A Somewhat Belated License Roundup

I’ve been meaning to do this for some time, but every time I prepared to write up the new licenses, some other publisher would announce that they were going to make new announcements in a few days and I’d decide to put it off again. But they’re really piling up now, and what with the con season starting soon I thought I’d best just get in what I have right now. Let me know if I missed anything. If nothing else, we can safely assume that the manga market ‘recovery’ is in full swing.

Two new Shonen Jump licenses. The first is Kagamigami, by the author of Psyren. It’s a supernatural detective series, and thus fits nicely into the rest of what’s currently popular in Shueisha’s shonen titles. It just debuted.

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The other license is very unsurprising, as it’s the new breakout Jump hit. Boku no Hero Academia is from the author of Barrage, if anyone remembers Barrage. No? Right, moving on… it’s about a world of superheroes, and a young man who’s one of the select few who DOESN’T have them. Is he bullied? Take a wild guess. There’s a lot of over-the-top hot-blooded shouting, and the whole thing is a pile of fun.

There’s also four new Shojo Beat licenses. QQ Sweeper is a Shogakukan title from Betsucomi, by the author of Dengeki Daisy. I don’t know much about it, but the mere fact that it’s by the creator of Dengeki Daisy makes it a must buy.

Another title is from a very familiar author, it’s the latest from Arina Tanemura. 31 Ai Dream (Idol Dreams for NA) is about a woman who, regretting her choices in life and seeing her high school crush at their reunion with another woman, considers suicide. But then she gets a second chance (as one inevitably does). This is actually running in Hakusensha’s Melody (a shoujo/josei hybrid magazine) rather than her usual Ribon or Margaret stuff for Shueisha, so I suspect it may be a bit darker or more mature.

And recently they announced two more. From Kadokawa’s shoujo magazine Asuka we have Bloody Mary, which, well, vampires.

More interesting to me is Honey So Sweet, despite seeing ‘meek girl, gruff seemingly scary boy’ as the premise. It runs in Bessatsu Margaret.

Crunchyroll has a new digital license, Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth. I assume this is based on the Persona series of video games, about which I know very little except that many of my friends and acquaintances are obsessed with it. There seem to be two versions, one for P3 and one for P4, that run in Shueisha’s Bessatsu Shonen Magazine and Shonen Sirius, respectively.

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Seven Seas had a tabletop game announcement, and good luck to them. Moving on: they also announced some manga. Shinmai Maou no Keiyakusha (The Testament of Sister New Devil) is based on the light novel of the same name (no, they haven’t licensed that – you do know this company, right?), it features a young man who finds his father has remarried and he has two new sisters – only they’re a demon lord and a succubus. It runs in Kadokawa Shoten’s Shonen Ace, and will definitely appeal to those who read that description and did not roll their eyes.

Jitsu wa Watashi wa roughly translates as “Actually, I’m a…” and the cover features various characters all holding fingers to their mouths in the standard Ssssh! gesture. It apparently features a young man who is known for being unable to lie, and his run-in with various girls who all have secrets to keep, mostly supernatural. If you guessed that a harem ensues, you’re right. Hijinks also ensue. The art is very popular as well, though be warned those are some big mouths. This runs in Akita Shoten’s Weekly Shonen Champion, which rarely gets much attention over here.

Vertical had some new stuff to talk about. Ninja Slayer is a novel series supposedly created by two Americans, though many suspect this is just a cute marketing gimmick on Enterbrain’s part. In any case, it also has several spinoff manga, one of which, Ninja Slayer: Machine of Vengeance, ran in Kadokawa’s Comp Ace magazine. I believe it’s complete in one volume.

Seraph of the End is a manga series that Viz has licensed, which features, you guessed it, vampires. But it’s based on a novel series that Kodansha puts out, and Vertical have licensed the original novels. I wasn’t wild about the manga, but might give the books a try.

Lastly, and most importantly, we have Kizumonogatari, part of the long-running Monogatari series by Nisioisin, creator of Medaka Box, which you may have heard me banging on about once or twice, and Zaregoto, a series I deeply loved that did very poorly indeed over here. This is actually the third of the series, but takes place before any of the others, and the agent recommended starting with it. I absolutely cannot wait for it. By the way, Vertical have said they’ve ONLY licensed this book – they may license more if it sells well. Ergo, please buy this book. I will be pushing it hard. (And we all know how much my opinion drives sales.) I’d give you a cover image, but it’s part of the ‘Kodansha Box’ line, so the covers are all boxed art.

