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AICN ANiME - Old Boy Manga, Special Last Unicorn Announcement and More

Logo handmade by Bannister Column by Scott Green

First, happy birthday/6th AICN contribution anniversary to me... I'll be celebrating tonight with Sambuca, Vodka and UFC Fight Night. Well, enough of the self congratulations.

Manga Spotlight: Old Boy Volumes 1-3 by Tsuchiya Garon and Minegishi Nobuaki Released by Dark Horse Manga

Tsuchiya Garon and Minegishi Nobuaki's Old Boy manga has an almost second-cousin like relationship to Park Chan-wook's adaptation. If you've encountered the Park Chan-wook version, you can see the resemblance, and more importantly, you know what to expect from the manga, but the lineage and upbringing is substantially different. The manga is neither as artful or as beautifully, bizarrely disorienting as Park's version. It's not putting on a stunning visual display while playing games with the observer’s mind. The gritty gangster potboiler could be thought of as inverted noir. Rather than investigating an external history, this Philip Marlowe is beating down doors trying to discover the truth behind his own past. The kernel of Park's inspiration is still evident in the game being played, but with this twist, the manga is more directly screwing with the genre than it is the viewer/reader. Rather than Oh Dae-su's 15 years of imprisonment, the manga's protagonist has spent 10 years jailed in a slummy apartment. He has spent this time, in what he compares to a monastery existence, preparing his body for a war on his unknown captors and catching glimpses at the outside world through television. Given a new suit, told that some people want revenge without death on their conscience and released back into the world, at age 34 he's been reborn as a man with no name. Diving into the Sin City of yakuza and toughs around him, it isn't log before he's judo thrown and muy thai kicked some ruffians, swilled some beer and taken a cute young woman's virginity. So this hero knows that a third party was contracted to punish him by locking him up for a decade, but, he doesn't know who had it in for him or why. He's a scruffy guy with a dangling cigarette, an awful hair cut and the ability to handle himself in a fight, who sees a city full of bad elements, but little idea where to start. This situation boxes him ib again. Physically free, he's still a rat in a maze, stuck following the trail that his query deliberately leaves for him. Compared to Park's Oh Dae-su, this version of the character is younger, less mentally cracked and didn't start out as a fuck-up. Instead, he was a regular guy, not given to questioning thoughts, who was harden, or in current political terms, radicalized, by his years imprisoned. This is not a manga of Park's Old Boy. The same premise and twists yield different genre-bending results. Park's protagonist went from a drunken mess to an attention commanding urban wildman whose appearance alone immediately etches itself into the memory as the mark of a unique entity. The manga's version goes from everyman to genre convention, which isn't an uninteresting transformation. That this hero resemblances as textbook badass is part of the work's fun. Those who are familiar with where the story is going will really appreciate how the manga is architected to throw crime noir into a maze of funhouse mirrors. Despite his street beating, the hero is not some sharp Sam Spade. As someone made into a tough guy, then spun around and made to walk into walls, he's the wrong guy for the job. But, thinking of himself as at war with the unknown antagonist, he's too personally wrong to abandon the mission. In his anger, he pulls some fast moves and thinks that he has freed himself, but rather than allowing himself to set the pace of the war, it is evident that he is putting his neck further into the noose. The manga is kept from being dire by comic half beats. Especially given the characters exaggerated, rounded features, and especially knowing that the events are orchestrated by a half-known, half-visible force, it is possible to take the context and its events seriously and at the same time chuckled with a sort of meta-level detached appreciation. Without being gratuitously over the top, the events are striking enough that you feel for the characters, and you feel above them. Watching the hero as he's deliberately twisted around, watching yazuka in over their heads, watching scenarios such as one where a feme fatale has the hero bring her to orgasm to retrieve a clue that was fed to the her via post hypnotic suggestion, the manga is simultaneously gritty and gleefully offbeat.

Anime Spotlight: Ghost in the Shell 2nd Gig Volume 7 Released by Manga Video and Bandai Entertainment

