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9:00 AM on 04.01.2013

Editorial: The new state of industry

Japanese prices? It's a better alternative, than nothing at all?

Jeff Chuang

11:15 AM on 03.24.2013

Wolf Children wins big at the Tokyo Anime Awards

Chalk one up for disgustingly adorable children - the Tokyo Anime Awards have just been handed out, and it seems that Summer Wars fellow Mamoru Hosoda has done it again. Wolf Children - Ame and Yuki took a...

Josh Tolentino

Japanator's 2012 US Industry Review photo
Japanator's 2012 US Industry Review
by Brad Rice

Looking back on 2012 is so in-vogue today. So, before you stab your eyes out from looking at all the lists and recap posts, here's one more for you to read: our look back on health of the US anime and manga industry.

We are a niche within a niche. We are fans that like cartoons and comics imported from a foreign country. Keeping tabs on the health of our little world is very important -- changes in support can have a big effect. After all, it's your money that keeps this industry running!

Let's dive in and take a look at the year that was!

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How Kickstarter can change the anime and manga industry photo
How Kickstarter can change the anime and manga industry
by Brad Rice

Over the last year, there's been a rash of Kickstarter projects to fund manga licenses in the US and produce an original anime in Japan. It's a great thing -- companies get the financial assurance that their project, and fans get to have a direct involvement in actualizing the things they want.

What we're in the midst of is a fundamental change of the industry and a new way for companies to survive and thrive.

Follow me after the jump where we'll detail just what Kickstarter means for the industry, how that will affect what projects we see in the future, and how you can be involved with the whole process.


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Japan Expo '12: Kaze President hates America photo
Japan Expo '12: Kaze President hates America
by Brad Rice

While at Japan Expo, one of the interesting events that happened was during the Awards Ceremony. Kaze, now a division of Viz, was accepting an award for the best shojo manga published that year: Dengeki Daisy. During his acceptance speech, the new President of Kaze, Hyoe Narita, had some choice words.

He gushed to the French press gathered, talking about how grateful he is for their love of Japanese manga and the success it sees in Europe. He then goes on to talk about his time working in the US -- for a number of years, Mr. Narita was an Executive Vice President at Viz Media in San Francisco. By some accounts, he had been with the company for about 15 years, although I can't say how that splits between his time at Viz Media US and Viz Media Europe. Mr. Narita has nothing but harsh words for the US, saying about how they don't appreciate manga, how difficult it was to sell any there, and how Americans are a bunch of idiots. Quite literally, "America no baka."

It was met with mixed reactions: some of the French press laugh and cheered, others were genuinely perplexed by it. Needless to say, the entire American contingent of press -- Hiroko, myself, and the ANN folks -- were shocked and appaled by this. Several others who I spoke with after the event were similarly offended by what Mr. Narita had to say.

Once I got past the rage, I couldn't help but laugh at the fact that he says this as he's accepting an award for a title that has been a perennial best-seller in the US. I can only guess that when he left Viz Media US, there was a sigh of relief. From what I understand with Mr. Narita, he cut a lot of the senior-level staff once he got to Kaze in order to solidify his position there. The reason I say this is because an insecure man will do anything -- including make brash statements such as this.

It's certainly true that the US is not an easy market -- the comics industry is very entrenched by a certain type of hero. Batman and Wolverine do not pair up well with Kimi ni Todoke and Ouran High School Host Club. It has been, at times, hard to build a manga scene in the US -- France has a much longer and broader tradition of publishing manga. But the US has taken recognition of the manga scene. The Eisners give awards to the genre. The New York Times tracks manga on their bestsellers lists. There is a huge proliferation of anime conventions throughout the states which, collectively, top what the various Japan Expos in France put out. That's not bad for an incredibly niche market.

So to Mr. Narita, I say screw you. We're doing the best we can over here, and with the proliferation of companies funding projects through Kickstarter, we're seeing it grow even more. There's no guarantee that the US will surpass the French market in terms of availability, but there's no need to be needlessly hating as you're doing.

[Image via CartoonBrew]

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8:52 PM on 02.24.2011

News: Kodansha and Dai Nippon buy 93% of Vertical, Inc.

