Anime NYC 2021, Day Three

Ah, Day 3, the day when I realized that I am simply not equipped to be able to sit on a floor waiting for a panel for 5-6 hours per day. By the end of the day I was reduced to begging for a chair from staff (who were very helpful). Fortunately, I only had two panels for the day (apologies to Azuki, who I wanted to see, but I know Kodansha would be a huge line because of the Attack on Titan teaser, and also to Inside the Manga Industry, because somehow Yen managed to get scheduled against ITSELF), so there was not quite as much waiting, but I admit I am rather bone weary today.

That said, I suspect fans who came to the Kodansha panel just for the Attack on Titan stuff came away a little disappointed, as most of it was just normal manga announcements. They pointed out the manga gallery on display at Anime NYC, which looked quite impressive as I walked quickly by it. (Look, Attack on Titan and I are exes and we don’t get along, OK?) They’re also encouraging people to tweet about the series with the #thanksattackontitan tag, which I’m sure will be SAFE AND FUN. And there were two other announcements: The Best of Attack on Titan in Color, which has an assortment of the best chapters in the series… well, in color. And also a box set for Part 1 of “The Final Season”.

The rest of the panel was blissfully Attack on Titan free. We got the December digital debuts, which makes me the that types up Manga the Week of posts very happy. My Master Has No Tail (Uchi no Shishou wa Shippo ga nai) runs in good! Afternoon, and is basically a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of a manga, containing not only tanuki but also rakugo masters! Shaman King: & a Garden is a spinoff series focusing on the women in the series, and it runs in shoujo magazine Nakayoshi. My Darling the Company President (Darling wa Shachou-kun) is a 6-volume josei series from Ane Friend, where an office lady finds the new company president is a boy that she used to tutor, but now… He Is All Grown Up. And Her Majesty’s Swarm (Joou Heika no Isekai Senryaku) is the manga adaptation of the novels J-NC have been doing, and runs in Suiyoubi no Sirius.

They then had a bunch of print announcements for the Fall of 2022. Which makes sense given how hard it’s been to get things printed these days. Wistoria: Wand & Sword is a new series by the writer of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, running in Bessatsu Shonen Magazine. Boy has no magic powers, but he does have a cool sword. Go Go Loser Ranger (Sentai Daishikkaku) is the newest series from Quintessential Quintuplets creator Negi Haruba, a Weekly Shonen Magazine series parodying the stock tropes of sentai shows, and starring a villain who is tired of being the “Villain of the week” sort. Run Away with Me, Girl (Kakeochi Girl) is a josei yuri series that ran in Hane Kiss. Two girls who dated in high school haven’t seen each other in ten years. Will things rekindle when they meet each other?

Shonen Note: Boy Soprano is from Morning Two, and is by the creator of Our Dreams at Dusk, which means it automatically should go to the top of everyone’s list. It actually came out before that series in Japan, though. The story of a boy with a lovely soprano voice, and what happens when puberty starts to change that. As a Reincarnated Aristocrat, I’ll Use My Appraisal Skill to Rise in the World (Tensei Kizoku Kantei Sukiru de Nariagaru – Jakushou Ryouchi o Uketsuidanode, Yuushuuna Jinzai o Fuyashite Itara, Saikyou Ryouchi ni Natteta) is a Magazine Pocket series about… aw hell, you know what it’s about. Miss Miyazen Would Love to Get Close to You (Ochikadzuki ni Naritai Miyazen-san) is a cute romcom from… Gangan Joker? Story there, I bet. In any case, delinquent boy, proper girl, love blooms.

Avant-Garde Yumeko is a one-volume series from Shuzo Oshimi, acclaimed creator of Flowers of Evil, Blood on the Tracks, etc. This one… doesn’t have quite the same feel. Yumeko is a girl obsessed with the male organ, and she has decided that art class is the best way to see it. This is only one volume, and… gotta say “Oshimi raunchy sex comedy” is not really what I was expecting, but hey. I have heard others say it “has the subtlety of a truck”. An Older Guy’s VR First Love (VR Ojisan no Hatsukoi) is also one volume, and ran in Ichijinsha’s Zero-Sum Online. 40-ish guy plays in the VR world as a female character, and grows closer to another female in the game. But will real life get in the way? I heard this is quite serious.

