January 30, 2007
Trend Watch: Pop-star “Branded” Manga
Posted by Devin
The newest pop star to jump into the area of their own manga is Avril Lavigue, who is just signed up with Del-ray Manga to produce at least a two-volumn set. Demographics (attracting a bevy of young ladies) is almost a perfect match for the ever-growing shoujo-styled manga. Avril released the following statement:
I know that many of my fans read manga, and I’m really excited to be involved in creating stories that I know they will enjoy.
Betsy Mitchell, Editor-in-chief for Del Ray Manga said the idea was initiated by Lavigne, who has approval over the project. Personalized manga and licensing appeals to pop stars since it allows them more freedom to express themselvers personally without having to worry about excessive recording sales. Del Rey and RCA Records will team up to promote the manga, which will include piggyback marketing during related appearances.
January 23, 2007
Explicit Manga “discovered” at Walmart
Posted by Devin
Per my 2007 prediction post and on one of my predictions, Manga is starting to dominate, just wait until middle America finds out, the consumer’s friend website and blog Consumerist points out Walmart and Target are listing American-produced Yaoi Hentai manga for sale. The manga is published by Yaoi Press with Diamond is the distributing agent. From the comments on Consumerist:
I think it would be better to send this stuff to Baptist ministers so they can get furious and start persuading their congregations to avoid Wal Mart. “Hey, Reverend, Wal-Mart has these great votive candles… just click on this link…”
Usually this happens when auto-listings that are not marked accordenly are usually not reviewed by human eyes end up online.
January 21, 2007
GITS picks up on the live-action trend.
Posted by Madeline
Yes, Ghost in the Shell is the latest in a number of anime franchises destined for three-dimensional, fleshly presentation. According to this article, Production I.G. has received permission from Kodansha (still the licence holder of Masamune Shirow’s seminal manga) to develop the story into a live-action film with a Hollywood studio.
Fan reaction is mixed so far, with optimistic fans hoping for a fabulous action film, and pessimistic fans knowing that Hollywood’s track record with franchise features is less than stellar. Moreover, with the exception of Death Note, there seems to be a serious dearth of live-action anime adaptations that have gone anywhere. Remember James Cameron’s talk of doing a Battle Angel Alita film, or WETA’s acquisition of the Neon Genesis Evangelion licence?
Production I.G. has agreed to represent the interests of Kodansha and Shirow, but their control over any future project may be limited. With fans dreading another Angelina Jolie film, and wondering how the Tachikomas will fare in three dimensions, anime fans may soon have to wonder which will be worse: the Avatar adaptation, or the GITS.
January 18, 2007
Google Unbound: Digital Books Should be Free…so what about Manga?
Posted by Devin
Google hosted a very special conference today on the future of book publishing. Morning speakers such as Chris Anderson, Cory Doctorow, and Seth Godin along with afternoon publishing representative sessions to talk about the future of digital book & content publishing. However, the morning speeches were no sessions: they were more like “the publisher’s model today is broken because its wrong.” Let me explain:
Each of the authors above made a case for distributing their work online, for free. That’s right, free. First, Chris Anderson explained that blogging and talking to readers before his “book” was published was actually better than just publishing his book and going on a book tour. Don’t believe him? Take a look at google trends on his book subject, “The Long Tail.” See that rise in 2004 and steady until 2006? That’s his blog. See that jump? That’s his book coming out. They’ll still keep talking about long tail long after his book’s splash is gone.
Then, Cory Doctorow was determined to tell his story about releasing his novels with CC licenses. The less restrictive the CC, the more books he sold. You can even download his latest book in a third world country like Romania, and sell it for a profit. Unbelieveable.
OK, now, why do I care about digital distribution? Because manga first spread over here by… scanlations. Scanlations are often translated into English by fans, for fans, when a series is often unlicensed. And when its popular as a scanlation, someone notices and then it becomes licensed. From SFGate.com a few years ago:
“Frankly, I find it kind of flattering, not threatening,” says TokyoPop’s Steve Kleckner. “To be honest, I believe that if the music industry had used downloading and file sharing properly, it would have increased their business, not eaten into it. And, hey, if you get 2,000 fans saying they want a book you’ve never heard of, well, you gotta go out and get it.”
OK, usually scanlations stop at this point. But what if the entire series was available online? Do you think giving it away the electronic version for free would increase printed sales? As I said, seth seems to think so.
IFC Pushes Sales of Anime & Manga
Posted by Devin
First, their spending money: the billboard about 12 blocks south in Times Square was definately an expensive buy for a non-mainstream show.
And according to PW Comics Weekly:
Basilisk’s biggest push is due to the cable channel, IFC. Once the channel began airing the series last October, sales of the manga jumped. “Retail orders have increased by about 20%,” said Dallas Middaugh, associate publisher of Del Rey Manga.
Cross promotions between anime and manga across different distributors has happened before and its not an uncommon sight. However, the raise in manga sales due to a cable TV viewing is definately sometime new, especially since Basilisk is adult-themed and its rated accordenly. My early 2007 comments could be need of an update already.