Vertical, Inc. is one of the most interesting manga publishers out there right now. They've put out a lot of manga of the kind that makes you think that the manga industry is much less dependent on the Narutos and Bleaches an...

Josh Tolentino

10:00 AM on 09.23.2010

Oregon adult content law killed thanks in part to Berserk

Those pesky lawmakers were at it again, trying to save the chilluns from the nasty ol' obscenities. Anime News Network reported on Oregon Revised Statue 167.054 and Oregon Revised Statue 167.057, which were set to criminalize...

Bob Muir

4:30 PM on 09.17.2010

Navarre has 6 buyers interested in FUNimation

Most of you are probably aware that FUNimation is being sold by its parent company, Navarre. While it's still a bit of an uncertain situation, there might be some good news on the horizon. Currently, Navarre has six buye...

Crystal White

6:00 PM on 09.14.2010

Anime Corner Store's 'sustain the industry' challenge

I was checking out Rob's Anime Corner Blog, and noticed that they posted an interesting deal: a $25 gift certificate to fans who post a video highlighting what they've purchased from the store in the comments thread of a vide...

Brad Rice

Yotusba & Industry photo
Yotusba & Industry
by Ben Huber
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5:03 PM on 09.08.2010

FUNimation channel going HD, includes Baccano!, others

Hate low-quality web streams? Internet too slow for torrents? Too cheap or impatient for Blu-rays? Or do you just prefer regular-ole' television to your monitor? FUNimation has some good news for you!The FUNimation channel ha...

Josh Tolentino

6:34 PM on 08.30.2010

Atlus being absorbed, though its name shall remain

Now, now. It's not as bad as it sounds. Atlus, everyone's favorite Catherine developer/publisher, isn't being dismantled or shut down, but rather being merged into its parent company, Index Holdings, which purchased Atlus bac...

Josh Tolentino

Watch Yamakan's new anime Fractal, or he'll retire photo
Watch Yamakan's new anime Fractal, or he'll retire
by Josh Tolentino

Hoity-toity auteur types are bound to make grand statements every so often, and Yutaka Yamamoto (a.k.a. Yamakan) is apparently no stranger to that sort of thing. The former KyoAni luminary who was behind season one of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, as well as helping on Lucky Star, Kannagi, Sora no Woto, and Black Rock Shooter, is working on a new anime called "Fractale", and it's somehow inspired by the works of Benoît Mandelbrot, the father of Fractal Geometry.

Yeah, I'm stumped too.

The script will be written by Hiroki Azuma, a prominent young literary critic, as well. Sound hoity-toity enough for you?

The premise, though, sounds somewhat more down-to-earth:

The story takes place on an island, where the "Fractale System" is beginning to collapse. One day, Crane finds an injured girl, Phryne under a cliff. She disappear,s leaving a pendant. Crane sets out on a journey with a girl-shaped avatar [named] Nessa, to look for Phryne and discover the secret of Fractale System. 

Check out some blurry scans below. As for that "grand statement" I mentioned above? Apparently Yamakan "is prepared to retire if Fractale does poorly." Grand, indeed.

While I honestly doubt that he'd actually follow through on that threat, the show's performance could certainly affect what he thinks about the future of the industry. And as someone who enjoyed Haruhi and Black Rock Shooter, I'd rather not give him the chance. Besides, if Fractale turns out to be good, everyone wins!

What are your hopes for Yamakan's new work? What's the "secret" of the Fractale System? Is it people? Is Fractale people?!

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6:40 PM on 08.05.2010

Will FUNimation be sold? Find out in two quarters

It's been rumbling about the industry for a while now, but it seems that the cat may soon exit the bag. Navarre Corporation, parent company of FUNimation, is due to make "a strategic decision" regarding the publishe...

Josh Tolentino

Japanator Discusses: Dai Sato rants on the state of anime photo
Japanator Discusses: Dai Sato rants on the state of anime
by Josh Tolentino

Hello, and welcome to the first installment of Japanator Discusses, a roundtable-style feature that we resort to when a topic - and the thoughts and commentary inspired by it - is too big for any one editor to monopolize.

