Dec 09 2017

New Hiroyuki Takei Interview is Being Created

On December 8th, 2017, Hiroyuki Takei’s Japanese editor for his on-going Nekogahara manga has recently tweeted a photo from an upcoming interview. In his tweet, he roughly says the following:

I went to a certain recording by Mr. Takei. A big success is on the way!

No further information on where or what form this interview will be was given in the tweet. However, looking around this photo provides a couple hints about the future are shown. First of all, on his desk, it appears he is working on a drawing for his Nekogahara manga series. With his editor being present, it’s likely that this interview will be a bit more focused on Nekogahara, rather than his other manga series.

However, if you look in the background, you can see that his shelves have been reorganized since the short Great Connection TV appearance.  Here’s the image from August (left) and the image from yesterday (right):

  1. Ultimo manga is no longer on the shelf
  2. Nekogahara volumes 1-3 are added to the shelf
  3. The original Shaman King 32 volumes are now added to the shelf
  4.  Both editions of the Shaman King Remix volumes are now added. Notice that they are also lined behind the original 32 volumes.

But the other thing to focus on is that the original 12  volumes plus volume 24 of Shaman King are out-of-order and look recently referenced. He has referenced that he is working on Shaman King again, but it’s a bit odd that it’s starting with those volumes, from the original Shueisha print run. It might be possible that he’s referencing the original material for a new Kodansha-labeled print of the Shaman King manga? Though, including volume 24 is out-of-place. Some other possible explanations might be that he is writing a new story for those characters, or that he’s working on a layout for a possible anime-adaption.

Hopefully the interview will come out soon, and maybe spread some light on what may be coming in the near future!

Dec 02 2017

Takei & Kodansha Selling High-End Art Prints from Shaman King & Ultimo

On December 1st through 3rd at the “Tokyo Comic Con 2017” event, the vendor Hundred-Art had a special booth dedicated to promoting upcoming Karakuridôji Ultimo and Shaman King art prints. Hundred-Art is a gallery and print shop that specialized in high-end art prints of pop-culture designs.

At the Hundred-Art booth, they were selling a limited print run of Dunstan from Karakuridôji Ultimo 100 piece mini-puzzles (“Pico”) for 1,500yen. The puzzle is 6.6cm² in size, and comes with a display frame for display. Several other mini-puzzles were on display on the booth walls, which included images from Shaman King, but were not for sale.

Additionally, a new copyright designation was listed on these puzzles. It was listed as © P,T/K which stands for “POW Entertainment, Takei / Kodansha.” This is the first time this copyright distinction has been used. Though previously assumed after Shueisha no longer had the license, this is the confirmation that the Karakuridôji Ultimo license is no managed by Kodansha in Japan. Interestingly an alternate logo (potentially placeholder) was used on the promotional website on Hundred-Art. The website also shows some future mini-puzzles that will be on sale, and are also included in the gallery below.

On the Hundred-Art website they have 30 pieces of artwork that are available for purchase. These were added for sale on November 21st and 22nd.  The product numbers are listed from 20360 to 20389 and feature images from Shaman King and Nekogahara. The Shaman King images were previously used for the second “Remix Edition” covers, images from Shaman King Zero, and some of the X-Laws Angels used in the “Shaman Files.” No images from Shaman King Flowers were added, and currently there is no Karakuridôji Ultimo items for sale.

Each print is available in the following configurations and price:

  • Canvas Print – 600mm x 450mm – 39,800yen
  • Canvas Print – 450mm x 335mm – 29,800yen
  • Quality Print – 600mm x 450mm – 14,800yen
  • Quality Print – 450mm x 335mm – 12,800yen

For the canvas prints, they are limited to 300 copies and come with a certificate card and are numbered. There is free shipping within Japan on these prints. Though none are available for sale yet, for the mini-puzzles (“Pico”) there is a 164yen shipping cost within Japan and are unable to be shipped outside of Japan. For the Canvas and Quality prints, Hundred-Art does accept international payment and shipping, however none of Hiroyuki Takei’s art is currently available internationally.

