Anime Spotlight: Karas - The Revelation Released by Manga Entertainment
"Kinetic" is frequently thrown around when describing action media. In the case of Karas, it's the perfect adjective. The anime is at it's best when forces are rushing towards each other an colliding. Its armor clad hero prepares for the onslaught, adopting some sentai/superhero pose, then, with a neon sheen, he streaks towards his foe. This dark super hero meets the old anime standard of bad mojo in Shinjuku isn't a lofty concept to hang a series on and in practice it dodges thoughtful storytelling by a mile, but Karas and its conclusion deliver what a viewer would expect. In that, the work is a resounding success. After having his city reduced to a tentacle covered field of carnage, losing his power, getting shards of glass lodged into his eyes, the hero rises up to deliver an explosive response. For anyone who wants bold simple, action anime, Karas is one of the best choices to come along in years. While its animation features the modern digital/CG integrated look, from a number of standpoints, Karas is a throwback to earlier modes of storytelling. Rather than the two volume format used in its North American release, in Japan, Karas was a six part, direct to video OVA, a format that was far more prevalent in the 80's and earlier than it is today. To get to the North American format, Manga Entertainment removed opening/ending credits in the intermediary episodes. The project was presented to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the animation studio Tatsunoko Productions. It's a name with that is deeply ingrained in anime's exposure to North America. Tatsunoko produced a number of internationally recognizable anime classics, including Speed Racer, Macross (and the rest of the original Robotech trilogy), and apropos to Karas, the costumed action series that presented a Japanese take on the fundamentals of the American super hero: Gatchaman, Tekkaman, Time Bokan and their spin-offs. Karas is Tatsunoko's second go at updating and modernizing this type of hero and grafting them to supernatural elements, along the lines of Go Nagai's Devilman. Tatsunoko's first in this strain was Soul Taker, which used digital animation to present a head-pounding kaleidoscopic atmosphere, akin to Le Petite Cossette, but with violence. Karas takes a less abstract route and presents something more reminiscent of live action, almost almost Night Watch with a Japanese rather than Russian sensibility. If the old school "science ninjas" of Gatchaman was the equivalent of a silver age comic, Karas is the 90's dark, Spawn-style superhero version of the Tatsunoko hero: brooding, questionablely moral, and when need, brutal. Within the universe of the anime "Karas" are people brought into the space where the human world overlaps with the demon (yokai in the Japanese) world. These enforcers are tied to a specific city, and deal with transgressions between the two realms. When this friction turns violent, the Karas go into action encased in plate armor with animal helms. The specific Karas of this anime is bound to the seedy district of Shinjuku, where the crime and the arrogance has reached a boiling point that is unmissable on both sides of the divide. In response, mechanized yokai known as Mikura have begun attacking humans: a water goblin/kappa-pro wrestler exsanguinating people in a bathroom, a haunted car causing fatal accidents in a tunnel. And, behind the scenes, the city's former Karas is ready to settle the human problem. Karas stakes its position in taking the notion of urban/supernatural combat and updating the presentation to capitalize on newer animation techniques. Rather than the flash of color and fluid choreography of cel animation, Karas slows or speeds up motion. It's bullet time, but a different slant on that effect. The idea is that these forces fight in a spider-hole spiritual world: something that is both expansive and hidden from human eyes. The technique is utilized to stage a jet dogfight between flakes of snow or a sword duel on the edge of explosions. It's bright, it's new and it has a precision that differentiates the experience from watching the bridging paths of a video game. Another aspect of Karas' resurrection of currently out of favor approaches, is that like many OVA's from the heyday of Japan's direct to video market, Karas presents a concept quickly, with more attention to achieving what that concept has to offer visually than achieving well constructed, coherent storytelling. Back when anime had the reputation of "violent pornography", the anime released to video in North America was dominantly one-shot works, such as the Madhouse action horror (Wicked City or later Ninja Scroll) or more infamous works (MD Geist, Violence Jack). Following in that vein, Karas follows a "get it done" approach. It