Manga Drive By: Yen Plus December 2009

Anthology18A-211x300I wasn’t impressed with the initial release of Yen Plus when it debuted last year, but the last couple of issues of the second volume has really started to turn me around.  I really enjoyed this latest issue, quite a bit more than the latest Shonen Jump.  The issue starts off with an editorial about light novels and how and why the covers have been different than the original releases.  It’s a reason that makes perfect sense for a publisher; appeal to a wider audience.  Pure and simple.  Maximum Ride was missing again this month.  The artist, NaRae Lee, has been sick.  I don’t mind Maximum Ride. It’s a good title, just not for me, so I didn’t miss it all that much.

Of the titles that appeared in the OEL/manhwa side, Pig Bride continues to be a favorite of mine.  Mu-Yeon’s face is finally revealed, but one chapter just wasn’t enough for me.  I wanted it to keep going!  That’s the only problem I have with Yen Plus, it’s usually just one chapter per title per issue.  It makes waiting for the next month, or worse the compilation that much harder!  There’s a preview of a new title, 13th Boy that didn’t impress me too much.  It’s an average High School romance that features another obsessed girl that threatens to turn stalker.  Is this a problem with girls in Korea?

Nightschool was filled with awesome as we learn about the past of the Sohrem.  Don’t know what they’re up to yet, but it’s a fascinating history.  This is still one of the best titles in the mag.  One Fine Day continues it’s cuteness with a way to make house cleaning fun.  Time and Again, another rival for my favorite title, deals with Korean dragons, and drops hints about Ho Yeon Won’s past.  This one is on the awesome track as well.

Jack Frost continues the battle in the Unicorn Forest, which could lead to the destruction of Amityville and probably the world from there.  It’s a nice cliff hanger to stop on, but Jack’s gotta win this in the end.  Otherwise it’s gonna be a short title.  This side of the magazine ends with the second half of the preview of Raiders, which comes out this month.  Dr. Langhem and Irel seem to have made good their escape, but someone else is on their trail, and wants the relic.  And she’s not human.  How do you escape from someone who won’t die?  I think this title will be another winner for Yen.  It’s got all the right elements; mystery, action and thrills.

Anthology18B-211x300I didn’t like the Japanese side of Yen Plus at all when it started.  But with all the changes they’ve made lately, it’s become enjoyable, and not a ton of fan service.  Pandora Hearts graces the cover and starts the issue off.  It’s an emotional chapter with Oz learning that Raven is really Gil, his valet from before he was thrown into the abyss.  This was a great chapter and I’m really warming up to it now.  Soul Eater is the “meh” title of this side.  A fight finishes in this chapter, as well as some intrigue is revealed, but on the whole, I didn’t care much for it.

Nabari no Ou is a title I keep waffling on.  Some chapters I enjoy, some I don’t.  And the characters aren’t all that likable.  This chapter was one of those I liked.  The Fuuma Shinobi complete the assassination and win the Forbidden Art Scroll from the Togakushi, and are some revelations, but the chapter ends on a high, but ominous note.  Black Butler is a title I liked from the start, and it hasn’t disappointed yet.  Sebastian show his exemplary skills as a butler, doing his tasks as well as cleaning up the incompetent staff’s errors.  But his refuge from all the madness?  Being with a cat that lives on the grounds and playing her paws.  Priceless!

The final title in the magazine is Hero Tales.  Ryuukou has come to see Taitou, but is revealed to be on Keirou’s side now.  Ryuukou and Taitou fight, and while Taitou gets beat up, he gets in a hit that hints at his true power.  Ryuukou leaves and Taitou and his friends plan a trip to Taizan to see what has befalled the village.  I’m really enjoying this title too.  It’s not as compelling as Fullmetal Alchemist, but it’s right up there.  This was a great title for Yen Press to grab and put in the mag.

Yen Plus has now become a manga magazine that is worth buying.  I really wish that the subscription to it wasn’t only available in 6 month increments.  It started out at 12 months for $49.99, but was changed to 6 months for $25.99. The 6 month deal is slightly more expensive, but the real problem I have with it is that I would have to remember every 6 months to renew.  I have a hard enough time with 1 year, and usually miss an issue because of it.  At 6 months, I’d be missing 2 a year!  It would be better for Yen to offer both options and let people choose.  Does it cost to offer more than one subscription option?

Either way, whether you buy on the news stand or subscribe, Yen Plus is a magazine that’s worth the price.  Even though it’s rated Teen+, there’s something for everyone in here, and that’s the best kind of magazine to have.

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