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Page 5 - Cover Story (cont'd) ANIMEfringe: June 2000 - Page 6 Page 7 - Cover Story (cont'd)

Full Circle: The Unofficial History of MixxZine
By Adam "OMEGA" Arnold
Part Four: "The Anime Magazine Your Parents Warned You About"

Tokyo Pop Comes Thundering In

"Transitions. From diapers to undies, from grammar school up through college, even from job to job, transitions tend to be both exciting and uncertain. Transitions aren't always welcome either because many people hate change. But change is a part of life. People can resist change all they want, but life goes on and changes happen no matter how much we wish they wouldn't. With that said, welcome to the first issue of Tokyo Pop, formerly known as MixxZine." - Brian Kaya, From the Editor (Tokyo Pop 3-1)

Tokyo Pop 3-1In the first pages of Tokyo Pop 3-1 (August/September 1999), Brian Kaya, the new editor-in-chief taking over Stu Levy's position, masterfully summarized the changes that MixxZine had gone through and gave a glimpse at the future of Tokyo Pop, all the while giving the first print mention of Mixx's darkest hour; "To those readers who've hung with us through all the controversy ("controversy"? What "controversy"?), thank you."

Tokyo Pop as a whole featured a more streamlined version of the layout Mixx-Zine 2-6 had sported while give readers the magazine's last appearance of Gundam: Blue Destiny. The issue also presented the last time more than two manga would appear in the magazine, in fact this issue only featured three manga series: Gundam: Blue Destiny, Magic Knight Rayearth, and Parasyte. Future issues would rotate between Parasyte, Magic Knight Rayearth, and the censored Sorcerer Hunters. Besides a full set of articles the magazine also cover featured an interview with digital cartoonist Kenichi Kutsugi supplemented with pictures of his creation Yuki as well as a chat with Gundam: Blue Destiny's artisit Mizuho Takayama.

At this time, the Sailor Moon comic underwent a make-over with issue number 11. The Mixx logo with the price under it was transformed into a box featuring the words ‘MIXX Presents' in read letters above anew logo signifying the book was a part of the ‘Chix Comix' line of books. Below the box appears the standard crescent-star logo with the issue number in it and the price appears in a set-off box just under that. The bottom of the cover featured the Mixx logo with the bar code, which was moved from the back cover to the front, on top of that with the MixxOnline web address inverted beside the UPC. According to Wizard magazine, a foil variant of Sailor Moon #11 does exist. Months later with the release of issue 18, the Mixx logo would be replaced by the Tokyopop.com logo and the new words ‘TOKYOPOP.com Presents' would replace the previous one above the Chix Comix logo. The changes would also finally give the UPC a set layout that would not need to vary from issue to issue.

September 17, 1999 brought word that Mixx Entertainment had licensed the Gundam Wing manga series and hoped to coincide the release with the anime release by Bandai's AnimeVillage. The comic would be released in February 2000 with the first graphic novel following in May 2000 (ANN: 9/20/99 News Briefs).

Smile 1-6On the Chix front, Smile 1-6 (October 1999) showcases model Melinda Smith and her ‘unique' eye-shadow as she sports some hot truly galactic back-to-school gear. Then there is a Shannon Elizabeth interview and a slew of bands all capping off the first year of the magazine along with Sailor Moon Super S and Sushi Girl.

The Ties That Bind

Tokyo Pop 3-2Tokyo Pop 3-2 (October 1999) does a lot of things right and on top of it all is fanboy Henry Liao's CoCo Lee interview which touches on everything from her first English album to boyfriends and includes a CoCo Discography. Then, there is the Anime Expo ‘99 Exposed article which breaks the precedence that the convention follow-up articles had to be limited to a handful of words. The issue also debuts a new Mixx-related manga called Otakko: The World's Greatest Otaku! written by Brian Haya and illustrated by Henry Liao.