Kodansha also announced print versions of a lot of series we’ve seen digitally already, including The Iceblade Sorceror Shall Rule the World (starring former Frank Zappa singer and guitar player Ray White), In the Clear Moonlit Dusk, Shangri-La Frontier, I Was Reincarnated as the 7th Prince so I Can Take My Time Perfecting My Magical Ability, and horror favorite PTSD Radio. We’re also getting box sets! Sweat & Soap, Wotakoi, and Rent-a-Girlfriend for those. And omnibuses! Noragami, Fire Force, Ghost in the Shell, and No. 6. Ghost in the Shell is supposed to have all sorts of bells and whistles (no, don’t ask about the missing pages, the answer is still no). Noise from Tsutomi Nihei will be getting a print release. No Longer Human and Dissolving Classroom will be getting Complete Editions. And, to the annoyance of many fans in the audience, Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro is also getting a box set.

Lastly, to show that Kodansha’s troll game is still A+, they announced an exciting release for Nisioisin fans! No, not Monogatari Off Season. No, not Zaregoto 4 & 5. Instead, we get Katanagatari, which had prevoiusly been released in hardcover omnibuses, as paperback omnibuses. See? Much better than Sodachi Fiasco. (Please put away those knives).

After this, I decided to check out the panel introducing Yen Audio! This had marketer Mark and editor Ivan, and also a special guest… Bryce Papenbrook! The voice of Kirito was there himself, so the usual Kiroto hate from fans was pretty much absent. We listened to a clip from the first Sword Art Online book, and he discussed the differences in acting for anime vs. acting for audio books – this was his first audiobook, something he has in common with the other actors we heard today. He loved it being first person, and also talked about having a bit more freedom with his delivery as he did not have to match the lip flaps of the animation. The second Sword Art Online audiobook has Cherami Leigh as Asuna being the narrator, but Bryce also comes back to do the Kirito stuff there.

He then left to go back to his autograph panel, and we got the rest of the audio hype. We heard clips from books already released, including Overlord, Solo Leveling, and The Saga of Tanya the Evil. And we got three new announcements! There are no narrators set just yet (though I would assume calls have been put in to J. Michael Tatum and Brianna Knickerbocker), but we got to hear that we’re getting Spice & Wolf, So I’m a Spider, So What?, and Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai. The last of those has never had an English dub, so it will be definitely interesting to see who they get.

And after this I took my leave, heading to the train to collapse and try not to fall asleep. Anime NYC 2021 was a con with lines both inside and out, but it was also a lot of fun, and attendance hit 50K despite COVID restrictions. They’ve already announced 2022, so (my feeble body permitting, I am utterly exhausted today) I will see them again.

Anime NYC 2021, Day Two

If the first day was defined by the lines outside, the 2nd day was defined by the lines INSIDE. My schedule for the day had to be adjusted a bit as it became clear that if you wanted to go to a panel, you’d better line up early. The afternoon was filled with staffers screaming “The Fate panel is full!”. Despite this, I was able to attend four excellent panels, and will regale you all with my experiences.

We start off with Yen Press, who had quite a few announcements, which I suspect are May and June 2022-ish. The Geek Ex-Hitman is a Shonen Ace Plus title about a sinister hitman who sees a cute anime figurine and decides to just abandon his entire life and move to Japan to get more. It was described as along the lines of The Way of the Househusband. The Other World’s Economy Depends on the Bean Counter (Isekai no Sata wa Shachiku Shidai) is from Enterbrain’s B’s Log Comic, and combines Isekai with BL. Nights with a Cat (Yoru wa Neko to Issho) is a Comic Walker title that is exactly what it sounds – cat manga. These are the sort of sketchy biographical titles you used to see at the back of seinen magazines but you know they’d never get licensed. Now they are.

