Opinion Prone

My opinions, let me tell them to you.

Posts Tagged ‘ TOKYOPOP ’

RIP TOKYOPOP, 1997-2011

April 16, 2011 Commentary, News Comments Off on RIP TOKYOPOP, 1997-2011

If you weren’t around when the news broke early yesterday afternoon, TOKYOPOP’s US Publishing division will be shutting down around May. This should have surprised no one; the company’s has given plenty of signs that it was in trouble in recent years: multiple initiatives failing (most notably OEL), Kodansha pulling its licenses, Borders’ bankruptcy, the most recent round of layoffs in February… It was hardly unexpected. And the reactions Friday afternoon weren’t unexpected either. Deb Aoki at About.com has a good round-up of reactions thus far.

Amongst worry about the fates of dozens of unfinished series, much of the reactionary concern is with the lost in limbo comics of OEL creators, which TOKYOPOP has held fast to. Will the rights revert automatically? Many of these series have already been drawn in their entirety — will they finally see print elsewhere? It remains to be seen, but S.Girl points out that the answer to the first question is “no.” The rights won’t autorevert. And TOKYOPOP isn’t going away completely — their New Media division remains, so there’s still an entity to hold the rights. But with their Publishing division gone (at least in the US; TP Germany will continue operations), what incentive is there for TP to hold on to the publishing rights?

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So at Heroes Con this weekend, the Longbox was revealed. The popular analogy of the moment is that it’s like iTunes, but for comics — that is, it will serve both as a platform for companies to distribute their comics for download and as the software consumers would use to read their downloaded comics.

Longbox for comic viewing

It has some very Apple-inspired aethestics.

I’ve written about the idea of digital distribution of comics before, but had only considered a web-based platform because that was what most companies seemed to be experimenting with at the time. And really, I think one of the other reasons I hadn’t considered the iTunes model before is because I couldn’t really see the comics (or manga) industry ever agreeing on a universal solution, especially considering how haphazard and all over the place everyone’s digital model is for anime and television streams and downloads. And yet, how convenient and elegant it would be if they could agree? If you could find all your comics in one place for the super cheap price of $0.99/issue? It’s just about perfect.

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Editors’ Day is a small, annual event the Sequential Art department at SCAD puts on. Editors from various comic publishers came to discuss various topics and answer questions at a panel on Thursday, and then spent all day Friday reviewing portfolios from students. Discluding Dark Horse and Oni Press who were supposed to come but have rescheduled, this year we had representatives from Marvel, DC (and Vertigo), Slave Labor Graphics, Nickelodeon Magazine, and… Viz Media.

Viz Media
I was surprised that Viz ended coming after all. A few months back, a professor mentioned that Viz had canceled for Editors’ Day, which was kind of expected considering the whole VP of Original Publishing leaving the company thing in February despite various announcements about Viz’s upcoming original comics line last summer. The whole idea seemed like it was going to collapse, though I wouldn’t really blame Viz for it, especially after all the controversy and criticism TOKYOPOP got the same summer for screwing over many of their original creators. The OEL bubble had always seemed like a precarious thing, but everyone agrees that the economy isn’t helping.

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TOKYOPOP’s Got a Live Action Deal

December 18, 2008 News Comments Off on TOKYOPOP’s Got a Live Action Deal

Live action adaptations of anime have been getting a lot of coverage lately. Since that official trailer came out, I’ve given up on Dragonball, or I should say Dragonball Evolution. Piccolo being green is its only redeeming point, but considering that’s how it should have been all along, it’s not really redemption after all. I was a skeptic all along, but originally, I’d been planning on humoring it and going to see it in theatres anyway because hey, it’s Dragonball. I’ll go to make fun of it, but I still would have gone. Not so much anymore. Considering our flailing economy, a few laughs that will undoubtedly turn into uncontrollable tears isn’t worth the ticket price.

That live action Cowboy Bebop movie got a lot of headlines today because it looks like Keanu Reeves really wants that role as Spike Speigal after all. I’m still skeptical about it, but after all the disastrous news for Dragonball, but was a little cheered knowing that Reeves is a fan and hopes to preserve the original integrity of the anime.

Now, TOKYOPOP just sent me an email exclaiming that it’s got a deal for a live action adaptation of Priest, one of its manhwa properties. Apparently, it’s something that’s been floating around for a while, but now it’s got a shiny new director I’ve never heard of so there’s new life to it. I’m not familiar with Priest, but it’s Western horror and vampires. Not really something I’m particularly interested in, so I can’t decide if it’s better suited for Hollywood than, say Dragonaball. If Twilight’s any indication, I guess vampires have a place. Western horror? I dunno. Crappy remakes of Japanese thrillers seem to be big, so even though this is Korean, maybe that appeal will still be there.

I never liked the idea of TOKYOPOP restructuring and making that New Media division. I still think it’s pretty stupid and pointless of them to try and expand into new areas when their core market is suffering so much. I suppose licensing out a property doesn’t really require much effort on their part, but I’d like to think that they have some hand in production to keep the property from deviating too much and going to hell. So I’m not sure how much I actually want TP to succeed in this endeavor because I just want them to go back to focusing on their manga. They don’t need a New Media division if they keep laying people off. I really can’t see this movie being a huge box office success though, even if it stays pretty low budget and B-list like it feels like it will.

It’s probably too early to be speculating, anyway. I wouldn’t be surprising if this title continues to flounder around the next few years, if it gets finished at all.

Okay. So we all know that digital distribution is the way to go for anime and that almost all companies are experimenting with various platforms, but digital manga…? I have mixed feelings about how well this will work out. Unlike anime, the format of reading a book doesn’t translate as neatly as the format of watching a show on a screen. Manga sales haven’t lagged as much as DVD sales partially because many people still prefer holding a physical book in their hands as opposed to reading on a computer screen (the other reason might be because they’re cheaper). It’s a strain on the eyes too, especially on computers with lower resolutions. This is the main argument against the idea of digitalized manga distribution, and I think it’s a very valid one.

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Riding Out the Apocalypse

June 25, 2008 Editorial Comments Off on Riding Out the Apocalypse

All the buzz around TOKYOPOP recently really saddens me. I’ve always been a fan of the company and would tend to agree with its claim that it was indeed “leading the manga revolution.” More than anything else, I think all of the apocalyptic news lately can be blamed on our floundering economy. Yes, DVD sales are down across the board — both in Japan and Stateside. Yes, Bandai Visual is gone. Geneon USA is gone. Yes, manga sales are also down and an over saturated market wasn’t helping it. Yes, tons of companies are downsizing and their employees facing waves of layoffs. But if you think that none of this is happening to hundreds of other companies across corporate America, then you need to pull your ignorant weeaboo head out of the hole for a while and watch the news.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t factors contributing to these issues from within the anime and manga industries, but with gas averaging more than $4/gal, there are people desperate enough to border hop to Mexico, despite prevailant gang violence, so they can save a few hundred dollars — it shouldn’t be surprising that sales of these entertainment items are falling. Parents are paying double what they used to every month for gas; most likely, their kids’ allowances are shrinking as a result. College students are also struggling with higher gas prices, and that part-time job is getting harder and harder to find. Even though our general age group might like to think we’re still a little isolated from the “real world,” this just isn’t the case anymore.

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