Let us go back to the year 1999 wherein the idea of watching your favorite anime anytime, anywhere is some kind of science fiction idea, there’s no Facebook, YouTube, hell, 4chan’s /a/ didn’t even exist at that point.
Back then, if you want to know more about your favorite anime series, or just plain old anime in general, you have to go through site after site after site just to get your daily anime fix even if most information you see on the web is either true or not (content checks don’t exist yet in the good ol’ days of Web 1.0 and yes, most of the information you see back then are either misunderstood information due to the language barrier or just plain rumors I’m looking at you Dragon Ball AF!)
Another way to do it is by using traditional media and by traditional, we mean print. See, back in the late ’90s – early 2000s, not everybody is connected on the web, especially people in third-world countries which brings us to the topic of this long winded rant/retrospective/review of Questor: The Ultimate Anime Magazine. Does it still hold up today or is it better to leave it off as a relic of the past.
Part I: The Ultimate Science Fiction Magazine With the Same Name
Now, before you say but dude, Questor existed in the ’70s, change your header!, I know that Questor is already a magazine back in the ’70s but back then, it wasn’t the magazine me and most of the “le 90s kids” know, or is it?
For those who don’t know, back in the 1970s, super robot anime are popular here in the Philippines, as it was the only genre of anime being shown here and one name stood out amongst all shows being shown in the Philippines: Voltes V, a show supplanted by karate bugmen and five people in color-coded spandex that came from the same company back in Japan.
Other shows became popular names too such as Mazinger Z and Mechander Robo but it was Voltes V that got the attention of ’70s kids from around the country and what better way to increase it’s popularity and at the same time profit out of it? Merchandising, of course!
Toei, Telesuccess, the official distributor of any Toei anime that isn’t Dragon Ball, and Y&K Japan (can’t find any information about them outside of eBay Voltron listings and some training school in Japan), did everything they could do to rake in money from parents and their children and to increase Voltes V and his companions’ popularity and thus Questor was born but Questor isn’t just some magazine, oh no, it’s THE Science Magazine.
Unlike it’s ’90s counterpart though, the anime content is pretty quite limited based on what I have seen on blogs like Pinoy Kollektor’s up to Joe Crawford’s Voltes V page so they fill it out with typical science fiction stuff but that’s where the differences end. Like the other magazine, it serves as advertising for Telesuccess and Toei since it promotes the shows, thereby getting more people into watching the shows.
There’s nothing else I can say about this since not much is known about this era in Questor’s history.
Part II: Questor Reborn
Now, we go fast forward to 1999. Erap is president, Mankind’s the WWE Champion and prime-time anime the national past time and who supplies the anime you ask? Our good ol’ friends from Telesuccess.
Sure, the new Questor didn’t have their first issue in 1999 but at it was during that time when not only Questor but anime in general got it’s renaissance period on local television to the point wherein it’s used as prime time and, to some extent, late night viewing material for some channels (Rosalinda vs Dragon Ball Z comes to mind).
Now, onto the magazine itself, the magazine isn’t anything special, it’s your typical niche community magazine (like it’s millennial counterpart, Otakuzine, and Games Master [RIP]) but what interests me is that, the contents written on each and every piece of paper on this magazine. Let’s take a look shall we?
Like any magazine, the main feature gets the cover and in this case, it’s Cat’s Eye that gets the honor of being the “covergirls” and like every other magazine, it gives us a sneak peek of the contents inside the magazine but unlike every other magazine, Questor follows a theme of some kind like in this issue, the theme has something to do with cats and cat related puns (which is cringy at some points if you think about it) and on another issue, it has something to do with food. Let’s move onto the next page.
Well, would you look at that? Ads….from GMA Network and Anime Club. Now I’m sure most of you know what GMA is, but Anime Club? Anime Club, based on the information I got from the magazine itself and with the stuff I get on the internet, is either Telesuccess’ anime distribution company or an independent company that handles anime distribution for Telesuccess and other companies. Now, I’m going to upload all ads from Anime Club here on one go so that we don’t have to go through them one by one.