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And Yen Press also has a few new things. To my delight, we have a new manga based off of Ryukishi07’s sound novels. This time it’s Rose Guns Days, which is not connected to the same universe as Higurashi or Umineko. Telling an alternate history of post-war Japan, Yen has licensed ‘Season One’, which ran in Gangan Joker. The artist is Soichiro, who also did Alliance of the Golden Witch in the Umineko series.

Final Fantasy Type-0 Gaiden: Hyōken no Shinigami could possibly be a part of the massive Final Fantasy universe. Something about the name suggests that to me. It ran in Shonen Gangan.

Horimiya has an intriguing history. There was a webcomic called Hori-san to Miyamura-kun which GFantasy picked up and released 10 volumes of, and it also spawned an anime. Now it’s getting an official manga with a different (most say better) artist, and that’s 6 volumes and counting and also running in GFantasy. The plot seems to be a sweet and sometimes angsty romantic comedy, and it has the usual ‘is this shonen or shoujo?’ feel you see in many GFantasy titles.

Lastly, Yen On had a new announcement, one many of us have been expecting for some time: The Irregular at Magic High School. This was the #1 light novel franchise over the past year, even managing to beat out Sword Art Online and Kagerou Daze. Its male lead seems to be the emotionless stoic badass, which I suspect may be part of its appeal after years of average schlubs starring in these sorts of vehicles. It’s got quite a few volumes… but honestly, after Index, nothing surprises me anymore. It has a couple of manga spinoffs… oddly, Yen haven’t licensed the Square Enix one, but have instead opted for the Dengeki Daioh version, The Honor Student at Magic High School, retelling the story from a different perspective. This might work out well – I’ve dropped a few manga adaptations that just tell the novel straight up.

That should do it for now. Which of these has you most excited?

New License Roundup

It’s the start of 2015, and some publishers are just itching to give us some new titles, even though cons in January are thin on the ground. The solution is, of course, social media. This week Seven Seas and Yen Press/Yen On announced titles. Let’s take a closer look.

Seven Seas is gracing us with four new titles. Akuma no Riddle is a newish title from Kadokawa’s Newtype magazine, and it also had an anime series last spring. The most important points about this series, in no particular order, are 1) it’s written by Yun Kouga, the author of Loveless, and drawn by Sunao Minakata, the artist of Pixy Junket. (Oh come now, surely SOMEONE remembers it…). 2) It has a yuri vibe to it, taking place at an all-girls school. And 3) It’s about girls being trained to be assassins. The last may be the most important.

Golden Time is a more comedic title, running in ASCII Mediaworks’ Dengeki Daioh. It’s based off of a light novel, and has everything you’d expect if you hear the words ‘comedy/romance'; childhood friends, one of whom has now forgotten everything; a female lead who is somewhat difficult for fans to like but will clearly be the main romantic option; and lots of angst. It’s by the author of Toradora!, which Seven Seas also releases.

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Orenchi no Furo Jijō (Merman In My Tub) is for female readers what Golden Time might be for male readers. It runs in Media Factory’s Comic Gene, which specializes in oddball shoujo, much like Kodansha’s Aria. The premise sounds a lot like Monster Musume or Ane-Imo, only with a BL subtext couple.

And there’s Mushoku Tensei – Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu. This runs in Media Factory’s Comic Flapper, which already gives it a leg up in my opinion. A middle-aged NEET who’s wasted most of his life get killed trying to stop a truck from hitting three high school students, and is reincarnated in a fantasy world, determined to make better choices and live a life with no regrets. The series has a lot of fans, though I have heard the lead character has a lot of perverted talk. But hey, based on a light novel, what did I expect? In any case, should be fun for fans of SAO or Log Horizon.

Next, let’s take a look at Yen Press, which announced four titles yesterday: one purely manga, and 3 where they announced the light novels on the Yen On line, and the manga (already out in one case) on the Yen Press side.

Oh, yes, there’s some Madoka Magica as well. Let’s start with that. Puella Magi Homura Tamura is a cute slice-of-life spinoff series, for those who like the characters but wished they stopped dying tragically all the time. There’s also Homura’s Revenge, where Madoka joins Homura in going back in time to change things, and I expect it will end badly.

Rust Blaster is the debut work from Yana Toboso, and I believe complete in one volume. It has vampires! And is by the author of Black Butler! Can’t imagine why this was licensed, who would buy such a combination? :)

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On the LN/manga combo side, we first have Strike The Blood, which also has vampires, one of which is our hero. He’s being watched closely by a teenage sword expert who has been sent to follow (indeed, stalk might be more accurate) the vampire and take him out if he becomes a threat. If you guessed their love story is part of the story, you’re right. The manga runs in Dengeki Daioh, and the author is also known for the g-dropping series Asura Cryin’.

