Funimation Acquires Manga Entertainment UK

May 29, 2019 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Other Stuff | 2 Comments
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Yugi shaking hands with Joey while their friends watch in episode 135

Funimation today announced that it has acquired Manga Entertainment UK, a London-based anime licensor and distributor. Manga UK is the current distributor of all Yu-Gi-Oh! anime on home video in the United Kingdom and has also brought Yu-Gi-Oh! movies to theaters throughout the country. The company offers some Yu-Gi-Oh! Blu-ray and DVD products that are not available in other markets, like the remastered version of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light and Yu-Gi-Oh! movie bundles.

Manga UK confirmed that there will be no changes to its Manga UK brand and that its employees still remain with the company.

Funimation was the distributor of Yu-Gi-Oh! on home video in the United States until 2009.

(News from Funimation, h/t ANN)

Yu-Gi-Oh! Among Top Anime Properties for TV Tokyo in 2018

May 14, 2019 at 11:00 am | Posted in Japanese, Other Stuff | 1 Comment

Seto Kaiba clenching his fist in episode 108

Yu-Gi-Oh! licensor TV Tokyo today announced its financial results for its 2018 fiscal year (March 2018 through March 2019). TV Tokyo is a massive enterprise whose businesses include television broadcasting, content licensing, and video streaming, among other things.

TV Tokyo’s anime properties generated ¥19.7 billion (about $180 million) in sales over the year, with nearly 70 percent of that coming from overseas.

The company revealed that its anime titles accounting for the highest number of sales were:

  1. Naruto
  2. Boruto
  3. Yu-Gi-Oh!
  4. Black Clover
  5. Bleach

Additionally, the titles generating the highest gross profits were:

  1. Naruto
  2. Boruto
  3. Pokemon
  4. Black Clover
  5. Yu-Gi-Oh!

Overall, TV Tokyo recorded a net profit of ¥3.2 billion (about $29 million), a 46.6 percent drop from the previous year. Its sales increased 1.4 percent, to ¥149.2 billion (about $1.36 billion). The company noted that its overseas and streaming businesses were vital to its income outside its domestic broadcasting businesses.

(News from TV Tokyo Holdings 2018 Financial Results Supplementary Materials, h/t The Nikkei)

Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 5: More Photos

April 28, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Other Stuff, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 3 Comments

At MAGIC 2019, Yu-Gi-Oh! creator Kazuki Takahashi was more than happy to pose for photos and take part in videos, giving fans an opportunity to share highlights of his rare public appearance. In this final look at MAGIC 2019, here are some more photos of Takahashi and Yu-Gi-Oh! from me and from MAGIC’s organizer, Shibuya Productions.

Advertisements for MAGIC 2019 could be found all over Monaco, from banners hanging on light posts to posters in the shopping malls. Here are two digital screens in the Monaco-Monte-Carlo train station, where a video advertisement showcased the event’s guests.

MAGIC 2019 video ad showing artwork of Yugi and Kaiba by Kazuki Takahashi at the Monaco-Monte-Carlo train station

MAGIC’s Facebook page shared a photo of Cédric Biscay, the president and CEO of Shibuya Productions, posing with Takahashi the day before the convention.

Cédric Biscay and Kazuki Takahashi
Photo by Shibuya Productions

Later that evening, all of MAGIC’s guests and VIPs attended a gala dinner at the Fairmont Monte Carlo hotel. Here’s a photo from cosplayer Elisa Kotori of one of the tables. That’s Takahashi seated at 3 o’clock, decked out in a dark grey suit and a maroon necktie.

Kazuki Takahashi's table at the MAGIC 2019 gala dinner
Photo by Shibuya Productions for Elisa Kotori

Also at this table is Leiji Matsumoto, creator of Captain Harlock (seated at 1 o’clock); Yu Suzuki, writer and producer of the Shenmue games (at 5 o’clock); and Christopher Lambert from the Highlander movies (at 9 o’clock).

Some of the guests signed and doodled on a copy of the menu. There’s Yugi in the upper-right corner. What a cool keepsake!

Menu from the MAGIC 2019 gala dinner with signatures and sketches from some of the guests
Photo by Shibuya Productions

March 9 — MAGIC’s big day! Here’s a shot of Takahashi speaking at the opening ceremony with Shueisha editors Yoshihisa Heishi and Naoki Kawashima behind him.

