Anime Boston 2013
by Crystalyn Hodgkins,
Random House editor Ben Applegate hosted the Kodansha Comics panel. Applegate gave a short presentation about new and upcoming titles from the company, such as Attack on Titan, Vinland Saga, Battle Angel Alita Last Order, and No. 6. Applegate noted that the Sailor Moon artbook will still ship this year, in December. The book will be shipped worldwide but it will be printed in Japan to maintain quality. Kodansha Comics' release of the artbook will have some exclusive content, but Applegate could not mention yet what those exclusives will be.
Kodansha Comics did not have any announcements to make at the panel, so Applegate then launched into a Q&A session. Those who asked questions were able to get some freebies, including volumes of Attack on Titan, Animal Land, No. 6, and Battle Angel Alita Last Order, as well as Attack on Titan keychains.
Applegate noted during the Q&A that Kodansha Comics does have two unannounced shojo manga licenses, and the company will be announcing those licenses soon. Additionally, the company will also have new announcements at Anime Expo.
Applegate said that the company is looking into publishing more artbooks in the future aside from Sailor Moon, but right now that one is the only one on the company's schedule.
When asked about the status of Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei, Applegate stressed that Kodansha has not dropped the series, but it can't afford to release it with any frequency because the series takes a lot of time, effort, and expense to localize and sales for the series have really slowed down. The company does not plan to release a new volume in the series this year.
When asked about the manga for No. 6, Applegate noted that the author of the manga, Hinoki Kino, is a huge fan of the novels and she is working to stay very close to the novels, even to the point where she had to leave out some content she wanted to put in. However, she did create extra booklets for the releases of the third and fifth volumes in Japan, and those extra stories will be included in Kodansha's English release.
Applegate said Attack on Titan is selling really well right now, so Kodansha isn't considering omnibus editions for the series at this time. When asked about mature manga, Applegate said that it's not that the company doesn't want to distribute mature titles, but it is tough to sell manga with a shrinkwrap to stores like Barnes and Noble. He added that Sankarea is about as adult as they plan on getting.
When asked what specific criteria does Kodansha look for in a manga, Applegate said that the manga must have appealing characters, an interesting story, and it can't go on for too long. He mentioned Space Brothers as a series that he personally likes, but because it is so long and is for an older audience, it would be too difficult to release here. However, he noted that there are exceptions, as Fairy Tail is selling well even into the series' 25th and 26th volumes.
When asked why Kodansha Comics is named that way instead of using the word manga, Applegate mentioned that the initials KC are used on Kodansha releases in Japan, and "comics" and "manga" are interchangeable words in Japanese.
An attendee then asked through which venues are people purchasing more manga. Applegate said that it depends. For example, Sailor Moon sells mostly through traditional retail, whereas with Attack on Titan, especially after the anime began airing last month, the majority of the sales are from Amazon. Kodansha is also working to get a lot of pre-orders for Vinland Saga to try to push a more adult-oriented line of manga. Vinland Saga will also be Kodansha Comics' first hardcover release and will include color pages.
Lastly, Applegate noted that Sailor Moon was the best selling manga in 2012, and Kodansha does want to do other things with the property in 2014.
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