A Mostly Yen Press License Roundup

I was away for a few days, so naturally the license DELUGE hit. As such, let me ask you to turn to A Case Suitable for Treatment, for the very last in news. :) Let’s see what 17 million titles are coming out soon, however, and talk about them a bit.

First the non-Yen stuff. Seven Seas has three more Alice spinoffs coming, featuring, I believe, Gray, Elliot, and the Twins. They sell well, and there are PILES of the things, so I see no reason why Seven Seas shouldn’t license them till they run out.

Dark Horse just announced today the license of Fate/Zero, the prequel to Fate/Stay Night that runs in Kadokawa’s Young Ace. It’s based on a couple of light novels that tell the story of the ‘fourth Holy grail War’. I admit I didn’t read F/SN when Tokyopop was putting it out, but it’s certainly quite popular, and Fate/Zero seems to be the most respected of the side projects.

Karneval

Now it’s time for Yen Press. On the manga front, a big recent license is the Karneval manga from Ichijinsha’s Comic Zero-Sum. There’s over a dozen volumes to date, and it’s been a highly discussed series. Featuring two innocents on the run from forces beyond their control who end up with a defense organization called Circus, it’s the sort of title that defines the words ‘fantasy manga for young women’ and should sell like hotcakes.

There’s more Madoka Magica manga, as we get Orico Magica’s side story which posits a different meeting between its leads, which I’m sure will lead to puppies and rainbows instead of tragedy; and Tart Magica, which features Jeanne D’Arc and three fellow pseudo-historical young women as magical girls in the 15th century, thus showing that Kyubey can ruin EVERYTHING.

And on the Disney front, sort of, we have Big Hero 6, which just debuted in Kodansha’s Magazine Special. Based on the film due out this November, it looks to be geared towards the younger set, and is a rare Kodansha license from this publisher.

Now let’s talk light novels. I’d mentioned that I thought Yen was pursuing a surprisingly aggressive approach to the new Yen On line, and it’s clear that if anything I was underestimating it. Kurt says they’re going to go even further next year, with over 2 dozen books out in 2015 alone, from a variety of series. Sword Art Online sold quite well, and has I expect inspired the licensing of the Progressive novels that will debut in April.

I have whined on Twitter about the lack of ebooks for SAO and the upcoming Index novels, and I suspect judging from Kurt’s response in the interview that this is not something that will be changing anytime soon. It seems to be the Japanese side more than our side, as Yen says that they make an effort to get them when they’re available. So perhaps I should whine at ASCII Mediaworks instead.

log horizon

As for the new LN series announced, we have four. The first, Log Horizon, has a plot that may seem familiar to fans of Sword Art Online, as it also has a large group of MMORPG gamers who find themselves trapped in a virtual world. Log Horizon seems to have a broader focus, however, and less romance/harem/fanservice elements than SAO does. Yen has also licensed the manga, though we’re not sure yet which manga they have – there are three possibilities, all from different companies. The novel is from Enterbrain, who also do Book Girl, so I’m hoping for ebooks here.

Speaking of fanservices, No Game No Life seems to be the most ‘otaku-oriented’ title that was licensed in this batch. It’s from Media Factory, and involves (try not to contain your shock), an MMORPG. A brother/sister gaming team, who in real life are basically shut-ins, are transported to a fantasy world where they have to use their amazing gaming skills to save humanity.

The Devil Is A Part-Timer!, aka Hataraku Maou-sama!, is a Dengeki Bunko title (i.e., the SAO/Index company). It sounds like the funniest of the new series, as Satan and his lieutenant are on Earth and powerless, and must find work while scheming to regain their powers. To make things worse, the woman who defeated them in the first place is back to finish the job. Luckily, she’s lost her powers as well. This has fantasy elements in it, but the mere fact that it doesn’t involve an MMORPG makes it the most intriguing of these titles for me.

Lastly, for fans of Pandora Hearts, Yen is putting out the novels which contain side stories from the main manga, which are titled Caucus Race. These are also, I believe, from Square Enix.

Judging by their interview, Yen isn’t done yet, and I suspect we’ll have a few more light novels announced at NYCC. Which unlicensed title do you most want? You are not allowed to say Baccano!. Or Durarara!!. Or indeed any title by Narita. But other than those?

An updated look at Crunchyroll Manga

When I first looked at Crunchyroll’s new manga lineup back in October, it consisted of about 10 Kodansha titles, and its main purpose was essentially to be the Kodansha equivalent of Viz’s Jump – get the most popular titles out weekly to discourage scanlators. (Which has worked, to a degree – not necessarily for speed but for accuracy. I know a few Attack on Titan readers who wait for CR as it will be coherent.) Now, 10 months later, we have almost fifty different titles on the site. What’s been going on?

gto

Kodansha still has the largest presence on the site, and are still adding new titles that may interest the North American reader, such as the new Onizuka spinoff/continuation. It’s still predominately Shonen Magazine and its subsidiaries, but there has been an effort to add some seinen as well, notably the Morning title Investor Z. (By the way, not all of the licensing is through Kodansha – a large number of the titles on the site seem to be licensed via ‘Cork’, including the Anno ones. Investor Z is one of those.) Most of their titles are ongoing concerns – updated weekly or monthly as their Japanese fellows are. I do note A Town Where You Live has finished, but Vols. 1-11 still seem to be absent from the site – going backwards is not Kodansha’s priority.

buffalo

Moyoco Anno has agreed to let several of her more obscure titles be translated on Crunchyroll, from a variety of genres. Most originally ran in the josei magazine Feel Young in Japan, which her her primary outlet these days, though The Diary of Ochibi is a short one-pages that runs in a newspaper.

