Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Long Lost Japanese Anime Magazines Part 4 (of 4)

Note: Originally published on this blog in late 2011, republished on the "Anime Archivist" blog in March 2014.

In the final segment of this series we’re looking at the first decade of the 21st century. Unlike previous segments, I don’t own a single issue of any of these magazines, so I’m going off other people’s descriptions of them. Like the prior decade, the magazines which popped up in this era barely saw out three years, with most barely making it to a second year of publishing. None made it to the end of the decade. Of course this decade saw the rise of the internet and the start of the beginning of the end of printed media, though the Japanese print media industry seems to be infinitely healthier today than its western counterparts.

Publisher: Kadokawa Shoten
Frequency: Bimonthly
Size: A4
Publication Dates: September 2000 – May 2002

This magazine was of course an offshoot of Newtype magazine which has been running since 1985 and continues to be published today (in fact it’s still the highest selling anime magazine in the market). Initially a special issue of Newtype magazine itself, this short lived magazine became its own entity and was dedicated to the rare internet anime (Original Net Anime or ONA as they were called). The magazine also looked at the ever increasing commercial websites for anime series. Issues also came with a CD-ROM. Looking at some of the Japanese fan comments on the magazine, it’s rather interesting that some criticise the magazine because it was behind the times. As far back as the mid 1990’s, anime companies already had websites up for their shows. Indeed like the US, there was also a large anime fandom presence on the web in Japan. Looking at the contents of the first issues, there really isn’t much difference in content from a normal issue of Newtype magazine. That lack of differentiation makes this magazine a bit redundant, which was probably the reason it was eventually discontinued.

“Dengeki Animaga”
Publisher: Media Works
Frequency: Quarterly, Bimonthly
Size: A4
Publication Dates: August 2002 – November 2005

While writing this section of this series up I only just realised that Dengeki Animaga was a successor to Dengeki Animation Magazine, which in turn had its origins from B-Club magazine. Like many of the magazines which appeared and then disappeared just about as quickly in this period, there seems to very little in this magazine to differentiate it from its competitors. The question is why have five or six different clones of Newtype or Animage when the originals are superior? Though from what I understand, this incarnation of magazine went straight for the bishoujo anime fan and featured the girls from the top anime series of the time (as can be explicitly seen from the cover I’ve chosen). After its name change from Dengeki Animation Magazine, in August 2002, it shifted to a quarterly release schedule. Sometime later it eventually went bimonthly. All toll 19 issues of the magazine were released. Two “best of” mooks (magazine/book) were released in the months following the final issue. The magazine was succeeded by Dengeki G’s Magazine which still continues to this day.

“Nikkei Characters!”
Publisher: Nikkei Business Publications
Frequency: Bimonthly, Quarterly
Size: A4
Publication Dates: March 2003 – August 2006

The other thing to make note in the new crop of anime magazines that popped up in this era, is that the majority of them were offshoot of other successful magazines. “Nikkei Characters!” was initially a special issue of Nikkei Entertainment magazine. Obviously it was successful enough to warrant a regular bimonthly issue. Again like all other magazines of this period it contained information and news on anime as well as games and manga, though with more of a focus on the business side of things as I understand it. One thing I do quite clearly recall about the magazine is that it had a number of minor scoops. In particular I remember they were the first to announce the news that AIC was going to release a TV series of “Megazone 23” in 2004 or so. Pity the scoop never became reality as AIC seems to have cancelled the production. Nikkei stopped production on the magazine with the June 2006 issue, only to announce that it would come back as a quarterly, which only lasted one solitary issue in August 2006. It was never seen again after that.

“Anime Studio”
Publisher: Ozora Shuppan
Frequency: Bimonthly
Size: A4
Publication Dates: October 2004 – December 2004

This magazine is quite an interesting one as it focuses more on the production side than the fandom side. Despite this difference in focus to anything in the market at the time (or perhaps because of it), the magazine only managed to last a grand total of two issues. Reading through the contents of the second issue, it’s a bit of surprise as there is quite a lot interesting material here. First there’s a feature on Mitsuteru Yokoyama of “Tetsujin 28” and “Giant Robo” fame. Then there’s an Osamu Dezaki interview who’s done everything from “Tomorrow’s Joe”, “Aim for the Ace!”, “Black Jack” OVAs and even the film adaptations of “Air” and “Clannad. They also look at the outsourcing of anime production to Korean studios, another interview, this time with Masahiro Maeda on “Gankutsuou” and the cover story on the 20th anniversary of Gainax. I suppose Japanese anime fans are more interested in pages and pages of pictures of bishoujo than anything with any depth.

