A practical analysis of popular Chinese magazines

Build a better mouse pad...

As a website concerned with Chinese media, Danwei posts fairly frequently about Chinese magazines. These articles typically present a bit of background on the title and the publisher, and then summarize some of the articles in the current issue.

In the blog post translated below, author Ma Boyong takes a different approach.

Ma made his name with the online thriller She Died on QQ (她死在QQ上). His latest book is The History of the Conquest of the Maya (殷商舰队玛雅征服史), a comic novel that tells the story of the Shang Dynasty's engagement with pre-Columbian Central America.

A general evaluation of retail magazines

by Ma Boyong

This is a splendid time for magazines. The marketplace is seeing all kinds of magazines sprout up like bamboo shoots after spring rains: the revolutionary situation is excellent. As a member of the power distribution sector, I am immensely gratified by this great progress that the media arena has made. I am acquainted with a number of weird folks who mail me their publications every month, and I occasionally purchase reading material on my own to pass the time. So I decided to conduct an objective evaluation of these magazines.

Of course, I really can't discuss primary parameters such as subject matter, style, and content; that's not within the scope of my abilities. My investigation is conducted from another perspective, a perspective that rarely receives attention, yet is highly important nonetheless.

According to my own scant understanding, the life-span of a copy of a magazine is extremely short. To the reader, the majority of magazines lose their value once they are read. How to have each issue linger in the readers' hands—this is where magazines focus their energies. This, I believe, is an excellent point of entry for my evaluation.

So I fired up my computer, placed the magazines undergoing the evaluation to one side, and began the tests. To increase the sample size and arrive at a more accurate conclusion, I chose Novoland Plus (幻想1+1), Duzhe (读者), Impression (印象), Movie View (看电影), Chinese National Geography (中国国家地理), FHM (男人装), and Ray Li (瑞丽)—the last one was left behind by my younger sister when she stayed here and has nothing to do with me.

My test instrument was Sexy Beach 2. This is a hentai game, but it is not merely a hentai game. The player must constantly move the mouse to change perspective and distance, using all different points of view to appreciate the beautiful form of the female lead—I mean the female leads—as they pose in their swimsuits. They flirt with you on the sand, dressed in the swim-wear you select, and as your relationship deepens you can....but I digress.

Because the game requires a high degree of mouse sensitivity, and because the quality of mouse response is immediately apparent, there is no better instrument for this evaluation. My mouse is a Logitech wireless optical mouse; the precise model number is unimportant.

Novoland Plus October 2007

The first test subject was Novoland Plus. This is a new publication that primarily publishes fantasy fiction. It has a rock-solid editorial department; half of its editors aren't even gay.

I gently picked up the mouse and set it down on Novoland Plus. The surface of Novoland Plus was quite slick; I am unfamiliar with the term of art in the publishing world - it was probably oiled or coated or something. The mouse moved easily on the magazine cover, the girl on screen rolled about innocently on the sand, her creamy, glistening skin bouncing about in the sunlight, her graceful movements showing off all of her stunning curves.

Test outcome: 8 points +1

The "+1" is a special bonus because of the inaugural issue, and the February and September issues this year. Perhaps November, too, but that's still undetermined.*

Duzhe December 1, 2007

The second test subject was Duzhe. I'm a long-time Duzhe reader, from back when it was still called Reader's Digest. Though this magazine is now coming under increasing criticism and censure, its inherent petty-bourgeois sentiment never fails to calm my spirits.

I gently picked up the mouse and set it down on Duzhe. When my wrist move left a few centimeters, Duzhe followed the mouse to the left a few centimeters. This was no good, so I picked up the mouse and tried using more gentle pressure. The results this time were a bit better, but there was always a sort of magnetism between the mouse and the Duzhe cover that often caused the pointer to get stuck on the screen, like static during a melodious piece of music. So the girl on the screen rolled about with difficulty, her creamy, glistening skin bouncing about in the sunlight, and her graceful movements still showed off every curve. It was just that her reactions were delayed a bit.

Test outcome: 4 points

Impression November, 2007

The third magazine was Impression. This magazine, edited by one of my friends, is brimming with his weird tastes and little-known general knowledge. It sits on the newsstand like a cactus growing in a tropical rainforest.

I gently picked up the mouse and placed in on top of Impressions. The cover of this issue was Che Guevara. I hesitated, but then had a thought: didn't these revolutionary martyrs shed their blood so that I could indulge in life without restraint? This put me at ease.

