2001 - A Year in Review: Manga

2001 - A Year in Review: Manga

Central Park Media Manga released Astra, based on a story by Golden Age Batman artist Jerry Robinson, adapted by Shojin Tana. A different take on Lodoss War was featured in Lodoss War: Deedlit's Tale, a shoujo version of the story told from the elf Deedlit's perspective, and focusing on her romance with the young knight Parn. The manga version of the space opera Nadesico was completed. More Slayers manga series where released, including Slayers: Super-Explosive Demon Story.

ComicsOne.com made in roads with their innovative release strategy, e-book sales online, and inexpensive trade paperback hard copies. Their releases included the color manga series about a woman following in the path of Joan of Arc, Joan, the action tale Wild 7, and the Kung Fu series Storm Riders.

Dark Horse Comics released the first five of the Katsuhiro Otomo's six volume Akira (starting in December 2000). The releases consistently topped Diamond Comic's graphic novels sales lists. A second edition of Katsuhiro Otomo's Domu was released in August. The English translation of Kenichi Sonoda's Gunsmith Cats, the Mister V mini series, and the final Gunsmith Cats Special were published this year. After Gunsmith Cats completion, Sonoda's sci-fi tale Cannon God Exaxxion was started. Lone Wolf and Cub did exceptionally in the year's comic awards, winning the Eisner for Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material, and the Harvey Award for Best American Edition of Foreign Material. With the success of the 4"X-6" volumes of Lone Wolf and Cub for $9.95 Dark House announced they would continue the format with 4 1/2" x 7" volumes of Tezuka's classic Astro Boy.

Fanboy Inc., which had been releasing Kia Asamiya's Dark Angel: Phoenix Resurrection, announced that they would be scaling back their publishing business. Dark Angel will be published by Image in 2002, and the fates of Tomoko Taniguchi's Spellbound, Asamiya's Möbius Klein, and Feather were never made public. Yoshitoshi ABe's (of Lain fame) White Rain will be released in January 2002.

Studio Ironcat re-did their website. They also announced that they would be publishing the original Vampire Princess Miyu manga which had been previously published by Antarctic Press and as Futaba-kun Change! nears the completion of its run, the manga title "You and Me", also done by Hiroshi Aro, has been acquired.

2001 was a big year for TOKYOPOP, with signs of more to come. Skullman by Kazuhiko Shimamoto, based on a character by Shotaru Ishinomori, whose works include amen Rider (Masked Rider in the US) Kikaider, Primitive Boy Ryu, Cyborg 009 began. TOKYOPOP released their first Korean manga series with the horror-tale Island. Kodocha No Omocha, Marmalade Boy, Initial D, Real Bout High School, Cowboy Bebop, Love Hina and GTO were announced for release in 2002.

Viz began releasing Yû Watase's (Fushigi Yûgi) Ceres: Celestial Legend. December saw the beginning of the over the top swords and sorcery tale Bastard!! and the samurai tale Vagabond. The Big O manga series was announced for release in 2002. Yukito Kishiro's (Battle Angel) Aqua Knight began being release in graphic novel collections. The first collected volume of the horror tale Uzumaki sold well in multiple printings. Their release of Dragon Ball shifted to an unedited format. Due to protracted licensing problems, Viz decided to remove X/1999 from the lineup of its monthly manga-anthology magazine Animerica Extra.

Kodansha ceased exporting bilingual manga, which include Cardcaptor Sakura, Love Hina, GTO, and Ah My Goddess, all of which are currently or are soon to be released in the US.

Chiho Saitō and Be-PaPas of Utena fame began Sekai no S&M (World of S&M) in Shoujo Teikoku. Sekai no S&M has yet to be licensed in North America, but considering the popularity of Utena, it shouldn't be too long before we here something about it.

Takehiko Inoue's Slam Dunk 2 began this year. Despite a significant international popularity, the first Slam Dunk series has yet to be licensed in North America. Sports based manga haven't proven themselves in this market yet, so there's no telling how long we'll have to wait to see Slam Dunk and Slam Dunk 2.

Tsukasa Hojo (City Hunter, Cat's Eye) began his new manga series Angel Heart, the story of an assassin with a scar across her chest. Despite significant international success, none of Hojo's previous Manga have been licensed in North America yet, so again there's no telling if and when Angel Heart might be released in North America.

After a five-year absence, Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo returned to manga with his new series Orbit. The astounding success of Akira would suggest that Orbit is probably on several publishers' "must license" lists.

Nagano Mamoru brought his classic Five Star Stories back in Newtype Magazine.

Kia Asamiya announced that he was moving to New York. Since then he has working with DC Comics doing the covers of Titans. DC's release of his Batman manga has yet to be formally announced.

Tadasu Nagano, the founder and editor in chief of Japanese manga anthology Shounen Jump passed away on November 24th at the age of 75. The periodical launched such well-known series as Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball, Nobuhiro Watsuki's Rurouni Kenshin, and Tsukasa Hojo's City Hunter, Cat Eyes.

Ryuichi Yokoyama, a significant early manga artist died November 8th at the age of 92. As the first Manga-ka to be recognized by the Japanese government as a serious artist, Yokoyama-sensei was best known for his 4-panel wartime manga "Fuku-chan" (1938-1971), which spanned over 5534 editions in the Mainichi Shinbun (AFAIK Japan's longest newspaper comic strip). Yokoyama-sensei inspired many other manga-ka including the great Osamu Tezuka himself.

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