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Page 3 - Cover Story ANIMEfringe: June 2000 - Page 4 Page 5 - Cover Story (cont'd)

Full Circle: The Unofficial History of MixxZine
By Adam "OMEGA" Arnold
Part Two: "Entertainment For The New Millennium"

A Sign of Things To Come

Mixx-Zine 2-1Mixx-Zine 2-1 (August/September 1998), the biggest and greatest issue of Mixx-Zine ever, proved what the magazine was capable of with the help of new Creative Director, Toyo Asakawa. The issue introduced the mouth-watering Anime Sneak Peeks section of upcoming series and movies, the EGM-like point-scale review columns: Anime X-Review and Web X-Review, a music and soundtrack info section called On Trax, domestic and import game oriented Player's Klub, and more of the standard Mixx articles as well as another installment of Atom Girl. But, what made the issue so radically different were the computer-generated backgrounds, many of which were distorted in some printings.

The ‘State-of-the-Mixx Address' served as a retrospective talk to the readers as Stu Levy and Ronald Scovil, Jr. took a quick look at the first year of Mixx-Zine and touched on what the advancements had been in that year, before the address goes into a full announcement of the soon-to-be-release Smile magazine. The biggest hint for Sailor Moon's future came in the statement: "The first Smile will go on sale at the end of October, and most exiting of all, Smile will feature Sailor Moon!!! Better yet, the Sailor Moon story will begin after Sailor Moon S, so that everyone can see what happens later on." Full subscription information came in the "Smile with us from the first issue!!!" info box that concluded the article.

Besides sporting all five of the manga series that had brought the magazine to this point, the issue also played host to the Anime Expo 1998: The International Animation & Manga Exposition Program Guide, a 14 page, flip-side, SPJA guide of the convention, events, guest, and much more. Undoubtably, Mixx-Zine's hosting of the program guide instantly put the hottest manga and reviews in the hands of convention attendees and helped to ensure the magazine's continued success in what was to come in the coming months.

The Eventful Otakon ‘98 Part I: Spring & Chaos

After the MixxGames release of Graduation it was uncertain wether Mixx Entertainment would branch out again. Undoubtedly, it came as a complete shock when Mixx Entertainment announced that they had acquired the rights to the obscure Shoji Kawamori TV Special, Kenji's Spring and plan to release it under the new label MixxTV. On the inital release, the computer-generated anime was made to celebrate the 100th birthday of much-loved Japanese writer and poet Kenji Miyazawa.

The dubbed version of the film, for which the production was supervised by Shoji Kawamori himself, was shown at several American conventions and a subtitled version was also made. However, one such showing of Kenji's Spring, renamed Spring & Chaos: The Story of Kenji Miyazawa at the 1998 Otakon reviled that it "went over so poorly that an additional showing was canceled. "There was some amount of unrest," was how one convention-goer described its reception." Likewise, director Shoji Kawamori (Macross Plus and Vision of Escaflowne) who appeared as Mixx's guest "was so well-received that his Q & A had to be moved to a larger room (ANN: 8-15-98: Otakon special report)."

After this showing the film disappeared in the US and made its way to Japan where it served as a supplemental English teaching aid for students. Later issues of TokyoPop advertised that Spring & Chaos was forthcoming to the website as a web premiere video stream, but the plan has since been revised for the film to be released as an exclusive DVD.

The Eventful Otakon ‘98 Part II: The Big Shake-Up

Previews Vol. VIII, No. 7 (July 1998) featured the solicitation for the upcoming Mixx-Zine 2-2 which read; "This issue of MixxZine spotlights Anime/Manga in American Entertainment! Still offering the best manga around–Sailor Moon, Magic Knight Rayearth, Parasyte, Ice Blade, and Harlem Beat–MixxZine recaps Sailor Moon creator Naoko Takeuchi's historic visit to the San Diego Comic-Con International 98!" A similar entry also ran in Wizard #86.

