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.
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.
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.
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.