Category Archives: Yen Plus

Short chapter reviews of Yen Plus digital magazine.

Manga Dome Podcast Episode 38: Yen Plus Retrospective

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This week there’re the regular features of the Weekly Wish List, the update, and the New York Times Best Seller List, and Alex Hoffman of the Manga Widget Blog joins me for a discussion on Yen Plus, Yen Press’ digital online anthology which ceased publication this month.

Continue reading Manga Dome Podcast Episode 38: Yen Plus Retrospective

Yen Plus September 2011

It’s been a year since Yen Plus went digital and things don’t seem to have changed much, at least not for the Japanese side of the magazine. It’s still meager at best, and is losing another title this month with the final chapter of The Innocent appearing. We can hope Yen Press will be able to announce something soon, otherwise having the two sides of the magazine is going to be pretty pointless.

Continue reading Yen Plus September 2011

Yen Plus August 2011

It was always my intention that my reviews of the chapters from the magazines were to be short, but I haven’t done a very good job of that, so starting this month, I’m going to try to be much more brief about my impressions of the chapters. There’s no Daniel X again this month, the final Gossip Girl, a side story, appears. But you don’t want to hear about that, right?

Continue reading Yen Plus August 2011

Yen Plus July 2011

This month’s Yen Plus features a lot of changes. The most obvious, as it’s features on the cover is the debut of Soulless, another novel adaptation, but not by James Patterson. This one is by Gail Carriger with art by Rem. But with this addition, two other titles are saying farewell. Gossip Girl ends this issue as does the color edition of High School of the Dead. I’m not going to miss Gossip Girl, as I wasn’t even reading it. But High School of the Dead…well, I’ll give my feelings about that later. And you might notice  something missing from this issue. No Daniel X. And no word why. Strange…

Soulless – This first chapter starts with some very nice color pages, as we are introduced to Alexia Tarabotti. She is at a party when she is attacked by a vampire, that doesn’t appear to be part of a coven, and has a run in with Lord Maccon, the head of Bureau of Unnatural Registry as well as Alpha of the local werewolf pack, and Professor Lyall. Her encounter seems to have attracted the attention of Countess Nadasdy, the leader of a vampire coven, so she goes to see Lord Akeldama, another vampire that she is on good terms with, for advice. I really enjoyed this first chapter, and absolutely love Alexia. I’m coming to appreciate stories set in Victoria London, and Rem’s art is a sight to behold. I think I have found my new favorite series!

Milkyway Hitchhiking – This chapter switches gears again, as Milkyway tells the tale of another “master” of hers. A cruel king is sending hunters out to bring back a creature with white fur. If they fail, they are killed. A new hunter is dispatched, a woman named Robin. But the creature turns out to be something Robin didn’t expect. Her perceived failure as seen by the King’s sorcerers makes the King decide to do the job himself. One again, Milkyway is ancillary to the story, acting more as narrator than wish-granter. This story is at least a two parter, so we’ll have to wait until next month to see where it goes.

Witch and Wizard – Whit gets the gang out of the jam the chapter ended on last month, and Wisty frees all the children in detention. A traitor is revealed in the resistance, but Whit and Wisty join their powers to defeat the warden and guards. The One Who Is The One then appears and taunts Whit with six prophecies supposedly about them before disappearing. I liked the action scenes with Whit and Wisty working together, and realizing it’s the adults who are scared of the children, and more importantly, of change. I still don’t like TOWITO. Not capturing or killing them now doesn’t make him a little good or grey. He’s still the villain.

Aron’s Absurd Armada – Aron and his crew return to port to exact revenge on Luthor and instead decide to go after the Crown of the Ant Queen. It was taken by Luthor as a gift for the King’s birthday, so they decide to the backway through some difficult mountains. Meanwhile we learn more about Aron’s parents and their relation to the Nelson family. While Aron and Luthor might have been friends, it obvious that his mother and Nelson is not. And like the rest of the cast, the King is just as odd.

Maximum Ride – The Flock is heading west, away from Itex, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone following them. An eerie sense of foreboding starts to settle over Max as rumors of a disaster coming starts to seem more real. Fang receives a message that one of the Flock is a traitor. They decide to go to a public place, a football game to see if they can draw their enemies out. They get spotted by members in the crowd, but still no Erasers. It really feels like we’re reading the climax of the story, as the impending doom seems to come ever closer. I am looking forward to see what that is.

Jack Frost – No-Ah is confronted by the new Iyel about emotion, and Siegfred is preparing to move out. Camilla has a plan as well, sending off her “pieces” to the Pillar of Solomon. Meanwhile, inside the Pillar, we are introduced to Beelzebub, another busty woman, and her master Solomon himself. Still not much going on, and really, I’m not feeling any anticipation for what’s probably supposed to be a big fit. I really wasn’t impressed with Beelzebub stripping and prostrating herself in front of Solomon either.

