Kodansha Comics is the US-based manga imprint of Kodansha USA Publishing, which is an American subsidiary of the Japanese publisher Kodansha. We publish the best manga Kodansha has to offer, such as Attack on Titan, Sailor Moon, and Vinland Saga! (Proof!)

Dallas Middaugh is a Director of Publishing Services at Random House in charge of the Kodansha Comics team. Before that he was an Associate Publisher for Del Rey’s manga imprint, the Director of Sales and Marketing at Viz Media, and helped start Seven Seas Entertainment. He has been an adjunct professor at New York University, teaching the seminar “Publishing the Graphic Novel.” With close to two decades of experience in the publishing industry, he has quite a lot of stories to tell!

Ben Applegate is an editor at Kodansha Comics. Over the last ten years, he has translated and edited manga, lived in Kyoto and Tokyo, led tours of Japan, and played far too much Magic: The Gathering. Before coming to Kodansha Comics he was the editor of DMP’s Platinum imprint, where he translated and edited the first-ever manga licensed through Kickstarter: Barbara, by Osamu Tezuka. His current series with Kodansha Comics are:

  • Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin and its upcoming spinoffs
  • Battle Angel Alita: Last Order/Gunnm: Last Order
  • Cage of Eden/Eden no Ori
  • Fairy Tail
  • Genshiken: Second Season
  • No. 6
  • Sankarea
  • Say I Love You/Sukitte ii na yo
  • Vinland Saga

Ask us anything!

Edit: And we're done! It was a lot of fun talking with all of you. Thanks for your excellent questions! You can reach us on Twitter and Tumblr if you think of something you forgot to ask. Happy reading!

Comments: 132 • Responses: 36  • Date: 

FourteenHatch37 karma

How much do scanslations / piracy hurt the industry / your company?

kodanshacomics47 karma

It's impossible to say with any certainty just how many sales are lost due to piracy. Obviously, not 100% of people who read scanlations would've bought the book otherwise, but that number certainly isn't 0 either. Other publishers have observed sales dip precisely at the point a series begins to be scanlated. In the distant past, scanlations served a useful function, informing people and publishers of new series, but today, scanlations are almost never used in licensing, so that justification is gone. I think scanlations are incredibly harmful, whether a series is licensed or not. Not only do they demonstrably hurt sales (as I mentioned), they also teach people that manga is free, and a lot of readers end up believing that, because scanlations are so readily available, the authors and publishers must be okay with it.

So many people come up to me at conventions asking when the next chapter of Series X is going to be online. It does get demoralizing after a while.


prailock34 karma

What's the most common thing you see in manga that is hard to find a way to put into proper English? Cultural differences, phrases?

kodanshacomics67 karma

The most common localization problems fall into two categories:

  1. Little formal phrases that simply have no equivalent in English. The most common one is "itadakimasu," which is said at the beginning of a meal in Japan, but really has no good translation. If you've been watching an anime dub and everyone suddenly says, "Let's eat!" or "Thanks for the food!" this is the translator doing his or her best to fold this phrase into the scene. The worst common translation for this is, I think, "Grace!" Who says "GRACE!" before eating?

  2. On the other end of the spectrum are names that have special meaning. Often the kanji in manga characters' names have meaning that's connected to their personalities or roles in the story, and there is no way to get that across in English short of translating the name outright, which is not usually the best option. (Sailor "Bunny," anyone?) A translation note is the lesser of two evils in a lot of these cases.


WawaSC19 karma

Hello! Thanks for doing the AMA!

I have a few questions:

  • thanks for releasing all volumes of Attack on Titan at a reasonable pace. after you release vol 11, how close will the kodansha release of Vol 12 be with the Japanese release?

  • is attack on titan the highest selling series you guys publish? how many times did you guys have to reprint the volumes? have the sales for the series reached 1 million yet?

  • have you guys gotten to talk to Hajime Isayama yet? If so, does he have any idea how huge he is outside Japan?

  • is it possible for you guys to ask Hajime Isayama to also do an AMA in the future? :)

thanks again!