And most important of all, Brian Kaya gives word of Parasyte's departure in 2 issues to avoid repeating "past" mistakes when the manga totally vanishes from the magazine. It seems the forthcoming Pocket Mixx collections would actually surpass the magazine release at some point. Magic Knight Rayearth takes a break as the Magic Knights finally confront the final enemy and make it back to Tokyo. Then there is the slogan contest which gives readers a chance to give Tokyo Pop a subtitle. Anything is better than the humorous ideas the staff gave; The OTHER Anime Magazine, Our Giant Robot is bigger than theirs, The magazine that tastes like chicken, Buy two copies. Please!

Smile 2-1(smile2-1.jpg)Smile 2-1 (December 1999) evolves as the cover features Vitamin C in place of a model centerfold cover. The magazine is also the final issue of the year, though it starts the second volume of the Smile story. It's more of the same great gurl related content that seeks to enlighten the cyber-gurlz with more of the blending of the real world with the digital. Oh yeah, Sailor Moon Super S and Sushi Girl are along for the ride as well.

Now, months after the uproar about Mixx-Zine 2-2, Anime-Manga.Net slowly went down in flames over the course of three weeks during the final weeks of October. Among the fallen sites were the Eye on Mixx watchdog page as well as the original beta version of the ANIMEfringe, an Evangelion web site entitled The NERV Geofront as well as a host of fan art and information sites.

Parasyte Mixx Manga Vol.1Over on the entertainment side of things, it became clear that Disney's Sailor Moon movie had fallen off the face of the moon. But, then came Sony's announcement of an Astro Boy movie and the anime to film movement had started once again. Then on November 4, 1999, more word trickled down the grape-vine that a live action Parasyte movie was in the works by the new company Angry Films. Angry Films would bring Hitosi Iwaaki's violent parasitic alien manga to the big screen with the help of Jim Henson Pictures, which would help fund the movie. The writing team of Matt Manfredi and Phil Hey would take the reigns in the adaption which will take place in America. Besides the move from Japan to the U.S. the most noticeable change comes in the form of the main characters name, Shin, which would be renamed Mike (IGN Sci-Fi: ‘Parasyte' Latches Onto Hollywood).

The Most Valuable Thing in This World

Tokyo Pop 3-3Tokyo Pop 3-3 (November 1999) features the new ‘hired-gun' Mike Limbert's debut as the new art director as Hassan Abdul-Wahid depart for the television and film industry. And Brian Kaya made sure to repeat that Parasyte would be saying "Ja Matta Ne" after the next issue and that Rayearth would be taking a breather until then when the second half of the story begins. Until then, Sorcerer Hunters and Parasyte would form a manga duet.

As the Japanese content continues to escalate, a batch of negative letters dominate the letter column page as a testament that not everyone thinks change is good. Likewise, a second batch of equally funny staff slogans are given for the title contest: Can leap over Giant Robots in a single bound!, The sound of out overworked Editor's head makes when it explodes, We pick out noses better than we pick our slogans, The more you read, the more surprised we are, Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And to top it all off is John Cairn's cover story ‘Wanna See Something Really Scary?: Japanese Horror Flicks' and a slew of Studio Ghibli articles.

December 1, 1999 brought the announcement that Tokyo Pop had formed a partnership "with Spinner.com to expand its music offerings with artists form Japanese Pop. The catalogue of Asian musicians, the result of Tokyo Pop's partnerships with Asian music labels, will be featured over the next year on Spinner.com's Playlist-To-Go." The announcement goes on to mention that visitors will be able to download mp3s, view information on the artist, and be provided an opportunity to buy import albums and related products. As a whole, this move will help "introduce Americans to a new world of Asian pop music. (ANN: Tokyo Pop Adds J-Pop Content To Spinner.com)"

Spirit of Wonder

Tokyo Pop 3-4Anything with Princess Mononoke and Ulala on the cover has got to be good, and Tokyo Pop 3-4 (December 1999) doesn't disappoint. After Brian's initial apology about the error made concerning the Titanic outselling Princess Mononoke problem (‘"Princess Mononoke" was the highest grossing film in Japan UNTIL "Titanic" came along') the magazine really shines; the letter page is once again full of juicy hate mail and then some equally good phan mail, the interview with Hayao Miyazaki is less philosophical and more down to Earth than Animerica's interview, and top it all off with a look at the Tokyo Game Show ‘99 Autumn. The manga features the final serialized installment of Parasyte, and another installment of Sorcerer Hunters and Mixx's own Otakko.

