As word of the layoffs at Viz spread yesterday — 60 people laid off and the entire New York branch closed — the reaction around the industry, at least as expressed by Twitter and Facebook status updates — was complete and utter shell shock. Viz personnel we contacted for confirmation were devastated. While the exact cause of the downsizing and the effects it will have on Viz’s publishing plans are just emerging, a few manga reporters were commenting:
Gia Manry urged caution and hoped no one would panic that Viz was in dire straits:
To continue the metaphor, this is probably closer to VIZ still at the dock, realizing that the boat won’t survive the trip at its current weight and therefore removing what it can before setting sail. VIZ is, after all, no stranger to the occasional unpopular move made to preserve the business. With no obvious “next Naruto” on the rise and big hit Fullmetal Alchemist about to end its run in Japan as well as general economic difficulties world-wide, it should come as no surprise that VIZ is tightening its belt for what may be a pretty lean year– or several.
Meanwhile Go! Comi’s boat seems to have sunk entirely, or at least vanished over the horizon to an uncertain fate:
I would have to say that Go!Comi’s slow, quiet death hurts me the most. They had quite a number of great series and even though some of their later licensing choices were probably the worst decisions they could have made, I would have still bought them if it meant saving the company. Since the California company was in the Greater Los Angeles area, I had been hopeful that the company would resurrect itself so I could go bother them for a job. I say that not because I wanted more money or anything like that, but because I really DID want to go work for them. (I mentioned in a previous post that I’d met some of their employees and loved their attitudes.) I loved Tenshi Ja Nai, Cantarella, After School Nightmare, Bound Beauty and many others from the bottom of my heart and it kills me to know that I won’t be seeing the end of some of those wonderful series anytime soon. I’m sorry this is goodbye, Go!Comi.
We’re in transit this morning and will have a fuller analysis of what this means and the state of the manga industry, later today.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.