is manga.

I don't know why an anime series needs to be accompanied by three different manga serializations, but okay, Blood+ is going to be triply manga-tastic.

June 13, 2005

Lists

The mainstays of Naruto and Bleach are perched quite happily among Japan's Top 10 for the past week, but topping them all is that good ol' car-racing manga Initial D (now on Vol. 31 over there).

Meanwhile, in the US, BookScan reports that Fruits Basket Vol. 9 wins all for the week ending June 5th. The rest of the Top 10 list:

2. Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 1 (which David adores in Flipped)
3. Rurouni Kenshin Vol. 15
4. xxxHOLiC Vol. 5 (I've only just figured out how the capitalization works for this title)
5. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
6. Bleach Vol. 7
7. Saiyuki Vol. 8
8. Trigun Maximum Vol. 5
9. Fruits Basket Vol. 8
10. Ai Yori Aoshi Vol. 9

June 12, 2005

Broadway Magical Shopping Arcade

AoD reports that Viz has hinted at having acquired Slam Dunk in the editorial section of Shôjo Beat magazine. Very interesting.

So Akihabara may be THE fanboy paradise, but the Broadway shotengai (shopping street) in Tokyo is also a haven for manga and related merchandise. Most things are run by pop-culture retailer Mandarake, and they even have a cosplay store. One store just for cosplay. Wow.

Animania discusses some of the major manga awards in Japan.

Cynical Hysterie Hour sounds very fun and cool, and looking at those cover pictures, Tsuneko is cute as all-get-out. Certainly a lot more character and charisma than any of those retarded over-airbrushed "Moetan" girls.

Manganews' latest topic of discussion is the advantages and disadvantages of scanlations vs. dead-tree manga releases, although they ask the question in a very loaded way, and to ask it in a community that's tied in to a scanlation-focused website is ... well, fishing for answers, or some metaphor like that.

June 10, 2005

Death Monsters!

I'm so dumb. I had somehow forgotten that Viz officially picked up Death Note back in April. Anyway, Love Manga's cover images for new Viz titles will make it stick in my memory this time, and the cover for Monster is up too. You can also find covers for the latest volumes of other ongoing seires on the AoD forums.

Goofy high-school manga School Rumble is to be adapted into a stage play, with the anime voice actors taking the main character roles. This series is surprisingly popular for being so ... well ... familiar and ordinary. Yet maybe that's why it works.

June 9, 2005

Art of the sweatdrop

Next up on Newsarama's OEL manga rampage is Christy Lijiewski, creator of Tokyopop series RE:Play, which has nothing to do with her RSOM entry Doors. To see where Doors leads to, you'll have to check out her other comick, Next Exit, from SLG.

Best known for publishing Lea Hernandez' Rumble Girls, NBM plans to release a short-story collection manwha, Buja's Diary.

The Artists & Illustrators Exhibition in London, UK, which runs from 21-24 July, offers a special deal on attending some presentations from Sweatdrop Studios on the "manga style."

June 8, 2005

Spiraling away

Animania finds more preview pages in Japanese, this time being Shueisha's manga catalog. The four links conveniently cover the gamut: shounen, shoujo, seinen, and josei. Boys, girls, men, and women. Well, that's about it, isn't it? Unless someone's discovered a biologically verifiable third human gender.

Off the Love Manga news trawl:

DramaQueen publishing schedules a couple of convention appearances, with its one US stop being at the Onna! con in New Jersey. Tokyopop confirms their new yaoi label, Blu, which will be distributed by TP but translated and adapted by another company. Titles include Love Mode, Shinobu Kokoro: Hidden Heart and Earthian. Finally, Newsarama sits down with "that ferret girl" Linsday Cibos (and partner in crime Jared Hodges) to discuss Peach Fuzz.

ANN notes that Tokyopop's plans for publishing Spiral have suddenly gone up in the air.

And is Sony making plans to attack the digital publishing market for PSP (Playstation Portable)? The names "PSP comics," "PSP Magazine" and "PSP Books" have just been licensed by the electronics and media giant, so watch out.

