So, last night while looking up on Internet Movie Database to see if the rumors of Lady Gaga playing the role of Sailor Moon in a live action movie version was really true or just an April Fool's Joke, I came across a link stating that TokyoPop, one of the two biggest Anime/Manga distributors here in the U.S. is closing it's North American branch! I was soo shocked to see that since I knew it was such a large corporation! Upon further research (though the Tokyo Pop site says nothing about their closing), I found another article online that gave an exact date. Tokyo Pop will close it's North American branch May, 31 of this year!
That's next month!
Apparently, with the mass closing of Borders Books and Music stores all across the U.S (last count was 228 in total closing (believe me, I worked in one that just closed)) sales for Tokyo Pop produced books have greatly dropped. Who knew a store that has been struggling financially was the life line of a major corporation like Tokyo Pop. I guess Amazon, Barnes and Noble and several smaller comic book/manga stores just didn't equate the same number of sales that Borders did. I saw enough teenagers just sitting in the ailes or at tables with stacks of manga reading them as though they were in a library or their own home and not even bothering to buy any of the those volumes (if you've ever done that, SHAME ON YOU!! Buy the damn book!), so I find it very doubtful that Borders kept Tokyo Pop afloat saleswise. Especially when sites like Amazon have been taking sales from actual stores like there's no tomorrow.
I am so pissed to read that Tokyo Pop is closing after Go!Comi and CMX comics closed up shop due to lack in sales. I have several manga series that are really really good but are now incomplete because the translation publishers shut down before finishing the series. Several of them are finished in Japan (and have been for years) and only had a couple of volumes left to be translated here in the U.S.! Well, with Tokyo Pop closing it's doors, I can only assume that means the series I thought were safe will now be unfinished as well.
Tokyo Pop is keeping it's European branches open for now but I don't know what that will do for us readers and buyers in the U.S. With so many Free Manga Scanalations sites out now, many of them only do the obscure series due to legal rights the large corporations like Viz and Tokyo Pop have. Granted that doesn't mean a lot of the well known series like InuYasha and Naruto haven't snuck by, but a lot of the ones I read aren't on the sites or aren't very far in the scans/translations that it's hardly worth reading them because I've passed them by purchasing the series. My biggest problem with the free translation sites is that a lot of time the translation quality is down right terrible! I've tried to read some where the person who was translating didn't even know what half of the stuff said and even admitted in the speech bubble that they didn't know what the character was saying! Several times they would also just leave the original Japanese in the bubble and not even bother trying to translate at all. Why those were allowed up as a completed chapter posting I'll never know. But, I will admit there were still several really good translations and I tip my hat to those hard workers who know how to read Japanese and can translate it. I've tried and I'm terrible. Flunked Japanese 101 in college!
I'm perfectly willing to pay more for a volume that I need as long as it's in English or has an English translation attached (if that makes sense). I don't know Japanese and while I'd also be willing to purchse the volumes in Japanese, there seem to be a decidedly few number of sites that provide manga for sale in the original Japanese here in the U.S or at lease sites that are translated into English to make purchasing easier.
Well, for anyone who has not heard this news, beware. Some of those series you've been buying and are now waiting anxiously for the next volume, if that volume doesn't come out in May, then chances are, you are not getting it! However, if you go on to Amazon, you'll notice that just about all of the Tokyo Pop titles are on sale anywhere from 20%-30% off. That would do me good only if the series was finished. I love V. B. Rose and there are only two volumes left in the series and I know they won't be released here in the U.S. I thought for sure that one would be safe because it was Tokyo Pop, one of the two top Manga producers!
I guess when I'm still very much into the manga/anime fad that my generation is growing out of, it makes it difficult to keep up sales. Too many of my friends who loved manga and anime as much as me are not buying them anymore because they need the money for family and cars and more important things in life. Not that I blame them, I have had to sacrifice a new manga sale in favor of a week's worth of gas. But when so much artwork is based on the anime/manga style and so many american cartoons are trying to copy and stylize that look (Avatar the Last Airbender and Teen Titans just to name a couple) it surprises me that sales have decreased.
Well, graphic novels still seem to be going strong and steady especially when nearly every big name book series seems like its being made into a graphic novel. But then again, Graphic Novels have been very much an American thing, haven't they? Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Xmen have never lost sales. Hell, if you have a first edition Spiderman comic book volume 1 in pristine condition you could be sitting on a gold mine! Whereas, if you have a first edition of a Sailor Moon manga volume 1, you might be able to get $20 for it on eBay. Though, I bet over in Japan it would be worth a fortune as long as it's the original Japanese volume.
Well, I'm pissed off at Tokyo Pop, though I have always felt that Viz has had the better selection of series to choose from whereas Tokyo Pop tended to do a lot of the American written series (no offense to anyone who has had their work published by them) but there are still a select few series that Tokyo Pop did luck out on and I'm disappointed that they feel they have to close down. They should have at least cut back on the number of new series they were taking on. Too many projects going on at once and not enough of them getting completed.
I guess all I can do now is just watch and see what happens. I'll keep my fingers crossed that Tokyo Pop will make a good decision on what to do with unfinished series that are only a couple of volumes away from completion but I won't hold my breath. Now, the field is left to Viz, Yen Press and a couple of smaller companys like Del Rey but I'm sure it won't be long before they too shut their doors for good and we're all left standing with unfinished manga series.
So, so long Tokyo Pop, you were my first introduction to manga with Sailor Moon but I give you the finger for not even trying to save your business and please your patrons.