Online media distributor Crunchyroll will be hosting Tokyopop’s manga Princess Ai: Encounters. The Crunchyroll website has a new manga reader and will preview Ai: Encounters for a full two weeks, going live the same day the book will be released (9/16).
From what I hear, Crunchyroll gained a lot of their popularity via their online anime distribution. (Rumor has it that their early approach to online anime distribution was of the bootleg fansub variety but I haven’t spoken to anyone at Crunchyroll about this so I could be spreading rumors. But what better way to go legit that actually pursue licensing negotiations with Japanese anime companies, which is what Crunchyroll does now.) I haven’t spent that much time on the Crunchyroll website but it looks like there’s a whole lot more on there to dig into.
As for the manga – online distribution of manga is something that pubs (both in the U.S. and Japan) have struggled with. Scanlation being the point of contention. But this is exactly what TP was going for with its OEL – the flexibility to distribute their product online however they wish. With Crunchyroll they’re hitting their sweetspot insofar as audience is concerned.
Princess Ai is the OEL that Stu Levy (ne DJ Milky) collaborated on with Courtney Love and Yazawa Ai. The manga was penned by Levy and illustrated by Misaho Kujiradou, but Yazawa did the original Princess Ai character design. Given Yazawa Ai’s proclivities to fashion and music (Paradise Kiss, NANA) it’s fitting and pretty darn amazing that they were able to get her to do it (back in early 2000, but still). And Kujiradou earns it with the ripped corsets and embellishing silk with all sorts of buckles.
OEL is moving in all sorts of new directions and growing so this isn’t to bag on it or anything like that. But looking at Princess Ai doesn’t send me digging through my files to listen to Hole, it’s got me listening to
But that’s probably because listening to Hole would only make me feel old.