June 7, 2005

Alchemy Expo

More reactions to the Harlequin-Dark Horse deal. David mulls it over on Flipped (along with a delightful paean to Even A Monkey Can Draw Manga), YACB has a link to some preview pages (I can't say I'm terribly impressed, but then again I'm not into Harlequin's prose fiction either), and Pseudome just gives it the big HAHAHA NO.

And Newsarama now turns to Amy Kim Ganter for a Korean-American take on OEL manga and some preview pages of the high-fantasy-meets-high-urban-romance, Sorcerers and Secretaries.

Ever since that merger, it seems that Viz can do anything. The Kamikaze Girls movie has been licensed as a tie-in with Viz's release of the novel.

The Washington Post paints a rather morbid picture of geekdom with an article on the Tokyo's fanboy culture. I just have to laugh at their misguided translation of pop group Morning Musume into "Morning Daughter." Dude, no one calls them that. Not even in English.

Love Manga reminds us about Yuricon's continuing preparations for the Onna! convention, so keep those radar ears up for the "girl's love."

I know some of y'all are going to Anime Expo, so just as a reminder (and I have to admit, this press release is unintentionally hilarious) all working weapons are banned. ALL OF THEM. Last year at AX I remember the tale of how there were 15 people outside the medical station at one point and they ALL HAD SWORDS. So let that be an example.

However, use of innate magical powers is not banned! And neither is alchemy.

June 6, 2005

whoa

Die Sterne

Once again Animania has Japan's Top 10 manga for this week. It's a shounen 1-2 with Naruto and Bleach taking the top spots. The only other US-licensed title on the list is Gunslinger Girl at #5. But note the emergence of Densha Otoko at #9, the multimedia phenomenon about the man who meets a pretty lady on the train and goes to the Internet for dating advice. (Wow, I make it sound pathetic, don't I?)

Want to see the real Rising Stars of Manga? Animania points out Shonen Sunday's site Manga Collage, which features entries from their monthly (monthly!) manga contest. Interestingly, the blog notes that "I don't think it's impossible for the artists outside Japan to apply for them as long as the entry is written in Japanese because I have never seen the nationality requirement (however there is the possibility that they just can't imagine the entries from overseas..)" So they don't have an explicit country restriction like Tokyopop does.

The entries have the same problem as RSoM, though -- although the art style is polished and often near-professional, a lot of them look painfully generic (although I like the one about snowboarders).

Speaking of Rising Stars, Dorian had a change of heart about MBQ after Felipe Smith himself pointed out the MBQ preview site. Yeah, I hate comics too.

Newsarama continues its OEL rampage, with their next victim being M. Alice "Marty" LeGrow, the mastermind behind Bizenghast.

Be Beautiful, CPM manga's yaoi imprint, signs with distributor CDS to get a bigger hold of the market.

There's also word of a yuri magazine coming out in Japan in July, although it basically just says it's about "girl's love" (which itself is a term rarely used in the Japanese fandom parlance).

Shawn rises from his slumber to point out a TCJ thread looking for manga recommendations. Some good discussion going on there, and it's cute to see that manga has developed its fair share of indy/altcomix snobs too.

Kotonoha's also been quiet lately, but they're still alive enough to give us a re-release of Mohiro Kitoh's short stories, which are seriously good and are totally deserving of Viz Editor's Choice or Fanfare/Ponent Mon if they ever see the inside of a US bookstore.

June 3, 2005

Comic-books ... or book-books?

Are novels the new manga? Love Manga catches wind of Tokyopop's .hack novel spinoff, Pseudome is buzzing about Tokyopop taking original prose fiction submissions (and hey, we don't even have to come up with a fancy term for it, it's just NOVELS -- well, illustrated serial novels), and Viz announces their own line of novels, based on popular properties like Fullmetal Alchemist but also branching out to original Japanese novels like Socrates in Love and Kamikaze Girls. It wouldn't be the first time for Viz, who published the English edition of the Battle Royale novel a couple of years ago. But what happened, guys -- did you all run out of comics already?

