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ANIME AICN - Embracing the Post AX Wave

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Column by Scott Green

Anime Expo, one of the, if not the, largest anime conventions recently wrapped up in Anaheim, California. Manga creation team CLAMP made a celebrity appearance. Distributors made a host of announcements with classics like Gunbuster finally making their way onto DVD and a range of new licenses from live action Cutie Honey from the creator of Evangelion and the new Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex feature, to action titles like Black Lagoon to drama like the anime adaptation of Paradise Kiss. In that 40,000+ people who chose to identify themselves as anime fans, who undoubtedly share a set of ideas that could be called a distinct culture, gathered in one place, it is worth looking at a movie about one fictional person who identified himself as an 80's style Japanese "businessman". Big Dreams Little Tokyo probably isn't something you can immediately see/purchase but in that it is both a thoroughly entertaining film and one with relevance to anime fans, or any sub-culture participants, it is well worth keeping an eye on.

Live Action Spotlight: Big Dreams Little Tokyo

Big Dreams Little Tokyo is an idiosyncratic look at the idiosyncrasies of language and culture in an age where many believe, on some level, that they can select their own culture. Introducing himself with a bow and polite presentation of a cheap business card, for Boyd, the culture of his choosing is that of the Japanese "businessman". His Japanese-American roommate Sakebono nee Jerome believes he'd be more widely accepted in the Japanese community if he could become a sumo wrestler.

Neither are making much headway. Jerome can't gain weight without sending himself to the hospital, can't get accepted into the sumo academy and isn't particularly athletic on a competitive level. Boyd goes out with the awkward persistence of a first time screenplay writer as he hustles sales of his language instructional book and English lessons for Japanese speakers, trying to gain enough momentum to be accepted as a serious party. At the same time, both have immersed themselves in their roles, Boyd perpetually clad in his suit, Jerome often in his mawashi or sumo diaper.

The genuinely charming comedy travels the path of seeking to successfully define one's own niche. Though the movie is quirky and in many ways something new, it follows the familiar structure conventions of independent people selling their idea to the world. With the descent then ascent of desperation, finding love, and getting the chance to make it big, the outline could as easily house the story of a musician, writer or inventor as it does a bilingual "businessman". In that the movie's hero is struggling to find a place where he can personally and professionally immerse himself in Japanese language and culture, the story holds relevance for anime fans and, in a more general sense the state of American society.

Anime viewers to some degree or another inevitably study Japanese culture. Even if an anime fan isn't formally studying the language or integrating Japanese catch phrases into their vocabulary, a watcher can't help but pick up some of the language and its characteristics, along with some of Japan's customs, history and other shared touch points. Consequently, these viewers can ascertain more of the original intensions when a translation is careful about preserving linguistic indicators (such as honorifics) and cultural allusions. This is one reason fans are upset when adaptations ignore or downplay distinctions.

This conception of Japan and Japanese through anime and manga isn't going to be any more accurate than a conception of America through American movies and TV (which is to say accurate in some ways, but missing essential details), but it is a body of ideas that will influence the holder.

Because an outlook is built on experience, and media is ever more the experience we encounter, you are what you watch/read. Which isn't to fully forward the argument that violent games/movies are going to make you violent, but we are effected by the media we consume.

Watching anime, especially watching a great quantity of anime is an act of self selecting a set of ideas and a culture. Especially in older audiences, many would reject that culture, as many reject the culture of watching NASCAR or soap operas or PBS. In the case of non-Japanese fans there is the extra hitch that the culture of what they are viewing was generated from a context outside their own.

The extra relevance here is that in America, on a national level, the quantity and diversification of media has given the populous the ability to choose the media that re-enforces their political and social viewpoint. This sort of self selecting, self chosen culture is frequently attributed as one of the factors widening the country's polarization.

There are noteworthy distinction between the movie's heroes and most anime fans. Some, but few fans pursue their involvement in the culture, taking it to the next level and make a full livelihood and life, to the extent depicted in Big Dreams Little Tokyo. And to pull back from the anime/national polarization talk, the lead character's inspiration seems to be from some experience other than media. To hazard a guess, probably a glimpse some of his father's business dealings

Even if, and perhaps because, he is being helped out by checks from his father, he holds to a sort of entrepreneur attitude that is thought of as American. He isn't looking to be part of an institution and part of a team in which he'll rise in seniority. He's insisting on starting his own business and dictating the terms of acceptance. From its foundations, Boyd Japanese culture isn't the Japanese culture that he envisions he's joining.

The movie is not about laughing at a different culture because it is different, but that in the situations created by someone looking to bridge and form their own culture. The disconnect of Boyd's formality and etiquette with the natural reactions of shock at his mastery and annoyance by the inappropriateness of some of his propositions proves an ideal springboard for comedic action that is able to be outrageous while keeping the characters believable.

What the movie does perfectly, in its concept, staging and acting is find humor and drama in the connections and disconnects of language, culture, and one's idea of the two. Boyd's concept of a 'business man' does not match or hope to achieve the platonic ideal of the Japanese white-collar worker. But beyond that, the movie makes it pretty clear that the sort of economic warrior is non-synonymous with Japanese culture as a whole. While Boyd's Japanese is fluent, his ideas of the culture appear to be dated, shallow and incomplete. The friction caused by this sort of disparity of ideas is a fountain of comedy, and one that the movie draws from throughout.