Kazuki Takahashi, Yoshihisa Heishi, and Naoki Kawashima at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony

“Hello, I’m Takahashi. Thank you for inviting me to gorgeous Monaco and this marvelous event. I’m so happy to meet you all,” he said to the audience.

Here’s Takahashi next to parapsychology researcher Alexis Champion and sci-fi manga legend Leiji Matsumoto at the opening ceremony.

Kazuki Takahashi, Alexis Champion, and Leiji Matsumoto at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony

And here’s Takahashi with action movie star Wesley Snipes of Blade and Demolition Man fame.

Kazuki Takahashi and Wesley Snipes at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony

On Facebook, MAGIC posted a few photos of Takahashi’s Q&A and live drawing sessions. Here’s a wide shot of the stage and Yugi on the big screen.

Kazuki Takakashi on stage at his panel at MAGIC 2019
Photo by Fabbio Galatioto for Shibuya Productions

In addition to the menu doodle and his live drawing session, Takahashi drew at least one more time while he was in Monaco. Biscay tweeted this small picture of Yugi signed by Takahashi. The text says “To Cédric-san!”

Kazuki Takahashi's drawing of Yugi for Cédric Biscay at MAGIC 2019
Photo by @CedricBiscay

Based on the date on the drawing and the presence of booze in the background, I’m guessing this photo was taken at the MAGIC after-party. And the fact that Biscay tweeted this at 1 a.m. the day after MAGIC, haha.

Last Thursday, Shibuya Productions uploaded a video highlighting the awesomeness that was MAGIC 2019. How many times can you spot Takahashi in the video? (He’s in more than ten shots!)

Here he is speaking with MAGIC’s TV presenter, Shellee Nicols.

Kazuki Takahashi talking with MAGIC 2019 TV presenter Shellee Nicols
From video by Shibuya Productions

And here’s Takahashi posing with some DC Comics statues at the MAGIC after-party held at the La Rascasse bar and nightclub.

Kazuki Takahashi posing with some DC Comics statues at the MAGIC 2019 after-party
From video by Shibuya Productions

I hope you had fun in Monaco, Mr. Takahashi!

* * *

Back to the beginning:
Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 1: Manga Contest Judge

Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 4: Live Drawing

* * *

If you enjoyed reading about Kazuki Takahashi’s appearance at MAGIC 2019, please check out my coverage of San Diego Comic Con 2015, which includes a narrative of Takahashi’s hour-long panel about his career and the unveiling of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions.

V Jump 2018 Reader Demographics

April 22, 2019 at 6:00 am | Posted in Japanese, Other Stuff | Leave a comment

Reiji Akaba asking Adam who he is in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 32

Japanese publisher Shueisha recently uploaded its 2019 media kit, which includes readership statistics for its numerous magazines, including V Jump, the home of the Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga. The media kit compiles data from January 2018 through December 2018.

V Jump, a monthly magazine focused on gaming, trading cards, and manga and anime news, reported a circulation of 187,500 with 90 percent male readers and 10 percent female readers.

The age range of its readers are as follows:

  • Elementary school students (1st-3rd grade): 20%
  • Elementary school students (4th-6th grade): 25%
  • Middle school students (7th-9th grade): 24%
  • High school students (10th-12th grade): 12%
  • College students: 4%
  • Adults: 15%

Its readers also reported owning the following video game consoles:

  • Nintendo 3DS: 90%
  • Nintendo Switch: 40%
  • PlayStation 4: 35%
  • Other: 40%

The top three regions in Japan where V Jump was sold are the Kanto region at 33.2 percent, Kansai at 17.6 percent, and Tokai at 10.8 percent.

(h/t Nemesis162)

Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 4: Live Drawing

April 18, 2019 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Duel Monsters, Other Stuff, Series 1, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 2 Comments

Kazuki Takahashi preparing to draw live at MAGIC 2019, with Sahé Cibot

After his question-and-answer session, Kazuki Takahashi had one more treat for attendees at MAGIC 2019.

“As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words,” said Matthieu Pinon, the panel’s moderator. “So, Mr. Takahashi will now draw in front of you to thank you for the support you have given him during his career.”

