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Animation and Anime

AICN Anime - Previews Edition


Logo handmade by Bannister Column by Scott Green

Anime Preview: Pani Poni Dash to be released by ADV Films December 5, 2006

The Pani Poni Dash formula could be equated to Nurse Witch Komugi crossed with Azumanga Daioh. This high strung geek parody meets relatively more mundane school situation comedy is a belt and suspenders approach to humor, varying the jokes enough that some are bound to catch. Yet, the success rate isn't evenly distributed. The results are perfect for the fans of zany anime comedy. It doesn't just skate around logic the way a sitcom might. Instead, its up-tempo, free-form absurdity bulldozes through logic. This approach is one of the more successful aspects of the anime, and the effect might be welcome news to fans of anime like Excel Saga or Hare+Guu. However viewers who were surprised to discover the degree to which they enjoyed Azumanga Daioh might embrace the Pani Poni Dash experience a bit more tentatively. There is some contradiction in the attempt to work both with everyday minutia and with wilder humor spun out of a cultural consciousness. The classroom that the anime focuses on is 1-C at Peach Moon high school. The core situation comedy contrivance is that the instructor is Rebecca Miyamoto, an eleven year old, half-Japanese, MIT graduate. In this context, an 11 year old school instructor doesn't stand out as an exceptional conceit. There are jokes build around it, such as Rebecca's reaction to frightening situations, which involves hiding behind the class room's drapes (not exactly sure why the classroom has drapes), but more often her traits are used as quirks among quirks. Pani Poni Dash works on its own, odd concept of equilibrium, where the exceedingly out of the ordinary is greeted as a minor curiosity , and the people who should be representative of the norm are generally anything but. In some cases, caricature gets mixed in with stereotypes. So, a studious girl is given a giant, glinting forehead and minor ESP. Or an unruly, hyper girl implodes if her hair cowlick is removed. Some jokes are reflections of character reception and self-definition. For example, characters who fade out when not commanding series attention. This fading happens to most of the unnamed characters in one episode and it is a running gag for a specific "plain" girl in other episodes. Perception that isn't quite reality is also applied to a super powered "magic girl" who appears to be a regular, non-supernatural student dressed in a pink uniform, wearing a pink Florence Nightingale cap, and carrying a pink wand. Other characters seem to be invented out of whole cloth. Maybe Rebecca is supposed to be some sort of parody of young teachers, but it seems more likely that she is an original comic device. Similarly, a bulbous, thug who appends "dot com" to the end of every sentence could be a joke directed at tough-guy-lingo, but he seems to b just be an inspired gag. Other jokes revolve are outright supernatural, such as a sweet girl who finds in amusing to tap on a person's pressure points, causing them to experience chronic diarrhea, or the characters stumbling on a camp of kappa turtle monsters in the process of building interplanetary rockets. The human dimension is not Pani Poni Dash's strong suit. From a character composition standpoint the nuance of Azumanga Daioh is on a completely different level. Even compared to a more patently exaggerated anime like Galaxy Angel (which shares some writing staff with Pani Poni Dash), the characters seem more like vehicles for specific gags than developed personalities. Even Rebecca, who is more multi-faceted than most, often seems more like an overly refined comic device than a personality with space to react naturally. As a result, the chemistry between characters is dependent on the intended use for the given characters. Interaction tends to gel best when the series has built paired routines, as with several well developed eccentric/straight person duos sprinkled among the secondary characters. However, spread thin over a large cast, with most of the characters executing on their own jokes, the inter character dynamic is flimsy. The other tenuous aspect of the humor is the parade of pop cultural shout outs. Each episode opens with Earth being observed by an upside down Star Trek craft, staffed by aliens that look like a Gogg mobile suit from Gundam. Don't know a Gogg from a Hizack or a Rick Dom? Well, the majority of the reference humor is going to be over the head of anyone who isn't an ultra-hard-core fan. Part of Pani Poni Dash's idea of humor is to fill background black boards with references to what many viewers would consider to be obscure anime or video games, or esoteric references to more familiar ones. Some of this, such as the Gogg-aliens, is preposterous enough to be amusing, but the majority adds little beyond atmosphere. Even with the DVD's "ADV-Notes: option, which can be enabled to provide copious explanations, there is not enough familiarity for a pay-off. If these were native jokes, the presentation might have worked brilliantly, but here, its success rate is marginal. A noteworthy aspect of the references is that while Pani Poni Dash features a primarily female cast, the references are almost completely to male-oriented media. The possible exception being a reference to theatrical drama shoujo Glass Mask. Like Azumanga Daioh and many others, Pani Poni Dash offers plenty of cross-over appeal, but don't be surprised when that mostly female cast bends and twists to pose in such a way as to suggest T and A. Despite what doesn't work, the constant barrage approach to humor does manage a sufficient quotient of live rounds. Throughout, the strategy is quantity over the purity of an idea. Each episode hovers around a specific situation. The 25 minute, rather than 12 minute format could have been a stretch, but the series figures out how to fill the time. Whatever can be fit in, is fit in. There are fourth wall jokes that pull back to reveal a sound-stage or feature collisions between characters and a camera. There are funny animal gags, such as Rebecca's perpetually moping stuff rabbit. There is running absurdist humor, such as a gag with the cat deity that lives in all hot beverage dispensers to warn the drinks with his body heat. Toilet humor... Scholastic humor.... Linguistic humor... (it's a bit hard to buy that the former resident of American couldn't say Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but it's still cute). Those who are disinclined towards or selective about madcap anime comedies are might not be won over by Pani Poni Dash, but for those who appreciate the style, there are more than enough laughs to justify the series.

