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Anime AICN - All That and CLAMP's Apocalypse


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Column by Scott Green


European Release Spotlight: Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

Released by Manga Entertainment UK

Any lover of serious anime works who has the facilities to play a British encoded DVD owes it to themselves to find a copy of the UK Region 2 release of Ghost in the Shell 2 - Innocence.

For the majority of anime, if you want to dig into the work and get deep and analytical about its core, you have to guess at the subconscious of the creators. If you want to say that Naruto expresses a nostalgic yearning for the hierarchical path of advancement available in economic boom corporations, you're really making a guess about what's going on in the depths of Masashi Kishimoto's head. The same can't be said of Mamoru Oshii's work, which if anything are deceptively hide their complexity (see Patlabor).

Given that if any anime feature rewards reexamination, it's Innocence, a arelease that isn't painful to watch is a clear boon. While the North American Innocence DVD has all the markings of a prduct thrown onto the market with little regard to the expectations of the consumers: a slapped together, generic action sci-fi cover, no English language audio, hearing impaired text rather than a text that no watcher of foreign movies accept as proper subtitles, the Region 2 release is the beautiful version that the movie deserves.

Innocence spotlights the benefits and drawbacks anime's popularity among English speaking audiences. One significant factor in the continued creation of Ghost in the Shell works is the value attributed to the title in the English speaking world. Ghost in the Shell is viewed as a good investment because of this cache.

Between the old Streamline/Orion days and the anime boom, fans have been relatively fortunate that many of the anime distributors have had ties and history in fandom. Especially with DVDs, after a few tentative steps early on, most distributors figured out what fans wanted. Yet while the size of the English speaking market channels the funds for creation of features like Innocence, it also makes the release more appealing to distributors with less of a connection to the fans. The botched releases from larger American studios and Japanese studios (Toei) should be enough to concern anime fans.

The UK release of Innocence features a few odd decisions in its translation, but its an attractive, comprehensive release by any standard and outstanding next to the North American version.

Looking at a cover that reflects Mamoru Oshii's aesthetic and passions from metaphysical deconstruction to basset hounds is enough to feel fortunate that this release is available, even if it requires extra effort to acquire and view. With extra from an exclusive Oshii interview to a second disc with a DTS audio version of the feature, this is the release Innocence deserved. It's a deep and beautiful movie, but it isn't an easy one. The last thing the movie needed was the extra barrier of a flawed release.

Many viewers who are drawn to Ghost in the Shell are likely to prefer watching the movie with its Japanese audio, and will certainly appreciate proper subtitles, but it is also pleasant to hear the English audio dub. Since the original Ghost in the Shell, for English speaking audience, Richard Epcar (or Richard George in some credits) has rivaled Japanese language actor Akio Ohtsuka as the identifiable voice of Batou and it is great to see him voice the role in the movie that focuses on the character. The English language cast adapts well to the contemplative mood of this movie.

Both the English audio and text subtitle scripts stay in character and true to the intentions of the movie, but there is a host of differences that range from the odd to academic. On a story factual level, there are a number of proper name differences including the name of the corporation at the center of events, which is Rox in the subtitles and Locus Solas in the dub. Quotations from the bible and philosophers also differ a bit.

Slang tends to be a difficult call in translations. It is rarely used in either script, but Togusa does use the British term "whinge" in the subtitles, and Batou comments that something "isn't his bag" in the dub.

Among the more questionable decisions is that while some of these differences are undoubtedly to fit mouth movements, there is also additional dialog in the dub to emphasize points that occurs in empty space with the characters' backs turned. There are also contradictions that don't seem to be attributable to sarcasm. In one script Batou says "I understand that is why section 9 was called in" in the other he says "I understand all that except why Section 9 was called in".

The movie itself is a new volume in Oshii cyber-existential treatise, owing as much to Satre as Gibson. It differs from other Ghost in the Shell works in that if narrows its focus on Batou, the partner of Ghost in the Shell's feme-bot asskicker/deeper thinker Major Motoko Kusinagi, who found cyber-ascendance at the conclusion of the first movie.

Though Oshii seems to be more personally sympathetic to revolutionary politics, much of his work has come from within the heads of law enforcement officers. He's very adept at subverting action heroes and instead of having them break down doors and pacify the world's problems, hr uses them as a lens to examine humanity and society. Batou is a model action hero, he's a large man's-man who solves problems with the biggest gun he can find. He's a rugged individual in his own life, but is drawn to fascist methods of solving problems. Innocence finds him lodged in an existential sticking point, in which Odysseus like, he travels into the underworld, a disconnected, economic free for all where he meetings a hacker from his former occupation.

Batou's an experienced veteran with a background in military intelligence serving as an agent of Section 9, a semi-government force solving crimes at the breaking point of new technology and society. Though undoubtedly intelligent, he was the muscle partner in the story, and it was a role that the character himself adopted. He saw himself as support for the one person he thought smarter and more capable than himself. With the Major leaving him and his world behind he's lost his point of reference for defining himself.

Consequently, the movie finds Batou stuck in a state between combat readiness and depression. His motions are the detached weave of a fighter in a late round ,trying to brush off attacks and throw their own punches. It's a bad way to be going into a demanding investigation, and Oshii's direction filters the movie through this mindset. Though slow and muted, new sensation arrives with a heavy impact. There's an Asian parade/carnival in the movie whose surreal jolt and beautiful CGI work, paralleling the mundane cityscape of the first movie in runtime location and animation technique relative to the rest of the movie , lands with a discernable thud, but doesn't shake the dream. Late in the movie, Batou clicks out his funk with clear the advent of clear direction and the feature, true to the new mindset, clicks into action movie mode.

