Animation and Anime

AICN Anime-Togari, MS IGLOO, Bad News in the US Anime Market and More

Published at: Feb. 3, 2008, 7:49 p.m. CST

Logo handmade by Bannister Column by Scott Green

Manga Spotlight: Togari By Yoshinori Natsume Released by VIZ Media

Even though the hero of Togari stalks a Japanese city, hunting down and attacking sinners to fulfill a non-altruistic personal need, it would be overselling Togari to call it "Dexter meets shonen action" or put it on a level with Death Note. Yet, as with manga like Alive, it is a genre action that tries title and to some degree manages to suggest a more vicious edge than the Shonen Jump mainstays. The manga calls for some extra attention considering that its creator, Yoshinori Natsume, is one of the latest manga creators to produce a high profile work featuring a North American super hero, with his "Batman: Death Mask" scheduled to be released by DC this April. Based on his work on Togari, he seems like an ideal choice for a dark, but ultimately corporately managed super hero. Captured leaping into the world of violence, Natsume's subject treads the line between determined principle and socipathic disregard. But, ultimately, Natsume engages the divide without crossing into material that might upset the content guardian looking over the reader's shoulder. While there's a dark, bold lined style that hints at blood gushing human rending, actually, not only is Togari far shy of seinen titles, it doesn't approach Shonen Jump's splattery classics, such as Fist of the North Star or JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. In this scheme, an arm being chomped off is depicted by the victim holding up a sleeve with a black hole in place of their appendage, followed by a panel with something of an inky splash that requires imagination to read as grisly. For those weary of the content adjustments in Viz's releases, a spot check indicates that this event was depicted in the same manner in the original, Japanese release. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei ("Goodbye Mr. Despair") is a recent anime series, unlicensed for North American release, that mixes fairly literate comedy with cute school girls. As hinted by the title, it concerns a suicidal high school teacher and his home room of eccentric students, generally, female students, who invariably have exotic mental instabilities or hang-ups and for the most part crush hard on their teacher. For example, Abiru Kobushi (literally, "to bathe in fists") is a terribly injured, bandage adorned girl, design with a nod to Neon Genesis Evangelion's Rei in the mangled state in which she was introduced. Everyone assumes that the girl is a victim of horrific domestic abuse. Except, the truth is that she is a wanna-be veterinarian and animal-phile who is perpetually being mangled due to her incontrollable urge to pull on the animals' tails. Here's where this turns relevant to Togari. The last girl introduced in the first season is Mayo Mitama (which means something like "she is exactly what she looks like.") This girl is congenitally blessed with cruel eyes. Because has she the look of a cat sizing up the prey that it is about to torment, she can be caught in the act, doing anything from using a stick to sodamize a puppy to planting explosives, and the witness will assume that someone who looks so evil couldn't possibly be guilty of a crime. Part of the reason that, justifiably, Tobei is essentially history's most pissed off teen, is that he has absolutely no poker face. He looks like he's about to pistol whip the next person who sneezes, and in fact, he'd like to. After being conditioned to live like a feral dog, he has the manically antisocial look of someone who would react violently to any provocation. Unwashed, staring with predatory eyes, natural survival instincts dictate that this is a volatile, bundle of mental and perhaps physical disease that should be avoided. Born in Edo era Japan, Tobei was a nameless orphan, who was shunned and homeless for as along as he could remember. Like Blade of the Immortal's Manji, he started tangling with law enforcement authorities, and began recording a lot of red ink on his moral balance sheet. Eventually, Tobei is captured and executed, leading to 300 years of torture in hell. After innumerable escape attempts, infernal official Lady Ema (this time "Ema" is correct, she's not another "Enma"), offers Tobei a bargain: take the magical wooden sword Togari and collect 108 Toga-sin in 108 days (108 being the number of sins in many forms of Buddhism, as well as a sacred figure in Hindu/ Buddhist traditions), or be consumed in the attempt. Returned to Earth, Tobei is forbidden from committing any new sins, down to and including stealing food and clothes, or injuring a human being, under the threat of grave physical duress. Togari is one of the many shonen titles where the form fits the function. Its concept is prescribed to be iterative, such that depending on its popularity within the anthology that serialized it (Shonen Sunday, home of most of Rumiko Takahashi's shonen titles, including Ranma 1/2, Inu Yasha and Urusei Yatsura, Ishinomori's Cyborg 009, Tezuka's Dororo, more recently Yakitate!! Japan, Hayate the Combat Butler and Kekkaishi), it could run for decades, close up early after a few volumes, or, as it turned out, run a moderate eight volumes. Though Tobei is more or less physically whole, there is something of Blade of the Immortal's Manji, as well as Manji's spiritual predecessors, such as Osamu Tezuka's Dororo. Tobei's a profoundly wounded person, on a finite, but sufficiently close to open ended mission to fight until those battles accumulate into what ever is needed to complete him. While Tobei does pick up an adversary, this foe could plague Tobei forever or walk into a Togari shot to the head in the next chapter and it doesn't seem like that victory would substantially change the tenor of the manga. The number of captured sins is broadcast on the back of the volume, but beyond that the manga is lighter is its illusion of progress than many shonen manga. Though the illusion in the illusion of progress is especially pronounced, the vocalness of Togari's philosophy compensates in ensuring that Togari doesn't become a generic shonen title. Mid-fight conversation is at a fever pitch, and generally interrupting heated battle for debating is a particularly irksome conceit of the genre, but reading Tobei howl antisocial rants rather than proclaim the value of friendship and morality give the manga a distinctive voice. Tobei is nasty and misanthropically critical, and the general tone is generous and compassionate. This is a rare case where a manga wanting to have it both ways pulls off the task. Tobei rips into the victims around him, and, forced to confront their faults and weaknesses, they rise to the occasion. It will be interesting to see how well Natsume handles Batman and his rogue's gallery. Natsume's an able action illustrator. His manga keys in on the turbulence of opposing forces whooshing into on each other and colliding. It suggests force and brutality without dipping into the pool of really graphic imagery. Except, the impression is like that of a cell shaded videogame. There is some boldness and energy, but, especially in constrast to the covers, it feels like it is using borrowed nomenclature, an especially forceful presentation of basic, familiar elements. One of the reasons why the prospect of Natsume on Batman is intriguing is that, in theory, he'll have a larger framework to utilize. With just Tobei striking at crazy shadows with a stick, Togari finds its ceiling pretty quickly. A fan of shonen action will not find that Togari dulls, but it doesn't ramp up either.