Manga Preview O-Parts Hunter Seishi Kishimoto Volume 1 To be Released by VIZ Media December 19, 2006

The most notable feature of O-Parts Hunter, aka 666 Satan, is that it was created by Seishi Kishimoto, younger twin-brother of Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of the hit Naruto. Accusations that Seishi has copied Masashi have been a contentious issue, and the manga release opens with an authors note iterating the party line. "It must be because the same things that influenced him as a child have influenced me." Seishi's work isn't a clone of Masashi's (it's more like original Dragon Ball meets Naruto), but from a illustration standpoint, O-Parts Hunter exhibits a lengthy catalogue of diverse aspects that feature more than a passing resemblance to the look of Masashi's work. Hair and facial structures, expressions, modes of exaggeration, posture, even patterns used to adorn cloth look remarkably similar. This might not be a result of "copying", but any suggestion that there wasn't at least a direct collaboration creating the shared style at some point in its development is a difficult claim to accept in light of the evidence. O-Parts Hunter isn't a terribly original story. "Copycat" or not, Seishi Kishimoto wears his influences on his sleeve. Dragon Ball started with a care free monkey-boy. A young martial artist with a tail content to chase down wild beasts, fight them, then eat them. He lived on his own in the wilderness because one night, during a full moon, he turned into a titanic beast and stepped on his grandfather/guardian. If this had caused the character to be haunted by the resulting public reaction (as in Naruto's titular lead), the results would be akin to O-Part Hunter's Jio, who seems to turn into Satan and kill those close to him. As a result of the alienation inflicted on him, Jio's decides to only trust material values, and establishes a nebulous goal of "world domination". He joins up with Ruby Crescent, a girl who has become an O-Parts Hunter, traveling the world looking for the magical titular artifacts. Though there is tragedy in her past too, in look and demeanor, she invokes in the spirit of Dragon Ball's Bulma. O-Parts Hunter is not hindered by familiarity. Shonen Jump fans will not be disappointed. Though the series was originally published in Square-Enix's Monthly Shonen Gangan, home of the Full Metal Alchemist manga, it is well in line with the expectations of a Jump work. Action is what it does best. When Kishimoto depicts characters moving along a roller-coaster railroad track, or exchanging weapons volleys from positions perched on a giant, thorny vine, there is a flowing energy. When a character skidding across the ground gets a foot planted and is able to reverse his momentum and charge forward, the dynamic movement illustrated is about as good as it gets in speed-line heavy action manga. Both Kishimoto brothers seem to have a good head for exotic engagements. When axes are thrown into the air, and chains go flying, O-Parts Hunter sings. Kishimoto starts off with a great scene displaying cleverness, motion and scale, as Jio accidentally crosses path with a giant tortoise, resulting in a fight scene against a moving landscape. Seishi Kishimoto's problems are as a writer. Little concerning the protagonists is special. Less concerning the O-Parts/world building is attention grabbing. Kishimoto got through a volume based on the verve of the action, but the series really needs to start moving in an interesting direction. Any stagnation will be fatal. The initial issue is the characters' charisma deficit. Jio seems like a temperamental child. He looks intense and occasionally has shown sparks of genuine excitement or sullen gloominess. The immature poutiness fits the character, but it isn't compelling. On its own, "bitter kid" isn't a welcome character model, but that is exacerbated because too much is too undefined to feel empathy. Kishimoto is deliberately sketchy able the nature of Jio's transformations into Satan. It doesn't appear to be a Jekyll and Hyde, and it doesn't appear to be an Incredible Hulk. Consequently, it doesn't map to some aspect of human experience. The same goes for the goal of world conquest. Other characters laugh it off, and no substantial meaning is applied. Kishimoto has gotten into trouble hiding the details that might cause the reader to care about the hero. What the volume is explicit about is that the characters are dreamers, funneling their passion into their goal. Without a proper sense of what it all means to the players and what as a reader it is supposed to be meaningful, the fight for your dreams thrust is a misfire. Especially compared to the well constructed first volume of Naruto, the motivations demonstrated in the first volumes and the direction that they take the characters seem merely like a flimsy structure for the action.