After some giveaways, we got the manga version of Chitose-kun Is in the Ramune Bottle (Chitose-kun wa Ramune Bin no Naka), whose light novel has been announced by Yen On already (and will have a digital release as well, I checked). It runs in Square enix’s Manga Up!. Hi, I’m a Witch and My Crush Wants Me to Make a Love Potion (Doumo, Suki na Hito ni Horegusuri o Irai Sareta Majo desu) comes from Kadokawa’s Flos Comic and will be familiar to Cross Infinite World fans, as they’ve been putting out the novels. See You Tomorrow at the Food Court (Food Court de, Mata Ashita) is a 1-volume title from Comic Newtype about two unlikely friends who meet up every day to eat. This one interested me the most of the manga announced. And because its spinoffs are almost as endless as Cells at Work, we get Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka☆Magica Gaiden: Another Story. It’s a spinoff.

Light novels! There were… well, let’s call it 2 1/2 announcements. The Bride of Demise (Shuuen no Hanayome) is a dark fantasy from the creator of Torture Princess, a series I find compelling if depressing. Sasaki and Pi-chan (Sasaki to Pi-chan: Isekai de Slow Life o Tanoshi Mou Toshitara, Gendai de Inou Battle ni Makikomareta Ken – Mahou Shoujo Up o Hajimeta You Desu) has a subtitle from hell but looks quite interesting, about a pet bird who turns out to be from another world and the business of selling isekai’d stuff with the salaryman who owns him. An the reason I said 2 1/2 announcements is the third is that No Game No Life 11 will be coming out over here in chapter installments! The prologue hits digitally November 25th.

The next panel was Dark Horse Comics. They didn’t have any new manga announcements, but did have a fun panel where they reminded everyone how old the company is and how far manga has come since the late 1980s. I remember buying some of those 32-page floppy manga comics, and wish You’re Under Arrest could come back out, despite the bad art at the start. They also mentioned the fact that Japan, of course, imports Western Comics and translates them to Japanese. Adam Warren’s versions of Bubblegum Crisis and Dirty Pair can be seen in stores there translated. They also talked about artists who are well known for Western comics but are clearly manga-inspired, like Wendy Pini with Elfquest.

Speaking of the blend of east and west, Shigeru Mizuki was a huge fan of Hellboy, and wrote blurbs for its Japanese release. And of course Monkey Punch’s Lupin III is famously influenced by the Mad Magazine work of Mort Drucker and Sergio Aragones. And the creator of Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt does doujinshi for Umbrella Academy, which sounds hella cool, not gonna lie. There were a few announcements that were at least new to me. Yoshitaka Amano has two new artbooks that recently came out, and this also led to a discussion of the Vampire Hinter D omnibuses also being released. Good for fans of that author. They are also quite happy with Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, and the third volume is out next month.

After that I was supposed to meet up with Erica Friedman for a late lunch, but Zack Davisson got to her first, so instead I went to the Localization panel, which also had Carl Horn, Mari Moromoto, and Lynzee Loveridge. In other words, an all-star lineup. It was a very good panel, and the audience actually managed to be engaged and polite about it, which if nothing else shows you the panel did not happen on Twitter. Indeed, Twitter harassment of translators was mentioned at the panel, with Caleb Cook’s being a particularly painful example. The panel had a lot to talk about, but I think what came up most often is that a lot of “correct/wrong” answers depend on the material, the publisher, and the editor. Sometimes end notes are frowned upon, sometimes they’re beloved.

Erica mentioned that the ideal localization for her should be a seamless reading experience. The goal is not to see the mechanics of translation under the hood. There’s also slang – Zack avoids it, but it’s usually there in the Japanese, and Mari uses it. It can date a title, but it also means that the words don’t just lie flat on the page. Naturally, Squid Game also came up, and the kerfuffle over what turned out to be closed-captioning titles. Sometimes it’s not even something the translators can help, as they get overruled by editors, Japanese creators, etc. (I remember how ADV, way back in the day, had to fight tooth and nail to not make Ryo “Joe” Saeba in the City Hunter anime.)

