Monday, September 10, 2012

Commentary: Newtype and Dragon

I'll wrap things up with a look at two other magazines that don't quite fall into the manga phonebook category.

Back in 1990 when I first started learning about manga, there was a little import store in San Jose called Nikaku Animart that offered a magazine subscription system.  You'd send them $50 or $100 to be put on your account. The shop would buy a bunch of magazines each week and have them shipped by sea. 4 to 8 weeks later, you received your order (2 x cover price) and this would continue until your account ran to zero and you had to send in more money.  The two magazines I wanted were Newtype and DragonNewtype for Dark Angel and for the freebies - posters, pins, pens and pencil boards; Dragon for the serialization of Dragon Half.  Eventually, I moved to Japan where it was easier to get just about any mag I wanted , and when I returned to the U.S., I got a job that sent me to Silicon Valley on business trips every few weeks to a few months and I could make side trips to Japantown for shopping.  I stopped getting Dragon after Dragon Half ended. I was still getting Newtype for the TV listings up until the big earthquake a year and a half ago, but I stopped after that in part because I no longer have a TV.

Newtype and Dragon are entertainment magazines that report on on-going anime, as do Animage and Animedia. Each has a slightly different focus, and each usually has some kind of freebie, either a poster or a sheet of stickers.

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

Newtype, 680 yen, 234 pages
The larger and glossier of the two, Newtype focuses primarily on TV series, but also includes radio broadcast schedules, popularity rankings, and some coverage of video games and movies. Most of the articles are 2-4 pages long and contain episode summaries, character descriptions and/or design sketches. There's also interviews with voice actors, artists and directors. The serialized manga right now is Akuma no Ridoru (Devil's Riddle).  Possibly 10% of the content is advertising. This issue has a pull-out character guide of Fate/Zero, a 3' x 4' double-sided poster with characters from Blue Exorcist and Robotics;Notes, and an 8-page article on the updated version of Ishinomori's Cyborg 009.

(Sample article page.)

Because my commentaries revolve around manga, I'll describe Devil's Riddle a little bit.  Chapter 0 starts with this issue. The artwork is average and the character designs are rather cartoony. There's a scene with school girls practicing knife throwing, and the knives look like paper taped on top of the targets. Not convincing. The story's just starting out, so the boss man in the white suit and dark shades hasn't gotten around to showing what the "devil's riddles" are yet.

(Devil's Riddle)

Dragon Magazine, 780 yen, 276 pages
At first, I got the impression that Dragon had gone out of business. There was a book-like magazine with the same name, but rather than being shelved in the same section as Newtype and Animage, this one was in with the rest of the manga phonebooks.  On opening it up though, it's obvious that little has changed.  Like Newtype, there's a LOT of advertising.  The focus, though, is on OAVs (anime direct-to-video) and movies.  Because of this, many of the illustrations are of R-rated videos, making the magazine unsuitable for most western fans.  Another feature of Dragon that remains unchanged is that there have always been short stories or serialized novels.  In fact, Slayers started out this way.  Current text stories include Dakara boku wa H ga dekinai, Data-a-live, Degen Madchen, The Unforgiving Flowers Blossom in the Dead of Night, Silver Cross and Draculea, Rising Rydeen, Boku no Kawai Ojousama and Highschool DxD. There's not much in the way of manga, though, just a couple short gags, including one on Highschool DxD.

(The Unforgiving Flowers Blossom in the Dead of Night)

The only freebies are two small light novels, about 90 pages each, for Kore wa Zombie desu ka? and New Student Council Activate!!

I have fond memories of Dragon magazine, but the heavy emphasis on tentacle-related anime OAVs is kind of a disappointment, and the lack of other freebies doesn't help, either.  On top of which, Newtype also mentions some of the less erotic OAVs, meaning that if you're only getting one magazine, you might as well make it Newtype.

(Sample article page.)

Summary: In learning about manga, I started out with subscriptions to Newtype and Dragon, largely for the stories being serialized in them (Dark Angel and Dragon Half). These days, neither magazine has anthing I want to read. But, if you want freebie posters, or to know what's upcoming in the new TV season, Newtype is the one to get.

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