Hey guys & gals, Father Geek here in the middle of Texas with another heap'n healthy dose of Manga & Anime news to satisfy your cavernous cravens for those always critical cartoony news-bits. Yep. I'm here with ol'Scott's latest edition of AICN's regular weekly report on the whole wide world of Anime and Manga. Everything you need to know to bring you up-to-date is tucked away right below in...
by Scott Green
Sooooo, sit back, relax, grab a fave munchie and drink, and dive right in...
Manga Spotlight: Eyeshield 21 By Riichiro Inagaki and Yusuke Murata Volume 1
Released by Viz's Shonen Jump Advanced Line
The creators of Eyshield 21 have expressed a fondness for strategy and details of American football, which they depict exceedingly well, but the it's half-exaggerated action and humor that make the series surprisingly fun find: the lead dashing through breaks in the opposing line, or his antagonistic teammate breaking out a blackmail notebook to recruit a roster. So far, most of the sports manga that have been released in North America have been dominantly dramas. Which is well and good, but it's great to see something like Eyeshield 21, taking the personal relationships a little less serious, but going a bit overboard with the motion and personalities.
Eyeshield has a core of, what is currently three, but more than hinted to broaden out, characters who can be counted on to do or say something entertaining. Sena Kobayakawa, a small, overly pliable and almost inhumanly fast on his feet freshmen, Yoichi Hiruma a demonically sadistic trouble maker, and Ryokan Kurita, a good natured jumbo guy, make up the core of the Deimon high Devil Bats. Sena’s a rather likable put upon hero and visually interesting lead, but impish Hiruma starts out as a unique star. Moves like recruits cheer leaders by promising a date with a handsome player from an opposing team endear the character.
The series captures the appeal of football in it’s combination of speed, decisions, and physicality. Given the foreignness of American football to the original audiences, it assumes a high degree of unfamiliarity to the game, but the exposition doesn’t detract from the depiction. Yusuke Murata is very good at balancing the player viewer and the game view, from the tension and uncertainty of obscured lines and field position to the wider interplay of the game’s progression.
Balance between accentuating everything, and keeping the character recognizable as people, and the game recognizable as football makes for an engaging series. It doesn’t try to be Shaolin Soccer, but it does show up the XFL in the personalities it puts on the field, then getting in tight on the gameplay.
Manga Spotlight: Pilgram Jager Volume 2 by Toh Ubukata ad Mami Itoh
Released by Anime Works
The second volume of Pilgram Jager takes it's leads, pair of traveling performers/problem solvers Adele and Karin from the back waters of Renaissance Europe, closer to it's main thoroughfare. Historical action tends to get stuck on a few periods. Dark ages Europe, Tokugawa Japan, post Civil War American west and the like get enough of play to become there own genres, while other periods are left for the more cleaver or daring. Pilgram Yager puts together a thrilling pulp Renaissance: grabbing both the major landmarks of the historical period, and the obscure, interesting sights, putting together the explosion of ideas in religion, art, and politics with acrobatic action, supernatural manifestations, and conspiracies. It goes about the action with vigor. The illustration style is a little sketchier than most manga work, but doesn't follow a rigid symmetry, the added fluidity gives motion to the sword fights and acrobatics.
The volume opens with a thumbnail of a story that uses real people and ideas to deepen it's world building, starting with a carriage ride conversation between Machiavelli and Guidlio Di Giuliano De' Medici aka Pope Clement VII, passing the narrative to Ignatius of Loyola with Francis Xavier, then Michelangelo and eventually getting the real personalities involved in the heroines’ quest for answers and redemption. With dates a bit off, and characterizations are, well, manga-ized, it's really educational. Ignatius of Loyola generally isn't depicted as handsome, flailingly exuberant , and perpetually smiling, accompanied by a sullen, very feminine looking Francis Xavier. Nor is Michelangelo generally a stone crushing he-man. Following the adage that truth is stranger than fiction, the inspirations from real history provide many intriguing facets to the series.
