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AICN Anime-Avril Lavigne's Make 5 Wishes, The Drifting Classrom and Other Shocking Horror

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OEL Spotlight: Avril Lavigne's Make 5 Wishes by Camilla D'Errico and Joshua Dysart Released by Del Rey

Make 5 Wishes is a disturbingly well constructed comic. With a current spin on a classic story, the Monkey's Paw specifically, powerful metaphors, and fascinating character gradations, Make 5 Wishes is by far the most compelling work that grafts a popular name from North American media onto the style of anime or manga. Effective portraits of young characters are integrated with elements of horror that are daringly in ways that are relevant and matter. The results will get under your skin in a manner that is bound to surprise anyone who might have low expectations for a comic built around the idea of putting Avril Lavigne into OEL manga. It's not transcendently demented in the manner of the great horror manga, like Kazuo Umezu's or Hideshi Hino's, but it does raise the standards for the quality story telling applied to a project of this scope. The reality in this fantasy drama can be quite dark, and like an Umezu work, there is the exciting feeling that the comic you just read snuck something into the work that was both consequential and challenged the accepted. With the increasing popularity of what were traditionally geek media, efforts to create hits by cross pollinating with other media have become more prevalent and more successful. On the video game front, Barbie's Horse Adventure for the Xbox might be a punch line, but it is also a great seller. More recently, Hanna Montana has been one of the best selling Nintendo DS games of 2007. The host of dismissive comments posted online in reaction to Make 5 Wishes' announcement of an Avril Lavigne comic under a manga imprint stand as a good example of how these works offend the traditional fan sensibility. Especially on the anime/manga front, past output has provided reason enough to be suspect. By capturing the drama of a young character's life with a tone that is not childish, Make 5 Wishes has the potential to be provocative for any audience. Tying itself into the apprehensions of horror, there is a very present worry about the consequences of channeling youthful frustration into fantasy. However, the comic also establishes itself as dark and credible by funneling the same frustrations into chillingly believable, ordinary outlets. Its heroine Hanna is an unnoticed girl. As she puts it, she wishes she could change everything about her life, which she likens to a house fly beating itself to death, repeatedly smacking into the invisible barrier of a window. At school, she is not much as bullied as an object of mild contempt. Noting that she doesn't have the motivation to turn in papers or interact, her peers murmur about the possibility that she might be mentally impaired. At home, she is confronted by her parents' loudly fracturing marriage. In a positive sense, she is uplifted by Avril Lavigne’s music, but she also copes by seeking her teachers and classmates online and inventing identities that could be used against them when and if she chose. Her parents notice that she is suffering in her isolation. Her father asks that she at least confronts him with what she sees as his faults. Her mother enrolls her in a program where she will talk to an lonely, elderly man. At the same time, her online wanderings take her to the "Make 5 Wishes" site. After wavering for a while, she eventually succumbs to the temptation. Sending away for its offer, she receives a package containing a little red imp, a bit little a stubby devil, a bit line an oni, a bit anime mascot-ish and a bit like a Polynesian carving. The depth of Hanna's unhappiness and her parents' unhappiness and touches like her internet time-bombs give Make 5 Wishes a heavy gravity. The comic hits with a lot quickly, but that quick pace, in contrast to sprawling serialized manga, allows for empathy without tiring of Hanna's woes. Make 5 Wishes taps into the two great ideas prevalent throughout popular manga: wish fulfillment and control. In manga, the approach finds compelling links between problems and desires. No one would like be an orphan like manga's all-stars, such as Naruto, Fruits Basket's Tohru, or any of a host others, but we have all experienced their alienation to some degree and at the same time, the characters are enviable for what they do have: exciting lives, friendship, clarity of purpose. The universality of these concerns contributes heavily to how Make 5 Wishes functions. No one wants to feel as out of control of their lives as Hanna does, but thought the danger of her demon companion is obvious, the prospect of a quick fix for life’s problems is still tantalizing. While nobody wants to be Hanna, one can't help but relate to her. While no one would want to fall into the same traps she falls into, one can't help but understand her temptation. Lavigne fills an interesting niche in this story. Acting as the comic's Jiminy Cricket, the appeal of the comic is no way a function of one's opinion of Lavigne, but at the same time, the comic is without a doubt complementary to the artist. Given this relevent role, she's well served by her presence in the comic, and the comic is well served by her presence. Seeing Hanna spring to life when she thinks of Lavigne is bound to tweak a reader's emotions. One can't help but see the singer in a positive light when presented through the character's eyes. The way Hanna's admiration transforms the character, Lavigne isn't just the good angel whispering from Hanna's right shoulder, she almost functions as a cultural totem. With Lavigne's contribution to the in-story developments, one could envision this comic created with a fictional star in her place. With a real personality in that role, the comic is both more relevant, and requires one less leap to accept. Employed in this way, Lavigne's appearance in Make 5 Wishes could be compared to a story in which a character is a die-hard fan of a specific MLB team. In that manner, if that loyalty was given to a franchise like the Red Sox, the Yankees, the Twins, or some other storied club, a certain connotation would rub off on the devotee. Hanna is a well formed character, but a concept of who Lavigne still helps in shading the perception of Hanna. Leveraging the fact that Make 5 Wishes is printed in color, the comic's art is uninked. This contributes to an air of flexibility or uncertainty without making the manga look sketchy or jarring, which is a considerable factor in the impression one gets in the work as a whole. In shoujo fashion, the chief focus of the illustration is character's faces. Almost every panel has a face, whose expression contributes to the emotional mosaic of the story. Attention is paid to the locations and backgrounds, but these leave a muted impression, compared to the feelings that the character illustration are designed to evoke. Similarly, as in the bulk of shoujo, the look offers a balance between the specific and the generic. A character like Hanna is a distinct individual, whose hair style, attire, and posture dictate what a reader will think of her, but she is not over-defined. The design is abstracted enough that the reader can meet the comic half way, and apply their own impressions. As in other aspects of the comic, the illustration demonstrates faith in the reader. Color tones do shift for mood, but there is also a degree of objectivity. Characters are captured as they are in the moment. A character's thoughts might introduce some metaphor into the images, but the illustration never takes the initiative. As such, the comic lets the reader apply the implications. Hanna might be grinning ear to ear in the midst of making a tragic decision, and the illustration will let her expression dominate the image. If something terrible is about to happen in a warm, sunlit garden, it still looks like a warn, sunlit garden. Given the quality of manga/anime that have used a name to justify their existence, the fan reaction against works like Make 5 Wishes is understandable, but this work still stands as a testament to what can be done with one of these projects when professionals are brought on board. Ultimately, the emotional depth makes the comic feel important without being self-important. This was not the comic you expected would urinate on the rule book, but it turned out a lot better for going that route.