spikes all of the fight scenes that it's circumstances (and budget) affords. Every character who should put into action IS put into action. The plot and the subplots are resolved. And, it does that in what amounts to six episodes. Unfortunately, Karas presents more plot elements than it knows what to do with. It's as if someone lined up a row of fireworks, and made sure that the biggest bang happened at the end, but wasn't too careful about what preceded that finale. There is a three act structure. The hero does what he does best, and protects the city. He falls as the villain's plan culminates, then the hero is revived to triumph. To the series' detriment, all of the support arcs and background information are allowed to flare up without any attention paid to how these factors could potentially complement each other. When the protagonist is given an almost Miike-nasty Yazuka back-story or a tag-along characters are given their moment to affect events, what should be a thrill is short circuited by poor structuring. All of the pertinent information that you'd want to know about these characters and their circumstances are revealed. All of the introduced elements are used. But, because it is all presented in a jumble, there no sense of coherence. As a result of this unnecessary confusion, the series' plot emphasis falls on its over-used aspects. While the hero has a bizarre back-story, he's spun around so quick that none of his facets come into focus. The most comprehensible statement of the anime is the motivation of its antagonist. Unfortunately, this is the story of a former protector who has judged humanity to be a plague, and decided to rid the environment of the species. Especially when the response is along the lines of "humanity plays a vital role in the ecology, removing them will wreck the system", it settles into a conversation that has already been played out in a number of anime. Because Karas doesn't expand on the "getting rid of humanity discussion," it seems to just be parroting a party line without really elaborating on it or offering anything new. Despite the unusual notions around its periphery, Karas' plot accomplishes little more than setting up the structure of the series. Even if Karas isn't brilliantly scripted, it does have an armored woman pole-axing an oncoming jet-transformed man, and like spectacles. For an anime fan, it might be tempting to call this sort of terse, full out action, light on plot and character development feature/short series a "niche" work. But, at least from a North American perspective, this sort of "niche" has a wider audience than most anime genres. Karas could have been as exciting and still told an involving story, but as it stands, it's one of anime's better short, straight action works to feature a look that many would consider up to date.
Anime Spotlight: Lupin the 3rd: the Fuma Conspiracy Discotek Media
Though it did technically receive a theatrical release, The Fuma Conspiracy is one of the few OVAs in the Lupin III franchise. The production decisions made in an attempt to create the feature on a limited budget mark The Fuma Conspiracy as a curious entry in the title's history, and for fans it stands out as an interesting twist in the handling of Lupin III's caper adventures. At the same time, casual fans, those who may have seen the series on Adult Swim, or were introduced through Hayao Miyazaki's Castle of Cagliostro, or for those who haven't seen any Lupin III, The Fuma Conspiracy's mad cap sequences should delight any animation fan. The feature doesn't attract the praise that Cagliostro does, but from the moment that a formal Japanese wedding is attacked by armored ninjas, and the groom breaks off a chair leg to fend off the assailants, and in the mob panic, many of the guests start actively grappling with the intruders, the promise of The Fuma Conspiracy is on display. The speed at which details are fluidly worked in and out of the frame exemplify some of the best qualities of cell animation. Especially as a contrast to the current trends in the art form, the evident level of craft and human touch really make the Fuma Conspiracy special. The character Lupin III and his stories are a bit like Batman or James Bond. There is an essential concept and an essential look, but beyond that, the person helming a particular incarnation has room to shade the project based on their interpretation and the target audience of that particular work. It started with "Monkey Punch’s original not-so-gentlemanly gentleman thief. Though he was the grandson of Maurice Leblanc's Arsène Lupin, this star of these Mad Magazine like set pieces was bent by his lust and greed into a devilish comic device with Neolithic manners when it came to loot or women. Then, there was a 1972, 23 anime TV series, marked by the character's green jacket. Though it