By Chris Campbell (Guest Contributor)
UPDATE (11/17/14): Since writing this, Marvel and Kodansha have included the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avengers to their Attack on Titan crossover.
Marvel Comics has been releasing a great deal of news lately from movies to teasers. However, their latest news was quite immense. In fact, you could say it came out of nowhere. Much in the same way that those “Titans” in a certain Cartoon Network anime series arrive unexpectedly (I know, bad pun).
— C.B. Cebulski (@CBCebulski) November 3, 2014
A few weeks ago, C.B. Cebulski, Marvel Talent Scout and Coordinator, went on Twitter and talked about how he enjoyed the Marvel Team-Up books of old. He then went on to elaborate on the beauty of crossovers and his enthusiasm over the idea of manga titles getting into the cross-company fray. The former manga editor for Central Park Media then broke a bombshell that still has the internet reeling: For the first time ever, Marvel characters will engage with a manga series. In this case, it’s the icon of modern Shonen anime and manga: Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin for the hardcore otaku). Not a prank or hoax from Marvel, “The House of Ideas” has selected Spider-Man to represent the company in this epic crossover with Kodansha Publishing’s ace.
As the writer who covered Attack on Titan here at Action A Go Go, I’m eager to note that this is huge news for both sides. This is the first time Marvel has engaged with an active manga series, especially one the caliber of Attack on Titan. From hardcore otaku to casual fans, Attack on Titan has broken down those walls (there’s the good pun). At the same time, Kodansha, who was struggling against competition from Shueisha (publishers of One Piece, Naruto, etc.) finds itself in a historic first by dealing with the premiere American comic book company responsible for taking the superhero movie and expanding it into an alluring and trailblazing enterprise.
Now for some of the old school readers, Marvel handling anime/manga properties isn’t anything new. After all, the Shogun Warriors comics and toy line (Great Mazinger, Combattler V, Dangard Ace, etc.) showed Marvel’s interest in Japanese pop culture years ago. Not to mention Marvel’s distribution of the Akira manga, Kia Asamiya titles, the “Marvel Managaverse,” and the bevvy of Marvel animated shows produced in conjunction with Madhouse.
Now, there is a logical reason this is happening: Sheer appeal and notoriety. Attack on Titan has garnered vast numbers for Kodansha and took the top spot for manga once held by One Piece and Shueisha. Marvel, a very successful company currently owned by Disney, is attracted to such and wants to make a better impression on the Japanese market. In addition, anime fandom in the United States and comic book fandom have cross pollinated over the years thanks to a number of factors such as industry talent who grew up on anime and manga entering the business (C.B. Cebulski, Joe Kelly, Bryan Lee O’ Malley, Jarret Williams, Amy Reeder, etc) as well as sales for anime merchandise and fan interest. It also doesn’t hurt that many of the voice actors used in series such as Avengers Assemble and Ultimate Spider-Man have dabbled in dubbing anime for companies like FUNimation (who licensed the Attack on Titan anime).
Attack on Titan and Spider-Man have some similarities. Both series involve tragedy in some form or fashion (there’s no denying that). Some of Spider-Man’s past foes have towered over large cities, so that’s not out of the ordinary for our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. The details are still unclear as it relates to the story for this crossover, but one thing is certain: Spider-Man’s acrobatic moves and those of the Survey Corps’s 3-D Maneuvering equipment complement each other. As I stated in my previous write up, Spider-Man would be proud.
Depending on the story (Spider-Man has numerous incarnations in the Marvel universe), he’ll be able to show it in a big way by teaming up with Eren and his comrades against the ravenous Titans. This crossover is very beneficial for Spider-Man given the crazy year the iconic web-head has experienced (A very sound year for the comics, but a terrible one box office wise). Attack on Titan on the other hand has nothing to lose and everything to gain in this endeavor. Attack on Titan is the hottest manga title worldwide, with mass merchandise and a successful anime adaptation that just recently finished its first run on Cartoon Network. In addition to its many spin-offs, video game releases, and planned live-action movie in Japan, this crossover in its own way acts as an endorsement from Marvel, giving Attack on Titan and its creator, Hajime Isayama, tremendous credibility with the comic book community and mainstream audiences that do not follow anime and manga. The artwork, especially in a visual medium such as comics, will be important going forward, but does not hamper this announcement from creating a stir. With this crossover and the publicity it will receive until completion of the project, Attack on Titan will have a certain regard afterwards that will make it unique from other Shonen manga hits, including Dragon Ball, Naruto, and One Piece.
The Attack on Titan/Marvel event (written by Isayama with artwork by Gerardo Sandoval) can be found inside Brutus magazine throughout Japan. There are currently no announcements about bringing this book stateside.
Chis Campbell is Action A Go Go’s resident Otaku expert and can be followed on twitter at @CAIMERMAN.
Editor’s Note: As an added bonus, we’ve included a few preview images of this crossover culture shock.
Source: Anime News Network
Source: Gerardo Sandoval