Kodansha, Yen Press, Square Enix February License Roundup




There was a lot going on this week in terms of new license announcements. After all, every major publisher aside from Viz Media brought something out this week. Because of that, there’s a lot to sort through, and a good bit of it is licenses that are disinteresting, unsurprising, or just not worth reading. Because of that, if you want to see all of what was announced, I highly recommend checking out Behind The Manga’s articles for both the Yen Press announcements, and Square Enix announcements.

Note: I will not be discussing the license announced by Seven Seas this week due to the content of the work and the opinions and beliefs of the authors. I have no interest in discussing their behavior, but for those that may not know, this tweet from user alittlequad highlights some of the glaring issues and history of the authors.

Anyways, no point in dwelling on the heavier content, let’s talk about the good licenses from this week!

Kodansha Licenses

Ashita No Joe Deluxe Edition

Asao Takamori (story), Tetsuya Chiba (art)

Joe, a teenage orphan living in the slums of the Doya streets, meets Danpei, a homeless alcoholic and former boxing trainer. Danpei, seeing Joe’s talent for boxing, decides to train him.


I’ve spoken on end about this license when it was originally announced earlier on in the week, and if I were to summarize my thoughts, I would say that this is a generational license and one that will come to define the North American market post-Covid boom. If you want more information as to why I say that, feel free to read my post about the license and what it means.

Thoughts: Buy this series.

Now, there’s not really much to say, Kodansha knocked it out of the park. I’ve mentioned that twice now. What’s more interesting is how Yen Press did with theirs, so let’s check out the licenses worth checking out.

Yen Press Licenses

The Hachioji Specialty: Tengu’s Love

Nanao Tomo (story & art)

Upon his return to his hometown near Mt. Takao, the lonely youth Koutarou reunites with a tengu girl he used to know, Hime. To his shock, Hime decrees that they must wed! Intent on marrying Koutarou, will Hime be able to break down his walls and build a happily-ever-after with him?!


First of all, would it kill Yen Press to give the creator’s name for their announcements? Intensely aggravating to have to squint at their announcement graphics to see if they have their name in English. Secondly, MAL, you’re using the wrong pen name. Nanao Tomo is the pen name for this author when they’re working on Shoujo or other series, and the one they use (Tsukizuki Yoshi) is used exclusively for BL. Anyways, Tengu’s Love is a bit of a neither here nor there series. It’s pretty, it’s got a fun idea, but it doesn’t break new ground or attempt anything incredible. It’s just good, and to some that might be worth it.

Thoughts: Worth checking out, but not an instant purchase.

Hell Is Dark With No Flowers

Michio Yoru (story)

A young man who can see people’s sins in the form of youkai gets employed at a sort of odds-and-ends agency run by supernatural beings.


Again, Yen Press’ communication is terrible. Hell Is Dark With No Flowers is the title of the first of seven novels from a series by this author. To add to that confusion, its manga adaptation only makes use of the first name. So, which is it? Are we getting the first novel, or the whole series? It’s anybody’s guess. What I don’t have to guess at however, is the quality of this work. A novel concept, a horror series, and plenty of mystery and melodrama afoot as well.

Thoughts: Definitely appealing to fans of a good read.

The Magical Girl And The Evil Lieutenant Used to Be Archenemies

Cocoa Fujiawara (story & art)

The manga tells the story of Mira, who leads an evil organization trying to take over and destroy everything. Earth is under attack, but a magical girl named Byakuya Mimori stands up to Mira’s group. As they face off, something unexpected happens—Mira falls in love with Mimori.


This has been a very debated and discussed series since it was announced to have an forthcoming adaptation from studio BONES. A four-koma manga from the creator of Inu x Boku, it’s a work that is sadly left incomplete as Fujiawara passed away during its publication. In multiple ways however, it’s an interesting license from Yen Press. Not only is it incomplete, but it’s also a Square Enix manga. The relationship between these two publishers grows more curious by the day.

