Wed, 6 August 2008
I talked about the individual titles in Yen Plus but I just wanted to make a few general comments about this attempt by Yen Press to put out a more reader friendly rather than boy or girl centered anthology. Of course, I'm talking about Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat. It's not that I don't buy Shojo Beat because I think Shojo manga are too girly. I don't buy it because it TARGETS young girls so explicitly and the bright colors make my eyes hurt. I don't read Shonen Jump (at least, until recently) either (ok, I do buy it, but the only thing I read is Naruto!). But its Donkey Kong leveling up plots can be a little offputting as well. It targets young boys that like to hit people.
So I am very glad that Yen Press is trying something a bit different with Yen Plus. They just seem to have put a batch of titles together with no regard for genre readers. There seems to be a little bit of everything for everybody. The danger with this kind of strategy is that by trying to please everyone, you please noone. Myself, I LIKE variety.
But there are some readers that feel uncomfortable wading into strange waters. Witness the incredibly negative reaction that Jack Frost got from some bloggers and board posters. They were put off by the violence and fan service mainly. Has anyone heard the words "dark comedy" before? If someone gets their head cut off and then sits there, oblivious to pain, and commenting on what jerks the two supernatural fighters are, you should know things are not meant to be taken seriously.
I remember someone commented on a scene in Maximum Ride when we meet a little girl named Angel and another character named Max is coming to wake her up for breakfast. One reader even said it was "straight up gross". The panel shows the girl fixing to get out of bed. To me, what is creepy is that someone can see the panel and get all kinds of weird connotations out of it. Same thing with a title like Strawberry Marshmallow. Some people have told me how that title is a moe title for perverts, but I don't get that out of it at all. I think it's just cute and funny. I guess some people just bring some weird thoughts into their manga reading experience.
In the Editor's letter at the front (back?) of the magazine, JuYoun Lee wrote that this magazine was going to be a way to introduce readers to titles before they are released as tankobans. So I asked myself which of the titles in this first issue would I buy in book form? The titles I could guarantee are Bamboo Blade, Higurashi, and Pig Bride. Borderline purchases would be Jack Frost and Nabari No Ou. I would probably pass up on Sumomomo. Titles I wouldn't take even if they were free would be Maximum Ride, Sarasah, and Night School. I don't even count One Fine Day as a title. It was pointless drivel.
Some people have also complained about the running order of the OEL/Manhwa section, citing mainly the outrageously cute One Fine Day somehow being a antithetic prelude to Jack Frost. My suggested reordering of the titles would go like this. Put Pig Bride as the lead title, followed by One Fine Day, Sarasah, Maximum Ride, Night School, and lastly, Jack Frost. It seems like a more coherent arrangement of content.