While the Ghost in the Shell manga represented a series of technological, theological and metaphysical toys for its creator Masamune Shirow, and while the movies gave Mamuro Oshii the space for his existential dives, the two Stand Alone Complex Series introduce a welcome, methodical thoroughness to the franchise. They've tracked a team of characters who while convincing, have been narrowly enough defined that they almost achieve the roles of ciphers, emblematic of the political/technological edge. While engaging in a special ops procedural, the subtext introduced in specific cases and larger story arc investigations have accumulated. Especially in the manner with which 2nd Gig ended, this accumulation of hints in the series has illustrated a larger, speculated progress. In a fictional continuity sense Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig, ends with a series of events that would be more widely noticed and documented than the conclusions of the first Stand Alone Complex or the Ghost in the Shell movies. While these are history book events, the consequences aren't a revolution, a new constitution or a technology breakthrough. Because what happens is an evolution, there are interesting ramifications for what it is and isn't. The fallout is a set of implications rather than something sudden or obvious. It seems to re-position the outer edge. On the social side, the advancement nudges the world of Ghost in the Shell past the post-information age, into, maybe, the beginnings of a post-human era. Where the original manga and movie treated this as almost a revelation, 2nd Gig handles it with an intentional tentativeness. With perfect irony, the Major's most uncertain, human moments, are when she is tempted to leave her human form behind. Politically, after 2nd Gig revealed that many of the root issues where still constitutional, this advancement begins to move Japan past post-war politics. Stand Alone Complex opened by ripping up the pavement with a guns blazing deployment of its cyborg special investigation team. In that case, it was an angrier, more proactive Section 9. It was crowd pleasing, macho, and maybe a bit obvious. On the flip side, the conclusion opts out of the simple run and gun adrenaline feed in favor of an intellectually exciting tapestry. After introducing chains of core plot points and ancillary tangents, this ending draws the whole matrix of introduced elements together: from character back stories, to various agendas, to poker games; and to some degree an alternative culmination for the franchise. On a franchise note, Stand Alone Complex continued to be intelligently cute in its sampling style re-integration of elements of other Ghost in the Shell incarnations, bringing in the fuchikoma mecha, using the movie's opening for one epilogue, and the manga cherry blossom viewing, which (if reviewer memory is correct) marked the institution of Section 9 as an official body, for the series' the final scene. This orchestrated chaos lays out its chess board with a complex interacting gambit, further complicated because once in action, the pieces become cut off from each other and are forced to act autonomously. The Section 9 protagonists alone have no less than four separate decision making bodies in play on a field crowded with multiple factions of politicians, an independent intelligence chief, an American fleet, JSDF forces, refugee/terrorists, a charismatic revolutionary leader, a separate special force unit put onto the field, and programmed AI attack helicopters. Beyond the speculative elements, the anime ultimately scores highly on its relationship to what matters in the world. Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig certainly does not suffer the relevance gap to which anime is susceptible. The war on terror, and especially the base social and political aspects are core components of the proceedings. Concerning both sides of the equation, those in power and those acting against, the anime is concerned with the limitations of the information age. It nearly says makes a case that public argument has lost its usefulness. With the ability to doctor media, image/photographic evidence had been completely discredited as inferior to circumstantial evidence. Further the whole commentary system is indicted. Namely that people will latch onto information that supports their belief. While this supporting information is internalized, opposing information is ignored. This presents an argument that the online world's meeting of the minds has been anything but. In the way that a medium sets the stage for discussion, rather than giving voices to every argument, broad spectrum programming provided an infinite number of pulpit to preach to segmented choirs. Printing, which democratized reading and the spread of ideas encouraged the a field of autodidacts to think scientifically and yielded the encyclopedia, Thomas Paine, Voltaire and the Age of Enlightenment. Broadband internet and television yield Bill O'Reilly, Ain't It Cool News and World of Warcraft. What 2nd Gig's conclusion does is capture a moment where technical shifts and unsustainable disconnection of arguments reach a critical tipping point. Anime has a tendency toward structural problems. It tends to be best in distinct 25 minute episodes or in well planned blocks of episodes. The dead spaces and rushed conclusions of longer running series are fraught with problems. The contrast offered by the pair of Stand Alone Complex series as well planned and executed, complex but comprehensive 26 episode work is part of what makes them so remarkable.

Anime Spotlight: Zipang Volume 2 Released by Geneon

Few anime take up the challenge to be "thought provoking" as seriously as Zipang. Kaiji Kawaguchi, possibly best known to North American audiences for Eagle: The Making of an Asian-American President could be thought of as a writer of political/military thrillers, but his greatest skills are as a provocateur. His body of manga, including the source for Zipang, serves to whack political hornets nests, stirring up extremism, nationalism, morality and various preconceived notions. All these agitated and agitating ideas are then swatted by the construction of convincingly urgent situations. Readers/viewers and characters are forced to consider what they would really do when there is no alternative other making critical decisions and forced to consider the consequences. Despite its general realism, the conceit of Zipang is that it follows a fully manned, modern Aegis cruiser sent back to World War II on the eve of the Battle of Midway. Trapped in the midst of the war, the reason and cause for the time slip quickly becomes ancillary. Time travel has to be accepted for the anime to function, but, there is little evidence that it is a reversible condition or really significant to the plot. More important to the events of the anime are the rescue of the intelligence officer who should have died in a downed sea plane, and that officers from the historic time period are smart enough to recognized that a vessel of unknown capabilities has entered the theatre of war. The exact technical capabilities of the focal vessel and the historical particulars might be detailed rather than strictly accurate. For a non-expert, the difference is difficult to detect, but in practice, the events are true to the situation. What matters is that when the characters are literally or figuratively staring down the barrel of a gun, the threat to their lives and the impact on the course of World War II are dramatically evident. The impact of World War II on the 20th century and beyond isn't just a shadow over Zipang, it's the series’ center of gravity. As an alternate history, knowing that the results of the war are a variable, the relevance of every decision in Zipang is heightened. Unlike some anime that aimed to examine war (AICN Anime whipping series Gundam for example, really, which really, I don't hate. It's just very compromised), Zipang doesn't use combat as a source of action. Rather, there is a tension as each decision to fire a bullet or launch a missile has the potential to impact future generations. Considering what would happen if even one life was lost, by implication, the anime casts a harsh light on all politics and all decisions. Given the potential impact each action might have on the cascade of events and the lives of future generation, this weight doesn't just heighten the impact of the proceedings, and it recasts the importance of current events.

Genshiken: The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture Volumes 6 and 7 Bu Kio Shimoku Released by Del Rey

