Kodansha to let Tokyopop licenses lapse

LoveHina3The Japanese publisher Kodansha has decided to let its licenses with Tokyopop expire, according to Marketing Manager Kasia Piekarz, which means that series in progress will not be completed by Tokyopop and existing volumes will not be reprinted. Accordingly, a number of series have been put on the Out of Print list. Tokyopop made the following official statement:

The Japanese publisher Kodansha, from whom TOKYOPOP has licensed many terrific series over the years — Chobits, Love Hina, Samurai Deeper Kyo, Rave Master, Initial D, Kindaichi, Life, GetBackers, and Love Attack, to name a few — has decided to let all existing contracts with TOKYOPOP expire on all manga series that they have licensed to us. As a result, Kodansha will not renew any licenses with TOKYOPOP for any new manga volumes. What does this mean? TOKYOPOP will not be allowed to complete the publication of any series that is currently in progress; in addition, TOKYOPOP will not be allowed to reprint titles after the current inventory has been sold out, so once these series are sold out at retail, they will not be available for consumers to purchase. The reasons for Kodansha’s decision were not communicated to TOKYOPOP.

We have received many emails and phone calls about titles related to this announcement, and given the nature of the negotiations, we could not definitely answer any of those questions until now. We love all of these series, and we are disappointed that we will not get to enjoy the outcome of some of our favorite manga. We hope to see these series completed some day…. However, if they are ever published again, they will not be published by TOKYOPOP.

Given that Tokyopop seems to have turned the corner lately, I wonder what Kodansha is up to. Remember they refused to renew their licenses with Tokyopop Germany earlier this year.

ETA: David Welsh has a list of affected titles at Precocious Curmudgeon.

ETA2: And here’s Tokyopop’s full Out of Print list, which includes some non-Kodansha titles.

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  1. :[

  2. Wow. That’s a pretty major blow for Tokyopop. The only reason I could imagine Kodansha would do this is because they want to have the rights themselves when they start releasing manga as their own US company. But aside from Akira and Ghost in the Shell being scheduled for release, they’ve remained extremely quiet on their plans.
    I’m glad I don’t collect any of those series, but I feel bad for the fans who did.

  3. Owch, that one has to hurt for them… however at the same time, I’m not sure if they’ve had any “new” licenses with Kodansha for quite some time, what with the Kodansha/Random House link.
    Even some of the titles that Tokyopop has on their “terrific series” series list in the press release are licenses that have already passed over to others (Chobits to Dark Horse, SDK to Del Rey).

  4. Now I can finally see Love Attack in better hands.

  5. There is a glimmer of hope though. Fans of a few titles *cough*Psychic Academy*cough* may finally get a decent release if some other company picks it up. PA would have done pretty well i think if TP hadn’t butchered it by turning the cast into drugged out hippies and hookers from the 60’s

    I always wanted to count the ‘Whoa Nelly’ and ‘Skippy’ comments, just to see how many there were hehe

  6. Simon Jones says

    I really, really doubt this is a “big blow” to Tokyopop. Kodansha has been anything but subtle, first making fewer new titles available to TP, then pulling licenses from TP Germany. All things considered, Kodansha actually gave TP quite a bit of time to wrap up as much as they could, and establish working relationships with other smaller manga publishers in Japan. No specific reason may have been given, but TP was absolutely not caught off-guard by this.

  7. Like Simon said, it’s definitely not any big surprise. Tokyopop’s relationship with Kodansha, while a HUGE part of the company’s success from the company’s founding through 2004, has slowed to a trickle since Del Rey entered the scene. In the big picture, that was when the real blow happened — when Del Rey took over Kodansha’s top licenses like Tsubasa and Negima. This is largely a non-event. The majority of titles listed by David and others have been defacto out of print for years. It’s sad that those series stopped mid-run will be in limbo for a while, but if there is a market for them, they’ll doubtless come out eventually.

  8. there’s no stopping it with tokyopop. watching this manga series drives me crazy day by day. tokyopop is one of the leading manga in the year 2009. but until now, this manga is my favorite.


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