Looking back on '08 manga


POSTED: Monday, January 05, 2009

Last week, I took a look at how 2008 fared for the anime industry. This week, it's the manga industry's turn under my microscope ... albeit in somewhat abridged form, because there's also a cool event happening locally that I wanted to highlight:


The Toppers

» Viz. “;Naruto”; continues to be the ninja-infused engine driving the industry. “;Bleach”; and “;Death Note”; remain popular. Anything stamped with the “;Shonen Jump”; and “;Shojo Beat”; imprints seems to sell well. And any company that licenses more series by Naoki Urasawa, creator of the must-read mature thriller “;Monster,”; gets a great big smiley face in my book.


The Toppled

» Tokyopop. The self-proclaimed “;leader of the manga revolution”; has fallen on hard times as of late, cutting jobs, slowing down its release schedule and leaving readers questioning whether series like “;Suppli,”; “;Kindaichi Case Files”; and “;Lagoon Engine”; will ever be completed. You'd also have to think Tokyopop isn't relishing the thought of its most popular series, “;Fruits Basket,”; reaching its conclusion this year.

» Broccoli. Cute cat-girls, the Galaxy Angels, pretty “;Disgaea”; artbooks, high production standards and a regularly updated blog by Broccoli operations director Shizuki Yamashita unfortunately didn't translate into profits for the U.S. branch of this Japanese publisher, which has called it quits.

The passing of Broccoli, however, comes with one bright footnote: Upon news of the closure, Yamashita offered packages with no-longer-needed promotional materials to interested public libraries nationwide. It was a kind gesture, and one that I understand several local libraries took advantage of.


The 'What the ...?' File

» ”;Yen Plus.”; This anthology of manga—both of the Japanese and original-English-language variety—and Korean “;manhwa”; published monthly by Yen Press has found its audience ... and its members are apparently willing to pay big bucks online for back issues to complete their collections.

Just how much? Try $102.50, $122.50 and $123.16, the prices that the second issue sold for on eBay in three separate auctions recently. The newsstand price for the issue: $8.99.

Let's put that into perspective. There were 11 series continuing in that issue, each with one chapter. At $123.16 it breaks down to about $11.20 per chapter, which means someone's paying more for one chapter than the value of the entire magazine. Wow ...


New Year's Festival

The coming of the new year means it's time once again for the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii's annual New Year's Ohana Festival, at the center and Moiliili Field in Moiliili, Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Aside from the usual food, craft booths, entertainment and cultural demonstrations, several local anime institutions will be represented. Oahu Anime Explorer will be screening the latest anime and hosting a display, while representatives of the local anime convention, Kawaii Kon, also will be there. And JN Productions will be hosting appearances by the Kikaida Brothers, Inazuman and actor Ban Daisuke ...