Discussion: How do manga publishers make you mad?

It seems to me there have been a lot of reasons for manga fans to rejoice these past few years, but also a lot of reasons for manga fans to grit their teeth because of something a manga publisher has done.

Admittedly, it’s easy for me to see where some publisher decisions are coming from. The manga publishing industry needs at least three things in order to succeed: money, the good favor of the Japanese rights holders and the good favor of the fans. A lot of publishing decisions fans hate seem to stem from the first two, but you can’t win over the fans if you don’t have either money or happy rights holders.

That said, fans will be bitter even if they understand the decision, and there is definitely still one publishing decision that makes me really mad: the sudden closure of CMX by its parent company, DC.

I understand why CMX was closed, it wasn’t making DC any money and times were too tight for an imprint not to be making money. It was really the way  DC handled the situation that bugged me, and still bugs me to  this day. By this I mean that the shut down was so sudden that CMX had new licenses popping up on Amazon the day before.

It was just disrespectful to CMX and to the manga fans who loved CMX to treat the company in such a manner. If DC had bothered to let CMX know long enough ahead of time, then the new licenses could been pulled before the fans found out and got their hopes up. Instead, it was so sudden that I have to wonder if the CMX employees found out their jobs were getting wiped in a manner similar to how I found out about Tokyopop ceasing its North American publishing operations. (I found out from news sources, not from the company itself.) That was a deeply hurtful experience for me, just to give you some emotional context.

Anyway, there are many ways publishers can upset fans, but I want to know what has grinded you the most. So feel free to rant away in the comments section about your hated publisher of choice! (Although I can’t promise to respond to every comment due to my position as an editor for some companies. Sorry! I just want to hear what people hate the most as manga fans.)

About Daniella Orihuela-Gruber

Daniella is a freelance manga editor and blogger. She likes collecting out of print manga and playing with her puppy. Yes, someone got her a puppy already.
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51 Responses to Discussion: How do manga publishers make you mad?

  1. lys says:

    I think the only thing that publishers have done that really made me mad (and sad) was to stop publishing manga and close. CMX, Tokyopop… *sigh* Aside from that, I may be annoyed by little things (sloppy lettering, for instance), but I still keep buying the books. Cheap paper stock? Sure, great, I can fit more books on my shelf!

    • Well, I feel like that most closures just make me sad. Not mad like CMX’s closure did. :<

      • lys says:

        Hmm, that’s a point. I think there was some mad in me at Tokyopop’s closure though. (maybe not as much as with CMX; more of a delayed response?) Other companies like GoComi, I guess I wasn’t mad or sad, because I didn’t really follow much that they published, so I could only be regretful on others’ behalf.

        I guess my point is, as long as publishers keep publishing manga, there’s not much they can do (that they realistically would do) to make me hate them.

  2. Kathryn says:

    I wouldn’t say that these two actions made me mad, per se, but it upset me when Viz stopped publishing Shoujo Beat and when Yen stopped publishing the paper version of Yen Plus. I really loved both of those magazines. When they first started being published (and when I was younger and less self-conscious about such behavior), I would go to the bookstore every day during the three or four day period when the new issue was supposed to arrive. I loved taking home a new issue and breaking open its plastic wrapping and sitting in the bath and reading it. It was also a pleasure to give issues to younger relatives and the children of my older friends. Once Yen Plus went digital and Viz put its Shoujo Beat money into the Ikki site, though, all of that happiness was more or less finished.

    If anything can be said to have made me mad about the transition to digital publishing, it’s that neither company really seemed to know what they were doing at first – their online readers were full of glitches and less ergonomic than those used by scanlation sites. If I remember correctly, both transitions were extremely uncomfortable, which unfortunately did nothing to pacify the fans of the discontinued publications.

    Concerning digital manga, I love my Kindle, but the image compression of manga adapted for the Kindle is terrible – if the text is too small (and it frequently is), it resembles nothing so much as a small, gray, illegible cloud. Instead of reformatting their manga to be clean and neat on the relatively smaller screen of a Kindle or a Nook, it seems that manga publishers are investing lots of money in the iPad, which is an *extraordinarily* expensive device that I can’t afford (and don’t imagine that the majority of the teenage demographic can afford either). I think I can be honest when I say that the paradox of manga publishers fighting piracy by putting their manga on the most expensive platforms on the market and ignoring the more affordable ones has, in fact, made me very angry.