On the table in front of Takahashi was a large wire-bound drawing pad. Takahashi dried his hands on a handkerchief as a photographer set up a camera beside him. An image of the drawing pad appeared on the big screen above the stage. Before he even picked up a pen, the loudspeakers began blaring a fast-tempo song with choric chanting and raucous percussion.

Kazuki Takahashi drawing Yugi's eyes during his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

It was the tail end of the song “Symphonic Suite DEVIL, Third Movement: eXORCiST” by Hiroyuki Sawano from the first Blue Exorcist soundtrack. And honestly, I found the music to be extremely obnoxious. Its blazing fast pace made it feel like this would be a speed drawing event. Certainly the convention wanted epic music to accompany this epic moment, but I remembered that when Takahashi participated in a live drawing session at San Diego Comic Con 2015, he had requested quiet from the audience. I felt bad for him.

Kazuki Takahashi drawing Yugi's face and head during his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

But Kazuki Takahashi is a master of his craft. If he was bothered by the music, it certainly didn’t show. He soldiered on with an intense focus, beginning his illustration with Yugi’s eyes.

Kazuki Takahashi drawing part of Yugi's shirt collar and the outline of his hair at his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

At SDCC 2015, Takahashi had described the importance of Yugi’s eyes in determining his look, and that the first part of Yugi he draws is always his eyes. This was still true here at MAGIC.

Kazuki Takahashi drawing more of Yugi's hair and his chain at his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

Eventually, the music changed to “Darkness” from the Thunderbolt Fantasy soundtrack, also by Hiroyuki Sawano. Its slower, but nonetheless grand, melody was a welcome change.

Kazuki Takahashi drawing and shading more of Yugi's clothes at his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

Takahashi didn’t make any sketches using a pencil; he immediately began inking. He was using Mckee oil-based marker pens by Zebra, which have a nib on each side, thick and thin. He started with the thinnest point has he drew Yugi’s eyes and face, then switched to a thicker point as he drew the outlines of Yugi’s hair.

Kazuki Takahashi drawing more of Yugi's hair and adding layers at his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

Takahashi used the thickest point of his pens to shade Yugi’s clothes and add layers to Yugi’s hair.

Kazuki Takahashi shading more of Yugi's clothes at his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

In just six short minutes, he was finished. Truly a master of his craft. He signed and dated his illustration.

Kazuki Takahashi signing his name on his completed illustration of Yugi at his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

Then he posed for pictures.

Kazuki Takahashi posing with his illustration of Yugi at his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019, with Matthieu Pinon and Naoki Kawashima

Close-up of Kazuki Takahashi posing with his illustration of Yugi at his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

Later, on Twitter, Cédric Biscay, the president and CEO of MAGIC’s organizer, Shibuya Productions, posted a close-up of Takahashi’s drawing.

Close-up of Kazuki Takahashi's Yugi illustration drawn live at MAGIC 2019
Photo by @CedricBiscay

Voilà! A stellar performance and a masterpiece from Kazuki Takahashi, the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh!, at MAGIC 2019.

* * *

Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 5: More Photos

Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 3: Interview

4K Media Renamed to Konami Cross Media NY

April 1, 2019 at 6:00 am | Posted in Konami, Other Stuff | 4 Comments

Konami Cross Media NY homepage

Konami Digital Entertainment announced today that 4K Media, its New York subsidiary responsible for the licensing and management of the Yu-Gi-Oh! property outside Asia, has been renamed to Konami Cross Media NY as of March 31, 2019. The name change reflects the company’s expanded business endeavors with other Konami-owned properties, like Bomberman, Contra, and Frogger.

4K Media Inc. was originally known as 4K Acquisition Corporation and was founded in mid-2012 by Konami. As its name implies, the sole purpose of 4K Acquisition was to buy 4Kids Entertainment’s Yu-Gi-Oh! business, which 4Kids sought to sell following its court victory over Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Japanese licensors in a contract dispute. After completing the sale, Konami renamed 4K Acquisition to 4K Media later that same year.

