Anime Vice News

Exclusive: Haikasoru Editor On New VIZ Line

Some additional information on the new sci-fi/fantasy line from VIZ!

ZOO © 2006 by Otsuichi
ZOO © 2006 by Otsuichi
For those of you who wanted more information on VIZ's new sci-fi/fantasy novel line, here it is! I got the chance to ask Mr. Nick Mamatas, author and editor for the new line, some questions about what exactly the new plans are.

If you don't want to read the whole thing, here's the quick'n'dirty version:
  • The Brave Story novel will be released as part of the Haikasoru line.
  • Another novel by Brave Story author Miyuki Miyabe will be released, but the specific title hasn't been announced.
  • Like Brave Story, Zoo was originally two volumes in Japan, but will be released as one in the US.
  • "Haikasoru" is actually a Japanese-ification of "High Castle," a reference to a Philip K. Dick novel. (No wonder I couldn't find definitions!)
  • You'll find Haikasoru books in the sci-fi/fantasy section of the bookstore, not manga.

Without further ado...the rest of the interview!

Anime Vice.   Are the novels currently licensed for VIZ's new Haikasoru line "light" (illustrated) novels, or all text? Whichever they are, might we see some of the other in the future? 

Nick Mamatas.  These are complete novels, VIZ Media will be releasing 12 in the next year – 4 of which we announced in the initial 1/27 Press Release – two will release in July and two for release in September to kick off the imprint. 

AV.   We're told that the first four novels are all older teen/adult-oriented novels. Will all of Haikasoru's titles be along these lines, or might we see more youth-oriented (or even more adult) books in the future? 

NM.  Anything's a possibility. Unlike manga (and video games, and motion pictures, and popular music, and TV shows) literature doesn't have a rating system. It's the last bastion of human freedom!  

We're interested in big concepts and clever fiction, so we'll publish what we think is good regardless of age range.  We're bringing out Miyuki Miyabe's Brave Story as a trade paperback under the Haikasoru name, and another Miyabe title—so those are two novels that young adults would be very interested in. More "adult" novels are also a possibility. 

AV.   The first four novels are (I believe) all single-volume books; might we see any longer series in the future? 

NM.  Allow me to recycle my last answer: Anything's a possibility.  That said, Zoo was two volumes in Japanese, but fits perfectly as a single volume in the US.  Japanese volumes tend to be shorter, while Americans like to buy books by the pound, so it is easy to publish three volumes of a Japanese novel series as a single title here. 

AV.   Will Haikasoru's books be seen on the shelves of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section of the bookstore, or in the manga section? 

NM.  SF/Fantasy, yes.

All You Need Is Kill © 2004 by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
All You Need Is Kill © 2004 by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

AV.  Where did the name "Haikasoru" come from? 

NM.  It's a reference to Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, the classic novel in which the Axis won the Second World War and Japan rules California. Haikasoru is a Nipponized "High Castle." As it's a Japanese imprint run out of a California office, we thought the name apropos. 

AV.   Why this line, and why now? In other words, how did the Haikasoru project start? Have you been involved since the beginning? 

NM. It's been in the planning stages for a couple of years.  I was brought in last August.  There are a few reasons for the imprint: diversity of product lines is always a good thing, and SF and fantasy are simpatico with the sort of manga VIZ Media tends to publish. 

AV.   Do you see the novels as a sort of progression for manga fans, i.e. people who have been reading manga as young teens are eventually moving into novels as older teens? 

NM. When I was a kid, all the kids read SF.  Now that I'm an adult, all the adults read manga, as do the kids.  The people who have grown up on manga might especially like the novels we're bringing over from Japan, though.  We might call them "manga graduates", but I'm sure most will still read manga.   

And of course, SF readers with an interest in classic SF with big themes and a positive view of the future might find our titles refreshing for similar reasons. 

AV.   In the press release you note that sci-fi is going "global." Might we see VIZ market these books in Europe as well? 

NM.  There is no information regarding this at this time. 

AV.   And a final "toughie": let's say a manga fan has enough money to buy a new Naruto volume or one of these four novels. Tell readers why they should buy the novel. 

NM. That's easy—they can borrow the NARUTO volume from one of their friends! 

Or, to be less coy, a novel is a qualitatively different experience.  It's not all out there on the page; reading a novel requires an interaction with the text on a different level, and rewards that attention.  The reader does some of the writing through the act of reading and interpretation.  It's a powerful experience.  Everyone should try it.  Once or twice a month, at least.

Well, I'm pretty sold. How about you guys? What more would you like to know?
omoon Jan. 28, 2009 at 7:59 p.m.
I think Mamatas covered all the basis. Good job you two :3

That said a couple more:
-Are they up for releasing any kind of serialized publications? (like Del Rey's Faust? Or something less anthology and more magazine?)
-Only from Japan? How about other Asian SF/fantasy?
ducckdealeron Jan. 29, 2009 at 10:45 a.m.
Have they given any thought to releasing the Legend of the Galactic Heroes novels?
giaon Jan. 29, 2009 at 3:17 p.m.
Hmm, I know there'll be some VIZ reps at NYCC; I'll see if I can't get some of these answers there. :)
transgojoboton Jan. 30, 2009 at 5:23 p.m.
Hrm, I kind of partial to High-Castle, as opposed to Haikasoru. It's not that big of a deal, honestly. It's just, well, the latter spelling gives me slight weeaboo vibes. Just the name "High-Castle" seems strong enough for an imprint. Unless, of course, the name is taken by a publisher in some way shape or form.

Oh, and by the way

...I love that yoshitoshi ABe cover for ALL YOU NEED IS KILL! Can't wait to buy it!

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