Tokyopop Planning the Return of Hetalia #3?

Hetalia: Axis Powers volume 1

Late Friday evening, a post went up on the Tokyopop Facebook page asking an interesting question:

if there is a way to bring you Hetalia V. 3 but it’s a bit more limited than back in the old days, would you be interested? (I know that’s vague — not trying to be coy but wanted to see the level of enthusiasm before I’m able to get into more specifics). If you “like” this, I’ll take that to mean you’d be interested. Thx guys. –Stu

As of this writing, the post has garnered 987 “likes” and an enlightening set of comments, with some fans pointing out problems with the idea to others. Sample comments:

If they were to do this then the chances of someone else picking up this series, and NOT giving us a limited release, gets closer to zero. Plus I can promise you that they’ll charge us an arm and a leg for the “limited releases”. Please say no. If you really love Hetalia then don’t give any more money to Levy. He screwed us all royally when he shut down the company.

Please just let the license go. A limited release is not only unfair to the countless fans of the series here who want it and wouldn’t be able to get it (maybe if they paid an arm and a leg, but meh), but as some others have said, it means we’ll be less likely to have another, more stable company license it for the entire series. I’d rather have a complete series release than just that one missed volume, really.

Hetalia: Axis Powers volume 1

There’s still some obvious anger over the publishing shutdown and the loss of favorite manga series. Others are concerned about Stu Levy’s short attention span and potential motives for even raising the question.

The Tokyopop account then followed up with a clarification, along with spinning the “positive reaction”:

First, “limited” does not mean limited copies — all fans will be able to access the title. “Limited” here means channel (i.e. retail). Second, Hetalia #4 would be published as well. Third, other titles are different rights owners — this project is a partnership with the Hetalia rights owner, but titles owned by different rights owners are unrelated. That means even if TOKYOPOP wants to publish other titles, it can’t. But if the model can be proven, perhaps other rights owners will let other titles be released as well. It’s still at the experimental stage — and not fully within TOKYOPOP’s control. Once again, thanks for your enthusiasm and continued support! The feedback has been very helpful — now it’s time to work out the details and make it happen!

Fans were eager to seize on any hope and didn’t seem to see (or get) the clarification that they were only talking about this one popular book. One responded, “Hopefully if this works out then other titles will be able to be published as well,” which is a nice idea but clearly not happening any time soon.

Additional followup specified “it would include printed copies, not just digital, and fans will not have a difficult time accessing the book. TOKYOPOP will be working with another company to accomplish this — it’s not possible for TOKYOPOP to do this alone since TOKYOPOP has no office or staff in North America. But the partner is a strong partner that can bring this title to the fans in the way the fans want.”

Tokyopop has done co-publishing deals before, when Brandon Graham’s King City, one of their OEL titles, was published by Image. Is that company a potential partner?

Given how difficult it can be for even those manga readers who want to understand the business decisions and companies behind the books they buy to keep up with them, it looks as though a release of a future volume of Hetalia would have a certain number of customers built in for Tokyopop, even though one hates to see such poor choices rewarded.

Daniella Orihuela-Gruber, who worked on this volume of Hetalia for Tokyopop, verifies that the production on the U.S. version was completed before the company shut down. She goes on to say that she would rather see a real publishing plan put in place, not just a one-off money-grab:

The thing is: it’s not fair to the fans. (And I don’t mean just the Hetalia fans.) It is unfair because there are many fans out there who would love to see the next volume of Maid Sama, Gakuen Alice, and all the other Tokyopop titles that they were expecting before the sudden shutdown….

[T]here are quite a number of licenses paid for and/or nearly ready for print. Stu could, if he wanted to, finish up the production with some help and put those titles out, assuming the Japanese rights holders haven’t yanked away those licenses already. I don’t know if he’d make the same kind of money off them as he would Hetalia, which sold gangbusters, but he’d probably still make some money off the more popular ones.

But, I’m guessing, this facebook status does not signal the resurrection of Tokyopop or a chance at getting Hetalia vol. 4 published. It’s probably a grab for money, to cut some of the losses that Tokyopop took by shutting down, although I couldn’t say for sure.

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