[Hynavian] Battle of the Publishers – The Good, The Bad and The HORRIBLE!

Friends who know me well enough will know that I’m a manga collector who treat my manga like gold. I collect raw manga, the English version and sometimes, the Mandarin version (traditional/simplified). They’re kept in top notch condition, no dust, no dog ears and they’re as good as new. After mindlessly ranting on scanlators doing a bad job, I reflected and feel that I should not complain when goods are free. Hence, this time I’m going to rant on the bad quality of goods that I’ve paid for. Since I’ve a library of manga that is published in English, analyzing the pro and con would aid not only me, but the many manga shoppers out there too. Based on my personal life experience, I’ll be stating my opinions and pointing out the good, the bad and providing some personal side comments on the various publishers. I’m usually concern with the below and will only mention if the various publishers fall short of my expectations or over-exceed them.

  • price
  • quality (cover page, pages, print)
  • accuracy of translation (grammar, sentence structure)
  • availability (whether it can be found easily or it’s some ninja publisher)
  • freebie (color page)

*Arranged alphabetically from A-Z, please be aware that I do not patronize manga from certain publishers and hence, they’re not included.

Titles that I hold: Gunslinger Girl (~S$16.15)
The Good:

  • Color page included.

The Bad:

  • Print quality (Gunslinger Girl)
  • Some bubbles left blank (Gunslinger Girl) <<NB: I personally filled in the words that were missing from the bubble after referring to the raws>>
  • Website: My grandmother moves faster than their website and the site is always not up to date.
  • Series published on an irregular basis
  • Unavailability. Once a volume is sold out, local book shops have difficulty trying to get a re-stock due to whatever reason. Strangely, it only happens to products of ADVFilm.

Hyn’s Personal Comment: The website is horrible and it’s impossible to search for anything there. Not only so, the feedback box on the site is a bluff as my feedback never seems to get through.

Publisher: Chuang Yi

Titles that I hold: Blood+ (~S$8.50)
The Good:

  • Color page included (Blood+)
  • High quality pages and cover page (Blood+)
  • Affordable and available since it’s a local publisher.

The Bad:

  • Limited genres, they’ve more into Mandarin translations as compared to English and some genres will never make it to Chuang Yi, we all know it.

Hyn’s Personal Comment: Please support Chuang Yi.

    Publisher: CMX Manga
    Titles that I hold:
    Variante (~S$21.90)
    The Good:

    •  High quality.

    The Bad:

    • Price, it’s one of the most expensive around.
    • To prevent others from reading their products free, CMX Manga wraps their product so tightly that the book would suffocate to death if it’s alive.

    Hyn’s Personal Comment: I’m still waiting for volume 4 of Variante.

    Publisher: Dark Horse Manga
    Titles that I hold: Blood+ (~S$19.00)
    The Good:

    • For American comic and Korean Manhwa lovers.

    The Bad:

    • Ugly fonts. (Blood+)
    • Price, it’s expensive.

    Hyn’s Personal Comment: Vol1 of Gantz is out by the way, I’m not a fan of Gantz though.

    Publisher: DrMaster Publications Inc
    Titles that I hold: Lunar Legend Tsukihime (~S$13)
    The Good: I’m sorry to say this but I have nothing positive to say about this publisher.
    The Bad:

    • Irregular price range, volume 1 is S$16.55 while volume 5 is S$13.
    • Bad page and cover quality, feels like toilet paper material to me.
    • Too few series under their wing.

    Hyn’s Personal Comment: An "ulu" publisher; I only know of DrMaster through Tsukihime.

    Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
    Titles that I hold: Kashimashi (~S$19.50)
    The Good:

    • Publishes series that are not main stream (eg: Yuri titles like Strawberry Panic, Kashimashi and Venus Versus Virus).
    • Good quality cover page.
    • Japanese terms are kept as it is (onee-sama, neechan, san, etc)

    The Bad:

    • Unavailability (I challenge you to find Strawberry Panic in Singapore)
    • Price, on the costly side.

    Hyn’s Personal Comment: N/A

    Publisher: TOKYOPOP
    Titles that I hold: Battle Club (~S$16.65), Battle Vixen (~S$15.20), Chibi Vampire (S$15.10)
    The Good:

    • Great website that’s utilized fully by the company. Easy navigation, easy information gathering, there are even times when you’re able to read free manga online on TOKYOPOP.
    • Price, TOKYOPOP manga are cheaper than the others.
    • Availability, TOKYOPOP manga is available almost everywhere.
    • Wide genre coverage. TOKYOPOP covers a wide range of manga; from yuri (Kannazuki no Miko) to shoujo (Karin) to yaoi (Junjou Romantica).