Having depicted transcendence in the first Ghost in the Shell, Oshii explores it in Innocence (far more intelligently coherent than original Ghost in the Shell creator Masamune Shirow in his follow-up Man-Machine Interface, which mostly amounted to a collection of softcore pin-ups and tech design). Paralleling the cyborg creation sequence of the first Ghost in the Shell, Innocence opens with another. This one is not just distinguished by the remarkable improvements in CGI achieved in the years between the movie, but that the assembly process looks to be occurring without attached production mechanisms. As if a deity where commanding a being to take shape, as it does, its both too doll like and too human. As if in the partially organic, partially synthetic components, a crime victim was being pieced together from mannequin parts. Oshii's genius connects this view of human-created existence to Batou's malaise in narrative truly worth pondering



Anime Spotlight IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix
Volume 1

Released by Bandai Entertainment

IGPX is an original show for Cartoon Network's Toonami from Bandai and Production IG (Ghost in the Shell). That would seem to spell a project with a lot of minders looking into it. While IGPX is a serviceable show, less predictable and more endearing than it might have been, it seems very much like a product. Even YuGiOh was a game mechanic nut's project, but this seems like a staff of very able, talented creators set to work on robot NASCAR. This isn't just to moan about a corporate origin, it's to say that IGPX offers exhilaration and characters to cheer on, but it's missing a spark.

The titular IGPX is a giant suspended track in which a trio of piloted robots jostle and race, backed by a support staff of coaches, pit crews, technicians and financial managers. In the series, you get the visual spectacle of a track in the sky, but the endeavor is action from recognizable experience. The action, which is almost as much roller-derby as NASCAR, reflects a sport that doesn't extend from natural human experience. It's degree to removed from the running and striking of natural behavior. Anime/manga that manage this soft of endeavor well are always surprises. The Battle Angel Alita manga pulled it off because it was able to fully draw in the reader with the sweating, pounding physicality and drama, but more often it comes across of very cooked up and pre-planned. Here, the speed and motion are present and the CGI work serves the show well, but it is over reliant on narrative for conveying the dynamic of the races. The drama has to be conveyed verbally rather than facilitating the viewer getting into the heads of the participants.

The series follows Team Satomi, a trio of up upstarts who through luck and natural skill make into the major league. The early episodes successfully present the group as promising, but unrefined talent in need of maturation, coaching and experience before they can really start winning. By not giving them more credit than they deserve, the series is nicely setting them up to earn their victory.

The characters are a nice nix of backgrounds without being an overt rainbow coalition. Character design, and not just visual design, is a highlight of the series. There's a genuine depth to the personalities and interests of the characters that gives the series something for the viewer to latch on to and follow.



Anime Spotlight: Derserk Punk
Volume 1

Released by FUNimation

Desert Punk, named for its protagonist Sonabozu in Japan, has a goofy sense of humor that walks the fine line between irreverent and mean spirited. The first gag in the series, a minor studio Gonzo (they aren't trying to be overly impressive) about a geek who dominates the post apocalyptic wasteland, is a good indicator as to whether the series is compatible with your sense of humor. The world is a bombed out desert where humanity lives in rock caverns (yet there's internet and plenty of weapons and ammunition). A group in hazard suits make their way through the waste. A gang of ripped pro-wrestler/Mad Max toughs descend on the group. They start beating on the victims, stomping on children, grabbing women. A woman starts screaming as they rip off her the breaking apparatus of her suit, revealing a wide, growth splotched ugly face. Victim and assailant exchange quizzical looks and the attackers get up to move on. Yes, the series starts with a rape joke.

Desert Punk isn't quite black comedy, people aren't really getting raped or killed, an old man coughs up blood for an episode, then it's revealed that he's been sputtering on tomato juice, not dying. It's more sun bleached than dark. It's the type of humor the clown of a group would make when trying to be mildly offensive. Probably material that wouldn't cause you to be written up in a school or office, but what would cause your peers to give you a harsh look. It's comedy that requires the right disposition, but that it is told well enough that that disposition doesn't require too many mind altering substances to get into. You'll either love it in an affectionately regarded cult material sense, or you'll feel it should be bother with.

As the end theme describes Sonabozu, he's two circles (a domed gas mask apparatus), a sun hat, a "raincoat"/cape, and a Winchester rifle. He's the "Ghost of the Desert" and one of the best in the dirty jobs business, except he generally gets knocked about and angry until one of his inane schemes pays off. Under the survival accoutrements, he's a short, ugly, geek who lets his hormones get the better of him, especially around his large chested rival.

Unlike much of their work, Gonzo isn't trying to dazzle here. Yhey aren't trying to put together the next talked about visuals, but there are quality set pieces within the work, such as the escape from the unbeatable hovercraft tank or the Leone meets Looney Tunes duesl. The character's adventures are bullet fill slap stick, with a bit of engaging strategy, that are infused with the juvenile mentality of leaving some on who has pissed you off stranded in buck naked



Manga Spotlight: School Rumble
Volume 1
by Jin Kobayashi

Released by Del Rey

A romantic comedy from Shonen Magazine, source of Beck, Get Backers, GTO, Go Nagai's and Ken Akumatsu's works seems like it should be another pandering appeal to one fetish or another. While School Rumble insensitive at times, there is a rape joke, its sexual politics are almost even handed. The female lead and a male lead in a parallel B story are novel aspects, but what really drives the series is its pacing. The short chapters feature a quick set up an execution in the short chapters that almost seems more like the layout of a good television advertisement spot than a manga story. There are a few misplaced punch lines, with the high point coming too early or too late, but it always seems funnier than what an intellectual analysis would credit the series.

