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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Kodansha - Biggest Manga Publisher In The World

I took this from Scoop, a weekly newsletter that has plenty of interesting things on collectibles such as comic books, manga, anime, movies, posters... whatever. It's the best of the best, and I recommend that if you are interested in any of the above you need to read it. 

One of the biggest manga publishers in the world also happens to be one of the oldest: Kodansha.

The company, founded in 1909, also happens to be the largest Japanese publisher. Though known today as primarily a manga distributor, Kodansha got started as a literary magazine.

The company was founded by Seiji Noma as a spinoff of the Greater Japan Oratorical Society, and its first publication was Yuben, a literary magazine.

The company didn’t actually receive the name “Kodansha” until two years after its founding, when it merged with another company, Dai-Nippon Yubenkai.

Since then, Kodansha has been primarily been known as a publisher of a variety of magazines, though in reality, it’s much more than that; the Kodansha group has become a media conglomerate in Japan.

One of the major companies owned by Kodansha is King Records, which was founded in 1931.

Sub-labels within King Records include Starchild, specializing in anime music, and You! Be Cool, which contains the immensely popular idol supergroup AKB48.

Interestingly enough, while Kodansha got started as the publisher of literary magazines, most of those style of books have been relegated to the subsidiary of Kobunsha, which was established in 1945 under Kodansha.

Kobunsha is the publisher of the popular women’s magazine JJ, established in the 1970s as the first of its kind in Japan.

But where Kodansha shines brightest is in its manga serializations, particularly Weekly Shounen Magazine.

Weekly Shounen was established in 1959 and has published some of the most beloved manga ever, such as Cyborg 009, Kamen Rider, Great Teacher Onizuka, and Love Hina.

Currently Weekly Shounen Magazine runs the popular series Ace of Diamond and Fairy Tail, among others.

A spinoff of Weekly Shounen, called Bessatsu Shounen Magazine, began in 2009; this magazine serializes Attack on Titan, which has become a mega-hit worldwide.

While “shounen” means “boys,” the company also has published manga aimed at young girls (or “shoujo”) since the establishment of Nakayoshi magazine in 1954.

Among the dozens of successful series that Nakayoshi has put out, such as Cardcaptor Sakura, HeartCatch PreCure!, and Magic Knight Rayearth, to name a few – the magazine hit gold when it published Sailor Moon.

Among the biggest contributions that Kodansha has had within the manga industry is the annual Kodansha Manga Award, which began in 1977.

There are just three award categories – Shonen, Shoujo, and General – though there used to be a Children’s category that was folded after the 2014 awards.

Past winners of the award include Akira, Sailor Moon, Peach Girl, Inazuma Eleven, and Yo-Kai Watch.

 With a Kodansha sampler featuring some of the company’s most popular current series appearing in the 2015 Free Comic Book Day lineup (in North America), it’s become obvious that Kodansha is as big as it’s ever been.

Though publishers often come and go, Kodansha’s been strong for a hundred years or so thus far, so here’s hoping for another century or so of great manga.

Thanks Scoop (and JC Vaughn!), for helping me out today... my fingers are all fat and stiff from cutting down about 20 trees in my backyard this afternoon helping me recapture some 15 extra feet of space near the south fence.

The tulips in the foreground grow where, back in 1973, when I first moved here, a crab apple tree stood. I used to sit under it and read comic books.... until I realized the male cocker spaniel liked to pee on it.
Now all I have to do is cut it all into little pieces, saw the stumps down or dig up the roots, take out some more brush near the vegetable garden, mend a few fences (not with people), maybe get a roller and flatten the ... whatever the hell is down instead of grass, and then I can tackle the front yard. Sounds like a busy Sunday.

I hope your weekend has been grand.

Andrew Joseph

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