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AICN Anime - Preview of Production I.G's Le Chevalier d'Eon

Logo handmade by Bannister Column by Scott Green

Anime Preview: Le Chevalier d'Eon volume 1 To be Released by ADV Films February 20, 2007.

If you belong to the A.Word.A.Day e-mail list, you might have noticed the entry from 1.19.07 eonism (EE-uh-niz-uhm) noun Adoption of female clothing and manners by a male. [After Chevalier d'Éon (1728-1810), a spy and soldier who lived the second half of his life as a woman.] This is the same Chevalier d'Eon who lends his name to Production I.G's anime series. In fact, the anime's cast is largely composed of historical or semi-historial figures. In addition to the court of Louis XV, a number of the age's colorful personalities play large roles in the plot. Often fictionalized mystery-man Count of St Germain is very present. As is Madame de Pompadour and revolutionary Beaumarchais, in history, the writer of Le Barbier de Séville, recognized inventor, arms-dealer and publisher of Voltaire. The American parallel to this sort of Enlightenment character would be Benjamin Franklin. In theory, one still could know everything, and intellectuals believed one should be familiar with multiple disciplines. With knowledge being accumulated in endeavors like the encyclopedia and distributed in methods such as pamphlets, it is interesting to think of the age as an early information revolution. The seeds of the Reign of Terror might be on the ground, but the intensions and thought process involved is still compelling. Chevalier d'Eon allows for the intriguing possibility of thinking of its characters and the spirit of the work in light of its depicted age. In the 21st century, you occasionally find people who go from one field into politics, or channel a fortune made in one field to fund a distinct endeavor, or, to insult everyone's intelligence, write a children's book, but specialization seems to be the rule of the day. The same can be said of anime. Works like the highly successful Fullmetal Alchemist do spread their story telling goals to cover a host of audience niches, but too often works fall victim to tunnel vision, replaying the same patterns. Chevalier d'Eon recalls a spirit of excellence in multiple fields. In addition to leveraging animation that builds on previous Production I.G experiments and successes, part of the thrill of Chevalier d'Eon is that it taps into the boundary crossing lives of real people in a real boundary crossing moment in time. The series' cause for action is the murder of Lia de Beaumont, sister of the narrator and protagonist, D'Eon de Beaumont. Lia's body is found floating down the Seine in the casket adorned with the word "PSALMS". As an unsolved murder and because the body's failure to decay naturally has caused the church to deny a Christian burrial, d'Eon becomes obsessed with the crime. Pursuit of a perpetrator leaving behind other victims widens an existing rift between his role in the secret police, one he legitimately believes benefits France and its people, and his birth rank call to participate in the court of Versailles. Based on the novel by Tow Ubukata, Chevalier d'Eon sets its protagonist on a shaky structure build of religion, nationalism and humanism. The nature of the character and his age is packed with contradiction, leading to an atmosphere of chaos, not only due to the murders, but also his political currents of Enlightenment Europe. d'Eon himself exhibits a spectrum of progressive opinions: he feels for the plight of the disenfranchised, he's uneasy about the quickness to use torture as a method of interrogation, but he has a paternalistic attitude that makes him a monarchist and causes him to decry the free speech of protesters. Conversely, the series' revolutionaries are tied to those who simply want to take power for themselves and internally, their meetings are non-egalitarian, ceremony bound. As a series developed by Production I.G, featuring strike force secret police, given an ambiguous license by the higher powers of government, it is tempting to think of Chevalier d'Eon as a swashbuckling version of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Given that the appeal of Stand Alone Complex can largely be credited to its procedural faithfulness and the depth of the ideas it developed, the comparison is not unreasonable. One volume in, the stage of the anime is too early to determine the exact theme, but it does seem to be constructing some noteworthy landmarks on its ideological landscape. Given that the series is situated in a historical moment where logic was called to govern policy, the integration of elements that would be deemed unscientific might seem almost antithetical. However, these clearly fictional elements have so far largely been defeated through the use of observation and rationality. With ideas still being introduced, it may be premature for a verdict, but, there are few anime works that are this promising this early. The first episode is bursting at the seams with plot and character introduction. In an agenda that includes introducing a healthy selection of a large cast, ensuring that the viewer comprehends the character of Louis XV's France, throwing in intriguing hints to how the series diverges from real history, and sprinkling some dazzling animation fairy dust on the venture, Chevalier d'Eon subtly begins constructing a compelling mental map of its eponymous lead. By implication, the anime calls attention not just to the problems and agendas, but how these ends are pursued. There is no question that the series is going for sensationalism. Public societies promoting new ideologies and sciences are hardly present in the series, while secret societies are everywhere. Beyond the parallels to Stand Alone Complex, the series does set itself up to be judged for its thoughtfulness and intelligence. By creating opportunity to track alliances and ideologies and deduce how to interpret events, the series gives its viewer a chance to think through the proceedings. While there is a desire to see d'Eon bring the murderer to justice, it is not an obvious given fact that he is advancing an agenda that should hold the viewer's sympathy. This ambiguity is one of the more intriguing aspects of this early stage of the anime, especially given that concerns like the use of torture, and religion in statecraft certainly have current-day relevance. There is a suggestion in these episodes that the viewer may be called to judge the values of the protagonists, and not just condemn the antagonist, but possibly the heroes as well. Comparing the work to Stand Alone Complex, the transition from sci-fi to alternate history is a significant one. Not everyone is going to be able to get excited about