Tsukamoto Tenma is in love with Karasuma Oji. Her heart leaps on the first day of school when she finds out they'll be sharing a home room, but crashes when she hears he'll shortly be transferring away. She spends the night obsessively cleaning and not sleeping. The next day she rebounds learning that he's convinced his parent to delay the transfer for a year. Harima Kenji loves Tsukamoto Tenma. His heart leaps the first day of school after seeing her, but crashes when he finds he doesn't have a home room. He's a delinquent thug and forgot that he had been suspended for the year. The next day he rebounds when he convinces the school to make an exception to allow him back in.

The mild stupidity of the characters is a nice touch. It lets them fly off the handle, but not to a degree the reader will turn against them. Tenma'a idiosyncrasies are a perfect source of gags, especially in how she leaps ahead of herself without realizing it, such as laboring over what to write in a love letter, then blurting out in handwriting "I lost my pen". Kenji brings a Cromartie High deadpan absurdity to the series. With a villain's pencil moustache and pointed beard he looks the part, and he brings the same intensity to trying to win the romantic game as Tenma, but like her, he's just in over her head.

School Rumble is a guilty pleasure that will not make you feel guilty. It's punchy, semi-sweet, and a rare male orient romantic comedy that puts together a good joke rather than pandering.

Manga Spotlight Redux: Naoki Urasawa's Monster

This review was based on the preview of Viz's release of Monster back in August 2005, when it was scheduled for October. If there is any title worth the wait, it's Monster. Rewarding everyone's patience, it's now available.

Any manga follower will be able to point out a host of supremely high quality works of the medium, but it rare to find a work that transcends even the expectations of fans and becomes literature. Many of Osamu Tezuka's works fit the bill. As does Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaa. And so does Naoki Urasawa's Monster, which is a Watchmen of manga.

If New Line goes through with their live action adaptation of the manga series Monster, there's a very good chance you're going to want to be able to claim that you read it years before the film opened. They've got their hands on material for an Oscar winner, or at least material for another Memento or Usual Suspects thanks to a plot that is a smarter Fugitive, solid character work, and a real depth of moral discourse.

The thought inspiring thriller works in the Hitchcock tradition of Vertigo, North By North West or Rear Window, mixing memorable personalities, places and conundrums. In this case the lead is a doctor before and after the unification of Germany who may have saved the wrong life.

As opposed to moving along a constellation of plot points, the story of Monster is a function of decisions and their consequences. Upon finding that he's worked himself into an ethical quagmire, a brilliant young doctor rights his course by saving the life of a child rather than a political valuable mayor, thoroughly derailing the prestige track of his career. Nine years later, a series of deaths return what was taken away, but it begins to look like his act of mercy unleashed a monster on the world.

Monster confounds the judgement observers place on fictional character. It scrutinizes what most people would think of as The Right Thing to Do. It isn't just that choices are difficult to make, and they are, but in a sort of social chaos theory, the ramifications of actions that effect other people's lives aren't predictable. The results are a morality play in which the rules are never laid out.

All this happens over the course of a magnificent first volume, and if it were an open ended short work, it would still require a recommendation. Here's manga that isn't disposable entertainment, that you can have an intelligent conversation about without spiraling into genre-isms, that you can force on any intelligent reader regardless of medium tastes have them return captivated.

As a writer and as an illustrator, Naoki Urasawa distinguishes himself in the arena of manga. He's one of the great manga creators criminally under exposed in English. That Naoki Urasawa considered Monster a markedly earlier stage in his evolution than 20th Century Boys (leading to a delay in the English release of the later work) has to build expectations of the later work to staggering proportions.

Spotlight On Anime Podcasts

Podcasts are RSS syndicated content, typically MP3 audio, but increasingly video. After the URL of the feed is entered into an aggregator (increasingly, for many this is usually iTunes), the user is "subscribed" to the content feed, and the application will manage checking for updates and downloading new content. This content can then be heard or viewed on a computer or portable device. There are no specific ties to the iPod hardware other than the name of the technology (though it is also argued the POD of podcast stands for "Personal Option Digital" or "Personal On Demand").

Initiated in 2004, the technology took off in 2005, with many podcasters creating shows on almost every imaginable subject. Yet, though anime prides itself on a tech savy fandom, quality anime podcasts were slow in coming.

J-ENT Radio was probably one of the earliest podcasts to cover anime, but it was primarily a Japanese and Asian entertainment show. Since then there have been other quality podcasts that featured anime as one of a many covered topics (Cool Shite on the Tube being a great example), and a host of anime podcasts marked by shaky beginnings and false starts.

In recent months the quantity has picked up, and a few have matured into shows worth recommending. Companies ADV, CPM, Geneon and The Right Stuf International have launched promotional podcasts. Following the stabilization and contraction of fans sites in the early years of the decade, podcasts have joined blogs, music videos and web comics one of the most reliable outlets of fan creativity.