    The Bad:

    • Horrible cover page, the cover page is toilet roll material. (Chibi Vampire)
    • Horrible paper quality, the paper is toilet paper quality. (Chibi Vampire)
    • Bad printing quality.
    • Background effects are untranslated.
    • Bubbles are not fully utilized, words are font size mini-me but they take up only half the bubble space. What’s the remaining space for?
    • Unreadable bubbles. Some bubbles are too near the binders and they’re unreadable. (To read, tear the page out)
    • WTF translations with broken english. (Battle Vixen)

    Hyn’s Personal Comment: TOKYOPOP, you suck!!! The free to read manga that’s on the site won’t be able to save your reputation since they’re usually series (eg: The Tarot Cafe and Bizenghast) that are not worth reading IMO.

      Publisher: VIZ Media
      Titles that I hold: Claymore (~S$13.45), Pretty Face (~S$13.45), Rosario+Vampire (~S$13.30), Special A (~S$14.95)
      The Good:

      • Background effect/sound is translated.
      • Publishes a volume on a regular series. 

      The Bad:

      • Cover page bends naturally to a side over time.
      • Debatable terms in translations. (Claymore)

      Hyn’s Personal Comment: Please support VIZ Media.

      The other publishers that I’m aware of but I do not own any of their products would be Broccoli Books, Del Ray Manga and Infinity Studios. Both Del Ray and Infinity Studios products are on the expensive side but I’m unsure of the quality since I’ve not bought any of their goods. After visiting Infinity Studios’ site, fans of manhwa would definitely like them since the few products they have there are mainly english published manhwa. I would like to give Del Ray a try as I’m going ga-ga over Pastel recently and might grab volume 1 from my local bookshop. Personally, VIZ Media is my favorite so far when it comes to quality and price. On the other hand, I would mourn whenever TOKYOPOP or ADVFilm announces that they’ll be licensing a new series that I like. That’s all from me, hopefully this post can be a "useful guide" somehow. (:

      21 Responses to “[Hynavian] Battle of the Publishers – The Good, The Bad and The HORRIBLE!”

      • CY is great. The boss’ daughter and I were school mates and she was my sister’s room mate in uni. I don’t get discount though :(

      • Finally, a connoisseur of official English-translated manga!

        It’s been 2 years since I started collecting English-translated manga. The collection of such manga (ETM) has been invariably improved over time, so it’s wonderful to pick and choose.

        My 2 cents worth:

        Forget about ADVFilms (or ADV Manga, whatever it is). I’m stuck on their Volume 5 of Yotsuba&! (I RECOMMEND THIS!), and for those who wishes to buy anything from ADV, be prepared to wait indefinitely for them to resume their serialization schedules. This is where I never looked much into them.

        TokyoPop has been the staple for much of my manga. I started off with them, in Ai Yori Aoshi, followed by Keroro Gunsou (which was mysteriously renamed to “Sgt. Frog”). There had been a few short-volume series done by TokyoPop that I purchased. IMO I have no nitpicks to hold TokyoPop accountable, except that some of their releases’ quality had been erratic at times (they decided to remove the Kanji & Kana from each introducing chapter in AYA somewhere near Vol 9).

        Viz Media: SHOUNEN JUMP MADNESS! Most of my purchases are series from the Shonen Jump magazines. Death Note, Jojo’s Bizzare Adventures (ORA ORA ORA ORA!!), and probably few more series I’m reading on. My most nitpicking peeve: they translated the whole SFX (which was left as katakana in most ETMs) into your typical “WHAAM!”, “KAPOOW” and “ZOOM.” SFXes you find in Western comics. (See Death Note for example.)

        Del Rey books are probably the most expensive books I’ve ever collected, but since I’ve roped in my friend to join in the manga craze, he’s spent most of his money on Del Rey. I owned Mushishi from them. I can’t say much about Del Rey: my friend, however, never looked back on Del Rey. I will say Del Rey must have acquired good series to license to.

        There are other publishers I look forward to (sadly, Chuang Yi’s rendition of Negima cannot top that of Del Rey’s, so… heh ^^; ).

        Glad to know there are people reading up ETMs here. I was thinking I’m only the few, since most people here concentrate on Chuang Yi or Tong Li (Taiwanese manga publisher, for the uninitiated). Or directly from Japan.