Honestly, and honesty is one of Genshiken's best features, few works on eye-on-fandom fiction, anime/manga related or not, have addressed the topic with the intelligence and humor achieved by Genshiken. Welcome to the NHK maybe, but that's a dark mirror to Genshiken's insight. Never content to dwell on gags or safe routines, the dynamic manga has moved far past the material covered by the anime, and moved past examinations of the media. Pushing ahead in time, it’s found plenty of depth tracking the lives of its geek subjects. In this progression, members of the Genshiken college anime/manga/video game club have begun graduating. They had their fan projects, hooked up and drifted apart, now a number of members are deciding how to integrate fandom into their lives: whether to abandon it, try to make it their career or keep a hand dipped in. Watching these characters act through their diverse perspectives, there is a sense of naturalness to the characters that lends them the impression less of an over conceived spectrum than a compelling ensemble. Readers who recognize with having some sense of fandom in their live, especially as the characters dissolve or cement relationships and choose their careers; the truthfulness found in Genshiken will pull some emotional cords. The small, but personally significant changes hit an ideal point for these likable, identifiable characters. While apparent rather than subtle, late-Genshiken is able to be heartfelt without being gushy or entirely overly sentimental. There are a number of instances where the characters take events in a way other than what the readers might hope for. The twists and non-twists do go in directions where resolutions aren't too clean or too positive. Beyond the satisfying drama, there are a lot of fan pleasing inclusions to these two volumes. Ogiue, the dramatically abrasive younger female member creating an explicitly homosexual manga starring Sasahara, the manga's point of view character and Madarame, the dyed in the wool hard core geek is both risqué and in character. As with the best jokes on Genshiken, it inclusively brings the reader into a memorable situation. In other words, it becomes a "remember when..." story. North American readers will certainly enjoy the chapters in which a pair of American fans visit the Genshiken club for Comiket. An aspect of this encounter is playing into big the breasted American stereotype, but with catch phrases and mannerisms Shimoku does concisely capture the American fan. Volume 6 also features an appendix of brief doujinshi (fan comics) from big games of Koto Hirano and Gunsmith Cats' Kenichi Sonoda.

Manga Spotlight: Scary Book 3: Faces By Kazuo Umezu Released by Dark Horse Manga

The third volume of Umezu's horror anthology Scary Book demonstrates the flexible complexity of the manga tradition. The volume features two stories: a psycho-thriller and a child's cautionary morality fable. Compared to Insects', the previous volume, reliance on Umezu's visual style, these two stories feature structural flair, and a sense that Umezu isn't fostering a simple reaction from his reader. Though not always funny, with Umezu teasing conventions and expectations, he seems to be joking on the depicted tragedies or near tragedies. It's too tongue-in-cheek even to seem like black comedy. The first story follows a pair of sisters. The elder is attractive and receives all the praise, admiration and attention that the world has to offer. Umezu initially hides the face of the younger sister. When her appearance is revealed, it becomes evident that she isn't deformed or in any way unattractive, just a shade more plain than her overshadowing older sister. Fate turns and the attractive sister falls down a set of stairs. A bust lands on her head, resultomh in one of horror manga's great skin pealing disfigurements. Shut away from the world and consumed by jealousy, the elder sister begins enlisting her younger sister to facilitate homicides. Umezu plays this first story fairly straight. He goes a bit heavy on the gore for a the accident, but it generally stays with light and shadow intense drama. The second story is also, generally, kept true to the seriousness of its characters, but there are also plenty of breaks with the equivalent of Umezu laughing at his own joke. This latter entry opens with a school girl in the midst of a rotten day. After getting caught cheating on a test, she follows the blunder with a long series of academic mishaps. Returning home, the girl is too angry to think straight. To vent her frustration, she writes a letter: Dear Pig-Lady A woman like you will never get married in her whole life! Your legs are crippled! And your face is so scary it'd spook the devil! If someone actually WOULD marry you, I'd like to see his face! You're gonna fall of a cliff and die! Or you'll hit your face on the rocks and you'll be even uglier! The girl makes up a random name and address, then mails the charming missive. Of course, the letter arrives at the home of a saintly but ugly young woman who is about to get married. The young woman takes the message badly and runs off. With "coincidence" or gleeful contrivance the watch word of the story, the case of the young run away soon swamps all media outlets. One element that ties the Scary Books together (at least Insects and Faces), is a trio of school girls with rather off-putting appearances. One is overweight with her long bangs almost covering her face. A second is also overweight, further marked by dirty looking freckles, a plug nose and an odd tied queue off hair. The third is thinner, but has a Bazooka Joe eye patch. The role of these characters is to laugh at and gossip about the story in which they appear. The protagonists of Scary Book's stories, which are generally young women, are intensely involved with their own circumstances. There's plenty of fits and high melodrama, which is cleanly illustrated by the gothic elements in Umezu's imagery. The chorus trio of girls don't appear often, but when they do, they douse this seriousness with "get over yourself" disregard. Though touch of mods and tight forms give Umezu' style an older look (even though the book is from the 80's), fans of Junji Ito's works and social criticism horror manga like Octopus Girl ought to check out Umezu's body of work, and Scary Book in particular. Umezu offers the same subversive wink in his stories. There's an interesting artists presence in the books. Mixing snot and blood with more elegant horror, Umezu attacks everybody, in the case of Faces, ugly and beautiful alike. Yet this assault doesn't seem to be out of misanthropy or abrasive button pushing. Contrary to the darkness of fate and human action's in the stories, Umezu allows himself to smile at the human condition. Some of the most memorable moments from the volume come from the younger sister of the heroine of the second story. As the angelic young child responds to her older sister's tirades by disowning her sibling and planting memorial tablets in the family garden. In these cases, you can see Umezu smirking. Literally. He puts himself into the story as a guest on a variety show.

