Thursday, August 14, 2008

Review: Yen Plus-V01I01

Title: Yen +(plus) August 2008 (4 stars, a good buy!)
Publisher: Yen Press
WTF?: A new monthly manga anthology
Compare to: Shounen Jump, Shoujo Beat

On a routine trip to the bookstore I spotted a new contender in the anime magazine lineup: Yen Plus, a new monthly manga anthology from Yen Press. Yen Plus promises to feature new titles and artists to gain a fan base before releasing a full graphic novel, as well as English and Korean authors.

The structure of Yen Plus is a creative solution to the problem of reading traditions of English (l->r), Korean (l->r), and Japanese(l<-r). A nice info page explaining the problem greets the reader where the two sides meet in the middle. Overall, the advantage of Yen Plus is the broad representation of genres. There will be titles you love, some that you may find fun to read, and others that you read because you paid for it. This may be a big turn-off to some, but chances are they wouldn't even consider buying an anthology to begin with. I doubt there are any two people who could agree on the perfect 10 manga line up. On the plus, it really forces you to expand what you would normally read through. I honestly would never have given some of these titles a second thought had I seen the in a store.

I also really enjoy the little details. Instead of replacing the SFX, they put the romaji and translations next to it. I LOVE THIS, and I don't need to explain why. The whole thing feels well put together. Still, of course, a first issue, but it shows a lot of promise to come.

Why did I pick this up? Soul Eater. "Did you really pay $8.99 for 40ish pages of [Soul Eater] manga?" Ummm....ya. Kind of.

I went ahead and picked it up because I knew I liked Soul Eater, and I had seen a little bit of Nabari no Ō and enjoyed it. The other titles? Looked good. Other major plus: Since it is the first ever issue, I can start all the titles fresh. No catching up required.

My hesitation for Shounen Jump/Shoujo Beat is that I only ever want to read one or two titles per issue, and some of them are so far into serialization that I wouldn't understand any of the content. My reactions to Shounen Jump titles range from "Not. A. Freaking. Chance." to "seriously?". Now, I don't mind this, because I am in fact not a shounen, but Shoujo Beat can be just as disappointing.

I bet you're sick of reading this, so I'll just get into the reviews. I'm going to look at them from the perspective that I have: never read most before, and no idea where these things are going. I won't provide summaries, because you can easily wiki those or check the official sites.

Titles I love:

Soul Eater: I love this series for many reasons. Having read Soul Eater scanlations and seeing the anime subs, I can't wait to see more and I am happy to purchase an official copy. Since the first volume isn't schedule to come out until OVER A YEAR FROM NOW WTFBBQ!!!!, I'm settling with this. //grumble// I love this first chapter because it establishes all the key relationships immediately. The fanservice is...not as bad as others, and can be overlooked.

Nabari no Ou: Seems to deviate a little from the anime, but still really caught my eye. I've only seen a few eps, but I really like what I see so far. Again, it establishes a basic plot and the key relationships right away so I'm left intrigued but not hanging.

Titles that make me curious:

Bamboo Blade
: The opening is a little slower than I hoped, and the establishing plot events a little too improbable. However, I'm looking forward to see where it goes.

Nightschool: This initial chapter didn't establish enough to my taste, but something about it has caught my eye. This is a title I'm going to watch for next issue. I'll know more next month, I think. I can say is that I want to like it and I have high hopes.

Pig Bride: This one is rolling in the weird end. I think I hate the main male character, but we'll see. This is one of those "Make it work" titles: My opinion could really go either way depending on how they handle the next chapter...

Sarasah: One of my biggest pet peeve's with anime are the girls who are obsessed with a boy who doesn't return their affection, and go a little nutty about it. Can't stand it. In any way. This first chapter made me think "" until the last page. Now I want to read the next chapter like I look forward to the newest update to FailBlog.

Jack Frost: Meet main character. See her head get cut off. Now have wonderful commentary from the head through the rest of the chapter! Okay, you got my attention. Now blow me away next month.

The ones I'll read only because I paid for the thing:

Maximum Ride: I think I'm supposed to recognize this story. I do recognize James Patterson's name...but that's about it. Like Nightschool, I was left was left interested, but in this case unexcited. Everything about it is beautiful, and the full color spread was a great touch. So far, I think the story is just not quite the kind that gets my juices flowing.

Higurashi When They Cry: This chapter read like the opening 5 minutes of a boring detective game. Really really not what interests me. Then again, I have no interest in mysteries or suspense. I'll flip through it next month.

Sumomo, Momomo
: No. Just stop there, oh god it's still going, please...ya. I'm so done with this. Basically the chapter goes: "Oh my! I'm a female so I'm not powerful enough to protect my people. The only solution is to have (married, of course) sex with the most powerful man I can find!". Pig Bride left me cold towards the main character, but this one just pissed me off. I'll give it a second chance but I hold out no hope for liking it.

One Fine Day: I'm not negative towards this one, it was kind of funny, but it left me thinking "Why is this here....?" Animals? Cute. Cookies? Nummy. The art? Hilarious and wonderful. Cats, dogs, and mice having escapades in the city? I can roll with it. Plot? //crickets// Ummmmm, I'll look at it next week...but this may be a title I just skim.

Buy if... don't quite fit into SJ/SB well. want to start into an anthology from the beginning. enjoy a wide variety of stories. want to support a new choice on the market. want to read original English and Korean titles. love Soul Eater and can't wait until next October.

Don't buy if... are INCREDIBLY picky about what manga you read. don't like to experiment.
...SJ/SB are the most amazingest things ever created. will only drop money on Naruto.

I give it 4 stars because I'm not in love with two of their choices for this series. I plan to buy a full subscription to this title. At $50 for a year subscription, which is $4~ for each 400+page volume, I'm absolutely in.