Manga knows what girls want. And boys, too.

At The Beat, Heidi MacDonald rounds up numerous articles about the popularity of manga and another set about retailing. Both make interesting reading, as do the comments that follow. I particularly like this, from the inexplicably blogless Simon Jones:

I always put down the success of manga being due to it’s utterly mercenary nature. That’s not to say there’s a lack of art or anything to it, but it knows what it’s audience wants.

Adolescent boys! Here is some violence or possibly some sports or perhaps both! Here is an audience identificaiton character! Here is a girl! The girl will not be terribly complex but you will be 15 and will not care that much!

Adolescent girls! Here is some romance! Here is an audience identification character! Here is some soap opera! Here is a boy! The boy will likewise be able to be broken down into a few simple character traits but, again, you are 15 and will not care that much!

The Manga Villagers pick the best of this week’s new manga.

At Manga Xanadu, Lori Henderson makes the tough choices from the latest Previews.

Xavier Guilbert interviews Igarashi Daisuke at du9.

Erica Friedman rounds up this week’s yuri news at Okazu.

Con time: Gia continues her Sakura Con coverage with a report on the Dark Horse panel and a roundup of important news. Deb Aoki was there as well, and she notes that Dark Horse editor Carl Horn complained of slow sales for their mature titles:

Struggling titles mentioned include horror/suspense titles Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service and Mail as well as Hiroshi Hirata’s samurai epic, Satsuma Gishiden.

In the case of Satsuma Gishiden, Horn explained, “Hiroshi Hirata has created one of the best samurai manga, ever. But we couldn’t continue publishing it after volume 3, because it wasn’t selling.”

She also has more on the Broccoli and Tokyopop panels. And over at PopCultureShock, Ken Haley continues his coverage of Anime Boston.

The Wall Street Journal notices Bleach. (Via the other, NSFW Simon Jones.)

John Jakala questions an assertion by DC’s Paul Levitz that the success of manga is confined to a few series.

John T is back from his trip to Japan and he shows off his swag, including a Spider-Man manga.

Charts, charts, charts: Ed Chavez posts the Gamers light novel rankings and the Toroana doujin ratings from Japan. Matt Blind has been doing some number-crunching at Comicsnob, and he has come up with the top 500 manga for last week, top 50 series for last week, a publishers’ scorecard, a midlist 500 (taking out the top five series), and an explanation of how he does it. All Matt’s charts are based on online sales.

German blogger Invaeon, of Manly Manga and More, links to a set of German articles about German mangaka in Spiegel Online.

Reviews: The denizens of Manga Village have a new set of reviews up: Charles Tan on vol. 1 of Museum of Terror, John Thomas on vol. 4 of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Lissa Pattillo on vol. 1 of Boys Be, Dan Polley on vol. 13 of Golgo 13, Sabrina on vol. 13 of One Piece and vol. 1 of Ballad of a Shinagami, and Lori Hendrson on vol. 1 of Monkey High. At Active Anime, Holly Ellingwood reviews vol. 3 of Heroes Are Extinct! and vol. 16 of Tsubasa, and Scott Campbell checks out vol. 1 of Shin Megami Tensei Kahn. Kethylia finds plenty to like in vol. 1 of Tower of the Future and is still enjoying vol. 4 of Vampire Knight. Johanna Draper Carlson pans Real Love at Comics Worth Reading. At Prospero’s Manga, Ferdinand is less impressed than others have been with vol. 1 of Fairy Tail. At the MangaCast, Mangamaniac Julie reviews Great Place High School; back at the Manga Maniac Cafe, she checks out The Color of Love. Nothayama posts a mini-review of High School Debut at Sleep Is For the Weak. At the Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society, Ryes reads Sugar Milk and Hot Steamy Glasses. EvilOmar spotlights Negima and posts some short manga reviews at About Heroes. Connie checks out vol. 2 of Flock of Angels, vol. 14 of Boys Be…, vol. 12 of Trigun Maximum, vol. 5 of Hoshin Engi, and vol. 3 of Metamo Kiss. The Manga Recon crowd posts some mini-reviews at PopCultureShock. Andrew Wheeler reviews three manga that have nothing in common at ComicMix: vol. 1 of Priest, vol. 1 of Sugar Sugar Rune, and vol. 1 of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. Erica Friedman reviews vol. 2 of Magie Paire and the lesbian-free Lesbian Shoujo Ai at Okazu. Michelle checks out vols. 5 and 6 of Boys Over Flowers and vols. 5 and 6 of Skip Beat! at Soliloquy in Blue.

