Resource Spotlight: Manga: The Complete Guide by Jason Thompson Released by Del Rey
Manga: The Complete Guide is a staggeringly impressive resource. That subtitle is not an idle boast. Every manga released in English from Naruto and Dragon Ball to Japan Inc. : An Introduction to Japanese Economics and Survival in the Office: The Evolution of Japanese Working Women is captured. You might not know or remember that Kazuya Kudo and Naoki Urasawa's military action Pineapple Army was released in North America, but Jason Thompson's (Pulp, Animerica) tome records and explains the it. The book is divided into three sections. The first covers types/genres of manga (sports, josei, Japanese history, ect) and the manga titles that do not fit into the subsequent sections (which is the majority of the catalogue). The second covers yaoi (homosexual male romance, primarily written for a female audience). The final covers sexually explicit adult manga. Appendices explain the age ratings and Japanese language concerns. A glossary lists terms used in the book (kaiju, kanji, kanzenban ect). Finally, and artist's index ties the creator's names to the list of their work covered in the volume (because many works of manga are not available in English, this is not always all of the artist's work, especially for likes of Moto Hagio, Kazuo Koike, or Osamu Tezuka), and when applicable their web URL. Each entry features title information (English name, Japanese name, kanji), artist credits, English and Japanese publication information, number of volumes, genre, age rating, a description and a zero to four star recommendation. These descriptions offer a concise look at each manga's plot as well as an analysis of the manga's appeal and how well the work capitalizes on its aims. The amount of work to cover the subject of manga, even if it is limited to translated titles looks Herculean. The volume amazingly pulls it off with informed detail throughout. To get a taste for the work that evidently went into constructing the Guide, flip to the 'h' section, note that each of twelve, one or two volume long Hino Horror releases gets its own entry, and read that not only are the Hino Horror manga intentionally as unpleasant as possible, most aren't particularly good. Fortunately, international bilingual releases allow the book to capture some very significant manga that haven't received wide scale distribution in North America, such as the comic strip the Wonderful World of Sazae-San. An exciting feature of the book that readers shouldn't fail to notice is that Thompson brought in some domain experts for key works. For example Mark Simmons covers the Gundam manga, and convincingly explains why Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray is worthy of two and a half stars, but Mobile Suit Gundm SEED Astray R is only worth two (the latter ends incomprehensibly). Thus, Kazuo Koike/Ryoich Ikegami's Wounded Man and Offered, the latter of which features the grand-daughter of Hitler and the preserved semen of Babylonian king Gilgamesh, each receive four stars. Granted, plenty of people would loath the pair, but Patrick Macias makes case that if you don't reject Koike's pulpier works outright, these two are brilliant examples of the form. Thompson does not go out of his way to make jokes about the manga, but he does recognize the absurdity, and he does have a sense of humor. From a description of Voyeurs Inc. (two stars, published in now defunct Pulp anthology that he wrote for) "(Although Voyeurs, Inc. is the Sistine Chapel compare to [Shin Nozokiya's] untranslated manga Koroshiya Ichi ("Ichi the Killer")...)... The resulting mood of "Scooby Doo meets schoolgirl prostitution meets cockroach porn" is purely for trash-culture lovers." The volume and Thompson in particular are not afraid to take a work to task. For example, Thompson is not impressed by the work of Asamiya. There are plenty of two star ratings for works like Nadesico and Silent Mobius, but Dark Angel gets slapped with a zero. "Dark Angel demonstrates why explosions and fireballs are so popular in manga fight scenes: they're the first resort for artists who can't draw people hitting one another." Each review is convincing. Even if you don't agree with something (like the two and a half stars for Eden: It's an Endless World), it seems like a valid, different opinion was stated. Thompson and the other reviewers are not dismissive, nor do they favor certain movements or time periods. Domain experts don't love everything in their domain. In this way, the book has less personality than the most comparable reference guide North America, Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy's Anime Encyclopedia. Part of the fun of that book was thumbing through the volume to find something worth getting riled up about. Alternatively, Manga: The Complete Guide is pleasant in that it is just looking to present informed opinions. Descriptions are restrained in applying comparisons of one subject manga to others. It uses these when appropriate in explaining the entry within the context of the artist's body of work or in light of immediately relevant works. For example, Wedding Peach is of course compared to Sailor Moon, and the Guide does explore qualitative differences such as those between Scryed and Apocalypse Zero. However, it is not looking to make links between titles. Unlike the Anime Encyclopedia, there is not an intension to suggest side-tracks in every route of research. The cut to the quick approach makes for brisk, informative reading. By engaging the diversity of manga and providing focused bits of insight, the book reads well when it is being thumbed through for a casual rea. On a more functional level, with the North American anime market as crowded as it is, having an analysis of every title at your fingertips is a considerable aid. The days of being able to look through an unsorted list a week's comic releases and easily picking out which ones are manga are long gone. Anyone who owns a copy of Manga: The Complete Guide will value its presence on their shelf.