Anime Spotlight: MS IGLOO Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO-The Hidden One-Year War Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO-Apocalypse 0079 Released by Bandai Visual

Following up on the recent discussion of Bandai Visual pricing in the Super Robot War-Divine Wars review, it is necessary to start with the issue that this title has its own space in that framework. MS IGLOO might not be one of the prestige classics, but it is such a singular project, created specifically for fans, that it works in Bandai Visual's release model. While $50 is a high price for a 3 episode anime DVD, the history and significance of the title, as well as the fact that it is easy to envision this as a title that one would have to import to see, almost makes the price justifiable. The 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam has frequently been compared to the original Star Trek. Like any easy comparison, it's something of a reductive point, but the key similarities worth recognizing are that both series were distinctive takes on sci-fi that weren't considered successes in their initial, abbreviated TV run, but which later became so popular that the popularity itself took on a live of its own. Star Trek might have had the woman who showed up for jury duty in her Star Fleet uniform, and cosplay is said to have its origins in Trek-conventions, but Gundam has Daisuke "Dice-K" Enomoto, the would-be space tourist who's plans to visit the International Space Station dressed as Gundam's Char had to be dropped due to health issues. Gundam SEED, the new Gundam 00 and the majority of other Gundam series in recent years have attempted to re-invent the wartime mecha franchise so that younger generations of anime watchers would develop the same passion for the franchise. Generally, this was carried out by making the later Gundam series more colorful, more dramatic, and more focused on a larger teenage core to the cast.
MS IGLOO goes in the opposite direction. It goes back to the One Year War between Earth Federation and the orbital Principality of Zeon that served as the conflict behind Mobile Suit Gundam, and the stark, utilitarian aesthetic that appeals to military aficionados rather than the bright action-figure design that has come to characterize later Gundam series. If you like slash fiction with Gundam's pretty boy pilots, this isn't the right Gundam to check out. Instead, MS IGLOO accentuates the qualities that the long time fans admire about the franchise, then takes the realism to a new degree with CG animation. The title is made more significant by the particulars of its Japanese release. While the second set of three episodes was widely available, the first set was made up of episodes that were screened at the Bandai Museum in Matsudo, Japan before being put out as a limited for-rent DVD. Though it has remained a cornerstone of the franchise in merchandise and games, 1996's The 08th MS Team was the last time that the One Year War was addressed in Gundam anime. In revisiting it, MS IGLOO shifts the point of view to that of the original anime series' antagonists. Gundam has always exhibited a cynicism towards political power, and forwarded the notion that war is driven by megalomaniacs, zealots and morally compromised architects. Consequently, it's almost overdue to get a Gundam anime from the eyes of Zeon soldiers. More so given how interested fans have always been in the ace politics, weapons and politics behind the enemy lines. It's always been a little suspect how the popularity of Zeon regalia is wrapped up in the fascist aesthetic, but that fits into the contradictory central proposition of Gundam: an anti-war tragedy that markets toy representations of its weapons. There's a number of angles that could be foreseen in approaching the Zeon war effort. There's the ruling Zabi family, which would have the benefits of showcasing, Machiavellian schemes and the political turn in the conflict from one of independence to supremacism. There's the ever popular ace antagonist of Mobile Suit Gundam, Char. There's a ground level, soldier's perspective, as was done in The 08th MS Team. MS IGLOO takes the rout of viewing the major turning points of the war through the eyes of the evaluation support ship Jotunheim. There are cameos, prominently, one by Char in his Zaku, but for the most part, the recognizable names in the series are those of battles and operations rather than people. It's key triumvirate is made up of Olivar May, an engineering lieutenant tasked with deploying prototype weapons and gathering data on their performance, Monique Cadillac, a special operations lieutenant commander tasked making sure that the military objectives are executed, and Martin Prochnow, the space equivalent of the Jotunheim's salty captain. The use of a testing team seems more like a useful platform for showcasing never-before-seen mecha than anything too exotic plot-wise, but it does offer an interesting perspective into the fictional war, namely capturing its perceived needs. MS IGLOO does not follow an every-soldier perspective, but does get into the details in a way that few Gundam series have. There are reasons why a student of the One Year War has not seen the mecha that MS IGLOO retro-fits into the existing story. For example, the anime starts with Oliver May setting up a revolutionary anti-ship gun on the Jotunheim. Federation