      • Huh. Looks like I have been a reclusive hermit since I have only heard of Chuang Yi and another publisher called Tong Li. Most of my manga are from Tong Li because I have a strange preference for non-simplified Mandarin.

      • Tokyopop sucks. period

        I actually quite like del rey. Their paper quality is better than most and they’ve picked up some pretty good series. they also put a lot of cultural notes in the back and translates every single sfx (at least, in negima, tsubasa, and xxxholic, told you they picked up good stuff).

        I also like brocolli books as they put in color pages (kamui, god I love that series), translates the sfx. And I just really like the treatment they do to the covers (unlike tokyopop, they don’t make up freakishly ugly titles. I mean, did they HAVE to make the new titles to ugly? have you SEEN what they did to chobits?)

        By the way, you missed ice kunion (well, they only do manhua, so I don’t blame you) and shoujo beat.

      • I dunno, Del Rey’s pretty much fine for me. Decent pages, more or less no printing errors, translated SFX, honorifics, and a pretty acceptable price.
        Still, I don’t totally look up to them because of that Avril Lavigne stunt they pulled.

      • Really? You don’t have any Del Rey manga? Del Rey already takes up about 1/4 of my collection (though that partially might be because of some of the manga from them being so long). And Del Rey almost always does the best job. They’re my favorite manga company right now. All honorifics left in tact and so are cultural references and everything gets explained in the back for people who wouldn’t get it. And the printing quality’s just good overall as well.

        The rest of my collection is mostly Viz. It used to be TokyoPop until they made that awful decision to go all OEL. The only manga they ever did a good job on was Fruits Basket anyway. Mixed up bubbles and just blank bubbles…and when they changed to those freakin’ red logos on the binding…ugh. But I agree, after Del Rey anyway, Viz is my favorite. They used to be kind of crappy a few years ago (quite a few), but they’ve gotten really good lately I think.

        But I have a personal grudge with CMX. I’ve only read two series from them and they were both just…awful. They used ugly fonts, they edited and censored pictures, but then they wouldn’t edit pictures when their ugly sound effects were smaller than the Japanese sound effects so there was just this blank spot on the page. And of course, because they were all teenagers, everyone used slang from the early 90′s…but since I’m on strike from CMX, TokyoPop’s really my mortal enemy now. Mostly because their stupid business practices and their past crappy quality (and the current as well).

        All that aside, this post was pretty useful for me. I was wondering about Seven Seas and if it was worth it to buy a few things from them. Now I think I feel safe about getting a couple of things. Just need to find out about their novels too now.

      • @tj_han
        Ah…it’s a pity. Boss should try getting a discount so that we all at RIUVA can fully enjoy. (:

        ADV – Agreed. I’m still waiting for my next installment of Gunslinger Girl and their website is not being helpful. I’ve since given up collecting GSG.

        You should take a look at CMX manga, they’re selling at cut throat prices and Del Ray has lost its “most expensive” crown to CMX. I think Del Ray chooses their series carefully and they’re rather popular titles. (Eg: Air Gear, Pastel, Suzuka) Selective licensing sure produces top quality goods ya. (:

        I did compare some of Chuang Yi’s series with the other publishers and feel that CY is the more economical and the faster when it comes to Blood . CY blood is at volume 4 while DarkHorse Blood is at volume 2 (so expensive with ugly fonts). CY is also publishing Special A but it’s standing at volume 1 when Viz has already published like 5 volumes of Special A. I’ve seen CY’s rendition of Vampire Knight in the bookstall but I did not grab them as I’m not collecting VK. However, I don’t mind listening to some evaluation of CY’s Vampire Knight, whether it meet the standards.

        @The Sojourner
        I think Tong Li publishes many affordable and great series but they’re in mandarin though. There are also many Chinese publishers like the one that publishes Gunslinger Girl in mandarin but I can’t recall the name now.

        We’re comrades! I dislike TOKTOPOP too but they’re publishing series that I would want to collect. It adds to my frustration having to collect toilet paper material manga. However, I feel more confident of grabbing Broccoli’s Devil Princess and Del Ray’s Pastel after reading your comment. (:

        Kunion? I tried searching for it’s official site but I’m having difficulty locating it. As for Shoujo beat (if I’m correct), VIZ Media has categorized their series into different branches (shonen jump, shonen jump advance, shoujo) and one of them is shoujo beat.

        Exactly! I was surfing their site and I noticed some cool titles like Suzuka but the Avril Lavigne manga totally caught me off guard. I didn’t know AV has a manga named after her.