    To summarize, the way that manga publishers have handled the transition to digital manga makes me mad. It feels like they’re still transitioning, though, so I still have high hopes for the future.

    • I have high hopes for the future of digital manga too, but the industry is definitely still transitioning. You have every reason to be mad, although publishers have only chosen the iPad because it’s the best option so far for manga. The only fix is to get Apple to drop the price, but I don’t know if it’s catching on the same way the iPod did at first. A lower price might be far into the future, in which case publishers should have been catering to multiple e-readers yesterday. There’s enough clamor for manga on Android platforms and the Kindle, that sooner or later publishers will have to give in. The best thing to do now is be patient.

      As for Ikki and the like, I think of those as the pre-iPad digital experiments. When Ikki was started, it was uncertain what digital manga was going to turn out to be in the US market and whether readers would buy Ikki’s titles. While it was certainly sad to lose printed manga magazines because this, the sad reality is that such magazines are extremely difficult to keep afloat. It’s true for Yen Plus, Shoujo Beat and a number of other otaku-centric magazines that have been printed over the years.

    • Miguel says:

      The image quality of manga on the Kindle is not entirely the publisher’s fault. One of the reasons the images are compressed that much (or perhaps, that prices are that high) is because Amazon charges a delivery fee for publishers, at a rate of $0.15 per MB. This isn’t really a problem for text-only books, which generally weigh in under 1MB, but for graphic novels it can be quite expensive. For example, if you look at DMP’s Vampire Hunter D Vol. 1 on Amazon, it’s 13MB, which means that out of every purchase, almost $2 is lost just on the delivery cost.

      Some scanlations with HQ scans can be around 80MB (or even more) per volume, and delivering that quality through Amazon would cost $12.

  3. michaelhokama says:

    What I never understood is why Tokyopop would stop a series right before the last volume or two. Maybe they lost the license just then, maybe they wanted to see how many people wrote in asking them to finish the series to judge readership, maybe they just wanted to tick readers off (my personal opinion). I mean, I’ve still got Satisfaction Guaranteed without the last volume, which was promised to be coming soon in the blurb in the back, and Dragon Voice maybe a couple of volumes short of a full series, and there’s others due to their sudden shutdown.

    If the series weren’t making money, and there was still a lot of volumes to go, that’s one thing, like Get Backers (maybe? I can’t see why else they’d have two volumes of Infinity Fortress and then stop dead) or BT’X or Kindaichi, but if there’s only a little bit more, might as well finish them off just to get them finished.

    Even Viz has done that, unless I’m just hallucinating the lack of the last few volumes of Zatchbell, and these are people who ground through the whole of Prince of Tennis, even though they could not get the hang of the names of the characters, but who gave up on Gintama and Reborn after relatively few volumes. Reborn, especially, was just getting to the good part.

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  5. Aaron says:

    Something that makes me mad is some of the liscinseing choices of some publishers (Yen Press in paticuler) I mean something like OMAMORI HIMARI or SUZUNARI! gets liscinsed and other more deseveing titles are left out in proverbal cold. That’s really the only thing that makes me really mad and I realize that at the end of the day it’s a busness but still it’s stuff like this that makes me go apolextic with rage at the liscinseing department.

    • Fair enough, although licensing is pretty subjective. Some will really dislike a particular license, but others will actually want to buy it. I don’t know what your taste in manga is like, but Yen Press is also publishing two of my current favorites: Bunny Drop and A Bride’s Story. If Omamori Himari and Suzunari! are titles that help pay for the other books’ publishing costs, then I’m not going to complain. 🙂

      • Aaron says:

        That’s what drives me nuts is for every good title that get’s liscensed their’s something that just seems like a glorified tax write off. Or it’s left me thinking who’s the target audience really since it seems so niche or pandering lest we forget Ekien.

        • Well, it wouldn’t be a tax write off, it would be the product that’s making them money so they don’t have to be financially stressed because they also publish critically acclaimed titles that don’t sell well.

          Since there seems to be some kind of correlation between how good the manga is and how much it sells, perhaps you should think about it in another way: All those awful comics that you would never read, but sell well, are paving the way for the ones you *do* read despite the fact that your favorite titles don’t sell well.
          You either have give thanks that these titles help you read what you want or just look the other way. You’ll never see all those titles you think of as deserving published stateside, the American industry just isn’t that robust.