Highschool of the Dead – This final preview chapter starts at the airport where unaffected people are trying to escape, and sniper Rika Minami is clearing a path for the planes to take off. Meanwhile, Saeko, Saya, Kouta, and Shizuka decide to leave the school van and meet up with Takashi and Rei, who are trying to reach one of the bridges to cross into town, but the military has them all blocked off. They meet up with their friends, and Shizuka tells them she knows a place nearby where they can stay, as it’s getting close to nightfall. While all of the fanservice is really annoying, I can’t help but be interested in Takashi’s narration, as he talks about how this zombie apocalypse is changing him and his friends. And while the color is nice, if I continue to follow this series, it’ll be in the black and white.

The Innocent – Johnny is helping Joshua find his sister, and takes him to where women are trafficked. They don’t find her, but Johnny’s powers continue to grow, and he is able to speak to the man responsible for his sister’s injuries, Frame. Johnny continues to skirt the rules, making his point without actually hurting anyone. He finally figures out where Joshua’s sister is, but Frame has sent to Whirl to the lawyer Rain, and he gets there first. I’m still finding this series to be interesting, but not engaging. It seems to be devolving into a typical action title, but the mysteries of Whirl and Angel, and why Johnny can keep doing things he’s not supposed to keeps me reading.

K-On! – The chapter of K-on! isn’t the usual 4-koma, but typical manga chapter. The girls take a break from practice, and Ritsu and Mio’s past is revealed. It’s not a bad story, and if K-On! had been more like this, I might have liked it more. I’m finding I’m not fond of the 4-koma format.

Yotsuba&! – Yotsuba tags along with Ena to Miura’s house, which is in a tall apartment building. In the elevator Yotsuba tries to press all the buttons, but Ena warns her off. At Miura’s home, they see Miura’s picks from her trip to Hawaii, and trade souvenirs, but then Yotsuba makes a most surprising discovery in Miura’s room. The scene in the elevator was cute.

Next month, the mag stays down one story, but Gossip Girl keeps going with a bonus chapter. Hopefully that really will be the last! And there’s no Daniel X scheduled next issue either. Hopefully, there will be some word on it next issue. It is the Patterson book I like the most, though I think I’m in the minority. But, what else is new?

Yen Plus June 2011

Would you know, just as I decide to start reading Maximum Ride again, it doesn’t show up in the magazine this month! But it’s absence is made up for with 2 chapters of Witch and Wizard. And then I didn’t even notice that Jack Frost wasn’t in the magazine last month, but it’s back this month with a new chapter not collected into a volume yet in Korea. So, Yen finally caught up to its releases in Korea. I guess it will become more sporatic. That’s okay though, since next month starts the serialization of a new adaptation, and it isn’t a James Patterson title! Gail Carriger’s Soulless, drawn by another former Tokyopop RSoM winner, Ren.

Daniel X – Daniel finally defeats No. 5, but quickly learns there was more to him that just an electric alien catfish. Gathering all of the electronics in Hollingswood and destroying them in a decidedly non-environmental way makes his end final. Then No. 3 shows up to warn Daniel off, but that just makes him think he will definitely be his next target. The end of No. 5 was kind of anti-climatic, and I don’t know that I buy this one. No. 6 had a much better end.

Milkyway Hitchhiking – Milkyway’s adventures continue at the school from last chapter. She is passing through a forest that is near the dormatory where he runs into Shasha, a human with a cat in him. To everyone around him, Shasha is more cat than human, and this bugs the heck out of Lime, Shasha’s classmate. Lime seems to have a bird inside him, and he is constantly pecking at Shasha. Despite this, they share watching a sunrise together and Lime finds he can be friends with Shasha, even though their spirit animals usually can’t be. I’m getting the feeling that this title has strayed very far from its stated plot, and now is just a vehile for the artist to tell whatever short stories she wants. Milkyway is just an excuse to use to justify whatever story she’s telling.

Witch and Wizard – Whit and Wisty are taken on a tour of the City of Progress, the blueprint of the N.O.’s perfect city. There Wisty is accused by an older woman of being a witch, but Wisty turns the tails on the old woman who DOES turn out to be a witch. She makes eye contact with Wisty before disappearing. Then, the kids learn their parents have been captured and taken to the same place as the children the resistance was planning to break out, so Whit and Wisty join the team. The chapter ends on a cliffhanger for both Whit and Wisty, who split up. The first chapter with the visit to the city seemed pointless since it was so short, but perhaps the meeting of the witch will have some meaning later.

Aron’s Absurd Armada – Luthor, who was only following orders to kill Aron finds his own motivation, and reduces Aron’s ship to a floating hull. The crew relocates to the island, where it seems like paradise, until the volcano explodes. Running back to the remains of the ship, the crew learns from Aron there was one other crewmember no one knew about. The ghost of the builder of the ship still haunts the ship. I can’t help but feel sorry for Ronnie. She tries so hard to tell Robin the truth about herself, and still no one believes she’s really a girl. I hope her hair grows back soon. Though with this creator, something worse than burning will happen to it.

