Kadokawa Buys Majority Stake in Yen Press, Partners with Crunchyroll

Yen LogoWow, the manga news is rolling in faster than I can keep up with it! The big story this morning is that the Japanese publisher Kadokawa has purchased a 51% stake in Yen Press. Yen Press will become Yen Press, LLC, a joint venture of Hachette and Kadokawa; previously, Yen was an imprint of Hachette in its Orbit Books division.

Kadokawa had another big announcement on the anime side: They are partnering with Crunchyroll, which will get exclusive distribution rights for all Kadokawa anime outside of Asia for the next year. And that’s not all:

To bolster KADOKAWA’s planned formation of a publishing joint venture with the major U.S. publisher Hachette Book Group, specializing in manga and light novels (scheduled for May), Crunchyroll and KADOKAWA will seek to strengthen their relationship through a marketing campaign with the book publishing and anime distribution businesses, as well as joint efforts to expand relevant merchandising businesses, in order to maximize the growth potential of Japanese content in the North American market.

What does this mean to you, the reader? Who knows, but Kadokawa does seem to be very interested in the light novel side of things, and Yen has really been making the light novel thing work, with its Yen On line. The Yen Press press release (according to ANN’s translation) says that the plan is to “establish light novels as a new content genre by using Hachette’s existing production and distribution infrastructure, with Kadokawa providing leadership.” Kadokawa publishes a lot of light novels, and they also own BookWalker, which carries digital manga and light novels; perhaps there will be some synergy there, with Yen and/or Crunchyroll.

The questions that remain unanswered are whether Yen Press will continue to license manga from other Japanese publishers (Square Enix in particular—they are the publisher of Black Butler and Pandora Hearts) and whether Kadokawa will license to other publishers.

Hold on to your hats! This promises to be an interesting ride.

ComiXology and Amazon Offer Kodansha Titles Same Day as Japan

Attack on Titan banner

ComiXology made a big announcement on Friday: They are getting in the simulpub business, releasing new chapters of Attack on Titan, Fairy Tail, and other Kodansha series the same day they come out in Japan. The chapters will be available on comiXology and Kindle, and each chapter will cost $1.99, although if you’re playing catch-up, you may want to check out the full volumes (also available on comiXology) as that’s usually the cheaper way to go.

This gives dedicated fans of these series an interesting choice, because Crunchyroll’s manga service also offers new chapters, many of which are simulpubbed—and the latest chapter is always free. Subscribers who pay $6.95 a month can read earlier chapters as well, but it’s all streaming—you don’t own the manga, and if you stop subscribing you lose access.

So which will readers prefer? Pay two bucks to own the chapter or read it for free but have it disappear in a week? Or maybe the third option—go for Crunchyroll’s all-you-can-eat model?

Here’s the full list of series that will be available on comiXology and Kindle the same day they come out in Japan:


As the Gods Will: The Second Series
Fairy Tail
GTO Paradise Lost
The Seven Deadly Sins
UQ Holder
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches


Space Brothers


Ajin: Demi-Human
Attack on Titan
Kiss Him, Not Me
The Heroic Legend of Arslan
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth Side: P4
Sweetness and Lightning


Princess Jellyfish

Kodansha Announces 7 New Licenses

The Prince in His Dark Days

The Prince in His Dark Days

Monday was a big day for Kodansha Comics: They announced seven new print titles: Attack on Titan: Lost Girls, Cells at Work!, The Prince in His Dark Days, Welcome to the Ballroom, That Wolf-Boy Is Mine, In/Spectre, and Sweetness and Lightning. All will launch in the fall. [Kodansha Comics]

Here’s another new license: Dark Horse will publish the Psycho-Pass prequel Psycho-Pass: Inspector Shinya Kogami. [Dark Horse]

Speaking of Kodansha, they have posted the full first chapter of Princess Jellyfish for you to read for free. [Kodansha Comics]

ANN has posted a great interview with Inio Asano, done during the Salón del Manga in Barcelona last fall. Here’s a sample:

I’m kind of ashamed to say this, but for me to create convincing stories, I need to bring the characters as close to my own experiences as possible. So it’s true that many of my characters have things in common with me.

Anyway, I try to make stories that are not based on the experiences of one single character. They are choral stories that rely on several characters with important roles based on outside reference from people close to me. I need it to be that way, otherwise I couldn’t create stories that are able to breathe a sense of reality.

