Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Otaku USA Review
While I consider myself to be a fairly punctual person, for some reason I've done a number of reviews of shows, both fairly new and old. However for some reason or another I have not yet reviewed the new anime/otaku magazine, Otaku USA. Now I know I've mentioned the magazine in a previous post, and specifically discussed how Patrick Macias, of whom I'm a fan, is the editor-in-chief, but I will now go into discussion about the whole magazine, all 158 pages of it, and give you my personal opinion, which just to give a little away is quite positive.
First, I am going to say that even from the cover I'm getting good vibes. Yes, I know they say don't judge a book by it's cover, but as a retired assistant-managing editor of an online magazine, I realize that covers of print magazines have a lasting value that you don't find on the web, and thus the cover's got to do both grab one's attention and keep it, all at the same time. Well, as Patrick mentioned in his most recent interview with the guys of Otaku Generation, there is just something about a an awesome looking samurai guy that says otaku.
Enough on the cover though, since you may already be bored, but don't be, because there's plenty more to come. First off, let's mention what is decently traditional, but still very cool. Well, the bonus CD is nice, then there's the Highlander pullout, and then you have the manga insert. However, they put a nice little spin on the manga section, and if you haven't figured this out yet let me be your guiding light, because no the manga pages aren't upside down accidentally. On the contrary, this allows Otaku USA to be read left to right, and for all of us picky wanna-do-it-like-they-do-it-in-the-land-of-the-rising-sun otaku to flip the magazine, and read our manga right. I mean correct, as in right to left.
Now, here's what I really want to talk about, and that's what I feel set's Otaku USA apart. First of all, the writers themselves. Now Patrick is writing and delivering those otaku tidbits which can only be had from someone who knows and goes to Japan, so it's pretty hard to deny how cool that is. In addition though, as I've mentioned being a fan of podcasts, particularly anime/otaku related podcasts, I can't help but be overjoyed at seeing both Clarissa and Daryl from Anime World Order providing their own thoughts as always, only in nice print form this time. Don't worry guys, if you ever come across this, because while you're great to hear off-the-cuff, you come across equally cool in the magazine.
Alright, now to the content itself! About time right, well that's what I'm saying too, but more in reference to the extensive treatment Otaku USA gives manga. Now, I'm not claiming to have been a fan for some long extensive time, and I'm definitely not saying that the manga is always better than the anime. What I want to say though is that upon discovering manga, I felt like I could enjoy old favorites in new ways, and enjoy new shows in a manner much more personal, and perhaps even approachable. Thus, when I first was looking for information on what manga to read, in magazines, I was sadly disappointed by the lack of good quality recommendations and reviews. However, Otaku USA not only covers with breadth the world of manga, but depth as well, giving just enough information for me to know what I might be interested in, and what may be something to pass. This includes both present series and future releases.
Now, I know Patrick, if he ever somehow comes across this, which may happen but probably not likely, is thinking we went to a lot of work to distinguish ourselves, and 'all you talk about are manga reviews which can be found online?' Ok, so maybe he wouldn't but if so you'd be right so far, because I'm missing what maybe most important, and that's what otaku don't get to see enough of, mainly japanese fandom. Shown wonderfully in Patrick's article on Gundam Plastic Model Kits. Now, Gundam is, and should be thought of, as one of the most popular anime series in the U.S., especially considering how much mainstream tv coverage Gundam, particularly Gundam Wing, has received. So you could say that model kits are popular here as well, and I'd imagine they are to a degree. Even if that's so though, few get to experience the phenomenon, especially at the home of Bandai, where Patrick builds a Gundam I'd say easily the size of a person.
Additionally, Otaku USA is able to draw in interviews it'd seem with Japanese manga artists, and probably others knowing how Patrick himself has developed connections over the years with the anime and manga industry in Japan. For this issue, the highlight was with Tow Ubukata, writer for manga/anime such as Le Cevalier d'Eon. I won't get into the details, since if you're curious you should really just buy the magazine and find out for youself, but let's just say from one interviewer talking about another, Jason Thompson, writer of the article, does a great job, as can be seen in the pages of interesting - no wait, intriguing questions, which lead most often to Tow and some equally fascinating responses.
There's more I could say, and I maybe should since I didn't even get to talk about the articles on Wonder Festival and the Tokyo International Anime Fair; however, I believe I've made my point with what I've said, and that is that Otaku USA is filled, and I do mean that, with lots of exciting content that any Otaku will drool over. (Warning: when reading Otaku USA, wear bib.)
On to the constructive criticism, I actually have to admit that I liked it so much, there's really little to say. Initially my only issue would have been akin to Anne's comments to the Otaku Generation crew, and that's the issue of American fandom, and the lack of in Otaku USA. However, I believe that for many who travel to conventions, which sadly I don't get to do enough of, that's probably old hat. If not, then maybe one day I'll try to pick up that torch and interview convention personalities myself, but that may be sometime off still.
So with all the profuse comments aside, I can just say that as a magazine Otaku USA has earned it's place as a new regular read for me, and if you consider yourself an otaku too, then I'd check it out, because I'm sure it won't be long before after you pick up the first issue, that you'll find copies of Otaku USA filling up your bookshelf.
Posted by Michael at 11:11 PM