Also, shoutout to /r/ShingekiNoKyojin !!!

kodanshacomics31 karma

  1. Thanks for following Attack on Titan! (Our release pace for it might seem reasonable to you, but it's been INSANE for me.) Our Vol. 11 is coming in December, then after that we'll be four months behind the Japanese release, which is pretty incredible by print manga standards. We need to have the book done two months ahead to print it, get it into the warehouse, and ship it out to stores across the country. By comparison, Japanese publishers are capable of printing and pushing a book to stores in a matter of weeks. That means the original Japanese data is only available to us just before the Japanese release -- not nearly enough time to translate, letter and edit the book. So unfortunately a simultaneous print release will probably always be out of reach.

  2. Attack on Titan is our current best-seller, but it still has a way to go for it to beat Sailor Moon as our No. 1 release of all time. It's on its way, though!

  3. I haven't spoken to Isayama-sensei directly, but I know he's aware of Titan fandom outside Japan. With the spinoff manga and the main series, though, I'm not sure they let him out much. ;)

  4. We've considered setting up AMAs with artists before, but it just hasn't worked out yet. I certainly think it's a good idea!


homara12 karma

Come to otakon next year!

kodanshacomics20 karma

DONE! See you there! -Dallas

Grawlicks12 karma

Any new and interesting (or possible) acquisitions that we should know about?

And does your benevolent publishing house offer "free samples" (preferably entire series) for needy students such as myself?

kodanshacomics27 karma

Weeelllllll.... I can't talk about anything we haven't already announced. The manga licensing process doesn't really allow for that. Once we get a license, we then have to get approval for the date and manner in which we're going to announce it.

But that said, last month we announced Attack on Titan: No Regrets, Attack on Titan: Before the Fall, Attack on Titan: Junior High, Attack on Titan: Inside/Outside Guidebook, The Seven Deadly Sins, and UQ Holder, all of which are really exciting books for us to publish.

None of which are free... I'm many things, but I'm definitely not benevolent. I'm more of a mad-dictator-type.


Overlord3k10 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. Before I ask my question I would like to say I really loved the Vinland Saga hardcover volume and I really can't wait for the next one. I recommend it to everyone especially if you like Attack on Titan.

What is the current status for the original Great Teacher Onizuka manga? It was originally published here by Tokyopop but in Japan by Kodansha. I know Vertical released the sequel and I believed they also finished the prequel but I want a GTO reprint.

edit: how do you feel about the new Crunchyroll manga? They started releasing the new Attack on Titan chapters but it seems they don't have the rights to older chapters (probably because Kodansha has licensed the volumes?) Do you feel this is the right step for digital manga?

kodanshacomics13 karma

Thanks for the kind words about Vinland Saga! We put a lot of work into that book, and I think it turned out beautifully. This is a series that has a lot of crossover appeal for American comics readers, too. (By the way, did you see the Web address on the last page? Check it out...)

The original GTO is not in print in the U.S. right now, just the sequels and spinoffs published by Vertical. Though it has a special place in my heart (the bilingual edition was one of the first manga I ever bought), we don't have any plans to pick up any GTO manga right now.

As to Crunchyroll, we wish them all the best and we're eager to see how the program performs. You're right that if you want to read the prior chapters you'll need to pick up the Kodansha Comics volumes, which are available in print and on Nook, Kindle, and iBookstore.


Overlord3k3 karma

Just visited the page...I don't know how I feel writing something on a manga volume I have never done it before and I don't plan on starting now. I will gladly buy volume 2 it when it comes out since it is worth it hopefully there is no issues with Amazon this time as I believe you currently can't buy the first volume there and I know people who got their orders canceled.

Alright thanks for answering my question I really wanted to believe there would be a chance but I guess I will have to search for some used copies.

kodanshacomics6 karma

You don't HAVE to write on it, of course. And yes, Vol. 2 should be safe to order through Amazon. -Ben

PrincessGary10 karma

If you could translate anything new or old, What would you guys pick?

kodanshacomics17 karma

I had three on my short list, but one of them was Space Brothers and that's up at Crunchyroll now! The other two are Billy Bat by Naoki Urasawa and Rainbow Parakeet by Osamu Tezuka. I like me some seinen manga. -Dallas

kodanshacomics11 karma

If I had the discipline and knowledge necessary, I think it'd be fun to do my own translation of something by Ihara Saikaku.


vkun9 karma

My question is regarding copyright. My guess is some scanslators do popular series to get visits and from that ad revenue, of course speed is important so they get their magazines days before street date and of course they watermark the pages in case they get rehosted on other readers. We all know this is wrong... most of us anyhow.

