Sunday, April 17, 2011
Is the US manga market in trouble? TokyoPop closes its North America offices
If you're a manga fan then you might want to start watching the shelves. A few days ago TokyoPop officially announced that it was closing shop in North America. That's right, one of the biggest names in manga publishing just announced that it couldn't afford to stay open. Supposedly this is just after the company went from having a few hundred employees to six.
While TokyoPop has had a somewhat controversial past (Mixx anyone?), I have to admit that I never would have imagined that the company would ever run into enough financial trouble to where they'd have to close. Now I'm scratching my head & trying to figure out exactly what the company did to put itself in so much danger.
Maybe it was that the company just bit off more than they could chew, picking up just a few too many licenses, some of which might have been a little hard to justify as far as sales went. (I know that some of the original American manga sat on my BAM shelves like last year's fruitcake.) Maybe it was that the release schedules were erratic at times. Perhaps it was the rise of online scanlation sites that (despite being told to stop) still released their own translations of the some of the manga that TokyoPop released.
No matter what the reasons were, I'm awfully sad to see this company go. It's just one of MANY manga companies that have been closing in the last 5-10 years. CMX, ADV manga... even the smaller companies such as CPM & others whose names I can't remember off the top of my head. There's been a lot of manga companies that have ended up having to close, but few have been as big as TokyoPop was. I know that at my store at least 1/3 of the titles are TokyoPop titles.
I can't help but worry that this is a very bad trend as far as manga goes, especially since it's still a very profitable market for the most part. So if you're a fan of any of the TokyoPop series then I recommend you look into whether or not it's going to be completed or picked up by another company. I also recommend that if you've been debating whether or not to pick up one of their completed series, you'd better get it now before they're completely out of stock & you have to either pay a fortune to get it elsewhere or learn another language (Japanese or German, since TP's German offices are still open) in order to read them.