Then there’s the former heavy movers and shakers at JManga, all of whom are now involved with Crunchyroll to some degree. LEED Publishing, which is Takao Saito’s company, has put out four of its already finished volumes from JManga onto Crunchyroll, I suspect with the same translation. They’re good series, though. I particularly liked Doll. Shonen Gahosha has both old and new titles – Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru and Sun-Ken Rock are basically “license rescues” from JManga that are now on Crunchyroll – not a surprise given they’re both two of the companies more popular unlicensed in print titles – Sun-Ken Rock for its violent content, most likely, and Soredemo for its oddness. They also have Arpeggio of Blue Steel, which Seven Seas is releasing in print here, and Spirit Circle, which gives the appearance of being a fluffy comedy, but… isn’t.

insidemari

And then there’s Futabasha, which now has the 2nd most titles on the site thanks to a big push these past few months. Futabasha was the biggest player in JManga as well, but we’re not seeing any of the content that was on there in the past. These are mostly new, ongoing series that run in their main magazine, Manga Action, which it’s pushing for similar reasons to Kodansha. It’s a very different genre, though – Manga Action is seinen and it shows. Even the one title they have by a shoujo author is that author’s debut in a seinen market. As you can see by the cover image of Inside Mari, which is by the author of Flowers of Evil, there’s a lot more ‘sex and violence’ in Futabasha’s titles – a number of what I’d call ‘sex comedies’ and several violent murder mysteries. Futabasha doesn’t really have much shonen, which may be why they’ve always found it hard to grab a foothold in North America, but it’s good to see them making these titles available for curious readers.

The odd title out on this list is The Tenth Prism, licensed via Cork, which is actually a seinen Shogakukan title, running in Big Comic Spirits. It’s by the author of Firefighter Daigo of Company M, so the author isn’t unknown here. Sometimes with licensing subsidiaries you can see titles in places you’d never expect, which is certainly what I’m seeing here.

What can we see from this list, now that it’s so heavily expanded? Crunchyroll Manga is very much catering to male readers. Almost exclusively, I’d say. There’s only one or two titles on there that might be classed as shoujo, and Kodansha, for all that they’re adding Magazine titles, hasn’t put up any ongoing series from Nakayoshi or Betsufure. Futabasha has a shoujo magazine as well, but we’ve seen nothing from it. And the josei we’re seeing, via Moyoco Anno, is for the adult female reader. I’d like to see a few titles for younger female readers on here. Other than that, the main emphasis for most of these series is simulpub – get them out fast to beat the scanlators. It usually doesn’t beat them, as scanlators work from illegal raws released early, but it’s a better product, so the incentive is to wait.

Will Crunchyroll have expanded even more in 10 months time? And which of their newer titles is your favorite?

SDCC License Roundup

I was surprised at a couple of announcements at this year’s SDCC, enough that it deserves a new License Roundup post! I’ll start with Viz, who had no new titles (this is typical; they usually offload new licenses at AX), but who did note that the final Evangelion manga will be simultaneously published with Japan, just as they did with Vol. 13.

Kodansha had two new titles to announce this year, both of which are worth getting a bit excited about. The unsurprising one is Waltz no Ojikan, the new series by Natsumi Ando, creator of Kitchen Princess and Arisa. It’s a ballroom dancing manga, which I am pleased by, and is currently running in Nakayoshi.

Yamada-kun_to_7-nin_no_Majo_vol01_Cover

On the shonen side, we have a title that you can already find on Crunchyroll, but is now getting a print edition: Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo. I was very fond of the author’s previous series, Yankee-kun to Megane-chan, but it was a bit too long and had a bit too many delinquents for the NA market. This new series is also edging on the long side, but it has supernatural elements to it, and that’s usually enough in this day and age. it’s also funny, and sweet, and you get caught up in its plot quite a bit. Can’t wait.

Udon surprised a few of us. While they have made some entries in the manga market, primarily their focus has been on large, expensive artbooks, usually tying in with Capcom. This time, though, they have manga. And not just any manga: Kill La Kill, the hot new anime series from last year. the manga adaptation runs in Kadokawa Shoten’s Young Ace, and I have no doubt will be filled with action, yelling, and fanservice. Udon also announced three more of their ‘manga classics’ series, the first two of which debut next month. We’ll see The Scarlet Letter, Great Expectations, and Emma.

Digital Manga Publising unfortunately had to cancel their panel, but it does remind me that I forgot to mention on the AX roundup that they said the first digital Tezuka they’ll be doing is Mr. Cactus, a 1950s cowboy adventure.

Lastly, Drawn & Quarterly continue their excellent partnership with Shigeru Mizuki, as we see the release of Hitler, his biography of the Nazi leader, sometime in spring 2015. The other title is Trash Market, a collection of short stories by Tadao Tsuge, the brother of more famous avant-garde mangaka Yoshiharu Tsuge. If you like Garo-esque titles (or even know what Garo is), you should pick this one up.

Which of these interests you most?