Hundred-Art also has a Twitter and Instagram account. Below are the pieces of art currently available for purchase from Shaman King and Nekogahara online in Japan.

Nov 27 2017

Shaman King Manga in Argentina to Reprint Previous Releases & New Volume Hold Until 2019

Back in August, the publisher Ivrea Argentina made a comment on it’s Facebook page regarding the publishing status of the Shaman King manga series. At the time, they were publishing new volumes of the Shaman King manga, which would total up to 34 volumes to cover the additional content in the Kang Zeng Bang (KZB or Perfect Edition) volumes. With the transition from Shueisha to Kodansha still being unclear, there wasn’t that much information available.

Starting on November 10th, Ivrea Argentina did respond to some posts which are roughly translated below. The recap is that it appears that International publishers can still reprint previously approved/released volumes in 2017 & 2018. This falls in line with some other international manga publishers who have been reprinting volumes over the last couple of months. However, it appears that in order for new volumes to be published, they will need to be renegotiated for the rights. For Argentina, it appears the earliest new volumes would be allowed will be in 2019 as they may need to wait until other contracts/rights expire. This is only reported from one publisher, but it seems to indicate the Kodansha can’t officially create new contracts until 2019 even though they are the current license holder. Volume 19 of the Shaman King manga was ready for print, but now appears to be delayed until 2019 in Argentina.

Post 1: Nov 10th

Question: Hi, I wanted to know if Shaman King is out-of-print? And if it is true that the author has already signed with the new publisher? Thank you.
Answer: The Shaman King out-of-print volumes 2, 3, and 4 will be reissued in the coming months. The author finally signed with Kodansha and we are initiating negotiations. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Post 2: Nov 10th

Question: Are you still editing/publishing Shaman King?
Answer: Yes. The volumes haven’t been printed in a long time because of the author’s quarrel with the Japanese publisher that sold us the rights, and it was not until a few days ago that it became official that he arranged [the rights] with another one. During all this time all international editions were frozen [from being published] for the same reason. So now we are negotiating to continue.
Answer: Shaman King volumes 2, 3, and 4 are going to be reissued in the coming months.

Post 3: Nov 13th/14th

Question: Hello, I wanted to know if there was any news about shaman king?
Answer: As Martin says. We hope to have news soon.
Answer: For now we can say that only at the end of 2018 Kodansha can start processing the license with us, so yes, we will be talking about the return in 2019.

 

Post 4: Nov 22nd

Question: I know you must be tired of this question, but… is there any news about Shaman King or is it still the same?
Answer: The author has already agreed with Kodansha to handle the rights, but by contract only in 2019 can they begin to process licenses. So that’s when we will start negotiating with them to continue our editions.

Nov 05 2017

Shaman King’s Japanese & American Trademarks Now Owned by Kodansha

Back in July and then in September , it was quietly announced that all of Hiroyuki Takei’s manga series that were managed by Shueisha would no longer be available. It was clear that there was some disagreements between Hiroyuki Takei and Shueisha for some time, and he was able to break away from his publisher this year. Since the availability of the digital and print manga has been removed, there has been some question on who Hiroyuki Takei’s next publisher for the manga series Shaman King, Jumbor, Butsu Zone, and Ultimo will be.

According to both the Japanese and American Patient/Trademark Offices, the new publisher for the Shaman King (シャーマンキング) manga will be Kodansha Co., Ltd. The original trademarks in the respective countries have been updated to list the new Holder/Owner.  New trademarks have not been filed, only updates to the original (which don’t require as much paperwork for the change). It appears that this change has started as early as January 31st, 2017. Jumbor, Butsu Zone, and Ultimo do not have current trademarks, so it is not confirmed if they are also being managed by Kodansha at this time.  Kodansha is the current publisher of Hiroyuki Takei’s on-going manga series Nekogahara.