However, word of a completely different kind came from a Otakon ‘98 panel discussion with Mixx Entertainment on August 7, 1998. Stuart Levy gave word that some heat had been received from parents that Parasyte, which already had excess blood edited out, was too violent to be in the same magazine with the shoujo manga Sailor Moon and the two would be published in separate magazines. Though this was not anything new for those keeping up with the magazine's announcements, the uncertain future of the conclusion of the Dark Kingdom storyline through the Sailor Moon S series had yet to be clarified. To this effect, Stuart gave word that "a separate Sailor Moon series will follow from Mixx." At the same time, it was announced that MixxZine would add the series Mobile Suit Gundam: Blue Destiny and Bakuretsu Hunter, which Stuart announced would be renamed Sorcerer Hunters after the A.D. Vision release (A Fan's View: Otakon Highlights).

On a different note, the Fan's View web site reported a rather ironic (considering the rise of the anthology magazine) discussion concerning the U.S. market in regards to manga; "MixxZine has come as close as any U.S. publication to matching the large monthly and weekly manga which contain hundreds of pages. Those massive anthologies won't work in the U.S., Levy said, because dealers don't know how to handle anything other than the typical 48-page monthly comic. MixxZine is an expensive proposition for Mixx, but it's worth the effort to bring new titles to the public which can be spun off into their own monthly series, he said."

Sailor Moon #1 San Diego Variant CoverNaoko-sensei Storms America

San Diego Comic Con International 1998August 13-16, 1998: The days that will live in infamy for those who meet and mingled with Sailor Moon creator Naoko Takeuchi at the San Diego Comic-Con International ‘98. Stuart Levy and the Mixx Entertainment crew served as Naoko's personal gateway to the fans. And to commemorate the event, Mixx Entertainment released the continuation of the Dark Kingdom/Negaverse storyline of Sailor Moon in the stand alone 48-page comic book.

Convention attendees got the first chance to pick up this book in the sought-after Sailor Moon #1: San Diego Comic-Con special edition featuring the eye-catching Sailor Moon crescent with a star on a hot pink background cover. There was only one problem, the direct market would have to wait until November to even get a chance to order the standard edition of the book as the second issue was shipping. But, the book did crop up at several conventions just a week after the San Diego release. Yet, the Sailor Moon comic went on to kept a semi-regular release to the direct market for months there-after.

MixxZine Side Story 0098: Premonition of Battle

The Internet is an immensely powerful tool that can influence with but a few words. For this reason, it became apparent early on that the readers of Mixx-Zine took several stances on the changes the magazine was going through. Each of these stances would soon play important rolls in on of the most monumental public relations fiascos in the history of the anime and manga industry.

It is important to mention that editor-in-chief, Ronald Scovil Jr., concluded his tenure with Mixx Entertainment near the end of July, around the time Mixx-Zine 2-1 was being released. Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, it is important to realize that the true reasons for Ron's departure are not important, nor are they clear . However, it is essential to note that Ron made a lot of friends on the MixxOnline Web Board and his girlfriend soon picked up a campaign to show the Internet what exactly Mixx's ‘true intentions' were. This campaign became known as Eye on Mixx.

Sailor Moon #1 Newstand VersionSeptember 12, 1998 the Anime News Network announced that Mixx "has pulled the message board from its "Mixx-Online" web site. The move follows months of complaints from fans about the Sailor Moon manga being moved to a new publication, " Smile," which was announced just after renewals for charter subscribers were due. Mixx formally announced that the closure was due to fans' misbehavior on the boards. (ANN: Mixx Pulls Online Message Boards)"

However, the actual situation runs much deeper than even ANN thought. One member of CompuServe's Anime/Manga Forum summarized the situation best when she said, "There are a lot of accusations flying around on raa, but Mixx's statement about why they closed the board was along the lines of that the board was being "abused". Fan response is that Mixx didn't like people commenting and complaining about some of Mixx's recent editorial decisions. Fans are also saying that there are documented cases of people who complained suddenly finding their accounts on Mixx's board deleted, and some are voicing suspicions of Mixx deleting or modifying messages posted to their board. At least one vendor (although a minor one -- White Lightning Productions) has publicly posted that they are boycotting Mixx products over their treatment of fans. (!)"