(News from Konami)

Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 2: Autographs

March 22, 2019 at 9:00 pm | Posted in Other Stuff, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 4 Comments

Close-up of Yugi's face on Kazuki Takahashi's MAGIC 2019 shikishi

Autographs from Kazuki Takahashi are always in high demand, even in the world’s second smallest country. But when the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh! came to Monaco to attend MAGIC 2019, few people could have predicted just how competitive the autographing scene was, not only for Takahashi but also for all of the other guests.

All autograph sessions at MAGIC were first-come, first-served. And even though MAGIC isn’t a large event — its sole panel room seats only 400 people, and the organizer caps attendance at 3,000 — there was no telling what the crowds would be like. There might also be a language barrier; most of the staff and attendees would certainly be French speakers.

So how did things go? This is my story…

I arrived at the convention center, the Grimaldi Forum, at 6:30 a.m. knowing full well that the doors wouldn’t open until around 9:00 a.m. and that Takahashi’s autograph session wasn’t until 4:00 p.m. There were already four people waiting at the entrance. Alongside them was a row of almost a dozen backpacks on the ground, each reserving a spot in line.

One person, a friendly gentleman from Paris in his late 30s or early 40s, greeted me. I was relieved that he spoke English. He had been queuing since 1:00 a.m., making him the…second person to arrive. He came to MAGIC to get the autograph of Leiji Matsumoto, the creator of Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999. He talked about how rare it was to see Matsumoto and how he didn’t want to miss this chance to attend his autograph session at noon.

Friendly Parisian pointed at the row of bags on the ground. He explained that among autograph seekers in France, there are unwritten rules about the importance of respecting each other and the line queuing procedure. The reason for these rules, he said, is because there is often poor queuing etiquette in France. I didn’t really understand but I happily placed my bag in the line to hold my position. When I told Friendly Parisian that I was here to see Kazuki Takahashi, he warned me to be careful. There would be a lot of young people wanting to see him too, he said, and they might not be mindful of queuing etiquette.

Even before sunrise, more men and women gradually began to show up. Almost all of them were French speakers who seemed to know each other; I could tell because they all greeted each other by kissing. Friendly Parisian explained that most of the people who had arrived so early were members of a clique that specialized in collecting autographs. That’s why they were familiar with one another. Most of them had come to meet Matsumoto too. Soon, a woman from Japan showed up with a modest Captain Harlock ita-bag. Later, a boy, probably around 9 or 10 years old, lined up. He claimed to be a serious Yu-Gi-Oh! card collector. Drat. Competition.

Everyone was very friendly toward one another. There was an understanding that we all there for a common goal. Even though not everyone spoke English, I felt comfortable and upbeat among these like-minded people. I told myself that this would be a great event.

By the time the venue opened at 9:00 a.m., there were maybe two hundred people in line. After checking in, I hurried over to the autographing area, but that part of the convention center wasn’t open yet. Friendly Parisian and other autograph seekers were already queued up to enter. I evaluated the situation. The crowd wasn’t that big and most of the people there were interested in Leiji Matsumoto’s and other guests’ autographs anyway. No one seemed to be there for Kazuki Takahashi’s. I decided to leave and go to the opening ceremony instead.

MAGIC 2019 welcome message image shown on the big screen

Minutes later in the auditorium, Friendly Parisian took a seat near me. I was surprised to see him. What happened to the line? He explained that, rather than continuing to queue for hours on end, the autograph seekers decided to keep track of their positions in line by writing a number on the back of their hand.

Very smart. These attendees were resourceful and experienced. They understood how to deal with potentially stressful situations like autograph queues. What a relief. Once again, I felt comfortable, like I was in good company. I decided to stay in the auditorium past the opening ceremony to watch Leiji Matsumoto’s panel.

At 11:00 a.m., I headed over to the autographing area. I was mortified by what I saw.

Huge lines. Everywhere. Some weren’t even lines. They were just…clusters of people. There must have been close to two hundred people crammed into the very small waiting space. Lines were extending out of the autographing area and spilling into the adjacent exhibition area. Convention staff members were busy repositioning the lines so that they snaked around the perimeter of the area. There was a lot of yelling among attendees as people tried to jump the queues while they were being rearranged. A handful of intimidating suits kept a watchful eye on the area, ready to stomp on anyone misbehaving. All the while, guests were busy at their tables in the center of the autographing area. There were of course more lines in front of their tables.

