Newtype USA: A Brief History of ADV's Newtype Publication
When something has come to an end, it becomes an excellent time to take a moment and look back on where it started and where it's been. With the February release of the March 2008 issue marking the final English publication of Newtype, it seems worth doing just that.
The original Newtype was launched in Japan by publishing company, Kadokawa Shoten, and named after a term in the Gundam universe for the next stage of human evolution. The first issue was for April 1985, released in early March of that year. A collection of images, columns and news made Newtype a hit, one that even to this day remains much the same magazine that attracted anime fans of the 80s. Since its debut, there have been a variety of Newtype spin-offs including one dedicated to older audiences and another for live-action Japanese media. A version of Newtype was also published in Korea in 1998 and continues to this day alongside its original Japanese predecessor.
In November 2002, the first full issue of Newtype USA was released. Licensed by A.D. Vision, it offered a wide range of articles and media, including material translated from the Japanese releases and original English content, such as columns, reviews and fan submissions. In contrast to other anime-focused magazines being released in North America at the time, Newtype put more focus on Japanese anime releases as opposed to a more domestic approach. It allowed the more casual anime fan to feel up to date with the newest releases straight from their source.
Along with its wealth of information, often having as many as 20 different series appearing in it, the magazine offered a large print size featuring full-spread colored images, serialized manga, art tips from industry professionals and more, remaining very similar to its original counterpart.
Nothing can debut flawlessly, however, and the magazine was met with sharp fan debate over the quality of Newtype's content, ranging from biased reviews to shoddy translation work. The high price tag also put a damper on people's enthusiasm for the release, but its variety of bonus content such as DVDs and posters, offered some relief on the issue.
Despite some of the arguments, Newtype USA quickly becomes one of the number one anime and related culture magazines in North America. Since its first release in 2002, there will have been 66 issues of Newtype USA, including the final edition, March 2008, and the sneak-peek preview issued before the magazine's first run.
On January 9, 2008, AnimeNewsNetwork reported that ADV had contacted its retail partners with news that their upcoming February Newtype USA issue would their last. The news sparked discussion throughout blogs and forums about the cause of the magazine's cancellation, ranging from lack of sufficient advertising funds due to Geneon's drop from the anime market, to difficulties maintaining the license. Concerns and curiosity about the stability of ADV itself were also brought into question with actions such as the discontinuing of their 24/7 linear Anime Network (source: Anime Network) and the suspension of their Anime Advocates club program (Source: ANN), all within the same span of time.
After a brief period of silence from ADV, an e-mail was issued to subscribers confirming that Newtype USA would be replaced by another magazine. Promoting its content of "anime, manga, video games and other aspects of pop culture," the magazine, titled PiQ, is being claimed by ADV as a publication that will be of "keen interest" to subscribers of Newtype, despite the severely decreased percentage of anime-related topics and media. In turn, ADV has promised two issues of PiQ per one issue of Newtype that subscribers have left to be issued.
After six years of publication, Newtype USA's chapter in North American anime subculture is coming to an end with some fans already mourning the loss of its bright pages, bountiful bonus content and up-to-date information. However, from its ashes comes another magazine that many are eager to see hit the newsstands. PiQ has a tough act to follow, but with a price closer to the competition and a fresh start free of licensing fees, ADV may yet have a fighting chance at keeping its magazine readers happy.
For those who still want their fix of what Newtype has to offer, Japan's and Korea's publications are still going strong, marked as number one in their publication categories in an otherwise struggling magazine industry.
By Lissa Pattillo
*A few months later in June, it was announced that PiQ would be suspended, some of the stated reasons being insufficient support from ADV:
Some comments from PiQ freelancer Lesley Smith.