So, When Are We Getting Del Rey’s Former Manga Titles, Kodansha USA?

So, When Are We Getting Del Rey’s Former Manga Titles, Kodansha USA?

Kodansha ComicsIt was back on July 1, 2008 that we learned that the Japanese manga publisher Kodansha decided to cut out the middleman in the U.S. and create a new division for US manga publications and sales called Kodansha USA.  Then in 2009, Kodansha pulled its licenses from TokyoPop but the old Kodansha CLAMP titles (Chobits, Cardcaptor Sakura, Clover) went to Dark Horse, who thankfully have been treating these rescues like gold!  Last month, we learned that Kodansha USA would be taking over all of Del Rey’s manga titles and would be working with Del Rey’s parent company, Random House, to publish the books in the U.S.  That makes sense seeing as how Random House already has the publishing facilities and saves Kodansha USA the start-up costs on that front.

So, Kodansha USA (aka: Kodansha Comics) has been moving forward pretty slowly on their plan to take over their titles in the U.S. market.  However, I think they are moving too slowly now that they’ve removed Del Rey from the picture.

The other day, I was updating my manga purchase list and discovered that all of the Del Rey titles I’m currently collecting (Negima!, xxxHOLiC, School Rumble, etc.) are not on the horizon as Kodansha USA releases.  Once the final volumes from Del Rey come in, that’s it.  I’m keeping current with Negima! and xxxHOLiC and obviously for a long ago completed title like School Rumble, I could find a scanlation and read it to its conclusion.  What about those folks who don’t do that?

I don’t  know what the hold up is, though I’ve read some speculation that the deal between Random House and Kodansha USA hasn’t been 100% finalized with details to still be worked out on production.  Regardless of the holdup, Viz, TokyoPop, Yen Press, Dark Horse, etc. move ahead with their production schedules and former Del Rey titles are where?

The final Del Rey volume of Negima! was officially translated last June and only recently came to market to be purchased.  So, that’s roughly four months of production time.  By my count, there were thirty-three Kodansha manga titles in production by Del Rey when Del Rey was booted off the stage.  That’s a lot of production to ramp up while at the same time, the ongoing series are seeing us get further and further behind on.

Granted, things can get caught up rather quickly once production is started, but in my mind, a more orderly transition from Del Rey to Kodansha USA would have had the later slowly take over titles and get them going so as not to have a noticeable break in production.  Now, there are thirty-three manga titles which aren’t scheduled for anything at the moment, including translation work.  To me, that’s just terrible business practice on the part of Kodansha USA and strikes a negative tone with me.  I’m sure most people are on budgets and the longer their favorite manga titles that used to be published by Del Rey aren’t out there for sale, the greater the likelyhood that their money will simply shift elsewhere.  This won’t be true for everyone, but if TV models are any indication, it could be true for manga.

Dark Horse has long frustrated me with their notorious manga production delays, but they often buy me off with a final product that is just superior (I will talk more of this in an upcoming review of the 2nd omnibus volume of Chobits).  Kodansha USA may follow that same quality path and buy me off when they finally get things going again. However, I can’t help but recall other Japanese companies attempting to cut out the middleman in the U.S. and totally jacking things up in the process.  My concerns are further exacerbated when I read reports of how Kodansha Comics has treated Akira and Ghost in the Shell.

So far, I haven’t been that impressed with how Kodansha USA/Kodansha Comics has been handling things and the clock is ticking.  All I can do is wait and as I do so, Viz, Dark Horse, TokyoPop, and Yen Press will continue to get my money while Kodansha USA gets nothing.

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12 Responses to “So, When Are We Getting Del Rey’s Former Manga Titles, Kodansha USA?”

  1. arimareiji says:

    … so they switched partners in the middle of the dance, but didn’t actually have their new partner on the dance floor yet?

    Grrr. Xb

  2. Jura says:

    They have Adventura, but no new volumes. I really liked that series…

  3. Krono says:

    I definitely agree that they’re moving too slowly. Where it not for this change in publisher, the next volume of Fairy Tail would likely have been out before the end of the year. As it stands it sits translated, and heaven knows how long it’ll take them to run it through the rest of the production process.

    Worse is the final 3 volumes of Rave Master. Tokyopop would have finished translating them late last year, or early this year if Kodansha hadn’t pulled the license. It was given to Del Rey who was going to put out an omnibus version of them in September, which slid to December, which with this take over has fallen into the abyss.

    It does not say good things about Kodansha’s regard for their U.S. fans that a series 3 volumes from completion, with people willing to complete it, keeps getting delayed and interrupted by Kodansha’s own actions. Especially when the delays have been due to Kodansha wanting to do things themselves, yet apparently having no ability to actually do so.

  4. junior says:

    iirc Toybox Arts is the name of the Japanese company that left me hanging when they brought ‘The Five Star Stories’ over to the US.


  5. AstroNerdBoy says:

    @Arimareiji — it feels like Kodansha simply wanted Del Rey out of the way and they’d pick up the pieces whenever. Obviously, this was in the works for a long time as Del Rey stopped production back in the summer from what I can tell.

    @Jura — Kodansha has that? I’d have to look as I’ve not heard of Adventura.