Resource Spotlight: The Astro Boy Essays: Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom, Manga/Anime Evolution by Frederik L. Schodt Released by Stone Bridge Press
Frederik L. Schodt wrote the English language primer on manga (Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics) in 1983 long before even the Ghost in the Shell generation of fans discovered the medium. Schodt was a friend, interpreter, translator and in some cases an advisor of Osamu Tezuka. In the Astro Boy Essays, he constructs a comprehensive examination of Tezuka's keystone work, Astro Boy, including how Tezuka arrived at creating the manga, then the anime, how Astro Boy opened the niche for televised anime, the effect of the Astro Boy franchise on Japan's popular imagination, how Tezuka and Japan's relationship with the story changed over time and how the Astro Boy anime was brought to the United States. (Perhaps because the book is chiefly concerned with Tezuka's then Japan's relationship to the franchise there is little discussion of how the North American manga boom audience greeted Dark Horse's release of the manga.) By no means do the essays dedicate themselves to the argument, but they do solidify the case that this is the essential story in the history of anime and manga. Schodt was closer enough to the subject to have a keen insight for explaining the significance to a newcomer and offering new angles to a reader who might be more familiar with the subject. Ultimately, it is probably one of the most important English language books for understanding the history of anime and manga. As much as any one person can be responsible for the course of an industry, or in this case, the course of two frequently connected industries, Osamu Tezuka is responsible for the shape of anime and manga from Japan's post war period to today. An aspect of what The Astro Boy Essays critically addresses is that though Tezuka's Astro Boy is an enduring, artistic triumph, from their beginning, the anime and manga movements that Astro Boy heralded are rightly called "industries". Despite the powerful artistic dimension to the process and the results, their commercial components are inescapable. It is impossible to overstate the continued relevance of Tezuka's early actions and innovations, or overstate the importance of knowing Tezuka's history and the history of Astro Boy in particular in order to place anime and manga in their proper context. At the same time, this is a layered story involving a complex individual who was given to double intensions. Schodt does not cover the entire story of Tezuka's work. As explained in the introduction, addressing that in one volume would give many aspect short shrift. However, Tezuka himself is a fascinating subject and the book does afford a detailed look at what shaped Tezuka as an artist and thinker as well as how he developed through his life. Though he was trained as a licensed medical doctor, he produced 150,000 pages of manga during his life, and started the televised anime industry. Looking at the person, Tezuka is compelling beyond his role as the creator a of successful franchise. He was not just talented and intelligent. He possessed a legitimate claim on the label "genius." Schodt works against reductionist views of Japanese citizens shaped by World War II and its aftermath. The essay continually returns to how Tezuka's works were informed by his evolution from one perspective during the war, to another as it was revealed that Japan was losing, to another in the days of the occupation, particularly when he was beaten by American soldiers, and again as his view on America slowly evolved over the years. This is far from Tezuka's only source of inspiration addressed by the essays, but Schodt's mapping of these changes to Tezuka's later body of work should be informative, especially to those with preconceived notions formed by a familiarity with the artist's manga. This is not a heliography, and Schodt is not blind to the more difficult sides of Tezuka's nature. It's possible to read Tezuka's works, see his humanist messages, and despite the uglier sides of his protagonists develop something of a saintly image of the man. The Tezuka seen in The Astro Boy essays is proud and competitive, but also publically self-deprecating. It is interesting to read that in interviews, he was evasive and overly modest, rarely offering straight, consistent answers. Schodt's examination of the messages addressed in Astro Boy offers a look at Tezuka's complexity. Though he loved media attention, Tezuka was reluctant to publically address politics. The one notable exception was the Vietnam War, which he spoke against directly and through Astro Boy. This aversion against direct political involvement stood in contrast to the then younger animators like Hayao Miyazaki, and even more to the later generation of student protesters (such as Mamoru Oshii). There is an interesting echo to the sentiment that the essay touch upon (and hopefully will address again in a later volume), where Tezuka's competitive streak lead him to create darker manga, in line with the gekiga movement of the younger generation. Manga fans and comic fans in general are aware of Tezuka's reputation as the "God of Manga." His push to broaden the range of the genres explored in manga is part of the popular discourse. As is his integration of complex concerns into younger audience manga. Schodt reiterates the story of a time-stranded Astro Boy sacrificing himself to save a Vietnamese village from American bombers, but this moving episode (hopefully) isn't unheard-of to American fans. The underacknowledged twin story to Tezuka's strides in manga is his work in anime and the founding of Mushi Productions. This embraces Tezuka's dimensions: his role as an artist, as an innovator and as a businessman. Tezuka used the successful manga to fund Japan's first televised anime. He also worked out the means by which short cuts could be taken to deliver the anime on time, and on budget. Here, Schodt is dismissive of explanations in which commentators have attempted to explain away moves of necessity as artistic decisions, such as comparing the still moments to kabuki mie. What every anime fan with an interest in the workings of the industry should realize is that Astro Boy established an economic model and a cut rate precedent. These may have been needed to initiate the industry, but even today, when you hear about the low wages paid to anime professionals in Japan, how Tezuka structured the business is sure to be raised. The story is something of a tragedy. In terms of the industry, some of Tezuka's lasting legacy relates to situations where an inspired, initial approach stuck, and became the unevolving dominant model. Tezuka was a troubled business man. As successful as Astro Boy was, he felt that the public had a limited view, shaped largely by the anime version, which didn't cover his full vision. Furthermore, he was still producing prodigious amounts of manga when he passed away in 1989 at age 60, leaving a sense of sad incompleteness to his body of work. As vibrant as anime can be, and as flexible and truthful as manga can be, they haven't lived up to his vision. The echo story of the 2003 Astro Boy anime, celebrating the franchise's 40th anniversary and the characters' fictional date of birth, was used as a bookend the Astro Boy Essays. Despite the initial ceremony, it wasn't a hit. Tezuka saw the 1980 remake and that the seemed to be a negative experience. While Astro Boy lives on as a franchise, a valuable IP for merchandise and the like, a lesson from the later attempts to remake Astro Boy might be that the creator and the act of creating can be the key to the life of the resulting creation. Schodt's Astro Boy Essays are well worth an afternoon or evening dedicated to reading the volume. It explains the foundation on which the popular media of anime and manga are built, and it is a compelling and bittersweet story of a fascinating genius.
