ANN has the news that Japanese mega-publisher Kodansha is setting up a U.S. branch to sell manga, and this time, I think fans are allowed to paic, because basically, everyone but Viz is fucked. Kodansha provides at least a third of of the manga in Japan and America, which has traditionally been divvied up betwen Tokyopop and Del Rey (more Del Rey than Tokyopop recently, hence Tokyopop’s problems). If Del Rey stops getting Kodansha’s big titles, they’ll be able to coast on the manga series they’ve already signed up, but when those run out, they’re screwed. (Oh, Viz’ll be okay because they get their series from Japan’s other two big publishers, Shogakukan and Shueisha, both of whom co-own Viz).
So that kills most of the big U.S. manga companies other than Viz, but these kids’ll still get their manga, right? Not necessarily! Frankly, Japan has had a terrible track record in skipping the middle-man and opening shop here in America; Toei Animation failed utterly with One Piece and its DVDs, while Bandai Visual USA managed to survive a bit before being folded up into Bandai Entertainment. So Kodansha could very well make horrible, terrible version of its manga?forcing its Japanese workers to translate their manga into broken English comes to mind?thus screwing the fans. Of course, they could do a great job and the only people who will be screwed are in the U.S. manga industry. Either way, there will be screwing.