m&c! has zero tolerance for outstandings (Elex, Level and m&c! manga: Commitment VS. Fulfillment - January 2009 edition)

DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Gramedia nor make any claims as to the accuracy of figures quoted here. The bizarre interpretations and opinions are mine though.

Indonesia's reigning manga publishers improved their January fulfillment rates, albeit only m&c! hit targets. Gramedia's (predominantly) shoujo imprint delivered 100% of its scheduled titles, besting a previous 95% finish.

Level Comics and Elex Media likewise boosted performance, with the former posting the biggest gains at 17 percentage points. While I shudder to think of how close or how far from the present 31% fulfillment Level's February figure is going to be—given its frugal releases lately—it's too early to tell on this month's fate. For now, let's just give the mostly seinen manga Level-oniisan a huggle for January. (Elex-Naruto pwns!-nii deserves one, too, for climbing two percentage points.)

I still suspect there's a method to the madness of missing targets (especially in Elex's case), but I also believe exceeding them is not at all bad (certainly not as disastrous as, say, overshooting the runway). Still, to simplify my Fulfillment or CvsF watch, I decided to focus on the degree to which the weekly release schedules vary from the monthly. (I leave it somebody actually employed by Gramedia to make sense of what happened in the field; you guys have more postmorteming resources than I do.)

To be safe, give this outsider's figures a +/-5 margin of error. They were calculated—squinting—from the titles reported in the monthly and weekly schedules (fine print below).

Elex and Level commitment totals were tallied from the Komikologi monthly bulletins. m&c!'s numbers were based on advised monthly schedules. Fulfillment references weekly release lists from December 2008 to January 2009.

m&c! delivers 100% of its commitments

Although m&c!'s monthly manga commitments or number of scheduled titles increased by 45% (from 22 in December to 32 in January), it still managed to perfectly fulfill its promise, and not leave any loose ends, 5% or otherwise. A zero tolerance policy toward outstandings had apparently gone into effect during the month as pendings as a percentage of commitments dropped to nil in January. The legacy or reschedules share, however, crept up three percentage points, the "fault" of Full House Kiss 5 finally releasing.

In actuality, m&c! greenlit 46 manga, manhua, and manhwa, and anthology for release, 40% more than its initial pledge. The de facto titles that streeted grew by 39% from the previous month's figures.

NEW SERIES In comparison with December, the number of slated new series rose from two to five titles. All premiered as scheduled, but the titles that actually debuted added up to eight.

Table 1. m&c! Metrics: Two-month Comparison

Metrics Jan-09 Dec-08 +/-
Monthly commmitment 32 ↑ 22 +45%
Fulfillment rate 100% ↑ 95% +5%
Weekly scheduled 46 ↑ 33 +39%
Outstandings share* 0% ↓ 4.5% -4.5%
Reschedules share* 3% ↑ 0% +3%

* % of commitment
Source: m&c! schedules

COMPOSITION BY "CONTINUITY" (I lack the specialized/technical term)
Having already mentioned premieres, let's look at what constituted m&c!'s monthly manga program. Ongoing series made up nearly half of the shortlist, and close to one-fifth were standalones. Debuting and ending series tied at contributing 16% each.

That increased fraction for discretes (there were no standalones scheduled in December) is interesting in that it seems to indicate (speciously) that upping the standalones downsizes continuing series. While continuity share will always be a zero-sum game, to say that the more one-shots there are in any given schedule, the less likely it is that the series you've been waiting for for-ever will release its latest installment is... flawed reasoning.

Still, I can't discount the possibility and remain only ⅕-convinced about other influencing factors. Mite goran. Here are the proportions for these past two months:

Table 2. m&c! Scheduled manga: Composition by continuity, Two-month Comparison

Share* Jan-09 Dec-08 +/-
Series premieres 16% ↑ 9% +7%
Standalones 19% ↑ 0% +19%
Series finales 16% ↓ 18% -2%
Ongoing series 48% ↓ 73% -24%

* % of commitment
Source: m&c! schedules

The figures above exclude three more standalones, three additional premieres, an extra finale, and seven latest installments to currents/recurrents that had gone unreported in the monthly sked (advised in Week IV).

Now what about designating the graphic novels' place of origin?

NOTE | While I usually use "manga" as a generic term for graphic novels, I will be as restrictive in using it in this subsection as champagne appelation controls.

Geotagging the monthly entries reveals manga's share to be in the 70's range (give or take a few percentage points). Manhwa contribution can go down to as low as 5%. (As it did last December, which came as a surprise; I didn't expect manhua to be that critical to m&c!'s plan, though I should've known better. [You just have to see how often Tony Wong Yuk Long's Long Hu Men or Ksatria Langit crop up in the release lists to buy a clue.]) In January, however, manhwa contribution rose by five percentage points, while manhua's tumbled by 18, comprising just a tenth of the monthly schedule.

