Sunday, June 5, 2011

Commentary: Young Animal, Young King, Young Magazine

As originally mentioned, the idea behind the "commentary" series is to discuss magazines that package freebies in any given issue. While Young Animal fell short on this qualification, I did have an ulterior motive for getting a copy. As might be guessed from the title, Animal is an erotic publication aimed at young adult males. It's largely SF, fantasy and college-life stories with some sex thrown in, along with several pages of glossy photos of pop idols in bikinis. Not all of the titles are sex romps, but at the moment none of them are well-known in the U.S. There was one title that ended in 2010 that's fairly notorious, Detroit Metal City. And another one that had been on hiatus, Berserk, looks like it might be prepping for a come-back with a promised 96-page release being advertised for the next issue.

(Random example of a high-quality non-etchi story - 13 Dogs.)

Unlike other magazines where the obscure stories aren't drawn very well, some of the titles in Animal are pretty high-quality. Be warned, though, that some of the harder-core titles may be inappropriate for those easily offended, or under the "age of maturity" in whatever country you're from. The reason I decided to get this issue was that several of the glossy pages were sealed and I wanted to know what they were hiding. The pages are set up so that you have to cut them apart to look inside. Actually, it's just some tame topless shots of the pop idols, but still, if you're easily offended or under-aged, then this is not the magazine for you. On the other hand, if all you want is topless photos, then you'll probably be a lot happier with an issue of Playboy (the American one, not the Japanese publication of the name in katakana).

With all of the bus and train riding I was doing, I wanted to get a magazine to read when things got slow, so I grabbed a copy of Young King at one point. This is also a biweekly mag, but without the glossy photos of female models. The emphasis is on street fighting, either between punks, gangs, aliens or hired torturers, although there is one judo story, and one on kendo. About half of the artwork is pretty good, so from a technical standpoint, the artists here are fairly skilled. On the other hand, there are no titles in Young King that regular western fans would recognize. Also, no freebies in this issue. Nothing here that I would want to read in the future.

(Random example of a non-torture manga - Shinya Kuwahara's Shippuu Nijimaru-gumi.)

You may be getting the impression that all I'm reading now are mags that start With "Young". It's not intentional. It just turns out that a LOT of the publications on the shelves at the convenience stores are part of the "Young" series, and the wiki entry for manga titles lists 11 magazines that start with "Young". This includes the weekly Young Magazine (YM). YM has the distinction of having carried Akira, 3x3 Eyes and Ghost in the Shell. At the moment, the only three titles that western fans may have heard of are Kaiji, Wangan Midnight and the ultra-violent, etchi Karate Shoukoushi Kohinata Minoru. In the issue I picked up, the majority of the stories have subpar art, although there's a much greater variety in terms of stories - including baseball, soccer, car racing, Edo samurai drama, horror and street fighting. There is one manga by Mita Norifusa, who may be remembered for the art on Dragon Zakura, and who also worked on Gin no Ankaa (Silver Anchor) and Angel Bank. In YM, he's running the baseball series Suna no Eikan (Sand Garland).

(Example scan of Suna no Eikan.)

The "Young" titles are generally aimed at young male adults, and feature at least some implied sex. Nothing really blatant, but there is some frontal nudity in YM. As can also be seen from the cover, this issue features photo profiles of scantily-clan members of AKB 48. There's also photo spreads of model Risa Yoshiki and idol Erina Matsui in bikinis. Not overly risque, just mildly provocative. 320 yen. Nothing I want to buy the magazine for a second time.

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