Thoughts: A profound piece of manga history for some, but simply a 4-koma to others.

My First Love’s Kiss

Hitoma Iruma (story), Fly (art)

Takasora Hoshi’s life is upended when a girl from her class named Umi Mizuike and her mother temporarily move into her family’s cramped apartment. From the outset of this arrangement, Takasora finds herself annoyed by Umi’s behavior…and her good looks. And though the two girls initially agree to avoid interfering with each other’s lives, Takasora can’t help but start to wonder where Umi keeps wandering off to at night…


Strictly speaking, another Yuri light novel from the creator of Adachi and Shimamura is enough to sell me on this work. In addition though we have the illustrator from Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki-Kun doing art for the series. Place it on top of a well-founded concept, and it’s hard to find any flaws for those that are fans of yuri.

Thoughts: Easy pick up for yuri fans, but still worth the time of others.

In hindsight, the announcements aren’t quite as atrocious as what Twitter made them out to be during their announcement. I would agree that they’re considerably lackluster however, as Yen Press is still yet to license the mega-hit manga The Guy She was Interested In Wasn’t A Guy At All, or affectionately called The Green Yuri for short. Conversely, while Square Enix has announced less than Yen Press, I’d argue that what they’ve chosen is has resulted in a far better and more well received suite of licenses, so let’s take a look at the three titles announced.

Square Enix Licenses

Always A Catch!

Mayo Momoyo & Itsuki Mito (story), Kagi Nagato (art)

Duke’s daughter Maria always valued her fists over thoughts of suitors, but now that she’s decided to marry, what happens when her martial arts prowess ends up wooing a prince?!

Square Enix

Wow, that is one long original name for this series. Regardless, I think given the nauseating amount of villainess and historical fiction dealing with royalty and whatnot, many would-be readers are already discounting this story. That dismissal is immediately replaced with intrigue upon reading the synopsis, and even turns to anticipation if you take a peek at the art for the series via bookwalker.

Thoughts: Certain to surprise more than a few potential readers.

My Happy Marriage Art Book

Rito Kohsaka

With more than 80 gorgeous illustrations by series manga artist Rito Kohsaka, the luxe art book is interspersed w/ short stories by author, Akumi Agitogi, & special commentary! Arriving Winter 2024.

Square Enix

I’m typically a very strong advocate for art book connoisseurs out there to make use of the dirt cheap and high quality Japanese used market for these works, but this art book proves itself a worthwhile North American purchase because of the included translations for the various short stories in the book. Also, it is a hardcover, for those that like that sort of thing for their art books.

Thoughts: Certainly worth the purchase for fans of the series.

Dragon and Chameleon

Ryo Ishiyama (story&art)

When a veteran manga creator inexplicably switches bodies with his jealous assistant, their clashing artistic ideals will rock the entire industry!

Square Enix

Strong art and designs, a unique and high energy story with a side of meta? There’s not really too much to turn a reader away from Dragon and Chameleon. It also means that there’s not a lot to add without having read the series in any capacity. Though I did check it out on Bookwalker, and wow, that art really is something.

Thoughts: Worth excitedly waiting for its release.

And here we finally find our end to the (worthwhile) announcements this week. It’s quite a lot of material to consider, but thankfully Square Enix and Yen Press have different dates for the releases of these series. If I were to pick a winner from this week for these announcements, call me crazy, but it’s gotta be Kodansha.

Their philosophy for operation in North America as a manga publisher has always been ultra conservative, making it feel like you’re having teeth pulled each time they do announcements. Digital hell has surely swallowed up a favorite series or two from every reader out there. However, Ashita No Joe represents insane potential for the future of Kodansha as a publisher and the market as a whole. It’s a massive turning point that no other announcement can really compare to. Yes, Square Enix’s suite was small but very good, and Yen Press even had some good works in theirs, but there’s just no comparing such a historically influential work.

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