At their Friday afternoon panel at Anime Expo, the VIZ Media marketing bunch (a.k.a. Mark Chang and Candice Uyloan) kicked things off with a very big announcement for manga fans. Starting in January 2010, Shonen Jump Manga / VIZ Media will be speeding up releases of One Piece by Eiichiro Oda, similar to how they accelerated releases of Naruto recently to get the U.S. volumes closer to the most recently released volumes in Japan. Beginning January with volumes 24 through 28, 30 new volumes of One Piece will be released at a rate of five per month through June 2010, until they get up to volume 53. One Piece is currently up to Volume 54 in Japan.
Why do this? Well, possibly to give readers less reasons to rely on illegal scanlations to get their latest fix of this fantasy-pirate adventure series. As a series that’s featured in the U.S. edition of Shonen Jump magazine, One Piece was released much slower than other titles, because any given volume would only appear only after the stories in any given volume were serialized in VIZ’s boys manga monthly.
To celebrate this upcoming event, VIZ has launched a new mini-site, onepiece.viz.com, which will feature character profiles, free online manga previews, and something they call “motion manga.” The motion manga version of One Piece will make its debut on the website after July 23, 2009.
- Rosario + Vampire Season II by Akihisa Ikeda – April 6, 2010
The popular series about a human teen who attends a private school for monsters, and the vampire girl who loves him continues, with new stories that were featured in Jump Square magazine after its initial run in Weekly Shonen Jump in Japan.
For older readers, Uyloan announced a new seinen manga release for 2010:
- Biomega by Tsutomu Nihei - February 9, 2010
From the creator of Blame comes Biomega, an action-packed sci-fi series set in the year 3005 A.D.
Zouichi Kanoe and Kanoe Fuyu, an artificial intelligence who is integrated into Zouichi's motor bike are trying to find humans who are immune to NS-5, a virus that is turning people into zombies.
The other big manga news was mostly on the Shojo Beat side of the street, with four new shojo manga titles for 2010:
- Crown of Love by Yun Kouga - February 2, 2010
Also known as Ren’ai Crown, Crown of Love is an older story from Anime Expo Guest of Honor Yun Kouga. Kouga is well-known for her shonen-ai and yaoi series Loveless and Earthian from TokyoPop and her recently released fantasy series Gestalt, but Crown of Love sounds like a love triangle drama that's more grounded in modern reality, but no less sexy.
Hisayoshi has a crush on Rima, a pretty pop idol. Trouble is Rima adores Ikeshiba, the impresario who first discovered her. The sexy Yun Kouga twist? Ikeshiba wants to make Hisayoshi a star as well and isn't shy about hitting on him. Now Rima's jealous of Hisayoshi -- could it possibly get more complicated than that? You'll have to read Crown of Love to find out.
- Cactus’ Secret by Nana Haruta - March 2, 2009
Originally published in Ribon magazine as Saboten no Himitsu, Cactus' Secret is by Nana Haruta, an artist whose claim to fame is that she started her career as a professional manga-ka at age 15, the youngest ever to accomplish this feat.
As Uyloan put it, Cactus' Secret is a "cute shojo manga about a girl who turns prickly whenever a boy tries to talk to her."
- Stepping on Roses by Rinko Ueda - April 6, 2010
A new-ish series from the creator of Tail of the Moon, Stepping on Roses doesn't have much ninja action, but its still got the hot guys and feel-good romance that makes her stories so much fun to read.
Described as a kind of Cinderella story, Stepping on Roses is about Sumi, the second eldest sister in a family of six orphans. When her elder brother leaves town, Sumi's siblings are taken away -- the only way for her to get them back is if she makes a lot of money, fast. Then along comes a very rich, very mysterious guy who offers to give her the money if she marries him…
- Flower in a Storm by Shigeyoshi Takagi - May 4, 2010
Also known as Hana ni Arashi, Flower in a Storm is a two-volume series that was originally featured in Lala and Lala DX magazines (the home of Vampire Knight).
Riko is a super-strong girl, but she goes to great pains to hide her special abilities. Then one day, a super-rich heir comes to visit, and he's obsessed with getting the best, the strongest, the fastest things in the world, so naturally, he decides to propose to Riko, who turns him down, naturally. Sparks fly and a high speed chase ensues. This sounds like a very quirky shojo story, but we'll have to wait until next year to see what it's like.
There was also lots of great anime news from VIZ. First, the release dates for two hotly anticipated shojo anime releases were announced: Nana and Honey and Clover.
The first boxed set of the animated version of Ai Yazawa's rock 'n' roll romance Nana is due out in September 8, 2009, with "11 and a half episodes." Not sure what a half episode is, but I guess we'll find out very soon! The Nana box set is followed by the release of the Honey and Clover anime box set, which is due out on September 22, 2009.
Meanwhile, back on the shonen side of VIZ land, Chang announced the upcoming release of a new Bleach movie, plus a new Bleach contest:
- Bleach Movie 2: Diamond Dust Rebellion – DVD Release: September 8, 2010
When a Soul Society captain goes rogue, it’s up to the rest of the captains and Ichigo to find him. Also, this film will have its US premiere at the new VIZ Cinemas at the New People Center in San Francisco on August 19 and 20, 2009. More details to come at bleach.viz.com.
- Bleach Guitar Giveaway Contest: Beginning July 12, 2009
Bleach creator Tite Kubo has signed two custom-designed electric guitars. Find out how you can win these very special collectibles at bleach.viz.com/rockstar AFTER July 12, 2009.
And of course, some Death Note anime and movie news:
- Death Note Relight 2 Anime – October 27, 2009
Death Note Relight 1: Visions of a God, the retelling of the Death Note story through shinigami Ryuk’s eyes is currently available. But what’s new and coming soon is Death Note Relight 2, which shows us how the events of Death Note were seen through the eyes of Mello and Near.
- L: Change the WorLd live action movie – August 18, 2009
Missed the theatrical showings of L: Change the World? You can pick up the DVD of this 3rd installment of the live action Death Note movie series in mid-August. L: Change the WorLd is an offshoot story not featured in the manga about another case that L worked on in the final days before his death.