Anime Spotlight: Otogi Zoshi Volume 1: Legend of the Magatama
Released by Anime Works
From it's opening, Otogi Zoshi announces that is going to try things a bit differently. With a color palette and attention to motion without detail that looks almost rotorscoped, black shapes stand out against a red sky. With motion camera shakes, the view goes from a rider on horse back, to road side as the horses leaps over obstacles, to the shapes of pursuers moving through the trees. As the camera move with an eye for real distance it becomes animation pushes the feel the of live action.
After the episode title, the narrative is resumed in dawn lighting where the pursued, an archer and a swordsman, now on foot, fight their assailants. The violence is very physical. Despite skill and strategy of the characters they are struggle to keep ahead of their opponents for the sakes of their lives.
More noticeable is the appearance of the characters. The design is still abstracted, but the tone, form and attention to how light plays on their features reminds one of human faces more than most anime designs. Most striking of all is the character’s eyes, which have complexity and depth that stand out as more real than any other eyes in anime.
Otogi Zoshi is the kind of anime to get excited about, not telling the same stories, not using the same effects. It doesn't look like it first glance, but Otogi Zoshi is a showcase anime, rotating the set of tools in the script and characters among directors and story board artists by episode.
Not everything works perfectly. Despite interesting personalities, politics and historical the details, the story, at least so far, is a something of a MacGuffin hunt. With the animation style imprecisions stand out. In particular mouth movements not matching the speech has rarely been as noticeable as it is this series. Still, it's a rewarding series than fans of anime as a medium shouldn't miss.
Otogi Zoshi were short illustrated prose from Japan's Muromachi and Edo periods (examples can be seen at here). Like many of the of it's name sake stories, the Otogi Zoshi anime is set during the Heian period (794-1185 CE), an era marked by an aristocracies under the rule of the emperor in Kyoto and the influence of the yin-yang onmyouji mystics, the development of a warrior class that would become the samurai, and instability from plague and political infighting. (Reportedly, a second story radical shifts the premise after the firs 13 episodes.)
It's tempting to see the series as a step in the evolution of Production IG's experimental, Heian set OAV Kaidomaru, but beyond character design by Shou Tajima, there isn't shared staff between the two projects.
A group who, acting on behalf of the wranglings of the powers that be are sent to search out the Magatama relics (the curved stones seen in the likes of Blue Seed and Arjuna): Minamoto no Hiraku, an aristocrat, trained in archery and disguised as her ailing brother, her swordsman retainer Watanabe no Tsuna, Sadamitsu, a drinking, drinking womanizing failed soldier that they pick up along the way, and Urabe an traveling woman assigned to guide Hiraku
The Heian is less commonly adapted in anime than the Tokugawa shogunate or Warring States period, and the utilizes the distinct aspects of the time to give the series it's own flavor. From noh performers to the prominent role of Abe Seimei, an onmyouji with a great presence in popular culture, including anime (such as Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi) the complex landscape of the era is one of the series’ most intriguing features.
New Line to Adapt Monster
Reuters Newswire has picked up the rights to Naoki Urasawa's psychological thriller manga Monster, which will be adapted into a live action movie, co-produced by Shogakukan and Trilogy Entertainment.
The story of intersecting lives starts with a Japanese doctor making his name in Germany who sacrifices a promising rise through his hospital’s politics to save the life of a boy rather than operate on a more influence citizen. Years later a series of mysterious deaths pave the way for the doctor’s re-ascension, and it begins to look like the murders are tied to the boy the doctor saved.
Ryoko VA Not Re-Used in New Tenchi
Anime News Network confirmed that the voice actress who will not be re-used in FUNimation's English dub of the third Tenchi Muyo OAV is Ryoko's Petrea Burchard.
Geneon To Release Gankutsuo
Anime on DVD reports that Geneon's DVD release of Appleseed features a trailer for Gankutsuo, the anime retelling of the Count of Monte Cristo.
Next Ghibli Movies News...
From Anime News Network and the Miyazaki Discion List according to Nanjing Morning Post, Studio Ghibli's next feature project will be an adaptation of chinese children's novel, "Wo Diu Shile wo de Xiao Nan Hai (I Lost my Little Boy), about a young boy suffering from heart disease.