Today's topic comes from earlier in the week, when storywriter Dai Sato vented some of his frustrations over the current state of the industry in Japan. And Sato's word carries weight, as he's one of the pens behind such works as Ergo Proxy, Wolf's Rain, Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex, Eureka 7, Samurai Champloo, and - perhaps most famous of all, Cowboy Bebop.

Sato had much to be concerned about, to say the least. He raised the issue of the industry's dependence on outsourcing "grunt" animation work to foreign subcontractors, to which he attributed a decline in consistent quality and a lack of investment in the actual production (since many subcontractors know next to nothing about what they're animating). He even stepped up to accuse Japanese studios of refusing to teach these foreign workers vital creative skills, out of a desire to keep Japan's position dominant.

And it wasn't just the establishment Sato had a bone to pick with. He went on to rail against the Japanese audience, which had "no respect for stories," noting early fan dismissals of Eureka 7 as an Evangelion-clone and the lack of a Japanese box set for Ergo Proxy (contrasted to its presence overseas). The audience was now more interested in cute characters and materialistic escapism rather than dealing with greater social issues. As such, the industry which caters to them has become "super-establishment" and "sold out".

Despite declaring that anime "will die out in Japan in a few decades", Sato vowed that he would still continue to work on it in attempts to avert that bleak fate. Hope still held out, he said, in manga and the independent doujinshi scene. 

Rather bold statements, don't you think? A more detailed write-up of the rant is available at Otaku2. I recommend checking it out before seeing what I, Jeff, Bob, Mike and Brad had to say about Sato's gloomy predictions under the cut. Taken in light of Yamakan's own statements, how do you think anime's doing nowadays? Tell us in the comments!

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3:00 PM on 07.30.2010

Jon Schiller Design caught tracing multiple anime, games

It's shades of Nick Simmons with a new comic/toy property called SINS!, a darker spin-off of Jon Schiller Design's Little 9 property. Artist Jon Schiller, or someone working under him, has released a series of promotional ima...

Bob Muir

1:00 PM on 07.30.2010

Kannagi's Yamakan predicts end of anime home video sales

Apparently director Yutaka Yamamoto, a.k.a. Yamakan, is not too happy with the current state of the anime industry. Despite just releasing the highly anticipated OVA Black Rock Shooter through his own production company Studi...

Bob Muir

Swedish manga translator fined for lolicon photos photo
Swedish manga translator fined for lolicon photos
by Bob Muir

It seems that the ridiculous debate about the rights of fictional characters continues, disregarding common sense. Now, a Swedish manga translator (unnamed) has been fined by the district court of Uppsala Sweden for possessing 51 images considered child pornography by current law standards. The translator claimed he possessed the images to keep up on the latest developments from Japan. Naturally, he was surprised at the ruling, and even the judge stated he would like a second opinion from the appelate court, since such a decision would establish legal precedent. Nonetheless, Judge Nils Palbrant declared:

There's a clear conflict between freedom of speech on the one hand and general regulations regarding children's rights on the other...It was however our view that the protective aspect weighed more heavily when taking into account the intentions of the legislator. The aim of the law, as described in the preliminary work that led to its creation, is not just to protect individual children but children in general.

The defense's lawyer was also surprised with the ruling, stating that "it goes against all common sense." Local tabloids like Expressen also weighed in, declaring, "...there is actually no victim here. The children in the Uppland man's manga comics were not molested since they were characters in a comic." Which is true. As much as some otaku would like to believe they're real, 2D girls don't exist. The only victim here seems to be the translator.

It seems the only reason authorities even charged him with this offense was because his former partner, hoping to gain custody of their infant daught, falsely claimed that the translator sexually abused his daughter. Local police searched his belongings after the second accusation and, finding no evidence, charged him with possession of child pornography after looking through his manga collection.

Now the unnamed translator faces a fine of 25,000 SEK ($3,000) given on June 30th. It's relatively light, compared to a sentence handed down to Christopher Handley earlier this year. Still, punishments like these are overreaching their intent to protect children and instead trying to create a situation where fictional characters are given protection, which is just silly. We've started to see the chilling effect it is having in the US, so I can only hope lawmakers will come to their senses and focus on protecting us from actual problems.

