Right, picked this up for an, um, song at the Borders across from Water Tower Place a few weeks back: Final Fantasy N Generation Offical Best Collection. That link takes you to the page of the US distributor, TOKYOPOP. It's got a few mp3 samples of the pieces on the cd, but not the one refered to in the title. Yes, that's where the name of Nobuo Uematsu's upcoming performance comes from, far as I can tell.
TOKYOPOP is better know, if at all, as the US distributor ("publisher" seems like the wrong word somehow) of various manga, including Sailor Moon. They're The Company Formerly Known as MIXX, basically.
Now if you've been to the manga section of a chain recently, you'll note that they have a hell of a lot of the stuff these days. There's probably more recent numbers available, but from a January 26th article at ICV2:
Though Tokyopop has 40 titles in the top 100 to Viz's 25, Viz has the two top-selling manga titles of 2004 so far, Rurouni Kenshin Volume #2 (5600+) and Volume #1 (c. 5000). In interviews conducted by ICv2 for the new Retailers Guide To Anime and Manga, direct market retailers indicated that Rurouni Kenshin has also been a dominant manga title in comic shops. Yu Watase's Alice the Nineteenth Vol. #2 is the best-selling shoujo title at #5---this series is clearly a hit with female readers in the bookstore market. Viz's Yu-Gi-Oh! series is clearly a hit with more than 4,100 copies of Volume #3 sold since the beginning of the year, and there are no fewer than seven Inu Yasha volumes in the top 100.
Tokyopop's top title in this week's snapshot of bookstore sales is the manwha release, Demon Diary Volume 5, which occupies the number six position. The second volume of Tokyopop's .hack//SIGN series remains in the top ten at number nine and is the third best-selling manga title of the year so far. Anime-related manga such as Ai Yori Aoshi (#10) and FLCL (2400 copies of #1 sold so far this year) have fared well as did the shonen-ai title, Fake Vol. #5, which holds the #11 spot for the week and has sold more than 3,300 copies so far in 2004. Tokyopop's big hits of 2003, Love Hina and Chobits continue to sell (with more than 1700 of the former and nearly 2000 of the latter sold in 2004), though not quite with the incredible velocity they had last year.
Left out some italics from the original, if you care.
Now the funny thing about this, for certain definitions of funny, is that girls buy manga. Not sure about the breakdown, but at a guess? Much higher than the percentage of girls/women buying standard US comics (with some notable exceptions, like Sandman and Love and Rockets; mostly I'm babbling about the superhero stuff the Big Two put out).
Obviously, in that quest for profit, DC and Marvel would dearly love to attract some of that phat manga cash and build their audience by getting the slightly-more-than-50% of the population who mostly ignore their stuff to stop ignoring it.
And I certainly hope that's not what motivated Marvel to reprint Japanese versions of some of their titles, or using a manga-influenced style on some of their books, because that's really missing the point.
DC, to their credit, looks to be licensing books from Japanese publishers, plus there's the Elfquest reprints. And if they don't manage to collect Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld, clearly they don't actually want to make money.
Oh, right, the funny part.
The Big Two have tried over the years, mostly unsuccessfully, to attract girls with stuff created by middle-aged men, resulting in the odd Barbie or Strawberry Shortcake book, available (if you were lucky) in grocery stores or in comics shops.
Any of the women here care to trade stories about Bad Experiences as someone with tits in a comics shop?
Yeah, that's what I thought.
Clearly, any shop with brains would have been all over manga early on, so that now even if people can get it at chains, they're supporting the local independent instead.
There are, unfortunately, very very few shops with brains.
Or rather, shop owners with enough sense to realize that having guh-guh-girls in their clubhouse forking over cash is, in fact, a Good Thing.
Vaguely remember seeing that someone is going to start mining Korean comics for material to reprint here.
Update: Holy shit.
Ok, maybe you have to have been reading the stuff from way back in the day for this to have any impact, but for those of us who have been. . . just, wow.
Update 2: Right, it's not just reprints on Elfquest, which I knew perfectly well.
Twenty-five years after the debut of the blockbuster saga ElfQuest, creators Wendy and Richard Pini return with their first new story in years. ELFQUEST: THE SEARCHER AND SWORD is an original, 96-page hardcover graphic novel scheduled to reach comic-book stores in July.
Hardcover for the comics/EQ fans, then later a wee trade reprint in manga size for the kids, maybe? If so, DC has just graduated in my estimation to Most Brilliant Evil Fuckers There Is. And that's a compliment, really.