Fan podcasts worth trying include:

Anime World Order: :fighting through the painful audio problems of the first episode was well worth it. Hosted by a trio of relatively older fans with an interest wider than just the latest hot trends, they provide a smart and irreverent exploration of the depths of what the anime and manga media have to offer. Regardless of how familiar you are with the topic, their examinations of older titles and the various creators' bodies of work is sure to inspire you to find some overlooked title to investigate.

The show pacing is helped by the hosts' abundance of information and opinions. It's an understatement to say that they have plenty to talk about. Even with the extended length of the podcasts, episodes are cogent, and even when topics change rapidly, as in their serialized interview of Japanese pop culture guru Patrick Macias, the thought process doesn't ramble.

OtakuGeneration.net is exceptionally geeky, but most of their content, especially their reviews are very accessible and informative. At times the jokes get in the way of the message, but the podcast is at its best when it is offering a humorous look at the fandom aspects of anime in North America. While it features the standard news and reviews, its interviews with anime music video makers, and other creative community/conventional personalities set it apart. The podcast also regularly traverses into the ancillary topics of video games and technology, but as a whole it is able to remain focused on anime.

Anime Pulse is a bit much of the anyone with a microphone podcast aesthetic, but they do feature extensive coverage of the latest anime (re: Bleach and Naruto). Younger fans will certainly enjoy the hosts banter which resembles that of the loud, generally funny guys making the noise in the middle of a given gathering.

Unlike the other podcasts mentioned MangaCast features a single host, and he's missing some of the verbal fluidity of the other commentators, but you will not find a more extensive coverage of manga reviews on the internet. If you want to find a new manga series to read or want to follow what's available in manga, MangaCast is an imperative resource. The podcast has also recently posted recordings of the manga panels at the New York Comic Con, a trend that will hopefully continue (and hopefully not anger too many convention organizers, company representatives and guests).

Viz Bleach-ed

Anime on DVD and C21 Media report that Viz has acquired the anime license to Bleach, one of the most popular new action anime series. The company plans to market the anme to teens, and Adult Swim has mentioned that it would fit perfectly with their line-up a-la InuYasha.

Reason for X's Hiatus?

MangaNews has translated part of an interview with CLAMP in which they offer an explanation as to why they ceased working on their epic, apocalyptic manga X. The group attributes the break to various real world tragedies and disasters that parallels their story and a reluctance to change their plans based on the requests of their editor and publisher.

Live Action Eva Makes Noise

According to IGN ADV's Matt Greenfield reiterated at the New York Comic Con that the live action Neon Genesis Evangelion project, with effect from Weta is still progress of seek an "A list" director for the project. ADV claims Weta representatives told them that there is more buzz surrounding Eva than any of the Lord of the Rings pictures.

Live Action Death Note

TwitchFilm reports Shûsuke Kaneko's live action adaptation of thriller manga Death Note, with Tatsuya Fujiwara, Ken'ichi Matsuyama, Asaka Seto, Yû Kashii, Shigeki Hosokawa, Erika Toda, Shunji Fujimura, & Takeshi Kaga can now be seen in a webpage and trailer.

Warner Entertainment Japan K.K. (Wânâ Entâteimento Japan K.K.) plans to release the first part (zenpen) of Death Note theatrically in Japan in June, and the second part (kôhen) theatrically there in October.<.p>

Death Note follows a teen genius who finds the notebook of a death god that allows him to dictate the death of anyone whose name he enters.

Old Boy Manga Scheduled

Dark Horse has place the first volume of the Old Boy manga on their June/July schedule

OLD BOY VOLUME 1 TPB
Written by Garon Tsuchiya, art by Nobuaki Minegishi.
Ten years ago, they took him. He doesn't know who. For ten years he has been confined in a private prison. He doesn't know why. For ten years his only contact with the outside world has been a television set and the voices of his jailers. In time, he lost himself. He changed . . . transformed himself into something else . . . something hard . . . something lethal. Suddenly one day, his incarceration ends, again without explanation. He is sedated, stuffed inside a trunk, and dumped in a park. When he awakes, he is free to reclaim what's left of his life . . . and what's left is revenge.

Also releases in the time frame include:
Amano: The Tale Of Genji Hc Illustrated Novel
Written and art by Yoshitaka Amano.
Yoshitaka Amano has been praised around the world for his lush watercolors and evocative work dealing with myth and legend. In The Tale of Genji Amano brings his considerable talent to retelling one of the most famous of Japanese myths: written by Murasaki Shikibu shortly after 1000 AD and considered by most scholars to be the first novel ever written, The Tale of Genji is the story of the romantic adventures of Genji, the amazingly handsome prince and his many romantic conquests. Told through stunning paintings, Amano brings this classic story to life for a new generation.
80 pages, black and white, with 46 color illustrations, $24.95.

Berserk Volume 12 Tpb (July 21)

Blade Of The Immortal #114(June 14)

Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex Volume 2 -- Revenge Of The Cold Machines Novel (July 12, prose)

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Volume 1 Tpb
Written by Eiji Ohtsuka, art by Housui Yamazaki.
Your body is their business! Five young students at a Buddhist university, three guys and two girls, find little call for their job skills in today's Tokyo . . . among the living, that is! But all that stuff in college they were told would never pay off -- you know, channeling, dowsing, ESP‹gives them a direct line to the dead . . . the dead who are still trapped in their corpses and can't move on to the next reincarnation.

