Breaking up with Tokyopop

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Hearing the name Tokyopop used to bring a smile to my face and I’d start rattling off about how Tokyopop revolutionized manga in the U.S. and that they were my saviours! I first became involved in manga in middle school and always had a hard time saving up money for my next volume in my manga series, it didn’t help that some companies were selling manga at $15.95 per volume either (Fushigi Yugi and Ayashi no Ceres). Then there was Mixx (Tokyopop’s old name) that chose just the right titles and was only $9.99. My only issue with Mixx  manga was that the small style of book they used was hard to read…but then they fixed that fairly quickly and everything was sunshine and rainbows for a long time.

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One of the best moments in manga (for me) was when Tokypop held a poll to see which series they should bring over. I must have voted for Fruits Basket on all my friends e-mail addresses and was DELIGHTED when they said they’d bring it over! Although they seem to be releasing Fruits Basket at an agonizingly slow rate, they announced they’d bring over Fruits Basket when I was still in high school, since then I’ve graduated from college and been in the working world almost 2 years now, and the series isn’t done being released in the US yet.

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But over time without even realizing it I began to grow apart from Tokyopop, I just wasn’t noticing their titles as much. To be honest it’s actually quite appalling that you’ve cut out 50% of your manga series…and as a manga collector that owns about 1,000 volumes of manga that has only interrupted 2 of my ongoing series (The Queen’s Knight and Genju no Seiza). What does that say about you and the titles you chose to license? It seems like Tokyopop had all the right things going for them at one point, and they let them go. They used to be the ones I’d buy all my CLAMP manga from but now Del Rey has the new CLAMP titles (xxxHolic and Tsubasa). They licensed Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss but not her next series Nana. They put out Kara * Lee YunHee’s Demon Diary but a no name company licensed Angel Diary. Meanwhile Tokyopop was investing in “manga” made by Americans.

I know Tokyopop has given me a lot of joy and I’m still grateful to everything they’ve done, but cancelling two series I was very much involved with has put us on bad terms.  Businesses have to bend over backwards to maintain their good image and merit the loyalty of their customers. But once a customer has felt personally betrayed, it’s hard to get all that back again…despite all the good that was done in the past. It’s a personal blow when a series you’ve carefully selected to invest in and follow for years is squashed. The Queen’s Knight retails at $120 to get up to the 12 volumes released and $70 to get the first 7 volumes of Genju no Seiza. I read manga because I get attached to the characters and I involve myself emotionally in their struggles. Not to mention I felt personally insulted when my manga was put on the same level as the Hannah Montanna manga when they were choosing titles to give the boot.

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Tokyopop has really scared me off by indefinitely delaying two of my favourite series…I’ll no longer be investing in any new series they put out unless I feel comfortable with them again. So Tokyopop I’ll be seeing other manga companies until you get your act together. But I hope that you guys can re-collect yourselves and we can once again be on good terms.

PS – At least finish Fruits Basket ok? Keep yourselves together at least that long.

If you want more details on Tokyopop and the events that lead to all these cancellations I suggest you read Bob’s blog article on Tokyopop Tries Jedi Mind Trick On Manga Fans, Bob (of Bob’s Anime CornerStore) has my favorite articles on the state of the manga/anime industry. Many articles on Tokyopop’s cancellations and “restructure” lay-offs can be found at Anime News Network as well.

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20 Responses to Breaking up with Tokyopop

  1. Tim says:

    I know what you mean, though my current beef is with ADV with the way Yotsuba& Vol 5 has been on indefinite hold since February.

    I used to remember how amazed I was with how ‘cheap’ TokyoPop was when they released their first “original manga” titles. The joy I felt when I realized that I could actually own and read Love Hina and GTO in english. Compared to waiting for Viz to release a volume or two each year of Ranma 1/2 was just pure frustration, especially since I didn’t want to buy the single issue chapters they were releasing. With TokyoPop everything was quick and the images were not reversed. Left was left, and right was right. Even now, Viz has to keep releasing Inu Yasha with it’s reverse orientation since that’s how it was released originally.

    Unfortunately though, as you’ve noticed, there’s less and less TokyoPop titles to acquire, as they keep losing in the licensing battles for popular titles. Once manga became the next best thing, Viz and the other publishers quickly changed gears and made exclusive deals with the Japanese publishers leaving TokyoPop high and dry. Though the fact that they started releasing ‘manga’ made in the US didn’t help either I think (for real? bios of NBA players? Hanna Montana? ‘hip hop manga’?). Where as before almost all my titles I bought were from TokyoPop, now only one is (Futari H) (I also follow Chibi Vampire through my library as I did with Anima+). I can’t help it, I follow the (IMHO) good titles (xxxHolic, Skip Beat, LoveCom, Emma, etc) regardless of who publishes them.

