Tokyopop announced that they are to close their US offices from 31st May. In an official statement they said:
“We are sad to inform our loyal community of manga fans, our passionate creators of manga content, our business and retail partners, and other stakeholders who have supported us through the years that as of May 31, 2011, TOKYOPOP is closing its Los Angeles-based North American publishing operations.”
The company’s president, Stu Levy, also posted a farewell message on the official website:
“I’m laying down my guns. Together, our community has fought the good fight, and, as a result, the Manga Revolution has been won –manga has become a ubiquitous part of global pop culture. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished – and the incredible group of passionate fans we’ve served along the way (my fellow revolutionaries!).”
“In closing, I simply want to thank all of you – our incredibly talented creators from all over the world, our patient and supportive business partners and customers, our amazingly dedicated TOKYOPOP team – full-timers, part-timers, freelancers and interns, and of course the greatest fans in the entire world. Together, we’ve succeeded in bringing manga to North America and beyond.”
Though the recent statements give no indication as to why this has happened, the signs appeared to be there, going as far back as the summer of 2008, after Borders supposedly removed all Tokyopop titles from their shelves. A ‘restructuring’ of the publishing company resulted in a number of people being laid off, and less manga being released per year.
More recently in March 2011, an interview with Publishers Weekly had Levy cite Borders bankruptcy in the US as the reasoning behind more lay-offs, “They owe us a significant amount of money,” he said. “We’re not a big company and with less cash than we planned, we had to regroup to survive.” According to Comics Beat, the “regroup” meant staff was reduced to, “a mere handful of people.”
There has been no announcement as to what will happen to any ongoing series’ currently owned by Tokyopop; if they will finish their run, or stop abruptly. Also Tokyopop are not shutting down completely, with their German office in Hamburg still in operation.
Originally founded in 1997, Tokyopop brought the likes of Chobits, Fruits Basket, Great Teacher Onizuka and Love Hina to the masses, which in turn became best sellers for the publisher.