But now Anime News Network does something similar. They scan pages with various announcements before the street date, they post watermarked link on it and a semi transparent copy of their logo over the entire page, because they want to maximize their exposure (more visits, more money from the ads I'm guessing). Of course speed is important, so they too snatch magazines days before street date.

Why is that tolerated? Why is it ok for "journalist" to slap giant obtrusive watermarks over artwork that isn't theirs.

kodanshacomics12 karma

What a great question! Well, to begin with, using a page or two of art in an article is not even close the same thing as scanlating 100s of pages of someone's hard work and posting it on your site free to the public. That's illegal, while posting a single image that's in the public view is not. But as to why it's "okay" to watermark it, publishers allow it because it generates publicity for their works.


vkun1 karma

I'm not entirely certain the Japanese publishers/producers are happy with leaked announcements:

https://twitter.com/ANN_Ed/status/359386664398893056 https://twitter.com/ANN_Ed/status/359395123869646849

kodanshacomics10 karma

Huh? What does Ed's tweet have to do with leaked announcements?

Look, things are different in Japan. There, publishers usually have the opportunity to review articles about them or their books before they are published, They then can make any tweaks they want. It doesn't work that way here in the U.S., but a lot of them aren't familiar with how we do things in the U.S. -Dallas

violaxcore8 karma

How do you guys feel about the market for translated manga in the US. Do feel like its expanding or is it just a small base that now has more money post-recession? How do you think the industry may change in the future?

kodanshacomics13 karma

Dallas can speak about this with more authority, but we definitely feel that the worst is behind us. The market as a whole is definitely starting to rebound, and of course, with Attack on Titan, we've had our best year ever. It's impossible to say how or how quickly the industry will change, but you should probably expect a continued gradual migration to digital reading. Just keep in mind that right now easily 90% of manga sales are in print, and print will probably continue to account for a majority of sales in the near to mid term.


kodanshacomics11 karma

I know Ben's answering this one right now, so I may repeat what he says.

The manga market is doing GREAT right now. It's better than it's been for years. The economic downturn of 2007 hit us hard, as did the closing of Borders in 2010, but 2013 marks the first year that the industry has grown in a while. And what growth! Overall manga numbers are up by 10%-12% this year, while individual companies are seeing great numbers. I analyze sales figures using a tool called Bookscan that tracks print books sales in the U.S., and my analysis shows Yen up by 20%-30% and Seven Seas up by almost 100% over last year! And at Kodansha, we're way, way up over 2012... which was itself much stronger than 2011!

So yeah, things are good. The market is expanding and we're seeing some evidence that Titan is helping to drive that expansion, which is awesome. -Dallas

AgentUmlaut7 karma

Do you follow any current American comics? If so what are you reading?

kodanshacomics11 karma

The other guys on the team read more comics than me, but I am loving Saga, and I'm reading the color Scott Pilgrim, which Oni did an amazing job with. I've also been meaning to start Rachel Rising as I loved Echo.


AgentUmlaut5 karma

Brubaker's new series with Image, Velvet, has been damn good as well. Throw in Hickman's East of West and you're set.

kodanshacomics2 karma

I've heard awesome stuff about East of West. I'll check it out.


kodanshacomics8 karma

I read all kinds of comics, so yes. And I read a lot of them, but my top three right now are probably Saga, Think Tank, and Locke & Key.


AgentUmlaut1 karma

Good stuff, Saga's easily one of the best comics out there atm.

kodanshacomics3 karma

No argument. Vaughn and Staples are really at the top of their game with that one. -Dallas

chuchuunibyou7 karma

What other cons can we expect to see Kodansha at? And have you guys considered promoting a series with cosplayers at your booths?

kodanshacomics12 karma

This year we attended Anime Boston, Anime Expo, San Diego Comic-Con (though only as panel presenters), and New York Comic-Con. It was our first time at AX and Anime Boston, and they went quite well, but we're still considering our con schedule for 2014.

