The bestselling charts are being dominated by the Attack on Titans and Tokyo Ghouls. I’m not putting these series down, but there are whole aisles of other titles that deserve attention too — a lot of them shoujo series, which have a hard time cracking into bestseller lists in the U.S. Heck, I noticed at Barnes & Noble the other day that almost half of the “top shoujo” shelf weren’t actually shoujo: Chi’s Sweet Home, No Game No Life, and Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic.
Well, while there are shoujo titles being released, new company Cross Infinite World is charting down a different path.
Cross Infinite World is a digital publisher currently focusing on indie/doujin works. I reviewed their first release My Favorite Song ~The Silver Siren~, and the first volume of their second light novel series (The Violet Knight) is set to debut this Monday. These two are shoujo-inspired web novels that had exclusive art added to their English releases. It’s an interesting move in a world where shounen and seinen titles dominate.
Cross Infinite World isn’t stopping at licensing web novels however. The company recently announced their first manga acquisitions: Gleam and Little Hero.
Gleam (グリーム) by Aya Shirosaki debuted in 2006 in web magazine Manga Airport. Set in modern times, the manga tells the story of Princess Salia, a brilliant and beautiful ruler who is loved by her people. But many see Salia as an obstacle, and they may get find their chance to eliminate her when she suddenly decides to study abroad in Japan. First, however, they must deal with Salia’s bodyguard and special agents.
Lead translator Charis Messier notes that while Gleam is a shoujo with reverse harem elements, “We were drawn in by how strong the female main character Princess Salia is and how three-dimensional the vast cast of characters are.” The politics of Salia’s country of Steliol is also a key aspect of the series.
The series ran for about three years before Shirosaki put it in hiatus due to her other manga projects. Shirosaki is making changes to the art for the English release, but, more importantly, she will continue the series. New chapters will start in the third or fourth volume, but the first volume does not yet have a release date. Cross Infinite World is hoping to debut the volume this year, but it may be delayed due to Shirosaki’s revisions.
Fans won’t have to wait as long for Little Hero. Known in Japan as 小学生勇者, Shougakusei Yuusha, the manga is about an elementary school girl who finds herself in another world.
Here, Sawa is forced into being the “Dawn Hero”, the savior of the world. This world is rather unique, however: people in this fantasy novel-like land are only known by their role, so “Hero” now journeys with Servant, Dagger, and Lady Knight in order to stop the Witch’s mist… and perhaps find her way back home.
While Gleam is a shoujo series, Messier states that Little Hero is a more of a shoujo-shounen blend of both cute and dark. The series also has a lot in common with traditional RPGs, and Little Hero‘s author Wakasa is even making a doujin RPG.
Wakasa started Little Hero as a hobby, uploading chapters to the site Manga Hack, a Wattpad-like site for manga. Ten chapters are currently available, and the first English volume will be available this year. Wakasa is drawing exclusive art for the English release.
Some of you may be wondering about Cross Infinite World’s titles. “It’s a fan-made or web series, so how can it be any good?”
Well, plenty of doujin titles and artists (in manga and otherwise) have gained traction because of their indie releases. Right off the top of my head, One-Punch Man, Horimiya, Hatoful Boyfriend, Black Rock Shooter, Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation, Log Horizon, and more have their origins in web serializations and self-released works. This doesn’t only happen in Japan: Fifty Shades of Grey, for instance, started off as fanfiction. Just because a title is not released in one of the major magazines or by one of the major publishers does not mean it is subpar.
The fact that an English-language publisher can actually get authors to continue works is exciting. Think of all the series that have been in hiatus in Japan and how wonderful it would be if they were continued!
As for Cross Infinite World themselves, they deserve to be on your radar. Their series may not be well-known, but so many Japanese titles started down a similar path. Cross Infinite World is also heavily into shoujo series, a genre that could always use some more attention from both publishers and readers. Having new illustrations created for their releases is impressive and shows that they just aren’t just slapping releases together.
So the next time you are looking for a new series, don’t forget to take a look at some of the smaller, less-known companies. Perhaps English-language fans of Gleam or Little Hero will propel these series into even more popularity in their native land.
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