Editorial, Series: Manga Widget Investigates

Manga Widget Investigates: Cage of Eden

Generally, I use this blog as a way to showcase my reviews and opinions on the manga publishing business in the United States. One of my new year’s resolutions for this blog was to get a more in-depth look at the publishing business from both sides of the Pacific, to learn more about manga as it appears in its native format, and most importantly, to blog more often. This post (and any future posts like it) are an attempt to roll all these goals together. Let me know what you think in the comments!

I want to start the inaugural edition of Manga Widget Investigates with something that I have been thinking about for awhile now; Kodansha‘s arrival in the USA. The announcement that Kodansha was starting business as a solo venture in the USA was big news originally, but it seemed like all they did originally¬† was take back their licenses from Dark Horse and TokyoPop and reprint Dark Horse‘s translations of Ghost in the Shell and Akira. This obviously was met with some consternation from manga fans – surely they weren’t just going to try to reprint previous books, were they? Things got even worse when Del Rey lost all its licenses to Kodansha. For a time, I wondered whether or not I would ever get to read the 29th volume of Negima!

Now with Kodansha USA finally revealing some of its 2011 plans late last year, we have a chance to see what the company has been working on since Kodansha split with Del Rey as its publishing partner. As is to be expected, most of Del Rey‘s profitable line-up has been adopted for publication at Kodansha USA, but they did also announce a few new licenses that were being printed along with Del Rey‘s catalog. A subset of their shonen release announcements come from Weekly Shonen Magazine, Kodansha‘s equivalent to Shonen Jump.

The reason for this seems fairly simple; Weekly Shonen Magazine is the source for a lot of the previously published manga through Del Rey: Fairy Tail, Mahou Sensei Negima!, Code: Breaker, and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle are all series from Weekly Shonen Magazine that have done well in North America. Additional notable series to grace the pages of Weekly Shonen Magazine include Love Hina, Akita no Joe, Rave Master, GetBackers, and Samurai Deeper Kyo. When Del Rey‘s biggest financial hitters were all published in the same magazine, it seems intuitive to try to get the next big hit with another series from Weekly Shonen Magazine. Enter stage left: Cage of Eden.

Cage of Eden (or Eden no Ori) is a survival-themed manga that is currently running in Weekly Shonen Magazine, The book focuses on a group of students on an airplane back to Japan from a field trip to Guam. Due to some mysterious cause, the plane crashes, and although the emergency landing leaves most of the people on board alive, the island they land on is full of strange, prehistoric beasts, all willing to prey on unsuspecting humans.

Cage of Eden has been described by some as a mix between Lord of the Flies and Land of the Lost, which sounds like pretty good fiction, provided it is done right. Representatives from Kodansha also said at its license announcement that the series had a bit of a Negima! flavor to it, which, translated into regular English, means the series is going to have unabashed fan service mixed in with the trials and tribulations of survival fiction. Whatever Cage of Eden is doing, it is doing it right; the series started in 2008 and is still being serialized. Currently Cage of Eden is up to ten volumes in print in Japan.

Yoshinobu Yamada, the writer of Cage of Eden, seems like he’s done the survival genre before. His first series, EX-Shounen Hyouryuu (Young Castaways) ran for five volumes for the same anthology. His other work includes a Kendo shonen piece called Chanbara which ran for two volumes in 2003.

Cage of Eden isn’t the only manga coming from Weekly Shonen Magazine. The new series Bloody Monday, which began publication in 2007, is currently in its “second season” in the magazine (much like Season Two of Rosario + Vampire).

However good or bad Cage of Eden is, we can expect to see it hit shelves in August of 2011. Whether or not people like boobs, butts, and panty shots with their Lord of the Flies remains to be seen.

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