Basilisk Anime Volume 3 Released by FUNimation

Manga Volume 3 by Masaki Segawa Released by Del Rey

Especially given their contemporaneous releases, a consumer is better off choosing either the Basilisk anime or the manga rather than following both. Or, at least complete one for starting the other. Given the digital inking/digital effects of the manga and consistency of character design, they are more akin to two cuts of the same material than two distinct interpretations. As such, they really compete rather than complement each other. If you are looking for a full lengthed season of historic fantasy, the Basilisk anime is an ideal dose of ninja-fix. If you are looking for very quick, very dirty, smashmouth ninja exploitation, the manga is perfect. Each sets a narrow focus on a war between two ninja clans assigned to exterminate each other, the nucleus of which is a pair of once and maybe still lovers from the rival groups. Noting that the anime agonizes everything and the manga agonizes nothing is only a slight exaggeration. This difference marks the key distinction. The anime has details and accentuated the drama that the manga lacks. The manga has a rapid pace and sense of suddenness that is missing from the anime. The single conflict focus is more narrow and consistent than what is to be found in most anime. As a result, there are few side steps and little off-message filler. However, given the extra space compared to the manga, the anime balloons out the drama, adding notes of history and building moments of each character reacting to the toll of the wars. A quick few panels of a character looking furious or devastated in the manga become minutes, or even almost episodes of soul bearing in the anime. Stemming from this attention to character reaction, Fumitomo Kizaki's weakness in action direction creates a problem where one did not need to exist. Basilisk is crammed with devastating moments where the tide of an engagement changes quickly and irreversibly. Some ninja unveils some ability, unleashing brutal result. One moment some one has a face, the next the they don't. Kizaki can present the requisite strange abilities fight scenes that feed Basilisk, but his lack of sharpness drains far too much vitality. Kizaki handles the staging well when there is only one key character in play. There is a scene where a lady ninja poisons her lover, resulting in his finger nails melting off. Bloody fingers dragging over wood floor boards is as grizzly as it sounds. When there are multiple key characters in an engagement, Kizaki stumbles. He starts cutting from face to face, focusing on onlookers, moving crowds to maximize the numbers for post attack reaction shots. By the time he's ready, the viewer knows that an effect shot is coming. Dilating the moment and alerting the viewer to the direction robs the impact of its snap. The manga is full of breasts, blood and rarely do you have to turn more than a few pages before some strange person or persons are killed in some strange fashion. Thoroughly ninja-sploitation, it is a love it or hate proposition. Indifference isn't much of an option. The slight attention to personalities and the human aspects of the characters is both an asset and liability. To spin it in a positive manner, the manga does offer a sense of the effect of the conflict on the surviving participants, but this fuels a blazing fire rather than distracting from it. Pure action is one way of describing it, but it could also be called a murderous freak show with little empathy for its participants.

Support Author Through Last Unicorn DVD

As part of Lionsgate's February 6th release of The Last Unicorn: 25th Anniversary Edition, by special agreement, customers who buy the DVD through Conlan Press can ensure that more than half their purchase price of this 25th Anniversary Edition DVD will go directly to support Peter S. Beagle and his projects. Beagle, who wrote the original novel and the movie's screenplay, was previously unpaid for his contribution to the movie. Although The Last Unicorn: 25th Anniversary Edition will be available from all major DVD retailers, only purchases made through Conlan Press will benefit Mr. Beagle. Conlan Press will offer two different versions: the standard release for $14.98, and a personally-autographed version, signed in three places by Peter S. Beagle himself, for $24.98. The DVD will be presented in widescreen with digitally remastered video and 5.1 audio. The DVD will be packaged in a new printed-foil slipcase, and includes a host of DVD special features, including “The Tail of The Last Unicorn” featurette (with an interview with author Peter S. Beagle), a set-top game, a photo and cover gallery, and the original theatrical trailer. The Last Unicorn: 25th Anniversary Edition DVD features an all-star cast of voice talent, and songs performed by the band America. Starring Christopher Lee, Mia Farrow, and Academy Award nominees Alan Arkin, Angela Lansbury, and Jeff Bridges, the movie tells the powerful tale of a unicorn who sets out on a quest to find her lost brothers and sisters. The film’s character design and animation were done by the Japanese artists who went on to become the core of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli (My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away). DVD SPECIAL FEATURES * “The Tail of The Last Unicorn” featurette, including an interview with author Peter S. Beagle * “Escape the Red Bull” set-top game * “Schmendrick’s Magical Gallery” * Original Theatrical Trailer

No More 4Kids One Piece

4Kids has opted to stop localizing popular pirate shounen adventure One Piece as of episode 104. Currently, 78 episodes have aired on North American TV. reports that 4Kids Marking Director Roz Nowicki sent an e-mail stating "I am sorry to say that at this time there are no additional episodes (of One Piece) being adapted by 4Kids Entertainment." The series was widely excoriated by fans for the content modifications used to prepare the series for North American television and for the quality of the English language dub. The 4Kids cut of the series had been released on DVD by Viz, but there have been no indication of plans to release an uncut or Japanese audio version of the series. ICV2 reports that 4Kids holds the series' license until 2009. Perhaps indicative of 4Kids' direction, the company will be pushing a collectable card games initiative. See here for more information.

New LM Montgomery Anime

AnimeNation reports that NHK Television will be adapting Lucy Maud Montgomery's Emily Starr novels into the 26 episode Kaze no Shoujo Emily ~ Emily of New Moon~. NHK previously adapted Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables novels.

Miyazaki Mulled Three Bears points out that according to a long interview with Hayao Miyazaki in the Ghibli Museum Guide Book 2006, the director entertained the idea of produced a short film animating the story of "Goldilocks and The Three Bears" for the museum if it has not been able to secure its current Aardman Animations exhibition. Miyazaki says, "It explains the production process of The Three Bears. However, the last conclusion finishes it as "impossible"(laugh)". In other Miyazaki news, based on the pattern of Studio Ghibli's recent films, the title of Miyazaki's next project, scheduled for a summer 2007 releases, was expected to be announced on December 13th.

