I'm a little late on this post, but frankly, it was depressing news and I didn't feel the desire to write about it yesterday. So yes, Tokyopop has announced it's shutting down its book arm here in North America as of 5/31. Assuming that this means the titles currently scheduled to ship 5/31 *will* ship (which we don't know yet), this means the last TP releases will be:
Hetalia Axis Powers 3 (of 4, ongoing in Japan)
Maid-sama! 9 (of 12, ongoing in Japan)
.hack//GU 4 (novel) (complete as far as I can tell)
Happy Cafe 8 (of 15, finished in Japan)
Fate/Stay Night 11 (of 14, ongoing in Japan)
Sgt. Frog 21 (of 22, ongoing in Japan)
Maid Shokun 1 (of 4, finished in Japan)
Sakura's Finest Volume 1: Sakura no Ichiban (of 5, finished in Japan)
Samurai Harem: Asu no Yoichi 8 (of 15, finished in Japan)
Deadman Wonderland 5 (of 9, ongoing in Japan)
Hanako and the Terror of Allegory 4 (complete)
AiON 3 (of 7, ongoing in Japan)
Butterfly 2 (of 5, finished in Japan)
The Stellar Six of Gingacho 3 (of 10, finished in Japan)
Clean Freak Fully Equipped 2 (complete)
The Qwaser of Stigmata 2 (of 11, ongoing in Japan)
Note that I grabbed this list from Amazon, and set it to sort by 'best-selling'. So Hetalia and Maid-sama at the top, cute Hakusensha shoujo with no anime and Qwaser at the bottom.
Series with releases scheduled after May, now unfinished (or never begun):
Gakuen Alice (23 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
Demon Sacred (11 volumes, complete in Japan)
Pavane for a Dead Girl (6 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
Red Hot Chili Samurai (8 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
The Sacred Blacksmith (5 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
Kampfer (6 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
Skyblue Shore (6 volumes, finished in Japan)
Lives (2 volumes, complete in Japan)
Alice in the Country of Hearts (6 volumes, complete in Japan)
Silver Diamond (23 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
V.B. Rose (14 volumes, finished in Japan)
Togainu no Chi (8 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
Battle Vixens (18 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
Ratman (8 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
Chibisan Date (1 volume, ongoing in Japan)
Shinobi Life (10 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
The Diary of a Crazed Family (4 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
The Good Witch of the West (7 volumes, finished in Japan)
Gosick (novel series)
Full Metal Panic! (novel series)
Chibi Vampire (novel series)
Twelve Kingdoms (novel series)
Trinity Blood (13 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko (3 volumes, finished in Japan)
MariaHolic (8 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
Suppli (10 volumes, finished in Japan)
Totsugami (3 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
Brave 10 (8 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
Snow White Panic Mix (7 volumes, finished in Japan)
Portrait of M & N (6 volumes, finished in Japan)
D.N. Angel (15 volumes, on hiatus in Japan)
flat (4 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
Ame Nochi Hare (4 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
Aria (12 volumes, finished in Japan)
Strawberry Marshmallow (6 volumes, ongoing in Japan)
And this isn't even including Blu titles, or series that had been on hiatus. That's a lot of series left hanging.
Much as I'd like to blame all of this on Stu Levy and his pouring of TP's money into his pet projects, I think it was Borders that really broke things here. The chain was a big big manga haven, and bookstores are where the sales are - online purchasing is simply not as big as brick and mortar buys. When Tokyopop switched to Diamond as its distributor, then Diamond announced that it would stop shipping to Borders... it was over, really. Yes, there's Barnes & Noble, but they never got behind manga the way Borders did.
Staring at that list, I know some people will be thinking "Maybe the titles can be rescued!". When I look at that list, I see precisely one title that I think likely to get rescued - Hetalia. *Maybe* Maid-sama and D.N. Angel, if I'm being wildly optimistic. But honestly, license rescues rarely if ever happen. The company that did them the most, I think, was in fact Tokyopop.
A lot of the mid-majors in Japan must be seeing the news and wincing right now. Hakusensha especially, but Kadokawa, Akita Shoten, Gentosha, Mag Garden... all were pretty heavily involved with Tokyopop, and now they have to see about finding new publishers who want to pick up their works. Which can be difficult, especially in this economy.
So who's left? Viz and Yen, obviously. Kodansha once they restart next month. Vertical, which is in a realm of its own as always. Dark Horse, propping up the manga department with their Western comic arm. Digital Manga Publishing. And the smaller, boutique publishers: Bandai, Udon, and Seven Seas.
I'll end this post by reflecting on the huge amounts of awesome Tokyopop gave me over the years. I got into manga via Viz, but really became a rabid fan thanks to Tokyopop. Sailor Moon, CLAMP, Fruits Basket, Gatcha Gacha, all those Lupin volumes that only I bought, Love Hina, GTO, Kare Kano, Marmalade Boy, Kodocha, Ai Yori Aoshi, Planetes, Karakuri Odette... so many memories. Tokyopop was behind the manga boom, forcing publishers to abandon floppies and make the GN the way to go.
I'll miss them a lot.