Kodansha USA Becomes More Than a Deadbeat Publisher

It was made public a few days ago that Kodansha USA would be having a launch event today at the NYC Kinokuniya store. Manga fans across the internet were abuzz with excitement and demands that the publisher print what they want or else. I personally set my licensing announcement bar pretty low. All I hoped for was a new volume of manga that had never before been published in English and I’m happy to say that Kodansha  USA delivered that and more!

Lissa Pattillo of Kuriousity has a great comprehensive post up, but I’ll give you the basics. (Also, Scott VonSchilling did a great job of livetweeting the event.)

Kodansha USA will be publishing these former Del Rey titles beginning in May 2011:

Arisa, Fairy Tail, Negima!, Ninja  Girls, Shugo Chara!, Air Gear, Negima?! Neo, Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, The Wallflower, I am Here!

Many of these titles already have another volume listed for release later in the summer, so if you’re particularly worried that Kodansha USA is going to publish one volume more and then ignore the series to focus on others, that won’t be the case. It seems like Kodansha USA has carefully prepared which series it was going to focus on first and will be devoted to giving them a bi-monthly release schedule.

On top of that, Kodansha USA listed a small wealth of new titles to be published (also following a bi-monthly release schedule) including: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Monster Hunter Orage, Deltora Quest, The Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Mardock Scramble, Animal Land, Bloody Monday and Cage of Eden.

Kodansha USA also rescued two titles- GON from CMX and Until the Full Moon from Broccoli Books. Both are series I’ve heard good things about, so I am excited to hear that I’ll get to try them out. Another interesting announcement was that CLAMP favorites Tsubasa and XXXholic would be continued to be published under the Del Rey brand. Perhaps a concession to Del Rey for handing over their entire manga publishing line?

Michelle Smith of Soliloquy in Blue said on Twitter that this is probably the best manga industry news we’ve seen all year. I’m inclined to agree. Hearing that Del Rey’s manga line up was lost to a sort of deadbeat publisher was awful news, but Kodansha USA has now delivered and is on it’s way to becoming a more serious manga publisher. With the loss of multiple other companies this year, the Del Rey/Kodansha USA switch has now turned into a win. In six months, there will now be a bevy of new manga on the shelves and that’s more than enough to make me happy. I’m not terribly interested in any of the titles announced yet, but there is hope for the future and I will be sure to take a look at what’s coming out once I start seeing Kodansha USA at my favorite booksellers.

You may remember that I commented about what Kodansha USA should do next to turn mistrustful fans back into loving fans a few months ago. I asked simply that Kodansha USA hold some kind of informational event ASAP, that they at least publish one new volume of never-before-been-published manga, that they license something big and that they blow our minds. They’ve now delivered on three out of four of those requests. (Kodansha USA rep Dallas Middaugh, formerly of Del Rey Manga, said that they had nothing to say about Sailor Moon yet.) Once again, I’m awfully pleased with them, but I still have some potential next steps:

1. Shape up the website:

This isn’t a potential so much as a necessity. Right now Kodansha USA’s website is one page. To say it is sparse is a vast understatement. Now it’s been updated with the news, but it looks very unprofessional. Once cover designs start coming in, build a proper website with listings of the summer releases and a company news blog. Once that’s done, start on social media, get a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Even if there’s nothing to post now, at least it’s there to play with in the future. Kodansha USA also might want to start looking into digital publishing

2. License something big:

So far, a few of the titles taken from Del Rey have hit the New York Time’s best sellers list, but it would really help establish the company further if an extremely popular title was published. Again, Sailor Moon is a prime candidate, but something already popular amongst U.S. fans would also work. Something with a large enough and loving enough fanbase that there will be sales despite pre-existing scanlations. There are too many well-known titles in Kodansha’s catalog to really pick a few myself and it’s difficult to determine what will spur good sales, but I’m sure Kodansha USA can fish around for something good.

