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MangaNEXT 2012 – Vertical 2012 with Ed Chavez

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There was a slight delay at the start of the panel due to techical difficulties. Ed Chavez of Vertical Inc. seemed to be doing a video recording of the panel with the webcam directed at the power point presentation. After all the tech was set up, we were on our way to new announcements.

He first show that they have released GTO: 14 Days in Shonan vol. 1 in January which is almost like a gaiden series (happening in the same timeline as the main series.) The original GTO was initially released by Tokyopop which is OOP but it’s awesome that Vertical picked up the new series. It’s described as “GTO takes a summer break and ends up back home to Shonan. During this trip (which is kinda forced on him,) he ends up in more trouble. There are more troublesome teens but Onizuka takes things in stride.” Many of the same things that fans expect from the main series including smoking, reading porn but all in fun with some “heart to heart moments”. Chavez describes the main character Onizuka as “not your average educator that teaches life lessons not with textbooks”. Vol. 2 is being released in March and another volume being released every two months.

Following up with in the GTO-universe, the next release is GTO: The Early Years vol. 11 which picks up where Tokyopop discontinued. There are 31 tankoubans in the series with the English versions being 2 tankoubans per volume. Vertical wants to see this series continue and the fans of course agree. Interesting take on the release is that in keeping up with the ‘Vertical’ designs on their books, the cover is updated with a color swap. Due to the standard page counts of the manga, there won’t be much space for bonus materials but fans can find the character bios and notes on the Vertical website. Vol. 12 will be in April with Vol. 13 in June 2012.

A continuing title, Chi’s Sweet Home vol. 8 was released in February. With this release, the English publication has caught up to the Japanese so Chavez forewarns fans that the next release would be once a year in matching with the next volume in Japan. We might even see the English version of volume 9 by the end of this year since the Japanese release is around April (as noted from the schedule of previous years.)

An interesting tidbit was that Vertical and Ed Chavez himself was featured as an omake in the Japanese edition…but Chavez was shy and didn’t want to be in there so he removed it from the English edition.

Promo materials that will be released at other cons were shown making me have con-envy since I won’t be there to pick them up. The pic on the right features a postcard that will be given at SDCC with the poster on the left. The second animated series, Chi’s Sweet Home: Chi’s New Address is featured on Crunchyroll. The main website will include fun things including paper crafts and info on the series.

No Longer Human part 3 by Furuya Usamaru was released in early January. It’s a manga adapation of the famed novel by Dazai Osamu-sensei and Chavez notes that Furuya-sensei “really adds another layer of depth visually”. The novel reads almost like an autobiography and the manga takes it from a reader’s perspective. Be prepared to be blown away by the ending.

The last volume in the series, Twin Spica vol. 12 will be released in March 2012. Starting with volume 7, there were about 1.5 tankoubans in each though vol 11 and 12 are 2 tankoubans each with 400 pages.

2009 Eisner Award Winner, Dororo by Tezuka Osamu-sensei will be released on 3/20/2012. It contains all three tankoubans into one 880 page volume for a retail price of $24.95. Chavez lamented not getting early copies to bring to the con. “It’s about a samurai who is trying to get his life back together and the young ninja he runs into along the way.” Due to the sheer size of the volume, the paper quality will be similar to the releases for Drops of God rather than Black Jack. When asked if it was going to be a hardcover (due to fear of the spine cracking,) Chavez reassured fans that the softcover will suffice as the spine would be well made.

Drops of God vol. 3 by Agi Tadashi-sensei will reveal the First Apostle. Chavez commented on the earlier announcement that Vertical will only be releasing 5 volumes (10 tankoubans) in English due to falling sales. The promo materials that they had was a postcard at the right with a special catalogue on the left. Future catalogues will be digital. will have the list of wines named in the books as well as preview essays that were in the Japanese editions. The prices for the wine have been updated as the essays were written since 2004. Vol. 4 with the Second Apostle will be released in June with the last volume in English in September.