Resource Spotlight: J-Horror: The Definitive Guide to the Ring, the Grudge and Beyond By David Kalat Released by Vertical
Given that contagion is a frequent theme of the school of Japanese horror films discussed in David Kalat's J-Horror, it is perhaps ironic that the book is such a powerful vector for catching an appreciation of the subject matter. It is possible to approach "J-Horror" without loving the Grudge/Ju-On films and not enamored with the idea that Takashi Shimizu has made six of them but by the end, a reader will be able to identify and appreciate the differences in Shimizu's films. Kalat approaches these movies in a manner like inspecting a movement of painting. Rather than offering a fan's perspective, he offers a study of the topic. The resulting critical eye and even handed explorations of the artistic, cultural, and economic context for works popularized by the explosion in interest in The Ring presents a convincing case for developing an respect for the aesthetic and the minds behind it. The goal is not to convert the reader into a Ring-ophile, but it is useful to keep pen and paper ready while reading in order to capture the inevitably long list of movies to track down. By "J-Horror", Kalat is referring to the "dead wet girl" Ring/Ju-on cycle of movies. He takes an utilitarian view of the label "j-horror". It isn't one that he's fond of, especially since he'd like it applied to a specific genre or school of horror films and not simply any horror movie made in Japan. By the same token, he's looking for a unified continuum with remakes and movies of the same vein originating from outside Japan. Talking about "Korean j-horror" says "'K-Horror' takes everything that is wrong about the term 'J-Horror' and makes it worse." Kalat's background is inseparably tied to his perspective. He explains that he was not on the cutting edge of adopting a passion for these moody pictures. Despite receiving recommendations, he picked up The Ring later than many. The thrust of the book is that J-Horror is as much a school of art as it is a subgenre of movies, but Kalat seems to have come to that idea, at least in part, through his preferences. As he identifies early on, Kalat is a film buff and writer with a passion for classic horror movies. For example, he points to the original, subtle Cat People as a work that is far more effective than movies like its explicit remake. When it comes to Japanese horror, he's not a fan of the blood and pus Hideshi Hino school of thought, and names Mermaid in a Manhole as an exaggerated example of everything that is wrong with modern American horror films." He is too classy to take pot shots on Takashi Miike, but he does downplay the director as someone who has been overestimated in North America. Quickly, he defines the Miike (of Ichii the Killer and Audition)/Hino swatches of Japanese horror out of the scope of "j-horror." Movies that are referred to as "j-horror" can look like a chain of knock-offs capitalizing on the success of hits like The Ring. With profound plot similarities and visual similarities, the book has to work to define the "dead wet girl" as something other than a creative crutch. Kalat does suggest that this progression does reach a point of critically diminished returns. Generally this occurs when the inspiration is stripped out in favor of cash-in parodies. However, when considering the works of someone like Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Pulse) or Ji-woon Kim (A Tale of Two Sisters), as the book stresses the differentiating factors and how the horror film reflects the particular artist, the idea that these are a school of art does take hold. The story of Koji Suzuki's original take on the Ring as an extension of his beliefs as a stay-at-home father, set against director Hideo Nakata's vision for the story, and by the progress by which Takashi Shimizu refined his ghost story are examples of craftspeople using a shared set of elements to form compelling art. In parallel, the story in the evolution from cheap initial productions to larger budget features (and sometimes back to cheap productions) is a compelling narrative of creators laboring in the movie industry. All the tenants of "dead wet girls" are satisfactorily deconstructed and explained through a discussion of the specific films that comprise J-Horror. Looking at the background behind "dead", "wet" and "girls" trends into an interesting discussion of the differences between the local and the universal views on the concerns that give birth to horror. There is an amusing bit of trivia in the Korean section: virgin women were traditionally buried under the well travelled roads with the rationale that at some point, some guy would urinate on the spot and the sight of his penis would satisfy the girl's spirit enough that she would pass out of the world. That particular view on gender and mortality is specifically Korean, and it informs the discussion of Korea's ghost girl films. Kalat delves into why the "dead wet girl" is particularly scary to the Japanese consciousness, or tailored for Korea, China and America, along with the tangled thread of why these figures are universally disturbing. While this is a cinema book, it is certain to deepen an anime/manga fan's understanding of the media that they consume. Part of this is direct the ties that the topic has to other media. For example, gamers who were playing in the 90's might be excited by the book's extensive coverage of Parasite Eve, particularly the adaptation from novel to film. Anime is largely a non-entity in this book, but manga does sit on the periphery. It is simply impossible to ignore how much of Japanese media is adapted from or adapted into manga. "The Unquiet Dead" chapter briefly covers Takashi Miike's adaptation of the MPD Pyscho TV adaptation of the manga series given the transferable relationship between its investigator/killer protagonist and the depicted crimes. The Dr. Mabuse qualities are also an element that caught Kalat's attention. The infectious nature of the subject of Suicide Club fits into the framework of "J-Horror, but Usumaru Furuya's conjoined manga, produced alongside the DVD release of Sion Sono's film, receives little attention. "Junji Ito Will Not Die" is a chapter that obviously surveys that manga creator, and by extension touches on his inspiration, Kazuo Umezu. However, Ito is discussed more in regards to his ideas and relationship with the movie industry than through his manga. This is an area where a manga savy individual might be able to find more in the conversation than someone only approaching the work from the film angle/ North American manga fans might know Ito's Tomie, the story of a teenage girl who incites murderous jealousy, finds herself killed in the resulting maelstrom, then returns from the dead to cause more problems. Kalat's evaluation and interpretation of the many and varied adaptations of Tomie is a compelling look into what a range of creators and productions can do with one flexible idea. Familiarity with the qualities on Ito's original just enhances those conversations. Similarly, when Kalat moves on to Ito's Uzumaki, the story of a town haunted by the shape of a spiral, a manga reader has the added benefit of being able to compare what is said of the movie to Ito's singular original. Looking at how a work like Ito's Tomie is adapted into live action offers worthwhile a insight into the process. There is also plenty of cultural literacy to be gleamed from the book. For an anime/manga reader, "J-Horror" provides in understanding of the background for how anime and manga frequently attempt to approach the genre. This does not coverage everything than an anime fan will see. The yokai monster world of tengu bird spirits, kappa water sprits, kitsune fox spirits and the like is on the far outer edge of the conversation. But, "dead wet girls" does have a bearing on anime. Geneon's release of Ayakashi: Classic Samurai Horror started with the anime adaptation of the kabuki plays Tenshu Monogatari rather than, as the original TV broadcast did, Yotsuya Kaidan, but that second story has recently been release. Yotsuya Kaidan or the Ghost Story of Yotsuya was adapted into film by Nobuo Nakagawa in 1959, and it is fundamental piece of the foundation under works like The Ring. The story concerns the masterless samurai Tamiya Iemon, who disgraces his wife in order to marry into wealth. After the dead wife has been dumped into a river, she returns to make life hell for those who were associated with the events that wronged her. After "J-Horror", that suddenly becomes an anime to see. The value that the book adds is that these stories are more compelling with an understanding of the specific cultural pressure points being attacked by the artists. Anime has no shortage of subplots and quick encounters where a woman dies after some abuse or unsettled matter in her interpersonal relationships. It's not exactly novel for her to re-engage the living world looking like The Ring's Sadako. Particulars of how and why ghostly women and haunted houses are used in anime are brought into lucid focus by J-Horror's explanation. As are other staples of anime and manga horror anthologies. For example, haunted school bathrooms are all over anime and manga. Kalat offers a justification for why something that is so simple, and not very clever holds so much fascination. Similarly, Kalat offers looks into the use of crawling threats, and the fear of something clinging to the ceiling. If there is one thing that the volume is missing, it is a proper index or at least something that is easily navigable. The closest listing to be offered is a chronological filmography. In order to find a specific film, you must guess then thumb through the correct topical chapter. A result, tracking back "what was I supposed to watch?" queries takes some work. Mapping a Netflix search result that lists the six options for Tomie movies against Kalat's analysis requires a bit of skimming.
