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Dark Horse License-Rescues “Planetes”: A “Good News/Bad News” Kind of Thing

March 31, 2015

In case the title of this post wasn’t expository enough for you, Anime News Network has reported that the crown jewel of Tokyopop’s manga line will be coming back into print.  Mind you, that’s “crown jewel” as I see things.  Over the course of five volumes in the U.S., Makoto Yukimura’s sci-fi series managed the incredibly tricky task of balancing hard science with believable character as he chronicled the exploits of the Toy Box and its crew of trash collectors in outer Earth orbit.  It was a singular experience, applying a blue-collar ethos to a setting that was at once fantastic and inevitable given humanity’s tendency to trash up any place that it visits.  The manga also spawned an anime that was just as good, if not a little better in how it managed to expand the scope of the story and flesh out key relationships.  As it was a sci-fi series that trended more towards the “hard” end of that particular spectrum, it didn’t sell all that well for the publisher.  However, everyone who did buy a copy had nothing but good things to say about it.  So if you missed out on buying it the first time, then now’s your chance to make amends.

While the fact that “Planetes” is coming back into print is unequivocally a good thing, there is one issue that nags at me.  Longtime readers will know that I’m quite preoccupied with the state of Dark Horse’s manga line and the fact that they’re re-publishing this series is one more step towards their eventual fate.  That being a company who exists only to manage their massive backlist, publish titles only from established creators/series/anime, and license-rescue notable titles from other publishers.  “Planetes” isn’t the first series they’ve rescued from Tokyopop -- their CLAMP titles and the “FLCL” omnibus are the most notable -- it’s just the latest.  If I had my way, I’d see them re-release “Future Diary” and finish it so that everyone could enjoy the absolutely bonkers apocalyptic/parallel reality/time travel climax that series featured.  Still, if you ever hope to see them publish another title like “Blade of the Immortal,” which arrived with no anime tie-in or notable creator, then the odds are looking increasingly slim that’ll ever happen again.

On that note, Sakura-Con is this weekend and that’s when Dark Horse announces the majority of their licenses for the coming year.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed that any of the new titles we hear from them don’t conform to the above-mentioned categories.  Or just hope that the titles they do announce are interesting enough to make such worrying irrelevant.

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