The social media scene is buzzing on the TOKYOPOP page as fans mourn the the news of the L.A. closure, and with it the publishing. Disappointment mingles with speculative questions. Possible Answers are exchanged alongside memories, and resources via links are offered up as suggestions to where to continue to look for favorite titles. April 15, 2011 was the exact date when the official announcement was made by founder Stu Levy that it all was coming to an end on May 31, 2011 Many businesses have been hit by the recession both on a national and international level. Layoffs, closed locations, vanishing names, and shuttered doors are a sign of the times. Hard times indeed. They aren’t the first nor the last. As an appreciator for the work that was produced all fourteen years, it leaves a little bruise on the heart.
For those who aren’t aware of the path that lead to the end of the era, feel free to segway over here to The Beat. The article is written well, including the company and personal statements. What you’ll find here is a reflection of a time that has come and gone. In 1997, I was fourteen years old. There wasn’t anything markedly special about this age to me except it was one year older than thirteen. What changed the tide of skepticism was entering in to my school’s anime club. This extra curricular was a lunch time special once a week that allowed us to congregate in a class room where a teacher joined us in the watching of, what else, anime! From here would spring plentiful conversation of which was better, the manga or the show? We traveled through one another’s collections with insane vigor. If we read our school books as fast as we read Sailor Moon, we’d perhaps have doctorates from an ivy league university. Among the titles that were pushed about were those that featured the familiar logo of the little space cadet dude on the side. Sailor Moon, Chobits, CardCaptor Sakura, and Magic Knight Rayearth have been long time favorites. (Chobits, Sakura, and Rayearth are now published by Dark Horse ) After high school, I remember seeing the first cover of Shutterbox #1 at a Comic-Con. Not being able to resist, I picked it up. So many characters still live in my head. Picking up one of these mangas is like picking up any other well loved book for me. Waiting for release dates, crowding in to the book store all for the chance to own a copy of whatever was wanted.
Another reason that TOKYOPOP meant something was that I noticed it took a chance on content by writers just crossing the threshold of referring to themselves as the kids who used to snap up the books, now to be the ones giving them life. When you dream, you dream big. The Rising Stars of Manga helped to spotlight new talent in the English language area. While I never entered and often wished I had, it was one of the stars climbed on the way up to a broader sky. While my manifestations of word and art come to little to late for this, it stands out a vivid example of someone giving a hand out when they reached the step just before. I admired how it helped others realize their potential to shine.
Yes, the company will go on to distribute still in the international market. Yes, it will keep the place in Germany. Yes, it will participate in other forms of media…still. It won’t be down the freeway in Los Angeles anymore. It won’t be that home grown tour de force. Nostalgia grips deep. TOKYOPOP now joins the likes of Suncoast Motion Picture Company. Erect ever in the minds of those that enjoyed it most. I know business isn’t pretty, and the corporate world can be a bitch. I know that to go from so many down to six people, what were they to do?
There are still the pictures to enjoy if you find them online. Your own personal collections. If you are lucky and a fan, enter the contest to be part of the private garage sale they’ll be having to divest themselves of inventory. Still. By May 31, 2011, TOKYOPOP will be gone. Another sign of the times, and a little something to me to mark the end of an era.
Goodnight, old friend. Goodnight.
Favorite TOKYOPOP titles you remember, a series you wonder who might take up? Any other favorite titles from other publishers you want to turn another on to? Favorite TOKYOPOP manga cosplay? Thoughts on the American industry in general? Take to the comments section of the blog or the Geeky Chic fanpage to share!