Anime Expo 2013
Kodansha Comics

by Carlo Santos,

Kana Koide and Ben Applegate of Kodansha Comics presented a panel on the latest news and releases from the company.

The panel began with a trailer video for the Attack on Titan manga. At the end of the video it was announced that new volumes of Attack on Titan will be released once a month until it catches up with the Japanese edition in February.

Furthermore, flagship series Sailor Moon will continue with the following releases: Vol. 12 (the main series' final volume) in July, a box set for Volumes 7-12 in October, and Sailor Moon Short Stories Vols. 1 and 2 in September and November respectively.

Kodansha will launch an e-books platform on July 16, which goes beyond the company's iPad app and now becomes available to various electronic readers. It will be available on Nook, Google Play, Kindle, and Apple iBookstore. The current Kodansha app will no longer be updated, but those who have purchased titles previously through the app can still access their e-books through the Apple iBookstore.

The following titles will be available digitally: @Full Moon, Kitchen Princess, Mardock Scramble, Ninja Girls, I Am Here!, Danza, Bloody Monday, Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, Cage of Eden, Missions of Love, Until the Full Moon, Genshiken and Genshiken: Second Season, Arisa, Sankarea, and No. 6. Much to the excitement of fans in the audience, Attack on Titan was also announced for digital release.

Fairy Tail will also join the digital lineup, while continuing the current accelerated release of two digital volumes per month and one print volume per month. The current run of the series, Vols. 1-31, will all be available digitally on launch day (July 16).

Readers will also be able to download a digital sampler featuring first chapters of every title in the e-book library.

Furthermore, this year will see the launch of historical Viking manga Vinland Saga, which launches on October 8 both in print and digitally. It will be the company's first hardcover manga. Another new series, Sherlock Bones, debuts in September. This comedy manga tells the story of Sherlock Holmes being reincarnated in the body of a dog.

The panel was then opened up to questions from the audience, who brought up the following major topics:

Digital pricing will initially be at MSRP (the same as print) for all platforms except the iBookstore, which will cost $4.99 to match the original iPad app pricing. However, it is expected that readers will be able to buy the e-books for a lower price, as platforms like the Nook (through Barnes and Noble) offer discounts on MSRP pricing for manga.

Almost all digital releases will be available worldwide, but a small percentage (no titles specifically mentioned) will be "region locked" depending on territory. Color pages will be retained as much as possible for digital releases of new titles. However, this applies to pages that were in color in the tankobon (graphic novel) release, not magazine chapters.

The status of the Sailor Moon artbook right now has been delayed, as Naoko Takeuchi is still creating new art for the book. Right now it is expected that the artbook will be due sometime in 2014. Kodansha USA has also asked Kodansha Japan about bringing Takeuchi to the United States as a guest, but due to her busy schedule, this has not been possible so far.

A question was raised about the possibility of releasing Limited Edition volumes (with bonus items), to which Applegate said that Attack on Titan was one such title under consideration. However, the company has never done these type of releases before, aside from Box Set bundles. Kodansha has also considered Fairy Tail box sets to help readers catch up with the series, but there are no plans at this time.

If Vinland Saga does well, Kodansha is also hoping to branch out further into the historical genre as well as more seinen titles in general. Applegate said that the company is "very serious" about the push for Vinland Saga, which will include promotional table displays at Barnes and Noble stores.

Right now, Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei has not been dropped by the company, but it has been pushed back considerably due to poor sales. The cost of production for this title is prohibitively high due to the translation and research required. Even a digital-only release would be a challenge as it would still incur the high cost of translation and editing.

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