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Manga Before Flowers — Viz Releases on 9/4, Too much of a good thing?

Tomorrow Viz will “officially” release 26 manga and one manga magazine (Shonen Jump) via Diamond. Now, a great many of those books have been available in the chain bookstores for a little while (maybe a week or so?), and they have definitely been available through amazon even longer. However, if we are talking the direct market that is a lot of manga to shove out there on a single day.

I would say a number of these manga titles are quite good, a fair number are mediocre and a few are…not great. (This is me trying to be polite.) Now the Viz price point (7.99-9.99) makes it possible to pick up a fair number of books relatively cheaply…but if you follow, like I do, a good number of series, it adds up quickly if you get your books all in one day.

By the way, I like to check Midtown Comics’ website for the weekly release list — they usually update Thursday afternoons, which gives me the maximum amount of time possible to pine for next week’s releases. (I like to start obsessing early, what can I say.) Not even considering other manga companies’ releases this week (yes, there are other companies putting out manga besides Viz, although weeks like this it is hard to remember that), I’ve ordered 7 of the 26 released titles.

That number is actually *low* because I don’t buy collected versions of Honey & Clover and the Sand Chronicles simply because I read them through Shojo Beat (i.e. the other manga magazine Viz puts out). I will be picking up Bleach 24, Gintama 8, High School Debut 5, NANA 12, Skip Beat 14, Slam Dunk 1, Vampire Knight 5.

And you know what? I’d love to be able to afford to pick up Whistle! 20, Love Com 8, or even Mixed Vegetables 1, or hell, even Naruto 31. But good god, how many manga could one person buy in a single month?

Is Viz flooding the market or is it not a problem because the majority of what they release falls under the category of good, solid, entertainment? A few of their titles go beyond merely “good”, but generally Viz excels at creating stability across its various brands (Shonen Jump, Beat, Signature, Action, etc). Not all Viz titles hit it out of the ballpark but almost all are very, very solid books.

Now, another thing to keep in mind is many titles on this week’s release list are bi-monthly, meaning every two months I have to budget for titles like NANA, Skip-Beat, Gintama, High School Debut, etc. while other titles come out every 4 or 5 months, often because they are serialized in one of the manga mags and, therefore, take longer to be collected in graphic novel form. This is really a perfect storm of manga, as Honey & Clover, The Sand Chronicles, Slam Dunk, and Bleach (serialized series) just happen to be released in the same month a lot of bi-monthly manga comes out too.

But the real question is — which manga would you absolutely have to have THIS VERY SECOND? Once you’ve answered that, you’ve figured out which manga you’d buy no matter what else comes out this week. For me it’s Skip Beat but NANA comes a very close second….


Wow, I hadn’t noticed that so many of tomorrow’s releases were from Viz. It’s maybe because I’m only buying one of them, the new volume of SA. I bought the new volume of Bleach at Borders earlier this week.

That is a bit much to put out in the direct market at once, but since so many comic book stores I know don’t even order manga outside of the occasional volumes of Naruto or Dragonball, I don’t think this will affect them too much. Not like, if say, DC or Marvel or Image dumped a larger than average load of titles onto stores all at once.

One of the mangas that come out this week over there is teh beginning of Slam Dunk? By Takehiko Inoue? That’s one awesome shonen. Does anyone publish Vagabond up there in the States? If so, I highly recommend it!

Well Nana is usually that for me, but I’m not sure whether I will get that in the next couple days. My backlog is pretty big, I’ve been on a comic binge lately, and I have a lot school work to do, so I don’t know if I have the time right now anyway. Maybe I’ll order it online and get it in like a week when things calm down a bit.

Ariel S. said:
“Does anyone publish Vagabond up there in the States? If so, I highly recommend it!”

Yes, VIZ also publishes both Vagabond and REAL from Inoue in the States. In fact, they just announced a new edition of Vagabond in their “VIZBIG” format, in which 2-3 volumes are collected in an over-sized deluxe volume with all the color pages and so forth. The VIZBIG volumes they’re doing for Rurouni Kenshin have been very nice so far.

