Maybe. Maybe not.
Hachette Book Group and KADOKAWA Corporation announced today that they have entered into an agreement to create a new venture, joining HBG’s Yen Press imprint, a leader in the US publication of Japanese manga and light novels, with KADOKAWA, a major Japanese publisher. KADOKAWA will hold majority ownership, with 51% of the business to be acquired through its US investment company and HBG controlling 49% of the business. The transaction is expected to be completed by end of April, at which point Yen Press will function as Yen Press LLC, a joint venture between HBG and Kadokawa. – yenpress.com
While this partnership is great in regards to the stabilization and continued growth of the North American manga industry, my primary interest is, of course, finding out what it means for NA BL.
Kadokawa publishes, among others, Comic Fleur, the Ciel and Asuka mags, and Emerald. Titles you might be familiar with are:
- Ichikawa Kei’s Hello Again
- Eiki Eiki & Zaou Taishi’s Stage!! universe
- Takanaka Hinako’s Kimi ga Koi ni universe
- Hamada Kamome’s Ohayou to Oyasumi to Sono Ato ni
- Fujitani Youko’s Rutta to Kodama
- Sakuragi Yaya’s Hide and Seek & Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love (SuBLime)
- Takaguchi Satosumi’s Shout Out Loud (Blu – one of my faves)
- Harada’s Color Recipe
- Abe Miyuki’s Whiz Kid & Super Lovers
- Fujiyama Hyouta’s Honki ja Neekara
- Nishi Noriko’s Focus
- Nakamura Shungiku’s The World’s Greatest First Love: The Case of Ritsu Onodera (SuBLime)
The thing is, SuBLime has gotten a handful of good and/or popular titles from Kadokawa. I hope this partnership doesn’t negatively affect their ability to negotiate for licensing choice selections. Will Kadokawa follow in the footsteps of Kodansha and give their NA publisher first pick, but still allow others to sift through the leftovers? Or Shueisha & Shogakukan and go for near-exclusivity? If Yen press isn’t going to journey deeper into the BL proper and there are no plans (mentioned) for a new BL imprint, there’s no point in restricting SuBLime’s or any other NA BL publisher’s access to their BL catalogue. On the other hand, if it turns out that SuBLime can continue on with their current titles, but are unable to pursue additional ones, can we hope for some form of expansion where Yen Press is concerned? Maybe. Maybe not. Weirder decisions have been made.
For now, it being the day of announcement and all, I’ll just keep an eye on it to see how things progress.
One last thing, though… This partnership will give Kadokawa a longer arm of the North American law, so I suppose some of the titles currently being unofficially translated will either be dropped or go into hiding somewhere in that mysterious “underground” the kids are whispering about these days.
EDIT: The first version of this post stated that Fujiyama Hyouta’s Tale of the Waning Moon was Yen Press’ only actual BL title, but that was incorrect. My friend pointed that out. I looked them up and I do remember them, but as I mentioned to her in the comments, I’m not a fan so I blocked them out.