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AICN Anime Report: Slayers; Read or Die; Uzumaki; Akira; Gundam; Love Hina; City Hunter; Raijin Comics

Ol' Father Geek here with Scott to lay before you another Anime/Manga column to fill all your needs in that area for another week. Good stuff galore, all in one spot right below in...

The AICN Anime Report...

By Scott Green

City Hunter: Secret Service

Released By ADV Films

A testimony to the Japanese popularity of City Hunter is that when Jackie Chan wanted to reach out to the Japanese market he did a live action City Hunter movie. The urban action series spanned 35 manga (comic) volumes 140 TV episodes, and a number of movies and TV specials.

City Hunter primarily focuses of freelance bodyguard/raging womanizer Ryo (Joe in the dub) Saeba, but it has a bit of the Cowboy Bebop/Lupin III ensemble caper flare. City Hunter is the business name for Ryo Saeba, and his partner/sometimes significant other Kaori, which only takes cases to protect women. There is a slap-stick dynamic between the two partners. While Ryo cares about Kaori, he never misses an opportunity to flirt with an attractive girl, or steal their undergarments. Habits that Kaori responds to with Looney Toon-stype violence. Thousand ton hammers and the like.

In "Secret Service", Ryo, and Kaori are hired to protect a Japanese secret service agent who is the secretly the daughter of a revolutionary from the Guinam Republic. After 16 years in prison her father is touring Japan in preparation for to run for the presidency of his country against a candidate for the military party.

The movie is generally an action/comedy with no pretense at believability (except maybe for a scene in which the character's bullet riddled car stays bullet riddled in a subsequent scene). When consider Japan's strict laws in such matters as gun control, a Magnum totting private bodyguards taking down crowds of thugs is even more amusingly absurd. Putting aside the moral, and legal implications of the fire-arms usage in the movie, the mechanics are laugh out loud funny. Grenades are deflected at close ranger with physical shots, guns are reloaded by people standing in front of a firing mob with no cover, duels take place between combatants at close range user very large automatic weapons, and both parties miss with the other is dodging.

The movie manages several memorably good action sequence, namely some showy martial arts by the revolutionary's assistant, and car chase similar to Hayao Miyazaki's famous on in "Castle of Cagliostro".

Love Hina Volume 2: Go West

Released By Bandai

The relationship comedy Lone Hina becomes more endearing, and its characters more likable in its second volume.

As a young child Keitaro made a promise to playmate that he would accompany her to the prestigious Tokyo University. After repeated failing the college entrance exams, Keitaro takes a job managing his family's girl's board house/hot spring will studying for to retake the test. This position surrounds Keitaro with a group of electric, attractive young women including Naru (a female version of Keitaro, and his main love interest, full of misplaced energy), Shinobu (young, demure, the cook of the household), Kitsune (lazy, hedonistic, a bit of a trickster), Kaolla (from some foreign tropical place, very much like Ed from Cowboy Bebop, but more annoy than charming), and Motoko (kendo/sword fighting fanatic, shy, but an intimidating physical presence).

The first episode of the volume begins with Keitaro and Naru cramming for their college entrance exam. What begins with reasonably typical household chaos - burning cooking, samurai girl chasing flying alarm chock, takes a turn for more surreal when Keitaro, and Naru travel to the wrong school for the test. In an attempted to make it to the correct school Keitaro is chased by a microbus, and collides with a girl named Mutsumi Otohime, who like Keitaro is taking the test for the third time.

Both Naru, and Keitaro bomb the test. Keitaro is devastated because of this continued value to live up to his promise. Naru is devastated because she sacrifice her high school years studying for the exam. Individually they both decide to take a vacation. On the train they bump into each other and break their glasses. Without being able to recognize each other they meet again, and hit it off well, a development that takes a turn for the worse when their glasses are fixed.

These two episodes are the series' strongest outing so far. Their focus makes them genuinely charming, and the characters likable. The characters react well, playing off each others' foibles, which allows the series to go slightly overboard without the inherent outlandishness of the series being overbearing.

The second set of two episodes of the disc doesn't work quite as first. First, a virtual reality machine reveals Naru's ideals boyfriend, who turns out to be in her graduating high school class. Then, the characters share a dream, which takes the form of a swords and sorcery RPG game. While the episodes of amusing at times they progressively lose focus, and turn away from the characters to gag which are frequently hit or miss. The series displays a bad habit of interjection excessively odd element for no reason, that are not amusing, and don't add to the characters or story.

