News that was a little lost in the fray this past week in the mangaverse, Media Blasters has recently laid off a number of its employees. According to a post on AnimeNewsNetwork, the lay-offs include at least 13 employees across all departments of the company. With a staff of about 50 before the lay-offs, that equates to about a quarter of their workers.
Media Blasters is a company that releases anime and manga licensed from Japan. This includes their imprint, Kitty Media, which releases an assortment of mature-only anime and manga, including a number of popular boys’ love titles such as Ayano Yamane’s Crimson Spell. Some of Media Blaster’s most popular anime releases include Princess Princess, Loveless, Kite and Girls High.
The company’s president believes this move will not cause any delays in their book releases but some readers have already noticed a change to release dates. There are two books due out from Media Blasters at the end of this month: You Higashino’s Drawn To Him and Naoka Kasuga’s Because of Love.
It’s too bad to see this happen to a company who releases so many niche titles and has been around for as long as Media Blasters has. Reasons cited are predomiantly the decrease in orders from large vendors. This could include recent declines in the American market of buyers such as Borders and the semi-recent changes to Diamond Distributer’s policies.
Personally I’ve always found Media Blaster titles to be some of the most difficult to get a hold of, and more so the most hard to find accurate information on. Many of the books quickly go out of print and suffer from inconsistant release date information from different sources. Unfortunately this issue is made worse by Media Blasters’ websites which are rarely updated and utilize a very glitchy 30%-of-the-time-functioning Flash interface. While conventions often prove the best source to acquire their products, in my experience the booths aren’t manned by any employees of the company itself. Not to mention that license acquisitions are nearly always outed by discoveries via online sites such as Amazon with no official announcements to confirm until order information for the books appear in Diamond Previews.
While my sympathy goes to the employees who were laid-off, I would like to see some future attempts by Media Blasters to better outreach to their consumers. Something as simple as a functioning website with current information about their titles would make a huge difference in not only informing current buyers but also influencing new ones.