Dear German Manga Publishers: Just Stop

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Also. Ore to Akuma no Blues. License it.

Hey there, folks! The other day, I bought some manga and I swear, this is a literal re-enactment of what happened:

“Excuse me, waiter, there is a hair in my soup!”
“Oh, pardon me, Sir, but that’s just how it should be.”
“What.”
“That hair is an extra.”
“It’s clearly a hair.”
“No, see, this hair is an integral part of the soup. It’s branded®.”
“Seriously, what the fuck.”
“Just ask that venus flytrap over there to read out the brand logo.”
“What’s a venus flytrap doing on my table?”
“You just bought it.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Yes, you did. It comes with every seventh order at our restaurant because we at AltraCult only deliver the latest, hippest, coolest and freshest experiences.”

Or, you know what, I’ll just show you a picture I took with my glorious Vita cam at midnight so you can see what I’m talking about (provided you can actually make anything out on that pixelated mess):

German Manga Publishers I Actually Buy Things BTW Also Look At This Cool Boogiepop Phantom CD

Alright, now look at that Aposimz volume. Notice anything? There’s a character card. A.k.a. my hair in the soup. Why do manga have extras now? And such lame ones to boot too?

See, this isn’t exactly new to me and it’s been going on for quite a while but excuse me, what the fuck. Why would you add that piece of cardboard to that Aposimz volume? It adds nothing to the overall product. Trees died for this nonsense. Like, probably one if you add up all of these cards. Would you want to be that tree? I certainly wouldn’t.

Yet for some reason, every second manga I buy these days is wrapped in shrink wrap and contains some… card. If only it was something useful. These cards are more like the epitome of uselessness however. You couldn’t come up with anything more pointless if you tried. I mean, what is this even, a business card? Of a manga character?

Now mind you, things would be slightly better if all of these cards didn’t contain artwork that’s part of the regular volume but that’s not the case so there’s nothing exclusive about them either. There is literally no additional value to these cards and the character descriptions they contain only state the obvious and previously known. What, our main character who has set out on a journey to defeat the demon lord who destroyed his home village happens to be the main character who set out on a journey to defeat the demon lord who destroyed his home village? Really? If you want to present me with a 2cm x 5cm fact sheet, at least give me something new. You know all of this shit by simply reading the manga.

German Manga Publishers Mad Yurine

I mean, all extras are some sort of gimmick to begin with but this is just downright insultingly pointless. It’s like these cards are designed for people who don’t even read the manga they buy. On how many levels of insanity are we even now?

It’s particularly hilarious in the case of Terra Formars, a manga that includes several character profiles at the end of each volume to begin with, all of them more detailed than said character cards and telling you more about the characters than previously revealed in the story. I’m pretty sure Tokyopop could have done a better job by including dead cockroaches instead but the metallic covers are cool so I’ll let it slide.

Still, this inclusion of ‘extras’ (generous wording btw) really does make me wonder. I mean, clearly I’m interested in the manga itself and not some weird extra baggage. I’d like to assume that it’s the same for other people but since these things have been around for a few years now, it’s obviously a working system. Still, I won’t be swayed. I’m not one to fall for cheap gimmick tra- HOLY SHIT IS THAT A ROBO CRAB? I GOTTA BUY TEN OF THESE THINGS ASAP!

German Manga Publishers Micky Maus Magazin

Because this is very much what it boils down to. It’s the equivalent of Mickey Mouse Magazine extras except not even those are as lazy. So why the need for these things in the first place? My goodness, what is the average German manga reader, 7 years old? (believe me, I’ve been to manga stores countless times, they really do act the part)

See, I’m starting to believe these extras are of symbolic nature. There is no point or material value to them. They are the most cost-cutting, low-effort garbage they could have possibly shat out. A piece of cardboard, a few sentences, no new content whatsoever, that’s what this boils down to. It’s not your way of saying “WE CARE!!!” – it’s your way of pretending that you care. It’s all soulless marketing bullshit anyway. You probably have the data extracted from social media polling right into an Excel sheet anyway, converted into a neat PowerPoint graph. The green bar on the graph stating “CUSTOMERS IN FAVOR OF EXTRAS” is quite tall after all. It’s right there, all of it. CRM goal accomplished? Check. Office decisions that happen inside an office environment. I’m not even saying it’s a sin, you want to sell your product and have mouthes to feed. The ends justify the means. And those are hardly world-changing downsides. But a downside nonetheless and annoying enough to me at the very least to vent a bit as I feel I’ve earned my right through a fair share of frustration.

German Manga Publishers Mad Chika

But I think it wasn’t until I bought some yuri anthology – look, I contributed, I did my part for this year – from altraverse that I TRULY saw the pits. That one had a card too. Not a character card though. Some collectible ShoCo shoujo card thing. So now you can collect these things like Pokémon stickers. Yes, we buy manga, entirely uncheap products, to collect some card things. Amazing. This is the apex of cross-selling, everyone. If this is where my cynicism is overflowing then yeah, there’s a reason for that.

This is not even on the level of a Happy Mail toy. Quite frankly, it’s not even comparable to the free ketchup they add to those either.

