koyama chuya

Uchuu Kyoudai (Chuya Koyama)

“Are you prepared to die?”. Most astronauts answer with a simple “yes”, but you can say anything. It’s just a weak yes. You shouldn’t be prepared to die. Instead, you should have the resolve to live until the very end! If there’s someone who replies “no”, you can trust them.

Reviewing the "Best Manga of 2011" from a licensing angle

So as I have a little break between sales presentations, prepping for KatsuCon and Witchcraft Works vol 4… I thought it’d be a good opportunity for another blog entry.

Over the last few weeks I noticed a few blogs/sites posting info on a few Japanese “best of 2014” or “recommended titles for 201X” lists. And while it is definitely cool to see what is trendy in Japan, it got me thinking about how those lists translated to North America. How many of those titles were picked up? And how well have those titles performed outside of Japan?

Since the licensing process takes time (often a year or more time), I decided to start with 2011. At the very least we could get a good feel of what came out since and how well those titles have done. (I’ll come back with 2012 and 2013 at a later date.)

from the 2011 Kono Manga ga Sugoi charts

Shojo/Josei:

1.  Her by Tomoko Yamashita (Josei/Shodensha)
2.  Don’t Cry, Girl by Tomoko Yamashita (Josei/Shodensha)
3.  Princess Jellyfish by Akiko Higashimura (Josei/Kodansha)
4.  (tied) Chihayafuru by Yuuki Suetsugu (Josei/Kodansha)
4.  (tied) Natsuyuki Rendezvous by Haruka Kawachi (Josei/Shodensha)
6.  Ooku -The Inner Chambers- by Fumi Yoshinaga / Viz Media (Josei/Hakusensha)
7.  Utsubora by Nakamura Asumiko / Vertical (Alt Manga/Ohta Books)
8.  Kiyoku Yawaku by Ryou Ikuemi (Shojo/Shueisha)
9.  Kimi ni Todoke: From me to You by Karuho Shiina / Viz Media (Shojo/Shueisha)
10. Machi de Uwasa no Tengu no Ko by Nao Iwamoto (Josei/Shogakukan)
11. My Little Monster by Robiko / Kodansha USA (Shojo/Kodansha)
12.  Strobe Edge by Io Sakisaka / Viz Media (Shojo/Shueisha)
13.  Maihime Terepsikola by Ryoko Yamagishi (Art Manga/Media Factory)
14.  Glass Mask by Suzue Miuchi (Shojo/Hakusensha)
15.  Shitsuren Chocolatier by Setona Mizushiro (Josei/Shogakukan)
16.  Umimachi Diary by Akimi Yoshida (Josei/Shogakukan)
17.  Sekine-kun no Koi by Haruka Kawachi (Alt Manga/Ohta Books)
18.  (tied) Game Over by Fuka Mizutani (Josei/Hakusensha)
18.  (tied) Doukyou Shichau zo! – Murako Kinuta (Josei/Shogakukan)
20.  flat by Natsu Aogiri (Shojo/MagGarden)

Shonen/Seinen:

1.  Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama / Kodansha USA (shonen/Kodansha)
2.  Thermae Romae by Mari Yamazaki / Yen Press (alt manga/enterbrain)
3.  Sayonara mo Iwazu ni by Kentarou Ueno (alt manga/enterbrain)
4.  One Piece by Oda Eiichiro / Viz Media (shonen/Shueisha)
5.  Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa / Viz Media (shonen/SqaureEnix)
6.  A Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori / Yen Press (Josei/enterbrain)
7.  Drifters by Kouta Hirano / Dark Horse (seinen/Shonen Gahosha)
8.  Bakuman by Tsugumi Ohba/Takeshi Obata / Viz Media (shonen/Shueisha)
9.  I Am a Hero by Kengo Hanazawa (Seinen/Shogakukan)
10.  Flowers of Evil by Shuzo Oshimi / Vertical (shonen/Kodansha)
11.  Space Bros. by Koyama Chuya (seinen/Kodansha)
12.  Mushi to Uta by Haruko Ichikawa  (seinen/Kodansha)
13.  (tied) Giant Killing by Masaya Tsunamoto/Tsujitomo (seinen/Kodansha)
13.  (tied) Teppuu by Moare Ohta (seinen/Kodansha)
15.  Kingdom by Yasuhisa Hara (seinen/Shuiesha)
16.  Blue Exorcist by Kazue Katou / Viz Media (shonen/Shueisha)
17.  Yowamushi Pedal by Wataru Watanabe (shonen/Akita)
18.  Ore wa Nama Gundam by Jun Hanyunyu (shonen/Kadokawa)
19.  Moriyamachuu Kyoushuusho by Keigo Shinzou (seinen/Shogakukan)
20.  March Comes in Like a Lion by Chica Umino (seinen/Hakusensha)

Let’s break it down by demo:

  • 12 josei titles
  • 9 seinen titles
  • 8 shonen titles
  • 6 shojo titles
  • 5 alternative or art manga

So obviously Japan and the US are vastly different markets. But I was tickled to see so much content for older readers on this list.