The five form the Kurosagi ("Black Heron" -- their ominous bird logo) Corpse Delivery Service: whether suicide, murder, accident, or illness, they'll carry your body wherever it needs to go to free your soul! The kids from Kurosagi can smell a customer a mile away‹it's a good thing one of the girls majored in embalming!
208 pages, black and white, $10.95, in stores on July 19.

MUSEUM OF TERROR VOLUME 1 TPB
Written and art by Junji Ito.
Dark Horse Comics presents Museum of Terror, a series of horror stories by Japan's foremost creator of horror manga. Full of compelling and charming characters and relationships, and featuring some of the finest comics art available, Junji Ito has seen his works translated into successful films in Japan.

Ito's Uzumaki, the thrilling and grotesque manga and film, have already found success in America, and now we present "Tomie," the first story in this series. "Tomie" is the story of an eternally youthful and beautiful high school girl, whose admirers are obsessed to the point of murdering her. But to their horror, she is reincarnated over and over. "Tomie" also became a popular film in Japan, and now it launches Dark Horse's series of Ito's horrific works, Museum of Terror.
376 pages, black and white, $13.95, in stores on July 5.

Saiyuki Reload Anime Manga Volume 1 Tpb (July 26)

Usagi Yojimbo Volume 20: Glimpses Of Death Tpb & Ltd Hc (August 2)

Miyaki on Cartoon Network

Toonzone reports Cartoon Network will air the following Studio Ghibli/Hayao Miyazaki features

March 18
Spirited Away

March 25
Princess Mononoke

April 1
Castle in the Sky

April 8
Nausicaa

Live Action Robotech No Happening?

Robotech Reporter indicates that Kickstart Production has removed live action Robotech references from their projects page.

Dancing Zaku

Gunota points out that a 15 second dancing model of Gundam's Zuka can be seen here.

Merchandise News

Figures.com has images of Mattell's upcoming Naruto action figures here. Upcoming releases include:

Naruto Eight-Inch Action Figure Assortment: The first wave of eight-inch sculpts include Naruto, Sasuke and Rock Lee. Each character comes with a chakra power base. MSRP: $14.99, Available: July 2006

* Naruto Training Deluxe Figure Assortment: MSRP: $9.99, Available: July 2006

* Naruto Battling Basic Figure Assortment: Each 4¾-inch figure comes with ninja weapons that launch projectiles. MSRP: $6.99, Available: July 2006

* Naruto 12-Inch Shinobi Warrior Figure Assortment:Naruto and Sasake with electronic battle sounds. MSRP: $19.99, Available: July 2006

* Naruto Headband Assortment: MSRP: $7.99, Available: July 2006

* Naruto Stealth Skillz: This role play item features two weapon launching gauntlets. MSRP: $14.99, Available: August 2006

* Naruto Chakra Challenge: Every young ninja needs to hone his skills through intensive training. Under the tutelage of sensei Kakashi the Chakra Challenge allows kids to master dozens of hand seals. MSRP: $ 29.99, Available: September 2006

A preview UFO Robot Grendizer figures from HL Product, including a 20" Full Metal Grendizer and 6" Grendizer Spaizer can be seen here

First 4 Figures' New Optimus Primal Transformers: Beast Wars Bust ($60.00) can be seen here

Art Asylum's "Autobot Matrix of Leadership" Replica ($175 in May) can be seen here.

Yamato USA is now shipping the following:

SIF EX: Cowboy Bebop – Spike Speigel PVC Statue: 8" scale PVC statue comes packaged in a collector's style window box with display base and trench coat for Spike to casually drape over his shoulder.

SIF EX: Cutie Honey – Hurricane Honey & Sister Jill PVC Statues Sculpted by Japan's renowned "garage kit" artist Hisanori Satoh (Daikokuya-Koubou), 1/8 scale PVC statues

SIF EX: Please Twins – Karen Onodera & Miina Miyafujii PVC Statue: Crafted by Japan's ZERO (CLUMSY CLAFT),

SIF : Monkey Punch Girls Collection Trading Figures a tribute to the enduring works of the legendary manga-ka Katou Kazuhiko (a.k.a. Monkey Punch) most famously known as the creator of the long running Lupin III manga series. Presented here in an assortment of five 4" scale miniature figures.

Yamato USA also announced the upcoming release of a Megazone 23 – 1/15 fully transformable Megazone 23 - 1/15 Scale Garland Full Action Model. Drawing upon original mecha designs by Shinji Aramaki (Wolf's Rain, Bubblegum Crisis), Yamato's 1/15 Garland stretches over 9.85" long in Maneuver Craft mode and fully transforms from Maneuver Craft to Maneuver Slave mode without the addition of any parts. The figure will retail for $129.95 starting in summer 2006. It can be seen at here.

Online Interviews

Dark Horse's Carl Horn has interviewed creator of Lone Wolf and Cub and much more Kazup Koike here.

Anime on DVD has interviewed Del Rey's manga guy Dallas Middaugh here .

Adult Swim's Kim Manning answers questions here.

Collector Times interviews OEL creator Rivkah here

CLAMP spoke to Anime News Network and mentioned that some of their members would be appearing in the US at an undislosed event this July. ANN also interview Mari Iijima, Japanese and now English voice actress for Macross' Minmei.

Newsarama has interviewed TOKYOPOP's Mike Kiley and Jeremy Ross

New Go! Comi Licenses

Go! Comi announced the acquisition of two new licenses this week: NIGHT OF THE BEASTS by Chika Shiomi and AFTER SCHOOL NIGHTMARE by Setona Mizushiro.

