The long wait is over for fans of Del Rey manga—but those who are looking forward to Kodansha USA's brand-new titles will have to wait a bit longer.
Kodansha USA is the U.S. subsidiary of Kodansha, Japan's largest publishing house and the owner of most of the manga series made popular by Del Rey. Last year, the two companies pulled a switcheroo that reader may find puzzling, although it makes sense when you think about it: Kodansha pulled its manga licenses back from Del Rey in order to have Kodansha USA publish them directly in the U.S. However, they hired a division of Random House, Del Rey's parent company, to do the actual editing and production of the books, and they had the good sense to include Del Rey associate publisher Dallas Middaugh on the team. Most of the May and June releases are continuations of Del Rey series, but there are a few new titles in there as well. The logo on the spines of the books will be the name of the company inside an inverted yellow triangle, and continuations of Del Rey series will carry the familiar Del Rey logo (an elongated oval) as well. Here's the list:
Fairy Tail, vol. 13
Shugo Chara!, vol. 10
Arisa, vol. 2
Negima!, vol. 29
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, vol. 1
Ninja Girls, vol. 5
Rave Master (omnibus), vols. 33-35
Air Gear, vol. 18
Negima!? Neo, vol. 7
Negima! Omnibus, vol. 1
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, vol. 1
Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei, vol. 9
The Wallflower, vol. 25
A couple of these are new, sort of: Ghost in the Shell has been around for a while, but Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is a new series within the franchise. Similarly, Del Rey has done other Phoenix Wright books, but Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is being published here for the first time. And the Negima omnibus is a new format for a long-running series.
The first brand-new Kodansha USA title, vol. 1 of Monster Hunter Orage, by Fairy Tail creator Hiro Mashima, comes out on June 28. It's about a monster hunter who joins a monster hunter's guild and teams up with a girl to hunt a monster, if the publisher's synopsis is to be believed.
Each of these series has their fans—Fairy Tail is a big shonen favorite along the lines of One Piece; Air Gear offers boobs, battles, and Oh! Great's energetic art; Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei is witty and sophisticated in a grownup sort of way. All have their devoted followings, but the manga that pleases me most on this list is the second volume of Arisa, a high-school mystery about a girl who impersonates her twin and discovers a sinister side to her school. I loved the first volume, and I'm looking forward to more.
Kodansha seems to be suffering a bit of an identity crisis: The announcement on Suvudu.com, Random House's sci-fi/graphic novel website, refers to the U.S. division as Kodansha USA Publishing, or KUP for short, which is a bit awkward. But Kodansha's own website is kodanshacomics.com, and the logo there is the letters KC, also in an inverted triangle (but dark red this time). Which is right? Who can tell? Hopefully they will figure this out soon, because a lot of readers really hate inconsistent spines.