Tokyopop

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TokyoPop

TokyoPop founder Stu Levy does AMA on Reddit


Read about how a former industry titan toppled
Apr 05
// Brad Rice
Buried in the midst of Reddit's Ask Me Anything section, TokyoPop founder Stu Levy popped in for two hours to answer questions from fans about the company, the industry, and manga in general. One of the more interesting quest...
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Hetalia Axis Powers Vol. 3 gets English release


May 02
// Michelle Rodanes
Right Stuf has partnered with manga publisher Tokyopop to bring us the third volume of the NY Times Best Selling series Hetalia Axis Powers in English for the first time ever. The first print-run is scheduled for release in l...
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Tokyopop plans to return to manga publishing


Oct 13
// Bob Muir
It was a sad day when Tokyopop's LA office closed its doors earlier this year, bringing an end to one of the major publishers of manga in the US. We've seen little from the company since then, barring an editorial newspa...

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Sad news: Tokyopop ceases North American publishing


Apr 19
// Crystal White
Senior Vice President of Tokyopop, Mike Kiley, has announced that Tokyopop will close their Los Angeles office, effectively shutting down North American publishing on May 31. However, the company's film production will contin...
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Yes, it'll happen. All you lesser otaku will know who reigns above all in America, as TokyoPOP airs its upcoming documentary series America's Greatest Otaku in just a few short weeks, on February 24th.As you may remember, Tok...

