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Notes: Kadokawa + Hachette Book Group = More BL for North America?

Kadokawa Corporation logo

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

Yen Press logoWhile 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)
While it can’t be considered any kind of priority for them, Yen Press has wandered the outskirts of BL. There’s Alice in the Country of Hearts: My Fanatic Rabbit (drawn by Psyche Delico), My Girlfiend’s a Geek (drawn by Shinba Rize and about a fujoshi and her boyfriend), Nabari no Ou (fujoshi-bait), and Not Love But Delicious Foods (non-BL by Yoshinaga Fumi). And there’s also their modest foray into the BL proper, Fujiyama Hyouta’s Tale of the Waning Moon and a few titles by Hoshino Lily (that I blocked out and was reminded of). They’re big in the light novel scene and like their action fantasy manga quite a bit, so I don’t see them throwing open the BL floodgates anytime soon. However, there’s always the chance that a new imprint could arise out of all of this.

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.

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  • klkAlexar

    They also have some Lily Hoshino BL, and AkaAka, which is fujoshi bait since the original VN only has male routes. I didn’t find their BL choices that interesting, but I like them as a publisher since I think they have a good array of different titles. I can see them trying to publish BL again, but odds are that it would be digital only.

    Reminds me that the publisher of Jackass! sent out a C&D email to the scanlators.

    • Hoshino? Which titles? I don’t like her serial art, so I probably just blanked them out.

      I also appreciate their variety even though I’ve only been interested in three of them: Book Girl, Until Death Do Us Part, and Tale of the Waning Moon. I was also interested in the Alice in the Country of Hearts series, but there’s just too many titles that may not get licensed, so I kind of forgot about it. I’m rather enh on the whole concept of VNs, so I never even paid attention.

      If they do, and they go digital, that’s totally fine by me.

      Since Renta seems to have a special fondness for Beriko, I imagine they’re doing what they can to eliminate the competition. Side note to that, I saw that someone asked them if they were going to “scanlate” Jackass and I just died. Once again, I feel like we have failed to indoctrinate the youngins on how this all works.

    • So, yeah, I just looked up the Hoshino titles. Now I remember Mr. Flower Groom, but I did block it out.

      • klkAlexar

        Yeah, her stuff is kinda vapid.

        I like VNs but I’m usually not that interested in manga/anime adaptations, but I’ve been vaguely interested in AkaAka for years now and since we aren’t getting the game in English, I thought the manga would be a good enough substitute.

        I’m trying out Renta, and while their prices sucks, I’ve learned that you can screenshot their stuff (I have the Nobara Aiko manga saved in my tablet) so I’m not completely against giving them my money.

        • Do you know what kind of reader they have? I have flashed turned off on my browsers, so I can’t try them if theirs is anything like SuBLime’s. Though I wonder if I’ll even be up to the worked required for that.

          I thought they were like $4 for 48 hours and $6 for unlimited. Or am I thinking of something else?

          • klkAlexar

            It’s not based on flash. I had a program that used to be able to download manga from Renta, but I don’t think it works anymore.

            Yeah, those are the prices for most of them but some come out as more expensive. I’m just don’t like paying those kind of prices for something that’s not download to own. In the end I probably end up paying more for my CR sub but at least I have the illusion of variety (plus it’s automated so I hardly ever notice when they charge me).

          • I don’t think I’ll be able to determine if the more expensive ones are too expensive for me because I just tried to preview one of the free titles to check out the image quality and editing and reader told me I needed to update my Flash. So much for that.

          • klkAlexar

            Really? Because my tablet doesn’t use flash and the reader works fine. On the other hand the SuBLime reader doesn’t work for me.

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