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1. What Manga Publishers Can Actually License in The US

Kodansha LogoSeven SeasDMP Logo

Vertical Logo

Viz Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Ever had an unlicensed series that never seems to make it into the latest licensing announcements? Are you dying to see that obscure cat manga translated into English? Our licensing request round-up explores some of things to consider when requesting manga licenses from your favorite US publishers.

So you’ve read a killer blurb about an unlicensed manga that you’d love to see Stateside — what next? You’ll want a to consider a handful of things:

  1. How long the series is
  2. How old the series is
  3. Whether the series has been previously released, and, most importantly,
  4. The series’ original Japanese publisher.

First up: the length. Both Kodansha and Vertical have mentioned that the longer a series goes the more of a stretch it is to license. Will fans stay interested in a 20+ volumes long series that will take years and years to release? Volumes 1-3 may be a hit, but what about everything in between? A hugely popular franchise or anime tie in may make the case more compelling for licensing a longer series, but other longer series are riskier than their short and sweet counterparts.

Hand in hand with length is to consider how old a series is. Personally, I’m a big fan of older shoujo, but one has to consider whether this would “hit it off” with newer (and maybe younger) fans who may be used to new art styles, techniques, or story tropes. Then there is also the issue of file quality for other series: older series may not have digital files to work with and as Vertical’s Ed Chavez points out on the Vertical Tumblr: “…good files might be hard to find, turning a simple translation and lettering job into a bit of an archaeological/anthropological project.” Unfortunately older series are a bit harder to sell.

Next you’ll want to do your research: Has your requested series been published before? If it’s complete and easily acquirable, great! Otherwise if your series is OOP or in licensing/release limbo things are tricky. “License rescues” are particularly hard sells. I talked to Yoko Tanigaki of Digital Manga Publishing’s (DMP) sales and distribution manager regarding rescues and her response noted that rescues are “extremely difficult,” that “popularity” is a huge factor, and that there would need to be “serious reasons” to consider a rescue. Not to say that hasn’t been done, but the reasoning would have to be fairly compelling, I would imagine.

But okay! So your series is the perfect length, not too old, and not a license rescue (or if it is, it’s a really compelling case). Now you bombard every manga publisher with your license request, right? No, you shouldn’t! A more targeted approach is better and shows you’ve done a bit of research; not every publisher can license manga from every Japanese publisher! Some US manga publishers are actually subsidiaries/are owned by a Japanese publisher; Kodansha USA is the US branch of Japanese publisher Kodansha, while Viz is owned by Shogakukan and Shueisha. Therefore the most efficient course of action is to find out the original magazine your to-be-licensed series was published in and locate the publisher from there. Once you know that information you can tailor your license request to a specific publisher.

Princess Jellyfish

Let’s take the fan-favorite (and fairly obvious)  but still unlicensed manga Princess Jellyfish. While this doesn’t make the length cut at thirteen volumes and it certainly a hard josei sell, as a general example who would you “pitch” this license to? A quick search brings up that the series was published in Kiss, a Japanese magazine published by Kodansha. Therefore Kodansha USA would be my go-to publisher for a license request, (though unfortunately Princess Jellyfish seems unlikely at this point.) Even if you have the right publishers lined up, one also should consider the type of manga a US publisher tends to license. Both Seven Seas and Kodansha have noted a preference for non-explicit/series that don’t need to be shrinkwrapped in store, so series that may require that may be best pitched elsewhere, if possible.

To summarize, below is a handy (but no where near exhaustive) list of some US manga publishers available or unavailable Japanese publishers, relevant links, and licensing preferences.

Viz Media

CAN License From: Shogakukan & Shueisha

Kodansha

CAN License From: Kodansha JP ONLY
Not Preferred: long series (15+ volumes), titles on obscure subjects, series older than early 2000s, graphic violence/sexuality, no light novels

Vertical

CANNOT License From: Shueisha, Shogakukan, Akita Shoten, Gentosha
Not preferred: long series (10+ volumes), series older than 2002, license rescues
Note: Has open licensing surveys/requests regularly.

Seven Seas

CAN License From: ASCII Media Works, Ichijinsha, Kadokawa/Kadokawa Shoten, Media Factory, Shonen Gahosha
CANNOT License From: Hakusensha, Kodansha, Shogakukan, Shueisha, Square Enix, SoftBank, Creative/Flex Comix

Digital Manga

CAN License From: Anywhere, within obvious limits (Kodansha, Shogakukan, Shueisha would go to their respective companies first)
Not preferred: license rescues

Keep in mind that even with a the most well-researched license request, a licensing decision lies with the publisher and the related parties. Some fan favorites still remain unlicensed, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to politely voice your wishes to the publishers. They love manga just as much as you do.

So, are there any series you would love to see licensed or “rescued?” Let us know in the comments!

2 Comments on What Manga Publishers Can Actually License in The US, last added: 3/25/2014
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2. Moyoco Anno is coming to TCAF with INSUFFICIENT DIRECTION

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Josei Manga superstar Moyoco Anno is comif to this year’s TCAF. WOOT! It’s her second US convention—she appeared at New York Comic Con in 2012—and the fact she’s back for more is pretty exciting. (Melinda Beasi interviewed her for the Beat here.)

Deb Aoki has all the reasons you should be aware of Anno’s amazing work, but especially notable is the just published Insufficient Direction, which offers a humorous view of Anno’s marriage to fellow manga-ka, Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Hideaki Anno. Vertical has a preview of it here, and like all of Anno’s work it’s blunt and biting, depicting Hideki as a roly poly man child and Moyoco as a screaming child. Yep, sounds like a marriage of two titanic talents all right.

