Often, all I hear on social media is how Marvel and DC are failing to make money due to their recent attempts to pander, with fans turning away from their products in droves.
However, in the American manga industry, the situation is completely reversed.
While the Big Two continue to lose ground among readers, recent years have seen American readers outright begging for their chance to read various series, to the point where a given series’ lack of localization is usually met with the question, “Do publishers not want our money?”
And though more and more series are landing in the West thanks to fan demand, such as the Kamen Rider Kuuga manga or the collected edition of Dragon Ball mangaka Akira Toriyama’s various short stories, there are still some whose fans are waiting with baited breath to be localized.
In the following list, we’ll be looking at the three most popular Japanese manga series whose whose lack of English language licensing announcements have continued to leave their respective fans baffled, starting with…
1. Kingdom by Yasuhisa Hara
Anyone who has been involved with the larger manga fan community on Twitter most likely saw this entry coming, as Kingdom fans have been struggling ever since the series began in 2006.
Written and illustrated by mangaka Yasuhisa Hara, Kingom is an incredible historical-fiction manga which takes place during the Warring States period of Chinese history, prior to the country’s unification under the Qin dynasty in 221 BC
The manga primarily follows Shin, an orphan boy who joins the military amidst this time of conflict with the aims of one day reaching the position of the General of the Heavens.
Spanning over 700 chapters and across 16 years, Kingdom is by far the most requested series to be licensed – Seriously, go to any Viz or Seven Seas Twitter thread and you’re near guaranteed to see a fan requesting this manga be translated.
I’ve often heard the argument from casual manga fans that Kingdom hasn’t yet been licensed since there’s simply no customer base for it. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Not only are fans of the series easy to find on social media, as noted above, but both the anime and live-action adaptations of Kingdom have been licensed by Funimation – a move the company would likely avoid if there was absolutely no market for the series.
(Also, as a side note: if you’re going to watch one of these, watch the live-action movie. It’s both an excellent adaptation and features direct screenplay contributions from Hara himself. A second one is coming out this summer, and so far, it looks good).
The western Kingdom fanbase is already bigger than most people realize, and it’s only growing – the series is so well-crafted that I’ve even gotten newcomers who’ve never read a manga to pick up the series.
Since Kingdom currently sits at over 60 volumes, any licensor could release the series in box sets and individual volumes – both of which would be pre-ordered en masse the second they were made available.
2. Oshi no Ko (Favorite Girl) by Aka Akasaka and Mengo Yokoyari.
Written by the mangaka of Kaguya-sama – Love is War and illustrated by the artist of Scum’s Wish, Oshi no Ko depicts the darker side of the entertainment industry with a supernatural twist.
A doctor and a terminally ill patient, respectively, Dr. Gorou and young Sarina are huge fans of the idol performer Ai Hoshino.
Eventually, both pass away, the former being stabbed by one of the idol’s stalkers and the latter from her illness.
However, much to their surprise, the two soon discover that they’ve been reincarnated as twins Aqua and Ruby – otherwise known as Ai’s children.
Though life initially goes well for their little family, they’re torn apart when the Ai is murdered in front of them by the same stalker.
From then on, Aqua vows to enter the entertainment industry and do everything he can to find his biological father and avenge his mother.
Oshi no Ko won the 2021 Manga Award in the print category and was nominated for general category in the 67th Shogakukan Manga Award. Not only that, but this year, the series has been nominated for the 26th Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize.
Though only seven volumes long thus far, Oshi no Ko has already featured arcs revolving around the topics of reality TV, social media, and even manga-to-live-action-and-stage-adapatations.
In light of the series exploring such relevant topics, it’s yet another mystery as to why Oshi no Ko has yet to receive plans for an English release.
As the series is currently published in Shueisha’s Weekly Young Jump magazine, if it were to ever be licensed, it would likely be done so by the company’s English-language subsidiary, Viz Media.
While a common explanation I’ve heard through the Twitter grapevine for its Western absence has been the claim that ‘Viz does not license long-term series’, this argument falls flat in the face of how they currently hold the rights to Skip Beat!, My Hero Academia, and Black Clover – all of which are well over 300 chapters.
Given that Oshi no Ko is not even at 100 chapters yet, this doesn’t seem a likely reason for the series’ lack of a localization.
Hopefully fans will continue to make their voices heard and Aqua and Ruby’s story will eventually head West.
3. Honey Lemon Soda by Mayu Murata
Blue Box who? Mayu Murata’s Honey Lemon Soda is by far the best Shoujo series on the scene right now – and, in a way, the new Horimya (the classic 2008-2011 webcomic from mangaka HERO).
Honey Lemon Soda is about the beautiful love story between Uka, a shy and sheltered fifteen-year old girl, and Kai, a blond bad boy who is as ‘refreshing as Lemon Soda.”sheltered fifteen year old girl named Uka and blond bad boy Kai who is as refreshing as Lemon Soda.
A romantic series, the relationship between Kai and Uka is depicted in its pages as the epitome of what true love should, though without the story being too sappy or cheesy.
Prior to the two getting together, Uka was constantly bullied, while Kai was running with the wrong crowd.
However, after crossing paths and finding love in one another, Kai and Uka begin bringing out the best in each other, with Kai helping Uka break out of her stone shell and Uka helping Kai get his life on track.
Hollywood wants you to believe that love stories like this – especially the ‘happily ever after’ – are boring. Honey Lemon Soda proves that theory to be dead wrong.
Another Shueisha series, though this time published in their monthly shojou manga magazine, Ribon, Honey Lemon Soda’s lack of localization from Viz is beyond me.
They’ll license such other prominent shoujo series like Skip Beat! Snow White with the Red Hair, and Yona of the Dawn, and yet still refuse to license Honey Lemon Soda?
Though I have heard word that the series could possibly be picked up by Yen Press when it gets closer to ending, such a possibility doesn’t make sense to me either.
Why would a publisher wait to licenses a series that sells as well as Honey Lemon Soda until it’s about to wrap up?
Is it to save money? I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that this manga needs to head West as soon as it can.
Do you want to see these series come West? What series did we miss? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!