Kodansha Comics announced three new manga licenses this week, and it's an interesting mix: One new action title (with plenty of fanservice), a slightly twisted shoujo manga, and something for the more sophisticated reader from Natsume Ono. Up till now, Kodansha's line has been pretty straightforward genre manga, so that last one is a bit of a departure for them. Here's the rundown:
Battle Angel Alita: Last Order: This is the sequel to Yukito Kishiro's Battle Angel Alita, a series whose title neatly encapsulates the concept: It's about a girl cyborg who fights. It's been around for a while, and James Cameron plans to make a movie about it... eventually. Viz published the first 15 volumes of this series because it was published in Japan by Shueisha, one of Viz's parent companies. Then an editor had the temerity to ask Kishiro to change some dialogue, a (non-cyborg) battle ensued, and he eventually took the series to Kodansha's Evening magazine. And on the other side of the Pacific, Viz's loss is Kodansha USA's gain; they will pick up the series with vol. 16.
Missions of Love (Watashi ni xx Shinasai!): This shoujo manga is by Ema Toyama, whose Pixie Pop and I Am Here have already been published in English. It's a high school story about Yukina, a standoffish girl who has a relationship with Shigure, the most popular boy in her class. The twist is that both have secret live: Yukina is a cell phone novelist, and she gets her inspiration from the "missions of love" that she blackmails Shigure into performing. So that's ... different.
Danza: A collection of six short stories by Natsume Ono, who is probably best known for her House of Five Leaves. Ono's stories are usually set in Edo-era Japan or modern-day Italy, but these stories take on a variety of different milieux, including New York City policemen. It's likely, though, that several of the characters will be handsome older men who wear glasses. The stories were originally published five years ago, and they are drawn in Ono's earlier, rougher style (as in not simple and La Quinta Camera), as opposed to the more refined look of her more recent books. Viz has published all of Ono's other work in English.
All three books will be part of Kodansha's fall lineup.