Manga Spotlight: The Drifting Classroom Volume 4 By Kazuo Umezu Released by Viz

If you haven't been reading The Drifting Classroom, you've been missing something that could be thought of as Lost meets exploitation horror, with children. As in the former, it offers mystery, study of human dynamics, and the fascination inherent in survival stories. As in the later, it offers, unbridled, innovated gruesomeness, in which the creator seems to have been challenging himself to outdo his own outrageousness. The "Parental Advisory: Explicit Content" warning on The Drifting Classroom is understandable, graphic dismemberment and children being eaten to the bone by tiny arthropods will do that, but it is a shame that few, in any, English speaking children will grow up with the experience of reading The Drifting Classroom at an impressionable age. With its adults now removed, in volume four, Kazuo Umezu has taken his apocalyptic Lord of the Flies in a provocative direction. Though he extends beyond it, fear is still omnipresent. Umezu has not let up one bit on the horror manga's full panic attack hysteria. With a primary school full of young students cast into a far future landscape, barren except for hostile flora and fauna, child endangerment has never been more pronounced. Umezu gleefully ceases upon the opportunity to drench his storytelling in a sense of immediate mortal danger. A panel where the young students' mouths are not agape, yelling, screaming, or in stunned silence is rare and significant. Though the predicament increasing looks hopeless, the progression is not just a descent into chaos. The chief development of this volume is that the series' protagonist Sho immerges as a charismatic leader, standing up and insisting on applying logic rather than giving in to instincts. Sho's ascension has been the obvious direction all along, but the depth to the crisis management and the broader implications are surprisingly substantial enough to spur thought rather than just unease and queasiness. Umezu constructs a fascinating political study, using The Drifting Classroom's wilderness as an opportunity to re-found government. In this volume, the children have elected their own prime minister, and chosen a parliament. Though the new is modeled after the old, there are explicit differences. The new leaders are the children that bristled at quietly following the rules. Almost closer to the aftermath of a revolution than a disaster, the governing body is largely comprised of what could be considered radicals. In the illustration, Umezu grabs the opportunity to throw in some of his trademark ugly mugs for this cabinet of trouble makers. Sho's constant struggle to calm the panic is both a cause for optimism and worry. While looking to the ideal, the manga tempers testaments of human spirit with bleaker reality. Both the leaders and the masses warrant mistrust and admiration. The masses' sheep like qualities and propensity for counter-productive reactions does not paint a resoundingly positive picture, but the volume's most memory moments are of bravery and self sacrifice. While it is gratifying to see a positive government grow, there are also the implied converse cases: a strong demagogue who would feed and channel the base instincts of the crowd, or the chaos in the absence of a strong figure. Despite the counter-culture idea of making the trouble makers government officials, Umezu is not entirely forward thinking. Specifically, he comes out strongly against female leaders. Sho's competition to lead the school is a female princess/gang leader who almost sways the masses by making them fear her. Not only sadistic and brutal, Umezu uses her as the object of a rather troubling lesson. Through the exposition source poindexter of the group: "girls don't make good leaders. They're too emotional and narrow minded because they can have children." Umezu's unblinking look at horror is relentless. The volume opens with a declaration of renewed assault as the school's youngest children begin leaping from the roof, believing that they will fly home to their parents. Sho holds up the crushed body of a child, and while he tries to confront those around him with the horrific realities, Umezu is performing the same task for the reader. In this particular case, shadows and the direction shields the view from some of the worst, but it is still a shattering way to open the volume. Umezu alternates between first introducing the cause and first introducing the effect, but always, there is some frightening presence that causes some gruesome carnage. Throughout of this volume, he attacks the characters with bugs: both tiny and gigantic, the distributing results of which are sure to unsettle even an entomologist.

Anime Spotlight: Full Metal Panic! Second Raid Tactical Ops 02 Tactical Ops 03 Kadokawa Pictures FUNimation