I spotted Friendly Parisian at what appeared to be the front of a cluster. What happened to the organized numbering system? He didn’t know. It was chaos. Other attendees wouldn’t respect the numbering system. Staff wouldn’t recognize those as official lines anyway. Attendees didn’t know what was going on. Would Friendly Parisian still get to meet Leiji Matsumoto? He didn’t know. Everyone there was just standing around waiting for answers and hoping for the best.

I immediately felt a sense of urgency. I had become too complacent and forgotten why I had arrived early. Did I mess up? Was I too late? My pulse started to rise. I desperately tried to find someone who knew what was going on. Pardon, parlez-vous anglais? Parlez-vous anglais?

Finally, I found an English-speaking staff member. As luck would have it, she seemed to be in charge of the autographing area. I asked about Kazuki Takahashi. She said there was no line yet for his autograph session. It looked like there was no space to start a line for a session that wouldn’t even take place for another five hours, and the crowd only continued to grow in size. The staffer was very busy managing the area and bolted.

In a short period of time, I had become very tired and stressed. There were four guests signing in the next hour, including Leiji Matsumoto. At the moment, crowd control was obviously a problem. Maybe things would cool down later, I thought. Maybe the organizers would have a better queuing system in place later. There was nothing that I could accomplish anyway standing in this sea of madness. I made a critical decision. I decided to leave.

I’m glad I did because I instantly felt better. Some lunch should do me good too.

I returned to the autographing area at 1:00 p.m. and saw a some Yu-Gi-Oh! cosplayers queuing on a narrow ramp that led down to the autograph tables. The line looked short. I approached them and asked who they were waiting for, even though I already knew the answer. Kazuki Takahashi. At last. I counted the number of people in line. There were maybe 30 people ahead of me. I’m in a decent position, I thought. The line was filled with almost all teens and young adults, all very excited and taking out their Yu-Gi-Oh! goods to decide what to get signed.

It seemed like I arrived at just the right time because within five minutes, the length of the line had almost doubled. Things must have begun to get dicey because shortly after, a staffer showed up at the front of the line to address the attendees. It was the same woman who I had spoken to earlier.

She explained that Kazuki Takahashi had brought a shikishi — a Japanese autograph board — to give out at his autograph session. He would only sign the shikishi and nothing else. She said that she would hand out the shikishi right now and that only those who received one would be allowed to attend his autograph session. There were a very limited number of shikishi, she emphasized.

Instantly, I felt someone breathing down my neck. A young man was behind me and I could feel him attempting to squeeze past my left side. Oh for goodness’ sake. Why, Friendly Parisian, did your prediction have to be so accurate?!

I positioned myself in the middle of the ramp and held my left arm straight out to my side.

“No. You are behind me,” I told him sternly in English.

“Oh,” he muttered. Did he speak English? I don’t know, but he backed off.

Immediately after that, another voice further behind me called out, demanding that people stop pushing. I turned my head to look. It was a man, probably in his 40s. A member of Friendly Parisian’s autographing clique, maybe? I felt a sense of relief. Like-minded people.

As I neared the front of the line, the staffer was still handing out shikishi and reminding everyone to return at 4:00 p.m. to take part in the autograph session. When I approached her, she handed me the shikishi. It was printed with a new illustration of Yugi by Kazuki Takahashi.

Success. Relief. Joy!

I looked at the box she was carrying that contained the shikishi. It had “50” written on it. I peered inside. It was almost empty. There were maybe three or four left at the bottom.

Are. You. Serious.

I did not stand around admiring the artwork. I immediately packed away the shikishi and left the area. I did not want to be there to see what would happen when the staffer announces that there were no more.

Kazuki Takahashi signing for fans at his autograph table at MAGIC 2019

I returned to the autograph area a few minutes before 4:00 p.m. I saw some familiar faces queuing in a line up against a wall. The Yu-Gi-Oh! cosplayers were there too, posing for passersby while waiting. I joined the end of the line.

While I waited, I spotted Friendly Parisian walking around. I waved and asked him if he was successful in his quest to get Leiji Matsumoto’s autograph. Yes, he was successful, he said. I felt so happy for him.