Re: cosplayers, I actually cosplayed as the Colossus Titan at NYCC this year. (It was fun, but next time... no mask.) We actually had a Japanese TV crew come to our NYCC booth to talk about Attack on Titan, so we put out a call for cosplayers, and hundreds of them ended up converging on the booth! We very nearly got into big trouble with security.


lybriinth6 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA, Kodansha. My question is: how do you decide what series to translate and bring to North America? I know it's obviously based on sales and popularity in Japan first and foremost but I was very surprised when the announcement that No.6 would be published was made earlier this year. I'm a huge fan of No.6 (and have bought all the volumes out thus far!) but I was surprised that it was coming overseas considering the borderline shounen ai content of it. How was that decision made?

kodanshacomics8 karma

We look for manga that have good stories and good characters that we think have a chance to succeed in the U.S. market, regardless of genre, so the BL undertones didn't bother us. No. 6 is a really intriguing, bittersweet story with a very devoted fanbase thanks to the anime and novels, so while it's different from what we've done before, we felt confident licensing it. Still, we were surprised by how strong sales have been!

Just like Vol. 3, our Vol. 5 will have a bonus story in the back that wasn't included in the regular Japanese edition. And we actually just got approval to put a bonus story in Vol. 7 as well, so I hope fans will keep picking up our release.


violaxcore6 karma

With your recent partnership with Crunchyroll for subscription based manga, whats your process for adding new titles to that service? Are you waiting for some metrics first? Or are you waiting just to get some legal stuff to get out of the way?

I think for the most part, the totles on the CR manga service target traditionally male audience so itd be cool to see greater variety on there.

kodanshacomics12 karma

We're actually not directly involved in that... we're with Kodansha USA, and it's Kodansha Japan that works with Crunchyroll. You'll need to ask Crunchyroll those questions. -Dallas

corialis6 karma

Is Kodansha USA more focused on getting new series in print, or are reprints of expired USA licenses a priority? There's a lot of early-00s releases that were popular but had their licenses expire recently, but other publishers like Dark Horse are picking them up.

kodanshacomics11 karma

I'd have to say we're more focused on bringing over new series, but we've brought several out of print series back into print. We're releasing CLAMP's Tsubasa and xxxHOLiC in omnibus form next year. We've retranslated and republished Love Hina and Tokyo Mew Mew as well. but the majority of our list has definitely been new series. And nothing wrong with Dark Horse picking up old licenses. We love those guys! -Dallas

thnkblu5 karma

Have you guys seen this? It's hilarious. http://youtu.be/sr2PyNriPWI

kodanshacomics7 karma

No! I'll have to carve out some free time (I should have some in February 2014) to watch it. ;)


violaxcore5 karma

Chihayafuru please

kodanshacomics6 karma

Noted, but it's hard to imagine it breaking out to a larger audience. With the series being so long, it would be a tough sell over here. Still, never say never! -Dallas

ConanThe3rd5 karma

Any plans of fill out out the Digital Manga library to cover the stuff you haven't quite gotten out (Negima, Animal Land, Sailor Moon)?

kodanshacomics6 karma

Yes, definitely. We announced that we got the rights to Negima, Love Hina and Shugo Chara! last month and we'll have those available in the coming months. Sailor Moon is a little trickier from a licensing perspective, but I hope we'll have some good news next year. -Dallas

ConanThe3rd1 karma

And Animal Land, specifically? (That was one that got a whole messof chapters translated recently, somewhat disapointingly)

kodanshacomics2 karma

Animal Land is one we haven't added to our digital program yet. But I'm happy to hear the scanlations were disappointing. ;)


violaxcore5 karma

Does kodansha plan to participate in amazon's kindle bookmatch program? (Allowing people who own a physical book to acquire digital copies of that book at a free or discounted price)

kodanshacomics6 karma

Not yet, but that's because we're sold into Amazon by Random House, and they haven't started participating yet. If they start, we'll certainly consider it.


inter4ever5 karma

Thank you for releasing Vinland Sage is such a high quality edition! I wanted to ask if you had any comments regarding the cancellations of first volume orders on Amazon. Many fans were burned by it, including myself, and both sides blame the other. As someone who preordered early to support the series, being told to wait and wait and then find out that the order was canceled in the end does not sound fair. Can you provide an explanation on what happened? I don't think I will ever order manga again on Amazon after this experience, specially since they did not provide any information.

kodanshacomics6 karma

No one is more frustrated by this situation than we are. We had a mixup in shipping before the book released that resulted in Amazon not receiving all their copies. This caused them to shift the release date out by two weeks. That should have been the end of it - books should have started shipping at that two week mark. But something happened on Amazon's side to prevent that, and we've been trying to work it out with them for weeks now. They keep assuring us that it will be resolved soon.