Live Action Preview: Shinobi Heart Under Blade To be released by FUNimatuibFebruary 6, 2007

Shinobi is the third adaptation of Futaro Yamada's ninja warfare novel to be released in North America. The manga, Basilisk and the anime of the same name have already been commenced, and a translation of the original novel has ben scheduled to be released. Does the story warrant four tellings? Depending on your appetite for ninja fiction, the answer would have to be "yes". Its story of star crossed lovers forced to lead their rival ninja clans in a conflict prescribed to continue until one or both sides is annihilated is a showy platform that offers the space for abundant violence and drama. In some ways, each version was tailored to leverage the attributes of its own medium, but plenty of cross pollination also went into the works. The digital inking and effects of the manga lent it the momentum of anime. The aesthetic of the live action Shinobi owes more to those of anime and manga traditions than to chambara cinema. The anime and manga offered much more of the violent inherit in the story than the drama, speeding along in freak show blood baths as ten ninja from the Iga clan and ten ninja from the Kouja ninja clan did their best to inflict grizzly deaths on each other. The movie, which is 5-on-5 and alters the MO/deformities of a most of the participants, isn't quite so ravenously blood thirsty. The aims of the feature seem to be both targeting the recreation of gravity defying battles in a live action movie, and to flesh out the motivations off the characters involved. It's an opportunity to see larger than life ninja battles rendered in live action. Though often it appears more like a CGI heavy B-movie than Zhang Yimou's recent epics, there are several set pieces and displays of super-human ability sure to thrill genre fans. Fighters dance above the shoulders of attacking foes; launching needles on impossible trajectories; disarming a sword wielding foe with a kick, snatching their weapon out the air, and javelining the blade towards a target. Several of the actors, including Mitsuki Koga and Versus' Tak Sakaguchi are able to apply forceful motion behind the effects work. Seeing anime/manga style period work in a live action movie is still new experience. As a general rule, samurai action does not lend itself to wire work. With the sweeps of the blades, it tends to be more about paths and trajectories than flowing patterns, often with a regularity as foes square off and meet in intersecting arcs. There seems to be a chasm between the overtly larger than life model of depicting samurai action and a relatively more grounded form in chambara movies. Even a movie like Samurai Reincarnation: Makai Tensho, which featured engagements such as Jubei Yagyu versus a satanically reincarnated Miyamoto Musashi offered fights that were largely unexaggerated weapon-on-weapons clashes. Previous CGI chambara, such as the Takeshi Kintano Zatoichi used the effects to accentuate the stylized sword work. Consequently, there hasn't been much of an expectation that a ninja/samurai anime or manga should be turned into live action. In Shinobi, the effect isn't carried out to the extend that would represent a convincing argument for the merits of the new form. The issue isn't quantity. There are enough fight scenes utilizing the supernatural that the feature will satisfy curiosity. And, the actors uniformly work well with the CGI effects, which are often not jaw dropping, but not laughable. The cast is effective on selling the conflict. They offer the right mix level of almost over the top spirit. Instead, the script and direction put more emphasis on the drama than the violence. Jo Odagiri's male lead brings an air of fatalism to his fight scenes. Even though he slices through squads of foes, he does it with a detached malaise. This action is the polar opposite of the typical focused intensity of chambara. Contrasting his lovelorn idealism, Yukie Nakama as the female lead is a far more dynamic character. Though a less combat oriented character, her arc in coming to terms with the battle stands as the driving engine of the movie. Depending on what you are looking for from the movie, for better or worse, Shinobi isn't a work of dumb violence. It doesn't quite have the problem the Basilisk anime/manga, which encourages an impatience in waiting for the characters to get down to killing each other. In practice, comparisons to X-Men are more inescapable than comparisons to Romeo and Juliet. And, while there is a thematic overlap with Shakespeare's tale, the stories of star crossed lovers are literally dramatically different. In Shinobi's fictionalized history, ninja are clans who live isolated existences, refining their skills and developing fearsome abilities. In an era of warlords contesting control over Japan, these were an essential tool. With the establishment of a unified nation under the Tokugawa shognate they becomes a liability. The fear of these super-assassins outsiders is a rational concern that they represent a dangerous and destabilizing force. In Shinobi the conflict represents a proxy extermination order. Unlike Romeo and Juliet, in Shinobi/ Basilisk, character's are not acting rashly, or acting out for measure given their beliefs. In Shinobi specifically, the allure of participating in the death match is for the ninja to assert meaning in their lives through the activity for which they were bred and trained. Hatred for the opposing faction is hardly the primary motivation for any of the characters. Instead, the characters who are fighting to the death are driven by internal loyalty and a larger vision of their role. These ideological conflicts serve to do more than rationalize fight scenes. The execution resembles a vein of super-hero comic that debates and calls attention to its implications through its battles. The results aren't quite as agonized as they could have been. The movie able is able to mix conversations and speeches with moments where the characters' thoughts are largely left unsaid. By the same token, it is heavy enough, or at least, given the space, to weigh down the movie. Like any work of speculative fiction, Shinobi is a fair vehicle for serious or semi-serious ideas. As in the super hero comic tradition it can mix civics/ethics with expressive action. Except, there isn't an abundance of movie perusing Shinobi's aesthetic, and in a 100 minute movie its aims can become contradictory. While the decision to make the movie more than dumb violence is gratifying, there is also the possibility for regret that the movie didn't follow through and accentuate the showier aspects. Existential drama is well and good, but some times you don't want it from woman who breathes poison. Approaching the work from the perspective of exploitation cinema, which is the perception the anime and manga foster, it is possible to see the film as a bit ponderous. Or, you can leave the film feeling that it built an interesting look and conflict of ideas around this set of characters. You can leave the movie feeling that for a battle martial arts film, the fights were a bit less fierce and thorough than they might have been.

