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Takin’ A PiQ

The magazine asked for these puns; it’s out of my control. Today I’m posting my review on the first issue of PiQ, ADV’s new magazine as follow up to NewType USA’s cancellation. Originally written last week, it was a task in itself avoiding the reviews for it that began springing up everywhere until I was done my own, but in literacy-freedom now, there seems to be a lot of the same things said for PiQ‘s premiere publication.

PiQ: Entertainment for the Rest of Us
Issue 01 April 2008Pages: 128

Coming in on the heels of NewType USA’s cancellation arrives PiQ, ADV’s new entry into the magazine industry. Is it really “Entertainment for the Rest of Us”?

Revealed shortly after the announcement that NewType USA was approaching its final issue, PiQ was promoted as of “keen interest” to NT fans with content including “anime, manga, video games and other aspects of pop culture.” Almost immediately the anime community rose up in scrutiny over the broader reach this new magazine would cover. While multi-subject magazines don’t usually find themselves under this kind of pressure from individual communities, its position as NewType’s replacement has made PiQ a prime target for critical anime fans everywhere. Could it still offer the same quality, and quantity, of anime content that NT readers had come to expect?

It doesn’t take long into the magazine’s first issue to realize that the answer to the aforementioned question is, unfortunately, no. While a portion of PiQ’s articles consist of anime reviews that NT fans will no doubt recognize, the rest is an assorted collection of content that never really seems sure what niche of fan it’s trying to appeal to. Ranging from anime to comic books, from TV series to LARPing, PiQ seems to be combating its life in NewType’s shadow by reaching out in a wider spectrum. Though NewType also branched out from its anime-core to include some video games and Japanese pop culture, it still maintained a tight focus on its subject matter and the fans it reached out to. It’s this lack of focus that hits PiQ hardest and will in turn make it hit or miss to readers.

What makes the range of selection a real issue in PiQ is the organization, or lack there of. The anime reviews and related media coverage is sprinkled throughout the book, the other material slipped in between them haphazardly. Whether it was the intent or not, the mix-matched placement of the articles feels like a desperate attempt to hold the interest of NT fans by dangling anime in their face whenever it thinks other content may deter them, such as a four page section on the new Terminator television series. While it’s not completely out of place to make assumptions that this kind of material will interest anime fans, it still at times seems too much of a stretch.

Moving in for a closer look, the cover of this issue of PiQ is decorated with an image from the recently released Appleseed: Ex Machina, a Japanese animated film that works well as a clinch to anime fans, while at the same time saving PiQ from being classified as just another anime magazine by avoiding putting a more stereotypical anime image on it’s premiere issue cover. The irony of one of the cover stories being ‘Is Anime Dead?’ is hard to miss. There isn’t much to say about the general layout past that, feeling very reminiscent of other similar publication such as Fusion Publishing’s Play magazine. At the very least, the notable price tag of $6.99US ($7.99 CAN) doesn’t seem too bad for the size of the magazine, at least in comparison to others like it on the market today.

Opening up the magazine, it’s difficult not to compare PiQ to its predecessor when the same font and general layout is used throughout. While several magazines use the font, it’s the familiar colour choices and panel layout that will probably feel most nostalgic to those still leafing through their issues of NewType. PiQ doesn’t skimp on the colour with lots of images everywhere but never ones that feel as graphically epic as those published exclusively in NewType. In particular, a grainy quality picture from the movie Independence Day stands out among other much higher quality images, and not in a good way.

Onto the writing, it’s not a good start for PiQ with the letter from the Editor. While something energetic to pump potential fans was expected, what was received was a short, irritating message in which the Editor seeks not to tell readers what it has for them but more so who they are. Clearly its readers aren’t “normal” and all “spend a Sunday afternoon bumping around YouTube, reading about old computers or acting like an idiot on Team Fortress 2.” It all felt like a horrid attempt to befriend potential fans but instead fell short and came across more offensive. This kind of quirky banter is continued with a cheesy side note in the form of the Editor’s Guarantee. All the articles in the magazine are written with a similar casual tone for readers but fortunately rarely seem to cross the line that the Editor started readers off with.

The first couple pages have the word Peek up in the corner, which suggests readers may be treated with a little ‘peek’ into some upcoming projects or releases. What’s given instead is a peek more in the sense of small, short little looks at a few video games and movies, most of which have already been released or will be in the very near future. It lacks the catch of something more interesting or unknown.

From then on it’s 128 pages of the before mentioned mix-matched content with articles being entirely hit or miss both in writing and layout. While some pages are pleasing to the eye, others as a mess. Some examples include: A several page spread on Avatar: The Last Airbender, which uses a simple but unattractive layout and blinding colour scheme more suited to Nickelodeon magazine’s younger target audience and on page 59, it’s another fall back to the irritating pop-culture references that made the Editor’s letter so childish. On top of everything else, a lot of pages have no clear indication of what they’re even about until you read them and even less indication that the article’s over until you turn the page to find an unrelated image staring back at you.

Overall, PiQ, issue one, is not a good start for this new magazine. A completely unfocused set of articles, inconsistent graphic design and an editorial stance that seems keen on insulting its audience (whoever that is, it doesn’t seem sure) over embracing it, makes PiQ not only a sad replacement for NewType but also a weak magazine in general. While some of its more well written parts are salvageable, as a whole, PiQ is going to need a lot more than its delivered here to hold a fan base in the future, both new and old.

Written March 20, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo

About the Author:

Lissa Pattillo is the owner and editor of Residing in Halifax, Nova Scotia she takes great joy in collecting all manners of manga genres, regretting that there's never enough time in the day to review or share them all. Along with reviews, Lissa is responsible for all the news postings to the website and works full time as a web and graphic designer.

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