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TCAF is rapidly becoming the #2 North American show for those who love comics—in my heart it’s tied with San Diego as the best time of the year.

2 Comments on Moyoco Anno is coming to TCAF with INSUFFICIENT DIRECTION, last added: 3/5/2014
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3. Review: Tropic of the Sea by Satoshi Kon

 

Title: Tropic of the Sea

Author: Satoshi Kon

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Yosuke’s family has a strange tradition – once every sixty years they receive an egg from a mermaid. When the egg matures his family dutifully returns it to the sea, where the whole process is then repeated. In exchange for this favor, the mer-people bless his coastal town with bountiful catches of fish and calm seas.

But as a commercial development encroach on the sleepy seaside village and Yosuke’s father is lured away from tradition towards modern prosperity, and turns the egg into a tourist trap, what will happen to the promise their family made to the mermaids generations ago?

Tropic of the Sea Satoshi Kon’s first feature length manga, includes a dozen black and white art plates from his original release, along with a 5-page essay written by Kon in 1999 detailing his transition from the manga industry to the animation business.


Review:

I love it when a great read comes right out the blue and completely catches me by surprise.  I received a review copy of Tropic of the Sea, and was instantly interested in it for two reasons.  One, it’s complete in one volume, which is always a plus, and two, it’s about one family’s promise to protect the egg of a mermaid in exchange for the prosperity of their village.  As times change, and the pressures of a modern economy squeeze the village, Yosuke’s father has sold the family’s land and turned the shrine into a tourist trap.  His father doesn’t believe that the object their family has cared for over the last sixty years is really a mermaid’s egg, and he wants his hometown to experience the prosperity he feels has been passing them by.  As the young people leave for the city, with no plans of returning, he begins to fear for the future of his village, so he makes a deal with the Ozaki group, commercial developers chomping at the bit to turn the sleepy town into a luxury resort.

I love character driven stories, and Tropic of the Sea is filled with empathetic characters.  Even Yosuke’s dad, who I thought was a complete jerk at first, turns out to have the best interests of the town at heart, even though his misguided attempts to modernize it have sharply divided the townsfolk.  The fishermen are deeply opposed to the development, which will destroy their traditional fishing grounds.  This conflict has turned neighbors against each other, and is so volatile that the threat of constantly simmers, destroying the peace of the town.

Yosuke just wants to pass his college entrance exams and get out of Dodge; he doesn’t really believe in mermaids, but he performs the shrine tasks out of a sense of duty and out of respect for his grandfather.  The old man is ailing, and the stressful situation with the construction isn’t helping him.  He is deeply committed to keeping the promise his family made to the mermaids generations ago, but he’s helpless to stop his son from selling the land and destroying their traditional way of life.  To add to his unease, it’s been 60 years since he received the current egg, and according to the agreement with the mer-people, the egg has to be returned to the sea. 

There are no real bad guys in Tropic of the Sea, just characters motivated to make their lives and the lives of their friends and families better.  Everyone behaves in a believable way, even though I didn’t agree with some of the decisions being made, and the reasons behind them, but I could certainly understand them.  Through it all, Yosuke is torn.  He doesn’t believe in the mer-people or the promise that his family has kept for all these years, but he loves his grandfather and wants to make him happy.  As events begin to spiral out of control, he’s forced to choose sides and to fight for what’s important to him.

The pacing is phenomenal, and I was completely sucked into the story.  I couldn’t put it down.  I started to get worried – did the mer-people really exist, and what was going to happen if Yosuke’s family broke their promise.  Though the tone is quiet and introspective, the emotional kick is compelling.   The ending is a tad over the top, but it wrapped up all of the questions and all of story lines in a neat and satisfying way.  Vertical is putting out some great stuff, and I wish I had more time to really dive into their library.

Grade:  B+/A-

Review copy provided by publisher

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4. Review: Paradise Kiss Vol 1 by Ai Yazawa

 

Title:  Paradise Kiss V 1

Author:  Ai Yazawa

Publisher:  Vertical

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Yukari is a spirited high school senior in the process of studying for her college entrance exams. Sadly the prospect of subjecting herself to a meaningless dull life leaves her feeling depressed about the future.  In a bout of frustration, Yukari begins to ignore her courses and she begins to hang out with a group of fashion design students. But what Yukari doesn’t know is that this circle is known as Paradise Kiss, and they are run by a pair of young designers already making their mark on the Asian scene. Furthermore, while her life is going to soon change, it will not be due to the elite political or commerce based future her family may have hoped for, instead her life may eventually be set in a world of high fashion, with her strutting down the catwalk as the face of Asian fashion!


Review:

How lovely to see Paradise Kiss back in print after so long!  This series,  Peach Girl, and Marmalade Boy  are directly responsible for my love of graphic novels.  During the hey-day of the US manga craze, there were so many wonderful books being released that it was hard to keep up with them all.  There was also a lot of garbage hitting store shelves, in such an overwhelming wave, that buyers couldn’t keep up.  Then the recession hit, and it was bye-bye to several of my favorite publishers.   CMX’s demise hit me the hardest, because DC’s imprint had licensed some unique titles, and many of the series that I followed were being released by them.  When Tokyopop shuttered, I actually became so discouraged with comics that I started reading prose books again.  Am I bitter that I will never see the end of I Hate You More Than Anyone or Kamui?  Am I upset that Silver Diamond and Demon Sacred were never competed?  You betcha! That’s one reason why I was so happy to see ParaKiss back in print with a new publisher.  This is a timeless story of a high school girl’s coming of age, with fun characters and gorgeous illustrations.  It deserves to stay in print, and since it’s been ten years since it was last published, there is a brand new audience out there just waiting to discover it.

