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AnimAICN: Ghibli; Son of Asgard; Cutey Honey; Evangelion; GetBackers; Negimi

Father Geek here with another heaping helping of Manga & Anime news from the smoking keyboard of our man Scott, and just like always it's chucked full of hand drawn coolness. Soooo, dive right in and surf thru the world of...

AnimAICN...

by Scott Green

Manga Spotlight: Negimi: Magister Negi Magi Volume 1 by Ken Akamatsu

Released by Del Rey

Negimi is popular manga creator Ken Akamatsu's follow-up to relationship comedy Love Hina. In Negami he turns his attention to Harry Potter territory by setting a British boy wizard in the midst frantic tangle of Japanese school girls.

In the Love Hina tradition, Negima is a marginally naughty comedy with no high aspirations, or deep drama, but that succeeds in its aims. It transplants and exaggerates the qualities many enjoyable about Love Hina, into a setting new enough that it avoid repetition. The series follows Negi Springfield, a 10 year old Welsh wizard prodigy whose post graduate assignment is to teach English at Japanese girl's school.

So, Negi end up with a class of 31 teenage girls (there is a cheat sheet embedded in the manga to tell who's who). The size allows for a full assortment of strange, frequently exotic personalities. Negi's constant companion and Negima's answer to Love Hina's Naru, the girl who takes the brunt of the hero's fumbling, and reacts to it will personal affront, is the forceful and notoriously hot headed Asuna. To stretch the premise, she is also the only student to know that Negi is a magician. Compared to Love Hina, Negima features a larger cast, more innocent and competent lead, and more logical point to introduce fantasy aspects.

Love Hina had moments that were fun regardless of whether the you found its particular brand of entertainment enjoyable, and Negima similarly has a number of blindly fun scenes. The integration of magic, with the earnest and competent but inexperienced and often goofy Negima is consistently charming. His clothes shredding play at dodge ball or lunchroom mind reading combine physic comedy with innocent eagerness and immaturity for personality humor.

However, the reception of Akamatsu's work is sharply divided among those of can't get enough, and those who would rather avoid it. The divide isn't far from the age of the characters. The series is rated 16+, and there was concern about the parental reception of the series, but hot button is harmless t&a. 16 is more a median point in the appeal than a base. A few years younger will likely also enjoy the series. A few older and you hit a point where teen embracement comedies and clothe removal quickly become tiring

The humor isn't juvenile to the point of bodily function jokes, but it isn't particularly sophisticated either. Much of it serves to lightly push sexual boundaries. It slightly less sexual than something like Weird Science. While there are long bathing scenes and many excuses to show scantily clad teenage girls, the t&a is generally clothed. In terms of content, though not frequency it is usually pg13. The characters aren't aiming at sex, they just keep bumping into it. The cornerstone joke is accidental sexual contact. In Love Hina this was accidental groping, in Negima its disrobing, more often than not from Negi's sneezes which produce gale force gusts which serves to blow up the skirts of surround girls, or sometimes blow off all their outer garments. The cute, soft qualities of the illustrations further blunt the sexuality. The cartoonishness cast the actions in strictly humorous rather than erotic to titillating light.

From its original publication venue to its story structure, Negima is a thoroughly shonen (male demographics) series. Lots of girl and lots of undressing is a good tip-off. Still, Akamatu's works have track record of popularity among shoujo (female demographics) fans. His works tend to be relationship comedies rather than romantic comedies, but there is a cute sweetness, and gender power balance that wins over a strong female fanbase.

