• REVIEW: Phase 6 Edition of My Little Pony: Pony Tales Volume 2

    It's Japan time everyone!

    Though the official Japanese dub had ended a few years ago, the MLP comics are now being translated at a fairly regular pace.

    The second volume of the Phase 6 edition of the My Little Pony comics is now out in Japan! What makes this edition unique from the other versions published around the world is that there are two unique covers designed for them! Both are illustrated by IDW Cover veteran, and Japan Native, Kaori "sbis" Matsuo, which makes them a delightful collectors item for the IDW Comic collector.

    Which is the point of view I shall be reviewing the edition on. How does the trade dress work in this edition, and is it worth the expense of shipping internationally from Japan?

    As for reviewing the translation, I'm going to skip out on that. I am not qualified to rate a japanese translation of an english comic for one simple reason: I can't read japanese.

    So is the book worth it to collect? You'll find out in the full review after the break!

    To start we shall take a look at the standard edition of Pony Tales Volume 2 (which you can order directly from Amazon Japan here). First item of note is that unlike trade paperbacks published around most of the globe, this trade paperback edition is published with a dust jacket.

    This is not unusual for Japanese publications. Most trade paperbacks published in japan are published with dust jackets. I don't know why it is done like this, but it is something unique about the Japanese publishing industry I find interesting.

    Another interesting tidbit is that the actual cover for the book is printed entirely in blue ink. Once again, this is a unique characteristic of the Japanese publishing industry. The actual cover of the trade paperbacks are always printed in a single color—for instance the Japanese translation of Pony Tales Volume 1 by Village Books is printed in nothing but pink ink.

    I like to think of it as printing the cover in grayscale, only improved since it's a single color other than black.

    Finally the last part of the edition is the obi strip. Let me answer your question: an obi is a strip of paper looped around a book or other product. Usually it contains supplemental information about the product product being sold, advertisements, and other promotional materials.

    Obi strips are generally viewed as disposable, but they are a collector's item to a certain extent. Older obi strips are much rarer and harder to come by and as such make having a complete edition of the product much more valuable.

    So far, everything about this edition makes me smile.

    The back cover design is beautiful! It's a collage of the interior panels inside the comic, but it is arranged so that it still gives off the impression of being sequential art in its own right!

    Furthermore, the text is all in English! This showcases the original source material the trade edition came from. Excellent!

    Opening up the dust jacket and obi strip showcases the full cover at once. Yes I love everything about this, but there is one detail on the obi strip which caught my full attention.

    The obi does indeed reveal that the next book in the series will be the trade paperback for the IDW Equestria Girls Comics! Which means the next volume is basically going to be nothing but Tony Fleecs's art!

    Those Japanese Bronys will have no idea what's about to hit them.

    So let's take a look at the interior of the book. As it turns out, the original cover for the trade paperback by Amy Mebberson is still being used in the book. This time it is the title page of the trade paperback as opposed to the cover.

    This is a really nice touch. I love it.

    As for the comic itself, just look at those ponies speaking Japanese! Ben Bates's art already has a massive Japanese art influence on it, so seeing it with actual Japanese text on it just feels right.

    However, one drawback to this translated edition. The hand drawn sound effects are not translated into japanese.  This is something other international translations do when necessary—the Spanish edition in particular has made it into its own art form. Seeing it skipped in the Japanese edition is a little disappointing, but not deal breaking.

    Come of think of it, the reverse is usually done in English translations of manga. So is this really an oversight or is it an art form homage to western translation practices? Eh, something to ponder about later.

    Also, Ben Bates's art is still amazing, and I have absolutely no problem showing off more!

    Here we see Amy Mebberson's art translated into Japanese. Beautiful!

    Question for the readers, does anyone know what the pink slip is in this book? I've found it on every single japanese book I have ever imported from the Japan, but I still have no idea what it is. Neat to look at though.