3. Keep announcing licenses:

I imagine the next reasonable time for license announcements would be summer, right when big cons like Otakon, Anime Expo and San Diego Comic Con roll around. Having Kodansha USA at any of these events would be ideal, not only to promote the company and the new releases, but to assure fans that the company isn’t just sticking to what it’s already picked up. Plus, it will be good for Kodansha USA to keep its name in the news. If they could do something like bring over a popular mangaka, that would be even better. (Although I wouldn’t count on it.)

Best of luck to Kodansha USA. I can’t wait to pick up some titles and check out their editorial style!

What are you hoping to see from Kodansha USA next?

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18 Responses to Kodansha USA Becomes More Than a Deadbeat Publisher

  1. mk111 says:

    Well, I am definately going to read Deltora Quest since I read the novels, and I guess I’ll try Monster Hunter, Arisa, and I am Here!

    If they licensed Sailor Moon, that would be sweet!

    • I want to try Arisa, so I’m glad Kodansha is going to continue it (I was a little unsure when the first volume came out, since the Del Rey closure had already been announced.) I’m really surprised they haven’t done something big like Sailor Moon already. It seems like such an obvious choice and that so many people are clamoring for it.

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  3. Hosting today’s event was a lot of fun. I’m extremely happy about Kodansha USA publishing Bloody Monday here! I also found it interesting that CLAMP’s titles are still under Del Rey.

    We had a good crowd to see what Dallas had to say, despite the rainy weather in NYC. Also, fans were helpful to pointing out certain titles that Dallas forgot to mention.

    General Manager for Kodansha USA, Kumi Shimizu, also appeared, but didn’t really speak much and was there for support. A Random House editor was there as well and hyped Bloody Monday for fans.

    • Thanks for your input, Tony! I’m glad to hear one of my regular readers attended the event and can provide some insight. Perhaps something involving digital publishing will materialize soon, if not, I hope they are starting to get their plans for that together because I’m not foreseeing a future where there is no digital publishing for manga. 😀

  4. Someone did ask about digital publishing, but Dallas said he couldn’t comment at this time. Something’s coming soon, perhaps?

  5. One more thing I took notes on from today: After her “Translating Tezuka” panel at Kinokuniyia, Mari Morimoto mentioned Kodansha USA will be taking initiative in bringing their Weekly Morning Magazine, stateside.

    This was after the Kodansha Comics panel. I cannot verify if this is true or not, but I felt like this could be interesting information to share.

  6. Alex says:

    Animal Land, Bloody Monday and Cage of Eden all sound like promising, if relatively safe, license announcements. Seeing GON being rescued (again) is also great, although I think CMX did a good job with the series.

    I think that CLAMP set up contacts specifically with Del Rey that can’t be superceeded by Kodansha, so that’s the reason Del Rey is keeping the two active CLAMP contracts. I know that Del Rey is getting shit on by Kodansha, but this is a minor consolation prize.

    Really, I’m just glad the transition has occured, and I’m interested in the Negima! omnibus, esp. since it will apparently have a new translation.

    The proof will obviously be in the pudding. When their books are released in the summer, we’ll see if Kodansha makes the cut.

    • I haven’t gotten a good chance to research the titles, so I don’t know if any are for me (although I want to check out Arisa now that I know it’s not going to leave me hanging at one volume.)

      That certainly makes more sense with the CLAMP volumes, I just thought maybe Del Rey wanted something for all their troubles all these years. :3

      I really can’t wait to see how their manga turns out. I wonder who is on their editorial team. *_*

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  8. Krill says:

    Seeing Vinland Saga or Billy Bat licensed would be fantastic. Vinland would probably be better in terms of broad appeal (and the manga has a longer headstart of volumes before local releases have caught up).

    • It seems like they are concentrating on shounen/shoujo right now, but maybe when their books begin to sell steadily, they’ll get to stuff like Vinland Saga and Billy Bat.

      Although I would pay them hundreds of dollars if they just did Billy Bat right now and nothing else. 😀

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