With the arrival of Spring flowers and warmer weather comes comic/anime convention season, and a whole mess of new title announcements. Yen Press recently made their first trip to Sakura-Con in Seattle, and to celebrate the occasion, they announced a full roster of fascinating new titles that will be available at a book or comic shop near you in Fall/Winter 2012.
Besides new titles from the creators of popular and acclaimed Yen Press titles like A Bride's Story, High School of the Dead, and Higurashi: When They Cry, plus new companion volumes to the Haruhi Suzumiya and Alice in the Country of Hearts series, Yen Press surprised fans with an unexpected pick: Thermae Romae, an award-winning seinen manga series by Mari Yamazaki about a man from ancient Rome in modern Japan, and his fascination with public baths.
Thermae Romae by Mari Yamazaki - December 2012
If you've ever been to Japan, you may have experienced the joy of an onsen, the public bath houses where washing and soaking in large, deep tubs of very hot water is considered one of life's little luxuries. Many cultures around the world, past and present, have reveled in community bathing, including ancient Rome. It's this small commonality between Italy and Japan that Mari Yamazaki explores in a modern / historical comedy of manners unlike any other.
Here's Yen Press' description of this series:
In Hadrian Rome, Lucius was a Roman architect whose designs often got rejected by builders. To cheer him up a friend of his invited him to relax at a thermae (public bath). Inside the bath Lucius was accidentally trapped in an underwater hole by suction; when he finally managed to emerge on the surface he found himself in a very different bath: in 20th century Japan.
An award-winning manga series that celebrates the bathhouse culture of ancient Rome and modern Japan, recently adapted as a TV anime and live-action film. Yen Press will be releasing Thermae Romae in a deluxe hardcover omnibus format, with each omnibus containing two volumes of the original series.
In 2010, Thermae Romae was the recipient of the 3rd Manga Taisho Award. More recently, it was named as a finalist in the 2012 Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize for manga, sponsored by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. Thermae Romae is currently serialized in Enterbrain's Comic Beam magazine (the same magazine where A Bride's Story is featured), and there are four volumes available in Japan. (Yen Press' double-sized edition will include Volumes 1 & 2 and Volumes 3 & 4 in two hardcover books.)
Triage X by Shoji Sato - October 2012
From the artist who brought you the zombies, exploding guts, post-apocalyptic action and lots of bouncing boobies in High School of the Dead comes a new action-adventure series featuring even more thrills and fanservice-filled fun. Here's what you can expect from this ongoing 4-volume series currently featured in Dragon Age magazine:
The action centers around Arashi Mikami, a seemingly normal-looking, slightly socially awkward 17-year old boy. But Arashi has another life that he must keep secret: he's a member of Black Label, a group of vigilantes who are dedicated to bringing down power-mad crime lords that the authorities are too afraid to confront. Needless to say, based on the cover art I've seen for Triage X, Arashi's colleagues in justice just happen to be some barely-dressed babes with big guns. Would you expect anything less?
Alice in the Country of Hearts: My Fanatic Rabbit by QuinRose and Pysche Delico - December 2012
Yen Press is already publishing new editions of Alice in the Country of Hearts (a title formerly published by TokyoPop) in June 2012, to give fans all six volumes of the series in three double-sized volumes, including the sixth and final volume that TokyoPop had scheduled but wasn't able to publish before they shut down operations in June 2011.
Based on the otome (dating sim) games created by QuinRose, Alice in the Country of Hearts re-imagines a Wonderland where Alice is a pretty teen girl, and almost everyone, from Cheshire Cat to the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter, are all very cute boys who all want to woo or kill her (sometimes both).
This New York Times bestselling series has also spawned several side stories. Seven Seas Manga is publishing two other offshoot series of this eye candy-filled, dramatic retelling of Lewis Carroll's surreal fantasy tale, Alice in the Country of Clover: Bloody Twins and Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz in June-July 2012.
Now Yen Press is publishing yet another story in this series this Fall/Winter. Ths time, the art is by a creator that may be familiar to boys love manga fans (Psyche Delico also drew Love Full of Scars, published by NetComics). Alice in the Country of Hearts: My Fanatic Rabbit focuses on what happens when Alice spends some time in the home of the mad mafioso Mad Hatter and his devious, erratic (and oddly sexy) companion, the March Hare.
Umineko: When They Cry by Ryukishi07 and Kei Natsumi - November 2012
Speaking of manga based on games, Umineko: When They Cry is a new manga adaptation of a visual novel/multi-layered mystery by the creator of Higurashi: When They Cry. This time, the mysterious and dangerous events unfold in a new milieu: a private island, where money, betrayal and murder swirl in a potent mix of mystery and mayhem.
The action begins in 1986, when the relatives of Kinzou Ushiromiya arrive at his private island, Rokkenjima. The occasion is a family reunion, but the people gathered are there with another agenda. Their rich relative is nearing the end of his days, and the 11 men and women are hoping to get their share of the wealth that they may soon inherit. But when a storm traps them on the island, they all discover that the islands legendary "Golden Witch" may have other plans for their fates.
