Viz or Tokyopop?

The manga_talk community asks “Viz or Tokyopop?” (via) Well, that’s my rephrasing; they used “vs.”, which brought back too many “DC or Marvel” fangirl flashbacks. Specifically, three questions:

  1. Which do you prefer, Viz or Tokyopop? Why? (Is it because of the titles, translation, packaging or anything else?)
  2. Which is the better publisher, in your opinion? Why? (Again, is it because of the titles, translation, packaging or anything else?)
  3. Why do you think other people prefer Viz/Tokyopop over the other?

I was surprised to see that the answers to 1 and 2, which I expected to be the same, often varied. (Although the answers were most often “Viz” and “both/neither”, with the second often expanding into a list of gripes and complaints.) Here’s my answers:

  1. Viz. I’m currently following all of these series from them:

    while my Tokyopop manga series are Fruits Basket, The Kindaichi Case Files, and Tramps Like Us. (Although TLU is my #1 favorite.) Now, I do also follow these original titles:

    but as time goes on, the more I come to believe that those shouldn’t be included in a discussion of manga. Tokyopop also has a history of releasing unfinished titles (Alichino, INVU, Legal Drug), which I find very frustrating.

    I am much more likely to sample a Viz title within their shôjo imprint, because that brand has been a good indicator of success for me in the past. (The cheaper cost, $9 vs. $10, doesn’t hurt.) I also began reading manga avidly because of a Viz title, Hot Gimmick, so I have a certain fondness for them to start.

  2. Again, Viz. Their imprints are helpful in guiding readers, and they seem more reliable (releasing series volumes on predictable schedules and reducing reader fear that a beloved title will simply stop coming out). Tokyopop gives off too much of an impression that they’re chasing trends and willing to do anything for a buck (such as ruining their website’s usability in order to become a myspace-like “community”).
  3. I think a lot of people have preferences based on which titles they enjoy reading, which makes sense. Where once they started the shôjo boom, Tokyopop now seems aimed at the boys who want fan service, which turns me off.

30 Comments

  1. Can I vote for Del Rey instead?

  2. Ralf Haring

    I find myself buying more from Viz than TokyoPop, but I liked the initiative TokyoPop showed in pursuing new talent with their OEL books. As far as satisfaction with all the books, I’d have to give a shout-out to Vertical. The two Tezuka series I’ve bought from them have both been superb and among my favorite comics, regardless of country of origin.

  3. Ali T. Kokmen

    >Can I vote for Del Rey instead?

    I swear I did not pay him to say that. But I certainly appreciate the sentiment, Ed!

    –ATK

  4. I find it interesting that you single out Tokyopop for publishing unfinished series.

    When I usually hear people complain about unfinished series, they’re referring to a US publisher simply dropping it due to poor sales, and Viz has taken far more grief for that than Tokyopop has (though they have dropped a couple, and I fear the same fate will face Kindaichi) and ADV, sadly, trumps everyone in that department.

    US Publishers licensing titles that remain unfinished in Japan (or Korea, etc) is somewhat rarer, although again, not unheardof. The only other examples leaping to mind are Drakuun from Dark Horse and a CPM series (I want to say Maxion?)

  5. What series has Viz not completed? I’m guessing that you’re talking about examples from before I started following manga… or I’m just overlooking something.

    The three Tpop I listed fall into your second category, publishing series that never finished in their country of origin.

  6. AnimeOnDVD.com‘s Manga Comparison Chart is a good place to get a rundown on the various different manga that have been published in the US (and how they were presented — flipped/unflipped). Glancing over the chart it seems Viz has been able to keep most series afloat for the past few years, but there are a number of titles left dead from the 90s. Urusei Yatsura got a few different runs but remains unfinished, Masami Yuuki’s Patlabor manga still sits sadly on my shelf with only two released volumes, and Area 88 and Blackjack are in limbo. The only recent example is an odd one — an October release of just one volume of Kazuo Umetsu’s horror manga Orochi.

    Interestingly, I would count Viz as my favorite publisher, mainly based on the quality of their titles and the presentation. However, I feel that most of the companies nowadays are doing things right, from unflipped to fx translation to quality translation/adaptation. It’s not very common for me to think “Oh no, I hope Company x doesn’t get this title.”

    Although if there was a company that I thought that about, it would be Tokyopop. I still can’t discern whether that’s my issues with their quality or just in their general business practices.

  7. Ed Sizemore

    Johanna, Urusei Yatsura (Return of Lum) is one of the glaring examples. This was the series that Rumiko Takahashi did before Ranma 1/2. Viz only published 9 volumes out of 34. Also there is the 2nd volume of Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga that was never published.