One thing that I love about Ai Yazawa’s storytelling style is how she sprinkles humor into her plot when events get emotionally intense.   There is so much drama, drama, drama, which I love, and then all of a sudden there is this marvelous little blast of humor – either a joke from one of the characters or a humorous visual to ease all of that tension, just a little bit.  It is more evident in NANA (speaking of which, what happened to NANA?), but there are small glimpses in this first installment of Ai Yazawa’s classic romance.  I enjoy the contrast to the heart-stopping tension, and look forward to seeing how she’ll maneuver her characters from emotional trauma to eliciting an chuckle from the reader. 

In ParaKiss, Yukari is a high school senior with a lot of her mind.  She is cramming for her college entrance exams, and she doesn’t have time to get involved with a bunch of weirdos from the local fashion school.  Once she meets charismatic George and is caught under petite Miwako’s charm, she has no choice but to model for their fashion show.  There is so much change in Yukari from the opening chapter,  where she is risk adverse and single-mindedly intent on her studies, to the end of this volume, where she is fabricating lies for her parents so she can spend more time with her new friends in their basement studio.  She is finally starting to assert herself, and to reject her mother’s stranglehold over her.  Finally, there is something that she cares enough about to fight against the carefully planned path her parents have laid out before her.  Is it in her best interests to get caught up in the lives of these creative and impulsive people?  Probably not, but the rush of being with them is intoxicating, and she’s not willing to let it go.

George is so far over her head that I worry for Yukari.  He is jaded and worldly, while she’s lived a very sheltered life.  No friends, no boyfriends, few connections outside of her family.  George is like a blazing torch, and she is drawn, against her will,  to his brilliance.  As I read the book this time around, I sympathized more with her confusion over her feelings for George.  She’s not accustomed to expressing her feelings or hanging out with a guy, and everything that George does sets her world on end.  He is intense and self-confident, and he rushes head-first into everything that life has to offer.  Yukari isn’t prepared for a guy like George, and now that she’s caught his attention, she isn’t sure how to keep it fixed firmly on her.  All of the emotional ups and downs of that first relationship are intensified by George’s vivid personality.  She doesn’t stand a chance against him, and I kept wondering if he was just dicking around with her from the moment he met her.

I love the art.  Ai Yazawa’s delicate, detailed character designs are distinctive and beautiful.  The clothing is also stunning, but how can you possibly have a story about fashion designers and have everybody wearing ugly clothing?  You can’t, and the clothing take on a life of their own.

If you enjoy drama and that pulse-pounding confusion of first love, give this series a shot.  If you enjoy comics with beautiful clothes and beautiful characters, give this series a shot.  If you are interested in manga and haven’t read any of it yet, this is a good, short (3 volume) title to get you started.  It’s still as pretty and as moving as it was 10 years ago.  As always, Vertical’s presentation is top notch, with a new translation and a bigger, bolder trim size than the previous version.

Grade:   B+

Review copy provided by publisher

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5. Interning At Vertical: Thoughts on NYCC.

While I plan to do a big post detailing my experience of interning for Vertical at New York Comic Con, I thought I should do a small one detailing some of my thoughts and expectations on the subject. I have never worked for a company at a convention before, nor have I ever have been at con volunteer, however, I used to work in conjunction with New York Comic Con (and at the time, New York Anime Festival) at various events around the city. So I’m familiar with interacting with the lovely con masses. This time, I’ll be working as an exhibitor and as a member of the industry. Definitely intriguing, if not a little scary, to think about.

As you probably have heard by now, and should know if you’ve kept up with the blog (please do this, I’d appreciate it :D ) we’re bringing out josei superstar and Sakuran author Moyoco Anno, and I’m really proud to be working with the company that’s doing this. I don’t know if I’ll get to meet her myself, but I’m still very excited for it to be happening! I’m also excited to be working at the booth. I’ve done booth duty for NYCC/NYAF at other events, and I’m really stoked on getting to do it for Vertical. I implore you to come and say hi, and if you feel like it to pick up a new release or two as well! I think it will be a lot of fun meeting and talking with other fans of the titles we put out, maybe get into a debate over which Tezuka title reins supreme, and simply just soak in the experience from a different perspective than I’ve ever done before.

Again, we’re doing a lot at NYCC this year. As always, we’ll be having a panel, Moyoco Anno will be having her own panel and several autograph signings, and we’ll have plenty of books to sell! Come check everything out, at New York Comic-Con.

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6. Review: Limit Vol 1 by Keiko Suenobu

 

 

Title: The Limit Volume 1

Author:  Keiko Suenobu

Publisher: Vertical

In stores October 9, 2012

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Mizuki Konno is your typical high school junior at Yanno Prefectural High School. Like many teens her age she is studying hard for college and when she has some down time she likes to fuss over fashion and make-up. While she may not be one of the class elites, Mizuki is fortunate to be on the right side of her class’s idols. But that might not settle well with those who are in a similar academic status but not so lucky with their social lives.