Improving from its problematic first set of episodes, Full Metal Panic! Second Raid proves to be a teen Metal Gear done right. This column blasted the first volume for its careless exploitation. The script that glibly set action against an African genocide and unironicly employed a sadistic villain abusing his incestuously involved twin underlings was so unconscious of its social and political implications as to be distracting. The later volumes still utilize the techniques of exploitation media, including razor edged violence and lingering, up close killing. Second Raid is not activist anime, nor does it need to be, but by largely avoiding pushing buttons on issues that it hasn't thought through, the series is no longer maddeningly contrary to the considerations of a thinking audience. Full Metal Panic follows the relationship between Sosuke Sagara and Kaname Chidori. The pair make for quite an odd couple, with an dynamic in which they are constantly exchanging the straight man role. Sagara is the action hero of the work. The ethnic Japanese teen was raised in a war torn Afghanistan stand-in, only becoming socialized in a military context. While he is entirely out of his element in Japanese school life, Chidori is not fully helpless is dangerous situations. The assertive young woman was able to live a relatively normal life despite the lack of close contact to any living family member. Normalcy became a struggle when the world's military forces discovered that Chidori is a "Whispered", an individual with innate insight into mysterious "Black Technology." Anime adaptations of the Full Metal Panic light novel series began with GONZO's bipolar mech action/ high school comic-drama "Full Metal Panic!" Kyoto Animation took up the franchise with Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, an entirely goofy one-off. While Kyoto Animation's Second Raid is the most action focused of the Full Metal Panic anime, the conflict started taking on meaning when intrigue within and between multi-national armies conspired to strip the protagonists of their support mechanisms. Without that crutch, the series moved the characters past the simple exchange of a nag and an automaton trading problems. These episodes find a source for valid angst in reacting against the Full Metal Panic conceit. The direction does not entirely reject the dual military/school life, but the series does play it against piercing self doubt. Both principles are forced to face the hurtle that they seem least prepared for. Chidori must face acute danger without protection. Sagara must face uncertainty about life's direction without the backing of like-minded military orders. While this demonstrates why teen military heroes are a terrible idea, forcing these characters into stressful situations proves to be a great amplifier for the series' appeal. Some of its most thrilling, rewarding action sequences, come from Chidori's resourcefulness and quick thinking when she faces danger alone. Sagara's existential conflict yields a number of crackling, heated confrontations. Satisfyingly, the characters are not only not blind to the truth of each other's faults, but express their anger in manners that suit their personalities. Character animation makes a substantial contribution to this effort. Sagara is largely a stone face mirror for reflecting other characters, but this solid baseline makes small cracks and devitions powerful. On the other hand, Chidori is far from subtle. In her comfort zone, she is a bit of a hammy character. During one conversation, her blushing, eye movements and mouth go through a tremendous cycle of changes. The animation captures each state with precision, making a sneer clearly discernable from a smile. As with Sagara, when this confidence breaks down, and she's worn out and worried, it is quite effective. The series might not feature the exaggerated details and cinematic choreography of a work like Black Lagoon, but Second Raid showcases high tension action that is reliably well executed. Movement is pushed forward at a pace that hides shortcomings. If the 3D models in a car chase aren't perfectly integrated, or the explosions effects are a bit uninspired, the deficits are brushed aside in the rush. Without getting too bogged down in reality (as in a series like Gasaraki), Full Metal Panic works to integrate military sci-fi into the combat. Exciting mech battles are built around robot--suits that fight similarly to Evangelions': combining athletic movement with mecha sized versions of small arms. With the thud as the units land, then a sprint and a close quarters duel, generally with short blades, large metal objects are brought into focus with visceral familiarity. In order to place its action on various noteworthy spots on the globe, Full Metal Panic leverages a scheme of international what-if situations. The layout is a cell phone age world still divided by a Soviet-West Cold war, with a sitting powder keg thanks to China divided by a Korea-like split across the Yangtze River. Yet, this is always addressed indirectly. The Full Metal Panic anime is not as interested in the specifics of world building as a viewer might be. While the design seems thoroughly thought through, in the course of the series it only seems present to serve the purpose of setting a playing field for global organizations to be built around and against the protagonists. Similarly, there does seem to be depth to the pseudo-science behind the Black Technology, in Second Raid, this is namely the Lambda Driver, but again, it's more of a MacGuffin than a present, explored element of the series. Thankfully, Second Raid's antagonist, Gates is marginalized in the second and third volumes. Maybe the staff realized that frenetic crazy is not the same as funny or scary. While he exhibits zany insanity: lounging in a striped body-swim suit, watching kittens on a giant monitor, killing subordinates in the course of tantrums, the expectation to find him credibly dangerous, or a humorously clownish is not as much of a factor as it was in the early episodes. For better or worse, depending on your taste/acceptance for the fundimentally disturbed under-aged killer troupe, the Terminator-deadly Chinese twins used more sparingly. In these volumes, the pair are little more than fuel for the plot, setting up situations or interacting for the benefit of establishing some point concerning another character. Keep an eye out for the Death Note cast cameo. Hint, it's in the episode where Sagara's unruly hair looks a lot like L's.

Big Dreams Little Tokyo Teaser

For more, see www.bigdreamslittletokyo.com

Japanese R2 Gedo Senki To Include English

The Japanese R2 DVD of the Studio Ghibli/Goro Miyazaki adaptation of Tales from Earthsea, Gedo Senki is schedule to English audio and subtitles. 7,875yen collector’s and 4,935yen standard editions will be released in July 4th. Due to Sci-Fi Channel's license of Earthsea, the anime cannot be released in North America until 2009. UK and Australian releases of the film are scheduled for 2007.

Media From Miyazaki TV Appearance

Conversations on Ghibli has posted an extensive selection of videos from Hayao Miyazaki's interview on NHK's "Professional" series here. Clips include Miyazaki talking through his design works and plans for his next film, Ponyo on a Cliff (Gake no Ue no Ponyo).

Illumitoon Launches Free Trade-In Program

Illumitoon Entertainment has responded to the fan reaction to the "dubtitle" scripts used for their first releases by institution a trade-in program. "Dubtitles" are video with the English dialogue superimposed over Japanese audio, as opposed to true Japanese translations of the Japanese audio. "It's something that's obviously very important to the fans, and we want to give them what they want," said Barry Watson, President/CEO of Illumitoon. "Going forward we want to incorporate literal translations on all our anime product." The trade-in program is only available through Illumitoon's website, and will not be available through retailers. Details are available at www.illumitoon.com. The trade-in offer applies to all Illumitoon DVDs released before April 30, 2007, specifically: BoBoBo-Bo BoBoBo - Bo-nafide Protector of Hair Beet the Vandel Buster - The Sacrifice B't X - Empire of the Machines Illumitoon is offering the trade-in program through 5/30/2007.