Night Of The Beasts
A tale of romance and supernatural action, NIGHT OF THE BEASTS is the story of high school tough girl Aria, notorious for taking on her school's worst bullies. But that's nothing compared to what happens when she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the demonically possessed Sakura, a guy who would as readily rip apart his own parents as seek her healing embrace. NIGHT OF THE BEASTS is the work of Chika Shiomi, whose series CANON and KEY JACK were major hits in Japan. The series runs six volumes. (Rated Older Teen for scenes of intense violence; MSRP $10.99)

After School Nightmare
Ichijou Mashiro must struggle to keep his life-long secret when he's enlisted by a mysterious nurse at his elite prep school to enter into a nightmare world where his body and soul are put at the mercy of his worst enemies: his classmates! AFTER SCHOOL NIGHTMARE is the latest manga from Setona Mizushiro, creator of the controversial X-DAY. The series is currently running in Japan, and has four volumes thus far. (Rated Older Teen for violence, mature themes and disturbing images.)

Both titles will be released in late August.

NARUTO manga hits #29 on USA TODAY's TOP 150 List

VIZ Media,, has announced that the recently released volume 9 of the popular NARUTO manga series, which is published under the company's SHONEN JUMP imprint, placed at Number 29 on USA Today's Top 150 Best Seller List for the week of February 26, 2006. This is the highest placement any manga title has ever achieved on the daily's noted literary sales list, which compiles sales traction for fiction, non-fiction, hardcover as well as paperback titles.

Two other VIZ Media manga titles also published under the SHONEN JUMP imprint – RUROUNI KENSHIN volume 24 and DEATH NOTE volume 4 – placed at Number 116 and 118 respectively for the same week.

Cell Phone Anime

The Anime Network (TAN) has announced a plans to offer fee based anime content for Cingular and Sprint for some of ADV's library.

Game News

Game Spot has a review of the North American release of MS Saga: A New Dawn aka Gundam: True Odyssey, a giant robot RPG based on the Gundam concept but an original work not connected to anime of the Gundam anime here.

The Magic Box has screen shots of Mobile Suit Gundam: Climax U.C. here

Gunota points out Crossbone screenshots
Gpara's has screenshots of Crossbone Gundams in action from the Climax UC game and Up-Rise.TV's streaming 3 minue clip.

Game Spot has an review of the upcoming Samurai Champloo game adaptation here

ibooks Files for Bankruptcy

ibooks Inc. and Byron Press Visual Publications filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on February 22nd. ibooks' manga releases included Icaro by Moebius and Jiro Taniguchi.

Oshii's Fast Food Bandits Trailer

A trailer of Ghost in the Shell director Mamoru Oshii's upcoming Tachiguishi Retsuden or Fast Food Bandits, a movie animated with digitally manipulated photos about the grifters who frequent the food stalls that popped up after World War II, can be seen here. The movie is scheduled to be released in Japanese theatres this April.

Geneon License Announcements

Anime on DVD announced a number of new licenses at conventions including

Kamichu!: a dramady about a middle school girl who becomes a goddess one night. Geneon has announced a June 6th date for the first volume.

Ichigo Marshmallow a cute slice of life comedy

Geneon has also indicated that Erementar Gerard will be released as Elemental Gelade, a sky pirate magic girl series

Eureka Seven Site Online

Bandai has launched their site for the Bones/Dai Sato (Cowboy Bebop movie) mecha sci-fi series Eureka Seven here

Tenchi Muyo RYO-OHKI Dates

According to Anime News Network FUNimation will be releasing the second volume of Tenchi Muyo RYO-OHKI on September 12th and volume 3 on November 7th.

ADV Licenses Snow Fairy

ADV has announced that they have licensed Haruka Aoi's Sugar: A Little Snow Fairy manga, which will be released starting in August.

Disgaea Anime Licensed?

Anime on DVD reports there is an indication that Geneon will be handling the localization of the Disgaea anime, an adaptation of a popular game series about a cute demon lord hoping to conquer the realm.

Case Close On YTV

Starting on April 7th, Case Closed, the localization of long running mystery anime Detective Conan will run on Canada's YTV.

Media Blasters Delays Riki-Oh Anime

AnimeNation reports Media Blasters has informed retailers that due to "licensing issues," the American release of Riki-Oh the Animation, originally scheduled for April 11th, has been delayed indefinitely.

FUNimation Entertainment Launches Theatre Initiative

FUNimation Entertainment announced the development of FUNimation Films with The Bigger Picture, a subsidiary of Sabella Dern Entertainment. FUNimation Films is another phase in FUNimation's strategy to grow the anime community and bring quality anime to entertainment audiences throughout the United States.

FUNimation Films is a monthly initiative that will bring top-rated anime features and series premiers to movie theatres across the nation. The program will launch on March 17, 2006 in select Landmark theatres. Moviegoers will be treated to a special showing of the Dragon Ball Z feature The Return of Cooler, followed by the main event: the U.S. premiere of the Dragon Ball Z movie Fusion Reborn.

The Bigger Picture is a theatrical distribution company specializing in the digital distribution of films targeted to underserved audiences during "off-peak" hours. The Bigger Picture's release program provides fans with an opportunity to enjoy new movies on the big screen on a regular basis.

