Happy New Year and New Site!

TOKYOPOP fam – hi everyone!

First, Happy New Year! I’m attaching my New Year’s card (年賀状 nengajo in Japanese).

As I type this, we’re rushing to have the site ready to launch hopefully by January 6 (this Sunday, gulp).

Things have changed so much in the past couple of years, in my life, with TOKYOPOP and more. But the same love I have for Asia – and of course Japan – continues to forge my path. Recently, I’ve traveled to Thailand, Taiwan, Korea – from my base in Tokyo, Japan. In March I will be in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. I’m very fortunate to visit these wonderful places, being from Los Angeles they somehow don’t feel foreign to me.

You may wonder what this has to do with the website. Well, it’s bigger than just the website – this is about TOKYOPOP’s future. I’m very proud that we – together with all of you – brought Japanese pop culture, especially manga, to North America and beyond. We popularized a wonderful art form and brought stories that rival (and often beat) Hollywood’s best.

Beyond manga, throughout the years, I always did what I could to introduce all of you to different discoveries I made in Asia – from J-Pop to Asian films to import cars and Harajuku fashion, let alone our dietary staples of manga, anime and video games.

What started in Japan has moved on to Korea and now the rest of Asia, including of course China. This entire region comprises not only over half the world’s population, but a creative hotbed for pop culture. The trend will continue and none of us are satiated!

Digital technology has transformed many industries including publishing. This hit TOKYOPOP very hard since we didn’t have ebook rights to most of our series (except OEL). Unfortunately our Japanese licensors did not move fast enough to provide a legitimate alternative to piracy, and piracy shows no mercy. As a result, TOKYOPOP had to shut down its LA office and the licenses to Japanese titles expired, reverting to the Japanese licensors.

What that means is TOKYOPOP is evolving as a company. I know many fans would prefer us to return to being a manga publisher like we were for most of our history. However, manga will never disappear – we will do what we can to deliver manga. I plan on experimenting with new ways to bring you Asian pop culture. Please keep an open mind – and give feedback (not just negative when you don’t like something but also positive when you like something) so we can tweak our approach.

Thanks to all of you for your continued support through all the ups and downs. This is my life. TOKYOPOP is my life. You’re joining me for part of this journey (rollercoaster ride!) and I am very appreciative of that.

ありがとうございます! Arigatou gozaimasu!!

Japanese New Year’s greeting:

Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!
明けましておめでとうおめでとうございます!
(congratulations for the New Year)

Kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegai shimasu!
今年も宜しくお願いします!
(please have a wonderful year – literally “please be good to me this year as well”)

–Stu Levy

holiday card 2013