Upcoming Anime Books

Matt Alt's blog reveils that Hello, Please!: Very Helpful Super Kawaii Characters from Japan, by Alt and Hiroko Yoda will be published by Chronicle Books September 1, 2007. Anime News Network will be speaking about her upcoming "From Impressionism To Anime: Japan As Fantasy And Fan Cult In The Western Imagination" in New York on April 5. will be held at 6.30 p.m. in Room 918 of the International Affairs Building of Columbia University (420 West 118th Street, New York City). Earlier in the day, at twelve noon, she will also present a formal lecture on ""Dolls, Trainmen, and the Electric City in Millennial Japan" in the same room. From Impressionism To Anime: Japan As Fantasy And Fan Cult In The Western Imagination will be published by Palgrave Macmillan this fall.

Busou Shinki Action Figure Line Makes U.S. Debut

Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. today announced its popular Busou Shinki action figure line is now available at America comic/specialty shops and at the official Konami online store www.konami.com. Designed by leading Japanese visualists, the Busou Shinki series features proprietary "Multi Movable System" (MMS) technology that allows users to customize their figures through unique combinations of poses and interchangeable accessories. Featuring packaging and character design faithful to their original Japanese release, the Busou Shinki series lets collectors enter the futuristic world of six brave cybernetic warriors. Designed by renowned illustrators including Shinofusa Rokuro (creator of the manga Natsunokumo - Spinning Web), SHIMADA HUMIKANE (Sky Girls, Strike Witch) and BLADE, the series features six incredibly detailed and customizable figures, each with their own accessories and cybernetic battle suit. Using the proprietary MMS system, each action figure is highly poseable, allowing users to create a number of original stances without changing any of the figure's original body pieces. Each part in the Busou Shinki series is standardized, letting users transfer accessories and even body parts between figures to build their own unique collectible creation. The products carry suggested retail prices ranging from $12.99 - $34.99.

Worth Checking Out

Same Hat! Same Hat!, a blog for the edgier side of manga, has catalogued every manga that they have scanlated here Same Hat also has a YouTube's video of the anime adaptation of guro (grotesque) manga creator Suehiro Maruo's MIDORI (aka Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show) here. Finally, the brilliant Kazuo Umezu Go Nagai, the dirty uncle of manga, who innovated the giant robot and magic girl genres, and at the same time made them disturbing, talks about the intellectual, artists origin of his works here. Alt Japan pairs the inteview with this one concerning the origin of Mazinger Z, the first piloted giant robot. Patrick Macias' blog has a look at his manga contribution to Asia-Pacific Perspectives: Japan + Manga Mania issue here He also previews his reaction to Tokyo Anime Fair here AniPages Daily looks at the women behind Studio Ghibli, especially animators Makiko Futaki, Atsuko Tanaka, Masako Shinohara, and Megumi Kagawa, here Heisei Democracy looks at the buisness model of the eroge adult video game industry here ComiPress translated part two of "The Reason I Quit as a Manga Editor" here, also, an analsys of weekly manga magazine prices. MangaCast looks at manga travelogue here From Kotaku, Dragon Quest slime dinnerware. Anime Online has posted a clip of masked wrestler turned politician Great Sasuke in action here Newsarama interviews TMNT/upcoming Gatchaman director Kevin Munroe here, Make 5 Wishes' Josh Dysart and My Dead Girlfriend's Eric Wight Production I.G posted an English interview with Blood+ director Akiharu Ishii The studio has begun looking at Tachigui: The Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters with an interview with direct Mamoru Oshii here. A map of the company's movie coverage is online here The Japan Times interviewed Rieko Saibara. A look at CLAMP in 3D Land 3 here Nausicaa.net has a movie of the Hayao Miyazaki designed clock at Shiodome in Tokyohere If you haven't seen it yet, Rockman (AKA Mega-Man) doing the Haruhi Suzumiya dance here

Dark Horse Talks Translucent

Dark Horse will be releasing the first volume of Kazuhiro Okamoto's Translucent on July 18th. From the publisher's description: Shizuka has problems. Not only is she an introverted girl, dealing with schoolwork and boys, but she feels invisible. In reality, she is victim to a disease that is making her literally translucent! Shizuka finds support with Mamoru, a boy who is falling for her despite her appearance, or lack thereof. Another friend, Keiko, suffers from the same illness and has turned completely invisible. The strange disease becomes a metaphor in the ordinary lives of the students in their classes, as they work their way through romance and friendships. Teen-centric, quirky, and romantic, Translucent will appeal to shojo fans who like a little twist with their gakuen mono. Translucent's shifting variables-between what people see and wish to see-create an emotionally sensitive manga, peppered with moments of surprising humor, heartbreak, and drama.