        @Fuyu Maiden
        Ah yes, I don’t have any Del Ray manga yet but I will be collecting them soon! Pastel ~ here I come!!!

        Exactly, TOKYOPOP is ruining the whole manga experience. Recently, I learn that Kannazuki no Miko and Tokko were licensed by TOKYOPOP and I mourn in despair. Tokko (raw) is beautifully illustrated with color pages and I doubt TOKYOPOP has the HEART TO GIVE ME MANY COLOR PAGES!!! Now I’m going to get a toilet paper version of Tokko instead

      • Del Rey is the best I’ve seen. They did a great job with shugo chara.

      • The thing is, the director guy (father) told me it was ok to just go to their office and get some cheap books but considering I buy manga weekly when it is released, it would be ridiculously thick-skinned for me to head down every week just to save a few dollars haha.

      • ADV are going through… problems at the moment. In all honesty, I wouldn’t be too surprised if they didn’t exist in a months time. They seem to be having problems even pushing out their DVD releases at the moment, let alone the manga line that’s been on hiatus for a while.

        Buying Seven Seas titles anywhere in the world is hard at the moment. They’ve had a significant change in their distribution in the last six months, which coupled with the bulk returns the struggling B&M book stores in the US are making at the moment, they are suffering even more than a lot of the larger companies.

        Tokyopops quality in terms of printing and colour pages depends entirely on how much they think they can make on a title. To make matters worse, they aren’t beyond reprinting things at worse quality after their initial print run – I know a few of their titles dropped the colour pages for their reprints. I would say that I love their novel line, but they’ve just dropped most the books I care about mid-series. Bastards.

        CMX, well, after the whole Tenjou Tenge shitstorm, I refuse to look at any of their titles.

        Del Rey are generally good, though. Probably my favourite of the US publishers in both terms of titles and consistency. The fact that they tend to stick translation notes in the back is nice, too, particularly with titles like xxxHolic.

      • Cant talk too much about English Mangas here…

        I own so far

        Claymore and Excel Saga from VIZ Media and i can say that they actually care about what they publish.The Appendix is always hughe and they explain every soundeffect.
        The only Thing i dislike is the Feeling of the Cover.

        Is it actually true that the Claymore Manga gets censored when Nudity is involved?
        Im up to Vol 2 so far so i cant really tell (Yeah yeah im Slow)


        Im really pleased with Welcome to the NHK…The Books stink a bit but the rest is top notch

        But Shonan Junai Gumi….I sometimes think they printed it on Toiletpaper.

        And last but not least i own Gunsmith Cats Revised Edition by Dark Horse…Quality Wise everythings fine by me

        About Gunslinger Girl:
        I own the German Version.We are now up to Vol. 8 and they dropped the color pages with Vol6.Is the German Publisher a cheap Fuck or did they drop it all along?

      • Oh and with stink i meant smell bad

      • Yes, support CY! Their books are priced competitively and they actually give a damn about doing proper English translations.

        Disclaimer: I used to translate for CY

      • Dr.Master sux. Like you said, the quality of their Tsukihime books are horrible. The paper is Bible thin, and I can see the next page through it. I would rather buy from Kadokawa.

        In fact, come to think of it, most of my manga are from Kadokawa.

        And yes, CY is getting better. They have come a long way from when they first started. I’m quite impressed by the selection of manga that they are bringing in, from recent favorites like Blood to one shots like “Voices of a Distant Star”. The only bad thing is that their prices are steadily rising, from 4.50 to 4.80 to 5 to 5.50 now. T_T

        TokyoPop’s horrible too. Peh.

      • I realise you must be crying over the terrible job that rosario vampire ch40 was done.


        Here is the HQ version with redraws.

      • Wow, I didn’t know there were so many publishers out there, lol. The only ETMs that I own right now are Guyver Vol. 1- 9. Chuang Yi sent them to me to prepare me for the translation of the tenth volume =D

        But Viz Media sounds like a really good publisher. They even make the effort to edit and translate the sound effects? =O

      • @tj_han
        I think since CY’s manga are still affordable now, going thick face over a few cents and dollars is not a manly move. You did well boss. :)

        That’s very bad news to me as I’m a VIZ supporter. They’re providing good quality publishing and if anything is to happen to them, what will happen to Claymore?!?! Let’s cross our fingers and hope for the best.

        Agreed. It’s tough to find Seven Seas products in bookstores and I guess the best way is to get them directly from them, online shopping.

        Claymore does not have overbearing naked scenes that VIZ has to drop them, so no worries, just keep buying. The cover for VIZ manga tend to bend over time too, hence, I need to straighten them under other heavier books now and then.