January 10, 2007
Posted by Devin
I’m a little late with my 2007 predictions, being 10 days into the new year already. In general, it was the year of Youtube and amateur videos. Bittorrent and distribution have taken more of a backseat. Anime video via the Internet is getting bigger and bigger. You know the general stuff, so let’s roll out the predictions on the specific:
Cartoon Network will continue its anime TV dominance. When properties make it big, its because they’re on CN. Even through there is plenty of anime on demand, the content ‘package’ just isn’t distributed on all the stations. CN’s channels (Adult swim, Toonami ) have become branded blocks on entertainment, easily digestible for advertisers to understand. CN HD was just announced yesterday, so we’re going to be seeing some gorgeous anime pretty soon - can you say Gankutsuou?
So until a “block” of serious programming comes to another station, its a one-channel show.
Anime isn’t ready for prime-time. Expect 2006 DVD sales flat to 2005. And the # releases are down over 2005 and barely equal to 2004: Total releases in 2006: 767, Total releases in 2005: 839, Total releases in 2004: 758. (AnimeonDVD) While CN will continue to push the sales of related DVD & manga, rollover might not happen until we see mainstream anime-based movies in 2008-2009. Manga is starting to dominate, just wait until Middle-America finds out. No question manga sales are steadily increasing. As more explicit titles hit the shelf and are “dicovered” by a concerned parent or citizen, manga ratings, censorship, and freedom of speech will become much more prevalent. In 2007, expect a outcry of news from a blue state– The first J-Drama license will be licensed & marketed. Sure, there are plenty of Japanese movies and other shows that are out on DVD, but they are barely marketed outside of the horror area. I think we’ll see the push or one or two more ‘mainstream’ J-dramas out in 2007, appealing to men and women. Subtitled only, once they clear those nasty music rights.
January 9, 2007
Why “Death Note” is important: A Note on M. Night Shyamalan and “Avatar”
Posted by Madeline
Today’s Yahoo! Entertainment News claims that M. Night Shyamalan, director of Signs and The Village, has agreed to a deal with Nickelodeon to bring their Avatar: The Last Airbender to the big screen in a “live action adaptation.”
This came as something of a surprise to the anime fandom community, given that shows like Avatar rarely receive attention unless they’re enormously profitable. (See also: Pokemon.) Perhaps it helps that Avatar isn’t anime in the strictest sense of the term: it was created by Americans for Americans, and although it features Asian animators, Asian-style settings and tropes — the series boasts Chinese fight choreographers and calligraphers — its three main characters resemble Han, Leia, and Luke more than they do anyone in a Miyazaki film.
Then again, MTV Films and Nick Movies could have agreed to this collaboration and adaptation because of the success of one film: Japan’s live-action Death Note: The Last Name, an adaptation of a manga and anime franchise that topped Japanese box office charts for four weeks.This is a film that even Masi Oka of “Heroes” fame wants to see. It’s a manga that sci-fi author Cory Doctorow mentioned over at BoingBoing. It receives huge amounts of press in North America and Japan. It has a very large fan following, which allowed for its success. (I doubt that another manga adaptation, Katsuhiro Otomo’s The Bugmaster, will be so lucky.)
Whether or not the success of Death Note has anything to do with this recent deal, Variety.com reports another interesting tidbit:
Paramount confirmed the pact with Shyamalan just hours after Fox Filmed Entertainment announced it is greenlighting James Cameron’s “Avatar,” the director’s first feature since “Titanic.”
January 7, 2007
Welcome to Kokoro Media: Madeline Ashby
Posted by Devin
Kokoro Media would like to welcome our new contributing editor, Madeline Ashby.
Madeline beat me to the punch a couple of days ago before I could post up her
welcome announcement. She is also a regular contributor to Frames
Per Second Magazine and a presenting speaker in 2007 at the International
Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts and the Popular Culture Association national
conference. She also posts on her personal blog, Fandrogyny.
January 5, 2007
Bandai’s “by fans for fans” video
Posted by Madeline
Anime distribution mogul Bandai Entertainment recently made history when they decided on a clever blend of parody, cosplay, and viral marketing to tell fans about the North American licensing of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Here’s the story: December 2006, Bandai released a “by fans for fans” video of the type usually found on YouTube to promote their acquisition of the Haruhi license. The video mimicked the series’ first episode, in which the characters make a home-made film for a school competition. Bandai’s video used Japanese and American actors (one of whom openly acknowledged her role on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) cosplaying the characters within the series while speaking lines that referenced the North American license. There was also the obligatory MySpace page that further spread the video.
As of January 4, Bandai has extended their strategy by encouraging fans to not only watch and share the video, but how they can make money by doing so. There is also a poll that asks fans: “Will you buy R1 DVDs?”
This last question may tie in directly with something found in the video’s credits, which read:
(c) BANDAI ENTERTAINMENT 2006
SPECIAL THANKS: FANS WHO DOWNLOAD FANSUBS AND BUY THE DVD’S.
NO THANKS: FANS WHO ONLY DOWNLOAD FANSUBS AND NEVER BUY THE DVD’S.
This open declaration of Bandai’s knowledge of fans and fansubs flouts the usual convention of “out of sight, out of mind” regarding fans who download their anime before it’s licensed in North America or elsewhere. By imitating fan behaviour, Bandai has displayed a keen intelligence and depth of knowledge regarding its audience, its market, and its product. There are two ways to take this. First, fans can rejoice in the licensing of the series and take Bandai’s “by fans for fans” gesture as one of respect. Second, they can react more cynically and see this is as corporate appropriation of fan technique. Either way, this style of marketing shows a shift in Bandai’s thinking, and that probably means a shift for distributors across North America.