Thursday, November 22, 2007

Shojo Beat

I've been a Shojo Beat subscriber since the inception. I originally ordered it because I had been reading Zettai Kareshi on Shoujo Magic, and when rumors started circulating that it would be serialized in a monthly for the U.S, I had to subscribe. I enjoyed some of the other serials as well Crimson Hero (which I hadn't read before SB, but loved Mitsuba Takanashi's other series The Devil Does Exist), God Child, and Nana. I absolutely detested Kaze Hikaru and Baby & Me. Actually I was a little confused why they picked these at all. I imagine they were cheaper to license, but really if you want a new concept, like a monthly manga magazine, to take off then why not pump it up with some of the really popular stuff. The fan base already exists on the net, it wouldn't have been difficult to find out what people would have wanted to see in SB.

Overtime they got rid of those, and most recently they've exited Baby & Me. I can't imagine that many people were into those particular stories. I wasn't too pleased when they stopped running God Child, but I've never been a huge Kaori Yuki fan so I got over it. To my chagrin they also stopped running Nana, they claim it is due to the exponentially more explicit content of the next few volumes. It's frustrating because I don't want to start collecting Nana when I've already read at least 8 volumes of it in Shoujo Beat. I always buy manga that I enjoyed as a scanlation but I pay for Shoujo Beat, and while I want to support manga publishers, I rather spend money on a story I haven't already spent money on. And I don't want to buy a series without also getting the earlier volumes.

I have my gripes but I do like the new format of the magazine, it seems they are running short stories, like Yume-Kira: Dream Shoppe and Backstage Prince in addition to the longer serials. But I'm a little afraid that they will keep up with the habit of exiting serials mid-way through... even though I'm happy to see the ones they've dumped so far go (minus Nana and God Child), I hope it's not going to become a marketing tactic. Like crack, they get you hooked on a story line then pull it from the magazine and tell you to go buy the books.

Right Now Shoujo Beat is running these stories (with links to Wiki), as you can see only 2 stories from the original run remain:

Absolute Boyfriend (Zettai Kareshi) - by Yuu Watase (author of Fushigi Yuugi, Alice 19th, Ayashi No Ceres, and Imadoki.)

I love this series, well I love all of Watase's manga and anime. Of course there's a love triangle, an essential staple of Watase's work. The story is dragging a little in the same way that Ceres did, although probably for different reasons. I was violently opposed to Tooya as a love interest in Ceres. Here, really Riiko can end up with Night or Soshi and I'd be equally pleased. >.<

Crimson Hero (Beni'iro Hero) - by Mitsuba Takanashi (author of The Devil Does Exist)
I usually get really into these sports based manga, which really seems counter intuitive because I'm not reading this stuff for the sports action... I'm only here for the angst. This story does a good job of combining both. Annnnd of course there's a love triangle, not sure who I like the most yet.

Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Hachiyō Shō ("In A Distant Time: Hachiyō Chapter") - by Toko Mizuno
Hmm. I've only read a chapter of this so far (I have yet to read the November and December volumes of SB). I have to say I'm a little suspicious of it because it was based on a video game (and I absolutely always hate anime based on video games without fail) and this series is remarkably similar to Fuushigi Yuugi. SB is kind of treating that as the elephant in the room, when I feel like they should just address it. I realize that the legend of the four gods comes up in a lot of Japanese and Chinese manga, anime, and movies and I don't know anything about Chinese mythology, I also don't know which manga came first but its just too similar for me. I'm giving it a chance though.

Honey and Clover (Hachimitsu to Kurōbā) - by Chika Umino
I read a few chapters of this when it was being scanlated. I'm not all that into the art style. The main protagonists are college boys, as opposed to highschool girls and while I do enjoy some unconventional shoujo, I like my stereotypical cheese. With that said, this manga is genuinely laugh out loud funny.

Sand Chronicles (Suna-dokei) - by Hinako Ashihara
I'm really enjoying this series so far... it's really angsty sprinkled with some heart tugging - love it. (and again, love triangle.)

Vampire Knight - by Matsuri Hino (author of MeruPuri)

This is probably my favorite series running right now. Vampires, weird love triangles, shady pasts = awecome. It reminds me a lot of Love Monster by Riko Miyagi, but a lot darker and less sexually explicit. Good choice on this on SB!

*sigh* If they do keep changing stories I would love to see them run something by Arina Tanemura (author or Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanna and Full Moon Wo Sagashite) or Wataru Yoshizumi (author of Marmalade Boy, Handsome Girl, Kimi Shika Iranai, Ultra Maniac, Random Walk, and Mint Na Bokura.)

(I'm planning on doing monthly SB reviews, I'll update again when i finish reading November and December 2007)

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