Now we have the ads out of the way, let’s get the contents themselves… starting with something you can get from Wikipedia and other wikis nowadays.
Now we begin with the content read-through and review. First, “Shrouded In Myths” which tackles on how mythology plays a role on some anime titles from how Dragon Ball’s main characters (pre-Z) were based on the Chinese legend Journey To The West or Yu Yu Hakusho’s world building is based on Japanese demon folklore. Nothing special here, moving on.
What would be an anime magazine be without anime lyrics? Each issue would have anime lyrics for anime opening and ending songs called “Animelodies” wherein they would copy and paste not only the Romaji lyrics of the whole song but also who sang these songs. I wish English translated lyrics are also on the section but I don’t think there is one back in the day.
Another ad from GMA network telling you and me to not let this be a eulogy to their “Anime Assault” programming block probably due to Pangako Sa ‘Yo (the one with Jericho Rosales, not Daniel “KFC Colonel” Padilla) kicking it’s ass on the Neilsen ratings to the point that they turned this print ad into a TV ad right here.
Enough about this ad, let’s go the creme de la crop.
We’re now onto our main feature, folks. There’s a reason why there are a lot of cat-related puns in this issue and it’s because of what’s on the spotlight: Cat’s Eye. Now, here’s the thing, when this specific issue was published, Cat’s Eye was airing on GMA in the afternoons and at that point, we’re already in a post-anime at primetime boom and we’re already entering a homemade teleserye boom with ABS-CBN leading the charge (and wait for a few years for the Chinese to invade our TV sets with Meteor Garden) so since anime is already spoiled goods at this point, where to put it? Answer, afternoons wherein most kids are already out of school and into their own respective homes to rest after a long day’s work.
Now onto the article and the anime itself, to give you the summary of the show, this tidbit from a Reddit post says it all:
Kung naging babae sina Lupin. Sila yung tipong mag aacrobatics pag nakakita ng laser.
As for the article, they did a great job on telling what the anime is all about from the plot to the characters, they even bothered to tell the change in tone from the first season to the second season. It’s short, sweet, and straight to the point. That’s all I can say here.
Next up is more cat-related content from here on out and when you turn to the next page, you will see a list of anime’s most popular cats and a mini-profile section from the name to the fur color to what’s their role on the show. Too bad they didn’t add Doraemon to the list but moving on.
On the next page, we have a What’s Michael review. What’s this grammatically incorrect anime you ask? It’s a manga series written by one Makoto Kobayashi in 1984 and was published and serialized in Weekly Morning magazine, the same magazine that has Cells at Work BLACK, Vagabond, and Space Brothers.It’s about a cat that goes with multiple owners and it showcases how their daily lives and how it affects not only Michael the tomcat but the lives of other cats in the vicinity as well.
Don’t get me wrong, this series is something you might not enjoy if you’re not into the slice-of-life genre but back in the 80s and in some cases, the 90s, it was as popular as Gundam and Kamen Rider to the Japanese audience to the point that NEC decided to use Michael as their mascot for their CD player ads back in 1985
Now onto something we don’t see back then or ever since in anime magazines, celebrity spotlight. If it were me, I wouldn’t bother adding this section on my anime-themed magazine but I think this is something being rarely done in Questor since on the other issue that I have, there’s no celeb spotlight on it.
As to who’s on the spotlight, it’s Shaina Magdayao. The article focuses on her being a Questor reader and a giant Hello Kitty fan. Nothing special. Moving on.
Now we’re in the middle of the magazine, and another section that only appears from time to time, Fight! aka Death Battle 2000 as I like to call it. Based on how I look at it, Questor would base their feature death battles based on subscriber mails/emails and then they pick the best battle. In this specific issue, it’s obviously going to be a catfight.
We Are Anime. True words have never been spoken and GMA was in the right place at the right time. You see, back in the mid-80s, after People Power I took place, an influx of foreign programming came into the airwaves from TV dramas such as Dallas to Super Sentai season 8, Bioman. Like the rest of these shows, anime came and went to be provided as kids programming and nothing else up until the late 90s came. Not only did it garner high ratings but people as old as your typical working class Filipino back then already have their waifus/husbandos (Kaede Rukawa comes to mind) and you have to be there to really comprehend how mainstream anime was back then unlike now wherein we have our own containment chambers in Facebook and let the Kpop daebaks and Marvel fans take over the normiespace. In honor of the website, let me give you how the site changed in a span of 7 years.
