krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
[personal profile] krpalmer
When Kodansha Comics announced they'd be publishing Makoto Yukimura's Vinland Saga manga in English, another "if only you could see this too" title got ticked off the list. A number of years ago now, I had been quite impressed by his Planetes manga, one of the first to leave me with a wistful "now what else can live up to this?" feeling on finishing it; hearing he had moved from the future to the past and was working on a manga about Vikings did get my attention. Time passed without a licensing announcement for it, though, and after enough time, when it was mentioned it was on that metaphorical list I just mentioned.

I suppose I could have done what at least some of the people talking it up just might have and sought out "scanlations," but there certain experiences with underground fan translations of manga reading in an awkward, stilted way might have had an effect on me. That, I suppose, might then have just made the official announcement that much more rewarding. I bought the first volume when it showed up as a double-sized hardcover, not quite as tony as some of the hardcover manga Yen Press has published but still seeming the sort of release that trades some measure of "wide, casual success" for a narrower, perhaps more fervent audience. The action impressed me (although I suppose it seems exaggerated from the "realism" its real-world setting might suggest), and I kept reading further volumes, some of the anticipatory comments I'd overheard staying in my head.

However, right around the fifth double volume with a major new "plot arc" picking up, news spread that the manga hadn't been selling as well as it had been intended to and further volumes might not be published. That would have bothered me without seeing comments accusing it all on the old bugbear of "improper marketing." I've read a certain number of manga series that just left off in their official releases (some of them, I'm afraid, Del Rey titles that had been grinding to a halt even before their other, more successful titles transferred over to Kodansha Comics itself). However, after a while of this I did see comments that two more double volumes would be published, and the further fate of the manga would hang on how well they sold. I put in preorders for both of them online with the uncertain impression this was somehow better than waiting for them to show up in a local bookstore and buying them there.

Not that long before the seventh volume showed up, though, more news items kept suggesting there was still uncertainty about what more of the series might show up over here. That did add a good bit of ambivalence to reading that volume. As I got to its very last chapters, though, all of a sudden I started thinking that if the story had to leave off here, that might not be the worst possible place; at last, the characters had won through to a relatively good place, and to continue the themes already established might even just ask familiar questions in a more troubling way. This could amount to "trying to make the best of an inevitability," but if it does work to promote the manga to someone uncertain in their own way about "being left hanging" that might not be too bad. In any case, Dark Horse is now republishing the Planetes manga, so there is something to move on to.

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