Jack Frost – Jack finally catches up to Hansen, who isn’t happy with Jack not staying with No-Ah. Jack doesn’t seem to have any kind of response when he hears No-Ah has got to the East District except to turn and walk away…to the east. No-Ah and her father are locked up in a room, but Milita at least offers to make them comfortable, which earns her some gratitude from No-Ah. We’ll see how that affects her. After all the hype Yen made about this chapter being in the mag, it was actually kind of anti-climatic. It will be back again in the next issue, so we’ll see if there was anything to get excited about.

High School of the Dead – Takashi and Rei take a motorcycle to try to get back home. They see the extent of the damage the zombies have done. They find a police car, with its occupants dead, and relieve them of their guns. A stop at a gas station give Takashi an opportunity to bash in the register, and Rei gets some breast sqeezing as a survivor tries to take her and the motorcycle. Takashi uses the gun for the first time, and they leave him to the zombies attracted by the noise. I liked Takashi’s reaction to holding a gun for the first time. And Takashi and Rei’s argument was a nice break from the zombie tension and showed some actual character development.

The Innocent – While continuing his search for Mira Jones, Johnny learns that the laywer that represented him (and subsequencely lost the case) is now representing Jonas. He decides to help Jonas and promises Angel that he will try not to kill anyone or break the rules while doing it. He then proceeds to break Jonas out of jail. There have been lot of little clues dropped here and there through these first three chapters, but nothing seemst to fit together yet. Hopefully things will start to connect in the next chapter.

K-On! – Instead of going to the beach, the girls go to a music festival in the mountains with tickets provided for by their advisor, for their club trip. Azumi tans immediately, adn the girls see other bands, but get distracted by things like how the band members get their hair to stand up, and left handed players. Afterward, Azumi goes to the pool with Ui and Jun and has to deal with tan lines, while making Jun regret not joining the Pop Music Club with her. At least it wasn’t another trip to the beach. And Jun and Ui aren’t anywhere as annoying as Yui and Ritsu.

Yotsuba&! – Yotsuba gets to take Fuuka’s excersize ball home, and while bouncing it down the hallway, accidentally breaks some dishes. When confronted by her father, she tries to lie about what happened. So her father takes her somewhere that makes her think twice about lying. Putting fear into a child about lying might seem like a good idea, and might even work for a while, but in the long run, I don’t believe this is the best way to displine a child.

It’s going to be a full plate next issue! Maximum Ride will be back, as will more Jack Frost, and then there’s the debut of Soulless. That’s going to put the magazine up to 12 titles! It’s good to see Yen Press expanding its titles. That’s a good sign, right? That things are going well for the digital magazine? I really hope so.

Yen Plus May 2011

One of the good things about Yen Plus is that it isn’t filled with a lot of articles about things I don’t care about. There aren’t color spreads of anime I don’t want to watch, video games I don’t play, or ads for devices I don’t and will never own. It’s just all about the manga. The ads in the magazine are all in-house for YP titles. I don’t have to skip a lot of articles to get to the good stuff. And there is a lot of good stuff in this month’s manga.

Maximum Ride – I may have to re-evaluate my stand on this series. Things seemed to have taken an interesting turn, and I may start reading it again. If the major angst is over. This chapter has Max faced off against Max 2.0. It was a battle set up by Jed to see who was stronger. Original Max won, but defied her “programming” by refusing to kill Max 2.0. An explosion gives the flock the cover they need to escape. Jed is given an ultimatum from his higher-ups; the flock must be eliminated before their “New world Order” plan can go into effect. The whole NWO plan has the most interested, so I think I’ll read a few more chapters to see where this all goes.

Milkyway Hitchhiking – This chapter has Milkyway at a school. There is a timid boy who tries to speak to his fellow classmates, but he just can’t get the words out. Milkyway leads him to an old house where there is an old cello. With Milkyway’s help (though actions, not words), the boy learns to play the cello, where his first “concert” has more than a cat for an audience. This is the nice start to a story, but I wonder if it will be continued in the next issue. This title hasn’t had any two-part stories yet, and while this chapter does have an ending, it’s not really a satisfactory one. I’d really like to see more of the boy and the school.

Witch & Wizard – Whit and Wisty escape the Shadowlands with Sasha’s help and make it to Freeland, where a bunch of kids that have escaped the New Order live and continue to resist the N.O. by freeing other accused “witches” and “wizards”. Whit and Wisty aren’t ready to commit to help the others, but a description of their abilities puts them immediately onto a higher level than many of the other witches and wizards, but also makes them prime candidates for being the “Liberators”. Now that there seems to be a plot in full swing, this series isn’t as boring (or melodramatic) as the first few chapters. Where it seems to be going though, does seem rather obvious. But maybe it won’t be boring-obvious. Svetlana’s art does keep it fun.