    Especially since it divides a set number of pages into its own section. I view it as a neat little bookmark. A bookmark which brings us straight into Agnes Garbowska's artwork!

    I always liked her watercolor coloring style. Her more recent comic pages being colored by Heather Breckel are amazing, but there is something about her hand colored pages that really feels unique and instantly identifiable as her.

    Seeing these pages makes me want to see her illustrate an entire book like this again.

    Here we have Andy Price's art translated into Japanese. Flash Sentry is still being mocked by his fellow guards, only now in Japanese. Tibbles is the absolute best My Little Pony pet ever created.

    Best Micro Series issue starring best princess is now translated into Japanese. This is all kinds of awesome. There is no way to deny it!

    This is pure icing on the cake! Katie Cook's artwork is concentrated cuteness in its purest form. Seeing her art with japanese text just feels…

    Is it wrong to say Katie's art has always felt almost chibi in appearance for her MLP illustrations? I love her art to death, and not being able to read the text only makes me appreciate the artwork more.

    Now for the variant cover. There are a number of differences between the variant cover and the standard cover. All of them are in the cover of the book. As such, I will not be going back into the interior of the book.

    Before I get into this, I really want to talk about the cover art for this one. Out of every single cover created for a trade paperback collection of the My Little Pony Comics, my all time favorite original cover created for trade is still The Rocky Horror Picture Show parody cover by Jay Fosgitt. That said this one is my second favorite, and I shall tell you why.

    This cover makes use of not only the characters who are starring in the comics collected in this trade, but actually uses elements from all four stories to create an illustration which is 100% unique to the collection.

    The cover idea and layout are by Phase 6 editor "Gentron". I have to say he is a genius for this idea. Trade paperbacks in the United States, and most countries which print their own comic collections, make use of a cover originally created for the individual issues of the comics collected in the book.

    Usually this is the cover for the first issue of the collection. The fact this cover was created to be a specific representation of the all contents of this book is amazing! That fact alone make this is a must buy (which you can order from Amazon Japan here while supplies last!) not only for My Little Pony comic collectors, but for all comic collectors. This is a true rarity for the industry, and an absolute delight for everyone!

    Now… what is interesting to note, is that what makes the limited edition a limited edition is the dust jacket itself. The actual trade paperback is identical between the two editions. Furthermore, the variant cover doesn't come with an obi strip.

    Even then, the only part of the dust jacket which is different between the regular edition and the variant edition is the front cover. The back cover and the jacket flaps are identical between the two editions. Again, slightly disappointing, but not deal breaking.

    There is one last detail about the Japanese translations by Phase 6 to take note of. Like many Manga TankĊbon collections, and most famously with Dragon Ball, there is a connecting spine illustration which will be spread across all the volume in the set. For those with keen eyes, and a good memory, the connecting spine illustration is the six connecting covers for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic issue 1 by Andy Price.

    Each individual cover is divided into 6 equal parts. Since there are 6 connecting covers for issue 1, that means there is currently room for 36 volumes of the IDW MLP Comics to be published in Japan. This means there is room for an additional 34 volumes of translated comics before something has to be done to expand the connecting illustration.

    Currently there are 28 IDW Trade Paperbacks of My Little Pony Comics that haven't been published in Japan. So right now it isn't a concern for how the expanded illustration is going to be handled. I am looking forward to it though. I wonder if Phase 6 will hire Andy to add a 7th connecting illustration featuring everypony's favorite muffin loving Pegasus.

    Out of the 6 translated editions I own for Pony Tales Volume 2, the two Japanese editions are by far the best of the bunch. If you couldn't tell by now, I highly recommend that everyone who can should purchase these books.  They are incredible collector's items, and not quite as difficult to get your hands on like the 7th translated edition of this book.

    I shall get my hands on that one of these days. This I swear!!!

    Anyways, what do you think about these books? Be sure to discuss in the comments section.

    Till next time folks, this has been Trusty Sple The Illustrious Q. See you in the comments!