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Animation and Anime

A Look at Action Anime Pumpkin Scissors and Witchblade and News Updates

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Anime Preview: Pumpkin Scissors Volume 1 To be released by ADV Films October 23, 2007

Surveying the multitudes of Japanese fan comic doujinshi, an apparent thread in the hard-core geek otaku collective is a fascination with military trappings. There is the mecha cross-over with firearms and armored vehicles, but the ranks, the insignia and the uniforms are appealing in their own right. It might not carpet the field the way that the moe innocent hang-up might, but the centerpiece Comiket expo will invariably feature legions of fan comics that dress popular characters in what are unfortunately, frequently, very fascist military garb, typically, evocative of Nazism. Nor are mainstream creators immune to this draw of military order. Mamoru Oshii might have grown up in the student protest movement, and his heart might be with the radicals, but his aesthetic choices have tended towards the decidedly militaristic. At least since producers noticed the love for Gundam's Zeon, evoking the military has been a sales point for anime. After the banners and rank and file of Gundam's original antagonists, as the franchise progressed, most of its entries have looked to some point in military history for their uniforms. Even series like Fullmetal Panic (and Fullmetal Alchemist) acknowledge that if you give characters ranks, and dress some in uniforms, you'll capture the attention of a segment of fandom. Legend of Galactic heroes was a 110 episode OVA, released over the course of 9 yeas, with another 52 episodes of side story. Following something like that requires a dedicated hard-core audience. The appeal was that it took the history and aesthetic of 18th century European, particularly Prussian, conflicts and moved them into space. Pumpkin Scissors is tattooed with this military vibe. Uniforms: front and center. Ranks: present an accounted for; established, along with the accompanying regalia charted out in early dialog. Divisions and sub-divisions and secret black elites: right here.
The anime is set in a blurred take on Europe, ironically, a bit like that of Kiki's Delivery Service. It's a bit World War I, a bit World War II, a bit pre-World War I/pre-20th century states. Excluding a few technological conceits (drill tank), the look of the series is that of a society that has been lead by advances in killing technology: tanks, guns, chemical, and biological weapons. Against this is a story of man against the machines of war. That's literal. The central point of the action is a berserker leaping onto oncoming tanks to shoot high caliber rounds into the vehicle's pilot. Just because it has trench toe and shell shock doesn't mean that Pumpkin Scissors isn't drawn to war. There is some notion of social responsibility and yet, it does seem fond of the trappings. It's in its element discussing markings and organizations. The unusual name "Pumpkin Scissors" is a metaphor that works about as effectively as "Donkey Kong" does as a synonym for "Silly Monkey." Within the context of the series itself, this is the public moniker for the "Imperial Army State Section III," a small outfit given the role of providing war relief to subjects of the Royal Empire.
Matters commence mid-rhetoric. A graduating class of officers is being told that their leadership will break the stalemate between the Royal Empire and the Republic of Frost. As the speech reaches a pitch, a messenger rushes in and accounted that a ceasefire has been declared. Cut to a physically and spiritually torn apart veteran who muses, if a ceasefire could just be declared with no apparent victory or defeat, why hadn't it been called earlier? The central odd-couple of the piece are 2nd Lieutenant Alice L. Malvin and Corporal Randel Oland. She's an aristocrat from one of the state's inner circle of noble families, and she has followed the family tradition of military service to take the role of field commander for Pumpkin Scissors. She's also an idealistic liberal who forcefully asserts her sense of social justice. He's a hulking juggernaut who is still haunted by his service in the 901 Gespenst Jäger, Anti Tank Trooper platoon.
