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Sakuracon | Dark Horse announces CLAMP, Satoshi Kon manga

Legal DrugWhile its colleagues were off at WonderCon Anaheim, Dark Horse’s manga team was busy at SakuraCon making a couple of interesting new title announcements.

The first is CLAMP’s Legal Drug, previously published in the United States by Tokyopop, and the sequel, Drug & Drop. Legal Drug will be published as a three-in-one omnibus, while Drug & Drop will be released as single volumes.

CLAMP is a four-woman creative team with a lot of projects, and Drug & Drop has been put on hiatus twice, but there are two volumes out in Japan so far. The series was big news when it was announced three years ago; at the time, the bet was that Dark Horse would get the license, as it has a number of CLAMP titles in its catalog already. Speaking of which, Dark Horse will also start releasing its other CLAMP titles digitally later this year.

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New manga introduces Japanese kids to the Avengers

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Despite a 50-year history, a record-breaking movie and several video games and animated television series, there apparently still are some in Japan who don’t know who the Avengers are. A little surprising, maybe, but that’s what Earth’s Mightiest Heroes discover when they travel to that country in the latest issue of CoroCoro Comic.

Kotaku spotlights the 12-page story from Shogakukan’s monthly manga magazine for elementary school-age boys, which finds Captain America, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man and the Wasp facing several obstacles on unfamiliar shores: Thor can’t get his armor and hammer through customs, the Hulk can’t stomach Japanese food and, worse still, no one is familiar with them.

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Japanese school board pulls ‘Barefoot Gen’ from libraries

Barefoot_Gen_volume_oneFor the second time in less than two years, a Japanese school board has removed Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen from school libraries.

The manga is a semi-fictional account of Nakazawa’s experiences during and after the bombing of Hiroshima, and in recent years it has come under attack from some conservatives because of its portrayal of postwar Japan.

In this case, Mayor Hiroyasu Chiyomatsu of Izumisano in Osaka Prefecture told the local school board that the books were problematic not because of the story but because they use outdated and possibly pejorative terms for poor, homeless or mentally ill people.

“Rather than the overall content of the manga, I thought the problem was with certain discriminatory expressions,” Chiyomatsu said. “Because the city of Izumisano as a whole has emphasized human rights education, I told the board of education that there may be a need to provide individual guidance to those students who read the manga.”

The head of the school board, Tatsuhiro Nakafuji, issued a directive in November telling schools to “move the manga from the library to the principal’s office so children cannot lay eyes on it.” Not all schools immediately complied, so in January they were instructed to turn over their copies to the board of education. The initial plan called for the board to return the books on March 20, once schools had come up with some way to provide “guidance” regarding the language in question.

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It’s Goku vs. Luffy in the streets of Tokyo

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In the battle no one ever expected — Dragon Ball‘s Goku vs. One Piece‘s Monkey D. Luffy — no clear winner emerges, but there is an obvious loser: the sidewalks of Tokyo.

The pretty impressive life-size sculpture is on display through Sunday outside the Shibuya Parco department store to promote the release of J-Stars Victory Vs., the Shonen Jump 45th-anniversary multiplayer fighting game featuring many of the magazine’s most popular characters.

More photos can be found at Game Watch Impress.

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Viz adds ‘Assassination Classroom,’ ‘Resident Evil’ and more

Assassination Classroom, Vol. 1

Assassination Classroom, Vol. 1

Following news that it had acquired the North American rights to Naoki Urasawa’s Master Keaton, Viz Media announced a handful of other releases for the fall and winter, including Yūsei Matsui’s supernatural action/comedy Assassination Classroom and the print edition of Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama’s newest work.

Debuting in July 2012, Assassination Classroom centers on a class of misfits who try to kill their new teacher, an alien octopus with bizarre powers who destroyed most of the moon and is threatening to do the same to Earth within a year — unless his students can destroy him first. The series will be available bimonthly in print and digitally from Viz beginning in December.

Previously serialized digitally by Viz, Toriyama’s quirky comedy Jaco the Galactic Patrolman follows a retired scientist who lives alone on a desert island, where he researches time travel. However, that quiet life is interrupted when galactic patrolman Jaco crash-lands on the island and decides to move in. Featuring new, bonus content for Dragon Ball Z, the print edition debuts in January.

Those two manga are joined by One Piece Box Set 2 (November), which includes Vols. 24-46, the third and fourth story arcs of the “Skypiea” and “Water 7″ arcs, as well as the “Strong World” minicomic, and Naoki Serizawa’s Resident Evil, a five-volume prequel to the video game Resident Evil 6 (November).