A little over a week later a legal war broke out between the fansubber Kodocha Anime and Mixx Entertainment that had started over a misunderstanding that Mixx owned the international distribution rights to Kenji's Spring (ANN: Fansubber update). Just a day later on September 22, 1998, Kodocha Anime received the promised Cease and Desist letter from Mixx Entertainment's lawyer and the fansubber quickly formulated a reply. The reply touched on the fact that information they had received from Bandai Visual Co., Ltd. was inconsistent with the information received from Mixx, but the company did agree to pull Kenji's Spring from circulation immediately, while resuming investigation to discover the true owner of the property rights. The reply went on to give a list of organizations that the correspondence would be released to if it was found Mixx did not own the rights (ANN: Mixx to Kodocha). It has become apparent that Mixx Entertainment does in fact own these rights because the informant has since retracted the statement concerning Mixx's ownership of rights.

Introducing... Gundam?!

Mixx-Zine 2-2When Mixx-Zine 2-2 (October/November 1998) was finally released it was clear by the huge Gundam head-shot cover and the sudden lack of thickness that something was radically different about the magazine. Cracking open the magazine reviles an assortment of articles on underground bands and CDs, the host of regular articles that premiered in the previous issues, and manga that was printed side-ways with two pages of manga per magazine page. This kind of rushed cursory glance at the magazine, while it was on the newsstands, caused many to leave the magazine on the racks and rush home to complain on the Internet. Unfortunately, for many, the Internet was not an option for getting the latest news. For this one would have to take a closer look at the magazine's hip ‘From The Editor' letter from Stu Levy to discover the reason behind the change; "[...] What I'm basically trying to say here is that the ever-improving (we hope) new MixxZineŽ is now bringing you tons of fresh info with our huge dose or manga. Please notice (and I'm sure you can't ignore) our new 2-page-on-1 layout for the manga (yes, it means comics or motionless picture entertainment, and no, it's not pronounced "mayn-go"!). It's true that the manga is smaller this way (about the size of the Pocket Manga), but we're really proud of what we've been able to accomplish: bringing you WAY MORE manga than we'd ever be able to, while delivering fresh, edgy editorial content in the same package. This is just the first step we're taking here at Mixx to turn MixxZineŽ into the primary entertainment and lifestyle magazine for our generation.
When you get MixxZineŽ from now on, you'll notice new manga quite often. Sometimes we'll continue a story for a while, sometimes we'll give you a chapter or two and rotate it out. Our goal is to give you as manga flavors as possible. Each story will become available as a separate Pocket Manga book, so you can collect whichever you like."

On the other hand, Gundam's future in the American market was just picking up. Bandai had just unveiled it's and would start releasing the many Gundam series in English for the first time to commemorate its 20th Anniversary. Likewise, Mixx-Zine responded with the first chapter of the Mobile Suit Gundam: Blue Destiny manga by Mizuho Takayama, Hajime Yadate, and Yoshyuki Tomino.

As for Sailor Moon's future, there are few answers given in the magazine. On page 45 a subscription ad appears for Smile with an announcement that reads; "Listen up scouts! Sailor Moon's got her own manga mag. Beginning after the Sailor Moon S series, for her devoted fans. SMILE brings you the coolest shoujo manga on the market starting Oct/Nov 1998. Subscribe now and get ready for a future full of fun and adventure with Sailor [Moon] and more delivered to your door."

The only other hints of Miss Moon's future come from replies to reader letters on the Mixx Letters page. The first concerns the adult themes of the later issues of Sailor Moon, "[...], you'll have to wait and see what happens between Neptune and Uranus, But keep in mind that from now on you'll have to read SMILE to follow the adventures of the Sailor Scouts" and the other hint comes from a letter that hopes that MixxZine will do each and every episode of Sailor Moon, "[...], That's exactly what we intend to do, although we'll be jumping ahead a little when Sailor Moon starts in SMILE this September so that the fanz can see what the Sailor Scouts are doing later on. And we'll continue to publish the pocket manga adventures for some time to come."