Upcoming in Japan

From AnimeNation The official site the upcoming One Piece movie, which will re-adapt the popular Alabasta arc is online at Ryohgo's period crime novels Baccano will be adapted into an anime. The site for the Madhouse's anime adaptation of swords and monster fantasy Claymore is online here. NTV also has a site here. Moonlight Mile has an official site here and a Wowow page here The 11th Detective Conan movie Meitantei Conan: Konbeki no Kan" (Detective Conan: Jolly Roger in the Deep Azure) is scheduled for April 21, 2007. The site for the 15th Crayon Shinchan movie Arashi wo Yobu Utau Getsu Dake Bakudan is online From BONES' Darker than BLACK -Kuro no Keiyakusha Satelight (Noein, Hellsing: Ultimate) is scheduling a mecha anime called Kissdom -ENGAGE planet- for Spring 2007. The Kishin Taisen Gigantic Formula mecha anime has a site here A trailer for Romeo x Juliet is online here

Upcoming Manga Releases

Broccoli will be releasing the manga Coyote Ragtime Show, Hakoiri Devil Princess (Japanese title), and Murder Princes in North America. Coyote Ragtime Show is the manga adaptation of the TV anime series created by ufotable. Franka, the orphan daughter of Pirate King Bruce, has seven days to find her father's hidden treasure before planet Graceland is destroyed. Lead by space pirate Mister, Franka and a rag-tag band of coyotes are on a treasure hunt against Madame Marciano and the 12 SISTERs. Coyote Ragtime Show manga series is illustrated by Tartan Check and is serialized in Comic Rush magazine published by JIVE Ltd. Two volumes have been released so far in Japan. Coyote Ragtime Show is slated to be released in Summer 2007 in North America. Hakoiri Devil Princess is a romantic comedy about a princess from the demon world named Maki, and Keita who summoned her from a mysterious box. Keita is granted three wishes in exchange for his soul. But she can only take his soul after he makes his third wish. So, as a sheltered demon with little knowledge of how to be evil, Maki must rely on her trusty guidebook to teach herself the ways of the nefarious arts and trick Keita into using up his wishes. Until then, Maki’s going to live with Keita until he can't stand living anymore. Hakoiri Devil Princess is illustrated by Maika Netsu with story by Makoto Matsumoto. Serialized in Comic Rush magazine published by JIVE Ltd., currently four volumes of Haoiri Devil Princess has been released in Japan. Hakoiri Devil Princess is slated to be released in Summer 2007 in North America. Murder Princess is about Princess Alita, who must protect her kingdom from a coup d'etat. But on her way to get help, a magical mishap trapped her inside the body of a bounty hunter named Falis. Now Alita must rule disguised as a servant as the battle-savvy Falis sits on the throne in her body. And thus the story about the strongest and most violent princess in the history of the kingdom begins. Murder Princess is illustrated and written by Sekihiko Inui, the manga artist of Comic Party. Serialized in quarterly magazine Dengeki Teiou, the second volume of Murder Princess will be released in Japan in early 2007. Murder Princess OVA anime series will be available in March 2007 in Japan. Murder Princess is slated to be released in April 2007 in North America. Anime News Network reports Broccoli has also licensed Angel Food Cake in a Box, Calendar Girls, and Madadane Comipress reports has announced that the following manga titles will be released by VIZ Media - Ichigo 100% by Mizuki Kawashita - Pretty Face by Yasuhiro Kano - Togari by Yoshinori Natsume - Yurara by Chika Shiomi ICV2 reports that Vertical Inc.'s release of Osamu Tezuka's Apollo's song will be packed in a single 544 page volume for $19.95, to be released in June 2007.dha series. Apollo's Song is the story of Shogo, a young man who has no faith in love and consequently lives his life in a bitter fashion. When his misanthropy peaks, he encounters the Goddess of Love, who condemns him to an eternity of heartbreak.

Paprika Theme Oscar Eligible

Anime News Network reports that the theme song to Paprika, Satoshi Kon's (Perfect Blue, Tokyo Godfathers) new sci-fi anime film, is eligible for Original Song Oscar. “The Girl in Byakkoya - White Tiger Field” is one of 56 song to make the list.

New Kristine Sa Album

Kristine Sa, possibly best known to anime fans from the Anime Remix project Animetoonz 3, will be releasing a new album entitled Hopeless Romantic. The CD features production by J-pop superstar producer Daisuke "Dice" Miyachi (Ayumi Hamasaki, BoA, Koda Kumi) and Dave Liang (The Shanghai Restoration Project, Carl Thomas). Song previews are available on the pre-order site here

Cantarella Creator on Library Poster

Go! Comi has announced that The American Library Association (ALA) and graphic novel publisher Go! Comi announced today that manga artist You Higuri has created an exclusive poster for the ALA’s popular poster series. The poster depicts Cesare Borgia, the troubled hero of Ms. Higuri’s graphic novel series Cantarella, a dark fantasy set during the Renaissance. ALA posters promote literacy and libraries to teens and younger readers. Previous posters have featured American comic book characters such as Superman, Batman, and Sandman, but this is the first time a Japanese manga artist has created a poster for the series. The poster and its accompanying bookmark will debut on January 2nd 2007 and be available through the ALA’s online store at, as well as through the ALA Graphics Catalog.