Kazuki Takahashi’s interpreter, Sahé Cibot, approached the queue and asked each of the attendees their name. She then transcribed their name into katakana — the Japanese writing system used for foreign words — on a small piece of paper and gave it to the attendee. Takahashi would be personalizing each shikishi, and writing the names in katakana would be quicker and easier for him than writing in English.

Kazuki Takakashi arrived shortly after 4:00 p.m. He was accompanied by Sahé Cibot, Shonen Jump deputy editor in chief Naoki Kawashima, and one other assistant. In small groups, attendees moved from the waiting area against the wall to the center of the room where his table was located.

From the queue, I watched him smile as he greeted each fan who approached his table. He was using a silver pen to sign the shikishi. The ink must have been very wet because he repeatedly wiped the pen on some scrap paper before and after each signature.

One attendee gifted Takahashi a Funko Pop! figure of Hellboy, an American comic book superhero by Mike Mignola that he loves.

Kazuki Takahashi receiving a Hellboy Funko Pop! figure from a fan at MAGIC 2019
Kazuki Takahashi smiles as he receives a Hellboy Funko Pop! from a fan

Soon, it was my turn. I handed his assistant a card that autograph-seeking attendees are required to carry. The card was used by the convention to stop people from lining up multiple times in one autograph session to score multiple autographs.

Not that it was possible to do this during Takahashi’s session anyway.

MAGIC 2019 visitor badge and autograph card
Despite what the card says, Kazuki Takahashi did not hold a morning autograph session

The assistant punched a hole my card and gave it back to me.

I greeted Kazuki Takahashi and handed him the shikishi with both hands and the paper with my name on it. He read my name aloud and dabbed his pen on the scrap paper again, wiping away the excess ink. He began to sign.

“Mr. Takahashi, thank you so much for coming to Monaco,” I said anxiously while I watched the quick and elegant strokes of his pen.

“Oh, thank you,” he replied, his voice deep and calm.

In my mind, I will always have more to say to him. About what a big part of my life Yu-Gi-Oh! has played. About how happy I was to see him doing so well. About what an honor it was just to be in his presence. But he was already done signing and there was no time for chitchat. I thanked him again for the signature and left.

Days after the event had ended, MAGIC announced on Facebook that, for the first time in its five-year history, all the attendees had arrived in the morning and stayed until the end of the event in evening. Presumably, that meant that in the past, there were larger numbers of attendees who came and went over the course of the day.

Such an increase in traffic might explain why the staffers had difficulty managing the crowds. Combined with the fact that MAGIC was hosting such high-profile guests like Kazuki Takahashi and Leiji Matsumoto, I sympathized with the organizer’s predicament. It was messy, and there were certainly many things that MAGIC could have done better, but I’m not oblivious to the the challenges of managing autographing events and meeting attendees’ expectations.

Anyway, I would happily welcome a first-come, first-served autographing experience like this any day over, say, having to be selected via a random lottery.

Kazuki Takahashi's MAGIC 2019 shikishi and signature

Close-up of Kazuki Takahashi's signature on his MAGIC 2019 shikishi

Yesterday on Instagram, Kazuki Takahashi posted his shikishi artwork and left a message for his followers: “I participated in a manga awards event held in Monaco. It was a lot of fun meeting foreign Yu-Gi-Oh! fans! Thank you!”

No, thank you, Mr. Takahashi.

* * *

Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 3: Interview

Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 1: Manga Contest Judge

Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 1: Manga Contest Judge

March 15, 2019 at 5:00 pm | Posted in Other Stuff, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 2 Comments
Tags: ,

Kazuki Takahashi and Tanatach Chokcharoensup at MAGIC 2019

Imagine being a young comics artist, having your work praised by Kazuki Takahashi, and getting to see it published in Shonen Jump. This happened last Saturday, March 9, at the MAGIC 2019 event in Monaco.

MAGIC — short for Monaco Anime Game International Conferences — is a one-day convention held in the city-state of Monaco, southeast of France. MAGIC has some similarities with other events of its kind, like panels about anime, video games, and comics; a roster of big-name celebrity guests; an elaborate cosplay competition; and autograph sessions.

