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TOKYOPOP Comes To An End

The company shutters its doors

By Chris Beveridge     April 15, 2011

According to The Beat, TOKYOPOP has now closed itself down after being reduced to just six employees in February. A pair of statements have been offered, one for the company itself and another by Stu Levy. TOKYOPOP has been on a downward spiral for a number of reasons the last few years and very recently made motions to return their site to being less about user generated content to being about the books themselves. Instead, it looks like they just couldn't do it any long and have given up. We've worked with a number of very talented people over the years at TOKYOPOP both on the creative side and the business side, and it's a definite loss overall as the company helped to change the nature of manga in the US and with bookstores. But they were a company that had many, many problems for quite a long time that have been well documented elsewhere, repeatedly. 

 For nearly 15 years, TOKYOPOP, led by Stu Levy, its founder, CEO and Chief Creative Officer, has pioneered the English-language manga movement and touched the hearts, minds and souls of enthusiasts worldwide.

Today, we are sad to inform our loyal community of manga fans, our passionate creators of manga content, our business and retail partners, and other stakeholders who have supported us through the years that as of May 31, 2011, TOKYOPOP is closing its Los Angeles-based North American publishing operations.

TOKYOPOP film and television projects and European operations, including the German publishing program, will not be affected by the Los Angeles office closure. In addition, TOKYOPOP will continue its global rights sales via its office in Hamburg, Germany.

 

And this:

 

A personal message from Stu Levy

 

Author: Stu Levy

April 15, 2011

Dear TOKYOPOP Community:

Way back in 1997, we set out to bring a little-known form of Japanese entertainment to American shores. I originally named our little company “Mixx”, meaning a mix of entertainment, mix of media, and mix of cultures. My dream was to build a bridge between Japan and America, through the incredible stories I discovered as a student in Tokyo.

Starting with just four titles — Parasyte, Ice Blade, Magic Knight Rayearth, and, of course, Sailor Moon — we launched MixxZine, aspiring to introduce comics to girls. These four series laid down the cornerstone for what would eventually become TOKYOPOP and the Manga Revolution.

Over the years, I’ve explored many variations of manga culture – “OEL” manga, “Cine-Manga”, children’s books we called “Manga Chapters”, the Gothic-Lolita Bible, Korean manwha (which we still called “manga” at the time), video game soundtracks, live-action films and documentaries, anime, and various merchandise. Some of it worked, some of it didn’t – but the most enjoyable part of this journey has been the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and creative people I’ve ever met.

Many of you also allowed me the indulgence to not only produce works but also to take a swing at creating some of my own. I’ve learned that it’s much easier to criticize others than it is to create from scratch – but in doing so, I’ve also in the process learned how to better communicate with creators.

Fourteen years later, I’m laying down my guns. Together, our community has fought the good fight, and, as a result, the Manga Revolution has been won –manga has become a ubiquitous part of global pop culture. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished – and the incredible group of passionate fans we’ve served along the way (my fellow revolutionaries!).

For many years Japan has been my second home, and I have devoted much of my career to bringing my love for Japan to the world – and hopefully in my own way, I can give back to the culture that has given me so much joy.

In closing, I simply want to thank all of you – our incredibly talented creators from all over the world, our patient and supportive business partners and customers, our amazingly dedicated TOKYOPOP team – full-timers, part-timers, freelancers and interns, and of course the greatest fans in the entire world. Together, we’ve succeeded in bringing manga to North America and beyond.

Arigatougozaimasu!!

 


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COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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1 
formerroadie 4/15/2011 11:57:16 AM

HOLY CRAP

insaneben 4/15/2011 1:45:19 PM

I'm shocked and saddened, yet somehow, after hearing this past February that they had laid off long-time stalwarts like Lillian Diaz-Pryzbyl (sp?), and that their publishing staff had been reduced to all of six people, I had a feeling it was only a matter of time before their manga division went belly-up.

And yet, they said their European manga division will remain operational. Will this mean they'll continue to publish books and get a third-party to distribute them? Or will this simply be the last domino to fall before Tokyopop devotes its remaining resources to film (and padding Stu Levy's bank account)? Only time will tell...

(On a personal note, I'm glad I got the remaining volumes of every other Tokyopop series I wanted... all except for Aria, which, depending on the days and months ahead, may either continue to be published, dropped and rescued by another publisher, or join "Harukaze Bitter Bop" and countless others in licensing limbo. Stay tuned...)

METR0lD 4/16/2011 7:59:00 AM

This comes as absolutely no surprise. It was clear for a long time that Tokyopop didn't know what they were doing as a business. If anything, I'm surprised that they lasted this long. It's a shame to see them go, but not surprising.

On a personal side though, I've never been a big manga reader. I've always been an anime guy, so them leaving the market will really have minimal to no effect on me personally. I just wish their employees the best of luck, as I know first hand how hard it is to lose a job.

Hectotane 4/16/2011 1:41:34 PM

"Not knowing what to do?"  More like "T-Pop couldn't tap into the true power that's the manga audience outside of Asia like Viz did."

It's sad.  But I'd rather just write it off as the "sign of the times."  Hopefully when the economy gets better, T-Pop will find a way to come back stronger and such.  That's usually how the story goes.

thrasher1986 4/25/2011 12:16:09 PM

 not shocked but i rfeally feel this one. tokyopop really oened everything up for american audiences and they were the ones that got me into manga when i bought my first manga. truly this will be a huge lose to the community. farewell good friends.

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