ADV Talks Le Chevalier D’Eon License

ADV Films, announced that it has closed a deal with Shochiku, to acquire the hit animated TV series Le Chevalier D’Eon, as well as feature films Ghost Train and Synesthesia. Under terms of the deal, ADV has acquired North American theatrical, video and TV rights to Ghost Train and Synesthesia as well as video, TV and VOD rights to Le Chevalier D'Eon for North America, UK, Australia and English speaking African territories. The North American release plans have not been announced yet, but these titles are planned to be released before summer 2007. Shochiku’s high profile gothic mystery series Le Chevalier D’Eon is directed by acclaimed director Kazuhiro Furuhashi (Get Backers, Rurouni Kenshin) from an original story by Tow Ubukata (Fafner), who is also credited as story supervisor. The story is about D’Eon de Beaumont, a handsome intellect who actually lived in the 18th century. D’Eon was known as a diplomat who traveled around various countries under the French king’s command. But his most peculiar trait was that he managed to pass himself off as a woman. The core of the story is based on the mysterious hero and the historical facts. Truth has been erased in the darkness of history - A great epic that far exceeds imagination is finally revealed in all its intricate detail. Shochiku’s electrifying and forbidden live-action film, Ghost Train, based on the urban legend of the haunted train, has been an enormous success in Asia. Ghost Train takes audiences to a nightmare dimension where evil lurks in everyday life. The heroine is an 18-year-old high school girl, Nana, looking after her younger sister Noriko, while their mother is at a hospital. Nana’s world turns into a nightmare when Noriko suddenly disappears. The only clue she has left was the commuters pass that she had picked up on the train before disappearing, and the dark shadow that follows Noriko in the surveillance camera. Synesthesia is a suspense thriller directed by Toru Matsuoka, starring Yosuke Eguchi (Another Heaven), Masanobu Ando (Battle Royal, Monday) and Aoi Miyazaki (Eureka). [synesthesia / synaesthesia] (sin'is-the'zhea) n. -- A condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a color. When two lonely souls who possess the same puzzle of mind meet each other, it leads to events of unsolved mystery and serial murder.