The movie's humorous situations hammer this as Boyd's composure is tried incidents that fly in the face of his ideas. Looking for perspective Japanese students to teach English, elderly Asian's hide their faces when they see him coming, Chinese man forcefully assert their heritage. When a non-Asian looking man answers the door and gives a brief, perplexed that his surname is owed to a Japanese great grandfather, Boyd's deadpan, almost cracks into chagrin.

At the same time, exhibitions of Boydís linguistic ability are greeted with often impersonal reactions of surprise and glee. Eyes light up and smiles are cracked. And the movie does this itself. A mixture of pride and sheepishness is exhibited as he demonstrates a full command of the Japanese language and idiom. The subtitles are sure to indicate that it is phrasing phrasings as well the words of Japanese. When Boyd demonstrates this, it is treated like an outstanding slight of hand trick or act of ventriloquism.

These repartees are amusing, and the movie found some great actors who are able to speak volumes about how an array of people react to and then process the phenomenon that is Boyd how through facial expressions. At the same time, there is a melancholy in Boyd's battered persistence that reflects see the struggle an outsider entering a culture that others are born into.

The movie builds an ideal dramatic convergence for the inevitable big change as success that ties the ideas of the movie together in a funny scene in which Boyd and an Spanish language bilingual law-student friend acts a translators in a negotiation for a Japanese firm to purchase a Mexican factory. This scene highlights that many of the movies jokes aren't nearly as funny outside the context in which the movie is using them. People who know a bit a Japanese will expect a "taco" (the food) versus "tako" (Japanese for octopus) pun, and that's exactly where the movie goes. As message is sent from the Japanese executives to Boyd to the Spanish translator to the Mexican factory owner, it is the particulars of the cultures invoked, how those cultures influence how this linguistic coincidence is conveyed and how the surprise registers that makes the scene funny. Ultimately, it is that Boyd is able to make a business deal work because they aren't just translating language, but mediating cultural disconnect, which is the perfect resolution.

For more information on the movie see the official site But sure to watch the trailer and clips. The movie's blog further explorer some of the culture behind the movies, and a Podcast is expected to debut in August.

Resource Spotlight: Protoculture Addicts

Imagine for the sake of discussion that there were distinct approaches for covering anime. That anime would be viewed as product in which releases needed to promoted and evaluated or anime as a could be viewed medium worthy of examination. Particularly in the arena of print, Protoculture Addicts is noteworthy for leading far into the latter. Not to say that every anime is a work of art worth preserving (and not to say Protoculture Addicts is an academic work dissecting anime), but even the sizzling ephemeral works are worthy of some critical thought and that's what Protoculture Addicts applies.

As opposed to grinding out lists of hot properties, Protoculture Addicts offers opinionated and thoughtful coverage of anime that has been released in North America, anime has been licensed, classics and anime that is so far only available in Japan. It can be counted upon to never insult your intelligence with poorly formed attempts at humor or hippness, though there is a dry whit. Even small write-ups of the given releases scratch below the surface.

Protoculture Addicts' opinions carry a sufficient weight that it is disappointing when you find yourself disagreeing with what the magazine is forwarding. There's an even handed lack of agenda, not keyed to a specific type of fan or set of expectations. This moderate outlook is layered on the type of knowledge you'd find in an older, well studied fan, without a jaded, set in the ways edge. Universally, the magazine is an unparalleled gage what to watch. If your tastes differ from the reviewers', there is still sufficient information to pick up what you would enjoy about a work.

There is an abundance of anime content online that is available for free, but Protoculture Addicts' depth of known offers a return on the monetary investment. Not just due to the magazine steering you in the right direction when selecting titles, but when reading Protoculture's write-up of a title, you will learn something about that subject anime. Knowing the creative context in which the anime was constricted, who was behind it, and what they did and having analysis is bound to enhance the viewing of that anime.

Though still written with the passion of a fanzine, over the recent years the magazine has undergone transformations, and it is looking ever less like one. Not that bringing it in line with what could be called more mainstream magazines is a bad thing. The move has meant color, and now glossy pages. In addition to the clear, classic layout, it is now more eyecatching, and undoubtedly, anime coverage lends itself to a color format.

Anime Spotlight: Tetsujin 28
Volume 2

Released by Geneon

The 2004 production Tetsujin 28 took an interesting choice for re-launching the original giant robot. Rather than update the series to appeal to a modern audience or re-capture the operatic retro celebration of Giant Robo, Yasuhiro Imagawa dug into the background and subtext of Mitsuteru Yokoyama's seminal work. It's less the tribute that it seemed to be from its packing and the robot bellow accompanied chorus opening and more an active critique on the events and ideas that that spawned the genre. Fans will still have the opportunity to see plenty of Tetsujin 28, Black Ox, Baccus, Gilbert and the rest of Yokoyama's robo-pantheon in action, but the work presents itself as a modern eye looking back at the how matters where set onto their current path Set on the cusp of post war, post occupation recovery, it's transition of seeing technology as a tool of war into seeing it as a tool for prosperity examines Japan's transformation into am industrial, economic power. While addressing the ghosts of the war, it also introduces the ancillary issues that were brought into the fold: limitation of global resources, foreign social, political and scientific influence, and gender politics.

