We contacted Dr. Joachim Kaps, Managing Director of Tokyopop Germany, for more on Kodansha’s ending of its Tokyopop relationship there (see “Tokyopop Germany Loses Kodansha”). We asked Kaps if he knew why Kodansha had made the move. “Honestly, we don’t know,” he said. “There has been no explanation by Kodansha, just the information that old contracts won’t be extended and no new contracts signed. We can only guess that Kodansha is sorting its activities in a new way for Germany.”
We asked about Kodansha’s other licensees in Germany. “Two other publishers in Germany (namely Egmont and [Del Rey sister company] Heyne) have stopped a bunch of series from the Kodansha catalogue during the last year due to low sales,” Kaps told us. “Heyne started a small manga program with titles from Kodansha a few years ago, but seems to be on the way back out of manga at the moment. They have stopped Samurai Deeper Kyo, Life, and some other projects during the last year.”
“But I have no idea if the unexpected step is related to that,” Kaps said. “Especially as we had the plan to complete projects we had started in the past.”
Kaps indicated that what he knew of the situation in other European countries wasn’t much help in figuring out what was coming next. “I know that some French publishers had comparable problems in the past, but in a market with more than 40 manga publishers this simply might have been related to the competition in that market,” he said.
Kaps noted that watching where the Tokyopop properties ended up would illustrate the strategy. “I think we all might understand the situation better later in the year when we have information on what Kodansha plans to do with the projects we had to stop now,” he said. “But up to today we don’t have any information about that.”
He minimized the impact on Tokyopop Germany. “For Tokyopop Germany the damage is not that big in the end as Kodansha was only a smaller part of our business,” Kaps said. “We had some nice success with Haruka Fukushima’s titles and Hell Girl, but the biggest part of our catalogue is coming from other sources anyway.”
We also contacted Tokyopop’s Marco Pavia to see if he had any information on Tokyopop’s relationship with Kodansha in the U.S., but he declined comment, saying “I just don’t have any information.”