5 Semi-Popular Manga that were Dropped by American Publishers

Although it's true that translating manga is a heck of a lot cheaper than making a comic from scratch, that doesn't mean it's guaranteed to have the entire series published in English.  While it's sometimes hard for fans to fathom, manga is a business, and when certain titles don't sell (or, more frustratingly, sell but don't sell enough to make it profitable) the company will usually "drop" the title and leave it unfinished, leaving fans with the option of learning Japanese to read the original books themselves (or hoping some other English publisher picks it up).  

Neither option is pleasant.  

Unless you've switched entirely over to digital releases, having a series left unfinished on your shelf can eat away as you like an earworm; becoming all the more painful the more aware you are of the problem.  While most titles that are dropped are done so because they failed to find an audience (or simply weren't very good), there HAVE been titles dropped that were not only of decent quality but were somewhat well known (and loved) in the community!  The following five titles surprised fans to varying degrees by the fact that they were dropped by their publishers.  Keep in mind these are titles whose American runs were left unfinished, as they all finished their runs in their native homeland Japan.  Completed works that are simply no longer in print is a topic for another day.

"Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo" by Yoshio Sawai (Viz Media)

In what can only describe as a comic that MAD Magazine would have produced if they made manga, "Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo" is pure silliness for readers who just want a good laugh.  Sucess has largely eluded this title though, as it has been introduced to the US audiences SEVERAL times by companies who REALLY seem to have wanted it to be a big thing!  Viz Media first licensed the manga several years ago when they had just established 'Shonen Jump' as a brand that readers trusted.  They must have been concerned about whether or not readers would flock to what was essentially a 'Dragon Ball Z' parody and only licensed part of the manga and released a single volume without a spine number.  That volume wasn't even Vol. 1 but the later Vol. 9!

Turns out Viz was right about people not flocking to the title because that single volume was all we got in 2005.  The following year a few ex-Funimation employees decided they wanted a piece of the anime pie and launched a new studio called Illumitoon Studios.  "Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo" was one of their flagship titles (along with "Beat the Vandal Buster") and we got two DVD's for a total of six episodes released!  This too failed to find an audience and Illumitoon went silent a few months later.  

Four years later Viz would give the manga another try and properly started releasing the manga from volume one.  It got to volume 5 before the plug was pulled again.  That release was back in 2010 and we haven't heard anything about it since.  What's more scary is that the title has clearly been out of print for years, yet finding brand new copies in stock online is and at bookstores is surprisingly easy, highlighting what a financial disaster the title likely was.

If there is a silver lining for fans of this quirky title, it's that Discotek licensed the anime and actually got the whole thing out there on BluRay!  First as two individual season sets and then as one giant BluRay/DVD combo that has the entire series!  What's more, the combo pack is readily available and not terribly expensive!  Fans of the manga are still out of luck though.

"City Hunter" by Tsukasa Hojo (Gutsoon! Entertainment)

This is an interesting one to include on the list.  "City Hunter" was not only a huge hit in Japan, but the anime was a decent-sized hit when it was released on VHS (and then later on DVD) from ADV Films way back in the day!  When the manga boom hit America there was actually a fair amount of demand for the original manga to be released in America.  

Author Tsukasa Hojo held off on releasing his famous manga in English until the release of Raijin Comics, a weekly manga anthology from his American company Gutsoon! Entertainment he was hoping would be a major competitor to Viz's new (at the time) Shonen Jump anthology.  It was a flagship series for the magazine and was a main draw for readers.  Sadly, when Raijin was discontinued, and parent company Gutsoon folded "City Hunter" abruptly ended in America.  Though fans wanted to see the rest of the series released, there were no further volumes printed.

Unlike other series on this list though, "City Hunter" has a silver lining or two.  The first is that the anime got a full re-release on BluRay from the aforementioned Discotek, so fans of the series can at least watch the whole series.  The other is that Hojo's Japanese company Coamix teamed up with Imagineer to launch the app MangaHot, where various different manga can be read on your phone and tablet.  In 2022 "City Hunter" was finally added to the app, giving English fans their first chance in almost twenty years to read the series.  Those who are hoping to complete their book collection are still - at the moment - out of luck. 

"From Eroica with Love" by Yasuko Aoike (CMX)

When DC Comics launched their manga imprint CMX, "From Eroica with Love" was actually one of their flagship series.  It was a strange choice: A shoujo comedy that was a spoof of the James Bond and Lupin III series - one whose main protagonist was a flamboyantly gay thief - the title was an especially progressive release in 2004.  Considering the gay lead character, the fact that it had no anime that was based off it, was a title most had not heard of outside of Japan, AND premiered in 1976, it's amazing someone at DC thought it would sell well enough to be one of the cornerstone releases for their inaugural lineup.  

The series (along with most of the imprint's releases) was not a huge financial success but had gained enough of a cult following for 15 of the titles 39 to be released in America.  When DC discontinued CMX though all the entire lineup was cancelled.  Other titles from CMX like "Tenjho Tenge" and "Megatokyo" found homes at other companies, but many of their titles simply ceased to exist in America, with "From Eroica with Love" being one of their many titles whose release remains incomplete to this day.

"Gin Tama" by Hideaki Sorachi (Viz Media)

"Gin Tama" started out with the world in the palm of its hands: It was a major Shonen Jump release that quickly gained a large fan following and was one of those rare titles that was an instant hit right out of the gate!  Considered a spiritual successor to "Bleach" by some fans (with the cosplay community especially taking notice), the idea that "Gin Tama" would one day fall in popularity enough that it would be discontinued in any format was unthinkable.  

Yet that's what happened all around, with even the anime getting abruptly cancelled (with an absolutely brilliant final episode) and having to be finished down the line with a movie.  In America the situation was worse, as Viz Media cancelled the manga release after volume 23 with no reason given and no plans for the rest of the series to be finished.

In all fairness, this problem isn't unique to America; after a successful launch in Spanish territories the series stalled after volume 16, so American's can take some comfort knowing that they got a little bit further along in the story.  With 77 volumes in the entire series though this is of scant comfort, and readers have been left hanging since 2011 about what happened next.  And, no, the series is NOT currently available on the American Shonen Jump app, so fans who want to finish the series will have to learn Japanese and play the import game!

"Strawberry 100%" by Mizuki Kawashita (Viz Media)

Although harem manga is a dime-a-dozen genre, "Strawberry 100%" stood out from the crowd with a better than average story and characters you couldn't help but fall in love with.  It was released in America by Viz Media under their Shonen Jump Advanced label (a somewhat controversial choice as the series was geared more for romance audiences than the action crowd).  

The series gained a loyal cult following...but maybe it wasn't loyal enough.  "Strawberry 100%" ceased publication after the 14th volume.  While it's always frustrating for fans when a title is discontinued, this was especially frustrating since the entire series was 19 volumes!

With "Gin Tama," fans were frustrated by Viz Media's decision to cease publication early, but were a bit more understanding.  Considering there were still at least dozen more books to publish at the time (with no end in sight), it made sense to stick a fork in the series if it wasn't making money.  With "Strawberry 100%" though there were only five more volumes to go, so it was a bit frustrating that the company didn't stick it out to see the series through to the end.  

After all, they kept "Firefighter!: Daigo of Company M" in production all the way through to the end despite being one of the companies worst selling title (and THAT series had 20 volumes in total)!  Manga is a business though, and in the end Viz Media must have felt the sales of "Strawberry 100%" just didn't justify seeing things through to the end.

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