The slickness of Impression's cover tops even Novoland Plus. I had complete control of movement, and I could direct things with ease. So the girl rolled about sexily on the sand, her creamy, glistening skin bouncing about in the sunlight, her movements showing off her every curve. Even some fairly difficult positions could be reached with an easy swipe. It was an entirely unique experience. Saint Guevara was indeed protecting me from above.

Test outcome: 8 points +2

The two bonus points are to commend the chivalry and generosity of the magazine's editor in chief. I have never purchased this magazine; I receive every issue from him.

Movie View November 15, 2007

The fourth magazine was Movie View. This magazine has small print, lots of pages, and lots of beautiful women. These are its redeeming features; however, it's too academic for me, so I really just flip through it for industry gossip. For this sort of thing, 10 yuan is a little expensive. This is where it fails.

The cover of Movie View was gorgeous, but that was where it ended. On its surface, the mouse moved like a clumsy ice-skater. My attention was diverted for a moment and—zip—there it went, and the scene on the screen switched from an innocent face to palm trees, nearly making me dizzy. Under such circumstances it was impossible to perform any delicate actions. The entire time I could only choose between "have the girl spin once" and "have the girl spin twice."

Test outcome: 5 points

Chinese National Geography November 2007

The fifth magazine was Chinese National Geography. This is a weighty title, and because I selected a special issue on Three Kingdoms geography, it was even better.*

But unfortunately, weightiness does not imply affinity. The mouse behaved as clumsily here as it did on Movie View. Even stranger, it would exhibit the characteristics of Duzhe—the mouse would stick to the cover and both would travel together. This uncertain state made me unable to predict where it would be at any given second. So on-screen, the girl rolled about with no pattern whatsoever, and her creamy, glistening skin bounced about in a sort of Brownian Motion. Her stunning curves were like unfiltered static.

Test outcome: 4 points

Ah Duo, Zeng Li, and Tong Yao on FHM, December 2007

The sixth magazine was FHM.

This is a really high-end magazine, so high that I feel there's no need to use it as a mouse pad. In fact, when you have this magazine at hand, the girls on the screen lose a bit of their lustre. Rather than using the mouse to play with the girls, why not just look inside the magazine? This is what I did during the test session.

Test outcome: No result

Ray Li December 2007

The seventh magazine was Ray Li.

Once again, I want to make clear that I did not purchase this magazine. It's not because I'm high-minded or refined: I really just don't get it....

There is no empty space on the cover of Ray Li. I hoped that the effect it would have on my mouse would be as magnificent, but the performance of the mouse was just average, below Impression, at about the same level as Novoland Plus. However, Ray Li has things that other magazines cannot match: it is a large format title, with every page as wonderfully glossy as the cover. You can read the magazine while you use the mouse—you aren't forced to ignore one or the other. It's on a completely different level from the other magazines, which are only glossy on the outside, although you could force a comparison with Movie View.

I looked at the girl on-screen rolling about on the sand, her creamy, glistening skin bouncing about in the sunlight, her graceful movements showing off all of her stunning curves. Then I looked at the magnificent clothing, accessories, and cosmetics, the use of which was unknown. I had a sense of disbelief: "Did the same world produce all of these?"

Test outcome: 6 points

So I made my way out of the game, brought my turbulent heart under control, and came to the following righteous and moral conclusion:

Tomorrow I will go buy a mouse pad.

1: Ma Boyong had stories published in those three issues; the November issue of Novoland Plus has been delayed. The magazine is published as the bottom-of-the-month issue of Red Bean (红豆, #CN45-1058), a magazine of stories and essays.
2: I was unable to find the issue to which Ma Boyong refers. The Chinese National Geographic cover forum presents four potential covers every month prior to publication of that month's issue. Readers can vote on their favorite (whether it influences the outcome I'm not sure). South Wind View used to do something similar—it would print variant cover designs in each issue, giving a peek at how the editorial office decides which stories to emphasize.

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There are currently 3 Comments for A practical analysis of popular Chinese magazines.

Comments on A practical analysis of popular Chinese magazines

Great text. genial ce Ma Boyong ! you too Joel ...the Roland of Beijing ! Thanks again for your well chosen picks and all these good translations. Keep going !

On the serious side: this is further proof that print magazines are a dying genre

On the not-so-serious side: is sexy beach a real game?

You've never played a hentai dating sim before, juhuacha? Here's the Sina Games guide...

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