After a fairly spectacular round of manga announcements at Anime Expo three weeks ago, this year's San Diego Comic-Con was a quiet one for manga publishers. In fact, Yen Press cancelled their panel at the last minute, although they did have a busy booth on the main exhibit floor. Here's a look at what went on.
Doraemon arrives at last: The children's manga "Doraemon" is a beloved classic not only in Japan but throughout Asia, but for various reasons it has never been translated for English-speaking audiences—until now. (There was a bilingual edition that was published years ago for Japanese readers who were studying English.) It's the story of a robot cat from the future who intervenes in the life of a Japanese schoolboy to prevent him from becoming the loser that he is currently destined to be. It's a funny setup executed with an appealingly cute art style. The Japanese multi-media company Voyager Japan will publish the manga as a digital-only release, translated by Matt Alt (author of "Yokai Attack" and translator of "Dorohedoro"); it will be available initially on the Kindle and perhaps later on other ePUB platforms such as iBooks, Google Play, and Nook. Deb Aoki, who broke this story at Comic-Con, has all the details on her brand-new manga blog, Manga Comics Manga.
New CLAMP, Hiro Mashima titles from Kodansha: Kodansha Comics did step up with a set of interesting new announcements. They will reissue two CLAMP series, "xxxHOLiC" and "Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles," in three-in-one omnibus format, and they also plan to publish CLAMP's newest series, "xxxHOLiC: Rei," a new series set in the same universe as the original "xxxHOLiC." The series is currently running in "Young Magazine," and the first collected volume has yet to be published in Japan; Kodansha will announce their publication date after the Japanese date is determined.
Kodansha also announced a new title, "Monster Soul," by "Fairy Tail" creator Hiro Mashima. This two-volume series, originally published in 2005-6, is the story of a world where monsters and humans coexist uneasily, having fallen out after a long war, but it's classic Mashima: "One group of monsters, known as the Black Airs, lives boldly with a purpose: to have fun and take care of each other. They get in to all kinds of trouble with reckless abandon, but as long as they stick together, they'll be all right ... probably."
There were two more new license announcements, both by lesser known creators: "My Little Monster," about an odd-couple high school friendship, and "Say I Love You," a high school romance by Kanae Hazuki, the creator of the short story collection "Voices of Love."
Return to Ranma 1/2: Viz Media devoted most of its panel to highlighting upcoming releases and recent announcements, but there were a few bits of news. They are planning a reissue of Rumiko Takahashi's classic "Ranma 1/2" in a two-in-one omnibus format; because this is one of Viz's older series, this will be the first time it will be published unflipped. (The first time Viz published this series, they flipped it and chopped it up into single-issue comics. Ouch!) Viz also announced three additions to its Haikasoru imprint, which up until now has focused exclusively on science fiction prose novels from Japan. The first addition breaks that mold: It's a graphic novel adaptation of the novel "All You Need Is Kill," with art by "Miranda Mercury" artist Lee Ferguson. While Viz has been doing original graphic novels in their children's line (recently renamed "Perfect Square"), it is unusual for them to create their own comics for older readers. The other Haikasoru acquisitions are a new edition of the prose novel "Battle Royale" and a separate book of essays, "The Battle Royale Slam Book."
"Cyborg 009" draws nearer: Archaia Entertainment sponsored a panel on "Cyborg 009," the classic Shotaro Ishinomori manga that has been adapted as an English-language graphic novel by F.J. DeSanto.
Urasawa takes the Eisner—again: Naoki Urasawa's "20th Century Boys," which wrapped up last year, won the Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia.
More Digital! ComiXology announced two manga publishers are joining their digital lineup: Seven Seas and Udon Entertainment (which also publishes the "Street Fighter" graphic novels).
Panels! Aside from the industry panels, there were a number of panel discussions worth checking out. Deb Aoki summarizes the Best and Worst Manga panel (in which I was a participant), and the audio is here. Some of the choices may surprise you—there were two manga that made both the best and the worst list. There were a number of other manga panels, including "Making a Living in Manga," "The Best Manga You've Never Heard Of," and "Lost in Translation," watch for writeups and audio of those to pop up on Manga Comics Manga in the next few weeks.