New York Anime Festival and ICv2 Conference on Anime and Manga

by Evan Miller,

Panelists: Ioannis Mentzas (Editorial Director), Stephen Vrattos

The panelists introduced themselves and highlighted the aim of the company: to publish the “best of Japanese literature,” including manga and J-Horror related material. The panel started with the announcement that David Kalat would not be at the convention to hold a signing for his J-Horror guide book because his plane was cancelled.

The first title announced was Promenade of the Gods by Koji Suzuki, the author of The Ring and Dark Water. The novel is scheduled for release in June 2008 and was described as a suspense mystery and functions somewhat as a side story to The Ring. The book focuses on cults and the “taking over of the world through media technology.”

Another upcoming title is Natsuhiko Kuogoku's Summer of the Ubume. The main character is a ghost whisperer that “discovers” the psychological problems that people are having and, to relieve them of their pain, creates “fictitious ghosts” that manifest in their problems that the character can “exorcise” them, thereby curing them. The series is currently experiencing considerable success in the Japanese market.

The paperback version of Parasite Eve, by Hideaki Sena, is scheduled for May 2008. The novel is the basis for the game of the same name. Mr. Vrattos spoke highly of the title, saying that, “There is something very horrific that pulls you in [to the story], and when [things go awry], all hell breaks loose.” The book was mentioned by Mr. Mentzas as one of the works that touched off the surge in popularity for J-horror.

One other Koji Suzuki title, Edge City, was announced for Fall 2008. The story is aan all new horror novel that is scheduled for release in Japan this coming February. The novel is described as “quantum horror,” or “horror with a sci-fi edge.”

Switching gears from the horror theme, the panelists moved on to promoting the “cute-focused” works of Aranzi Aranzo. His book Cute Stuff is coming out in March 2008. The book is more than just photos of cute things, but also a how-to manual on how to make cute things. Also, in Fall 2008, the 250-plus page anthology The Complete Aranzi Hour will be released. The book is a collection of games, puzzles, and stories featuring Aranzo's characters.

From the fantasy genre, three volumes of Kaoru Korimoto's The Guin Saga are on the way, and a manga volume will also be available. Book one is out now, book two is slated for January 2008 and book three is coming in March 2008. The fantasy novels follow a “Conan-esque” character with a Leopard mask attached to his head. The first arc, published through Summer 2008, focuses on their escape from invading Mongol hordes. The series began in the late 1970s and up to 117 books in Japan. The series was also mentioned as an inspiration for the manga series Berserk. Naoyuki Kato did many of the illustrations for the books.

The Guin Saga manga, which debuted in 2001 with art by Kazuaki Yanagisawa, focuses on a mysterious plague that appears and begins corrupting ordinary people, spurring the hero to take on the evil forces that caused it. The manga is geared to a 16-plus audience due to blood and other violent elements.

The classic fantasy manga The Andromeda Stories, a story about heirs to the throne in an era of machines and the struggle between machines and men, was also announced. Two volumes will be released by the end of 2007, while the third will be out in 2008. Mentzas highlighted the timeless appeal of the manga: “Even though it's an older title, there's a certain elegance to it.”

The final two titles announced were classic manga titles from manga legend Osamu Tezuka. His series Dororo, about one samurai's journey with a young boy named Dororo to recapture his body parts from the devils that took them, will debut with the release of Volume 1 in April 2008. Volumes 2 and 3 will be released in June and August 2008 respectively. Black Jack, another Tezuka title announced for Fall 2008, is also on the way. The series focuses on a doctor who is known for his skill, but rejects the typical route to a doctoral degree. Mentzas mentioned that the title could be a good way to bring brand new fans into manga fandom. Vertical is hoping to compile the series into 15 volumes for the American release.

This report has been verified with a company representative.

Update: Noted that the upcoming Parasite Eve release is for the paperback version. Thanks, Gatsu.

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