initially targeted an adult audience, it shifted to make the character more presentable for a broader viewership. He was an uncouth cad, but he no longer had the dark side where he'd assault women and kill men. This "green jacket" version featured the works of Masaaki Osumi, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. Then, there was the more successful, younger audience aimed 155 episode "red jacket" version that started in 1977. Two episodes were directed by Hayao Miyazaki . The final TV series was a third, "pink jacket" series that began in 1984. After the live action theatrical feature Lupin III: Strange Psychokinetic Strategy, starting in 1978, five animated Lupin III movies were produced: three red jackets, one green, one pink. Amung these were Hayao Miyazaki's classic adventure Castle of Cagliostro (the green jacket one), Lupin III: Legend of the Gold of Babylon from Seijun Suzuki (Branded to Kill), Lupin III: Farewell to Nostradamus from Shunya Ito (Female Prisoner Scorpian) and Dead or Alive, directed by Monkey Punch himself. Then, starting in 1989, there were annual Lupin III made-for-TV features. Five out of the first seven of these were directed by Osamu Dezaki, the influential director or Rose of Versailles, Tomorrow’s Joe, Space Adventure Cobra, Aim for the Ace, some of the first Astro Boy, and noteworthy to American's Bionic Six. Later specials were directed by a range of talents, including Shinichi Watanabe aka Nabeshin. In the range, between Miyazaki's gold hearted rogue and Monkey Punch's lethal wolf, Fuma Conspiracy's Lupin doesn't go to either extreme. This one sits in an odd place in the franchise's history. Released in 1987, after the pink jacket TV series, it features a green jacket Lupin that hints at the Cagliostro model. Yet, the character is introduced in a situation where he isn't in his disguise, but isn't in his flashy personal uniform either. Instead, he's clad in a socially acceptable suit, and surprisingly wearing glasses. Following this unexpected turn, the character plays the role of the wildcard in the feature. He seems to be acting on a lark, ostensibly after treasure, but not resolutely so. The motivation of the day seems to be to cause mild grief to his friends and head aches to his adversaries. This casual Lupin is an aspect of one of the two reasons why Fuma Conspiracy is an unusual Lupin III. It's not the rocket pack ninjas (which actually fit right in), or the Japanese setting for what, in anime, is generally a globe trotting adventure. It's that while Lupin III himself has a prominent supporting role, the hero of the movie is his laconic samurai accomplice Goemon Ishikawa XIII. In an informative commentary track, Reed Nelson of LupintheThird.net promotes the idea that Lupin III's cadre is populated by opposites. His gun toting partner in crime Daisuke Jigen is a slouched, low key straight man to Lupin's howling exuberance. Fujiko Mine (a name that evokes Bond girl sexualized puns) is a rival/lover/fem fatale betrayer to present a feminine inverse of Lupin. His often hapless pursuer (and often a reluctant ally in taking down the villain of any piece) Inspector Zenigata is the law to Lupin's disorder. Finally, Lupin was "modern" 30 years ago, when his 70's swinger attire wasn't hugely retro, and at that initial introduction, the wandering samurai Goemon was the traditional counter point. In the case of Lupin III features, Goemon is something of a special attraction. Through some improbable journey, he walks to the exotic locale of the feature, appears in a windswept, dramatic pose. He then slashes something with his Zantetsuken "iron-cutting sword", generally pronouncing "Once again I have cut a worthless object." It's hair's breath from deus ex machina, but for fans of the franchise, Goemon's opportune arrival becomes an expected element of the story. In The Fuma Conspiracy, Goemon is about to be married to a young woman named Murasaki. Odd because it's Goemon taking center stage, and odd because it’s Goemon in a sweet relationship. In Hiroshi Hirata's Satsuma Gishiden, life long samurai greeted unexpected encounters with women by giving a martial yell, and quickly heading towards their destination. Over the course of the franchise, Goemon's people skills weren't that bad, but, he has routinely had problems with women. Often he's expressed a concern that women reduce him, and in practice, they've tied him to pacifist cults or taken his money or otherwise short circuited the proud swordsman. In the case of the Fuma Conspiracy, there are some gags here about how Goemon never turns off his warrior side, and he is still granite jawed, stoically traditional, but the movie also paints a sentimental Goemon. Scenes of his courtship and time with Murasaki are bizarro Hallmark moments and often surprisingly straight. The other divergence from the