License Request Day – More Bestsellers in Japan

Last time I did this, back in July, I lucked out – 20 of the 32 bestsellers were already licensed, so I didn’t have as much to talk about. No such luck here, as only 8 of the Top 30 I looked at this week are licensed in North America in some way, shape or form. Plus it’s the week where all the shoujo came out and hit the charts. Needless to say, there are a LOT of potential Shojo Beat series here. Shall we take a look?

Firt, let’s set aside what’s licensed. Kimi ni Todoke, One Piece, Fairy Tail, Skip Beat!, Watamote, and Haganai all come out here physically. Space Brothers is up on Crunchyroll’s site, and Kadokawa’s new Comic Walker is putting out Kagerou Days, so I am counting those as licensed, if only digitally.


JoJo Lion (Shueisha, Ultra Jump) is the latest in the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure epic tale, and its popularity has been resurgent lately, what with the new anime. That said, JoJo’s manga did not sell well here, and this is technically Vol. 110 if you think of it as one big series. It’s possible Viz might take a flyer on this, but I’d be surprised.

Yokai Watch is a franchise based off of a 3DS game that seems to be a cross between Natsume’s Book of Friends, Doraemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh. This particular volume is the shonen manga version from Corocoro, there’s also a shoujo manga that just started in Ciao. Oh, and there’s an anime as well. If Viz does license this, it might be via Perfect Square.

Kobayashi ga Kawai Sugite Tsurai!! is a shoujo manga running in ShoComi, which just got an OVA series. It is not based on a light novel, despite the title translating as Kobayashi Has It Tough Being So Cute!!. It features a twin brother and sister who go to single-sex schools. One day, they decide to dress as each other and switch. The plot spins out from there. Sounds a bit odd for a Shojo Beat title, but you never know.

Moyashimon has just wrapped up in Japan, and Volume 13 is the final one. It was once licensed by Del Rey, but never got past Vol. 2. You could try asking Kodansha for a license rescue, but make sure you’re surrounded by witnesses so you don’t get demoned away.

ReRe Hello, a Betsuma manga from Shueisha, has what sounds like a very cliched premise. Hardworking earnest girl who’s lost her family, aloof boy who falls for her, etc. That said, it’s not like titles are licensed for originality here anyways. This has gotten some very positive buzz, and it’s only about 3 volumes to date, so it’s definitely a possibility.


Hachimitsu no Hatsukoi translates as ‘First Love is Like Honey’, basically. It’s a childhood friend romance, and another ShoComi title. The artist used to be Tanemura’s assistant. This has gotten to Vol. 7, so it’s doing pretty well in Japan.

Hirunaka no Ryuusei is a Margaret title that is a teacher/student romance, so moving on.

Neko to Watashi no Kinyoubi has a very good chance of being licensed, mostly as it’s a title by Arina Tanemura, running in Margaret. Its male lead is quite young, and it also has a cousin romance, which would normally I suspect prevent it from coming out over here, but given its creator and her huge popularity I expect we’ll see it before long. Girl has a crush on guy but is too shy to say anything, her young cousin loves her. More on Tanemura later this post.

Ace of Diamond is a baseball manga that is now at 40 volumes, so moving on.

Ayakashi Hisen is another ChoComi title, this one with a touch of the supernatural to it, something Shojo Beat always likes. The premise seems quite similar to Kamisama Kiss and Demon Love Spell, so I would not be too surprised to see it, even though at 12+ volumes to date it’s hitting the top end for shoujo manga length.

I’m skipping the Kagerou Days anthology, which will only get licensed if the Kagerou Days manga is a big success here. Which means it would have to get into print somehow, I suspect.


31 Ai Dream is another title that would have no chance to come out over here except it’s by Arina Tanemura, who is doing multiple series in Japan at the moment. It runs in Melody, home to Gatcha Gacha and Ooku, so you know it’s going to be odd. The premise is dark: a former class president and idol of the school never confessed to her love. Now, at a reunion where she’s 31 years old, she sees he’s with another girl and decides to kill herself. Instead, she gets a medicine that sends her back to when she was 15. Readers of fanfics will recognize this premise as a standard ‘Peggy Sue’, but I’d be very interested to see where Tanemura goes with it. Want to see Shojo Beat get this, even if it’s an odd fit there.

