Goodbye, TokyoPop

Goodbye, TokyoPop

Fruits Basket TokyoPopTimes they are a changing.  Last year, Del Rey all but completely dropped from the manga publishing field (save for a very few titles like xxxHOLiC).  Yesterday, word came out that TokyoPop is going to close its publishing doors, meaning TokyoPop will now disappear from the manga publishing field as well.  Turn the page.

There’s no doubt that TokyoPop revolutionized manga publishing in the U.S.  Before they emerged on the scene, manga was treated more like a western comic book.  For example, Oh My Goddess the chapters printed monthly (or thereabouts) as a regular Dark Horse comic book series. After a period of time, Dark Horse would simply print a graphic novel with no bearing on the Japanese tankoubon publications.  Viz and other manga publishers who printed manga volumes did so by flipping them to a Western style.  This was done because it was felt that Americans would never accept manga printed Japanese style (right-to-left vs. left-to-right).

However, flipping manga was an added expense, as was removing Japanese sound effects from the art.  So, TokyoPop took a cost saving measure and began publishing manga unflipped while retaining all of the quirky Japanese sound effects and the like.  They then marketed this as “authentic manga” and then got manga moved from tiny comic book stores into mainstream book stores.  The result saw manga sales explode.  TokyoPop even took things further by pioneering the idea of allowing Japanese honorifics and terms to survive in the text, especially if doing so added to the flavor of said series.

Love Hina TokyoPopThe second manga series I ever purchased was from TokyoPop — Love Hina.  Since the anime series had begun to sour me on English dubs, I had become slightly attuned to some Japanese honorifics and TokyoPop’s adaptation had a few snuck in. Further, I began to dig the unflipped manga and the “keep it real” feel that TokyoPop’s manga provided.  So in many ways, TokyoPop helped turn me into the fan I am today when it comes to manga adaptations in English.  ^_^

Of course, not everything TokyoPop did made sense.  For example, I never understood Stu Levy’s apparent obsession with Courtney LovePrincess Ai seemed to just cry out, “SUCK!” and it frustrated me to see so much effort poured into that when I felt those energies should have been directed into real manga.  Not only that, but Stu started calling himself D.J. Milky, which just made me roll my eyes.  As I look back on those incidents, I think Stu was a like a nerd trying desperately to be seen as cool.

Aoi Yori Aoshi TokyoPopTokyoPop’s attempts at OEL and manhwa didn’t meet with too much success from what I can tell and as this happened, their manga licenses crumbled under them.  Kodansha Comics yanking all of their titles from TP combined with CLAMP transferring most of their licenses to Dark Horse was the bell tolling for TP’s publishing arm.  No doubt the bankruptcy of Borders was the death nail for them.

I understand that Stu is making a documentary about the earthquake and tsunami and the Japanese recovery efforts in the Miyagi Prefecture with proceeds going to the people.  That sounds a most worthy endeavor and I wish Stu great success in that project.

Over the years, I’ve purchased a ton of TokyoPop manga and still have some ongoing TP series such as Sgt. Frog and Gakuen Alice.  Hopefully, these titles will be license-rescued by another company because I’ll be most annoyed if they aren’t. In the meantime, thanks to the people of TokyoPop for many well done manga titles and for turning the Western market into a more Japanese friendly place.  ^_^

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Goodbye, TokyoPop”

  1. arimareiji says:

    This really is sad news. TP did revolutionize things far more than I think a lot of current fans know; I still remember the dark days when Viz was close to the only big game in town and thought they could get by with about anything. This example is about anime rather than manga, but for the sake of illustration: Kids these days think that $50 is too much to pay for an entire anime season… adjusted for inflation, that was once how much you were expected to pay for ~two episodes~ of Viz’s marginal dub-only versions on videotape.

    Wrt being soured on English dubs – Love Hina was hardly the worst, but yeah, Kitsune’s VA was a turning point for me as well. (But as much as I blame Kitsune, Kodachi, and other Shatneresque cringe-inducers, I also have to blame the Fruits Basket and Crest/Banner of the Stars American VAs. If they hadn’t provided such good examples of what voice acting can be, I’d have never gotten tired enough of the bad ones to try out the sub versions and be lured by the siren song of the seiyuu.)

  2. O-chan says:

    Pretty much I covered the whole Tokyopop phenomenon on my blog and it, more or less, covered everything that you already covered here.

    I’m actually not surprised they are retiring from the American manga industry. Much like the anime industry, things are being widdled down to the few heavy hitters who do things at a balanced pace. Sgt. Frog was caught up with the Japanese version, and Hetalia is still fairly new so I’m sure someone may get both series (especially since Funimation’s still pumping money into their anime counterparts), but outside of those two series most of their other stuff I own from them is stuff I got years ago (like the CLAMP stuff) or completed series (GTO, Fruits Baskets).

    As far as the Del Rey stuff goes…huh? Didn’t know they were having issues, too. I guess the whole Kodansha transference stuff overshadowed any real concern.

    Even the invincible Viz are learning their limitations with LONG Shonen Jump series like Reborn and Gintama which they both dropped this year.

    It’s change and the best thing to do is just embrace it and move on.

  3. first the chain stores, then the publishers. this is only gonna get tougher as the transition from paper to electronic media. del rey had some issues as they are also a publishing company of novels too, so they had limitations on their manga industry. So im not surprised that they are just going to distribute the manga titles from kodansha. on top of that, publishing companies have either gone electronic for the most part – or like many newspapers, they have gone out of business.

    like borders (who turned bankrupt), the paper has gone out of favor for people that use items like nook or ibooks. so the sequence of events were not surprising. it’s only a matter of time before another event happens to a publisher or bookstore.

  4. first the chain stores, then the publishers. this is only gonna get tougher as the transition from paper to electronic media. del rey had some issues as they are also a publishing company of novels too, so they had limitations on their manga industry. So im not surprised that they are just going to distribute the manga titles from kodansha. on top of that, publishing companies have either gone electronic for the most part – or like many newspapers, they have gone out of business.

    like borders (who turned bankrupt), the paper has gone out of favor for people that use items like nook or ibooks. so the sequence of events were not surprising. it’s only a matter of time before another event happens to a publisher or bookstore.

  5. AstroNerdBoy says:

    TP did revolutionize things far more than I think a lot of current fans know; I still remember the dark days when Viz was close to the only big game in town and thought they could get by with about anything.

    All of the companies back before TP thought they could get away with stuff and frankly they did for a time. Today’s a different story, of course. ^_^

    Pretty much I covered the whole Tokyopop phenomenon on my blog and it, more or less, covered everything that you already covered here.

    You wrote that a while back, right O-chan?

    As far as the Del Rey stuff goes…huh? Didn’t know they were having issues, too. I guess the whole Kodansha transference stuff overshadowed any real concern

    School Rumble has three more volumes which Del Rey have never released. I’m told that they did have one of the three volumes translated and I hear rumor that they will release the final three volumes in a year or two, which makes no sense to me.

    like borders (who turned bankrupt), the paper has gone out of favor for people that use items like nook or ibooks. so the sequence of events were not surprising. it’s only a matter of time before another event happens to a publisher or bookstore.

    While I still love physical books, I am a HUGE supporter of digital publishing of manga, but only if it is DRM-free materials. ^_^;

Want to comment? Leave a Reply! Some HTML (for bold, italics, etc.) permitted. Use [spoiler][/spoiler] to hide spoiler content. Block quotes are <blockquote>Text you want to quote goes here.</blockquote>. No personal attacks on other comenters, please. Spirited debate is OK though. ^_^

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Powered by WordPress