Most important of all is the full page ad that gives a hint that Spring & Chaos: The Life Story of Kenji Miyazawa is finally coming in 2000. And Aimee Gallentine became the first, and only, slogan winner with "Tokyo Pop, the anime magazine your parents warned you about." Though the slogan appeared on the cover, the ‘From the Editor' column pointed out that a different winner's slogan would appear on the cover of future issues. This, however, turned out to be the only issue to feature a slogan, for future covers would only have the web address ‘www.tokyopop.com' below the title.

Tokyo Pop 3-5The stunning Lisa Ling of ABC's The View takes center stage for an issue and Magic Knight Rayearth returns to the manga section along with Sorcerer Hunters in Tokyo Pop 3-5 (January 2000). Likewise, the excellent layout in the interview with Ming Tran, "Hook-Ups girl", and Open All Night: The Wonderful World of Japanese Convenience Stores both show where Tokyo Pop can go in the future. Yet, Mixx Entertainment continues to go through a transition of staff members as Susan Jaget (Tokyo Pop's ad coordinator and Smile's publisher) and Livia Ching (Smile's associate editor) both bid a fond farewell to the company. On the other hand, new art director, Juliann Brown, and art production assistant, Yuka Komatsu, join the team.

Cardcaptor Sakura #1Continuity to prosper, Mixx Entertainment rang in the new year with a slew of new Mixx Manga books including the first volume of Sorcerer Hunters and Sushi Girl as well as the third volume of Sailor Moon Super S. Yet, the biggest release came in the form of the stand-alone monthly comic book Cardcaptor Sakura #1, CLAMP's tale of a fourth-grade girl who finds an enchanted book called ‘The Claw' and is thrust into a mystical journey to capture all the escaped Clow Cards before they unleash their destructive power upon the world. Cardcaptor Sakura joins the growing line of Mixx's Chix Comix line and is set to prep the market for the Sakura phenomenon that will strike in the fall when the WB premiers the anime series.

After the initial releases of the Sailor Moon novel series, Mixx soon followed with the first of five Scout Guide books that would be fully devoted to an individual Sailor Scout; Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, and Sailor Moon. The first of these books would be Sailor Moon Scout Guide-Meet Sailor Mars: Fire featuring everything thing you ever wanted to know about Raye but were afraid to ask because of her hot temper. The books would average 96 pages each and would be loaded with pictures and facts for each of the scouts all for the low price of $12.96 per book.

Tokyo Pop 3-6Next comes the staff of Tokyo Pop wishing former editor-in-chief, Brian Kaya, good bye and Matthew Galgani takes over the helm in Tokyo Pop 3-6 (February/March 2000). For the first issue of ‘The Pacific Century,' actor Tadandel Asand is featured, as info on the upcoming Parasyte movie is reviled, and the magazine takes an even more hip turn. Meanwhile, Sorcerer Hunters and Magic Knight Rayearth continue to please as the only manga in the magazine.

The Ultimate Destination for Asian Entertainment

During this time, as Dave Baranyi of CompuServe's Anime/Manga Forum points out, "Tokyo Pop has moved its offices from Orange County to somewhere in LA proper, has moved its shipping operations to some third party in the MidWest US and Mike Kiley, the founder, has left the company. They are presently trying to train up a bunch of new people who don't know the old customers. They are also trying to educate the shipping company, where there isn't anyone who can read Japanese."

More importantly, the Tokyopop.com web site underwent a drastic make-over in which the product line was revamped, as promised, and a slew of community features were added. These new features include instant messaging, chat, message boards, free web sites, free e-mail, and various other user perks.