“Ani Colle Dragon
Publisher: Fujimi Shobou
Frequency: Irregular
Size: A4
Publication Dates: October 2004 – January 2006

Yet another off shoot of a successful magazine, but with a major difference. Ani Colle Dragon was a mail order magazine spin off of the monthly magazine Dragon Age (which itself was an amalgamation of two older Fujimi Shobou magazines; Comic Dragon and Dragon Junior). While it had the usual items you’d find in anime magazines of the time such as features on various anime (mostly related to Dragon Age and its parent magazine Dragon Magazine which serialised light novels), fan created content like letters and art etc., the magazine was essentially a mail order catalogue for various items publisher Fujimi Shobou was flogging off to Dragon Age’s readership. One of the items I recall was a doll of Teresa Tesutarossa from “Full Metal Panic”. The magazine also came with special extras every month such as a DVD full of promotional films for related Dragon Age/Dragon Magazine anime and related merchandise and a life size poster. In the end the magazine was shelved after only four issues in January 2006.

“Animation RE”
Publisher: Index Communications
Frequency: Bimonthly (?)
Size: A4
Publication Dates: October July 2005 – March 2006

Yet another very short lived magazine from this period. The information I have on it pretty sketchy to say the least. It seems that Animation RE mostly focused on interviews with the staff of various anime. One issue contents page shows that it contained interviews with the staff from “Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror of Shamballa” and “Fantastic Children”. In fact the magazine I saw also seems to contain a big feature on Studio Bones who produced the first “Fullmetal Alchemist” series. Not only are there main features on the main staff of these shows, but also singers of the show’s theme songs and naturally voice actors as well (actually pretty much every anime magazine has a section interviewing voice actors or singers, so it’s not that unusual). A fair number of anime magazines which popped up from the late 1990’s were printed in mook form, and Animation RE is no different. Like an increasing number of magazines of the period, this one also came with a bonus DVD. Alas it wasn’t enough to save the magazine. As far as I can tell it never got past its third issue.

“Bessatsu Anican R”
Publisher: Emu Jiitsu
Frequency: Monthly
Size: A5
Publication Dates: November 2007 – June 2008

Yet another anime magazine spin-off of a successful parent magazine; Anican R. That magazine is mostly dedicated to idol singers and groups, but also voice actors, live events and of course anime. It seems like an all-encompassing otaku magazine of sorts. Why it was decided by the publishers to create an all anime magazine, I don’t know. Unfortunately I have even less information on this magazine than Animation RE, so please bear with me. From the meagre results I have obtained with my research on the magazine, it contained the usual stuff you’d find in just about any other anime magazine; features on anime shows and films, interviews with staff and of course voice actor and idol singers, fan sections, reviews on anime DVDs and related soundtracks etc. There really isn’t anything here at all to differentiate it from the other magazines in the market. It was published in a mook format and only lasted six issues.

So that’s it for long lost Japanese anime magazines. While print media is on a steady decline in the west, there still is a market for magazines in Japan, including anime related ones. Certainly the amount of issues sold per month may have decreased somewhat, but sales for magazines like Animage, Newtype, Animedia and Megami magazine are still pretty solid. However I have noticed some changes such as Animage’s page count, which has been significantly trimmed back. The magazine is like a shadow of its former self. I must confess that for about 14 years I religiously collected both Newtype and Animage, but stopped as of the January 2012 issue for each. Undeniably the magazines do take up a lot of room, and let’s face it, I can get all the information in the magazines including pictures from the web. The internet has practically killed off all but two English language anime magazines; Otaku USA and the UK’s Neo Magazine, who stubbornly refuse to lay down and die (I don't include UK's MyM really as magazine as it focuses on other pop culture and hasn't had a cover dedicated to anime for a very long time). It also seems that it will still take quite a while for anime magazines to die off in Japan with about half a dozen magazine titles focusing solely on anime still being published monthly.

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