pre-revolution France, and those can may still be turned off by elements of Chevalier d'Eon. Given the traditions it leverages, some may find the work to be "cheesy". Le Chevalier D'Eon's plot does feature magic, or at least some sort of supernatural mix of Christian mythacism, pagan ritual and alchemy. This is done in a very visual, inescapable, potentially laughable way. The series is a bit melodramatic, and it does have a significant shoujo influence. It might precede the shoujo classic Rose of Versailles on a historical timeline, but Chevalier d'Eon can't help but recall the previous work to mind. Beyond the time period, the issue of mutable gender links the two works together, and links shared lineage back to one of the earliest shoujo works, Tezuka's Princess Knight. It's also interesting to question to which audience the look of the series is intended to appeal. It's difficult not to speculate that the impetus for the series might owe plenty to the interest in the rococo aesthetic, tied to loligoth fashion. By the same token, the anime opens itself to distancing an audience looking for a magical, Rose of Versailles. Lia is presented as a paragon of competence. It is explicitly stated that she would have known what to do where her brother and the male characters stumble. Additionally, the series has its share of female characters with power or influence over the circumstances of the work. Yet the characters making the decisions, who are the focus of the drama are uniformly male. There is an effort to ensure that the women who are victems of the murderer aren't completely faceless, a move that isn't entirely successful. Chevalier d'Eon was directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi, who has had an eclectic career going back to work on Urusei Yatsura (the series that produced Mamoru Oshii among other notables) and including Ruruoni Kenshin, the well animated if goofy Fatal Fury anime, You're Under Arrest, the terribly cute Bincho-tan, and World War II military alternate history Zipang. Employing robust details, it might be more difficult to work in history than in future/sci-fi. In many cases, the library of current design can be used with a few highlights of speculative machinery. In Chevalier d'Eon, Furuhashi has to build the distinct world of Louis XV's France from the palaces to the urban centers to strange underground passages, he has to animate convincing character drama, and he has to animate rapier sword play. The work is too ambitious for everything to succeed flawlessly, and there are effects that stand out too starkly as effects, but, as a whole, Furuhashi wondrously realizes a historical setting is that is both real and bent into fantasy. Chevalier d'Eon shows signs that it is a work that Production I.G has been building towards. The studio's Heian period pieces, Otogi Zoshi, and especially Kai Doh Maru were experimental works that felt out the boundaries of digital animation. Few, if any, major anime production studios haven't integrated 3D objects and 2D characters or begun freely spinning camera angles. After projects like Kai Doh Maru, Production I.G evidently learned from their work and the studio's animators have settled on effective ways utilize the to the new tool kit. Shots are composed in such a way as to leave the impression of the 3D object without allowing it to dominate the image and distract from the more important elements, namely the characters. Camera movements are adjusted for the space and circumstances, so a fast zoom might capture the crushing impact of suddenly opening into a large court yard, while arced pans capture the jittery impulse of reacting to movements in small spaces. Otogi Zoshi and Kai Doh Moru did feature interesting use of fog and very radical lighting effects, but Chevalier d'Eon largely departs from what was done in the previous works. The anime is certainly very conscious of the presence of light, with different looks depending on whether the characters are situated in direct daylight, or tavern, or a catacomb. The lighting effects don't dominate the scene they way that they may have in Production I.G's Heian works, but the series is conscious of shading its characters to reflect the quantity of light available, move this shading as the light and the characters move, and use the available light to contribute to the mood of the moment. Ruruoni Kenshin's most frantically deadly fight scenes come to mind seeing Chevalier d'Eon's choreography. Neither speed or complexity are sacrificed as the characters fence their deadly chess matches. The physical and mental effort of the exchanges are captured as blades meet, bend and re-direct. Plenty of cinematic flare is brought to the fights. This is introduced in effects: such as animated the wound spurts from corpses with quicksilver for blood, from situation: such as running across roof tops, or through the spectacular improbable: such as a sword breaker snapping a blade, sending its hilt across a room to cut open another attackers face. Camera angles both flip to first person perspective for a sense of the moments danger, then reposition to an ideal vantage point for the sword play. In this first set of episodes, Chevalier d'Eon offers several hard to beat candidates for the year's top anime action sequences. The series lives up to the expectation and opportunity to create a real environment. The foundations are set by characters wearing distinctive military and court regalia. With ladies competing for attention, the background is full of colorful, distinct gowns. This plays into the thread that the series is set in what is literally a gilded age. The palace of Versailles' exterior might as well be Xanadu with bright stucco walls, highlighted by 3d fountains with tastefully integrated spouting water effects. Inside, objects like a ornate Baroque desk are equally stunning. Moving away from the court, Paris looks like a study in contradictions, with high architecture, such as its arches, off set by the signs of a working economy, with people constantly moving and transporting goods along the river. Further still, the anime brings its protagonists in catacombs, adorned with Hermetic statuary. Yet, the anime is never tied down by the images. A scene context are established quickly enough, then, there might be a complex background element located in the frame, but never is this composed in such a way as to distract from the main action. Unless you are completely off-put by the look and feel of the 18th century, Chevalier d'Eon is an anime that strongly warrants a look. It approaches an environment that is rarely animated. It presents characters with intriguing moral complexity. It leaves open room for interpretation. It offers blazingly exciting action. What more can one hope for in anime?