Aron’s Absurd Armada – The truth behind the attempted assassination on Aron is revealed, and I was half right. The crew is distracted by the appearance of an island where Ronny, Anton and Gilbert go in search of treasure. They find only half. The chest. Fear of facing the demon that is Robin has them worried, but the appearance of Luthor is just the distraction they need. I’d really love to see more webtoons like this show up in Yen Plus. It’s really funny.

Daniel X – After learning Number 5’s plan, Daniel and his imaginary crew goes to work. First, they take out Number 21 and then go to face Number 5. Number 5 is waiting for them of course, and tries to distract Daniel with the story that he was there when Daniel’s parents died, filming the whole thing. But Daniel doesn’t rise to the bait and tests Number 5 himself. It doesn’t seem to inconceivable that Number 5 could have been there, but at the same time it does sound like an attempt to get a rise from Daniel. But with this being from a YA novel, it’s probably going to be closer to the former. We’ll have to wait for next issue to see what Daniel’s next move will be.

Highschool of the Dead – An argument on the bus erupts that give Shidou the opportunity to take over. Rei won’t stand for it, so she gets off. Takashi follows her and makes an arrangement with Saeko to meet at the Easter Police station at a specific time. The two students fight with a zombie motorcyclist, and take his ride. It’s strange where the hostility toward Takashi comes from. It seems to just be a reason to get him and Rei off the bus and on their own again. This is just a transition chapter to get the plot moving on to Rei and Takashi killing zombies, which is what this title is better at than coming up with plot.

The Innocent – Johnny is given his next assignment. Deliver a letter for a man on death row, wrongly accused of murder. Of course, Johnny isn’t interested at first, but when he sees what the man, Norton Graves has been working on, he goes to look in on Graves’ wife. The angel goes to try to find out how Johnny/Ash became an emissary, and meets another angel how taunts him. Johnny arrives too late to get the evidence Grave was hiding, but meets Whirl, a man who can see him. They fight, and Johnny is almost killed in the process. The angel saves him while Graves’ wife and child escape. In the end Johnny fulfills assignment. Once freed from the chains that bound him, he goes after Whirl, who seems to have had a hand in harming his sister. The introduction of Whirl adds a new dimension to the series. of everyone in the room, he was the only one who could see Johnny, and even injured him. It leaves a big question about who or what he is.

K-On! – It’s summer, so Yui is of complaining about the heat. The girls try to come up with ways to practice and keep cool. Then Ritsu runs into Tsumugi and shows her how “the little people” have fun with little money. Some cute but obvious moments.

Yotsuba&! – Yotsuba, Koiwai, Fuuka and Jumbo continue their adventures in the electronics store. While Koiwai and Jumbo look at cameras (the reason they are there), Fuuka and Yotsuba explore the rest of the store, checking out refrigerators, exercise machines and massage chairs. Yotsuba rocks out with some headphones to some loud sample music. This was a “been there, done that” chapter, and I don’t need to live vicariously through Yotsuba.

This month’s issue was a good read over all. The Innocent is going in interesting directions, and I’m looking forward to mindless zombie killing. I may be back to reading all of the Patterson adaptations. It they weren’t soooo angsty at the beginning, I wouldn’t have such doubts about them. I would like to see at least on more Japanese title, and some more Korean manwha. The adaptations are really overrunning the English/Korean side. Something needs to balance against the Patterson/angst.

Yen Plus April 2011

Yen Press continues to add to the Japanese side of Yen Plus (finally!) with a new series, The Innocent. It’s an interesting collaboration of an American writer, Avi Avad (yes, THAT Avi Avad) with a Japanese writer and a Korean artist to create a unique story about love and vengeance. It has me intrigued to say the very least. Yen Press’ talent search round is over (and they emphasis talent search, not competition),but nothing was found to be showcased in the magazine. It was interesting to hear that they are not just taking their time to find good creators, but that they are also giving advice on where promising creators can improve and be ready for the next round. I wonder if Tokyopop had taken as much care, if OEL would have actually taken off.

Milkyway Hitchhiking – In this chapter, Milkyway is just an observer, as the story is about Baek-Ryun a gesaeng and Chung who is a shoemaker. They seem to be constantly fighting, this time it’s over Chung’s cat Miya (Milkyway). He accuses Baek-Ryun of taking her, which she denies, but did. Their bickering leads to a confrontation where they both end up in a lake, and though they don’t stop fighting, there is an implicit acknowledgement of feelings. It’s a cute story of budding romance, though what happened to the premise of the series, that Milkyway is a cat that grants wishes? Did that get worn out fast, or is this just a long break? Or are we to think that Milkyway grants wishes that are left unsaid?

Witch and Wizard – Celia, Whit’s friend, appears to Whit and Wisty, and tells how they can escape by going to the Shadowlands, though a brick wall that is guarded by several vicious dogs. The pair make it through, as well as one of the dogs, and gain a new friend. They are joined by Byron the ferret and introduced to Sasha who will take them to Freeland, one of the realms in the Underground not under the New Order, or,N.O.’s rule. But before they can get going they are surrounded by residents of the Shadowlands, the Lost Ones, who don’t seem to want them to leave. Now that the story is out of prison, and the angst of their torture is past, the story is starting to take a turn for the interesting. Hopefully when they reach Freedomland, we’ll get more information on the N.O. I’m not happy though that it’s Wisty’s girly scream that gets them into trouble at the end of the chapter. Realistic, maybe, but very cliche as well.

