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Tokyopop to Close North American Publishing Division (Update 3)

posted on by Gia Manry
Film, European divisions to continue; CEO Levy to make post-quake documentary in Japan

ANN has confirmed with Tokyopop Senior Vice President Mike Kiley that the company will shutter its Los Angeles-based North American publishing operations on May 31. The company's film and European operations will be unaffected by this closure, and its office in Hamburg, Germany will continue to handle global rights sales for the company.

A public relations representative working for Tokyopop CEO Stu Levy informed ANN that "Tokyopop will announce the future of specific titles and other releases in the coming weeks."

In a post on the website for Tokyopop's America's Greatest Otaku reality web series, Levy revealed that he will spend the next year in the Japanese prefecture of Miyagi, making a documentary about the effects of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake disaster (Higashi Nihon Daishinsai) of March 11. The proceeds of the documentary will go to support the victims. He also posted a farewell message on the official Tokyopop website.

May 31 is less than three weeks after the first major feature film based on a Tokyopop property, Priest, will open in American theaters.

Levy founded the company, originally called Mixx, in 1997 and published manga in serial form in its Mixxzine magazine. The company's titles included Naoko Takeuchi's popular Sailor Moon magical girl manga, Hitoshi Iwaaki's Parasyte science-fiction/horror manga, and CLAMP's Magic Knight Rayearth fantasy manga.

Tokyopop later pioneered the publication of "unflopped" manga (shown in its original right-to-left reading format) for all of its titles in 2002 and launched divisions in the United Kingdom and Germany, as well as an imprint devoted to boys-love manga called Blu, between 2003 and 2005. Other Tokyopop endeavors have included a light novel line, the Rising Stars of Manga program, and more recently, digital and print-on-demand manga.

In 2006, the company announced that it had negotiated the rights to a live-action adaptation of Min-Woo Hyung's Korean manhwa Priest. In 2008, the company underwent a major restructuring that split the company into the publishing division and a new media and films division. The company also toured the United States throughout the summer of 2010, shooting the America's Greatest Otaku web series.

In 2009, Tokyopop confirmed that all of its Kodansha licenses would lapse. Last month, Levy commented that the February bankruptcy of the Borders bookstore chain had played a significant role in its decision to lay off a number of the company's employees.

Update: Added background information and image.

Update 2: Added more background information and company history.

Update 3: Added licensing status comment information.

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