and Zeon ships line up, ready to start exchanging fire, and the Zeon unleash their Zaku mobile suits, revolutionizing the conflict and completely superseding ship-to-ship weapons. This initiates a minor-key tone in the series. May and Cadillac would like to think of themselves as rising stars, but in attempting to deploy the next super-weapon, the war stays ahead of them. This takes a turn for the worse in the second volume as the tide shifts against the Zeon. Explicit parallels have always been established between the Zeon effort and Germany's role in World War II. Volume 2 spirals into the last days phase of the war. Extremely young soldiers are sent to the front. Desperation, problem solving and improvisation mark the weapons design. While Gundam series are often focused on troubled young geniuses, older fans will appreciate MS IGLOO's sober mood and the professionalism of its characters. Without wallowing in egotistical angst, the running storyline captures the frustration of people who are talented, but who aren't the top of their field, who are perpetually at odds with the currents of history. If this was a business rather than a war story, these characters would be competent workers for unsuccessful products in a company that struggled to remain solvent since its IPO. From an episodic standpoint, the anime introduces micro-tragedies in each episode focused on the pilot of the episode's experimental mecha. The subjects are always defined by complete dedication to some aspect of warfare: the veteran gunner, the harpooner turned amphibious mech pilot, the all too young soldier sent to the front line knowing that their presence is an act of desperation on the part of the state; and, they are entirely molded by the episodic nature of their roles. Their motivations, their complexities, and ultimately their fates have to be worked out in 27 minutes. Consequently, the a formula emerges the in first episode, then repeats throughout. The predictability does chip off some of episodes' edge, but there are effecting moments in each, where sufficiently credible characters reconcile with the mortal danger that accompanies their mission. There are compelling themes developed between these episodic stories. Chief among these, at least from a meta-perspective, is an interesting ambivalence to the fascist appeal of the Zeon. With events like a Zeon officer in a SS-like uniform sending unprepared child-soldiers on nearly suicidal missions, many aspects are unromanticized. For the most part, the subjects are prosecuting the war or pursuing their jobs in the way that they see as necessary rather than ideologically driven. At the same time, this apolitical approach becomes uncritical. The series does not refute the thrill that fandom and Gundam marketing has associated with the regalia and form of the Zeon movement. There might not be any Lost Cause rhetoric, but the postscript is shot in front of a billowing Zeon flag.
Mecha design from Yutaka Izubuchi (Rahxephon, Gasaraki, Patlabor) and Hajime Katoki (the Gundam Wing Endless Waltz redesigns, Virtual On) pursue the original "real robot" motivation of injecting hard sci-fi into the mech genre. Attempting to capture utilitarian construction, the appeal is seeing the workings of the machines rather than in the expressiveness of the machines' design. Attempting to give military mech fans something to consider rather than design than can be reproduced in mass-market model kits is departure from recent works in the franchise. If you don't follow the Gundam franchise, it's worth noting that the term "Gundam" refers to a specific make of robot. In universe, "mobile suit" is a generic term for humanoid shaped piloted robots. Early Gundam aimed to balance the "real robot" tenant that mecha should be mass produced military weapons rather than mythical totems with the mecha genre tradition of giving the hero a unique prototype. Follow-ups within the Universal Century largely followed that precedent. While the proper Gundam mecha had proliferated for Mobile Suit Gundam's sequel Zeta Gundam, for the most part, only the primary hero was seen piloting one. As the Universal Century continuity was replaced by "alternate universe" Gundam series with their own timelines (G Gundam, Gundam Wing, Gundam SEED), this balance was no longer the case. The hero still had a unique prototype, but following the axiom that only proper "Gundam" merchandise sells, these later series were populated by numerous Gundam mecha. From time to time, the CG animation recalls the look of video game cut scenes, especially when the characters appear to talk to the viewer, but the character animation is generally good, and the medium perfectly suits the topic. The mechanisms of moving pieces, ammunition being loaded and fired, and the way that one system supports another is thought through and rendered in full detail. For the right audience, of the anime that Bandai Visual has released in North America, MS IGLOO is the first title that isn't a recognized classic like Patlabor, Gunbuster, Wings of Honneamise, Jin-Roh, that is worth the premium price. Not only is it a specialty item, it is a well made specialty. While it is by no means flawless, it's a satisfying realistic mecha series for an older audience. Not only are there few other entries in the field, this is a good one.
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Ghibli Shake Up