Mutsumi is a nice addition to the cast. She's a very content, and zen girl, who happens to be very anemic. She faints at the slightest breeze, or for no reason at all, though mostly at times that thwarts the furthering of Keitaro's relationship with Naru. She can also communicate with the series' mascot yellow turtle. She's more of a comic device than a character, but its one of the series' more consistently amusing comic devices.

The attempts to the female characters depth meets with mixed successes. After this volume, Naru is probably the human believable character in the series. Her reactions to Keitaro's promise story, and theory that she was the girl he made the promise to, and the revelation that she sacrificed all of her social life, and interest in high school to student for the college entrance exams, and subsequent reaction to her high school graduation ceremony where believable and genuine. They give her depth rather than a launching platform for wacky situations Conversely Motoko's (the samurai girl) reaction to the proposed notion that she is going soft by living with a male, and her abandonment issues seem more pat, and like excuse. The protagonist, Keitaro, is pure sitcom, a contrived semblance for character traits unified for comic effect.

Fans of Japanese popular culture will find some very amusing homages to samurai films, RPG video games and giant monster movies (Mothra in particular), some of which are fairly blatant, and depending on your familiarity, some are more subtle.

This Week's Anime and Manga Releases

Anime
  • Brain Powered Collection 1 - Birth
  • GTO - The Bully (Vol. 2)
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 - Stardust Memories (Vol. 3)
  • Pilot Candidate - The Test (Vol. 4)
  • Power Stone - Friends & Enemies (Vol. 5)
  • Real Bout High School - Enter The Samurai Girl (Vol. 1)
  • Ronin Warriors - Rescue Operations (Vol. 2)
  • Steel Angel Kurumi - Angel On My Shoulder (Vol. 1)

Manga
  • Ceres Celestial Legend Part 2 #6 (Of 6)
  • Corrector Yui Vol 3 Pkt Tp
  • Dragonball Vol 8 Tp
  • El Hazard Vol 1 Tp
  • Inu Yasha Part 6 #13 (Of 15)
  • Juline Vol 5 Manga Gn
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion Vol 6
  • Paradise Kiss Vol 1 Gn
  • Parasyte Vol 10 Pkt Gn
  • Peach Girl Vol 4 Pkt Gn
  • Phoenix Tale Of The Future Tp
  • Pokemon Advs Part 7 #2 (Of 5)
  • Ragnarok Vol 1 Gn

Dark Horse Comics will also be releasing Lone Wolf 2100 #1 (Of 4), an American "Lone Wolf and Cub" spin-off.

Phoenix is a character is manga (comic) great Osamu Tezuka's self described lives work about the pattern of human life. See here for a description of the preview. Brain Powered is a giant robot series from Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino, with music by Yoko Kanno.

Ragnarok is the manga re-telling of Norse mythology's end times.

Real Bout High School is a comedy action series about a samurai obsessed school drive who ends up protecting the world from invading dragons and demons.

Steel Angel Kurumi an alternate history series about a boy in the 1920s who wakes up a military haired robot constructed by a fleeing military scientist. The first volume features six 15 minute episodes.

Synch-Point Corrections

The release of FLCL has been delayed to June 25th, not the 2nd.

Also, its been pointed out that the mother in "I'm Gonna Be an Angel" is a witch.

Bandai Entertainment Announces Both The Theatrical And Exclusive Dvd Home Video Release Of Mobile Suit Gundam: Char'S Counterattack For Summer 2002

Bandai Entertainment will premiere the long awaited Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack motion picture at this year's Anime Expo 2002 convention during the July 4th Weekend in Long Beach, California. A limited theatrical roll out is planned with engagements across North America soon afterwards. The Char's Counterattack 35mm feature will be presented in its original Japanese language with English subtitles. Universal Century 0093.

13 years have passed since the events of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series. But the foundations of peace are once again threatened by a new Neo Zeon army led by the infamous Char Aznable! Their ultimate goal is to initiate a nuclear winter upon Earth ushering in a new age of mankind into space. Armed with the state of the art Nu Gundam mobile suit, Amuro Ray and the Federation forces are all that stand against Neo Zeon. Torn between vengeance, duty, and love - the final battle between bitter rivals Char Aznable and Amuro Ray is finally at hand!

Originally created and directed by legendary animation director Yoshiyuki Tomino (Mobile Suit Gundam, Brain Powered) - The Mobile Suit Gundam saga is considered one of the greatest anime property of all time. For more information about the ever expanding world of Gundam, please visit www.gundamofficial.com.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack - The Motion Picture DVD comes packaged in an exclusive Collector's DVD slipcase featuring both the original Japanese and English language tracks, along with English subtitles, a brand new Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound audio track, reversible DVD jacket cover, interactive menus, scene selections, original theatrical trailers, a memorial booklet, creator Filmography, making of the Gundam model kit musical, and Bandai Entertainment previews. DVD street date is currently set for 8.20.2002.

