Manga at Anime Expo: New titles from Viz, Digital, Bandai

The Digital Manga Guild got rolling at Anime Expo with the announcement of 23 yaoi manga that will be translated by fans and posted online; Viz announced several new comics for its iPad app, including InuYasha, as well as one freebie; and Bandai has licensed a cute Lucky Star spinoff and a new Gundam manga.

Viz announced three new titles for the iPad app (all previously published in print): InuYasha, I'll Give It My All... Tomorrow, and Grand Guignol Orchestra. InuYasha is an "iPad exclusive," which is their way of saying "not available for iPhone/iPod Touch," but the other two are available for all three platforms. In addition, they are offering a free download of vol. 1 of Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan for an unspecified time, to celebrate their simulcast of season two of the anime, which launches today on their VizAnime site and Hulu.

Bandai had two fan-friendly announcements at AX: Mobile Suit Gundam 00I, which is a side story in the world of the Mobile Suit Gundam 00 television anime, and the Lucky Star spinoff Boo Boo Kagaboo, which started out as a doujinshi (fan made comic) and was picked up by the publisher. Here's a look at the original Japanese version. Like the original, Boo Boo Kagaboo is a 4-koma (4-panel) gag comic, but one of the characters, Kagami, has been transformed into a cute chibi pig.

The news at the Digital Manga panel was all about the Digital Manga Guild, a crowdsourcing program in which groups of fans translate, edit, and letter manga that will be published online. Digital CEO Hikaru Sasahara has said that hundreds of volumes of manga will be published this way, and the first three titles were announced last week. They announced another 20 titles at their AX panel. The DMG manga will be available digitally via the eManga website.

Five years ago, manga was a huge presence at Anime Expo, but last year I looked back at previous shows and saw a sharp decline, in part because many of the smaller California-based publishers (Aurora, Broccoli, Go! Comi) have shut down. Last year, the manga publishers were Bandai (which is better known for its anime line), Digital, Tokyopop, and Viz; this year, Tokyopop is missing, having shut down its U.S. publishing operations at the end of May. But don't count manga out just yet; San Diego Comic Con is just around the corner, and we're expecting some big announcements there (and just beforehand, which is when the big news seems to break these days). Stay tuned!

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