Tokyopop, stylized TOKYOPOP, and formerly known as Mixx, is a distributor, licensor, and publisher of anime, manga, manhwa, and original English-language manga in English, German, and Japanese. Tokyopop has its headquarters in Los Angeles, California, and branches in the United Kingdom and Germany. Tokyopop products are available internationally.
Tokyopop was originally founded in 1997 by Stuart J. Levy.
When the company was known as Mixx, it sold MixxZine, a manga magazine. Mixx also sold the shōjo manga anthology Smile. Mixxzine later became Tokyopop before it was discontinued. In 2005, Tokyopop began a new, free publication called Manga (originally Takuhai) to feature their latest releases.
Tokyopop is one of the biggest manga publishers outside of Japan and as such has been attributed with popularizing manhwa in the United States. Tokyopop "published many Korean artists' work, possibly without Western fans even realizing the strips don't come from Japan. Series like King of Hell by Kim Jae-hwan and Ra In-soo, and the Gothic vampire tale Model by Lee So-young are both Korean, but could easily be mistaken for manga."
In March 2006, Tokyopop and HarperCollins Publishers announced a co-publishing agreement in which the sale and distribution rights of some Tokyopop manga and books, under this co-publishing license, would be transferred to HarperCollins in mid-June 2006. The agreement also enabled Tokyopop to produce original English-language manga (OEL) adaptations of HarperCollins' books. Meg Cabot's books were the first to be adapted into the manga format, along with the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. The first line of Tokyopop-HarperCollins OEL manga was released in 2007 with the goal of publishing up to 24 titles each year.
Tokyopop has released several series based on American games, films, and characters, such as Warcraft, the Kingdom Hearts video game series, and Jim Henson films. They released the first volume of a series based on the Hellgate: London video game in April 2008.
In June 2008, the company announced that it was being restructured, with its name being changed to Tokyopop Group, a holding group for several new subsidiaries. The existing Tokyopop operations in the United States would be split into two subsidiaries: Tokyopop, Inc., and Tokyopop Media. Tokyopop, Inc., consists of the company's existing publications business, while Tokyopop Media focuses on the company's digital and comics-to-film works. Tokyopop Media will also manage the Tokypop website, which will continue to promote its publications. According to Tokyopop representative Mike Kiley, the division into two companies would allow the company to "set things up in ways that would very clearly and definitively allow those businesses to focus on what they need to do to succeed. The goals in each company are different and the achievement of those goals is more realistic, more possible if everyone working in each of those companies is very clearly focused."
During the restructure, Tokyopop laid off 39 positions, equating to 35-40% of its total American workforce. Most of the positions cut were those involved in the direct publication of its books. The publication output from Tokyopop, Inc., was scaled back. Tokyopop reported that it would be cutting the volumes released per year by approximately 50%, to an average of 20-22 volumes per month.
Tokyopop's Japan division was also to be split, with one unit operating under Tokyopop Media and the other becoming a subsidiary under the overall Tokyopop Group. In response to Tokyopop's restructuring, declining sales, and losing 20% of its manga market share, Tokyopop UK cut its publication release schedule from approximately 25 volumes a month to 20.
In December 2008, citing "dramatically low sales" in the publishing industry as a whole, Tokyopop, Inc., laid off eight more employees, including three editors, and noted that the company would have to rearrange some of its upcoming publication schedules.
Loss of Kodansha licenses
Licenses from the Japanese manga publisher Kodansha historically were a large part of Tokyopop's catalog. In the years leading up to 2009, the number of Kodandha titles licensed by Tokyopop decreased. The final new Kodansha title was Tokko by Tohru Fujisawa, and the final batch of volumes of Kodansha titles appeared around March 2009. Around that time Kodansha began to consistently give licenses to its manga to Del Rey Manga. Deb Aoki of About.com said "Well, more or less. You get the idea. If you've the type who reads the tea leaves of the manga publishing biz, you kinda sensed that things weren't quite the same as they used to be."
