NYCC 2013 – Day 1

New York Comic Con is huge, and offers much to the fan that they really, really want to see. But the reality is that you can’t see everything, and must pick and choose your battles. I realized this year that I had been fortunate in previous years to not have major scheduling conflicts, and not to worry about missing the things I chose to go to.

Not this year. This year, room size and lines combined to make a formidable enemy – one that required better tactics.

But let’s start off with Vertical, celebrating is 10th year of manga, whose panel featured a rather ill Ed Chavez, who nonetheless gave us his all. They’re doing pretty well this year. Gundam is a big seller, and Tropic of the Sea’s initial sales have them looking into more Kon. Flowers of Evil is not only a surpise hit but a personal favorite of Ed’s, and he likes how it matures as it goes along. Most of the start of the panel ran down the previously announced licenses not yet available, such as Pink, Insufficient Direction, and the like. Given that the latter is about Hideki Anno, no surprises – lots of endnotes will be needed to explain the obsessions.

What Did You Eat Yesterday? was another biggie due out late Spring. About a gay couple dealing with coming out, it’s not a foodie manga per se, but does have recipes that means it can be marketed as one. It’s about character, though, specifically the two leads. It’s also gay, not BL – there’s no hot bishie sex here. Compound Cinematics is a non-fiction book about Akira Kurosawa coming out in August 2014, and should interest fans of good film. There’s also Prophecy, which was announced just a couple of weeks ago, a cyberterror horror manga from Jump X. (Oddly, they licensed it through a French agent.)

New licenses were to be had as well! More Moyoco Anno is always welcome, as we see the josei In Clothes Named Fat coming out this Summer. It’s a realistic take on bulimia, with some unpleasant lead characters, but apparently riveting – real old-school josei. It first ran in Weekly Josei, a magazine from Shufu to Seikatsusha, who did Pet Shop Of Horrors. But Shodensha has the reprint rights, so Vertical licensed it from them. (If anyone but me cares about this, let me know in the comments.)

There’s also the Attack on Titan: Before the Fall novel series, based on the best-selling manga. It tells about the survey corps pre-manga days, and is three volumes long. Given Vertical’s known facility with novel translation, the title is a good fit with them.

Q&A ended the panel. Chi is going a little longer (partly due to its success in America) and will be 13 volumes now. Josei is an interesting genre for them – sales may not always be great, but bookstores always seem to like the look of it. He noted Helter Skelter’s sales were only middling, but it had truly rave reviews. And the potential of a subscription service was mentioned as something they’re trying to work out for those who simply want everything Vertical has to offer.

After this, I wanted to go to the Welcome to Night Vale panel. It was in 1A15, though, a very small room. I went to line up 75 minutes early. It still wasn’t enough. Barely 1/8 of the line made it into the panel (many suspected that the Robotech panel before it was full of WTNV fans – the rooms aren’t cleared afterward). Now, I knew Viz was here at 4:15, so needed to decide what to do. My colleague Melinda had already lined up for Kodansha, so I decided to skip that and heaad to Viz super-early. It was a good choice – staff were turning people away 45 minujtes before the start.

Melinda will have the Kodansha panel in more detail, but several of their new titles intrigued me. UQ Holder was possibly the most obvious license ever, and has only just begun in Japan, so it’s hard to get a handle on it beyond “is 60-70 years post-Negima” and “has Evangeline in it”. Let’s hope it lacks the issues Negima had. Seven Deadly Sins is by Nakaba Suzuki, who started his career with Jump (Rising Impact), then went to Sunday (Kongou Bancho), and now is at Magazine. His latest series seem sto be medieval fantasy and is 5 volumes and still going.

Attack on Titan is the huge runaway hit of the year, so seeing more licenses is about as surprising as seeing UQ Holder. I am very gleased to see the high school gag manga is coming out – readers of this blog know I love Haruhi-chan, though this genre actually goes back as far as SD Gundam in the 80s. The guidebooks always sound great (though don’t sell well – maybe that will change with this one). They also have the Before the Fall manga, which Vertical licensed the novels of earlier. This runs in Shonen Sirius. Lastly, they have the shoujo title No Regrets, from Aria, which covers the past of Levi, the most popular character among fans (particularly BL shippers). Given Levi’s general personality, I expect much tragic backstory.

I *did* get into Viz, which was a relief as I was bone tired and my ankle was killing me. They started off with new print titles, including a new Ghibli artbook, based on The Wind Rises. Then we saw two new Shojo Beat titles, one for each demographic. For the serious, tortured supernatural shoujo fan, there’s Black Rose Alice, which comes from Akita Shoten’s Princess magazine. From the author of After School Nightmare, it has the ever-popular vampires in it (but not in the title, sadly.) A word of warning – arachnophobes may find certain scenes involving the supernatural powers to be a bit too spidery and gross for them. Despite it being for Black Bird typs, I will give it a try.

Next was a surprise. I was expecting a Kazune Kawahara title, but figured it would be Aozora Yell, her big Betsuma band ‘n baseball manga. It may be a bit too long for them, however, as Viz instead licensed My Love Story (Ore Monogatari), about a guy who looks like Onsen Mark from UY, his bishie best friend, and their ongoing love lives. It sounds hilarious, and I really can’t wait for this one from the creator of High School Debut.

For Battle Royale fans, Angel’s Border is an Akita Shoten title that tells the stories of some of the minor characters who tended to be cannon fodder for the main series, but had great pasts. It ran in Young Champion, and thus is our first seinen title of the day. But not the last. Terrra Formars (spelling is intentional) is a Young Jump series I’d suggested had a good chance of being licensed in my last roundup of bestsellers. Viz clearly agreed, and this Starship Troopers-esque action horror manga is coming out this summer in its Signature line. It’s dark, but really intriguing – Sidonia and Wolfsmund fans may like it.