Anime Spotlight Fate/Stay Night Volume 1: Advent of the Magi Released by Geneon

Those looking for a teen driven fantasy work with swords clashing, attention to character composition and world mystery will find that Fate/Stay Night meets their expectations. Beyond filling a needs of a genre-predisposed audience, Fate/Stay Night succeeds or fails in its character interactions and in its construction of an intriguing mythology. There is a serviceable, very present fantasy action quotient to the work, but given that the battles themselves are gradually introduced and not terribly emphasized, the series is not raising expectations as an strictly action driven work. While blades are traded, the anime is trying to offer sharp characters in complex moral situations. With that intention, the problem is less in what Fate/Stay Night is, and more in what it could be. Ultimately, the anime is missing relevancy and real daring. There are indicators that the anime intentionally remains distanced from real world concerns and yet the expectation that the work should have a foot planted on the ground isn't entirely inappropriate. Fate/Stat Night might not be Ghost in the Shell, but it's not Shonen Jump either (the manga adaptation appeared in Shonen Ace, which habitually hosts vaguely older age targeted material, such as Welcome to the NHK and Guyver). In a tradition that includes the works of creators like Leiji Matsumoto and Osamu Tezuka, who brought real concerns to works for younger audiences, a work for a teen audience that detaches its morality is disappointing. Fate/Stay Night is derived from a brand of source material that is not widely consumed in North America. The anime is an adaptation of an eroge visual novel from the popular maker of such works, Type-Moon. De-jargoned: it's based on an interactive, scripted story PC game with sexual content (the format and audience was tweaked for a Playstation version). Stripped of its sexual edge for its anime incarnation, Geneon rates the title 13+, and while it might be a bit violent for that rating, the presence of sexual material is not an issue. Despite that omission, the anime is covered in the thumb prints of its origin. An anime based on a fighting video game is generally going to have the marks of an anime based on a fighting video game, and an anime based on an eroge visual novel is generally going to have the marks of an eroge visual novel. This factor doesn't eliminate the possibility of an engaging work. Maybe because, in theory, visual novels are more plot and character based, visual novels have a better chance at working coherently as anime than something like fight games. In Fate/Stay Night, a map of possible relationships between the protagonists and the female characters around him can easily be drawn: there's the obvious choice in the challenging relationship with the mental match, complex peer, but there is also already the young demure, attentive girl, the older, wild woman and possibly a few others. However, the course of action is a bit more exclusionary and decision tree based than in what is described as a harem show, Love Hina or Negima for example. Similarly, while the series is evidently packed with back-story, mysteries and internal mythology, this has the flavor of game background. All the magic and fantasy has the marking of statistics and rules operating vaguely concealed beneath the surface. The series starts off in an average Japanese community, in which magic wielding mages operate in secret. As it opens, Shirou knew that his biological parents died in a strange fire that almost took him as well. Shirou knew that his now deceased adopted father confided in Shirou that the man himself was a mage. And, Shirou knew that while he had the unnatural ability to read the properties of an object by touch, he didn't have the skills and powers of a mage. But, events propel Shirou into taking an active role in the fifth Grail War, in which magi "Masters" summon legendary hero "Servants" (so far, Heracles and a very non-Gaelic looking Cu Chulainn have been identified) from one of seven "Classes" to do battle. Shirou finds himself bound to a young woman in an improbable plated gown from the powerful Saber class. If the concept sounds like Yu-Gi-Oh meets Dungeons and Dragons, the anime actually enforces the perception with its mode of presenting fights. The weapons move with motion trails and spark on impact. High jumps and side-step like dodges add to a