  6. Ade says:

    I wouldn’t say I was mad about this but: I was also disappointed when Yen Press went digital only. I liked getting that magazine =( Shoujo Beat I think I only got one or two issues so I wasn’t too fussed about that, but I always looked forward to getting the new Yen Press. I like them a lot actually I’m a fan of a lot of their series like Higurashi, Bunny Drop, the fact they have picked up Yotsuba & Azumanga.. ^_^ ..

    I was more concerned with Tokyopop closed in N.A. only because I was afraid the others would follow and then we’d all be left with nothing.

  7. Denilea says:

    I have the same peeves as everyone else (going out of business, canceling a series) but I also think censorship is something that really makes me lose respect for the manga publisher. I don’t buy that book anymore, and they just lost a customer for that series. I become very cautious and research what other titles they censored because I just can’t trust them as much anymore. I also hate bad paper quality where the pages yellow superfast and you can read the text on the opposite side of the page. Not worth buying, neither is a manga with a bad officical translation. Gosh darn Tokyopop was so guilty of the last two things a lot of the time. They also published way to much crap no one would read, for example Red Hot Chili Samurai, Saving Life, and Togainu no Chi. That’s another thing that makes me mad at publishers. I understand branching out and reaching as many genres as you can, but if a series sucks it sucks and should just stay untranslated. Next time a company looks to pick up the newest ecchi harem manga, they should look at classics or fan-beloved series like Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. Flipped manga is not a BIG peeve of mine, it’s annoying sure and I don’t read the manga if it’s flipped (I’d go out of my way and import a Japanese copy), but I don’t hate publishers (like Vertical and how they love to flip Tezuka even though it’s fricking 2011!) for it.

  8. I wouldn’t say it makes me /mad/ exactly, but I do wish they would do more to reach the non-“otaku” crowd.

    Sure, most manga publishers don’t have enough money lying around to fund a Superbowl-worthy ad campaign, but there are some small-scale cheaper efforts that could be worth a shot. Providing volumes of conversation-starting series to local book discussion groups, for instance, or sending a few copies to general book review blogs in addition to manga-specific blogs. (Hopefully with a “How to Read Comics, Not Just the Dialog” guide, since that seems to be the number-one bug among first-time comics readers.)

    It’s not just manga – I wish /all/ comics publishers would try such tactics – but given the genre/demographic diversity of manga, it seems like something they could be exceptionally successful at if they put their heart into it.

  9. harana says:

    Mad is a bit of a strong word for me, but I was pretty annoyed by two things:

    1) Life by Tokyopop being canceled. That’s the one time I was burned by a publisher. I had just gotten into the series. I bought all nine volumes in huge chunks, shared them with my best friend, then no more. To this day I still wish I knew what happened in that series…

    2) Like you, CMX. I don’t remember being super upset at the time–the only manga I was collecting of theirs (The Devil Does Exist) got finished–but it’s like now it’s come back to haunt me. My library has lots of their manga, and I’m realizing how many good shoujo series they had. This past week I made the mistake of picking up three volumes of Swan; now I have 1-10 laying on my bed and I’m almost regretting it. I’m super, super, super in love with that manga…:( I want to go on a one-woman crusade to convince people to buy this manga so it can be rescued! Gah.

    • I kind of had the same problem with CMX. I realized they had a ton of great manga that I totally wanted to read, but they’d just shut down!

      Which is another reason why the CMX closure makes me so mad. DC didn’t give them the marketing & retail power they should have had. Half the comic book stores I visited never had CMX, the same goes for the bookstores that sell manga. The company probably would have made more money if DC had ever bothered to help them push their wares, but instead they were just a little imprint no one cared about.

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  11. DeBT says:

    I just wrote up a post about a minor complaint I have – when dialogue is placed in the wrong balloon. The majority of the scans are mistakes I noticed while reading From Eroica with Love.