Aron’s Absurd Armarda – Aron’s feeling a little paranoid, and believes that the crew is out to kill him. It turns out he’s not too far off, as the new crewman, Mercedes, is actually an assassin, sent to kill Robin. But why Robin? I have an idea about that. There’s a short break while the crew celebrates the 100th strip (yes, it’s that kind of comic) And the ship’s cook gets some more abuse, not just from his shipmates from this his own body parts, when an attempt to appease his fellow shipmates goes awry. Aron’s is that great breath of fresh air that keeps you from taking anything too seriously, especially after the angst of the James Pattison titles.

Daniel X – Using a time machine (of sorts), Daniel is able to see what happened with No. 5 first appeared on Earth and how he got the townspeople to forget about everything alien after a scene has been ‘shot’. He takes Judy out on a date, which becomes a spying foray. He gets rid of the alien block for her, so she can truly understand what is going on. Though, I still don’t completely get what’s going on. What is No.5 up to? Is he filming a show, or is he planning an invasion? Or is it a little of both? It’s still hard to tell. There still aren’t enough clues to piece it together. Hopefully things will start to make more sense soon.

Jack Frost – As I predicted, there was a flashback with Avid, that showed how he became a vampire. Seems he and Sigfried were in competition for control of the South District. Guess who got betrayed. But it seems the Iyel that Avid met may not be the real one. With Avid gone now, Sigfried feels safe in declaring war on the Ethan and the East District. Hansen meanwhile has found No-Ah and Ethan. He tries to get No-Ah back, but Ethan’s control over her father’s soul keeps her from escaping. I’m not sure if this is an interesting turn of events or not. I suppose it all depends on what happens when Jack and Sigfried meet up with Ethan. I don’t think it’s going to go well for him, but then, that might not be such a bad thing.

The Innocent – The story starts with an angel being sent to find a man who has been executed for a crime he didn’t commit. Johnny, a detective before he died, has been chosen by the mysterious Committee to help out others in order to clear out his misdeeds so that he can get a chance at reincarnation. Angel, is there to show him how to use his powers and keep him in line, which isn’t going to be easy. He picks up quickly on his ability to use ash to affect the physical world, but is just as quickly swallowed by vengeance when one of the men who helped to frame him shows up while he is trying to help a woman. While playing by the rules isn’t his forte, he decides to go along with the Committee, just for another chance at the men who framed him. There isn’t anyone nice in this first chapter. The angel who is sent to help Johnny has nothing but contempt for humans, but has a job to do. Johnny himself is an anti-hero. He’s definitely no angel, but he really cared for his sister and will do anything to avenge her. And there are indications that he has a greater power than most spirits. Is that why he was chosen? Or has the committee bitten off more than they can chew with him? It will be interesting to find out.

Highschool of the Dead – This chapter introduces more survivors. School nurse Shizuka Marikawa and Saeko Busujima,the captain of the Kendo club (of course). They pick up a military otaku Houta Hirano and self-proclaimed smart girl Saya Takagi.  Takashi and Rei get out of the astronomy club room and meet with the new characters, and make a break for the school van, intent on finding their families. A newscast has shown them that it’s not just their town, but the whole world that is dealing with the zombies. As they make a break, another group of students, led by Shidou follow. Rei warns not to help Shidou but they do anyway. He is obviously not a nice guy. The addition of this obviously power-hungry opportunist doesn’t fill me with hope. I really am not interested in reading “Lord of the Flies in Zombie Land”. I’m really hoping he doesn’t stick around long. Though, he’s obviously going to be thorn in everyone’s side if not now, then later.

K-On! – It’s the start of another school year, that has the girls now seniors. They have their class trip to Kyoto, which they proceed to spend at a music shop. They have to decide on their future plans after high school, which of course Yui and Ritsu can’t seem to come up with anything. And then Azu starts to get panicky about possibly being the only member of the Pop Music club next year. Yui’s past is revealed, and it shows she hasn’t changed much from elementary school, and Yui freaks out about leaving her guitar at school overnight. The best thing I can say about these chapters, is that at least they are different from the first two volumes.

Yotsuba&! – Yotsuba, Koiwai and Jumbo are headed to the electronics store to buy a camera. Fuuka decides to come along since her midterms are finished. Once they arrive, Yotsuba finds the cellphone displays, and her imagination takes off again. This single chapter doesn’t really go anywhere, and it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, if you care about what it is that Yotsuba is imagining.

