Tokyopop, a company primarily known as a manga distributor, shut down its North American publishing operations on May 31, 2011 to focus on other projects (such as film and television projects). When the shutdown was announced, the rights for the Japanese licenses reverted back to their original owners; however, the company retained the rights to the Original English Language manga that the company published.
Then, in September 2011, Tokyopop CEO Stu Levy made a post on the company’s Facebook page to gauge interest in Tokyopop publishing the third volume of the Hetalia manga. This was followed in October 2011 with the company’s new Twitter account announcing that Tokyopop is hoping to reopen its North American publishing division. Tokyopop says it is trying to reacquire the rights to some of the properties it published previously, and hopes to release manga in both print and digital form.
There’s been a mixed reaction in manga fandom to this news. Over at Tokyopop’s Facebook page, there’s been posts of encouragement. However, reaction has been negative at other Internet sites; many of these posts question the company’s motives and expressing feelings of distrust.
So where do I stand on this issue? I fall on the side of questioning why Tokyopop is trying to restart its North American publishing after shutting it down just a few months ago. There’s also no guarantee that Levy won’t flip-flop on this decision again in the next few months.
I do wish Tokyopop a lot of luck if the company is successful in returning to manga publishing in North America. However, I have my doubts it will work out in the long run. While it would be nice to have another outlet for manga, the company’s name has basically been tarnished for quite a few manga fans.