Anime NYC 2021, Day One

So first of all, in regards to what everyone’s talking about, I can’t speak for the line problem. I arrived at 10am via the press entrance with no issues, but I talked with other press folks who arrived later who were in line forever. So I’ll let them go into details. My own start of the con was relatively sedate. At 10am the place was almost deserted. I found out why later. Plus my first panel wasn’t till 3:15. So I leisurely sat, read manga, read books, ate lunch, and visited a show floor that was absent a lot of the usual suspects. Viz is entirely absent this year. Kodansha has a panel and an Attack on Titan art exhibit, but no booth. The manga contingent consisted of Yen press, J-Novel Club, and Denpa Books.

Speaking of Denpa, they had my fist panel. First of all, the biggest news: Ed Chavez was audible through the entire panel. Anyone who has seen Ed’s prior panels knows what a big deal this is. As for the panel itself, a lot of it was titles that Denpa has already discussed, either in previous con announcements or in tweets. The combination of COVID-19 delays and printing issues owing to the sudden explosion of manga popularity means that getting books to the printers takes forever. A few of the slides Ed had gave Summer 2021 release dates, which isn’t true. That said, he has had a lot of new titles go to the printers recently, so 2022 looks far more promising on the Denpa front.

A big surprise to me, and showing that my own tastes do not necessarily match that of the average manga buyer, was hearing what Denpa’s big sellers were. For all that folks mocked Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji’s delays of Vols. 1-3, now that they’re out they’re selling very well. Also selling well is Pleasure and Corruption, the high school bondage and discipline manga. The Girl with the Sanpaku Eyes also has its 3rd volume out soon, and is also selling well. There were also two special editions of Shūzō Oshimi titles at Denpa’s exhibitor table – they have a very good working relationship with the author.

“Old” new announcements included Baby Bear’s Bakery, an adorable-looking series about, well, a baby bear running a bakery. March 2022 for that. The Man Who Created Gundam, a nonfiction-ish manga with real people in it, is trapped in clearance hell at Sunrise. Hopefully soon. Guyabano Holiday should now be Fall 2022, and we also saw updates on yuri vampire series Vampeerz and comedic action series Under Ninja. We then got “new” announcements, though we knew most of these from tweets the last few months. They Were 11, which will have an oversize trim, posters, and color pages, and will also feature the “extra” chapters never published in English before. They’re looking at Winter 2022. Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack: Beltorchika’s Children has Char abandoning Gundams for the life of a Broadway stage actor. Possibly.

March Comes in Like a Lion got a big reaction from the audience, though Ed is worried about the title. The author has had failures here before, and the shogi essays make it hard to find a translator. Renjoh Desperado is a comedy action manga about a woman searching for love and her fanservice to the manga reader that will hopefully help that search go well. And we heard about two new artbooks. Black Tights WIDE has 48 different illustrators give their interpretation of thighs and stockings. And The Art of Jun – TabeGirl is about girls eating. And looking good while doing it.

Ed then talked about Denpa’s books on the KUMA boy’s love label. They have not released much on that label yet, but that will change next year, they plan to do a lot more. You Are My Happiness is out soon (it was at Denpa’s table) and is by the author of Melting Lover, also from KUMA. Boys of the Dead is (groan) “Zom-BL”. The Song of Yoru & Asa is a band BL series that’s edgy but also has great character development. Sick is a series about a college student who likes to bully… erm, tease the boy he likes. And Canis – Dear Hatter is a sequel to the Canis title KUMA did earlier.

Lastly, they had a license from the FAKKU imprint that definitely surprised me, as I recall when it was coming out ages ago. Nana & Kaoru ran in Hakusensha’s Young Animal, and typified the magazine in many ways. A series about a virgin with an S&M fetish and the twisted relationship he has with the girl who discovers this, it’s a great example of a title that is almost explicitly porn without actually being porn. It’s 18 volumes long, and will be released in 3-volume omnibuses. Eds Q&A included a more extensive discussion of the supply chain issues going on right now, what made them decide to license a title like Kaiji, how how they look at licenses in general – per Ed, do not expect an isekai from them ever.

After this I bummed around and got more tea till it was time for my next panel, Inside the Manga Industry. This featured five experts in the field: Mark De Vera, sales & marketing with Yen Press (and formerly Viz Media); Jani Olove, translator and editor with Kodansha; Julian Robinson, designer with Viz Media; Nikolas Draper-Ivey, artist on DC Comics’ Static and heavily manga-influenced; and independent artist Koyuki Panda, also heavily anime and manga influenced. They introduced themselves and then noted most of the panel would be a Q&A; audience asks questions, they give advice. Things got off to a bang up start with the first question, which was “what advice would you give your younger self”?

More than one person said “don’t go to art school”, which ended up occupying a lot of the panel as it turns out that several folks in the room are art school students. It was generally agreed that if you need to learn the fundamentals of the craft, it’s a good place to be, but in general a lot of the art schools tend to frown on heading in a manga/anime direction and they also don’t focus nearly as much on the business end of things as they should. This led to the other running theme of the panel, which was learning about business and knowing how contracts worked. Everyone recommended supplementing art school with business classes. Everyone also agreed another good piece of advice is “don’t give up”.

Marketing your work was discussed, and it was mentioned that even established companies can have difficulty using marketing as a tool. Trust in your own likes, and (admittedly) it helps to like things that are not just Shonen Jump – even if Koyuki Panda admitted that she was a huge fan of “the big three” back in the day. It’s mentioned that things are very different now than they were 10 years ago – there’s a lot more breadth to what’s coming out in manga publishing. In fact, when a trans woman asked if there were specific titles available, the panel was able to easily recommend Boys Run the Riot, an excellent choice. Hopefully the boom market will also mean more opportunity for manga-influenced artists in the future – publishers like Oni, Image and Viz were mentioned as being open to this sort of thing, and a non-Japanese title, Radiant, was namechecked.

The panel ended with the wonderful news that they would meet up at Koyuki Panda’s booth in Artist’s Alley and answer the questions from the people they didn’t have time to get to, which was great to hear, and the panel was interesting and inspiring all round. This ended my Friday, as I grabbed dinner and returned to the hotel. Tomorrow will be much busier, and hopefully will have less line.

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