I was wandering through the magazine racks the other day, saw the latest issue of Shojo Beat, and said to myself, “Who the hell is that on the cover?”
An answer has arrived in the form of a press release from Viz: it’s Beat Girl, the magazine’s new “illustrated spokesperson.” (The text and cover image can be found at MangaCast.) A quick follow-up e-mail from Viz informed me that the image was drawn by Aiji Yamakawa, the first of several artists who will offer their take on the mascot. (Does the selection of Yamakawa hint at a future license in the Shojo Beat line?)
Beat Girl is the harbinger of some editorial changes to the magazine, including a new ongoing series of features on “real women doing a variety of selfless and charitable works for other people and help inspire readers” and expanded fashion and pop culture coverage. There’s also going to be a new color palette and page design.
As names go, “Beat Girl” doesn’t exactly set the heart aflutter, though I guess it could be viewed as a witty inversion of the magazine’s title. It avoids the redundancy of “Shojo Girl,” and they couldn’t exactly call her “SB,” since the initial approach is already taken. I’m wondering how much of a branding force she’ll be, what with a bunch of different artists rendering her. Maybe that’s intended to keep her open to reader identification: if you don’t like Yamakawa’s interpretation, just wait a month and you might get a look that’s more to your taste.
Though my preferred delivery system is digests, I’m all in favor of targeted anthologies, and it never hurts to try keep things fresh. (Just look at what’s happening in Riverdale.) And given how invested Viz is in getting reader response through polls and the like, these changes couldn’t have come out of thin air.