  12. geri_chan says:

    This is slightly OT, but I saw the earlier comments about Red Hot Chili Samurai and I just have to say that I love that series! I think it’s hilarious and I can’t understand why it’s got such a bad reputation. I’m guessing it’s probably due to cultural differences–the manga is obviously a parody of samurai dramas like Abarenbo Shogun and Toyama no Kinsan where a Shogunate official (or the Shogun himself) goes around in disguise righting wrongs and fighting corruption. A Japanese person would get the joke immediately, but most Americans wouldn’t pick up on it unless they’re a fan of historical dramas. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that there’s at least one Red Hot Chili Samurai fan out there! ^_^

    Getting back on topic, a major pet peeve for me is when a publisher overly Americanizes the story–like changing the characters’ names in Initial D or Case Closed, or throwing in American pop culture references that weren’t in the original. I seem to recall a reference to Averil Lavigne in FAKE, which was really jarring since the series was originally written when she was about 10 years old! (Although at least FAKE is set in America, so it wouldn’t stand out too much except for the time frame.) I like manga precisely because it’s different from American comics, so it bothers me when the publisher tries to erase what makes it unique.

    • \(T3T)/ Another RHCS fan! Although I’m not a historical drama fan, I still like the manga. It’s just fun and zany. It’s not supposed to be a hard-hitting drama with a lot of emotional depth, but I guess people would like it a little better if it was. Nothing to be done about it, I suppose.

      I think the days of Americanizing things are largely gone. It seems now most everyone is OK with educating the readers on Japanese concepts or leaving them to fend for themselves (also called: Google it yourself.) Although I don’t think that leaving readers to fend for themselves is the best option, as an editor, it’s definitely hard to make time for such pages and sometimes it’s even hard to make room for them without adding in a gazillion ads. Companies that have been including notes from the very start are definitely doing the right thing.

  13. lovelyduckie says:

    It’s a personal blow when a series you’ve carefully selected to invest in and follow for years is squashed. I was very angry after Tokyopop had its first large round of manga “indefinite delays”. The Queen’s Knight retails at $120 to get up to the 12 volumes released and $70 to get the first 7 volumes of Genju no Seiza, both got the boot at that point. I read manga because I get attached to the characters and I involve myself emotionally in their struggles, I invest a lot of $$ in that. Not to mention I felt personally insulted when my manga was put on the same level as the Hannah Montanna manga when they were choosing titles to give up on. I also think it’s awful to stop a series right when it’s about to wrap up. If it’s a 15+ volume series and there’s less than 4 volumes left…THROW ME A BONE! DO SOMETHING! EVEN A DIGITAL COPY! COME ON!

    I have issues with characters from Osaka being made to sound like the have an (American) southern accent. I can understand where the translator is coming from with that solution…but I’d rather they not do that at all.

    I also prefer manga unflipped and for the companies to not censor the original material. I get so mad when I realize a joke I didn’t think was so funny was actually HILARIOUS if it hadn’t been tampered with so much!

    Otherwise I’m easy to please, nice covers, art inserts, good quality paper, etc…all that is just icing on the cake. I like it a lot but I don’t need it.

    • So you’re upset because a company couldn’t justify the manga you were a fan of. I can understand that, but the fact that they stopped publishing new volumes of that manga means that they weren’t selling enough copies no matter how much *you* paid for them. It also isn’t about whose manga is better in cases like this. If it isn’t selling, it doesn’t matter if it’s Hannah Montana or the best manga known to man. It isn’t going to be continued if not enough people are buying.

      Also, it’s not exactly easy for a publisher to do four digital volumes of a series they’ve essentially stopped being able to pay for. Doing digital still means you need to pay for a license, translation, editing, lettering, etc., not to mention setting up the infrastructure to distribute the digital manga. If they don’t already have something set up, they’re probably paying more to publish a comic digitally than in print. While developing a digital platform is a great long term goal, but if you don’t have the money to attempt it in the short term, it’s not going to happen.

      Not to mention the entire manga publishing industry has been agonizingly slow about adopting digital. And, if the digital manga was only available on an expensive digital device that you didn’t own, would you buy that device just to read those four volumes of manga you wanted?

  14. lovelyduckie says:

    But couldn’t they have pulled the plug sooner before I got to the point where I was in at over $100 in a series? I don’t understand why they played the “wait and see” game so long. I doubt their issues with that series were really all of a sudden. Del Rey was able to make at least some suitable arrangements for their closure/Kodansha transfer, Tokyopop just dropped everything without warning. With Del Rey, series that had a certain number of volumes left got treated to an Omnibus volume that tied everything up in case Kodansha didn’t finish the series (ex: Mushishi and Rave Master). I admit though not all of their Omnibus volumes were able to tie up certain series, but even for ongoing series I felt like it was a nice gesture that shows how much they valued their customers. And I’m not blaming just Tokyopop though, other companies have let series I really like die off at large financial investment points too. My Hannah Montanna point was probably me being a manga snob more-so, OEL can be great…but that series just seemed like a cheap attempt to jump on HM’s money making band wagon. So I admit I’m condescending towards that series.

