Del Rey Folds; Kodansha USA to Take on Their Titles

If you pay attention to manga news at all, you’ve probably heard that the Del Rey Manga imprint has folded and Kodansha USA will be taking over on a title-by-title basis. The manga blogging community has been sharing the news as fast as it possibly can. Melinda Beasi was the first to post after Deb Aoki broke the news over Twitter.

Some are saying this is no surprise after it was revealed that Del Rey had no new volumes being released after November 2010.

While it certainly feels a bit upsetting, there is hope for the future of your favorite manga being published by Del Rey. For one, it seems like Kodansha might be getting serious. But at the same time, Kodansha USA has an awful publishing track record, having only done re-releases of Akira that were no different from the old Dark Horse version.

No doubt that right now Kodansha is looking to get their shit in order and isn’t thinking like an American fan who might be grieving at what they see as a loss. Here are some suggestions for them to transition a little bit more smoothly and ease the minds of fans…

1. Do a Q&A panel at NYAF– It seems Kodansha has pulled their panel at NYAF this weekend, which has caused more panic in fans than understanding. Most likely, the people at Kodansha USA feel like they just don’t have anything to tell their fans yet. Forget that. Turn off the PR speak and turn it into a Q&A panel and beginning sharing the details behind this move. If it’s possible, tell the fans when they can start to expect new Kodansha releases, even if specific titles aren’t set in stone yet. It’ll assuage manga fans fears that Kodansha is just a giant corporation toying with their feelings. I’m sure that NYAF will be more than happy to prioritize getting a Kodansha panel back up, so do it ASAP! (And if NYAF is no longer a possibility, I suggest finding the next large anime con and setting up a panel immediately.)

2. Actually publish something new- I’m pretty sure that most manga fans would breathe a sigh of relief if they heard Kodansha was releasing a new volume of an old series or a new title at all. This one is pretty simple, so my suggestion to Kodansha is that you work on this first. Just name one new, never-before-published-in-America volume of manga and when it will be published. If Kodansha wants to keep all the attention it’s getting right now, try and do this before the end of October. The end of the year at the most. Once we get into 2011 and we STILL haven’t heard a single peep from the company, fans will not think well of Kodansha USA at all. My guess is that this change has been relatively long in coming, so Kodansha must have an idea what’s going to be published first and foremost by now.

3. Make a big splash- Ever since Kodansha started pulling the licenses of their titles from American manga publishers, Kodansha has been much like Cuba–everyone else can get the cigars, but Americans can’t. There are many fantastic titles hidden in the Kodansha vaults, so please, Kodansha, don’t keep all the top notch Cohibas locked away in a drawer. Publish Sailor Moon or another popular title that fans have been clamoring for and our attention will be solidly fixed on Kodansha. I know this goes against the previous suggestion, but if it’s done in tandem, I think it could really work well for Kodansha.

There are, no doubt, more things Kodansha could do at this point, but these are what the company needs to do in order to show us it’s not just for show.

Here’s some titles I think Kodansha should publish as soon as possible…

Sailor Moon Omnibus– Omnibi are a great way to get a re-release out to the masses. Plus Sailor Moon is old enough that while many fans think of it fondly, there are plenty more fans who have NEVER gotten the chance to read it, but have probably heard so much about it. Really a no brainer.

Hataraki Man Well, Kodansha (or at least the English-language site for the Japanese side of things) thinks this manga is good enough to be profiled on the site! I personally love this manga, so this suggestion is a tad bit biased, but the shoujo manga that Del Rey published was usually well-received and this is just a tad bit more mature…

Hajime no Ippo or Ashita no Joe– Kodansha, this is your chance to show us the classics that we always hear about in manga. These two get referenced left and right in manga. I know sports manga doesn’t have the best track record, but perhaps these two are good enough to change the minds of US manga fans everywhere. I know I’d certainly be curious since I can think of about 10 different manga that have mentioned Ashita no Joe off the top of my head. (There are more, I just know it.)

Saint Young Men I can tell you right now that a number of people think this manga is too controversial for the US just because it portrays Jesus (despite the fact that it’s pretty tame, I know.) Controversy tends to be a great bookseller, so surprise us all and take a leap of faith. I’m sure your company will get tons of exposure and I’m sure that’s something Kodansha could use right now.

One last bit of advice, Kodansha. Just blow our minds RIGHT NOW and we will be your manga-buying slaves for a long, long time. Right now you’ve nothing to lose by being quick, but you’ll lose a lot by being lazy or paranoid about what you can tell us yet. This is the time for a fast and loose game.

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20 Responses to Del Rey Folds; Kodansha USA to Take on Their Titles

  1. Hajime no Ippo and Saint Young Men should be translated.

    I definitely agree that Kodansha should do some risky ventures. Though I don’t know if they are willing to do it. I’m concerned Kodansha will be like “Oh, yeah. Just another venture into the U.S. market. THE END.”

    • That is the fear. I don’t think they’re thinking straight sometimes. They have a huge opportunity to get the manga-buying audience on their side, but they’ve been so dismissive of U.S. fans. Perhaps they need an internal regime change, but that’s not something I can really just suggest to them.

      • My boss once told me that some Japanese companies don’t like to take overseas risks and some don’t do any outside market research at all. She’s Japanese herself and has dealt with a lot of those types of organizations herself.

        They should do a Q&A at NYAF, but I don’t know if they seem ready for it. Ed Sizemore said to me that they might not be ready. I can sense a overwhelming number of manga-related questions awaiting Kodansha and that can seriously wear them down.

        • That’s what scares me is that they’re too timid to share with us their plethora of titles. It seems like they have a relatively good non-manga publishing business here, so they’re set that way plus Random House is backing them up. It should be clear to them that publishers would love to buy the rights to their series from the beginning of major manga publishing in the US. And they still don’t get it? How frustrating…

          I don’t know if they’re ready, but I feel like they should do it anyway if only to assuage people’s fears. They don’t have to tell us anything more than the canned answers they’ve already provided for us. Pulling out just shows us that they’re not committed to us, showing up (even without announcements) shows us that they exist and that they’re willing to at least listen to us. That would do loads for their image.

  2. Angela says:

    You know what they should do? Publish the last 3 volumes of Rave Master before I go insane. >.<

    • That would fit my criteria of publishing something new.

      I’m thinking of starting a friendly letter-writing campaign telling Kodansha that we hope their publishing ventures go well and a few things fans would like to see from them. Would you be interested?

      • Angela says:

        Oh, yes. I’ve been waiting for these books since the license was taken from Tokyopop, and as much as I’m frustrated that I’ve been made to wait so long, I also want to encourage them and let them know these are things we’re anticipating. I’d also like them to finish Beck, since that seems to have fallen entirely off the radar.

  3. Shaenon says:

    Saint Young Men would be a great way to expand their older teen and adult readership, and Sailor Moon should have been reprinted, like, yesterday.

  4. SafetyGirl0 says:

    I would love to see another try with Nodame. I’ll read it in French if I have to, it seems to be doing well there (Most Kodansha titles are published there by a Hachette sub). I wonder if it would have a better chance now, if targeted correctly.

    I would happily join in a letter-writing campaign. Kodansha has such great properties, I’m really hoping we’ll see some fan favorites over here and this will be a positive thing.

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  7. Sesame says:

    Ed Chavez of Vertical has mentioned a few times in his twitter about why Saint Young Men isn’t being licensed for the US right now. Here’s one example:


  8. Kris says:

    Well, Kodansha America is publishing that Hagakure Code of the Samurai graphic novel in January; I guess that’s something.

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