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New York Comic-Con 2011
Vertical Inc. Panel

by Todd Ciolek,

Vertical Inc. has a reputation for choosing from many different eras of manga, and the publisher upheld this at their New York Comic-Con panel. Joining the Vertical library are three new titles: Moyoco Anno's Sakuran from 2001, Osamu Tezuka's A Message to Adolf from 1983, and last year's manga adaptation of Makoto Shinkai's film 5 Centimeters per Second.

Sakuran is a one-volume story of a Kiyoha, a young girl who goes from a brothel to a courtesan in training at a noble house of Japan's Edo era. Vertical Inc. marketing manager Ed Chavez praised Anno's skill at capturing the varied fashions and opulence of medieval Japanese royalty, and he confirmed that Vertical's release will retain all of the color pages from the Japanese edition (the foil cover, however, will not be replicated in Vertical's edition due to cost). Vertical will release Sakuran in July 2012, and Chavez explained that the publisher wanted to release something by Anno, known for her work on Sugar Sugar Rune and Hataraki Man.

“We desperately wanted to release Hataraki Man, but circumstances prevented that,” Chavez said, adding that Sakuran is nonetheless “what many consider her best work.”

Vertical's license of Osamu Tezuka's A Message to Adolf marks the second time the series will be released in North America, as Viz Media's Cadence Books label released it in five volumes as Adolf: A Tale of the Twentieth Century. Vertical's release is a retranslated two-volume collection of the story, which follows three people named Adolf. Two are boys—one German, one Jewish—growing up during the rise of the Nazi regime. The young men's lives are intertwined with history's most infamous Adolf, all while a Japanese reporter investigates one of the dictator's most guarded secrets. The first volume of A Message to Adolf arrives in August 2012, with the second in November.

Makoto Shinkai's films have all inspired manga, and 5 Centimeters per Second was adapted Yukiko Seike last year. The series spanned two volumes in its tale of fragile young relationships in middle school and high school, and Vertical plans to release them in a single volume next June. As with Sakuran, all of the color pages from the Japanese version will be preserved in Vertical's edition, but the cover has not been finalized. Chavez also mentioned that Vertical is considering other manga based on Shinkai's works, though the publisher will likely not pursue The Voices of a Distant Star manga, brought out by TokyoPop.

Chi's Sweet Home came up frequently during the panel. The chronicle of a kitten making its way in the world, the Kanata Konami manga has proven a steady success in various countries. Chavez stated that the series is now running in Weekly Morning on a bi-weekly basis, as opposed to its previous weekly rate. Chavez also stated that the series might have ceased in Japan “if it wasn't so popular here.” The eighth volume of Chi's Sweet Home is due out next year, and it will bring Vertical's releases up to speed with the Japanese editions.

Vertical will wrap up Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack with the seventeenth volume of the series this December. While this concludes all of Tezuka's main stories about the renegade surgeon, Chavez stated that there remain a few Black Jack tales that Tezuka's estate deemed “too controversial” to publish anywhere. As these chapters are unavailable for print even in Japan, Vertical cannot include them in the North American release of Black Jack.

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