Studio Ghibli announced that Koji Hoshino, former present of the Japanese bridge of Disney will be replacing Toshio Suzuki as the revered studio's president. Suzuki plans on remaining with the studio as production and creative capacities. Nausicaa.net notes Suzuki also announced that Isao Takahata and Goro Miyazaki's new films will be planned after the completion of Hayao Miyazaki's upcoming "Ponyo". Studio Ghibli (My Neighbor Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) has announced on February 1 that former Walt Disney Japan president Koji Hoshino will replace Toshio Suzuki as its president. Ghibli has animated every film from its two founders, Hayao Miyazaki (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Howl's Moving Castle) and Isao Takahata (Only Yesterday, My Neighbors the Yamadas), from the mid-1980s until now. Going forward, Suzuki will devote himself to his duties as a producer and board director.

North American Anime Industry Continues Its Nose Dive

Anime News Network notes that ADV Films removed all mentions of the following titles from their website, including the main page, store, and trailers.
  • 5 Centimeters per Second
  • Devil May Cry
  • Gurren Lagann
  • Kanon
  • Magikano
  • Moonlight Mile
  • Project Blue Earth SOS
  • Pumpkin Scissors
  • Red Garden
  • Sergeant Frog
  • Tokyo Majin
  • The Wallflower
  • Welcome to the NHK
  • Xenosaga: The Animation ANN's forum goes note that ICV2 posted than removed an item stating that in a letter to retailers ADV Films has identified 37 anime properties including Devil May Cry, Gurren Lagann, and Pumpkin Scissors that are "on indefinite hiatus, effective immediately." The list includes virtually all of the properties that ADV has announced since its financing deal with the Sojitz Corporation in late June of 2006. ICV2's reported list included: 009-01 5cm Per Second Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy Air Gear Air Movie Air TV series Best Student Council Blade of the Phantom Master Comic Party Revolution Coyote Ragtime Devil May Cry Ghost Train Gurren Lagann Guyver Innocent Venus Jinki: Extend Kanon TV Series King of Bandit Jing: 7th Heaven Kurau Phantom Memory Le Chevalier D'Eon Magikano Moeyo Ken TV Series Moonlight Mile Nerima Daikon Brothers Pani Pani Dash! Project Blue Pumpkin Scissors Red Garden Synethesia The Wallflower Tokyo Majin UFO Princess Valkyrie - Third and Fourth Seasons Utawarerumono Venus vs. Virus Welcome to the NHK Xenosaga Retailers have said that the letter was not sent out. Milton Griepp, CEO of ICv2, gave ANN the following statement: The article on Sojitz and ADV you refer to was one of several contingency articles we prepared and posted on a staging site. Although that staging site is not accessible through ICv2 navigation, an unpublished article was indexed by Google using a spidering technique of which we had previously been unaware. We discovered the Google indexing within an hour or two of when it occurred and immediately removed the article from our staging site (along with any other unpublished articles). Unfortunately, the article was cached by Google and has now been brought to the attention of anime fans. It's unfortunate because as this is written, the article isn't true. It may still be one of several possible outcomes of the current situation, but as far as we know today ADV has not sent a notice to its retailers or placed the titles in question on hiatus and may not, pending the outcome of events that are still unfolding. We regret that our efforts to prepare for any eventuality led to this draft article becoming public before it was published and have taken steps to prevent such an event from happening again. Then, ADV stated We know there are a lot of rumors swirling about, and that fans are looking for assurances that ADV will continue to distribute the anime series they know and love. While we can't go into any detail at this time, please know that ADV is working through a few short-term challenges and fully intends to continue our releases. We thank you for your patience. Also on the ADV front, ICV2 reports ADV will be pursue an iniative to release its anime on Blu ray. "Frontlist is more important than catalogue right now," so the first high def releases will be the company's newest titles. The move to begin releasing Blu-ray versions of some new titles may have an impact on ADV's release schedule, as high def transfers will have to be prepared.
  • Kazuki Nakashima to Write Manga

