TokyoPop (formerly known as Mixx Publications) was a company founded in 1996 by Stu J. Levy which specialized in the distribution of English-translated manga, anime, video games, graphic novels, art books, and music from Japan, as well as graphic novels from the United States, Korea, and Germany. For some time it was one of the leading distributors of manga in the United States, but the company closed its operations in the US in May 2011.
TokyoPop's original claim to fame, however, was the acquisition of the English-language rights to the Sailor Moon manga.
Sailor Moon and TokyoPop
The campaign for the Sailor Moon manga began in 1996, with the announcement that Mixx Publications had acquired the rights. As part of the publicity campaign, send-in postcards were packaged inside DiC's Sailor Moon VHS tapes for the first issue. Those who sent in the postcard received the August 1997 inaugural issue of Mixxzine for free, with the choice of getting a subscription afterwards. The first issue was also given out at conventions.
In the first issue, Sailor Moon was originally at the end of the volume, preceded by CLAMP'S Magic Knight Rayearth, Hitoshi Iwaaki's Parasyte (original name Kiseiju), and Tsutomu Takahashi's Ice Blade (original name Jiraishin). After the first issue, however, Sailor Moon was placed in the front of the magazine, ostensibly following the practice of Japanese magazines to put its most popular series first. Each series was also printed on different-colored pages, following another practice of Japanese magazines.
After a year in Mixxzine, Sailor Moon was moved out of the lineup after issue 2-1, and did not appear again in that magazine. The official reason given by the company was that there had been complaints about Sailor Moon being in the same magazine as Parasyte, a notoriously violent manga. Other sources maintained that it was a move specifically designed to bump up sales of a new magazine that the company was launching, and to smooth relations over with disgruntled fans. The move, however, caused some controversy amongst subscribers, as it was not announced until after their one-year subscriptions had been renewed. This led to feelings that it was a "bait-and-switch" tactic on Mixxzine's part, as many had only subscribed to the magazine for Sailor Moon, and were not interested in subscribing to Smile.
The December 1998 issue of Smile 1-1, released in October, continued the manga storyline of Sailor Moon in the back of the magazine, with the front of the magazine acting as a "next-generation girl" magazine with fashion, celebrity, and Internet news. However, instead of continuing the Dark Kingdom storyline, it started at Act 39 (Act 34 in the then-current numbering), the beginning of the Dead Moon arc. Also accompanying Sailor Moon was Sushi Girl, a Stu Levy manga creation.
Smile ran Sailor Moon through the Stars arc. Due to Sailor Moon's popularity, the "next-generation girl" magazine format was dropped, and like Mixxine before it, it became a manga-only magazine; as the company, now called TokyoPop advertised, it was the first shoujo-only manga magazine in the United States. Alongside Sailor Moon, Miwa Ueda's Peach Girl (Peach in Japan) and Narumi Kakinouchi's Juline premiered in the new Smile magazine. Series that later appeared during Sailor Moon's run included CLAMP's Clover, Fuyumi Soryo's MARS, and Yuri Nurushima's Planet Ladder.
Impact of TokyoPop on Sailor Moon
The fandom at large took sides on whether TokyoPop helped Sailor Moon or hindered it, and the debate has continued long after after TokyoPop lost the rights to serialize the manga in America. The rights were lost mostly due to Naoko Takeuchi regaining the publication rights of her story from Kodansha, the original negotiators of TokyoPop's license, and her decision not to have the license renewed.
On the positive side, supporters of TokyoPop maintained that through using Sailor Moon in their magazine and seeking out the small but vocal fanbase the dubbed anime had acquired, the publishers helped introduce an American audience to other manga formats, thus allowing manga to gradually become mainstream within the course of a decade. Indeed, the power of the Sailor Moon license in America helped the sales of TokyoPop's subsequent tankoubon of their series (known at Mixxzine as "pocket manga," "Mixx manga," or "Mixx novels" in their various incarnations), which were cheaper than most manga volumes of the day. This, in turn, gave the company enough acumen to acquire some of the most popular titles in Japanese manga to sell in the English format, such as Fruits Basket, which was at one point the number one selling manga in North America.
While supporters contended that there probably were problems at Mixx Entertainment's birth, such problems should be expected of new companies, and, a decade later, TokyoPop proved themselves by having contributed to the popularity of manga in America. Not only that, but the company allowed fan artists and fan writers to attain their dreams of writing and selling manga, as several fan writers and artists (for example, Lianne Sentar) began their professional careers with TokyoPop.
Detractors, on the other hand, called into question, among other things, the company's claim of dedication to providing accurate, "100% Authentic" translations. Sailor Moon in particular was a victim of the paradox of maintaining accuracy to appease the hardcore fans of the original while catering to the dub audience, which the license at the time possibly depended on. The result was decidedly mixed: the five original Sailor Senshi and Chibiusa were given their dub names (with the exception of Usagi, whose given name was Serena but who was always referred to by the nickname "Bunny") while the Outer Senshi, after badly Anglicized names were printed in their first appearance in Smile (Alex/Haruka, Jenny/Hotaru, etc.) were given their original names after fans protested.
Detractors were also upset about the visit of Naoko Takeuchi to the 1998 San Diego Comic-Con, which Stu Levy organized; charges of mishandling the event (and Ms. Takeuchi herself) arose immediately after the event. While some have claimed that this led to Ms. Takeuchi refusing to renew the rights of the manga licence of Sailor Moon, it seemed a somewhat unlikely theory, as the licensing had been initially done through Kodansha, not her.
List of Sailor Moon Books
All of the books published by TokyoPop are now out of print. Though unused copies can still be obtained through some booksellers, the chances of getting these books firsthand are extremely slim. Used copies are regularly sold on sites like Amazon.com, or auctioned off on eBay.
32-page Chix Comix/Mixx Comics
- Sailor Moon issues 1-35
Manga/Mixx Manga Graphic Novels
- Sailor Moon vols. 1-11
- Sailor Moon SuperS vols. 1-4
- Sailor Moon StarS vols. 1-3
Sailor Moon: Meet the Scouts
- Meet the Scouts: Sailor Jupiter: Thunder
- Meet the Scouts: Sailor Mercury: Water
- Meet the Scouts: Sailor Mars: Fire
- Meet the Scouts: Sailor Venus: Love
- Meet the Scouts: Sailor Moon: Crystal