Manga News Bites

Viz Omnibuses

Rurouni Kenshin cover
Rurouni Kenshin
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Viz is joining the omnibus trend (a much-applauded one on my end) by announcing the VIZBIG Edition imprint. These volumes collect three regular-size manga books for $17.99. It’s an obvious great deal for those who’ve never tried a series, but to entice those who already have the content, they’re also including “bonus color pages and added content such as author interviews, updated text, and character art.”

The first title, Rurouni Kenshin, comes out at the end of this month. Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z are due in May and Vagabond in September.

I love bigger books for lower prices, but I wonder what kind of long-term effects these projects will have. It’s getting to be like DVDs … the longer you wait, the better package you get, so why buy at release? With the current Amazon preorder discount, the book is just over $12, which compares very favorably with the non-discounted price of $30! for the three books bought separately.

Dark Horse Shojo?

Oh My Goddess! Book 1 cover
Oh My Goddess! Book 1
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You’ve likely already seen a link to this interview with Mike Richardson, CEO of Dark Horse. I’m curious about his quote, “we now have several shojo titles that are doing very well.” What are they? I only think of boy-targeted manga coming out from them, either horror or Oh My Goddess. I know they’ve got some CLAMP work planned, but the way I’m reading his comment suggests he’s talking about something already released. What am I forgetting?

(Mike goes on to say “it’s hard to get noticed particularly if you’re a writer, because we have to take time to read those scripts and that’s a hard thing to do with all the scripts we already have. … On the Internet though, someone who may not have been able to get noticed can put up their own strip.” How does a writer do that, exactly? Unless they’re James Hatton.)

An Excellent Top Ten List

Dallas Middaugh, Associate Publisher at Del Rey Manga, posts his top ten of 2007 list. I’m kind of “eh” on 6-10, but 2-5 are great, and I guess that means I should read #1.

He also asks some good questions about PW’s top ten manga list. For their other comic end-of-year coverage, they ask several people to participate to create a combined result (including me). I don’t understand why they don’t do the same thing when it comes to manga. For that matter, why do two different lists, since manga’s allowed on the “big list”, and this year, non-manga showed up on the manga one?

I hope Dallas does ask Japanese editors what they think of Jeffrey Brown — I’d love to know.

Viz Titles for Spring

Sand Chronicles Book 1 cover
Sand Chronicles Book 1
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Viz has always been my favorite manga publisher, because their works, especially shojo titles, are most consistently satisfying to me. I’m thrilled by their list of new series for first quarter 2008 (link no longer available).

I’ve already covered (and recommended) High School Debut. After hearing good things, I have copies of Sand Chronicles and Honey and Clover on the way, and I expect to enjoy them too. The other titles branch out somewhat, covering different genres for wider variety of readers. Which are you looking forward to?

Undertown Daily Strip

OEL manga Undertown, just mentioned in Tokyopop’s manga magazine, is getting more promotion. It’s become a Sunday comic strip.

[Writer] Jim Pascoe announced today that his original English-language manga UNDERTOWN will be the new property running in TOKYOPOP’s syndicated slot starting … Sunday, January 6, 2008. Since 2005, TOKYOPOP has provided a rotating selection of manga to Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes comics and columns globally to newspapers. Over 50 papers plan to carry Undertown, including the Los Angeles Times, Denver Post, Vancouver Sun, and Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

I’ve never seen one of these manga strips; I imagine it’s frustrating, getting only three or four panels of a story a week when it can be read as one book.

Read Gott Gauss Online

I haven’t had a chance to check it out, but artist Viviane would like you to read her manga Gott Gauss. It was originally published in German, and then translated into English and put online. Let me know what you think.

Good for the Goose…

This site thinks Death Note is great. (I thought it was terribly disappointing.) They attack criticism of the series as not being “detailed and intelligent”, yet their defense of the book consists of the words “fantastic”, “super smart”, and “great” repeated six times. If they want more intelligent criticism, maybe they should demonstrate it first?

They also remind us “What you like and what is objectively good do not always match up,” which I totally agree with. I have my own guilty pleasures, certainly. But it applies to them as well — just because they liked it doesn’t mean it’s good.

21 Comments

  1. Dark Horse has that new Korean shoujo out, “Bride of the Water God,” but maybe they’re also referring to the seinen title Translucent, which the website touts as a shoujo. No, no, no. Silly Dark Horse…you’d think that after all these years and everybody complaining about how Oh My Goddess is NOT a shoujo, they would’ve learned. Nope!

  2. As I understand it, some of Dark Horse’s horror titles are shoujo — I understand Tomie was a shoujo title when it came out. Thing is you wouldn’t know it from Dark Horse’s marketing…. if Richardson is thinking of those he’s trying to have his cake and eat it too.

    I wonder what kind of long-term effects these projects will have. It’s getting to be like DVDs … the longer you wait, the better package you get, so why buy at release?

    I think that’s the balancing at with determining which titles get the omnibus treatment. The counter-argument to your concern (a valid one, I should make clear) is that the omnibus editions can break down the entry barrier for a story with plenty of volumes out.

    For example, I look at the number of GTO titles out and it’s stopped me from sampling the series since I worry about volumes I can’t find and those volumes look very expensive because of their number (which is admittedly silly since I’m only going to buy a couple volumes at a time regardless of how many are available).