Interview: Tokyopop wants more sophisticated yaoi readers

Jan 17 // Brad Rice
Why did Tokyopop decide to include yaoi titles in its lineup, and what was the decision behind including/not including them in your main brand label?I’m honestly not entirely sure why we decided to publish FAKE and Gravitation, TOKYOPOP’s first two yaoi titles, back in the day (it happened right before I joined the company), but I think it was mostly based on fan requests. We’d seen a solid demand for slashy/bishonen-centric series already, and both titles had anime tie ins available here, which surely helped their popularity and our confidence that they would sell. The success of those two titles demonstrated that there was a clear market for this type of content, so we went forward with planning a full line of material. However, at the time we were working heavily with Disney and Nickelodeon as licensing partners, and this was in the wake of the 2004 election in a time when the political climate felt pretty socially conservative, so we were a little wary of being too obvious about our ties to what could be seen as controversial content.  That said, though, we probably would have at least put them under a new imprint regardless, just to make it easier for consumers who are into BL to find what they’re looking for, and to prevent accidental pick-ups by an unwitting reader. A curse of the manga section in bookstores in the US is that everything is still usually listed alphabetically by title, so we get Battle Royale shelved right near Card Captor Sakura, and people don’t always pay as much attention to the rating on the back of the book as they ought to. Being a larger brand, what sort of power do you have in selecting your titles? Is just about any artist open to you, or are you still limited by what partnerships with specific publishers you can create?Our licensing, yaoi and otherwise, is mostly dictated by our relationships with publishers, rather than direct author contact, in part because publishers are EXTREMELY protective of their artists’ time, and also because while we may be big here, that’s actually pretty meaningless to authors in Japan who are mostly focused on the home market.  So it was easier for us to work with publishers with whom we already had existing relationships (Tokuma, Kadokawa, BeBoy/Libre to some extent) than to forge new relationships.  Also, BL publishers tend to be small, so there were certain companies that ended up being off-limits just through a relative lack of resources on both sides (it’s not worth it for them to bother with foreign licensing, and it’s too much of a hassle for us to press the issue for only a handful of titles). If we really, really wanted to go after a title or an author, we can do that (and we did, for one particular title), but when it comes to yaoi, authors also move between publishers much more frequently than they do in other genres, so if we can’t get a title from one publisher, often we could get something else from that author from a publisher with whom we already had a solid relationship.   We actually did a lot of thought about what kind of content we wanted in the line, too, which is tied at least somewhat to the source publisher, but maybe that’s a discussion for another question down the line. :-) What are the sales expectations like for yaoi titles versus the rest of your catalog?BL/Yaoi sells on average about the same as a standard mainstream title, and it’s pretty consistent. It also breaks a few manga industry rules—ie. Mature titles are often a hard sell, and it can be tough to get any attention for one-shot volumes by lesser-known authors in mainstream manga, but none of that is a problem with BL! If it says BLU on the cover and the art is cute, we can pretty much guarantee a certain level of sales. And then we’ve had a few things that go above and beyond. Junjo Romantica has hit the NYTimes besteseller list for the past two volumes (which is also nice because it’s a longer series, and those often trail off saleswise as they go along), Gakuen Heaven is a solid performer, etc. What are you planning for the future of your BLU line?More of the same! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We have a really solid relationship with the publisher Gentosha, who do a lot of moderately-explicit one-shot stories, plus a few lighter series, which tends to work well for us. We raised our price in the past year, which always sucks, but we’re trying to compensate by doing things at a larger trim size, and always having color pages (which is pretty standard for BL in Japan, so it’s a nice bonus for fans). The next step is to increase the emphasis on digital releases, which is an interesting challenge for yaoi. On the one hand, the ability to buy and read privately is appealing (BL manga on cellphones in Japan is huge, and we average more sales through Amazon on BL titles than most mainstream series, which is also probably the subject for another email), but on the other hand, it’s tough to get people to pay for digital content when they’re used to reading on the web for free, I personally have yet to see manga on the Kindle that really looks as good as a print book (although I love my Kindle in general...), and iTunes is very restrictive on content, which is a huge problem when your fanbase likes it a little dirty. How exactly do you market your titles? Yaoi -- and other 16/18+ material -- has a fairly closed audience (at least I would think.) I understand promoting upcoming releases to let current fans know what's coming up, but how do you approach the demographic of people who don't already read yaoi and drag them into that abyss they'll never be able to claw free from?As with most of the rest of the manga industry, fans and word of mouth are still our best marketing tools. Whether its bloggers, or online communities, one person reads something, writes a nice review, and then other people go out and give it a shot. And this may surprise you, but librarians are often really excited about the lighter BL content as a way to get more LGBT-friendly (sort of) content out there for younger readers. Librarians are awesome. But I don’t think that getting beyond the existing core of readers is a goal that we’ve particularly set for ourselves, to be honest. It’s not like we’re out to convert hordes of people to the wonders of BL, or anything. :-) Trust me, the internet does that for us for the most part! Generally as people get into anime/manga fandom, they discover BL and then we’re there to serve that need, or else they’re just not interested and never will be. Our job is simply to find stuff that we think fans will enjoy, and get it out there for them in a way that they’ll want to pick up and pay money for. I’m somewhat interested in targeting the intersection of people who read slash fan fiction and people who read BL, to see if we could get any traction there, but fan