Last week Thursday, TokyoPop launched the first of their "TokyoPop Insider" webcasts for fans and press to announce some of the new manga they'll be releasing for Fall/Winter 2009 - Early 2010. Given that TokyoPop was missing in action on the anime / comic con panel circuit this summer, this new webinar format gave fans and press a chance to see what's new and coming soon straight from TokyoPop Editors Lillian Diaz-Przybyl and Cindy Suzuki. It also gave fans an opportunity to ask the editors a few questions about titles old and new.
At this session, TokyoPop featured 17 new manga titles, mostly geared toward shojo manga and boys love manga fans, provided updates on six favorites series with upcoming releases and announced new volumes for their Chibi Vampire and Trinity Blood light novels. Read on to find out more about these titles, including release dates and plot synopses.
According to the announcement for TokyoPop Insider, this session was only the first of two planned webinars, so I'm guessing that there'll be more titles geared for the guys next time. No word yet on the date /time for the next session, but if you want to find out first, subscribe to the TokyoPop RoboBlast newsletter to get your invite.
FALL INTO VAMPIRE ROMANCE AND DOMO HILARITY
First up are two new late summer / fall releases that they were quite excited to share with fans:
Bloody Kiss by Kazuko Furumiya: Vol. 1 - August 8, 2009
Kiyo is a cash-strapped student who inherits a decrepit mansion from her grandmother and discovers that two hot vampires come along with the deal. One vampire in particular has the hots for Kiyo and aims to make her his bride, a.k.a. his sole source of life-sustaining blood.
Forbidden vampire love is a hot topic, but Bloody Kiss is slightly different than what you'd expect because it comes with a fair amount of slapstick humor. See for yourself by checking out the first chapter of Bloody Kiss Volume 1 online at TokyoPop.com.
"Everybody really loves vampires, so you can't go wrong with bloodsuckers," said Diaz-Przybyl. "We had early copies available at San Diego Comic-Con and they went like crazy!" Volume 2 of this two-volume series will follow on November 3, 2009.
Domo: The Manga by Clint Bickham, Lindsay Cibos, Jared Hodges, rem and Sonia Leong - September 1, 2009
Everyone's favorite animated Japanese TV network mascot makes his English-language comics debut in this full-color collection of short stories. Featuring the talents of Lindsay Cibos and Jared Hodges (Peach Fuzz), rem (Vampire Kisses) and Sonia Leong (Romeo and Juliet), Domo: The Manga is an appealing collection of all-ages fun.
NEW SHOJO MANGA RELEASES FROM FAN-FAVORITE ARTISTS
Some of the new titles announced for 2009 - 2010 are by familiar faces, or at least they will be to fans of Gakuen Alice, Trinity Blood, Code Geass and Mugen Spiral.
Game X Rush by Mizuho Kusanagi -July 6, 2009
Game X Rush is a new title from the creator of NG Life and Mugen Spiral, a series that was "a surprise hit for us," said Diaz-Przybyl.
From the description on TokyoPop's website, this sounds like bishonen-laced action tale that should please fans of hot guys and hot drama:
Memori is the pretty-boy mascot for his brother's bodyguard agency, solving cases and saving the damsels in distress. When he runs into the skilled and witty Yuuki, he thinks he's found the perfect partner -- until he learns that Yuuki is a trained assassin who seems to know his every secret.
Pick up Game X Rush Volume 1 now or check out the online preview of the first chapter -- Volume 2 will follow on November 3, 2009.
Zone-00 by Kiyo QJO - August 4, 2009
A new release from the artist who worked on Trinity Blood, Zone-00 is packed with high-intensity supernatural action. The hero of this tale is Kujo, an ordinary high school student who is fascinated by aliens, ghosts and monsters. He meets a mysterious new transfer student who asks him to join him in a game, but Kujo realizes too late that the game involves chasing demons who are terrorizing Tokyo.
"There is some crazy, crazy stuff in this book," said Diaz-Przybyl. "I'm the editor for Trinity Blood, and it's incredible to watch (QJO's) artwork style develop." You can see for yourself with this online preview of Zone-00 Volume 1
Kanako has a fear of boys, so she enrolls in an all-girl academy to find a girlfriend to fulfill her yuri fantasies. She meets Mariya, a cute girl who fits the bill, but much to her surprise (and dismay!), Mariya is actually a cross-dressing boy with sadistic tendencies.
The second and third volumes of this 3-volume romantic comedy series will follow in December 2009 and March 2010.
Mikansei No. 1 by Majiko! - November 3, 2009
From the artist who drew the Code Geass manga adaptations and St. Lunatic High School (another release from TokyoPop), comes a new story about a girl from the 23rd Century who has a fixation on the past, which in her case is the 21st Century. Neo is surprised to find a container that sends her back to the era that she loves so much, she's even more surprised when her time travels gives her a chance to meet a very cute guy.
"It's done in a very cute, charming style," said Diaz-Przybyl.