    Anime News Network reports that playwrite Kazuki Nakashima, who created the stage production that the anime Oh! Edo Rocket was based on and who wrote Gurren Lagann, will be producing the manga Lost Seven with Korean artist Ko Yasung. The "gothic fantasy" premieres in the April issue (on sale on February 29) of Mag Garden's Monthly Comic Blade magazine.

    April Bandai Ent. Releases

    Anime on DVD lists that Bandai Entertainment has the following releases scheduled 4/1 Dan Doh! Complete Collection (Anime Legends Edition) - 650 minutes - $49.9 Magical Meo Meow Taruto Complete Collection (Anime Legends Edition) - 300 minutes - $39.98 Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Vol. #1 Bundle - 100 minutes - $29.98 Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Collection 1 (Anime Legends Edition) - 625 minutes - $49.98 Panda-Z Complete Collection (Anime Legends Edition) - 180 minutes - $39.98 4/15 Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny Final Plus - 24 minutes - $24.98 Zegapain Vol. #4 - 100 minutes - $29.98

    New Death Note Manga Coming

    ComiPress reports A special chapter of Death Note, written by Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata, will appear in issue 11 of Weekly Shonen Jump, on sale February 4th.

    Shonen Jump Anime on Amazon Unbox

    VIZ Media has announced the availability of three of its most popular and successful animated action series – NARUTO Uncut, DEATH NOTE and BLEACH – for digital download from Amazon Unbox, Amazon’s digital video download service. NARUTO Uncut, DEATH NOTE and BLEACH are available now with episodes costing $1.99 each. NARUTO Uncut initially features episodes 1-25 dubbed, DEATH NOTE features the full series dubbed, and BLEACH features episodes 1-25 dubbed.

    Submissions Accepted For The SPJA Industry Awards

    The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA), the overseeing body of Anime Expo, announced that they are accepting submissions for the SPJA Industry Awards. With twenty-one (21) official categories, industry companies will be allowed to submit one (1) entry per category which will be narrowed, by an internal voting body, to a pool of finalists to be voted upon by the public via the SPJA and Anime Expo websites. Winners will be announced via an awards ceremony during Anime Expo 2008 (July 3-6, 2008; Los Angeles Convention Center) at the official SPJA Industry Reception. The nomination entry deadline is February 22, 2008 at 11:59 PM PDT (Pacific Daylight-Savings Time). SPJA Industry Awards Categories Category 01: BEST VOICE ACTOR (JAPANESE) Category 02: BEST VOICE ACTOR (ENGLISH) Category 03: BEST VOICE ACTRESS (JAPANESE) Category 04: BEST VOICE ACTRESS (ENGLISH) Category 05: BEST CASTING DIRECTOR Category 06: BEST CHARACTER DESIGNER Category 07: BEST MECHANICAL DESIGNER Category 08: BEST MALE CHARACTER Category 08: BEST FEMALE CHARACTER Category 10: BEST MASCOT CHARACTER Category 11: BEST BACKGROUND DESIGNER Category 12: BEST ORIGINAL VIDEO ANIMATION Category 13: BEST FEATURE FILM Category 14: BEST TELEVISION SERIES Category 15: BEST ORIGINAL SCORE Category 16: BEST ORIGINAL SONG Category 17: BEST DIRECTOR Category 18: BEST MANGA - ACTION Category 19: BEST MANGA - COMEDY Category 20: BEST MANGA - DRAMA Category 21: BEST PUBLICATION