And oh yeah, Slam Dunk is awesome!! Another U.S. publisher called Gutsoon released it here about 3-4 years ago but only got 4 volumes out before they went bankrupt. I have those, and when Gutsoon went belly up, I went out and bought the rest of the series from Australia, where it was already completely available in English. That’s the main reason I’m holding off on the Viz release of Slam Dunk is that I just can’t afford to double dip on the series right now…

[…] Danielle Leigh looks at that prodigious publisher’s output for this week alone in her latest Manga Before Flowers […]

This couldnt come at a much worse time for me, as I am just starting to move to a new city (which is always expensive with tying up bills and rent and whatnot) so that fact that NANA, Bleach, Naruto,and O Parts Hunter are out is a bad sign, combined with Hoshin Engi from a few weeks ago which i have yet to get. Such is the curse (cost) of being amanga collector, or indeed most collectors.
But what makes all this worse, is that i now know its gunna take another 3-6 months for the next volume of bleach to come out!

Wow, and I thought Marvel had trouble spacing out their releases! I was in on the “manga pick of the week” for Comics Village for the first time this week, and it was really hard to pick just one because the selection was so strong. Not just Viz’s crazy glut of titles, but Dororo 3 from Vertical, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service 7 from Dark Horse, two new BL titles from DMP… It’s unfortunate, because I have a backlog that’s threatening to take over my house, so I’m not going to get any of these straight away. I just have to hope that there are still some copies around when I finally get to buy them…

hi Katherine,

Well, one thing about BL from DMP is that I often wait until I’ve heard “good things” about the title, since a lot of their titles are hit and miss (or the title is by a “known” author, like Fumi Yoshinaga or Yugi Yamada). So those titles tend to get picked up later, at least by me. Another thing is Viz’s output tends to….hmmm…not be…as “special” in the same way titles like Dororo or Kurosagi are (i.e. there aren’t very many titles like those on the market). On the other hand, Viz has the built-in fanbase for titles like NANA, Love Com, Naruto, etc.

Either way, Viz is a publishing powerhouse so I doubt their recent titles will be going out of print any time soon….

“The VIZBIG volumes they’re doing for Rurouni Kenshin have been very nice so far.”

You’re kidding aren’t you Andrew?? The VizBig version of Kenshin is still as bad as the original. THe bad scrit rewrites make it barely legible. However this IS a Viz shonen title so it’s to be expected really. Viz butcher just about every shonen title they release. For some reason though their shojo line up is pretty decent, go figure :)

Any ways, i think there are several factors involved really. The first is the demand, can you imagin the out cry if the likes of Nana, Bleach or Naruto were reduced? They’d hear the screams of rage and anguish on the space station hehe

There’s also the factors of them having been doing those releases for so long, that they have to keep doing it to keep the momento going. Several of the series are, well, frankly naff. But they do have a following, usually people hoping that something spectacular will happen in this volume to justify them keeping it going. However if for some reason they reduced the releases, then people would lose interest and move to other things, so when they did finally release it would have a knock on effect.

That said though, i don’t see how Viz can keep this up in the long term. With the way the economy is at the moment people are spending less on luxuries, and manga is a luxury. What do you think would happen if another borders/tokyopop were to happen and Viz were suddenly faced with tones of lost revenue.

You’d have thought when that happened they would of taken notice and looked to have eased off on their schedules, so as to allow the market time to breath and recover. Look at the weaker titles and put them on hold, or change them from 2 monthly releases to quarterly. And also spread the releases over the month.

For any medium, 20+ titles on a day is a nightmare, and i wonder just how many people buy all the releases on the day of release? I only do that for 1 publisher and thats because they put out less than 10 titles a month which makes absorbing it into my monthly costs easy.

“You’re kidding aren’t you Andrew?? The VizBig version of Kenshin is still as bad as the original. THe bad scrit rewrites make it barely legible. However this IS a Viz shonen title so it’s to be expected really. Viz butcher just about every shonen title they release. ”

I wouldn’t know anything about script rewrites. What is there I enjoy, though, and I think the actual packaging of the product is nice. Now I am familiar with some of the content and script changes in Naruto, Dragonball, and some of their other shonen titles, but I’ve never had any problems with their treatment of Kenshin.

Rurouni Kenshin is being rewritten?! What could they possibly rewrite? I don’t see mature content in it anywhere!

If they truly rewrote Kenshin, what can be expected of the adaptations of manga like Tenjo Tenge, Ikkitousen, Akira, Daydream, Gantz, Battle Royale? Are they being published with script rewrites too? If not, I don’t see the logic. Compared to them, Kenshin is as light as Tiny Titans!