fic readers are often drawn to relationships between particular existing characters, and so getting them to move into original territory may be more trouble than it’s worth. Plus, for people who aren’t already used to reading manga, the leap directly to BL may be too high a bar. On the note of Tokyopop's push into digital content, how has the crackdown on illegal scans been? We heard the cannons fire back in June, but since then, not much. I realize the legal process is never a quick one, but has there been much progress, especially in the Wild West of illegal smut translations?The process has been going slowly but surely, but the take-down of One Manga was obviously a huge deal. The US industry has always had a really complicated relationship with scanlators (some of our best translators came from scan groups!), but I don’t want there to be any doubt in anyone’s mind that the aggregator sites were a disaster for publishing on both sides of the ocean. And they’re still out there, and we’re still going to be going after them for as long as we need to. Lately, Libre, one of the main BL publishers in Japan, has been pretty aggressively moving into the Kindle space, too, and sending cease and desist letters to smaller scan groups doing their series, which has caused a bit of a stir, but hopefully as more content becomes available legally in these new formats (and the formats themselves improve and get more sophisticated) people will be less negative about the sudden attention from the publishers. As a fan myself, I completely understand the frustration about wanting new content faster, and in a more accessible format, and we’re all doing our best to serve that need, but because of licensing issues and the rapid pace of technology changing (without an established business model to support it yet), it’s not an easy task. That said, things have moved forward in Japan in the last 12 months at an increasingly promising speed, so I am hopeful that the (legal) digital floodgates will open sooner rather than later. Following up on your mention of digital content to iPad and Kindle as a sort of counterpart to Japanese cellphone BL, have you tried pushing on other handheld formats, such as Android and BlackBerry platforms? And could you give us a better idea of what exactly is pushing the tops of your sales charts in digital format?The digital movement for manga is all REALLY NEW right now, and we don’t yet have much BL out yet (especially on mobile), but iPhone is the low-hanging fruit, just because it, and probably even more importantly, the iTouch, have the largest market penetration. Android is still new, and so there just aren’t as many programmers out there working on it (yet), but hopefully we’ll see progress there in the near future—whether that has the audience to support BL (and/or the lack of content restrictions so that we can feature more mature titles there) is anyone’s guess, but I’m eager to see how that will all work out. As the system gets established, more and more content will be available increasingly quickly. So far Hetalia is the big winner digitally, which comes as no surprise to anyone, but our Priest app that we launched at Comicon, which features both the original manwha and a bridge story that we did to connect the original series with the upcoming film, is off to a solid start, too. Interestingly, while Hetalia isn’t actually BL, it often feels like the vast majority of the fan base is primarily interested in seeing the characters hook up with one another, so I personally think that bodes well for whatever we get out next in that space. :-) Plus, the BL readership tends to be slightly older than the average manga consumer, and more likely to have a credit card, so digital purchases are an easier leap for them than a 12-year-old Naruto fan. We see this in sales of print books through Amazon, for instance, and I expect that to carry over to some extent into the new space. If there's one dream goal for you folks at Blu, what is it?Dream for BLU... Hm... I’d say to have more readers get beyond the fluffy teen romance stories, and support more sophisticated content, both in regards to story and art style. This is true for the market as a whole, though—the taste range of your average manga consumer is pretty narrow, and I think a lot of readers are missing out on great stuff because they perceive an art style as “ugly” or “boring.” This is very much an industry where books are judged by their covers (especially when Mature books are shrink-wrapped in stores), so the superficial response can really hurt a title that genuinely has something compelling (and entertaining!) to say. Previews online are one way to get people to take a chance on a new title, but at the end of the day, there are some amazing books out there in English (from us, and from other publishers) that just aren’t as commercially successful as they deserve to be. Will it ever be possible to convince boys to read BL?Boys already read BLU! Some of them, anyway. And even some who are straight. If you think of BL readers as a subset of the shojo market, there’s a similar  subset of guys who read shojo, and then proportionally guys who read BL.  So it’s not a lot of boys, but it’s definitely a non-zero number. But anyway, this kind of goes along with question 8 in that I feel that the best BL out there does capture and explore relationships on an authentic human level, rather than just going straight for the libido (although that’s likely still going to be a part of it to some extent), so if you’re interested in good stories about people and their feelings, there’s probably some BL out there that you’ll enjoy. I don’t know if that’s the most worthwhile market for us to focus on expanding, per se, but when we came up with the branding and the initial title list for BLU, it was very deliberately designed to not automatically exclude male readers (by which I mean being too pink & purple, or having “girls only” type slogans, etc.). At the end of the day, though, BL is primarily female fantasy, so a even gay male reader who might otherwise dig comics about guys making out isn’t necessarily going to find a lot to relate to on average, either on a story, or even on an aesthetic level. BL stories can frequently be problematic from a feminist perspective, and that crosses over into general gender politics as well (especially in the US, where queer identity is often very politicized). So while we hope that we don’t unintentionally exclude or turn off a potential reader, neither are we going to go out of our way to push content on someone who is outside its intended audience.
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As part of our Ero Week, one of the things I wanted to understand was yaoi. I understand the principles of its attractiveness to female readers and all that, but just how it sells, and how it finds its space in store shelves....