Negima is one of the first manga releases from Del Rey's new manga line. Before its release, there was some controversy over whether some of the more sexual aspects of the series would be edited (ultimately they weren't), but fans will enjoy the final results. There is an attention to the subtle points, such as including honorific (-san, -chan, ect) in the dialog, and small translations along side the original Japanese sound effect illustrations. Both are significant for capturing the creators attention. There absence it felt when they aren't included. Del Rey's presentation will please demanding manga fans, and help those less familiar with the source. Comic writer Peter David, best known for renowned run of Marvel's Incredible Hulk, worked on the English adaptation of the series. David has written that he didn't intent to be overly slavish to an exact translation of the original. The result is an entertaining localization that will appeal to a domestic audience while retaining the flavor, and even many of the terms of the original. The dialog reads like a lighter touch than Keith Giffen's work on Battle Royale. For an early effort from a new enterprise, Negima stands up well again some of the better efforts from established manga publishers.

Anime Spotlight: New Cutey Honey Collection One & Two

Released by ADV's Essential Anime Line

Cutey Honey is one of those pop culture artifacts that gets unearthed every several years, with its biggest Japanese resurrection coming this fall via a new live action movie and anime, both directed by Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno.

Anime and manga have many fathers. The extent to which Osamu Tezuka shaped the mediums is undeniable. Other such as Tetsujin 28 Go (Gigantor) Mitsuteru Yokoyama was instrumental in constructed its genres. Go Nagai came to prominence a generation later, producing his most prominent creations in the 70's, but Nagai could probably be called the crazy uncle of anime and manga. Despite routinely exhibiting a propensity towards unusually heavy nudity and violence, he invented or molded a number of the most recognizable anime genres. His Cutey Honey is frequently credited as originating the transforming magical girl phenomenon. Sailor Moon and its ilk are frequently recognized as following a sanitized version of one of the trails Nagai blazed. (Ironically the Honey was softened as Cutey Honey Flash, an attempted Sailor Moon replacement).

One of Go Nagai's odd creative mannerisms to situate his characters in an unique intersection between horrific apocalyptic lore, and kid-sy high concept: be it demonic super hero Devilman (a pre-Spawn in a more coherent and constantly interesting universe), or his surrealist foundation of the piloted giant robot template Mazinger (aka Tranzor Z), featuring such notable creations as a breast-missile firing female robot, a hermaphrodite vertically separated between man and woman, or a decapitated fascist general who carried his head.

Cutey Honey is an android champion of good whose power is to near instantaneously change her outfit and again the abilities associated with her new appetence, ie she takes on a tight motor racing one piece and she can ride a motorcycle like a profession, she appears with a cut off tank top, bandana and war paint and she can fight like Rambo. Like many of her descendants, Honey undergoes a transformation sequence in which is she loses her clothes before taking on her new visage. The Nagai twist, is that buxom Honey is endowed with a rare visible anatomical features during her transformations: nipples.

"New Honey Cutey" is the 1994 direct to video revival of the title, preceded by manga and an anime TV series. Honey starts as the amnesiac aid to the heroic Mayor Light of the crime embattled Cosplay City (bit of groaner joke). Dolmeck, the lieutenant of Honey's arch foe Panther Zora arrives on scene, and begins to transition the conflict from a crime wave to a more sinister and dangerous plane. With the help of the Hayami family: Jimmie Olsen-esque Chokkei, his lecherous cyborg monk grandfather Danbei, and Chokkei's incompetent criminal parents, Honey is able to regain her powers and fight through the street level monsters and eventually Dolmeck (at least for the first four of the eight episodes, after which the Dolmeck conflict is resolved and the series processes with one shot stories).

As a direct to video adaptation what was a familiar character to its original audience, the aim of New Cutey Honey is to showcase its characters in flashy, animated form. Consequently, the appeal is chiefly visual, seeing Cutey Honey's baroque transformation sequences, and confrontations with elaborately designed monsters. It is a work of experience rather than mental engagement. You watch it to have see a sampling Go Nagai's creations in color, animated, not for the depth of its drama or ideas. The story is flimsy. It does exist, at least for the first half, and the later half has some cute one offs, but beyond glimpses of a wider mythos, when the focus it turn to the events rather than the sights, the tendency is to belabor obvious points.

Nagai's tasteless sense of strangeness infuses the series and serves as Cutey Honey's highpoint. The combination of bright American style superhero design, with kaleidoscopic oddity, humorously gratuitous nudity and violence makes Cutey Honey amusing nonsense.

