Cats, Ninjas, Otaku, and a Company Returns from the Dead: Anime Expo 2015

Princess Jellyfish. Original story & art by Akiko Higashimura. Kodansha/Crunchyroll.

While some of us gorged on barbecue and watched fireworks this past weekend, others braved the L.A. traffic to hit Anime Expo, the largest manga and anime convention in North America. A dizzying number of industry announcements were made over the span of four days but don’t worry. WWAC has got you covered! Here are the highlights.

Vertical brings terror and cuteness in 2016

In case you haven’t gotten enough of the post-apocalyptic series, Vertical announced that it was licensing the light novel, Attack on Titan: Lost Girls. The novel features three stories about badass lady characters, Mikasa Ackerman and Annie Leonhart. Two of the stories adapt visual novels that were included with the Japanese blu-ray release of the anime and the third was specially written for the collection.

If man-eating giants do nothing for you, the company is also bringing us FukuFuku: Kitten Tales. The manga is written by Konami Kanata, the creator of the ridiculously adorable Chi’s Sweet Home.

VIZ unleashes more ninja action

Naruto Uzumaki from The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring. Original story & art by Masashi Kishimoto. VIZ, 2003-2015.VIZ may have been celebrating Sailor Moon this past weekend, but that wasn’t the only thing it had up its sleeve. The Shojo Beat booth featured a wall of illustrations from various mangaka, congratulating the imprint on its 10th anniversary. The company also announced its “Hokage for a Day” contest, in which fans have the opportunity to win a chance to meet Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto at NYCC this October. The grand prize covers airline tickets, hotel accommodations, transportation, and of course, NYCC passes.

Speaking of Naruto, in an announcement that surprises absolutely no one, the company plans to release a print edition of the manga’s sequel miniseries, The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring next year. The sequel takes place after the end of the original series and tells the story of Sarada Uchiha, the daughter of Sasuke and Sakura, and her quest to meet her father.

Meanwhile, the Shojo Beat imprint has no intention of missing out on the ninja action. They will be releasing Shuriken and Pleats, the latest series by Vampire Knight mangaka Matsuri Hino, about a ninja living a life as a normal high school girl. In addition, Ouran High School Club fans will be excited to hear that Bisco Hatori’s latest manga, Behind the Scenes, is also joining VIZ’s catalog.

Kodansha brings the original manga of a fan favorite to North America

Kodansha brought its A-game with an astonishing number of new licenses and updates. Among the titles soon to hit North American shores are: fan favorite Princess Jellyfish about an otaku girl and her relationship with the crossdressing son of a politician, Cat Diary from horror mangaka Junji Ito, and the latest manga series from Hiroaki Samura (Blade of the Immortal), Jinsei Kataoka (Deadman Wonderland), and Hiroya Oku (Gantz).

The publisher also announced that due to its strong sales, Noragami would be published monthly starting this October.

Yen Press brings the house down

Not to be outdone, Yen Press licensed everything else. Well, not quite…but close! (22 titles!)

The cover of Baccano! #21 by Ryohgo Narita. Yen Press.Noteworthy manga titles on the list include the Phantom Bullet and Mother’s Rosario, parts of the Sword Art Online franchise, Sekirei, and Corpse Princess. The Sword Art Online series will be published in print while the other two will be released digitally. The company will also begin simultaneously publishing a number Square Enix manga titles including Black Butler and new license, Kake Gurui, which is about a female gambler who transfers to a high school where your rank and worth are determined by your gambling skills.

And finally, something that will please many fans: Yen Press has licensed the Baccano! light novels. It’s an interesting move since conventional wisdom is that licensed light novels don’t do well in English. Maybe Baccano! will prove it wrong! As of 2013, there are 21 novels in the series.

Crunchyroll manga serves jellyfish and donuts

Many fans are aware of Crunchyroll’s anime streaming site, but did you know you can also read manga on their site? You should, because they have simulpubs of Attack on Titan, Fairy Tail, The Heroic Legend of Arslan, and A Silent Voice.

One of the titles they’ll be adding to their catalog is none other than Princess Jellyfish. The first four volumes will be available on the site starting July 15. That’s 6 months earlier than Kodansha’s print release, which comes out in February.

To keep up with the surprising weekend theme of cats, Crunchyroll has also added the Square Enix title Donyatsu to its collection of online manga. Donyatsu tells the story of a donut-shaped cat living in a post-apocalyptic world where humans have vanished.

Digital Manga Publishing restructures Digital Manga Guild payments

Along with several boys love and hentai licenses, the publisher said that it was be altering the payment structure of its Digital Manga Guild community. DMG lets fans with no professional experience work on DMP licenses as translators, editors, and letterers. Under the current system, people are paid a revenue share based on sales of the projects they work on. In the new system, they’ll be paid upfront. Good for them!

The company also has plans to release more yuri titles but no specifics were given.

TOKYOPOP does its best zombie impression

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, TOKYOPOP burst onto the North American manga scene and revolutionized the industry by releasing “100% authentic manga.” That meant they published their manga in the original Japanese right to left reading format. Until then, the standard had been to mirror-image manga when localizing for an English-speaking audience. The company rode the manga boom of the mid-2000s until the market sharply contracted in 2007. After a series of setbacks, TOKYOPOP closed its U.S. doors in 2011.

The return of TOKYOPOP is not unexpected. Last month, CEO Stu Levy made a vague post on the company’s blog. At the panel, the company expressed its desire to get into film and TV production. This isn’t a surprise considering its involvement with Priest, the live action movie very loosely based on the manga of the same name. TOKYOPOP also intends to get back into the manga publishing game by licensing “unnoticed, hidden gems.” Don’t worry, I have no clue what that means either. No specifics were given regarding either of these plans.

But what caught everyone’s attention was its plan to create a digital community where artists could upload their comics. Although TOKYOPOP says that creators will retain copyright and creative control of their works, many people were made uneasy by this announcement. And perhaps for good reason, considering the company’s history.

That’s a lot of news to come out of Anime Expo! Is there anything left for Otakon next month? We’ll have to wait and see.

Vernieda Vergara

Vernieda Vergara

Writer. Manga and webtoon aficionado. I hail from Washington D.C. where I consume too much media and cause only a little trouble. Tweet me @incitata.

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