Mizuki really isn’t a bad person. However she understands that she is one of the haves. And even if she only has so a strand to hold on to, that’s much more than the introverts or the socially inept.
On the day of the field trip, Mizuki’s position with the cool kids cannot be better. But now a good portion of her class are now firmly against her. While this "lower" clique may not be united, their hatred is much stronger than their differences. Unfortunately tragedy strikes in the form of a traffic accident. And now the class is split into two new groups…the living and the dead!

Almost the entire class has been wiped out and the five remaining girls are injured and lost in the wilderness. They also hate each other, and in a mix of Lord of the Flies with Heathers these girls begin to assert their wills against each other to try to survive while enacting a new class structure where looks and style is no longer the definition of influence.


Review:

When it comes to manga lately, I feel like I’ve been living under a rock.  I received this review copy, and wasn’t familiar with the title at all.  I love the cover, though, with the main protagonist standing defiantly, yet a bit battered, and staring boldly ahead.  The cover is very simple and eye-catching, and I immediately sat down to read the book.  Keiko Suenobu is also the author of LIFE, which was being released by  Tokyopop before they shuttered their offices.  I haven’t read any of that series, but after reading Limit, I am tempted to track it down.

Limit is a Lord of the Flies type story.  After their school trip goes horribly wrong and their bus crashes, Kanno and four of her classmates are stranded in the middle of the woods with only their wits to aid in their survival.  With their teachers and classmates dead, the five girls must juggle their fear and panic with their feelings for each other.  This is a diverse group of personalities, from the bullied Morishige, who has the only weapon and is brimming over with hate and resentment, to Kanno, who was part of the popular clique who made Morishige’s life hell at school.  Sakura, the ringleader of the clique, is dead in the bus, and Haru, one of the survivors, isn’t dealing with her best friend’s death very well.  This is a powder  keg of emotions just ready to blow, and only Kamiya realizes that it’s going to take more than luck to survive until they are rescued.  She immediately attempts to use diplomacy and get everyone to work together to ensure their survival, but she’s not having much luck.  There is a lot of resentment and so much ill-will to overcome, that things look bleak for our intrepid cast.

Limit focuses on the complex relationships the girls have formed over the years.  Angry Morishige is delighting in her sudden ascent to the top of the food chain; she’s got the weapon, and she hates everyone enough that she won’t hesitate to use it.  She casts everyone else in the pyramid beneath her, leaving Kanno and Haru to battle it out for the bottom rung of the ladder.  With the weapon, Morishige also controls the meager food supply the girls have foraged from the wreckage of the bus.  After being a bottom-feeder for so long, she is ecstatic to feel some kind of empowerment over the girls who constantly picked on her and made each school day so horrible. 

I thought that this was a great introduction to the series.  I reached the end and wanted more.  The relationship dynamics bubble with emotion and kept me engaged in the book from the first page.  Kanno isn’t an extremely likable character because she always takes the path of least resistance.  She’s a sheep to Sakura’s domineering personality, and once Sakura meets an untimely end, Kanno realizes how meaningless her other relationships truly are.  Avoiding confrontation, kissing up to Sakura, and trying to hold a middle ground so she wasn’t bullied didn’t endear her to her classmates, she is learning the hard way.

I love Keiko Suenobu’s expressive artwork.  I never had to guess how her characters felt as they were maneuvered from one panel to the next.  Emotions are deftly rendered here, and the visuals are as compelling as the prose.  This is a great start to a series that will appeal to fans of conflict driven stories.  I don’t know how the girls are going to reconcile their feelings for each other and still survive all alone in the wilderness, with no food and only a cave for shelter.  I am looking forward to the next volume!

Grade:   B

Review copy provided by publisher

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7. Interning at Vertical: Two Weeks In.

I’ve been an intern here at Vertical for two weeks now, and in that time I feel like I have already done a fair amount. I’ve done some write-ups for our manga, relaunched a blog, packed some envelopes, spent several hours of my life discussing manga and the world of the manga industry with Ed Chavez (who’s office I occupy a tiny space in) and have gone to and from the post office more times than I can already count. All in all, being here at Vertical Inc. has already been an interesting experience, and I figure some of you might be interested in hearing a bit about what interning at a manga (and other Japanese works) publishing company is like.

First off, I figure I should describe to you a bit of what the office is like. While it’s not a big office, it’s honestly one I really like, and it’s also one that I’m able to walk to three mornings a week, which is nice. As one might possibly imagine, the office is just full of manga. Translated manga, untranslated manga, our releases, Japanese manga-mags, for a manga-lover, this place is a small little heaven in which you can loose yourself in the world of comics from Japan. Because there’s too many books just to fit in the office rooms alone, there’s even a library which has even more manga inside of it. The other two things that there are an abundance of within this office are cardboard boxes, both filled and unfilled, and Vertical bags. The very same bags you yourself could own if you spend $30 or more dollars at our booths at various anime conventions. There’s a pile of them right next to the desk I’m using, actually.

As I stated, I work out of marketing director Ed Chavez’s office, which makes sense because he’s who I directly report to here. If you’ve attended any of our panels, or have bought anything from us at a con, he’s the man you’ve talked to. Working in the same room with him, I end up getting to talk to him (or rather, bugging him) a lot. In my short two weeks here, I’ve already learned a lot about how the american manga industry, and the publishing industry in general, exactly works. I’ll go into this more another time, but, even for a long time manga consumer like me, there’s a lot that I’ve never even considered that comes into play. I get to hear a lot about what sells, what doesn’t, and why, and while I can’t say anything super-specific one way or another, it’s all very interesting to be around. I’ve been a manga buff for sometime, but now working with a long-time industry vet like him, I feel like I’m just a novice who’s barely scratched the surface of the world manga has to offer.

