Well, more of an ‘SDCC and Seven Seas’ roundup, as they announced several things right before the con. It wasn’t as big a weekend as I expected, as Yen had to cancel their panel at the last minute, but there were still a lot of great things to talk about. Let’s delve in.
The biggest title licensed this week was no doubt Doraemon. The production studio announced that they were doing a digital release of the classic kids’ manga starting this fall, on Kindle and hopefully other platforms. AltJapan, who are handling Dorohedoro for Viz, are scheduled to be doing the translation; this fills me with happiness, as I love the job they’ve done there. In case you live in a cave, Dorawmon is one of the most popular icons of Japanese manga, sort of the equivalent of Mickey Mouse (well, given his screwups, perhaps Donald Duck). He is a robot cat from the future, there to help our hero, Nobita, through the use of futuristic technology. Of course, something always goes wrong. One of the most beloved classics of all time, you’d better believe I’ll be reviewing it here.
Viz had most of its Japanese manga licenses already announced at Anime Expo. They did note they’re doing a (Western) comic based on their Japanese novel title All You Need Is Kill. They’re also re-releasing the Battle Royale novel, and have a collection of essays coming out with it, as various writers talk about Battle Royale’s themes and meaning.
Kodansha had several new announcements they’d saved for SDCC, including two shoujo manga I’ve wanted to see over here for some time. My Little Monster (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun) features a grumpy, somewhat grades-obsessed lead girl whose life is disrupted by the presence of a well-meaning but completely socially inept monster of a guy (yeah, sorry, no supernatural content here). The manga is 11 volumes long, and just ended in Japan. (By the way, get used to this. Due to the economy making long series difficult to license, expect Western folks to wait on licensing things till they have a guarantee it’s wrapping up with a reasonable number of volumes.)
The other shoujo title is Say “I Love You” (Suki tte Ii na yo), which runs in the same shoujo magazine as My Little Monster, Dessert. Dessert is an older-skewing shoujo magazine that is sort of the equivalent of Cheese! or Cookie, only a bit less racy. Kodansha noted they’d never licensed anything from it before, and are waiting to see how these series do. For those of you that complain Kodansha only licenses stuff from Shonen Magazine and Nakayoshi, now is your chance to show your appreciation. The premise to this may sound similar to several shoujo series, as the heroine is a quiet girl who is slow to trust people, and the hero is a popular guy who all the girls love. Of course, if you look at the bestselling shoujo manga over here, that premise sounds like the ringing of cash registers. It’s well-handled, though, and deserves its license. It’s also wrapping up in Japan soon, and is around 11-12 volumes.
Every series by Hiro Mashima has been licensed in the West bar one, so it’s no surprise to see that Kodansha has snatched up that one. Monster Soul ran in Kodansha’s Comic Bonbon, which is for kids around 7-10 years old; it’s basically what you give little kids when they want to read Shonen Magazine (which skews much older than Jump or Sunday do). A fantasy tale of humans vs. monsters, it’s classic Mashima, and only two volumes long.
Lastly, Kodansha announced they were picking up xxxHOLIC Rei, CLAMP’s new sequel/interqual/no one is quite sure what it is continuation of the original series. They’re also ‘rescuing’ Tsubasa and xxxHOLIC from Del Rey, and re-releasing it in omnibus format. (No word on digital yet; I imagine getting CLAMP digitally will be as hard as getting Sailor Moon is proving to be.) These titles are classic modern CLAMP, being entertaining, filled with great art, and highly frustrating on a very personal level. Recommended, even if you will bang your head against a wall at Tsubasa’s plot.
Seven Seas did not have a panel at SDCC, but they had a booth, and these days they tend to announce their titles as press releases rather than at cons anyway. The biggest news there was probably the agreement with Comixology to put out their titles digitally. And yes, this includes some Japanese titles, though the majority so far are their OEL titles such as Aoi House and Vampire Cheerleaders. Haganai, Dance in the Vampire Bund, and the Korean manwha Jack the Ripper: Hell Blade are now digital. I hope to see more Seven Seas licenses there in the future (in particular, I’d love to see Young Miss Holmes digitally).
As for new Seven Seas licenses, it’s a trio of titles that appeal to fans who like to see cute girls in battle. Strike Witches: Tenkou no Otometachi (Maidens of the Sky) is… well, it’s World War II if all the ace pilots were magical girl witches. I suppose if I can accept Hetalia, I can accept that. It first became famous in fandom for its constant panty shots, but I understand the manga also has a real plot and character development and stuff like that. It first ran in Kadokawa’s Comp Ace.
I don’t know much about Arpeggio of Blue Steel (Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio) except that it runs in Young King OURS, home of Excel Saga, meaning I will absolutely give it a shot. The premise seems to involve an alternate future, submarines, and a mysterious alien fleet that is there to ensure humanity cannot use the seas. Naturally our heroes are there to stop them. This crew actually does feature some males, I believe.
Lastly, we have Girls Und Panzer, which I can sum up pretty well as: girls in tanks. The name might have given that away, to be fair. Like Strike Witches, it’s part of a large anime/manga/light novel multimedia blitz. The manga we get here ran in Media Factory’s Comic Flapper. Media Factory is getting to be a favorite of Seven Seas, and I like seeing more titles from Flapper and fewer from the slightly more pandering Comic Alive (not that Flapper doesn’t have its share of pander as well – see this series). The series actually sounds like a typical high school girls’ sports manga, only instead of kendo or softball, it’s operating tanks. Intriguing.
And I believe that wraps it up, at least until Otakon, where I’m sure some companies will have a tidbit or two. What excites you the most on this list?