        Dark Horse is a good publisher when you’re comparing quality but the price is rather steep. However, I went for Chuang Yi’s Blood because the quality is the same when the price is half of Dark Horse. Lucky that we have Chuang Yi here publishing some of the manga.

        I’m unsure about the “smell” -_-” of manga since they all smell the same to me. lol XD

        You’re right! I just realize that Blood seems to become more expensive as the volume goes. My 8th sense tells me that inflation is coming soon.

        Indeed I did. I even wrote a post ranting on it (below) but again, I shouldn’t be complaining since it’s free.

        VIZ does translates the sound effects and the others mentioned that Del Ray does that too. They’re the better publishers and worth the money.

      • @Hynavian:

        Considering Chuang Yi is under the purview of MDA, I was having second thoughts of getting their Blood releases, because the MDA stole DM’s Elfen Lied. So have you spotted any censorship in Chuang Yi’s compared to Dark Horse’s?

        And, I disagree with the Del Rey vs. CMX thing. Del Rey, when it comes to publishing material quality and the series they licensed, I say Del Rey is to what Ben & Jerry’s are: premium with valid justifications. (And, speaking of which, what’s with the S$12.20 price for a small tub of Ben & Jerry’s? Was it because Unilver decided to raise the price? I thought Ben & Jerry’s are all about affordable premium ice cream?)

        But talking about fonts and paper quality, I don’t usually use that as a yardstick to say, “Oh, this publisher has done well with readability features.” when it comes to making my purchasing decision on a manga. (In any case, I have a Nobita situation here.)

      • Del Rey is good but expensive. Their license choices are great as well. ADV is very very good (their translation notes for both the Azumanga Daioh anime and manga are passionate ok!) but they’re slow. They have trouble with the DVD releases as well.

        I dislike how TokyoPop publishes their books but ain’t got a choice for titles such as Yubisaki Milk Tea and Aria. But still they’re quite cheap. Chuang Yi is ok but paper quality is not as good, and their books actually feel heavier. Cheaper but heavier paper lol.

        Viz is still a good all rounder but the only SJ title I own is Hikari no Go. Their Hayate the Combat Butler is published quite well, but I’d rather they remove the “SCREWBALL ACTION COMEDY AT YOUR SERVICE” at the back of them.

        Oh and Seven Seas’s Strawberry Panic has been recently made available at Ani-Play. But maybe I shouldn’t have said that because I’m considering to buy it, IF the light novel is good.

      • I support affordable published manga, too bad CY doesn’t seem to have a lot of titles for the seinen demographic…

        I’ve got Chuang Yi’s version of FMP Sigma back when they were still based near my office, but good thing they are still within the Queensway/Alexandra area. Was considering getting Vagabond from them during the convention, but wasn’t sure whether if it was a good adaptation as I read the novel it was based on. Probably will drop by again one of these days.

      • @TP
        I didn’t know that CY would censor stuff. *starts flipping the page to spot the difference* I should really grab a Del Ray manga soon since it has many good reviews on it. The reason why I haven’t is because I’m not motivated to collect any of their published titles. However with Pastel, there’s hope. (: Special thanks to those who recommend me this sweet plot.

        As for me, I think paper quality and readability are important features though. It’s frustrating to actually pay for products that have pages that might tear easily or crumble into nothingness if it can’t withstand a few sprinkle of water (eg: Toilet paper material stuff absorbs water and become wasted material). The whole reading experience would be absent if I can’t read what they’re printing since the words are too near the edge or have some double vision in the background. But I’ll admit, judging whether it’s good according to “fonts” is a bad criteria to begin with but I do take note of details like fonts, hehe. (:

        A good thing about TOKYOPOP is that they have a range of manga under their belt and they dare to publish series with yuri, yaoi, ecchi or H themes. I don’t think VIZ or Del Ray are doing so yet, not very sure about this though but I usually see main stream manga of theirs around.

        I picked up CY Blood and think what you say might be true, the book is indeed heavy! Could it be due to the cover? Btw, I’m not going to weigh it though. XD

        I support CY as long as its affordable with good translations. It’s a pity that they do not have any english titles under their belt but I like the way they’re progressing. Perhaps they can consider publishing series that are licensed by TOKYOPOP, I’m sure many would support CY instead. (So far, I think CY seems to be competing with DarkHorse and VIZ since they’re publishing titles that those 2 publishers are publishing – Vampire Knight, Special A, Blood )

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