It's cold comfort since you didn't get your book as planned, and I'm sorry about that. I wish I had better news for you, but I really do hope we can get it fixed very soon.

Why they cancelled orders is a mystery to me. Still working on that one as well. -Dallas

lypiphera4 karma

Hi! I just picked up a copy of Vinland Saga #1 and it looks AMAZING. The lettering is so good and so is the translation. I can't wait to collect the rest of the series.

My question is, why do you guys completely replace the sound effects (that is, remove the Japanese SFX, redraw the art and letter them in English) on some series like Vinland Saga, but don't on other titles like Sailor Moon, where you just letter them alongside the original SFX? How do you decide which titles are going to get the full treatment?

kodanshacomics8 karma

We do decide on a title-by-title basis which series will get English SFX only and which ones will retain the Japanese alongside our English translation. It depends on the style, the genre, and the artist's attitude. For Sankarea and No. 6, we have been replacing the Japanese sound effects with English. But for Vinland Saga, we actually aren't replacing anything -- Kodansha sent us art that didn't include the Japanese sound effects.

I'm really glad you're enjoying Vinland Saga! I said this to someone else in this thread, but you should check out the Web address on the last page... ;)


RandomAngelXiao3 karma

Any chance となりの山田さん from Magazine Special will get a English release?

kodanshacomics6 karma

Almost every manga published by Kodansha in Japan has a chance, but we can't say more than that.


thelostdutchmann2 karma

are the last 3 volumes of suzuka going to come any time soon in english and is there any intrest is translateing other manga of Seo, Kouji like Kimi no Iru Machi. i realy love his work and want to read them

kodanshacomics2 karma

Sorry, but no. I know it sucks, and I like his stuff a lot as well.


kodanshacomics2 karma

Thanks, guys! Loads of fun. Thanks for coming! -Dallas

i-am-a-computer1 karma

Thanks for all your guy's works. You guys are one of my favorite publishers. I have two questions for you.

What would it take for Fukumoto works to be released in the US? I personally would spend large amounts of money for any of his works, but I'm wondering what I and other fans could do to make it financially viable to bring the series over.

What's your guy's relationship with Vertical? I understand that they're owned by Kodansha so how do you guys divvy licenses? Are they a separate entity and you only talk to them when necessary, or are they more like a team within the Kodansha empire?

kodanshacomics4 karma

Fukumoto's works are great, but they have a very limited appeal in the U.S. I just can't see a way to make them work here. But if we think of something, we'll definitely consider it.

Kodansha Comics is owned by Kodansha, and Vertical is co-owned by Kodansha and DNP (a Japanese printing company). We're on very friendly terms with them and we're both based in New York. They're definitely a separate entity, but we collaborate with them whenever possible. For example, we're publishing the manga for Attack on Titan: Before the Fall and their publishing the novel, so we'll be working together to promote each other's books as best we can. -Dallas

xICOZIO1 karma

Nice an AMA i'm online for and with the publisher that published one of my favorite mangas at the moment, Love hina was the first manga that i every read and I have been hooked to manga ever since (this was about 5 - 6 years ago,) i then moved onto negima as i like the work of Ken Akamatsu, so my question is will you be publishing he next series that he announced a couple of months ago?

kodanshacomics5 karma

Yes, absolutely! we announced last month that we will be publishing Akamatsu-sensei's UQ Holder next year. First volume in March, which is actually really fast for print publishing! I'm a fan so I can't wait. I've really enjoyed what I've read of it so far on Crunchyroll. -Dallas

Pikistikman1 karma

Do you plan on launching SnK Stateside? WHOOPS

What are your favorite comics, out of the ones that you publish?

Also, thanks for doing the AMA. Should mentioned that.

kodanshacomics13 karma

SnK? Shingeki no Kyojin? Do you mean Attack on Titan, the number one graphic novel in America in October? Yes. Yes, we do. We did it last year.

My favorite is Animal Land. It's all kinds of awesome. -Dallas

madboi201 karma

I am sure you guys can answer this! Will Nanatsu no Taizai (The Seven Deadly Sins) get an anime any time soon? If so, when?

Thanks :)

kodanshacomics2 karma

No idea! Sorry! (Great manga, though!)


pikachu111110 karma

Hmm,I know this isnt the right question but.Did you know anything about when will Fairy Tail Anime continue?

kodanshacomics3 karma

We do not. Next question! --Dallas