Next up, an article that doesn’t have to do anything with cats, or anime for some reason. We now learn how to use tarot cards! Yay! Well, the segment is called On Deck and it revolves on cards and card games and how to play them and such but in all seriousness, I know most anime involve spiritism and all but actually teaching sorcery to gullible teenagers? Shame on you.
Enough about that, the article provides what those cards are, how they work, how it relates to some anime and it’s lore. I think beliefs aside, this is what I call a filler article made just to pad out the magazine but for those who want to know more about this stuff, it provides some insight and information on what those are.
Now we move out of cats to pets in general, virtual pets that is. It gives us a peek on what are these virtual pets that we can obtain from Tamagotchi, to Pokemon, to the Aibo (remember those?), to mobile pets. Yes, mobile pets, in 1999 wherein mobile internet doesn’t exist, much as colorized screens. It gives us something to wish for this Christmas and it did its job successfully.
More meat and potatoes along the way. Anime Continuum contains anime synopses chopped up in small tidbits, just enough to give you some recommendations without the potential for any spoilers to leak and by far, this takes up the most pages from the magazine, six in total and this is on the two issues I own but not sure about the others.
I have nothing much to say here because they don’t say anything but here’s the anime, here’s what it’s all about, the end.
Audiofiles, or as I’d like to call it, Animelodies:The Album doesn’t only review a song, it reviews a whole album. Since most anime-based albums contain BGMs, opening songs, closing songs, and insert songs from the show they are basing it on, their basis for reviewing such pieces of work is not only does it sound good, but it also bases on how immersive can the soundtrack be.
Take their review of one of those Slam Dunk OSTs for example, they commented that the songs are all over the place, there’s no sense of atmosphere on any of the tracks included on the CD and in some points, some EDs are missing.
In short, this is one of the sections you would turn to when you’re planning not to buy some anime music in CD form or search for in Spotify or pirate it on some website. In short, this one stands the test of time.
Accessing Memory Card is the magazine’s video game corner and I’m not gonna complain about this one that much because it’s common to other magazines of this caliber like Ozine but what makes this one different to Ozine’s is that this covers popular fighting games (at least on the two issues I own) while Ozine’s cover the visual novels you play on your mom’s basement.
Game in question is Capcom vs SNK: Millennium Fight 2000, the first game developed by Capcom in the SNK vs Capcom series. Based on the review that I read, their main gripe is that this game was rushed by Capcom for some reason and the fact that some characters are being misplaced as “weaklings”, reaction times being slowed down compared to other fighting games made by either Capcom and SNK, and the fact that Capcom decided to use the four button control setup which SNK uses instead of their own signature six-button configuration is what they perceive as negatives but other than that, they praised Capcom for putting it on the Naomi board and that the tier system the game uses for their character select screen brings balance to the game. All in all, they based their reviews on how the game works (on Dreamcast that is, based on what I have read) and gave it the pros and the cons. No point system required.
Doujin Drawing Board, the place to be wherein you can see submitted art from Questor readers and subscribers. This is something I commonly see in magazines like K-Zone and then you’ll see letters and drawings from kids as young as 6 to as old as 13. The same can be said with Questor but they separated the letters with the drawings.
Onto to how they were able to submit those, let me steal some lines from the people in charge
We encourage every fanboy and fangirl to send in their artwork (orignals, don’t trace over somebody else’s drawings!) to Doujin Drawing Board c/o Questor Magazine, 206 Quadstar Bldg., Ortigas Ave., Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila.
Your masterpieces should be no larger than 8 1/2″ by 11″. You can use pencils, crayons, markers, pen and ink, whatever works for you. As much as possible, try not to fold your artwork. Those folds gave us a hard time you know.