Sakura-con, shoujo, and shelfservice

Gia is liveblogging from Sakura Con and she has some news tidbits. From Tokyopop, she hears about some new titles: Hellgate London, Vassalord, and Silver Diamond, plus a Bizenghast novelization and a new Princess Ai trilogy. And bad news for Kino no Tabi fans: The second volume of that nove is “on hiatus” due to licensing issues. The Broccoli panel was mostly about anime and existing manga, but they did let slip that Koge-Donbo isn’t working on vol. 2 of Kon Kon Kokon because she is too busy with Kamichama Karin Chu. And Viz was a no-show.

Danielle Leigh lists her top five shoujo manga in her latest Manga Over Flowers column. Some of the titles may surprise you! At Precocious Curmudgeon, David Welsh chimes in with his impressions of recent volumes.

The Anime Today folks interview Dallas Middaugh for their latest podcast.

John Jakala has more Slam Dunk compare-and-contrast at Sporadic Sequential.

Jason Thompson announced on his LJ that he will be editing Gankutsou (Count of Monte Cristo) for Del Rey.

Tokyopop will be publishing Tokko, by GTO creator Tohru Fujisawa, beginning in July.

Shelf gratification: If you have ever wondered what 5,000 volumes of manga looks like, go over to Comics212 right now.

The excitement is building about the Manga Taisho awards, and Ed Chavez tells you all about it, and lists the nominees, at the MangaCast. On this side of the Pacific, ComiPress has the finalists for the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation awards.

News from Japan: Shogakukan’s Shojo Comic magazine is posting over 4,000 pages of manga online to celebrate its 40th anniversary. And the June Jump Square will feature a one-shot manga by Trigun artist Yasuhiro Nightow. And ComiPress rounds up several reports on the Tokyo Anime Fair. ANN is at the fair as well; scroll down for daily updates.

Reviews: Matthew Brady enjoys the batshit craziness of vol. 7 of The Drifting Classroom. Julie reviews vol. 4 of D Gray-Man at the Manga Maniac Cafe. I don’t know why Erica Friedman continues to torture herself by reading vol. 3 of Eternal Alice Rondo, but I’m glad she does, because I enjoy watching her chop this series into little pieces. Matthew Alexander checks out vol. 3 of Puri Puri and Sakura Eries reads vol. 1 of Love Master A at Anime on DVD. Here are two reviews of vol. 1 of Switch, a short one by Nick at Hobotaku, a longer one by Ed Sizemore at Comics Worth Reading. Neither one liked it much, but Ed goes into more detail about why. Also at CWR: Johanna Draper Carlson reviews vol. 9 of Happy Mania and vol. 8 of ES: Eternal Sabbath (scroll down).

Borders lament, pretty shoujo, and Christian manga

Check out this week’s PWCW, where I interview Christian manga publishers Buzz Dixon and Marlon Schulman.

Yamila Abraham of Yaoi Press fears that Borders’ troubles spell bad news—and a possible acquisition by Barnes & Noble could be even worse:

It’s not just the fact that stores would close, but B&N is overly conservative and does not capitalize on the graphic novel boom. B&N stores treat graphic novels like any other small section, like travel books or cook books. At the New York Comic Con GN conference last year the buyer said they saw no reason to change their graphic novel acquisition strategy. B&N currently only buys 3% of the amount that Borders buys of our books (less than 100 copies per title). I’ve discussed promoting Yaoi Press books more aggressively to B&N with my distributor. My rep says it’s a lost cause. They don’t buy many graphic novels. They especially don’t buy the ‘mature readers’ ones. I’m sure there are single stores out there that are exceptions to this, because B&N does buy some copies of our books. I’m telling you what I see overall.

David Welsh and Tom Spurgeon are less negative (but not exactly more positive). My local B&N must be one of the exceptions, as they have expanded their graphic novel section to cover an entire wall (although I admit I have never seen YP manga there).

Three reliable sellers make their showing on the USA Today best-seller list this week: vol. 19 of Fruits Basket moves up from number 112 to 34, vol. 28 of Naruto slips from 26 to 39, and vol. 16 of Fullmetal Alchemist debuts at number 149.

The girls are minding the store at MangaCast, where Khursten posts this week’s new manga.

David Rasmussen interviews Seven Seas editor Adam Arnold at Manga Life. And Fruits Basket translators Alethea and Athena Nibley fact-check themselves in their latest column.

Viz has a preview up of Slam Dunk, and John Jakala likes what he sees, although he liked Gutsoon‘s translation a little more. Broccoli Books has posted a preview of vol. 2 of My Dearest Devil Princess. Don’t worry if you haven’t read vol. 1 yet; this isn’t one of their more cerebral titles.

It takes a real man to admit he likes his shoujo manga better in pink, and that’s just how Dave White feels.

The Manga Recon team files their Anime Boston report, and Cape Cod Today checks in as well.