MAGIC 2019 advertisement poster at the Monaco-Monte-Carlo train station
MAGIC 2019 advertisement at the Monaco-Monte-Carlo train station
Artwork by Leiji Matsumoto

But MAGIC isn’t an ordinary convention. Its organizer, Shibuya Productions, is the producer of two new Astro Boy series, an original animation based on Buichi Terasawa’s Cobra manga, and the upcoming Shenmue III video game.

Shibuya Productions also has a special relationship with Shueisha, the Japanese publisher of Shonen Jump and one of the owners of the Yu-Gi-Oh! property. Each year, Shibuya Productions and Shueisha sponsor the MAGIC International Manga Contest, giving budding manga creators from around the globe a once-in-a-lifetime chance to work with Shueisha. Winners of the contest have their work published in Shonen Jump+ for the entire world to read. Furthermore, they also receive a one-month trip to Japan to meet professional manga creators and to work with Shonen Jump editors to potentially ink a yearlong publishing deal.

As part of the evaluation process, MAGIC invites one high-profile Shonen Jump manga creator to serve as a contest judge. In previous years, Nobuhiro Watsuki (author of Rurouni Kenshin) and Tite Kubo (author of Bleach) served as judges. This year, the esteemed manga author who helped judge the contest was none other than Yu-Gi-Oh! creator Kazuki Takahashi.

Kazuki Takahashi speaking at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony
Kazuki Takahashi greets the audience at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony

Also joining Takahashi as judges were two important people from Shueisha and Shonen Jump.

First was Yoshihisa Heishi, who leads the third editorial section at Shueisha, bringing together the company’s Weekly Shonen Jump, Jump SQ, V Jump, and Shonen Jump+ publications. Heishi has the distinction of being the founding editor of Takahashi’s Yu-Gi-Oh! manga and previously served as Weekly Shonen Jump’s editor in chief.

Second was Naoki Kawashima, deputy editor in chief of Weekly Shonen Jump. Kawashima has worked on titles like Bleach, One Piece, and Sket Dance. While he served as the editor of One Piece, Kawashima was famously told by author Eiichiro Oda that he should be prepared to “die for One Piece.”

Both Heishi and Kawashima are also credited in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions as “planning coordinators,” along with the Weekly Shonen Jump and V Jump editorial departments.

Yoshihisa Heishi and Naoki Kawashima at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony
Yoshihisa Heishi (left) and Naoki Kawashima at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony

The manga contest’s panel of judges was rounded out by Sahé Cibot, general manager of Shibuya International; and Hervé Trouillet, artistic director of Shibuya Productions.

Prior to the convention, the MAGIC International Manga Contest’s entries were whittled down to just ten works. These ten were submitted to Takahashi, Heishi, and Kawashima in Japanese for them to read. Then, the pool of ten was further narrowed down to five finalists. At MAGIC 2019, these finalists each presented their works in a 30-minute slide deck presentation to the five judges.

Ultimately, the first place winner of the 2019 MAGIC International Manga Contest was Tanatach Chokcharoensup from Thailand, who wowed the judges with her story, Mara – The Lawyer of the Parallel Universe.

Tanatach Chokcharoensup at the MAGIC 2019 manga contest awards ceremony
Tanatach Chokcharoensup at the 2019 MAGIC International Manga Contest awards ceremony

Mara takes place in Pandemonium, a land populated by demons. Naga, a clan of immigrants new to this land, is accused of ravaging and burning a village. Now on trial, the leader of the Naga clan, in an act of desperation, summons the wily mythical demon Mara to defend them in the Demon Tribunal. Unfortunately for the Naga clan, the so-called demon Mara turns out to be a mere mortal lawyer — a twelve-year-old human child!

Mara image by Tanatach Chokcharoensup

As Chokcharoensup explained in her presentation, in Buddhist lore, the demon Mara is an antagonist and a trickster that represents fear and desire. Mara tempted Prince Siddhartha, the Buddha, who was seeking the path to enlightenment.

At the awards ceremony at the end of MAGIC 2019, Chokcharoensup received a trophy and a Wacom Cintiq Pro tablet for her victory. She thanked the judges and posed for photos.

Participants in the MAGIC International Manga Contest at the awards ceremony at MAGIC 2019
Left to right: Naoki Kawashima, Kazuki Takahashi, Tanatach Chokcharoensup, Sahé Cibot, Hervé Trouillet, Charles Compain (third place winner), and Fabien Ronteix (runner-up) at the awards ceremony

Later, Chokcharoensup posted her own photos on Facebook of Takahashi and the other finalists and of her trophy and tablet.