And, there's a dog. Courier Private First Class Mercury aka "Mer-Kun" or "Merc" is a marked feature among the supporting cast portraits of the anime's opening credits. And, he's the star of the closing credits. The only thing that trumps the ode to the unit's massager dog's high pitched entreaties to run fast and the accompanying cutesy noises is the random English phrase "unparalleled fire." The series speculates on the viewer might want and gives it to them. As such, women in maid outfits make a prominent early appearance, and they at least seem to be part of the backdrop going forward. The negative of impact maids and cute animals is that the series can not be taken entirely seriously, but it also benefits from not appearing to commit fully to a discussion on war. If the series is going to almost fetishize conflict, then discuss its impact, then the series is more palatable for not taking itself too seriously. There is a political statement in the works, but the exact nature is forthcoming. Watching out for the most vulnerable is obvious an aspect of the statement, but in at least one point, it seems to be developing an apologia for a just oligarchy, which would at least give the series a provocative opinion. The privileged military liberal character gives Pumpkin Scissors a sense of personality. Miyazaki did an amazing job with the archetype in the treatment of Kushana from the manga version of Nausicaa. Gundam SEED's handling of Cagalli seemed dependant on what use Mitsuo Fukuda had for the character at any given time. Here, Alice's mania makes the character an engaging dramatic centerpiece for the series. She might not be hyper-competent, but she can handle her duties, and she's evidently gifted in her instincts. On one hand, with her upbringing she's given to ceremony and barking orders. When she's on screen, she's reliably doing something interesting. On the other, she is so assured in her convictions that she has no problem staring down a tank. The interplay between Alice and Randel is unexpectedly sharp. Presumably the anime inherited this from the light novels on which it was based because Yuuji Hosono's script work on Trinity Blood and Guyver didn't feature this sort of repartee. This is especially seen in how Alice, as a commander and Randel as a soldier put one another in their place. Randel says of Alice's proclamations in the face of overwhelming opposing might that her actions are "not something a rational person would do." In turn, she comments that he has "eyes like Pilo". When he inquires who "Pilo" is, she responds "my pet horse."
Unlike some Gonzo works, Pumpkin Scissors is not in the hands of someone who is new to the role of director. Katsuhito Akiyama has been at it for over twenty years. He's the guy who did Thundercats (and Gall Force, Bastard!!, Armitage: Dual-Matrix, and the 2005 Guyver). Granted, his body of work has not been uniformly outstanding, but the complacency in Pumpkin Scissors' action scenes is a disappointment in that it is a bit of imagination shy of being remarkable. The trouble is not in the occasional use of familiar shorthand: blinding flashes to represent quick, slashing attacks, negative exposure with slow wound eruptions. It's that all the pieces are in place, and despite an effort by the characters to sell what is conceptually amazing, it just looks like a man jumping on a tank. The 3D models for the tanks look suitably heavy and impenetrable. The mechanical design for vehicles and weapons has a sense of how all the pieces fit into place. Light is setting the tone. Characters' expressions are suitably adapted to the nature of the moment. And yet, the tank stand-offs are neither real, in which case the danger of the stunt is suggested or unreal, in which anime physics become exhilarating to look at. It ends up as simple force on force. A slow moving tank meets up with a soldier who has been put into such a fearless state that he's waiting for it. Even if the solders walk away with different wounds, the confrontation becomes repetitive. The confrontation can be well constructed: guerilla units using a dam as a base of operations, contrived: nobles hunting their subjects for sport or children caught in out of control equipment, or well suited for genre: espionage ninja hijacking a tank as an engineer corps reverse engineers it. On an execution level the animation always holds up. And, the effect remains consistent too. Everything looks competent. Nothing captures the imagination. Pumpkin Scissors is resoundingly better than base line. It's more entertaining than an "also ran", and not classic. It's handling of war as a subject is not likely to provoke a serious reaction. Without invocating the painfully poignant engagements of the subject, this does not even approach it on the level that a Ryosuke Takahashi (Flag, VOTOMS, Gasaraki) anime might. Yet, its not entirely vacuous or nebulous. Quality scripting and engaging characters keep the series above the level of military fanservice.