    “And, if the digital manga was only available on an expensive digital device that you didn’t own, would you buy that device just to read those four volumes of manga you wanted?”

    If I had a device like that I’d put all my desired manga on it, it’s an over exaggeration to ask if I’d pay hundreds of dollars for something for ONLY 4 volumes of manga. I have many series that I love that are completely unavailable to me now…and to get an ending to those series that I loved so much…I’m willing to pay more. Is EVERYONE willing to pay more (or anything at all?)? Probably not. BUT in case of theft/damage I’d like to have an account that allows me to retain the viewing rights to certain series no matter what happens to my kindle, tablet, etc…

    • lovelyduckie says:

      sorry forgot to hit reply on the response.

    • Look, you’re really personalizing this when it’s an issue of needing more sales. You can get mad at publishers for dropping your favorite series all you want, but you alone won’t sway their decision to stop publishing a certain manga. It takes thousands of people clamoring for the next volume to really take a manga off of indefinite hiatus. Ranting on and on about your $100 wasted (despite the fact that you seem to really enjoy what you spent that money on) does nothing for your beloved titles. It just sounds like fan entitlement.

      The thing about publishing is that you never know what will be your next biggest hit & it could be something totally unexpected. If that hit doesn’t come, but you keep publishing more and more stuff, the money from your last hit is going to eventually run out. By then it won’t matter if there’s only one more volume or not, you can only afford to publish the manga that sells enough money to keep you in business. Del Rey is really a non-example of this, considering they have two “parent” companies to front the money for publishing poorly-selling series or to back them up when times get tough. Tokyopop had no parent company to fall back on when things went south. Tokyopop tried to keep releasing manga that was being published infrequently, but it seems like that only stretched finances thinner instead of making the company money.

      As for the example I gave about the expensive digital platform, it was meant to showcase something that’s actually been happening. While some manga publishers are sticking to certain digital platforms, there are many others who are all over the place. In the short-term future, you will probably never have all the manga you want on one digital platform. Will you have a lot of manga on one specific platform? Yes, but you might miss out on other manga that are on other platforms that you really wanted to read. There’s also the possibility of your technology becoming outdated and making your expensive purchase useless as publishers move to the latest system or the possibility that a publisher will close, taking its servers down with it. Then you have no manga on your expensive digital device, despite that you paid for it and for the viewing rights (which are really quite an awful idea.)

      When that happens, then you’ll probably be mad and legitimately so. At least with print you own the book wholly until the book is either destroyed or sold/given away.

      • lovelyduckie says:

        I understand why series are dropped, and why my own individual disappointment isn’t enough to save a series. I also understand (some) of the challenges publishers in this industry face from articles I’ve read. But despite knowing these things…YES as a customer I’m not happy with the ending of certain series and I can’t claim otherwise with regard to a topic on what publishers do that “make me mad”. If you did a topic about “what publishers have done to make me happy” I would have many positive opinions to share (many of which would be associated with Tokyopop’s early days before licenses got difficult for them to obtain). I do consider (most) incomplete series money wasted, I would rather have never started the series at all than have it interrupted before I get to the end. I guess you could say I disagree with the whole concept of ‘it’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all’. When a series remains incomplete…I can’t ever completely push it out of my mind as easily as a series where I know the ending to. In situations where the manga series is a collection of short stories I can stand the disappointment a lot better and be glad I got to experience the series at all (ex: Bride of Deimos and Kindaichi Case Files).

        I admit my digital idea has exactly the flaws you mentioned, I honestly can’t think of a digital business model that allow me to feel completely comfortable. My only issue with having a hard copy is it really starts to take up space over time. So personally I’m still hoping someone comes up with a digital business model that takes off. I’d like to hope it’s not a pipe dream 🙁 it’d be nice if I could get manga chapters around the same time their released in Japan.