expected is in The Fuma Conspiracy's lopsided production. This is something that the Japanese audience did not appreciate. While Toho funded some fantastic animation, they skimped on the audio aspects. Rather than Takeo Yamashita jazz's inspired music, the movie employed a more pop soundtrack by Miyaura Kiyoshi. And, to the aggravation of it's audience, an alternate voice cast was brought in. Particularly the disappointment of fans, Toshio Furukawa (Piccolo in the various Dragon Ball series, Shin in Hokuto no Ken, Aturu in Urusei Yatsura) rather than Yasuo Yamada performed the role of Lupin. Furukawa is a more than fine voice actor. He's been behind plenty of classic roles, but, he was not the voice of Lupin III. To the intended audience, he was an imposter and bringing him in strained the relationship between Monkey Punch and Yamada. Yet, for most American audiences, if this is a factor that would command any notice, it would be the novelty of having someone different, like Lazenby as James Bond. The film was directed by Masayuki Oozeki, whose other directorial credits include the anime adaptation of Go Nagai's Kama Sutra (I believe the manga featured a snake attack on a plane). Similarly, it was written by Makoto Naito, who scripted the not particularly well remembered anime version of Harmagedon. But, the project was supervised by Yasuo Otsuka, and the veteran’s finger-prints are all over the film. The Goemon treatment and relegation of Lupin to supporting cast is a bit like employing Felix Leiter as the chief hero of a James Bond story: novel, but suggesting that, at least for the moment, that the franchise has run down. Similarly, a romance that is meant to be taken at face value is a bit far afield. As the commentary points out, the markings of an attempted, possibly ill conceived spin-off are everywhere. Yet, Naito's script is brilliant in working a field of action tableaux for the movie. These fit together well as could be hoped for. For a rollicking anime movie, it is coherent enough that it doesn't devolved in a random string of situations. It goes from samurai versus ninja brawling, to train yard showdown, to car chase, to a Shaw Brothers duel between Goemon and a foe with a three-piece-rod to Lost Ark traps and caverns. Miyazaki's work on Castle of Cagliostro is rightly lauded as fantastic animated action. Some argue that its car chase is one of the best in any medium. But, at least from a North American perspective, Otsuka's contribution is probably under appreciated. Fuma Conspiracy does not have the aura of Miyazaki. The characters don't have the same soul. There isn't a melancholy beauty in the quiet moments. There is not a sense of wonder at the scale. But, when Lupin III's Fiat 500 (modeled after Otsuka's ) guns its engine and begins breaking laws of physics as easily as traffic laws, there is an exuberance that is the same as Cagliostro's. Car chases through crowded markets are an obvious cliché, but watching a point of view sequence in which Jigen, hand-over-hand, navigates through a crowded market is still staggering. It's like watching a professional juggler after a lifetime of watching your neighbor juggle three balls. When the chase goes through a bathhouse, it gets even zanier, but the comic artistry in the physical humor makes it hard not to smile at the antics. There's less depth to Fuma Conspiracy than there is to Cagliostro, and even in that case it was a movie that you can rewatch a decade later and just find everything exactly how you remembered it. Yet, even if Miyazaki isn't in the equation, the animation in The Fuma Conspiracy sets the feature apart. Rather than just animate what is needed, the labor put into the feature ensures that every sequence is elaborate and amazing.
Lucky Star Announcement
Kadokawa Pictures USA, Inc. and Bandai Entertainment, INC., announced that it will be releasing the anime series Lucky Star in North America in 2008. The announcement was made in a unique way - a surprise trailer at the beginning of Vol. 4 of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, which was just released. Lucky Star is a 24 episode television series from Kyoto Animation, the same anime production company that created the anime series for Haruhi. Lucky Star's main character is Konata Izumi, a lazy high school girl who isn't interested in anything besides anime and video games. The series is described as the ultimate "otaku anime," -- it pays tribute to anime culture and other series with in-jokes and hilarious references. "We are pleased to continue our relationship with Kadokawa Pictures USA and release Lucky Star. It is a very funny series and fans are in for a treat," said Bandai Entertainment, INC. President Ken Iyadomi. For more information, see the series MySpace or www.bandai-ent.com
Oscar Ellegable Animation