Anime Spotlight: Witchblade Volume 1 Released by FUNimation

Witchblade opens to a scene of red skies and buildings collapsing onto a shaking earth. As chaos engulfs civilization, tendrils begin wrapping around a woman clutched in the fetal position. This vision resolves into a more natural order as a young girl shakes her mother awake. Soon, the anime establishes that this woman, Masane Amaha, was found at the epicenter of a cataclysmic earthquake, holding onto her then infant daughter, Rihoko. At the time, she had no memory and no maternal instincts. In the six intervening years, Masane may not have pulled her life together or developed traditional motherly skills, but, now, she is as protective and as dedicated as any mother to her little "Riko." Motherly devotion is an unusual motivation for an anime series, and especially an action anime series. The team at Gonzo is not precisely departing from convention. First, you can't help but notice the enormous chest that character designer Makoto Uno (Masami Obari's mecha series Gravion) endowed the character with. Comments in Yasuko Kobayashi's (Galaxy Angel, Shakugan no Shana) script, and the angles/postures of Yoshimitsu Ohashi (Galaxy Angel) direction aren't going to let you forget it. Then, there's the factor that, as she is introduced and initially behaves, Masane Amaha falls into line with the standard rebellious, impulsive anime hot-head. The initial premise is that the precocious six year old girl is doing the cooking/cleaning/finances that keep the pair solvent. With Masane stealing a police car and using it to ram the car of the social worker carrying her daughter, her bouts of irrational, antisocial behavior don't exactly suggest that she is a mother who has that role figured out.
A character who was a mother, a creditable, functioning member of society and an action hero could really cause an anime series to stretch beyond well established confines, but this fun, hot young fantasy still has potential. Even if the character's physique does seem particularly commercially inspired, and even if, from a feminist perspective, it would be gratifying to see drama stemming from something other than the fact that the woman is a mess, the motherhood angle looks like it could complement what is presumably going to develop into an action driver work. Part of the intrigue for the series is that it concerns an adult with deep commitments. Part of the excitement that the series provokes is that, informed by popular media if nothing else, there's an expectation that this character should pull out some Bride/Ellen Ripley righteous anger when matters inevitably go amiss. As American superhero comic fans will recognize, Witchblade is based on the like named title from Top Cow. The basic premise of the franchise, which has run across several comics and a live action TV series, is that the mysterious Witchblade bonds with a woman, and in times of threat, erupts into a deadly, edged armor. Gonzo's anime incarnation applies this premise to an original character, whose experiences don't appear to overlap those of the comic. It is set in a variant of Japan in which efforts to recover from a disaster have been handled by instituting draconian measures. Agencies and major corporations apparently have been given the power to move people and small enterprises for the greater social good. A key aspect of this landscape is that these larger powers are contending over the Witchblade. Hints that the Witchblade turf wars were tied to the cataclysm are obvious, but, from a stand point of who's fighting who, by the end of the volume, it appears that some interesting pieces have been set on the board for use at some point in the series' future.
The series’ creators apparently enjoy with the series’ large cast. Filled out with the likes of captain of a small bay craft, loose cannon freelance photographer, hard boiled detective who makes pronounces with a traditional fan, goth fortune teller and so on, the variety and specialization approaches almost Simpson like proportion. Every opportunity is taken to demonstrate Makoto Uno’s well cartooned design. Even this early on, many of these characters have fallen into static routines, with the same characters repeatedly expressing the same gripes, but the creators’ evident fondness for their support cast still translates to a compelling on-screen community.
The most pronounced shortcoming of this first set of episodes is that its fight scenes are uninspiring. This is ostensibly an action series. Yes, the characters matter, and the mystery matters, but the central conflict is not going to be settled by political intrigue or corporate gamesmanship. Early episodes start off the conflict with fights against people who turn into industrial machines: a rough looking guy who turns into some sort of cork screw/crusher, fat geeks who turn into giant microwaves. Generally, a rival is preferred to a disposable foe, but these one-off's are especially inconsequential. Episodic threats in anime and sentei live action, have traditionally at least been exotic. Especially with parallels to Devil Lady (aka Devilman Lady) calling Go Nagai's oddities to mind, these walking appliance suffer by comparison. The repetition and the failure to deliver a jolt calls the creature/mechanical design beyond the Witchblade itself into questions. The action early in an anime series can be slight if it suggests an implicit promise that "this is it for now, but wait till you see what we'll show you later." For example, in the initial fights of Ruruoni Kenshin, the lead ended engagements as soon as he drew is blade, but with a suggestion that when the character is challenged, the flourishes will be pushed into something more elaborately secular. Surprisingly, the writer and director behind the over-achieving, clever Galaxy Angel just plow through perfunctory fights in Witchblade. The trouble is not so much that these introductory fights end with one-hit-kills as it is that there's no style to it. Figures are transposed across screen before a slam or bisecting slice kills the opponent. It doesn't look fierce. It does not look efficient. Unlike the motherhood aspect of the premise, there's not apparent trajectory for how this tab a into slot turns into something exciting.
Gonzo could easily have gone the route of casting Witchblade as a warped version of the anime magical girl standard, in which a teenage school girl becomes a killing machine. The studio deserves credit for not using the premise as another vehicle for adolescent angst. Often, the anime operates as a competent action serial, but the anime has been benefiting from the use of a character in an untraditional stage of life for the medium.

IDW To Publish Umezu Work

The Beat reports that IDW Publishing will be releasing Reptilia by horror maestro Kazuo Umezu (Drifting Classroom). A new cover will be produced by Ashley Wood Popbot). REPTILIA, 320 B&W pages in manga-sized softcover, hits stores in October, retailing for $14.99.
A preview can be seen here