        • I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to attack you, but your argument revolved around your personal feelings of “wasted” money, which I feel is a bad way to put things. If a series could be considered a waste of your money, why were you buying it and why are you so angry at a publisher for cancelling a series that was a waste of money? It just seemed like, if buying an incomplete series was a waste for you, why not just stick to only buying manga that’s completed its full run? (These are rhetorical questions, by the way.) I realize that could possibly leave you with little to no satisfaction, but does seem like a sound strategy for you.

          To be honest, if I was a decision maker at a manga publishing company and I heard you ranting about how my company had wasted your money by failing to complete a series, I would just consider you to be a customer lost. Obviously the company has already failed you. If you were instead asking or begging my company to keep publishing your favorite series, I would mark it down as more fan interest in seeing those series continued. I realize that as a blogger, I’m totally taking the side of the publisher here, but I think publishers really need to hear “I want this” from fans instead of “I am mad at you” when it comes to series on hiatus. That does make it kind of hard to answer the original question, I know, but understanding fans are a small blessing to the manga industry people.

          Anyway, I definitely agree with you on your hopes for digital. I’m a bit more pessimistic on whether or not that will ever become a reality, however. 😛 Viz has it the most right at the moment. Prices are low and you can access it from a number of devices, which means if yours becomes obsolete, you can still access your purchases from your computer.

  15. Apple says:

    Close-outs make me sad. Most publishing decisions (raising prices, change in quality, etc) don’t really bother me or affect me so much; I still buy the books, even if irked a little bit. But there was one time when I was REALLY mad, at a publisher, and it’s because they handled pre-orders so badly.

    The story goes, I pre-ordered Moto Hagio’s “A Drunken Dream and Other Stories” from Fantagraphics. When the release date finally came, Fantagraphics announced that all new orders would receive a free bookplate signed by Hagio. You would think that they would include these in pre-orders, as a thank-you for paying money upfront for a product that doesn’t exist yet…anyway. I emailed them and asked them to include one with my book, and they agreed. So I got the bookplate in the mail…but no book. Long story short, it took over a month for them to mail the book. I talked to some other people who had pre-ordered the book, and they had also had to wait several weeks for it (which is when I started emailing Fantagraphics, asking politely when the books would be shipped out, only to get vague or rude replies). I know that Fantagraphics isn’t a big publisher, and CERTAINLY not Amazon, but how hard can it be to have the books packed and ready to go when the publishing date rolls around? (Or to at least answer an email about it.)

    Anyway. I’m not going to stop buying their products, but I’m not pre-ordering from them anymore. There is a local comic shop that I can go to, and they are friendly and helpful.

    • Ouch! That really surprises me. You would think Fantagraphics would be more careful about being rude to customers since they’re a smaller publisher…
      I can see why you got mad, but at least you got the book in the end. Perhaps they were just overwhelmed. It *does* seem like A Drunken Dream did well for them since they’re planning on publishing Heart of Thomas, so perhaps they had more demand for A Drunken Dream than they could handle.

      • Apple says:

        That’s true. And I’m really excited that they are publishing Heart of Thomas–I really like what they did with Drunken Dream, the book was beautiful. But my experience with them kind of taught me that I don’t want to deal with them on a personal level, because I’m happy with their product, but I don’t want a repeat of what happened before; I don’t want to have to deal with that. So when they put out Wandering Son, I bought it from a comic shop instead of directly from them. Oh well. 🙂

  16. insaneben says:

    Translation errors and frequently misspelled words are a pet peeve (try reading some of the early ComicsOne [later DR Master] mang… er, graphic novels).

    Paper quality is another issue (I want to be able to read something numerous times without the pages looking as thin as toilet paper and/or being easily torn).

    My biggest pet peeve, hands-down, would have to be manga publishers closing without advance warning. Sure, I’ve read numerous comments regarding the untimely closure of CMX and Tokyopop (and some about Go Comi), but nobody ever made any mention of Infinity Studios or DR Master when they ceased operations- unannounced, no less. If you’re going to close up shop, don’t leave people hanging for months- just say it. (Anyone remember how many times ADV Films rep Chris Oarr denied that ADV Manga had ceased operations, even after they hadn’t published a thing in more than a year? It wasn’t until after the Yotsuba&! license was snatched up by Yen Press that a different ADV rep admitted their manga division was no more [and shortly after that, ADV Films would share a similar fate… until they came back as Sentai Filmworks].) Also, if you’re going to quit publishing manga, at least finish the series that have one volume left (granted, it may not make financial sense, but at least it will instill goodwill in the fans who have followed your titles, as opposed to bitterness- remember, they do publish names of the responsible parties in either the first or last few pages of the book).