Release Spotlight: NewType USA Based on volume 6 number 5-7
When NewType USA was premiering in 2002 there was some thought (here, if nowhere else) that all other anime coverage in North America would be steamrolled by a magazine with a direct tie to the public face of what's new in the Japanese anime industry. In earlier days of fandom, someone would acquire an import copy of the original Japanese periodical, and everyone who passed it around would go ga-ga over the giant over-sized pages and full color images of the latest in anime. When the US edition came out, the dimensions were still huge (and printed right to left). The pages were still visually arresting in their bold colors. If you were inclined to hang an anime poster on your wall, almost any page was a valid candidate. But. it didn't fulfill the, likely unrealistic, expectation that it would revolutionize how North American anime fans got their news. It added to, rather than significantly altered the market and became a source of buzz and a reliable reference to gage what new anime looks like. The format starts with a number of informational pieces on what's new in Japan and the US. Items are accompanied by representative images, but they aren't as visually intensive as later sections. Other English speaking regions of the world also see some print here. Then, the magazine offers some valuable and in many cases fascinating perspective pieces from in-the-know columnist such as Jonathan Clements, CLAMP's Satsuki Ogarashi, Gilles Poitras (The Anime Companion), voice actress Monica Rial, and novelist Tow Ubukata (Le Chevalier D'Eon). These coverage a small fraction of the magazine's page count, but the personality, expertise and cleverness of display, its the best read of the publication. Tow Ubukata on his Shadow of the Colossus experience alone deserve to raise the June 07 issue in anyone's estimation. The meat of an issue is its feature anime pieces. These are elaborately laid out spreads with the giant images that the print format affords. Later sections of the magazine include reviews of anime and manga. These are less sight based than the features, but offer a few representative screen captures or internal pages. Video games reviews receive an almost comparable number of pages. The pop music section is probably the most extensive of the North American anime publications. Presumably as a function of its ties to the original Japanese NewType, this coverage is joined to plenty of Q&A pieces with popular artists. Events, cosplay and merchandise receive their own sections, again, with more and larger images than most other anime magazines. NewType USA's profiles of popular figures and how to's shade towards distinguishing features. The magazine boasts of its supplementary material, which includes a DVD with first episodes of a selection of new titles, a poster, a centerfold and a serialized manga, which lately has been the premiere run of CLAMP's Kobato. Kobato should be a nice benefit for fans of the popular manga team CLAMP, especially fans who like it when they work cute. The other supplements boost the fundamental qualities of the magazines: larger samples, larger images. A factor in the magazine that has caused some unease is that it is published by A.D. Vision, which is the parent company of the prominent anime and manga distributor. The one notable controversy was in the magazine's premiere issue. In 2002 Manga Entertainment's then-CEO, Marvin Gleicher accused the magazine of pushing an ADV marketing agenda in giving the Evangelion movies a negative review, considering that ADV had distributed the Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series, but Manga had the movies. Moving away from that debatable issue, NewType USA does not read like an ADV mouthpiece. One example of evidence is that the magazine often offers multiple prominent features on anime series. The idea here is to be surrounded by the sights of an anime for the moment, and maybe, hopefully, get excited about what it has to offer. Recent examples of titles to repeated recieve this intention have included Tsubasa Chronicles (FUNimation), Gunbuster 2 (Bandai Visual) Fate/Stay Night (Geneon) and Suzumiya Haruhi (Bandai Entertainment/Kodokawa USA). The magazine is vehicle for promotion, but the subject of that spotlight is the broader spectrum of anime. There is not a screaming fanboy/fangirl attitude, glibness is rarely taken to an excess, but the voice of the magazine paints anime as a product worth buying. Each review is a trip through the plot to a wrap up instructing the reader as to what audience the anime or manga is intended for. Along the way, the review might touch on a qualified concern before addressing sales point, with a formula like "Series X features dodgy relationships, but the action is great." Of the preemptively cancelled Nymphet "Nymphet might not be good clean fun, but its don't-stand-so-close-to-me storyline is definitely fun and well done. If you can stomach all the pervy stuff..." The effect is to flatten anime into genres: know the field you enjoy and return select to the latest from that category. When some out of the ordinary comes along, the reaction is a comment like "odds are already know whether you'd like Afro Samurai or not." Despite the limitations of space and voice, relevant information is worked into the reviews, for example, explaining the creative background and how that fits into the appeal of Wings of Rean or wear El Hazard fits into the history of the anime market. Anime and manga are frequently judged on appearance. Look at the struggle that Osamu Tezuka's manga have faced North America. A number of manga industry watchers have lamented on how hard it is to find a volume of Tezuka's Phoenix on a store shelf, and that might have a lot to do with the classic Disney/Fleischer-esque qualities of his illustration. Thus, for a lot of fans, NewType USA is exactly the right resource.
