ADV Manga’s ‘Doomed 54’ fate mostly set
THE SAGA of ADV Manga is one of those gifts to columnists that keeps on giving.
To recap: A little over a year ago, tag-team partner Wilma J. and I wrote a "Drawn & Quartered" column about the publisher's shaky record of completing its licensed manga series. You can read it at starbulletin.com/2006/06/11/features/story03.html, but the bottom line is that out of 79 series announced since ADV Manga debuted in 2003, 54 had vanished into publishing limbo by June 2006. We dubbed those the "Doomed 54" and profiled a few of the titles.
So what went wrong? I asked ADV co-founder and producer David Williams about it during a panel discussion at the Kawaii Kon anime convention a few months ago, and he said market conditions at the time were largely to blame.
"I think one of the biggest mistakes we made with the manga division in the early days is flooding the market, just coming out with so many titles," Williams said. "And that was at the same time that so many other companies were just getting into the manga business. Everybody was jumping into it, and the retailers said, 'Look, we can't deal with all this much content coming out at once,' which is one reason why we pulled back on a lot of this stuff."
Since then, there have been a few signs of life on the original list. Most significant is that one series, "Maburaho," was quietly resurrected and completed. Volume 1 was released April 25, 2005; the second and final volume was released earlier this year on March 5. Tokyopop picked up four more: "Tactics" (last seen Oct. 4, 2004), "Peacemaker Kurogane" (March 22, 2005), "Aria" (Nov. 23, 2004) and "Boku to Kanojo no XXX" (formerly known as "Your and My Secret," June 22, 2004). It plans to reboot all four series at Volume 1. "Tactics" is available now.
And then there's "Yotsuba&!" and "Gunslinger Girl," the two series indirectly responsible for us writing that column in the first place. While both series' fourth volumes were listed on the Diamond Comics shipping list for last Wednesday, my searches at three local comic book stores turned up only "Gunslinger Girl." (If anyone has found the fourth volume of "Yotsuba&!" locally, please let me know. I'll be your best friend forever.)
As for comebacks for the remaining 47 series, fans probably shouldn't hold their collective breath. Williams did say that the company is trying to get out what they still have, but it's up to the market to decide.
But in an interview last month with Chris Macdonald of Anime News Network, ADV co-founder and CEO John Ledford said most of the licenses to the series the company picked up in 2003 and 2004 have already expired.
"If there are 400 to 500 really avid fans out there that want volume X of title Y, well, sorry, but we can't help you, and I don't think anyone else can, either," Ledford said. "No one will put a product on the market when it's not sustainable."
Cel Shaded, a look at the world of Japanese anime and manga, appears every Monday. Reach Jason S. Yadao