Anime Convention News

June by Digital Manga Publishing announced that the manga licensing and publishing company will be hosting Satoru Kannagi as their industry guest for Anime Expo 2007. Satoru Kannagi is most widely known in the United States as the author of the bestselling manga and 5 volume novel series Only the Ring Finger Knows. Only the Ring Finger Knows was Digital Manga Inc.'s first yaoi manga and June is happy to celebrate the success and growth of this genre with Kannagi-sensei this summer at Anime Expo. Anime Supercon will be held in Fort Lauderdale , FL April 13-15. The show will include celebrity guests, writers, artists, bands, vendors, Q&A's, parties, costume contest, anime programming, manga, cosplay, workshops, panels and more. Nine new guests have just been added to the show, including: Jay Wade Edwards (Director/Editor/Producer of Aqua Teen Hunger Force) MC Chris (Hip Hop/Nerdcore genius and star of Aqua Teen Hunger Force) George Lowe (Star of Space Ghost and Aqua Teen Hunger Force) Artbeat (J-Rock sensation) The Ronin Taiko Drummers Kill Miss Pretty (Electro/Pop/Punk/Rock band) Baby Calendar (Pop/Punk/Rock band) Animals of the Arctic (Indie/Disco/Garage band) Brian C. Mitchell (artist) Reed Exhibitions, the organizer of New York Comic Con, has announced the creation of the New York Anime Festival (NYAF) which will take place December 7-9, 2007 at the Jacob K. Javits Center in midtown Manhattan. Show planners note that the new event will be an extravaganza featuring the latest in anime, manga, Japanese cinema, music, and games, and the best of anime-influenced comics, animation, and film from around the world. . The professional element at NYAF will include book buyers, video retailers, libraries, booksellers, and other assorted industry professionals. The festival will span the complete breadth of anime pop culture including exclusive and extensive screenings, a gala cosplay masquerade, and sessions with the biggest names in anime from Japan, Asia, and America. The event will also explore the Japanese cultural experience with a showcase of both traditional and cutting-edge Japanese cuisine, apparel, and lifestyles. NYAF will also feature the latest in manga, toys, costumes, video games, trading card games, DVDs, music, and much more on the show floor. It's not really a convention, but Production I.G's Matsuhisa Ishikawa, Lupin III creator Monkey Punch, Ryuhei Kitamura (Versus) and Lotus, Inc.'s Lotus, Inc. Hiroshi Koizumi will be speaking at the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art on April 21. See here Anime Expo and localization studio Bang Zoom! Entertainment will be presenting AX Idol 2007 during the Anime Expo 2007 anime convention (June 29, 2007-July 2, 2007). Johnny Yong Bosch (Voice Actor in TRIGUN, BLEACH and host of AnimeTV) will be hosting the event for the second year. AX Idol 2007 will be holding open "Anime Voice Acting" and "Singing" auditions for all attendees of Anime Expo 2007. Contestants will audition for industry professionals and ten will be selected to perform "live" in front a of a live audience of over 8,000+ at the Long Beach Sports Arena during the convention. "The Future Voice of Anime" AX Idol Grand Prize Winner will be invited to Bang Zoom! Studios where they will receive a tour, sit in on a recording session and have the chance to audition for an upcoming anime title. "AX Singing Idol" AX Idol Grand Prize winner will be invited to the music recording studio where English language versions of anime songs were recorded. The Grand prize winner will then record a demo with esteemed composer and American Idol music producer Chris Many. The Grand Prize Winner will also be given a chance to audition for future recordings as well as be invited to Bang Zoom! Studios where they will receive a tour, sit in on a recording session. All registrants who register before the end of April are automatically placed into the drawing. Those who have already pre-registered are also automatically entered into this drawing. Secure pre-registration can be done via online at here Fred Gallagher from the webcomic Megatokyo will be appearing at this year's Otakon. Anime Boston has added guests Hiroshi Iwata (Macross: Do You Remember Love?), Kenji Terada (Kimagure Orange Road) and Brina Palencia (Full Metal Alchemist). Dark Horse's convention schedule is online here FUNimation is launching a Summer Tour program for Beck Mongolian Chop Squad. This is a promotional event in the spirit of band tours that will feature a screening of the anime series and a downloadable promotional kit containing a poster and graphics to help promote the event at each location. The first three confirmed stops on the Summer Tour are Anime Boston, Anime Mid-Atlantic and Anime Expo. The Summer Tour for Beck Mongolian Chop Squad is a nationwide tour and is open to conventions of all sizes. Any convention/event that is interested in being included in the Summer Tour can visit www.beckanime.com for more information.

ADV News

ADV's sub-page for Ah! My Goddess season two is online here. According to Anime on DVD and Right Stuf, planned ADV collection include 07/03/2007 Gravion Season 1 & 2 Box Set (Thinpak) - $54.98 07/10/2007 Godannar Complete Collection (Thinpak) - $69.98 07/17/2007 Madlax Complete Collection (Thinpak) - $69.98

Upcoming English Translated Manga Releases

According to ICV2 Vertical's fall plans include the first volume of Keiko Takemiya's MW in September, Apollo's Song from Osamu Tezuka in October, and the first volume of Kaoru Kurimoto's The Guin Saga Manga: The Seven Magi in November. MW follows the unlikely relationship between an amoral banker and a guilt-ridden priest who witness the destruction of a small village and the subsequent governmental cover-up. The 600 page volume will feature for $24.95. Andromeda Stories (from the creator of To Terra) is describes as a man vs. machine tale where the only hope for the humans lies with twin princes, separated at birth. Each 200 page volume will retail for $13.95. Volume two is planned for December and three for spring 2008. The Guin Saga Manga: The Seven Magi adapts Kaoru Kurimoto's 100+ fantasy series. Each of the manga's three volumes will retail for $12.95 Vertical has been releasing the original novels. Again from ICV2, Aurora Publishing, the U.S. subsidiary of female-audience specialist Ohzora will be launching its manga line in June under the Aurora brand, priced at $10.95 a volume and the Deux yaoi imprint, priced at $12.95 a volume. The first of Chihiro Tamaki's four-volume Walkin' Butterfly will be released in June. Other releases includes Shoko Hamada three volume Flock of Angels and Kaoru Ohashi's two volume Nightmares for Sal.e Deux's first release will be Makoto Tateno's one volume Hate to Love You. Deux's other releases include Yugi Yamada's Spring Fever and Kazuna Uchida's I Shall Never Return. MangaBlog has learned that Yen Press will be releasing Keiko Tobe's 10 volume With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child Digital Manga Publishing will begin releasing Megami DX and Fumi Yoshinaga's shoujo manga Garden Dreams in October. Anime News Networkinterview, Alvin Lu notes that the publisher will be re-releasing Taiyo Matsumoto's Black and White. The new packaging will feature the title Tekkon Concrete. According to Lu, this is also " the title of the anime that will be coming out. That's being released by Sony. It's making the festival circuit now and will be released on DVD by fall." MangaCast has ferreted out some of Viz's plans for 2008 via Simon & Schuster's listings. In addition to Taiyo Matsumoto's Tekkon Kinkriito All in One, Kawara Kazune's shoujo High School Debut looks like it will be out early in the year. Speaking of Taiyo Matsumoto, Christopher Butcher looks at the creator's work here

