Monday, February 17, 2014

Attack on Titan at Kinokuniya

Article by Chet Royer

A while back, I noticed something happening within the American anime community. From my visits at various conventions, I saw that there was a growing number of fans for the anime and manga titled Attack on Titan also known as Shingeki no Kyoujin in Japan. As time passed, the fan base grew exponentially. So much that I would see some one wearing the uniform from the series on random days in New York City. So when I heard that Kinokuniya Bookstores at Bryant Park was having an Attack on Titan event, I expected the place to collapse due to the amount of fans showing up. What I actually saw shocked me!

Upon entering Kinokuniya's second floor, where the event was being held, I saw the new event area's set up. I was late to the event so there were people already there; probably around 20 to 25 people. Now if you have never been to a Kinokuniya event before, this may not sound so small to you. Back when Kinokuniya did many anime related events, the place would be packed out. So this event was odd. My guess was that the featured guests probably did not spark too much interest in the fans.

The special guests for this event was the editor, Ben Applegate, for Attack on Titan in America and the supervisor of sales Dallas Middaugh. Honestly, these are my favorite kinds of guests, short only to authors and/or artists. The main draw of the guests to me was that they have the knowledge on how things work in the industry. Alas, they were not primarily here for that. They told us how the series grew in America and how they even came across it. Apparently, Middaugh came across this manga and begged his department to start publishing it. But the manga was not easily accepted in the beginning. He told us that bookstores in America were actually sending pallets of the manga back to them due to it not selling. Then the anime came out and affected sales in the Japanese market greatly. America was not too different. Fans were picking up the manga after seeing the anime. At this point, Attack on Titan caught on like wild fire. The sales were so intense that the publisher, Kodansha Comics, had to make many reprints of various volumes. This demand for more Titan was so great that the author, Hajime Isayama, created spin off series. These are actually going to be published in summer 2014 in America.

The guest speakers went into more market projections. The success of the series also had a great effect on the industry itself. Not only were people buying more Titan manga, some people were being introduced to manga because of it. Now they were buying a variety of manga. So the industry on the whole grew from the Titan rage! Can't wait to see how well it did in the next ICv2 article.

After all of these nice stories, the guests opened up the floor for questions. Everyone who showed up got a neat little Erin Jager, protagonist of Attack on Titan, key chain charm, but if you asked a question you get a prize as well. I was really interested on how Kodansha Comics picked manga titles to bring to America. I learned that Kodansha Comics is actually a client of Random House. Kodansha Comics shows Random House what manga they are interested in publishing state side. Then Random House gives them their input on how they think it would do and how well will the consumers accept it. Kodansha Comics then makes the final decision and sends Random House the materials to start the process of localizing the manga. As for my prize, I was given a hard cover copy of Vinland Saga, which I was very grateful for!

Also, they told us how sometimes they get to work closely with the actual authors. One fan of a series known as Sankarea, which is also published by Kodansha comics, asked why did the covers of the graphic novels change from the original Japanese release. Their answer was that the Japanese covers did not convey exactly what the story was about. So what Random House did was choose an appropriate image from the graphic novel, send it out to get it professionally colored, then they send the completed copy to the author in Japan to get the final OK.

There were a lot more questions asked but it was pretty much just the fans discussing their favorite things about the Titan manga and anime. The event then came to a close, but I was able to sneak in one more question. Since Random House does not actually pick the manga for Kodansha Comics, how does Random House get clients? The company has a service called Random House Publisher Service (RHBS). Publishers can become a client of this service. They have many clients but Kodansha Comics is their only manga client. They would like more though ^__^.

Ultimately, I enjoyed this event. I over estimated how many people would show up greatly. Hopefully Kinokuniya continues doing these anime and manga events. I love going to these events especially when a convention is around the corner!

© 2014 Linda Thai
Photography by Chet Royer
For more pictures, check out the Something Deeper: Anime, Manga and Comics Page on Facebook

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