Okay, let me follow up on my little piece about Rurouni Kenshin
a few months ago.
First of all, it comes as little surprise to me that the manga has been picked up. Second, it comes as little surprise to me that the manga was picked up by Viz
. It really was a no brainer. But judging from some of the e-mails I received after my first column, people will be moaning over the fact that Viz
has this title (partly because of Viz
's reputation for doing things in a trickle). But c'mon folks, Viz
is now partly owned by Shueisha
, the publishers of the manga in Japan. It only made sense that Viz
gets perhaps the biggest manga free agent in the English game…although it kinda helps when the free agent is more or less employed by the same team already.
The real question now is in what form will the Kenshin manga
run here in North America. Will it see its first run as part of Shonen Jump
? Or will it go straight to trade paperback? Now as fairly big Kenshin fan (couldn't you tell), I regard that I'd prefer the latter as opposed to the former. But to Viz
, that decision isn't as cut and dry as you might think. Let's take a brief overview of both sides.
As far as I could tell about the Kenshin manga
pick up, it's a clear case of “Striking the iron while its hot”. Kenshin's mainstream exposure, I am sure, is the highest it has ever been in North America, due in no small part to the TV series currently airing nightly on The Cartoon Network
(you lucky Americans). Why shouldn't Viz
try to capitalize on Kenshin's popularity? Especially since they have basically the right of first refusal on Kenshin's most important property still unclaimed…its first. On top of that, why shouldn't Viz
go for the figurative marketing jugular on the title and place it in perhaps the North American industry's most mainstream publication, Shonen Jump
. Sure it would make sense, Kenshin would be joining the likes of Yuu Yuu Hakusho
, Dragon Ball
, and Yu-Gi-Oh!
, other titles enjoying a successful run on TV.
Those that want Kenshin to go straight to trade can say the following: Viz
's recent restructuring also includes a new focus on their trades. This refocus includes a new design and price point (and maybe more frequent release dates) for their current titles, something that has already started with the latest volumes of Inuyasha
and Ranma. This is an obvious response to TOKYOPOP
's success with their manga line over the last year. If Viz
is going to make a serious run at regaining the number one spot in terms of manga in North America, it needs a solid new title to be its cornerstone. What better title to make the centrepiece of that effort than Rurouni Kenshin
? Another argument you can place for “straight to trade” is the fact that the content in the Rurouni Kenshin manga
might be a little too mature for the intended pre-teen readership of Shonen Jump
. The final argument for trades…for god's sakes Kenshin ran for 28 volumes, 255 plus chapters, or somewhere in the neighbourhood of 5600 pages of manga. To put that into perspective, Maison Ikkoku
's 14 volumes (or 15, depending on your perspective) took about six years to come out here in trade form, and don't get me started on Ranma and Video Girl Ai
While it's great to finally hear about the Kenshin manga
in North America, in the end, its success will depend on how Viz
handles it. While a base number of fans/readers can be assured, Viz
has the opportunity to get so many more if they can play this right. Good luck Viz
, we'll be watching.
So what's your opinion on the debate? Tell me about it. okina_chair (at hotmail.com)