Upcoming In Japan

Ikimashou has posted a clip of the Blue Dragon anime here. Kotaku looks at Takeshi Obata's (Death Note) Blue Dragon RalOGrado manga here From Anime Nation A trailer for the the Love Com ~Lovely Complex~ is now online. The site has oponed for Bakugan Battle Brawlers A trailer for this fall's Dragonaut ~The Resonance~ can be seen here. A Shakugan no Shana II is in the works. Gonzo's Romeo x Juliet site now hosts a new, second streaming trailer. The site for the first Kiddy Grade compilation movie, Kiddy Grade -Ignition-, features a trailer here A trailer for Sola is online here ComiPress reports that Kodansha will be launching the international manga anthology Mandala contains 15 works by artists from 6 different countries: France, Italy, China, Korea, Singapore and Japan. According to Kodansha "We will provide color illustrations by elite artist in their full glory, let the "Manga World Cup" begin in this magazine. The future of manga starts from here!" Works featured in Mandala include: Sankai no Susa by Gonta King baobab by IGORT Bar by SERA CARPE DIEM by TENUTA Out Of The Blue by Mafuyu Hiroki PSICOMACHIA by DE LUCA KRA! by NEMIRI TRIBAL GEAR by Yuuki Izumi Match Shoujo by Sanami Suzuki Akuma Kishi by Go Nagai and Dynamic Pro Pet house by Youji Fukuyama CUT vs.RamaRRo by PALUMBO Stephanos by Boichi FLUSH by FSc Memory by Lu Ming

Bandai Visual Talks Upcoming Releases

Bandai Visual USA Inc. has laid out their release plans for "Gunbuster 2," "Demon Prince Enma," "The Wings of Rean" and "Galaxy Angel Rune."
"Gunbuster 2" Sixteen years after the release of the original "Gunbuster" in Japan, legendary studio GAINAX returns with an epic sequel! Directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki ("FLCL"), "Gunbuster 2" is set thousands of years after "Gunbuster," this sequel focuses on a space pilot wannabe named Nono from a lonely snow-bound village. Her efforts lead her to join the elite teenage pilot group called Topless in order to defend the Sol System with their superpowers. Episodes will be presented in anamorphic widescreen format Language options include Japanese 5.1ch and Japanese stereo audio tracks with optional English subtitles DVD extras include: long interviews with creators, textless ending, etc. Each volume contains 20-page color booklet exploring the world of "Gunbuster 2"
GUNBUSTER 2 Vol. 1 (of 3) May 22, 2007; SRP: $39.99 GUNBUSTER 2 Vol. 2 (of 3) June 12, 2007; SRP: $39.99 GUNBUSTER 2 Vol. 3 (of 3) June 26, 2007; SRP: $39.99
"The Wings of Rean" The newest work by famed "Gundam" director Yoshiyuki Tomino returns to the long-awaited Byston Well saga, in a culmination of his personal vision which explores a family torn apart by war and set against a sci-fi/fantasy backdrop. In "The Wings of Rean," Sakomizu, a WWII kamikaze pilot has been transported to alternate world attempts to wreak havoc on present day Japan. Episodes will be presented in anamorphic widescreen format Language options include Japanese 5.1ch with optional English subtitles DVD extras include crosstalk with Director Tomino and singer Anna, textless ending, etc. 32-page color booklet (Vol. 3 with 16-page booklet of early sketches)
The Wings of Rean Vol. 1 (of 3) June 12, 2007; SRP: $39.99 The Wings of Rean Vol. 2 (of 3) July 10, 2007; SRP: $39.99 The Wings of Rean Vol. 3 (of 3) August 14, 2007; SRP: $39.99
"Demon Prince Enma" An action horror animation series based on a manga created by Go Nagai, a master manga artist who brought classics such as "Devilman," "Mazinger Z," and "Cutey Honey." Working as private investigator among humans, prince of demons Enma brings to justice those ghouls that stray into the human world. Episodes will be presented in anamorphic widescreen format Language options include Japanese 5.1ch and Japanese stereo audio tracks with optional English subtitles DVD extras include voice actor interviews and16-page booklet with four-panel mangas by Go Nagai and short stories
DEMON PRINCE ENMA Vol. 1 (of 2) May 22, 2007; SRP: $39.99 DEMON PRINCE ENMA Vol. 2 (of 2) June 26, 2007; SRP: $39.99 "Galaxy Angel Rune" The popular moe comedy series "Galaxy Angel" now comes back to USA with a brand-new look! Featuring new pretty girls as main characters, "Galaxy Angel Rune" will steal your hearts with hyper-powered moe appeal and hard core sci-fi action. (Official Site: ) Episodes will be presented in anamorphic widescreen format DVD extras include: concert clips, textless opening and ending, and promotional trailers Each volume contains booklets which explores deep into the world of Galaxy Angel Rune (Vol. 1: 8 pages, Vol. 2 - 4: 16 pages) Reversible DVD cover illustrated especially by Kanan (Original Character Design) and Kenji Shinohara (Character Design) GALAXY ANGEL RUNE Vol. 1 (of 4) July 10, 2007; SRP: $19.99 GALAXY ANGEL RUNE Vol. 2 (of 4) August 28 10, 2007; SRP: $49.99 GALAXY ANGEL RUNE Vol. 3 (of 4) October 9, 2007; SRP: $49.99 GALAXY ANGEL RUNE Vol. 4 (of 4) November 13, 2007; SRP: $49.99 All of the titles will be distributed by Geneon Entertainment (USA) Inc., a leading supplier of Japanese animation in North America. Updates and more information will also be available on the just-revamped Bandai Visual USA site on MySpace. Bandai Visual USA will be participating in several anime events around the country, including Sakura Con (Seattle, April 4-6), Anime Boston (Boston, April 20-22) and Fanime Con (San Jose, May 25-28). Additional events will be announced shortly.