As with the original Tetsujin 28-go (aka Gigantor) and the re-staged Giant Robot, the latest Tetsujin 28 follows boy detective Shotaro Kaneda who fights crime with the aid of giant Tetsujin 28, left to him by his scientist father. In this series, the robot was created as a weapon for the war. Even though the robot has been used to prevent disaster, and serves as an expression of national independence, those effected by the war and the devastation of its aftermath are wary of having a powerful weapon in service. This sentiment is expressed through Kenji Murasame, an intelligence officer in the war who was driven to criminal exploits in the post-war desperation.

While the police and scientists Shotaro works with suggest that Tetsujin is a positive asset and Murasame insists of its inherently even, the truth is put to the test when the robot is stolen by American gangster Thrill Suspense (despite the seriousness of the work, it does allow itself for some zaniness). It is this avarice driven gangster argues the answer that Shotaro comes to accept. In reality, the machine is a tool without inherit good or evil. Embracing the robot as his brother, Shotaro, a member of the new generation not effected by the war moves forward to the prosperity affording by the technological fruits of science. The suggested coda is a warning about foresight. The narration hints at what we know. That the project continued growth will eventually be check and recession will eventually hit Japan. That the expressed but overlooked concerns about natural resources and the environment will eventually need to come into focus.

Considering the age of the lead character and the largely innocent work which it is revived, Tetsujin 28 is a physically and psychologically harsh work. The teenage detective is hospitalized, shot, and tortured. At the same time Murasame is tortured by his failures and ineffectualness. After swearing never to use a gun, he both is forced to use one, then proves useless with it.

Imagawa applies the skill utilized in Giant Robo of working with multiple, sometimes contradictory ideas at the same time. Tetsujin 28 is an examination of real historical issues and it is a lively pulp adventure. Both aspects are evident in every moment of the anime. The combination of seriousness and dynamic energy with which Imagawa treats his subject allows the viewer to take the ideas seriously themselves and get caught up in the presentation.

Even in his more debatable works, such as G Gundam Imagawa is guaranteed to give a concept its full expression. Imagawa approaches scenes of pulp peril that are familiar, even predictable, and because the bombast is mixed with identifiable human composure a tangibility is lent to the drama. Murasame's dilemma in picking up a gun isn't believable on in a logical, experiencial sense, but Imagawa makes you want to weep for this fundamentally retro looking and behaving character. After seeing an Imagawa scene of peril and decision, you have to wonder about the laziness of other directors in rendering similar situations in a lackluster fashions. With these characters putting their lives and world views on the line, the series doesn't need to explicitly narrate that they are in the process of moving along an age in transition (the way something like Ruruoni Kenshin did), you believe that these characters are an fulcrum point of history

Manga Spotlight: School Zone
Volumes 1 and 2
By Kanako Inuki

Released by Dark Horse Manga

Covering manga horror creators with a range from Kazuo Umezu to Hideshi Hino, to Junji Ito to Toru Yamazaki, Dark Horse is demonstrating the depth and variety that manga has brought to the expression of the horror genre. Not sharing many characteristics with each other, the works do not resemble what is generally considering the characteristics of live action Japanese horror movies either.

American horror comics were staked and left to die in the "Seduction of the Innocent" days, but horror cinema continued to exist and evolve, but that rarely achieved the fervor and distinctiveness of horror manga. In part this impression may be due to a condensed exposure, Dark Horse offering some of the highlights of the tradition, but in part this seems to be due to the freedom that the manga format offers its creators. Little is diluted by collaborators or systems, so a work by Hino or Junji Ito is going to be as they envisioned it.

In the spectrum of Dark Horse's horror offering, School Zone falls in the younger audience end. There's a Japanese tradition that every school has seven mysteries. A cute scene in Detective Loki Ragnorok feature the Norse god Loki, exiled into the body of a human boy, being shown the mysteries of a school by an energetic supernatural-fan geek, where upon he deduces the mundane explanations behind all but one. In the elementary school of "School Zone", there are 13 ghost stories. To the torment of the young students being harrier by the released spirits of this stories, the legends are unfortunately true.

If you are going to try this series, give it two volumes. One volume in, the series appeared to be operating on what looked to be a level of naughtiness: children with their faces hideously distorted in fright, accompanied by a build up to moments of shocking grotesque.

There's something almost mathematical in Inuki's base-line faces, as if they were systems to reflect emotions upon: almost spheres, with two large eyes embedded front-center, a large mouth in the southern hemisphere, topped with hair for character identification, and mouth and ears (when the latter isn't covered by hair) to match human anatomy. Then, the work is almost puppeteering in the way Inuki makes her characters' eyes bulge or squeeze shut and their mouth gape into hyper extension. When frightened, the characters seem to emote fear with every essence of their beings. As the characters set each other off in their fear, you can easily imagine the fear contagion spreading beyond the pages. An adult as to smirk thinking about these books in the hands of a sensitive kid with an active imagination.

The connected stories follows echoes of history in the mundane. Tragedies and torment of the past leave markers and manifestations in the foundation of the school out to haunted cross walk signs. These are the kind of "on this spot..." tales always used to frighten children, and as such they are kindof obvious. In the manga, the stories are exactly that stories, so the characters are in the same position as the reader, wondering if something awful really did happen.

This hidden, immediate horror is lent frightening credibly in that the origins of the stories are events that are not out of the ordinary, and by Kanako Inuki's ability to turn the world upside in a blink or glance. It might be suddenly parcels become disembodied heads, or that a sign now bears an extra silhouette.