It is important to note, that American trademark lists the Japanese “Kodansha Co, Ltd” as the trademark owner, which is separate from English publisher “Kodansha Comics.” The original American trademark also listed the Japanese publisher  “Shuiesha,” not the English publisher “Viz Media.” This does not mean that any English publisher has re-licensed the manga, and Viz Media has some rights remaining.

Hiroyuki Takei has hinted on Twitter that he is working on a continuation of his popular Shaman King manga series. However a publisher hasn’t been officially announced yet, but he was hoping for an announcement before the end of the year. Currently he is hiring some additional staff for an unspecified manga.

 

Oct 26 2017

English Nekogahara Volume 4 Release Date Pushed to June 2018

Kodansha Comics, the English publisher of Hiroyuki Takei’s Nekogahara:Stray Cat Samurai series, has recently shifted the release date of volume 4 to June 12th, 2018. Previously a placeholder date of February 6th, 2018 was set. No dates for the fourth Japanese volume has been announced yet. It’s also important to note that the placeholder for volume 5 of the English manga was removed. This is most likely because they are unsure of when that volume release will be, but at the earliest it could be in Fall 2018.

Typically if you hear about a manga volume being delayed that would sound like bad news. However, we can start making some new estimations based on this large bump in release date. Based on the last 3 English releases, they typically come out around 100 days after the Japanese release. Subtracting 100 days from June, puts a possible Japanese volume release in March 2018.

Nekogahara is just a manga series at this point. There are no product lines or an anime to promote. However, we will be a good portion into 2018, which is the 20th anniversary of the Shaman King series. A new manga series is extremely likely, but there could be other multimedia parts as well (Drama CD, Music CD, Anime, .etc).  Kodansha in Japan hasn’t officially become the publisher of Shaman King, Jumbor, Butsu Zone, and Ultimo yet, but that also is extremely likely.

So why would a “March 2018” volume release be noteworthy? The answer is the “obi” or the wrap-around ad /promotion that would be attached to the volume release. Typically these advertisements are reserved for promoting other manga or products (such as TV anime). When the Shaman King anime aired on TV, all of the current manga volumes at that time were reprinted. With a March release date, if there was some sort of Spring anime being released…. this would be a great promotion. Or possibly if some of Hiroyuki Takei’s manga was getting reprinted by Kodansha… this would fall in that timeline. If there was a new manga series being published… this could also be that cross-promotion to bring back the fans of Takei’s manga.

Not that has any bearing… but here are some other notable Japanese March releases from years past:

  • 2004: S.F.O.V (Shaman Fight of Vocal) music CDs
  • 2008: Shaman King Kang Zeng Bang volume 1
  • 2014: Karakuridôji Ultimo volume 1 digital release
  • 2014: Danball Senki: Gaiden (Jin Kaido Story) manga

This may all be just random speculation, but it does feel like if there was going to be a “big event” that March 2018 is lining up to be that time.

Oct 09 2017

Viz Media Removes English Digital Volumes of Shaman King & Ultimo

Viz Media, the current English publisher of the Shaman King & Ultimo manga series in English-speaking territories, has silently removed both of these series from purchase from all digital platforms. Unless purchased previously, neither of these series can be purchased in a digital format anywhere in the world. Back in July with Shaman King, and then later in September with Ultimo, Hiroyuki Takei has taken back the distribution rights from the Japanese publisher Shueisha. Particularly for Japan, this take-back was for both the digital volume as well as the print editions. Currently the volumes are still listed for sale for the print/paperback editions only on Viz’s website, and has all references to the digital volume sales removed.

Internationally, the individual publishers responses were mixed. Viz Media held the only remaining digital license for the manga series, so outside of Japan, there is no comparison. For print volumes, publishers are either only continuing with reprints (which don’t require Japanese editorial sign-off), or holding off printing new volumes until the licensing issue in Japan has been resolved.

