Tezuka Fans Talk Back About Digital Manga Kickstarter Campaign

Tezuka Fans Talk Back About Digital Manga Kickstarter Campaign

Digital Manga got manga fans a-buzzing with the recent launch of their latest Kickstarter campaign, an ambitious attempt to publish six series by Osamu Tezuka, a total of up to 31 volumes of manga. Sounds great, yes? Then everyone got a look at the eye-popping initial goal for this Kickstarter: $380,000.

And that’s just for the first two series on the list: Three-Eyed One and Rainbow Parakeet. To get the other four series published would require meeting two stretch goals — one at $475,000 and another at $589,000. Considering that the most DMP has raised in past Tezuka Kickstarter campaigns is $49,411 for their Triton of the Sea/Atom Cat/Unico Kickstarter, this new campaign struck many fans as a bar that may be set too high to reach.

Digital Manga Platinum

Digital Manga Platinum

On top of that, fans who want to get an actual printed book in exchange for their pledge were dismayed to discover that $150 was the minimum pledge required to get one volume of Three-Eyed One and Rainbow Parakeet. I wish DMP well with this campaign, and I’ve supported almost all of their Tezuka efforts in the past — but after seeing these relatively steep minimum pledge levels to get a single book, even I had a hard time pulling out my wallet for this one.

Several manga fans who supported DMP’s past Tezuka Kickstarter campaigns started speaking out, on social media and on their blogs.

Alex Hoffman from Sequential State posted a three part plea to DMP to reconsider their current Kickstarter campaign’s rewards structure and goals. In Part 1, he breaks down the costs of supporting this Kickstarter and the perceived value of what backers would receive in exchange for their pledge. He also points out fans who want all 31 volumes of manga will have to drop a minimum of $750 to get them, a rate that would be much higher than the cover price of buying the books when they’re available from a comics or book shop.

The Vampires Vol. 1 by Osamu Tezuka

The Vampires Vol. 1 by Osamu Tezuka

The notion that someone can just drop $750 all at one time on 31 books that will be released over the next year is quite literally ludicrous for many manga devotees, even Tezuka fans.

$750 is a figure that can easily be more than 2 weeks worth of pay for many working class Americans, and may in fact be more than many manga readers spend on books all year.

Hoffman goes on in Part 2 to compare the quality and value of Vertical’s past editions of Tezuka manga with DMP’s recent efforts. He sums things up in Part 3 by wondering aloud if DMP is “killing the golden goose” and offers some suggestions for “righting the ship.”

Digital Manga Publishing President Hikaru Sasahara attempted to respond to the initial wave of resistance from fans by posting a letter and a video explaining his rationale for setting such a high initial goal for this project. In Sasahara’s letter, he outlines the costs for this project that lead to them calculating that they need a minimum of $380K to get things going:

We have recently learned that some of the backers voiced a concern that our tier pledges are too pricy and we would like to address explanations to this particular issue as we firmly believe our pricing is appropriate and legitimate.

He goes on to explain that besides the cost of printing, the Kickstarter goal also factors in the cost of travel to Japan to manage the relationship with Tezuka Productions, the cost to hire 6-8 employees dedicated to the project, and additional translation and localization costs.

Rainbow Parakeet Vol. 1 by Osamu Tezuka

Rainbow Parakeet Vol. 1 by Osamu Tezuka | © Tezuka Productions

DMP also added some additional reward tier levels that give supporters the opportunity to pledge a lower amount of money to get just the books ($50 to get print editions of volume 1 of both Three-Eyed One and Rainbow Parakeet, and $110 to get a combination of digital/print editions of all of the books). Offering lower cost pledge levels is a direct response to many requests, so that’s a net positive for this Kickstarter.

But several days into their campaign, the rate of pledges has slowed down somewhat compared to past efforts — a fact that wasn’t exactly left unnoticed by devoted Tezuka manga fan Phillip, a.k.a. Eeper of the Eeper’s Choice Podcast. Phillip (who’s based in Ireland) chimes in with his take on the situation, and why this particular campaign may be the one Tezuka Kickstarter that he’s thinking twice about supporting.

DMP have completely misread their plans for Tezuka in the English speaking market. They are making massive assumptions about their audience and how much they will pay in one go for Tezuka.

He then goes on to bemoan the complexity of sorting out the ins and outs of DMP’s various pledge levels:

Finally, I must stress that the above figures had to be gleaned from what I consider to be the worst planned set of pledge tiers ever on Kickstarter. There are a staggering 32 tiers, for pity’s sake! I want some books not tune up and customise a car!

So with 25 days and over $350,000 left to make their initial goal, will DMP be able do accomplish their ambitious goal? Have they responded to comments and concerns well enough to satisfy and entice backers who have been holding off on pledging their financial support to this fund-raising campaign? That’s up to you, manga fans. What say you? Check out DMP’s Tezuka Kickstarter page, and add your comments below!

One Comment

  1. I can’t help but compare this with fantagraphics ks from last year. For 39 books, their goal was $150,000. My $40 pledge – $10 premium over MSRP – got me a hardcover, full-color Megahex, signed by Simon Hanselmann, shipping included. (As it happens, they were a little late mailing books out, so it also has a little drawing and a few strands of his wig *pet pet*).

    Now maybe Tezuka is nichier, and fans might understand a need to pay more for less, and even be willing to, to a certain extent. I think they’ll need a lot more clarity from DMP to fork out at these levels though. Maybe DMP should take a look at Alex Woolfson’s “How to Succeed at Kickstarter.” He has a lot of great insights, including “Don’t get greedy here—an unrealistic goal can at best make you seem clueless and at worst arrogant.”


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