Moyashimon: Tales of Agriculture by Masayuki Ishikawa - Fall 2009
While they led their presentation with news that associate publisher Dallas Middaugh was out on his honeymoon, and the announcement of their new partnership with Cartoon Network, Del Rey Manga had bigger news for manga fans when they announced their acquisition of Moyashimon: Tales of Agriculture for Fall 2009. This quirky but thoroughly enjoyable series from Kodansha's Evening magazine has already inspired a Fuji-TV anime series, loads of toys and has won both the Grand Prize in the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize awards and Kodansha Manga Award in 2008.
As Del Rey Manga Editor Trisha Narwani put it, "A lot of publishers like to brag that what they're bringing is unique, but this one really is. It's about an agriculture student who can see very cute bacteria and germs." Each chapter also includes information about the helpful and harmful properties of each of the bacteria, so "its technically educational!"
Amefurashi by Atsushi Suzumi - July 2009
From the creator of Venus Vs. Virus and Haridama Magic Cram School comes a new series about a cute, powerful and temperamental rain goddess and the hapless human boy who must try to appease her to save his village. Sounds like a retread of the geek meets goddess/demon/witch formula that makes books like Lum / Urusei Yatsura, Rosario + Vampire and Oh! My Goddess so much fun to read -- but we'll see if Amefurashi offers something new and fresh to this time-tested manga plotline.
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles Character Guide 2 by CLAMP - Summer 2009
Having trouble following the many characters and plot twists in Tsubasa? Now the long-awaited second volume of the Character Guide series covers the events of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles from Volumes 8 through 14. The guide also includes full-color artwork and lots of characters sketches, which will please many fans of this fan-favorite foursome.
Maid War Chronicles by RAN - May 2009
"For this one, this one, the title says it all," said Narwani. And the cover pretty much does too, as you can look forward to lots of "hard-hitting action, maid style" from the artist of Mao-Chan. The basic plot is about "fighting maids who must fight to win back their master's kingdom." It's got cute maids and big swords. What more do you want?
It's good to see that Del Rey Manga's relationship with Kodansha continues to be strong, even with the buzz about Kodansha's plans to open their own U.S. publishing branch. Still, Del Rey is branching out to foster partnerships with other Japanese licensors like Capcom (with their upcoming release of the Phoenix Wright manga) One new partnership that was revealed at NYAF was with Cartoon Network.
Bakugan Battle Brawlers - December 2008 and March 2009
This kid-friendly cross between Pokemon (battling monsters) and Yu-Gi-Oh! (magical cards) is already showing on Cartoon Network, so Del Rey is offering new Bakugan comics two ways: 2 volumes of full-color ani-manga in December 2008 and March 2009, and a volume of original black and white manga due in Summer 2009.
Ben 10 Alien Force - April 2009 and Fall 2009
Joining Bakugan in their new Cartoon Network comics is Ben 10 Alien Force. Similar to their Bakugan roll-out, a Ben 10 full color ani-manga will debut in April 2009, followed by an original black and white manga story in Fall 2009.
Again, good to see more kid-friendly comics coming out in 2009 -- but I had to wonder why Cartoon Network opted to work with Del Rey Manga on this project instead of partnering with their fellow Time-Warner partner CMX Manga or DC Comics. There's probably a simple answer to this, but this was a topic that came up as a few of us in the audience compared notes afterwards.
Onward to Day 3 of NYAF! Today it's Yen Press and a panel about the state of the manga industry! More to come soon, or check out my Twitter feed for up to the moment-ish updates.