Table 3. m&c! Scheduled manga: Composition by GN origin (Top 3 only)

Share* Jan-09 Dec-08 +/-
Manga 77% ↑ 64% +14%
Manhwa 10% ↑ 5% +5%
Manhua 10% ↓ 27% -18%

* % of commitment
Source: m&c! schedules

I dropped one more category from Table 3, Amro (the catch-all for Uncle Scrooge or Gober comics and such, or in the case of these two months, subsumes Mauricio de Sousa's Turma da Mônica) because its inclusion would have been misleading. There was one Monika volume each for the two months, but rendering it as share would've shown a rise when the quantity actually remained unchanged. (That bothered me so I took it out.) Also, m&c! didn't release any makita or local comics; that's why that GN variety also doesn't appear.

Elex Media delivers 47% of its commitments

Elex Media promised 66 manga, manhua, manhwa, and makita, and four anthologies (Shonen Magz 55, Nakayoshi 64, HanaLaLa 34, Shonen Star 49); it reneged on 36 tankou and one mangazine. January commitment is off 8% from the previous month, the difference six December titles make.

ASIDE | That January tally should actually be cut back to 59 as four of the listeds are duplicates or covering my *rse entries (that released per original December schedule), while three other constitute an Advanced guard.

Current fulfillment scrabbled up two percentage points from the earlier F/rate, a feat that owes everything to the preceding month's higher commitment quantity. (Elex programmed six more manga for December, remember? Plus it scheduled one more than January in the weekly. Still, knowing this doesn't negate the mini 'grats I gave Elex in the beginning.)

Working with the advised titles, we find reschedules capturing 30% of total commitment, or numbering 21 legacies from the preceding months (20 ex December, 80% of which would street in January). The legacy share represents a 22-percentage point jump from December's figure.

Meanwhile, outstandings' cut of total commitment dipped two percentage points, with February inheriting at least nine of the January pendings.

NEW SERIES Elex had originally planned to launch six new series in January, although only a couple made it into the weekly advisories. This pushes January's premieres fulfillment rate down to 33% from a previous 57% in December.

Table 4. Elex Media Metrics: Two-month Comparison

Metrics Jan-09 Dec-08 +/-
Commmitment 70 ↓ 76 -8%
Fulfillment 47% ↑ 45% +2%
Weekly scheduled 57 ↑ 55 +4%
Outstandings share* 53% ↓ 55% -2%
Reschedules share* 30% ↑ 8% +22%

* % of commitment
Source: Elex schedules

Only in the weeklies...
Charming Junkie 12 released on 1.14 ahead of any monthly advisory, while Hayate The Combat Butler 9, an In-between entry (only volumes 8 and 10 were scheduled in the monthly Komikologi) snuck into the 1.21 manga list.

Manga boxed sets, Elex's current fancy that I believe is even more profit-driven than normal, also slipped into the weeklies, albeit only two were scheduled in January versus the preceding month's three.

Total weekly scheduled titles reached 57.

Elex's ongoing series segment remained relatively stable in the 80's band across two months. The number of premieres, standalones, and finales didn't seem to have affected the series share significantly, but that could be attributed to the wider scheduled manga assemblage Elex put together (cf. m&c!'s figures).

Table 5. Elex Media Scheduled manga: Composition by continuity, Two-month Comparison

Share* Jan-09 Dec-08 +/-
Series premieres 9% ↓ 10% -1%
Standalones 2% ↓ 3% -1%
Series finales 3% ↓ 6% -3%
Ongoing series 86% ↑ 82% +4%

* % of commitment
Source: Elex schedules

Nearly 90% manga! And with only around half a percent differentials between two months' shares (save for makita), the scenario which makes me think: formula.

Table 6. Elex Media Scheduled manga: Composition by GN origin

Share* Jan-09 Dec-08 +/-
Manga 89.4% ↑ 88.9% +0.5%
Manhwa 7.6% ↑ 6.9% +0.7%
Manhua 1.5% ↑ 1.4% +0.1%
Makita 0% ↓ 1.4% -1.4%

* % of commitment
Source: Elex schedules

I left out one more title—My Adorable Fatty Girl 1—inherited from the December monthly because I couldn't classify it. (Manhwa, you think?) Had I included it, MAFG or "Unknown" would've garnered a 1.5% share in January and 1.4% share in December.

Level Comics delivers 31% of its commitments

Level Comics devised an ambitious 32-title release, 33% higher than its 24 monthly minimum and 10% over its December commitment. However, it effectively scheduled only 10, two of which had been outstanding for at least a month (Perfect Girl Evolution 18 had originally been scheduled for November; X 18, December).