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Pasta! Hetalia manga going weekly on ComiXology app


Nov 04
// Brad Rice
Tokyopop is being awfully generous with you folks: every Wednesday, they're releasing a new chapter of Hetalia for people to enjoy on the ComiXology iOS app as a lead-up to the second volume's release in December. You'll be a...
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Digital Manga Publishing and TOKYOPOP bring 12 new titles


Oct 15
// Crystal White
Digital Manga is pairing up with TOKYOPOP in order to bring tweleve new titles from TOKYOPOP's BLU Manga yaoi imprint to eManga's online collection.  BLU Manga yaoi will be available for purchase on eManga's Website, whi...
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Hetalia is first simulataneous print/digital release


Sep 23
// Lauren Rae Orsini
A title with "Hetalia" and the phrase "simultaneous release" in the title? That's right, I know exactly what Japanator readers want.In all seriousness, Hetalia fans are going to have a lot of choices this ...
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Looking for work? Tokyopop is hiring!


Sep 02
// Brad Rice
Currently out of work, or just hate your job to death? Well, here's a chance for some of you with work experience: Tokyopop is currently looking to hire for a Book Distribution Coordinator and Manga Line Editorial Coordinator...

What defines America's Greatest Otaku?

Aug 10 // Lauren Rae Orsini
Chris's Video  Ryan's Video Find more videos like this on TOKYOPOP Tour  In Chris's video, the AGO hopeful discusses his rise to the presidency of DC Anime Club, "the largest anime club on the East Coast," and his many volunteer positions at East Coast conventions, including Katsucon, Otakon, and Anime USA."I feel that [America's Greatest Otaku] should be what you do for the anime community," said Chris. On the other hand, Ryan uses his video to show off his "floor to ceiling" figure collection. The toy designer and manga artist's home is packed with his collection. Between collected toys and toys he designed himself, Ryan has a collection that would make any otaku jealous."For me, collecting is a huge part of being America's Greatest Otaku. I don't know anybody with a collection as huge as mine," said Ryan.Ryan actually has two collections, one at his apartment in Southern California, and one at his parent's house in Northern California, which he was unable to bring with him when he moved out.  "A huge collection shows dedication," he said. Both Ryan and Chris participated in filming for Tokyopop's "America's Greatest Otaku" reality show. Chris, whose part filming took place on July 31 at Otakon, said the show will consist of interviews with the around 30 AGO hopefuls. "I got to hang out in the tour bus for a bit," he said. "It looked just like a motor home." Chris said they interviewed him with questions about his positions as club president and convention volunteer. Ryan's turn filming took place during Anime Expo, but he said the Tokyopop people were far more interested in his collection. "They even drove me back from the con to my apartment to film my collection," he said. Ryan noted that it wasn't about how much Tokyopop merchandise he owned. "They noticed my Tokyopop stuff but they didnt say, "Oh you have a lot of our stuff; you're a finalist.' To them, sheer amount mattered," he said.What's amazing about Tokyopop's contest is that, for the first time, we'll see what the manga distribution giant itself thinks defines a top otaku. Voting will take place once the contest airs. The reality show, which will be hosted on Hulu, is scheduled to begin near the end of this year.  Readers, who do you think should win? What does being America's Greatest Otaku mean to you? (Photo header taken with permission from part of Ryan's figure collection on Facebook.)
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What makes a great otaku, actions or possessions?  Tokyopop's search for America's Greatest Otaku is coming to a close. The manga publisher had announced in May that the search would continue until August. Now, about 30 ...

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West coast publisher TokyoPop, has paired with Zinio in order to offer manga available for download on Macs or PCs, as well as the iPad (I wonder if the iPod Touch is compatible as well). Singular download...

