Follow TV Tropes


Creator / Tokyopop

Go To

Tokyopop, formerly Mixx, is a translator and distributor of manga, aka Japanese comics.

They were one of the most prolific manga publishers in the US, along with Viz Media and Del Rey Manga, and were one of the first publishers to print their manga "back to front", i.e. in the original Japanese format. They promoted titles printed under this format as "100% Authentic Manga!", although it may have been done for economic as much as artistic reasons. In addition, they also had their manga sold in bookstores as well as comic book stores — this actually really helped increase their audience, since bookstores are more common in the Americas and are usually easier for younger people to get to (you would often find a bookstore in a mall... but not a comic book shop). Tokyopop also formerly published anime DVDs too, though it didn't last as long as they wanted. Some of their back catalog was acquired by Funimation, while other part remains in limbo.

They tried to expand their line by sponsoring "Original English Manga", including licensed fare such as manga-styled Star Trek stories, a sequel to Labyrinth, and CEO Stu Levy's project with Courtney Love (yes, that Courtney Love), Princess Ai. It also included original IPs, like Brandon Graham's King City and Becky Cloonan's East Coast Rising. Some of these titles were more successful than others. Tokyopop was doing great... and then the roof fell in.

Tokyopop had a reputation in the American anime and manga fanbase. They were known for having some bad habits in their translation editions, such as leaving word bubbles in blank, sometimes not translating sound effects, hardly ever providing explanatory notes, and often excluding honorifics in the characters' dialogues. This last in particular made them targets of fannish rage, because Japanese honorifics are Serious Business. In general, if you like your translations to be in very smooth, natural-sounding English, you'll like Tokyopop — but you'll probably also wonder what you're missing from the original.

The other was a bit more serious. For a few years, they ran a "Rising Stars of Manga" competition, inviting people to send in short one-shot manga (though some people would send in prologues to larger stories, and Tokyopop figured that as long as it stood on its own as a story, it was fine) and published ten winners each year. Many of those winners were offered to do full series, such as Peach Fuzz, Atomic King Daidogan (made by Nathan "Captain K" Maurer, famous for his uber-popular Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann fancomic, DOUBLE K), Dogby Walks Alone, and even Endling of Ever After won the second competition! Unfortunately, after seven contests, the entire competition ceased to exist, and most of the artists who were offered deals had their series pulled. That was just the beginning of those creators' problems, though.

Tokyopop would put you on store bookshelves... in exchange for half your copyright. This was essentially a backdoor form of work-for-hire, preying on young American mangaka who had talent and ambition, but often had no business sense. In 2011, the company closed down all American operations, leaving only their international office in Germany open - among other factors, the closure of bookstore chain Borders, who reportedly owed them a lot of money, hit them hard. When Tokyopop's American division went under, though, the creators' rights went with them - the company remained a legal entity (because of the German office) and thus owner of half of each property, but was no longer in business so creators could not simply take their series to a new publisher - the message here being, "owning half the rights to your series is the same as owning none of them." All those multimedia deals that they were promised would make up for the loss of half the copyright never materialized either. Of the manga that went out of print, a good chunk of it was never rescued. And even those that were rescued by other companies have received new or revised translations, leaving the older translations confined to the Tokyopop editions.

The same year as their closure, they announced that they intended to return to the American industry. In 2015, they finally made good on all the hints and announced a 2016 publishing comeback, with "hidden gem" manga from smaller publishers, collector's editions, and artbooks, with light novels potentially on the way as well. Much like in the past, Tokyopop is looking into developing more manga based on licensed properties (With the Disney ones being the majority), including Star Wars and Frozen (2013). They also brought up a Pop Comics app, an ad-supported "YouTube for comics" where artists can share comics while still retaining copyright and creative control.

Not to be confused with the 80s movie TokyoPop that featured the first film appearance of a Visual Kei band.

Notable Manga and Comic Series:

...and many, many, many more.