Bad News for Manga Companies Continues: Viz Lays Off 40%

Publishers Weekly is reporting that Viz Media laid off “as many as 55 people”. In addition,

it appears its small New York office, which had about 5 staffers, has been closed. The number of staff released represents about 40% of the employees at Viz Media.

Declining sales in the US manga industry over the past two years are blamed, although manga still does well in comparison to other book genres.

In a formal statement the company confirmed the layoffs although a company spokesperson declined to respond to specific questions about the numbers of staff released. In the statement, Viz acknowledged that it is “restructuring to adjust to changing industry and financial market realities,” and said it “had to refine its workforce by eliminating certain positions and making cuts in other areas.” The statement goes on to say that “We are of course saddened by these departures,” but that “we feel confident that with these changes, Viz media will be more streamlined and able to withstand the climate of the economy at this time.”

Viz was generally considered to be the most successful in the US manga market. If they’re laying off at this drastic a level, it lends more credence to rumors of the demise of smaller companies, such as Go! Comi and Aurora.

Anime News Network points out that Viz previously restructured, with layoffs, in February 2009.

Update: (5/12/10) More reactions. Gia Manry (link no longer available) looks to keep things in balance.

With no obvious “next Naruto” on the rise and big hit Fullmetal Alchemist about to end its run in Japan as well as general economic difficulties world-wide, it should come as no surprise that VIZ is tightening its belt for what may be a pretty lean year -– or several.

Daniella Orihuela-Gruber compares the company’s actions to what Tokyopop went through a year or two back.

This reminds me a little of what happened to Tokyopop a few years back and while it sucks that people have lost their jobs, perhaps it will be better for the company overall. I also can’t help but think that maybe a few of Tokyopop’s recent recovery strategies, such as publishing fewer books per month and spacing out releases more, might have saved a few jobs.

While Simon Jones reminds us to consider Viz’s anime arm as well as manga when looking at causes and effects.

Update 2: Viz posted a statement to fans (link no longer available) that reads in part:

We wish to apologize to our wonderful fans if this news has caused you concern. Be assured VIZ Media remains committed in its obligations to you. We have no plans at this time for drastic measures such as product cancellations or business line closures. Your favorite series are not going away.

So they’re going to get the same work done with 60% of the people? Nice trick, if you can manage it.

Similar Posts: CPM in Trouble? § Bandai Entertainment Calls It Quits § Another Bad Manga Industry Sign: Del Rey Lays Off Ali Kokmen § Tokyopop Teases More Publishing With Hints of OEL Return § Tokyopop Layoffs — Who’s Left?

9 Comments

  1. I’m going to be selfish here. I’m worried what these layoffs mean for the future of the Viz Signature and Viz Sigikki lines. I can’t imagine the books for those imprints are burning up the charts. Critical praise doesn’t equal great sales. No matter how much I wish it did. We were finally seeing more mature manga getting released in the US and now Viz is tightening its belt. I hope series like Kingyo Used Books, Saturn Apartments, and Children of the Sea are given time to find their audience. So if you like these series, please buy the books.

  2. That’s a great reminder. Note, though, that there is a slight ray of hope. If manga is anything like the music industry, then older readers are more likely to buy than download. Since these books are aimed older, hopefully, lots of readers and libraries are investing in them.

  3. The Viz Signature line is one of my favorites. I adore Real. And funny you mention Kingyo Used Books as I saw it at the local bookstore this very weekend and was so charmed with what I read that I bought the book right away.

    Then again, I buy all my manga, and then again, I’m 32, so maybe there’s some truth to Johanna’s supposition :).

  4. [...] Beasi, Johanna Draper Carlson, Kai-Ming Cha, Simon Jones, Julie Opipari, Lissa Pattillo, and Brad Rice react to the news that Viz [...]

  5. [...] safe. Unfortunately not. This year hasn’t been a good one for manga companies, with Viz’s significant layoffs and the rumored disappearances of Go! Comi and Aurora. At least this time, we got [...]

  6. $econd2none

    Out of curosity???
    What has greater sales, manga or comics?
    Thanks

  7. Depends on who’s doing the counting, and how you count them. Are you comparing the best-selling manga title to the best-selling comic title? U.S. only or worldwide? Or all the sales in a month, or in a year? In comic shops only or in bookstores?

    The best-selling manga title in Japan sells over a million copies per installment. The best-selling comic in the U.S. sells maybe 200,000 an issue.

  8. [...] a half-hour talking about recent changes in the manga industry, especially the CMX shutdown and changes at Viz. I really enjoyed the conversation, and next time I will let Ed talk [...]

  9. [...] is a little earlier in the season than the time last year that manga companies were announcing closures and layoffs. I guess the economy is not so recovered [...]

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