The following animated features have been submitted to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Oscar nomination. Three will be selected "Alvin and the Chipmunks" "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters" "Bee Movie" "Beowulf" "Meet the Robinsons" "Persepolis" "Ratatouille" "Shrek the Third" "The Simpsons Movie" "Surf’s Up" "Tekkonkinkreet" "TMNT"
Upcoming Bandai Visual Releases
"The Hidden One-Year War", the first of Bandai Visual's two volume Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO release will be arriving on November 27th. The three episode (main 83 minutes + extra 7 minutes) will retail for $49.99
MS IGLOO visualizes the "Zeon" side of the historical One Year War from the epic Gundam series in full 3D CG Original Story: HAJIME YATATE, YOSHIYUKI TOMINO (from Mobile Suit Gundam); Director: TAKASHI IMANISHI; Script: TOMOHIDE OHKUMA(Eps. 1 & 3), HIROSHI OHNOGI (Ep. 2); Episode Director: TAKESHI MATSUDA; Original Mecha Design Conception: KUNIO OKAWARA; Advisor: YUTAKA IZUBUCHI; Designers: YUTAKA IZUBUCHI, HAJIME KATOKI, SHINJI ARAMAKI, KIMITOSHI YAMANE, KENKI FUJIOKA; Setting Researcher: TADASHI NAGASE; CG Supervisor: MASAYOSHI OBATA; Sound Director: SADAYOSHI FUJINO; Music Producers: KEIICHI NOZAKI, NOBORU MANO; Music: MEGUMI OHASHI; Theme Song: "Sora no Tamoto" Performed by TAJA; Music Production: VICTOR ENTERTAINMENT, SUNRISE MUSIC PUBLISHING; Producers: KOICHI INOUE, TAKASHI IMANISHI, KATSUMI KAWAGUCHI, SATOSHI KUBO; Production Assistance: POPY, BANDAI VISUAL; Planning & Production: SUNRISE An official site is online here Images (c) SOTSU, SUNRISE All Rights Reserved. JIN-ROH: The Wolf Brigade Blu-ray will also be released on 11/27/07 Set in an alternate history Japan in the 1950s, the story unfolds around Kazuki Fuse, a member of the military police force, who shut down his human side for his duty. It develops into a psychological drama of Fuse who is torn between love and his loyalty to the Wolf Brigade The movie will be packaged with Box case, Storyboard, 20-page Booklet for $79.99 Blu-ray Disc (Subtitles) English & Japanese (Audio) 1. Japanese [Linear PCM (5.1ch)] 2. Japanese [Linear PCM (Dolby Surround)] 3. English [Dolby Digital (5.1ch)] Features: New High Definition master captures the meticulously drawn images and subtle tones as never before possible on DVD 5.1ch English / Japanese Language Audio Optional English / Japanese Subtitles Comes in Special Artbox Slipcase 20-page Booklet exploring the world of Jin-Roh with new interview of director Hiroyuki Okiura Complete 522-page storyboards book (Japanese) Original Story and Screenplay by MAMORU OSHII / Directed by HIROYUKI OKIURA / Animation Director : KENJI KAMIYAMA / Character Designs : HIROYUKI OKIURA and TETSUYA NISHIO / Key Animation Supervisor : TETSUYA NISHIO / Second Key Animation Supervisor : TOSHIYUKI INOUE / Art Director : HIROMASA OGURA / Graphic Artist : TAKASHI WATABE / Weapon Design : KAZUCHIKA KISE / Vehicle Design : TADASHI HIRAMATSU / Color Design : YUMIKO KATAYAMA / Director of Photography : HISAO SHIRAI / Editor : SHUICHI KAKESU / Music Composed by HAJIME MIZOGUCHI / Sound Director : KAZUHIRO WAKABAYASHI / Line Producer : KENJI HORIKAWA / Animation Created by PRODUCTION I.G / Producers : TSUTOMU SUGITA and HIDEKAZU TERAKAWA / Executive Producers : SHIGERU WATANABE and MITSUHISA ISHIKAWA / Produced by BANDAI VISUAL and PRODUCTION I.G Images (c) 1999 Mamoru Oshii / BANDAI VISUAL, Production I.G All Rights Reserved. Other upcoming Bandai Visual releases include 1/8/08 Gunbuster vs Diebuster Aim for the Top! The GATTAI!! Movie Standard Edition Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO - Apocalypse 0079 Super Robot Wars: OG - Divine Wars vol.2 2/12/08 Super Robot Wars: OG - Divine Wars vol.3 Bandai Visual USA has launched an official site for Gunbuster vs Diebuster Aim for the Top! The GATTAI!! Movie at www.bandaivisual.us/gunbuster_m. The site features trailers and product information. The limited edition of the movie will be released 11/13
Upcoming in Japan
A trailer for the upcoming Macross F is online here. A Frontiers of Macriss introductory special will air on Japanese TV this winter. Shoji Kawamori and Yoko Kanno will be contributing to the Satelight animated project. Scans of the Japanese NewType's coverage is online here. Space Aventure Cobra creator Buichi Terasawa announced that a 30th anniversary anime is in the works. The annoucnement image AnimeNation reports Production I.G will be animating an adaptation of Hiro Arikawa's Toshokan Senso (Library War) manga. The near future sci-fi follows an underground militia who protects banned books. From Anime News Network Xebec has launched a site for "hard-boiled science fiction action" Mnemosyne - Mnemosyne no Musume-tachi. Staff includes character designer Chuo Higashiguchi (Phantom of Inferno) , script writer Hiroshi Ohnogi (Gundam, Macross, Noein) and director Shigeru Ueda (Elemental Gelade and Tales of Symphonia). Gonzo and design studio Nitroplus (Phantom of Inferno) are collaborating on BLASSREITER -genetic-, an anime directed by Ichiro Itano (Gantz, Battle Royal High School) with Ni? (Demonbane, Neppu Kairiku Bushi Lord games) on character and mecha design, Naoyuki Onda (Gantz, The Animatrix's "Detective Story") on animated character design, Gen Urobuchi (Phantom of Inferno, Fate/Zero novels) supervising scripts and Yasuko Kobayashi (Claymore, Shakugan no Shana) co-writing the project. The next anime in the "World Masterpiece Theatre" omnibus will be "Porphy no Nagai Tabi" (The Long Journey of Porphyras), based on French author Paul-Jacques Bonzon's 1955 children's novel The Orphans of Simitra. The anime is schedule to start on Japanese theatre in January 2008. Playstation 2 RPG Shin Megami Tensei aka Persona 3 will be adapted into an anime series, directed by Blood+'s Jun Matsumoto. The series, scheduled to air on Japanese TV in January 2008 will be set a dscade after the end of the game. The official site is online here Death metal manga Detroit Metal City will be adapted into an anime series and a Toho live action movie. Kuzuya Naoyuki will be directing a Studio Izena adaptation of Kazuya Minekura's Bus Gamer manga. Mangabank will be creating manga adaptations of the movies Casablanca, Charade, Stagecoach, Wuthering Heights as part of a new line of DVD/manga release. . Each movie has been adapted into a 128-page manga, which will sell with a Japanese-subtitled DVD for 1,380 yen (about US$12.01). Acclaimed manga creator Kenshi Hirokane (Human Crossing, Buchou Shima Kosaku) is supervising the artists drawing the adaptations. This wave of releases is scheduled for November 17. Though only Charade is in public domain in North America, copy rights for all of these movies have expired in Japan. In the wake of an announced CG Resident Evil/Bio Hazard movie, the November 8th issue of Akita Shoten's Weekly Shonen Champion magazine will feature the first of a two part Biohazard: The Umbrella Chronicles: Prelude to the Collapse's. The manga starring Jill and Chris will serve as a prequel to the Nintendo Wii game, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. It will be written by Masaru Miyazaki and illustrated by Persona's Naotsugu Matsueda. 15-year-old Riko Narumi will star in the live-action television drama adaptation of Chica Umino's Honey and Clover manga, which will premiere on January 8. 23-year-old Toma Ikuta (Hana Yori Dango 2's Junpei) was cast as Yuuta. The manga was previously adapted into two anime series and a live action movie. KAT-TUN's Kazuya Kamenashi (live-action Gokusen's Ryu) will star in the live action adaptation of Rumiko Takahashi's boxing manga One-Pound Gospel. ComiPress notes JoJo's Bizarre Adventure by Hirohiko Araki will be adapted into a light novel series called The Book ~ JoJo's Bizarre Adventure 4th Another Day, with Otsuichi in charge of the story.
TOKYOPOP Talks upcoming Release of Gakuen Alice
TOKYOPOP has announced that Tachibana Higuchi's shojo Gakuen Alice, will be released starting in December. Young Mikan runs away to Tokyo following her best friend, Hotaru, who has been enrolled in an exclusive, secretive private school for geniuses. But it turns out that Alice Academy is a lot more than meets the eye. If Mikan wants to stay by Hotaru's side, she has to pass the strange "entrance exam" AND face the even greater challenge of befriending her very odd new classmates. Whether it's Hotaru's gift for inventing gadgets, the cranky Natsume's fire-casting ability, or Professor Narumi's control of human pheromones, everyone at the school has some sort of special talent. But what ability, if any, does Mikan possess? Mikan is going to have to rely on her courage and spunk if she's going to stay in school, or even stay alive! According to TOKYOPOP Senior Editor, Lillian Diaz-Przybyl: "What's great about manga is that it can capture little bits of reality and reflect familiar and compelling aspects of human nature, even in bizarre, fantastic situations. On the surface, Gakuen Alice is a fun, charming school story about cute kids with special powers, but it's also full of bullies, angst-filled pasts and mysterious adults. Ranging from classroom torment to adorable giant animals to devoted friendship and loyalty, Gakuen Alice captures the joy and terror of school all in one brilliant and entertaining package!" The series runs 14 volumes.
Viz Announces Largest Shonen Jump for Yu-Gi-Oh End
VIZ Media has announced that the December issue of the Shonen Jump will run 416 pages, and feature the end of the Yu-Gi-Oh manga, preview of Takehiko Inoue’s basketball manga series Slam Dunk and a proto-Naruto short story from creator Masashi Kishimoto. The issue went on sale November 6th.