The second volume follows the same pattern, but by that time Inuki's themes have set, and the manga had become something to stop a reader of any age in their tracks. Inuki demonstrates that she isn't just trying to achieve a fun level of discomfort. The horror feeds into and is fed by the dynamics of groups, power hierarchies or past and present. In the process, Inuki plays with insight into the cause and effects of action. Primal fear begins to duel with social responsibility. The manga begins to explore why children can be so mean and reconciles their innocence with their malice. It comes to approach social interaction in a way that will have adults thinking.

Manga Spotlight: Boogiepop Doesn't Laugh
Art by Kouji Ogata
Story by Kouhei Kadono
Volume 1

Released by Seven Seas

As with other Boogiepop incarnations, there are two engaging factors in the manga. The plot revolves around a city previously in fear of a serial killer hiding within, and now haunted by two forces, one of which is Boogiepop, a shinigami "Angel of Death" said to release people from their pain. This overarching premise is explored in a sequence of cubist horror stories that jump around with the characters from whose perspective aspects of the story are told, and further jumps based on the thought process or reminisces of the perspective characters. The mechanism keeps you off guard and acutely attentive. It cuts out information when it isn't essential to the emotional impact of a particular moment and of a particular story.

Secondly, Boogiepop builds a horror mythology about the social concerns of modern society, particularly teenage pressures. There is a genuine engagement of modern teenage angst, particularly the apathy, isolation and defense mechanisms turning malignant. Where classic horror found inspiration in physical illness and human nature, Boogiepop builds off mental illness and social nature. The paradox of dense living with limited connection is presented as an echo chamber of torment and misunderstanding that breeds targets for Boogiepop's adversary.

At the same time, it is an unforgiving work that doesn't make excuses for self pity. It doesn't romanticized anything. Not Boogiepop, not the victim, not the perpetrator. Friendship is painted in a positive light, but even that is complicated and easily falsified.

The volume completes one story and gets deep into a second. The story featured in its entirety looks at a school boy who connects with Boogiepop. Though this is an adapted story, the manga gives a thorough telling that captures the complexity of the characters and relationship. Waiting and looking for his girlfriend, he sees a figure that looks like it could be her twin brother. The person is a grim but flamboyant looking figure who looks like a comic book artists re-design of an onmoyji mystic.

In fact, this person purports to be Boogiepop, explaining that he took over a piece of her personality in order to deal with threat lurching in the city. Boogiepop begins making decisions about what she should forget, hoping to protect his host, with potential consequences for the host and her relationship. Yet, traumas in the girl's life raise questions about whether there is a Boogiepop taking over her personality or whether it is a metal illness.

Ogata's illustration's design in the manga is overtly bland. Character have a generic look fits into what would generally be called "anime style", resembling the old house style of AIC (who contributed to the key animation of the anime). Similarly, backgrounds in the manga are dominated by empty space. Which isn't to say that Ogata is an incapable illustrator. The manga handles aspects cuts and transitions brilliantly, lending much to getting into the heads of the characters. The blandness does serve to make the characters generic. It does help in making the stories more universal, but it may also have been more interesting to have a more personality in the illustration to give the characters more of a sense as breathing individuals.

Manga Spotlight: Berserk
Volume 11
By Kentaro Miura

Released by Dark Horse Manga and Digital Manga Publishing

Berserk has not extended beyond the segment of the story adapted into anime yet, but volume 11 is a chapter skipped in the anime adaptation. The volume is an episodic, almost stand alone encounter along its more continuous path. The band of mercenaries known as the Hawks, fleeing their former benefactors and now ostensibly under the command of fiercely individualistic Guts, find themselves engaged against a savage reflection of their own former renown in Wyald and the Black Dog Knights.

Approaching the climax of this phase of the story, it has become clear that the manga has handled the characters differently than the anime. The anime version of Berserk has been criticized for its open ending. The manga and anime start with Guts after the events of the first 13 volumes of the manga. At which point he had become a solo, vengeance consumed hunter. A man with no name who threw his body into the midst of his target and did what he needed to do to himself and those around him in order to achieve his objective. The anime ended at the point where he became that man. The manga kept going, and is still going, 8 years after the anime ended and 17 years after the manga began.

After having seen the anime, the manga feels lacking in the circle of interacting personalities. There was a group dynamic in the core of the Hawks in which Guts became a member of a team. Guts and Casca certainly have their trouble relationship. Guts invests in Griffith and ultimately decides that Griffith's path isn't his own. The rest of the character appear more as a function of the manga's plot. The manga doesn't take the time to establish these people as a unit with or without Guts. Despite Miura's skill in illustrating battle fields full of distinguishable figures, the story dedicates little time to fleshing out these personalities. Fans of the anime may be disappointed that while the manga features plenty of additionally battle and bizarro foes, in the phase that highlights the Hawks, this group does not receive extra attention.,

Kentaro Miura's Berserk is a monstrously intense manga. The density, the scope and the ferocity of the action is unparalleled. It's clash of calvarias and large scale skirmishes are what CGI populated epics hope to achieve. Then again, even at their most violent, those big budget features pail in comparison to Berserk.

As such, it might be hypocritical to admire the zeal with it cloaks itself in carnage in some areas while condemning it in others. Yet, here goes.... The battles in the manga and in this volume in particular are stunning. The scenes of disciplined soldiers against wild berserkers as the volume captures the flow of troop movements, the strategies of traps and ambushes and the blood and guts of the onslaughts is purely thrilling.

