Southern California-based manga publisher Digital Manga Publishing announced 12 new shojo, seinen, and yaoi manga titles, and 2 new light novels at their panel at Anime Expo 2010 in Los Angeles, including original manga projects being developed especially for DMP by Nao Yazawa (the creator of Wedding Peach), and a new Gungrave manga, based on the characters created by Yasuhiro Nightow (creator of Trigun).
Other new and noteworthy titles announced included two series by Kazuma Kodaka (creator of Kizuna, due out in September from June Manga), two series by Kemuri Karakara (creator of Takeru - Opera Susanoh Sword of the Devil), two Demon City Shinjuku light novels from Hideyuki Kikuchi (author of Vampire Hunter D) and new boys love short story collections from fan favorite creators CJ Michalski (Delivery Cupid) and Tsuta Suzuki (A Strange and Mystifying Story).
Here's a closer look at the cover art, plot summaries and reasons why you'll want to be on the lookout for these new DMP, June and 801 Media titles when they hit bookstores in 2011 and beyond.
DIGITAL MANGA PUBLISHING
In addition to three new shojo manga titles, Digital Manga Publishing announced three additional titles that they're developing with some fan-favorite Japan comics creators especially for the North American market.
Mizuki and Blood & Moon are two new series currently being created by Wedding Peach creator Nao Yazawa especially for DMP's eManga digital manga rental site.
Mizuki by Nao Yazawa - Fall/Winter 2010
As DMP Graphic Designer and Marketing Coordinator Michelle Mauk described it, Mizuki is a "shojo manga romantic comedy about a school girl who transforms into a demon." Look for this to appear exclusively as a digital "rent-to-own" title on eManga this Fall.
- Moon & Blood by Nao Yazawa - Fall 2011
Moon & Blood revolves around a vampire hunter named Kai, who is ironically turned into a vampire. Kai and his sire move in with a family, and much to his horror, Kai begins to develop romantic stirrings for the daughter of his host family.
"These projects were created based on talks that Yazawa-sensei had with our president Hikaru Sasahara over the past year," said Mauk. "Yazawa-sensei is actually one of the few manga-ka who can read and write English fluently, so she actively interacts with fans via her Twitter and Facebook pages."
So far, Yazawa-sensei has completed two chapters of Mizuki, and has posted several page spreads on her Facebook page. Mauk also previewed character sketches by Yazawa for Moon & Blood, a title that's projected to be a continuing series featured exclusively on eManga.com in 2011.
The third original manga title in the works is based on Gungrave, the sci-fi action game / anime series based on characters created by Yasuhiro Nightow, the creator of Trigun.
Gungrave, based on the characters created by Yasuhiro Nightow, artist TBD - 2011
According to Fred Lui, Vice President of Production at DMP, "Gungrave is a story about revenge -- following the characters of two life-long friends Brandon Heat and Harry MacDowell as they rise through the ranks of the crime syndicate, Millennion. Brandon Heat is betrayed and killed and later resurrected as the vengeance seeking killing machine named 'Beyond the Grave.'"
Gungrave was originally a Sony Playstation 2 game from Red Entertainment that was co-created by Nightow-sensei. It has already inspired an anime series (which is licensed in the U.S. by FUNimation), and now Convergence Entertainment is developing a live-action film based on Gungrave for release in 2011.
"We had wanted Nightow to do it, that (would have been) the ideal situation," explained Lui, "but because of scheduling, an alternative artist will be used to adapt the story." Lui also added, "The story concept is a long running series, so chances for multiple volumes are high."
In addition to these original manga projects, DMP also picked up three new fantasy, supernatural action and comedy titles from MAG Garden. All three are due for release between Spring - Fall 2011.
Replica by Kemuri Karakara - 2011
From the creator of Takeru - Opera Susanoh Sword of the Devil (a recent release from TokyoPop) comes a supernatural action series, "set in a topsy-turvy toy world; kind of Alice in Wonderland-esque," said Mauk.
Replica is focused on Manji, a bodyguard for hire who goes by the nickname "Akainu" (Red Dog). Manji meets Karu, another gun for hire who's hunting down some deadly "TOYs" and decides to join Karu's mission just for kicks.
Countdown 7 Days by Kemuri Karakara - 2011
Also from Kemuri Karakara, Countdown 7 Days is about Hanasuke Onigawara, a teen boy who discovers that he's dead, but that he has a chance to come back to life. All he has to do is help another guy (who's also dead) find a girl -- and they've only got 7 days to accomplish their mission.
"I particularly like Countdown 7 Days," said Mauk. "It's got very strong art. It's kind of reminiscent of Takeshi Obata's (Death Note) style."
Houou Gakuen Misoragumi by Aki Arata - 2011
On a lighter note, Houhou Gakuen Misoragumi is about a girl who likes girls, so her mother sends her to an all-boys school. "It's like a yuri (girls love) twist on Ouran High School Host Club," laughed Mauk. "It's really unusual."
