When Del Rey announced that they would soon be entering the world of manga, the manga industry raised an eye brow. After all, what could these guys contribute to the ever growing world of manga? Well we now have the chance to see, as I just received the first four manga books that Del Rey has published! So without further ado, lets take a look at these books, and how they stack up compared to the standards set by Tokyopop and Viz (ADV and Dark Horse is still a little flaky at this moment so I'm disqualifying these companies)! The first thing that everyone will notice is that Del Rey was no dummy when it came to choosing which titles to pick up. Del Rey secured not one, but TWO titles from the legendary female manga team CLAMP, they picked up the new series from "Love Hina" mastermind Ken Akamatsu, and picked up the manga adaptation of the newest Gundam series "Gundam Seed" (and the timing for this title is perfect since it JUST premiered on Cartoon Network's Toonami)!
Ask Viz what the secret to their success with "Shonen Jump" was, and they'll tell you it was because they had a great line up of titles in the magazine, and I think Del Ray picked some of the best titles they could to launch their Del Rey Manga line!
The titles that will lead Del Rey to a bright future
So after I laid the books on the ground, it was time to inspect the merchandise to see how well they were made. Sure enough, Del Rey's reputation for making quality books shines through with these books. All the covers had smooth plastic covers that feel very nice, with the exception of "xxxHOLiC," which for some reason has a cardboard cover (I know the descriptions sound funny, but go to the book store and you'll see what I mean). The paper quality for these books are also good, however it's no better or worse then the paper quality that Tokyopop and Viz use. That's not a complaint though, because the paper in those books are just fine. Of course as I went from book to book, inspecting each of the books to check out their features and everything, I found that I ran into a little snag:
Man, I guess they REALLY don't want you to save $10.95 by reading this in the store!
As you can see from the above picture, Ken Akamatsu's "Negima" comes in a plastic shrink wrap and a (removable) sticker that warns "For Mature Audiences Only 16+." And trust me, this is not that stupid plastic wrap that Tokyopop use's to wrap their Mature titles in (which makes it pretty easy for someone to quickly take off the wrappers and take a peek in the books), oh no. The plastic wrapping Del Rey used to seal this book was the kind of plastic some music companies use to wrap their CD's in. And trust me, if you've ever had to take a plastic wrapper off a CD before (and honestly, who here hasn't) then you'll know what a major pain in the butt it is to get the wrapper off this book! After I got the plastic off I was able to enjoy the book from then on, but this little distraction was rather disturbing. However if Del Rey MUST put the plastic on this series to keep it uncut then I'll live with it! But good luck to anyone who attempts to try and unwrap this book to sneak a peek inside without paying for it, because you'll need it. Now the next thing to look at is how big are the books? Well I decided to find out.
The width of the books are about the same as Tokyopop's and Viz's manga...
...as is the height of the books.
As you can see from above, the size of the books are about the same size as pretty much all the manga out there, so there was no need to worry about that. However looking at the books up there you may notice something if you were to look at the back of all the books. What is that you ask?
"Yu-Gi-Oh!" = $7.95
"Kare Kano" = $9.95
"Tsubasa" = $10.95
$10.95? "Why is the price so high" you might be asking yourself at this moment, and that question is not without merit. After all, judging by what you've seen above there isn't THAT much of a difference from the other manga, so why are these books more expensive?! Well, I'm not completely sure myself. You get little extras from book to book (check out the reviews to find out what extras there are), but whether or not they are worth the extra cash is really up for you to decide. However despite the fact that these books will cost you a little extra money when you buy them, Del Rey's manga are definitely worth buying. The books are made well, there are some extras in each book, and most importantly, Del Rey picked some good series to launch with! Hopefully things will continue the way they are now, and hopefully someday Del Rey will become a force to recognize sometime in the future! In the mean time, pick up the books for yourself to enjoy!
The above images are Copyright Kevin T. Rodriguez, and they cannot be reprinted without permission.
All rights reserved.