In addition to excelling at this brand of epic combat, Miura adds his own edge with his current of a world going mad. Combatants who have spent their lives on battle fields suddenly have their world eclipsed by the creatures that more closely resemble Book of Revelations imagery than most fantasies. Miura establishes a level sheer unbelief rare in horror, rarer in action horror. Men who have seen life and death, trying to hold their compose against something whose form and power of mankind simply do not fit into their world is an obvious take on horror, but one that hasn't been carried out as well as Miura has in Berserk.

Though the gory visceralness of these confrontations may challenge the stomach, it is reconcilably. In some way it is objective based. It is armed men fighting other armed men. They're stateless mercenaries who take up the sword due the necessities of their time, but it is approachable as compelling as exciting drama. You can get caught up in it and enjoy it and still consider yourself a somewhat reasonable person.

The same can't be said of the gratuitous sexual violence.

In this case, the protagonists are fighting a foe with a bestial attachment to the flesh and disregard for human life. Usually a story will tell you of the reputed deeds of the body-rending savages. They sell their brutality by the speed in which the heros try to avoid these foes. It's not just that Berserk's idea of survival involves more fighting than running. The volume opens with slaughter, rape and ultimately a ride into battle heralded naked woman impaled on spikes. Given that the beat of the battle is carried to such a booming tempo, finding some rational for allowing the manga to be this excessive in this regard seems at least, potentially arguable. Yet this Conan macho is taken to an inescapable misogynistic level. Rather than balance the abuse, the strong female character of cast is tentacle raped and spends a high percentage of the volume stripped. Nor at the depictions subtle. The manga leers at awful thing being done to attractively depicted woman. It is overly wrapping sex into sexual violence.

New Licenses Announced at Anime Expo

Guyver (2005): the new incarnation of the violent, monster fight, bio-armor super hero, scheduled for fourth quarter 2006 official site

Pani Poni Dash: a cute, but geek oriented, parody laden series about an 11 year old genius, who after graduating MIT becomes a teacher in Japan official site

Nerima Daikon Brothers: a musical comedy from Excel Saga's Shinichi Watanabe (aka Nabeshin) official site

Bandai Entertainmant
Karakuri Kiden Hiwou Senki: Steam tech alternate history from Bones (Cowboy Bebop movie, Full Metal Alchemist). The first volume is due in September. The official site can be seen here

.hack//ROOTS: the latest series set within a fictional massively multiplayer online role playing game fantasy world

Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society: the 105 minute feature will be debuting on Japan's SkyPerfect TV on September 1st.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Laughing Man and Individual Eleven compilation movies

Cutie Honey (live action movie): Evangelion creator/director Hideaki Anno's pop telling of Go Nagai's famous transforming girl
(Great) Horror Family (Live Action)
Witchblade (Manga)

Negotiations are underway for the new Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam compilation movies and Mai-Otome.

Bandai Visual
Gunbuster: (aka Aim for the Top!/Top wo Nerae!) Gainax's mecha space war that in many ways was a precussor to Evangelion official site

Wings of Rean: Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino's ONA (Original Net Animation) adaptation of the novels that inspired Aura Battler Dunbine official site

Galaxy Angel 2(Manga)
Kon Kon Kokon (Manga) from Digi Charat's Koge Donbo
Disgaea Game Character Collection (art book)

Dark Horse (Manga)
Dame Dame Saito Nikki: a parody of fandom

Satsuma Gishiden: A samurai manga already solicited for a September release Dark Horse's page

Del Rey Tsubasa Character Guide
Free Collars Kingdom

Vampire Hunter D (Manga)

Solty Rei: A cyborg action noir offcial site
Glass Fleet: A Gonzo space opera official site
Witchblade: (confirmed) the Gonzo adapatation of the American comic. official site

Geneon Entertainment Cool Dimension: (live action) scheduled to a simultaneous in the US and Japan this October Disgaea: adaptation of the cult video game about a conquerering demon prince offcial site
Hello Kitty Stump Village: stop motion animated
Paradise Kiss: adaptation of Ai Yazawa's popular fashion manga official site
Black Lagoon: mercenary action show official site

Go! Comic (Manga)
Train + Train: six volumes sci-fi from Hideyuki Kurata (Read or Die, GunxSword, Kamichu) and Tomomasa Takuma. Scheduled to start quarterly in December

On the distant planet of Deloca, teenagers are enrolled in either the standard School Train...or the Special Train, an exclusive education system that takes them across the planet to develop them into above-average adults. Shy and meek Ryuuichi finds himself onboard the Special Train when a run-in with a rebellious girl named Arena turns his life upside-down, forcing him to face dangers that will make him learn the true meaning of living.

After School Nightmare: one volume psychological, shoujo drama from Setona Mizushiro (X-Day)

Black Sun, Silver Moon: five volume supernatural comedy from Tomo Maeda. Scheduled for early 2007

This supernatural comedy is the story Taki, whose familyís debts to the church have made him an indentured servant of a priest named Shikimi. By day Taki must do a mountain of chores that would make Cinderella faint ñ but his after-hours work is really a killer, as he and the priest go on nightly missions to exterminate the hordes of zombies plaguing the town! To make matters worse, Shikimi announces that heís turning into a demon himself, and one day Taki will have to kill him as well!