On August 31, 2009, Tokyopop announced that Japanese manga publisher Kodansha was allowing all of its licensing agreements with both the North American and German divisions of Tokyopop to expire for reasons unknown. Due to this loss in licensing, Tokyopop was forced to leave several Kodansha series unfinished, including popular series Rave Master, Initial D, GetBackers, and Life. It also would be unable to reprint any previously published volumes, rendering all Kodansha-owned Tokyopop releases out-of-print.
Several other titles licensed and published by Tokyopop, including best sellers Cardcaptor Sakura, Chobits, Clover, and Magic Knight Rayearth, were reacquired by Dark Horse Comics, though two other titles Kodansha licensed to Dark Horse had since transferred to Random House.Samurai Deeper Kyo was relicensed by competitor Del Rey Manga, a division of Random House, which published the remaining volumes of the series.
Tokyopop said that it expected the loss of the licenses to have minimal impact on the company economically due to its diversification of their holdings over the last few years, though they acknowledged the loss would hurt fans of the ongoing series who face uncertainty about the completion of those titles from other companies. ICv2 reported that Tokyopop would continue to publish light novels from Kodansha, and that Kodansha appeared to be planning to publish its own titles through its partnership with Random House.
In an interview with the website Anime Vice, Tokypop Marketing Manager Kasia Piekarz noted that the company was not entirely surprised by the move, stating, "It wasn't completely unexpected as we haven't licensed anything new from Kodansha in quite some time. What surprised us most was that they canceled licenses for series that were almost finished, such as Samurai Deeper Kyo and Rave Master. From a fan and collector's perspective, that doesn't make sense to us."
In the summer of 2004, Tokyopop founded its first foreign branch in Germany, headquartered in Hamburg. The first manga and manhwa by Tokyopop Germany were published in November, 2004, and the first anime in fall, 2005.
Also in 2004, Tokyopop set up a London, UK, office that mainly imports books from the U.S. and distributes them to bookstores in the United Kingdom. Tokyopop released an anime collection in the United Kingdom market in late 2006, including titles such as Initial D and Great Teacher Onizuka. Vampire Princess Miyu was released on DVD by MVM Entertainment, and the Toonami television channel aired the first half of Rave Master in early 2005.
Tokyopop also distributes some of their titles to Australia and New Zealand through Funtastic, who recently acquired Madman Entertainment. In Greece, Tokyopop-owned properties are licensed by Anubis Comics.
Blu Manga is an imprint under which Tokyopop publishes shōnen-ai and yaoi manga titles. The imprint was launched in 2005. Initially, the company denied that it owned Blu, stating that it was only distributing for another company. The company also released no editor names nor company contact info, out of fear there would be backlashes and hate mail from "moral crusaders." In 2006, the company confirmed Blu was their own imprint. Blu Manga consider that they have "non-girly" branding which has enabled the imprint, in a genre stereotypically by women for women, to reach out to a male or gay audience.
Fans critical of possible mishandling of the Initial D property voiced concerns regarding "editorial changes" in the language localization of the manga and anime. The changes included renaming of several characters and the removal of one character's involvement in enjo kōsai, a practice in Japan where younger women are paid to provide older men with companionship. In a letter sent to Anime News Network, Tokyopop responded to the criticisms, noting that they felt the edits were necessary because they were marketing the series to a younger target audience than it was originally designed for in Japan. They also felt that the series would reach a larger audience if it had a broader American appeal.
We also know that we have a responsibility to be true to the spirit of the original Japanese version of Initial D. So, we start having lots of late night sessions about how to present Initial D to the widest possible audience and yet still retain its core essence... We are passionate about anime and manga, and we believe in helping spread the word to as many people as we can.—Tokyopop Staff, Anime News Network
The company alleviated some of the concerns by noting that the anime series would receive an "unedited, subtitled, Japanese language" DVD release. The manga series remained edited except for the first volume, which was accidentally printed before the editing decisions were made.
There are other criticisms of Tokyopop's editing of manga. The sound effects are often left untranslated, and honorifics are removed. Translations of light novels have been criticized as being "stilted and unnatural to the point of being distracting," and manga texts include "numerous misplaced and dangling modifiers, a couple of verb tense and punctuation errors, and a number of misused words that were probably typos that passed the spellcheck test."