Final Volume of Ranma

Volume 36 of Ranma 1/2, the long awaited conclusion, will be released by VIZ Media on November 14th. Rumiko Takahashi’s RANMA ½ series has been a staple of the VIZ Media catalog for over 14 years and remains one of the company’s longest running manga titles and one of the longest running manga series in North America.. Many volumes are now in their second printing. Takahashi is one of Japan’s most prolific and respected manga artists and is the creator of several long running series including MAISON IKKOKU, MERMAID SAGA, and INUYASHA – all published in North America by VIZ Media. RANMA ½ has sold more than 49 million copies in Japan, and is one of the most recognized and acclaimed series ever produced. A 7-season anime series with over 150 episodes, two feature length movies and an OAV set are also available from VIZ Media on DVD. RANMA ½ follows the comic problems of Ranma Saotome, a 16-year-old martial artist in training, and the unfortunate victim of a certain set of cursed hot springs – whenever he gets wet he turns into a girl. Hot water returns him to being a boy. It could be worse – his father also falls into a cursed hot spring and henceforth turns into a giant panda whenever he gets wet. Ranma’s father has arranged a marriage for him with Akane Tendo, the beautiful daughter of a fellow martial artist. Akane is also a martial artist in training but she hates boys. For Ranma and Akane, it's hate at first sight but their initial loathing slowly turns into mutual affection and finally love as the series progresses. A quirky cast of supporting characters lends even more humor and complicates the romantic twists even more. A boy named Kuno has a crush on Akane but falls in love with the female Ranma, initially unaware of his alter-ego. Another boy named Ryoga has known Ranma since junior high and secretly wants to kill him, but is himself cursed after falling into a magic hot spring and turns into a piglet whenever he gets wet. Akane, not realizing this is the transformed Ryoga, adopts him as a pet naming him P-Chan. Then there is Shampoo, another martial artist from China. She was defeated by Ranma in his female form and has traveled to Japan to kill the female Ranma. But she doesn't know about Ranma's secret and falls madly in love with the male Ranma. She also happens to fall into a cursed pool and turns into a cat when she gets wet. And guess which animal Ranma is phobic about? The final volume will provide a zany and fitting end to this much loved epic series and readers will delight in the crazy antics that happen when Ranma and Akane finally get married. The final volume of RANMA ½ will be celebrated with a farewell letter to North American fans from series creator Rumiko Takahashi.

Les Miserables Anime Trailer

AnimeNation points out a trailer for Les Miserables: Shoujo Cossette is on the upcoming anime's official site. To access the streaming video, push the seventh button from the left on the top of the main site's pop-up window. Speaking of trailers, Production IG' site for Seirei no Moribito 50 second trailer. The trailer is available streaming on the website (click the bottom left-hand link on the site's top page), and is available for direct download in MP4 format for the PSP and M4V format for the Ipod.

Media Blasters Passes on 2nd Ah! My Goddess TV

Anime News Network has confirmed the Goddess Project's report that Media Blasters has opted not to follow up their license of the first season of the Ah! My Goddess TV series, passing on the second season Aa Megami-sama: Sorezore no Tsubasa. Media Blaster's John Sirabella told the Anime on DVD message board: "While the bubble and prices have come down alot, it still has not come down to earth and most importantly with Voltron just destroying all our past records that were held by Zim, Kenshin and Berserk, we no longer are worried about the "A" title for anime in 2007. We will still be releasing more anime like Girl Meets Girl, Ranmen Girl (??) and GIRLS HIGH and alot others but it is better to play it smart."

Publishing News

The Beat reports that Hachette Book Group is launching Yen Press, an imprint that will published original graphic novels and translated manga aimed at adults and young readers. The group will be headed by Rich Johnson, formerly of DC Comics. Hassler, formerly the graphic novel buyer for the Borders Group, recently named one of the most powerful people in the manga industry by ICV2, has only joined the imprint. ICV2 interviews Johnson here

Apologizies for Song Lyrics

Ghibli World reports Toshio Suzuki has used Studio Ghibli web site for apologize for a certain "problem," referring the contentions over the lyrics to Gedo Senki/Legend of Earthsea's theme song "Teru no Uta." A critic had complained that the song, written by Goro Miyazaki had thematically borrow from acclaimed poet Hagiwara Sakutaro’s "Kokoro". Suzuki corrected the studio's position, mentioning that "Studio Ghibli must add a note everywhere the lyrics are showed, mentioning that Goro's lyrics were inspired by Hagiwara's Kokoro." He also says that Goro Miyazaki is nowhere to blame for this “problem”. ComiPress reports that the days or romanticizing pirates and blockade runners are over for 68 year old Leiji Matsumoto. The Captain Harlock creator accused J-Pop singer and songwriter Noriyuki Makihara of plagiarism, stealing from his Galaxy Express 999 in Chemistry's recent album "Yakusoku No Basho; specifically "The dream never fails the time, and the time also never fails the dream" from 21 of Galaxy Express 999. Makihara admitted "I may have heard your phrase in the past without noticing." Leiji Matsumoto said, "I wanted him to apologize to me for this, in written form, but he refused." "It is a problem that affects the pride of a creator. I hope he will understand my reasoning."

