By now I’m sure you’ve heard about Tokyopop’s forthcoming demise. The publishing company that helped bring Japanese manga to North America in English is closing up shop. While Tokyopop does have a bit of a checkered past, and many may even think that it brought this upon itself, it’s still sad to see the company disappear after 14 years.
So this week, Important Importables is going to honor Tokyopop and help you find some manga to pick up. After all, once the North American branch is gone, all those series will go out of print. We don’t know if some, or even any, will even be picked up by other North American manga publishers. Let’s take a look at some series gamers might want to grab before they’re gone.
Tokyopop manga inspired by video games
If you’re a gamer, then the best place to start when getting into manga is to read manga based on video games. The story is familiar, you might learn something new and there’s a good chance you’ll like it – especially if you loved the original game or series.
- Alice in the Country of Hearts: This is a manga series based on the Quinrose otome game Heart no Kuni no Alice. Basically, Alice comes to Wonderland, and most of the inhabitants are handsome men who all fall in love with her. Typical shojo fare. Tokyopop released five volumes of this series, each one costing $10.99. It was supposed to release the sixth volume in July, 2011, but that probably isn’t going to happen now.
- Atelier Marie & Elie: This is losely based on the Japanese GBA entry in the Atelier series, Atelier Marie, Elie & Anis. Marie is the daughter of a famous alchemist and has come to Zarlburg Royal Magic Academy. There, she meets Elie, and the two open a alchemy workshop together. This is a five volume series, but Tokyopop only released the first four volumes. Each costs $9.99.
- Castlevania Curse of Darkness: This is a two volume manga inspired by the PS2 and Xbox game of the same name. Think of it as a prequel, as it sets focuses on Hector, the game’s main character, as he leaves Dracula and tries to find a life for himself among ordinary people. As you can guess, that didn’t go well. Each volume costs $9.99.
- Devil May Cry: Tokyopop covered two Devil May Cry manga adaptations. The first was a two volume series called Devil May Cry, inspired by the game but only loosely based on it. This series is out of print, so good luck finding it. The second series is Devil May Cry 3, based on the game of the same name. It was a three volume series, but like Atelier Marie & Elie, Tokyopop only released the first two volumes – Code I “Dante” and Code II “Virgil”. You can still find them for $9.99 each.
- Kingdom Hearts: Tokyopop used to have the licenses to the Kingdom Hearts manga series, and released all four volumes of Kingdom Hearts, both volumes of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and the first two volumes of Kingdom Hearts II. All of the series are adaptations of the video games, though they’re generally more lighthearted than the source material. The series is already out of print, so you’ll have to buy it used.
- Ragnarok: Ragnarok is a manhwa (Korean manga), but it was published by Tokyopop and inspired by the MMORPG of the same name, so it works. It was a 10 volume series inspired by Norse mythology, following Chaos, an amnesiac who is Baldur reincarnated. It’s a standard shonen adventure. All 10 volumes are available in English, and you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding them.
- Sakura Taisen: Tokyopop grabbed this seven volume series based on the RED and Sega visual novel/strategic RPG series. It’s a steampunk series set in the 1920′s, where a group of women are actresses by day and members of the Imperial Assault Force Flower Division piloting mechs and fighting evil by night. They’re led by Ichiro Ogami, who’s one of the few men able to pilot a mech. You may have trouble finding the seven volume series, as it, like many others on this list, is out of print.
- : This is a pretty direct adaptation of the PS2 game Suikoden III. It also does a pretty admirable job of putting in cameo appearances of the 108 Stars of Destiny and following the three main characters – Hugo, Geddoe and Chris. All 11 volumes were released by Tokyopop, but you’ll probably have trouble finding any of the volumes before volume 6. If you do find them, expect to pay $9.99 each.
I think that about covers it for for video game manga series Tokyopop released. If I missed any, let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the list!
Tokyopop manga that later inspired video games
Many anime and manga series also inspired video game spin-offs. It’s a logical move, companies figure they can entice fans to spend money on a game adaptation. Or, sometimes fan-demand makes companies create them. While a lot of anime and manga inspired games don’t make it to North America, it does happen. So some of these manga sound familiar to you.
- .hack: The .hack series encompasses a number of anime and manga series all set in a fake MMORPG called The World. Namco Bandai released both the .hack and .hack//G.U. PS2 series in North America and Tokyopop brought the .hack//4Koma, .hack//G.U.+, .hack//Legend of the Twilight, .hack//LINK and .hack//XXXX series to North America. .hack//4Koma is a $12.99 one volume manga, the three volumes of .hack//Legend of the Twilight have been compiled into a one $19.99 compilation and you can find assorted other volumes of the other series in stores for between $9.99 and $10.99.
- Ai Yori Aoshi: This was a more mature series about childhood friends who were betrothed. They meet again as adults and fall in love. It inspired a PS2 and Windows PC game of the same name. You can even still get the PC dating sim/visual novel version from JBox. Tokyopop released all 17 volumes in English and you can get them for $9.99 each.
- Cowboy Bebop: Ok, so the North American release of the game was canceled, but regardless. Everyone who’s ever watched Adult Swim late at night knows Cowboy Bebop. Tokyopop released two Cowboy Bebop series – one called Cowboy Bebop that was a three volume collection of original mini-adventures and one called Cowboy Bebop: Shooting Star that was a two volume alternate adventure. Each volume costs $9.99.
- Rave Master: Surprisingly enough, some of the Rave Master GameCube and GBA fighting games made it to North America, and Tokyopop released all 32 volumes of the manga series in English as well. It follows Haru Glory and Elie as they attempt to find the Rave stones to complete a sword and stop Demon Card from unleashing Dark Bring on the world.
COMING NEXT WEEK: Important Importables lists iPhone visual novels to test out.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week reviewed Katamari Fortissimo Damacy.