From vampires to fashion models to Roman baths, the new titles announced this past weekend will make some interesting reading in the months to come.
Let's start on the East Coast, where Vertical marketing director Ed Chavez announced a new license at Anime Boston: Ai Yazawa's Paradise Kiss. Previously published by Tokyopop as five single volumes, the series tells the story of a bored student who becomes a model for a group of clothing designers. The series was the topic of a blogger carnival, the Manga Moveable Feast, last year, so interest has been high even though it has been almost ten years since the first volume came out in English. Yazawa is also the creator of the hugely popular ongoing series Nana.
Over in Seattle, both Yen Press and Dark Horse had some surprises to announce at Sakura Con. Yen's list of new announcements included at least one must-have series, Thermae Romae, a gag manga that brings together the one thing that modern Japanese have with ancient Romans—their love of public baths. It's the story of a bath designer in ancient Rome who can travel through time to see how other people design their baths. This quirky series won the Manga Taisho award, which is voted on by manga editors, a few years ago.
Most of Yen's other announcements have a tie-in to their current series. Kaoru Mori's A Bride's Story just got a well-deserved nomination for an Eisner award, and Yen is following up its beautiful presentation of that series with a book of short stories by Mori, Anything and Something. Umineko When They Cry is an adaptation of a visual novel by the author of Higurashi When They Cry, and it's sort of a sequel; this series will be released in omnibus format, with each U.S. volume containing two of the original Japanese volumes. Triage X is a new series from the creator of Highschool of the Dead, The Misfortune of Kyon & Koizumi is an anthology of short manga featuring the two characters from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Alice in the Country of Hearts: My Fanatic Rabbit is a spinoff of the original Alice in the Country of Hearts, which was originally published by Tokyopop and will be published by Yen Press later this year. Standing on its own is Blood Lad, by Yuuki Kodama, the story of a girl who is trapped in the demon world and must rely on the help of a vampire to get her life back. Finally, Yen announced that the last three volumes of Chocolat will be released as a single omnibus volume.
Some of Dark Horse's announcements will also have a familiar ring to longtime manga fans; they include Evangelion: Comic Tribute, an anthology of fan stories about characters from Neon Genesis Evangelion, with contributions from Mine Yoshizaki (creator of Sgt. Frog), Koushi Rikudo (Excel Saga), and Yun Kouga (Loveless), among others. They also announced Emerald and Other Stories, a collection of short stories by Blade of the Immortal creator Hiroaki Samura, and Deva Zan, an illustrated novel by Yoshitaka Amano (Vampire Hunter D). There were also two other properties that aren't linked to current licenses, Oreimo and Blood-C, a manga adaptation of a television anime co-authored by CLAMP (although the manga itself is by a different creator).