On the light novel front, DMP scored two new titles based on Demon City Shinjuku from bestselling fantasy/horror author Hideyuki Kikuchi (creator of Vampire Hunter D).
Demon City Shinjuku (novel) by Hideyuki Kikuchi - 2011
Kiba Ichizoku no Garyuudo (sequel to Demon City Shinjuku) by Hideyuki Kikuchi - Release date TBD
Many fans are already familiar with Demon City Shinjuku (Makai Toshi: Shinjuku). This supernatural action/horror story has already been adapted into both manga and anime series that were released in the U.S. several years ago. But now fans will get a chance to read the novel version of this story in English for the first time, and enjoy the complete story in one volume.
As Mauk explained it, DMP was surprised to find out that the Demon City Shinjuku novels were first published in 1982, they had not been licensed in the U.S. until now. When they approached Kikuchi-sensei for his approval, he mentioned that he had just completed Kiba Ichizoku no Garyuudo, a sequel to Demon City Shinjuku.
"It catches up with the story 20 years later," she said. "It's really new, so it might not make it for our 2011 schedule, but it was something (Kikuchi) wanted us to show at the panel, because he was very excited about it."
Boys love manga fans were thrilled when they found out that DMP picked up the license for Kizuna, Kazuma Kodaka's yakuza/mobster romance for Fall 2009 release. Now they'll have even more reasons to be excited now that DMP's June Manga imprint has picked up two more titles from Kodaka-sensei -- one from early in her career, and another that's brand-spankin' new.
Border by Kazuma Kodaka - 2011
Border is about a crew of misfits who run a detective agency. It's Kodaka-sensei's latest series, and there are two volumes released to date. It's currently featured in Comique Hug, a yaoi manga magazine from Medi-a-tion.
Kusatta Kyo Shino Houteishiki (Bad Teacher's Equation) by Kazuma Kodaka - 2011
While Border is Kodaka-sensei's latest series, Kusatta is one of her earliest.
"It's about a guy who goes to a school to be with a teacher that he loves, but he mistakenly falls for his teacher's twin brother," said Mauk. "One twin is really nice, and one twin is really mean. So there's lots of complicated hilarity. (Kodaka) does comedy really well."
"Both Yoko (Tanigaki, DMP's director of sales) and I really like it - it's really funny. This is something we really pushed to get," said Mauk. Kusatta was originally a 10-volume series from Libre, but Mediation repackaged it as 5 tankobons, so that makes it easier for us to pick it up."
Besides these old and new Kodaka titles, two more titles were added to June Manga's 2011 line-up.
Gochisosama! by CJ Michalski - 2011
Gochisosama! is a collection of short stories by Michalski, the creator of Delivery Cupid (Boysenberry/Broccoli) and Noodle Shop Affair (Deux Press). The lead story is a cute romantic comedy about a pilot who's a single dad who falls in love with a guy who's an excellent chef.
Boku no Shiru Anata no Hanashi (Your Story I Have Known) by Tsuta Suzuki - 2011
This collection of six short stories comes from the creator of A Strange and Mystifying Story. The title story is a three-parter about a high school boy who falls in love with his mother's ex-boyfriend, a yakuza gangster who's several years his senior, and follows their relationship as it evolves over the years.
From DMP's more sexually explicit boys love imprint 801 Media comes another romantic comedy -- this time with some desert heat to keep things exotic and spicy.
Sabaku no Oujisama (Prince of the Desert) by Shushushu Sakurai - 2011
From the creator of JUNK! and Missing Road (both published by DramaQueen) comes a romantic fantasy set in the Middle East.
While he's only third in line to the throne, an Arabian prince grows weary of being pressured to marry. So to escape from the tediousness of it all, he runs away to the desert, only to find himself lost. Who should come to his rescue but a Japanese traveler seeking "The Rose of the Desert." Okay, so this is yaoi and it's supposed to be super-sexy yaoi, we can all imagine what happens next right? Right.
Gochisousama, Boku no Shiru Anata no Hanashi and Sabaku no Oujisama are from Takeshobo, a Japanese publisher that DMP had, prior to these titles, never worked with before. In fact, these titles are the first from Takeshobo ever licensed by a U.S. publisher. Other new titles mentioned in this panel also mark the first time that DMP is publishing manga from MAG Garden and Medi-a-tion.
On the Akadot Retail side of the DMP business, DMP is teaming up with VIZ Media to offer fans a chance to own hand-painted cells based on the Naruto anime series. These full-color cells featured Naruto, Sasuke or Kakashi, and are offered at the collectible price of $70 each. They are mounted in a matte board frame that can be popped into a ready-made frame for hanging. Visit Akadot.com for more details.
So which DMP / June / 801 Media title are you most excited to pick up next year? Add your comments below!
Image credits: © RED / Project Gungrave, © Nao Yazawa, © Kemuri Karakara / MAG Garden, © Hideyuki Kikuchi, © Kazuma Kodaka / Medi-a-tion, © CJ Michalski / Takeshobo, © Masashi Kishimoto / 2007 Naruto Shippuden