    FUNimation Web Update

    FUNimation Entertainment has unveiled a new, redesigned funimation.com, introducing a broadband television experience that makes it easy to watch and share anime clips. The new website features hundreds of videos streamed through a custom video player that allows viewers to watch their favorite FUNimation anime. Fans are now able to download and purchase high-quality episodes of their favorite anime series. Each month, FUNimation.com will be rolling out new Download-to-Own series. Kicking off the website launch are episodes of Rumbling Hearts, Suzuka, Peach Girl, and MoonPhase. Also new for FUNimation is the release of subtitled series. Available for the first time online, subtitled episodes of Rumbling Hearts and the highly-anticipated vampire action series Black Blood Brothers have been posted, with many more to come. Other new features include: RSS content alerts so fans can stay up to date on the latest news, trailers, and information from FUNimation Entertainment Flash Video streaming, ensuring ease of use and cross-platform compatibility Same-screen video playback, without a separate pop-up window Expandable video player Advanced sorting features to make it easy to find what you are looking for Ad-free video clips Syndicated video player that allows fans to embed in blogs and social networking sites or allows fans to share with friends Black Blood Brothers is being digitally distributed through the site in Windows Media down-to-own episodes selling for 1.99 each.

    AZN To Be Discontinued

    As of April 9th, Comcast will be discontinuing its AZN Television network. Comcast sighted its 13.9 million viewers and difficulty attracting advertisers as reasons for shuttering the network. Anime shows on the network, as listed by Anime News Network, included Kakurenbo, Last Exile, Mobile Police Patlabor, Record of Lodoss War, Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie, Saiyuki Reload Gunlock, Tsukuyomi -Moon Phase-, and others. It has also shown live-action adaptations of popular manga series such as Initial D and Nodame Cantabile, as well as Negadon: The Monster from Mars and Mamoru Oshii's live-action Tachigui: The Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters film.

    Line-Up for Next Super Robot Wars

    SRW Hotnews reports that Famitsu have revealed surprising that is Super Robot Wars A portable for PSP. The remake from SRW A GBA, 2d map same as XO,GC is due out in Japan on June 19, 2008. Mobile Suit Gundam : The 08th MS Team Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 : Stardust Memory Mobile Suit Gundam Double Zeta Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Mobile Suit Gundam : Char’s Counterattack Mobile Fighter G Gundam Gundam Wing : Endless Waltz Mazinger Z Great Mazinger UFO Grendizer Getter Robo Getter Robo G Shin Getter Robo Voltes V Daimos Zambot 3 Daitarn 3 Metal Armor Dragonar Nadesico Banpresto Originals

    Q1 Viz Anime Releases

    VIZ Media has announced its anime DVD release schedule for the first quarter of 2008. BLEACH Releases Include: BLEACH Volume 8: THE ENTRY • Rated “T” for Teens • 4 Episodes MSRP: $24.98 • Available Now BLEACH Volume 9: THE ENTRY • Rated “T” for Teens • 4 Episodes MSRP: $24.98 • Available March 18, 2008 NARUTO Releases Include: NARUTO Volume 19: PUSHED TO THE EDGE! • Rated “T” for Teens 4 Episodes • MSRP: $19.98 • Available Now NARUTO Volume 20: LIGHT VS. DARK • Rated “T” for Teens • 4 Episodes MSRP: $19.98 • Available Now NARUTO Volume 21: EYE TO EYE • Rated “T” for Teens • 4 Episodes MSRP: $19.98 • Available March 4, 2008 NARUTO Volume 22: THE LAST OF THE CLAN• Rated “T” for Teens 4 Episodes • MSRP: $19.98 • Available March 25, 2008 NARUTO UNCUT BOX SET SPECIAL EDITION Volume 6 Rated “T+” for Older Teens • 3 DVDs, 14 Episodes • MSRP: $69.98 • Available February 12, 2008 This special set includes a limited edition; hand sculpted and painted collectible figure of Pakkun as well as an illustrated storyboard booklet. NARUTO UNCUT BOX SET STANDARD EDITION Volume 6 • Rated “T+” for Older Teens 3 DVDs, 14 Episodes • MSRP: $49.98 • Available February 12, 2008 DEATH NOTE Releases: DEATH NOTE Volume 3 With Limited Edition Collector’s Figure Rated “T+” for Older Teens • 4 Episodes • MSRP: $39.98 • Available February 19, 2008 DEATH NOTE Volume 3 Standard Edition Rated “T+” for Older Teens • 4 Episodes • MSRP: $24.98 • Available February 19, 2008 PRINCE OF TENNIS Releases: PRINCE OF TENNIS DVD BOX SET Volume 4 • Rated “A” for All Ages 3 DVDs, 13 Episodes • MSRP: $39.98 • Available Now RANMA ½ Releases Include: RANMA ½ SEASON 5: MARTIAL MAYHEM • Rated “T+” for Older Teens 5 DVDs • MSRP: $49.98 • Available Now RANMA ½ SEASON 6: RANDOM RHAPSODY Rated “T+” for Older Teens 5 DVDs • MSRP: $49.98 • Available March 25, 2008 POKéMON Releases Include: POKéMON SEASON ONE BOX SET, Volume 3 • Rated “A” for All Ages 3 DVDs • MSRP: $39.98 • Available February 12, 2008