Are you America's greatest otaku? TokyoPOP wants you

May 15 // Josh Tolentino
The search is on for the most talented fan in the nation!Los Angeles, CA (May 13, 2010) - This summer, TOKYOPOP will hit the road on a 12,000-mile journey to find America's Greatest Otaku, the person who best exemplifies a truly unique fervor and passion for all things influenced by Japanese pop culture. This nationwide competition will be part of the ambitious "TOKYOPOP Tour," a road show that takes a tour bus to hundreds of thousands of fans, in dozens of cities across the United States-including five fan conventions-to discover and embrace manga and anime fan culture around the nation.The TOKYOPOP Tour kicks off in July at Anime Expo in Los Angeles, CA, and will run through Chicago Comic-Con at the end of August. The culminating event will be a multi-episode reality show, premiering in the fall on a major online video site, which will reveal to the nation who will be crowned America's Greatest Otaku!Stu Levy, Executive Producer of the America's Greatest Otaku reality show, as well as TOKYOPOP's founder, says, "Japanese pop culture has influenced many of us Americans in a number of ways. The goal of this show is to prove to the world that American otaku are just as talented - if not more - than their counterparts worldwide."Joining Levy on the maiden voyage of the TOKYOPOP Tour bus will be his apprentices in the search for America's Greatest Otaku: the "Otaku Six". These six college students-an energetic and outgoing group of manga and anime devotees-were selected from nearly one hundred candidates from thirty-one states and seven countries, after a lengthy and arduous audition process. In addition to reaching out to fans nationwide and seeking out each city's Greatest Otaku, the Otaku Six will also be featured on the show itself.Filming the day-to-day events for broadcast will be TOKYOPOP associate producer Daisuke "Dice" Kinouchi, who anticipates a thrilling ride. "I can't wait to experience the unpredictability of the road on this summer-long show. I just hope no one accidentally whacks me with a yaoi paddle while I'm lugging around my camera filmingthe show."You and your friends can enter to become America's Greatest Otaku at http://tokyopoptour.ning.com. The TOKYOPOP Tour web site has a complete list of all stops, details for how to enter the competition, application requirements, and reasons why every citizen of Pokopen isn't eligible to enter. New features, including the official America's Greatest Otaku merchandise store, will be added in the coming weeks.Adds Levy: "We also have thousands of giveaways and prizes to hand out all over the course of the Tour-new manga, signed artwork, shirts and hats, stickers of your favorite characters such as Domo-kun, Tohru Honda, Abel Nightroad, and scores of others. I think I even saw a flag from HETALIA on our list of swag."The TOKYOPOP Tour bus is fueling up for its first stop at Anime Expo in July, and fans can follow the daily goings-on at http://tokyopoptour.ning.com for the latest city-by-city Otaku updates, road videos and blogs, giveaways, and much more. The featured stops and dates for America's Greatest Otaku along the multi-city TOKYOPOP Tour include:Los Angeles, CA (Anime Expo), July 3San Francisco, CA, July 5Salt Lake City, UT, July 8Denver, CO, July 11Kansas City, MO, July 13Dallas, TX, July 15Albuquerque, NM, July 18Phoenix, AZ, July 20San Diego, CA (Comic-Con), July 23Oklahoma City, OK, July 27Nashville, TN, July 28Washington, DC, July 30Baltimore, MD (Otakon), July 31New York, NY, August 3Philadelphia, PA, August 4Indianapolis, IN (Gen Con), August 7Louisville, KY, August 9Atlanta, GA, August 11New Orleans, LA, August 14Chicago, IL (Wizard World Chicago Comic-Con), August 21Stay tuned for updates and more information about the premier of the reality show this fall, when TOKYOPOP crowns America's Greatest Otaku!
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Look guys, I know the Japanese connotations associated with the word "otaku". They're quite negative, referring to the worst sorts of socially maladjusted nerds. No one wants to be called an otaku in Japan.But hey, ...