[via AnimeNews]

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7:00 PM on 07.21.2010

Ryu Murakami bypasses publisher dominance by going iPad

Despite really being several iPod Touches nailed together, it seems the iPad is here to stay.It's an intriguing device though, especially in its potential as a replacement for paper-bound books and manga. Nothing's going to t...

Josh Tolentino

TokyoPop pairs up with Zinio for digital manga releases photo
TokyoPop pairs up with Zinio for digital manga releases
by Crystal White

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 downloads will be offered for $5.99 while multi-volume editions will cost $7.99. 

So far, there's already a list of combined TokyoPop/Zinio titles available for digital release, including:

  • Earthlight
  • Gravitation
  • The Tarot Cafe
  • The Dreaming
  • Jim Henson's Return to Labyrinth 
  • Bizenghast
  • Van Von Hunter
  • Undertown

The complete list only has eight titles currently, but TokyoPop/Zinio promise more to come. For those who are less familiar with Zinio, the company has worked with Arcana to publish The Clockwork Girl as well as working with Digital Manga Publishing to publish Vampire Hunter D, among other accomplishments.

It seems that while Zinio tiles run smoothly and look good on PC and such, they're presented in a western format, left-to-right. While this works for the Korean and English based manga that the current digital lineup consists of, it may become a problem when more Japanese titles are introduced. 

So I've gotten two stories in two days about manga publishers going digital. Is it inevitable? Will physical manga become a collector's relic, much like vinyl is today--there's certainly a market for it, but it's not on the cutting edge of technology. What do you think of TokyoPop and Zinio joining forces? 


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9:00 PM on 06.21.2010

MangaFox pulls their entire Viz library, 'talking' to Viz

I wonder how this is going to go: the folks over at MangaFox are currently trying to talk with the people at Viz in regards to all the scans they're hosting of Viz's licensed properties. In addition to all 230 titles Viz aske...

Brad Rice

10:00 AM on 06.16.2010

Crunchyroll gets another $750k shot in the arm!

It looks like Crunchyroll really is attracting all the investors. Less than three months after TV Tokyo invested in the group, Japanese e-publisher Bitway announced that they're also dropping $750,000 into Crunchyroll's coffe...

Brad Rice

Yotsuba & Scanlations photo
Yotsuba & Scanlations
by Ben Huber
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Talking to the publishers about the anti-piracy coalition photo
Talking to the publishers about the anti-piracy coalition
by Brad Rice

Yesterday, the announcement of the long-overdue anti-piracy coalition within the manga industry got a lot of people riled up, both here at Japanator and across the 'net. Of course, the press release wasn't the most specific thing in the world, which left a lot of questions on my mind.

So, I decided to go straight to the source and tap a number of publishers for more information about this coalition.

After the jump, I'll go into a bit more detail as to just what this coalition is made up of, how it attempts to shape the industry, and if it will really be all that effective. There's quite a bit, because I want to let the publishers have their say.

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This is war: US, Japanese pubs combine to fight scans photo
This is war: US, Japanese pubs combine to fight scans
by Josh Tolentino

If it wasn't on this whole time, you can be sure that it's on now, oh yes you can.

What's on, you ask? The war against scanlation, that's what. Pretty much every major manga publisher on both sides of the Pacific have joined forces to form a "multi-national manga anti-piracy coalition" to combat the "rampant and growing problem of internet piracy plaguing the manga industry". Obviously, they're talking about scanlations, particularly the "aggregator" sites that gather scans together in one place to earn ad revenue and charge membership fees and whatnot.

The membership roster is impressive indeed, including the thirty-six members of the Japan Digital Comic Association, Square Enix, VIZ Media, TokyoPOP, the Tuttle-Mori Agency, Yen Press, and Vertical, inc.

Said a spokesperson:

“It is unfortunate that this action has become necessary,” said a spokesperson for the group. “However, to protect the intellectual property rights of our creators and the overall health of our industry, we are left with no other alternative but to take aggressive action. It is our sincere hope that offending sites will take it upon themselves to immediately cease their activities. Where this is not the case, however, we will seek injunctive relief and statutory damages. We will also report offending sites to federal authorities, including the anti-piracy units of the Justice Department, local law enforcement agencies and FBI.” 

And that's that. It's on.