ComiPress analyzes the new magazine PiQ.

Report from the front: Katie Ackley of Cooper City (Florida) High writes about the popularity of Bleach and Naruto.

Found via When Fangirls Attack: R.E. Silvera reflects on some issues regarding Fruits Basket’s Akito at Prepare for Trouble; prepare for spoilers before you click. And Bollywood Girls’ Guide To Life has some thoughts on feminism and Nana. Gia Manry writes about mangaka Arina Tanemura at Fanboy.com.

Back at her blog, Gia picks up on an article I missed, about the booming demand for information presented as manga.

Tiamat’s Disciple tries to order some manga and runs into problems once more, this time because of a shipment of books that ended up where they shouldn’t be, and a wrong ISBN.

News from Japan: ANN has the Japanese comic rankings for the past week.

Reviews: At Anime Sentinel, James Fleenor posts his impressions of vol. 1 of Gimmick! and vol. 1 of Blood+. Ferdinand finds vol. 1 of The Third rather ho-hum at Prospero’s Manga. Tangognat enjoys SOS. At the Manga Maniac Cafe, Julie takes a look at vol. 2 of Orfina. Danielle Van Gorder enjoys vol. 1 of V.B. Rose at Anime on DVD. At Slightly Biased Manga, Connie checks out vols. 8 and 9 of Moon Child. Holly Ellingwood reviews vol. 1 of Heroes Are Extinct and Rachel Bentham takes an advance look at the yaoi anthology Sugar Milk at Active Anime. Lori Henderson’s daughter Jenny really likes vol. 4 of Dragon Drive at Manga Xanadu. Michelle enjoys vol. 11 of xxxHOLiC at Soliloquy in Blue. Ed Sizemore checks out vol. 1 of Gun Blaze West at Comics Worth Reading. At Manga Life, David Rasmussen explores the outer limits of what we call manga with reviews of the Harlequin Ginger Blossom Violet manga Response and the Tokyopop Cine-Manga Spongebob Squarepants: Bikini Bottom’s Most Wanted, and Shannon Fay reads vols. 1 and 2 of Our Everlasting. Erica Friedman reviews Yuri-iro Rasen at Okazu and finds it just as junky as she expected. Kethylia gives passing marks to vol. 1 of Heroes Are Extinct. Leroy Douresseaux reviews vol. 1 of Shin Megami Tensei KAHN for the Comic Book Bin.

PR: Viz to be gold-level sponsor of FCBD

Shonen Jump coverGambling on the fact that there may be someone, somewhere, who is still untouched by the Naruto phenomenon, Viz is buying into Free Comic Book Day big time this year, with a special 32-page issue of Shonen Jump. They have chosen to be a gold-level sponsor, which means their comic will be available in all participating stores. This is an impressive leap, given that Viz did not participate at all last year.

What about everyone else? A look at this year’s list reveals that comics from silver-level sponsors include Rod Espinosa’s Neotopia, a Del Rey-Dabel Brothers sampler, and a gekiga sampler from Drawn & Quarterly. Conspicuous by its absence is Tokyopop, which was a gold-level sponsor last year.

Free Comic Book Day falls on May 3 this year.

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It's easier to count the people who aren't reading Fairy Tail

At ICv2, comics retailer Steve Bennett ponders the opportunities missed by the direct market when publishers and retailers turned their backs on manga.

It’s kind of interesting the way compulsive copycats Marvel and DC have studiously avoided learning anything from the success of manga. For example, DC wants to sell Supergirl brand merchandise to little girls but heaven forbid it produces a comic about her that instead of fighting focused on feelings and relationships (and super powered horses of course). Take for example Shonen Jump, the most widely distributed comic magazine in America (it’s easier to list the places where it’s not available). You’d think that by now both publishers would have their own comics out in that format, but the closest either has come is Marvel’s series of one-shot Spider-Man magazines.

David Welsh looks over this week’s new comics and joins the chorus of praise for Fairy Tail.

The latest RightStuf catalog (downloadable here) features an interview with Emma mangaka Kaoru Mori. (Via ANN.)

Tokyopop is upping the price of their mature-rated titles from $9.99 to $10.99, according to this thread at the AoD forum. (Via the Del Rey Blog.)

MangaCast’s Ed Chavez is going to be a panelist discussing the North American anime business at the Tokyo International Anime Fair tomorrow.