A recent interview of with NTV revealed that Ghibli is working on three new projects. One is by Hayao Miyazaki, one is by Isao Takahata, and the third is based on a foreign book, although he does not specify what book. Takahata's last feature film project was 1999's My Neighbors the Yamadas.
Slayers vs Orphen Announced
Anime Nation reports that Kadokawa Shoten will be releasing a Slayers vs Orphen novel written by Kamisaka Ichi & Akita Sadanobu and illustrated by Rui Araizumi & Kusaka Yuuya, featuring characters from the two venerable fantasy action franchises.
July Bandai Releases
Bandai will be releasing the following anime on July 11th
DICE Vol. #2
DICE Vol. #3
Dragon Drive Vol. #09
Ghost in the Shell: Innocence Music Anthology
Ghost in the Shell: Innocence Music Anthology Special Edition
Infinite Ryvius Box Set
Mobile Suit Gundam 0080 Box Set
Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 Collector’s Edition Box Set (Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory)
Mobile Suit Gundam MS08 Collector’s Edition Box Set (Mobile Suit Gundam The 08th MS Team)
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Movie I: The Empty Battlefield
Silent Mobius Collector’s Edition Box Set
Digi Charat Nyo! V.1 has been delayed indefinitely
Movie I: The Empty Battlefield
Year 70 of the Cosmic Era, the economic friction between genetically enhanced Coordinators and unmodified Naturals has erupted into a full-scale conflict. The Natural-dominated Earth Alliance struggles to catch up with the Coordinators' superior technology and has secretly developed five Gundam mobile suits at a neutral space colony. Through a twist of fate, a young Coordinator named Kira Yamato becomes the pilot of the Alliance's prototype Strike Gundam and finds himself forced to fight his own people in order to protect his friends. Prepare for the anime epic of the year!
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
Music Video Anthology
From DreamWorks’ Pictures “Ghost in the Shell2: Innocence” comes the stunningly gorgeous collection of animated music videos from Production I.G. (Kill Bill) presented in anamorphic widescreen and multi-channel surround sound. This DVD is considered as another version of “Innocence” due to its wonderful fusion between the deep and grandiose visuals of Mamoru Ishii and the creative sounds by Kenji Kawaii that imparts the heart and soul to its beautiful imagery.
The special edition will include the Original Soundtrack CD
Promised Place from ADV Theatrical
Anime Creator Gets in On April Fools
Cromartie High School Movie
TwitchFilm points out a web site YÃ»dai Yamaguchi's live-action Sakigake!! Cromartie High School - The Movie (Sakigake!! Kuromati KÃ´kÃ´ - The Movie) here, based on the absurdist delinquent highschool manga, also adapted into an anime.
The movie apparently stars Takamasa Suga as Takashi Kamiyama, Mitsuki Koga as ShinjirÃ´ Hayashida, Hiroshi Yamamoto as Akira Maeda and Akira's mother, Yoshihiro Takayama as Yutaka Takenouchi, Itsuji Itao as Masked Takenouchi, Hiroyuki Watanabe as Freddy, Noboru Kaneko as Takeshi Hokuto, ShÃ´ichirÃ´ Masumoto (who wrote the screenplay for the movie) as Noboru Yamaguchi and Gorilla, Ken'ichi EndÃ´ as Pootan, and Shinji Takeda as the voice of Shin'ichi Mechazawa. The cast also includes Noboru Takachi, Kai AtÃ´, and Tak Sakaguchi.
Viz/ShoPro Merger Completes...
VIZ, LLC and ShoPro Entertainment, Inc., two prominent North American based companies specializing in Japanese content, announced the completion of their merger today to form VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), a groundbreaking new entertainment company specializing in the production and licensing of animated content for TV and theatrical distribution,publishing, home video distribution, and consumer products. VIZ Media, based in its new location just two blocks from historical Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, will leverage the unique collaboration, vision and ownership of three global powerhouses in Japanese manga and animation, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc. and Shogakukan Production Co., Ltd. VIZ Media will be owned 40% by Shogakukan Inc. and Shueisha Inc. respectively, and 20% by Shogakukan Production Co., Ltd.
Right Stuf to Release Piano
The Right Stuf International will be releasing the first volume of Piano: The Melody Of A Young Girl's Heart, entitled Secret Love on June 28th.
