It’s Yaoi Con this weekend and that means good stuff for boys’ love fans! The big anticipated news of the con is Viz Media expanding their manga offerings into BL territory. Credit for the titles below goes to @debaoki who attended their panel.
Viz Media’s new boys’ love imprint is called SuBLime. Viz currently has a placeholder website up at SublimeManga.com, as well as Twitter and Facebook acounts. The line-up is in partnership with Animate (Japan’s largest anime/manga retailer) and Libre (Japan’s largest publisher of BL) but Viz Media noted that the partnership isn’t exclusive. This means they can license from other publishers which means ‘license rescues’ from other groups is not out of the picture for fan-favourite titles.
Speaking of which, their first license announcement was a rescue indeed – Tarako Kotobuki’s Love Pistols. The title was originally published by Tokyopop’s BL imprint, BLU.
The full list of titles are:
Love Pistols** – Tarako Kotobuki
Husband & Honeymoon** - Minami Haruka (December 2011)
Ousama no Bed** – Sakae Kusama (January 2012)
Sweet Pool** – Nitro_CHiRAL (February 2012)
Shizuku Hanabira Ringo no Kaori** (Vol.01-02) by Toko Kawai (April 2012)
Devil’s Honey** by Isaku Natsume (May 2012)
The Night Before the Wedding** – Kou Fujisaki (May 2012)
Do You Like an Adult Teacher?** – Kiu Aion (June 2012)
Droplets of Desire** – You Higashino (August 2012)
Three Wolves Mountain – Naono Bohra (August 2012)
Honey Darling – Norikazu Akira
Punch Up – Shiuko Kano
Aitsu no Daihonmei – Suzuki Tanaka
Now that is an impressive (and lengthy) launch line-up of titles!
In December 2011, SuBLime will begin putting up their digital-only releases (**), all of which will be available worldwide. This in contrast with their recent Shonen Jump Alpha news which was restricted to those residing in North America only. Interestingly, these digital releases will be sold as downloadable PDFs that readers can then load onto their various eReader systems and not require the internet to read. This is a big step forward for people feeling they ‘own’ digital manga they purchase, though there are no details yet how they plan to prevent piracy of the material. They are aware of the potential issue though and will “re-evaluate the model” should buyers start illegally spreading the downloads. The cost for each release will be $5.99.
In June 2012, SuBLime will begin releasing select titles in both digital and print. The first confirmed is also coincidentally my absolute favourite and most-anticipated in the list, Three Wolves Mountain. Other confirmed print titles will be Honey Darling, Punch Up, and Aitsu no Daihonmei. They’ll be released at $12.99 each.
News of the largest English manga publisher releasing boys’ love comes as exciting news, especially since their widespread distribution should make it easier for fans to get access to the niche material. Digital-only titles still make me sad as a print-lover but SuBLime is starting strong with promising publishing methods and titles for all BL fans. It’s fantastic to hear some titles will still make it to print at all; I was worried this was going to be a digital-only imprint when I first heard of it.
The prices of SuBLime books look really good compared to what we’ve seen for similar material as well. From a digital perspective, it’s also great seeing Viz Media marketing more adult-targeted material to a platform that’s still most accessible to the 18+ demographic who have the most access to things such as credit cards and eReaders/tablets.
Overall, I’m really impressed by this launch. Titles ranging from softer to hardcore, a bunch of fan-favourite creators and a good balance of digital and print releases. Nice work, Viz Media! I’m eager to see the first releases this December.
Viz Media’s BL line was originally ‘revealed’ back in June when Viz Media put up a lising for a BL/Yaoi Editor. They’ve since hired The Yaoi Review‘s Jennifer LeBlanc for the position. In more recent hints, artist Kano Miyamoto posted on her Twitter account that some of her books would soon be published online by Viz this past Thursday (though she was not one of the artists mentioned in this opening launch). Viz Media’s recent reveal they licensed the remaining volumes of Yun Kouga’s Loveless also served as a good stepping stone to their BL announcement two weeks later.