CHIBI-POP MANGA • Various artists • Chibi-Pop Manga (1998-1999) • 9 issues • Science Fiction Fantasy Action Comedy • Unrated/16+ (language, violence, brief nudity, sexual situations)
A small-press attempt to do a combination “manga and J-pop coverage” magazine similar to the old Tokyopop or Animerica magazines; each 48 to 72 page issue features a number of short continuing manga stories, plus cosplay photos, information about Japanese stores, and so on. (Poor layout and blurry B&W photos make the non-manga sections difficult to read, and when not outdated most of the articles are fairly dull–a “Q&A with Masahiro Shibata” consists entirely of questions like “How does one become a manga artist? Who are the current hot artists?” with almost no questions about Shibata himself.) Frivolous comedy and sci-fi shoot-’em-up tales of robots, ninja girls, martial artists and cyborgs (plus amusement parks and fast food employees), the manga are drawn in generic, if at times endearingly amateurish styles with lots of screentone. Given the low information density of manga, there’s little story in each 8-page segment. The magazine was canceled, leaving the stories incomplete except for a few one-shots, but several of the contributors are professional manga artists: Ataru Cagiva (”Artifacts Breaker”), Denjiro (”The Coast Guard,” which is not about the Coast Guard) and Tsugumi Nishino (”Fubuki the Female Ninja”) still update their bilingual website at www.cybermanga.com. Interestingly, Tomiko, the heroine of Tetsu Suzuki’s “The Adventures of Tokyo Kid,” lives on as the mascot of the “Tokyo Kid” store in Cambridge, MA (www.tokyokid.com), whose former manager Aliya Wali was the editor of Chibi-Pop Manga.
* (one star)
I often wonder how this manga ended up being printed. Whose idea was it? How was it coordinated? Why did the U.S. market look more appealing than the Japanese dojinshi market? I’d have a little more motivation to seek out the answer if the results were better.
Today’s winner is David B. of New Jersey! Congratulations, David! In a few days you’ll be receiving a mysterious special delivery of manga.