Akemi's Anime World

Tokyopop Anime Company

A bit of info about Tokyopop.

Company Overview

Tokyopop was originally created as a Japanese pop-culture publisher, which over the years grew and morphed into one of the largest manga publishers outside Japan before a string of unfortunate events drove the company out of business in 2011. In addition to translated Japanese manga, they also translated Korean "manhwa" and had a strong presence in original and independently-created manga series; they also translated and published novels with an anime/manga tie-in. From big-name series spanning the gamut of age and gender targets--GTO, Fruits Basket, and Lupin III--to English-original series like the Labyrinth sequel, to webcomic-turned-pro books like Van Von Hunter, they had some of everything. Their website, while somewhat sprawling, was notably community/fan-centric, with online manga viewers, free manga, a user rating system, and a lot of YouTube integration.

Tokyopop operated in the US, UK, and Germany, and also had an office in Japan. (They emphasized their worldwide focus, despite the mildly-ironic Tokyo in the name--they claimed that "Tokyo" referred to a lifestyle and philosophy more than a place).

In the '00s Tokyopop expanded into anime, releasing the anime adaptations of some of their manga series, but after a restructuring in 2008, that end of the business was abandoned (apart from a presence on YouTube with sort-of-animated adaptations of bits of some of their manga titles). The next year saw manga publisher Kodansha take their licenses elsewhere, which was no doubt a financial blow to the company. When the huge chain bookstore Borders went under in early 2011, it ended up taking Tokyopop with it; the company closed its doors not long after.

Their Catalog

Tokyopop's anime catalog consisted almost entirely of TV series; their biggest-name licenses were probably GTO, Initial D, and Reign: The Conqueror; more shoujo-style series included Marmalade Boy and the Vampire Princess Miyu TV series. They also had a few more off-beat series like the oddball Brigadoon. Most of their catalog is now out of print, although a few titles have been picked up by other companies.

What Their Releases Are Like

Tokyopop's DVDs (they didn't get into video until well after the VHS era) are largely solid productions, including bilingual audio, acceptable dubs, and usually good translations, with at least a few cultural notes. They had a tendency to release individual volumes followed quickly by much cheaper box sets, but the prices were usually reasonable.

While they never got into online streaming or downloadable video, they briefly experimented with something that to my knowledge remains unique in the anime industry as of this writing, on-demand DVDs. Specifically, Rave Master (which had also shown on Cartoon Network) was available as a quite-cheap, 8-DVD-R box set of all 51 episodes through Amazon's CreateSpace publishing system, burned on demand to order. This seemed like a logical solution to small-volume titles that nonetheless have a potential market, particularly to those who shun paying money for VOD, so it's a bit of a shame they didn't really publicize it, and it never caught on.