The addition of The Innocent continues to add to the breakup of the moe block that dominated the Japanese side for so long, but it’s only a one volume story, so it’s only going to last for 6 months or so. K-On! is also coming close to its end. With the last volume scheduled to come out in December, you know it’s going to end the magazine well before that. We already know that Yen has another OEL planned with the adaptation of Soulless, but do they have anything more planned for the Japanese side? Or is it becoming the neglected side with no Japanese publishers willing to serialize online? Square Enix shouldn’t have a problem with it. It’s not like it’s putting content that isn’t already available in print in English and has been for months or even years.

Yen Plus March 2011

Yen Press is really taking advantage of having their magazine online. Back in January we got the debut of a new manhwa in color, Milkyway Hitchhiking, and now this month we get, not only a new Japanese title, but we get it in color! Highschool of the Dead is a zombie title that combines brain munching with fanservice, and it’s made to be put into color. Finally, a new title in the Japanese section that isn’t about little girls being cute! Is it a good addition to the magazine? You’ll have to read on to find out!

Continue reading Yen Plus March 2011

Yen Plus January 2011

It’s a new year, and that means another new series in Yen Plus! Yeah! And it’s about a cat! Double yeah!! More on that later. But first, we’re six months in with Yen Plus being on-line. For the most part, things have been running smoothly. This issue was the first time I ran into any problems, and they were minor. First, it took a week after payment for the issue to go up, so it wasn’t available until the middle of January, but the holidays could be blamed for the delay. And I did have some trouble reading the issue, but those technical issues were taken care of quickly, and I could read the issue just fine the next day. Kudos to Yen Press for their quick response!

MilkyWay Hitchhiking is not only on the cover, but also starts the magazine this month. It’s in full color, with a nice water-colored look to it. It starts by introducing Milky Way, a special cat with a coat pattern on her back that looks like the Milky Way galaxy. She is able to make wishes come true. Her first wisher is a male cat named Sarah. He wants to be human for one day, or at least a few hours. Milky Way grants his wish, to which Sarah the proceeds to paint her black, and leaves her with his owners, a rich boy who doesn’t even recognize that Milky Way isn’t Sarah. Over the rest of the chapter, we learn how Sarah came to the boy’s home and why he wanted to be human for the day. Sarah’s past is kind of sad, but the whole story ends happily, for Sarah anyway. Milky Way still needs to get that black paint off.

Witch and Wizard continues Wisty’s and Whit’s ordeal as they are interrogated by a self-righteous classmate, a weasely type of boy who gladly joins the new regime for the power it gives him. They have the typical trial for a totalitarian society, with verdict already decided, but being a “humane” totalitarian regime, they will be held in prison until they are 18 before they are executed. The chapter ends with the revelation that Wisty and Whit’s parents escaped, so there might still be hope for them to get out. My jury is still out on this one. I’m probably going to need at least a volume to decide on this one. I know giving the villains so much power just gives the heroes more incentive to overcome them, but when they get too much it seems unrealistic, and I just don’t care for that.

In Aron’s Absurd Armada, the ship needs supplies, so Aron and Robin are sent out to get them, since Robin isn’t on the poster, and without his wisp of a mustache (forcibly taken) Aron is unrecognizable. Of course, it turns out to be a disaster. Then we get to meet Aron’s parents, who each have very different impressions of their son, with Victor’s being the more realistic. One of the things I love about this title is MiSun Kim’s ability to set up a serious looking scene and then turn it on its ear into something ridiculous and funny. What makes a lot of those scenes funny is because they are true to the characters.

Jack Frost finishes the fight between Hansen and Kay as well as Jack and the regenerator. Kay threatens to kill all of Hansen’s new friends, and Hansen responses with a new power that turns his gun into something closer to a canon. He gets Kay, and in his final moments, Kay tells Hansen he just wanted him to get over his grief, and now that he has, Kay can rest in peace. With the drama over, Jack makes short work of the regenerator. During it though, another part of No-Ah’s mirror image power awakens which seems to sync with the Pillar of Solomon. And it seems we will finally be seeing someone from the East District. It was nice to see Hansen finally get some closure, though the whole thing with Jack pretending to be dead was just too obvious. I’m still waiting for this title to make sense other a showcase for violence and fan service. I guess I’ll be waiting a little longer.

In Daniel X, Daniel gets an intergalactic email with one heck of an attachment; a whole bunch of gadgets to help make Daniel’s alien hunting easier. Now with a van full of electronics that can analyze an object’s component parts and where those parts come from to cloaking the van so they aren’t seen, Daniel goes after Number 6 and Number 21, who is working as a director for Number 6. Daniel tracks Number 21 to a small TV station transmission tower. Daniel X is still a lot more fun than Witch and Wizard. I can’t say anything about Maximum Ride, since I haven’t read it for ages, but I don’t miss it either. I wonder what the demographics for each series is, and if that is what makes the difference? At any rate, it’s nice to have a sci-fi series amid all the fantasy and cute girls.