[Anime News Network]

Here’s a first look at the English-language version of Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Pink, which is based on the BBC series starring Benedict Cumberbatch. [io9]

Why are there no shoujo titles on the U.S. best-seller lists? Krystallina investigates. [The OASG]

The Manga Bookshelf team discusses their pick of the week… [Manga Bookshelf]

… and they look over this week’s new releases. [Manga Bookshelf]

Viz has signed a deal with United Talent Agency to develop its properties into live-action programming. [ICv2]

Reviews: In a hurry? Catch up with the latest releases with this week’s edition of Bookshelf Briefs at Manga Bookshelf. Ash Brown reviews a week’s worth of manga reading at Experiments in Manga.

Rebecca Silverman on vol. 13 of Deadman Wonderland (ANN)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Danganropa: The Animation (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Adrienne on Devil’s Game (Heart of Manga)
Ash Brown on A Girl on the Shore (Experiments in Manga)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 2 of Idol Dreams (WatchPlayRead)
Laura on Kiss of the Rose Princess (Heart of Manga)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter (ANN)
Helen on vols. 4 and 5 of The Morose Mononokean (The OASG)
Ash Brown on vols. 8-10 of Mushishi (Experiments in Manga)
Matthew Warner on vol. 13 of Nisekoi (The Fandom Post)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Paradise Residence (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Sean Gaffney on vols. 25 and 26 of Ranma 1/2 (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Anna N on vol. 1 of Shuriken and Pleats (Manga Report)
Anna N on vol. 36 of Skip Beat! (Manga Report)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 11 of Terraformars (WatchPlayRead)

Manga Sales are Up

tenshi kamoshirenai 01For the first time in her career, manga-ka Moto Hagio is collaborating with an artist. Hagio is writing the story for a new series, Tenshi Kamoshirenai (Might be an Angel), which will run in Shueisha’s YOU magazine, and Yū Hatano will draw it. [Anime News Network]

Are manga sales increasing? Signs point to yes, according to Justin Sevakis, who looks at some recent sales reports and discusses some possible reasons. [Anime News Network]

The Manga Bookshelf team discusses this week’s new releases. [Manga Bookshelf]

The fifth volume of One-Punch Man tops the New York Times manga best-seller list, with vol. 8 of Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal coming in second and vol. 66 of Bleach in third place. [New York Times]

How much money is lost to anime piracy? GoBoiano writer JenBae does some rough calculations, and the results are eye-opening. [GoBoiano]

French manga scholar Xavier Hebert is about to publish his own manga. [Asahi Shimbun]

Akita Shoten has plans to release all its magazines digitally (in Japan) as well as in print. [Anime News Network]

Kamisama Kiss is coming to an end. [Anime News Network]

Reviews: Ash Brown reviews Mechademia, volume 10: World Renewal, a collection of essays about manga, at Experiments in Manga.

Matthew Alexander on vol. 7 of Assassination Classroom (The Fandom Post)
Erica Friedman on the January 2016 issue of Comic Yuri Hime (Okazu)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Demonizer Zilch (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Helen on Futaba-Kun Change! (The OASG)
Katherine Parker on vol. 4 of He’s My Only Vampire (The Fandom Post)
A Library Girl on vols. 3 and 4 of His Favorite (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Muse on vol. 1 of Honey So Sweet (The OASG)
Anna N. on vol. 2 of Idol Dreams (Manga Report)
Erica Friedman on Junsui Adolescence Perfect Edition (Okazu)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 3 of My Hero Academia (The Comic Book Bin)
Matthew Warner on vol. 4 of So Cute It Hurts! (The Fandom Post)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 5 of So Cute It Hurts! (The Comic Book Bin)
Matthew Warner on vol. 2 of Ultraman (The Fandom Post)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 12 of Umineko: When They Cry (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Helen on vols. 1-5 of Vinland Saga (Narrative Investigations)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 4 of The World’s Greatest First Love (I Reads You)

Manga Market Madness

One-Punch Man 5Manga titles accounted for half of BookScan’s list of the top 20 graphic novels of February (bookstore sales): Four volumes of Tokyo Ghoul (vol. 5 was the number one seller), three volumes of One-Punch Man, the Naruto novel and the series sequel, Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring, and vol. 8 of Monster Musume. [ICv2]

Last week was Manga Week at the retailer website ICv2, and they had a ton of interesting content. Here’s the list:

“A Lot of People Are Paying Attention to Us Right Now”: New Trends in Manga
ICv2 Interview: Todd MacFarlane on His Anime/Manga Line [of toys]
2016 Yaoi Titles from SuBLime
Interview with the Dark Horse Manga Brain Trust, Part 1
Interview with the Dark Horse Manga Brain Trust, Part 2
Top 10 Manga Franchises—Fall 2015