Figures News

Organic Hobby, Inc in conjunction with CM’s Corporation will be introducing its two new VOTOM Scopedog products for the U.S. market, "Scopedog (Blue Knight & Normal Vers.)." "Scopedog (Blue Knight & Normal Vers.)" are based on the famous TV Anime action series "Armored Trooper VOTOM" created by Ryosuke Takahashi and Sunrise, aired in Japan from April 1, 1983 to March 23, 1984 on TV Tokyo. "Scopedog (Blue Knight & Normal Vers.)" are 5-6" tall PVC/ABS/PC figure and comes with multiple articulation points. "Scopedog (Blue Knight & Normal Vers.)" will be available in November with a SRP of $55.10.
After the successful releases of the first generation of Revoltech’s figures sculpted by "Yamaguchi Katsuhisa," Organic Hobby, Inc in conjunction with Kaiyodo will introduces its new products for the U.S. market, "Revoltech Gaiking." Revoltech Gaiking is the super robot based on the anime series "Gaiking: Legend of Daiku-Maryu," produced by Toei Animation. The figures stand five and half inches tall, have fourteen Revoltech joint articulation points or more and each character comes equipped with "Replaceable" parts and accessories. The figure will be available with a SRP of $22.00.
Yamato USA has priced 1/12 Scale Red Shoulder Custom Parts: Armored Trooper Votoms now through the 10/31 (regularly $68). The package includes9-tube Shoulder Rocket Launcher with rockets; 2-tube SMM Missile Launcher with missiles; arm-mounted Solid Shooter; 4-barrel Gattling Gun; two Magazine Clips, Mission Pack; and last, but not least, the infamous Red Left Shoulder.

Tigarah Returns To America With Universal Japan Record Deal

Japanese rapper Tigarah, who performs in Japanese and English, has announced that she is returning to the US and has inked a deal with Universal Records Japan for her debut album to be released in Spring 2008. Gearing up for the promotion of the album’s first single "Roppongi-Dori"-a culturally inspired song titled after a major street in Tokyo-the Japanese queen is scheduled for several promo activities in America. This includes a video shoot as well as a special engagement at The Highlands Thursday, October 18, marking her first appearance in Los Angeles in over a year. In addition, TIGARAH’S single "Color, Culture, Money, Beauty" will be featured in the upcoming EA game Fifa 2008. TIGARAH will be appearing at The Highlands Hollywood (6801 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood) with B-Real and The Shapeshifters on Thursday, October 18

Naruto Sales Rankings

VIZ Media, LLC has announced that NARUTO manga volumes 16, 17 and 18 occupied the first, second and third positions on Nielsen BookScan’s noted Top 50 Graphic Novel list for the week ending September 23, 2007. The trio of latest volumes from the popular ninja action series has remained in the top three spots on the BookScan Graphic Novel list for four consecutive weeks. More than 2.3 million NARUTO manga volumes have been sold domestically since the series launched. Further expanding the favorable manga sales news for the week of September 23, VIZ Media titles occupied a total of 33 of the Top 50 spots on the Graphic Novel list. Various NARUTO titles, including previous manga editions and a recently released NARUTO ANIME PROFILES: EPISODES 38-80 book, swept 14 of the Top 50 listings. Some other notable VIZ Media placements include BLEACH Vol. 20 (at number 10), DEATH NOTE vol. 1 (at number 11), THE BEST OF POK…MON ADVENTURES: RED (at number 12), THE GENTLEMEN'S ALLIANCE Ü Vol. 3 (at number 15) and FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST Vol. 14 (at number 17).
Newsarama's blog notes that in this week's book, not graphic novel list, Vol. 18 of fell 53 spots to No. 127, Vol. 17 fell 49 places to No. 149, and Vol. 16 fell off the chart.

Nominees for Japan's Media Arts Festival Announced

Anime News Network has listed the anime and manga that have been nominated by the general public for the The Japanese government's Ministry of Cultural Affairs' 11th Annual Media Arts Festival. Animation Category
  • Toward the Terra... (Osamu Yamazaki)
  • Denno Coil (Mitsuo Iso)
  • Red Garden (Kou Matsuo)
  • Lost Utopia (Mirai Mizue)
  • Darker than BLACK (Tensai Okamura)
Manga Category
  • Soredemo machi wa mawatteiru (Masakazu Ishiguro)
  • Kayo-chan no Nimotsu (Sumako Kari)
  • Aria (Kozue Amano)
  • Yasashii C++ Part 2 (Takahiro Yonemura)
  • Chimuchimu Parade (Shiho Suzuki)

FUNimation Works to Pull Romeo×Juliet Fansub

Anime News Network reports that while they have not currently licensed the title, FUNimation assisted animation studio GONZO is halting fan translations (fansub) of the recent show RomioxJuliet. Fansub group Shinsen-Subs recently complied with a cease and desist letter. In a statement to ANN, FUNimation said, "...[I]t is important to note that the rights owned by Japanese producers are still applicable, and enforceable, worldwide even before the anime is licensed for local distribution."