cumulative effect that looks very video game-like. Though, the positive side to this approach is that the anime takes great pain to ensure that the characters look distinctive in action. A fleet swordsperson who can run across impossibly thin surfaces moves and acts far differently than a pavement cracking juggernaut. Yet, portraying combat characteristics still bows to storytelling conceits; a killer implausibly pauses before doing the deed. Fate/Stay Night is showy in measures. As with other recent Studio DEEN series, a stark, bright color scheme adds sharpness to duller moments. Moments where little is happening or character design is over-conventional are given some vibrancy by the gleam of the coloring. However, this does not protect the anime from its strangely transparent animation short cuts, such as not animating character's mouth movements while they are speaking. Fate/Stay Night makes the effort to establish well realized personalities and moral composition for its characters. There are some who might be thinly defined. The characters who seem to have been used as secondary love interests in the game (caretaker-girl and wild-woman for example) seem suspect. The two chief "Servants" don't have quite as much to say as their "Masters" and seem to be more static as characters, but they do offer an interesting perspective. Saber is fun to watch, not just in her overboard dead-pan military manner (which includes an interesting Spartan way of expressing values: "hunger is the enemy", "extravagance is the enemy", ect.), but also because of her vehement pursuit of the Grail War. She pursues other "Masters" and "Servants" with almost homicidal intent, but she positively refuses to attack uninvolved parties. The "Masters" is where the series puts itself out for praise or criticism. Death Note fans should enjoy the presence of the secondary "Master" in the story, Rin Tosaka. Applying knowledge, determination and a broad and analytical mind, she's far more interesting to watch than Shirou. She isn't entirely stumbling into events. She is using her head in addition to her heart. When she makes a decision, there are a host of personality facets to weigh. She knowingly entered into the Grail War, prepared to be responsible for the death of innocent third parties in order to achieve her goal. As a thematic compass for the series, Shirou is huge trouble. His defining characteristic is that he has a super-hero complex. He sees the world through Batman/Superman/Spider-man lenses. Despite the warnings of adults, adults who had experienced the cruelties of the world, Shirou has refused to give up the life's goal of "saving everyone." To paraphrase one character, cute for a kid, scary, possibly indicative of a mental disorder, for a teenager. At its best, this approach could be, and is, used as in convoluted attempt to introduce reluctance and complicate morality in the hero's quest. When a character points out that Shirou should embrace the Grail War, because in its carnage he can finally become a hero, the implications would suggest a unique perspective for the series. Unfortunately, the series actively rejects real responsibility. Shirou scoffs when a character suggests he ought to find a concrete direction for his life, such as joining the Japan Self-Defense Forces. Prior to the Grail War business, how does Shirou back his professed vision? Not political activism, fighting AIDS in Africa, protecting the environment, or supporting the disenfranchised. He altruistically cleans rooms for other school clubs and fixes their equipment. He takes on extra tasks in his part time job. Nor does he dream of changing the world. His concept of saving lives seems to be rescuing people from burning buildings. Worse than this status quo approach, the direction of the anime's process seems to be that Shirou is setting himself up for a disappointment. Not that he should tackle real goals, but that approaching life with the hope of helping everyone is a folly. Anime fans suggest that that the medium is revolutionary, but is anyone really surprised that Fate/Stay Night is so safe in its approach to the world? Maybe the criticism isn't entirely fair. On some level the anime was driven by the popularity of the original game. While Fate/Stay Night's approach to fantasy storytelling is far from meritless, does the world really need a work that sets up unrealistic expectations for the world, then suggests that one is better off caring less?