Black Bullet looks far more future apocalypse, detailing the world 10 years after being ravaged by a virus, which is being combatted by Cursed Children and their minders. Basically, he’s a high school student who can do Tendo Style Martial Arts (I’m sure it’s a coincidence), she’s a childhood friend with superhuman powers. Together, they fight crime! The manga ended at 4 volumes, and ran in Dengeki Maoh, a Daioh spinoff devoted to games and light novels.

Lastly, and to the horror of Baccano! fans, who keep waiting for their big day, Yen On announced they have licensed the Durarara!! light novels by Ryogho Narita. Yen Press has been putting out the manga for a couple of years, and I suspect this, along with Index, was their most requested license. The story of Ikebukuro and the truly insane weirdos who inhabit it, the 2nd series of the anime is also set to begin soon. By the way, perhaps the biggest news for me: All three of these light novels will have digital versions. After seeing SAO, Accel World, and Index all print-only, I was worried that Dengeki Bunko was a no-go area for digital reads. It’s great so see this.

So which one of these new titles excites you the most?

New License Time

Yes, there are no major cons, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been activity. Let’s go in alphabetical order, starting with Seven Seas.

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These have been up on Amazon for a while, but I think it’s safe to say (control your shock) that Seven Seas will have more Alice in the Country of ______ licenses for us this summer. Two are from Ohzora Shuppan, and I think are direct to tankobon releases. Given the publisher has a line devoted to ‘Happy Weddings’, I’d expect more romance and less twisted psychology from these releases. Junk Box looks to be along the lines of Toy Box from earlier this year, i.e. an anthology catch all. White Rabbit and Some Afternoon Tea also looks like it may finally give us what many have been dreading but some will no doubt be pleased by: an Alice/Peter romance book. The other new title is from Ichijinsha, Black Lizard and Bitter Taste, and given the title will no doubt feature Gray as the romantic lead.

The next news is possibly the most exciting, especially if you wanted to get that old Tezuka book from Vertical but couldn’t as it fell out of print. Vertical Comics has announced it will be releasing digital versions of its classic Tezuka titles to digital platforms. This will include:

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Apollo’s Song – omnibus
Black Jack 1 through 17
Dororo – omnibus
Princess Knight 1 & 2
Ode to Kirihito – omnibus
MW
Ayako
Book of Human Insects
Buddha 1 through 8
Message to Adolf 1 & 2
Twin Knights

This is fantastic news for me, as I tend to read manga on the bus into work, and many of these Tezuka titles have been so large I’ve been unable to. Everyone should pick these up as soon as they are able!

Lastly, let’s talk Viz. In case you missed it, Viz has been quietly digitally rescuing a number of old manga titles from Tokyopop and Bandai and putting them out online. There don’t appear to be plans for new titles (unless they sell well, I imagine), but it’s nice to get some of these old series online in any form. They include:

D N Angel
Chibi Vampire
Fate/Stay Night
Future Diary
Trinity Blood
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Lucky Star
St. Lunatic High School
Suki
Miyuki-chan in Wonderland
Mad Love Chase
Lagoon Engine
Million Tears
Kyo Kara MAOH!
Zone-00 (later this month)
Mouryou Kiden – Legend of the Nymphs (later this month)

As you can see, it’s a lot of stuff with a built-in fanbase and potential for new readers, but not enough potential to justify an actual print rescue. It’s also mostly Kadokawa stuff, likely in conjunction with their Comic Walker online site.

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Viz also announced a new Shojo Beat title, Komomo Confiserie, from Maki Minami, creator of Special A and Voice Over: Seiyu Academy. For those who worry this may go as long as those two series, it’s already over in Japan as of next month, so I suspect it won’t be that big. It involves pastry chefs and power imbalances, a guilty favorite of all shoujo readers.

But wait, Hakusensha fans! We also have a new print license rescue! Yes, one of the most missed of the late Tokyopop line will be returning in omnibus format with an all new translation. Maid-sama! is an amazingly funny series with a wonderful female lead who takes absolutely no guff but also has no idea how to deal with the guy she’s now fallen in love with. The series ended with Tokyopop’s demise, so I look forward to this re-release to see Viz get to the last 10 volumes – it only gets wilder as it goes on. Expect lots of leaping from tall buildings.

What are you most excited about?