Anime Vice News

Tokyopop to Close American Publishing Division

The doors shut on May 31st.

 The final face of Tokyopop?
 The final face of Tokyopop?

Tokyopop’s officially announced to the Beat yesterday that its American publishing would cease operations as of May 31, just two weeks after the release of PRIEST. The movie may prove to be a sign of what the company’s business style will be like from here on out as its German branch, which is in charge publishing and film rights, will continue to operate. Following substantial rounds of layoffs over the past couple years (the latest happening in February,) this will bring Tokyopop’s 14 year life to an end after significant booms and busts in its American readership. Founder and CEO, Stu Levy issued a personal statement  on Tokypop’s website to coincide with the press release, giving his reasons for "laying down his guns" in the manga revolution his company's championed throughout its life.

I have some friends who’ve worked for Tokypop in the past and they’d made it sound to me like this writing’s been on the wall for a long time, both internally and externally. This will surely mark a substantial change in the landscape of American manga readership, but I’m more curious as to what this means to you in the Anime Vice community. Is it the end of an era - - perhaps one that was always unsustainable? - - or is more simply a symptom of change in a market that's still evolving?

Nightwolfon April 16, 2011 at 2:08 p.m.
Oh, man. That really sucks, but hopefully things will turn around for the better.
AgentJon April 16, 2011 at 2:23 p.m.
There were only a few Tokyopop properties that I ever had any interest in over the years. That said,this is a major blow to the manga industry, and we need to pray this doesn't start a domino effect. 
Count_Zeroon April 16, 2011 at 2:42 p.m.
I don't think this will cause a domino effect - as the Manga industry has been in decline for a bit. However, I would say that this is the end of an era. The manga industry had been having a major boon for the past few years, with practically every shojo title to get published in Japan getting licensed, because for a time they really sold. Eventually that boom kind of ended, and publishers were forced to cut back.

Tokyopop managed to hold on longer then they should have, because they had very close business ties with Borders. However, in the process, I feel they over-extended themselves. When Borders started running into financial problems, the rug basically got pulled out from under them and - to mix my metaphors, like a Jenga tower, they collapsed.

Is it unfortunate? Absolutely. I'm loving Hanako and the Terror of Allegory, and I really hope it gets license rescued. Am I surprised? No. Why? Well - in a nutshell, I read volume 1 of Alice in the Country of Hearts not that long ago and was rather surprised by how bland it was. That was a manga that, really shouldn't have been licensed for a US release, yet it was. What can I say.

Unlike Central Park Media - I wasn't hoping for Tokyopop's demise - they were still active and they were still publishing quality stuff (as opposed to CPM which was vegetative), yet all the signs were there.

Ah, well. *pours a 40 on the curb*
sotyfan16on April 16, 2011 at 2:44 p.m.
Tokyopop has been known for publishing underground titles that don't draw much attention. I own a couple volumes and would like to keep getting them but it looks like my search will become difficult.

This is not the sign of an era ending-but it is one of the times. Tokyopop just wasn't big enough to keep afloat with the bigger publishers. What I am most worried about is what will happen to the licenses. *crosses fingers for the grand entrance of FUNimation's manga division*
sora_thekey moderator on April 16, 2011 at 5:30 p.m.
AiON, Alice in the Country of Hearts... NOooO!!!!!

Why must the good always end?!
@sotyfan16 said:
" *crosses fingers for the grand entrance of FUNimation's manga division* "
*Holds his fingers together so that they will never un-cross*
sotyfan16on April 16, 2011 at 6:15 p.m.
@sora_thekey:
AiON is the one I'm most worried about of the two titles I have. I don't know much of what Tokyopop publishes so I'll have to make a list so I know a rare find when I see one.

As for the FUNimation bit, I really hope for something to come about. That way, FUNi can do the manga along with the anime. The difficult part of all that is FUNi's sales have taken beatings in recent years due to the economy and declining demand in the market (despite the growing number of fans aka consumers). Thus, I believe FUNi would be hard pressed to get a publishing office up and running. However, I also think the sales increase from doing manga would be greatly worth it and appreciated. I don't have access to any source of market data to check the viability of such a business extension but from my general knowledge of business (considering I have a degree in the field), FUNi could post significant gains and obtain a reasonable percentage of the market share.