    Even still, TokyoPop has my respect at least in breaking the mold of what manga used to be. Without them, we’d still be stuck with $15 reversed volumes released once a year on average, instead of the cornucopia we have today at bookstores where manga tends to dominate an entire section of its own.

    As for, Fruits Basket, I’m sure it’s not something they’ll mess with considering there is only two more volumes remaining and that it’s probably their biggest title.

  2. gordanham says:

    I used to always get my CLAMP titles from them. I wish they would rerelease some of their older titles. I also read the .hack// novels and manga from them. I think it’s said that they needed to lay of people but they shouldn’t lay off any series. I dot so aggivated when Viz did that with the Hikaru no Go anime. I think that they should just push out all the volumes they didn’t release at a fast pace and get it over with.

  3. Kate says:

    You know what I love about the whole thing? Is how then Tokyopop will likely bitch about scanlations and fansubs when they’re sitting on their asses being PAID and not doing a damn thing while fansubbers etc don’t get anything aside from donations and put out releases weekly.(I’m not a fansubber by the way I just find it ridiculous) It’s also great that they were promising publication for OEL manga artists but then go ahead and put the series on hold while still holding the rights to the artists’ work so said artists can’t even do anything with their own work *face palm*. Maybe if they didn’t waste their money making Hannah Montana and Degrassi “manga” then they wouldn’t have a money issue(which is what I’m assuming is what this comes down to).

  4. […] A former fan expresses her disappointment with Tokyopop. […]

  5. lovelyduckie says:

    @ Tim – Ah Yotsuba…I’d give up a lot of manga just to get the next few volumes of that beautifully simple and entertaining series…I can’t find any English scanlations online either, beyond what has already been officially released. I doubt Tokyopop couldn’t make it to the end of Fruits Basket. But if there wasn’t only 2 volumes to go I would be nervous that they’d fall apart before getting there. Tokyopop is REALLY promoting that other series by the Fruits Basket creator (Phantom Dream), I bet they’re hoping it will give them the same income as Fruits Basket, but I doubt it will happen that way.

    @ Kate – That’s what has me the maddest, them thwarting scanlators and THEN not delivering the goods officially. I sunk $120 into the Queen’s Knight and I reeeeaaallly want to know the ending. They picked an AWFUL volume to stop the series at too! Things were getting really good! But Tokyopop has dissolved all scanlators that are doing that series. English scanlations seem to only exist up to volume 6. I’ve noticed that the company that goes after scanlators throats are ADV and Tokyopop. And which are the two manga companies having issues with sales? hhhmmm? Coincidence? Currently I have the most respect for Viz, and Yen Press has gotten my attention recently and I’m beginning to admire them as well.

  6. Jura says:

    Ice Kunion wasn’t a no name company.

  7. Jura says:

    Fist it tells me that I comment too fast when I hit submit only once, then my comment doesn’t show. …then after trying again it says I already said something.

  8. lovelyduckie says:

    @ Jura – It didn’t show up because the comment needs to be “approved” by the blogger. From my point of view they were a no name company in the US, they had absolutely no presence in comparison to Viz, (old) ADV, Tokyopop, and Dark Horse Comics on the shelves. I definitely think Ice Kunion was no name in comparison to those manga companies. From what I’ve seen they had under 15 US titles, and the only reason I became aware of their existence was because they were absorbed by Yen Press and Yen Press did a spectacular job promoting the manga they had. Only my opinion though, which doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things 🙂 . If a fan specialized in looking for manwha they’d probably have been more aware of their presence then me.

  9. loli1983 says:

    Oi…..i haven’t even been following any manga at all but when your hooked and this sort of situation comes about, it puts you in a tough position.

    I remember when ADV Manga cancelled Yotsuba?! for a year or so before they started publishing Yotsuba?! again. Because of that delay i was discouraged to continue reading manga.

    The only Manga i have intentions of reading again is Negima (Del Rey). I left off on volume 13. Since you might know about the Manga world today, what volume is Negima up to today?

  10. lovelyduckie says:

    @ Loli – I currently only own up until 12 of Negima, but Volume 21 is released around March of ’09? So 20 currently.

  11. Kiri says:

    I have similar feelings towards Tokyopop, though mine isn’t so much an issue of having series canceled as it is just their integrity as a company in general. Even though I’m not really a fan of what’s available in the OEL market currently, as an artist myself, I’m appalled by the way they’ve treated their OEL artists and the way they continue to talk down on everyone around them. The dominance they once had over the market has made them big-headed and self-righteous, so they’re ignoring any good advice that comes their way. I’m unhappy with their decision to split up the company in these dire economic times, and I’m unimpressed at their plans for reconstruction.