Media Blasters Announces New Acquisitions

According to Anime Nation, after virtually ignoring their website for over 6 months, Media Blasters has now re-launched their homepage with a new site design and word of several new licenses. Several of the titles announced have been announced before, but several of the titles, including 10 Warriors of Tokyo, Demon Lord Dante, Dog World, Leiji Matsumoto's Gun Frontier, Mars, and Varom One are seemingly series that have not yet premiered in Japan. The existing titles include:

Babel II - the recent TV series adaptation of the classic psychic warfare action manga.

Genma Wars - the currently on air TV series adaptation of the classic psychic/sci-fi anime movie Harmageddon.

Idol Project - A wonderful and bizarre 4 episode OAV series featuring literally hundreds of cute anime girls and a cast including a half-dozen of the most famous voice actresses to ever work in the industry.

Jungle Emperor Leo - also known as Kimba the White Lion.

Madara - a violent 2 episode OAV series from the early 1990s involving fantasy settings and cyborgs.

Space Pirate Mito - the 13 episode 1999 space adventure/action comedy from Xebec. It was quickly followed by a second 13 episode season/series.

Wild 7 Another - the currently on air TV series adaptation of the classic manga about wild and violent motorcycle police.

Y's - The classic Falcom fantasy RPG series was turned into 2 OAV series in the late 1980s.

Pistol Opera -

Revered yakuza (gangster) movie director Seijun Suzuki returned to directing last year with this wild and bizarre live action story about a guild of professional assassins.

Weekly Manga Heading to the US

Japan Today reports starting in October, Weekly Comic Bunch will be available in the US under the name "Raijin Comics".

The U.S. publication will feature author Tetsuo Hara's "Hokuto No Ken" (The Fist of the North Star) , Tsukasa Hojo's "City Hunter", Grappler Baki and Niwano Makoto's Bomber Girl.

Comic Bunch was launched in May last year. With weekly circulation standing at about 720,000 copies.

In addition to being released in North America for Manga fans, the anthology will be distributed in Japan as an English learning tool.

Kare Kano Delayed

According to Anime on DVDM.a<, the first DVD volume of His & Her Circumstances, scheduled for release on May 28th, has been delayed by about a week to "make sure the revised alternate angle works properly."

Kare Kano is a shoujo (girl's) high school drama directed by Evangelion creator/director Hideaki Anno.

Anime Juku Now In English

Anime News Network reports Japanese online anime creation tutorial course Anime Juku is now available in English. Self-paced courses are available for both novices and experienced animators, and lessons focus specifically on animating character movement. For more specific information including pricing and policy, visit the Anime Juku website.

CLAMP's X to Be Releases With Box

According to Pioneer's site, the first volume of the recent tv series based on CLAMP's X will be released with, and without a box to hold the entire series.

"Two choices, two sides, one future... Two groups of supernaturally powered warriors begin a prophetic battle to shape the future- a clash that will rock the foundations of the planet! The Dragons of Earth swear to purge humanity from the world, while the Dragons of Heaven are the last hope of all mankind. One young man holds the key to the Earth's destiny.

Contains X TV episodes 1-3 and Episode 0: An Omen. This Bilingual DVD also contains Pioneer Animation Previews (trailers) and a printed, limited edition X character guide. Created by CLAMP (Rayearth, Cardcaptor Sakura) with Animation by Madhouse (Vampire Hunter D, Trigun, Cardcaptor Sakura).

4Kids has Announces Next Year's Fox Kids Lineup

Starting September 14, Fox will be airing the Fox Kids "Fox Box" The FOX BOX 2002-03 season: 8:00AM-8:30AM: Stargate Infinity 8:30Am-9:00Am: Ultraman Tiga 9:00Am-9:30Am: Kirby 9:30Am-10:00Am: Kinnikuman: Ultimate Muscle 10:00Am-10:30Am: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Launching First Quarter 2003) 10:30Am-11:00Am: Ultimate Muscle 11:00Am-11:30Am: Kirby 11:30Am-12:00Pm: Food Feud

Ultraman Tiga features the return of the giant Japanese superhero to American TV.

Kirby is the recent anime series about Nintendo's pink marshmallow hero.

Kinnikuman: Ultimate Muscle is another recent anime series, about super powered wrestlers.