Personally, I would have put Bride’s Story and March Comes in Like a Lion in the women’s list; and Sekine-kun no Koi could be on either side (ran in the same alt manga magazine as Lychee Light Club and Utsubora). But I think this survey followed magazine trends. (Still Bride’s Story is kinda on the fence.)

Most of these titles are best sellers in Japan. So accessiblity is definitely influencing these lists.

Moving onto the North American markets…

So 5 out of 20 for women’s comics and 11 out of 20 for men’s comics are in English…

All right, so there is a bit of inequality here. But from a strict $ and ¢ angle, I get it. But this does illustrate how different the two markets are, especially for content aimed at women.

Josei is still a developing segment of the US market. To expect pubs to go all in on unproven authors and a challenging segment is tough. The ratio of quality works is one reason why Vertical Comics picks up josei and seinen works, but having a bit of experience with those titles….we understand their sales weaknesses.

Meanwhile pure shonen titles are almost guaranteed to be picked up… Unless they’re long sports titles like Yowamushi Pedal.

Seinen is also pretty tricky. Now that might be a little surprise to some. Fans constantly chirp on about “wanting more seinens”, however consistently these titles do not perform as well as shonen or shojo manga. 

A weird trend is Shogakukan… Shogakukan has seven titles over the two lists. But not a single title is in English.

Kodansha isn’t really doing that great either. Over the two lists 3 of nine have been picked up. Where they struggled more is in the seinen category. They have 4 seinen titles and only Space Bros is available digitally (no word of a print edition).

Meanwhile, for Shueisha 2 of three women’s titles are available, while 3 of four men’s titles are in English. So for whatever reason, Viz seems to be pretty aggressive with Shueisha (though not so much with Shogakukan).

Longer works appear to be an issue, unless you’re One Piece or FMA. That might be impacting things like Chihayafuru, Space Bros., Glass Mask and Kingdom. 

Sales wise the licensed shojo/josei titles are a bit of a mixed bag. And that’s to be expected really. But the shojo titles do better overall.

The sales figures for seinen and shonen have an even greater gap between the haves (shonen) and have-nots (seinen). Pretty much every licensed shonen title has seen success in North America, with titles like Titan, FMA and Blue Exorcist seeing huge numbers. 

So 16 of 40… 40%. That’s not bad. I think it could be better, but I really wonder about some of these titles. A few of these seem to be pretty geocentric and I wonder about the overall viability of another few. If I had my way I would have expected to see at least two more men’s titles picked up. flat was acquired by Tokyopop before they shut-down production in the US, and that would have joined at least two more women’s titles. (Can’t share which here, sadly.)

And what about you all? Which of these titles should be acquired? Any surprises? Which of these titles do you all consider the best from 2011?

With a licensing survey coming up this weekend, it might be a good time to start thinking about titles again. And if you do, it might be good to look back to see how well titles that were acquired have done over the last few years.

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Chuya Koyama updated his FB page talking about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

And he provided a GIF from the chapter of Mutta seeing Deneil off, of course! c: 

From a rough translation of Koyama’s post on his website, I believe he writes:

Yan-jii (Deneil) says for this summer and the next, please try to donate and recall ALS cure research, everyone! Put that in the notebook in your hearts!

CALL TO ACTION FOR SPACE BROTHERS FANS WORLDWIDE!

In light of episode 99 being the final episode (likely only for a hiatus) I’ve decided to do a project this week, and I need your help!

I offer to make a bristleboard of various country flags from Space Bros. fans, and take a photo of this to send to the manga+anime Space Bros Twitters, as well as Chuya Koyama!

WHAT I AM ASKING FOR:

If you would like to be involved in this project, please send an ask to uchuubrodai containing:

-Your state OR country (this MUST have a flag, so that that I can easily locate it online)

-Your name, OR nickname, OR initials (whichever you feel comfortable with)

And that’s it! I will then print out the flags, write the name on the flags and put them on the bristleboard!

SUBMISSIONS WILL BE TAKEN UNTIL:

Saturday March 22nd at 12:00 am EST

(This is just so I can finish up the bristleboard sometime in the week after episode 99. I will be picking up the bristleboard soon).

AND THATS IT! Please send your messages so we can show the international love of Space Brothers!!

WE WOULD ALSO ADVISE YOU TO:

If you have Twitter, leave a tweet of thanks for @uchu_kyodai and @animeuchukyodai for completing 99 episodes of this great show! And perhaps even leave an excited message to @uchukyodaimovie to hype for the prequel film coming in August 2014!

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Project International Space Brothers is complete!

For those who didn’t know, this was a project that spanned about a week taking submissions from anyone worldwide for their name and country/state/province flag. The flag would then have their names written on it and was pasted onto this bristol board. This project was made as a form of thanks to the Space Bros. team at A-1 Pictures for making 99 great episodes. There were 66 submissions put towards it, so there are 66 flags on the board. It is double-sided, with one side having 40 flags and the other having the remaining. We have submitted the photos to the Space Bros. JP twitters as well as messaged Chuya Koyama! 

Thanks to everyone who participated! It was really cool to see how widespread Space Bros. fans are. :D

If the Twitters should possibly respond to this, we’ll make a post about it!