New York Anime Fest
The New York Anime Festival (NYAF) announced it will feature a selection of highly-anticipated premieres and previews at its inaugural event December 7 - 9, 2007, at the Jacob Javits Center in Midtown Manhattan. These special screenings include Adventures in Voice Acting, Appleseed: Ex Machina, and One Piece: Episode of Alabaster. The New York Anime Festival has previously made news with guests including Kobun Shizuno (Co-Director of Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone) and Peter Fernandez (the voice of Speed Racer). Show officials also recently announced an exclusive partnership with the World Cosplay Summit, which will allow American cosplayers the chance to have their costumes and talent recognized on both a national and international stage. NYAF's new premiere announcements represent some of the largest titles currently in America and some of the biggest hits in Japan that will be reaching the US in 2008. The premieres at NYAF include: Adventures in Voice Acting Preview Bang Zoom! Entertainment interviewed over 100 voice actors, producers, and casting directors to make this authoritative look at the voice acting industry. Now, for the first time, Bang Zoom! presents a special preview of this upcoming documentary. ANIPLEX Premiere ANIPLEX is a leading anime and music producer originally formed as Sony Pictures Entertainment Visual Works in 1995 in Japan. It's been responsible for hits including Fullmetal Alchemist, Rurouni Kenshin, and Blood+, and the company's traveled all the way to New York to present an exciting, new anime! Appleseed: Ex Machina Preview The Appleseed sequel is still months away, but Warner Bros. will be presenting a selection of the most explosive scenes for the first time at the New York Anime Festival. Anime Innovation Tokyo THINK Corporation's Anime Innovation Tokyo provides creators and production companies, either professionals or amateurs, with the funds, equipment, and opportunities to create their own, original animations. They've flown all the way from Japan to show an exclusive first-look and a new animation under development for the first time in America! CATBLUE Dynamite Set in the 1970s, CATBLUE Dynamite is the story of a girl named Blue and her mix-up with the mob over a missing Frank Sinatra album. And while going up against an army of hitmen might make a normal woman shake, Blue's anything but normal. Blue has all the agility and finesse (and ears and a tail) of a cat, and when her reflexes alone aren't enough, she can also count on an undead sidekick. Sinatra, catgirls, and ghosts are just the start of the psychedelic flick that is CATBLUE Dynamite. Directed by Romanov Higa, Director of URDA and TANK SWAT 01 and Action Director of the Hellsing Ultimate series. From Wedge Holdings. Honey and Clover Takemoto Yuuta, Mayama Takumi, and Morita Shinobu are college students who share a small apartment. Even though they're poor, they're able to find happiness together. But what happens when a girl appears? Based on the manga by Chica Umino. From VIZ Pictures. Lovely Complex Risa is taller than the average girl, and Otani is shorter than the average boy. They've always been unlucky in love and relied on each other for support. Could they rely on each other for more? Based on the manga by Aya Nakahara. From VIZ Pictures. NANA Two young women, both named Nana, one a punk rocker and the other from the upper middle class, find each other in Tokyo as their lives, loves, and careers intertwine. Based on the manga by Ai Yazawa. From VIZ Pictures. One Piece: Episode of Alabaster Colleen Clinkenbeard (the voice of Luffy), Sonny Strait (the voice of Usopp), Producer Justin Cook, and ADR Director Mike McFarland introduce the first all-new One Piece movie with FUNimation at the helm. This is a fan's chance to see FUNimation's One Piece on the big screen and meet the men and women behind it. Tsubasa and xxxHOLiC: The Movie All-female manga studio CLAMP has some of the most fervent fans around the world, with every one of the their titles eagerly devoured. FUNimation will give CLAMP fans, old and new, their first chance to eat up CLAMP's newest work -- Tsubasa and xxxHOLiC: The Movie -- at NYAF. The convention's panel and screening schedule has gone online NewYorkAnimeFestival.com Patrick Macias talks about the panels that he's moderating here
From Gunota Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino has recently turned 66. Bonus items to be packaged with MS IGLOO purchase dot-anime include miniature flags of Zeon in volume 1 and Federation in volume 2. On December 19th, Gackt will be releasing an "0079-0088" album featuring three songs from the Mobile Suit Gundam movie trilogy: "Cross Of Sand", "Ai Senshi", and "Meguriai". A phot and description of "Gundam" advanced personal equipment developed by the Ministry Of Defense's Technical Research & Development Institute is online at Sankei News
Devil May Cry Anime with Game Release
The Collector's Editon of Capcom's Devil May Cry 4 will be packaged with a DVD featuring the first four episodes of the anime. This release is scheduled for February 5th. The North American distribution od the Devil May Cry anime will be handled by ADV Films.