I’m not the only intern here at Vertical at the moment, but right now, I’m the only one who isn’t involved with the production of books. The thing that I’ve done most so far are the write-ups our manga that appear on our website. They’re just three paragraph blurbs on each book to help explain what they are about, but having to figure out how to exactly write each one has been challenging. I have to read said manga, figure out what aspects of it are most prominent and impressive, and then put it all in my own words. I’ve also had the pleasure of compiling the wine list for the new The Drops of God volume, and have done some of the translation notes for GTO: The Early Years, both of which have basically included a lot of googling.

Of course, I’m now also getting to blog as a part of my internship, and I think that’ll end up being really fun over the course of my time here. I’ve only been here for two weeks, but again, it’s been totally fulfilling so far. I’ll post about this subject again, if not before New York Comic Con, soon after . I’ll be doing some booth-work, to be sure. I’m really excited to be working with Vertical at a convention for the first time, opposed to being a regular attendee. While the manga industry isn’t as big over here as it used to be in the mid ’00s, it’s certainly lively, and it’s certainly been great to be interning inside of it.

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8. Moyoco Anno is coming to New York Comic Con! Be Excited!

As you may have seen here, we are, in fact, bringing out the lovely Moyoco Anno to New York Comic Con! She’ll be at NYCC doing panels and book signings, so if you’ll be at the con, please come out and see her! One of the reasons we are bringing her out, aside from the fact that she’s a phenomenal artist and writer, is that just a few months ago, we released her absolutely gorgeous manga Sakuran. If you haven’t picked it up yet, now’s the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to this captivating bittersweet josei tale.

Sakuran's Cover

In case you aren’t familiar with Sakuran or Moyoco Anno herself, I figured it would be a good idea to give her some introduction. A Kodansha Manga Award recipient, she’s one of Japan’s top female manga creators, and has had several of her works be turned into Anime, Dramas, and Films. Previous to Sakuran, two of her manga, Happy Mania and Sugar Sugar Rune, have been published here in the U.S. before. In addition to writing manga, Moyoco Anno also dabbles in fashion writing, and her fashion kn0w-how comes through in the gorgeous clothing that appears in her work. While she hasn’t debuted a new series in a while, and isn’t currently running anything, Anno recently announced she’d have a new manga coming out next year! One final tidbit: That last name is not a coincidence, she is married to a certain Hideaki.

 

So, again, if you’re going to be at NYCC, come and see Moyoco Anno! When we get conformation of when the panels and signings will be, we’ll certainly let you know. Until then, stay tuned!

0 Comments on Moyoco Anno is coming to New York Comic Con! Be Excited! as of 9/20/2012 2:14:00 PM
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9. Hello New World

Hello Vertical Readers!

 

As you may or may not have noticed, this blog has been kind of… dead. For a while now. I apologize for that. The good news is, that after a few high risk surgeries with a certain scarred unlicensed doctor, the Vertical Inc. blog has been officially resuscitated! Yes, this is a relaunch of sorts.

 

All kidding aside, Let me introduce myself. My name is Chris. I’m a new intern here at Vertical and I’ve been tasked with blogging my heart out to the lovely manga reading masses. When this blog was running before, it was generally an Asian culture blog that did not focus specifically on one thing or another. You’ll still be seeing these kinds of posts to a certain extent. Though I will also be writing posts that have to do with our properties, Japanese culture (and food. Most likely a lot of food.) in New York City, the life of an intern at a manga publishing company, and whatever else that may be deemed relevant to post. Though, if there’s any sort of thing you (hopeful) readers would like to see post here on this blog (which I promise will be updated frequently) or you have anything you want to ask, post in the comments or leave us a message on our Facebook page and I’ll see what can be done.

 

Phew, Okay. That seems like enough of an introduction. There’ll be new content here *very* soon so check back often! I’m excited to be writing here, and hopefully you’ll find it bearable enough to read every once in a while. See you soon!

-Chris

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10. Waiting on Wednesday–Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Ai Yazawa is one of my favorite manga-ka, and Paradise Kiss is one of my favorite manga, so I am super excited to see that Vertical picked up the license.  This series deserves to be back in print, and I’m eager to see Vertical’s always classy presentation of this epically awesome story. 

In stores next week.

 

Yukari is a spirited high school senior in the process of studying for her college entrance exams. Sadly the prospect of subjecting herself to a meaningless dull life leaves her feeling depressed about the future.  In a bout of frustration, Yukari begins to ignore her courses and she begins to hang out with a group of fashion design students. But what Yukari doesn’t know is that this circle is known as Paradise Kiss, and they are run by a pair of young designers already making their mark on the Asian scene. Furthermore, while her life is going to soon change, it will not be due to the elite political or commerce based future her family may have hoped for, instead her life may eventually be set in a world of high fashion, with her strutting down the catwalk as the face of Asian fashion!


What are you waiting on?

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11. Coming Attractions: March 2012, Part Two

.

Here are a selection of books due out this month. All of the information presented below [aside from my aside/snide comments] are from publisher or distributor websites.

ALL information is subject to change, and something which might ship this month to a comics shop might show up months later in regular bookstores.  So, if you see something here which has been out for a while, that’s why.  Just consider it a reminder, in case you didn’t notice it the first time.

