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Massive restructuring at Viz


PW is reporting that there have been massive layoffs at Viz Media — up to 60 people or 40 percent of the workforce have been laid off. PW quotes an official Viz statement:

VIZ Media is in the process of refining its focus, and is restructuring to adjust to changing industry and financial market realities. As part of the restructuring, the company had to refine its workforce by eliminating certain positions and making cuts in other areas. We are of course saddened by these departures and sincerely appreciate the hard work, passion and dedication of those that have moved on, but we feel confident that with these changes, VIZ Media will be more streamlined and able to withstand the climate of the economy at this time.

With the American manga market already in flux, this has to be seen as a body blow to the category as Viz was consistently the best selling American comics publisher, dominating the best seller charts with such mega-hits as Naruto and One Piece. But even those weren’t enough to stave off this huge restructuring. According to PW:

Viz Media, one of the leading publishers of manga in the U.S., announced a sweeping round of layoffs today that will affect every part of the company. Sources tell PW that as many as 55 people were laid off at Viz’s San Francisco headquarters and it appears its small New York office, which had about 5 staffers, has been closed. The number of staff released represents about 40% of the employees at Viz Media.

We’re working on finding out some of the people let go. Developing.

  1. Does this include the small army of translators, letterers, and touch-up artists that they’ve had working on the sped-up 5-volumes-per-month “One Piece” books? Or were most of those people freelancers or outside contractors, and thus not included in these numbers?

    But even if these cuts do include those temporary staffers, it sounds like this goes far deeper than that. Definitely hard times for all involved. Sad news indeed.

  2. Peter—I think translators/adapters/letterers generally work freelance for these manga publishers.

    Sad news :( I’m really sorry for all those who lost their jobs here. I want to go out and buy a bunch of Viz manga now to do what I can to support the company!

  3. Now would be a bad time to show support for VIZ… If they let all these people go, AND the numbers on revenue go UP, they’ll just tweak the annual reports to make it look like the layoffs helped reduce costs.

    Better to wait 3 months, then maybe get everything you’re looking for on sale – my guess is these layoffs are merely the start of a pre-sale restructuring…

  4. >my guess is these layoffs are merely the start of a pre-sale restructuring

    Given that Viz is wholly owned by Shogakukan and Shueisha, I find that scenario unlikely. Not impossible, but there’s just no particular reason to compel a sale. Viz still leads the manga field by a wide margin. Shogakukan and Shueisha are healthy companies.

    This looks more like a correction for overcapacity. VizAnime and SigIkki have launched, anime licensing is down, and few other manga series need the “Naruto Nation” treatment. They just don’t need that many people at the moment.

  5. @grimlock – Your logic is sound, but I think you’re logic is more in line with an American company than a Japanese one.

  6. Ugh, I hope they don’t drop Shonen Jump. It’s the cheapest way to read Manga outside of pirated internet versions. I collect a few of the books and the $10 each cover price is killing me since some have nearly a hundred volumes.

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