Anime Spotlight: Utawarerumono Volume 1 Released by ADV Films

Late in the first volume, Utawarerumono fires up and evokes the spirit and energy of large scale battle fantasy. The work has suggested that when it mobilizes, it can put a sizable contingent of characters into the same engagement. The anime shows signs of not being an especially high budget work, but at these times, it at least hit the ceiling of its limitations. Unfortunately, the anime also indicates a bit of mental dullness in these moments by running afoul of prescriptions against the inclusion of children and animals. In fact, if the anime was going to establish is roots as a strategy game, the sudden, pivotal appearance of a child on a tiger, even if the event was foreshadowed, is quite a knock on the credibility. Like Fate/Stay Night, Utawarerumono, or the anime almost known as Shadow Warrior, is based on an eroge PC game which became a Playstation game. This time the developer was Leaf, of ToHeart and ComicsParty renown, and the game was known for its strategy RPG elements. Utawarerumono kicks off in a promising manner with opening animation that showcases a large cast in a large mythic battle. However, the immediate impression one might get from Utawarerumono is a bit underwhelming. The Ainu references in the costuming hints at an intriguing fresh direction, but in some ways its character design is undercooked. A combination of noticeably light details and soft, loosely defined largely nondistinct faces suggests an effort that isn't entirely fleshed out. It's not free like Crayon Shinchan or Dead Leaves, but like an underdeveloped manga artist. Maybe a writer-artist who is more talented as the former than the later. This weakness in character design is representative of the character of the anime has a whole. In its visual design and world building, the work is plagued by a proclivity to present aspects that have great potential, but which are kept uninspiring by bad decisions or fractured implementation. It doesn't so much seem disappointing, as it seems potentially better in more talented hands or tighter source material. The effort to construct an elaborate fantasy world recalls the yardstick of such endeavors, 12 Kingdoms. Utawarerumono's setting is believable as a video game world. It's populated by villages, forts and castles to be the object of quests, missions or plot. Attempts to build functioning oligarchies and refugee populations are too full of rote stereotypes and too lacking in details to be believable. The burly woodsmen and more than anything, the succession of round governors suggest game non-player characters more than anything else. Despite the intriguing hints of Ainu influence, that the anime has shown no signs of building something strange and new out of its world, a counterproductive fault that makes it feel almost sterile. The perspective of the early narrative closely suggests its origin. The hero wakes up without memory being cared for by a young woman and her grandmother. He quickly greets a pair of discoveries with mild surprise. First, that he has a strange horned masked covering his face. Second, that unlike him, the population of the small village all have fuzzy animalistic ears and tails. With video game like exposition, the villagers relate their personal histories to the stranger. The grandmother gives the man the clothes and name of her dead son, Hakuoro. Leading the villagers against a threatening wild animal, Hakuoro is not only rapidly integrated into the community, but becomes a leader. What works allowing a gamer to feel out a world and a system doesn't work introducing a viewer to an anime's cast. The back and forth minor tasks and small quests is be underwhelming. Over the course of these episodes, the series shows that it has nothing new to say about interactions with good natured drunks, hot head swordsmen, or sick children. Yet, before the volume concludes, it builds to a Sparticus/Brave Heart scenario. Of the recently released anime, few have had opening volumes that have finished as strongly as Utawarerumono. A plot driven cascade of events seems to be ensuring that Hakuoro isn't just a village big man, but a general. If the series does follow the elements of a fantasy, strategy game, and favor these over the ineffective fantasy world exploration, it become could solid, novel anime series. A volume into the work, Utawarerumono doesn't look like it is brilliant, but it doesn't seem like it will abuse the viewer's expectations either.

Awards

Anime News Network reports that Toki wo Kakeru Shojo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) won the Animation Award at the 61st Annual Mainichi Film Contest. Tekkon Kinkreet (Black and White) received the Obuji Noburo Award for innovation. The live action Death Note won the Tsutaya Movie Fan Award for Best Japanese Film. Nausicaa.net and GhibliWorld report that Goro Miyazaki's Tales from Earthsea has been awarded two distinctions from the 2006 Bunshun Raspberry Awards in the catagories of one for worst film and worst director. ComiPres reports that the winners of 52nd Shogakukan Manga Awards are: Children's Category: - Kirarin Revolution by An Nakahara Serialized in Ciao (Shogakukan) Boys' Category: - Kekkaishi by Yellow Tanabe Serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday (Shogakukan) Girls' Category: - 7 Seeds by Yumi Tamura Serialized in Flowers (Shogakukan) General Category: - Bengoshi No Kuzu by Iura Hideo Serialized in Big Comic Original (Shogakukan) Judging Committee Special Award: - Kimagure Concept by Hoi Choi Production Serialized in Big Comic Spirits (Shogakukan) Also, the best erotica awards here

Trailers and Previews

A trailer for the live action adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's samurai horror Dororo is online here Ikimashou.net points out that Universal has licensed the film Twitch looks at the trailer for the live action adaptation of Freesia here. From AnimeNation: Two Hear OVA 2 Moonlight Milein 500K and 1Mb Ichigo Marshmallow OVA in narrowband and broadband The site for Chouju Kishin Dancouga Nova is open. The Sousei no Aquarion < a href="http://www.aquarion.info/news/">site reflects the OVA. Haré+Guu Television Broadcast Scheduled AnimeNation reports that the surreal comedy Haré+Guu television series will air on the FUNimation Channel beginning January 29th.

OverDrive Anime Announced

AnimeNation reports Japanese publisher Kodansha has announced that Yasuda Tsuyoshi's bicycle racing manga series OverDrive will be adapted into an anime television series.

Domo-Kun Schedule

Anime News Network reports that Domo-Kun, the famous toothy brown monster will be appearing on Nickelodeon this fallas a series of 2 minutes shorts. The series was co-produced with Polygon Pictures. The series' official website, domonation.com, will launch "in the coming weeks."

Geneon Sets and Premieres

From Anime on DVD 03/13/2007 Human Crossing Box Set $39.98 Stellvia Complete Tin Set $99.98 03/27/2007 Ai Yori Aoshi/Ai Yori Aoshi-Enishi Complete Set $59.98 Gate Keepers/Gate Keepers 21 Complete Set $79.98 The release Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales volume one has been moved to 04/17/2007

FUNimation Announce Ragnarok Anime

FUNimation has kick off a week of only announcments with the revelation that the company has licensed Ragnarok, the 26-episode anime series based off the popular MMORPG, from GDH.