MixxZine Side Story 0098: Internet Clash

Mixx Web Site Hacked

Things could only get worse, and they did. In less than a few hours after the direct market received the fateful Mixx-Zine 2-2, the MixxOnline web site was hacked and a large X-rated picture of Sailor Moon lifting her shirt with a caption of ‘Got Milk?' was placed on the USA and Japanese main pages. An exceedingly blunt, yet puzzling, message followed the picture which read:

Why are you here?
Stu Levy, president of Mixx Entertainment is
His sole purpose is to remove you from your money.
Why don't you try one of these links:

The USA main page was quickly fixed by the Mixx staff, but it was hacked again, and then fixed again. The Japanese main page was later fixed as well. It is important to note that contrary to the ANN article MixxOnline Hacked, the unconfirmed report that the page contained ‘a sexual reference to Mixx C.E.O. Stuart Levy' is completely bogus.

On September 26, 1998, just three days after the direct market release of Mixx-Zine 2-2, Stu Levy, on behalf of the entire Mixx Entertainment staff, posted on the MixxOnline Website a seven page announcement concerning the recent controversy concerning MixxZine and Stuart Levy. The letter itself addressed the Sailor Moon, Smile, and Mixx-Zine 2-2 controversies, as well as the San Diego Comic-Con ‘98, the production of Spring and Chaos, the PR problems and the MixxOnline hecking. But, it also did a lot of finger-pointing which just furthered the controversy. Several comments have been made on these letters, two of which can be read at the following address: ANN: The Mixx Letters which features Ron Scovil's rebuttal and SOS: Stu Levy's Letter and Our Reply which features Save Our Sailors comments.

MixxZine Side Story 0098: Eye On Mixx & Anime News Network

As MixxZine's reader base steadily grew more disgruntled at how they were being treated, it became apparent that the MixxOnline Web Board was the only outlet to get answers. But, when it was pulled offline at the height of the controversy another uncensored web board cropped up on a site dedicated on keeping the reader informed. This page was the Eye On Mixx watchdog page which had its base of operations on the Tripod web page hosting service.

The first hitch came just after Ronald Scovil's reply to Stuart Levy's letter, the Eye On Mixx site was removed from Tripod due to the offensive logo that featured the X's in ‘Mixx' being replaced with swastikas. Though the swastikas were "meant to compare Mr. Levy's tactics to those of a Nazi," they were not intended to have a racial meaning (ANN: Eye On Mixx watchdog page removed from Tripod).

The Eye On Mixx watchdog page was quickly moved to the, now defunct, server where the logo was changed to feature a less offensive title image. At the same time, other Mixx-Zine readers began to create sites similar to the Eye on Mixx one. In fact there were a number of lesser known Mixx-Zine petitions which have since disappeared from the web. But, without a doubt, the Eye On Mixx web site was the most monumental of them all.

The Eye On Mixx's main page began with the ‘Mixx Petition' which includes details of the problems: ‘Bad Mixx,' ‘Moving the Moon,'and ‘...falling on deaf ears' with an answer/compromise to solve the problem. After that appeared a series of links with insightful articles including; Bogus math in ‘Cheaper This Way,' The Case Of The Disappearing Manga, The Internship Experience (At Mixx), A 20 Question Ultimatum, Case of the Missing Posts, Stores Fed Up Too, MixxZine 2-2 Reviews, What's Truly At Stake, Math: The Universal Truth, Advertisers List, and many more. In fact there is so much information to prove Eye On Mixx's point that if one were to print out all the information, it would take a half a ream of paper to get it all.

Anime News Network's Launch StoryThrough it all, the Anime News Network was slowly finding its niche in the anime online culture. The network hit the big time by making a name for itself by breaking the MixxZine stories as they happened. But, it was clear the network was one sided in its initial stories against Mixx and later changed to a semi-middle ground stance. In the end, the Anime News Network used the Mixx Controversy as a launch piece on October 1, 1998 as their cover story featured interviews with all the major players in the unfolding drama (A Special Report: The Mixx Controversy).

The flaming of Mixx was not an isolated incident, in fact the whole anime industry came under fire from the fans as dormant topics like poor tape quality, the high price of subs, and charging per minute of tape were brought to the surface. Tensions mounted all across the Internet as mailing list and newsgroups filled with messages slinging mud at the companies they once adored. It was apparent that the situation had reached a Bubblegum Crisis situation and was just waiting for the bubble to pop.

Next Chapter: For The Next-Gen Girl -->

Page 3 - Cover Story ANIMEfringe: June 2000 - Page 4 Page 5 - Cover Story (cont'd)
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