Viz Launches Blue Dragon Anime Site

IZ Media has launched a new website dedicated to the BLUE DRAGON™ anime and video game property at bluedragon.viz.com. BLUE DRAGON is a highly anticipated action adventure anime series based on the popular Xbox 360 Role Playing Game which debuted in North America in August. The website is live and currently features a trailer for the forthcoming anime series, character descriptions and artwork from the anime, and a news section that will be updated regularly with announcements regarding the launch of the anime series. The anime series debuted in Japan on TV Tokyo on April 7, 2007 and is produced by Studio Pierrot, which is well known for its work on NARUTO and BLEACH.

Latest NewType USA

The latest Newtype USA features a cover story on Bleach, as well as a 10 page preview of the new Gundam 00, and a feature on the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Pumpkin Scissors, Phoenix and Welcome to the N-H-K! The manga insert is the latest in the exclusive serialization of CLAMP’s KOBATO.

NYICFF Screening Ghibli's The Cat Returns

The NYICFF will be screening Studio Ghibli's The Cat Returns on October 13th and 14th. Tickets can be purchased here. THE CAT RETURNS Sat & Sun, Oct 13 & 14 - 11:00am Japan, Hiroyuki Morita, 2002/2005, 75 min IFC Center - 323 6th Ave @ West 3rd In English - Recommended ages 4-8 From the Academy Award-winning Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service and countless others, comes The Cat Returns, featuring voices of Anne Hathaway, Tim Curry, and Elliot Gould. Walking with her friend after a dreary day at school, Haru eyes a cat with a small gift box in its mouth attempting to cross a busy street. The cat fumbles the package in the middle of the road just as a large truck is rapidly bearing down. Using her friend's lacrosse stick, Haru manages to scoop the cat away to safety. Then, to her amazement, the cat promptly gets up on its hind legs, brushes itself off, and thanks her very politely. Strange behavior indeed, but this is nothing compared to what happens later that evening when the King of Cats shows up in front of Haru's house in a feline motorcade replete with vassals, maidens, and even Secret Service cats. In a show of gratitude for saving his son's life, the cat king decrees that Haru shall marry the cat prince and come live as a princess in the secret Kingdom of Cats. And so, against her will, the quiet suburban schoolgirl is pitched into a fantastical but dangerous world and must make her way back home. NYICFF presented the US premiere of this English language version at the 2005 festival.
The NYICFF will also be screening the Pelicanman from Finland on November 3rd and 4th. PELICANMAN Finland/Sweden, Lisa Helminen, 2005, 86 min Sat & Sun, Nov 3 & 4 - 11:00am Q&A BY PRODUCER HANNA HEMILA FOLLOWING SUNDAY SHOW IFC Center - 323 6th Ave @ West 3rd In Finnish with English subtitles - Recommended ages 4-8 A festival favorite (Cannes, Toronto, Berlin, Tribeca), Pelicanman is a fantasy-allegory about a pelican who becomes human, imitating our looks, learning our culture, getting a job at the opera, and even falling in love with a graceful dancer. Ten-year- olds Emil and Elsa, his new neighbors, immediately see through the disguise and, as they teach him to read and navigate the human world, the Pelican discovers the best humanity has to offer: poetry and science, philosophy and friendship. But the Pelican also learns the dangers, when his bird-allergic landlady becomes suspicious and convinces the townspeople to capture the Pelican and place him in a zoo. Critics have compared the film to everything from Felini's Amarcord to "the Finnish E.T.," but we see Chaplin-esque innocence and naivetÈ in Kari Ketonen's delightfully absurd portrayal of the Pelican who teaches us about our world as he experiences it for himself.