North American Live Action News
Twitch reports that Christophe Gans’ adaptation of Capcom's samura game Onimusha is now well underway and deep into the preproduction process with an eye to shooting in early 2008. Takeshi Kaneshiro will play the role of Samanosuke - a role he also filled in the original game - with Tsuyoshi Ihara and Emilie de Ravin rounding out the headline cast. Tony Ching will be acting as choreographer. According to Super Hero Hyp, Mexican newspaper El Norte reports that 20th Century Fox will film 85% of the Dragon Ball Z movie in Durango, Mexico under the direction of James Wong. The producteion, expected to film in 2008, plans to use the Mexiquillo Forest, Marley Ranch, Hacienda la Providencia, La Joya Ranch, Laguna Seca de Santiaguillo and a forum from a Convention Center in the Culture Institute. A look at the casting for the Tekken movie is online here
ICV2 reports that Narvarre announced that FUNimation's numbers heavily contributed to a 22% decline in fiscal quarter 2 sales. The down results for FUNimation were said to meet expectations, however; FUNimation's schedule heavily weighted toward toward its fiscal 1st and 4th quarters in the current fiscal year. Navarre's sales were down 9.6% and net swung to a loss of $400k vs. a profit of $1.6 million in the same period a year ago. In a conference call, Navarre CEO Kerry Deacon discussed the impact of Geneon's recent collapse on its FUNimation division. "[G]enerally we believe it could be positive to our position in the marketplace, both from a sales and a content acquisition basis," he said of the events. Deacon noted that Geneon had some "very strong content such as Sailor Moon, Van Helsing, and Black Lagoon, whose futures are unknown." In Japan, Bandai Namco announced a planned restructuring. The most consumer-noticable aspect of this is transition from the Banpresto games unit to Bandai Namco Games. More information of the financial movements can be seen here
Borders Offers Ghibli Set
Nausicaa.net notes that Borders is offering an exclusive bundle of 7 Ghibli films on DVD: Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbor Totoro, Porco Rosso, and Howl's Moving Castle. List price is $202.99
Media Blasters Plans, Including Doujin Work
Media Blasters/Anime Works CEO John Sirabella has been discussing the distributor’s plans for the Studio 4C animated Tweeny Witches on Anime on DCD's forum. He mentioned that as part of the distributor's upcoming localization work, they "will be dubbing shows like Kujibiki [Unbalance] and Genshiken 2 and Dojin Works ." Douji Work is a geek comedy about girls producing doujinshi (fan comics). Media Blasters had not previously announced that they had licensed the title.
More cereal:geek in the Works
80's animation magazine cereal:geek has announced that issue three is now scheduled for January 2008 ISSUE ONE ISSUE TWO For more deviantART MySpace
Worth Checking Out
ADV Films has posted a trailer of Wallflower here An interesting suggestion for deconstructing/categorizing manga here Episode 53 of Right Stuf’s ANIME TODAY podcast (available on iTunes) features the second part of their interview with Fred Ladd, the pioneering TV producer responsible for the English adaptations of early U.S. anime hits, including Astro Boy, Gigantor and Kimba the White Lion Production I.G talks to Mechanical Designer Kenji Teraoka here Otaku USA has posted Matt Alt's interview with Shinji Aramaki. On the Otaku USA editor blogs, Patrick Macias looks at a Go Nagai book here Production I.G talks to Chavalier d'Eon episode director Koichi Hatsumi here Via AnimeNation, Cosplayers.net posted an English language interview with Damien Ratte and Isabelle Jeudy, the French winners of the 2007 World Cosplay Summit competition Via Anime News Network, the Star newspaper in Malaysia interviewed Captain Tsubasa manga creator Yoichi Takahash. Daily Yomiuri spoke to Appleseed: Ex Machina director and prolific mechanical designer Shinji Aramaki. The Active Anime website records the opinions of director Shinichi Watanabe (Excel Saga, The Wallflower) on unauthorized anime downloads at voice actor Greg Ayres' Oni-Con panel last month. Via MangaBlog, Yaoi Suki has spoken to Yen Press' Kurt Hassler 1UP has reviewed Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles 2 for the PS2 and XBox 360 debut Naruto: Rise of a Ninja Awesome Engine took a second look at what UK anime/manga mag Manga Mania covered in August 1993 here. The Times Online look at the works of Moyoco Anno, particular her career/magazine production manga Hataraki Man. CollectionDX looks at the Revoltech Yotsuba figure here Active Anime is now hosting a Del Rey manga blog here ComiPress's Miyaya Kazuhiko: A Magnificent Course to Self-Destruction Viz at Halloween Gatchaman Cell phones on ComicFoundry Usagi Yojimbo's Stan Sakai has a preview of his 8-page Hulk story for Marvel here Same Hat! Same Hat! looks at Kazuo Umezu toys here ComiPress translated a science of One Piece article here Via The Beat, Steady Beat creator Rivkah was on PBS Live action Patlabor The cover of DramaCon 3 here A preview of December's release of the final volume of The Dreaming Animation Insider looks at the Korean films Princess Bari here A teaser trailer for DreamWorks' Kung Fu Panda is online here Project Rooftop's new Wonder Woman Wardrobe War contest is online here Via Kaiji Shakedown, the trailer for Soi Cheang's Shamo adaptation