I know that I'm reporting on the Viz Media panel a little late, but hopefully this isn't already old news for everybody. At the New York Comic Con, the biggest announcement from Viz was that they have already licensed the newest manga series from bestselling creator Rumiko Takahashi (Urusei Yatsura, Ranma 1/2, Inu Yasha). Takahashi has not even announced what her story will be about, but Viz (which publishes most of Takahashi's work) has already secured a deal to bring the manga out in 2009, most likely putting it within mere months of the Japanese release! Scanlators will have a hard time competing with graphic novel releases sitting in American bookstores soon after they're available in Japan. Now what I want to see is both anime and manga companies adopt strategies like this, in which the license for a show is decided before it releases. It'll significantly speed up the localization process, putting fan translators in an untenable position.
On that front, Viz also announced a quickened release schedule for the Naruto graphic novels. They will release "eleven new Naruto manga in three months," according to Director of Marketing Mark Chang. That means a manga a week, which is sure to be hell on translators (and teenagers' wallets) as both struggle to keep up with the pace of Masashi Kishimoto's furiously-updated series.
Additionally, Ultimo, the manga created by the team of Stan Lee (Spider-Man, X-Men, The Fantastic Four) and Hiroyuki Takei (Shaman King), will be coming to the North American Shonen Jump, with a tentative launch date of July 2009.
Finally, I've listed all of Viz's new manga licenses after the break.
- YuGiOh! R by Akina Ito - Oct. 2009
- Boys Over Flowers: Jewelry Box by Yoko Kamio - Oct. 2009 (It's actually just another volume of the manga, but they're releasing it as a sort of sequel/epilogue)
- The Gentlemen's Alliance Cross Artbook by Arina Tanemura - Nov. 2009
- Beast Master by Kyousuke Motomi - Nov. 2009
- Butterflies, Flowers by Yuki Yoshihara - Dec. 2009 (an M-rated josei title)
- Jormungand by Koitaro Takahashi - Nov. 2009
- What a Wonderful World! by Inio Asano - Oct. 2009
- GoGo Monster by Taiyo Matsumoto - Nov. 2009 (from the creator of Tekkon Kinkreet)
- All My Darling Daughters by Fumi Yoshinaga - Jan. 2010
- not simple by Natsume Ono - Jan. 2010
- Natsume Yuujinchou by Yuki Midorikawa - Jan. 2010