Portrait of M & N by Higuchi Tachibana - February 2, 2010
An earlier series from the creator of Gakuen Alice, Portrait of M & N is probably one of the oddest and maybe most provocative new shojo manga on the slate for 2010.
The initial "M" and "N" stand for the two main characters -- but it's not short for their names -- it's meant to signify their neuroses. "M" is an "extreme masochist" and "N" is "an extreme narcissist."
"It's about an extremely complicated relationship between two very dysfunctional people," said Diaz-Przybyl. Eeeyikes. I'll definitely be looking out for this one in 2010!
FAIRY TALES REMIXED: MOMOTARO AND ALICE IN WONDERLAND
These tales may seem familar at first, but in true manga tradition, there's always a twist waiting around the corner.
Momogumi Plus Senki by Eri Sakondo - August 4, 2009
Noshii recently transferred to Ai-Zho Academy, but he's not your everyday high school guy. He's the reincarnation of Momotaro (a.k.a. Peach Boy) and he must break the curse placed on him by seven demons before his 18th birthday, or "misfortune will befall Noshii and his friends." But Noshii's not alone -- three guardians with superpowers show up to help him. "It's very cute. His animal friends are in human form," said Suzuki.
The first volume of Momogumi Plus Senki came out last week, and you can check out an online preview of the first chapter at TokyoPop.com. Look for Volume 2 to appear in January 2010.
Alice in the Country of Hearts by quinrose and Hoshino Soumei - February 2, 2010
"This is exactly what it sounds like -- a retelling of the Alice in Wonderland story," said Diaz-Przybyl. But what's the twist here? "Alice is a little snarky -- she's visits various regions of Wonderland that is populated by various bishonen characters." (That's hottie hunks to you and me)
Originally serialized as Heart no Kuni no Alice in Comic Blade Magazine, Alice in the Country of Hearts is an adaptation of a visual novel by quinrose with art by Hoshino Soumei. "We're definitely excited by this."
DEMON BOYS, ROBOT GIRLS AND SAMURAI DETECTIVES
Boy meets girl is the usual shojo manga fare -- but these new titles for 2009 - 2010 are poised to offer something a little different than what you'd expect.
Mad Love Chase by Kazusa Takashima - September 1, 2009
Originally published in Asuka Magazine as Harlem Beat wa Yoake Made, Mad Love Chase features "gorgeous art and a wacky, hilarious story about a demon prince who goes to high school in the human world to escape from an arranged marriage," said Suzuki. Trouble is, Hell wants him back, so they've sent a few demonic (and slightly incompetent) minions to get him back. "It's hilarious. I love her art style."
Takashima-sensei is also known for her work on boys love manga, so look for some very delectable-looking demon boys to play a part in this series.
Mad Love Chase Volume 1 will be out in Sepember 1, with Volume 2 to follow on January 5, 2010.
Karakuri Odette by Julietta Suzuki - September 29, 2009
Karakuri means "puppet," so Karakuri Odette is about a female robot who goes to high school to learn how to be human. She hasn't quite got that "ordinary school girl" thing down, so of course, hilarity ensues.
Originally published in Hana to Yume Magazine, Karakuri Odette has "a simple, clean art style, but I find it to be really appealing," said Diaz-Przybyl.
The first volume of this six-volume series will come out in late September, followed by Karakuri Odette Volume 2 in February 2, 2010. Get a sneak peek with this online preview of Karakuri Odette Volume 1
Happy Café by Kou Matsuzuki - January 5, 2010
Uru's mom recently remarried, so Uru takes this as an opportunity to make a fresh start with a new job at the Happy Café. The good news: her co-workers are some hot hunks. The bad news: these hotties don't exactly put out the red carpet for her, especially since Uru is kind of a klutz. But eventually, the guys warm up to her, and maybe, just maybe love just might be on the menu.
Look for this 11-volume series to kick off in January 2010.
Haru Hana by Yuana Kazumi - March 2, 1010
Haru manages a café that specializes in providing a relaxing environment for his patrons, with spa services, including massage on the menu. Hana is a cute girl from Osaka who ends up getting a job at Haru's café, but the problem is that she breaks out into hives whenever she's touched by a cute guy.
"How do you have a romance when a guy touches you and you break out in a rash?" asked Diaz-Przybyl. We'll find out in March 2010 when this charming new shojo series hits the shelves.
Kokaku Detective Story by Yoshitsugu Katagiri - April 6, 2010
Originally featured in Beans Ace Magazine as Kokaku Torimono Cho, Kokaku Detective Story is a historical mystery series about a devil-may-care samurai whose casual demeanor disguises his ability to solve whatever cases come his way.
While Columbo is a slob and Monk is obsessive compulsive, Kokaku has a quirk of his own: he loves eating chili peppers. So how this little twist gets woven into this unconventional detective tale is something we'll just have to discover when this story makes its debut in 2010.