But, the only way to get all these perks is to join. By signing up for the free membership there is no cost and a registered user gets a free 1-year Tokyo Pop magazine subscription as well as access to all the community content and special Tokyopop.com prices. Yet, by joining at the annual rate of $29.95 you get all that and a free Mixx Manga, a $10 e-coupon, VIP Member Prices, an @ Cost Program, and free shipping for domestic orders over $25 (TokyoPop: Club Tokyopop). All these additions help make Tokyopop.com a major contender in the ‘one stop for everything' Internet war.

A Far Away Feeling

Smile 2-2Smile 2-2 (March 2000), with an interview with the Sailor Moon novelist, Lianne Sentar, anime, video game, and music reviews, and great manga, the magazine does everything right as a blending of a fashion magazine and manga magazine. But, it's too much like a female version of Tokyo Pop by this time. For this reason, Susan Jaget and Livia Ching's departure from Mixx Entertainment is the harbinger of change which comes in the announcement on the Smile's Mailbox page; "Attention All Smile Readers: We have an exciting announcement here at SMILE. Because of all your loyalty and faithful support. SMILE has grown to become a fresh and original entertainment magazine for girls. By far the most popular section in SMILE has been Naoko Takeuchi's amazing manga (Japanese comic) Sailor Moon SuperS. Also, our original manga character contest was wildly popular and the Phan Art keeps pouring in. We've read everyone's letters–thousands of them–and have found the overwhelming popularity of Sailor Moon SuperS and manga in general to be mind-blowing. You just absolutely LOVE manga!!
Beginning in the next issue. SMILE will become the first TRUE all-shojo manga (girl's comic) magazine. We are currently in discussions with our partners to add several exciting new manga to SMILE. Right now, we can't yet announce which manga stories will be added, but we know you'll be really psyched! The new SMILE magazine will join other CHIX COMIX lines in bringing more of the freshest Shojo Comix available. Current CHIX COMIX include the monthly Sailor Moon Comic, and Cardcaptor Sakura Comic, with more coming soon. SMILE and SMILE's website, www.smilegear.com, will carry your Phan Art, letters, Shout Outs, and contest. We live in the internet age, and SMILE magazine and SMILEGEAR.com will continue to be an exciting magazine/online team for you. It's gonna be a great year, and we're excited to be sharing it with you, our loyal readers! =) =) =)"

Smile 2-2 AnnouncementDue to the changeover in Smile magazine occurring after Previews Vol. IX, No.2 had ran the solicitation for Smile 2-3, the issue blurb read like just another issue of Smile as it had appeared up to that point: "Let's get rocked with the "Girl Band" issue of the only magazine geared to the "next-gen" girl. Get the 411 on up-and-coming girl groups that will dominate radio in the year ahead. And don't miss out on our regular features including: Girl Gear, URL's for gURLS, and a brand new chapter in Sailor Moon SuperS." However, that version of Smile 2-3 never saw print and was replaced by what was solicited for Smile 2-4 in Previews Vol.IX, No.4: "It's a brand new era for SMILE magazine–an era of fun and comics cool enough for boys, but made for girls. SMILE is changing its format to be the only Shojo (or girl comic) magazine on the market. Catch all the new anime and manga series to join Sailor Moon SuperS in this brand-new incarnation of entertainment." It is important to keep in mind Dark Horse comics joined in the manga anthology market with the introduction of Super Manga Blast! at the end of March 2000.

The Shooting Star She Saw

Gundam Wing, the sensation that blasted its way onto Cartoon Network at the beginning of March 2000 made its way to the comic shelves as Mixx Entertainment unveiled the first issue of the monthly Gundam Wing comic book in the middle of March. The 48 page book follows five ruthless Gundam pilots as they find themselves in the middle of a power struggle between the Earth and the outer-space Colonies. And with any manga, the story diverges a great deal from that of the anime series giving a truly unique perspective on the events taking place in A.C. 195.

