Avril showers

Simon Jones rounds up reaction to Del Rey’s announcement of its inaugural foray into global manga and offers his own perspective at the probably-not-safe-for-work Icarus blog:

“Whatever one may feel about such transparent marketing-oriented books, the silver lining of such appropriations of the medium by big multimedia companies is that it advances the cache of manga as a culturally relevant phenomenon…

“I wasn’t all too thrilled with Tokyopop’s CineManga, but I’ve mellowed out over time… if those books manage to give manga more exposure to young kids, that’s one in the win column. Make 5 Wishes will hopefully do the same.”

I tend to agree. Make 5 Wishes doesn’t immediately sound like it promises to be an artistic triumph, and in spite of my well-documented fondness for manga aimed at tweens, I probably won’t be rushing out to snag a copy. But if it sells well with its target audience, it might give Del Rey more leeway to take chances with global creators who don’t have to collaborate with the TRL set.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Del Rey demonstrates excellent taste in the manga it chooses to license, and its production values are among the best in the category. But I sometimes have to remind myself that they aren’t some plucky boutique publisher. They’re part of a huge publishing empire, Random House, and they’ve got a partnership with one of the largest Japanese manga publishers, Kodansha.

In other words, they’re a corporate division. Miraculously, their status as such has not resulted in crappy titles, indifferently produced, but in really, really good manga. I don’t love everything they publish, but I love a lot of it.

At the same time, corporate divisions have to show results, particularly when they’re trying something new. Del Rey isn’t just trying to sell the audience on global manga; they’re selling Random House on it as well. So, as Tina Anderson suggested in comments over at MangaBlog, if it seems like they’re skewing the experiment in an excessively populist direction to guarantee initial success, they probably are.

If they keep rolling out global manga inspired by collaborations with pre-rehab pop stars or the cast of Hannah Montana, then I’ll gladly grab my torch and pitchfork. But as an opening gambit, this seems sensible.

7 Responses to Avril showers

  1. […] Avril Lavigne manga and imagines where this trend is heading. Simon “NSFW” Jones and David Welsh also have […]

  2. Dave Carter says:

    From what I’ve seen, the artist on the project–Camilla D’Errico–is rather good. Too bad I’m not remotely interested in the comic.

    However, D’Errico is also the new artist (at least for 2 issues) on Nightmare and Fairy Tales, so maybe I’ll pick that up, and hope that Make 5 Wishes gives her career a visibility boost to an OEL Manga project that is more to my taste.

  3. ed says:

    Hannah Mont-manga???

    I think I will be having nightmares tonight.

  4. davidpwelsh says:

    Then my work here is done for the day. Muahahahaha!

  5. […] Santos offers further celebrity-manga suggestions for Del Rey. Simon Jones and David Welsh offer additional commentary on the recently announced Avril Lavigne […]

  6. Mary says:

    the real shame about this is they are selling something that essentially amount to a free promotional give-away for her new album. this ties into the larger picture of more and more content full of product placement being stuffed down our throats as entertainment. i.e. the new james bond movie.

  7. davidpwelsh says:

    Yeah, this kind of corporate synchronicity is always kind of worrisome, especially when the target demographic is young. If I were to hazard a guess, though, I’d say Del Rey’s global manga line (and possibly licensed, depending on what kind of advertising goes into it) would get more of a lift from it than Lavigne’s record sales.

    I need some kind of graph to track the competing trajectories of the skater princess on the comeback trail versus the highly regarded manga publisher going global. Like one of Fametracker’s “When Stars Mate” features.

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