Last time, I talked about manga industry guests that are brought over to US anime conventions. Here’s an overview of the English manga publishers that are worth mentioning.
Part 2: Current Players in US Manga Publishing
As always, the US manga industry giants are Viz Media, Kodansha Comics, and Yen Press. They have constantly released all titles that have recent anime adaptations on a steady basis.
With Viz, they have been heavily promoting Boruto, My Hero Academia, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and One Piece as their major shonen series. Another series is Haikyu!!, which is being released with monthly volume releases. Viz Media unfortunately licensed the series 2 years after the 1st season of the anime aired, thus not maximizing its manga volumes profit with the hype of the anime. It is also troubling that they have not added Haikyu!! to their digital simulpub of Weekly Shonen Jump lineup, since it’s a solid series with a strong fanbase and several of their WSJ series are volumes ahead of the print release.
Another major idea that would benefit the WSJ roster would be adding a monthly simulpub of Jojolion. It would garner the massive and dedicated Jojo fandom to the WSJ subscriber base. Considering the length of Stardust Crusaders, it’s going to be at least 2 years before we can read Diamond is Unbreakable and Ventro Aureo (never published in English) if they continue to do Jojonium releases only.
My plea to Viz: please consider doing digital releases of Jojo part 4 before the part 5 anime is out. You could’ve benefited from the part 4 anime airing and you will still have hype considering that the part 4 live action movie is coming out this summer! On the other hand, you could’ve just translated the 1st chapter of pt 4 and put it on your free manga section to help promote the pt 4 anime? Please consider doing the first chapter of pt 5 whenever the anime is released.
Kodansha has been garnering the love from long time seinen and josei fans for their digital releases of series that have no chance of a physical release such as Chihayafuru and Tokyo Tarareba Girls (josei) and Ace of the Diamond, All-Rounder Meguru, Giant Killing, and Days (sports genre with an long back catalog). The first contenders of digital releases are series with anime-adaptations in the past couple of years. Luckily, Kodansha has solid best-selling series such as Attack on Titan, Fairy Tail, The Seven Deadly Sins, Sailor Moon, and Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches to help fund their diverse catalog.
They’ve been announcing many of series that were either nominated/won for Manga Taisho or Kodansha Manga Award: Kasane, Kounodori: Dr. Stork, House of the Sun, The Full-Time Wife Escapist, Altair: A Record of Battles, Hozuki’s Coolheadedness, etc. Can you tell how excited I am about these series?
Yen Press continues to license the rest of the series that aren’t licensed by Viz or Kodansha. Something worth noting: it is majority-owned by Kadokawa since April 2016. They will of course continue to release Square Enix titles since who would refuse money making fangirl bait? Also, Yen Press has one of the strongest light novel catalog out of the main US publishers, which is not a surprise considering many anime series are light novel adaptations and they also publish the tie-in manga. In addition, they are part of the digital simulpub releases of manga chapters, notably Black Butler. They’ve also released omnibus versions of Fruits Basket in collectors editions, which is a smart move for a beloved older series.
Original series… what happened to OEL manga?
According to my knowledge, Yen Press is the only English manga publisher to create manga adaptations of young adult books and work with English speaking manga-style creators with these adaptations. Rem, Svetlana Chmakova, and Cassandra Jean are some of the published creators under Yen Press.
After Tokyopop closed its US branch in 2011, there hasn’t been any push by other companies for Original English Language (OEL) manga series. Tokyopop has recently revived their US branch with a Beauty and the Beast tie-in manga.
Chromatic Press (publisher of Sparkler Monthly) is the only other publisher that sells original manga in English and it is very small in comparison to every other manga publisher.
For original series, we are seeing many creators publish their webcomics on Tapas (formerly Tapastic). Many creators are under the self-publishing sphere with reliance on Kickstarter and preorders to publish their work. Another place to look for manga-inspired comics is Hiveworks, a webcomics network and publisher. Finally, if you’re into yaoi/BL, Yaoi Revolution publishes original works. (My favorite Sherlock fanartist reapersun is publishing with them fyi~)
Seven Seas Entertainment
Seven Seas is soon becoming a solid 4th major manga publisher in US after releasing hits like Orange, Monster Musume, The Ancient Magus’ Bride, and The Girl From the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún. They specialize in ecchi, harem, and cute girls.
They recently announced the license of To Love-Ru, a series that ran in Weekly Shonen Jump, and classic manga series Devilman and Captain Harlock. This means that Shueisha shonen, seinen, and shojo series are now open season for other small publishers who are willing to take the risk to license them! Viz has held the monopoly on these Shueisha and Shogakukan series for so long…
Vertical is mostly owned by Kodansha and it is a tiny publisher! They only release seinen series and their most popular title is probably Ajin: Demi-Human. If it’s a highly acclaimed seinen series, they probably have it. I don’t expect many exciting announcements from them, but they announced that they will be releasing Mitsurou Kubo’s Moteki!
Ah, Dark Horse… They are known for their CLAMP omnibus releases, Gantz, Oh My Goddess!, Berserk, Trigun, Blade of the Immortal, and I Am a Hero. They are mainly a western comics publisher, but their manga branch has mostly dark action genre. They’ll continue to be around for many years to come, but I really wish they had consistency for the spines on all of their series in the future.
Digital Manga Publishing
DMP is still around and doing Kickstarters to help fund Tezuka & yaoi print releases. I only know them mostly for their BL/yaoi stuff under their June line which is pretty solid. However, they don’t have many mainstream titles, which might cause trouble in the future for their company. They also have Digital Manga Guild (DMG) that essentially uses freelancers to do the work for a low price.
Oh, Udon… You licensed Sugar Sugar Rune and Rose of Versailles in 2015 and never announced a release date, which puts you in my blacklist forever… I also heard in the grapevine that they’ve lost thousands of dollars now via a geek subscription box swindler. I really hope that they try to release it sometime in 2017 but it’s not likely since it’s not listed with a publication date on Amazon, B&N, or RightStuf with only 4 months left in the year (only update since then via Publishers Weekly article).