    Emma Preview on Last NewType USA

    Anime producer and distributor Right Stuf, Inc. and Nozomi Entertainment announced a that an early cut of the first subtitled episode of EMMA: A VICTORIAN ROMANCE appears on Newtype USA’s February 2008 DVD sampler. Although this “first look” utilizes letterboxed footage, both of the upcoming season box sets will feature the series in its intended anamorphic widescreen (16:9) presentation. The EMMA: A VICTORIAN ROMANCE - Season 1 DVD Collection — which includes the series’ entire 12-episode first season – is scheduled for release on June 24, 2008. The box sets for EMMA Seasons 1 and 2 are both currently available for pre-order at RightStuf.com.

    Upcoming Bandai Visual Releases

    Bandai Visual USA will be releasing the five-part OVA Yukikaze in a Blu-ray Disc Box Set with deluxe bonus features, including never before seen footage, on April 8,2008. The 3 disc set retails for $149.99 Based on the award winning novels “Yukikaze” and “Good Luck”, Yukikaze tells the story of Rei Fukai, a young man who trusts his advanced armed tactical reconnaissance plane, Yukikaze, more than he does his fellow man. He comes into contact with the alien force known as JAM while gathering military data on board his beloved aircraft. JAM, showing interest in Rei and Yukikaze, begins to wage fierce battles against mankind with every means conceivable. Before long, JAM begins to launch an allout attack upon the Fairy Air Force. Yukikaze Blu-Ray Disc Specs & Features:
  • Discs 1 & 2: Color / BD50G / AVC / 4:3 (1080i High Definition)
  • Disc 3: Color / BD25G / AVC / 16:9 (1080i High Definition)
  • Japanese and English Language Dolby TrueHD (5.1ch)
  • Optional Japanese and English Subtitles
  • Bonus features include: 6-minute Yukikaze Experimental Movie, 28-minute feature “Aircrafts in YUKIKAZE from pilot’s eyes”, 20-page full color SAF Flight Manual, and exclusively designed box.
    © 2002 CHOHEI KAMBAYASHI, HAYAKAWA PUBLISHING, INC. / BANDAI VISUAL, JVC ENTERTAINMENT, GONZO All Rights Reserved. Shigofumi: Letters from the Departed and True Tears both consisting of seven volumes with the first volumes to be released on DVD beginning in May 2008. Both titles are currently airing on Japanese television and will have a near simultaneous release with only a two-month delay from the Japanese release and only a five-month delay from the original broadcast airing. Shigofumi: Letters from the Departed comes from a dream team of highly acclaimed anime creators including Tatsuo Sato (Stellvia, Nadesico), Ichiro Okochi (Code Geass, Planetes) and Kouhaku Kuroboshi (Kino’s Journey). The story follows Fumika, a not-so-ordinary mail messenger who delivers not-so-ordinary letters, which Shota, a 16-year-old rocket enthusiast, soon discovers when Fumika and her talking staff Kanaka suddenly appear on his rooftop workshop to deliver a letter from the father of his friend (and love interest), Asuna. However, Asuna’s dad was dead when he wrote it… And the other May release is True Tears a solid YA drama with a realistic storyline sensitively animated by veteran director Junji Nishimura whose resumé includes such titles as Simoun and You’re Under Arrest. True Tears tells the story of an aspiring picture book author, Shinichiro Nakagami, who meets Noe Isurugi, an eccentric girl who has lost the ability to cry which marks the beginning of inevitable and irreversible changes in their lives. Set in a provincial Japanese city, True Tears is the tale of a group of adolescents and their tribulations. For further information please visit the Official Shigofumi Website at www.bandaivisual.us/shigofumi and the Official True Tears Website at www.bandaivisual.us/truetears. Shigofumi: Letters from the Departed Specs and Features:
  • Color / MPEG-2 / DVD-5 / 16:9 anamorphic (LB) / CSS
  • 12-page Full-Color Booklet
  • Japanese Language Audio (Dolby Digital Stereo) with Optional English Subtitles
  • Volumes 1-6 each contain 2 episodes, Volume 7 contains 1 episode and priced $29.99 Title: Shigofumi: Letters from the Departed Delivery 1 Format: DVD Catalog #: BUDH0153 UPC #: 8 58604 00153 0 Street Date: May 13, 2008 SRP: $39.99
    © Tomorrow Yuzawa / BANDAI VISUAL, GENCO All Rights Reserved. True Tears Specs and Features:
  • Color / MPEG-2 / DVD-5 / 16:9 anamorphic (LB) / CSS
  • 8-page Full-Color Booklet
  • Japanese Language Audio (Dolby Digital Stereo) with Optional English Subtitles
  • Volume 1 contains 1 episode, Volumes 2-7 each contain 2 episodes and priced $39.99 Title: True Tears Volume 1 Format: DVD Catalog #: BUDH0160 UPC #: 8 58604 00160 8 Street Date: May 27, 2008 SRP: $29.99
    © 2008 tt Project All Rights Reserved.
  • Animated Marvel Zombies in the Works?

