A lot of announcements happened at Anime Expo, San Diego Comic Con, and Otakon. Arguably the biggest announcement (not to actually shortchange what WAS announced) was the revelation of a new player in the manga industry. If you’ve heard of Sekai Project, you may be a bit more familiar with them bringing over visual novels, but at Otakon, they announced they will be dipping their toes into the market by licensing GATE, which just so happens to be streaming on Crunchyroll.
So…why is Sekai Project entering the manga industry? What is GATE all about? And when’s it going to come out? Well, I got in touch through email with publishing director Evan Mapoy, and the former Digital Manga marketing manager answers these questions and a few more.
Justin: So why is Sekai Project now essentially entering the manga industry?
Evan Mapoy: Part of Sekai Project’s raison d’être is our need to bring exposure and to connect more creators in to their fans overseas. So far, I’d like to think we’ve done a decent job with our visual novels and now I want to do the same with published works with Sekai Publishing. Not just manga, but published works in general.
Was this one of the goals, to branch out to manga at some point, or did an opportunity arise that couldn’t be passed up?
Sekai Project has always been interested in expanding beyond Visual Novels. Manga and other published works are our first steps towards that direction. With Sekai Publishing, we intend to help not just visual novel developers but not manga-ka and authors reach greater audiences here.
How do you see the manga industry in North America so far?
The manga industry in North America is in a very tumultuous position right now. There’s a lot of risk involved due primarily to the high cost of licensing a title and the fact that scanlations of a good majority of the titles are so widely available. The industry is constantly being surprised because titles that we thought would be immensely popular end up flopping, while some other titles that have been licensed as a gimme have ended up carrying the company. I do believe that people still want to own the titles they love. The trick that everyone in the industry is trying to figure out is, what those titles are and how do we provide value to the fans who want to own it.
How would you describe GATE to people?
When a gate mysteriously appears in the middle of Tokyo, all hell breaks loose when medieval soldiers and dragons come pouring out indiscriminately killing and enslaving everyone they come across. Using the might of modern technology, the Japanese Self Defense Force quickly and easily pushes the invaders back through the GATE. Now, the JSDF must go through the GATE, explore the other side and find out if what lies beyond the GATE is worth making every country on two worlds their enemy. Now with more Goth-Loli and Elf Girls!
The title should come out in 2016 correct? Any particular season, or is that still to be determined?
Volume 01 should be out in 2016, hopefully in the Spring.
Will this be a print release only?
This one, I can’t comment yet.
Can you talk a bit about Alpha Polis, the JP publisher of GATE?
Alpha Polis is a fantastic publisher. I’ve loved following their work with light novels and it’s a great honor to work with them to bring GATE to the west.
What type of licenses should we be expecting out of the company for the next few years, or is it too early to say?
It’s honestly too early to say. Our manga publishing division is entirely separate from our visual novels. We have our own staff working on the manga publishing side and we’re still curious to see how well GATE is going to be received.
How do you think your time at Digital Manga will help Sekai Project bring more manga to North America in the next few years?
At DMI, my main job was to help be the public face of the company in regards to our Project-H brand. I loved it, but unfortunately Sekai Publishing has no interest in pursuing adult titles. What my time at DMI provided me is more time to polish myself in dealing with the unique challenges that working with other people in the industry inevitably bring.
Finally, what are your expectations for Sekai Project’s manga initiative?
While I’d love to say that we’d revolutionize the manga industry, I’ll just be happy if Dovac (or Raymond Qian, the CEO of Sekai Project) doesn’t fire me. We’ve still got growing to do, and growing pains to feel. But my expectation is that we’ll put our soul into every volume so that you get to read a story that is not only everything that the creator originally intended, but also one that is imbued with our desire to bring you a superior reading experience.