Like Higurashi, Umineko is comprised of several "Question" and "Answer" arcs that tell different facets / possible outcomes of the story. Yen Press will publish this four-volume series in two double-sized omnibus volumes.
Blood Lad by Yuki Kodama - December 2012
Described as a "dark comedic fantasy," Blood Lad follows the misadventures of Fuyumi, a human girl and an elite / slightly nerdy vampire/demon lord named Staz. Fuyumi's unfortunate early death lands her on Staz's doorstep, and soon enough, she manages to convince Staz to help her come back to the world of the living.
Blood Lad is an on-going series that's currently up to five volumes in Japan. It's currently serialized in Kadokawa Shoten's Young Ace magazine, the home of other horror/humor/action/fantasy series like Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service by Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki, and Legal Drug by CLAMP.
Aron's Absurd Armada by MiSun Kim - November 2012
While this is not a new title announcement, this previously online-only manhwa title was quietly added to the Yen Press print line-up recently, so it's worth a mention here. This kooky comic series about a group of misfit pirates was originally a webcomic in Korea that is now featured in the pages of Yen Plus magazine every month. But as subscribers know, you can only read the content in any given issue of Yen Plus for two months, and then >poof!< it's no longer available online. This printed collection will allow fans of Aron's Absurd Armada a way to enjoy these goofy seafaring adventures away from their computer screens.
Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something - December 2012
Now that Yen Press' releases of Kaoru Mori's exquisite A Bride's Story has caught up with the Japanese graphic novels, it's nice to see that they're digging a little deeper into her catalog to release this collection of her short stories. As the cover art hints, Anything and Something includes stories about maids (a subject near and dear to Mori, since she is possibly best known for Emma and Shirley, her stories about maids in England in the late 19th century), as well as bunny girls (another subject dear to Mori's heart, if you've read any of her afterwords in Emma) and much more.
If you love Yen Press' luxe hardcover editions of A Bride's Story, you'll be happy to hear that Yen will be giving Anything and Something the same treatment, so they'll look right at home on your shelf next to each other. Dare we hope that Yen Press will do the same for more Mori titles (even the woefully out-of-print Emma, which was published by the now-defunct CMX Manga?) We'll see!
The Misfortune of Kyon and Koizumi by Nagaru Tanigawa and Various Artists - TBA / Early 2013
After enjoying a fair amount of success with publishing various volumes the manga and light novel versions of fan fave series The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, including the 4-panel comics fun of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya-chan, and the "what if" side story The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan (which will debut in July 2012), Yen Press is going back to the Haruhi well for more, with this collection of short stories focusing on the male members of the SOS Brigade, Kyon and Koizumi.
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, with Cassandra Jean - TBA / Early 2013
In addition to their new manga title announcements, Yen Press also added another original graphic novel adaptation of a young adult novel to their line-up. This time, they're taking on Beautiful Creatures, a supernatural series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Here's Yen Press' teaser of plot of this series:
For the past few months, Ethan Wate has been plagued with vivid, terrifying dreams--a mysterious girl cries out for his help, but as he reaches for her, she slips through his fingers and plunges into darkness. The dreams are unsettling, but awake, life in his small Southern town is the same-old news...until the new girl comes to town. And she looks almost...familiar...even though this tiny town has never seen the likes of a girl like Lena Duchannes...
Taking up the art reins for this adaptation is Cassandra Jean, a U.S.-based comics creator who has several digitally-published graphic novels under her belt, including Land of the Lions, a fantasy adventure series about a world where people live in nations and take on the characteristics of various animals, including panthers, buffalo, and yes, lions. She has also created a Western-style detective series called Black-Eyed Susan and a boys' love story, Pass the Rubicon. All are available on Amazon for the Kindle, or via MangaMagazine.net. I checked out a few chapters of Land of the Lions and was left impressed by her art stye, which has a hint of manga influences, but is largely her own. You can also see more of Cassandra Jean's artwork at her Deviant Art page.
The first chapter of Beautiful Creatures is set to debut online in the May 2012 issue of Yen Plus magazine, so be sure to check that out to see how this meeting of novel and graphic novel plays out.
Now that you've gotten a closer look at Yen Press' latest additions, which ones are on your must-buy list? Add your comments below, and maybe your wish list of titles that you'd like to see Yen Press publish in 2013 and beyond!
Image credits: Mari Yamazaki / ENTERBRAIN, © Shoji Sato / FUJIMI SHOBO, © QuinRose and Psyche Delico / MAG GARDEN, © Ryukishi07 and Kei Natsumi / SQUARE ENIX, © Kaoru Mori / ENTERBRAIN, © Yuki Kodama / KADOKAWA SHOTEN, © Nagaru Tanigawa / KADOKAWA SHOTEN