It isn't a hentai (adult, pornographic) title, it doesn't have any sex, and in the grand scheme it is pretty tame but it does have a high quotient of nudity. There are some dark and unsettling aspects of sexuality: bondage and fondling, not to mention a number of cuts, abrasions and puncture wounds that are graphically deeper than is expected for anime. It is trash pulp that revels its in the knowledge that it is trash pulp.

The expectation for the next, bare breasted monster, nude girl encapsulated on a winged robot, monk missile massacre or strange sight drives the series. For Nagai fans, add a number of reference to other branches of Go Nagai's universe, including an episode long supporting appearance by Akira Fudo, the alter-ego of Devilman, and cybernetic armament based on giant robot series Mazinger .

Manga Spotlight: GetBackers Volume 2 written by Yuya Aoki illustrated by Rando Ayamine

Released by TOKYOPOP

After a first volume which unsuccessfully attempted to integrate a pair of super-powered counter-social teens in a gritty environment, Get Backers sheds the weight of plausibility and establishes itself as a pulp urban group adventure.

The GetBackers are teen street rats electricity generating Ginji Amano, and "evil eye" illusionist Ban Mido, who decide to circumvent prescribed routes of social advancement by going into business for themselves. The "GetBackers" provide a service that will retrieve what has been lost or stolen.

Keeping the level of threat low, and Ban and Ginji's powers dominant in the first volume suggested a lack of dramatic tension. It seemed that the author could escape a situation by employing Ginji or especially Ban's power when ever they felt that the situation had been strung along long enough. The second volume begins making the action less one-sided and far more exiting.

Action movie cinematics, more exotic situation, and enemies with comparable powers establish Get Backers as a visually dynamic, addictive read. The introduction of colorful rivals is the most obvious signal to the change in pace as well as the first step in populating the world and adding history, but it is the VW Beetle meets semi car chase that establishes Get Backers action credentials. The car to truck battle is vastly over the top, complex and undeniably thrilling, qualities not always easy to imbue in comic book car cases.

The urban setting of the series isn't as quite gritty or socially driven as the premise suggested. Ban and Ginji do live on the street, bathe in public fountains, and the plots do deal with desperation and abuse of powers. The urban nature more flavors the series than informs it, serving as a point of distinction in the way the Meiji error sets Kenshin apart.

Translation for GetBackers has been a bumpy ride (see conversation). It is serviceable, but lags behind the quality found on in the industry. The chief problem is that is distractingly unnatural and overdone. It goes for the big line too often, causing the dialog to rattle rather flow.

The second volume of GetBackers launches the series from a minor curiosity to an action worth noticing. It is material for the post Shonen Jump audience, more nature and less formulaic.

Soundtrack Spotlight: The End of Evangelion

released by Geneon / Pioneer Music by Shiro Sagisu BGM Entitled by Hideaki Anno

Most who have seen The End of Evangelion can attest to movie as shared traumatic experience: brilliant, wildly well produced, and dripping with disgust. A soundtrack that invokes the intensity of the movie is unlikely to be labeled enjoyable, but sure to be enthralling. English language vocals like "THANATOS- If I can't be your's", and "Komm, susser Tod/Come Sweet Death" are grim reminders of the movie's trauma and melancholy.

The soundtrack starts with Shiro Sagisu's spin of familiar genre plug- ins (launch or enemy attack), and which are memorable tension builders and at the peak of Sagisu's work with Gainax, then the soundtrack then evolves into something darkly engaging. Large orchestral suites are of set against intimate piano Jesus Bleibet Meine Freude. The two unforgettable mournful vocals THANATOS, and Komm, susser Tod alone are worth owning the soundtrack.

