This was always going to be the most exhausting day of Comic Con, and sure enough, it was. It started for me at 9am with a special Viz Media press panel where they introduced their new digital initiative, Shonen Jump Alpha. This takes the place of the print Shonen Jump magazine, which will be ending this March. The digital magazine will be catching up to only 2 weeks behind the Japanese release (any earlier and they run into quality issues), and will cost $25.99 for a year or .99 for a month. Obviously this will involve digital speed ups of the big titles that will be doing this – Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Toriko, Nura… Viz is calling it a ‘warp’ rather than a speedup this time around. Given the minimal time delay, this would also see the digital chapters out before the print collections.
I asked about possible new content, such as Beelzebub and Medaka Box, as well as possible rescues of series such as Gintama. While acknowledging that it would be a goal, Viz noted the difficulty in speeding up to Japan with a “new” series that is still gaining readership and a fanbase here. They also noted this was USA and Canada only – there are still licensing issues with the UK and other English-speaking countries. They were also asked about the extras that run both in Japan – they mentioned the editorial process would be evolving to work with the digital market. (Note Viz has another panel on Sunday.)
Next up I went back to Unusual Manga Genres, a fan panel run by Erin Finnegan which is always interesting. Pachinko manga 4tw! The next big panel for announcements was Yen Press, who had some fantastic stuff. They’ve license rescued Alice in the Country of Hearts, and will be releasing it in a 3-volume omnibus all in the same month, so those who bought 5 of the 6 volumes from Tokyopop aren’t waiting around. They have The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, the new Haruhi spinoff based on the ’emotional’ Yuki from the 4th movie. A big surprise for me was Shi Ga Futari o Wakatsu Made, a Young Gangan manga still running in Japan. Coming out over here as Until Death Do Us part, it will be in 2-volume omnibus collections, as it’s 15+ volumes in Japan. They also announced the Madoka Magica manga, which currently runs in Manga Time Kirara Forward. I think Kyubei made them license it. Lastly, they picked up Soul Eater Not, which isn’t surprising, but are doing simultaneous chapter releases with Japan, which is. This is a big thing for them, and should pave the way for more series like this if it goes well.
I asked about the Higurashi Massacre arc, and they are doing it, but don’t have the contracts worked out enough to give dates yet. JManga was also mentioned, and it was pointed out that a lot of the North American companies wanted to keep the digital rights for their titles to themselves, rather than give them to another company to make money off of. And for fans of Witch and Wizard and similar projects, they’re also doing GNs for Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel series and Sherrilyn Renyon’s Chronicles of Nick.
Dark Horse had no manga news to announce, so I got some much needed lunch, then went to wait in line for Funimation. The first of two very long lines. Funi’s big announcement was their partnership with Japan’s Nico Nico, and more simulcast series from Japan’s new season. They announced 8 new series, including the finale of Shana, the new Last Exile, and Future Diary. They’re also very excited about Dragon Ball Z in HD, which has Japan impressed as well. And the Hetalia movie trailer was a lot of fun. :)
Next was Kodansha, and the 2nd long line of the day, as this was the Hiro Mashima panel as well. The majority of the panel was devoted to the Fairy Tail author, who was very nice and did a fantastic spontaneous Natsu sketch while we watched. He noted the long hours involved in being a manga artist – 17-hour days, 6 days a week. There was a bit of controversy as some attendees asked questions about plot points not out in America yet – these were quickly defused. As for Kodansha’s new announcements themselves, they have omnibus editions of Genshiken and Kitchen Princess out in May and June. The Phoenix Wright manga ends in March, and they confirmed the Edgeworth manga will follow it. The most exciting title announced was Shingeki no Kyojin, AKA Attack of the Titans. This Bessatsu Shonen title has gotten tremendous online buzz, and people were waiting to see who would get it here. the answer is Kodansha themselves. Lastly, they announced their iPad app, which 4 titles available now – Arisa, Fairy Tail, Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei, and Full Moon, It’s iPad only for now, but if you have one, give it your support! $4.99 price point.
The last big industry panel of the day was Vertical. It was noted that The Book of Human Insects hit the NYT bestseller list. Drops of God has an article coming out about it in Wine Spectator. Ed noted that they’ve only licensed the first 8 volumes (4 omnibus editions), but may do more if sales are strong. Since everyone is still confused, it was mentioned again that Princess Knight is the Nakayoshi version, not the Shojo Club edition. The final Black Jack, 17, will have a timeline of the stories in order of publication. No Longer Human is L to R, but Furuya drew that himself, especially for the Western Market. Chi’s Sweet Home 8 apparently mentioned Vertical in its content. And they mentioned a possible special Black Jack book after the series is finished, with the extra chapters in the hardcover 1-3 and other interesting content.
As for new licenses, beyond Flowers of Evil (announced at AWA), they numbered 3. 5 Centimeters Per Second, which ran in Kodansha’s Afternoon, will be coming out complete in one omnibus volume. Sakuran by beloved manga artist (well, more of a cult classic beloved) Moyoco Anno. It ran in Evening, and will also be one volume, with many color pages and in a hardcover. And the big Tezuka news was the re-release of Adolf, first published by Viz ages ago but long out of print. Vertical will do it as two huge 620-page volumes, covering the whole series. It ran in Big Comic Special starting from 1983, and is the story of several men named Adolf – including Hitler. This will also be a hardcover release.
And that was Day One. The other days will be much less busy. Thank God. Still, there was lots of great stuff, and it’s clear that digital manga is where everyone is headed.