It’s a sad day for Manga fans, as Tokyopop announced it is shutting down its US operations effective May 31, 2011.

TOKYOPOP film and television projects and European operations, including the German publishing program, will not be affected by the Los Angeles office closure. In addition, TOKYOPOP will continue its global rights sales via its office in Hamburg, Germany.

This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get Manga, there are a plethora of people who illegally download CBR files each and every day, which more than likely helped contribute to this news.

The complete company statement, and a letter from Tokyopop founder Stu Levy, after the jump.

FROM TOKYOPOP

For nearly 15 years, TOKYOPOP, led by Stu Levy, its founder, CEO and Chief Creative Officer, has pioneered the English-language manga movement and touched the hearts, minds and souls of enthusiasts worldwide.

Today, we are sad to inform our loyal community of manga fans, our passionate creators of manga content, our business and retail partners, and other stakeholders who have supported us through the years that as of May 31, 2011, TOKYOPOP is closing its Los Angeles-based North American publishing operations.

TOKYOPOP film and television projects and European operations, including the German publishing program, will not be affected by the Los Angeles office closure. In addition, TOKYOPOP will continue its global rights sales via its office in Hamburg, Germany.

FROM STU LEVY

April 15, 2011

Dear TOKYOPOP Community:

Way back in 1997, we set out to bring a little-known form of Japanese entertainment to American shores. I originally named our little company “Mixx”, meaning a mix of entertainment, mix of media, and mix of cultures. My dream was to build a bridge between Japan and America, through the incredible stories I discovered as a student in Tokyo.

Starting with just four titles — Parasyte, Ice Blade, Magic Knight Rayearth, and, of course, Sailor Moon — we launched MixxZine, aspiring to introduce comics to girls. These four series laid down the cornerstone for what would eventually become TOKYOPOP and the Manga Revolution.

Over the years, I’ve explored many variations of manga culture – “OEL” manga, “Cine-Manga”, children’s books we called “Manga Chapters”, the Gothic-Lolita Bible, Korean manwha (which we still called “manga” at the time), video game soundtracks, live-action films and documentaries, anime, and various merchandise. Some of it worked, some of it didn’t – but the most enjoyable part of this journey has been the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and creative people I’ve ever met.

Many of you also allowed me the indulgence to not only produce works but also to take a swing at creating some of my own. I’ve learned that it’s much easier to criticize others than it is to create from scratch – but in doing so, I’ve also in the process learned how to better communicate with creators.

Fourteen years later, I’m laying down my guns. Together, our community has fought the good fight, and, as a result, the Manga Revolution has been won –manga has become a ubiquitous part of global pop culture. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished – and the incredible group of passionate fans we’ve served along the way (my fellow revolutionaries!).

For many years Japan has been my second home, and I have devoted much of my career to bringing my love for Japan to the world – and hopefully in my own way, I can give back to the culture that has given me so much joy.

In closing, I simply want to thank all of you – our incredibly talented creators from all over the world, our patient and supportive business partners and customers, our amazingly dedicated TOKYOPOP team – full-timers, part-timers, freelancers and interns, and of course the greatest fans in the entire world. Together, we’ve succeeded in bringing manga to North America and beyond.

Arigatougozaimasu!!

Stu Levy

Founder, TOKYOPOP

 

via The Beat

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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8 Comments

  1. April 15, 2011 at 6:44 pm — Reply

    Wow, Stephen. A bit harsh, don’t you think? I don’t think you can lay the entire blame on piracy. If anything, it is more likely that the loss of Kodansha titles and that they lost fan support when they decided to edit “Initial D”.

    In fact.. since you never review their stuff… the one responsible… could be you! (DUM! DUM! DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUM!) ;p

    • April 15, 2011 at 9:44 pm — Reply

      you’re absolutely right… Major Spoilers is the exact reason Tokyopop is closing. We never reviewed the stuff that they never sent us. Nor did we run any stories that they also didn’t send us. Yup… our fault completely.

      • April 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm — Reply

        Hey! Don’t drag Matthew and Rodrigo into this! I said I blamed you, Stephen Schleicher. In fact, I’m also blaming you for comic prices soring, the movie Skyline and the cancelation of Legends of the Dark Knight.

        #joke

  2. Chaos
    April 15, 2011 at 10:22 pm — Reply

    im kinda sad by this for many reasons but i think a big factor is tokyo pop hasn’t been really pulling out the hits the way they use to also rising costs make it hard for people to buy manga -i lost my job and had to curtail a lot of my manga buying. Also i don’t think piracy is as big a problem as everyone makes it out i look up titles and if i like them i buy them why because its easier than going to the book store to look at them and i can see what a few issues ahead look like and if they will be good. A big issue is many manga never get published in the united states people you translate them are allowing others to see something they many never be able to other wise -another issue is I don’t think many people would pick some titles if they haven’t seen them before. Yet another problem is tokyo pop has on several titles never translated the entire series -which irritates me when i picked up 2 volumes on a series that was a manga version of a series i liked and there where no further volumes. Now i understand that some times manga go on vacation like DNAngel did but if they don’t know when they are getting another don’t put in adds for it in the back of the book.