This Week's Releases

Anime
  • All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku TV - Life on the Streets (Vol. 3)
  • Comic Party - We Need Money (Vol. 2)
  • Cutey Honey Vol 1
  • Demon Lord Dante - Dante Resurrects (Vol. 1)
  • Figure 17 (Vol. 5)
  • Final Fantasy - Unlimited (Phase 6)
  • Galaxy Angel - Angels a La Carte (Vol. 2)
  • Golden Boy Vol 1
  • Gravion - Divine Steel ( Vol. 1)
  • .hack//Legend of the Twilight - A New World (Vol. 1)
  • Heat Guy J - Urban Corruption (Vol. 6)
  • L/R (Licensed By Royalty) - Assassinations (Vol. 4)
  • S-Cry-Ed - Final Fight (Vol. 6)

    Manga
    • Animerica Extra June 2004
    • Banana Fish Vol 2 2Nd Ed
    • Battle Royale Vol 7 Gn (Of 11)
    • Blue Inferior Manga Vol 1 Tp
    • Boys Over Flowers Vol 6 Tp
    • Chrono Crusade Manga Vol 1 Tp
    • Desert Coral Manga Vol 1 Tp
    • Figure 17 Manga Vol 2
    • Firefighter Daigo Of Fire Company M Vol 7
    • Gravitation Vol 6 Gn (Of 12)
    • Happy Mania Vol 8 Gn (Of 11)
    • Kindaichi Case Files Vol 7 Gn The Santa Slayings (Of 10)
    • Pretear Manga Vol 1 Tp
    • Raijin Comics #46
    • Rave Master Vol 8 Gn (Of 18)
    • Ruler Of The Land Manga Vol 2 Tp
    • Saint Marie Manga Vol 1 Tp
    • Samurai Deeper Kyo Vol 7 Gn (Of 18)
    • Sensual Phrase Vol 2 Gn
    • Steel Angel Kurumi Manga Vol 4 Tp
    • Those Who Hunt Elves Manga Vol 3
    • Trigun Maximum Vol 1 Hero Returns Tp

        Anno's Love and Pop on DVD

        Anime News Network reports that Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno's first live action film, Love & Pop will be released in North America by Kino Video on July 6th. In 1999, Viz announced that they had licensed the 1998 film, which examines the lives of highschool girl who go into paid dating to support their consumer life style.

        Innocence Date

        Anime News Network points out Go Fish's domestic theatrical release of Ghost in the Shell: Innocence is now being listed for a September 17th opening, United International Pictures will be distributing the movie in Europe.

        Bakuretsu Tenshi and GANTZ Licensed by FUNimation

        Anime on DVD forum posters point out that FUNimation has registered domain names http://www.burstangel.com and http://www.gantz.tv, indicating that the company may have licensed Burst Angel (Bakuretsu Tenshi) and GANTZ. Using domain name registration to gauge unannounced licensed has not been entirely accurate in the past. Bakuretsu Tenshi is a slick sci-fi western from Studio Gonzo.

        Gantz is a harshly violent story about a group of the recently dead outfitted to kill aliens as part of a game.

        Popotan Licensed?

        AnimeOnDVD reports that Geneon licensed the domain www.popotandvd.com, suggesting that they may have licensed the anime Popotan, and adult game turned relationship anime.

        New Black Jack Anime

        Natsume Maya reports a new TV series based on Osamu Tezuka's medical adventure Black Jack will air on Japanese TV this fall.

        Takahashi Tops Tax Lists Again

        From Natsume Maya

        Japan's National Tax Administration Agency has released its lists of highest income tax payers for the 2003 financial year. Among its categorical listings is "others", which typically features the highest taxed anime and manga creators. Perennial earner Takahashi Rumiko, creator of Ranma 1/2, Inu-Yasha and others has again been featured prominently in the list. From the "others" top 10:

