According to a press release posted on the Raijin Comics Website, the publisher has decided to put both its (now) monthly Raijin magazine and the associated Raijin Graphic Novels on hiatus. Publisher Horie Nobuhiko stated: 'Based on research with readers, retailers and distributors, we have come to a conclusion -- our publications, though appreciated by hardcore manga fans, are not penetrating a larger market. In order for us to reach a broader market, Raijin Comics and Raijin Graphic Novels will be placed on hiatus for the time being. We will be taking time out to come up with ways to broaden the appeal of our publications, retooling stories and overall editorial content. Raijin Comics Issue 46 and the June Graphic Novel releases will be the last issues (for the time being).' In a classy move that all periodical publishers in similar situations should emulate, Gutsoon, the publisher of Raijin, will provide refunds for all the Raijin Comics subscribers.
Launched almost simultaneously with the American edition of Shonen Jump, Raijin Comics was at first a weekly, a frequency that works for the top anthology magazines in Japan but has never worked that well in the U.S. comic market. Unlike Shonen Jump, which concentrated on titles for boys, many of which had connections to anime series already released in the U.S. or showing on American TV, the Raijin anthology featured a wider range of titles, many of which were targeted at an older audience. Unlike the offerings of Viz, Tokyopop, Dark Horse, CPM, and ADV, the Raijin Graphic Novel line lacked the romantic comedies and shoujo titles which have performed well in the bookstores even without exposure on American TV.
Does the temporary shutdown of Raijin mean that the manga boom in the U.S. is subsiding? Certainly not according to the latest bookstore sales figures from Nielson's BookScan service, which indicates that manga is as dominant as ever in the graphic novel category -- and not according to figures released by Diamond Comic Distributors, which continue to show manga titles gaining ground on its graphic novel list (though they don't begin to have the dominance in the direct market that they enjoy in bookstores). Still with the increasing proliferation of manga titles, there are bound to be winners and losers among publishers, and the battle for shelf space in both the bookstore and direct markets is sure to heat up this spring as the first mainstream American publisher, Random House, fields its first manga titles.