Kodansha Comics' panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2012 was light on new manga license news, so the fan Q&A session skewed heavily toward the most popular, and possibly most talked-about title in the Kodansha Comics line-up, Sailor Moon.
Kodansha recently hosted a live telecast in Tokyo and Paris announcing events and news surrounding the 20th anniversary of Naoko Takeuchi's perennially popular magical girl series, Sailor Moon. Besides announcing new 20th anniversary editions of the manga that will be released in Japan, Kodansha and Takeuchi also told fans that a new Sailor Moon anime series would be coming their way in Summer 2013. This new series will featuring a new theme song by J-Pop group Momoiro Clover Z, who performed in Sailor Moon cosplay on stage at Japan Expo in Paris.
Since this bit of news was fresh on fans' minds, many questions at the Q&A session were about Sailor Moon. But first, the sole new title announcement, and an update on Kodansha Comics' digital publishing plans.
NEW MANGA LICENSE ANNOUNCEMENT: Negiho! by YUI - April 2013
After reminding fans that the 38th and last volume of Negima! by Ken Akamatsu would be published in April 2013, Kodansha Comics reps Dallas Middaugh and Kumi Shimizu announced a new addition to the Kodansha Comics 2013 roster that may please fans of boy wizard/teacher Negi Springfield. Negiho is a one-shot story that takes the basic premise of Negima! and turns it upside down. As Middaugh put it,
"Negima is about a 10-year old wizard teaching at an all-girls high school, all of whom have a crush on him. In Negiho, Negi is an adult, teaching a kindergarten classs with 5-year old girls who all have a crush on him."
Originally published in Bessatsu Shonen Magazine, Negiho will be published around the same time as the 38th and final volume of Negima, which will also be out in April 2013.
KODANSHA COMICS ADD THREE NEW TITLES TO THEIR DIGITAL COMICS STORE
Since launching their digital comics storefront for the iPad back in October 2011, Kodansha Comics has been somewhat... sluggish about updating and adding new titles. At their Comic-Con panel, Middaugh promised fans that they'll be adding more new series to their storefront, including three that would added immediately:
- Mardock Scramble by Tow Ubukata and Yoshitoki Oiima
- Ninja Girls by Hosana Tanaka
- Cage of Eden by Yoshinobu Yamada
"We know we've not been good about (updating our site) before, but from July onwards, we'll be hitting our dates," promised Middaugh. Look for new Kodansha Comics titles to be added to their digital comics storefront on the same date as the release of their print editions.
SAILOR MOON FANS TALK BACK TO KODANSHA
At the start of the panel, Middaugh thanked fans for making Sailor Moon the best selling manga series in North America for 2012. It's no surprise that Sailor Moon is so incredibly popular with fans old and new. For years, it was one of the most-requested titles after the TokyoPop editions went out of print, and became hard to find.
But with strong passion for this title sometimes comes strong opinions on how it should be presented. A few fans spoke up at the panel, raising a few complaints about the Kodansha Comics' editions of Sailor Moon, as well as asking questions about the recently announced anime reboot. Here's a sampling of the questions and comments:
Q: "There are some translation errors that some fans have pointed out. Will you fix these errors when you reprint Sailor Moon?"
Middaugh: "There was one error that we fixed, but as for the rest of them, I don't see them as 'translation errors' so much as translation choices. There are translation choices that some people think we should have made differently, but I stand behind those choices."
Q: "Why were translation notes omitted in one of the volumes of Sailor Moon?"
Middaugh: "When we publish any books, they are in signatures, 16-page signatures. When we do a page plan, we make some decisions about what to include in back of book based on if there's room. We literally only had 1 page of translation notes for the volume you're talking about. To add that one page, we'd have to add 16 pages, and figure out what to do with the extra 14 pages. in a case like that, we drop the translation notes."
Q: What will you do to remedy the fact that several volumes of Sailor Moon Volume 5 were printed with smudges?
Middaugh: "We inspected all the books in our warehouse. We found this (problem) in 2% of the books. When anyone has emailed us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we have replaced the copy. But we first recommend that you contact your retailer (either online or offline bookseller), and tell them that there was a problem with the copy you received. They'll usually replace your copy.
The number of people who have contacted me via email@example.com is exactly six people -- that represents .001 of the print run. Is it a problem? I take it very seriously, but it wasn't a widespread problem."
Q: "Are you planning on re-releasing the Sailor Moon art books?"
Middaugh: "I can't say a word about that."
Q: "Will you release the 20th anniversary editions of the Sailor Moon manga in the U.S.?"
Middaugh: "We don't know. We just started releasing these new editions of Sailor Moon last year. We only got the news about these new editions this past Friday ourselves. We're still taking it all in and figuring it out."
"The manga industry is what it is because of Sailor Moon. When i first started working with Del Rey Manga, Sailor Moon was one of the first titles I asked about. So, my hope is that people will seee that as the volumes progress, we are listening and taking your comments into account. We're reading them and we know about them."
Middaugh also cleared up a few details about the upcoming anime remake. First, that Kotono Mitsuishi, the voice of Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon in the original Japanese anime series, had only said at the 20th Anniversary event that she's very excited about the new show and she would love to do Usagi's voice again, but he stressed that Mitsuishi has not been cast to reprise her role in this new series.
He also added that, at this time, it's not clear how this new series will adapt the original Sailor Moon story, but that it's likely that more details will emerge as the Summer 2013 release date approaches. "We're the manga publisher, not the anime distributor, so we don't know that much about the anime," Middaugh added.
WHAT ABOUT DEL REY MANGA TITLES THAT WERE NOT 'MIGRATED' TO KODANSHA COMICS?
Another topic that Middaugh addressed at the panel was the fate of Del Rey Manga series that were not 'migrated' to Kodansha Comics when Kodansha opened their North American publishing operations in 2008, then subsequently, shut down most of Del Rey Manga in 2010. Some titles, like Genshiken, are being published and continued under the Kodansha Comics imprint. But some others like Moyasimon were left in limbo. Here's what Middaugh had to say:
"(re-continuing these Del Rey Manga series) is definitely possible. We started Kodansha late in 2010. We've been spending the last year and a half establishing the company, introducing new products, figuring out what works, and what doesn't. Things are stabilizing enough that we can start considering that again. We know how frustrating it is to have a series that is only a few volumes to complete it. If we can figure out a way to do it, we will."
When asked if Kodansha Comics was considering print on demand publishing, he replied, "Anything is possible."
However, one possibility he shut down was the thought that Kodansha Comics would publish light novels. "We have no plans to rerelease light novels," said Middaugh. "Kodansha Comics' mission plan is to be a manga publisher. There's no plans to reprint any new light novels."
Now that you've heard what Kodansha Comics had to say at their San Diego Comic-Con panel, what do you think? Add your comments below!
Image credits: © Naoko Takeuchi / KODANSHA, © Kio Shimoku / KODANSHA COMICS, © YUI, Ken Akamatsu / KODANSHA