Nana 2 Actresses to Appear at NY Screening

Nana 2, the second half of a film adaptation of the hit shoujo manga will be screened in New York City, at the IFC Center on Monday, December 18, 2006. Actresses Mika Nakashima (also a model, playing the role of Hachi)and Yui Ichikawa (also a popular singer, playing the role of Nana) will also be making appearances. For more information, see NewYork-Tokyo STORY BACKGROUND: The film is about two girls of the same age and name, Nana Osaki and Nana Komatsu. They randomly meet in a train and, following a string of coincidences having to do with the number seven (pronounced nana in Japanese), decide to live together in an apartment numbered 707. One is a cynical punk rocker with a demanding presence and the other is a cute, ignorant girl with an upper-middle class mindset. The two characters, despite having contrasting personalities, like and respect each other. After they met, Nana Osaki started calling Nana Komatsu Hachi ("Hachiko" is the name of a famous loyal dog in Japan. Coincidentally, "hachi" means "eight" which follows nana) Nana wants to make her debut to leave her ex-boyfriend, Ren, behind. Nana and Ren were in the same group once, but Ren was offered a chance to debut in Tokyo as a replacement member of Trapnest, a popular band. Realizing that following Ren would mean giving up her own dream to be a singer, she chose to cultivate her own band, Black Stones. NANA2: Nana's band, Black Stones, has their major label debut. Hachi is spun into a deep relationship with Takumi, the leader of Trapnest. Nana and Ren's relationship also comes to light and cause a scandal in the entertainment industry. After a series of events between the two girls and the band members, Hachi chooses to leave the apartment she shares with Nana and the two friends are far apart with only their respective partners as hope for the future. This sequel is the last installment of the original "NANA" movies.

2006 Seiun (Nebula) Awards

From Comipress and MangaCast Okuno Reiko and Yumekura Baku's Onmyouji won the 2006 Seiun (Nebula) Award for Best Science Fiction Manga over - Savage Garden by Nishigawa Rousuke - Kaguya Hime by Shimizu Reiko - King of Thorn by Iwahara Yuujji Disappearance Diary by Azuma Hideo won for best fiction over Director Off Guard by Anno Moyoco. Director Off Guard is one of Anno's autographical comics, about her relationship with her husband, Evangelion creator Hideki Anno. Three Moyoco Anno fiction works Happy Mania, Flowers & Bees and Sugar Sugar Rune have been releases in North America. Another piece of Anno trivia is that she adapted Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy into manga.

FUnimation April Releases

Anime on DVD reports that FUNimation's April releases included a box set of Tenchi Muyo and the premiere of the Peach Girl anime. The complete list includes: Kodocha Vol. #12 Moon Phase Vol. #5 Tenchi Muyo Ryo-Ohki Box Set ($59.98) Peach Girl (also w/box set); first volume with five episodes Solty Rei Vol. #3 Trinity Blood Vol. #6

English Sites

ADV Films has opened a site to promote their upcoming release of Coyote Ragtime Show. ADV also has a preview episode of Coyote Ragtime Show on IGN here Geneon's Fate/stay Night site is online here

Media Blaster Pushes Back Releases

Anime on DVD reports that Media Blasters have moved back much of their release schedule. Their current schedule is 12/12/2006 VOLTRON DEFENDER OF THE UNIVERSE Yellow Lion 12/19/2006 MOUSE Complete 1/30/2007 AKIHABARA GEEKS 2/13/2007 GRENADIER Economy Pack (Volumes 1-3, Episodes 1-12) 2/27/2007 GAOGAIGAR King of Braves: "Ninja Robots" (VOL 3 of 10, Eps. 11-15) 3/6/2007 GAKUEN HEAVEN "For the Love of Boys" Volume 1, Episodes 1-4 3/27/2007 GAOGAIGAR King of Braves: "Hammer of Heroes" (VOL 4 of 10, Eps. 16-20) TEKKAMAN BLADE Collection 1 of 3 (Eps. 1-16) GENSHIKEN Economy Collection AnimeWorks COMING SOON (no street dates assigned yet): GAKUEN HEAVEN "School of Love" Volume 2 GIRL MEETS GIRL "Role Reversal" Volume 1 I SHALL NEVER RETURN RAMEN FIGHTER MIKI Volume 1 TEKKAMAN BLADE Volume 2 VOLTRON Collection Three: Green Lion OTOGI ZOSHI Economy Pack Volumes 1-6 LOVELESS Premium Collection

Game News

The Magic Box has screen shots of SD Gundam Scad Hammers for the Nintendo Wii here. As the name implies, game play involves attacking enemies using the Wii remote to control the scud hammer. Hajimete no Wii, a Hajime No Ippo game for the Wii can be seen here

Bandai Visual Usa Launches Anime Community "Honneamise" On MySpace

Bandai Visual USA Inc announced that it has launched an anime community "Honneamise: on The site provides information and downloads from anime titles released by Bandai Visual USA’s Honneamise label, and gives fans a chance to interact with each other and discuss current and past DVD releases. contains information and images from Bandai Visual’s upcoming release of the classic anime series "Gunbuster" as well as past Honneamise titles "Patlabor The Movie" and "Patlabor 2 The Movie." Visitors to the site will also be able to view a special video clip from the newly re-mastered version of “Gunbuster” as well as download wallpapers, buddy icons and MySpace skins from Honneamise titles. The site will be updated periodically.
"Gunbuster" will be available on DVD for the first time in the U.S. on February 20, 2007. A favorite among anime fans, "Gunbuster" has been re-mastered in HD 24P format with newly translated English subtitles under the supervision of the original producers. The DVD set (SRP: $64.99) will contain all six episodes on 3 discs, a 24-page color booklet, 30-minutes of bonus clips and come packaged in an original deluxe art box imported from Japan. The DVD will be released under the Bandai Visual USA Honneamise label and be distributed by Image Entertainment.
Bandai Visual USA also announced that for a limited time, anime fans who purchase "Gunbuster" can send away for a free special "Gunbuster" trailer manga card by renowned character designer/illustrator/manga artist Haruhiko Mikimoto ("Macross") by filling-in and returning the card in the DVD. The offer ends March 30, 2007.

