Friday, May 26, 2017

Long Lost Japanese Anime Magazines Part 1 (of 4)

A couple of years ago I was sorting out my collection of old anime magazines (Japanese and English), and was surprised at how many had disappeared from the market. Later as I tried to fill some gaps in my collection, I noticed a ton of Japanese anime magazine titles had disappeared from the market over the years. I’ve been meaning to do a couple of posts about these old magazines I own (and through research on those titles other defunct magazines I subsequently discovered), and have finally got around it. This is part one which covers the late 1970’s (the infancy of anime fandom) to the very early 1980’s. I’ve tried to make it as accurate as possible, but my Japanese language skills are pretty much nonexistent, so leave a message if I’ve got it wrong (also may have missed a few magazines…).

Publisher: Minori Shobou
Frequency: Monthly
Size: B5
Publication Dates: June 1977 – May 1995

While there currently is a magazine called “Out”, the one I’ll be talking about is obviously not the gay culture magazine. This is the grand daddy of all anime magazines. While the magazine’s original intention was to be counter culture type publication (but with a strong focus on sci-fi), this soon changed with the subject matter of the second issue; “Space Cruiser Yamato”. While the first issue had mediocre sales, the second sold out in less than a day, with Yamato fans lining up outside book shops. The third issue reverted to the format of issue one, and sales fell back to normal levels. The remedy was of course to revert back to Yamato. Eventually by the end of 1977, the magazine was entirely dedicated to anime. The magazine became the first to publish a nude pin up of an anime character (Sayla Mass in an 1980 issue) and also published some fantastic stand alone special books such as their legendary “Macross Perfect Memory”. Out also pioneered anime parody manga. Sadly the end was up for this pioneering magazine in May 1995. The publication of the original Yamato article accidently showed there was a market for commercial fan based anime publications. The staff didn’t give up when Out was cancelled, and went on to created Megu Magazine, but I’ll talk about that magazine in Part 2.

“Rendezvous” and “Fancy”
Publisher: Minori Shobou
Frequency: Bimonthly
Size: A4, B5 (final issue)
Publication Dates: December 1977 – April 1979

With the success of Out, publisher Minori Shobou decided to produce a spin off magazine called Rendezvous. Unlike the content of Out at the time, Rendezvous was completely dedicated to anime. This magazine pioneered the “picture-story” format (i.e. the article text with plenty of pictures, or text over a one or two page spread of artwork) which every modern day anime magazine now uses. In 1979 the final issue of the magazine was relaunched under the title Fancy along with a size format change, however this did not save the magazine. I cannot find any real reasons for this in any articles about the magazine. The staff went on to work for a manga anthology named “Comic Again”.

“Monthly Animation”
Publisher: Subaru Shobou, Bronze Sha
Frequency: Bimonthly, Monthly
Size: A4
Publication Dates: November 1978 – February 1980

More of a serious journal than a commercial publication, it ran bimonthly. Apparently because of this it never did circulate in high numbers (which is to be expected). However the magazine apparently had some really good content including interviews with Yamato creator Leji Matsumoto and Yamato producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki. In July 1979 publication ceased due to the publisher going bankrupt. The magazine recommenced again in December 1979 with new publisher Bronze Sha as a monthly publication, but only lasted a couple issues after being discontinued again for good.

“Manific” and “Animec”
Publisher: Rapport
Frequency: Bimonthly, Monthly
Size: B5
Publication Dates: December 1978 – February 1987

Another rather interesting magazine. At first as “Manific” it was mostly an anime magazine with some special effects coverage. By issue five, the name change to “Animec” had occurred but soon after it switched to a bimonthly publish date (August 1979) before switching back again to monthly in October 1983. It featured articles on upcoming works and was the first publication that noticed the work of Daicon Film, the members who would later become Gainax. The magazine also published anime production materials such as design sheets, which as I understand it was pretty rare for the time. Apparently Masami Yuuki met up with Yutaka Izubuchi who was working in the editorial department of the magazine, and this meeting lead to the creation of “Patlabor”.

“The Anime”
Publisher: Kindai Eiga Sha
Frequency: Monthly
Size: A4
Publication Dates: December 1979 – January 1987

Originally a one off special publication by “Kindai Eiga (Modern Movie)”, it soon became a regular monthly publication. As I understand it, this magazine published the name of the creators such as the director and screenwriter along with articles about anime shows, which was a bit out of the ordinary at the time. There was also a regular feature in which hypothetical projects were discussed. I’m unsure if any of the ideas discussed in the magazine were actually turned into anime. The magazine also gave away goodies, in particular mini shitajiki (pencil boards), a common give away in surviving magazines today. Like a number of magazines of the era, they also published series specific books. My favourite would be their “Megazone 23” mook (magazine/book), with their “Crusher Joe” one coming in close behind.

“Fanroad” and “Submission Road F”
Publisher: Rapport, Daito Sha, Inforest
Frequency: Bimonthly, Monthly
Size: B5
Publication Dates: August 1980 – November 2010

One of the more unusual anime publications, it consists of nothing but fan contributions. This included artwork, manga, stories and even recipes. Anime wasn’t just the core focus. It also looked at tokusatsu, manga and games. There was also a bit of overseas input with regular contributions from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Europe. Originally launched as a sister publication to Animec, its solid sales soon had it going monthly in October 1983. It outlived Animec and kept plugging along until October 2003, when Rapport went bankrupt. However it rose again under publisher Daito Sha in December 2003, until the publisher pulled the rug underneath the magazine in April 2009. However the magazine wasn’t quite finished yet. Publisher Inforest announced in their July 2009 issue of cosplay magazine “Cosmode”, that the magazine was coming back and asking for submissions. The magazine relaunched as “Submission Road F” in June 2010, but only lasted four issues and was discontinued in December 2010.

“My Anime”
Publisher: Akita Shoten
Frequency: Monthly, Bimonthly
Size: A4
Publication Dates: April 1981 – July 1986

Yet another anime magazine from this period (remember that this magazine was competing with the above, plus “Animage”, “Animedia” and “Newtype” which are still being published today. What a crowded market!). This magazine featured columns of plastic model kits, personal computers and other related otaku interests as well as its main focus on anime. It’s other regular features included a separate booklet named “TV Radar” (listings of anime on TV of course) and pull out posters. As I understand it, from October 1985, the magazine’s physical size was reduced (though to what size, I’m unsure) and it went bimonthly. However this was not enough to save it, and the magazine ceased publication in July the following year.

Next time we’ll have a look at magazines that were first published from the mid 1980’s through to the mid to late-ish 1990’s.

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