Resource Spotlight: Protoculture Addicts Based on Issues 88-92
As Protoculture Addicts approaches its 20th anniversary, the anime magazine has solidified its status as the Little Canadian Publication That Could. That it has lasted this long without direct ties to anime and manga distributors or major publishers is nothing short of amazing. Except, maybe now that it is made significant inroads into more large book chains, "little" is no longer the correct description. The current direction of the magazine seems marked by the desire to be a very visual publication and at same time address topics in depth. In recent years, since hooking up with Anime News Network, the magazine has gone to full color, glossy pages, ensuring that it at least LOOKS like other publications. Of all the anime magazines, Protoculture Addicts has the most potential for disappointment. Their best reviews have been so good at explaining the creative context behind works of anime, offering relevant details and connections that even well informed fans might not know, that when a review is just a surface survey of what's happening, along with a few details on why the work is hot, the piece really suffers by comparison. As with other anime magazines, the focus is on feature articles that offer a preview of a new or upcoming anime. When these features just examine cast and storyline for an anime series, all that is offered is a look at what is apparent from images and high level themes. In these cases, the magazine fails to differentiate itself from the field. There is a difference between what can be said about a work with high creative ambitions and what can be said about the latest anime adaptation of a popular action manga, but when Protoculture Addicts is functioning at its optimal level, it has been able to offer a significant discussion to say about the latter as well as the former. One of the useful extensions to the standard summary and background information in which Protoculture Addicts specializes is capturing the esoteric details that shed some light on the production or the history of a title. Recent examples include sidebars on the Starquest dub of Wings of Honneamise and "lost episodes" of Black Cat. Other additions include primers, such as detailing the basics of visual novels (interactive story PC games) when featuring the visual novel based anime Fate/Stay Night. The magazine then steps up and rises to the occation when presented with a deep subject. Issue 92 features Justin Sevakis's piece on Paprika, which offers insight onto how the movie fits into the larger body of anime, and Bamboo Dong on Le Cheviar D'eon, which is a fascinatingly rounded look at the series, including mapping its complexity, discussing the staff background and offering nice samples of how Production I.G captured Paris in their models. The magazine's editorial position is very aware of balancing the discussion of anime as an art form and the discussion of anime as a mass media product. Certainly, they engage the buzz topics of the markets, but they also push the conversation into deeper waters. The last five covers have been Basilisk, Hellsing Ultimate, Haruki Suzamiya, Witchblade, and Le Chevalier d'Eon. The last of these is an interesting pick. Three volumes into the North American release, it's not new. It's not exactly a blazingly hot title. The 18th century French uniform of its protagonist gives it a unique look, and one that belongs to an aesthetic that is not always admired by modern audiences. However, it is an anime that offers plenty to talk about and one that reacts well to inspection. This direction is similarly demonstrated in the interviews in recent issues, which aren't just chasing the latest hot phenomenon , such as talking to Battle Angel Alita creator Yukito Kishiro and composer Susumu Hirasawa (Paprika, Berserk). Articles like "Is All Anime Art?" and "Top 9 Anime Directors" (taking Hayao Miyazaki out of the running) move the discussions forward and provide a welcome momentum in the push for improved media literacy. Features are generally dedicated to anime newly released, or on the cusp of release. The magazine has historically been useful for its non-feature, multi-page articles that offer a look into anime that are on the horizon. Generally these are series that are completed in Japan, but not available in the US (though there are also titles that are already on the market). These are more formalized and less graphic than the features, generally a page of text, analyzing the series, pair with a page of screenshots and character models. Episode guides are sometimes included too. Despite Protoculture Addicts' ties to the dominant anime news site Anime News Network, the magazine does not focus on news coverage. Instead, it offers a quick survey of significant news that is indicative of the direction of the North American and international industries. Each issue presents plenty of reviews of new DVD and manga releases with a direct critique of whether the subject is worth purchasing. The magazine is not afraid to shred releases in its reviews, but that is not always evident in the scoring. Of Ayakashi Samurai Horror volume 1 "The attempt to make an original story out of Kyika Izumi's "Tenshu Monogatari" fails miserably in this anime adaptation. (Story ranking: 3 out of 5) Then again, of DearS "If that sounds like a big load of unwatchable misogynous crap, that's because it is. DearS is possibly the most vile, empty headed "moe" trash to come out of Japan in a long while." (Story rank 0 out of 5) Of note, that is from Zac Bertschy (aka Anime News Network's Answer Man), managing editor as of issue 91. As his introductory Letter From the Editor suggests, he has a bit of a cattle prod approach. If you read the feedback to his Anime News Network posts, you'll see that he's a bit of a devising figure. It's not just a matter of agreeing or disagreeing, he's the type of writer that it is possible to agree with and at the same time react against his statement. He is not the one voice of the magazine, but he does spice its proceedings. The balance of Bertschy and Baboo Dong from the Anime News Network side of the equation and Claude J. Pelletier and Miyako Matsuda from the historic Protoculture Addicts side results in an effective balance of straight information and energetic discourse. Protoculture Addicts still seems to be working out how to develop and grow. It's amazing that the magazine was able to function through the anime boom and contraction and adapted from a hard-core science fiction geek reader base to the current landscape of fandom. Yet, the rough spots are still evident. Bertschy's first issue features a page with two reviews of Nerima Daikn Brothers, Vol. 1. Their take on the series only differed by degrees and really duplicated rather than complemented each other. One mentioned that the series was directed by "Shinichi Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop)". Shinichiro Watanabe directed Cowboy Bebop. Shinichi Watanabe aka Nabeshin is probably best known for directing Excel Saga, and directed Nermia Daikon Brothers. It's not the first time in the of history North American coverage of anime that this mistake has been made, but it is an embarrassing one. Protoculture Addicts is certainly professional, and certainly not ignorant. That it slipped into print on a page that already seemed off due to its duplicated review suggests that some processes are still being worked out at the publication.
Resource Spotlight: Otaku USA Based on issue 1