The Tokyopop Tour is a web-based reality series searching for "America's Greatest Otaku." A group of Tokyopop Interns, called the "Otaku Six" and Tokyopop's CEO, Stu Levy, will be traveling across America, documenting various "otaku" culture hotspots from July 1, 2010, to August 25, 2010. The applicant who successfully gains the title "America's Greatest Otaku" will win a trip to Japan.
4. Meera Marie from St. Charles, IL, One of the Otaku Six
- "Executive Team: Introduction". Tokyopop. Retrieved 2007-12-25.
- Jarvis, Michael (2003-10-26). "The Godzilla-Sized Appeal of Japan's Pop Culture". Los Angeles Times. p. 9.
- Brooks, Brad; Pilcher, Tim (2005-10-28). The Essential Guide to World Comics. London: Collins & Brown. ISBN 1-84340-300-5. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Wyatt, Edward (2006-03-28). "Comic Book Publisher Switches a Deal to HarperCollins". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
- Crum, Erin (2006-03-27). "HarperCollins Publishers and Tokyopop Announce Innovative Co-Publishing, Sales, and Distribution Agreement". HarperCollins Publishers. Retrieved 2006-04-10.
- Fahey, Mike (2008-04-17). "Tokyopop Publishing More Warcraft, StarCraft Manga". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 2012-07-11.
- Patty, Shawn (2004-08-05). "TokyoPop to Produce Warcraft Manga Trilogy". ComicsBulletin.
- "Book Info: Return to Labyrinth Volume 1". Tokyopop.
- "Book Info: Hellgate: London Volume 1". Tokyopop.
- "Tokyopop to Restructure Update". Anime News Network. 2008-06-04. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
- "Inside the Tokyopop Restructuring". ICv2. 2008-06-08. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
- "Tokyopop to Restructure". Anime News Network. 2008-06-03. Retrieved 2008-06-03.
- "Tokyopop Splits into Two Companies". ICv2. 2008-06-03. Retrieved 2008-06-03.
- "Tokyopop to Cut Manga Output in United Kingdom". Anime News Network. 2008-06-12. Retrieved 2008-06-12.
- "Manga Publisher Tokyopop Lays Off Eight More Staffers". Anime News Network. 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2008-12-12.
- McDonald, Heidi (2008-12-12). "More layoffs at Tokyopop". The Beat: The News Blog of Comics Culture. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2008-12-12.[dead link]
- Aoki, Deb (2009-09-01). "The Kodansha-TokyoPop Split: Which Manga Are Left in Limbo?". About.com. Retrieved 20090-09-01. Check date values in:
- "Tokyopop Confirms Its Kodansha Manga Licenses Will End". Anime News Network. 2009-08-31. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
- "No More Kodansha Manga for Tokyopop". ICv2. 2009-09-01. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
- Manry, Gia (2009-09-01). "Tokyopop Talks Kodansha". Anime Vice. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
- Brill, Ian; Cha, Kai-Ming (2006-10-24). "New Publishers, More Titles at Yaoi-Con 2006". PW Comics Week (Publishers Weekly). Retrieved 2009-03-11. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Tokyopop Confirms Blu Label". Anime News Network. 2005-06-08. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
- "Tokyopop Open Letter Regarding Initial D". Anime News Network. 2002-07-13. Retrieved 2008-04-14.
- "Ask John: Is Edited Anime on American TV a Good Thing?". AnimeNation Blog. AnimeNation. 2003-08-29. Retrieved 2008-04-14.
- Van Gorder, Danielle (2008-06-03). "J-Pop Idol Vol. 01 Review". Mania.
- Hackmann, Greg (2008-05-20). "Hotel Africa Vol. 01 Review". Mania.
- Eries, Sakura (2008-05-30). "Gosick the Novel Vol. 01 Review". Mania.
- Publishers Weekly
- Tokyopop Tour 2010 Official site
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