On March 20, 2000, TokyoPop.com officially celebrated their "hatching" from USC's EC2/Annenburg Center incubator program which the the company had been a part of since mid-1997. The night was filled with presentations and partying as the TokyoPop.com staff and special guest celebrated the monumenteous occasion that thoroughly broke in the new offices of TokyoPop.com. TOKYOPOP.com Graduation Party

Tokyo Pop 3-7Tokyo Pop 3-7 (April 2000) features the popular angry spacefish mascot, which made its debut on the Tokyopop.com web site back in June of 1999 thanks to Tsurukame-sensei, in place of the Tokyo Pop soft drink can beside the logo. Also, the magazine features an interesting cover picture of the band Puffy as well as free CoCo Lee Poster inside. Plus there is word that Spring and Chaos is coming to DVD.

And the issue manages to cram in a new section called Tokyo Pop People which will feature just about any thing that readers want, but this issue just has more Phan Art. Most of all the issue is a topic-a-page experience like no other. What other magazine out there exists where you can turn the page and find a Chinese-American Diva, then tons of anime sneak peeks, then video games, full interviews, CD reviews, articles about Japanese society, and then manga all in one package?

In the April 2000 issue of Previews magazine, the Mixx Entertainment solicitations made the big move to a new section called Tokyopop.com. After 3 years of being crammed in the middle of mature and independent comic titles, the books finally were moved to a section that was more fitting for the titles being released. Likewise, the new section put Tokyopop.com closer to its competitor Viz Communications in the magazine.

Promises Fulfilled

Smile 2-3You go to get the latest issue of Smile, issue 2-3 (May 2000) and notice the magazine has become the size of a comic book and the weight has increased, yet, the price has stayed the same ($3.99). You look at the cover and see Sailor Moon with three titles on the cover. Something is definitely up. You flip through the magazine and find tons of black and white pages and make it all the way to the back where the Smile Letters page is and find the bolded introduction where everything becomes clear: "Welcome to the new face of SMILE! I hope you like the new all-manga format. Now, I know there are some of you out there who didn't read the letter from the editor in the last issue. So, for those of you who are shocked and disappointed, let me just say, I feel your pain. I know it's hard when the powers that be mess with a good thing. But hang in there with us. I think you'll like the changes. The one thing SMILE readers always seemed to agree on was that there just wasn't enough manga in the mag! And that's not all, starting in June, there'll be a brand new issue of SMILE coming out each and every month.
Well, here it is. All manga, all the time! Otanoshimi ni!"

So, what does the new incarnation of Smile have to offer? Smile Letters, Fan Art, a few ads, and over 100 pages of full page manga! There is the eighth chapter of Sailor Moon Super S and the introductory chapters of the newly licenced Peach Girl and Juline.

Miwa Ueda's Peach Girl has it all; high school romance, hot fashions, and back-stabbing friends. And worst of all, Momo is considered a bad girl because she has a tan (because she tans really easily) and only girls that are easy have a tan in this world. What's a girl to do? Loose that tan, catch the guy's eye, and get revenge on that conniving friend, that's what!

And to top it all off is Narumi Kakinouchi's Juline, a modern-day martial arts epic, in the tradition of the comedy Ninja Cadets, that seems to be the odd-ball manga in the group, much like Ice Blade was in the first issue of Mixx-Zine. But, the story is intriguing none-the-less as the mysterious Black Pearl sets out to uncover the secret of the Kenga Clan so the ultimate power of the three sacred treasures may be unleashed. And Juline is in the middle of all the controversy.

Interestingly enough, the issue received ‘mixxed' emotions on various newsgroups with comments such as; ‘too little too late,' ‘I was pleasantly surprised,' and ‘Smile could turn into a completely different magazine 6 months from now,' among numerous of others. But, regardless of the fan reaction, the manga market finally has a fully shoujo manga anthology. And quite an excellent one at that.

Remember the Future

Tokyo Pop 3-8In Tokyo Pop 3-8 (May 2000), the Tokyo Pop People section takes a look at a few of the members who take a part in the TOKYOPOP online community. It may not be the cover of Rolling Stone, but at least these guys and gals can write home that they were in a magazine. And the best part is users of TokyoPop.com can submit themselves for consideration for future profiling.