Retailer Brian Hibbs has released his annual analysis of the previous year’s BookScan charts, and it looks like 2015 was a great year for manga. His article is lengthy but fascinating reading if you’re interested in the fine points of the graphic novel market, but if you’re not, here’s one fact that kind of sums it up: In terms of dollar sales, Viz was the number two publisher of graphic novels in bookstores. Hibbs links to the actual spreadsheet of the top 750 graphic novels, in case you want to look it over for yourself. [Comic Book Resources]

Lori Henderson finds some free manga on the Kindle. [Manga Xanadu]

Chuya Koyama talks about Space Brothers. [Kodansha Comics]

Lone Wolf and Cub creator Kazuo Koike has done an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit! His answers to many of the questions are kind of vague, but he does say he thinks Samurai Executioner is his best work, and he is working on a new manga—that will be published as a motion comic. [Reddit]

Massive editor Graham Kolbeins talks gay manga. [Girls Like Comics]

Arina Tanemura releases the details of her new manga, to be titled Akuma ni Chic×Hack. [Anime News Network]

Tite Kubo has come down with something, so Bleach will skip a week. [Anime News Network]

There’s a lot going on in the world of yuri, and Erica Friedman rounds it up for us in the latest edition of Yuri Network News. Also, Erica will be participating in an alt-manga symposium at Baruch College in New York on April 7—check it out if you’re in town! [Okazu]

You may have heard of Kazuto Tatsuta before—he’s the guy who got a job as part of the cleanup crew in the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear reactor, which was damaged during the 2011 earthquake, and made a manga about it, Ichiefu. (You can read the first chapter in English here.) With the fifth anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami coming up, Tatsuta talks about his manga and the problems it revealed. [Japan Times]

In case you needed another excuse to read Yotsuba&!, here’s an article explaining why it’s a good choice for learning Japanese. [Japan Info]

If you read French, check out this interview with Minetaro Mochizuki, creator of Chiisakobé. [Nostroblog]

Reviews: At Manga Xanadu, Lori Henderson takes a look at Kimetsu no Yaiba, the new series that has just started running in Shonen Jump.

Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 8 of Assassination Classroom (The Comic Book Bin)
L.B. Bryant on vol. 1 of Behind the Scenes (ICv2)
Gregory Smith on vol. 3 of Chaika the Coffin Princess (The Fandom Post)
Erica Friedman on the March 2016 issue of Comic Yuri Hime (Okazu)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 13 of Deadman Wonderland (WatchPlayRead)
Matt Brady on Junji Ito’s Fragments of Horror (Warren Peace Sings the Blues)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 77 of One Piece (The Comic Book Bin)
Gregory Smith on vol. 1 of Princess Knight (The Fandom Post)
Gregory Smith on The Secret Sakura Shares (The Fandom Post)
Justin on vol. 1 of Taboo Tattoo (The OASG)
Kory Cerjak on vol. 2 of Tokyo ESP (The Fandom Post)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 5 of Tokyo Ghoul (WatchPlayRead)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 5 of Tokyo Ghoul (The Comic Book Bin)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 3 of Ultraman (WatchPlayRead)

The Manga Revue: Brave Dan and FukuFuku: Kitten Tales

Do you own a cat tea cosy? Is there an enormous feline jungle gym in your living room? Have you lost entire afternoons to watching YouTube videos of cats opening doors, playing pianos, and riding Roombas? If you answered “yes” to at least one of the following questions, this week’s column is for you, as I’ll be reviewing two cat-centric comics: Osamu Tezuka’s Brave Dan–a boy-and-his-tiger story–and Kanata Konami’s FukuFuku: Kitten Tales–a manga about cats doing normal cat things.

brave_danBrave Dan
By Osamu Tezuka
Rated Teen, for readers 13 and up
Digital Manga Publishers, Inc., $15.95

Brave Dan begins as a rollicking adventure: Kotan, an orphaned Ainu boy, befriends Dan, a “man-eating” tiger, and embarks on a quest with him to find a valuable treasure. The pair dodges bullets, escapes from a helicopter, and tangles with guardian spirits in their search for the tomb of an ancient Ainu warrior. As the story enters its final act, however, a darker subplot emerges, one in which Dan is forced to confront the wisdom of associating with humans.

