Kodansha gets Vertical; fans’ hearts skip beat

February 23rd, 2011

The news flashed across Anime News Network’s Twitter feed around 3:12 p.m. Hawaii time Wednesday: “News: Kodansha, Dai Nippon Printing Buy Vertical.”

It was a lightning flash across the Twitterverse and the manga blogosphere in general. It was even accompanied by a clap of thunder as I read it. Well, okay, so we’ve been having our share of thunderstorms rolling across Oahu, so it was just a coincidence. I don’t even think there was thunder exactly when I read that — I’m just overdramatizing it in my mind. But still, I’m probably speaking for a lot of people who read that and immediately thought the same thing I did: Oh, no. There goes the best thing going in translated manga.

The trepidation was understandable. Vertical is known as the spunky little manga engine that could, the publisher that has in its corner great series that I’ve gushed about in this space in the past like Black Jack, Chi’s Sweet Home, Twin Spica, and 7 Billion Needles, and the place that would finally make older manga fans’ dreams come true by bringing over Tezuka’s Princess Knight and the wine manga Drops of God. Kodansha, by contrast, is known more for what it hasn’t done yet — release more than Akira and Ghost in the Shell reprints, create a Web presence that’s more than what amounts to a one-page press release, reintroduce dormant properties like Initial D and Nodame Cantabile — than what it has.

Fortunately, subsequent hours proved more reassuring for manga fans. It helps that there wasn’t much of the “radio silence” that usually comes with such announcements, and that Vertical Marketing Director Ed Chavez hopped onto Twitter shortly afterward to answer questions and reply to various tweets. It’s there that we gradually learned that the deal had been in the works for at least two years or so; the deal is more an investment by Kodansha and Dai Nippon Publishing, rather than Vertical being bought out and incorporated into Kodansha’s corporate structure; the Vertical name and brand will continue to exist; it’s status quo for all current series and those yet to come, even if some series (7 Billion Needles and Twin Spica among them) aren’t from Kodansha; and the deal is just as much the story of Dai Nippon Publishing’s involvement, as that company will help enhance Vertical’s equally-as-fun-to-read non-manga catalog as well.

I’ll probably talk about this more in a future edition of Cel Shaded, but here are some initial thoughts: I’m already impressed with the way the situation has been handled, how information has been quickly distributed and misconceptions cleared up right away. Vertical’s always been tops in my book in that regard, and we saw another demonstration of that today. I only hope that as the months pass, we continue to see the same level of openness and care as we do now … I have to admit, in the back of my mind I can’t help but think of Del Rey, another publisher that carried on a strong rapport with fans for several years, only to be marginalized and rendered largely moot in the long run.

But I have faith in you, Vertical. Please don’t let me down.

One Response to “Kodansha gets Vertical; fans’ hearts skip beat”

  1. Tweets that mention Hawaii News - Staradvertiser.com -- Topsy.com:

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