  8. Oh man, I forgot about Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga. :( Now I’m sad all over again.

  9. I forgot that one, too, but I think it’s one of Ed’s favorites, given how he’s quick to mention it when appropriate. Most of those mentioned are pre-current format (larger size), aren’t they?

  10. Yeah, I think a lot of the titles Viz dropped were ones that came from a time when the manga market was very different.

    I would add, however, that Phoenix has never been abandoned but has gone throught start/stop scheduling with some decent gaps.

  11. Ed Sizemore

    I confess I love Even A Monkey Can Draw Manga. I love good satire and parody and this is the best manga I’ve read for both. Plus, I think I hold it dearer because it was never completed.

    I do give credit to Viz for sticking with Phoenix. It has been a harrowing ride, but the end looks to be in sight. I think they are publishing this less for money and more as a point of pride. This work is often cited by manga critics as one of the best and Tezuka considered it his life’s work. Viz can point to this as one example of thier committment to publish quality manga.

    Now if they could go back and publish all the missing Urusei Yatsura material and finish the Black Jack material so I can complete my collection on these two series.

  12. I’m a Vertical fan- how can you not love those sweet Chip Kidd designs?

  13. Ed Sizemore

    Ray, I like Vertical too, but they have only done two series so far. I think they need a few more under their belt before they are considered a major manga publisher. I also hope they will continue to offer hardcover copies of their works. I really wanted to get Ode to Kirihito in hardcover, especially given its size.

  14. [...] Johanna gives her take on the Viz/Tokyopop question posed at Manga_Talk. [...]

  15. I don’t mind the unfinished series thing so much, as they seem to be items that just fill in the publishing gaps, and are often titles we wouldn’t see otherwise.
    Though VIZ does have the nice amount of Shogakuen and Shueisha titles to chose from…. we get to see a lot of classic and major titles from them. I think it’s a tossup. You get tosee more offbeat stuff from TP [like Korean series like Saver, which is fantastic], as well as their original titles, so I could really go either way. And then when you factor in other publishers…. :)

  16. I want to vote for Del Rey too! (and DH. Honorable mentions to 7 Seas, and gee cmx isn’t sooo bad, they’ve got Emma)

    Re: Ursei Yatsura – that was pre-boom stuff. Finishing that is riddled with problems: it’s old in it’s original form, so there’s no lively overseas fan market to provolke a US otaku grassroots interest, it probably doesn’t match the current market’s expectations for Rumiko Takahashi’s stuff (not particularly Inuyasha-like), the artwork may not be readily available for the whole run (things get lost), it would have to be translated not only for content, but for the historical context of late 70’s Japan, and the the original 9 books that were released would have to be released again, since the originals have been out of print for so long. Plus, cartoon boobies. None of these problems is insurmountable, but they make the series something that doesn’t fit Viz’s normal workflow.

  17. Rob, the irony is that Animeigo just published the last DVD for the Urusei Yatsura TV series. It took them 14 years to publish all the DVDs. So there has to be some love out there still for the series.

  18. I, too, would vote for Del Rey if it was an option.

    Lacking that, hmm. I can’t help but be biased for TokyoPop on the grounds that they have the Blu line. But if you exclude Blu, Viz has a lot more titles that I like (especially Host Club).

    Although I was reading D.Gray-Man 3 (Viz) the other day, and they used two different romanizations for Linali in the book, which was a bit disconcerting.

    I don’t read a LOT of TP books (I follow maybe 4-5 of of their series, including TLU– a favorite of mine as well, Johanna), but I’ve never noticed them having translation glitches…at least, none at that level of significance.

    And, for the record, I would totally buy more Urusei Yatsura manga. ^-^

  19. RE: Urusei – The “problems” Rob mentions aren’t as big as he makes. Takahashi stuff is going to sell no matter what it’s age is. Viz has put out just about every other series by her (Ranma, Inuyasha, Masion Ikko) so doing this series properly shouldn’t be an issue. And I don’t think there is anything in Urusei that would need a “historical context” translation. It’s a comedy romance. I think that’s what makes Takahashi’s manga so popular. It’s timeless. The situations could happen 20 years ago, today or 20 years from now. And they would still be funny.

    Besides, if they can do Dr. Slump (which is filled with 70’s-early 80’s references), then Urusei should be a piece of cake. Especially since they have already done several of the stories. I would prefer to see a re-release of the volumes and see it done properly. They re-released Dragon Ball and Ranma to manga-sized format. Doing the same for Urusei would fit perfectly in their workflow.

  20. [...] You love us! You really (sniff) love us (sniff)! (Thanks, Eric S., for the link) [...]