From director Tatsuo Sato (DIRECTOR: COMIC PARTY / ASST DIRECTOR: CASTLE IN THE SKY), with character designs by Kosuke Fujishima (OH MY GODDESS! /SAKURA WARS) and art direction by Junichi Higashi (MY DAYS WITH MIDORI / AI YORI AOSHI: ENISHI TV).
Miu Nomura once loved to play the piano. As a little girl, the music made her heart soar and she eagerly shared her songs with all of those around her. Now an introverted teenager, Miu has become too shy to express her feelings – even through her music. Her playing has suffered and her piano teacher, the moody Mr. Shirakawa, has become impatient with her inability to reach the next level.
When Miu develops a crush on upperclassman Takahashi, her best friend Yuuki is the first to notice. Unfortunately, Yuuki's too distracted with her own emotional troubles – she's fallen hard for third year track star Takizawa! However, Mr. Shirakawa has also noticed something...a sudden and remarkable change in Miu's playing. Can he help her rediscover the joy of the piano and find the courage to share her heart and music once more?
Contains episodes 1-3.
Right Stuf will also be releasing a 14"x6" plush of Gravitation's Kumagoro on July 29th. The figure can be seen at here
Upcoming ADV Releases
Divergence Eve: Core Mission (volume 2 of 3)
DNAngel: Magical Girls (volume 4 of 7)
Petite Princess Yucie: Magical Mischief (volume 4 of 6)
Shuten Doji: Birth Of Demons (volum 1 of 2)
Gantz: Terminal Dispatch
Gravion Zwei: Esoteric Truths (volume 2 of 3)
The Return Of Daimajin (live action giant monster)
Created by legendary anime mastermind Go Nagai (Devilman, Cutie Honey, Getter Robo) and directed by Junji Nishimura (Ranma ?, Your Under Arrest: The Motion Picture), Shuten Doji is a horrific journey into the strange and vicious world of a boy trapped between two realities.
Jiro Shutendo seems like a normal kid, but somehow he still feels different from his friends and schoolmates. It never crossed his mind that he might not be human at all! When Jiro’s girlfriend is kidnapped by a band of evil monsters, he must journey through time and space to rescue her and discover his true origin.
Shadow Star Volume 2 Release
Central Park Media has released the second volume of the Shadow Star: Narutaru anime. rom the Screenwriter of Serial Experiments Lain and the Animation Director of Nadia: Secret of Blue Water, Shadow Star: Narutaru 2 continues the saga of Shiina and Akira with unexpected twists and turns.
Shojo Beat Taking Subscriptions
Viz is taking subscription orders for their upcoming Shojo Beat manga anthology on the official site at shojobeat.com
A trailer of Gainax's (Evangelion, FLCL) upcoming He is my Master TV can be seen here
A trailer for Sousei no Aquarion can be seen on the series site here
An anime adaptation of the TOKYOPOP release Courtney Love manga Princess Ai was spoken about at Tokyo Anime Fair 2005.
Other newly announced anime from Tokyo Anime Fair 2005 include...
Powerpuff Girls Anime
Toei Animation, Aniplex, and Cartoon Network have announced "Demashitaa! Powerpuff Girls Z", a new anime version of Cartoon Network's Powerpuff Girls. Images form the pilot can be seen here and here. More screen captures can be seen here
Harmony Gold Produces PSA for U.N.
Harmony Gold has announced that they have created a 60 second animated public service announcement for the United Nations and world peace using character from their Robotech adaption of Macross, Mospeada and Southern Cross. More details can be seen here
July/August Dark Horse Releases
Dark Horse will be releasing the one volume Japan by Buronson and Kentaro Miura on August 10th
Yuka Katsuragi, a beautiful TV news reporter, has attracted the affections of a Yakuza thug, Katsuji Yashima, who travels with his brother all the way to Spain to find her, only to have his affections rebuffed by Yuka. A terrible earthquake hits, and Katsuji, his brother, and Yuka, along with four high-schoolers in Spain on a field trip, all fall deep underground. While trapped below the surface, they encounter a mysterious old woman who reveals to them prophecies that the wealthy nation of Japan will meet the same demise as the once-prosperous city of Carthage. Katsuji and the others insult the old woman, who then sends them to see the world of the future with their own eyes, a future of desolation and death...
