Earlier this week, ANN reported that Stu Levy is asking fans of the TOKYOPOP Facebook page if they’d be interested in a limited release of Hetalia manga volumes 3 and 4. He states that the word “limited” does not necessarily imply limited copies. Instead, he states that the title would be limited in where it would be sold. The title would be a unique partnership between TOKYOPOP and the Hetalia rights holders. The arrangement is currently in an experimental stage, with Hetalia being the prototypical case. It was hinted that if Hetalia does well, then TOKYOPOP may not be averse to continuing with the format.
This strikes me as a bit odd, to be honest. TOKYOPOP shuttered its US publishing division’s doors in May, with many insiders citing mis-management as a key cause. Instead, the company chose to keep its film and European divisions running, with the Hamburg office left in charge of global rights sales.
While the company did do many great things for the American market, including forging the initial inroads into “unflipped” manga and light novel markets, the market’s not stupid. Many know that TOKYOPOP closed due to larger issues by this point, and many are expressing skepticism toward this new endeavor. To think that this won’t have at least a minor impact on the title’s overall sales is naiive, at best.
I don’t doubt that Hetalia will see a decent number of sales if this experiment grants it a print run. The series has a massive fanatical customer-base, many of which would be incredibly eager to purchase. However, it remains to be seen whether the title will earn enough revenues to justify future forays with the experiment.