ADV Premieres

ADV Films will be releasing the first volume of the un-edited version of "high-flying shounen adventure" Air Gear, entitled East Side Showdown, on February 6th. The anime is based on the manga by OhGreat! (Tenjho Tenge), released domestically by Del Rey and produced by Toei Animation (Dragonball Z, Zatch Bell). Synopsis: Welcome to the world of Storm Riders, where motor-powered inline skates called "Air Treks" take extreme sports to a whole new level. Those who dare to ride with these high tech devices risk life and limb in a struggle for fame, power and wings to take to the sky. Enter Ikki Minami, the toughest fighter on the east side of town. He rules his school, takes on violent gangs single-handedly and lives with the Noyamanos; four sexy sisters with a surprising secret. And after a humiliating defeat to a terrifying gang of Storm Riders, the sisters welcome him to the world of Air Trek, where his strength, speed and ambitions soar to brand new heights. Now, with powerful new wings, he must protect his friends, his school and his pride in fierce Air Trek battles known as "Parts Wars". One mistake could cost him everything, but each victory brings him one step closer to becoming the king of the sky. The anime will be released across 7 volumes.
Utawarerumono: Mask of a Stranger will premiere on Anime Network's video on demand service on January 4th. From Oriental Light and Magic Studios, comes the tale of a man in a mask that can’t be removed. The first volume of the DVD will be released January 16th. Everything about Hakuoro is a mystery. The mask that he can’t remove, a past he can’t unravel and the very survival of the people who have chosen him as their leader. What Haruoro doesn’t know is that he was gravely injured in a forest and left for dead. A kind, young girl named Eluluu found him and nursed him back to health. Welcomed into a barren land where strange creatures roam, an angry god seeks vengeance and an oppressive government slaughters the innocent, while a bloody war looms on the horizon. Will the masked hero be able to liberate the people who saved him? Can he unlock the memories that elude him, or will he remain a stranger…even to himself? The answers are right before his eyes (or are they?) in the thrilling, killing and pillaging first volume of Utawarerumono!

TOKYOPOP Talks Fruits Basket at 2 Million

TOKYOPOP has announced that the company's hottest manga series, Fruits Basket, created by Natsuki Takaya, has reached two million books in print with the release of Fruits Basket Volume 15,in stores now. The funny and touching story of Tohru Honda, an orphaned high school freshman girl who is rescued from homelessness by an enigmatic family with a big secret, Fruits Basket is one of the best selling and most popular manga series throughout North America, regularly rising to the top of both Graphic Novel and Overall General Fiction categories on noted literary sales rosters, including BookScan and the USA Today Top 150. Fruits Basket (by Natsuki Takaya - winner of the ultra-prestigious Kodansha Manga Award) began its life in the pages of Hana to Yume magazine, the manga anthology from Japanese publisher Hakusensha. In 2001, the series became a huge fan-favorite in Japan, jumping to the top of the manga charts. Hakusensha and TV Tokyo then teamed up to turn Fruits Basket into a 26-episode anime series, and TOKYOPOP released the first volume of Fruits Basket in North America in 2004. When TIME Magazine asked Ms. Takaya her feelings on having the top-selling manga in the U.S., she responded, "That definitely flatters and pleases me. Thank you very much. As for a reason, I can't clearly distinguish one, but if people read Fruits Basket and think 'I like this,' then that alone is enough to bring me joy." According to TOKYOPOP Publisher Mike Kiley, "Fruits Basket is an extraordinary manga series that crosses all age boundaries and appeals to both girls and boys. We are proud to have played some small part in bringing Takaya-sensei's delightful story to English-speaking audiences."

Bang Zoom! Vid-Casts

Anime localization house Bang Zoom! Entertainment, Inc has just produced a sequel to the first EUREKA SEVEN video podcast for [Adult Swim]. For a humorous look inside the anime recording studios, check out this

Worth Reading

Production I.G has posted an English interview with the animators of Blood+'s opening here Comipress has translated Science in Manga - The Make-Believe Science of "Spiral - Bonds of Reasoning" here. The pieces looks at the logic and reality of the psychic mystery manga. Publisher's Weekly has posted interviews with Digital Manga Publishing president Hikaru Sasahara here and Dramacon's Svetlana Chmakova here. PW also took at Dark Horse on their 20th anniversary here Heisei Democracy has a piece on moe (fetishizing innocence and older brother style protection of innocence) as a commodity. A preview of Go! Comi's release of Train + Train is online here A fan translated manga based on the work of classic shoujo creator Haggio Moto is online at here has great photos of various toy/merchandising events and other random sights.

Avatar Set Season 2 DVDs

Nickelodeon will be releasing the first of four volumes of the second season of Avatar on January 23rd. A complete box set late in 2007.

For more commentary see the AICN Anime MySpace

Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 13, 2006, 9:28 a.m. CST

    Where's the Hentai?

    by Ricky Henderson

    Just let this silly column die already, will ya?

  • Dec. 13, 2006, 9:34 a.m. CST

    Hey Orcus...

    by clone-o-mat

    It's so lonely in here. Where is everyone? Is this the right talkback?

  • Dec. 13, 2006, 10:09 a.m. CST

    re: Macross DYRL

    by ScottGreen

    If I remember correctly, Harmony Gold says that they have the DYRL rights, but they can't release it because Macross is a legally contested property in Japan.

  • Dec. 13, 2006, 10:46 a.m. CST

    Macross DYRL Continued

    by AkiraKaneda

    Unfortunately, Scott, you're right. One company (Big West/Studio Nue) was given rights to the characters and designs and another (Tatsunoko) the production rights to the first series. What a sad mess...

  • Dec. 13, 2006, 12:43 p.m. CST

    Actor Peter Boyle is Dead

    by Orionsangels

  • Dec. 13, 2006, 1:11 p.m. CST

    Genshiken, with Kujibiki Unbalance? Oldboy?

    by EvilWizardGlick

    Does the manga show Kujibiki Unbalance as the Anime does? Also since Old Boy the movie is Korean, how much Yakuza impact/importance to the story line is there in tha manga?

