Paradise lost?

July 5, 2007

Is Hiroki Endo’s Eden: It’s an Endless World! (Dark Horse) looking at a hiatus? That’s the word from Ed Chavez at MangaCast, who thinks this would be a big loss for fans of manga in general. He also notes how unusual it is for a manga publisher to leak this kind of news:

“I have never heard a comment like that made at a panel before, so for a fan like myself it really sent a message as to how much DH loves that title and how much it needs help, as well. I never want to see a title discontinued or put on hiatus and generally when they do suffer such fate fans of the series are often the last to know.”

He goes on to suggest that fans pick up a copy of Eden at their local bookstore and give the title a chance, which highlights what might be one of the problems the series is facing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it (or a lot of my favorite Dark Horse manga titles) in a bookstore. I’ve seen Banya, the Explosive Delivery Man with some regularity, and a handful of others, but their seinen stuff is generally confined to the Direct Market. That might be a regional thing, and larger urban areas may be blessed with stores that carry full runs of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service and Mail.

Even if it did find a home at your local Barnes & Noble or Borders, would it fly off the shelves? Kethylia isn’t convinced:

“This is not new news. The overaged fanboys can lament the demise of Raijin Comics and the failure of DMP to follow through with the seinen side of their initial “mandate” all they want. It just doesn’t change anything. They might be the ones to protesteth loudest on the Internet, and they might be the ones in control of the manga industry, but they’re not the ones with the buying power. And if it’s not clear to you by now who IS the demographic with the buying power, I’ll spell it out for you–Girls and Women. Who do not, surprise surprise, flock to Blood and Breasts in satisfyingly large numbers.”

It’s a persuasive argument, and seinen junkie Tina Anderson expands on it in the comments:

“Shonen does well for VIZ largely due to the fact that there are just as many women reading those damn titles from JUMP as their are men; I’m a fan of seinen, but damn if I always fail at trying to convert my (female) friends and get them to try it.”

It’s not hard to conclude that the seinen fan’s life is one of recurring disappointment and loss. DMP has abandoned titles like Worst and Bambi and Her Pink Gun, and even Dark Horse seems to be testing the shôjo (or at least shôjo-friendly) waters with books like Translucent and Red String.

For an extremely well-written qualitative look at Eden, check out Katherine Dacey-Tsuei’s review at Manga Recon:

“More importantly, Endo makes us care about the outcome of these battles by creating characters that the reader… well, I won’t say ‘identifies with’ in the sense that these characters inspire empathy. They don’t. Most are violent, misanthropic, and flawed, with little regard for others. Yet their fierce determination to survive and their desire to find dignity in dehumanizing circumstances make them compelling and believable, even when Endo’s narrative is not.”

Update: MangaBlog’s Brigid learns that reports of Eden‘s potentially imminent demise may have been exaggerated.