FUNimation also announced the titles that will be featured during April and May. In April, FUNimation Films will give fans a chance to preview the upcoming Basilisk series. Basilisk is a beautifully crafted ninja-horror-action series from the acclaimed Studio GONZO. In May, FUNimation Films will be previewing another GONZO creation known as Trinity Blood. Trinity Blood is a post-apocalyptic vampire action and conspiracy series that creates a unique visual palette by combining futuristic fantasy and gothic fashion.

FUNimation Films will be available in Landmark theatres nationwide in the Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Minneapolis, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. markets. More theatre chains and theatres will be added each week and fans can find out where they can watch FUNimation Films in their area on the FUNimation Films website ( www.funimationfilms.com). A database is being created and fans can search by zip code for the nearest theatre featuring FUNimation Films.

ADV on HD

Toonzone has a run down of ADV's plans for HD releases here.

Two New Negima Anime

Anime News Network reports Kôdansha officially announced two new anime based on Ken Akumatsu (Love Hina's) Mahou Sensei Negima. Production will be moved from Xebec to Shaft and will feature the creative talents of Akiyuki Shinbo (director) and Kazuhiro Ota (character designer), the team that produced Pani Poni Dash! Spring Edition, one of the new Negima anime will be screened at a Negima event held by Kôdansha and King Records at Tokyo Kôseinenkin Kaikan on April 23rd.

Boogiepop Doesn't Laugh Preview

Seven Seas has posted a preview of horror manga Boogiepop Doesn't laugh here

Classic Anime Creator Dies

Anime News Network reports Mamoru Sasaki, scriptwriter of Heidi, Girl of the Alps, Ultraman, Jûdô Itchokusen, Kaiki Daisakusen and Comet-san has died at age 69 of pancreatic cancer.

"Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation" for the Game Boy Advance

Super Robot Taisen is has been a long running series of giant robot strategy games with mecha from Mazinger, Getter Robo to Gundam to Evangelion. The games are finally being adapated for North American release, but the only the Original Generation games, which feature original characters rather than licensed ones.

Atlus U.S.A., Inc. announced the acquisition of the North American publishing rights to Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation and Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation 2. Both games were developed and published in Japan by Banpresto.

King of Fighters 4 Online

The fourth and final episode of King of Fighters: Another day is available freely online here

New Gundam Evolve Clips

Gunota points out that Gundam Evolve 11 and 12, new CGI clip retelling famous scenes from the mech classic are online here and here

Teen Titans Return

Super Hero Hype reports that though Cartoon Network has opted not to pick up additional seasons of the animated Teen Titans they will be producing a TV movie titled Teen Titans Tokyo.

Negadon Trailer

A trailer of CPM's release of CGI kaiju/giant robot movie Negadon: The Monster from Mars can be seen here. The official site is online at negadonattacks.com

More Kaiju Fan Work

The markers of the Godzilla US '94 fan project also point out Todd Tennant and Frank Wu's "Guidolon, The Giant Space Chicken" here with an animated trailer here.

Readers Talkback
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  • March 9, 2006, 12:52 a.m. CST

    Primero

    by BeeDub

    Putos!

  • March 9, 2006, 12:57 a.m. CST

    FIRST!!!

    by RickSlamu2

    oh is Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence going to be re-released in the USA with the new english dub?

  • March 9, 2006, 1:22 a.m. CST

    Dreamworks GHOST IN THE SHELL: INNOCENCE

    by Harry Weinstein

    Yes, the US disc has problems. but let&#39;s be fair, they fixed the issue with the use of closed-captions instead of real subtitles. If you have one of the broken discs, go to http://recp.rm05.net/servlet/SignUpForm?f=2318 and you can get a replacement with real subtitles. Of course, when they fixed the feature&#39;s subtitles, they somehow managed to fuck up the subtitles for the commentary track by removing the text indicating who was speaking at any given time - but at least it&#39;s still possible to tell what&#39;s being said, even if you can&#39;t tell who&#39;s saying it. True, the cover of the US disc is fugly, but that&#39;s not really a barrier to enjoying the film itself. I expected more from Dreamworks, but it&#39;s a perfectly acceptable bare-bones release. Try being a HK film fan sometime, you&#39;re lucky if you get the entire film on a US DVD. It&#39;s not the out-of-touch big studios versus the little guys with their finger on the pulse of the fan community. I will never buy anything from ADV again after they ripped me off with their release of 2009: LOST MEMORIES. About halfway through the film, each channel of the 5.1 audio track (in both the shitty dub and the original Korean/Japanese track) started coming out of the wrong speaker. After recieving complaints, they exchanged the disc, sending out new copies where the English was fixed - and the original language was just as broken as before. They responded that this was beyond their control. Funny, if I can fix it on my computer at home given the time and inclination to do so, if it&#39;s "beyond the control" of a allegedly professional company like ADV, then someone needs to get shitcanned for it. Their solution for subsequent Korean film releases was to just use a 2.0 stereo downmix for the original language. English of course is given the 5.1 treatment. And they wonder why we parallel import. Fuck those bastards at ADV. Say what you will about the Dreamworks GITS 2 - all the audio channels are accounted for and in the correct speakers.

  • March 9, 2006, 1:32 a.m. CST

    Teen Titans

    by Latauro

    Can someone explain to me why TT, which appears to have -- at least, basically -- the same production staff as Batman: TAS and Justice League can be so naffly anime? I mean, I love anime when it&#39;s good, but there&#39;s a lot of shite anime, and TT seems to be closer to Pokemon than Ghibli. Scott, any thoughts?

