Tokyopop reorganizes and trims
It's no secret that the past few months haven't been kind to the anime industry in the United States. Since last November, Geneon and Super Techno Arts shut down, ADV suffered from a financial hiccup, ImaginAsian Entertainment lost its DVD supplier and Bandai Visual USA was absorbed by Bandai Entertainment.
Last week it was the manga industry's turn to be rocked by news of cutbacks. After a period of what seemed like endless growth at Tokyopop, the publisher announced last week that it would be splitting into two companies and laying off 39 employees. One entity, Tokyopop Media LLC, will incorporate comics-to-film and digital projects, while Tokyopop Inc. will handle publishing duties.
Another bad sign: According to Anime News Network, Tokyopop will cut production from 470 manga volumes a year to 225 to 240 volumes a year. Where the publisher decides to cut back -- Japanese- and Korean-licensed series, original English-language manga and its novel lines are all suspect -- is unknown, but I wouldn't be surprised to see some lower-selling series hit the chopping block.
That all of this is happening isn't surprising, really. In 2002, Tokyopop -- and the manga industry in general -- was a leaner entity, and it could snag popular licenses like "Fruits Basket," "Initial D" and "Love Hina." The industry in 2008 is a much more crowded place, though.
There have been a few bright spots in its lineup as of late -- "Gakuen Alice" and "V.B. Rose" are two titles in my "to read" queue, and the fact that any mainstream company would be gutsy enough to license and publish "Manga Sutra" has to count for something. (If you're not familiar with "Manga Sutra," or "Futari H" as it's called in the original Japanese, it's basically a sex manual in an ongoing manga series format.) But it seemed as if Tokyopop lost its way, opting for quantity over quality with its licenses.
Hopefully, the reorganization will be just what the company needs to compete more effectively in the current market ...
Pups hit the road
Summer vacation is here, and that means only one thing: It's time to hit the libraries. That's what the minds behind KimonoKitsy Studios and online comic "nemu*nemu," Audra Furuichi and Scott Yoshinaga, will be doing this summer, anyway.
Their visits, kicking off on Thursday, are part of the state library system's Teen Summer Reading Program. The couple will offer a 45-minute presentation on the process of creating and posting comics online.
Here are their scheduled appearances for this week; more are planned through July 20, so check back here for weekly updates:
» Aiea Library: Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
» Hawaii Kai Library: Saturday, 11 a.m.
» Aina Haina Library: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Best wishes to Audra, by the way, as she continues to recover from surgery to treat a hemorrhagic cyst, suffered soon after the couple appeared at the Fanime anime convention in San Jose, Calif., in late May ...
Cel Shaded, a look at the world of Japanese anime and manga, appears every Monday. Reach Jason S. Yadao