PiQ Issue 2: Better or Worse?

PiQ Issue 2As one of those “I got NewType for the anime, dammit” people, PiQ is in the unenviable position of needing to prove itself as something that I should renew when my remaining 12 issues (well, I guess 10 issues now after this one) of it are up.

Things didn’t start off ultra well this month when I look at the cover and I’m like “WTF is that?!” I didn’t know if it was a game or an American show. All I knew is that it wasn’t anime. OK, I guess I shouldn’t expect anime on the cover of every issue, but the second issue already going off the plantation seemed like they were going “OK, we appeased the NewType anime fans with the first issue, on to other things!”

Luckily, things got a little better inside the issue.

I’m not sure if it was the organization of the content, or whether there really was more anime-related content, but it sure felt like there was more than in the first issue. While issue 1 seemed to mix everything together in a mish-mash, this issue seemed to pile the anime-related things more up-front.

If my count is correct, 25 of the 60 first non-ToC, non-ad pages dealt with with anime, manga, or the NANA live action movie (including big articles in Lucky Star and Vexille and the before mentioned NANA movie). Note this doesn’t mean COMPLETE pages, just that pages had something on them.

After that, except for a single 1-page editorial and the section on cons, there were no articles that dealt with anime or manga (while we had 3 or 4 dealing with other stuff). So I can pretty safely say that the anime got more front loaded in this issue.

As if there is more if it, not including the manga excerpts in the back (and again assuming my page count is correct), anime and manga made up about 22% of the magazine, including ads in the total page count, but not including anime or manga related ads in the anime/manga total. Comparing this to the breakdown of the first issue, it looks like we had roughly the same amount of anime-related material in this issue.

Whether pushing more of the non-anime related stuff to the back (if this is even permanent) is enough to placate me and others….well, we’ll see I guess. I think this issue did better than the first one, but I’m hardly ready to give PiQ the thumbs up quite yet.

But I should give this piece of advice to PiQ: If you’re writing an article on a show, make it at least reasonably easy for one to figure out what show it is. Unless you guess from the URL in the tiny info box, the Vexille article didn’t say it was about that movie until the lead-in paragraph. Lucky Star didn’t even confirm it’s name (though the title had “Lucky Stars” in it so one could give a guess from that) until the first paragraph of the main body. And I know these articles aren’t the only one with this problem. They really should have the title of the show they’re talking about more upfront – in the little info box makes the most sense. If I have absolutely no clue what the show is, there isn’t any obvious way to look it up. Bad.

Oh, and the cover? The Sam & Max series of video games.

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Manga Reivew – I"s: 80%

The Essentials

I's MangaName: I”s
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Drama
Tankoubon: 15
Serialized In: Shonen Jump
Released: 1997 – 2000
Story & Art: Masakazu Katsura
Published By (Japan): Shueisha
Published By (US): Viz

Scores

Story: 7/10 (x 3 = 21 pts)
Art: 9/10 (x 3 = 27 pts)
Gut Score: 8/10 (x 4 = 32 pts)

Total: 80/100 (80%)

Review

I”s is a story about a boy named Ichitaka and his attempts to date a girl in his class in high school – Iori. However, Ichitaka soon runs into several complications including an old childhood friend of his – Itsuki – returning to Japan, his friend Teratani handing out dubious advice, Iori’s mixed signals, and a very assertive girl who falls for Ichitaka at first site – Izumi.

Ichitaka himself also tends to self-destruct when confronted with women as a result of a rather traumatizing rejection by a girl when he was little, which can result in both making it look like he dislikes girls he likes as well as liking girls he doesn’t have an interest in.

This is just further complicated by the fact that Iori soon finds her dream of becoming an actress close to becoming a reality as she starts getting into show business, often causing her to be too busy for Ichitaka to hang out with, as well as an intentional source of disruption in Ichitaka and Iori’s relationship once they do start dating.

I”s is basically set up with the concept of Ichitaka constantly taking 3 steps back in his relationship with Iori and then taking a large step forward resulting in a slight net-positive change in the progress in the relationship, before taking 3 more steps back and repeating the cycle. This, of course, has the result of Ichitaka spending most of his time sticking his foot in his mouth or otherwise having his relationship with Iori, which is where all the drama and comedy is in this series.

New events and the introduction of new characters along the keep the series fresh enough to not make it boring, by the cyclic nature of Ichitaka and Iori’s relationship may become tiresome after a while for some, given that it goes on for 15 volumes.

The manga also comes with a Parental Advisory – and with good reason with probably at least one (and usually more) breast and/or panty shot in every volume. Viz tried censoring most of the topless scenes in the first half the series before finally seemingly to give up in that endeavor and just slapping a parental advisory label on the book. (I should also note that the majority of these scenes are typically from Ichitaka’s daydreams/hallucinations, which also often get him into trouble).

The art is pretty good, and as usual, Katsura’s character designs shine – especially for the girls. If you don’t mind the nudity or the cyclic nature of the manga, which makes it feel almost like reading a soap opera, then I think you’ll find I”s to be a pretty good romance drama series.

First Read: October 2005 – August 2007
Do I Own: Yes
Do I Recommend: Yes, if you don’t mind soap opera-ish stories