Kaze Hikaru is actually licensed by Viz, something I keep forgetting. This is Vol. 35, which should see release here in 2027. But it is still coming out, I note, and I’m sure if more folks bought it it would come out more often.

Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou just had an anime start, so there’s potential there. The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior is a seinen ‘apartment life’ manga from Young King Ours, and I’m honestly unsure which company it would fit best with. Shonen Gahosha does business with everyone, so…

Clover Trefle is the sequel to a very popular josei manga called Clover (no, not that one) (no, not that one either), which is 24 volumes and would need Viz to put those out first before its sequel comes out.

Sora no Otoshimono is relatively popular, and has an anime, but it’s 20 volumes, so I’d have to assume if it was going to be licensed it would be. It’d be the perfect Tokyopop title were they still around.

17-sai, Kiss to Dilemma is classic ShoComi smut. It has a lot of creeptasticness to it, apparently, so I’d suspect Shojo Beat would look at other titles first, as the smut they’re doing now is more of a josei bent than high schooler smut.

Shinrei Tantei Yakumo. See my entry for Sora no Otoshimono, then cut and paste it here, only ’11 volumes’.


Silver Spoon is an incredibly heartwarming, funny and awesome manga that sadly continues to be about farming. Still, I am hoping Viz’s defenses are weakening against this series.

Mujaki no Rakuen is a Young Animal title, and I think far too lolita complex/pedophilic overtones for the North American market. It’s also a Peggy Sue, like 31 Ai Dream. A loser NEET is mocked at a reunion by his female classmates. Then he goes back in time to where they were all 5th graders, but with his adult memories/experiences. A lot of naked 5th grade girl art follows. Of all the titles I discuss here, this is the one I expect is least likely. And thank God for that.

Angel Heart’s ‘2nd Season’ is up to Vol. 8, but the 33 volumes of its first season were never licensed, and anyway, why would you license something with a dead Kaori? Finish the series with living Kaoris, City Hunter!

Lastly, Kuroko’s Basketball has all the drawbacks of sports manga in North America. That said, now that Slam Dunk is finished, it’s possible. It certainly has a large female fanbase over here.

And there you have it. Of all these titles, which do you want to see the most? Which do you think is the most likely to be announced? Which makes you weep bitter tears you’ll never see it?

License Request Day: Another Look At Medaka Box

By NisiOisiN and Akira Akatsuki. Released in Japan by Shueisha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump.

Back in 2010, I did a License Request post regarding a Shonen Jump manga called Medaka Box, and explained why I thought it was a great series, and also why I thought it was unlikely to get picked up. Well, it’s now almost two and a half years later, and the series is still running in Weekly Jump, and gotten two anime seasons (which, sadly, animated the least interesting part of the manga) and has more reasons I’d love to see it licensed… as well as even more reasons it won’t. So let’s discuss.


Since my original post, the manga has kept going, and gotten even more ludicrous. It now projects to be over 20 volumes, and just began a new arc after faking readers into thinking it was ending – the 2nd time the authors have done that! It’s introduced even more overpowered characters, including Najimi Ajimu, who can seemingly control the narrative and utilizes her 12,858,051,967,633,865 skills to waltz around the story being smug. And it still has a small core of hardcore fans who enjoy discussing what it’s really trying to say – even if they all disagree with each other, and half of them are fans of the series but despise the lead.

So, why do I want to see this series over here? Let’s see…

1) Tons of strong female characters, including many leads, several of which have no romances whatsoever. Medaka Box sails through the Bechdel test, honestly. Medaka herself is currently one of two Jump series with a female lead (and the other, Novice Policewoman Kiruko-san, may not last long). We also meet characters such as the aforementioned Najimi Ajimu, Youka Naze (a genius mad scientist with a knife sticking out of her bandaged head), Hansode Shiranui (who is primarily comic relief in the anime-adapted shows, but proves to be far more dangerous – and far more broken – than everyone expected), and Mukae Emukae (who makes anything she touch rot and die, including animals and, presumably, people. )

Each arc has at least one or two major female antagonists or protagonists, and some are entirely female, such as the Jet Black Bride arc. Now yes, there is some romance, with some characters falling in love or obsessing over a person. But it’s not a requirement. More to the point, almost every single female in this series beyond about chapter 26 can kick anyone’s ass right ways from Sunday. I have never seen such a larger group of BAMFs. It’s pretty amazing.

