Ex-Tokyopop Editor Reflects On Company’s Growth And Following Dark Days

By Ishaan . May 29, 2011 . 1:29pm

Over at Anime Vice, ex-Tokyopop editor, Tim Beedle, has a rather succinct post written on the subject of the company’s days of growth and their eventual downfall due to — in his opinion — a lack of focus (via Mangablog).


Beedle believes that Tokyopop’s manga was doing just fine, and that the company’s troubles came from trying to do too many things at once, such as their foray into TV development and social media.


Here’s an excerpt from the post:


“I think it was this last point that really started the avalanche for TOKYOPOP. Sometime around 2005 or so, licensing really became more of a challenge. All of the highly demanded and anticipated titles in Japan had been licensed, and manga publishers were forced to switch from licensing titles with known demand to attempting to determine which titles currently being released in Japan might break out and become the next big thing. Combine that with far more players in the field (in addition to VIZ and Dark Horse, we now had Del Rey, Yen Press, CMX and Go! Comi) and exclusivity deals being signed by the biggest manga publishers in Japan, and all of a sudden this growing industry and company had hit a very real ceiling.”


It’s an opinion piece, of course, but considering that it comes from a longtime ex-employee of the company who was present during both the company’s best and worst times, it’s worth a read if you’re still looking to make sense of just what happened to Tokyopop over the last few years.


Image sourced from Tim Beedle’s official website.

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  • Aara_Malik_Davoodi

    If someone had asked me years ago which English Manga publisher would be the first to go under, I would have said Tokyopop. They always seemed like they had niche titles to me. So when the economy went under, it’s not like they were making huge sales in the first place, you know what I mean?

  • They failed because they had no concept of finance, even from the beginning.  When they started getting some popular titles, i had a discourse going back and forth with someone there.  We discussed finance, and they asked if i was interested in working there because he had an opening.  The few basic questions i asked (nothing that would be a trade secret or anything) showed a company where acquisitions were working separate of finance, which is a recipe for disaster. 

  • zhemos

    Tokyopop died to me when they quit releasing Moon Phase. It’s bad to say but I’m happy they’re gone. Maybe now someone will get the license and finish It. 

    • WonderSteve

      Yeah, it sucks that many series may never see the light of day again when a publisher goes under.

      • Aara_Malik_Davoodi

        Not necessarily. It is often the case that another publisher will pick up the series to finish it, especially with series where there’s just a few volumes left because they know lots of people are going to buy it

        • Joanna

          Actually it really depends. Most of the lesser known titles will probably get passed over because publishers have concrete sales data and know it won’t be worth it (I’m betting most of TP’s titles are going to fall through the cracks and won’t be seen again. Most of the ones that will be rescued, have already been announced like Cardcaptor Sakura, Rayearth, Tokyo Mew Mew, etc.) Also in the vast vast majority of cases, even if there is a few volumes left to translate, the new publisher will want to reboot from volume 1 in an attempt to get new fans on board (Aria, Tenjho Tenge, Yotsuba, etc.). Usually they reboot from volume 1 while continuing with the latter volumes at the same time, pleasing new and old fans alike.

          • Aara_Malik_Davoodi

            I was speaking more generally, but yes, in this case, since Tokyopop seemed to carry more “niche” titles, I’m sure many of them will remain unlicensed for quite some time, if not forever. 

          • Joanna

            oh ok. I do hope Tokyopop’s manga eventually do find a home, but I’ve just been burned a few times before (Bride of Deimos, Swan). I guess it’s because my tastes lean towards the niche/unique. I’m actually surprised Gakuen Alice hasn’t been rescued yet. I thought that was pretty popular. I currently collecting it and all volume are out of print so I’m in quite the predicament again…

    • I’m still a little bitter over the fact that they axed the Atelier manga with ONE VOLUME to go (and it was even written and edited, I know this for a fact). I keep hoping that’ll see the light of day… someday.

  • WonderSteve

    7 publishers are probably too many.

    Even more mature oversea market like Taiwan and Hong Kong have only 3-4 major publishers. Each of them has the own “super-best selling” series to sustain the company. This allows them to try to license manga by less well known artist and may occasionally obtain a “sleeper hit.” We could be seeing one or two more English publishers shutting down.

    It is also ironic that oversea manga publishers are using anime fansubs as a guide to see which series are worth licensing. Without the fan-subbing community, some manga like “Kimi ni Todoke/From Me to You” or “Cross Game” probably won’t make it oversea.

  • puchinri

    I think it was the way they handled manga, plus dabbling into too much at once and I won’t forget how they handled that manga pilot thing of their’s.
    Tokyopop just upset me way back when anyway though. I’m glad that some of their stuff went to other publishers at least.

  • nyoron

    My heart is broken over the loss of Keroro. The dicks didn’t even release volume 21 which was scheduled for this month and I’m sure was basically finished at this point. Somebody rescue the series, please ;_;

  • Zero_Destiny

    I really hope someone picks up Deadman Wonderland and Future Diary again. Those were the two big mangas that I bought from them in recent years and I really did enjoy those two series a whole a lot.

  • PrinceHeir

    add in inconsistent text, and censoring as well as delayed volumes and multiple ones at the same time.

    so yeah i am not surprised. i just hope Viz picks up all the titles from tokyopop. especially Kaichou wa Maid sama for a Vizbig pack :P

  • Tokyopop lost me when they became…well, Tokyopop.  I still remember waiting for my MixxZine and getting a TokyoPop magazine instead with some model on the cover.  It got disappointing watching them double up manga pages so they could put in more articles and whatnot. They’ve picked up good series over the years and had some interesting ups and downs, but it really feels like they lost their focus a long time ago.

  • Tokyopop really was awesome back earlier in the last decade and I got some good shoujo titles from them, but over the years with other publishers coming into the scene it looks like the couldn’t get the good titles like they used too.

  • noxian

    no one will claim piracy ever helped the situation.

    but its nice to see an guy who worked so closely with one of the major publishers (one that pretty much survived only only publishing manga, not as a manga publishing extension of an existing larger publisher) as one of its editors acknowledge that the kneejerk “blame the piracy!” response is shallow and ignores so many of the poor business decisions the American manga industry walked itself into.

    decisions that doomed TP as much as, if not more than, any piracy did.

  • AceStrata

    does anyone know what manga is pictured in the blog page that leads to this? The guy with the flame bandana is from??

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