Probably the biggest news story in the world of manga so far in 2011 would be the demise of the manga publisher Tokyopop. Tokyopop was one of the bigger North American manga distributors, and their releases included such titles as Fruits Basket, Chobits, Trinity Blood, Rave Master, Initial D, among many others. Tokyopop had also expanded into the OEL (original English language) market as well. On April 15, 2011, Tokyopop announced the company would be ceasing publishing operations on May 31, 2011. On May 24, 2011, the company announced that the manga the company licensed would revert to their original respective owners.
From all the chatter I’ve read on the Internet, there seems to be mixed feelings about the demise of Tokyopop. On the one hand, the company was instrumental in helping to bring manga to North American audiences, and was also one of the first publishers to sell “unflopped” manga. On the other, a number of manga fans tend to not care for the attitude of Stu Levy, the CEO of the company.
I’m of the opinion that while I may not have read very much of Tokyopop’s catalog (I’ve read the whole Fruits Basket series and the first volumes a few of their other titles), Tokyopop was still one of the bigger companies bringing manga to North America. While there are other publishers out there, such as VIZ Media, Yen Press, and others, Tokyopop’s disappearance will have a major impact on the manga industry. While some of their former titles are basically guaranteed to be license rescued by other companies, there will still be a number of Tokyopop’s titles that will disappear from North America completely. I really feel for the fans of those manga titles, especially if those titles hadn’t been completed by Tokyopop before the company ceased publishing.