Akira Pinball Postponed "Indefinetly"

Accoring to Anime News Service the June 2002 issue of Game Now says that although the Akira pinball game should be in Japan-courtesy of Bandai-it's been "postponed indefinitely" in the U.S.

August Bandai Releases

Bandai will be releasing volume 2 of Better Man, entitled Metamophosis, 4 of Lone Hina, entitled Love Hurts, and 3 of Saber Martionette J to X on August 6th.

Mobile Suit Gundam Char's Counterattack: The Motion Picture, Ronin Warriors volume 5, Hardest Battle, and Silent Mobius DVD Collection 2 on August 20th.

Available for the first time ever in North America - Yoshiyuki Tomino's epic tale of humanity's journey to the stars draws to an epic conclusion!

Be sure to check out www.gundamofficial.com/char for more information on Char's Counter Attack, www.bandai-ent.com/silentmobius , in June for more on Silent Mobius.

Matrix Anime Picture

A post on Anime News Service's mailing list poits out a still of the Square USA Matrix anime can be seen at whatisthematrix. 2 resolutions are available for the "JUE:" Hero Stance" pic here.

Official Sailor Moon Site Mentions New Toei Script

From Anime News Service While not a confirmation of recent rampant net rumor regarding "Sailor Moon X", The Official Sailor Moon Website has a new journal entry by creator Naoko Takeuchi mentioning Toei is working on a script of some as of yet untitled production. It's currently unknown if this may mean any relationship to the Sailor Moon series.

Kodansha editors arrested on Drug Charges

The Japanese Daily Yomiruri reports to editors the manga (comic) periodical Kodansha's Shukan Shonen Magazine and one of their wives have been arrested on drug related charges and are suspected of being involved with marijuana trafficking.

Uzumaki Movie Web Site

A post on the Anime News Service mailing list reports the official Uzumaki website is now up at here. It includes interviews with the manga author Junji Ito, an article on Japanese horror, and a theatrical schedule.

Uzumaki is an excellent manga series about a town haunted by the shape of the spiral. The series is being publish by Viz.

ADV Release Dates

Devil Hunter Yohko Collection to will be released on July 9th. It will features the 5th, and 6th episodes, along with the "4-ever" music video collection.

ADV has moved the release of City Hunter: The Motion Picture up from 08/13/2002 to 07/23/2002.

Hamtaro On Toonami

Toonami has put up a Hamtaro webpage on the Toonami website. The show premieres June 3rd.

Anime Expo Guests

"Read or Die" creator Hideyuki Kuratam, director Koji Masunari, and character designer Masashi Ishihama will be attending this years Anime Expo.

Manga Entertainment has acquired the domestic rights to Read or Die, a three episode OAV (direct to video) series about a book collector who works for a special ops forces to uncover a plot written into the margin of rare books. The official site can be seen at here.

Kurata was also a writer for Excel Saga, Battle Athletes OVA, Battle Athletes TV, Pretty Sammy 2 OVA, Pretty Sammy TV, and Brigadoon: Marin and Meran.

Masunari also worked on Photon, Kokoro Toshokan (Spirit Library), Android Announcer MAICO 2010, Omishi Magical Theater Risky Safety, Lamune and 40 EX, and Saber Marionette. He also worked on Storyboards and Direction for the Ah My Goddess! OVAs.

Ishihama is credited as being Character Designer for Read or Die and Tenamonya Voyagers. He is also Mecha Designer for Space Cruiser Yamamoto Yohko and New Hurricane Polymer.

Other recent Anime Expo guest announcements include Toshiharu Murata (Hellsing, Blue Submarine No. 6, and Tsukasa Hojo the manga artist work created City Hunter, and Cat's Eye.

For more information see Anime Expo.org

Slayers DVD Trade-In

Central Park Media has announced the trade-in procedure for the Slayers DVD box sets.

According to CPM

As a big thank you to all of the fans who have stuck with us through this technical glitch, Central Park Media is offering a special Box Set Deal through The Right Stuf! When you exchange your Slayers DVDs, you can take advantage of some special low prices on DVD collections on the Slayers Exchange! Buy one or even buy them all, but this offer is only available to fans who are replacing their Slayers DVDs. Act quickly because this offer only lasts until 12/31/02. Thank you for your continued support of Central Park Media products."

Richard Goffman VP Sales and Marketing Central Park Media

The Trade in form, as well as the discounted products, can be seen at http://www.rightstuf.com/news/images/slayers.pdf.