Look for Mara – The Lawyer of the Parallel Universe in Shueisha’s Shonen Jump+ digital publication in the near future.

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Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 2: Autographs

‘MANGA Plus by SHUEISHA’ Service Offers Free Manga Globally

January 28, 2019 at 12:00 am | Posted in ARC-V, Other Stuff, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Advertisement for MANGA Plus by Shueisha

Shueisha, the Japanese publisher of Weekly Shonen Jump and one of the owners of the Yu-Gi-Oh! property, has entered the direct global manga distribution scene with MANGA Plus, a new manga website and Android and iOS app.

MANGA Plus by SHUEISHA offers free English-language simulpubs of numerous series from Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump, Jump SQ, V Jump, and Shonen Jump+ publications, including Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V. Many of the available titles have never been released in English before! At launch, MANGA Plus offers over 30 simulpubs. Readers will also be able to buy graphic novel volumes of certain titles.

Unlike VIZ Media’s new Shonen Jump initiative, Shueisha’s MANGA Plus platform does not include a back catalog. However, Shueisha plans to serialize completed series, one chapter at a time, through MANGA Plus. There is no word yet whether Yu-Gi-Oh! or its many spin-offs will be included in this line-up.

But the biggest difference is in its availability. MANGA Plus is accessible in every country in the world, except Japan, China, and South Korea. This differs from VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump, which only serves English-speaking markets. For now, MANGA Plus is available just in English, but a Spanish version is forthcoming.

There is truly no better time to be a manga fan than today!

(News from ANN 1, 2)

The New Shonen Jump: Free Simulpubs and a 10,000-Chapter Back Catalog

December 7, 2018 at 7:00 pm | Posted in Other Stuff | 5 Comments

New English-language Shonen Jump logo unveiled in December 2018

Free manga simulpubs! Access to a back catalog of more than 10,000 chapters! The manga dream has come true.

VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump magazine has been delighting English manga readers since 2002. The past six years, VIZ has been publishing new Jump chapters the same day they are released in Japan in its Weekly Shonen Jump digital magazine. Today, VIZ Media announced that Shonen Jump is undergoing its biggest transformation to date. Gone are its digital magazine and annual subscription. Instead, starting December 17, Shonen Jump will offer simulpubs for free.

Furthermore, readers who want even more manga can access the Shonen Jump back catalog containing over 10,000 chapters for $1.99 per month. “Nearly every” Shonen Jump title will be available, says VIZ. New users will be able to test out the service with a free seven-day trial. Current annual subscribers of WSJ will have their memberships automatically converted to the new Shonen Jump membership and will also receive three additional months for free.

For more information, watch the announcement video from Hisashi Sakaki, VP of Global Shonen Jump at VIZ Media, and check out VIZ’s announcement page. Current WSJ subscribers will also want to read the FAQs.

The New Shonen Jump and Yu-Gi-Oh!

VIZ’s announcement does not specifically say that the ongoing Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga is among the titles being simulpubbed in the new Shonen Jump. In Japan, the series runs in Shueisha’s monthly V Jump magazine. However, since it is a title that is currently serialized in VIZ’s WSJ magazine, it would be a big shock if it weren’t also included in the new Shonen Jump. (Of note, Dragon Ball Super, which also runs in V Jump and is already simulpubbed by VIZ for free, is specifically named as one of the titles included in the new Shonen Jump.)

VIZ also does not name any of the titles included in its vault of 10,000 chapters. Are any of the past Yu-Gi-Oh! series included? Almost of them have been serialized in VIZ’s print or digital Shonen Jump magazines. And all of them are already available for sale digitally anyway. We’ll just have to wait until December 17 to see what’s in the back catalog.

What about the semiannual WSJ Jump Pack print magazines sold at Scholastic book fairs? There’s no word yet on what will happen to these. I’ve reached out to VIZ and will post an update once I have more information.

With the end of the English Shonen Jump magazine also comes the end of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG promos. Annual subscribers will receive a final special set of four cards in the mail.

Update (December 10): The Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V simulpub will continue!

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