Yotsuba&! has some playtime in this month’s chapter. She pretends to make dinner and breakfast, and then she and her father go to the park where they swing on the swings, kick off a shoe to see who’s can go the farthest, and then have a race to see who can get their shoe back first. Yeah. Can someone please explain the appeal of this title? I am really not seeing it. Is it a kid thing? Do you have to like kids to appreciate it? Or is it a living vicarious thing? I’ve only been reading for the last 6 months, and I still don’t see anything appealing. There’s no way I could do 9+ volumes of this.

K-on continues on its merry-go-round as it’s summer break again, and the girls do the exact same thing as they did last time. Tsumugi has a summer-house near the beach which is bigger than the last one, but not really the “big one”. The new responsible girl, Asuza, gets sucked into playing around more than practicing, so nothing gets done. There’s more struggling to get through mid terms for Ritsu and Yui, and study sessions end up with manga reading instead of studying and Mio giving Ritsu a study guide so she really doesn’t have to do anything. If you’ve read one volume of this title, you’ve pretty read the whole thing. Unless you like to look at pictures of cute moe girls, there’s nothing here.

Milky Way Hitchhiking is a great title for the magazine, and Yen got a real win in getting it. It’s got the potential to be an all ages title and being a cat title only makes the win more epic! Let’s hope for the win for the Japanese side. It needs it badly now.

Yen Plus December 2010

Yen Plus finishes up the year with a new title and a new announcement. When Nightschool ended in September, a lot of people were disappointed. They were going to miss reading Svetlana’s story. Two months later, and Svetlana returns, not with more Nightschool (sadly) but as the artist on the third James Patterson series to be serialized in the magazine, Witch and Wizard. And then, in the “Next Issue” section, there is an announcement that only Yen Plus subscribers will see. Starting in January, Yen Plus will debut another new series, that is also their first simultaneous serialization. MilkyWay Hitchhiking is a new manhwa by Sirial, the creator of One Fine Day. It’s about a cat with a pattern on her back that looks like the Milky Way galaxy and the many wonders she discovers. It looks very cute, is in full color, and features a cat, so it’s already got a lot going for it. I can’t wait!

Witch and Wizard starts out the magazine, with a pretty dramatic scene of the heroes about to be hanged. It then flashes back to how they got into that situation. Not my favorite story telling device, as it’s been overused on TV recently. A new political party has taken over and is instituting new laws that make magic, real or imagined illegal. Our heroes, Whit and Wisty seem to have some of these magical powers and they and their family are taken into custody. There’s a lot of water throwing, and interrogation in the first chapter, and the reader in kept in just as much the dark as the characters. I don’t know if I like this series or not yet. The smugness and seeming absolute power of the bad guys is making me lean toward a no, but I’ll give the series a few more chapters before I decide definitively.

Aron’s Absurd Armada finally ends the confrontation between the pirates and the marines, but not before Ronnie makes an enemy of the leutenant…by falling on Dorothy’s chest. The pirates get a wanted poster that makes Aron happy. Ronnie gets a huge bounty and ONLY DEAD, while Robin is cut out, and Gilbert and Anton are officially identified. I’m still loving this title and will follow it all over the seven seas!

Daniel X jumps right back into his alien hunting, and decides to go after #5 on the list. Because he did so well taking out #6…. Anyway, he’s sticking to LA, as #5 hangs out in Hollinswood (Hollywood), making movies by forcing people to act and then killing them. Daniel is usually one step behind in this chapter, running into him at an S-Mart and gets a “screen test” to be the star in #5 next picture. The story is still being set up, so I don’t have much to say about it yet, but #5 isn’t really impressing me like #6 did. I did like S-Mart reference. I don’t suppose a guy from housewares with a chainsaw for hand will come to his rescue…

In Jack Frost, Hansen finally has to face his past and his brother. It takes Lucy sacrificing himself to get his gun to finally snap him out of his daze and get serious, which is where the chapter ends. Jack is still being used as a pin cushion, and I hope he’s just biding his time. Because, if he can be so easily contained by some big guy with some spikes, then he doesn’t deserve his title. Or is he just waiting for No-Ah to be threatened before he can level up again? Either way, Jack is a disappointment. Now that Hansen has his head in the game, maybe this part of the story can finally go somewhere.

Yotsuba&! is still at the Hot Air Balloon race. Yotsuba goes for a ride in one of the balloons, drops her teddy bear, plays with a bamboo dragonfly and ends by sliding down a hillside and ignoring the race they came to see. It’s just more the same. Cute if you like the series, boring if you don’t care for Yotsuba or kids being kids in general.

K-On! has the pop music club worrying about new student orientation, both for performing and getting new members. They do get one, Nakano Azusa, a girl with a lot of musical background and enthusiasm that is quickly snuffed out by the rest of the members, and teacher advisor. She is welcomed into the club with a pair of cat ears. I’m still feeling ‘meh’ about this series. I really don’t see what so funny or cute about it.

