Sunday, August 26, 2012

Commentary: Bessatsu Shonen Magajin

I'm probably going to sound like a crotchety old man with a broken record, but it may be due to the number of magazines that are at the bottom of the barrel.  I've mentioned before that there simply are a lot of manga magazines on the market, and that most of them only have 1 or 2 titles that gain any real popularity.  This means that if you like a lot of titles, you're going to be buying 10-15 magazines a month, and ignoring 95% of the stack.  That gets expensive fast, so what most Japanese do is just read the parts of the regular weeklies that they like for free at the convenience stores (although, that's getting tougher to do since FamilyMart started sealing them recently).  The alternative is to hold off and only buy the collected volumes of the stories you really like (average price for tankobon is $5 a volume every 3 to 12 months compared to $5-$10 per magazine issue per month).  Getting back to my point, with 30-50 weekly and monthly magazines, there have to be quite a few that are at the bottom of the barrel, with pretty much nothing worth reading at all.  It's hard to understand why they stay on the market because they have weak sales, but it might just be that the publishers use them as a dumping ground for artists working on building up a readership.  Who knows, maybe some of the weaker artists will get better and strike storytelling gold..

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Bessatsu Shonen Magajin, 500 yen, 730 pages
Bessatsu translates to "supplement" or "extra issue".  According to the wiki entry, this magazine started in 2009 as a spin-off of Weekly Shonen Magajin.  It's a monthly publication, and price-wise is a pretty good deal.  The target audience is similar to the weekly version - younger males - and this shows up in the artwork, character designs, stories and pictures of female pop idols in the first few pages.  This issue has a pullout poster of the 5-woman Clovers Z group.  Genres include fantasy, horror and school life. On the whole, the artwork is below average to just barely average.

(Aku no Hana (Evil Blossom))

There are perhaps three stories that western readers may have encountered before - Shingeki no Kyojin, Kamisama no Iu tori and Countrouble.   There was a glowing review of Kyojin (Advance of the Giants) in one of the Japanese English newspapers a few months ago, so when it showed up on Spectrum Nexus, I gave it a try.  But the artwork is so sketchy and the characters so unlikeable that I gave up after 2 chapters.  The basic idea being that a village is surrounded by a big wall to keep the giants out, and the villagers go out to kill the giants just to find out what they are.  Kamisama no Iu Tori (As God Says) is horror porn.  Groups of humans are snatched from their normal lives by forces unknown and dumped in a game space where they have to learn the rules as they go along, or risk being killed or used as disposable playing pieces in the game.  Marginal artwork, and strong S&M themes.  Countrouble is a lighter school story where an angel causes the main character to confess to whatever girl causes his heart to race.

(Slime-san to)

The first story in this issue is Chaos Wizard and the Devil's Servant, which is a sword and sorcery-style fantasy with a heavy B&D vibe.  This is followed by Aku no Hana, in which one of the characters is a school boy that goes out of his way to be humiliated and beaten to a pulp by street gangs.  Slime-san to (by Abiko Yuu) is a new series (just on chapter 3) that seems to follow escapees from a Dungeon Quest game.  One of the human-looking girls is a Slime, while another is a mimic (able to turn into whatever animal she touches).  The artwork on Slime-san isn't bad, and the story is largely comic, offsetting the darker sense of Chaos and Aku.

(Dobutsu no Kuni)

There's really nothing in this issue that I have any interest in (a sentiment I've expressed repeatedly recently in other magazine commentaries), and there's nothing I consider worth highlighting.  On the other hand, I've scanned several pages for this article, so I might as well mention them.  The one remaining page I scanned is from Dobutsu no Kuni, by Makoto Raiku, (Land of Animals), a fantasy with artwork similar to Dai no Daiboken. Silly character designs, with the hero and his animal friends fighting tournament battles.


Summary: While 3 of the stories here have gained some interest from western fans, I personally don't find any of them worth reading. Uninteresting set-ups, marginal artwork. Not recommended.  Only one pull out poster of Clover Z; no other freebies this time.


Messias de Oliveira said...

WTF, you didn´t like nothing, uh? But I strongly recommend you to give it a try to Attack On Titan> It´s a incredible horror tale, shocking and thrilling. The art style get strong along time, too. Try and you won´t blame me!!! Bye, Messias

TSOTE said...

Thank you for the recommendation. I'll try reading it again.