Parika Makes Oscar Eligible List

Reuters reports that Satoshi Kon's new sci-fi feature Paprika is one of the 16 films eligible to be nominated for this year's animation Oscar. The list includes A Scanner Darkly Arthur and the Invisibles Barnyard Cars Curious George Everyone’s Hero Flushed Away Happy Feet Ice Age: The Meltdown Monster House Open Season Over the Hedge Paprika Renaissance The Ant Bully

DearS Collection Scheduled

Geneon will be releasing a collected edition of DearS, a magically girlfriend comedy with aliens and hints of S&M, on February 6th for $79.98

Game News

New screenshots of Bleach Wii: Shiraha Kirameku Rinbukyoku can be seen on the Magic Box here Game Spot has posted reviews of Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles and Fullmetal Alchemist: Dual Sympathy

Figures News

Figures.com look at the Saiyudo USA's Ultrman 40th Anniversary releases here Organic Hobby USA has a host of upcoming releases including: Mai-Otome/Hime Collection Figures, 4-5" figures that will retail for $7.60, to be released on December Figures.com has images of Rosa, Natsu, Haruka, Nao, Ho and Shizu here. Round-Vernian FAM-RV-S5T “Neofam” (5 1/2" tall, $58.00.) and Brave Gokin – “Gaigo" (7 1/2" tall, transformable, PVC, ABS, and diecast $138.00) can be seen here. Mazinkaiser and Shin Getter 3 from the articulated Revoltech lines will also be released in December. They can be seen here and here respectively. Calamity Dog (Red & Green Version) – 5 1/3” PVC Figure from the VOTOMS novel "Blue Knight Berserga" is two packaged figures for $130.00 From Ikimashou.net Kaiyodo will be releasing six Keroro Gunsou/Sgt Frog figures of Keroro, Giroro, Tamama, Kululu, and Dororo See here for a summary of images. If you haven't had your fill of creepy Evangelion figures, there is now a "metamorphing" Asuka figure whose clothes change when you rub them. This and a Rei figure can be seen here Speaking of creepy, a 1/5 scale statue of Ruri from Nadesico can be seen here A 244mm wide tachikoma from Ghost in the Shell here A new Witchblade-anime figure. Gunota has compiled a list of interesting Gundam model pictures here and here

Production I.G Anime Takes Award at HAFF

Production I.G announced that on November 5, 2006, the 11th Holland Animation Film Festival (HAFF) awarded "Kirin Lemon Black: Monster Blacks Fights Back" (0'30", 2005), directed by Katsuhito Ishii, Best Commercial Film in the Competition for Applied Animation. Created for Kirin Beverages' 77th anniversary campaign of the popular Kirin Lemon sparkling drink, "Kirin Lemon Black: Monster Blacks Fights Back" is the second chapter of a two-part commercial film series directed by Katsuhito Ishii ("Kill Bill: Vol. 1" animation part character designer), who also developed the design for the 14 characters appearing in the two spots. In the story concept, two teams, Seven Sevens and Monster Blacks, are competing in an imaginary neo-futuristic high-speed sport called Sky Shoot. In "Kirin Lemon Black: Monster Blacks Fights Back", promoting a new guarana-flavored drink called "Kirin Lemon Black," the Seven Sevens are cornered by Monster Blacks' counterattack. STAFF : Product: Kirin Lemon Black Director & Character Concept: Katsuhito Ishii (Kill Bill: Vol. 1, The Taste of Tea) Sequence Director / Animation Director: Kazuto Nakazawa (Kill Bill: Vol. 1) Character Design: Satoru Nakamura (Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. series, KOF: Another Day) 3D Director: Makoto Endo (Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. - Solid State Society) Production: Samurai, Nitten Alti Creatives Animation Studio: Production I.G / Agencies: Hakuhodo Inc. Client: Kirin Beverage Corporation The jury, composed by Stephen Hillenburg (creator of SpongeBob), Taku Furukawa (Japanese animation auteur) and Andreas Hykade (German animation director), motivated the award as follows: "For the pure energy shown in an advanced anime style."

Battle of Wits Trailer

Twitch points out that trailer for Battle of Wits, an adapation of the manga Bokko by Hideki Mori and Kenichi Sakemi are on the official site. [High] [Low] (streaming Windows media)
Downloadable A Battle of Wits Trailer (6.23 MB) A Battle of Wits is schedule for theatrical release in Hong Kong on November 23rd and then across Asia thereafter.

Upcoming in Japan

Ikimashou.net reports Swords-against-monsters action manga Claymore will be adpated into an anime tv series. The manga version is released in North America by Viz. Tetsuwan Birdy (aka Birdy the Mighty, out of print from Central Park Media) will be adapted into a new anime called Birdy the Movement. The sci-fi follows a teenage boy who shares a body with a female intergalactic polic officer. Rozen Maiden OVA, Rozen Maiden Ouverture, as well as DiGi Charat: Winter Garden are now scheduled for December 22nd.