  21. [...] Thanks to much patient help from Del Rey’s new Manga Marketing Manager, Ali Kokmen, I am now finally subscribed to their monthly newsletter! I’d signed up a number of times, but nothing ever showed up — turns out that the “allow non-Western characters” option had to be set on my email account. (Duh on me!) I’m looking forward to finding out more about their books, because they’re so well-packaged I’d like to be reading more of them… but that depends on whether any of the stories grab me. I was impressed, though, by the number of readers mentioning them favorably in the Viz or Tokyopop comments thread. [...]

  22. Hey, I didn’t mean to be negative. :)
    I said: None of these problems is insurmountable, but they make the series something that doesn’t fit Viz’s normal workflow.
    That’s all.
    Just more work, more time, than a regular series. No big. There is a finite amount of time available to the folks at Viz to get stuff done, just like for the rest of us in the real world. (I could be working on drawing my comics instead of writing this, for instance. :) ) These problems aren’t insurmountable, and I believe that UY will be released again – but I’m not thinking soon. I’d love for them to prove me wrong.

  23. I like both but I have been trying to keeping up with Hikaru no Go and Naruto for some time now and a lot of others since I don’t understand any words in japanese words but baka. I hope i spell that right.

  24. i find myself buying tokyopop more than viz
    but i hate how they never finish a series….
    but i really dont get into what viz has, but atleast they continue it

  25. For me, a lot more T-Pop books appeal to me because they’re more niche. I really like the amount of CLAMP works available from T-Pop, plus there’s this unknown quality about them that really speaks to me over Viz. I would love to read more Del Rey books (haven’t read a single 1 yet, but there are a few lookers).

    ARIA, Chobits, Legal Drug, and most manhwa would appeal to me over Naruto any day. I don’t have anything against a mainstream series such as that, I just like a series that’s more than just battles. Death Note is an good choice as it’s not too “Jump”-ey. I guess I like a manga that doesn’t like to be so “extra” and “over-the-top”.

  26. the yellow mail

    viz – reason is that most mangas i have are published by them not that im a viz fan so i buy their books its just their titles interest me way more. when i buy books i don’t care who publish them as long its good.
    here are examples of titles i like:
    Death note (thriller,mystery, fantasy)
    monster (thriller, mystery)
    20th century boys (sci fi, thriller mystery)
    kenshin (historical, fantasy)
    slam dunk (comedy, sports)
    ral and grad (fantasy)

    i know tokyopop and viz have alot fo same genre of mangas and what im about to say might not be true but tokyopop seems to give me an impression that they specialize in romance and cute type of mangas oh not to mention heavy commercial ones as well which i don’t like.(except gundam lol<–gundam fan)

    there are other decent mangas as well published by other publishers like del rey’s alive:the final evolution(thriller, fantasy)

  27. Yeah, now I’m weary of T-pop. They have a few good ones, but I won’t get carried away as to say they are doing things right or that they’re a top quality publisher (Kyo Kara Maoh was just released with SEVERAL mistakes).

    I don’t hate T-pop because I never followed any of the series they cancelled, but I’m sure it left a lot of fans unhappy.

    On the other hand, it’s stupid to favour a certain publisher because it’s all about the LICENSES that appeal to you. I love a few series from many different publishers, and it’s not right to feel pressured to buy from a struggling company either unless you LIKE their releases.

    One person alone is not going to save the publishing industry so it’s better to just buy from whichever pub you want instead of “declaring your loyalty”.

  28. given that my only real experience with Tokyopop was colleting iD_entity [aka Yurika, i believe.] which they dropped after volume 12. volume 16 is the end of the first arc. it’s up to volume 30 something in french, apparently, and t he original Korean is a lot further along. if i remember the numbers right anyway. as a result, I’m not hugely impressed with them. which isn’t to say they’re not a good publisher i suppose, just that i got burned on that one.

    Viz on the other hand, publishes several series that i have on my shelf, all of which are pretty good. no problems there.

    i would like CMX [Emma is awesome] but i really don’t know what was going on with volumes 6 and 7 of Emma there :S [that seems to come up a lot] Dark Horse wins just for publishing Oh My Goddess! mmm. seven seas… Captain Nemo. *sigh*

    adv is disliked. i dunno what they were doing there. Yen Press [or is that one word?], however, is [potentially] made of win. I’ve not yet got anything of theirs, but…. Yotsuba&!

    whee. vaguely on topic ramble :)

  29. I’d choose reliable VIZ over dead Tokyopop any day.

  30. I don’t think its so much the publisher that matters as it is the material. I have manga from several different publishers, the most notable being:

    – Clover [Dark Horse]
    – +Anima [Tokyo Pop]
    – Pandora Hearts [Yen Press]
    – Time Stranger Kyoko [Viz]

    However, I have to say that although Viz shows the most consistency in publishing, it seems that their works are a bit more similar to each other. Whereas with Tokyo Pop, Yen Press, and Dark Horse, you can find more unique works that appeal to more specific audiences. So. . . I like them all!

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