A few years ago, you couldn’t go into a bookstore without running into an aisle of kids in the manga section, and odds are, they were reading a series published by TokyoPop. Unfortunately, the last few years have not been kind to the company, and TokyoPop has announced this week that they are closing their North American publishing division as of May 31, 2011. They will maintain their film and television operations, as well as their European offices. The news was first reported on The Beat and the Anime News Network and then TokyoPop CEO and founder Stu Levy also confirmed the move on the company’s webpage.
TokyoPop was one of the major publishers of manga boom of the early and mid 2000s. Over its lifetime, the company has released hundreds of volumes of manga, video game and anime soundtracks, magazines, and DVDs. Even more surprising is the timing of the move, as it comes just before the release of the first film produced by TokyoPop, Priest. Priest is based on a Korean Manhwa by Min-Woo Hyung, and was released in the U.S. by TokyoPop, and is reaching the big screen on May 13th, and stars Paul Bettany. Apparently, even the potential money the movie could have made would not have been able to change this decision.