Night of the Beasts: one volume from Chika Shiomi

The Devil Within: Two volumes by Ryo Takagi scheduled for early 2007

Rion is convinced that all men are devils ñ which is unfortunate, considering sheís being ardently pursued a trio of jaw-droppingly hot guys! But Rion only has eyes for Tenshi-kun, a dead ringer for her childhood sweetheart ñ but who is really a teenager trapped in the body of a ten-year-old! Devils and angels collide in this bishie-fest from noted boyís-love creator Ryou Takagi.

Right Stuf
Super GALS (second season): a box set will be released on December 1st for $49.99. A fashionable girl with a police family solving social problems. For more see Right Stuf's site. Official site here.

Seven Seas Entertainment
Kasimasi - Girl Meets Girl (manga) a boy resurrected as a girl who now has a chance with the lesbian girl he had a crush on
Kodomo no Jikan (manga)
Shinigami no Ballad: momo the girl god of death (novel): more death gods

TOKYOPOP Aqua: a two volume prequel to Aria scheduled for 2007, about gondoliers on a terraformed Mars
Gakuen Heaven: You Higuri's adapation of the boy's love PC game
Kilala Princess
More of Somedays Dreamer
Peacemaker: Shinsengumi Immon Peace Maker, the samurai series prior to Peacemaker Kurogane
Sex Pistols (tentative title)
Soul Rescue
Tactics: Previously licensed by ADV, the anime on which is being released by Manga Entertainment, about a spirit taming folklorist
Wild Adaptor: Kazuya Minekura's yazuka intrigue, scheduled for February 2007
Nosats Junkie

Viz Inu Baka
Gentleman Alliance
Be With You (novel)

Other Anime Expo news from Anime on DVD and Anime News Network

ADV stated that their will be "major announcement" about the live-action Evangelion movie this fall, currently held by a non-disclosure agreement.

ADV will be licensing more merchandise, such as Myth bags.

Jinki: Extend was the first acquisition as part of the new Sojitz investment.

ADV will working with Kadokawa USA on production of Full Metal Panic: Second Raid. FUNimation will be handling marketing and distribution.

An explination of what goes into the publication of NewType USA can be read here

Viz will be releasing Hikaru no Go bimonthly starting this fall. The Cartoon Network version of Naruto will be released monthly, but the next set of Japanese audio unedited is not scheduled until December 5th. The 4Kids edits of One Piecewill be released bi-monthly with 5 episodes per volume. Shojo Beat's upcoming schedule can be seen here

The first volume of Bleach is scheduled for November, with four episodes at $24.98 per volume. Further volumes with continue on a bi-monthly schedule. The show will be airing on Cartoon Network starting in the fall.

A run down of Toonami Jetstream can be read here

New Generations will be dubbing the Helling Ultimate OVA for Geneon will the same cast as the TV series. The first release is scheduled for December 5th.

Geneon's release of Fate/Stay Night will start on November 14th.

Right Stuf's release of To Heart is taking longer than anticipated due to issues with the video source material. The film prints for the series no longer exist, and will take extra work to restore. However, the same cast that was used for Comic Party will be used for To Heart and dubbing is already in process.

Upcoming in Japan

From Anime Nation The official site for the Ichigi (or Strawberry) Marshmallow OVA is online here. The TV version of the cute girl series is released domestically by Geneon, and the manga is released by TOKYOPOP.

The site for the show, scheduled for a September air date in Japan Silk Road Boy Yuto is online.

Government Crime Investigation Agent Zaizen Jotaro , based on Ken Kitashiba & Yasuhiro Watanabe's "Naikaku Kenryoku Hanzai Kyosei Torishimarikan Zaizen Jotaro" manga series.

Nakayoshi Magazine has announced that the anime TV series adaptation of Fuyumi Ono & Shiho Inada's manga series Ghost Hunt will premier in October.

yoshiro to Eien no Sora from "Kaishaku," the creators of UFO Princess Valkyrie, Steel Angel Kurumi, Kannazuki no Miko, and Kagihimenew series will be adapated into an anme.

Shogakukan's Shonen Sunday Magazine has listed that Matsuena Shun's comedy martial arts action History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi will be adapted into an anime series.

The official homepage for the upcoming Busou Renkin anime television series, from the creator of Kenshin, now hosts a streaming Flash trailer.

As part of Madhouse's expectation break slate of projects, a new trailer of Yuasa Masaaki(Mind Games) "violence & action & love story & comedy" anime TV series Kemonozume is online. The trailer is available from WOWOW's official page here, and in 500K and 1Meg connection speeds from the WOWOW GENETICS page.

Twitch points out that Studio 4?C has posted a preview gallery of Tekkon Kinkurito on the official site. A trailer and tv spot are also available. The movie adapts Taiyo Matsumoto's manga, released in North America as Black and White.

A trailer can be seen here.

Origin, Spirit of the Past Preview

Twitch points out that French website DVD Rama has posted two scenes from Gonzo Digimation's first feature film Gin-iro no Kami no Agito to promote it's French release later this summer.

Clip One (Embedded Flash)

Clip Two (Embedded Flash)

Cameron Talks Battle Angel

From MTV's chat with James Cameron (pointed out by The Beat

The first of these films is a long-rumored love story to be set against the backdrop of a planet-hopping future ó and has been known by several names. " 'Project 880,' we'll probably release it as 'Avatar,' " he said, mentioning two such aliases. "We haven't locked in on the title yet, but this is what we are calling it. [There will be] possible sequels if it does well; if it tanks, no."

"We're going to do 'Avatar' first, and we're in active pre-production on it right now," he added. "I'm directing it; I'm directing all these films.