  • Dec. 13, 2006, 1:18 p.m. CST

    Good News, and funny...

    by Wingnut1A

    Literally lastnight I ordered The Last Unicorn DVD from Amazon.. lol Now I will have to buy it again when this new version is released in February. =) That's OK though, I'll give the lesser version to someone for Christmas. Anyway... Good news about it being remastered, and also very good news that the author will be getting some more compensation for his fine work. I hope the live action version that was being talked about a while ago happens while Christopher Lee is able to play King Haggard as he has wanted to for such a long time.

  • Dec. 13, 2006, 1:23 p.m. CST

    Helping out a living legend - Peter S. Beagle

    by Bregalad_

    Every animation fan/fantasy fan out there who appreciates the real magic of PETER S. BEAGLE will prick up your ears and pay attention: THE ASSHOLES AT GRANADA MEDIA have been raping and stealing money from this veteran author for fucking decades! They have lied to him about European box office receipts, lied about DVD sales, and CONTINUALLY LIE about every possible revenue stream so as not to pay him what he is clearly owed. ~~~~~ They have single handedly prevented the forward movement on a new live-action LAST UNICORN for years. PLEASE GUYS & GALS: get your 25th Anniversary DVD of "Unicorn" from Peter's publishers and help him out just a little. There will be FULL CIRCLE KARMA someday soon, but for now it's a grass roots movement to assist one of the English language's brightest talents.

  • Dec. 13, 2006, 2:07 p.m. CST

    re: Genshiken, with Kujibiki Unbalance? Oldboy?

    by ScottGreen

    There is some Kujibiki Unbalance sprinkled throughout the Genshiken manga. Very little in the volumes reviewed here, but more in others. I think a small but full reproduction of Genshiken Kujibiki Unbalance doujinshi is in one of the volumes. There are also some strips. Yakuza are present in the Old Boy manga. They're like the gangsters in the movie, but a bit straighter. There's a good scene in the 3rd volume with a yazuka boss talking out the process as he reconsiles himself with his role in the scheme.

  • Dec. 13, 2006, 2:35 p.m. CST

    Finally Peter Beagle recieves his Due.

    by Atomica

    The Last Unicorn was one of the most original and noteworthy animated features of the early '80s and it was a travesty how Beagle was treated as a result. The fact that he'll finally be compensated for his amazing work is a long overdue justice. And getting a Solid and Digitally remastered version of TLU rather than the pisspoor version we got Last Year is a triumph as well. Cool News!!!

  • Dec. 13, 2006, 3:20 p.m. CST

    Here I am on man's road. Walkin' maaaan's road.

    by superninja

    The book is pretty good too. I like the America songs, so sue me.

  • Dec. 13, 2006, 3:55 p.m. CST

    ScottGreen Re: Oldboy movie/manga

    by EvilWizardGlick

    Thanks. Some spoilers for those who have not seen the movie. Some of the things the movie never addressed, the scene where he is beating people up for information and he walks past the obviously filled cells but does nothing about it. It suggests how selfcentered he is despite his time imprisoned. And just what company is being used to warehouse all those punished people. Are those covered in the manga? Or is it totally different? The lack of information on the company seemed like an opportunity for a related story. Great movie. I'll have to find the manga now.

  • Dec. 13, 2006, 4:05 p.m. CST

    The Last Unicorn put me to sleep

    by TimBenzedrine

    when I first saw it in the theatre back in the early eighties, but it wasn't Beagle's fault, it was Rankin-Bass'. I was really disappointed in how they handled The Hobbit (even though I found the character and background designs interesting)I figured that the poor quality of the animation was due to their having to work with a TV budget, and I was really interested in seeing what they would do with a feature film budget. Turns out they did the exact same thing, only bigger. The choppy animation hurt my eyes, and I found myself closing them through long stretches of the cartoon, and halfway through the film, I actually fell asleep. Given the voice talent that R-B had to work with,I had expected better vocal performances all around, but everything was delivred in the same monotone way that their TV work requires to accommodate characters that only move their lips. Beagle's work was also mangled by Ralph Bakshi's direction on The Lord of the Rings (he wrote the screenplay)For years I've been waiting for someone to do a halfway decent version of his work. I wish he had gone to a better studio for Unicorn, the book deserves better treatment.

  • Dec. 13, 2006, 4:06 p.m. CST

    re: old boy manga

    by ScottGreen

    There is some material about the jailers in the manga. And this does provide a different impression that what's in the movie. From the part of the manga I've read, I'd be very suprised if he did do anything about the other prisoners. The character's self centered tunnel vision is a key aspect of his make-up. He'll fight against the world, but even post imprisonment, he's not a guy whose personality lends itself to challenging and questioning the world. He's not a big picture guy, which is part of what makes his circumstances so interesting. There are scenes in the manga that aren't in the movie, but it isn't a huge series. Only 5 volumes in total. Because of the manga format, its more situation based than the flowing movie, and there are some different situations, but it's not really going off in distinct directions.

  • Dec. 13, 2006, 9:24 p.m. CST

    Vodka Good ...Fire Baaaadd ...

    by Lain Of The Net

    Congrats on the anniversary. Peter is dead. "I fear my doctor may have been seized by the Romans!" Oh dang dang dang.

  • Dec. 18, 2006, 3:42 a.m. CST

    DYRL is out as an import.

    by Mace Tofu

    with english subs so what is the big deal? Love the soundtrack on that movie.

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  • Dec. 5, 2010, 4:36 p.m. CST


    by orcus

    it just took a while for folks to show up