This results in a January fulfillment rate that's up 17 percentage points from December's, but down 41% from the number of weekly manga approved for release (10 vs. 17).

At 18 titles, reschedules account for 56% of the Level January commitment, a leap of 53 percentage points from December. You don't want it as a growth figure, do you? (It's 1700% because there was only one legacy the preceding month). The legacy share increase, however, isn't as as egregious as all that: close to half (okay, it's 8 of 18) reschedules were actually volume number rollback adjustments from previous monthly advisories that had been too advanced/optimistic.

Fourteen reskedded titles (78% of legacies, 44% of January commitment, 40% over December's weekly scheduled quantity) remain outstanding. Even with this state of affairs, Level still managed to lower its total outstandings share by (also) 17 percentage points. Shows some Ganbarimasu! effort there.

Table 7. Level Comics Metrics: Two-month Comparison

Metrics Jan-09 Dec-08 +/-
Commmitment 32 ↑ 29 +10%
Fulfillment 31% ↑ 14% +17%
Weekly scheduled 10 ↓ 17 -41%
Outstandings share* 69% ↓ 86% -17%
Reschedules share* 56% ↑ 3% +53%

* % of commitment
Source: Level schedules

Nothing beginning, nothing ending, everything continuing... wait. There were two standalones (both Harlequin manga) in January.

Table 8. Level Comics Scheduled manga: Composition by continuity, Two-month Comparison

Share* Jan-09 Dec-08 +/-
Series premieres 0% 0% 0%
Standalones 6% ↑ 0% +6%
Series finales 0% 0% 0%
Ongoing series 94% ↓ 100% -6%

* % of commitment
Source: Level schedules

There is no composition by whether it's a manga or not because Level exclusively publishes manga.

huamulan03's attempt at analysis, Part II

Considering how I much of a frog in well I am, I'm going to raise more questions than provide answers.

That volume 50 of Elex's third bestselling manga One Piece has been a rescheduling victim for two months now because of licensing delays provides us a clue as to what makes an outstanding. But is that the rule or the exception? I suspect that save for One Piece 50, the manga that make up the rest, if not most, of the January outstandings are in a holding pattern, that is, awaiting marketing orders to proceed to distribution.

Now I don't know how Elex feels about that big a percentage eating into its manga fulfillment, but it can't be good. Can it? Especially as I also surmise that Elex's distribution assistance to m&c! played a key role in that imprint's 100% fulfillment rate.

I also noticed one surprising thing about the 10 weekly scheduled Level manga: with the exception of PGE 18 and X 18, all of them are pure January manga (i.e., not reschedules). I interpret this to mean that the burden of delays on fulfillment in Level's case appears to be even more onerous than on Elex.

But will I have a Level F/rate to talk about in February? This ties in with what I mentioned in the beginning about not knowing what Level's F/rate would look like for the next (this) month—given that the imprint opted to not publish any titles in the latest Komikologi. Why not? I think that was the biggest tip-off to something happening at Level, which I'm sure most everyone who follows knows by now. I'm still waiting on some clarification on what's happening inside Level from editor Aryaguna-san.

All in all and as a regular manga reader, I like to see commitments fulfilled. So, I'm still hoping that promises (even ones made earlier than December), will be kept.

Whether questions will be answered, however...

~niki DBA huamulan03 (花木蘭03) who sez see you in the next CvsF watch

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end notes

Schedule information sources

m&c! schedule information
  1. Monthly schedules: Dec-08 · Jan-09
  2. Dec-08 weekly schedules: 12.01 · 12.07 · 12.15 · 12.22
  3. Jan-09 weekly schedules: 1.08 1.14 1.21 1.28
Elex Media schedule information
  1. Monthly schedules: Dec-08 · Jan-09
  2. Dec-08 weekly schedules: 12.03 · 12.10 · 12.17 · 12.24
  3. Jan-09 weekly schedules: 1.08 · 1.14 · 1.21 · 1.28
Level Comics schedule information
  1. Monthly schedules: Dec-08 · Jan-09
  2. Dec-08 weekly schedules: 12.02 · 12.09 · 12.16 · 12.23
  3. Jan-09 weekly schedules: 1.07 · 1.14 · 1.21 · 1.27

m&c!: No. of titles scheduled for January 2009 (Weekly breakdown) and change from the previous month

Period (street date) Tankoubon Anthology +/- Dec-08
Week I (1.08) 10 ↑ (150%)
Week II (1.14) 6 1 ↓ (-30%)
Week III (1.21) 15 ↑ (88%)
Week IV (1.28) 14 ↑ (27%)

The December breakdown is here.

