Christmastime: Thoughts on 2011

In two days it will be my 2nd anniversary of manga blogging. Of course, I won’t post about it then, as I’ll be far too busy writing up and linking the new Manga Moveable Feast, which will be discussing Sailor Moon. But since my stack of books to review keeps getting higher, and Lord knows I’ll do anything to avoid doing things that are pressuring me (hi, stack of Viz books!), I thought I’d discuss what I thought of this year.

Overall, a mixed bag. (And I’m pretty sire that art is final, sadly.) Tokyopop had its faults as a company, God knows, but they also put out a pile of series I adored. Viz slowed to a crawl a number of series I follow, presumably for sales reasons. Kodansha’s reboot was great, and Sailor Moon is fantastic, but they give the impression of working with a very small staff, given the number of obvious proofreading errors that plague their books. And in general a lot of 2011 was watching the economy continue to contract, and seeing it affect everyone in the business.

But it certainly had its high points as well. JManga, even if it’s not what we hoped it would be, has introduced me to a number of stellar series. Viz also came out roaring with their digital platform, and are doing the speedup to (near) simultaneous release that folks clamored for. Yen Press and Kodansha also rolled out digital platforms. I admit that a lot of the digital manga arena seems to be ‘won’t you buy this proprietary device that you can only get our manga on?’, but I’m hoping 2012 will include more options for those of us who don’t own iPads.

Series I love ended in 2011! Fullmetal Alchemist, Eyeshield 21, Seiho Boys’ High School, Black Jack. New series I love began! Blue Exorcist, Oresama Teacher, The Drops of God. New reprints of Love Hina and Sailor Moon. And yes, some series were cancelled: Gintama. And, in non-manga high points, the big news of the year was Pogo *finally* coming out from Fantagraphics.

There’s a lot to look forward to in 2012. New series like Devil and Her Love Song, which promises to be awesome. Shonen Jump Alpha, even if it doesn’t have Medaka Box just yet. Vertical trying to change its image a bit from ‘they don’t publish mainstream’ by picking up GTO and Flowers of Evil. More from JManga, hopefully at a faster pace than the 1-per-week they settled into after their debut. Some great stuff from Yen, including the Durarara!! manga and Until Death Do Us Part. And, of course, Vol. 23 of Excel Saga. I’ll be there, shouting from the rooftops as always.

Any wishes for the new year? I wish that some of the mid-range publishers who were all giving stuff to Tokyopop got together and figured out what they’re going to do now. Hakusensha in particular is in trouble if their one venue is now “One Viz license per year”. Yes, I realize that they probably feel pretty burned by Stu Levy and reluctant to deal with North America right now, but still. I’d like to see some titles available digitally that are back catalog titles – such as Ranma, or Excel Saga, or Please Save My Earth – rather than just “new and popular”. I’d also be interested in companies doing some digital only – maybe that’s how we can see ‘tricky’ series such as Medaka Box or Sket Dance. Of course, I realize digital only is very unpopular with folks, but… And I’d like to see the economy turn around, and folks buy more manga, so that we can get even more licenses.

I’d ask for a pony, but I did discover Friendship Is Magic this year, so I am content with Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash and the others for now. :D

Lastly, thanks to everyone who reads and comments at my blog for a great year. I particularly want to thank Melinda, Kate, Michelle and David at Manga Bookshelf, both for asking me to join and for immediately welcoming me. It’s been a rough December for our group, as you are no doubt aware, but I hope that 2012 finds joy and happiness all round, for both the Manga Bookshelf team and its readers.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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  1. togainunochi says

    I’ve really enjoyed sharing this year with you and all of Manga Bookshelf. Looking forward to another wonderful year.

  2. Congratulations on the 2nd Anniversary of the blog!
    New reader and just started blogging manga a few days ago.
    Hope to welcome the year with you guys here at Manga Bookshelf too.

    I’ll have to buy more manga as I start on the road to blogging which hopefully will help the industry of manga.
    A friend if mine recommended Oresama teacher as well. Durarara!! have seen a few of the episodes of the anime so will have to check that out:)

  3. Hikaru no Go also ended this year. It took Viz longer to put the series out in America than for how long it ran in Japan! Also, you encouraged me to rent the first two vols of Seiho Boys’ High from the library, I decided to just get the whole thing (because I could for cheap, though I’m missing vol 7, I’ll get it soon enough), be getting it tomorrow for Ponymas! Glad to learn you are a brony (Pinkie Pie is my favorite! I love how her talent is being weird and throwing parties! Rarity or Twilight Sparkle is my second favorite!)

    The saddest news was probably Tokyopop, sadder because Stu Levy seemed to be the only one there not totally screwed over by his poor business decisions. I really hope all their unfinished titles will get picked up (including the ones they stopped ages before the shut down, like Hotel Africa), but at least they were able to finish NG Life and Karakuri Odette.

    I think my favorite new series are Bride’s Story and Wandering Son (vol 2 of which I literally got in the mail today), both in glorious and expensive hardcover! But seeing what happened to Emma, I think fear will make a lot of us buy each new volume of Bride’s Story right when it comes out (it’s worth it though because it’s great).

  4. Thank you Sean, and Merry Christmas! I’m so pleased you’re here with us.

  5. What I’m looking forward to in 2012: the annual release of Kaze Hikaru. I wish it was different, but I”m glad it’s from the Shogakukan side of Viz and not Shueisha.

    I’m with you on Hakusensha – I love their style of stories (plucky heroines!), and I’m still very puzzled as to why we never got Twinkle Stars.


  1. […] Gaffney looks back at the manga scene in 2011 and sees a mixed bag; he also has some wishes for the future. And congratulations to Sean on his […]

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