Thursday, August 27, 2009

Viz is a giant

A search for upcoming Viz Media titles on Amazon reveals a number of surprises -- specifically, every single title that's on their SigIkki website, save for Tokyo Flowchart, Afterschool Charisma and I Am a Turtle, have their first volumes available for pre-order. (Whatever vague standards they're using to determine print publication is working, I guess?)

The manga industry in North America isn't facing its best times right now. Del Rey is stretching their release of one quarterly volume to every six months for certain series (Alive, Mushi-shi, Nodame). Dark Horse has either put off or outright cancelled various titles (and upping the price while decreasing the book quality of Berserk isn't helpful). Tokyopop maintains near-irrelevancy and degrades their titles more in production.

Considering this, it's either genius or suicidal for Viz to expand their Signature line with continuing premium presentation, along with the already announced thirty volumes of One Piece in six months. Even with well-established and loved titles/creators -- Children of the Sea, Bokurano, Inio Asano, Taiyo Matsumoto, Fumi Yoshinaga, Tsutomu Nihei; One Piece selling consistently well -- this is a big fucking gamble.


  1. I really can't work out why Alive hasn't become one of Del Rey's biggest sellers. The art is really good, yet not in an unconventional way; the story moves along well with lots of flash to it, and it has covers that stand out and catch the eye.
    I mean, I can see a slower than normal schedule since it is on one in Japan, but it still seems a little early to be going this slow.

  2. I read the first couple Alives on your recommendation, but I just was not feelin' it. I meant to go back and take another look a couple volumes later, but I got manga I actually like sitting around unread, so not a super high priority.

    I mean shit, I haven't even gotten around to looking at the stuff on SigIkki.

  3. I suppose that is the problem with it; the opening is really not illustrative of what it becomes, and it has a couple of nasty growing pains switching genres. It's pretty much all good once crazy ice girl shows up, and from that point on you get shit like the otaku villain with his personal loli that he uses to force people to keep their promises or DIE.

  4. I should also add that while Alive is a good book -- more for the art than the writing -- and a cut above most of the genre, largely because the pacing is relatively quick, it is pretty far down my list of titles to pick back up if I have a lot of money and a lot of time some day.
    I do recommend it if you have a soft spot for shonen superpower fighting manga, cause it's one of the best, but I'm more baffled that one of the best of a very mainstream genre with a mainstream art style is somehow not finding an audience than actually pimping it the way I did Muhyo a few days ago.

  5. Which Dark Horse titles are you talking about?

  6. Satsuma Gishiden, Reiko the Zombie, Scary Book... more than I care to list or remember.

  7. I seem to recall hearing Ghost Talker's Daydream might have just gotten the axe too.

    Man, Reiko the Zombie Shop, I forgot about that one. Pretty crazy book.

  8. Thanks to this post, I indirectly discovered that Viz has apparently resumed releasing Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. Glory Hallelujah. Can't believe I somehow missed the solicitations of volumes 11, 12, and 13.

  9. Satsuma Gishiden, Reiko the Zombie Shop, Scary Book, these are all books that stopped publishing years ago. Scary Book stopped its run in 2006. Reiko in 2007. Same with Satsuma Gishiden.

    I think this is the book that caused Dark Horse to change to a policy of completing series, which they have promised with many if not all of their manga and manhwa running now, including MPD Psycho, The Kurosagi Corpse Deliery Service, Translucent, etc...

    It is true titles have been delayed, like Bride of the Water God when there was a change in translators, but despite the fact Ghost Talker's hasn't had a new volume in too long, I have heard it does relatively good sales (despite almost no press).

    So please don't take this the wrong way, but I was surprised to hear that Dark Horse is cancelling titles, when the titles you are talking about were cancelled years ago. I think they are making an effort to keep readers (of course!) so posts like this aren't always helpful for fans, especially if you don't say what titles you are talking about. I appreciate your efforts and I hope my response is taken in the spirit it is intended.

  10. We're certainly not out to spike DH or anything, but they have a history of being willing to drop series, and it is not at all unfair to remember that. 2007 is not all that long ago.

  11. I understand, Joe, and it has frustrated me as it has frustrated you.

    But I think DH has heard that from the fans and has made a concentrates and vocal effort to remedy that in the last couple years.

    For that reason I think the original post could have been worded differently, as it feels like you are reporting something new and DH is reversing its policy when in reality that isn't the case.

  12. Hello there,

    Ghost Talker's Daydream volume #4 will be making its way back to bookshelves soon, and our classic titles still do well. The CLAMP omnibus series is doing wonderfully, and Berserk still comes out regularly; whilst, we did experiment with a different paper stock, we'll be reverting back to the old one.

    Long story short: Things are quite good at Dark Horse manga. Our titles have always been quality, and recent purge of 'meh' titles from bookstore shelves has given DH even more visibility. If you ever have any questions, feel free to contract me freely.

    Michael Gombos

  13. Whoa. I sincerely appreciate this reply.

    The end of the bubble is definitely a good thing as less clutter takes up the shelves, resulting in companies being more particular about their titles. Still, even though Dark Horse is doing well with relatively recent licenses like Gantz, MPD Psycho and those CLAMP titles, I miss the times when you put out less typical series (such as the ones in the above comments).

    "Berserk still comes out regularly; whilst, we did experiment with a different paper stock, we'll be reverting back to the old one."

    Really great news.