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Hetalia Heaven? TokyoPOP outs Hetalia Axis Powers manga


May 01
// Josh Tolentino
It's high time for geopolitical incorrectness, as with TokyoPOP's announcement of Hetalia: Axis Powers manga release, pretty much everything related to Hidekaz Himaruya's original national-pretty-boy-anthropomorphization comi...
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World Affairs: Hetalia Axis Powers manga listed by Amazon


Apr 03
// Josh Tolentino
It's a couple of days late to put up on our sister site Americanator, but it's never too late to celebrate...America, who is also a character in Hetalia, everyone's favorite pretty-boy-national-anthropomorphizing manga. And i...
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College students, go on tour with TokyoPOP this summer


Mar 14
// Josh Tolentino
If you're in college and don't have anything better to do this summer, why not shack up with TokyoPOP?The company's holding a big ol' summer internship tour, and you might get the chance to go on the road with 'em.Check out t...
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Required Reading; TokyoPop's talk on scanlations


Dec 14
// Brad Rice
Over the weekend, our good friend Deb Aoki put together a three piece set covering the latest TokyoPop Webinar where Stu Levy floated the idea of working together with scanlators to bring dead series to completion.Deb picked ...

Japanator Recommends: Culdcept

Dec 11 // Jon Snyder
Culdcept is set in the fantasy world of Bablashca. Long ago, there was a great war between Baltheus, the dark rebel god, and the creator goddess Culdra. Baltheus possessed the book of creation, Culdcept, which he used to alter reality and bring into existence hordes of indestructible minions. In order to stop him, Culdra smote the Culdcept, causing it to splinter into innumerable pieces. These fragments fell to earth, where they were found by humans and named "cards." It was soon discovered that humans with an abundance of magical energy could use these cards to summon mystical items and monsters, as well as cast spells. Card-using humans became known as Cepters.Okay, so we've got our backstory. Next up, an endless series of tournament battles where Cepters strategically maneuver their creatures and try to out-think each other with deception and clever strategies, right?WRONG!Cepter battles are fast and brutal. Instead of posing dramatically and yelling "I REVEAL A TRAP CARD!", your opponent is much more likely to summon a dragon and try to disintegrate you. If you don't have a defense ready in seconds, you're nothing but ash scattered on the wind. On to the next opponent... See, Culdcept proves that card game stories don't have to be contrived and boring. The battles are fast-paced and fun, and never last more than a few chapters. (Take that, shonen genre!) The card battling system doesn't have labyrinthine rules that have to be continually explained to the reader. The story has a deep mythology, but doesn't bog itself down with exposition. The monsters are badass and awesome-looking, not childish and cute. In other words, it gets everything right that other card game manga get wrong. If high fantasy action is your forte, you will enjoy Culdcept. Currently, five volumes of this manga have been released by Tokyopop, and rumor has it that a sixth has been published in Japan. Unfortunately, it's currently out-of-print in the States. However, if you find it in a used bookstore somewhere, go ahead and pick it up. You won't regret it.
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Do you hate Yu-Gi-Oh?I certainly do. Bad art, contrived story, cookie-cutter characters... those all get on my nerves. However, my biggest complaint involves suspension of disbelief. No matter how hard it tries, the series ha...

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Rumormill: Tokyopop to utilize fansubs?


Dec 03
// Brad Rice
Alright, now take this with a VERY HEAVY dose of salt: apparently at Tokyopop's latest webinar, they floated the idea of utilizing scanlations to finish up series that were on hiatus due to low sales. They didn't mention a sp...
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Domo creator on live Tokyopop webcast...NOW!