To Heart Release Moved

Right Stuf has moved the release of the first volume of To Heart to March 27. Right Stuf's release of the 13 episode series will feature a complete video restoration. Based on one of Japan’s most popular games, To Heart follows childhood friends Akari and Hiroyuki, and their classmates, as they deal with life’s everyday – and not-so-everyday – dramas. This tale of love, relationships and friendship has been a fan favorite since its 1999 Japanese television debut, and perceptive American fans may recognize the series from its numerous “cameos” in the best-selling Comic Party anime.

Merchandise News

Figures.com has a review of Kotobukiya's Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Cloud and Sephiroth statues here Max Toy Company will be releasing soft vinyl booska kaiju. Upcoming releases from the Organic Hobby distribution of Kaiyodo's REVOLTECH include Griffon from Patlabor and GR-2 from Giant Robo, seen here South Island's Fullmetal Alchemist figures can be seen here PVC statues AAAAanime here/ New pictures of Organic Hobby's Round-Vernian FAM-RV- L7 - Dillfam and Goldran can be seen here Organic Hobby and CM’s Corporation Brave Gokin 07 AV-98 Ingram 01 & 02 can be seen here. To be released in Japan, a Transformers Soundwave MP3 player, seen here

Upcoming Bang Zoom! Show

English language dub production studio Bang Zoom! Entertainment has announced that it will be releasing review video show starting February 15th. The show will be available through itunes, youtube, revver, bliptv, vsocial, and goanimetv.com. Johnny Yong Bosch (AKIRA, TRIGUN, BLEACH) will be its host. See www.gonanimetv.com for more.

TOKYOPOP on 12 Kingdoms Novels

TOKYOPOP will release the first novel of The Twelve Kingdom fantasy series under their Pop Fiction banner. The novels by Fuyumi Ono were adapted into a popular anime series. The hard cover edition of The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow, with English translation by Alexander O. Smith (Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy X), is priced at $16.99 and will make its U.S. debut March, 2007.

$1000 Cosploy Contest

Wasabi Anime has announced that they will award a $1000 grand prize for their costume contest at FX Toy Show & Convention at the Orlando County Convention Center on Saturday January 27th, 2007. The contest is sponsored in part by he long running Central Florida Japanese animation convention JACON. Entrants must all be attendees of the FX Toy Show & Convention to participate. The three categories participants can compete in are: Prizes will be awarded for best of each category, and a $1000 Grand Prize ($500 cash and $500 to be spent at the convention) will be given away to for the overall best of show. Complete rules and details can be found at www.WasabiAnime.com.

Tactics Volume Three Release

Anchor Bay Entertainment and Manga Entertainment weill Tactics: Volume 3 of Studio Deen's Tactics, featuring Episodes 11 through 15 on January 23rd. Kantaro Ichinomiya and his team of monsters and demons are back solving supernatural mysteries. Haruka, the Demon-Eating Goblin, questions his reliance on the team, while simultaneously growing closer to them. The fox demon Yoko, heiress Suzu Etogawa, Sugino the White Goblin and wife Muuchan are also back for more thrilling magical mysteries for our intrepid band to decipher including: Kantaro and Haruka, in trying to discover the cause behind the mysterious deaths in Suzuku’s village, realizes the menace is closer to home than they feared; After the female president of a trading company hires the team to solve a ghost problem, her attentions turn to Haruka. But what exactly are her true intentions? An army unit disappears after their discovery of a missing battleship deep in the dense forest. Kantaro is hired to solve the mystery and encounter a trap to ensnare Haruka; Kantaro’s editor becomes possessed after she is absorbed into an ancient book in the archives. However, the team will need to find more subtle ways to save her; The Tactics: Volume 3 DVD boasts the following invigorating episodes: 11. Will of the Winds: Part Two 12. Roses and Tengu 13. The Nightmare in the Sea of Trees 14. The Woman Who Loved Books 15. Chorus of Cicada Signals the Passing of Summer Bonus features on the Tactics Volume 3 DVD includes: • Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1), enhanced for 16x9 widescreen TVs • Original Japanese TV Commercials • Original Japanese Merchandise Ads • English and Japanese Language: Dolby Surround 5.1 • English and Japanese Language: Dolby Surround 2.0 • Still Gallery • TV spots • Original Music Video "Premonition Infinity"

Mr. Reaper's Really Bad Morning

Kevin D.A. Kurytnik and Carol Beecher's experimental cartoon Mr. Reaper's Really Bad Morning is now available on DVD. In the 21st century Mr. George Reaper has become your average 9 to 5 working stiff, eking out an ineffectual existence, reduced to a pale shade of his former glorious self. The film has him wake up, get ready for work, wait for a bus and suffer humiliation at the hands of Norman the Daisy. The film is in four parts with a prologue and is structured using Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The DVD can be acquired at www.mrgeorgereaper.com, or, if you are from the Calgary area, at Megatunes, Words and Pictures UofC, Phoenix Comics and Another Dimension Comics.

