Tokyopop Pricing: I Don’t Understand

I’m looking at four title launches Tokyopop has coming out in June. (All prices in U.S. dollars.)

Takeru: Opera Susanoh Sword of the Devil Volume 1 cover

Takeru: Opera Susanoh Sword of the Devil Volume 1 is a standard format manga title, which means 192 pages for $10.99, their new price point. (But it’s selling at 20% off on Amazon, which puts it at $8.79. That may be why they shifted from $9.99 — under $10 books don’t get discounted as much as over $10 books do, so even though the cover price is more, the customer may end up paying less while feeling like they got more of a deal.)

The paper is flimsy, rough newsprint, and the cover also feels lightweight. The story is about an epic quest to find a magic sword to “restore balance” to the land. In other words, a common story type in manga, with nothing obviously setting it apart from many other tales, although the characters are attractive. It’s due out June 9.

Samurai Harem: Asu no Yoichi Volume 1 cover

Out a week earlier, on June 2, is Samurai Harem: Asu no Yoichi Volume 1. This is also 192 pages, also newsprint, but it’s $12.99 (which means Amazon has it at $9.55). Is the two-dollar raise because it’s got a Mature rating? I’m speculating that either the age restriction limits the potential audience, so a higher price is needed, or the company feels they can get more money out of an older customer.

As to the content, the first story page includes two different panty shots, a cleavage panel, and a dripping wet huge-breasted girl. That’s pretty much the purpose of the series, right there, although there’s some plot about country samurai boy coming to the city where he studies at a school with four hot girls and no adult supervision. I admire the back cover copy writers, who say, “Bushido, babes, and battle … in the great tradition of classic fanservice manga.” There are boob grabs, naked fantasies, panty shots, and panels filled with nothing but breasts. If you’re the audience for this, you know it, and yes, you probably will pay an extra $2 for it.

Gakuen Heaven-Nakajima cover

Tokyopop already knows that yaoi fans will pay more for their pleasures, which is why the Blu imprint starts at $14.99 (or $10.19 at a 32% discount). Gakuen Heaven-Nakajima, due June 16, is an alternate take (the author calls it a “parallel universe”) on the previous Gakuen Heaven manga in which new student Keita winds up with a different one of his fellow students at an all-boys school.

Gravitation Collection 1 cover

Yet for the same price as a standard-sized yaoi title, $14.99, you can get Gravitation Collection 1, a double-sized re-release of two previous volumes under one cover (also out June 16). Both for size and for content (it’s the best read from this bunch), this is definitely your best value. Just ignore the back cover, which promises a “gorgeous” collection — it’s the same thin cover and newsprint paper as the other books — and “hot exciting extras” (four sketchy head shots of characters).

Gravitation is shonen-ai (more dating, more hints, less sex than yaoi), and it’s soapy fun. Boys want to be rock stars, and the ride is quite emotional, especially when an older writer tells the wannabe singer exactly what he thinks of his lyrics. Portrait of a young man obsessed as a result.

The art is what I think of as 80s style. Not because it’s overdrawn or “girly”, but because it’s all big chins and poofy hair on top of the head and it reminds me of Boys Over Flowers. It’s a real page-turner, easy to zip through and plenty to enjoy in this big hunk of book.


  1. Danielle Leigh

    Not sure but I think the 14.99 for the yaoi book is a mistake since other yaoi titles are still priced at 12.99 on Amazon (for example Junjo Romantica 10 due out later this summer).

  2. The 14.99 price is on the book, on Amazon, and on Tokyopop’s site, so not a mistake. Maybe a one-off for some reason?

  3. Danielle Leigh

    I think you’re right and yet that would be very, very odd.

  4. […] Comics Worth Reading, Johanna is puzzled by some inconsistencies in Tokyopop’s […]

  5. This is odd. Then again, besides those with TP, who knows the logic behind their decision making?

    There are very few TP titles that I’ll be buying in the future, especially since they’ve let some series languish (see: Suppli) or outright not printing (see: Gyakushu, an OEL title). This seems like just another reinforcement of my purchase decisions.

  6. My feeling about it is that there is no decision on pricing being made here, they’re just trying different prices and seeing what sells.

    Speaking of which, it looks like a whole bunch of Viz’s $7.99 titles have been increased to $9.99 (Claymore 15, Muyho 13, Eyeshield 28, Naruto and Reborn too?)

  7. […] to a reader comment in my post on Tokyopop’s varying pricing, I was made aware that Viz appears to be […]

  8. […] paper and lower quality books makes Tokyopop’s $1 increase seem worse. Plus, Tokyopop’s pricing is more inconsistent. […]

  9. It’s incredible that the companies will publish a manga at such an expensive price when in Japan they cost less than %$5.00. We should all just make a protest and make them lower their prices.

  10. Housing in Tokyo is so ridiculously expensive that grown adults live with their families because they can’t get their own places. Things are different between the U.S. and Japan.

  11. Ugh, Tokyopop just floors me.

    Gravitation changes art style around book 6, and looks insanely more modern and “moe” – I always say, “Oh, Shuichi [main character], you get younger every time I see you.” It really is worth reading up until the end, though, since I didn’t like it until I saw how committed to his dreams of superstardom the main is. When asked to choose singing or his relationship by is lover, he chooses singing – other stuff happens, of course, to help the couple out in that case, but Shuichi’s determination made me like the manga several times more!

    But, digressed, Tokyopop has the gall to raise its prices and lower their quality in light of all the headlines they’ve been making? They’re surely not doing themselves any public favor! One day they’ll learn, hopefully.

  12. […] For its 148 pages, the digital price is $5.99 US; in print, it’s $12.99. That illustrates Tokyopop’s variable pricing — why it’s not the now-standard price of $10.99, I don’t know. Either they expect […]

  13. […] at $15.99, a significant increase over the expected $10 or $11 price point, but the company has been experimenting with cover prices for a while now. The rule seems to be, the more specialized the audience, the […]

  14. […] were always trying new things — digital releases, print-on-demand, price experimentation, comics adapting sci-fi TV shows. On the one hand, that kept them limber and flexible, able to […]

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