I’m really happy to see Yen Plus getting some new titles for the new year. Milkyway Hitchhiking sounds like a lot of fun and kid friendly, and it’s good to see Sveltana’s work, even if the story isn’t rocking me yet. But it’s really the Japanese side that really needs some help. Yotsuba&! and K-On! have their audiences, sure, but it looks pretty pathetic, especially when compared to the more varied OEL/Korean side. Something with some real action would be good. Something with good action and story would be even better. Yen has to have something in their catalog now or upcoming that can help this side rise up to at least meet the Korean/OEL side.

Yen Plus November 2010

It’s the 4th issue of the digital version and the third subscription issue. The monthly payment has been very smooth so far, and is a good reminder for me when the new issue comes out, as I am bad at remembering/checking for these things. I really need an RSS feed to keep me up-to-date, something Viz should think about. I’d be more of a regular at their site if I had a reliable reminder.  The Editor’s letter brought about some bad news, as the last chapter of Time and Again appears in this issue. JuYoun talks about some of the reservations that existed for a very Asian title like Time and Again, but it won over the editorial staff, and hopefully a lot of readers. I know I really enjoyed the karmic theme. I didn’t find it unrelatable, despite the different mind set. I enjoyed it just for that reason.

Aron’s Absurd Armada – This is my favorite 4-koma at the moment. We learn more about Nelson’s background and family, and as usual, things aren’t what they seem, and the sailors get the wrong impression. It’s very well done and very funny with the reveal. His story is told as a tradition manga, so there are only a couple of 4-koma panels, that end up getting Ronnie’s goat as Robin is forced to fend off Nelson’s half sister from trying to arrest Aron. This title is probably the most fun and funniest title in the magazine.

Daniel X – Daniel is saved by Blaleen, who turns out to be his grandmother. He is then introduced to the rest of his relatives in a large family gathering. He also learns more about his parents, and where is powers may have come from, as well as his friends. Daniel then goes on the offensive, and takes care of Seth in a rather imaginative if not disturbing way. Not a way I would want to go, but you can’t say he didn’t ask for it. With Alpar Nok free, Daniel is also free to return to earth, and to continue his alien hunt. I’m still enjoying Daniel X. Daniel is a great character, and I do like the interaction with his friends. This is becoming my reason to continue reading the magazine.

Time and Again – It is lamentable to have to say good-bye to this series with this, the last chapter. There has been war in Luoyang, and Baek-On and Ho-Yeon return to the city as they continue their wanderings. There Baek-On spots a boy that seems different than the others. But once again, things aren’t quite what the seem. The title ends with Baek-On reaffirming his resolution to remain alone in the world, and continue to walk the path of grudges going against no one but him. Ho-Yeon reaffirms himself to protect Baek-On’s path, and they continue on alone, together. It’s as happy an ending as this title can get, but it’s still a satisfying ending. I’m really glad this title was released, and I will miss it dearly.

Jack Frost – The look back at Hansen’s past continues as Hansen and his brother try to fight off Avid the vampire. Hansen is bitten, but Agathe saves him. The same can’t be said for Kay and Agathe. Hansen comes out the only survivor, and learns that the bodies of his friend and family are never recovered, and he is made the head guidence counselor of the West District. So now we know all about Hansen’s past, but who knows if it’ll help any with the present problem of dealing with someone who shoots just like Kay, and could very well be Kay reanimated. I can’t say I really cared about Hansen, and seeing his tragic past hasn’t really changed anything. Sigfried is mentioned a lot in connection with the Avid and is starting to shape up to be Helmina’s rival in Amityville. I wonder how long we’ll have to wait before he actually shows up not no just be the puppetmaster behind the strings he’s been up till now.

Yotsuba&! – Yotsuba give a tour of her house to the neighbors who end up cleaning up for her and her father, and then they all go out to the country to see a Hot Air Balloon competition. Yotsuba spills more coffee, gets dirty and waves to the Hot Air Balloonists as they rise up. Yotsuba is cute to most people, but having lived with a girl like her in so many ways (ie my youngest daughter), these stories are more ho-hum to me. Everyone else can gush over her. Watching her just make me tired.

K-On! – Second verse is the same as the first. It’s like a repeat of the first chapter, as the Pop music club is threated to be shut down again by the student council for not doing anything. So they decide to hold a concert at new student orientation. Mio freaks out about singing in front of everyone, again. Yui has to study for midterms and then forgets how to play the music they’d been practicing, again. Their advisor dressing them up as maids, again. It’s just the same plot points used over and over, and it’s frankly getting monotonous. The cute girl thing just isn’t enough for me.

With Time and Again gone, the magazine goes down to 7 titles, with no indications of anything new being added. I really hope Yen Plus doesn’t start down the path that Shonen Jump did for so long, of just being a stagnant collection of titles with only short story/previews that only give momentary relief from the monontony. As it stands, there are only two titles I really care about; Aron’s Absurd Armarda and Daniel X. Once again, the Japanese side holds no interest what so ever, just like when the magazine first started but for different reasons. One good Japanese title and a new good Korean title would be a marked improvement. As it is, for $2.99 I’ll keep subscribing, but not enthusiastically.