TOKYOPOP Closing in the US

TOKYOPOP is shutting down their US division May 31st. In recent years the publishing company has fallen on tough times, like much of the manga market. Since February, TOKYOPOP has limped along with just 6 employees after a series of layoffs sparked by the Borders bankruptcy.

TOKYOPOP has brought manga  to the US since 1997 with hits like Sailor Moon and Chobits. They also introduced the more traditional right-to-left reading style.

So what does this mean for manga readers?

Manga will still be available through Del Rey, Viz and Bandai so it’s not like manga will disappear from the US. Manga lovers should take this shutdown as a warning. Manga publishing is almost as precarious as the newspaper business. With the proliferation of piracy, scanlations, and other means of reading manga, publishers are finding it harder to turn profit. No profit means no new manga.

The best way to reduce the chance of manga disappearing from the US is to purchase manga instead of reading scanlations. Yes, I know this is expensive for those of us who are manga addicts, but money keeps the mangaka fed and books printed.

If we aren’t careful manga may be only available (once again) online.  Pleasurable confusion about right-to-left reading  could very well become a memory. This isn’t to be a fear monger or anything. There is the same danger with traditional newspapers and other printed works. I, for one, prefer the feel of flipping pages and real ink over clicking and screens.

Besides, manga looks good on the book shelf.



  • It’s very unfortunate.
    I hesitate to place all the responsibility on manga readers though. There are severe barriers to buying manga in the US that I think it’s unrealistic to expect manga fans to purchase too many.

    Still, flipping through real pages is definitely much better than clicking the arrow keys.

    • I didn’t intend to place all the responsibility on manga readers. TOKYOPOP’s demise in the US mostly had to do with Border’s mistakes and a poor economy.

      It used to be difficult where I live to buy manga (and still is for the newest titles), and it is too expensive. Manga publishers would benefit if they would lower their prices.

      However, manga readers do have an influence on the market. Purchases are votes for what manga we will have here in the US and how quickly it makes it over here.

  • This makes me so sad. I don’t want manga to disappear! I was hoping to one day get a job at Tokyopop. I guess that dream is dead. Even their website is down.

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