Though Tezuka makes frequent reference to Kotan’s Ainu heritage, this plot strand is more window dressing than serious thematic element; Kamuiroji’s tomb looks more like a set from a Flash Gordon or Tarzan serial than an authentic expression of Ainu culture. (Granted, it’s a pretty nifty tomb; Indiana Jones would have had a field day exploring it.) Tezuka is on firmer ground when staging a chase or a fight. In one memorable scene, for example, Dan plunges into a lake to save Kotan from an enormous spider-demon. Tezuka captures the fluidity and speed of Dan’s attacks with a few carefully chosen “snapshots” of him tumbling and twisting in the water, struggling to crush the monster with his paws. Small details–such as the trail of bubbles from each of Dan’s legs–remind us that in this underwater setting, Dan has a fleeting window of opportunity to save his friend. By the time that he and Kotan burst to the lake’s surface, we’re gasping for air, too–a testament to Tezuka’s ability to transport the reader to the scene of the action.

Tezuka’s artwork also plays an important role in garnering sympathy for Dan, establishing the tiger’s bravery, intelligence, and unwavering loyalty to Kotan. Though Tezuka can’t resist some ham-fisted touches–Dan actually shakes his paw at the sky in one scene–Dan’s essential tigerness is never compromised. The emphasis on Dan’s animal nature reminds us that his friendship with Kotan can only exist apart from human society; kind and smart as Dan may be, adults perceive him as a threat, to be killed or contained in a zoo.

The bottom line: If you still bear scars from reading The Yearling and Old Yeller, be warned: Dan is as doomed as those other noble animal protagonists. Less sensitive souls, however, can enjoy Brave Dan as both a gonzo adventure story and a meditation on the perils of interspecies friendships. Recommended for readers ten and up.

Fuku Fuku Kitten TalesFukuFuku: Kitten Tales, Vol. 1
By Kanata Konami
All Ages
Vertical Comics, $10.95

FukuFuku: Kitten Tales is perfectly calibrated to elicit an “awwww” and a chuckle on every page. The title character–a spunky calico–does predictably cute things: she falls asleep in odd places, escapes from a sudsy bath, plays with her food, and snatches a fish from the table. Unlike Chi, star of Konami’s other hit manga, FukuFuku doesn’t voice her thoughts about her new owner, or the strangeness of her new surroundings; she simply does what she pleases. Konami’s minimalist artwork captures the nuances of FukuFuku’s moods surprisingly well, however, as Konami bends and stretches the kitten’s moon-shaped face into an astonishing range of smiles, scowls, and grimaces. Absent a plot or a deeper sense of how FukuFuku sees her world, the story hits fewer emotional notes than Chi’s Sweet Home, focusing almost exclusively on the kind of ordinary cat behavior that’s been documented copiously on YouTube. You may find that the vignettes–charming as they are–have a sameness about them that prevents them from being genuinely funny or surprising.

The bottom line: As with Chi’s Sweet Home, Konami demonstrates a talent for drawing winsome kitties doing winsome things. She’s also cornered the market on disdainful feline reaction shots.

Reviews: ANN columnist Rebecca Silverman posts an early review of Inio Asano’s critically lauded drama Goodnight Pun-Pun, while Seth Hahne, host of Good OK Bad, tackles another Asano work: A Girl on the Shore.

Mark Pelligrini on vol. 3 of AKIRA (AiPT!)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 7 of Blood Lad (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Adrienne on vol. 1 of Bloody Mary (Heart of Manga)
Sean Gaffney on The Boy and the Beast (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Julie on The Cinderella Solution (Manga Maniac Cafe)
Julie on Crowns and a Cradle (Manga Maniac Cafe)
ebooksgirl on vol. 1 of FukuFuku: Kitten Tales (Geek Lit Etc.)
Karen Maeda on vol. 1 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Part 2: Battle Tendency (Sequential Tart)
Wolfen Moondaughter on vol. 23 of Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You (Sequential Tart)
Nick Creamer on vol. 3 of My Hero Academia (Anime News Network)
David Brooke on vol. 5 of One-Punch Man (AiPT!)
Ash Brown on vol. 1 of Persona 4 (Experiments in Manga)
Jordan Richards on vol. 1 of Pokemon Adventures (AiPT!)
Sheena McNeil on vol. 2 of QQ Sweeper (Sequential Tart)
Wolfen Moondaughter on vol. 1 of Gakyuu Hotei: School Judgment (Sequential Tart)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 3 of Umineko When They Cry Episode 5: End of the Golden Witch (Anime News Network)
Austin Lanari on issue no. 13 of Weekly Shonen Jump (Comic Bastards)