This is a picture of my first anime crush – Char Aznable of Mobile Suit Gundam, here in Z Gundam uniform – adorning the cover of OUT magazine in November 1985.
Japanese anime magazines looked impossibly glamorous to the kids of old-school Western fandom. They came out regularly, they had all these amazing pictures, and wow, man, the colours! Not to mention the postcards, booklets, posters and other freebies.
Of course, when one actually read them they were just as full of press puffery as any Western media mag. But we didn’t know that back in the day; we just loved their style. We didn’t even mind that half or more of the interior was printed on the same cheap paper as weekly manga magazines. We were seduced by the gloss and glamour of covers like these with their alluring Japlish taglines.
OUT, published by Minori Shobo, began in May 1977 as a magazine “for tomorrow’s adults” devoted to youth culture in general, with anime as just one part of the mix. It was aimed at university students. Space Battleship Yamato featured in issue 2, and over the next few months the growing Yamato fandom influenced the magazine to feature more anime.
OUT ran anime parody manga (aniparo,) comic strips and serial novels by big names of the day – including Toyo Ashida, Masami Yuuki, Kenji Yanagisawa and Masakazu Katsura. Its features could be quite controversial, and its editorial policy changed with each new editor-in-chief (including the legendary Tetsuo Daedeok) leading to some radical transformations. The age of its readership being higher than average for anime magazines, the readers’ letters column was often the ground for debate about characters, concepts and content of current shows.
It folded in 1995, when Minori Shobo went bankrupt. A revival under a new publisher lasted only two years. Yet its devoted readers – males known as Aushitan and their female counterparts Aushitana – are still devoted enough to support websites in its memory and held a get-together in Shinjuku in 2012. Old copies are still offered for sale online and in Japanese bookstores.
An eighteen-year run is quite an achievement in the fickle world of media publishing, but keeping your fans for longer than the run of the magazine is an even greater one. OUT, I salute you – and I miss you too.