Not according to AoD, where a long list of fresh Viz solicits have been announced. It's also noted that, based on this time scale, the 28th and final volume of Rurouni Kenshin will arrive by 2006. Very few long-running (and completed) manga series have made it to the finish line in the U.S. yet, so this will be quite an event.

Also loosely connected to novels, YACB discusses the implications Harlequin's jump into manga. There's also information about a couple of the stories that will be adapted into comic form. But here's the key line: "There are many ways that this enterprise could fail." The comics industry is notorious for shooting itself in the foot with marketing mess-ups and missed opportunities, so this new angle on romance novels could hit big or fall flat depending on how it's presented to the public.

And another one from LM: Queenie Chan* contributes an article to Manga Life, reviewing the Comicworks art software.

*I know this confuses tons of people who encounter her or her artwork for the first time, so, yes, Chan is her surname. It's not the Japanese honorific that we're more familiar with, and Queenie is not an online alias. It's her actual name.

Animania drops a couple of links where you can read manga online in Japanese, with one for the classics and another with previews of the latest stuff.

June 2, 2005

Too much content!

Now this is just cute. The creator of Detective Conan / Case Closed got married to the voice actress who plays anime-Conan! :D

Newsarama's caught the bug for OEL* manga. First up is Jess Stonicus, creator of the vampire parody Work Bites, and you can just tell from they way she interviews that her book's going to have the best dialogue, hands down. (And holy crap, she CAN draw girls!) Then there's Felipe Smith, creator of MBQ, and while semi-autobiographical comickry about an aspiring comics artist usually makes folks run like hell, I remember seeing Felipe at Comic-con last year, and let me tell you, this guy is a personality. His idea may not be the most original, but if there's anyone who can shove pure energy into a comic (or manga), it's him.

*A brief reminder: Original English-Language. (yipes, I'm amazed how quickly people are picking up on this term. The explaining takes a wee bit of time, but I'd rather do that than have to use the increasingly inaccurate and culturally insensitive "Amerimanga" -- which is fast becoming as outdated as "Japanimation.")

Also off the Love Manga linkfest: watch out for Bizenghast, another OEL that is basically not about what you think it's about (at least that's how LeGrow used to always explain it back when she posted frequently on Pseudome).

LM also points us to a Sequential Tart article comparing manga to manhwa, with a focus on the shoujo side. Yeah, there are indeed artistic and cultural differences between Japan and Korea's comics output, but they point is, they're both awesome. ;)

And speaking of girls'/women's comics, Dark Horse will publish Harlequin manga, which just goes to show how far into the mainstream the format is reaching.

The Fight: DC CMX website has the latest Tenjho Tenge Vol. 2 edits catalogued. It's a depressing situation, and, well, there's not much else to say unless CMX miraculously pulls their heads out of the sand.

Esteemed manga scholar Frederik L. Schodt sits down with the Japan Foundation. You have to read this -- Schodt is old-school like old-school, I mean, just take a look at this excerpt:
When my first book, Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics came out in 1983, I actually had a little argument with my publisher. He thought it would be great to have the word manga in the title, but I thought it would be a mistake, because librarians would file it in card catalogs next to "manganese." But he said, "No, we have to try out this new word and maybe it'll catch on."
And boy, has it caught on.

Mainichi Shimbun now has a Top 10 chart for the highest taxpaying artists in Japan (which more or less correlates to the highest earning, although not always). Beyond Rumiko Takahashi, Gosho Aoyama and Masashi Kishimoto (who were already mentioned a coupla weeks ago), we have:

4. Yuji Horii (Dragon Quest)
5. Ritsuko Kawai (Hamtaro anime)
6. Naoki Urasawa (20th Century Boys, Monster)
7. Takehiko Inoue (Slam Dunk, Vagabond)
8. Fuji Akatsuka (Tensai Bakabon)
9. Takashi Yanase (Anpanman anime)
10. Masami Kurumada (Saint Seiya / Knights of the Zodiac, B'tx)

Hey, remember those Yaoi paddles that were so popular at U.S. conventions last year? They're back. And they're aerodynamic.