But if FUNi does not find it reasonable to start publishing from scratch then I deem it wise to purchase ,or create a partnership with, a publisher like Seven Seas, Dark Horse, or Del Rey.
ShadowKnight508 moderator on April 16, 2011 at 6:24 p.m.
This is a darn shame...oh well, I better go and buy the last 5 volumes of Fate/stay Night from Amazon before the deadline.
EganTheVile1on April 16, 2011 at 7:52 p.m.
Wonder if this will affect anime based on the manga of Tokyopop in the future being released in the US as well.... I mean I know those are adapted by third parties but they are generally dubbed and released to the US with at least some preexisting following of the manga as a dependable fan-base. Will a third party be as quick to market Tokyopop based anime in the US without it already having a fan base? Geeez this is bad news indeed
sora_thekey moderator on April 16, 2011 at 8:06 p.m.
@sotyfan16 said:
" @sora_thekey: But if FUNi does not find it reasonable to start publishing from scratch then I deem it wise to purchase ,or create a partnership with, a publisher like Seven Seas, Dark Horse, or Del Rey. "
Dark Horse is going through their own problems right now.. so I doubt it will be DH. Dal Rey seems the likely choice because as far as Manga works the big hitter is VIZ then Del Rey. I used to think after that it was Tokyopop but now I doubt it.
Count_Zeroon April 16, 2011 at 9:30 p.m.
@sora_thekey said:
" @sotyfan16 said:
" @sora_thekey: But if FUNi does not find it reasonable to start publishing from scratch then I deem it wise to purchase ,or create a partnership with, a publisher like Seven Seas, Dark Horse, or Del Rey. "
Dark Horse is going through their own problems right now.. so I doubt it will be DH. Dal Rey seems the likely choice because as far as Manga works the big hitter is VIZ then Del Rey. I used to think after that it was Tokyopop but now I doubt it. "
I agree - particularly since Kodansha US took a lot of the series that Del Ray has licensed - Del Ray could use an influx of licenses if they want to stay in the Manga game, and Tokyopop has stuff that could fill that need. However, Dark Horse could be in the same position as well. We'll see.
sora_thekey moderator on April 16, 2011 at 10:54 p.m.
@Count_Zero said:
" @sora_thekey said:
" @sotyfan16 said:
" @sora_thekey: But if FUNi does not find it reasonable to start publishing from scratch then I deem it wise to purchase ,or create a partnership with, a publisher like Seven Seas, Dark Horse, or Del Rey. "
Dark Horse is going through their own problems right now.. so I doubt it will be DH. Dal Rey seems the likely choice because as far as Manga works the big hitter is VIZ then Del Rey. I used to think after that it was Tokyopop but now I doubt it. "
I agree - particularly since Kodansha US took a lot of the series that Del Ray has licensed - Del Ray could use an influx of licenses if they want to stay in the Manga game, and Tokyopop has stuff that could fill that need. However, Dark Horse could be in the same position as well. We'll see. "
The problem now is that Kodansha US is closing by the end of this April. America is taking a hit on the manga front because so many people just read scanlations. 
sotyfan16on April 16, 2011 at 11:16 p.m.
@sora_thekey said:
" @Count_Zero said:
" @sora_thekey said:
" @sotyfan16 said:
" @sora_thekey: But if FUNi does not find it reasonable to start publishing from scratch then I deem it wise to purchase ,or create a partnership with, a publisher like Seven Seas, Dark Horse, or Del Rey. "
Dark Horse is going through their own problems right now.. so I doubt it will be DH. Dal Rey seems the likely choice because as far as Manga works the big hitter is VIZ then Del Rey. I used to think after that it was Tokyopop but now I doubt it. "
I agree - particularly since Kodansha US took a lot of the series that Del Ray has licensed - Del Ray could use an influx of licenses if they want to stay in the Manga game, and Tokyopop has stuff that could fill that need. However, Dark Horse could be in the same position as well. We'll see. "
The problem now is that Kodansha US is closing by the end of this April. America is taking a hit on the manga front because so many people just read scanlations.  "
I read scans a lot, too, but only to find out whether I like a series enough to buy it. But also, there are a number of titles (mostly hentai) that are not licensed in the US so scans is the only way I can read them.

