"Shaman King" Manga Returns to US as ComiXology Exclusive

When it was announced that "Shaman King" would be getting a reboot in anime form, I knew it was only a matter of time before the manga would return to US shores.  As one of the post-launch series of Viz Media's Shonen Jump magazine, "Shaman King" was one of those franchises that always flirted with mainstream success in the states without actually becoming a mainstream success.  The anime DID get air time on TV, but it was dubbed by 4Kids Entertainment, so whatever potential it may have had for mainstream success was pretty much squashed there.  I've always enjoyed the series (I'll reprint my old review with new comments in a week), but I do admit I haven't looked at it in years.  So much so that I've been selling my old books on eBay for money to buy the inevitable re-release.

Well...I might be waiting a bit longer to re-add "Shaman King" to my collection, because while Kodansha USA (who I have to point out obtained the rights to this manga last year) has announced that the manga is coming back, it is coming back in digital form and as a ComiXology exclusive!  So, basically, threw enough money at Kodansha to force "Shaman King" fans to enter the Kindle ecosystem in order to read the series.  I have concerns about this (which I discuss in the video above), however there are a couple bits of good news that comes with this announcement.  First, the fact that "Shaman King" is returning to our shores at all is something to celebrate.  Though I am unhappy that it's locked behind a corporations paywall (rather than being available everywhere to purchase), it has been out of print long enough for this to be a reason to celebrate.

The other good news is that we'll be getting the 'complete' story this time.  For those who were not aware, when "Shaman King" was picked up by Viz Media, the series was cancelled before it concluded.  Years later Takei wrote some post-story epilogues, however he eventually got to complete the story when the series was released in an "Ultimate Edition" in Japan.  This edition added three whole books to the series (35 as opposed to 32) and ended the story on a proper note (one that I will say was one of the most unique endings I've read for a Shonen Jump series).  For the first time ever, American's will actually get to read the true ending.  Also if you have a ComiXology subscription it appears that this series will be part of that $5.99 monthly subscription, so if you don't want to buy digital copies you can essentially pay a 'rental fee' and do some hardcore binge-reading (like you did when you were a teenager)!

Also - and I acknowledge this is pure speculation - I do feel Kodansha WILL eventually release a paperback version of "Shaman King!"  They have released manga exclusively in digital form before turning around and publishing it in print form later on down the road ("A Silent Voice" was originally exclusive to the Crunchyroll Manga app).  Selling the exclusive rights to Amazon is likely a temporary deal to help fund the eventual English release of the books.  But putting it out digitally first it brings "Shaman King" back into circulation and gives the public time to rediscover the series.  It gives the series a chance to gain positive word-of-mouth.  When the anime comes out next year the series has been re-established to American's, they are excited about the series, and when you release a book now it is far more likely to sell.  Obviously, that's speculation, but I do believe at some point "Shaman King" will be released in print form.  In the meantime the old books are still on eBay, so for those who can't wait go make an eBay seller happy!

Your Comic Book Guy - Kevin

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