Unless it’s something amazing (like omnibus volumes), I tend to ignore ongoing books series.  You either know about the series, or unlikely to pick it up if there are numerous volumes on the shelves. Yes, I know it’s almost April.  But many publishers announce their new titles via “Out This Week” posts, so that’s why I wait.  (And some don’t even do that!)

I do work for a bookseller, so everything posted here has nothing to do with my day job.

________________________________________________________

9781606994788 Coming Attractions: March 2012, Part TwoAthos in America

Jason
$24.99
200 pages
Hardback
9781606994788, 1606994786
Author Bio: Jason hails from Oslo, Norway, but currently resides in the south of France. The Harvey and Eisner Award-winner continues to create new books at a breakneck pace-his books include Werewolves of Montpellier; Low MoonPocket Full of Rain and Other StoriesHey, Wait…Sshhhh!The Iron Wagon; What I Did(collecting the previous three volumes); I Killed Adolf HitlerThe Last Musketeer;The Left Bank GangWhy Are You Doing This?The Living and the DeadMeow, Baby!You Can’t Get There from HereTell Me Something; and Almost Silent(collecting the previous four volumes) and (with Fabien Vehlmann) Isle of 100,000 Graves.

Summary: Another all-original collection of full-color graphic novellas in the format of Low Moon, Athos in America takes its title from the lead story, a prequel of sorts to the graphic novel The Last Musketeer, in which the seemingly ageless swashbuckler turns up in a bar in 1920 New York and relates the tale of how he went to Hollywood to play himself in a film version of The Three Musketeers. Another tie-in with a previous Jason story occurs in “The Smiling Horse,” in which the characters from the story “&” in Low Moon attempt to kidnap a woman.

Also in this volume: “The Brain That Wouldn’t Virginia Woolf,” a mash-up of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, told in reverse chronological order; the Bukowski pastiche “A Cat From Heaven” in which Jason works on his comic, has a reading in a comic book store, gets drunk and makes a fool of himself; the dialogue-free (all the text occurs in thought balloons) “Tom Waits on the Moon,” in which we follow four people (one of them a scientist working on a teleportation machine) until something goes wrong; and “So Long Mary Ann,” a prison-escape love-triangle story.

____________________________________

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12. Review: No Longer Human Vol 1 by Osamu Dazai and Usamaru Furuya

 

Title: No Longer Human Vol 1

Author: Osamu Dazai & Usamaru Furuya

Publisher: Vertical

ISBN: 978-1935654193

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

In honor of the 100th birthday of Osamu Dazai, Usamaru Furuya retells Dazai’s most important work No Longer Human in modern day Tokyo where modern vices can bring ruin to the self-loathing.


Furuya’s adaptation of No Longer Human takes place nearly seventy years after Dazai’s original. Set in modern day Tokyo, Dazai’s tale details the life of a young man originally from a well-off family from Japan’s far north. Yozo Oba is a troubled soul incapable of revealing his true self to others. A weak constitution and the lingering trauma from some abuse administered by a relative forces him to uphold a facade of hollow jocularity since high school. The series is composed of three parts, referred to in the novel as "memorandums," which chronicle the life of Oba from his teens to late twenties. The comic is narrated by the artist, Furuya himself, making appearances at the start of each volume. In many ways, it could be said that Furuya has traveled a path that may be similar to Dazai’s. Maybe that is what led these two together after 100 years.

In this first of three parts, alternative comic artist Usamaru Furuya appears to be overcome with deadlines. While he has been published by some of the biggest names in the comics industry, his star still shines brightest as a cult favorite, an underground artist whose emo comics are the voice of a new generation. To escape the duldrums of work, he loses himself in the internet and comes across the journal of a man whose life sounds very familiar–Oba Yozo. In Oba’s First Memorandum the teen is overcome by an intense feeling of alienation. This pressure is so strong he cannot cope with others making it impossible to socialize with those who surround him, even his own family. To counter this Oba plays the role of the fool in order to establish interpersonal
relationships.

Review:

Vertical has a strong track record for licensing thoughtful, provocative titles, and No Longer Human is no exception.  This somber tale of self-hatred and self-destruction fits in well with their other manga releases, but this story isn’t one that resonated with me.  After learning that time is truly a limited resource, I just can’t relate with Yozo Oba, a young man who seems to have everything, yet wanders aimlessly from panel to panel, with no goals, no attachments, and no appreciation for anything that he has. 

Born into a wealthy family, privilege and comfort are taken for granted.  Yozo’s problem, though, is that these luxuries mean nothing to him, because he can’t stand himself.  His self-loathing pushes him to be someone he isn’t, and only serves to make him miserable.  Pursuit of base pleasures leaves him empty, and he lacks the ability to make meaningful connections with others.  Yozo is emotionally isolated, unable to care for anyone or anything, and so he is much like a piece of driftwood, floating where ever the current takes him.  I quickly became frustrated with him, because he wasn’t living his life – he was just wasting it.

Yozo didn’t come across to me as a tragic character warped by the heavy expectations of his father.  He came across instead as se

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13. Earthquake in Japan

Friday afternoon, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake widened Japan, sped up the Earth’s rotation and tilted it’s axis. A massive tsunami then followed, as did hundreds of aftershocks – some as powerful as “normal” tremblors themselves. Several shoreside towns and villages in the Tohoku (north-eastern) region were either heavily flooded or washed away entirely, and power, water and telephone services were disrupted thoughout the region.