Robotech Returns to Palladium Books

Palladium Books and Harmony Gold USA have worked out new license for pen-and-paper role-playing games and sourcebooks based on the Robotech television series and its latest sequel, Robotech The Shadow Chronicles. Palladium's Robotech RPG, first published in 1986, was the game that introduced many gamers to the role-playing experience. "Palladium has a long tradition of working with Robotech and we are thrilled that they have this license again," said Tommy Yune, creative director at Harmony Gold and director of Robotech The Shadow Chronicles. "We look forward to working with Tommy Yune and Harmony Gold to create a brand new series of RPG titles for the next era of Robotech gaming." said Kevin Siembieda, publisher and founder of Palladium Books. "It is our intention to make the upcoming new Robotech and Robotech The Shadow Chronicles RPGs even more fun and exciting than the original RPG to please long-time gamers and enthrall a new generation of fans." Palladium Books is aiming to release its first RPG, Robotech the Shadow Chronicles Role-Playing Game, in time for Christmas 2007. Robotech THE SHADOW CHRONICLES RPG The role-playing game will pick up where the DVD movie begins. The return of the Robotech Expeditionary Force, the separation of Rick Hunter and the SDF-3 from the rest of the fleet, and everything else that is part of the universe of Robotech The Shadow Chronicles.
  • Written by Robotech RPG creator Kevin Siembieda.
  • Cover by veteran artist Apollo Okamura.
  • Packed with detailed illustrations throughout.
  • Comprehensive character, mecha, spacecraft, and vessel statistics and images.
  • Mecha pilots and other fleet personnel Occupational Character Classes (O.C.C.).
  • Additional background information and detail as space permits.
  • Fast-playing RPG rules. Mega-Damage setting.
  • Printed in popular manga size for easy portability.
  • End of November release for holiday season (tentative).
  • 192 pages - $16.95 retail - Cat. No. 550.
  • Available in the U.S. and Canada only (other territories to follow).
PALLADIUM BOOKS' PLANS FOR Robotech Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about Palladium's future Robotech plans:
  • At this time, Palladium has no plans to reprint the past Robotech role-playing games and sourcebooks in their original form. The upcoming RPG books will be new.
  • Palladium will use some of the best artwork and text from the original games, but all of the new books will be substantially rewritten, expanded upon, and illustrated with much new artwork.
  • The timeline will be brought into line with Harmony Gold's current Robotech continuity.
  • Statistics will be adjusted and tweaked, rules will be modified and updated, and fan input will be taken into careful consideration.
  • Much more attention will be devoted to The Southern Cross segment of the Robotech saga.
  • The current, but evolving plan is to release Robotech RPGs and sourcebooks in the following order: Robotech The Shadow Chronicles RPG, a New Generation/Invid sourcebook, The Macross Saga RPG, and Southern Cross sourcebook followed by more sourcebooks for them all, rewritten and retold.
  • The manga size: With the popularity of manga and anime, this compact format will pay homage to Robotech's Japanese origins. The games and sourcebooks will contain about 192-224 pages and will measure approximately 5 x 7 _ inches. They will read front to back with art and text at a readable size, sell for $16.95 retail, and contain material that should appeal, not just to gamers, but to anyone who enjoys Robotech.
  • Other advantages of the manga size: Portable and easy to carry in a jacket pocket, backpack, etc. For collectors of manga, the game will fit conveniently on the shelf with their books. Furthermore, the format is expected to attract manga readers who have never played a role-playing game. Many first-time gamers discovered the genre with the original Robotech RPG and sourcebooks in comic book stores.
  • Deluxe editions: Palladium is also considering producing special "deluxe" printings of the new Robotech role-playing games and sourcebooks in the traditional 8_ x 11 size with 160-224 pages (or more), featuring additional artwork, mecha transformation sequences, and details.
  • Palladium has been conducting research for months in anticipation of the new Robotech RPG, and is ready to dive into the production of the first of many, new Robotech titles.

20 'Black Jack' Sketches Found

The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that about 20 rare, rough sketches from "Black Jack," a popular manga by celebrated artist Osamu Tezuka, have been discovered, The Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum announced Friday. The sketches depicting Tezuka's unlicensed but gifted manga doctor Black Jack will be displayed alongside the completed versions at the museum in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, until Oct. 30. The sketches were meant for the manga's 232nd installment, titled "Kyozo" (False Image), published in the boy's magazine Champion in April 1979.

Super Robot Wars Site Launches

Bandai Visual USA has launched a site to promote their upcoming release of the Super Robot Wars: Original Generation - The Animation here. The series follows the original characters and mecha from the giant robot strategy game franchise that pulls in robots from across the spectrum of popular anime (everything from Gundam to Full Metal Panic. On a related note, fans can play a Freedom Trivia Quiz, and if get all the answers correct, they get to download a special secret content at here

Right Stuf’s Nozomi Entertainment Launches Astro Boy Official Site

Anime producer and distributor Right Stuf, Inc. and Nozomi Entertainment announced the launch of astroboy.rightstuf.com, the official Web site celebrating Osamu Tezuka’s groundbreaking 1963 ASTRO BOY anime series. At astroboy.rightstuf.com, visitors can view the trailer of this fan favorite, download Astro Boy wallpapers and avatars, and listen to an exclusive interview with Frederik L. Schodt, author of The Astro Boy Essays, about the significance of Dr. Tezuka’s works worldwide, the differences between the Astro Boy manga and its anime adaptations, and Tezuka’s love-hate relationship with his best-known creation. The 104-episode U.S. edition of the 1960s Astro Boy series - which is currently airing on Adult Swim - is available on DVD from Right Stuf and Nozomi Entertainment in two formats: Ultra Collector’s Edition Box Sets containing 52 episodes each (plus extras) and 26-episode Mini-Sets, now found exclusively at Best Buy.

