It appears that other companies are learning from the success of Viz’s accelerated Naruto release program — Del Rey is launching their new Fairy Tail series at the end of the month with simultaneous release of the first two books.
Fairy Tail is by Hiro Mashima, the creator of Rave Master, and it’s a top ten manga bestseller in Japan (according to the publicity materials). It’s described as the story of a “cute girl wizard” (not witch?) who has wacky friends, including a talking cat, and fights pirates. It sounds and looks to me like manga-by-the-cliches.
The plan makes sense to me. If customers are interested, the publisher gets double the money and shelf space with no more marketing costs. But it’ll only work so long as it’s still a rare occurrence; once everyone does it, stores and customers will get swamped and publishers will have to figure out a new approach.