  12. gordanham says:

    OOOUUU! I got one. Ahem*cough*
    They put out Rave Master, but they let Del Ray get the rights to Fairy Tail

  13. Persocom says:

    Hanna… Montanna… manga… WTF. I think I’m going to be sick… That’s probably the worst I’ve heard of all the things Tokyopop has done. Now I’m a bit worried about finishing the xxxHolic and Nana series… I can’t afford to just buy them all at once. I just hope the bookstore still carries them. Sounds like Tokyopop is going down in a burning plane..

  14. lovelyduckie says:

    @ Persocom – I wouldn’t worry Del Rey and Viz have those series and both companies seem to be doing well enough. Despite the economy I think Viz is even flourishing since they’ve expanded their series since last year.

  15. Maura says:

    Lol we do have many similar tastes, Fruit Basket is my #1 favorite manga,lol. I also love The Queen’s Knight & Nana.

    But one question, isn’t The Queen’s Knight still being published? Or maybe my eyes read wrong.

  16. lovelyduckie says:

    @ Maura – No The Queen’s Knight has been “indefinitely delayed”, it’s on the articles I linked. Also if you go to Amazon and type in The Queen’s Knight Volume 13 it gives a release date of Sept 9, 2008 but then it says “unavailable” and doesn’t allow you to order or pre-order it. That same thing happened when ADV “indefinitely delayed” Yotsuba. I interpret an “indefinite delay” to mean they have no plans to manufacture more volumes any time in the next few years but maybe if things miraculously get better they’ll consider it. But I’m trying to be pessimistic so I don’t get my hopes up because I’m really sad about this.

  17. Stephanie says:

    Urgh, I can’t contain my hate at all for Tokyopop. They “delayed” three of my absolute favorite manga in the past few months – Suppli, Nosatsu Junkie, and Yubisaki Milk Tea. I am SO pissed at them, seeing as I also spend an arm and a leg on manga every year. Seeing incomplete manga on my shelves makes me fume (and now I’m buying the rest of those series in Japanese… so it looks weird on my shelves D: ).

    They don’t piss me off near as much as Seven Seas has, though. Their whole light novel publication made me put my foot down and refuse to buy anything more from that company, seeing as they released the first two of Ballad of a Shinigami, Pita Ten, and Strawberry Panic – and then, like everything else they’ve done in the past, they cancel it outright, complaining about sales issues. COME THE FUCK ON! There’s only ONE more volume of the Strawberry Panic light novel… that’s IT! D:

    I’ve been investing TONS of money lately into Del Ray and Yen Press manga, as well as a bit here and there into VIZ.

    One thing I really liked about Yen was that when the first volume of Haruhi came out, they sent us a pre-release book and a note about how excited they were to get such a title. They described the plot and said they think that all booksellers need to read it! They sent it to all Borders stores, because apparently one of the managers at Yen used to work at one. x3 It was really cute, so I’m putting my full efforts into buying Yen Press books now, because it seems like they really love their job there and are really excited. ❤

  18. meronpan says:

    ugh, that really really sucks. when i get into series… i go on binges and read/watch in bulk… the thought of being denied that closure due to cancellations/delays seems infuriating. i’ve prolly mentioned it before but have you considered learning japanese? (and apologies if i did say exactly that and have forgotten your response ^^;;;) if you’re totally into the details and knowing every last aspect of the plot, i suppose it won’t be a proper alternative for a while… but for a general overview (and the joy of reading the source material ^^) you can actually get pretty far after only a year or two of study & a dictionary.

  19. lovelyduckie says:

    @ Stephanie – I have a very strong admiration for YenPress. Even though their newer and their prices aren’t as delicious as Viz’s they do a lot of GREAT THINGS! For a little bit more money I get a few color pages in my manga. I’m especially fond of their wonderfully diverse manga anthology magazine Yen+Plus. Currently I’m reading Black God and Angel Diary, and have pre-ordered The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya light novel.

    @ meronpan – I don’t have a mind for learning other languages, when I first started trying to learn Spanish in junior high it was always my lowest grade. Latin too. Now I’m not saying it’s impossible for me…learning languages is just something I don’t do easily. Also in the case of The Queen’s Knight it’s a manwha so the original isn’t Japanese, but they may have translated copies in Japan.

  20. Kairi says:

    I used to think that Tokyopop was great too but then I noticed that the fandubbed manga was vastly different from Tokyopop’s version and the moment I read that they Americanized their stuff in order for it to appeal to larger audiences (erased certain characters, edited the content, and used slang) I was digusted and chose read less of their books if not none at all. At least I feel that fandubbed ones are actually accurate (most of the ones I’ve read) and I can trust them.

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