Seven Seas New License Roundup

Seven Seas has had a busy week, announcing seven new titles in seven days. The titles ran the gamut from cute slice of life to award winning comedy to some ‘look, boobs!’ works that show their close relationship with Media Factory has not wavered. Let’s take a look at what’s coming out this summer 2015.

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The slice of life is Non Non Biyori, one of Comic Alive’s non-fanservice titles. It’s about a young girl who moves to the country and slowly makes new friends and has fun, relaxing times. It’s 7+ volumes, and still running, but sounds like it will be a fun read.

Mahō Tsukai no Yome is a Mag Garden title, as the company has been slowly working its way back into the North American market after Tokyopop’s demise removed their biggest customer. This is a Comic Garden series (the replacement for Comic Blade, which was rebranded last year (supposedly cancelled, but when a new magazine appears that’s exactly the same with a different name…)), seems to be pretty and filled with magic and supernatural stuff, and I suspect is an apology to female readers for the titles lower down on this list. :)

Probably the most intriguing title here is Kōkaku no Pandora – Ghost Urn, a collaboration between legendary “I start series but never quite finish them” author Masamune Shirow and Excel Saga creator Rikdo Koshi. Given it’s Shirow, you’ll be unsurprised to hear that it’s a near-future work with lots of amazing tech. Given it’s Rikdo, expect some ecchi art as well. This is a Newtype Ace series from Kadokawa, and I’ll be checking it out, although I will not be surprised if it gives me mixed feelings.

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The title I’m most looking forward to, and have suggested as a license before, is Sakamoto desu ga?, an Enterbrain title from the magazine harta (small caps deliberate). Sakamoto is cool and awesome and amazing at everything, but still finds the time to be helpful and caring, if a tad stoic. This is a comedy along the lines of Cromartie or Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – if you like seeing weird stuff happening, with a dash of heart, this is a must read, and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s won awards!

When I heard that Mōretsu Pirates was getting a lciense, my nerd personality went over the moon. Not just because it’s a terrific franchise, but because the main manga runs in a magazine from Asahi Shimbun, who do very little business with North America. Sadly, my gushing was cut short – this is the manga adaptation of the movie, and it ran in Comic Alice. Still, Mōretsu Pirates: Abyss of Hyperspace -Akū no Shien- is still recommended, as the cast is awesome, and also, space pirates.

This next license was probably the most controversial. I had been tweeting various Media Factory titles I thought SS would license, but skipped this as the cover looked too pornographic. Silly me. Magika no Kenshi to Shōkan Maō is based on a light novel, has swords and fantasy battles, and no one really cares about that because near-naked girl on the cover. While these titles aren’t for me, there’s no denying they sell like hotcakes, and help pay for things like Sakamoto desu ga?.

Lastly, the biggest license was Freezing, a manga by two Korean creators that runs in Comic Valkyrie, which has not seen too many titles over here at all. It’s a big series, being over 20 volumes, and they plan to do omnibus releases. It’s also had two anime series based off of it. That said, if you’re looking for a description, it would not be too far away from the title before this, although I think Freezing is less ‘wacky near-naked fanservice’ and more ‘action-packed, blood-filled near-naked fanservice’. In any case, it’s always nice to see longer series get a shot over here.

They have a big announcement at the end of the month, but that’s it for now. Which Seven Seas license makes you the happiest?

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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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?