On April 15th 2011, Tokyopop announced the closure of its North American publishing division. As of May 31st, 2011, the company that helped bring Manga to the masses in North America shuts down operations in the region of its founding. In 1997 they published “Sailor Moon” manga in their serial manga magazine “Mixx”, as well as other popular and substantially offbeat manga titles like “Welcome to the N.H.K.”, “Battle Vixens”, “Mahoromatic Automatic Maiden”, “Grenadier”, “+Anima”, and “Rave Master” to list a few of many.
While Tokyopop’s operations in North America come to a close, the company’s European and flim operations will remain largely unaffected. The company will continue operate globally via their branch in Germany.
Furthermore on May 24th Tokyopop stated that all of their licensed manga titles will go back to their original license holders, of whom are free to license their manga, internally, or to other companies if they wish, (possibly meaning that Viz could potentially own just about ALL manga series publishing in North America, if they wish to acquire it, unless another company, like Kodansha or Del-Ray, steps up and or is created).
The closure of Tokyopop is a significant hit to the North American manga market (for better or worse), they were one of the first companies to sell and publish manga in the region and as such helped spur the medium into the collective conscious of its people. On that note, here’s to hoping that other companies will pick up any series that have yet to be completed under Tokyopop’s North American license, and that the existence of this company in North America is remembered for, if nothing else. A legacy, one of revealing lesser known manga series, and giving them a chance in the light of the manga industry in North America. Finally, may they be honoured for being one of the first major companies to publish manga “unflopped”, not “mirrored”, read from right to left format, and offering manga connoisseurs (of this region) their first taste of manga in its original format. Farewell Tokyopop, may your legacy sleep in peace.