        3. Takahashi Rumiko (tax 170,640,000 yen) - last year in 8th position

        5. Aoyama Gosho (author of Detective Conan) (tax 159,430 yen) - not in the top 10 last year

        6. Tsunku (music producer) (tax 151,600,000 yen) - last year in 7th position

        9. Konomi Takeshi (author of Tennis no Oujisama/Prince of Tennis) (tax 122,670,000 yen) - last year in 10th position

        10. Hishaishi Jo (composer of music for Studio Ghibli movies etc) (tax 120,400,000 yen) - not in the top 10 last year

        Evangelion Game Preview

        Natsume Maya reports 97 second preview of the Neon Genesis Evangelion interactive game DVD to be released on June 2nd can be seen here

        Marvel Continues Thor: Son of Asgard

        Marvel has announced that Thor: Son of Asgard, written by manga worker Akira Yoshida will continue past its original 6 issue scope. Issue 7, the first of the three part "Enchanted" story, will be released this August. The series follows the teenage lives of the Marvel version of Norse gods Thor, Balder and Sif.

        Ghibli Composer to Score Keaton

        Joe Hisaishi, who frequently provided the music for Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki movies has composed music for Buster Keaton's 1927 silent movie The General.

        July ADV Releases

        July 13th:
      • Birth (volume 1 of 1)
      • Hello Kitty & Friends: Timeless Tales (volume 3 of 6)
      • Knights Of The Zodiac: Pirates From The Island Of Spirits (Volume 5 of 1)
      • Megazone 23 Part 2 (volume 2 of 3)
      • Robotech Remastered: Masters Collection 1 Volume 4 (volume 4 of 7)
      • Wedding Peach: Summer Flower (Volume 4 of 1)

      July 20th:
      • Aura Battler Dunbine: Mysteries Of Byston Well (volume 7 of 12)
      • Azumanga Daioh: Rivals! (volume 3 of 6)
      • Gravion: Knights Of Gravity (Volume 2 of 3)
      • Orphen 2 Revenge: Redemption (Volume 6 of 6)
      • Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat: Nyu! (Volume 2 of 4)

      July 27th:
      • BASToF Syndrome: Riddle's Interventions (volume 3 of 6)...
      • Sonic Soldier Borgman: Last Battle And Lover's Rain

      Birth

      Perfect for sci-fi action fans of Robotech and Gundam, the high-flying action scenes were animated by the talented team at Kaname Productions. The new cover art was illustrated by well-known character designer and animation director Iko Kanada (Windaria).

      Aqualoid was a prosperous planet, but an attack from a mysterious life force, the Inorganics, transforms it into a post-apocalyptic shell of its former self. When Nam finds a mysterious sword, he is suddenly the object of a planet-wide chase. With the Inorganics closing in, will Nam and his friends discover the secret of the sword and save their world? Or will they destroy Aqualoid in favor of a new Birth?

      Aura Battler Dunbine

      Inspired by the novel Wings of Lin by Yoshiyuki Tomino and adapted by the creators of Gundam and Robotech comes an epic science-fiction fantasy about love, duty and the tragic spoils of war. Anime fans recognize it as one of the classics from the "golden age" of televised anime.

      Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat: Nyu!

      This series began with manga artist Kage Donbo drawing the main character, Dejiko, as a small, big-eyed adorable girl. Soon she became the mascot of a popular Japanese retail chain. Today Dejiko's face is probably one of the most recognizable characters ever created in the world of anime.

      Once again, Princess Dejiko is on a mission to make the people of Di Gi Charat happy. And as usual Deji Devil and Piyoko are there to stir up trouble. Don't miss a minute of the second installment of madcap adventures that are sure to make you giggle and keep you in suspense to the very end!

      Sonic Soldier Borgman: Last Battle And Lover's Rain

      DVD release of Sonic Soldier Borgman: Last Battle and Lover's Rain, where two worlds collide in two thrilling adventures. This anime was created by Michitaka Kikuchi (Martian Successor Nadesico).

      As the surviving members of the Borgman team try to adjust to a normal life, a new wave of cyber-crime stalks the city. Now the last three bio-enhanced humans on Earth find themselves pitted against the most monstrous foes they have ever faced.