Reviews: PopCultureShock’s Chloe Ferguson is the latest reviewer to enjoy vols. 1 and 2 of Fairy Tail, and she explains why people keep commenting that it looks like One Piece: Mangaka Hiro Mashima was One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda’s assistant for a while. Leroy Douresseaux checks in with his take as well. Matthew Alexander reviews vol. 28 of Oh My Goddess, and Briana Lawrence checks out vol. 1 of Pet Shop of Horrors Tokyo at Anime on DVD. Ferdinand is unimpressed with vol. 1 of eV at Prospero’s Manga. At Okazu, Erica Friedman advises you to lower your expectations before reading vol. 1 of Battle Club; then it won’t seem too bad. Michelle awards an A+ to vol. 16 of Tsubasa at Soliloquy in Blue. Tiamat’s Disciple continues a week of CLAMP reviews with a look at The Legend of ChunHyang and Magic Knight Rayearth I. At the Manga Maniac Cafe, Julie takes an early look at vol. 21 of Red River and vol. 29 of Boys Over Flowers.

Buying manga, reading manga, talking about manga

At PopCultureShock’s Manga Recon blog, Katherine Dacey talks to Christy Lijewski and Tokyopop editor Tim Beedle about the second volume of RE:Play, artistic and musical influences, and more. And with a slim week ahead, she devotes Manga Recon to the short list of new releases and two movies based on manga, Lovely Complex and Nana.

Johanna Draper Carlson notes that Tokyopop is sending a copy of Tarot Cafe and a piece of art to everyone who enters their The Dreaming fanfic contest, and she wonders if that means that fewer people have entered than they hoped. Also at Comics Worth Reading: Ed Sizemore visits the exhibit of Shigeru Mizuki’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Yokaido Road prints.

Tiamat’s Disciple had trouble finding Seven Seas titles, so he e-mailed the company and got an interesting explanation: They switched distributors from Diamond to Tor/Macmillan, and Diamond wouldn’t let go of their backlist stock until the end of February. TD is in the UK, but I’m wondering if that problem affected the US as well. FWIW, I was in Borders on Sunday and saw several Seven Seas titles.

Chloe of Shuchaku-East does a little spring cleaning and rediscovers a manga with an interesting cover.

John T of Mecha Mecha Media checks in from Japan with some interesting observations.

Comics on the internets: Bill Randall has a short peek at Seiichi Hayashi’s Red-Colored Elegy up at his blog. (Via Journalista.) And Dark Horse has just put chapter 5 of Shaman Warrior online.

Stop the presses: Matt Blind discovers that Naruto is selling well! Then he presents a “de-Narutofied” version of the top 500 selling manga for the past week.

At Manga Xanadu, Lori Henderson goes to Barnes & Noble with low expectations and is pleasantly surprised to find a large, well-stocked manga section.

News from Japan: The Coamix magazine Comic Bunch will be launching several manga series based on Japanese, Korean, and Chinese novels over the next two weeks.

Mark your calendar: If you’re in Tokyo on March 26, check out the free symposium hosted by the Japanese Foreign Ministry on intellectual property in anime and manga.

Reviews: Lots of people are reviewing vols. 1 and 2 of Fairy Tail, which are both due out tomorrow: Andrew Wheeler of ComicMix enjoys it despite the fact that much of it has been done before; Greg McElhatton of Read About Comics notices that it looks a lot like One Piece; Julie of the Manga Maniac Cafe admits she’s a sucker for this kind of manga and… notices it looks a lot like One Piece; and Ed Chavez podcasts his thoughts about Fairy Tail and Gun Blaze West at MangaCast. Also at the MangaCast, Ed has an 18+ audio review of Please Miss Yuri and Milk Mama and MangaManiac Julie checks out vol. 1 of Don’t Blame Me. Connie reads vol. 1 of Fever and vols. 6 and 7 of Moon Child at Slightly Biased Manga. At Manga Jouhou, Snow cuts through the cheesiness and enjoys From Up Above. Chloe doesn’t much care for vol. 1 of Teru Teru x Shonen at Manga Recon. Matthew Alexander gives pretty good grades to vol. 1 of My Heavenly Hockey Club at Anime on DVD. At Soliloquy in Blue, Michelle enjoys vol. 2 of Kare Kano and vol. 15 of Tsubasa. Besides Fairy Tail, Julie also found time to review Dayan Collection and vol. 1 of Shin Megami Tensei Kahn at the Manga Maniac Cafe. Over at The Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon reviews Tezuka’s MW. Jason Thompson checks out Only Words. Kethylia turns two thumbs down on Menkui! At Prospero’s Manga, Ferdinand is unimpressed with Spy Goddess: Chase for the Chalice. Scott Campbell reviews vol. 10 of The Drifting Classroom and vol. 3 of Uzumaki at Active Anime. Tiamat’s Disciple reviews three titles by CLAMP: The One I Love, vols. 1-4 of Wish, and vols. 1-5 of Angelic Layer. At ANN, Carl Kimlinger reviews vol. 7 of School Rumble and Theron Martin checks out vol. 2 of Dragon Eye.