We also got a reminder that Japan can see things differently than we do here. When Scarlet Johannsen was cast in Ghost in the Shell, there was a lot of pushback here. Meanwhile, Japan was like “OMG TOP HOLLYWOOD STAR!!!”. They’re far less stressed in Japan about things that we here in North America freak out over. Mostly as fans still tend to prefer titles be translated as “literally” as possible, usually meaning “I Like ‘Em Big and Stilted” (with apologies to Julie Brown). It was an excellent panel that I am happy I attended, and afterwards I was about to pass out, so I had a very late lunch and then decompressed for an hour or two. This con has 50K people, and even extroverts can get overwhelmed by it.

The last panel I did before I gave in and went back to the hotel (sorry, Manga Magazines panel, I am not 23 anymore) was J-Novel Club, with Sam Pinansky and Kristi Fernandez giving us 10 new titles – all light novels. We started off with Housekeeping Mage from Another World: Making Your Adventures Feel Like Home (Kasei Madoushi no Isekai Seikatsu: Boukenchuu no Kasei Fugyou Uketamawarimasu!), a J-Novel Heart title about an isekai’d woman (though that rapidly becomes unimportant, a with a lot of isekai titles where they clearly want to write fantasy but know what sells) and the adventurer who loves her.

Fantasy Inbound is a title that may have a lot of hardcore fans saying “but what about Campione!?, as it’s by the same author. It’s a story where the isekai comes to OUR world… and things do not go well. After the apocalypse, can a student survivor and an elf girl try to salvage something? Prison Life Is Easy for a Villainess (Konyaku Haki kara Hajimaru Akuyaku Reijou no Kangoku Slow Life) is a short two-volume series where the villainess happily accepts her ex throwing her in prison… because she STILL has all the power. I’ve actually recommended this as a license request, it’s supposed to be hilarious.

To Another World… with Land Mines! (Isekai Teni, Jirai Tsuki) has a class transported to another world and all getting cool powers, but our hero seems to be one of the few people taking it seriously as a real-life (and possible death) matter. Forget Being the Villainess, I Want to Be an Adventurer! (Tensei Reijou wa Boukensha wo Kokorozasu) is what it sounds like a villainess title where the heroine tries to avoid her fate by doing something else. My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex: Why Can’t We Move On? (Mamahaha no Tsurego ga Motokano datta) is a high school romance… well, ex-romance about a middle-school couple who broke up but are now siblings.

Magic Knight of the Old Ways (Furuki Okite No Mahou Kishi) is similar to Fantasy Unbound, as fans will say “But what about Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor?”. Indeed, they may be doubly annoyed as this seems to have a similar premise of magic knights teaches a group of students. Saint? No, I’m Just a Passing Beast Tamer! (Seijo-sama? Iie, Toorisugari no Mamonotsukai desu!) is a series about a chosen one who decides she’d much rather pet furry animals, from the creator of Woof Woof Story: I Told You to Turn Me Into a Pampered Pooch, Not Fenrir!.

My Quiet Blacksmith Life in Another World (Kajiya de Hajimeru Isekai Slow Life) is a slowlife isekai about a guy who (no surprise) finds out he’s super powerful, and also that the cat he asked for is a catgirl. Like most slow life titles, the goal is to keep having it and not get dragged back in. The most surprising announcement (well, almost) came next, with When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace (Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de), an older LN series from the writer of Are You Okay With a Slightly Older Girlfriend? and the artist for The Devil Is a Part-Timer!. What if you got super-awesome powers to help save the world… and nothing happened and you’re still going to school like normal?

Finally, the surprise announcement came via a very familiar voice. We’re getting Slayers in audiobook form, read by the legendary Lisa Ortiz herself! I’m interested in seeing how this goes, as I think Lina in the anime and Lina in the light novel are two very different beasts. In any case, it was a very fun panel but I was wiped, so I went back to the hotel to… well, type this all up. But I am going to go get a late supper now, I promise! And there’s still SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY! Though give the lines from today, I think I will limit myself to two panels.

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.