Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tokyopop is dead, long live Tokyopop

With Tokyopop closing its doors, what happens to all our favorite running manga?

With Tokyopop shutting down publishing operations in the US manga fans will now be left wondering what’s next? What now for those titles that hooked us, made us fans? I have a few, listed below, that I love to follow and now I’ll be wondering if a publisher like Viz or Bandai can pick up the slack? Recently the industry has seen Borders file for bankruptcy which means no more reading (and sometimes purchasing) of manga by kids, teens and adults alike, nope, the content is harder to find. Manga is going mobile with tablets and when there are series such as Naruto spanning 40+ volumes it tough to purchase at $10-15 a pop so a lower price online makes sense, but this brings us back to Tokyopop.

Where Viz and even Bandai have stronger, more recognizable titles such as Naruto and Bleach (both Viz), Tokyopop had a largely Go-Bots lineup to Viz’s Transformers. Solid and fun but only a few titles that were rock solid wow titles. Many of the books from Tokyopop were not as mainstream but no less brilliant. Shorter, less know tales were rock solid, great reads and it’s this aspect which will be missed the most. They published more comic oriented titles as well as a gay lineup in Blu but that is all gone now. So as the sun has set on Tokyopop what does this mean for manga fans and those titles in limbo?

Meaning for Manga Fans – Simply put, less players in the game. Viz is the biggest name left and talk about a rock star. They put out tons of printed books but have shifted to iPad and other tablets with lower price points on established titles. The space it will save fans is great but more previews are needed. Manga fans will have a harder time finding new titles from a variety of publishers thanks to how licenses are tied up and this is the biggest question for Tokyopop (since they shutdown their website). What happens to all those great license? Years ago this happened to Dragon Ball Z where the rights got lost in limbo before finally being picked up years later by FUNimation. It’s sad and scary to say the truth as fans are left to suffer.

The other aspect of Tokyopop was its risk taking, its rising stars opportunities to unknown artist and creators, its ties to manga software, to more Western manga-ish titles and to the works of Korea and China. It’s a shame really but the dollar speaks.

Best case scenario is the manga rights of the bigger titles get transferred over for continued publishing and that those smaller titles get released to seek new publishing methods. The hope is out there also that Tokyopop somehow finds a way to move all its manga operations online, go 100% digital in its manga distribution at a lower price point but this does not seem to be in the plans.

Which titles are we most heartbroken to see sitting in purgatory, let’s take a quick look.
  • Samurai Harem – Awesome art and a great tale with tons of pretty ladies and even with all the panty shots and big boobs the awkward tale of love was a joy to follow. 
  • Happy CafĂ© – Not the best art, nor an all original story but it was charming and fun. This manga would make you happy. 
  • Maid Sama – LOVE the art and story, the characters and settings and it plain sucks this tale is over too soon. 
  • Princess Ai – Beautiful art and while the story is a bit odd the art and style it brought rocked. 
  • WarCraft & StarCraft – Boooo as there was some excellent work done for both franchises and now it’s gone but we hope Blizzard forces these rights elsewhere.
Tokyopop, you will be missed as you made the industry all the more exciting and competitive. Hope to meet again even if it’s only in digital form.


  1. "Princess Ai?" I can't tell if you are joking or being serious. ^_^;;;

  2. Sad to see tokyo pop shut down.

  3. The real loss is Future Diary. Must, get, Future, Diary....