Viz have always done a hatchet job on the shonen line up, kenshin has had moderate rewrites, but manga such as the new Rosario Vampire, or the old Flame of Recca, had almost total rewrites. They do it for various reasons, not just censorship. Usually they try to flatten it so as it appeals to a broader section of people, so it increases their profits. But also for other reasons.

Oddly, it’s only with their Sonen line up i’ve noticed this, their shojo titles get hardly any rewrites at all, and the bits that have been rewrritten are hardly noticeable. Sadly the hatchet job they do on the shonen line up is so obvious you have to be blind not to see it :(

Viz are renowned for this though, and it carries over into their anime as well. For example, Hikaru no Go, Prince of Tennis, both manga and anime, had almost total rewrites apparently. The PoT anime i know was give a total rewrite cause i wrote a review and comparison when they first released it :)

To be honest though, when i see something is a Viz Shonen title i know not to expect much, it one of the reasons i cried when i learnt they had licensed Rosario.

The thing with the likes of Ikki and Tengo is that they arent being read for story, they’re being read for titillation, nothing else. So rewrites arent as noticeable or as bothering. Also Ikki is being done by Tokyopop. I don’t think Viz did any of the titles you listed Ariel.

Andrew i agree with you on one point though, the format for VizBig is awesome. I like how they put back all the full colour pages, added extra art work and historical stuff.

I hadn’t heard naruto had been rewritten, but then i hate that thing lol, though apparently parts of bleach were given almost total rewrites as well.

Where Viz is concerned though, nothing amazes me anymore. We have the Viz Shojo group which puts out an awesome range that is done with love, care and attention, and then we have the shonen line up, which seems to be more about getting as much out as fast as possible.

The best example i can think of is Inuyasha, where several of the characters are given sex changes several times among other things lol

Yeah there is tons of manga out theeir. I’m fortunate that my comic store (Earth 2 Sherman Oaks, Ca) has a graphic novel club so I get freebies. I highly recommend this site http://www.paperbackswap.com I’ve probably gotten about 150 manga volumes from them, the great thing is that I’m a reader, not collecter so after I read them AI repost them for more credits, here is a sampling of some oft the boks i’ve gotten from them: Nana 1and2, Fullmetal Alchemist 1-4 Battle Royale 1-9 etc, they great thing is I have buddies on the system and we by volumes for each other, Ive saved lots, and These vols have all been purchased from stores, your not allowed to post library books or ARC’s.

Tiamat’s Disciple,
Now you have me curious about Kenshin. Can you provide or point me to an example of one of the rewrites in Kenshin?

As for Naruto, the edits I’m aware of all have to do with VIZ having artists go back in and add some extra ‘fog/smoke’ to cover up some naughty bits and the like. I also know about the change of the character name in Dragonball from “Mr. Satan” to “Hercule” or something like that. And in One Piece, VIZ got criticized for making the pirates talk too “pirate-y” at the expense of leaving out meaningful clips of dialogue. One example I remember is a scene in which a character provides a bit of exposition, but in Viz’s version the word balloon just says something like “Aaaargh, matey!” Ugh…

Areil S. said:
“If they truly rewrote Kenshin, what can be expected of the adaptations of manga like Tenjo Tenge, Ikkitousen, Akira, Daydream, Gantz, Battle Royale? ”

The Dark Horse titles on your list, such as Akira, Ghost Talker’s Daydream, and Gantz have all, to the best of my knowledge, been treated pretty well. No art edits and the English language versions read well. Since Dark Horse is mainly concerned with the direct market rather than the bookstore market, they’ve thankfully stayed away from changing much, if anything, about their books out of fear of angry soccer moms and their ilk.