Oct 29
// Josh Tolentino
Really! Domo (aka Domo-kun) creator Tsuneo Goda is appearing on the Tokyopop Insider webcast today, October 29th, at 4:30PM PDT (7PM EST). By the time this goes up, that's in ONE HOUR. If you live in Northridge, California, t...
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Americans have a lot of shelf space, says the New York Times


Sep 12
// Josh Tolentino
Well, they didn't say that, specifically, but from looking at this week's manga sales numbers, everyone's got room to spare.The week was dominated by long-running series, like Bleach, whose 28th volume debuted at first place,...
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TokyoPop's second webinar addresses hiatus titles, Kodansha fallout


Sep 04
// Brad Rice
For all things manga, my first turn is to our expert friend Deb Aoki, who reported on TokyoPop's second webinar, where there was a clear issue hanging overhead. Still, that was not the first issue to be tackled: many of the f...
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Kodansha publishing its titles through Random House, creates weird incestual situation


Sep 01
// Brad Rice
Here's an update to yesterday's story of Tokyopop losing it's Kodansha licenses: ICv2 is reporting that Kodansha will be publishing its own titles through Random House, using them as a distributor. In addition, Diamond will l...
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Kodansha letting its licenses with Tokyopop expire


Aug 31
// Brad Rice
Just when things started looking like they'd turn around for Tokyopop...Word comes from MangaBlog that Kodansha is letting its licenses with Tokyopop expire, meaning that some of the biggest titles that helped Tokyopop get wh...
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Taste sweet mangos every Wednesday via Tokyopop's new online manga campaign


Aug 18
// Josh Tolentino
The "print media is dead" argument that's long been circulating about the world of journalism seems to be worming its way into manga as well, as publisher Tokyopop has announced a new online manga program.The progra...

Japanator Recommends: Chain Mail

Aug 11 // Brad Rice
Chain MailCreator: Hiroshi IshizakiPublisher: TokyopopRelease date: January 2007MSRP: $7.99What makes Chain Mail so appealing is that it's the story of ostracized teenagers turning to the Internet as an escape from their problems. It's a story that I'm sure is somewhat familiar to many of us here at Japanator, even if you don't necessarily want to admit it right away. Each of these kids fall in love with their fictional world because it presents something safe, where they have full control over what happens.OK, so it has some teen angst. "My mother doesn't understand me," and the like. But it doesn't fill the pages -- it's part of the overarching story of kids learning what it's like to deal with real life. Especially when the events and mysteries of Chain Mail start spilling out into the real world.The fictional story revolves around a girl who is being stalked by some boy she saved, and her boyfriend and the police officer trying to protect her from this creep. Well, when some of the girls feel like they're being followed, or find out that one of the group members has disappeared -- apparently in a kidnapping -- they start to wonder. And you do too.Now, like I said before: this is a "pop fiction" title. Don't come into it expecting the works of Haruki Murakami or Koji Suzuki -- this book is meant to be an entertaining little bit of fiction. Something you'd read on the train or during a car ride, and maybe sell back to Book Off when they're done if they're not the collector type.And that's what the book does well. I read it at a very stop-and-go pace, always switching from project to project, and so I didn't get this done in a smooth, continual read. Yet each time I picked the book up, I was pulled back in with no problem whatsoever. The characters and situations were never far-removed from the plot, so I was able to slip back into things with relative ease.If you're looking for something that'll be a quick read -- maybe on the train ride to and from NYC -- then you'll want to pick this book up. There's no reason not to, unless you're much too bitter to slip yourself into the life of a troubled teenager for an afternoon and read through this story. Then again, why would you be reading most manga?
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Would you like to create a fictional world?Those are the words that kick off the adventure for all the girls in Chain Mail by Hiroshi Ishizaki. A part of Tokyopop's Pop Fiction line, the story follows a group of teenagers as ...

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CMX and Tokyopop sale running at RightStuf, get 33% off their titles


Aug 10
// Brad Rice
Looking for something to read on the cheap? Well, CMX is running a sale over on Right Stuf where all their titles are at least 33% off the listed price with the coupon code "artful." They've got a wide variety of ti...
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TokyoPop fixes paper stock issue, has webinar today to reach out to the fans


Aug 06
// Brad Rice
Paper stock isn't something I normally consider rage-worthy enough to post about here on Japanator, but it had a lot of people in an uproar. TokyoPop had decided to not only raise the prices on their volumes, but also cut the...