THREE NEW BLU TITLES FOR BOYS LOVE MANGA FANS
TokyoPop hasn't forgotten boys love manga fans -- and just to show that they've still got chips in the game, Diaz-Przybyl and Suzuki announced three new yaoi manga titles to come from their BLU Manga line.
Cause of My Teacher by Temari Matsumoto - September 29, 2009
From the artist for Kyo Kara Maoh series comes an anthology book with two short stories about high school boys having romantic relationships with their teachers.
"We've done some of her BL titles before like The Loudest Whisper," said Diaz-Przybyl. "(Matsumoto-sensei) has a clean art style that's very appealing.
Liberty Liberty! by Hinako Takenaga - November 3, 2009
From the artist who created fan-favorite Little Butterfly comes a new one-shot about a young guy, and older guy and the circumstances that bring them together. From TokyoPop's description:
"Yaichi falls onto a trash heap dead drunk, but is rescued by a mysterious man. In the process, Yaichi breaks the man's valuable video camera. Yaichi wants to repay the man, but he is pretty useless. How can Yaichi really really help out? Perhaps with a little thing called love...?"
Madness by Kairi Shimotsuki - December 1, 2009
This two-volume fantasy-adventure series takes place 1,000 years in the future after the Apocalypse. A young priest has been keeping an eye on his father's church where a criminal is imprisoned in the basement. This criminal escapes and takes the priest with him.
"This one has lots of intense action," said Suzuki. ...in BED?! I kid, I kid. We'll see how this fantasy plays out when this yaoi treat arrives at your favorite bookstore or online bookseller in December.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO...? WHEN IS THE NEXT VOLUME OF... COMING OUT?
New titles weren't the only things featured at the first TokyoPop Insider webinar. Diaz-Przybyl and Suzuki also spotlighted upcoming releases of series that fans have been asking for.
"We're happy to announce the return of books that we get a lot of questions about," explained Diaz-Przybyl. "We've been moving our schedule around a lot, we think things have stabilized somewhat now." The manga and light novel titles that have rejoined the 2009 - 2010 line-up include:
- V.B. Rose Volume 6 by Banri Hidaka - October 1, 2009
- Aria Volume 5 by Kozue Amano - November 3, 2009
- Princess Ai: Prism of the Midnight Dawn Volume 2 by Christine Boylan, D.J. Milky and Misaho Kujiradou -December 1, 2009
- Fruits Basket Ultimate Edition Volume 4 by Natsuki Takaya - January 5, 2010
- Tactics Volume 8 by Kazuko Higashiyama, Sakura Kinoshita - January 5, 2010
- Trinity Blood: Reborn on Mars Novel Volume 3 by Sunao Yoshida - November 3, 2009
- Chibi Vampire Novel Volume 6 by Tohru Kai, Yuna Kagesaki - April 6, 2010
The rest of the time was taken up by Q&A with questions both perennial and new. I'll sum up a few choice quotes:
Q: What do you think will be your next shojo hit?
Diaz-Przybyl: "Gakuen Alice is getting there. Happy Café perhaps? Haru Hana maybe too. NG Life is also great. Fruits Basket is really hard to beat. It's hard to imagine what other titles will touch people the same way."
Q: What are your future plans for Sailor Moon?
Diaz-Przybyl: "This is a question we get a lot. We have a touchy relationship with Kodansha. There hasn't been anything new from her in a while. We'd love to tell you something, but we honestly don't know."
Q: What's your next manhwa release?
Diaz-Przybyl: "INVU Volume 5 is coming out in December. It took a million years to get Volume 4 done, but now it's finally coming out this year. Beyond that, we're still working on King of Hell, working on stuff with Priest." (Including work on the film adaptation that's now in the works)
"It may be due to cultural differences or art style, but manhwa is having a hard time catching on with our readers. It's not the left-to-right thing because I think people are smarter than that. It's too bad, because best of it is as good as or better than the average Japanese stuff."
Q: Are there any yuri manga (girls love) titles coming out?
Diaz-Przybyl: "We've got requests to do a yuri line, but it's never come together. We will not have a yuri imprint like BLU (TokyoPop's yaoi / boys love manga imprint) You'll see that content, but we won't make a concerted effort to publish a full-line of this. We're not trying to be judgemental against yuri."
Q: Will you be publishing more of the all-color graphic novels?
Diaz-Przybyl: "Yes, we will the next one will be by Benjamin -- Remember in January 2010. That's it for now. We've got lots of plans for this that we can't really talk about, but it's not something we are ready to give up on yet."
And that pretty much wrapped up the first TokyoPop Insider session. Look for more updates soon on the second session, which will probably feature even more joy for 2010 and beyond.
UPDATE: David Welsh has posted a "TokyoPoll" at Precocious Curmudgeon that gives you a chance to pick which newly announced TokyoPop titles sound most intriguing (and most worth your $10-$12). You can pick multiple titles -- try it! The results are interesting so far.
UPDATE 2: See a report from the September TokyoPop Insider webcast, including 10 new titles and the announcement of the return of several titles that were on hiatus.