Jodorowsky Films on DVD

In non-anime news, ABKCO Films and Anchor Bay Entertainment will release Alejandro Jodorowsky’s trio El Topo, The Holy Mountain and Fando Y Lis, on DVD May 1, 2007. The films have been fully restored and remastered, will be available as a special limited edition collector’s box set featuring exclusive rare bonus materials. The box set will be available for an SRP of $49.98, with El Topo and The Holy Mountain also available separately at $24.98 each. From ABKCO's description: Originally released in 1970, El Topo quickly caught the imagination of movie audiences, becoming a landmark in independent film-making. The early screenings at New York’s Elgin Theater sparked the Midnight Movie phenomena, catalyzed by an endorsement from John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Classic Americana and avant-garde European sensibilities collide with Zen Buddhism and the Bible as master gunfighter and mystic El Topo (played by writer/director Alejandro Jodorowsky) tries to defeat four sharp-shooting rivals on a bizarre path to allegorical self-awareness and resurrection. As it seeks an alternative to the Hollywood mainstream, El Topo is also the most controversial quasi-Western head trip ever made! Jodorowsky’s high budget follow up effort, The Holy Mountain, takes his psychedelic allegorical mastery to another level. Grotesque, mystical and sacrilegious, it is an excursion into the meaning of earthly wealth and immortality. Rounding out this unique set is Jodorowsky’s first full-length feature film, Fando Y Lis. Based on Jodorowsky's memories of a play by surrealist Fernando Arrabal, it caused an uproar in the avant-garde community when it premiered in 1967 in Acapulco. Among the extras included in this collector’s box is previously unseen footage, a feature on the restoration process, an exclusive interview with Jodorowsky, optional director commentary tracks, subtitles, two special CDs of the films’ soundtracks and a separate DVD of the first film ever made by Jodorowsky, La Cravate.

American Born Chinese First Graphic Novel To Win Printz Award

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (First Second Books, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press) is the first graphic novel to receive the prestigious Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature, announced today by the Young Adult Library Services Association at the American Library Association's midwinter conference in Seattle. In addition to the Printz Award, American Born Chinese was nominated for a National Book Award for excellence in Young People's Literature in 2006, and was the first graphic novel ever to be nominated in any category the award's 57 year history. Other accolades include: Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2006; a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year; a Booklist Editor's Choice Book; a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year; an NPR Holiday Pick, and Best Graphic Novel/Comic of the year by Amazon.com.

Worth Checking Out....

ComiPress translates a piece on the cost of manga production here The Beat has tracked down the origin of the manga-esque Simpsons image floating around the net. Creator Spacecoyote also had some interesting comments about future projects on their post on deviantART page. Sci-Fi Japan has a 2006 tokusatsu year in review here. From Anime on DVD's forums, drama in the English dubbing business. Newsarama has a preview of Doug TenNapel's (Earth Worm Jim) upcoming graphic novel Gear at here. GEAR was optioned by Nickelodeon. AniPages Daily looks at Amazing Nuts here Right Stuf's Anime Today podcast has included an interview with Carl Macek of Robotech fame. Production I.G features an interview with Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society sequence director Toshiyuki Kono here. Anime News Network points out that UGO.com has posted an interview with GDH International VP for Creative Affairs Eric Calderon concerning Afro Samurai Space Station Liberty will interview Last Unicorn author Peter S. Beagle live on January 24th. Twitch looks at Battle of Wits on DVD here. The New York Times looks at the work to animate Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis here JSDF Mascots here Rivkah (of Steady Beat fame) fame has posted her Batgirl sketches here Finally, what happens when a video game references an anime famous for referencing, among other things, video games, here

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Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 23, 2007, 8:09 a.m. CST

    Where the Hentai damnit?!

    by Ricky Henderson

    Kill. this. column.

  • Jan. 23, 2007, 9:55 a.m. CST

    hey ricky

    by aestheticity

    choke yourself.

  • Jan. 23, 2007, 10:12 a.m. CST

    Naruto is Ending its Filler Arcs

    by DarfurOnTheRocks

    Now that is news!

  • Jan. 23, 2007, 10:13 a.m. CST

    Initial-D 5th Stage?

    by DarfurOnTheRocks

    When is that coming out?

  • Jan. 23, 2007, 10:37 a.m. CST

    I've been wanting to check out Chevalier!

    by Johnno

    Great job Scott! And speaking of fillers, Bleach has already ended it's fillers and gotten back into the good ol' manga storyline... though it's also trying to work in filler events and characters, but it's kept to a minimum that doesn't affect the story line and I think they'll phase it out until such a time comes when they will have to do more filler... I hope not though... but the filler towards the end was pretty entertaining at times.

  • Jan. 23, 2007, 10:37 a.m. CST

    9th

    by darthhirsty

    thats all

  • Jan. 23, 2007, 10:38 a.m. CST

    or 8th even

    by darthhirsty

    again. thats all.

