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The Manga Artists Who Stopped By and Left Forever: Natsuki Takaya

Posted on the 06 June 2014 by Kaminomi @OrganizationASG
The Manga Artists Who Stopped By and Left Forever: Natsuki TakayaThe Manga Artists Who Stopped By and Left Forever: Natsuki TakayaThe Manga Artists Who Stopped By and Left Forever: Natsuki Takaya

Generally speaking, when a manga artist has a successful title in the states, they usually are marked as a near constant for the rest of their manga drawing time. You know the deal, like Rumiko Takahashi, Akira Toriyama, Takeshi Obata, etc. Basically, they had a strong title, it sold well, and you can guarantee that whatever they work on, they'll come to the US.

So...what does that make of Natsuki Takaya, who worked on one of the best selling manga titles ever in the US, and yet she can't get any of her works out here any longer?

For context, let me tell you how I know of the Fruits Basket manga: from word of mouth. I never actually read the series, due to my crippling angst at reading any shoujo manga for years and years until I realized I was being an idiot, but I hear about it from manga critics, old fans, etc. But I learned about the title when a parent was at a convention and he asked one of the vendors if they had Fruits Basket. That was before I headed to the TOKYOPOP booth to see it available and ready to be picked up. Of course from there and from just being around knowledgeable manga folks do I understand how great it was, but whatever the case, it has everything you're looking for: it sold buckets, the author has worked on other stuff, boom.

Yet, since the last volume was released by TOKYOPOP in 2009, there has not been a peep from any publisher about getting any of her other titles. What are her other titles you ask? One's Hoshi wo Utau, a story about the president of a star-gazing school that ends up falling in love with a young man who loves stars but doesn't like her, and Liselotte to Majo no Mori, a fantasy involving a forest where witches live and its main character lives in order to find a person from her past. Both happened to be serialized in Hana to Yume. They are both under Hakusensha. Hakusensha has had titles published by US companies.

...I sense there's something wrong here.

Since publishers won't reveal their decisions on why they'd license a title and all, the best I can do is make guesses. Some guesses might be more accurate than others, while others...will just be plain dumb. But it's odd there hasn't been anything just yet, so guesses are the best I can do:

1) Natsuki Takaya's rights are still held by TOKYOPOP. Possibly unlikely, but there are always stories about how certain titles can't be licensed due to publisher contracts, though it's usually the case for old licenses (like Elfen Lied, for example. Took a while before it could get licensed under Sentai). But I doubt this type of control exists, especially since TOKYOPOP is gone. But it is weird no one else has taken a look, so it might be some sort of contract thing.

2) Maybe Natsuki Takaya herself has requested her works not to be published in the US. Which is a possibly, but I hope not. I think any type of licensing requests are between the JP and US publisher, though I'm sure the artist gets a heads up. During that period, could she have said "no"? I'll be the only one to back this bizarre notion she doesn't want her works here. And fail miserably.

3) Hakusensha says no. That usually curtails everything, though it would be odd considering Hakusensha has, and continues to have, works published here. So this can't be the reason, but unlike the other two above, this is a decent possibly.

4) The US publishers say no. The only publishers capable of licensing anything from Hakusensha are: Viz, Vertical, Digital Manga, and Yen Press. From there it comes down to fit and whether it can sell. It could be a case that these publishers think her works can't sell in the US anymore.

So that's about all I can think of, though I can bet there's others. Well, feel free to think and ask why Fruits Basket is the only title that Natsuki can get over here, and share in the comments. In the meantime, I'll just think about artists who've sold as well as, or at least close, to Fruits Basket level over here and have not returned. I'm sure the list is small.

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The Manga Artists Who Stopped By and Left Forever: Natsuki Takaya
The Manga Artists Who Stopped By and Left Forever: Natsuki Takaya

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