Two nuclear plants near the epicenter of the quake – Fukushima 1 and 2 – are currently in crisis. Another reactor in Tokaimura (of the infamous criticality incident) apparently had some trouble but has since cooled. The Fukushima plants shut down automatically when the first quake hit, but the cooling systems – which need constant power to function – failed after the tsunami flooded the basement where the back-up generators were held. Tepco, which runs the reactors (and has been less than transparent regarding problems with the Fukushima reactors in the past), and the government have attempted to quell public panic over the possibility of radioactive leaks and contamination while giving conflicting signals, first by widening the evacuation zone around the plants and then by passing out iodine tablets to local residents to help fight radiation sickness.

Since the nuclear plants provided a significant portion of electricity in the eastern region of the country, Tepco has ordered scheduled blackouts to preserve power (which are preferable to uncontrolled rolling blackouts.)

The New York Times, BBC, the Yomiuri and Japan Times are being continually updated.

What you can do: Donate to charities working in Japan. Charity Navigator has a dedicated page with a list of charitable organizations with operations in Japan, along with ratings for each charity and links for donations. Japan Subculture has a list of charities in Japan that are accepting donations. If you’re in Japan, the Yomiuri is organizing cash donations for quake victims.

Image via.

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14. QI and the Art of British Satire

British satire is a tricky thing. Since the days of Oscar Wilde, the style has been humor with tongue planted so firmly in cheek as to cause disfigurement, while pointedly exposing truths about society or politics.

Sometimes British humor doesn’t even translate across the pond, as we saw just recently with Ricky Gervais’ sharp roasting of (and instant backlash from) the coddled Hollywood elite (though he did defend himself admirably).

Is it “too soon” for certain subjects to be skewered in a satirical way? Probably. Would the Brits take kindly to a satirical representation of the Blitz? Probably not.
It’s easily still “too soon” for any comedy regarding the Holocaust (although Gervais got very, very close.)
Is it valid to use pointed satire to try and make sense of senseless tragedy? Perhaps, perhaps not.

But the recent kerfluffle over the QI comedy show mentioning Tsutomu Yamaguchi is a case of misplaced outrage. At no point did Stephen Fry or the other panelists make fun of Mr. Yamaguchi – they were marveling at the incredible odds that someone could survive not one but two atomic bombs.

All they had was the Wikipedia version of Tsutomu Yamaguchi’s incredible life story, so how could they even make fun of him? Indeed, Mr. Yamaguchi was simply a catalyst for their humor. The butt of their jokes was in fact the British rail system (and were, in a roundabout way, complimenting the Japanese on having functioning train service right after an atomic bomb wiped out a city. I don’t think that’d be possible anywhere else – and certainly not in the UK.) Satirists satirize what they know, just as writers write what they know. And isn’t it worth something that the viewers in the UK learned about Mr. Yamaguchi’s bizarre fate?

This site (Japanese) has a line-by-line translation and explanation of the relevant dialogue.

So while in fact we may argue one way or another with regards to the limits of satire, decorum, offense, truthiness and the appropriate ways of dealing with the fallout of catastrophic disasters, in this particular case it was a cultural misunderstanding, and something was clearly lost in translation.
Obviously one can’t help but be offended, but why not save the outrage for something that’s truly meant to be offensive? (Like, say, YouTube comments. No, really, don’t read them).

I think the only solution is to start showing Red Dwarf, Little Britain and the second season of Extras on a constant loop in the Press Clubs in Nagatacho.

Let’s end things on a lighter note – here are some funny British animal voice-overs:

(h/t: Our Man in Abiko)

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15. How to Apologize: A Japanese Tutorial

Did you know that apologizing is practically an art form in Japan? This nifty little video illustrates which level of bow to use depending on what kind of apology the situation warrants. They start from a simple “Sorry for bumping into you” mini-bow all the way to “Excuse me while I go commit seppuku” face-in-the-mud bow.

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16. Coming Attractions: November 2010

By Torsten Adair
The following is a selection of new comics titles due to be published in November 2010. This list is not comprehensive, as there are over 350 books scheduled. Instead, I have selected titles which caught my interest.  If you would like to browse forthcoming graphic novels and related books at your leisure, click here. These are not necessarily titles I will purchase, but which I will definitely look at once they arrive at my local comics shop or bookstore.

This month is traditionally the last month of new releases before the holiday gift giving season kicks into full gear.  Stores (and websites) usually have their displays set up the first weekend after Halloween, and publishers definitely want their titles in stores before Black Friday (and Cyber Monday).  There are a few titles scheduled for December, so I’ll present a list for that month.  I will also present a special list of blockbuster titles (gift books priced over $40) for those who have either been especially good this year or who shop for themselves.

Please be advised that publication dates are not set in stone, titles may change, and covers may be altered. Also, your local comics shop might receive copies before your local neighborhood website or library. Clicking on the publisher’s name will link to the publisher’s website, sometimes to the exact title. Clicking the ISBN-13 (also known as the Bookland EAN) will take you to the title as featured on BarnesAndNoble.com . I consider my tastes to be rather eclectic. If you feel I’ve neglected or slighted a title, publisher, or creator, please feel free to mention it in the comments below. Yes, you may promote your own work, but please include the ISBN for easy searching (and shopping!)

Disclaimer: I am employed by Barnes & Noble. This and any other posts by me have no official connection to B&N. Neither I or Heidi MacDonald receive any remuneration from linking to barnesandnoble.com . As always, feel free to send us your PR. Even better, send us some free books!


The Great Treasury of Christmas Comic Book Stories
by John Stanley, Walt Kelly, Dan Noon, and many more!