    @Krono — yeah, everything looks real ugly at the moment. A month ago, I was willing to give Kodansha the benefit of the doubt but now, they are racking up negative points with me.

    @Junior — not familiar with that one but it sounds typical of many Japanese takeovers.

  6. junior says:

    @Junior — not familiar with that one but it sounds typical of many Japanese takeovers.

    Wasn’t a takeover. I’m not familiar with the full story, but iirc they’d agreed with Mamoru Nagano (the writer/artist) to release the full thing over here… and then stopped the release short. The arrangement of the volumes is different between the Japanese release and the US release (the Japanese volumes were sub-divided into multiple US volumes), but I think there were still two Japanese volumes left to go when the US releases stopped (with US #25 – average was 2-3 US volumes per Japanese volume). Despite the very English name, they’re a Japanese company.

    Gorgeous volumes, too. Pages roughly 9-1/4″ x 11-5/8″ (European paper size, I think – can’t remember the name). The back section of each volume filled with setting information, plus black and white as well as color artwork. And since iirc Nagano studied fashion design when he was much younger, the artwork – both for humans as well as mecha – is very different than what you ordinarily see.

    Ah well.

    The only good side of it all is that the US didn’t lose the “end” of the story, since even the Japanese version of it isn’t finished. And probably never will be – the story’s just that big.

    Though how it all turns out is revealed in the timeline at the end of the first volume. It’s a very unusual series…

  7. Charlie says:

    It’s all very frustrating, series I’m reading like Moyasimon, Nodame Cantabile, School Rumble are left in limbo. Indeed, I’ve turned to scanlations for the latter two as I’ve despaired of ever seeing them finished, though if they ever do see the light of day I still want to complete my collection.

  8. Franky says:

    wish manga was a lil cheaper in the us….

  9. I just picked up vol. 28 of Negima and vol. 29 of xxxHolic yesterday, making them some of the last Del Rey releases I’ll buy (I still need to get vol. 27 of Tsubasa, and vol. 28 when it comes out later this month). Having among the last of Del Rey’s releases in my possession got me to looking up what the new paradigm has in store for us.

    Because I like Del Rey (it was a great 6+ year run), I too have some concerns about Kodansha’s takeover as publisher. With Kodansha Comic’s website being just a single page mentioning the arrangement with Random House and RH’s site having removed the Del Rey Manga page and having no mention about the new arrangement, there’s almost no info to go by. What I want to know, and soon, are the following (I’d like to ask Kodansha myself, but the USA branch’s page doesn’t have any contact info):

    1. When will we see production & distribution started for the acquired titles? Are the translating and printing processes already underway or will nothing start until after the December 1 shift? With a release cycle of one volume per three months for titles like Negima, we will need to see action soon lest titles start getting delayed beyond what we’ve been expecting for the last six years (e.g., Negima vol. 29 would be released in January if the status quo had remained).

    2. Will the same personnel responsible for localization (translators, editors) remain on the job? I like the Nibleys’ work on Negima and hope they continue on it for the forseeable future.

    3. Will the quality (of the paper, etc.) remain the same or perhaps even be better than Del Rey’s already high-quality printing?

    4. Can we expect the same extras (production notes from the mangaka, translation notes from the translator, etc.) in yet-to-be-released volumes, and will extras from the Del Rey printings remain intact in the Kodansha reprints? Is it possible we might actually get more bonus content, like bonus cover art from special editions?

    5. Will older Del Rey releases that had translation issues (e.g., the first several volumes of Negima) be re-released with improved translations, or will all Kodansha printings have indentical translations to the Del Rey?

    6. Finally a nitpick regarding collecting and aesthetics. Will the basic layout of the covers and spine remain the same (except of the Kodansha Comics logo replacing Del Rey’s), or will it be a noticeably different design that clashes with the Del Rey releases (like how my pre-2004 volumes of the Evangelion manga clash with the newer ones)?

    I’ve been a loyal customer of Del Rey’s since day one, having bought a total of 70 volumes of manga over the last six years. As such, I have certain expectations regarding quality and consistency in my product, as well as timely releases of said product. A change in publishing and distribution is fine so long as the product’s quality and content are not diminished.

  10. AstroNerdBoy says:

    I have some limited answers to a few questions posed.

    Are the translating and printing processes already underway or will nothing start until after the December 1 shift?

    All of the former Del Rey translators (who are in fact all freelance translators) I’ve spoken with are not currently working on any of their former titles from Del Rey.

    Will the same personnel responsible for localization (translators, editors) remain on the job? I like the Nibleys’ work on Negima and hope they continue on it for the forseeable future.

    While I don’t believe any of the translators have been told anything concrete, they all don’t seem to feel negative about the prospects for continuing to work on their former Del Rey projects. We’ll see though.

  11. Zeether says:

    I’m also annoyed a bit at the wait, but I hope it will be all worth it.

    And I am a bit concerned if the Nibleys are going to still be working on Negima. I hope so.

  12. […] hadn’t been too happy with Kodansha’s take over of Del Rey manga titles but finally, the company decides to put some information out there.  Amidst the news about new […]

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