Japanator Recommends: Sakura Taisen

Jun 18 // Josh Tolentino
Sakura TaisenArt by Ikku Masa, Story by Hiroi Ohji, Character Design by Kosuke FujishimaPublished by TOKYOPOP Given how familiar Sakura Taisen will feel to anime/manga connoisseurs, it's ironic that the games making up the core of the series material never made it overseas, mainly due to how unfamiliar their hybridized strategy-bishoujo game playstyle would be to the videogaming public. With a game finally setting sail for the New World, reading Sakura Taisen can serve as a primer of sorts for the craziness that many may have missed out on.   An alternate 1920s sees all technology powered by steam, with steam-powered cars, computers, and even steam-powered air conditioners, however impossible that may sound. In the aftermath of an apocalyptic demon war, a (steam-powered) plan was drafted to secure Tokyo from further evil assault. Apparently, that plan called for spiritually-endowed girls to pilot trashcan-shaped steam mecha in combat, all the while masquerading as famous actresses in the Grand Imperial Theater. Seriously. Such is the world that Ichiro Ogami is drafted into, tasked with leading the Imperial Fighting Troupe's Flower Division into battle, and then taking tickets at the theater entrance when off the clock. Leaping further over the top, Sakura Taisen's Tokyo hides gargantuan military bases hidden under familiar Japanese landmarks, such as having the Asakusa temple walk just splitting in half and opening like a hatch to allow a giant armored blimp to launch, or steam trains making Free Willy-style jumps out of the Ueno park lake to expose mecha-launching cannons. And of course, the Imperial Fighting Troupe's briefing room can only be accessed by sliding down a tunnel, which automatically replaces one's casual clothing with an incredibly elaborate battle uniform.To make up its cast, writer Hiroi Ohji played mix-and-match with anime's most enduring personality archetypes, shoehorning the results into appropriately absurd backgrounds. From a Russian-revolutionary-turned-mafia-enforcer-turned-actress to a Chinese-kansai-speaking-mad-scientist-also-turned-actress, the girls of the Flower Division run the whole spectrum, all the while maintaining consistent flower-themed naming conventions. Combined with the already-crazy setting, the affair projects a colorful, appealingly shallow vibe.Ikku Masa's clean lines and rounded edges contrast to Kosuke Fujishima's original, sharply-pointed character designs. At the risk of reading too far into it, the new art seems friendlier, seemingly aware of its now-retro status in today's world. The writing also manages to smooth out the rough edges that come from any attempt to adapt a multi-path bishoujo game. The new scripts more closely follow Ogami, developing him into his own character rather than just an avatar for the player, rewriting and rearranging events so as to sidestep moments where a player would have to choose one heroine over another, potentially causing a disconnect between the fan's experience and the writer's. In fact, of the seven volumes currently available, the first is the most surprising, concentrating on Ogami's frustration over what, for all apparent intents and purposes, was a demotion, assigned to go-fer duty for a senile drunkard and babysitting a bunch of primadonna actresses (and a loli). If you've been feeling a little sick of all that complexity, or are just looking to hype yourself up for the franchise's first English outing, pick up Sakura Taisen and remember a more innocent, cliched time.
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 To the modern otaku, Sakura Taisen sounds almost laughably quaint. Its fighting teams fight for truth, justice, and the Glory of the Empire. Its heroes and heroines unabashedly  were heroic, villains comically mali...

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Domo-kun is raiding your slurpee machines


May 27
// Brad Rice
Be prepared. On October 1st, your slurpee machines will no longer be safe. Dark Horse and Tokyopop are teaming up (this sounds bad already) to unleash Domo-kun into 7-Elevens across the nation. Not only will there be special ...

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