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Rumor: GAINAX and Evangelion remakes splitting up? photo
Rumor: GAINAX and Evangelion remakes splitting up?
by Ben Huber

The impact that GAINAX, Evangelion, and its creator, Hideki Anno have had on the anime industry is huge. From the popular anime series to the recent movie remakes (or sequels, depending on who you ask), there have been few properties that had the influence of Eva. The merchandising has been a particular issue that fans will focus on, sometimes loving the latest Asuka figure, or complaining that it's the 146th one this week. And that's actually where our issue starts, somewhat.

This going to be a big one so click through. It's very possible that Neon Genesis Evangelion will be separated from the studio it began its life with, GAINAX, very soon.

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7:00 PM on 05.29.2010

Rest in Peace, Peter Keefe: Voltron producer passes away

Remember Voltron? Classic giant robot, the one with lines, later with cars? I do. Growing up in the Philippines I was a little too young to get on the Voltes V bandwagon, but was right on time to catch Voltron and lion-combin...

Josh Tolentino

5:45 PM on 05.26.2010

Shocker: Evangelion 2.22 DVD/BD sells like gangbusters

Was it really any surprise that yet another Evangelion-related would sell like gangbusters, not least the biggest Evangelion-related thing since, well, Evangelion? Of course not.But this is, of course, a thing that ...

Josh Tolentino

DC shutters CMX, and so goes another manga publisher photo
DC shutters CMX, and so goes another manga publisher
by Brad Rice

It might seem like the end of the world, now that yet another manga publisher is closing its doors. This time, DC Comics has announced that they're shuttering their manga branch CMX as of July 1st. The publisher, best known for an eclectic batch of titles, including a lot of works from the 70s and 80s, must've run into financial trouble with a lack of any big hits.

They're going to try and put out a few titles between now and then, though. Deb Aoki got the full list of what CMX still has left to put on store shelves before shutting for good:

Musashi #9 Vol. 17 by Takahashi Miyuki and Takahashi
Polyphonica: Cardinal Crimson Vol. 1 by Ichiro Sakaki and ocelot, Tomo Hirokawa
Two Flowers for the Dragon Vol. 6 by Nari Kusukawa
Venus Capriccio Vol. 4 by Mai Nishikata
Stolen Hearts Vol. 2 by Miku Sakamoto
Teru Teru x Shonen Vol. 7 by Shigeru Takao

Megatokyo, which was published under the CMX line, will be folded into the larger DC Comics brand. This was a surprising announcement, although given the state of the industry, some smaller labels like this are ripe targets for failure. Thankfully our favorite publisher, Vertical, is chugging along well and with the release of Chii's Sweet Home impending, should soon have a license to print money.

Later this week, we should have the first episode of Serious Business with Brad Rice put together, where Ed Chavez, Jason Thompson and myself discuss the CMX closing, along with a few other things in the manga world. Stay tuned for that commentary.

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Viz lays off 40% of its workforce, shutters NY office photo
Viz lays off 40% of its workforce, shutters NY office
by Brad Rice

Top story of the day: PW got the word that Viz is laying off a massive 60 employees -- about 40% of its total workforce, including shuttering its New York office. From some of the talk that I've heard going around, this is hitting just about everyone in the company, from editorial to marketing and back around again.

This comes after a restructuring in February of 2009, where they lost about 20 employees. Clearly things are not going too well at the big V. The official statement from Viz goes something like this:

VIZ Media is in the process of refining its focus, and is restructuring to adjust to changing industry and financial market realities. As part of the restructuring, the company had to refine its workforce by eliminating certain positions and making cuts in other areas. We are of course saddened by these departures and sincerely appreciate the hard work, passion and dedication of those that have moved on, but we feel confident that with these changes, VIZ Media will be more streamlined and able to withstand the climate of the economy at this time.

Their staff size was surprisingly large, and I know they had a number of editors in their bullpen -- appropriate considering how many titles they put out a year -- but it must have been a huge strain on the company. As how they'll be restructuring and changing its focus, this will likely affect their slate from mid-2011 onwards. I wouldn't be surprised if they started cutting their lowest-performing titles at this point. The changes won't be immediate, but we'll try to keep you updated on how things will progress from this point on with the company. 

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