If you had previously purchased the manga from a digital vendor, you should still be able to re-download the volumes. However ability may vary by service and could change over time.

Viz Media is owned by Shueisha, Shogakukan, ShoPro, and the Hitotsubashi Group in Japan, which makes their licensing agreements a bit more challenging.  Other international licensors (including Viz Media Europe), work independently of the Japanese publishers, which can help ease publisher transitions. Unless these series licensing agreements are transitioned to Shogakukan (who is currently publishing Hiroyuki Takei’s Hyper Dash! Yonkuro in Japan), it may be difficult for Viz Media to regain the English publishing rights for the series. If you haven’t purchased the physical (print) volumes of these mangas yet, I would highly recommend you do so as we do not know how long Viz Media will be able to reprint/distribute the Shaman King and Ultimo manga series in English.

Oct 09 2017

Hiroyuki Takei Tweets About Hiring Additional Staff

Earlier today, Hiroyuki Takei returned to Twitter to make a small announcement. Though not uncommon for him to be silent on Twitter for a month, he had not posted since August. He begin with an apology for not coming with a different announcement before jumping into that he is looking into hiring additional staff.

For the job posting, there is no prerequisites, but will be based on the applicants skill. Job location (remote or in-office), hourly wage, or full-time/part-time status are all flexible. To apply to the position, there is an e-mail address you can send your application with your sample work. Sample work can include character designs, landscape/setting, mecha designs, 3D/perspective designs, or other personal designs. The original drawing is still completed by Hiroyuki Takei on paper, but they do use Clip Studio EX for all of the digital editing that occurs.The application deadline is by the end of October. As a common courtesy please do not spam this e-mail address, or expect a response for any e-mails

Though not posted in the Tweets, being fully fluent in Japanese and living in Japan are often the requirements for working on manga in Japan. Since assistants to a manga-ka are often employed directly, the difficulties of working internationally with the employees is extremely difficult. If you wanted to test out your own manga skills, Clip Studio EX can be purchased in English and there is a trial available. Based on photos of Hiroyuki Takei’s office, and prizes given out, his office primarily use iOS-based computers for creating manga.

Additionally, the project Hiroyuki Takei is hiring for was not stated, but it is most likely for his upcoming sequel to the Shaman King Flowers manga or assisting with his two current manga projects (Nekogahara and Hyper Dash! Yonkuro). Previously he did comment that he hoped to make an announcement before the end of the year about Shaman King. With a staff hiring deadline of October, it’s more likely that the earliest a new manga could be produced would be in December or January. Typically there is at least a month lead-time from the announcement to the first chapter being released. With Hyper Dash! Yonkuro, Shaman King Zero, and Jumbor, Hiroyuki Takei started with a stand-alone oneshot chapter or specials before getting into the core series. As Shueisha is no longer publishing Shaman King or Jumbor, some sort of introductory manga is highly likely.

Sep 24 2017

Hiroyuki Takei Provides Character Designs for “Tokyo Dragon City” Mobile App Game

On September 21st, the announcement of new mobile app game “Tokyo Dragon City” was announced via twitter. This is a new action-RPG game created by JoyTea Games for the Japanese market. As part of it’s initial campaign, it’s promoting that Hiroyuki Takei has provided the main character designs, along with a collection of other artists. The in-game graphics use a slightly different styleization with it’s 3D world graphics, but are still based on Takei’s designs. With the announcement, the beta test for the game is currently avialable on the Google Play store, and will remain active until September 30th at 12:00. No announcement on when the full game will be released, but it will be on the Google Play store and the App Store for all mobile devices. This game is un-related to the English 2012 game “Dragon City.”

On the official website, there is also some high quality versions of the artwork used at the bottom of the main page. Currently the game is completely in Japanese and has regional restrictions to prevent use outside of Japan.

Hiroyuki Takei has provided character designs for various other card and video games. Most recently he provided the character designs for Chaos Dragon back in 2015.