      August Geneon Release

      Anime:

      8/3
      • Captain Herlock - The Final Voyage (V.4)
      • Captain Herlock - Limited Edition Boxset (w/ V.4)
      • Sailor Moon TV "SuperS" DVD BOX Set - Thin-Pack DVD

      8/10
      • Beyblade - World Championships (V.10) DVD
      • Last Exile - Grand Stream (V.5) DVD
      • Master Keaton - Passion Games (V.8) DVD

      Signature Series Repriced Anime

      8/10
      • Sailor Moon SuperS TV Series (V.1) (Signature Series) DVD
      • Tenchi In Tokyo (V.4) (Signature Series) DVD
      • The SoulTaker (V.2) (Signature Series) DVD
      • Trigun (V.7) (Signature Series) DVD

      Soundtracks

      8/3
      • Akira Symphonic Suite Soundtrack CD
      • Memories Original Soundtrack CD
      • Stellvia Original Soundtrack - Sound Wave of Stellvia CD

      Akira Symphonic Suite Soundtrack CD

      There's no arguing that AKIRA is one of the top anime theatrical features of all time, with a uniquely unorthodox soundtrack that retains its futuristic, yet modern-day appeal, becoming an integral part of this groundbreaking film. From the initial tribal chanting that builds up to a cacophony of primal disorder and frenzy, to the unmistakably haggard breathing that signifies the arrival of the Clown biker gang, there are 10 over-the-edge instrumentals that will have your aural senses reeling on this percussion-rich CD.

      Memories Original Soundtrack

      Get drawn into an orbital pull of amazing instrumentals and opera crescendos from this awesome movie soundtrack, including those produced by composer Yoko Kanno (Cowboy Bebop, Macross Plus, Arjuna) with members of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. This special 2-disc soundtrack features a diversified arrangement by three different composers whose combined music effortlessly ties together and heightens the artistic aura of this film.

      NewType USA Volume 3, Issue 6

      The June release of NewType Usa Vol. 3, Issue 6 features a Newtype Usa Vol. 3, Issue 6 Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex as its cover story, with feature articles on RahXephon: The Motion Picture, GANTZ and Chrono Crusade Manga. The magazine is packaged with a DVD of the first episode of Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat .

      Manga Gains Prominence in Comics Direct Market

      The Worlds Within Worlds blog points out that manga companies are gaining position in Diamond Comics figures. Diamond Comics is the nearly exclusive distributor of comics to direct market comic shops, and a factor in book store distribution. TOKYOPOP is now the fifth largest publisher in terms of market share, with Viz in the 6th position and ADV Manga in 14th.

      Viz to Partner With Reading is Fundamental

      Icv2 reports Viz has announced that it has partnered with Reading Is Fundamental to promote reading among school children. Viz properties such as Yu-Gi-Oh! and Dragonball Z, along with Shonen Jump magazines, will be made available through RIF's national network of schools and clubs to children beginning this summer and continuing in the fall. A the schedule can be seen here

  • Readers Talkback
    comments powered by Disqus
      + Expand All
    • May 28, 2004, 11:56 p.m. CST

      Interesting

      by Shan

      Can't wait.

    • May 29, 2004, 11:31 a.m. CST

      "lecherous cyborg monk grandfather"

      by Seepgood

      Not a phrase you'll come across very often. Except, perhaps, in Japan.

    • May 30, 2004, 1:35 a.m. CST

      Why exactly are they rescoring Buster Keaton's "The General"?

      by ExcaliburFfolkes

      It already has a fine score.

    • May 30, 2004, 3:09 p.m. CST

      Evangelion - www.angelfire.com/anime3/madman

      by satman83

      I really hope that they do make teh eva movie and that it is not to westernized, still cannot wiat for Ghost in a Shell 2 to come out in the uk. what really makes me laught is that outside of japan teh biggest anime watchers are in Spain/Portugal then England and then USA. but you Americans always get anime dvds and releases before the rest??? why is this. and before people post back sayign it is un-true, it is ok