It's a Naruto world

In order to catch up to the present Japanese release schedule and to prepare readers for upcoming notable changes in the main character and story arc, VIZ Media will offer three new volumes of NARUTO per-month from September through December 2007 – a first for any U.S. manga publisher.

Yes, you read that right: Viz just sent the Naruto publication schedule into hyperdrive, spitting out three new volumes a month for the last four months of 2007. Here are the release dates:

September 2007: NARUTO Vols. 16-18
October 2007: NARUTO Vols. 19-21
November 2007: NARUTO Vols. 22-24
December 2007: NARUTO Vols. 25-27

David Welsh has posted the full press release (warning: spoilers) in the Flipped forum, so you can see for yourself. At Precocious Curmudgeon, commenters wonder if Viz is trying to stay ahead of scanlations.

I’m leaning more toward the thinking on the ANN forums, which were onto this a week ago: Viz may be doing this to neutralize the deadly filler arc in the anime and let people know that the so-called Shippuden arc, in which Naruto is older and the story changes somewhat, is coming. That arc begins after volume 27, and Viz does seem to be very earnest about preparing people:

To support NARUTO NATION, VIZ Media’s SHONEN JUMP magazine will continue to serialize the NARUTO series, will provide in-depth background information for fans about the developments in the accelerated manga, and will begin to feature the new adventures of the older Naruto beginning in the January 2008 issue (estimated in stores December 4, 2007).

A third possibility, I suppose, is that someone just noticed the fine print in the Naruto contract and realized it was about to run out. But somehow I doubt that.

At the Anime on DVD forums, Peter Ahlstrom (an editor for rival Tokyopop) points out a possible downside:

There’s not going to be room on the bookshelves for anything else. I fear for the sell-in of any low-print-run favorite book of mine during those months.

The editor in me wonders how they are going to get the books out that fast. Either they have a huge backlog already translated and ready to go, or they’re going to have to hijack every freelancer and printer in the Bay Area to pull this off.

Update: Are they killing the goose that lays the golden eggs? Simon Jones says no:

Speeding up the release schedule of a hot property isn’t always a good thing (see Matrix 2 and 3), and there’s something to be said about the value of anticipation. But in this case, I think parents across America will just have to figure in an extra $15 into their monthly expenses, lest they face the wrath of their plastic-sword-swinging little Narutos at home.

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  1. Ninja337 says:

    Haha, cash in on the fad while it’s still hot.

  2. It’s a neat move, but I’m not a fan of Naruto actually..

  3. I didn’t think it would happen but Naruto has gotten batter as of late than One Piece…

    i’d be shocked if you told me that last year

  4. Daedalus says:

    I’ve been reading this thread and had to join so I could respond as I saw some of the standard misinformation and hater filled comments that exist sometimes on these manga boards.

    Let’s remember, whether you’re a fan of naruto or not this is good news as it means any manga you support COULD be given similar treatment and help to end the silly and crazy self-imposed lag between japan and America. I remember when I 1st got started in entertainment professionally and wondered why things like videogame titles had to wait so long to come to America. Eventually the silliness ended when they realized that it was more expensive to support key titles from publishers differently in different markets and instead was more beneficial to release content more globally more simultaneously.

    Couple of thoughts on Naruto announcement…

    1. I am a fan and think this is good news..It’s ridiculous for a manga that is having unprecedented success to be held to a quarterly schedule…try telling Marvel to do that to X-men and/or Spiderman and watch how quickly you get laughed out of their offices.

    2. To the critics who think this won’t work…how do you know this? What proof do you have or are you truly just throwing it out there without thinking? Please consider two things… Sept- Dec. is Q4 x-mas buying and for most entertainment industries it’s where 35-60% of their revenue is generated. In other words, if you’re in the book business and you have new books to hawk — hawk them in Q4 if you wish to truly hit or exceed your numbers. Secondly, I’m not sure why people make the argument about money—I personally buy 6-7 manga a month and before that I used to spend $20 $50 mo on comicbooks/TPB so…this is not a new phenomenon. If you’re on this board and writing about anime/ manga as well then most likely you are one of these people as well. Lastly, this isn’t being done for you if you’re not a Naruto fan….if you’re not then this means nothing to you but if you’re someone which numbers show is thousands of young kids and adults are buying Naruto every month and even more when a new volume releases. To these people, they are not concerned that the latest Broccoli, Del Rey, Tokyopop and even other Viz titles’ are coming out (apologies to those I didn’t mention..Personally I read manga from just about every manga company out there) they just want more of what they read and I don’t see how anyone on this board can honestly say that this is going to fail because of the money factor or the practicality of the release schedule. I might be inclined to agree with some facts but right now just sounds like armchair quarterbacking.

