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   Now in our eleventh calendar year
    PCR #519  (Vol. 11, No. 10)  This edition is for the week of March 1--7, 2010.

"Alice In Wonderland"  by Mike Smith
The Joy of Comics  by ED Tucker
The Top 30 Horror, Sci-Fi and Fantasy Actresses, #4  by Lisa Scherer
Otaku USA  by Jason Fetters
I'd Like To Thank The Academy .... O-no, Not Again .... And The Winner Is .... And The "winner?" Is .... Am I "happy?" You Bet I Am! .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf by Mike Smith

Otaku USA

In my Asian Aperture column on Asian Pop magazines, I didn’t get a chance to review one magazine that has been out for almost 3 years and includes everything the past magazines had and actually does a better job of it. I went to my local Barnes and Nobles Bookstore on Dale Mabry and Kennedy and picked up a copy of Otaku USA.

Within the pages of Otaku USA you will find articles and reviews on anime, manga, gaming, J-Pop, toys, and cosplay. There are also features on Godzilla and Tokusatsu shows like Ultraman and Kamen Riders. I am very impressed with the quality of the magazine and with a podcast I heard with Editor-in-Chief, Patrick Macias, who said that he would continue to publish in print even with everything going online. Otaku USA does have a website but the website is designed to supplement the print magazine. I applaud his efforts.

Considering all the talent on broad, it is hard to think that Otaku USA would end up sucking. When I went to pick up my copy at Barnes and Nobles, there was only one issue left. That is a great triumph when most fans sit at home in front of computers or laptops. With that in mind a little background is in order.

Patrick Macias is the Editor-in-Chief and got his start writing for fanzines when he was only 19. Macias got a regular column called Tiger on Beat, where he covered Hong Kong Action movies. He has since, written a few books such as Cruising The Anime City: An Otaku Guide To Neo Tokyo and one of my favorites, Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno: Tokyo Teen Fashion Subculture Handbook that does an excellent job at showing how Japanese schoolgirls are changing Japan by promoting and rejecting fashion trends in the blink of an eye. Macias fills all his articles and interviews with a humorous wit that leaves me wanting more. For Otaku USA, Patrick does an excellent job with layouts; and making sure the articles flow.

Next up is Joseph Luster who covers game review that appeal to the otaku fan base. Luster does quality work with reviews such as Demon’s Souls, a PS3 RPG fantasy game where the player fights goblins and dragons.

Jason Thompson worked for Viz about a decade ago and has gone on to publish Manga: The Complete Guide that covers over 1,000 manga titles. Thompson reviews manga books that have already been translated into English and are thus accessible to an International fan base. It comes as no surprise that Thompson is the Manga editor for Otaku USA where he continues to expand on his past book by providing new reviews.

Each issue of Otaku USA comes with a free manga section that is printed backwards because Japanese manga are designed to be read from right to left. So you start at the last page, which is the first page in Japan. It is just this attention to detail that causes Otaku USA to stand out from all the other Japanese pop culture magazines. Otaku USA treats fans with respect. This is also evident when reading the Letters section and how Patrick Macias skillfully answers tough fan criticisms. If enough fans complain, Macias will go that extra mile to correct any problems that occur.

I was glad to see Matt Alt’s name under the list of contributors because I was such a fan of Yokai Attack!: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide. Matt Alt teams up with his lovely wife, Hiroko Yoda, to write this beautifully illustrated guide to Japanese yokai, which are creatures that have some type of power and interact with humans with positive and negative outcomes. You can be saved by a Kappa, water spirit, if you are drowning and you can also be driven insane by a Tengu, demon.

Hiroko and Matt also work together for their own translating and localization company called Alt Japan that does work for Disney, National Geographic, Square, Bandai and a slew of others. For Otaku USA, Alt provides a unique and witty look at the ever-changing world of current Japanese pop culture. A topic that is hard to keep up with because of how quickly pop culture changes in Japan. Today’s fad can become yesterday’s throwaway trash in an instant.

Mike Dent is on board to cover Kaiju and Tokusatsu and J-pop along with Paul Thomas Chapman. In the current issue of Otaku USA April 2010, Chapman wrote an entertaining review of Icons of Sci Fi: Toho Collection, a DVD collection that features Mothra, Battle in Outer Space, and H-Man.

I was also impressed with The Molice interview. The Molice are a Japanese Indies band that reminds me of Nirvana and 90’s grunge rock. The interview by Zac Bentz does a great job of introducing this new band to Western audiences. I did a YouTube search and found a video by The Molice for Ms. Panic from their first album, Doctor Ray. You can buy Doctor Ray on MP3 from both Itunes and Amazon.

Another cool feature of Otaku USA, is the exclusive online content, that has anime trailers, and lots of fun stuff for the hardcore fan. Otaku USA used to come with a DVD but the cost of the issue had to go up to support this. Now with the online “Virtual DVD,” the costs are back down.

What sets Otaku USA apart from past magazines attempts is that each supporting editor and contributor is an expert on his or her topic. For the wild world of Japanese pop culture, Otaku USA is a one-stop printed magazine that should prevail and has a long and successful run.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2010 by Jason Fetters.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.