Shonan Junai-Gumi was the artist Tohru Fujisawa’s series prior to GTO. The story is about two society-feared motorcycle gang members and their journey to mend their ways in hopes of impressing the ladies. Weird friends, weirder situations and scenarios ranging from comedic to dark make up this series starring Ryuji Danma and Eikichi Onizuka, the second of whom will eventually be the star of Great Teacher Onizuka. Shonan 14 Days is then, in turn, a sequel series to GTO.
Tokyopop originally held the license for Shonan Junai-gumi and they published ten of the fifteen volumes. The complete series was originally thirty-one volumes long before being released in the deluxe omnibus editions. Tokyopop released the GTO series in 2001 and released the entire story, twenty five volumes in total. Though out of print, you can still find volumes of GTO on many online retail sites and in some bookstores. Shonan 14 Days is currently on-going in Japan with six volumes so far.
On the ANNCast, Vertical’s marketing director Ed Chavez noted they’d be releasing the Vertical editions starting in January 2012 and on a bi-monthly schedule. Shonan 14 Days will be released in the odd months (January, March, etc.) and Shonan Junai-gumi being released in even months (February, April, etc.). That’s a lot of GTO very quickly! Edit: Vertical’s release of Early Days will continue where Tokyopop left off, which means their first release will be volume eleven.
An important thing to note about this license is that it’s not a ‘license rescue’ from the recently shutdown Tokyopop. Ed Chavez says the company has been working on these licenses long before Tokyopop’s announcement of shutting down. Tokyopop lost the license to GTO alongside the rest of their Kodansha titles back in August 2009, years prior to the company closing the doors on its publishing division.
So what do you think of this license news? Do you think it fits in Vertical’s repertoire of titles? Are you excited for the high-speed release schedule? And what of the ever-popular GTO series itself (which Ed notes they may consider releasing if these sell well), any big fans out there who can recommend the title to newcomers?