Look Back in Manga

Online magazine The Raygun has published a set of reminiscences of twenty years of the company Manga Entertainment. Part one includes former managing director Mike Preece talking about his time running the company, and noting: “We were with it but just far enough removed so as not to become of it and I really believe that’s why it was successful, as up to then the genre had lent itself to those who become so fixated with the product that objectivity for its marketability is blinded by passion for content.” I’m sure such words will chafe with many long-term anime fans, but I also feel that they are a fair assessment of why many of Manga Entertainment’s competitors failed in the same market.

Part two includes the current head of acquisitions, Jerome Mazandarani, as well as Schoolgirl Milky Crisis author Jonathan Clements (that’s me), bringing the rose-tinted memories up to date with some coverage of the late-1990s doldrums and recent changes in the company’s behaviour. Please note, owing to some strange wording on my part, it seems as if at one point I am implying that Naruto is a shojo show. I’m not — I’m merely noting that neither Naruto nor shojo shows were the sort of thing that the company used to make a success of.

“Look Back in Manga” was also the title I used for a monthly piece in Manga Max magazine, detailing the things that were going on in the anime business five years earlier. Tempting to revive it to cover 20-year-old news so that today’s fans can realise that they’ve never had it so good, but then again, I fear that such a series would only appeal to a tiny circle of oldsters like myself. Kids today don’t want to hear about the good/bad old days, which makes the publication of these testimonials, particularly Preece’s, valuable documents for future researchers.

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