Yen+, August 2008
Published by Yen Press
Senior Editor JuYoun Lee
Rated OT, for Older Teen (Ages 16+)
In the tradition of Viz’s Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat, Yen Press, the manga division of Little Brown, has released its own manga anthology. Not to be outdone by one of the giants in manga publishing, Yen added a twist on their anthology. Half of it will be traditional Japanese manga which reads right to left and the other half will be manwha (Korean comics) and OEL (original English Language) manga that reads left to right.
Thick, sleek, and very appealing, it’s easy to jump right into the anthology. As with all magazines, it’s necessary to flip through a number of ads, but for this reader, it wasn’t distracting. The limited number of ad were in full color and mostly advertised books and manga, from Yen Press and Little Brown.
The Manwha/OEL side of the magazine (at the midpoint there is a page that explains to the reader that it’s necessary to flip and read the other way), starts out with the adventures of Maximum Ride, which is the graphic novel adaptation of James Patterson’s best-selling series. The story opens with full color pages – giving the magazine a striking start. Night School by Svetlana Chmakova — of Dramacon fame — is a magical/horror adventure set in a school that has an entirely different curriculum at night. Pig Bride is the humorous yet ominous story of a young boy who at the age of 8 is married off to a young girl wearing a pig mask! One Fine Day is about the everyday antics of a man and his friend, a cat, mouse and dog that change into children in costume.
While the above mentioned stories are fun and appropriate for even a middle school crowd, with Jack Frost readers will understand the older teen age rating. There’s lots of slash and guts, and a few panty shots. It’s a typical teen horror flick. Think Texas Chainsaw massacre or other such teen horror movie. While most of the manwha and OEL selections are on the tame and kid-friendly side, all the selections of Japanese manga, starting with Soul Eater (about Maka and her Soul Eater who have eaten 99 souls and need to eat the soul of a witch to become a Scythemaster a.k.a. The Grim Reaper), are all fairly mature.
The weak point in this anthology is probably the diverging age interests. Maximum Ride is perfect for middle school, but Soul Eater has brief nudity and violence that is geared to an older high school crowd. My hope is that Yen Plus has such an amazing success that they choose to divide the stories aimed at a younger crowd and publish it in a separate anthology.
Beware: The stories left you hanging. Each had a cliffhanger. Some stories only contained a set-up chapter, and barely delved into the story. But in my mind that’s part of the magazine’s success. It’s the nature of serialization. If this was an online webcomic, I would have already set up my RSS feed.
Yen + has put together a fantastic anthology that will have a little something for everybody. It will attract male readers as well as the female ones. Some of the stories will have a place for the younger audiences and there are so many genres to choose from. I’m envisioning a lot of shared reading – as readers choose to pass this anthology around so they can find their favorite pick.
This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Yen Press.