The winner of the 2011 Golden Elephant Award for International Genre Fiction, Enma the Immortal novel by Nakamura Fumi-sensei will be released in April 2012. (Due to Vertical’s connection with the selection process, whenever a book wins, they’re obliged to publish it.) “Fantasy tale set in Japan…has some elements of the shinsengumi with some themes leading up to modern Tokyo.” Dark Horse will adapting the comic.

Mr. Reaper by Miyanishi Tatsuya is Vertical’s second children’s title. The hardcover edition is $16.95, being released in April 2012. “Mr. Reaper follows a hungry wolf who bumps into a sickly piglet. The wolf tries to nurse the piglet back to health.” The reaper is the narrator and is present everywhere so it’s a game to find it on every page. “Very fun art and touching story.”

Edge by Suzuki Koji-sensei is a story about an earthquake. Chavez notes that the story was written before the events in Tohaku last year. “Mother Nature is frustrated with mankind since they have failed to find last digit of pi. Until the number is located, earthquakes will ravage the planet.”

The Flowers of Evil vol. 1 by Oshimi Shuzo-sensei is a “modern-day twist on romance inspired by the poetry of Baudelaire.” It’s nominated for the 2012 Manga Grand Prix and was selected as one of the top manga of 2011 by Takarajima Co’s “Kono Manga wa Sugoi”. “A tale of a young teen living in rural Japan who doesn’t have much of an outlook on life outside of reading books. A classmate ends up shaking him out of that and ends up opening up a new world.” Vol. 1 will be released in May, vol. 2 in July and vol. 3 in October 2012.

Also released in May, the novel Pro Bono by Matsumoto Seicho-sensei is a mystery novel that reveals the culprit at the beginning. Then we follow the person who knew the culprit as he “try to frame someone else for the crime.” It has been adapted into movies about 8 times since it’s conception.

Aside from mysteries, we have A Guru is Born which is a comedy by Kitano Takeshi-sensei.

Chavez introduced ’10 Minute Bento’ as one of their few cookbooks which was not something filled with cute characters but “very tasty, very quick and hearty meals for people like me who just don’t have time to cook and can’t go out for lunch everyday.” Recipe previews are on the Vertical site with more info on their Facebook.

Shinkai Makoto-san’s 5 Centimeters per Second manga, illustrated by Yukiko Seiki is going to be released on June 2012 as a 560 page omnibus for $18.95. The cover features Akari in the front and Takaki in the back with cherry blossoms. Definitely will be a breathtaking manga adaptation to a breathtaking movie (anime on Crunchyroll.) Chavez warns fans that they will be in tears…since everyone in their office were in tears.

Sakuran by Anno Moyoco will be out in July 2012 in time for SDCC, featuring hundreds of pages in color as they were in the Japanese edition. The cover that is very striking is still not final, but Chavez promised that the design team hopes to not change much. The promo postcard they initially wanted to feature turned out to be fanart so they will change it.

Message to Adolf part 1 by Tezuka Osamu-sensei will be released in August 2012. There will be two parts, each 614 pages and priced at $26.95.

Limit by Suenobu Keiko is “a modern-day shojo tale of high school bullying with a Lord of the Flies twist.” Vol. 1 will be released in September with vol. 2 in November.

Body by Nonami Asa-sensei has short stories each focusing on a different body part and “how we look at ourselves and our bodies represent our sin.” This horror collection will be relased in October.

One of the most surprising titles is Heroman by Stan Lee and illustrated by Ohta Tamon. Chavez notes that the manga is not just a “smart introduction” to manga reading and traditional Japanese sci-fi tropes of kaiju and giant monsters, but a fun introduction to American superheroes. This is a great manga for kids going into manga and comics at ages 10 and up. The setting is in Los Angeles with a young teenager who wants to become a hero. He finds a toy and that is where the story begins…. Vol. 1 will be out in October with vol. 2 in December.

