It was announced today that Anime Expo would have another special guest at this year’s convention. Eiji Ohtsuka, the writer of “The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service” and “MPD-Psycho” will be giving a lecture and overseeing two workshops at this year’s convention. I’ll admit that his presence makes passing up this year’s convention just a little more hard, but I think I can make do with whatever summaries of his panels that come down the vine afterwards. (Those of you wondering who would get me to show up to AX or any other anime con that isn’t Fanime, I have one name for you: Hiroaki Samura.) Ohtsuka’s presence is noteworthy not just because this is his first visit to a convention out here, but also because Dark Horse is preparing to release the 11th volume of “MPD-Psycho” after a hiatus of more than two years. For those of you keeping track at home, “Kurosagi” hasn’t been gone for as long though it may not be until 2015 that we see a new volume. Assuming that this is now the standard wait time for new volumes of sales-challenged Dark Horse manga.
Speaking of which, I can only assume that Dark Horse had a hand in getting Ohtsuka out here given that they’re the only company still around who has published/is publishing his manga. What I’d like to believe is that they brought him out here as a way of promoting his manga. The fact that vol. 11 of “MPD-Psycho” is due out next month could just be a case of serendipitous timing, but if it helps them sell more copies of it then that works too. Personally, I hope that any attention his visit brings also spills over to “Kurosagi” since I think it’s the better of the two titles.
Ohtsuka’s visit could very well fail to move the needle on sales of these two titles. However, if he proves to be a very engaging and memorable presence at the con, with people talking about how awesome he was in person, then maybe word of mouth will actually translate into sales. That’s the outcome I’d like to see, because if it does work then maybe Dark Horse will consider getting other creators of sales-challenged manga titles -- like “Eden’s” Hiroki Endo -- to come out and say a few words with the hope of boosting the sales of their titles. Of course, there’d have to be some vetting to make sure that these creators are charismatic and good enough public speakers to pull this off. I didn’t say this would be anything like a slam dunk, but I can at least dream.
There’s also the chance that Ohtsuka is here of his own accord, or something he worked out with AX directly rather than Dark Horse. That means he could just be here to spread the good word of manga rather than promote his own titles along with their English publisher. If nothing else, you would expect to see him show up at their panel during the con, though that seems to be up in the air at this point. Still, all this gives me a reason to be interested in the con this year beyond the usual raft of licensing announcements that it brings. Let’s see if the writer’s presence brings good things along with it.