  • March 9, 2006, 2:26 a.m. CST

    The European version of GITS2 sounds great!

    by Johnno

    Not like the Dreamworks Travesty that was unleashed on us... a crap cover... and no dub... oh, let&#39;s not forget they screwed up the subtitles too, so I had to mail in the old disc for a new one... Anyway rather somewhat pleased if the robotech live action ain&#39;t happening by that company... I figure that belongs a lot more to a big studio with a big budget. Also I don&#39;t think any anime will ever really capture teh essense of Ken Akamatsu&#39;s work. That anime was just plain bad compared to teh manga... well maybe if Square USA animated it in it&#39;s full glory but with the style and character designs kept, especially showing off the school and with the choreographed the action. Don&#39;t ask me about the nudity, but why not keep it the same way Akamatsu does? I think the direction could be a little more like Bleach...

  • March 9, 2006, 2:33 a.m. CST

    I love Clamps!

    by chickychow

    "I&#39;ve got a little surprise in store for them. . . the clamps!"

  • March 9, 2006, 2:41 a.m. CST

    Latauro

    by BigTed

    I&#39;ve read an interview with the Teen Titans director/project lead/whatever and basically he had just seen FLCL and was still in a state of shell shock. Most of the anime cues are poor knock-offs of the little idiosyncracies in FLCL&#39;s animation. There&#39;s also the problem that FLCL had a (relatively) huge budget, an inspired and original concept, a great director and suits a nigh constant hyperactivity and self-aware nature, whereas Teen Titans is just cheap balls.

  • March 9, 2006, 2:50 a.m. CST

    Hang on a tic...

    by Latauro

    ...what&#39;s FLCL? Is it something incredibly obvious that I&#39;ve temporarily forgotten? Or is it mangaspeak? So this guy saw FLCL, thought it was great, and completely messed up the DC style they&#39;d had going in order to ape a successful anime thing? Is this right?

  • March 9, 2006, 3:11 a.m. CST

    Death Note

    by Menchekia

    For FLCL, go here: http://tinyurl.com/e6ctb And now I must say that I&#39;m incredibly excited about the Death Note movies. Just finished up volume 4 today and was thinking, "This would make such a kick ass movie." Bring on the American releases and I can die a happy girl!

  • March 9, 2006, 3:12 a.m. CST

    That&#39;s pretty much exactly what happened

    by BigTed

    At least if you trust the interview I read. FLCL is also known as Fooly Cooly, it was a 6-part anime miniseries done by Gainax. Directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki who was the second-in-command on Evangelion. An exploration of maturity and loss of childhood innocence complete with robots, guitars, mopeds, a catchy soundtrack and rife with phallic symbolism. Sounds pretty par for the course for anime, but the whole thing is very entertaining.

  • March 9, 2006, 8:51 a.m. CST

    re: FLCL

    by ScottGreen

    As others have said FLCL or Fooly Cooly is a must see anime. Probably one of the best OAVs (short, in this case 6 episodes, series released direct to video) in recent years. It&#39;s animated by Gainax and Production IG, which was a killer collaberation, and I&#39;d call it the last of Gainax&#39;s hot streak (Evangelion, Kare Kano, FLCL, maybe Ebichu) before their work started getting problematic. It&#39;s a very wild series that really plays with what different styles of animation has to offer, but I&#39;m of the opinion that it all makes complete sense when taken as a Freudian expression. By the way, "fooly cooly" is supposed to be the transcribes sound of a woman being groped. The Japanese language has a rich library of sound words and phrases.

  • March 9, 2006, 9:05 a.m. CST

    re: Teen Titans

    by ScottGreen

    I don&#39;t think there&#39;s any big secret to the series itself. I think was a recognition of the popularity of the anime look and style of story telling. I also think that it and Avatar: The Last Airbender were successfully entertaining series. The interesting, related machinations are how Cartoon Network is managing its content so that the desired demographics are watching at the desired time (hence no more daily older audience atttractive anime, like Gundam in the evening), and how DC is playing simular games with their library of characters (hence The Batman rather than Batman: the Animated series and its lineage up to Justice Legue).

  • March 9, 2006, 8:44 p.m. CST

    Enlightenment!

    by Latauro

    Ah, I see. Thanks all. Though I was never able to get into The Batman because it was too soon after B:TAS, which was much, much better. It just seemed like they were retreading the same ground, even if it was a Year Two kind-of deal.

  • March 9, 2006, 11:50 p.m. CST

    Eureka sSeveN will own your life

    by v1cious

    this series is gonna be huge in the US. Digaea&#39;s also looking great. it starts airing in Japan next month.

  • March 10, 2006, 3:26 a.m. CST

    GITS 2: Innocence

    by Urge to Kill

    I love Oshii&#39;s work especially the first 2 Patlabor movies but for some reason GITS 2 bored me to tears. It just felt like he didn&#39;t really expand on anything he explored in the first movie. We just got the same themes from the first movie but with more pretty colors and artwork. The whole thing with the dolls to was just mind numbing to the point where I felt physically and mentally tired just watching the film.

  • March 10, 2006, 12:34 p.m. CST

    Urge to Kill

    by BigTed

    Agreed, for the most part. Although the animation and music were phenomenal. I&#39;m looking forward to seeing it again, but I definitely got the impression from my first viewing that it was just Ghost in the Shell with a perspective shift one foot to the left. Sone good scenes, fantastic art direction and a strong concept, but the whole thing together didn&#39;t even feel like a film. More like a 2 hour montage of dolls and impenetrable quotations.