2) Examination, parody, and deconstruction of shonen themes. Many series do this subtextually, but Medaka Box goes right ahead and makes this text. Misogi Kumagawa, who is easily the most popular character among Western fans of the series (and probably Japanese fans as well – the anime did a final episode just devoted to him as if to make up for its likely cancellation), often refers to events by saying “If this were in Weekly Shonen Jump”. Ajimu takes it one step further, and seems entirely aware that this is a serial – it’s made into a plot point, and once led to one of the greatest lines in the entire series, “Manga that go longer than 10 volumes just coast on their success, and this has already gone three volumes over that. So just watch… I’ll end this manga before the anime begins.” (Spoiler: she didn’t.)

But it’s not just pointing out the series is fictional. Medaka Box goes to great pains to mock and undercut many of Shonen Jump’s most treasured values, with several monologues noting that while Jump is supposedly about “Friendship, Training, Victory”, the reality is that the stronger characters defeat the weak ones, so more power always wins. And indeed that is the case throughout Medaka Box. Medaka is insanely powerful, so she wins despite everything. The only exceptions are characters who are (temporarily) stronger than she is. Kumagawa is set up to rebel against this – his entire purpose in life is to be the one representing the weak, loser characters whose only purpose is to fail.

But with all that said, the beauty of a series like Medaka Box – and something that a few of its fans don’t quite get – is that for all that it’s deconstructing Jump series, it also IS a Jump series, and thus in the end it serves what Jump strives for after all. This is not a series that will end with our heroes broken and Medaka humiliated and tarnished – that’s not its goal. Its goal is to show the wonders of humanity in all its forms, even when humans are equipped with various types of superhuman abilities. (Medaka Box sometimes seems like X-Men there’s so many people with insane superpowers.) It may say Jump is all about who is most powerful, but Medaka succeeds because of the bonds she has with Zenkichi – and his bonds with all the others.

3) It’s simply fun. Everyone acts gloriously over the top, almost in a Higurashi sort of way. The series is peopled with larger than life superheroes, so it’s only natural that they are larger than life. Kumagawa can be terrifying or hysterically funny, often in the same chapter, and his juvenile pursuit of seeing girls’ panties, girls in naked aprons, and girls in “hand-bra jeans” (don’t ask) is a nice reminder that all these superhuman geniuses really are teenagers after all. There’s fun wordplay, and later volumes introduce Nienami, who seems determined to be the ultimate boke just to have everyone scream at her. You’re never quite sure if the manga is a parody or not – which is the point, of course.

Now, I mentioned I don’t think this will be licensed. Why? I already discussed in my prior post that it starts off very slowly. In fact, it’s quite mediocre for the first few volumes. (You know, the ones they chose to animate). But let’s update things.

1) It’s now over 20 volumes and counting, and is not a huge hit the way Toriko or Bakuman were. This is reason #1 with a bullet.

2) It would make the translators cry. There is an entire ARC given over to battles using kanji and wordplay, culminating in a final confrontation involving the Japanese game where the next person starts a word with a syllable that the previous person ended with. Oh yes, and there’s a chapter where Ajimu tries to inspire Zenkichi by recalling about 25 old Shonen Jump heroes, many of whom never appeared over here and would require extensive translation notes – something which Viz has never used in its shonen series.

3) One character, Shori Wanizuka, walks around at times with a revolver sticking out of her mouth, sucking on the barrel. Oh, Viz would just LOVE that.

4) Medaka herself. Not since Ichigo Kurosaki has there been a more polarizing lead character in Shonen Jump. Medaka is meant to be a deconstruction of the “Mary Sue” sort of character – she is perfect at anything she tries, has a killer body, is genius level IQ, a physical powerhouse, etc. Despite this, Medaka throughout the series is shown to have difficulty with basic humanity. This is a thread that exists in a lot of NisiOisiN’s works, where he shows the basic disconnects anyone that far ahead of/in front of us would have with average people.

As such, a lot of the time, Medaka is unlikeable, particularly when dealing with Zenkichi, her childhood friend. Now, one of the main plots in the series is showing that she is gradually improving at human interaction, and is not a superhuman freak but merely a teenage girl like everyone else. Of course, character development is frequently not welcome by some fans, who form their opinions and then refuse to change them ever. I’d argue that a majority of the fans support Zenkichi or (especially) Kumagawa as a “main character”, seeing Medaka as an antagonist. In addition, a small minority of fans seem to suffer from “nice guy syndrome”, demanding that Medaka treat Zenkichi nicer because, well, he’s the male love interest and why won’t she learn her place?