In the interest of full disclosure, be aware that a piece I wrote on The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was published in the first issue of Otaku USA. However, I was not paid and currently have no future plans to work with the periodical. For those who keep a safe distance from anime fans, without rehashing its sordid history the term "otaku" could roughly be equated to "fan boy". The bimonthly Otaku USA premiered in North America in June 2007. Those who follow anime and manga commentary will recognize the magazine's contributes as a list of the best and brightest. Editor in chief Patrick Macias' credits include The Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno, Tokyoscope, and Cruising the Anime City. With a keen eye for what is significant in popular or sometimes trashy media, his writing is reliably insightful and humorous. Few are better at selecting gems from the ephemera or explaining its context. Other staff members include Joseph Luster (editor/games), Jason Thompson (editor/manga) and Mark Nagata (editor/toys). Contributors on the first issue included Matt Alt, Brian Ashcraft, Ed Chavez, Gerald Rathkolb, Clarissa Graffeo and Daryl Surat The magazine has been accused of duplicating NewType USA. Superficially, the suggestion does not seem meritless. There's a DVD packaged with three preview episodes. There's a poster. There's a manga insert. And, there's a cover with a pin-up figure of a character against a white background. Inside the mix of admiration for the media and "what have I gotten myself into" that t establishes the magazine as something unique. Certainly, Macias and Alt attempting to complete the world's biggest Gundam model kit is unlike any other North American anime journalism. "The official hype says it can be built in four hours, but our job is to build it in two hours or less, or else Masked BAKUC will be "real disappointed." Particularly if a couple of representatives from Otaku USA can' t step up to the equivalent of a Royale Rumble. But BAKUC is not our enemy... time is!" The magazine dives into the depths head first. Macias' introduction is ostensibly explaining the periodical's name, but the piece is dense, referencing 20 different things and ultimately fascinating, but dizzying. That's just the jab. The "Contributor's Top 5" is a feint of straight forwardness setting up the solid barrage, serving up a gonzo Tohoscope piece on classic giant monsters on DVD, pinky violence with Queen of Japanese Movies: From Stray Cat Rock to Girl Boss Blues and giant Battle Ship Yamato models. Structurally at least, it settles down a bit with a slate of reviews on current anime and manga. The approach here is hyper informed, a bit conversational and a bit excitable. These writers aren't showing off, but they do love to weave works into the bigger picture. The He is my Master manga review starts with a Carl Gustav Horn quote (if you know who he is, this is the magazine for you) "why hasn't anyone drawn a maid manga with an actual maid? For instance, a 40-year-old immigrant woman with two kids?" and ends with "Fans of Hayate the Combat Butler and Indian Summer take note." Of Tekkaman Blade "Aki (whose voice is provided by Megumi Hayashibara who seemed contractually obligated to play every female character from 1991 to 1998)." Of MPD Pyscho "fans of guro manga (such as Suehiro Maruo) will recognize the influence..." Of Hellsing Ultimate, after calling the protagonist Dracula on a Captain Morgan bender "Alucard simply can't be killed or even injured; his fighting style consists of "don't bother to dodge while the other guy shoots/stabs/dismembers me, then reveal that I'M ONLY USING 20% OF MY FULL POWER, and IT'S OVER NINE THOUSSSSSSANDDDDDD" (That Dragon Ball Z reference shouldn't be half as funny as it is.) These aren't the comments you'd expect to find in a broadly distributed anime magazine. When the comments are funny, its because of legitimate fan humor and not because the magazine call for forced one-liners. The spectrum above ranges from erudite to MST3K heckling. Hopefully, the free voice of the publication is not just due to the construction of a first issue. As it currently stands, it looks like Otaku USA will be able to launch an informative and/or entertaining commentary off of any review material. In terms of the reviews, they're ultimately qualified recommendations. Hopefully this assessment isn't giving the magazine too much leeway after the comments made about NewType USA and Protoculture Addicts, but Otaku USA's style suggests its approach involves embracing flawed works. Maybe it is as much fun to engage He is my master as it is to run away from it. Additionally, the magazine does not stay away from negative comparisons, such as asserting that Black Lagoon is better than Noir and Trinity Blood. Feature pieces on Highlander: The Search For Vengeance, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex; Solid State Society, and The Girl Who Leapt Through time have the requisite large images. Besides a quantitative difference in the amount of text present, the difference between Otaku USA's features and another magazines' sometimes is a function of Otaku USA's attitude. The familiar "five other movies by the creator" gets a bit dicey, when talking about Highlander: The Search For Vengeance and when the creator in question is Yoshiaki Kawajiri, but Otaku USA leaps at the opportunity to alert a new generation of fans to the highlights (or low lights) of Wicket City. The first issue of Otaku USA might have been fortunate in that it had the meaty topics of Paprika, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Highlander and even the Transformers movie ("G. Guru"'s retrospective on the franchise is impressively dense). Any well staffed magazine should be able to form compelling pieces from that material. Except, Otaku USA also shines when covering the pop hit of the day. EVERYONE has done features on Haruhi Suyazmia (this column will be getting to it, I've been sidetracked by Eden, Beck, horror and print). By far, Clarissa Grafeo's in Otaku USA is the best. It's the only one that has explained why the geeky highschool comedy has ignited fan passions and why it is the anime that everyone has been featuring so prominently. It's hard not to spoil Haruhi to some degree. The North American release has done that to some extent by releasing the episodes in chronological rather than broadcast order. In describing the series, half-evasion is probably the best way to discuss the characters. As the series demonstrates, they are more interesting when they are mysterious than when they are laid out with bare factual descriptions. Rather than devote much space to the particulars of plot and cast, the article examines the franchise's history, why Japanese audiences were excited about it and how it pushed the buttons that enthralled North American geeks. It's one of the few pieces to dig into why it was a "perfect storm." Otaku USA merchandise and culture coverage is another one of a kind aspect to the magazine. It's still fannish, but the character of appreciation approaches something like Giant Robot's view. The reports on Wonder Festival and the Tokyo International Anime Fair are like tours of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory: immense and dazzling , but scary. It's lengthy examination of plastic Gundam models (gunpla) is fascinatingly layered read. Its kitsch, and a celebration of a juvenile fascination, but also a look at the involved industry and the contradictory social impulses that created the phenomenon. Further examinations of soft vinyl "sofubi" and collections of Ultraman figures are a more aesthetically and historically significant view on pop culture artifacts than a selection of photos of the latest tchotchkes might be. Given the ground that Macias covers, it's fair to assume that he'll produce some noteworthy interviews for the magazine. In terms of the first issue, Tow Ubukata is a fascinating individual that too many people don't know about. Unfortunately, he is writing for NewType USA, which makes the interview a poor differentiating factor. Plugs for The Complete Guide to Manga and The Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno aren't presented obnoxiously, but they do tread an uncomfortable line. There's reason to be concerned about the size of the audience for Otaku USA. The magazine has the makings of a darling of passionate fans, but it will live or die by the interest of the larger body of fandom. If you go to a major anime convention and see that there is literally just a handful of people attending something like the urban vinyl panel, you have to start wondering whether this is the conversation that North American anime fans want to be having. Anime and manga are very of the moment media. There are fans who have a passion for this perspective and arguably, it offers the most interesting conversations. Given that in terms of market place, there is little difference between indifference and hostility, and looking at the track record for older audience works and classics that don't conform to the style of the moment, it looks like Otaku USA is going to find an unfriendly environment in the North American market.
