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Yen Plus August 2008

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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Yen Plus August 2008 issue, featuring Maximum Ride by James Patterson and Narae Lee

Yen Plus August 2008

© James Patterson, Narae Lee / Yen Press

The Bottom Line

Instead of trying to be a manga magazine for boys or girls, Yen Plus wants to appeal to older manga readers of both genders. It's a noble effort, but this first issue offers a mixed bag that has something to please (and offend) almost everyone.

With its appealing artwork and tantalizing cliffhangers, Nightschool and Maximum Ride are sure to please Chmakova's and Patterson's readers. Soul Eater and Higurashi: When They Cry are sure shots aimed at anime fans. The rest are hits and misses that will depend on your taste in manga / manhwa and your stomach for violence and sexually suggestive content.

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Pros

  • Interesting variety of manga, manhwa and original content provides something for (almost) everyone
  • Maximum Ride manga delivers appealing art that won't disappoint fans of Patterson's stories
  • Nightschool's mix of suspense and humor showcases Chmakova's evolution as a storyteller
  • Pig Bride offers a surprisingly funny twist on a fairy tale storyline
  • With 11 stories and over 450 pages, it's offers good value for $8.99

Cons

  • Lots of graphic violence and sexually suggestive fanservice, even by older teen standards
  • After all the hype and excitement about the Soul Eater anime, the manga seems subpar
  • Jack Frost goes over the top with senseless gore and bizarre fanservice
  • It would have been nice to get some additional context to introduce Yen Plus' editorial vision

Description

Guide Review - Yen Plus August 2008

In Japan, manga anthologies are a major part of the publishing landscape, with magazines geared toward readers' every age and interest. Meanwhile, the history of manga in America is filled with attempts to break into the magazine market, with only a few success stories. That was then, and this is now. Yen Press steps into the fray with its new double-sided manga / manhwa / OEL manga hybrid, Yen Plus.

With the manga market still in its adolescent stage of development, this bountiful manga / manhwa buffet of shojo, shonen and seinen stories introduces readers to stories that they might not normally pick up. Most readers will find at least a few stories in Yen Plus that they'll enjoy discovering and want to keep reading month after month.

James Patterson's Maximum Ride hits the sweet spot where Patterson's storytelling and Narae Lee's appealing artwork create a satisfying mix of young adult fiction and manga-style storytelling. Nightschool amply demonstrates Svetlana Chmakova's assured evolution as a visual storyteller, as she switches gears from teen romance to supernatural suspense. Bamboo Blade is a fun sports manga about kendo, Pig Bride offers a surprising twist to a fairy tail theme and Nabari no Ou tweaks the high school ninjas formula.

On the downside, Yen Plus includes a heaping helping of violent gore and sexually suggestive fanservice in many of its stories that make it unsuitable for younger teens. Even by OT - Older Teen standards, Jack Frost has a high level of bizarre and exceptionally violent content that will unnerve squeamish readers. The preteen heroine in Sumomomo, Momomomo is so keen to "get busy" with the reluctant hero, it's a little creepy.

Yen Plus won't be a homerun for every reader, but it's not trying to be. For what it is, and what it's trying to do, it succeeds on many levels. I look forward to seeing it evolve.

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