After receiving so much response to my previous editorial-type post about global manga, I’m at it again (sort of?). Today I sat down and wrote some of my thoughts on manga publishers and here I am again to share them with you. Everyday I review their books, so why not take a moment to comment on the companies themselves? Because this ended up being a bit long, I’ll be splitting it into several parts spanning over separate days.
Readers, as usual I welcome your thoughts so feel free to respond in the comments section. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the publishers that bring us our translated mangas and manhwas: what you enjoy about them, what you dislike about them or maybe what you wish some would change. Both positive and negative responses are okay, but I ask you to please keep comments mature and avoid any outright flaming or bashing.
With many and most manga publishers, something that has often come to mind pertains to reviews for their releases. Several publishers regularly send out review copies to numerous websites and blogs, offering readers a chance to read the book and share their thoughts. It’s a great idea, books for advertising exchange basically, but what gets me is that rarely do I ever see publishers pandering these reviews to the public.
The boys’ love imprint of Digital Manga Publishing, June, has a blog that’s updated fairly often with links to reviews of their books. DMP’s sister publisher of more mature boys’ love titles, 801Media, also posts links to reviews through their blog. Even Dark Horse, while not as often known for sending out review copies, still has on its site a lengthy collection of reviews for its books.
For those who’re searching through a company’s often-large catalogue of books, curious about whether or not to purchase, wouldn’t a few helpful links to reviews make a useful resource? As a frequent reader of reviews from numerous sources myself, having some readily available to me when looking through a company’s site would be great, and especially handy for those who wouldn’t normally visit review sites.
On the note of resources for readers, I’m happy to see things working out better the other way around as well; publishers taking more advantage of their greatest resources: the readers.
Industry blogs are becoming more and more popular, as well as forums where staff members regularly respond to public postings. It’s nice as a consumer to be kept up to date with what’s happening in a company, learn some new things from an inside view and get the feeling that the company actually cares about what I think. I believe it’s important that companies have a personality and can relate a little more personally with their consumers in turn. While I can only speak from my personal perspective, I feel much more inclined to try new titles and purchase books from companies when I genuinely want to support them as a group.
Ah, Tokyopop, so much has been said about you in recent weeks. It’s gone through a lot of changes, positive and negative, since it first appeared releasing manga as Mixx all those years ago. I’ve been with them since the days my allowance was spent on Sailor Moon floppies and the Mixx magazine. Back then I didn’t have much thought on the quality of the books like the scrutiny most books go through today: then it was all just about having the books. I could understand them clearly, stack them on my shelf proudly and couldn’t have been happier!
To this day, I still look at Tokyopop much the same. It’s never been a company that to me seemed very connected to its readers and goodness knows its mess of a website is nothing short of chaotic. That said however, I could always count on Tokyopop for on-time releases, cheap prices, lots of titles to choose from and a quality that wasn’t covered in frills, it just neatly and smoothly got the job done. Sure they flooded the market to an extent, but I think the surge did the industry a lot of good even if it’s hurting them now, years later. They introduced readers to a lot of different artists, genres and styles and always kept the store shelves brimming with colourful manga titles to catch the eye of readers new and old.
A lot has been happening with them in light of the recent restructuring but I still hold them as one of the best manga publishers for all the reasons I said above, even if they are probably the most proverbial soulless of the bunch. Now if only they’d do something about that darn website…
The next big name publisher that comes to mind when I think of manga is undoubtedly Viz. They’ve been responsible for what are undeniably the biggest manga titles to hit English shores such as Dragonball and Naruto. Thanks to publishing agreements with groups in Japan, they’ve brought us a lot of diverse and well-received material from the gender-bending comedy Ranma ½, to Yuu Watase’s fantasy Fushigi Yuugi, to the football drama, Eyeshield 21. Viz has put out hit after hit after hit and I’ve enjoyed so many of them immensely.
Like Tokyopop, I like how I can count on Viz for timely releases, cheap prices and a large selection. Despite this, sometime about Viz never seemed to carry a strong presence to me, so despite me collecting a large variety of their titles, they still seem to lack the real driving market force that I feel Tokyopop has (or at least had) and always felt Viz was more like just a company over a manga company. Maybe it’s the duel anime-releases, the conflicts over censorship or maybe something else I can’t quite put my finger on. All that aside though, Viz may lack the in-your-face-wow-power that I feel some other companies possess, but they still have undeniably some of the most consistently high quality releases in English manga you can find, despite a few bumps at times.
To be continued… (dramatic, no?)