"And with 'Battle Angel,' also, we'll do the same thing," Cameron said of his second project, a sci-fi thriller about a female cyborg in the 26th century. " 'Battle Angel' is actually designed as a three-film cycle. So the logic there is to make one and, if it hits, boom-boom on the other two."

"If you want to know more about 'Battle Angel,' you can get the graphic novels," the director said of his source material. "There's a series of 10 graphic novels, the original 10, by a Japanese artist named [Yukito] Kishiro."

The tech-minded Cameron added that although he watched with great interest as "Sin City" filmmaker Robert Rodriguez reinvented the graphic-novel movie with his green-screen breakthroughs, "Angel" won't be such a slave to the colored page. "It'll be a cinematic style; it won't be a moving graphic novel," he revealed. "I think what Robert did with 'Sin City' was a spectacular visual experiment; I think it worked brilliantly, but that's not what I'm going for. It's more of a cinematic, photo-real feel."

Geneon Entertainment and Production I.G Sign On Music Video

Geneon Entertainment (USA) Inc. and Japan's Production I.G (Ghost in the Shell) announced today the signing of a creative partnership between the two companies in the creation, development and production of an animated music video for internationally renowned French music diva Mylene Farmer.

Drawing upon Geneon Entertainment's extensive business partnerships and strategic ties within the anime industry and Production I.G's proven body of critically-acclaimed animated works, this unprecedented joint venture will result in the completion of Farmer's latest music video, "Peut-etre toi," which will be entirely animated.

3D Fist of the North Star

Twitch reports the upcoming Fist of the North Star (aka Hokuto No Ken in Japan) is now being planned as a 3D CG project. The Hokuto Hero is online, with a preview here .

Gedo Senki

Ghibli World is hosting a 3 minute preview of the Earthsea adaptation here

Nausicaa points out a commercial that Yomiuri Shimbun (Japanese newspaper) supports is now online.

Ghibli Commentary

Cartoon Brew points out the well worth reading Conversations on Ghibli blog.

Oliver Coombes has posted a new chapter in his Pom Poko thesis here


Mainichi Daily News has introduced a new mouse over/English translation language manga feature called Manglish here, with the first title "A Six Feet Girl"

Voltron Packaging Update

Following up on last week's Volton preview packaging previews, Media Blasters has clarified that the 3D packaging shown was a sample time based on the Green Lion set put together for the production bidding. The first collection, Blue Lion will be a 3D version of the blue lion insert picture (see the attached picture).

More Manga Shakespeare

After the recent Publisher's Weekly report that John Wiley & Sons has signed a deal with five comics artists to produce a line of manga-style adaptations of four Shakespearean plays that will be published in 2008, a post on the The Engin pointed out that Metro Media UK have announced a Manga Shakespeare project with Romeo and Juliet and Halmet from Sonia Leong & Emma Viecelli

Viz Talks Densha Otoko Releases

VIZ Media announced the forthcoming DVD release of the quirky romantic comedy TRAIN MAN: DENSHA OTOKO. The film, which received widespread critical acclaim and caused a sensation in Japan upon its release in 2005, will be released by VIZ Pictures, a new VIZ Media sister company. TRAIN MAN: DENSHA OTOKO will be available domestically on DVD in January of 2007. VIZ Media will also publish the companion manga series, TRAIN_MAN: DENSHA OTOKO, in October for $9.99.

TRAIN MAN: DENSHA OTOKO is the film inspired by the phenomenal bestseller by Hitori Nakano that took Japan by storm. Based on true events that took place on a popular Internet Relay Chat (IRC) website in Japan called ì2ch,î this fairy tale-like story has become a media sensation, and been adapted in book, comic, television drama, and movie formats.

TRAIN MAN: DENSHA OTOKO is the story of a computer engineer otaku (the Japanese term for ìgeekî), who is an average young man dressed in unstylish clothes and dorky glasses. As luck would have it, he encounters a pretty young woman on a commuter train and saves her from a lecherous molester, falling in love with her at first sight. A few days later he receives a thank-you message from the woman along with a set of Hermes teacups. Having never had a girlfriend or received a gift from a girl in his life, the otaku seeks out his pals on his IRC website for advice using his codename Train_Man (Densha Otoko). Deeply interested in Train_Manís first love, his IRC pals eagerly supply him with advice. Encouraged by their support, Train_Man undergoes a total makeover for his first-ever date with ìHermes.î Little does he know that he is about to ignite an Internet phenomenon.

Disapperance Diary in English

MangaCast reports that Aduma Hideo's 2006 Tezuka Award winning manga Shissou Nikki (Disappearance Diary) will be translated into English by French/Spanish publisher Ponent Mon.

Roughly translated "Disappearing Diary" is the comic version of the mangaka's life after he temporarily left the manga industry in 1989. In some ways this story is very much a tragic tale of loneliness and self-refelction, but Aduma through his comical character designs and truthful vivid writing style was able to make even this, in Aduma-sensei's words, "miserable story" into a comical story that readers enjoyed. Aduma threw his life away as a major SF artist in the late 80's early 90's and decided to become homeless twice before eventually entering alcohol rehab in 1998.


Viz/Shonen Jump are giving away 10 VIP autograph passes for Kenshin creator Nobuhiro Watsuki's San Diego Comic-Com appearance here

Dark Horse is running a give away that includes signed copies of berserk and art work from Mohiro Kito here.

