It’s been a rough week in the blogosphere for TOKYOPOP, whose latest round of layoffs has inspired quite a bit of talk about the company’s less positive history, including this frank commentary from Brigid Alverson at Robot 6 and this ongoing round-up from Johanna Draper Carlson at Manga Worth Reading. My own history as a reader has been sketchy at times. Though TOKYOPOP’s titles have inspired some of my most passionate fangirling over the years, they’ve occasionally left me baffled, and some of their unfinished business has rendered me truly heartbroken.
For today’s 3 Things, let’s examine that a bit more closely.
3 faces of TOKYOPOP:
1. The Fangirling – From Paradise Kiss to Fruits Basket, from Tokyo Babylon to Wild Adapter, TOKYOPOP has offered up to me some of the most beloved series in my manga library. Read any of those linked reviews, and you’ll understand what I love about manga–that’s how well these series represent my personal feelings about the best of the medium, particularly when it comes to manga written and published for women and girls. Some of their newer shoujo acquisitions (like Demon Sacred and The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko) look to be joining their ranks someday as well.
What can we expect now from a company whose owner has seemingly given up on books? It’s hard to say.
2. The Bafflement – Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m baffled why a series like KimiKiss (pictured to the right) was published, or even why it might be popular. A buxom teen removing her blouse on the cover is, I expect, money in the bank! What was baffling to me in particular about this release, was that it was apparently being marketed as shoujo, according to a little pamphlet I received along with one of the later volumes of Fruits Basket.
From my review summary at the time: “Kouchi and Mao have been friends since childhood, but now that they are in high school, Kouchi is depressed that he hasn’t managed to attract a girlfriend. Mao offers to help him become a “real stud” by teaching him how to be attractive to girls, beginning with lessons in kissing. The lessons start to get a bit steamy, especially after Mao is invited to sleep over with Kouchi’s little sister, resulting in a late-night tryst in Kouchi’s bed.” Sound like shoujo to you?
3. The Heartbreak – Everyone’s got their own tale of woe over a series that TOKYOPOP has canceled, but my broken heart belongs to Off*Beat, an almost finished series by OEL creator Jen Lee Quick. With just one volume remaining of its original 3-volume commission, fans like me were left to weep and weep, never knowing what finally happens to sweet Tory and his revealing obsession.
From my review: “Everything about this comic is a winner–the intriguing plot line, the wonderfully rich characters, the unique, expressive artwork, the subtle treatment of a gay teen’s sexual awakening that is refreshingly not played up or made “sexy” to please its female audience–and the fact that it languishes in cancellation limbo is honestly heartbreaking. This is a comic I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone. It truly deserves to be read.” *snif*
So readers, what are your 3 faces of TOKYOPOP?