Ikki Tousen and Battle Royale were both ‘written’ by Keith Giffen, of Justice League and Lobo fame. While I appreciate his American comics work, his scripts for these two titles were horrible. Giffen attempted to ‘trick out’ the dialogue to make it sound “hipper.” The result was that the plot of Battle Vixens was all but thrown out completely in favor of boob, panty, and pee jokes that were just tasteless. I wasn’t expecting high art from a title that is essentially a T&A book, but I wanted something that was at least readable and not offensive to my intelligence. When I asked a TOKYOPOP editor about the changes in the scripts made by Giffen, he replied that they were aiming the books at the ‘mature’ reader market already in place in the direct market and wanted a name like Giffen that they could use for marketing purposes. Of course, if you ask 10 average comic book store regulars if they knew Giffen was even involved with either Battle Vixens or Battle Royale, I guarantee you 10 out of 10 will tell you they never knew…but I digress…

And the less said about Tenjho Tenge the better. It’s a disaster in every sense of the word and DC/CMX have been playing damage control ever since, despite the people who made the decision to edit it having long since left the company. They have no plans to release it unedited and our only hope to get it uncut in English is if someone license rescues it at some point down the road after CMX’s license expires in another couple years…

Danielle — I hear you about DMP’s BL. They have some excellent stuff (you mention Yugi Yamada and Fumi Yoshinaga — I’d single out Hyouta Fujiyama as well; I love her work) and some real clunkers. The trouble with DMP’s BL for me is that firstly, BL of any kind sells out really quickly at my FLCS, so if I don’t snag stuff the day it comes out I’m likely never to see it; secondly, a lot of it is sold shrinkwrapped so I don’t get the chance to flip through it before I buy; and thirdly, the aforementioned wildly variable quality. I take a lot of risks on BL, which has resulted in my having some really bad stuff in my library that I’d never have spent money on if I could have sampled it first. I’m hoping that DMP will expand the eManga site so I can use it to figure out what to buy before it disappears from the shelves.

hi Kai, what a great site you’ve pointed out!

I’ve used mangatrade on yahoo groups and had mainly good experiences (sadly my last trade never came through but since we had flooding in my area around that time I decided to let it go and not go after the person I was trading with. In case flooding is the culprit I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle to get into it. Luckily that has been my only “bad” experience with that group, otherwise all other trades have come through.)

Katherine — oh, I forgot about Hyouta Fujiyama!! She’s a favorite of mine as well.

Have you tried Riyu Yamakami? Her work seems a little “dated” since her licensed works are a few years old now, but I really enjoy her stuff as well (so far DMP has licensed two of her titles, Vanilla and Sigh’s Kiss). I’ve also really enjoyed “S” (the yaoi novel). So far I can say it is probably the only yaoi novel DMP has published that is actually *good* in terms of both plot and characterization.

Andrew — can you tell us a little about Ghost Talker’s Daydream? Our store got a bunch of copies and it is shrink-wrapped so I have no clue what this title is like….

Wow, Keith Giffen?!?! Seriously? Wow, I didn’t expect that!

I’d rather buy Dark Horse stuff then, if I were given the option. Perhaps there are better titles being published by other people, but you can’t be sure that what you are reading is not only a faint ghost of the original work.

And I’ll take the liberty to answer Danielle’s querie about Ghost Talker’s Daydream (or as I know it from local publications, just Daydream).

This manga tells the story of a woman who has a double-life, both as an S&M dominatrix and as a “kuchiyoseya”, which means she is some sort of Shaman who can contact the dead who still roam the world of the living.
It reminded me of “The X-Files” a lot, as it deals with horror themes but is not without humour, and because there is a larger picture that, as the story advances, begins to unveil. I’d recommend it if you are into Seinen (although I’ve seen people describing it as Shonen)

Ariel S. said:
“Wow, Keith Giffen?!?! Seriously? Wow, I didn’t expect that!”

See? exactly what I was talking about! :)

And I’ll add to Ariel’s excellent synopsis of Ghost Talker by adding that I have really enjoyed the first volume of it and I’m looking forward to more. Geneon released the four-episode OVA a few years’ back and it really whetted my appetite to read the manga. Like Ariel said, the stories are all supernatural in nature as the main character has a Sixth Sense “I see dead people” type thing going on, and uses her abilities to send them off to the next world. The cast also includes her ‘agent’ who helps her find her cases (much of the humor comes from his perverted advances and subsequent rejections) and a young school girl who is starting to exhibit similar powers and was wrapped up in the book’s first case. While it is very much a mature book, with the main character wearing her dominatrix gear around alot as one example, I found it very easy to get into and something to recommend to people looking for something beyond Naruto and such. I’ll also add that I thought the main character, Misaki, is quite kickass and is a lot of fun to read about.

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