    My feeling is that instead of complaining about it they should adapt buy allowing them to do so in exchange for advertising or better yet HIRE THEM as they are frequently skilled people who love this stuff and won’t stop working.

    In total im sad about it but i haven’t been exactly happy about the costs or the speed of their release in a while so im not totally shocked buy this news.

    Also if you agree with me fine if not that is fine too but don’t say things like I’m dumb or i don’t know what im talking about because it only proves im right about this.
    also insult my spelling im tired and i got hailed.

    • April 16, 2011 at 9:20 pm — Reply

      My feeling is that instead of complaining about it they should adapt buy allowing them to do so in exchange for advertising or better yet HIRE THEM as they are frequently skilled people who love this stuff and won’t stop working.

      Ding! You win One (1) Internet!

  3. April 16, 2011 at 7:35 am — Reply

    This is sad news. I know that piracy is a major contributing factor (it’s a big problem w/the anime & manga scene, and a lot of the old-school fansub & fanscan honor code has gone out the window in the last decade), but it’s not the only one that could’ve hurt Tokyopop. Compared to other manga distributors such as Del Rey & Viz, Tokyopop took a lot of liberties with the translations, and once word got out around fans, that was usually enough to hurt sales. For a long time, they’ve been a joke among readers because they seem to throw this stuff out there before checking to make sure it was finished – misspelled words & names, names randomly switching, etc.

    Still, it’s thanks to them that I discovered CLAMP and the awesomeness of the Sailor Moon manga (even if their release was inconsistently translated & rich with typos), so I feel bad to see them shutting down. Here’s hoping someone else can pick up their licenses so they can continue.

  4. Oldcomicfan
    April 16, 2011 at 9:07 pm — Reply

    I don’t mean to pop Stu’s bubble, but I was buying manga translated into English long before Mixx and Tokyo Pop came on the scene. Viz an Dark Horse were both producing manga. Does anybody remember such classics as “Outlanders” and “Nausica of the Valley of Wind”? I chuckle when people groan and moan about comics costing three or four dollars these days. When I was collecting Nausica (and yes, I know I misspelled the name, haven’t read it for over a decade) in the mid-eighties, and also the first year of Ranma 1/2, the issues cost around five bucks! Ranma was in color, but Nausica was in black and white. They were so excellent I was willing to shell out that kind of money.
    I have purchased a few issues of Mixx over the years, and a few Tokyo Pop series. But, to be honest, they were difficult to find in the stores. It’s pointless to try to collect a monthly series when issues only showed up in the stores once or twice a year, and the last few Tokyo Pop series I collected didn’t even come out at regular intervals but just appeared at random, sometimes months, sometimes a year apart. This also made it difficult to follow or collect a series. Tokyo Pop was always sort of the “Sears Roebuck” of the manga world. Limited distribution, not the best stuff around (but not the worst, either) and not the most accurately translated. Tokyo Pop wasn’t the only publisher whose manga offerings have contracted over the last few years. Both Dark Horse and Viz have reduced the titles they published dramatically and also shifted from monthly comics to paperback volumes randomly issued during the year. Do I buy pirated comics? No. Do I read pirated comics on the internet. On occasion. And these are usually titles that are not, and never were, licensed to be released in English. Likewise, I have downloaded all 30 volumes of “Vagabond of Limbo”, untranslated, and am laboriously trying to work my way through the French word balloons. Two and only two volumes were translated and released in English, and, after 30 years, I am tired of waiting for further translations that will never be done.

    I seriously doubt that piracy had anything to do with the demise of Tokyo Pop. I suspect that their OWN business practices and the bankruptcy of Borders and Barnes and Nobles had more to do with it. It reminds me of when ADV went under. For years, before they failed, they might have released maybe one or two anime titles a year, and they were usually second rate stuff – either really bad horror anime or stuff bordering on tentacle porn. The bulk of their offerings were live action Asian horror stuff that nobody in their right mind would pay good money for (and few people did).

    I’ll miss Tokyo Pop, but not much, because they were only a minor player in the manga world, and their titles were never reliably available.

    • April 17, 2011 at 12:33 pm — Reply

      A lot of your thoughts echo my own upon examination. Tokyopop just wasn’t a very good company, but because they made a lot of noise, it seems like they were bigger than they really were.

      And I think Dark Horse is still doing manga – they have those gorgeous CLAMP collections of entire series in one volume that I’d kill for.

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