Sad Story For a Great Manga

Do y’all remember a long time ago when I posted about backing up a particular manga series? You know, for Kodomo no Jikan. Yeah, that one… Well, for those not aware, I’ll summarize.

Almost two years ago during the height of summer, Digital Manga Inc. had started a project on Kickstarter to bring Kodomo no Jikan to the US in English, with the base translation done by SaHa (Sahadou) as he originally translated the manga a few years ago. About a month and a half later, the campaign had ended successfully as one of the highest manga kickstarters on the site, raising just over $185,000 USD. The estimated date of delivery was set for around July 2017 to about Oct 2017… and that’s where things get a little iffy.

I’ve done some minor digging every so often but I’ve noticed a distinct lack of communication by the end of October. We were getting upwards of a month to 3 months before any peep was heard from them. Calls for answers have gone unnoticed, unanswered, and outright ignored. They were last seen posting on their latest campaign for Psyche Delico, a yaoi manga under their June Manga brand for that purpose. This last bit of communication was from back in January of this year. Anyone is able to see that they are logging into the account on Kickstarter, but are not responding to any complaints either via their messages, or on twitter, email, or even phone. No one really knows what’s going on currently.

A recent Glass Door review from an anonymous ex-employee of the company did bring something new to light, assuming this actually is true. The following will be taken from Glass Door which you can look there if you wish. I am only quoting the “Cons” portion of the review:

Oh, em gee… where do I begin. The owner is a real clown. The best way to describe this company is, a clown (the owner) is running the circus (the company.)
It’s a shame, really. It is a legitimate, could-be a profitable organization, but the clown runs this joint with unrealistic goals and milestones. They have great licenses and titles. But the owner butchers it.
I was an unpaid intern but he put me on this thing called “milestones.” He asked me to “help” – by “help” I mean, he forced me to handle sales and marketing. He told me that I had to raise $3,000 a month handling his online stores. $3000 was my “milestone” he said if I didn’t meet the $3000, he won’t give me a recommendation letter.
Buyers beware: He runs kickstarter campaigns to raise operation funds. Not to produce books and merch that they were promised during the campaign. Hey folks, if any of yall invested in to his campaigns, it is safe to assume that you will not be receiving your rewards anymore. The money is gone. The owner took them all. There’s been a ton of angry comments on the ks pages. He asked me to handle responses. I left the internships shortly after that because I didn’t want to get involved in that angry backers mess.

Here’s another:

This company runs Kickstarter campaigns all year around. Might as well call themselves DMK = Digital Manga Kickstarter. They do campaign after another, to no end. I asked the owner of the company, why that is. He said “because we are poor. and We need the money.” I think the kickstarter is their main income to support their financial needs. I finally figured out that Digital Manga runs Kickstarter campaigns to pay their internal bills. Money doesn’t go into the R&D or products and services that you actually pledge for. I figured this out because I was a backer for one of their campaign long before I interned. And I got to see it first hand how they handle backers money. It was funny to see that I was packaging my own box of merchandise that I pledged for. Another reviewer here said “sketchy Kickstarter campaigns” – it’s not that they are being sketchy…… campaigns, licenses and products are legit. It’s more like, they are mishandling or misusing the Kickstarter funds.
During my internship, I built shipping cartons & boxes, I stuffed these boxes with Kickstarter merchandise and books, I counted inventory, I typed labels, I printed shipping stickers and shipped boxes. All within the guidelines of “shipping and receiving” duties. —–BUT HERE IS WHAT HAPPENED—–>> I sent my resume and applied as an production assistant, as stated in the hiring ad, but I was offered an unpaid internship position in shipping and receiving after the initial interview. After the initial interview, the owner of the company said “we are not hiring right now but I can offer you an unpaid internship position.” I knew something didn’t sound right, but I took the position anyway, because I really wanted to get my foot in the door. I got to watch so many office drama unveil and it’s funny watching how this company is structured. I was unpaid employee so I didn’t have to worry so much about things… but I truly feel bad for their regular paid employees there. They have things called “milestones.”
Here is ONE very important piece of advise to all applicants: if you want to be successful at this company, make be sure that you are EN/JP bilingual fluent. The owner treats you better and he plays favorites.

So, due to this, and we are now sitting in March of 2018, just about 6-8 months late for delivery on Kodomo no Jikan. We know they have some of the merchandise, and we know a couple things did get sent out. However, this is now the only project where funds apparently not going where they were suppose to… More on that in a moment because I’m not retyping something I typed already in an official complaint.

About a day or two ago, I made the suggestion on the KnJ project page in the comments that if people had considered filing a complaint to their State Attorney’s General because there are likely some consumer protection laws being broken here. Many people are well outside the scope of getting a chargeback done from their credit card companies or their banks. So getting money back is slim to absolute none at this point. Several people are starting to report on various campaigns that DMI has started and were successful. (this is actually a fair few for note) I’ve also submitted my own complaint to Kickstarter, and of course, decided to go ahead and file a complaint to the Texas State Attorney General. (its no secret, I do live in Texas, but that’s all you’ll see out of me in public)

My complaint has various links in them to DMI’s campaigns on Kickstarter. You can read my complaint on Pastebin for your reading pleasure. This also includes a few other things I gathered in my limited research into the company.

In conclusion, I think its safe to say that Kodomo no Jikan may still not get an official release in the states. I’ve thought about contacting a few manga publishers in the US perhaps and I think the biggest chance might be Yen Press. If they’re doing No Game No Life, there’s a slight chance we could also see Kodomo no Jikan despite its age. Its an idea, but hey, it never hurts to ask, right? RIGHT?!

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