5) For those who like Jump for its BL elements, you’ll find some of that here as well. (There’s a couple of yuri teases too.) That said, Medaka’s figure and habit of exhibitionism can also put off female readers who might see the title as pure fanservice.

With all that said, I remain fascinated by this series, one of the most addictive I’ve seen in Jump in years. Even with all the pitfalls, I’d still love to see someone take a chance on it. Hey, it’s licensed in France! Can North America be that far away?

License Request: Additional Higurashi Manga

Higurashi When They Cry is, let’s face it, a franchise by now. And as such, it’s not the sort of series that was going to stop merely because the story ended. Heck, even the author of the original visual novels released an extra one with several stories after Matsuribayashi-hen was completed. The anime did two series of OAVs. Indeed, Yen Press has already released an extra side-story as an omnibus volume. So even though they still have over a year of Higurashi still to release, I thought I’d take a look at what’s out in Japan and see what, in my ideal Higurashi world, I would want licensed.

First, I’ll cull off things that can be skipped or are expendable. There are a giant PILE of Higurashi anthology books by various artists, with the vague tacit approval of 7th Expansion. Some are terrifying, some are hilarious, but all are basically one step removed from the ‘official product’. They’d be nice, but not necessary. The same goes for the Higurashi 4-koma volumes, which go under the title All You Need Is Love. There is a one-volume manga starring Shion, who is investigating a murder at the private school we see her attend at the very start of Eye-Opening; it got cancelled/cut short by the publisher, but is only one volume, so might be looked at. There’s also a one-volume manga that revolves around mahjong that was also cut short; due to the subject matter, it won’t be looked at.

So that basically leaves us with four books. All are done in one, though one may be continuing, I’m not sure. Publishers like single-volume books.

1) Dice-Killing Chapter. This is probably the closest the series will get to a genuine, actual post-series sequel. And, unlike most of the post-series stuff that’s come out, it’s mainly serious. The premise has Rika, overdosing on having escaped her unhappy fate and free of the endless June, not looking where she’s going and getting hit by a truck. Aheh. She wakes up in a different Hinamizawa, where no one was ever killed, the dam project is going through, and everyone’s happy and content. Well, everyone except Rika. This was taken from one of the post-series VNs, and I find a lot of its basic themes very disquieting. But then, that’s what makes a Higurashi series.

2) Daybreak Chapter. For all that I call Higurashi a game, it’s actually a series of Visual Novels. You don’t do anything but hit enter a lot. So naturally, one of the first things fans did was to make the series into a third-person shooter. This was a big success, and they even got Ryukishi07 to do the scenario, which involved a magatama that forced people into love confessions. This was then adapted into several manga. I prefer Mion with Keiichi, and there is a version of that which Kadokawa put out, but it’s not as good. This is the best of the lot, and is about as Keiichi/Rena shippy as you can get.

3) Heart-Healing Chapter. This was one of the titles that Kadokawa Shoten taunted us with by sticking the synopsis up on JManga’s site, before we realized they had no plans to actually release any of these. As such, it’s a good fit with Yen. Note it is the only non-Square Enix title on the list – it ran in Kadokawa’s Comp Ace. It’s the most heartwarming of these choices, dealing expressly with Rika’s feeling after the end of the series about having to finally move on and think about life. I like heartwarming fluff a lot.

4) Hinamizawa Bus Stop. Sorry for the tinier image, but this one only had its cover image released a few days ago -it’s not out in Japan yet! The latest of the Higurashi tie-ins, this one is supposedly based off the original scenario that Ryukishi07 had in mind before he moved away from it to make Higurashi proper. It stars a 17-year-old Rika, with her goofy friend Mion, so definitely falls into the ‘alternate universe’ category – and not in the usual Higurashi way. But the plot still revolves around that pesky dam, there’s still the threat of Oyashiro-sama, and there’s still scary faces galore. I’m not sure if this is complete as of this volume or still ongoing – guess we’ll have to wait and find out.

As you can see, it’s a Higurashi world out there. Any of these four volumes coming out over here would make me very happy indeed.