    3. What increased Naruto will mean for bookshelf—- well on this front I agree. I wholeheartedly agree. But, then again,..I’m not sure what that means, We live in a free market economy…Borders, barnes and Nobles and comic shops have the right to stock mostly what their consumers want and the fact of the matter is that Naruto clearly outranks all other manga right now. If I was a small publisher..sure I’d hate it but what are you going to do? Webstores and comicshops hopefully can help stem the tide during these months but it will b tough. The good news is that Naruto is attracting many new faces to manga and if this approach works well then it will mean many more occurrences of people who were introduced to that section of the store now curling the aisles opposite Naruto to see what else is out there. I know my girlfriend always starts next to whatever I’m buying and through that maybe some women and mature readers will gravitate from Naruto to Monster by Naoki Urasawa. Besides if you want to blame limited shelf space..blame Dragonball…I swear..I do not understand why that book is still maintained on shelves..yes it was important for anime in America but if it’s the best representation of the genre this many years later we’re in trouble..I think most mature manga fans would agree if you were to introduce people to the power of manga that Death Note, Fruits Baskets, Ruruouni Kenshin and Naoki Urasawa’s Monster would best fit bill.

    4. The industry desperately NEEDS this—- I read scanlations. I read them alot. I just celebrated a year of reading Naruto Shippuden level plot regularly. I work in entertainment and do well so I still buy Viz or Del Rey translations even though I’ve read the work a long time ago. Unfortunately, many people who are great fans, great supporters of manga/ anime do not have my budget and do not have my resources. Maybe they live in a town where manga is not stocked as well or maybe they have many other hobbies/ needs that eat into their manga budget. Regardless, who can blame them for loving something so much they routinely bit torrent and hold on to manga. NOBODY! Not the creators..not the publishers and not the fan community. Instead..what should happen is companies should stop trying to censor what we get and do more release schedules like this to support legal buying of books. Personally, I would like to see this done to One Piece, Inuyasha, Prince of Tennis and for many unlicensed manga that are long like Hajime no Ippo, History’s strongest disciple Kenichi and Slam Dunk.

    5. Naruto is big…the idea that some have put that it’s about to peak is again…lunacy, hater-ish and just lacking any thought whatsoever. Please show me facts! I work in the business and can tell you Naruto shows every sign from ratings, to book sales to toy sells that would suggest it is about to explode in a BIG way. If they were ever to release Naruto theatrically or when this Wii game comes out..I think some of the elite manga fans who feel Naruto is juvenille and or undeserving of its’ success will be amazed at how successful and popular it is in the US. fact is is that it currently dwarfs anything anime related which includes One Piece, Avatar and any saturday morning cartoon. I personally like Naruto and don’t feel it’s for kids…major characters have died, kids drink and smoke and the unexpected has happened so frequently that one has to wonder if Naruto will actually die in the end. Not many uber popular manga actually evoke destiny, betrayal and sacrifice more than this.

    6. Naruto Shippuden is coming. to US…not sure what it will be called but my guess and understanding is that the FILLER WILL BE SHOWN — daily — or stripped as we say and Naruto will pick up more mainstream fans and midway through this blowout (remember a season is 65 episodes) Shippuden (not sure if that will be name) will come after a few manga volumes have been released (most likely 6-7). This may seem overkill-ish but hey what are you going to do..they have content and anime drives this business over manga..animes are like ads for the original manga.

    Regardless, I think this is a wise move and can only pray it gets done for other equally deserving series.

    Take care..and keep reaching for the stars!


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