SCRIPT DOWNERS ?SCRIPT ?????) • Ryu-tmr • CPM (2007) • Wani Books (Comic Gum, 2002-2003) • 1 volume, suspended (2 volumes in Japan) • Otaku Science Fiction Comedy • 13+ (mild violence, mild sexual situations)
Sometime in the future, the Internet has evolved into a massive virtual reality network, where Hina Matsuki–a short-skirted, teenage Network Security agent– downloads bootleg ROMs, finds missing virtual girlfriends, and fights cute animal icons run amok. A combination of Ghost in the Shell/The Matrix-type science fiction with otaku in-jokes (Akihabara etc.), Script Downers is a pleasant but forgettable story-gag manga. The art is nicely clean-looking and angular, although the weird-eyed faces are awkward.
Central Park Media… a name from the past. When I got into the anime and manga business in 1996, they were one of the big shots. They had published super-fan-favorites like Project A-Ko and the Genocyber series, and a few lesser-known anime which were truly stunning, notably the beautiful and philosophical art film (with a cast of anthropomorphic cats!) Night on the Galactic Railroad. Around 1997 they started publishing manga, starting with some fairly blah fanservice titles like the… er, topheavy… work of Satoshi Urushihara, and numerous Slayers adaptations, but then taking some interesting risks, such as in 2003 when they became a pioneer in publishing Boy’s Love/yaoi manga. I remember that in 2004 John O’ Donnell, the CEO of Central Park Media, visited the VIZ offices in San Francisco. We had lunch with him and we joked about how VIZ’s family-friendly image would never permit us to publish yaoi manga. “You take the kid’s stuff, and we’ll take the porn,” he laughed. At the same time, they were also acquiring the rights to some very interesting non-porn manga, like Kiriko Nananan’s “Sweet Cream and Strawberries,” and several other fascinating books.
Unfortunately, many of these books never came out. Even “Script Downers” is so hard to find that I could only find a decent-sized image of the Japanese cover. CPM was hit by the same financial problems which affected every company in the anime and manga publishing industry, but they also had a serious P.R. problem. In 2007 Biblos, the primary licensee of CPM’s yaoi manga up to that point, went out of business and was bought out by Libre, another Japanese publisher. CPM had already signed and paid contracts with Biblos to publish certain yaoi in English, so they — perhaps foolishly — forged ahead with their publishing plans, despite Biblos’ dissolution. Libre became angered that CPM hadn’t gotten in contact with them (and perhaps renegotiated the rights, possibly paid them more money, etc.), so Libre put up an open letter on their Japanese website, calling on yaoi fans to boycott CPM. A large number of fans did, and CPM’s image was seriously damaged.
Things started to fall apart. At the end of one anime convention in New York (rumor has it), the CPM folks didn’t want to pay for the shipping it would have cost to send their unsold graphic novels and anime back to their warehouse. John O’Donnell promised that he was going to make an important announcement at a panel at the very end of the last day of the convention. At the panel he gave every audience member a bag, and then said “Now take that bag, go back to the CPM table, and take all the anime and manga you want. It’s all free.” The table was cleaned out in minutes. Such grandiose gestures were very much in the CPM style. When CPM finally, irrevocably went out of business in 2009, after two years of languishing on life support, they bought a full-page ad in the Anime Expo program book saying to all their fans: goodbye and thanks for the support.
And so vanished one of the giants of anime and manga. So long, CPM. I’ll miss them, even if they did publish one of the worst manga ever, “Legend of Lemnear.”
Thanks for bearing with me on this trip down Manga Memory Lane. Today’s winner is Francisco C. of California! I’ll be sending you some manga (probably not CPM manga) ASAP!