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Tokyopop Commits to Unflopped Manga

posted on 2002-01-29 13:43 EST
Starting in April, all Tokyopop Manga releases will be published in their original, right-to-left format.

Up untill very recently, all North American Manga releases were "flopped" by their American publishers. Japanese Manga is originally written to be read from right-to-left, however because North American readers are used to reading from left-to-right, teh American publishers have mirrored the Manga to make the easier to read. This practice, referred to as "flopping" has the definite advantage of making the Manga more acceptable to first time readers and therefore more marketable. Research has also shown that many large bookstores do not know how to handle unflopped manga and often place them onthe shelves with their back facing teh customer.

However the process of flopping also has the major disadvantage of compromising the original Manga art, and causing some incorrect adptations where the difference between left to right is important. Additionally it has required the removal and replacing of the original sound effects and text, often leaving white spaces behind the text.

Recently, several North American publishers, and most European publishers, have made the move to print some Manga in its original right-to-left format. But Tokyopop is now the first North American company to commit to publishing all of its Manga in this format.

Excerpts from Tokyopop Press Release:

TOKYOPOP has made an unprecedented move to keep the English-language versions of manga (comic books and graphic novels) as close to their Japanese originals as possible. Starting in April 2002, TOKYOPOP will publish all of its new manga titles in the authentic right-to-left format, and give fans the true experience they have been asking for. This not only maintains the integrity of the original artwork, but also enables TOKYOPOP to release most graphic novel series on a frequency three-to-six times faster than the current industry standard. TOKYOPOP volumes will hit the shelves monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly versus the six months or longer typical of competitors.

In Japan, all published manga (and most Japanese printed material) is written to read from right to left. This is also true for most European adaptations of manga. When an English translation is published in the U.S., however, the common practice has used computer-reversed or mirror images that allow the books to read from left to right (the Western standard). Unfortunately, this often compromises the integrity of the title's original artwork.

Today's announcement makes TOKYOPOP the first U.S. publisher to adopt such a sweeping policy. While some Japanese manga artists have required that the English versions of their manga be published from right to left, TOKYOPOP is the first American publisher to unilaterally announce that it will maintain the original format for all of its future manga titles.

Additionally, TOKYOPOP will leave the original printed sound effects in place, one more way in which American readers gain from the authentic manga experience. In the Japanese language, use of the onomatopoeia (i.e., printed sound effect words like ‘buzz’ or ‘thump’) is incredibly well developed, and many manga artists have intricately incorporated these sound effects into their art – again, an element that has been commonly altered in U.S. translations.

“A good manga is a work of art,” said Senior Manga Editor, Jake Forbes. “If you reversed the works of Picasso and showed them to art lovers, they would know that something was off. Manga fans are no different. Staying true to the original format is an exciting move, both for the fans and for the artists.”

TOKYOPOP's manga research has generated promising feedback, with enthusiastic reception from the fans and test-groups adjusting to the right-to-left format within just a few pages. An “authentic manga” how-to guide will be included in each graphic novel, but tests indicate that the new format will quickly become second nature. The authentic manga launch will also feature special packaging.

Upcoming TOKYOPOP Manga Releases in New Format:

April 2002:
Chobits
Cowboy Bebop
Dragon Knights
GTO
Marmalade Boy
Mars
Planet Ladder
Real Bout High School
Skullman

May 2002:
Initial D
Kare Kano
Kodocha – Sana's Stage
Love Hina
Paradise Kiss

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