For Blue Exorcist fans, a collection of Kozue Kato’s short stories is due in Fall 2014. This is going to be pretty deluxe, with color pages. Lastly, they have their new Jump series, Seraph of the End. Like Blue Exorcist, it comes from edgier Jump Square. The author has several light novel series to his credit, including A Dark Rabbit Has Seven Lives and Legend of the Legendary Heroes. This one also has vampires, but not the sexy shoujo kind. It can get dark. It’s out in WSJ now and print this summer.

The digital rep then discussed their ongoing plan to digitize. Perfect Square is their app for kids’ series, mature titles are now on Nook and Kindle. Also, Pepita, Inoue’s Gaudi book, is now out with a few added animated effects. I asked a question later about the really old series that were flipped. They can put them up – the app isn’t always R-to-L – but most of those are so old the licensing rights might be tricky. Sorry, Even A Monkey Can Draw Manga fans!

Much of the rest of thne panel was devoted to anime, with the new Neon Alley fall season adding Utena, Ranma, Madoka Magica, and Magi, which doesn’t end in -a, but is getting its dub world premiered. They also announced then new Tiger & Bunny movie, The Rising, will be out in early 2014 – in some selected theaters! There were a lot of T&B fans in the audience, and this pleased them greatly.

I was able to go from here to the Ranma panel, mostly as the Ranma room was 4 times the size of the Viz one. Despite that, it filled almost to capacity. Ranma was my gateway into manga, so it was very nice to see everyone turn out for a manga that’s over 25 years old in Japan.Hope Donovan, who is editing the re-release, gave us the skinny. The history of Takahashi manga began with Ranma and ended with Inu Yasha and Rin-Ne – this was not about OOP titles like UY or MI. They showed off the old pamphlet comics, big oversize GNs, and VHS tapes.

The omnibus will have a simplified version of the original cover art on the front (the spines and back not so much, though). They showed off the remastering, and it really looked great – early Ranma from the 1990s looked like a muddy 3rd generation xerox, mostly as it was – that’s how they replicated it then. The new digital images given great clarity. The translation is mostly the same one – sorry, honorific fans – though it’s been looked at and re-edited where it was further off the Japanese than might be recommended these days. SFX are still translated, but look nicer – and the birds are now back to being cicadas.

There’s also the Blu-Ray and DVD boxsets, also out this spring. Again, images were shown noting the image clarity. These will be in 4:3 – no cropping or stretching to widescreen. They’re also in the original order – the earlier releases mixed things up for reasons that made sense at the time.

Q&A followed. Someone asked about UY, bless them. No news at this time. It was noted that Ranma, like all Takahashi works, is print only. Whatever happened with Rin-Ne seems to have echoed across all Takahashi series, so no digital just yet. It will be 19 total omnibuses, by the way, each two volumes and about 360 pages long. The new OAV out in 2011 is too new to have news on (indeed, the OAVs and movies in general are still wait and see). I suspect getting the gang back together for a dub might prove problematic. As for Blu-Ray extras, they’re still working on them, though a collection of OP and EDs was mentioned as being a good idea.

After a day with a lot more standing in line than expected, I decided to call it a night, so missed the Jim Henson panel. Go buy the biography, though – it’s a realistic look at the brilliance and fallibility of the Muppet creator.

Tomorrow, Doctor Who. Better get there early to stand in line…

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  1. I always appreciate learning about Japanese publishers and who published what, when! Thank you for sharing those details.

    More Chi’s Sweet Home!! That’s great news!

    I like that you note the two Shojo Beat titles’ appeal to two different types of fan. It’s true I’m mainly excited for My Love Story and the silly-sweet shoujo antics I expect it will deliver, but I’ve appreciated Setona Mizushiro’s other translated works, so I intend to check out Black Rose Alice too. I have no fear of spiders!!

  2. Ritik Datta says

    I’m so happy Vertical licensed this particular Moyocco Anno title. Was really looking forward to it. Viz picking up Terra Formars made my day…it’s a clever choice. Sean, will the new Ranma 1/2 volumes contain color pages? I missed out on Ranma the first time but this time I might pick the series up.

    • Sean Gaffney says

      It’s identical to the Japanese volumes, so no color. The early Viz comics had two issues colorized, but that was just an experiment on their end. That said, the digital images will make the pages Shonen Sunday had in color much less dark and muddy. (Japan rarely keeps color when they collect volumes.)

  3. I was interested to read the details regarding Clothes Named Fat’s rights and who owns them. I’ve become very interested overall in which title is owned by which publisher, and which magazine titles ran in in more recent years.

    Reading through this, I’m struck by how much the marketplace for manga in N. America has changed over the past ten years or so, even more so with the changes after the boom. I’m so much more happy with the variety of titles available now than I was even just five years ago; the proliferation of smaller publishers, and also of indie publishers who have taken chances on licensing content (Fantagraphics and Picture Box come to mind here) has been, quite honestly, thrilling. I’ve swung back into reading a lot of shoujo again this year after ages of not really touching it at all, but I nevertheless am so happy to be able to pick up things like Pink or Nijigahara Holograph. I just wish I’d find an oil well and got myself a cat like Doraemon, ’cause my bank account really feels the pinch of the wealth of options, and I’ve completely run out of shelf space!

  4. Re Black Rose Alice:
    “Despite it being for Black Bird typs, I will give it a try.”

    Nope, it’s not a Black Bird type of story at all. There are several disturbing elements in the setup, but it immediately goes into dark tragic angst and stays there for a good long bit; the romance, such as it is, is two people who have lost the one they really love and have kind of given up on life. (Or afterlife, what with the vampire angle.) It’s slow and dark and sad and I highly recommend it.

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