Upcoming Geneon Releases

5/29/07 El-Hazard OVA volume 1 $14.98 The discovery of extraordinary ruins beneath the high school becomes the adventure of a lifetime when several students and their teacher are transported to the magical world of El-Hazard! There, each learns to cope with strange new powers and even stranger surroundings. Beautiful women, insane rivalries and bugs the size of people are everyday features in this new world that promises adventure and excitement - but no way home... Contains episodes #1-4. 6/5/07 Dog Warriors - The Hakkenden volume 1 $14.98 During the war-torn feudal wars of Japan, the Awa clan faced certain extinction from a rival clan backed by demonic forces. However, a careless promise by their lord leads to both salvation and disgrace when their family dog brings back the head of the enemy warlord and insists upon marrying the lord's daughter! Their unnatural union bears fruit, but when they are both killed, the eight unborn pups are reincarnated as the eight Dog Warriors - The Hakkenden. As they slowly find each other and come together as a group. These eight warriors, who represent the eight separate aspects of the Bushido, engage in bloody battles with demonic entitles and evil samurai in the final attempt to redeem their clan! Contains Five Episodes Strawberry Eggs (I My Me!) Bailey Box $39.98 Hibiki Amawa needs a job! If he wants to avoid being shot by his landlady, Hibiki has to get a job teaching at the local high school. Unfortunately, this high school only accepts female teachers? From the creators of Hand Maid May, comes a new dramatic comedy of a man's goal to fulfill his desire to teach in conflict with a school's strict traditions and his own male image. "Sometimes the best woman for the job is a... man?!" English Dub by New Generation Pictures. Directorial Debut of Crispin Freeman. Award winning English Dub on AnimeOnDVD.com Bilingual DVD Menus. Complete series. 7/3/07 Ayakashi - Samurai Horror Tales | Yotsuya Ghost Story volume 2 Hello Kitty Stump Village | It's Showtime! volume 5 Shana volume 6 Zipang | Target: Mirai volume 6 Strawberry Marshmallow Complete Box Set $59.98 Join Chika, Miu and Matsuri, as they go about their daily lives full of adventure and discovery. Follow the intrepid trio as they try to make a surprise birthday gift. Then meet Ana, a transfer student originally from England who pretends to be a foreigner. This becomes more difficult to pull off when the girls pay a visit to her happy home. And when Chika & Company find out where Nobue is working, they decide to pay her a visit... with disastrous results! Contains 12 complete episodes 7/31/07 El-Hazard OVA volume 2 $14.98 8/7/07 Dog Warriors - The Hakkenden volume 2 $14.98 9/25/07 El-Hazard 2 OVA volume 3 $14.98 Geneon will be distributing Freedom volume 1 on June 26th. The 25 minute, one episode HD DVD/DVD Twin format disc will reail for 39.99 In the 23rd century, mankind has fled earth and emigrated to the moon. The last outpost of civilization is the Lunar Republic of Eden, where the omnipresent Citizens Administration Council grants residents everything they need-except their freedom. His mandatory education complete, 15-year-old Takeru is in a six-month period of freedom while the Council determines his social status. Uneasy about the future, Takeru and friends decide to race their customized Lunar Terrain Vehicle in the ultimate tube race!

Game News

Score has launched a Bleach CCG site here Kotaku reports original voice actors Peter Cullen and Frank Welker will be reprising the roles of Optiumus Prime and Megatron for the upcoming Transformers game. AnimeOnline notes that Bandai will be publishing a Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z game for the Nintendo DS. A pre-site is online here The Magic Box reports Banpresto will be releasing Super Robot Taisen Original Generations for the Playstation 2 in Japan on June 28th. Bandai Namco's SD Gundam G Generation Cross Drive for the Nintendo DS can be seen here Atlus' Growlanswer VI: Precarious World for PS2, with design based on the work of the infamous Satoshi Urushiharacan be seen here Majoria notes that a site is online for Broccoli's fighter Neon Genesis Evangelion Battle Orchestra here.

Shinchan Returning to Cartoon Network

FUNimation has announced that the company's Shin chan comedy series will debut on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim on Monday, April 9, 2007. The series will air at 12:30 a.m. ET/PT Monday through Thursdays. Shin chan follows the misadventures of its 5-year-old star, Shin Nohara. He is a boy with a special talent: the ability to annoy his parents, teachers and any other figure of authority. Shin just wants to have a good time and explore new adventures. In doing so, he causes mass hysteria and juvenile dismay. The series takes the viewer on a rollercoaster ride with humorous pokes at controversy and captivating characters. Announcements regarding Shin chan product and licensees are forthcoming. The Company will be showcasing the Shin chan brand at the Licensing International Expo 2007 this June in New York. FUNimation is still pursuing several licenses for Shin chan, including master toy, plush and interactive. For a glimpse of what Shin chan has to offer, visit www.shinchanshow.com.

Fullmetal Alchemist Screening in Houston

FUNimation has announced that Fullmetal Alchemist: The Movie - Conqueror of Shamballa will be part of the festivities surrounding the one year anniversary of the Studio Movie Grille in Houston on April 11th. The Fullmetal Alchemist movie was shown at Studio Movie Grilles in Texas as part of the FUNimation Films program last year. The Studio Movie Grille received such great feedback from fans and moviegoers about the Fullmetal Alchemist: The Movie - Conqueror of Shamballa that they wanted to include it as part of their anniversary celebration. Admission will be free on a first come, first server basis. Cast members Mignogna (Ed Elric), Luci Christian (Wrath) and Jason Douglas (Rudolf Hess) will be on hand. Studio Movie Grill: Copperfield Houston 8580 Highway 6 North Houston, TX 77095 Doors open at 7pm - Showtime 7:30pm