Those who want their works returned to them should send us a self-addressed stamped envelope with their entries. Oh, we can’t process any entries sent via email at this time.
The best part is if you’re good enough (or lucky enough), you’ll be the Questor Pick of the month and we’ll GIVE YOU A PRIZE!
As with what could be that prize, nobody knows unless your artwork was selected back then (if you know, let me know in the comments section) and what’s with the “no folding please” thing? Is it hard on the layout guy’s side? Does it affect how it looks on the magazine? Let me know in the comments as well. One last thing, how can they know if the art was traced? Do they search the web for anything that looks like the submitted piece? Considering late 90’s internet speeds, that would take a lot of time on their end.
Anime 101. This is meant for those who are new to anime and picked up Questor because it’s cool. As I have seen here, readers can send trivia themselves but most of the time, it’s the Questor team who provides tidbits. In this specific issue, something strikes me and let me give you an excerpt.Q: What is the difference between anime and cartoons?
Now this was published in 1999, we’re now in 2019 and there are people, yes people, who still think anime is different and better than, cartoons. I believe that the belief didn’t came from Filipinos who didn’t know better about anime but it came from those Americans who didn’t know any better because they got a taste of Dragon Ball Z back in 1999 and saw the action scenes and they think that it beats watching CareBears dude and not only that, companies such as Funimation, Geneon (RIP) and ADV were pumping out releases such as Perfect Blue, RahXephon and such that most of those newly converted fans think that they are the elite and that anything else is just for kids.
The thing is, the debate that anime isn’t cartoons vs anime is cartoons is something not new to the post-Geocities crowd. It has been done and done to death it is, let’s move on.
Not all the time Anime 101 is pure Qs and As, they also provide insight on popular anime tropes like why does anime hair look eccentric and weird when you take a look at it and put it in the real world and other stuff.
Welcome to a blast from the not-so-distant past, F@nmail. This is what you can call letters from the editor in the ’80s so there’s nothing special on the section itself but it’s more of a sneak peek on the how the anime community we all know and sometimes ridicule came to be.
We’re now onto the last page folks and this is going to be a two-parter. First, it’s わたしたち (watashi-tachi) aka some interview piece with someone known in the country’s anime scene. Based on what I have seen here, it looks like something that would fit in Reader’s Digest for how the interview was worded and such. The other one is @nime. It’s “Hey! Look at this website I’ve found that is related to anime.”
End of story…if we’re looking at it by 2019 standards but in 1999, this is something useful when your only source for anime news are magazines like this and internet speeds are limited to less than 56kbps (ISP Bonanza anyone?). It can also be a gateway and a time capsule to the World Wide Web for Weebs long before social media and it’s group pages proliferated the scene. Word of advice, if you wanted to visit these sites, you will need to rely heavily on sites like archive.org because most of the servers hosting these are already dead.
Part III: Parting Words
I would like to say in advance that I skipped some pages that I deemed not part of the regular content on this magazine because, they’re not commonly a part of the magazine (some issues have those, some issues don’t) but let’s get on to what my take on the magazine is. I would say if you’re like me who was already an anime fan when the magazine’s revival started and still an anime fan nowadays (although in my case, it has lessened all throughout the years), Questor is a relic of the past but in a good way because it reminds you of that childhood when you’re just watching Monster Rancher as a kid on GMA and now that you’re working at a 9 to 5 job and the only thing you get to do once you went home is to sleep, it’s nice to reminisce about the old days once in a while.
Objectively, the content placing is all over the place. As I have prefaced in the some issues have it, some issues don’t phrase, there are some articles and sections that you won’t see on one issue and is occupying two pages on the next. I also don’t like how some of the sections are shortened to the point of two of them are sharing a page although I am sensing that they did this to lessen printing costs and following the “keep it short and sweet” to a tee.
Overall, Questor, in it’s “current” form, is a fun read from time to time but if you’re into consistency in content placing and you’re only into modern anime, I’d suggest you stick to Ozine but both are dead anyway so what do I know.
3 thoughts on “The Ultimate Anime Magazine 20 Years Later”
Neat. This brings back memories.
LikeLiked by 1 person