Graphic novel collections include August 3rd:
Trigun Maximum Volume 6: The Gunslinger Tpb
Samurai Executioner Volume 7 Tpb
Single Issues July 13
Blade Of The Immortal #103
Super Manga Blast! #54
Vampire Hunter D: Raiser Of Gales Volume 2 Novel will be released August 17th
English Language Advent Children Trailer Available
New Manga Titles
Del Rey will be releasing the manga series Gacha Gacha, Ghost Hunt and Sugar Sugar Rune.
TOKYOPOP will be releasing Kanpai! (Kimi no Unaji ni Kanpai!) by Maki Murakami and Mobile Suit Gundam: Ecole du Ciel by Harukiho Mikomoto, a more shoujo take on the war giant franchise from the character designer of Macross, Gunbuster, and Gundam 0080
Viz Media will be releasing the first volumes of manga series MÃ„R and Kekkaishi in May.
MÃ„R is the latest manga title to hit North American shores from Nobuyuki Anzai, who also created the popular FLAME OF RECCA series. MÃ„R tells the story of Ginta Toramizu, an impish 14-year-old kid in junior high school who doesn’t have a lot going for him. He is near-sighted, doesn’t do well in school, fails at sports, and to top it off, he’s short! But Ginta is a dreamer and he has had the same dream 102 times – a vivid fantasy world where he is a hero. One day a supernatural figure appears at his school and transports him to the fabulous fantasy world of his dreams. In this strange universe filled with magic and wonder, Ginta is now strong, tough, agile, and he can finally see without his glasses! The boy begins a quest in search for the magical items known as Ã„RMS, one of which may have the power to send him home. Joining him on this epic journey are his companion Jack and a valuable living, talking, mustachioed iron-ball weapon known as “Babbo,” which everybody wants but, it seems, only Ginta can possess!
By night, junior high student Yoshimori Sumimura is a “kekkaishi”—a demon-hunter who specializes in creating magical barriers around his prey. By day, Yoshimori’s got some other demons to battle: an addiction to sweets and a seriously crotchety grandfather! Yoshimori’s pretty 16-year-old neighbor and childhood friend, Tokine Yukimura, is also a kekkaishi, but their families are feuding over who is the “true practitioner” of the art.
Yoshimori couldn’t care less about catching demons…until he realizes that his apathetic attitude is taking a toll on his friendship with Tokine. Just as he decides to take matters into his own hands, a couple of amphibious demons and the pesky ghost of a pastry-chef show up to complicate matters!
Viz will also be releasing Matsuri Hino's shoujo "MeruPuri - Marhen Prince."
Bandai Launching ‘G.O.U.F.’ Gundam Fan Community
Bandai has announced the creation of ‘G.O.U.F’, the GundamOfficial User Forums at forums.gundamofficial.com, where fans can share their thoughts on the popular war mecha franchise.
Production I.G Talks Otogi Zoshi
In rare instance of a Japanese anime creator talking up an anime's North American release Production IG has sent out a statement about Media Blaster's release of Otogi Zoshi
New from the creative team that brought you “Ghost in the Shell”, “Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence” and ”Ghost in the Shell Standalone Complex”. Written and series-supervised by Yoshiki Sakurai, with character design by Kazuchika Kise”, it features character design concepts by Shou Tajima known for his “MPD Psycho” manga, and music by Kenji Kawai et al.
Set in circa 1000 medieval Japan, it is a story of a girl, Hikaru, who leads her samurai clan impersonating her dead brother - The lack of a male successor would be the political end for the warlord clan - and goes on a journey with a mission to protect the capital.
Amid already complex world of secret identity and political conspiracies, she also has to deal with her romance with a mysterious Noh actor, without revealing her true identity to the rest of the world...
The U.S. website URL: www.otogi-zoshi.com
The U.S. DVDs come in Dolby Digital 5.1 mix exclusively prepared for the U.S. release. The DVD collection volume 1 now available from Media Blasters