It may not be a season known for its manga title announcements, but Digital Manga has ensured that boys’ love fans got themselves a holiday treat by announcing yesterday their official acquistion of Mika Sadamoto’s Under
Ground Grand Hotel.
Undergrand Hotel has for years been one of the most talked about, downloaded, shared and safe-to-say drooled over boys’ love stories on the internet. With Digital Manga’s widely published press release yesterday, it didn’t take long for fans to take notice with much enthusiasm – some surprised, others expectant and almost all very pleased. It’s also being cheered as a manga that feels like it truely fits in 801Media‘s self-proclaimed catelouge of more hardcore titles when many of their recent releases haven’t felt much different from the selections published under the June imprint.
Often compared to HBO’s Oz , Under Grand Hotel takes place in a prison housing the dangerous, crazed and convicted. Society may be safe from these men but they’re certainly not safe from eachother – it’s a dark story of bargains, loyalty, betrayal, violence and sex all behind the last bars these characters will likely ever see. The lead characters are Sen and Swordfish, both of whom are featured on the new edition covers. Specifics of the plot are best read from the books themselves but in all fair warning, this is not a book for the faint of heart. Rape and psychological attacks are practically currency in this undeniably shady story that’s compelling in the way only a guilty pleasure can be.
Interestingly the series will be released in the combined-volume form as it was last released in Japan. Called a bunko edition (short for bunkobon), the two volumes are a combination of the original three, bringing the page count of each to around 320. What will be most notable however is the smaller trim size. While 801Media books are published at about 5 x 8, Under Grand Hotel will be around 4 x 6. I made a rough ratio comparison that you can see.
Edit: In response to questions regarding the smaller trim size, Digital Manga responded via their Twitter account with the following:
“We licensed a deluxe bunko edition of UGH-so we’re preserving the licensed size. This isn’t a new size direction for 801. It’s only for UGH.”
Still, while it would’ve been great to have Under Grand Hotel in the same large trim size that fans were treated to with the artist’s Pathos series (as published under June), there’s still little complaint to be had when a series long anticipated but always questioned has finally found its home in the hands of an English manga publisher. I’d certainly be lying if I said I’m not looking forward to it and joining those thrilled at the sudden – but wholely welcome – announcement. Congrats, Digital Manga!
For those who missed the initial press release, you can be read it in its entirety here (and if you’d like to send your thanks, thoughts and/or excitement to Digital Manga, head over to their blog post to leave a comment).