Jakob Jensen Named Animation Director on Imagi's "Astroboy"

Francis Kao, Co-CEO & Chief Creative Officer of IMAGI Animation Studios has announced that Jakob H. Jensen has been signed as animation director for their adaptation of Astro Boy. Born in Denmark, Jensen launched his animation career at A-Film in Copenhagen at the age of 17. He subsequently moved to London to work on Balto. In 1995 Jensen joined Dreamworks Animation where he served as Animator on such films as The Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado, Madagascar and Shark Tale. Most notably, Jensen served as Senior Supervising Animator on the title character, Sinbad, in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, as Supervising Animator on both Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and Flushed Away, and as Character Designer on Over The Hedge. Imagi's CG animated Astory Boy is scheduled for release in 2009. Brady (Toy Story 2, Everyone's Hero) directs, and Maryann Garger is the producer.

World Cosplay Summit Partners with New York Anime Festival

The New York Anime Festival (NYAF) announced a major partnership with the World Cosplay Summit, the leading international cosplay event which takes place annually in Japan and attracts an audience of cosplay enthusiasts and professionals from many countries all over the globe. Festival organizers note that the partnership will provide NYAF with the opportunity to stage the World Cosplay Summit's Official USA Preliminary Round. The winners of the convention's Masquerade will receive a free trip to Japan to represent the USA in the World Cosplay Summit Finals in Summer 2008. The New York Anime Festival is the only American anime convention approved to be part of the World Cosplay Summit. The World Cosplay Summit joins existing Masquerade sponsor Anime Insider Magazine, which will feature a photo spread of the Masquerade's winners in an upcoming issue and also award the winners a complimentary year subscription to the publication. The New York Anime Festival will be held December 7th - 9th at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. Interested cosplayers can find the full rules and apply for the Anime Insider and World Cosplay Summit Masquerade online at here. Applications must be received by November 15.

ILLUSION ON-DEMAND Offers Anime Video on Demand

In addition to titles likes "Strange", "Venus Rises", "Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere", "Day of the Triffids," sci-fi video on demand ILLUSION will be offering CPM Anime. For Halloween Illusion is offering a special lineup which includes the anime features "Shadow Star Narutaru", "Kakurenbo: Hide and Seek", "Black Jack: Infection" and "Ichi: Zero"; Coming to Illusion in November are premieres of the updated classic "The Quatermass Experiment" (starring Jason Flemyng, Mark Gatiss and Doctor Who's David Tennant ) and a VOD airing of Mamoru Oshii's "Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer". Illusion is currently available in twenty states and is free to all digital subscribers. National expansion will continue through 2008 as more affiliates add Illusion to their VOD services. A complete list of affiliates is available online at illusiontv.com.

Jennifer Davidson Named Sr. VP, Programming & Scheduling for Cartoon Network

Stuart Snyder, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Turner Broadcasting's Animation, Young Adults and Kids Media group announced that Jennifer Davidson has been promoted to senior vice president of programming and scheduling. In her new role Davidson will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day scheduling and strategic positioning of all on-air content for Cartoon Network and Boomerang, as well as on-air promotion for Adult Swim. Her duties also will include overseeing the scheduling of each network's long-range on-air promotional calendar, incorporating all on-air promotion strategies and placement. Davidson was recently vice president of marketing, ad trade, consumer products trade and strategic operations for Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. She was responsible for overseeing all planning and execution of on-air and off-channel network brand strategies, including trade and consumer products advertising. Among her accomplishments, Davidson was part of the team that launched Adult Swim in Sept. 2001 as a separate entertainment service targeted for young adults.

CW Scraps Kids WB for 4Kids

CW has dropped what was their Saturday morning anime block, Kids WB in favor of a 4Kids block. 4Kids, known to anime fans for their localizations of Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh ad One Piece, is currently provided a Saturday block for Fox and will continue to do so. According to Variety, under the five-year pact, 4Kids will program five hours of children’s programming between 7 a.m. and noon on Saturdays on the CW starting September 2008. 4Kids will handle all national commercial advertising, and will share in ad revenue with the CW. The CW’s share will be applied against a guarantee 4Kids will pay the net.

