Written and Drawn by Various
Published by
Viz Media

I’ve never picked up an issue of SHOJO BEAT (or SHONEN JUMP, for that matter) that wasn’t easily worth the six-dollar cover price, and this issue is no different from any other. Let’s get that out of the way. I happen to think that, conceptually, Viz’ magazines are just about the perfect way for a larger publisher to approach releasing their comics and graphic novels.

Why? Examining this issue of SHOJO BEAT, here’s what we get: an interview with J-Pop sensations Puffy AmiYumi. A feature story on J-Pop, along with the magazine’s own music awards. A column on fashion and beauty and another one on how to make your wardrobe look expensive on a small budget. Pieces on trends, purification rituals, and how to draw. Good, solid magazine material. Then you add the seven manga serials presented in the book, including the first fifty pages of a new series hitting shelves soon (MONKEY HIGH), and thirty to fifty pages of the other six.

We’re talking just short of 300 pages of manga, and considering that an individual 200 page volume is usually at least $8, that’s a hell of a value. But the smart thing is how it works as a platform. Looking at PREVIEWS, I’d have likely ignored MONKEY HIGH, but reading this sample here makes me take notice that it’s kind of cute and could be worth my time and hard-earned yanqui dollars.

I’m not sure there’s a smarter way to get people hooked. God knows, if Marvel and DC went this route, they might actually make inroads into that mythical goal of attracting new readers. Right now, personally, I read one DCU book. Maybe if I had an option like SHOJO BEAT for their product I could be enticed to buy more.

The magazine material is pretty fluffy, but as it’s meant for the ‘tween and teen girl audience, it reads at just the proper level for its audience, and this one will be passed on to the ‘tween in my life as soon as I’m finished writing about it. Really, SHOJO BEAT is a terrific idea, and a terrific idea that delivers terrific results. Be on the lookout for the new one with the Bryan O’Malley cover. Should be one not to miss.

Marc Mason