Right Stuf to Handle TOKYOPOP's Online Retail

The Right Stuf will be handling the order fulfillment for TOKYOPOP's online store.

New Bleach Merch

ICV2 reports Great Eastern has announced that they have license Bleach for production of PVC key chains, head wear, jewelry, patches, pillows, pins, plush toys, wall scrolls, and wristbands based on the Bleach anime property.

McCubbin to edit Shojo Beat

The Beat reports that Laurenn McCubbin (former Art Director at Image Comics) will be replacing Jenifer Morgan at the Magazine Managing Editor for Shojo Beat.

Humanoides Jump

European comic publish Humandois has announced a href="">Shogun, a new Shone Jump style, manga inspired anthology.


Alt Japan has interviewed Taku "Professor Robo" Sato (pictured above), the designer and sculptor of Fewture Models' new series of diecast metal Getter Robo action figures.

A transcript of CLAMP's Anime Expo press panel can be read here

A tour of CLAMP's studio can see on Youtube here.

Manga Blog points out that Playthings interviews Viz senior vice president of marketing Liz Coppola here.

Anime News Network interviewed the Pillows, best known for the FLCL soundtrack here

Games News

A preview image of the Gundam Online game can be seen here.

Anime News Network reports Namco Bandai will be releasing a Playstation 2 game based on the Hades chapter of Saint Seiya.

Convention Appearances

Anime News Network reports Monkey Punch and Yasuyuki Ueda will be guests at AnimeFest, September 1-4 in Dallas.

Pokemon Updates

Jakks Pacific has announced that they are they now have the master toy licensing agreement to manufacture and distribute Pokemon merchandise. New product lines will be launched in spring 2007.

Anime News Network reports that 4Kids Entertainment announced it will close its Summit Media Group, responsible for launching Pokemon in the US, buying unit at the end of the month.

According to ANN, the move reflects 4Kids's ongoing push away from anime licensing, a direction it stressed in its 2005 year-end report.

"The winding up of our media buying business will enable 4Kids to further reduce costs and to focus on the core businesses of 4Kids, merchandise licensing and television production and distribution, and on the development of digital content," said 4Kids Chairman and CEO Alfred Kahn in a statement.

Death Note Self Analysis

Comipress has posted a look at Death Note 13 - How to Read, an official analysis manual - The last "piece" that will help readers discover all the mysteries of Death Note.

The recent live action adaptation sold 700,000 in its first week.

Annecy 2006 Winners

Cartoon Brew has posted a list of the Annecy 2006 winners with accompanying links here.

For more commentary see the AICN Anime MySpace
Readers Talkback
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  • July 6, 2006, 10:55 a.m. CST

    by kbass

    Nice work.

  • July 6, 2006, 10:56 a.m. CST

    Not that I really care but...

    by kbass

    My first 1st. Should I have said something obnoxious or trumpeted it loudly? Or just let it pass by without any fanfare?

  • July 6, 2006, 11:12 a.m. CST

    great,you are first

    by SmallLebowski

    You already made it. Quiet first. But then you blew it. Could not resist the temptation. Too bad. You would

  • July 6, 2006, 12:14 p.m. CST

    Glad to know Hayao and Goro are on the road to peace...

    by Johnno

    And, kbass, you shouldn't be ashamed of being first... Being first is a privilage, NO, a GIFT!!! It is the spot where all talkbackers will look upon and witness to what you do on that podium! It is your stage... YOUR platform!!! From there you can voice anything to your hearts content! You can testify of the Lord! You can condemn the war in Iraq! You can dedicate your victory to the children of the world!!!! All things are possible with First Place!!! Let not the masses harsh and jealous words make you ashamed of who you are! A First! And a foremost! This was your moment! Celebrate it!

  • July 6, 2006, 1:06 p.m. CST

    by kbass

    Thanks Johnno for the kind words...but darn SmallLebowski so eloquently points out, I'm not one of the cool guys. Heavy sigh....perhaps one day. However, since 16 minutes passed between my post and the next...I can't help but feel this is perhaps not the most heavily trafficked talkback on AICN.

  • July 6, 2006, 11:58 p.m. CST

    shinigami overload

    by meersan

    Are shinigami the new giant robot, or were they always this popular? Mangaka must sit around thinking to themselves, "Neon Genesis was great yeah, but it could never overcome its fatal flaw: No shinigami." "Tragic really." "Waste, yeah." What sounds cool: Death Note how to read. Such a suspenseful and distinctive series. Too bad WBjp flopped the live action. I think I heard tales of an anime version to debut in October. Exciting if true, but here's hoping they fix up some of the plot holes while they're at it, and maybe take a sledgehammer to the crappy ending. New DVD releases: I'll probably start collecting Hikaru no go if they're gentle with the editing knife, but I'll hold off on Bleach. Bleach is fun but a little forgettable, a bit like slightly soggy movie theatre popcorn. It's somewhat lacking in emotional depth and mechanics, but still suitable for an occasional munch.

  • July 7, 2006, 5:58 a.m. CST

    re: Shinigami overload

    by ScottGreen

    I wouldn't say shinigami are the new giant robots. Giant robots have always been either a child or a niche audience thing. There have been some young audience shinigami works recently, but its been more of a teen thing. and yeah, Japanese media-critics have noted that death god fiction is a big trend in their culture.

  • July 7, 2006, 6:44 a.m. CST

    that's okay I'll stick to my DBZ/Frieza saga vhs tapes

    by white owl