King Aroo, Volume 2
by Jack Kent


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17. Bananas on the Run

Dole has introduced Japan’s very first banana vending machine. It uses a conveyor system to deliver your tasty tropical treat with minimal bruising. This is great news for all those salarymen and OLs who may still be obsessed with the banana diet.

A PR spokesperson for Dole in Japan says they hope hurried consumers will choose fresh fruit over typical packaged convenience store fare.

So if you find yourself in Shibuya Station near the Hanzomon Line and a monkey with a gun confronts you, asking, “Do you have a banana?” you can say, “Yes, actually. Let me just hop over to this vending machine and get you a whole bunch for just 390 yen. Now, please, put the gun away.”

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18. Well, That Was Fast.

No big surprise here – lovably alien-like fashion plate and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio “Bird” Hatoyama has resigned, due to being atypically wishy-washy and indecisive.

And by “atypically” I mean “totally – almost comically – typical.”

Hatoyama is the fourth consecutive PM to resign within a year of taking office.

(Quick! Can you name the last 3? Ha! Didn’t think so.)

Current Finance Minister Naoto Kan is the favored candidate to become the next PM.

I’m certainly going to miss his UFO-riding, sun-eating, Tom Cruise-lovin’ ex-Takarasienne wife.

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19. Tokyo Drawn from Memory

Autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire can draw a fully detailed panorama of a city from memory, even after viewing it just once.

Here’s his amazing rendition of the Tokyo skyline:

tokyo-wiltshire

Full panorama is here. (Note: it takes a while to load, so grab a snack or something. But it’s totally worth the wait.)

Via Gawker.

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20. This Wednesday on South Park…

Stan celebrates his birthday at the Denver Aquarium… when suddenly the Japanese arrive and attack the dolphins!

Stan then makes it his mission to save the dolphins from the Japanese.
(In case you haven’t heard of The Cove, check this out.)

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21. How do you say “cosplaying geek” in French?

It doesn’t matter, ’cause the French can make something as ridiculous as dressing up like a comic book character look chic and uber cool.

500x_4375578135_c714cb8fb3_b_01

More pics of French people generally being fabulous in costumes that rock over at io9.

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22. Rivals Kim Yu-Na, Mao Asada Medal at Vancouver Olympics

So last night was the highly-anticipated showdown between Kim Yu-Na of South Korea and Mao Asada of Japan. After the short program scores, Kim was in the lead, and thanks to a flawless free skate in which she set a world record under the ISU judging system she won the gold medal.

Skate America Figure Skating

Immediately after finishing her free skate program she burst into tears of relief. Probably because she won’t have to deal with enraged “fans” that had previously sent her angry hate-mail for earning less than the gold medal in other competitions. Given the spate of high-profile figures in Korea committing suicide due to public backlash, here’s hoping Kim can take a breather and enjoy the moment. (This should also keep any angry Korean fans from threatening to blow up another embassy.)

Kim’s main rival was the Japanese champion Mao Asada. Mao ended up in second place due to a couple of slip-ups on the ice. However, she became the first female skater to successfully perform two triple-axel jumps in the same ISU program. Which is impressive in it’s own right. I mean, could you do anything that cool that at 19 years old? Yeah, me neither.

mao-free

Mao still packed a sad at the medal ceremony and later told reporters that she regretted her mistakes during her free skate program. Hey, cheer up, Mao. At least you have your very own hina doll. Maybe Mao can commiserate with Evgeni Plushenko, then secretly have both their medals dipped in platinum.

So on the medal podium, there was Kim crying from relief, Mao looking like she was ready to cry then cut a bitch, and poor Joannie Rochette crying because now she can finally mourn her mother. God, what an emotional event.

joannie

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23. Tokyo Damage Report: Bombshell Interview about Japanese Music Industry

… well, specifically Visual-kei, but one can extrapolate, non? It’s epically long, but a very fascinating read. Strap on your seatbelts, kids.

An excerpt:


“SATOH-SAN: Keeping the fantasy intact is the biggest priority. If there is no image, no fantasy, the band will never get big.


TDR: You mean, if the guys talk to fans, and let slip that they’re working the midnight shift at 7/11, or living on ramen and pachinko, it’ll be hard for the fans to picture him as a bisexual 17th century British vampire space-man after that?


SATOH-SAN: You understand this phenomenon very well!

visual-kei

(cut)


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24. Fans in Japan Reinterpret Lady Gaga’s Fashion Statements

I adore Lady Gaga. (Haters to the left! The video for “Telephone” was epic!)

And so do her Japanese fans.

Here’s just a small sampling of several dozen pics of fans as they head to Yokohama Arena for Gaga’s concert over on TokyoFashion.com. I love the Tokyo street fashion sense mixed with Gaga’s crazy stylings.

Lady-Gaga-Japanese-Fans-2010-04-17-056-P7235-600x450

Lady-Gaga-Japanese-Fans-2010-04-18-050-P7414-600x903

Lady-Gaga-Japanese-Fans-2010-04-17-057-P7238-600x903

Lady-Gaga-Japanese-Fans-2010-04-17-076-P7271-600x903

Lady-Gaga-Japanese-Fans-2010-04-18-040-P7388-600x903

Head over to TokyoFashion.com to see the rest.

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25. Stephen Colbert Learns Japanese

… from that Scary McCreeperson robot voice simulator. He also defends his previous “racist Chinese” accent as simply brain damage.

If this doesn’t make you laugh, something is wrong with you.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Robotic Voice Simulator & Foreign Accent Syndrome
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Fox News

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