  • Jan. 23, 2007, 10:44 a.m. CST

    That Manga-style SIMPSONS and more

    by Harry Weinstein

    That SIMPSONS picture is just plain wrong. Very disturbing, I wish I could un-see that. Also, classy touch hyping the Alejandro Jodorowsky box that's coming up. I'd say it's off-topic, but Jodorowsky will just bend reality to his liking anyway, thus eliminating primitive concepts such as "topic", so it's irrelevant. And finally, ADV once again establishes their own fucktardedness (as if it had not already been set in stone) by not including the logical French dub for Le Chevalier d'Eon. How's that "fixed" 2009: LOST MEMORIES coming along, fucktards? Yeah, I hold grudges like most people treasure the warm comfort of true love.

  • Jan. 23, 2007, 11:01 a.m. CST

    Also, Best Animated Feature Oscar nominations -

    by Harry Weinstein

    - what a fucking joke, apparently someone, or several someones, lobbied HARD to keep ARTHUR AND THE INVISIBLES out of the running due to "excessive use of live-action" - had it been eligible, there would have been enough eligible films to expand the field from three to five under the retarded rules that are in place for the category. Yet somehow, A SCANNER DARKLY didn't make "excessive use of live action", never mind that it was just a digitally rotoscoped live action movie. In a field of five films, PAPRIKA would have easily strolled off with the award, due to DOC HOLLYWOOD and MARCH OF THE PENGUINS splitting most of the vote and MONSTER HOUSE and SCANNER picking up small but statistically significant percentages. Fix the fucking rules for this category already. 15 films means three nominees, 16 means five? That makes a whole lot of no sense. The biggest joke since the year TRON was deemed ineligible for Best Visual Effects due to excessive use of animation.

  • Jan. 23, 2007, 11:01 a.m. CST

    Not like Naruto is worth watching anyway

    by WarpedElements

    MMmm...DBZ with ninjas. Also includes screaming out the name of the attack and 5 episode long fights that should take 10 minutes. Also, just a heads up, Final/Stay Night is set in the same universe as "Lunar Legend Tsukihime" (Worth checking out as well). Where the fark is my Hellsing OVA 3 Trailer for God's sake? It comes out in 2 weeks!

  • Jan. 23, 2007, 11:12 a.m. CST

    Paprika not being eligible...

    by Johnno

    Perhaps has to do with the fact that it is still to be released in US theatres... so this hurts its eligibility I think... But yeah it sucks hard that with sub-par looking competition from the US animation industry this year that it isn't going to be recognized... I watched Pixar's 'Cars' and while it's enjoyable on a level, it's the same exact film you've seen done over and over again, only with cars instead of people...<br><br> The biggest joke I've ever seen the Academy pull is not nominating the Matrix sequels for VFX awards, and also not nominating its 'Final Flight of the Osiris' for best animated short, because it was deemed to be advertising for a video game...

  • Jan. 23, 2007, 11:32 a.m. CST

    Production IG...

    by Judge Dredds Dirty Undies

    Should be making stuff with giant robots, sexy cyborgs and big guns not some period fucking shit. Call me ignorant if you like, but fuck that shit man!

  • Jan. 23, 2007, 11:59 a.m. CST

    OT: Connery considering a return as Henry Jones Sr

    by Gorrister

    Didn't see this posted on AICN yet, so I thought I'd mention it since we talk about Indy 4 a lot on this site. Article is at: http://news.scotsman.com/entertainment.cfm?id=106882007

  • Jan. 23, 2007, 12:53 p.m. CST

    Work checking out

    by landosystem

    Apparently that last section is work to look at, I'm tired just thinking about it.

  • Jan. 23, 2007, 3 p.m. CST

    Wrong About Naruto

    by DarfurOnTheRocks

    Sorry, the fights in DBZ are more like 10 episodes long... Naruto does have a solid storyline. And the general universe is well constructed. But I understand that some Manga and Anime elitists don't like it.....Go Akira! J/K!

  • Jan. 23, 2007, 7:40 p.m. CST

    damn after post editing

    by landosystem

    now my joke=no funny no more...

  • Jan. 23, 2007, 10:30 p.m. CST

    Did the Bleach manga end?

    by There Are Twelve Models

    Didn't the mangaka go on to make Zombie Powder? Does that mean he stopped making Bleach? Is it possible for one guy to work on two series? And yeah, Naruto fillers are ending. I'm looking forward to finally seeing Kakashi gaiden animated. As much fun as speed lines are, it's easier to enjoy a fight when the pictures actually move.

  • Jan. 24, 2007, 6:25 a.m. CST

    re: Did the Bleach manga end?

    by ScottGreen

    No, the Bleach manga is still ongoing. It's in the middle of a new split up and fight arc. Zombie Power/Powder came before Bleach. Kubo Tite and Shonen Jump actually had some trouble with the series lack of popularity and it was cut off prematurely 4 volumes in.