    Not publisher-related, but thumbing through some manga volume you purchased months ago and haven’t read yet… only to discover a tear in one of the pages. (Also on a lesser note, receiving a manga purchased online and noticing it got damaged while in transit- thank goodness for return policies.)

    • Hmmm, those are some pretty good pet peeves, especially the unannounced shutdown one.
      But still, when you make the decision to shut down a company, you rarely have the cash to finish that last volume. I would never expect that from a publisher even if there’s only one more volume left. It’s just not a realistic thing to expect as a fan.

      Also, as an editor and thus one of the potential “responsible parties” you’ve mentioned, it’s pretty rude to point the finger at those of us who worked on the book. We did whatever we could to make the book sell. It’s not necessarily our fault that books don’t sell or that our employers go out of business. In fact, it affects us the most when our employers shutdown because we just lost our jobs.

      • insaneben says:

        I think I need to elaborate on my last comment. It certainly was not intended for the translators, editors, localizers (is that even a word) and whatnot who pour in countless hours, blood, sweat, and tears (sometimes drool from having fallen asleep on the desk). Nay, my general ire is directed at the higher-ups, who decide (for ridiculous financial reasons or otherwise) to ax publication of a series weeks (or sometime days) before its release due date. (If it’s for a long series that has no ending in sight, that’s understandable.) Allow me to reiterate a couple stories from the distant past (meaning 2008):

        Early that year, Infinity Studios was slated to release “Ninin Ga Shinobuden” volume 4 (can’t quite recall if it was set to be published in late March or April). A couple weeks prior to its release, the date on Amazon.com was pushed back a month. Then, days later, it was changed to “Sign up to be notified when this product is available”. Right away, I e-mailed Infinity Studios and asked what was going on. As far as I could recall, one of their representatives said something about the book being released in e-Book format first, and assured me that a hard copy would eventually be published. I scoured the Infinity Studios website for an e-Book copy of “Ninin Ga Shinobuden” v.4, but it never appeared. I tried e-mailing Infinity Studios a few more times over the next month, but was met with nothing but silence. Eventually, the site was hacked, then shut down for good in 2009, and I was still left hanging. With no book and nothing but hard feelings to show for it, I continue to curse the person, persons or circumstances responsible for leaving me hanging without any conclusive answers.

        Fast-forward to November 2008. Broccoli Books was set to publish sola volume 2. One week before the book is sent to the presses, word comes in from Broccoli USA’s website that they’re shutting down operations and ceasing publishing all titles immediately. Seriously? Now, I know Broccoli’s best-selling title was… Digi-Charat? Juvenile Orion? Galaxy Angel? Disgaea? (Seriously, I’m drawing a blank here.) Granted, Broccoli was never a major player in the manga industry (despite having the best-quality books in terms of presentation, design, layout and paper quality), but pulling the plug a mere six or seven days before your last book’s ready to go? That’s just squeezing lemon juice into a open wound. Would it really have killed the company to close out one two-volume series? (I don’t think so.) The worst part of this whole debacle, though, was Managing Editor Shizuki Yamashita, who had to take on about a hundred angry posts on her blog (which supposedly left her emotionally distraught). Prior to this, she also had to take a fair amount of heat working as representative of (the much-maligned and heavily criticized) Bandai Visual USA. After that, she migrated over to Anime Vice (which fell down the dumpster chute after Gia Manry left). Poor Yamashita-san hasn’t posted there since 2009 (her current whereabouts are unknown, but let’s hope she’s found a less-stressful and thankless job).

        Which brings me to my latest pet peeve: holding out for license rescues, only to hear the publisher go with something far less desirable (like, say, anything that doesn’t have the names “ARIA”, “Kage Kara Mamoru”, and so forth and so on). It’s like waiting for your numbers to be called in the lottery/raffle/Bingo/Keno/etc., only with similar results (the numbers don’t match up, the ticket/card is torn up, and all that’s left is frustration and anguish.