Source: m&c! schedules

Elex Media: No. of titles scheduled for January 2009 (Weekly breakdown) and change from the previous month

Period (street date) Tankoubon Anthology +/- Dec-08
Week I (1.08) 14 2 ↓ (-11%)
Week II (1.14) 16 ↑ (33%)
Week III (1.21) 14 1 ↑ (25%)
Week IV (1.28) 9 1 ↓ (-23%)

The December breakdown is here.

Source: Elex schedules

Elex Media January 2009 duplicates

Released per original December schedule; all streeted 2008.12.24

  1. Emma 9 by Mori Kaoru
  2. Eyeshield 21 volume 22 by Inagaki Riichiro & Murata Yusuke
  3. Sherlock Holmes 7: The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ishikawa Morihiko, Ishinomori Shotaro
  4. ZIG☆ZAG 4 by Nakaji Yuki

Elex Media January 2009 Advanced releases

Released 2008.12.24

  1. Kitchen Princess 7 by Ando Natsumi & Kobayashi Miyuki
  2. School X Fight 2 by Hara Asumi
  3. Sugar Sugar Rune 7 by Anno Moyoco

Elex Media January 2009 legacy manga

Dates beside [ex month] indicate confirmed street dates. Absence designates the title as an outstanding.

  1. Busou Renkin 4 by Watsuki Nobuhiro (ex Nov-08)
  2. Change Guy 25 by Son EunHo & Choi MyungSu (ex Dec-08)
  3. Emma 9 by Mori Kaoru (ex Dec-08; 12.24)
  4. Eyeshield 21 volume 22 by Inagaki Riichiro & Murata Yusuke (ex Dec-08; 12.24)
  5. Fairy's Landing 19 by Yoo Hyun (ex Dec-08)
  6. Flash of Wind (Kaze Hikaru) 23 by Watanabe Taeko (ex Nov and Dec-08; 1.14)
  7. Ge Ge Ge Kitaro (Gegege no Kitarou: Youkai Sen Monogatari) 5 by Hoshino Ryuichi & Mizuki Shigeru (ex Dec-08; 1.28)
  8. Kedai Tasogare (Tasogare Dou e Youkoso) 7 by Yoshikawa Utata (ex Dec-08)
  9. Kungfu Boy Legends (Tekken Chinmi Legends) 4 by Maekawa Takeshi (ex Dec-08; 1.21)
  10. InuYasha 43 by Takahashi Rumiko (ex Dec-08; 1.08)
  11. Jungle Boy 7 by Nakamura Rie (ex Dec-08; 1.21)
  12. Libero Revolution! 5 by Tanaka Motoyuki (ex Dec-08; 1.14)
  13. My Adorable Fatty Girl 1 (ex Dec-08)
  14. One Piece 50 by Oda Eiichiro (ex Dec-08)
  15. One Pound Gospel (1 Pound no Fukuin) 2 by Takahashi Rumiko (ex Nov and Dec-08)
  16. Sersan Keroro (Keroro Gunsou) 13 by Yoshizaki Mine (ex Dec-08; 1.28)
  17. The Sexy Simpleton 1 by Hwang MiRi (ex Dec-08)
  18. Sherlock Holmes 7: The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ishikawa Morihiko, Ishinomori Shotaro (ex Dec-08; 12.24)
  19. Shi Hwa Mong 11 by (ex Dec-08)
  20. A Story of Heroes 22 by Choi Mir (ex Dec-08)
  21. ZIG☆ZAG 4 by Nakaji Yuki (ex Dec-08; 12.24)

Elex Media January 2009 manga rescheduled to February (partial list)

  1. Burning Moon 1 by Selena Lin Qing Hui (2.04)
  2. C.M.B. 6 by Katou Motohiro (2.11)
  3. Dan Doh Next Generation 2 by Sakata Nobuhiro & Banjo Daichi (2.11)
  4. Et Cetera 6 of 9 by Nakazaki Tow (2.11)
  5. Fullmetal Alchemist (Hagane no Renkinjutsushi) 17 by Arakawa Hiromu (2.04)
  6. Ghost Sweeper Mikami (GS Mikami Gokuraku Daisakusen!!) 31 by Shiina Takashi (2.11)
  7. Imaginary Beasts (Genjuu no Seiza) 9 by Akino Matsuri (2.11)
  8. The Pitcher (Nanto Magoroku) 63 by Sadayasu Kei (2.04)
  9. Ranma ½ volume 35 by Takahashi Rumiko (2.04)

Level Comics: No. of titles scheduled for January 2009 (Weekly breakdown) and change from the previous month

Period (street date) Jan-08 +/- Dec-08
Week I (1.07) 4 (0%)
Week II (1.14) 3 (0%)
Week III (1.21) 1 ↓ (-75%)
Week IV (1.27) 2 ↓ (-41%)

The December breakdown is here.

Source: Level schedules

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