Winner of the 2012 Golden Elephant Award for International Genre Fiction, Grey Man by Ishikawa Tomotake-sensei will be released in late 2012 or early 2013. Very recent acquisition since the winner was only annouced on 2/23 in Japan. “A young man in a deadend job at a jewelry store…one day a guy in grey came into his shop and while the main character contemplates suicide, the grey man-who seems to be there to rob the place-gives him another opportunity in life. He gives him an opportunity to join him in biggest heist in Japanese history: to rob the Japanese mint.”

The most surprising announcement is undoubtedly the Perfect Visual Collection for Queens Blade. The artbook will be in hardcover featuring character art, bios, world guide and endings for the original game. Released in November 2012 at $35.95. When questioned about why they would release Queens Blade, Chavez remarked ‘Why not?’ and notes that it will challenge the market. Vertical will be releasing other artbooks in the future.

Vertical also has plans to release an origami book with hundres of folding patterns for everyday accessories…to the delight of origami fans everywhere. After the announcements, the floor was opened for Q&A.

Q: How did you end up with the Queens Blade artbook?

      *laughs* I’m not even sure we paid for it yet…. *fans laugh* Contracts have already been exchanged. Alcohol was


      involved…not that I know of. A variety of titles are being released by Vertical, manga and not. Some titles are suggestions from publishers we associate with. In the case of

Queens Blade

      , although it is not a clear favorite amongst the staff, we know people would want to get this book. *holds up the Japanese edition* If some of you want to look at it, put some plastic on it and don’t get it dirty. *fans laugh*


Q: Is Grey Man a simultaneous release worldwide?
A: That’s what we’re hoping for. It will be released in Japan a little bit earlier and there are still translation issues. We’re trying to do a global simultaneous release with France, hopefully Taiwan. Korea is about the same schedule was Japan.

Q: Has sales for Lychee Light Club and No Longer Human been justified for bringing more Furuya-sensei titles?
A: Numbers for Lychee Light Club has been okay. I knew that No Longer Human would be highly favored for the academic market which it is, but that market is very limited. Retailers saw Lychee from us and they sort of compared this new series with that although it is a bit older. Booksamillion didn’t give it much of a chance. It does okay on Amazon. That said, we’re looking for other Furuya-sensei titles, like the Lychee prequel which was released not too long ago in Japan. Vol. 2 was just released this week. It’s only a 2 volume prequel. We are looking at more Furuya titles but it may be more up to him than anyone else.

Q: Concerning Limit and the extent of bullying….
A: The bullying element is something I hung on to for marketing potential. The reason we picked it up is because it was a shoujo title that us old guys at Vertical could understand. Usually shoujo is too visual-heavy and the panels go crazy with sparkles and flowers. Limit doesn’t do any of that. Once you get through the half-way point in the first volume, it’s literally a surival story with highschool girls.

Q: Any titles with happy endings coming out soon? *audience laughs* Besides GTO….
A: Obviously Heroman has a happy ending. *pause* There are plenty of happy endings in Queens Blade! *audience laughs* You can choose your ending…. *laughs*

Chavez lists the the panels that he has for the weekend with a promise of chest hair for the ‘Manly Manga’ segment.

After the panel, I approached Chavez to ask about Drops of God which he mentioned wouldn’t be completed since the sales numbers weren’t up to what they were suppose to be. Upon inquiry, Chavez stated that the number of people who bought vol. 1 was about 8000. However, only about 2000 books were sold for vol. 2. He believes that people picked up vol. 1 because of wine and sex, the two things that many media articles focused on from vol. 1…which truly wasn’t the focus of the series at all. However, after reading vol. 2, the audience realized that it wasn’t about sex and the subject of wine can even be considered laughable to Western audiences. I stated that it was surprising since this manga series is still a best selling manga in Asia today which contrasts the dwindling sales in the US. There was even a drama series in Japan and wine sales have notably increased in Asia due to the series. Chavez explained that people in Asia are not as familiar with the concept of wine as in the West. The subject is new so the points mentioned in the series are novice ideas which are interesting. However, Western readers may find the subject material to be too simple since drinking wine in the States isn’t such a big deal and people already know alot about it. For such an awesome series, it is unfortunate that only 10 volumes of the Japanese edition would be released though I completely understand the marketing decision.

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