Titles announced at the San Diego Comic Con include Broccoli Books (manga) Nui! by Mukai Natsumi CMX (Manga) Crayon Shinchan by Yoshito Usui (formerly released by ComicsOne.com) Flat Earth Exchange by Toshimi Nigoshi A Girl Who Runs Through Time by Gaku Tsugano Leader's High by Shindo Arashi Shirley by Kaoru Mori (of Emma fame) Teru Teru × Shonen by Shigeru Takao Zombie Fairy by Torii Daisuke Del Rey (manga) Dark Wars: A Tale of Meiji Dracula by Hideyuki Kikuchi (light novel) Dark Wraith of Shannara by spacecoyote Fairy Tail by Hiro Mashima Genshiken Fan Book Hell Girl by Miyuki Etoo Me and the Devil Blues by Akira Hiramoto Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Psycho Busters by Shiki Tsukai FUNimation (anime) Vexille - CG film from the makers of Appleseed Seven Seas (manga) Akatsuki-iro no Senpuku Maj by Mera Hakamada Girls Life (light novel) Girls Revolution (light novel) Hayate X Blade by Shizuru Hayashiya Viz Media Anime Honey and Clover NANA Manga Blue Dragon RalOGrad by Tsuneo Takano and Takeshi Obata (Death Note) B.O.D.Y. by Ao Mimori Fallen Vampire by Kimura Yuri Gun Blaze West by Nobuhiro Watsuki (Ruruoni Kenshin) Ion by Arina Tanemura Monkey High by Akira Shouko Nightmare Inspector: Yumekui Kenbun by Shin Mashiba The Record of a Fallen Vampire by Kyou Shirodaira and Yuri Kimura Short-tempered Melancholy by Akira Shouko Slam Dunk by Inoue Takehiko (formerly released by Raijin) Switch by Otoh Saki and Tomomi Nakamura Time Stranger Kyoko by Arina Tanemura Yen Press Kaze no Hana by Mizta Ushio Kieli by Akita Shoten Sundome by Kazuto Okata
Weak Showing For Manga at the Eisners
The 2007 Eisner Awards, one of the most prestigious in the realm of North American comics, the only manga winner was Dark Horse's release of Old Boy, and in that case it was in the dedicated Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Japan category. Nobuaki Minegishi's manga served as the inspiration for Park Chan-wook's highly regarded movie. The Manga Blog looks at other manga nominees here. A complete list of winners can be read here.
Robotech Follow-up Confirmed
Anime News Network relays that at Harmony Gold's Comic-Con panel, Tommy Yune officially confirmed that a second Robotech: Shadow Rising, a follow-up to Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles is in pre-production.
Dark Horse Initiatives, Including CLAMP Project
Dark Horse announced that they will be publishing a new original manga created by Satsuki Igarashi, Mokona, Tsubaki Nekoi and Ageha Ohkawa.—the manga-ka all-female supergroup known to their millions of fans worldwide as CLAMP. These four brilliant writers and artists work together to produce award-winning, best-selling manga, including RG VEDA, X, Chobits, Tsubasa, and xxxHOLiC. CLAMP's original manga with Dark Horse will be launched simultaneously in the United States, Japan, and Korea. The story will come out in a small digest consisting of about eighty pages each, which will then be collected into trade paperbacks with bonus material. CLAMP and Dark Horse are coining the bilingual term Mangettes to describe this innovative new format for manga distribution. This digest format, or Mangette, signifies CLAMP's personal wish to reach their large international readership by now speaking to them directly as artists through Dark Horse, and on a basis of equality with their Japanese fans. CLAMP and Dark Horse chose the term Mangettes to describe this revolutionary format, whose Japanese pronunciation, mangetsu, means "the full moon." The two kanji in mangetsu also have the individual meanings of "fulfilled" and "monthly," reflecting what will be a monthly appearance of each CLAMP Mangette. According to CLAMP, "Mangettes are a completely brand new experience for us, too, and we're really happy to be working on this. And we're really looking forward to the day when we can bring you this new story from CLAMP, and the day when we can meet our fans face-to-face to hear what you think about Mangettes!" Dark Horse will be reviving their Dark Horse present anthology on MySpace. The online series will include original content. It's inaugural issue includes: Sugar Shock, the debut new comic from artist Fábio Moon and Joss Whedon, creator of the popular television shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly, and author of the highly successful Dark Horse Comics miniseries, Fray, among others The Umbrella Academy by artist Gabriel Bá and Gerard Way, lead singer of the band My Chemical Romance Samurai by Ron Marz and Luke Ross Comic-Con Murder Mystery by Rick Geary New issues will be available exclusively on MySpace the first week of every month, with the second issue premiering the first week of September.
UK Tales of Earth Site
A site for the UK release of Ghibli's Tales of Earthsea has gone online here. The film opens in British theatres on August 3rd.
Yawara Makes a Comic-Con Appearance
Anime News Network reports that AnimEigo was giving away promotion copies of the first four episodes of Naoki Urasawa's (Monster) sports drama Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl. A box set of the anime is scheduled to be released later this year.
Anime Bento Festival This Fall
Anime News Network reports that digital theater distributor NCM Fathom will launch the Anime Bento Festival this fall. Anime to be shown include ""Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles" - Wednesday, Sept. 19th "Fullmetal Alchemist - The Movie - Conqueror of Shambala" - Thursday, Sept. 20th "Lupin the III: The Castle of Cagliostro" - Wednesday, Sept. 26th "Karas - The Prophecy" - Thursday, Sept. 27th Tickets for "Anime Bento" can be purchased for $10.00 at www.FathomEvents.com or at participating theatre box offices beginning August 11th.
Anime Retrospective Included in Starz Original Project
Starz Inside , a new monthly series of original specials from Starz Entertainment, begins airing in September with Fog City Mavericks, followed by Bloodsucking Cinema; Hollywood Goes Gaming; and Anime: Drawing a Revolution. Starz Inside will be hosted by film critic Richard Roeper. Anime: Drawing a Revolution , premieres December 17. The special not only looks at its pioneers and creators, but the influences on its own Japanese culture, the world in general and the leading Hollywood filmmakers. Films include Spirited Away, Ghost in the Shell, Princess Mononoke, Akira, The Matrix, Transformers and others.
Dragon Ball on Blu-Ray Details
Anime on DVD and IGN report Dragon Ball Z movie Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan and Broly: Second Coming will be released on a single Blu-ray disc this November. The features themselves have been master in high-def from the 35mm Japanese film, with a new 5.1 Surround Sound mix. Bonus material will be in 1920 x 1080p HD.
ADV Films Dubs Appleseed: Ex Machina
Anime on DVD reports ADV Films has announced that they will be handling the English language dub for the Warner Bros. release of Appleseed: Ex Machina.
Tekkonkinkreet Recognized at Fantasia
Anime News Netwok notes that the Fantasia science fiction and fantasy cinema festival awarded Michael Arias' Tekkonkinkreet the best animated/stop motion film of the festival. Other winners are listed here
Shinobi (Basilisk Version) Remake in the Works
Twitch reports that Max Makowski (Singapor's One Last Dance) will be developing modernized remake of doomed lovers/ninja deathmatch movie Shinobi, based on Futaro Yamada's Kouga Ninja Scrolls novel (basis for the Baslisk anime/manga) for Universal Pictures. Makowski's movie concern Hong Kong based young lover representing feuding multinational security forces.