As a whole the exceedingly diversified magazine can be summarized best by the editors comments; "What do crowded trains, Korean night clubs, threaded eyebrows, and exploding barbed wire wrestling rings have in common? To the uninitiated: not a whole hell of a lot. To those more familiar with TOKYOPOP: not a whole hell of a lot."

All the while, TokyoPop.com's new spin-off site GoldenSilk.com, a web site featuring today's Asian lifestyles and sport cars, silently launched with expanded versions of some of Tokyo Pop magazine's hottest articles. The site uses the TokyoPop.com member formula with a blending of the articles that made Tokyo Pop interesting to read and the models that made Smile fun to look at, yet it is totally geared towards the Asian demographic.

To increase the exposure of the Sailor Moon Scout Guides, TokyoPop.com and Pioneer Entertainment joined forces to give the edited VHS and uncut DVD release of the second Sailor Moon movie, Sailor Moon S The Movie: Hearts of Ice, a special premium. Instead of offering a mail-away watch as with the first volume, TokyoPop.com created an Exclusive Sailor Moon S Movie Edition Scout Guide previewing both the Meet Sailor Mars: Fire and Meet Sailor Venus: Love books. The May 23, mass-market, release of the movie to department stores and specialty stories alike not only put the excellent movie in the hands of moonies, but put a great book in their hands which would surely lead many to purchase the whole set and many more Tokyopop.com products.

Tokyo Pop 3-9Tokyo Pop 3-9 (June 2000) was rushed to the stands with a tell-all interview with Spawn creator, Todd McFarlane that was host to questions that no one would ever expect to see answered in a magazine like Wizard. From there the magazine becomes a barrage of topics ranging from sub-features like Japanese Vending Machines to the new animated movie Titan A.E.. Top it all off with the same great columns and manga that have made the magazine great and you have an unbeatable magazine that blends the best of the Asian culture with the best of the American culture into a magazine geared towards the people who know what's kewl.

TokyoPop.com AnimeOnline Festival 2000In August 2000, Tokyopop.com will host the first annual AnimeOnline Festival 2000, an online convention in the tradition of Scifi.com's Sci-Fi Dot Con. The festival will showcase a wide array of original anime Internet works in Flash, Shockwave, or Quicktime formats, all competing in five Asian pop culture categories for a cash Grand Prize of $10,000. And best of all the winners will be judged by experts who will decide the finalist, and those will be posted on Tokyopop.com for the visitors to decide the winner (Tokyopop.com: AnimeOnline Festival 2000 Information).

Finally, in the coming months Smile 2-4 will feature the unveiling of CLAMP's futuristic cyber-fantasy, Clover, while Tokyo Pop will feature a look into the new movie Jay Luck Club, host a class in Anime 101, and have a sit-in with martial arts super-star Jackie Chan and film partner Chris Tucker. Tokyo Pop will launch their new High Voltage Video subdivision with the mind-numbingly popular Japanese Hardcore Pro Wrestling League, FMW: Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling. In October a slew of new Pocket Manga dedicated to the Chix Comix line will be released with first volumes of Miracle Girls, Juline, Saint Tail, He Says/She Says, and Peach Girl. And cap it all off the promised release of the fourth volume of the Parasyte Mixx Manga. All this and more will become a reality as Mixx Entertainment d/b/a TokyoPop.com moves into it's fourth year.

So, from manga to features, Sailor Moon to Gundam, Mixx-Zine to Tokyo Pop, readers to hackers, hecklers to people, gurlz to manga, Mixx Entertainment has gone through the toughest ups and downs that any normal magazine would not be able to cope with. Yet, Mixx stuck it out through the hard times and emerged a better magazine in the process. Though they got some things wrong, they got a lot of things right. Proving, that the Mixx story is a testament to all magazines and the anime industry.

Appendix: Mixx Entertainment Product Chronology -->

Page 5 - Cover Story (cont'd) ANIMEfringe: June 2000 - Page 6 Page 7 - Cover Story (cont'd)
Original Material 1999 / 2000 ANIMEfringe, All Rights Reserved. 
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