Slayers is a popular swords and sorcery comedy about Lina Inverse, a destructive young sorceress who destructive search for wealth and food often brings her into conflict with various demon overlords.

eigoMANGA Launches Slate Of Multimedia Ventures

Former "former dot-com manga company" announced it will transform its company from an ebusiness into an integrated media comic book publishing company. eigoMANGA announces the release of new business segments and strategies to reach a larger audience with media methods beyond the Internet. Its new businesses include comic book publishing, television production, business to business creative design, and licensing, in addition to e-commerce, web hosting, and dial-up/DSL Internet access.

For more information see www.eigoMANGA.com

Readers Talkback
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  • http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=12296 for those of you who missed it the other day... (including my bitching). No SPIRITED AWAY. No COWBOY BEBOP: KNOCKING ON HEAVEN&#39;S DOOR. At least until they are released in the rest of North America. I don&#39;t think I have anything else to say this week...

  • May 23, 2002, 1:23 a.m. CST

    Daredevil Anyone

    by daredevilrocks

    I am setting up a fansite.. its not active right now aside from the MOVIE POLL... but I will keep you posted... meantime if your interedt go ahead and vote at this link... http://www.blamemovies.com/daredevil/ we&#39;re voting on the costume!!

  • My personal favourite japanese horror film, which I saw at the Edinburgh Dead by Dawn festival last year (favourite aside from Batle Royale that is) that I have been searching for on DVD for ever (if anyone knows how to get hold of a version with english subtitles, please let me know). GO AND SEE THIS. It&#39;s brilliant, disturbing, surreal, funny and scary, and has one of the best endings, and some of the best deaths that japanese horror cinema has ever produced. GO AND SEE IT YOU SILLY AMERICANS

  • May 23, 2002, 8:50 a.m. CST

    STOP! I&#39;m getting hungry

    by Mr.Shufflebotham

    I just ordered Hunan beef, rice, and a coke form China Bowl.

  • May 23, 2002, 10:30 p.m. CST

    AICN, you shouldn&#39;t talk...

    by Zone Zero

    You guys bit on that "Sailormoon X" rumor as well. Looks like you&#39;re in check... again... WHY IS IT that everyone has to release anime in "limited engagements"? Anime isn&#39;t underground! SHOW IT NATION WIDE! You bloody idiots! Evangelion; The phenomenon that refuses to die!!! Film at eleven... At this rate you&#39;d probably be able to buy plugsuits at the GAP soon... -Th@ Tr011 $1@yer

  • May 23, 2002, 10:36 p.m. CST

    ...Zone Zero&#39;s addendum...

    by Zone Zero

    Oh, one more thing. I was extatic and actually BELIEVED you guys that Sailor Moon X was a sure thing. You guys might remember when I posted on this, and I was COMPLETELY gaga about it. Shuddap, I was fooled! Even the mighty Zone Zero experiences the occasional flutter. One more thing... I&#39;ll buy all the plugsuits from the GAP if they did sell &#39;em... A fanboy could wish couldn&#39;t he? ^_^ -Th@ Tr011 $1@yer -Out like a Scout... Sailor Scout... -&#39;bout it, &#39;bout it.

  • May 23, 2002, 10:41 p.m. CST

    Oh, before I forget...

    by Zone Zero

    I&#39;ll be at CONvergence 2002 in Bloomington, MN. July 5,6,7th. If you guys out there are going to it... You&#39;ll know if i&#39;m there from all the fragged campers in the LAN room. Now i&#39;m really out... -Th@ Tr011 $1@yer -Out like a Scout... In a Plugsuit... -&#39;bout it, &#39;bout it.

  • May 25, 2002, 7:53 p.m. CST

    Why anime has to be released in "limited engagements"...

    by Kiyone

    ZoneZero: No, anime isn&#39;t "underground". but it is certainly a niche, and a niche where the profits to be made are from the video/DVD sales, not at the box office. A wide release of a film requires that the studio spend in the neighbourhood of $10 million, at the very minimum, for the cost of making the prints and advertising (in addition to the millions they already spent licensing the film), and no studio out there has yet been convinced that there is enough of an audience for anime to justify spending that much on a wide release. A limited release requires them to spend only a couple of hundred thousand, at most on the theatrical run, and it gets them publicity and quotes from important critics like Roger Ebert for when they then sell it on DVD/video. Also, the profits to be made from DVD/video sales are much more immediate, without much overhead. As for the specific example of why Bandai is only putting the GUNDAM films is selected theatres, well a) Bandai USA has never done a wide release and b) the division of Bandai that handles the distribution of anime in North America probably couldn&#39;t afford to do a wide release even if they wanted to without help from an outside studio.