This news report is 100% complete as of the time I typed it, but there are still plenty of Industry panels to come at Anime Expo, so expect more updates later on.
Funimation announced that they have picked up distribution rights for many Geneon and ADV anime properties including Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Murder Princess, and Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora, which was licensed (and already suspended) by ADV as Shattered Angels. Kyoshiro first volume was technically released and Volume 2 suspended, but I haven’t actually seen Volume 1 anywhere, so basically, we’re waiting for it from the beginning.
Nozomi/Right Stuf announced Gakuen Alice at their Expo Panel last night.
Big news this week is that Kodansha is launching a Kodansha US office to release manga on their own. While everyone else is musing over how this will effect their Del Rey and other licenses, I have a completely different take on it. I think that Kodansha is about to run into the the uncomfortable truth that is the reality of the manga market here in the US. From various dealings in the industry, I think that a lot of the Japanese companies are under the impression that they can *sell* a lot more manga than they actually can. Here’s why.
In Japan, manga and anime are easily accessible by a large portion of the population on a weekly/monthly basis. Along with free TV release and weekly cheap manga mags, they are bombarded by a never-ending stream of advertising for product. When the tankoubon, the collections, come out, there is little advertising in them, because the stream of distribution *ends* at the tankoubon. In America, the distribution begins and ends at the tankoubon. There are very few anime that are easily accessible on free TV. Most of them are Shounen Jump titles, and not coincidentally, SJ is one of the few magazines that comes out regularly here. So those titles do really well in sales. But most of the other titles are printed, stuck on a shelf and have exactly zero advertising, promotion (other than licensing announcements) or recognition. Without an anime to beat the title into people’s heads, the actual number of people who will ever care about a non-anime title is going to remain low. And without weekly or monthly chapter of a manga to keep interest high, all you have is tankoboun on the shelves.
Here’s what I imagine happens. J Company thinks – we sell 30K tankoubon here of x title. If we assume a 2% audience in the US, we can assume 6000 books will sell. Which seems fair. Only…the amount they will actually sell might be 1500 – 2000. Because the American audience doesn’t have the constant stream of promotion and availability, so Joe Blow finds it easier – and cheaper – to grab a scan, or read a book in the bookstore. And another 25% of the potential audience has no clue about the title’s existence or availability at all.
I think that when Kodansha realizes that without a lot more advertising and a TV anime, their books really won’t do well no matter how popular they are, they will be surprised – and sad. In the meantime, let’s bombard them with letters asking for a translated version of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. We’ll only get two volumes before they pull it for lack of sales, but hey – that’s two volumes we didn’t have, right?
Which leads me to the next thing I wanted to mention – Seven Seas has put several of their Yuri series on hold, First Love Sisters among them. The stated reason is that sales were well below expectations and they didn’t break even. I could have told them that if they had asked. The Yuri audience is small, cheap and sales of 2000 are exceptional, not average or low. Personally, I can see Hayate x Blade failing in the exact same way because the ONLY promotion that title will get is me talking about it. Neither Seven Seas nor Tor is going to spend a cent telling people it exists, and it has no anime. Which is a damn shame, because it’s an awesome series which *could* be popular. But if your marketing plan is to print too many copies, send them anonymously to chain bookstores to disappear them among crowded, unlabeled shelves of manga…expect it to fail. You want people to buy it? You have to invest in promotion. Contests, ads, bookstore displays, more ads, ads in things other than your own books, like gaming magazines, and Giant Robot (an awesome Asian pop culture mag) and on websites. Did I mention promoting the effing hell out of it? Because otherwise, it’ll sell 1000 copies and once again you’ll wonder why. Jason, Adam – I mean you.
And as for you, Yuri audience. Buy the books, buy the anime. These companies spend $$$$ on *you*. Stop being a bunch of cheap bastards – and *still* complaining that there is no Yuri out there. Buy Yuri. From Infinity, from Seven Seas, from Tokyopop, from Yen Press, from Media Blasters, from ADV, from ALC Publishing. Stop complaining that there is none. There are many series at this point and you aren’t buying them. For god’s sake – stop whining and put your money where your whinging is. Please. Thank you.
(And if you *do* buy the anime and manga – thank you. Very, very much. Not just for myself, but for the artists and writers, directors, voice actors and publishers. Thank you.)
I found this news item to be kind of interesting in a “huh?” way – Aurora, the US imprint for Oozora Publishing, will be putting out a manga version of Hitohira. Since Aurora’s stuff is usually Ladies Comics and more adult stories, Hitohira seems an odd series for them. Guess we’ll see, huh?
And DMP has announced the license for the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS manga. I reviewed the first volume a while back. It was fun. Not particularly Yuri, but fun.
Other Yuri News
I’ve been very good about not talking about this, since I was told about it. lol
Nozomi/RightStuf is going to be launching the full Maria-sama ga Miteru website soon and when they do, it will include a submission form to *ask Konno Oyuki-sensei questions*! How cool is that? You’ll have a chance to ask her good questions like “Will we see Yumi as Rosa Chinensis?” and fandumb questions like “Will Sachiko and Yumi ever kiss?” and thank her for providing us with hours of entertainment. I am so going to be putting questions up for her.
bystrouka tells us that both Blue Drop and Mnemosyne will be shown at the Paris Japan Expo this weekend. This is tantalizing, because we haven’t heard any licensing for these titles, but what is being shown is supposedly already licensed. Interesting, huh? bystrouka promises to report back!
And Polish anime/manga portal Tanuki now sports a Polish-language interview with Erica Friedman, thanks to Grisznak! Some of the questions were the usual, but some were pretty funny, so in case you are not a Polish reader, here is a link to the English-language version.
That’s it so far for the weekend, but expect more as more industry panel feeds come in. Media Blasters has said they they are holding their big announcements for Otakon, so I’ll see if I can get a preview of those to see of there’s anything relevant to our interests. :-)