In yet another testament to the popularity of Japanese manga and light novels, a new publisher is entering the scene!
Hanashi Media’s Introduction
In July 2021, social media pages were registered for a Hanashi Media. Later in October, light novel readers discovered a website appearing to be connected to the unknown company. On the bare-bones site were English covers for four series including The Death Mage that Doesn’t Want a Fourth Time and The Misfit of Demon King Academy.
A disclaimer on the bottom said this was a demo site, and social media for Hanashi Media revealed the info was incorrect and these were just example covers.
Hanashi promised more info, but there were limited updates until February 2022, when the company revealed its first licenses: Another World Survival: Min-Maxing My Support and Summoning Magic! and The Evolution Fruit: Before I Knew it, My Life Had It Made!
These are both light novels, but their intros on Facebook and Twitter indicate Hanashi Media plans to also publish manga. The company is based in Delaware, and titles will be published in both English and Spanish. Physical releases of both these series are likely, as the publisher posted in Spanish and the auto-translate feature mentions several Central and South American countries and how orders will be shipped from them to neighboring nations. Hanashi has confirmed their titles will be available at Amazon and other retailers.
Hanashi Media’s first two licenses have some similar themes. Sure, isekai titles are incredibly popular, but both Another World Survival and The Evolution Fruit feature entire schools being transported and a loner/loser connecting with a hot girl — well, former gorilla in one case, but still. It’s a good strategy to debut with, because Hanashi Media is hoping fans of one will be interested in the other. The downside is, of course, the overlap doesn’t widen the potential audience much.
Isekai stories have a lot of fans, but judging from social media, a lot of readers had similar initial thoughts: don’t be like Sol Press. That’s not exactly a high hurdle to jump over; just pay your bills and don’t try to disappear into thin air.
A Dual-Language Debut
But there are also going to be comparisons between Hanashi Media and Tentai Books, another small publisher releasing titles in English and Spanish. Tentai is based in Spain, and even they’ve acknowledged slow releases due to various issues. For North America and the European Union, Tentai has officially started working with a new distributor, so that should reduce issues on the shipping side of things as well as speed up their schedule.
But back to Hanashi Media. One thing to take away from their introduction to the industry: make sure to hide testing your site going live. It’s bad enough if someone plays around with your URLs and stumbles upon a leak (or, heaven forbid, actually accesses your files), but don’t put mock-ups visible to the general public. Fans of those four series were hopeful to see an official release, and Hanashi’s explanation kind of paints them as a “pie-in-the-sky” company. Even if they do pick up The Death Mage that Doesn’t Want a Fourth Time and the others and, understandably, could not reveal anything before finalizing contracts, it’s just a reminder for web development teams to be careful about new site content.
Hanashi also once again indicates the Spanish speaking market is growing. Hanashi, Tentai, MANGA Plus…while there are different types of Spanish, it’s the second-most spoken native language in the world.
English still dominates between native and ESL speakers, but Spanish helps fill in a lot of the gaps if trying to get world recognition for a series. It’s unknown whether Hanashi will be translating both English and Spanish versions from the Japanese original or if one will be a translation-of-a-translation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if more companies get into the latter even though it’s controversial. After all, if machine translations are on the way from Japanese to English, English-to-Spanish machine translated versions would require even less testing with their more similar grammar and language ancestry.
That’s getting off-track, but the point is that Spanish speakers will soon have another option in their native language. And physical releases in likely conjunction with digital releases please readers who prefer one over the other.
It will be interesting though if Hanashi Media caters to the manga and light novel crowds with isekai or if they’ll expand to other genres like romcoms and traditional fantasy. At least we know they aren’t going to just stick with light novels. Unfortunately, they’ve only posted sparingly on social media since their official unveiling, and even the website is still nothing but a homepage and links to their social media accounts and an email address. Hanashi Media hasn’t even clarified if the gorilla girl story’s official English title is The Evolution Fruit as it says in their social media posts or The Fruit of Evolution as it says in their introductory image (and the name used in the anime on Crunchyroll).
Hopefully more details will be released soon and that there won’t be any more visible demos that will give readers wrong impressions, but the lack of an impression isn’t good either. Even as a small, startup publisher, it shouldn’t be that hard to at least add their debut lineup to their website, if not add some more content to their social media pages.