Viz Media to publish Naoki Urasawa’s ‘Master Keaton’

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Viz Media, which has already released Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, 20th Century Boys and Pluto is North America, is adding another work to the list: the post-Cold War thriller Master Keaton.

Produced with Hokusei Katsushika and Urasawa’s frequent collaborator Takashi Nagasaki, the detective drama centers on Taichi Hiraga-Keaton, an archeology professor and former member of the British Special Air Service whose skills serve him well as a rather unorthodox insurance investigator for Lloyd’s of London.

Master Keaton was originally serialized from 1988 to 1994 in Big Comic Original magazine, and inspired a 39-episode anime.

The 12-volume manga will debut in December as part of the Viz’s deluxe Signature imprint, with each $19.99 book featuring 18 pages of full-color art. Read the full announcement below.

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In Little Golden Manga, even human-eating titans are cute

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Whether it’s a sudden shared nostalgia or something in the water, something lately is inspiring artists to reimagine  Little Golden Books. Last month, Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, California, debuted “Little Golden Tales,” an exhibit that included, among other works, Breaking Bad depicted as a heartwarming scene from those childhood favorites.

And now Matt Reedy is offering his take with his adorable Little Golden Manga, featuring FLCL, Death Note and Attack on Titan for the pre-school set. Nothing could possibly go wrong, right?

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Kodansha announces ‘Attack on Titan: Colossal Edition’

attack on titan-colossal editionKodansha Comics will release an omnibus edition of Attack on Titan, Hajime Isayama’s popular dystopian fantasy.

Called Attack on Titan: Colossal Edition, the 1,000-page book will collect the first five volumes in a 7-inch by 10-inch format (the original size). Priced at $59.99, it’s set to arrive in stores on May 27.

Debuting in 2009, the manga is set in a world where humanity is forced to live in walled cities to protect itself against grotesque people-eating giants known as Titans. The story centers on three youths who vow revenge following the destruction of their hometown by one of the creatures.

Attack on Titan sold 15.9  million copies last year in Japan alone — it was second only to One Piece — and has made significant inroads into the North American book market, placing five volumes in the Nielsen BookScan Top 20 for September.

Twelve volumes have been released to date in Japan, and 11 in North America.

Takehiko Inoue’s ‘Vagabond’ goes on four-month hiatus

vagabond-v35Takehiko Inoue’s acclaimed samurai adventure will go on a four-month hiatus from Kodansha’s Morning magazine while the artist devotes his time to research and other matters. Anime New Network reports the manga will return June 19.

Debuting in 1988, the series is a fictionalized account of the life of late 16th/early 17th-century Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. Earning the Kodansha Manga Award and the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize, the title has sold more than 22 million copies worldwide.

The 34th volume will be released in March in North America by Viz Media.

Vagabond previously was placed on an 18-month hiatus, beginning in September 2010 and ending in March 2012, because of Inoue’s ongoing health issues. He continued to work on his basketball manga Real, which is released at the more leisurely pace of about one volume per year.

Morning International Manga/Comics competition is no more

A drawing by rem (Priscilla Hamby), co-winner of the first Morning International Manga Competition

A drawing by rem (Priscilla Hamby), co-winner of the first Morning International Manga Competition

When I reported the other day on the winners of the Japanese government’s manga competition, it reminded me there was another international manga contest, the Morning International Manga Competition.

I wasn’t the only one who wondered what had happened to the contest, as someone posted the question on the Tumblr of the manga publisher Vertical. The answer, which I assume came from marketing director Ed Chavez, was that it’s no longer being held. As a translator for the contest, Chavez has a bit of perspective on why that is:

Knowing many of the judges and many of the people from MORNING personally, it was a tough decision for them but the results that came from the project while improving were not ideal for collecting talents that would be successful in Japan AND work for a unique seinen magazine like MORNING.

Sadly, globally manga is generally seen from the perspective of shonen and shojo, and mainly titles like Naruto or Rurouni Kenshin. MORNING is a magazine that publishes Peepo Choo, Drops of God, Chi’s Sweet Home, Giant Killing, and St Young Men. MORNING readers want to read titles like that. And MORNING editors want to work on titles like that.

