Animag was one of the earliest attempts at a professional English-language anime magazine, first published in 1987 by a group of fans in the San Francisco Bay Area. It managed to outlast most of its competition, although, a few years later, it shut down when many of the staff jumped ship to help start Viz’s Animerica magazine. The following post is a selection of advertisements that ran in Animag between 1987 and 1990.
People who started buying translated Japanese comics within the last ten years will have a hard time recognizing Viz’s release of Yoshihisa Tagami’s Grey. A limited series of fewer than a dozen issues, each was the same size as a traditional American comic book, but square-bound rather than stapled. The very first issue included a foreword by American sci-fi author Harlan Ellison. With a translation entirely devoid of any Japanese-isms, and featuring flipped artwork, it was representative of a time when companies like Viz seemed to be marketing translated manga to comic book fans, rather than anime fans.
Gainax made an early attempt to cash in on the burgeoning American anime market, and, for a few years, they operated a U.S. branch of their General Products mail-order subsidiary. Gainax also helped to bankroll the first “major” anime convention, AnimeCon, in 1991. AnimeCon was a financial failure and Gainax would eventually pull up stakes in the U.S., starting a tradition of Japanese anime companies who tried to operate in the U.S. and ultimately failed.
Frederick Schodt’s translation of Yoshiyuki Tomino’s Gundam novelizations is notable for a few things. First, it was released in the U.S. long before any sort of official Gundam marketing presence existed in the country. Second, Schodt’s translation used very literal translations for names, e.g. Sha for Char, and Zak for Zaku, something that continues to irk fanboys to this day. Finally, the three novels were collected and re-released in English while Gundam was airing on Cartoon Network in the early 2000s. This version fixes the naming discrepancies of the earlier release, but is now highly sought-after and tends to go for ridiculous prices on Amazon Marketplace.
Palladium Books’ incredibly drab, two-column layout (which they’ve used for the last 25 years, and continue using to this day) showed up even in their ads, all of which look pretty much just like this. It’s worth pointing out that someone, somewhere, thought Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes’ wedding merited being mentioned as a “highlight.”
AnimEigo and U.S. Renditions were the first two companies to release subtitled videos aimed at American anime fans. I don’t know what to make of the hideous art used in the MADOX-01 advertisement, except that I’m fairly sure it was based (traced) on a piece of art used for the Japanese release. For comparison, AnimEigo now sells MADOX-01 on DVD for $7.99.
$66 is hilariously cheap when you consider that prices for vintage Macross toys rose throughout the 1990s, and in the early 2000’s, it wasn’t uncommon to see 1/55th Valkyries going for over $800 on eBay.