Live Action News

Anime News Network reports that Bandai Visual will be releasing Hideaki Anno's live action Cutey Honey adaptation on April 17th. A standard version will include a Making Of documentary, promotional video and original Japanese trailers for $29.98. The special limited edition version is packaged with an exclusive Cutey Honey lunchbox and keychain for $49.98 AnimeNation notes that Total Licensing Magazine has reported that the 2006 live action tokusatsu program Garo has been licensed for American release. From KF Cinema Viz Pictures will be releasing Lee Sang-il's Hula Girls. Unfortunately, president Matt Kennedy has decided to close down Panik House Entertainment, the distributor who released Sex & Fury, Female Yakuza Tale, and the Pinky Violence Collection. Synapse Films had planned a joint release of seven Toei exploitation films with the company but will now distribute them all themselves. Synapse Films will also be releasing Teruo Ishii's infamous Horror of the Malformed Men and the Pinky Horror classic Snake Woman's Curse in August. Among the future titles are two films from Japanese icon Meiko Kaji: Wandering Ginza Butterfly and Wandering Ginza She-Cat Gambler (aka the Silver Butterfly series).

Aoi House Flash Animation Included On NewType USA DVD

Seven Seas Entertainment has announced that its original flash animation, Aoi House: The Music Video will be included on the pack-in DVD of Newtype USA's April 2007 issue. The manga is serialized on Gomanga.com each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and appears in color each month in Newtype USA. The next book in the Aoi House saga, Aoi House in Love!, is scheduled for release in July

Urusei Yatsura Deal

Anime on DVD notes that Right Stuf is running a great deal for AnimEigo's release of Urusei Yatsura, a pre-Ranma 1/2 Rumiko Takahashi relationship comedy adapted by the likes of Mamoru Oshii. each 10 volume set will retail for $99.99

DMP Hiring

Digital Manga Publishing has announced that the company is hiring a Production Associate and Licensing/Guest Relations Associate.

Samurai Film Festival 2 in Nashville

Samurai Film Festival 2 will be held in Nashville, TN at The Belcourt Theatre, Friday, April 20th through Wednesday, April 25th. This year's line-up includes screenings on 35mm prints of Samurai Saga, Three Outlaw Samurai, Yojimbo, Sanjuro and A Fistful of Dollars. The Belcourt is giving folks a chance to watch YOJIMBO on the big screen and follow it up with audience's choice of a double feature of either A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (inspired by Yojiro) or Kurosawa's sequel to Yojimbo - SANJURO. Hiroshi Inagaki's SAMURAI SAGA and SAMURAI SAGA & Hideo Gosha's THREE OUTLAW SAMURAI are both unavailable on DVD. The Belcourt Theatre is a not-for-profit and the last independent neighborhood theatre in Nashville. For more info about the festival is available on the website at www.Belcourt.Org

Drinky Crow Animated

From The Beat Cartoon Network's Adult Swim will air the pilot of the Drinky Crow Show, based on cartoonist Tony Millionaire's long-running Maakies comic strip on May 13th. The 11-minute pilot, titled "Mermaid," finds Drinky Crow encountering a mermaid following a broken-hearted suicide attempt on the high seas. Drinky immediately dedicates his life to meeting her again. At the moment he gives up his quest he sees his friend Uncle Gabby in the process of being eaten by a shark and thinks Gabby is his beloved mermaid. In a whirlwind of head-chopping violence, Drinky Crow rescues his friend and the good ship MAAKIES from the clutches of ferocious Napoleonic French alligators. For more information visit: maakies.com mirarifilms.com adultswim.com To voice your support for the Drinky Crow show, post your comments here: boards.adultswim.com

Dream Balloon and Atchity Entertainment on Full Length Feature

Dream Balloon and Atchity Entertainment International have signed a literary management and co production agreement to develop and produce a full-length feature film, "Snowyville" based on AEI client Michael Attardi's award-winning animated short "Once Upon a Christmas Village." The 15 minute animated short Once Upon A Christmas Village's European debut will be in Cannes in May, 2007. The film won awards at the Washington DC and Delray Film Festivals for Best Animation--and the Garden State Festival for Best Animation and Best Picture as well. DIRECTOR: Michael Attardi SCREENWRITER: Michael Attardi PRODUCED BY: Michael Attardi EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Joseph Anselmo CAST: Jim Belushi and Tim Curry MUSIC BY: Michael Attardi & Dani Donadi

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Readers Talkback
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  • April 6, 2007, 2:07 p.m. CST

    I hate

    by fluffybunnywhiskers

    Avril Lavigne... posseur punk pop is not my thing. Aw look how cute she is without matching socks! Sure, she's remotely attractive with make-up. But so are a lot of chicks. But Avril Lavigne doesn't know anything about the music genre she tried so hard to be a part of, and her stupidity takes much away from her looks, which are only so-so anyway.

  • April 7, 2007, 11:27 a.m. CST

    seize the day

    by Alan-HK

    "Umezu gleefully ceases upon the opportunity"... should be "seizes".

  • April 7, 2007, 5:53 p.m. CST

    I like Avril Lavigne

    by nemesisdarkside

    While she was definately "posseur punk pop", comes off as annoying, unintelligent and unlikable in interviews and seems like she knows nothing of the music she was laying claim to, I love her music. Sue me!<BR>I wouldn't want her as a friend, but I enjoy her albums. My favourite songs of hers are actually the standard non-punky pop songs on her albums.<P>I also think she is moderately attractive. Of course I see hotter girls everyday at Uni, but I'd still say she was attractive. I liked those Maxim and Arena pics anyway. ;D<P>I was puzzled as to why she was having a manga made for her, as I've never heard of her being vocal about loving manga. I thought it was just merchandise, a way to make more cash from manga reading teen girls. Who knows?

  • April 10, 2007, 2:13 p.m. CST

    This is a great article

    by TruPhan

    Thanks for posting this, guys. I wish it wasn't so overlooked in the talkbacks.