    So the trick is finding titles where there are more potential customers who are still putting off sampling the series.

  3. Oh, I didn’t think about Dark Horse using the title inaccurately. Or that horror could be shojo. (My bias against the genre showing.)

    And yes, Lyle, very true that the omnibi are a great idea to prop up a scarily long series.

  4. Dark Horse publishes the print version of Red String, which is a shoujo global manga, but they don’t seem to really market it as such.

  5. […] Comics Worth Reading, Johanna Draper Carlson comments on a number of recent manga developments, including the Viz omnibuses and Mike Richardson’s […]

  6. […] Johanna Draper Carlson rounds up some recent manga news items and offers her own thoughts. (Pop quiz: Does Dark Horse actually publish any shôjo, or just manga titles from other categories that people who like shôjo might enjoy?) […]

  7. Johanna, I think, too, there could probably a cultural bias at work, not just your dislike of horror.

    I think in the US we’re trained to think of horror as a genre for male audiences and that female horror fans have atypical tastes (or that its not really horror if its audience isn’t mostly male), even if there are different tendencies that can be found between the genders.

  8. Building on what Lyle said, though you can find horror manga in magazines for both male and female audiences, the horror-themed manga magazines I’ve heard of are shojo or josei.

  9. Oh, yes, I should have remembered Red String. And Lyle makes an excellent point about how difficulties can arise in translating “for boys” and “for girls” from one culture to another. James, are there any translated manga horror stories I’d’ve heard of that are shojo?

  10. mark thorpe

    Hanami, What’s Micheal? (don’t care what anyone says; if it’s about a cat it’s shojo), and Club 9 is one of the old ones. I don;t know what the fuss is about, I find Berserk to be very romantic.

  11. I love Genshiken, but most the rest of that Del Rey list I either tried and didn’t like (Parasyte, Guru Guru Pon-Chan, xxxHolic–though I followed that for a while before getting tired of it) or know I wouldn’t like because of the genre (any horror/thriller stuff). I might try Emma, though.

    And I quite liked High School Debut, which I tried on your recommendation.

  12. I wondered why Hanami wasn’t ringing a bell, and then I discovered it was manhua, which I don’t pay much attention to. I love your rule shojo=cat!

  13. Some shojo horror: Scary Book, Reiko the Zombie Shop, Tomie, Petshop of Horrors, Vampire Princess Miyu, and maybe Octopus Girl (which seems much more like an insider’s than an outsider’s shojo parody, but I don’t actually know).

  14. Ok, I’m familiar with Petshop of Horrors, so that helps me better visualize the type, thank you!

  15. Hanami, Bride of the Water God, Translucent are all being published right now, and they all could be considered shojo.

  16. Regarding shoujo manga, I’d also add their Harlequin pink and violet manga lines to the list; haven’t read any myself though. ~_^

  17. Oh, I completely forgot all about those — of course, they’re the most obvious. How easy it is to overlook a line once it’s over!

    Personally, I want to hear more from Lianne about why Translucent isn’t a shojo.

  18. I’m no expert when it comes to Japanese mags/anthologies, but Translucent originally ran in Comic Flapper, published by Media Factory. This mag is marketed as seinen; other series that have run in this publication are the panty-fest Najica, Suikoden III, Skullman, Fantastic Children, etc. Twin Spica (also published in Comic Flapper) wouldn’t seem to fit the seinen mold either, but I guess the target demographic loves their slice of life schoolgirl stories? :p

  19. Interesting. Have you (or anyone) read Translucent? Does it have elements that would aim it, in the US point of view, at males or females?

  20. Schoolgirl stories in a seinen magazine are generally “moé”: the voyeuristic yet oftentimes non-sexual genre of the adventures of young girls for older male readers. Azumanga Daioh and Strawberry Marshmallow are both moé, as is Translucent. Wikipedia can tell you more.

    The US would probably consider the target readership for Translucent to be female, since the lead character is female and she spends her days dealing with her personal high school problems. But since the lead female is a cliché, shy, demure girl who is still desired by the people around her (yet her fabricated problems are all centered on her NOT being desired), she’s a pretty typical example of a male mangaka sloppily wallowing in femininity without actually understanding it, making her, well, more of a fetish than a character female readers are supposed to relate to. I know that sounds harsh, but I find it hard to describe sub-par moé any other way. The opposite of moé stories for boys are stories for girls with ensembles of unrealistic, beautiful boys who suffer from cliché angst in a superficial and oftentimes very “unmanly” way. Example: Gundam Wing.

    Like with Oh My Goddess, Translucent was originally made to appeal to boys, and thus throwing it at girls because it has superficial ties to our media’s definitions of “femininity” (love stories are for girls, schoolgirl leads are for girls) undermines the female audience and perpetuates stereotypes of “what women want” that were originally pushed, in many cases, by male creators. Shoujo and josei don’t necessarily have to be written by women, but they’re written FOR women, and that’s a very important difference. Girls deserve a genre designed for them, don’t you think? Especially since in this country, pieces of media aimed at “both genders” tend to slant, arguably, toward adolescent male. We don’t need manga falling into the same trap, thank you.

  21. Wow, interesting analysis, thank you.

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