Bonus points: In my case, the card wasn’t even included, I only knew about it due to the sticker on the cover (yes, directly attached to the fucking book itself). So when the card is missing for some forsaken reason – it fell out in the book store or, and this is really sad, someone actually stole it – I feel robbed for not getting the complete package… which I admittedly didn’t desire in the first place. It’s a lose-lose situation.

German Manga Publishers Mad Literal Who

Which brings me to the topic of theft. Because yes, people steal things, even rubbish. I still remember when Tokyopop released a Death Note guide book and it had the extra of including a card with L’s true name written on it. I saw a copy at the local bookstore and it had said card (it was sealed so you had to actually buy the product) ripped right out of it. Because apparently, using the Internet is hard. Harder than stealing shit from a well-visited bookstore with surveillance cameras anyway. I think someone really didn’t think this through but once again, I wouldn’t put much past the average German manga reader.

Now, granted, most of the time, this isn’t a problem due to the plastic wrap but that brings along a set of even more issues, namely me having to get rid of your actual trash so I can ignore the figurative one and also the environmental baggage. Yeah, I mean, that’s a factor too. I’ve seen some crying from publishers on how you should not order from Amazon as they take a hefty cut. Well, generally speaking, there’s also the wage slavery thing but let’s ignore that for now. See, if you want me to act for a good cause – and guess what, I buy my German manga at the store if available – why don’t you do your part as well? Can’t expect me to save the manga industry if you ruin the environment with your plastic shit just so nobody will miss out on these extras I certainly haven’t asked for.

German Manga Publishers Stop

Maybe I’m just getting old though. This stuff wasn’t around when I grew up. I think the silliest thing I had when I grew up were some Carlsen Manga Comics (feeling old yet?) checklists for manga releases in general. You could tick checkboxes for which manga you owned as if manga were some sort of collectible things you had to get all of. It boggled the mind. Good old times. Weird old times. The golden days of every horny teenager assembling around the local bookstore’s Manga Love Story volumes. That… that was a thing. Now we have half a gazillion LN comicalization adaptation licenses fulfilling similar purposes even though plenty of them end in the middle of nowhere as they’re just advertisement products which is kind of ironic as the strategic intent behind these licenses is to bet on idiots being too stupid to know about that or that there are light novels in the first place or even what light novels are so they won’t get to read the proper ending after their beloved seasonal anime ended either way.

But then again, is this really on me? Am I really the strange one here? I don’t think the English manga market has this gimmicky extra trend going on either. Don’t quote me on that though.

German Manga Publishers Pouting

As it stands, I take more joy out of the obi I get with my Japanese copies of manga. Which are also pointless, mind you but at least they… look nice? I mean, they’re also soulless marketing, advertising either the product itself or franchise cross-selling shenanigans but at least they serve an inherent purpose contrary to character cards.

Which brings me to a more constructive point: What could German manga publishers do to go the extra mile? Probably not a lot for both budgetary and creative reasons. I think the only time I really appreciated extras is when it comes to single TCG cards. The BANZAI! Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Red-Eyes Black Dragon sure were some neat stuff. Needless to say, almost no manga ever has a card game running alongside it so that’s out of the question.

Tokyopop has bundled some postcards with Magus Bride before. As long as they use additional motives not found in the volume itself, that might be cool though let’s be honest, who even uses these things. Posters maybe? Those sound like a good idea. Yet at the end of the day, I’d still rather have color pages. Though I can only assume there might be licensing restrictions or cost-related reasons against those.

But hey! You know what’s a good idea and something that wouldn’t have any of the aforementioned problems? A translation of afterwords. You know, the stuff that the people working on the product you licensed have to say. Ditch the character cards. Let the creators have their say. How about we give a spotlight to those people we know nothing about rather than the characters we know through-in, through-out already.

German Manga Publishers Sumi

Now, one might argue that this article was just a silly excuse to unload half my reaction faces folder onto this post and to get Nako on the front page but that’s besides the point. Probably.

At the end of the day, I suppose listening to me is the irrational thing to do. I don’t have the data but I’m positive more people enjoy these extras than others don’t. Which would lead to less sales. And, if we go by the far-reaching yet logical thought of those sales upholding the label and therefore opportunities for manga I care about to get licensed, maybe that’s a good thing. A character card for a Kokou no Hito license? Be my guest. Most likely not going to happen though. Besides, nobody reads this blog to begin with and if I wanted to make an impact, I’d write shorter articles. But that’s not The Zaku Way™.

It’s mostly a non-issue anyway. I’ll keep buying manga for the actual thing and that’s that. I don’t pretend to know how to run a business (something a lot of people on the Internet do for some reason) nor do I particularly hate the extras. After all, “hate” is a strong word. I hate stomachaches. Your extras just make go “eeeeeeeh” and that’s about it. And I don’t expect more than a very limited amount of people to read this to the very end let alone to change anything, I’m not delusional. But this needed to be said regardless. Because I am getting tired of tossing the wrap away. And I am sure there are a few others out there just like me.

P.S.: Tokyopop, show some integrity and class and give me that bloody Innocent sequel. OR ELSE!

1 thought on “Dear German Manga Publishers: Just Stop

  1. Pingback: Anime Blogs Are Dead But This One Is Celebrating Its First Anniversary Regardless | Beyond The Mountain Lies A World Of Frills

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