"We normally don't come to New York Comic-Con, because we saw it as being a mostly superhero-centric show." This sentiment from Kodansha v-p Kohei Furukawa could be echoed by most fans of Japanese pop culture. But this year’s New York Comic Con, had much more to offer manga and anime fans, most notably the first American appearance of the wildly popular Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto.
Hot topics among manga fans attending the show were Kodansha Comics's plan to release an all-original material anthology of Attack on Titan stories featuring art and writing by North American creators; and Bandai Namco Pictures’s new live action film adaptation of the Tiger and Bunny series, which will be produced by Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment. NYCC also heralded the arrival of Yo-Kai Watch, a new cross-platform kids’ anime/manga/toy/game property from Japan, which debuted this month on Disney XD. And of course, there were lots of new manga titles announced for 2016.
Headlining all the manga-related events were the appearances and book signings by Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of worldwide bestselling manga Naruto, in his first-ever visit to an overseas comics event. With Naruto Vol. 72, the final volume in the series, now available in print, and the coming feature-length animated Naruto movie Boruto, Kishimoto’s U.S. publisher, Viz Media, organized a series of events for the manga artist meet his fans at various events in Manhattan, including a panel discussion on NYCC’s main stage that drew a capacity crowd of over 2,000 fans. Kishimoto seemed both amazed and appreciative of his fans enthusiasm for his creation.
"This is just a little title that I started working on so many years ago without ever thinking about any impact that it might have, much less globally," Kishimoto said. Viz Media CEO Ken Sasaki said the Naruto series has sold over 220 million copies around the world, making it one of the best-selling books ever. "If you put them next to each other on a bookshelf,the shelf would need to stretch from New York City to Austin Texas," he said.
AoT Anthology, New Manga from Yen, Viz
The Kodansha Comics panel at New York Comic Con, "The Biggest Attack on Titan Manga Announcement Ever," unveiled plans for an all-new Attack on Titan comics anthology. This full-color collection will feature all-new, original stories and art by Western creators, including writers Scott Synder (Batman) and Gail Simone (Red Sonja), artists Tomer and Ansaf Hanuka (The Divine), Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr and Brenden Fletcher (the New Batgirl creative team), and Faith Erin Hicks (The Nameless City). Freelance editor Jeanine Schaefer is at the helm of this project, promising at least "two more really big names who said yes that we can't wait to tell you about llater."
Kodansha also added Spoof on Titan, a collection of 4-panel gag manga that parodies the blockbuster Attack on Titan series, plus I Am Space Dandy!, a collection of stories about anime's pompadoured adventurer, coming from Studio BONES.
Yen Press announced its own Space Dandy manga, written by Masafumi Harada, and Sung-Woo Park, scheduled for Spring 2016. Yen also announced new manga and light novels—prose works based on manga and anime properties—including Overlord, the story of a 30-year old businessman who decides to stay in an online gaming world after the game's servers shut down. The Boy and the Beast, a box office hit anime by Mamoru Hosoda (Wolf Children) will also get a manga and light novel release in 2016.
Viz Media announced lots of fan favorite manga, including two frequently-requested sports manga: Kuroko's Basketball by Tadatoshi Fujimaki and Haikyu!!, a volleyball manga by Haruichi Furudate. The anime based on these two titles are favorites on Crunchyroll, the online J-Pop subscription content site, and the manga will hit the shelves in summer 2016. Also new to the Viz Media roster: Black Clover, a fantasy-action adventure about a young boy mastering magical powers, and Yona of the Dawn, a fantasy adventure about a willfull princess who must fight to reclaim her kingdom after her father is killed.
Bookwalker and Audio Light Novels
Another sign of a growing manga market is the arrival of a new player on the e-book scene: BookWalker from Kadokawa. Kadokawa is one of Japan's top manga, light novel, and magazine publishing companies, and BookWalker is its e-book e-commerce site that features titles in Japanese and English from Kadokawa and other Japanese and North American publishers.
Vertical Inc., a US publisher of Japanese contemporary literature and manga, will add audio light novels to its line-up for spring 2016. At the moment, no other publisher has released audio editions of light novels.