Gundam 00 Staff
Arccoding to Gunota, the staff for the Seiji Mizushima (Fullmetal Alchemist) directed Gundam 00 includes: SF advisors - Tomohiro Chiba, Kenji Teraoka Sound director - Misafumi Mima Music - Kenji Kawai Executive producers - Seiji Takeda (Mainichi Broadcasting), Yasuo Miyakawa (Sunrise) Art design - Nobuhito Sue (Kusanagi) Setting cooperation - Isaku Okabe Color design - Akemi Tejima Art director - Takeshi Satou (Kusanagi) Producers - Hiro Maruyama (Mainichi Broadcasting), Hiroomi Iketani (Sunrise), Shin Sasaki (Sunrise) L'Arc En Ciel's new song "Daybreak's Bell", on sale in October, will be the first theme song for Gundam 00
Death Note Spinoff Dated
Anime News Network reports that the Death Note spin-off movie L, featuring the teen detective atagonist of the suspence manga, will open in Japan on February 9, 2008. The website for the movie features a new trailer. The movie will be directed by the Ring's Hideo Nakata.
Del Rey Talk San Diego Announcements
Del Rey, announced the following titles, scheduled for Spring 2007 MANGA FAIRY TAIL, a manga from Hiro Mashima, the bestselling author of Rave Masters, is the highly-anticipated highlight of the Spring 2008 list. Serialized in Kodansha's Shonen Magazine, FAIRY TAIL is a consistent player in the Japanese manga bestseller list, reaching #2 in May 2007. With an art style reminiscent of manga bestseller One Piece, this adventure series brings readers to a magical world to follow 17-year-old Lucy on her quest to become a full-fledged magician and join the ranks of her dream guild, Fairy Tail. FAIRY TAIL will hit stores in April 2008. FAIRY TAIL Miyuki Eto's HELL GIRL, a stylish supernatural thriller with dark concepts of revenge, will be published by Del Rey Manga in February 2008. The manga introduces a mysterious website that can only be accessed at the stroke of midnight. Rumor has it that if you post a grudge there, Hell Girl will appear to drag whoever torments you into the inferno. The HELL GIRL anime will be released in the U.S. by FUNimation. HELL GIRL MINIMA!, by Machiko Sakurai, is a shojo series with high school drama, romance and magic. Quiet Ame doesn't have any friends at her high school, and spends most of her time and energy on her toy collection. One day she buys a toy unlike any other—Nikori. And while Nikori is a super-cute toy, she also talks and has a mind of her own! As Ame's new best friend, Nikori helps Ame to become the girl she's always wanted to be. MINIMA! will be released in March 2008. Filled with action and comedy, YOZAKURA QUARTET features a group of heroic teens with supernatural powers who have started a unique club: The Hizumi Everyday Life Consultation Office. One day, a mysterious cat-eared man appears who affects their plans to defend their town. Is he friend or foe? Written by Suzuhito Yasuda, YOZAKURA QUARTET will be released in March 2008. YOZAKURA ME AND THE DEVIL BLUES is a fictionalized account of the life of Delta blues legend Robert Johnson. The manga explores the legend of Johnson selling his soul to the devil. Created by Akira Hiromoto and originally serialized in Kodansha's Afternoon magazine, the first volume will be released in Summer 2008. FAN BOOK The eagerly awaited GENSHIKEN FAN BOOK, by Kio Shimoku, will be released in Summer 2008. A welcome addition to the top selling Del Rey series GENSHIKEN, it will tell fans everything they need to know about the Genshiken club, as well as the anime and manga the group loves. GENSHIKEN MANGA NOVELS From Hideyuki Kikuchi, the creator of acclaimed manga Vampire Hunter D, comes DARK WARS: MEIJI DRACULA, a manga novel featuring a new adventure in the Count Dracula saga. Set in 19th century Japan, Count Dracula engages in a battle to the death with Japan's greatest martial artists. DARK WARS: MEJI DRACULA will be published in February 2008. DARK WARS PSYCHO BUSTERS: THE NOVEL is based on the popular PSYCHO BUSTERS manga series, the first volume of which will be published in November 2007 by Del Rey Manga. A group of renegade teenagers with extraordinary supernatural powers find themselves on the run from a shadowy government organization intent on using their powers for evil. From Yuya Aoki, the creator of bestselling Get-Backers, PSYCHO BUSTERS: THE NOVEL is prose for manga readers with an entertaining, accessible style with manga-style themes. Volume one will be released in April 2008. PSYCHO BUSTERS NOVEL VIDEO GAME TIE-IN The acquisition of the PHOENIX WRIGHT: ACE ATTORNEY manga series marks Del Rey Manga's first video game tie-in manga. Based on Capcom's hit series for the Nintendo DS, the manga chronicles the further adventures of the two main characters of the popular video game: Phoenix Wright, an ambitious young defense lawyer with more enthusiasm than experience, and Miles Edgeworth, his handsome and ruthless prosecutor rival. Fans of the courtroom-based video game will learn more about these characters' rich back stories while following their latest adventures. Originally printed as a four-volume series in Japan, PHOENIX WRIGHT: ACE ATTORNEY will be published in a unique 2-volumes-in-1 format for the Del Rey Manga edition. Volume one will be released in April 2008. ORIGINAL ENGLISH MANGA Del Rey is pleased to announce two additions to its original English manga line, YOKAIDEN and THE REFORMED. YOKAIDEN creator Nina Matsumoto's first claim to fame is a piece of fanart featuring characters from the popular television show, The Simpsons, reimagined in a manga style. Her first manga features the story of a boy who loves yokai, a class of creature in Japanese lore also known as demons, spirits, and monsters. However, a fateful encounter leaves our hero, Haramachi, in search of the single yokai who killed his last living relative. While in search of the one-legged water imp, Haramachi comes across a colorful cast of characters, including a ruthless wandering ronin haunted by a fox's curse. YOKAIDEN will be published in Fall 2008. THE REFORMED features the writing talents of Christopher Hart, of the bestselling How To Draw Manga series, and unique art from Indonesian artist Anzu in her American debut. A mysterious, brooding vampire falls in love with a human girl, and she leads him on the path to redemption. THE REFORMED will debut in Summer 2008.