On American TV...

ICV2 reports Cartoon Network will be airing The .hack//Roots starting November 11th. Anime News Network reports Cartoon Network has not confirmed that Blood+, the TV series version of Blood: The Last Vampire, to be released in North America by Sony, will air on the network. Anime News Network posted on their message board that t Turner Broadcasting, the parent company of Cartoon Network, has registered several domain names (POWERPUFFGIRLSZ.TV / PPGZ.COM / PPGZ.NET / PPGZ.TV) related to Demashitaa! Powerpuff Girls Z. No plans had been made for the North American broadcast of this anime version of PPG. A post on rec.arts.anime.misc points out that the live action drama of Nodame Cantable is appearing on AZN Television. Nausicaa.net reports Turner Classic Movies will air Grave Of Fireflies November 12th at 10:00pm.

Gunbuster Packaging Pictures

Anime on DVD points out that Right Stuf has posted images of Bandai Visual's upcoming release of Gunbuster here.

Dancougar Nova Images

AnimeNation points out that the first images of Chouju Kishin Dancougar Nova can be seen here. The anime, scheduled for February 2007 is a revival of the 1985 Dancougar TV series.

Another Saiyuki

Anime News Service reports that a site has gone online for an upcoming Saiyuki Reload - burial- OVA series.

Illumitoon and Westlake acquire BoBoBo-Bo Bo-BoBo

Illumitoon Entertainment and Westlake Entertainment announced that they have joined in acquiring North American distribution rights to the first 50 episodes of the the anime version of "BOBOBO-BO BO-BOBO", which will be simplified to "BO-BOBO". The absurd comedy anime is airing on Cartoon Network, and a volume of the original manga has beeen released by VIZ media. The series is an offbeat saga of a hero who defends people's right to hair. The surreal title character, with his golden afro, struggles to defend the citizens in the kingdom of Margarita from the authoritarian tyrant, Czar Boldy Bold 4th, who has initiated a "Hair Hunt" to crack down on individuals who insist on holding on to their curly locks. The new releases are initially planned to street as early as January, 2007.

Interviews

Anime News Network points out that Production I.G has posted an interview with scriptwriter Shotaro Suga concerning Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society here (which features spoilers to Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex | 2nd Gig). An interview with producer Tomohisa Nishimura is online here. Publishers Weekly interviews translator Kelly Sue DeConnick here Dark, But Shining interviews Dark Horse's Michael Gombos here Papo de Budega interviewed illustrator/designer Yoshitaka Amano Active Anime interviewed BL manga creator Makoto Tateno.

Delays

AnimeNation reports AD Vision has indicated that the Neon Genesis Evangelion 10th Anniversary DVD boxed set (with jacket), which had been scheduled for November, has been delayed indefinitely. Anime on DVD reports Synch-Point has delayed the FLCL Ultimate Edition from November to until 12/26/2006. Art work can be seen here and here

Robots == Gundam

ComiPress has posted a piece looking how anime intellectual property is appropriated in South Korea here. A specific example, previously though to be an urban legend, is that Sunrise, the animators of the Gundam sci-fi war franchise attempted to trademark the word "Gundam" in South Korea. Courts repeatedly denied the request on the grounds that "In Korea, 'Gundam' is a general term for robots which appear in anime".

Bandai Re-Priced Re-Releases

From Anime on DVD Bandai Entertainment New Title Solicitations (07:38 PM EST): The February slate of releases from Bandai Entertainment has gone out today and it's a pretty light one, though not too surprising for February: 2/6/2007 Escaflowne: The Movie - Anime Movie Classics Edition $19.98 Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade - Anime Movie Classics Edition $19.98 2/20/2007 Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz - Anime Movie Classics Edition $19.98 Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack - Anime Movie Classics Edition $19.98

PreAnime Beta

ComiPress has launched the Twitch points out that Mon Amour Tokyo - The Trilogy, Francesco Ermanno Torchia (aka TIF)'s three part super robot parody has been posted online. Mon Amour Tokyo (at YouTube) Mon Amour Tokyo 2 - Storm (at YouTube) Mon Amour Tokyo 3 - Silent Jealousy (at YouTube) Other TIF Shorts (at YouTube) TIF Studio (only in italian)