        • So in other words, you’re blaming publishers for not having money. You’re probably going to argue, but essentially you’re blaming them for being broke, probably due to low sales. I believe I stated in my previous comment (or in another comment on this post) that when a publisher doesn’t have the money to continue, that’s it. There is no more money to finish out the last few volumes that didn’t quite make it to the presses in time. There are still costs involved in shutting down, which a lot of people don’t realize. In non-publishing terms that’s like not having enough money to buy groceries because you just paid your rent. I hear these arguments and it’s like fans don’t understand what shutting down means, which is: “Sorry, no more, we just can’t do it” not “We’ll finish all the series we’ve got then we’re done.” That’s not what broke means in the real world, that’s not what broke means in publishing.

          And that isn’t always the fault of the higher-ups either. Low sales aren’t always their fault & low sales are a huge factor in these companies running out of money, especially when a lot of money is spent on trying to get people to buy more books. That isn’t to say that there are no execs free from blame in this case, just that general finger pointing gets you nowhere because you don’t know who did what in the boardroom anyway.

          I can sympathize with not getting the licenses you think deserve publication, but titles like Aria have already been license rescued once & they were still met with low sales the second time around. That makes for a compelling argument against rescuing that particular series again. You also have to remember that not everyone has the same tastes and that there are people out there who are happy with the license announcements that do happen.

  17. CrimsonAvatar says:

    First i want to say that i do buy the manga i have several Gundam Manga and tons of Shonen Jump and Yen issues. The biggest thing for me is censorship i mean it really annoys me we they see a series and think hey that could make us some money but we can’t show that so lets cut these parts out and get it anyway. I can’t remeber what it was but i’d bought a manga and i couldn’t understand a thing of what was going on it so i didn’t buy the rest later i found out that several key details had been cut out along with certain scenes because they were marketing to certain age group. I understand its a business the thing i don’t understand though is if they knew that manga wasn’t meant for that age group in the first place why would they try to market it to them by censoring it and thus removing key details of the characters persoanlity and plotline? I mean why not stamp it with an 18 and market the whole thing instead if they really want the money that comes with that manga. Another example is that whole thing with Urotsukidoji back in 2000 despite the fact the manga was labeled “for adults,” sold to an adult, and kept it in an “adult only” area the court decided that it wasn’t suitable reading material for anyone, adults included. I mean who are they to tell me what i can and can’t read i mean the last time i checked this was still America.

    • I’m not really for censorship in manga, but I have to say sometimes I understand it considering how Japanese material for younger audiences skews more mature than American material for younger audiences. Some American parents get really awful about what content is placed in front of their kids. REALLY awful. Of course, it’s not financially feasible for the publishers to put out two versions of a manga, the censored and uncensored. Since it’s supposed to be for kids in the first place, it’s just easier to draw some underwear on a character and erase the cigarettes. Why they erase certain scenes and key details is beyond me because it never helps the manga read better. As a manga editor myself, I’d never try to do that, but the decision could very well come from a higher authority like the Japanese publisher themselves or an executive at the American publishing company. If that’s the case, there’s very little that can be done to change that decision. Luckily, the idea of censoring manga to make it more appropriate for kids has fallen way out of favor in both the fan and manga publishing spheres. A lot of publishers only keep up with certain pieces of censorship nowadays to keep consistent with earlier volumes.

      Also, stamping an 18+ label on manga is like a kiss of death. It very much means you will have a harder time selling that manga, not just to fans, but to the bookstore buyers. They oftentimes won’t stock stuff intended to an adult audience. Those stores are intended for everyone to use, so if some kid gets a hold of the adult material and the parent decides to sue the bookstore… It winds up being a real problem for the publisher because the bookstore will definitely place the blame on the publisher. You can’t avoid it with some manga, obviously, but most manga don’t really need it. So why make it harder to sell a manga when it doesn’t really need to be marked 18+? What is too mature for a certain age group is VERY subjective from person to person. Again, it’s just an example of the majority of Americans being more sensitive than the majority of American manga readers. And it’s always the fringe audience, not the hardcore fans, that cause trouble over manga being too mature. Besides, if the majority of manga was stamped with 18+ just so the publishers wouldn’t get in trouble, it would just perpetuate the idea that manga is just porn and/or just for kids. Considering how difficult it make selling manga, manga would be driven underground again and we would stop getting such a large variety of titles published in the U.S. That would suck.

      As for Urotsukidoji, I have no idea why it was banned. I’d have to research that, but I do disagree with the idea that an American court banned it. That’s outright censorship and a denial of free speech. That’s a huge bummer. :<

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