No More Buddha Hard Covers

Vertical's blog has responded to queries about the availability of the hard cover edition of volume 6 of Osamu Tezuka's BUDDHA. The message on the site states: Unfortunately, we don’t have any reprints planned right now. We can sympathize with the distress of those who own the entire series in hardcover EXCEPT for Volume 6, but unfortunately demand for the book isn’t great enough to justify the (very high) cost of going back to press for a hardcover book. Fortunately, the entire Buddha series is available in trade paperback, and hopefully should be for a good long time. But if I were you I would try to collect the entire series as soon as you can-just look at what happened to the people who hesitated with the hardcovers.

Second Half of Karas Soon

KARAS: The Revelation, long-awaited conclusion to Tatsunoko Productions' (Speed Racer, Gatchaman) KARAS: The Prophecy, will be released by Manga Entertainment on DVD for $19.97 A two-disc set, packaged in a foil embossed slipcase, including The Prophecy and The Revelation will be available November 20, with a new low SRP of $29.97. For more, see www.karas-movie.com

Death Note in Vancouver

Shusuke Kaneko is coming to Vancouver Canada for the Western Canadian premiere of his film DEATH NOTE as the Vancouver Comicon, Monster Attack Team Canada and Churchill Film present the first Vancouver screenings of the live-action DEATH NOTE movie Saturday, October 20th at the SUB Auditorium, Student Union Building, 6138 Student Union Blvd, UBC Tokyo based film makers Norman England and Shusuke Kaneko will visit the city for events on Saturday October 20th and Sunday October 21st. 11:30AM screening of DEATH NOTE -- $6 2:15PM Double-bill screening of IDOL, and DEATH NOTE, followed by a Q&A session with directors Shusuke Kaneko (Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, and Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack) and Norman England -- $10 Tickets will be available at the door . Promotional giveaways courtesy of Viz Media. iDOL is the story of an evil toy from outer space that lives off its owner's emotions. When it falls into the hands of a young, Japanese toy collecting otaku (fan boy), his life begins to fall apart . . . or was it falling apart already? On Sunday October 21st, the directors will be signing autographs at OF HORRORS AND HEROES #9, Monster Attack Team's yearly show devoted to fantasy film, and the models, toys, and garage kits from those films. For more information on these and other screenings, see here

Worth Checking Out

Richard Bazley (supervising animator at local favorite Iron Giant) has put together a tributes to 30's animation on his Directed for Sky commercial. Great behind the scene commentary can be read on the animator's Drawing Conclusions blog ICV's reviews Dan Marks, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Development here and here Same Hat! Same Hat! looks at Kazuo Umezu's MUMMY TEACHER here MangaBlog notes du9 has interviewed an Junko Mizuno. Japanamerica's Roland Kelts was interviewed by NPR. The Daily Yomiuri has featured Kelts' thoughts on women in anime and manga here In conjunction with Manga: The Complete Guide, Jason Thompson lists 10 manga for new readers The Comics Journal talks to Thompson here Shoujo guru Matt Thorn comments on how Japanese readers process manga on Sporadic Sequential 4 news pages of American Godzilla '94 have been posted here Via Awesome Engine The Kawaii Jenny trailer AltJapan points out this Getter Robo/Anpanman mash-up. For those unfamiliar, Anpanman, which follows a heroic piece of pastry, is one of the perennially popular children's anime shows. Aaron McGruder's The Boondocks starts its new season October 8th - 11:30 on Adult Swim Trailers have been YouTube'd Soul Plane 2: The Blackjacking! The N-Word! ComicCon Trailer Thanks for The Brother on The Wall for sending these Boondocks clios along.

For more commentary see the AICN Anime MySpace.

Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 5, 2007, 12:06 p.m. CST

    pelicanman!

    by ironic_name

  • Oct. 5, 2007, 2:28 p.m. CST

    will you chimps report about astro boy?

    by ironic_name

    newsarama's blog has a new picture by imagi and interview.

  • Oct. 5, 2007, 2:32 p.m. CST

    congratulations Funimation

    by crayon

    You stopped the fansubbing of a shitty series. Now SS can fansub something that doesn't fail. In other news, CLANNAD ep 1 is out

  • Oct. 5, 2007, 6:26 p.m. CST

    I'm not sure Boondocks counts as anime...

    by Johnno

    But I'm sure glad you included it! I gotta get me these on DVD... what season is the new one? 3? Nigga I'm askin'...

  • Oct. 5, 2007, 8:50 p.m. CST

    Boondocks = ripoff of Eddie murphy's old standup

    by theonecalledshoe

    and pryor's and hell basically a slew of original standups. The Witchblade definitely has some good extreme closeups...very digable.

  • Oct. 6, 2007, 10:28 a.m. CST

    Not a fan

    by tme2nsb

    ...of the first two. That style is very unappealing to me. Anime isn't suppososed to be realistic...I want deformed characters. And yes, I love the ass shot there...

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