Another thing about FUNi starting to do manga is that the company should take licenses from Viz so it can do the manga series along with the anime. Some examples would be One Piece and Black Lagoon. If FUNi would pick up Bakuman (which I think it should for a couple of reasons) I'd add that to the list as well.
sora_thekey moderator on April 17, 2011 at 1:29 a.m.
@sotyfan16 said:
" If FUNi would pick up Bakuman (which I think it should for a couple of reasons) I'd add that to the list as well. "
I want this to happen!!!!
Ley_Lineson April 17, 2011 at 1:32 a.m.
CRAAPPP. How will I get Sgt Frog now? I've been reading it since middle school and I'm in my second year of college now. It's become tradition, hell i've got the new copy on preorder from amazon now.
Destinyheroknighton April 17, 2011 at 1:33 a.m.
@sora_thekey: 

The problem now is that Kodansha US is closing by the end of this April. America is taking a hit on the manga front because so many people just read scanlations.    


What are you talking about? Kodansha International is the one shutting down, not Kodansha US
Eelcireon April 17, 2011 at 2:14 a.m.


Well that's a real bummer as I was waiting on the last four volumes of Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase. Really sucks to buy into twelve volumes only to be hanging with the last ones never put out. Hopefully another publisher will come in to pick up the pieces. It is sad, but not devistating to the US manga market. Other publishers have come in such as Yen Press who have picked up quite a few series, and Viz still seems to be doing well.

 

In talking with one of the Borders employees recently it seems that while the manga selection had shrunk quite a bit, in recent months it has started to grow again. Though sales aren't quite what they used to be, not to mention so many people come in and just read the manga in the store without purchasing it.

 

There is a market, the problem seems to lie in two factors: price and availability. Manga costs considerably more than your standard comic book (which has also risen in price quite a bit), and manga isn't available in as many locations as comics. There's also the factor of the general economy, but that's affected quite a bit of markets.

sora_thekey moderator on April 17, 2011 at 2:18 a.m.
@Destinyheroknight said:
" @sora_thekey: 

The problem now is that Kodansha US is closing by the end of this April. America is taking a hit on the manga front because so many people just read scanlations.    


What are you talking about? Kodansha International is the one shutting down, not Kodansha US
"
You're right... My bad. I got them both confused!
Count_Zeroon April 17, 2011 at 2:44 a.m.
@sora_thekey said:

" @Count_Zero said:

" @sora_thekey said:
" @sotyfan16 said:
" @sora_thekey: But if FUNi does not find it reasonable to start publishing from scratch then I deem it wise to purchase ,or create a partnership with, a publisher like Seven Seas, Dark Horse, or Del Rey. "
Dark Horse is going through their own problems right now.. so I doubt it will be DH. Dal Rey seems the likely choice because as far as Manga works the big hitter is VIZ then Del Rey. I used to think after that it was Tokyopop but now I doubt it. "
I agree - particularly since Kodansha US took a lot of the series that Del Ray has licensed - Del Ray could use an influx of licenses if they want to stay in the Manga game, and Tokyopop has stuff that could fill that need. However, Dark Horse could be in the same position as well. We'll see. "
The problem now is that Kodansha US is closing by the end of this April. America is taking a hit on the manga front because so many people just read scanlations.  "
Actually, that's just Kodansha International, not Kodansha USA that's closing - separate business entity (see first paragraph of linked article).

That reminds me, I should probably do a Background Reading for Frederik Schodt's stuff - once I get the Background Reading I'm already working on finished.
djsquelchon April 17, 2011 at 6:03 a.m.
It's particularly sad news to me when I consider that I have recently just become actively interested in Tokyopop. I used to be an unknowing supporter in their products, but once I became aware of a pattern forming I actively pursued their product line with avid interest. I think they are a good company with a good product line and I hope closing the American branch does not affect my access to their product line. Over the years, a lot of fine companies have shut down in part or in whole for various reasons and it's always a sad moment for me. I trust Stu is making the best decision possible, even if it is a sad one. I hope things work out for the best for both the consumers and the employees of the American branch.
Waleson April 17, 2011 at 6:39 a.m.


It's upsetting to see Tokyopop shut down since it was one of the first manga companies I followed with a passion when I was in middle school. But as time moved on, I worried less really about who was publishing the mangas as opposed to what the content is. Not to mention with the rise of online scans and the movement to digital manga for some, it is evident.

 

At least the President of Tokyopop isn't telling its consumers that they are the reason the company is going under.

Dig Deeper into Tokyopop

One of the highest-volume manga publishers in the U.S., with a recent refocusing more into their own original properties (although they continue to license works from other countries as well).

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