Thursday, December 8, 2011

Will Sailormoon Save Manga?

According to the Nielson BookScan chart that ranks top-selling graphic novels, Kodansha's Sailormoon series has topped the charts for the third month in a row. The full list of top graphic novels for November can be found at where you will see that other SM properties are also in the top ranks, except for volume 1 which IcV2 guesses "may indicate supply problems."

What accounts for the rise in the release of a manga that is nearly 20 years old? Is it nostalgia for the "good old days" of manga? Or are the other current comic books just not appealing enough to a female readership? We'll see if these numbers continue to stay on top.

Also, now that I have returned to my blog, one of the first things I did was to clean up the manga publishers' bar to the left. It was a very sad task. I deleted six links. Since I started this blog, the following publishers have gone to the wayside: ADV, CMX, CPM Press, Go! Comi!, Mediablasters, and Tokyopop. At the very least, Tokyopop's catalog (which was one of the largest in the industry) is still being published by Kodansha Comics (distributed by the American Publisher, Random House).

What is the future of manga publishing in the States?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

CFP: Mechademia, Volume 8

Dear all:

I hope to make this a more active blog. In the meantime, please read and pass on this "Call for Papers." I know we will receive a lot of interesting essays!

For more information about Mechademia, visit the site or drop me a question. I'll be happy to hear from you.

CFP: Mechademia 8. Tezuka Osamu: Manga Life

We seek submissions for the eighth volume of Mechademia, an annual forum for critical work on Japanese manga, anime, and related arts. The theme of volume 8 is “Manga Life: Tezuka…”

Tezuka Osamu is one of Japan’s most renowned anime and manga creators, often regarded as an origin figure in Japanese popular culture. Published in conjunction with a major exhibit of Tezuka’s Work to be held at the Weisman Museum in Minneapolis Minnesota in 2013, Mechademia 8 will attempt to provide some new perspectives on Tezuka—including his context and his legacy–through the broad rubric of “Manga Life.”We imagine this theme to encompass:

—Tezuka’s profound interest in the relationship between human and non-human life forms

—drawn or animated characters as quasi-autonomous life forms at the center of multimedia franchises or media mixes, a development Tezuka’s work (across manga and anime, for example) helped foster.

—the emergence of professional manga creators; the ability of artists and writers to live a “manga life” as manga production emerges as a viable livelihood.

— links between popular culture and daily life, with attention to the transformations in everyday life in Japan during the span of the Shôwa period (1926-1989), which corresponds almost perfectly with Tezuka’s life (1928-1989).

We invite submissions that deepen or complicate our understanding of these areas, centered on any aspect of Tezuka’s work and life, as well as on related artists and work. We particularly welcome essays exploring historical and political implications of Tezuka’s “manga life.”

The deadline for submissions is January 9, 2012 to submissions(at) Essays may be up to 5,000 words in length, with shorter pieces also welcome, and we will consider submissions in creative, non-traditional formats as well.


Download the Mechademia Style Guide (vers. 4.0, July 2011) – pdf format


Please contact Wendy Goldberg, Submissions Editor
submissions AT


Frenchy Lunning, Editor-in-Chief, Mechademia
frenchy AT

Friday, April 15, 2011

TokyoPop Closing!

Perhaps the only thing that would get me blogging again for nearly two years is the fact that Tokyopop has just announced that they are closing. Tokypop transformed the way people read manga and could be seen as mostly responsible for the reading boom that occurred a few years ago. The fact that they are going under may seem to signify the manga bubble has truly popped. Where will manga in the U.S. go from here?

Now that I have started to blog again, perhaps I will dedicate some thoughts to that question in the days to come.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Update on Handley Case

For those of you following this case, this may be old news. However, it is disappointing news for First Amendment rights. According to a Department of Justice memo, Christopher Handley
pleaded guilty to one count of possessing obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1466A(b)(1), which prohibits the possession of any type of visual depiction, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, or painting, that depicts a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct that is obscene.

Handley also agreed to plead guilty to one count of mailing obscene material and to forfeit all seized property. Handley faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and a three-year term of supervised release

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund had given money on expert testimony for the trial before this plea bargain had been arranged. They released a statement regarding their own disappointment. You can also see a variety of responses from the Anime News Network page which includes statements from professionals and academics dealing with anime and manga. Though his lawyer stated that he was a "prolific" collector and the so-called pornographic comics were a small portion of his collection, it would seem to make little difference between owning one or one hundred. In other words, if he had a large collection of this manga, would that have made a difference? What if it was a woman collecting yaoi?