In fact, in the fourth year of the competition, the judges renamed it, changing “Manga” to “Comics.” As they explained at the time,

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Viz Media to roll out ‘Dragon Ball’ full-color editions

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Viz Media is bringing Akira Toriyama’s classic adventure manga back to North America in full color beginning next week with the release of the appropriately named Dragon Ball Full Color, Vol. 1

Printed in a larger format (6 5/8 inches by 10 1/4 inches), the new editions actually start well into the long-running series, with the first volume of the material that forms the basis of the Dragon Ball Z anime.

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Seven Seas to publish ‘Dance in the Vampire Blund’ doujinishi collections

dance-in-the-vampire-bund-omnibusSeven Seas Entertainment is expanding upon its Dance in the Vampire Blund license with the release of two collections of material originally produced for Comiket, the biannual doujinshi fair in Tokyo.

Available for the first time to the general public, Dance in the Vampire Bund: Forgotten Tales and Dance in the Vampire Bund: Secret Chronicles include what the publisher bills as “lost material” from series creator Nozomu Tamaki, containing “brand-new artwork and sides stories that expand the mythos like never before.”

Dance in the Vampire Bund centers on Mina Tepeş, princess-ruler of all vampires, who ends centuries of isolation for her kind with the creation of the Bund, a special district for vampires off the coast of Japan.

Arriving in June, the 192-page Forgotten Tales includes previously uncollected manga, plus bonus material. Secret Chronicles, meanwhile,features 280 pages of previously unpublished canonical short stories from Tamaki himself, plus more bonus material. It’s scheduled for release in October.

‘Attack on Titan’ comes to life in terrifying Subaru TV ad

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Hajime Isayama’s dystopian manga Attack on Titan is as unstoppable as its human-eating giants, selling 15.9  million copies last year in Japan alone — it was second only to One Piece — buoyed by the popularity of the television anime. It’s infiltrated the North American book market, too, placing five volumes in the Nielsen BookScan Top 20 for September. The are also Attack on Titan video games and a light novel, not to mention the live-action adaptation in development by director Shinji Higuchi.

If you’re curious how the grotesque Titans will translate to the big screen, Higuchi provides a sneak peek in this incredible TV commercial for the Subaru Forester, which has been has racked up more than 6.5 million views since its debut Friday on YouTube.

One of Japan’s top special effects supervisors, Higuchi is best known for his work on the Gamera trilogy. Attack on Titan is scheduled for release in 2015.

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Preview | Takeshi Obata’s adaptation of ‘All You Need Is Kill’

WSJ2014_01_11_CoverKeiji Kiriya, the hero of All You Need Is Kill, is a rookie soldier who’s killed in his first battle but can’t stay dead: Each time he dies, he comes back to the same moment and relives it. With mankind locked in a battle with killer aliens, Keiji uses his strange reincarnation to train himself to be a super-soldier and save humanity.

All You Need Is Kill started out as a light novel, written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and illustrated by alt-manga artist Yoshitoshi ABe. Now it’s back as a manga, adapted by Takeshi Obata, who is well known to English-language readers as the artist of Hikaru No Go, Death Note and Bakuman.

The manga launched on Saturday and is being serialized simultaneously in Viz Media’s digital magazine Shonen Jump and the Japanese Weekly Young Jump. Shonen Jump is kicking it off with a special Obata-theme issue that features chapters of Hikaru No Go and Bakuman as well as the first chapter of All You Need Is Kill.

And there’s more All You Need Is Kill on the way: The novel forms the basis for the film Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise, which will be released this summer, and Viz, which published the light novel and is publishing the manga, is also producing an original graphic novel based on the story.

We talked to Alexis Kirsch, the editor of the English edition of the manga. We also have a preview of the manga, which is available in this week’s Shonen Jump.

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Exclusive | Fantagraphics to publish ‘Massive’ anthology of gay manga

massive-new coverNext fall, Fantagraphics will publish Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It, featuring stories by an array of well known Japanese manga creators, many of whom have never been published in English before.

Massive was originally slated to be published by PictureBox, but the company closed its doors at the end of 2013 and Fantagraphics acquired the book as part of its queer comics line. Translators Anne Ishii and Graham Kolbeins and designer Chip Kidd will remain on the book at its new home; the three also worked on The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame, a collection of gay manga that PictureBox published last year to great acclaim.

The creators whose work is represented in the book are Gengoroh Tagame, Jiraiya, Seizoh Ebisubashi, Kazuhide Ichikawa, Gai Mizuki, Takeshi Matsu, Fumi Miyabi, and Kumada Poohsuke.

We talked to Ishii and Kolbeins about their work and the gay manga genre in Japan and the United States.

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