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!
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?