Though now has a link on their Comics and Graphic Novels page to yaoi and such doujinshi and manga are prevalent on eBay, I still expect a backlash at some point.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Miyazaki's Ponyo and other big anime releases

Miyazaki's Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea will be released in American theaters on August 14. In Japan, the movie was released on July 19, 2008. For more details, including the American voice cast, click here.

In other news, Tezuka's Astro Boy has been remade digitally and will be released on October 23. You can catch a trailer on Hulu (with the tantalizing description of "A powerful robotic child becomes a superhero").

I hope to have more in-depth articles and reviews soon. Sorry for the haitus.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Collection of Miyazaki essays and notes

Per animenewsnetwork, Viz publishing will put out a collection of essays and notes by the acclaimed Japanese director, Miyazaki Hayao. The book will be called Shuppatsu Ten (Starting Point) and will come out in July. According to, this book will include "about 90 essays, talks, lectures, movie plans and texts that were contributed to various newspapers, magazines and other publications from 1979 to 1996." You can also find an extensive interview with the editor at the ghibliworld link. Happily, anime scholar pioneer, Frederik L. Schodt, will be working on the translation along with Beth Cary. Schodt's work should be meticulous and, given the seminal work he has done in scholarship (Dreamland Japan; Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics) and his close relationship with the "godfather" of manga, Tezuka Osamu (see his work in The Astro Boy Essays).

This collection, while probably compiled for Miyazaki fans, will also be helpful to scholars who can examine how the essays "self-represents" over these years. Would have been nice if the information extended past 1996 because the works for which the director received world-wide attention came later -- Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke, 1997) and Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away, 2001). Although the book probably contains notes for the former, one wonders why the publishers stopped at that point.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Future of Watching Anime; a brief history of fansubbing

When I started watching anime fifteen years ago, there was a limited number of series and movies offered for sale. I quickly found the world of the fansubbers, where for a small fee to cover equipment upkeep, videotapes, and shipping, I received non-US-licensed series. The quality of the image and the subtitling varied but through them, I could get a look at relatively new series without having the uncertain filter of US commercial distributors who were unwilling to risk much on the unknown. Fast forward a few years and then an explosion of anime for sale bloomed both on TV (thanks to Cartoon Network's anime block called Toonami in 1997, featuring their runaway hit, Akira Toriyama's DragonBallZ) and video stores. Fast forward to 2007 and the sales of anime actually fell and then continued to fall all over the world.

What caused the dramatic drop? One could guess that fansubbing moved to the Internet. Fansubbers could upload a show within days (or hours) of original broadcast, and distribution became much easier, thanks to bit torrent, faster computers, and faster internet connections. So, what's an industry to do?

One fascinating development that I have been watching is the legitimization of a streaming anime site called Crunchyroll. When I first visited this site, I was amazed at the number of titles available that I could stream on my computer. Yes, many of them were licensed in the US but the site seemed to skirt this issue by only taking down those products when the license holder objected. This meant that companies had to know and actively seek them out; Crunchyroll could pretend to wash its hands about the legality of its actions. Not only that, but its actions seemed to irk some fansubbers who feared that the site was not only going to profit over their hardwork but also seemed to break their ethical code. You can read a particularly heated interview with a Crunchyroll cofounder here on the animenewsnetwork from March 2008.

In November 2008, Crunchyroll announced a partnership with TV Tokyo to stream anime straight from the source (not through fansubbers) to their audience, days or hours after the initial airing on Japanese TV. This meant that Crunchyroll would remove all unlicensed materials and drop fansubbers out of the equation. It meant higher quality video and probably higher quality subtitles (thought not necessarily). Their biggest coup was the wildly popular Naruto: Shippuden series which has become a cornerstone of their "coming out" party. (To put this in perspective for how popular this series is for non-anime viewers, the publisher Viz has been releasing the manga in the US, even going so far as to release three novels in one month. All of them hit not only bestsellers' lists for graphic novels, but also reached into overall bestsellers.)

With more and more applications done on the web, it's not surprising that Crunchyroll knew it had a moneymaking opportunity on its hands, but the question was how to do it. Despite alienating visitors to the site who wanted a return to the breadth of CR's catalog, this was a smart move. For a small membership fee, which they had offered before in order to recoup the extraordinary costs of running such a site, viewers can watch episodes quickly after they aired (non-paying members can watch them a week later).

It remains to be seen if more companies will partner with Crunchyroll and if this approach will restrain illegal distribution and even "save" anime beyond Japan.