Google Play Store Link (Beta – β): Link
Official Website: http://www.tokyo-dragon.joytea.jp/
Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/tokyodragoncity

 

Sep 05 2017

Karakuridôji Ultimo Manga To No Longer Be Published by Shueisha

Back in July, it was softly announced that most of Hiroyuki Takei’s manga series were leaving Shueisha as the publisher on July 31st, 2017. These titles included Shaman King, Jumbor, and Butsu Zone. However at the time, Takei’s longest running series, Karakuridôji Ultimo (機巧童子ULTIMO) was not included in that list and was still being published in print and digital by Shueisha. These manga series was a collaboration between Hiroyuki Takei and Stan Lee with his production company POW! Entertainment. The collaboration was originally setup through Shueisha, and was on the initial production committee. Because of these partnerships between Shueisha and POW! Entertainment, it was possible that Hiroyuki Takei did not maintain enough of the rights to fully break away with his other manga series in July.

However, several digital manga distributors (example: Honto) are now listing a digital sale end date of September 30th, 2017 at 23:59. This is following the exact same scenario as what occurred in July. The same day that the digital manga was removed, Shueisha also removed most of the references from it’s distribution sites for the print volumes. This was then later confirmed by other international publishers that the manga series (specifically Shaman King) was changing publishers. With a digital manga release end date also occurring, it’s extremely likely that Hiroyuki Takei’s Ultimo series will follow the same path.

It’s also worth noting that earlier this year, the POW! Entertainment company was purchased from Stan Lee by the Hong Kong based Camsing International Holding company. Though unlikely that this had an impact on Hiroyuki Takei moving away from Shueisha, it may have helped free up the license from some control of who is publishing it.

Similar to the shake-up in July, this potentially can have an impact on international licensors of the Ultimo manga. Based on the examples from Shaman King over the last few months, it appears that companies who have already had previous approvals may be able to continue releasing the manga for the time being. Some companies may still push out some reprints of the volumes in order to get some final sales before the license shifts to a different Japanese licensor (and may be subject to different licensing fees and terms, which may require renegotiation). Based on our recently released Manga License Status chart, there are currently 8 international editions in which the manga was published.

Though the sales numbers weren’t great, most publishers were able to release all 12 volumes. Siam Inter Comics in Thailand still missing the final 2 volumes (with volume 10 being published in 2015). Similar to Shaman King, they have held off on releasing additional volumes until the license status has been clarified and will most likely be the case for the Ultimo series as well. The English releases by Viz Media (which is partially owned by Shueisha) are still available in print and digitally for both the Shaman King and Ultimo series.

If you do choose to purchase the Ultimo manga digitally before the end of the month in Japanese, do note that some services may not allow you to re-download the volume after the end of the month (including if you lost/changed you device or deleted the data).

Sep 05 2017

Hiroyuki Takei Provides Prizes for Upcoming Mini4WD Championship in Osaka

The “Fast Faster Fastest” or “3F” Mini4WD Championship in Osaka, Japan has just announced that Hiroyuki Takei will be providing some of the prizes for the upcoming tournament. The tournament will be held on October 29th, 2017 and will be held at the following location:

〒597-0021
大阪府貝塚市小瀬75-2
オークタウン2F TOPGEAR

The Grand Prize will be volume 1 of the Hyper Dash! Yonkuro manga with a sketch of the lead character and Takei’s signature (shown left). In 2nd and 3rd place they will be given volume 1 of the Hyper Dash! Yonkuro manga with Takei’s signature (shown below).

Additionally, there will be a lottery held at the event for children in Junior High and younger for all participants with the prize being one of five autographed copies of the Hyper Dash! Yonkuro manga. Other Mini4WD stores participating in the 3F championship will also be receiving additional signed volumes to be distributed independently prior to October. Throughout the championship they will be also giving out event prizes of signed copies of the mini4WD kits and additional promotional materials (as shown below).

 

Source & Images: Mini4CS