Non-Anime News

Genius Products Inc. and The Weinstein Company will be releasing The Thief And The Cobbler to DVD on November 21st. Directed by Academy Award®-winning animator Richard Williams (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?), features voice performances from Vincent Price (Edward Scissorhands, House Of Wax), Jennifer Beals (Flashdance, “The L Word”), Eric Bogosian (Blade: Trinity, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle), Jonathan Winters (It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World), Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine, In Her Shoes) and Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Producers). In the ancient city of Baghdad, a shy shoemaker named Tack (Broderick) falls deeply in love with the adventure-loving Princess Yum-Yum (Beals). When the evil wizard Zig-Zag (Price) threatens to destroy their beloved city, it’s up to them to defeat his nefarious plot and save their home from destruction. Cartoon Brew Sony Pictures Classics has picked up the distribution rights for the animated adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s PERSEPOLIS. Satrapi has started a production blog and pictures are online here

Serial Experiments Lain Contest Status: results are in the works

For more commentary see the AICN Anime MySpace

Readers Talkback
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  • Nov. 8, 2006, 10:03 p.m. CST

    why bother?

    by v1cious

    cars will win anyway

  • Nov. 8, 2006, 10:32 p.m. CST

    I believe a word of warning was in order...

    by Harry Weinstein

    Don't even fuck around with this THIEF AND THE COBBLER release, AICN shouldn't have given it so much as a mention. It's the near-unwatchable Miramax ARABIAN KNIGHT cut of the film (yet again), with the re-dubbed voices (some for characters not intended to speak), horrible songs (this film wasn't supposed to be a musical at all), and lots of substandard additional animation not done by Richard Williams or his team. As if that didn't suck enough, this DVD recycles the old pan & scan transfer originally done for the Miramax VHS. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid. THIEF AND THE COBBLER is definitely a must-see, and the way you must see it is the fan-created edition known as THIEF AND THE COBBLER: THE RECOBBLED CUT. While not 100% Williams footage, it's the closest version to the original intent of the filmmakers, and scarcely resembles the far-inferior Miramax version pitched above. It's on BitTorrent, I won't link to it, but it's not hard to find if you know how to find anything on BitTorrent in the first place. Unlike the release pictured above, it's an actual special edition with lots of interesting and informative bonus features, including a commentary by the man behind the restoration. Tell the Weinstein Company to stick their laughable re-release back up the ass it fell out of.

  • Nov. 8, 2006, 10:52 p.m. CST

    And I'm not fucking done yet! BATTLE OF WITS!

    by Harry Weinstein

    I understand its Manga origins and all, but BATTLE OF WITS looks too promising to merely get ignored near the bottom of the Anime section. Especially since it's not even animated. BATTLE OF WITS looks positively MASSIVE in the footage I've seen.

  • Nov. 8, 2006, 11:21 p.m. CST

    They're animating Persepolis??

    by CZ

    This could be very good, or so very, very bad.

  • Nov. 8, 2006, 11:33 p.m. CST

    Robotech:Shadow Chronicles Delayed AGAIN

    by slder78

    till 2007. At this point, I think the movie is an urban legend. http://tinyurl.com/ybuzkx

  • Nov. 8, 2006, 11:50 p.m. CST

    Les Miserables anime?

    by Johnno

    That's a surprise! Doubt it's musical... :D

  • Nov. 9, 2006, 12:51 a.m. CST

    No Hentai News??

    by godoffireinhell

    Lame.

  • Nov. 9, 2006, 11:26 a.m. CST

    Les Mis looks cool

    by DigitalDong

    Really a great novel, be interesting to see that animated.

  • Nov. 10, 2006, 7:42 a.m. CST

    How awesome would it be..

    by nemesisdarkside

    for Satoshi Kon to win the Oscar?!<P>However, would that then lead to loads of sub-par Western, Kon-wannabe films?

  • Nov. 10, 2006, 11:10 a.m. CST

    Shinobi

    by veritasses

    Shinobi wasn't all that bad for that type of Japanese film and considering Japanese films have a budget that's typically only a tiny fraction of what even a minor Hollywood film would cost. They managed to get some "popular" but good actors and the cinematography is pretty nice. Considering how big the scope of that movie should be, the story's pretty thin though. It might've been better if they focused more on story and characters and made it a 3 hour film or even a trilogy. Les Miz. I don't like the character designs very much but I'm all in favor of making animated versions of classic literature. Dickens and Jane Austin might be better source material. Paprika: Haven't seen it but I would be surprised if it gets nominated. Keroro: In the Densha Otoko live action TV series, the title character otaku has a pillow from some anime series which I had never seen before. Now I know it's from Keroro. Anyone know if that series is any good?

  • Nov. 11, 2006, 1:01 a.m. CST

    Kon's last two films

    by Johnno

    Millenium Actress and Tokyo Godfathers were supposed to be up for awards... but they didn't make it... surprising, as Millenium Actress was pretty critically acclaimed...