So I've got this printed material sitting here and I should probably say something about it. Otaku USA is a new magazine run by a guy whose blog I read, like, all the time, Patrick Macias. I'd been meaning to pick it up on account of heavy plugging by Macias and the Anime World Order crew (two of whom contribute to this issue and one of whom has put me ON NOTICE), but I didn't bother doing so until today. My not breathlessly jumping up and scramble dashing to the bookstore has a lot to do with that cover: like an 80's action hero crashed his motorcycle into a glowstick factory. The colors are so noisy that the text gets lost in itself, and while it's not hard to pick out the book on a shelf, it is hard to see what the hell is inside. I didn't even notice that they misspelled "Haruhi" as "Haruchi" until just now.
As a noisy aside, the other big anime magazine going is ADV's Newtype USA. While their editorial content is growing-- but crippled by the fact that they are owned by an anime distributor ifyouaskme-- much of the book is a translation of the Japanese Newtype. Back before Newtype was available in English, the mag had a certain level of mystique in the English-speaking fan community. People would import it and marvel at the high-quality paper and the glossy pictures from anime that was on Japanese TV a month ago: anime that they would therefore not see fansubbed for at least another year. If only they could read the thing. Newtype USA originally set out with just that goal, and it turned out that Newtype's editorial content was little more than a series of press releases overlaid on pretty pictures. Fluff, in other words. Mystique dead. I put the first issue of NTUSA back on the shelf about two minutes after opening it.
On that note, I have good news. Otaku USA is a book with words and information as well as pretty pictures. Topics are eclectic, ranging from the usual previews, reviews, interviews (we'll call them views) to really weird and awesome shit, like a collection of Ultraman kiddie rides and Matt Alt (of the hey-whatever-happened-to ToyboxDX.com) and Macias' trip to the inner sanctum of the Bandai Hobby Center-- a holy ground forbidden to mortal man! It's a good, substantial read, and I am quite surprised to actually feel as though I got my ten dollars' worth.
"Adding" to the value is the DVD: not really worth noting, it's a few dub-only anime episodes I'd already seen and a number of trailers for anime, manga, and the three-games-behind Naruto PS2 fighting game. I popped the disc in right away, because it promised a Phoenix Wright 3 trailer. No such luck: what you actually get upon popping the disc into a DVD-R drive is a link to Capcom's website for Phoenix Wright 1. Ouch. Something fell through, I suppose? About the dub-only thing: I don't know if something like this is at all in the hands of the publisher, but this magazine's targeting a pretty hardcore market, and it might be a good idea to get the Japanese voice tracks too, for their sake-- our sake. My sake. Unless the voice work is really high-quality, anime dubs tend to lose me after about the first five minutes. Sorry, guys: you just sound weird most of the time.
In summary, the magazine's good stuff and the disc needs some work. Always nice to hear the Boogiepop Phantom OP, though.
This, meanwhile, a buddy of mine threw at me a month or so ago. It's called POPJNEO and it doesn't cost money, which comes out to a price ten dollars less than Otaku USA. I'm mostly out of my element reading it; it's largely J-pop, fashion and visual kei stuff and I'm not pop or fashionable or a marketing type . By necessity, it's a very quick and unfocused read: feels more like a catalog than anything, except there's no number to call. The book advertises "PUBLICATION DIRECT FROM JAPAN" on its cover, and that kind of gives me a hint. The layout reminds me of the articles in the dearly departed Raijin Comics: there's the feel that this is a Japanese company doing it their way, dammit. This has led to things like Raijin (totally awesome but totally failed), but it's also led to things like Bandai Visual USA (not really very awesome at all, poised to fail). We'll see what happens, but as a generally benevolent person, I wish the pamphlet well. I should have entered their giveaway last month, though: I could have won me a YOU WA SHOCK single.