    According to ShockTillYouDrop.com, Marvel's next direct to DVD animated feature will be an adaptation of the Marvel Zombies undead incarnation of their characters. Finally, a UA Ashita no Joe Release Anime on DVD reports that Tai Seng Entertainment will be releasing the first movie from the classic boxing anime/manga franchise Ashita no Joe as "Champion Joe" on March 25th. This is also Tai Seng Entertainment's first anime release.

    Ishinomori In Guinness Record Book

    Anime News Network reports Guinness World Records has named the late Shotaro Ishinomori (Cyborg 009, Kamen Rider, Skull Man) the world record-holder for the "most comics published by one author." Over the course of his career which started in 1954, Ishinomori created 770 individual stories which were collected in a total of 500 volumes of manga

    Hell Girl on IFC

    IFC will be offering Hell Girl through its IFC Free video-on-demand (VOD) series and broadcast network starting in July.

    Dragon Ball Movie Update

    Randall Duk Kim (Matrix's Key Maker) will play Gohan (Goku's adopted grandfather, not his son) in the live action Dragon Ball movie. James Marsters MA href="http://www.tvguide.com/news/james-marsters-smallville/080130-02">talks playing Piccolo among other topics. The movie is casting extras in Mexico

    Marvel to Release European Comics

    Note quite anime/manga related, but Marvel Comics announced an initiative to translated edition of Soleil's European comics. Upcoming releases include Barbara Canepa and Alessandro Barbucci's (WITCH) Sky Doll in April, Denis Bajram's Universal War One, Jean-François Di Giorgio and Frédéric Genet's Samurai, and Valérie Mangin and Aleksa Gajic's Le Fléau des Dieux. 64 page releases will retail for $5.99.

    Live Action Releases From Viz

    Viz Pictures will be releasing Funky Forest: The First Contact, a surreal work from Katsuhito Ishii of the anime section of Kill Bill, March 18th. Twitch previews the work here. VIZ Pictures, has announced the DVD release of the romantic live-action comedy, LOVE*COM THE MOVIE, on February 19, 2008. The release features English subtitles and will be distributed by VIZ Media with an anticipated retail price of $24.98.

    HxH Back Again

    Canned Dogs relates that Yoshihiro Togashi's legendarily spottily serialized Hunter x Hunter will returning to the Japanese edition of Shonen Jump on March 4th. This break in the series run started in the December 17, 2007 issue of the anthology. The manga previous went on hold for an eighteen month stretch starting in 2006.

    Spring FUNimation Releases

    From Anime on DVD 4/8 Hell Girl Vol. #5 4/15 Speed Grapher Vol. #5 (Viridian Collection) Speed Grapher Vol. #6 (Viridian Collection) 4/20 Negima Vol. #5 (Viridian Collection) Negima Vol. #6 (Viridian Collection) 4/29 Witchblade Vol. #6 5/6 Black Blood Brothers Vol. #3 Glass Fleet Vol. #6 Shuffle Vol. #3 xxxHolic Vol. #2 5/13 Shin-Chan Season 1 Part 1 5/20 Baldr Force OVA Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid Box Set Hell Girl Vol. #6 5/27 Dragon Ball Z Movies: Dead Zone/World's Strongest Dragon Ball Z Season 5 Box Set One Piece: Season 1 Part 1

    Worth Checking Out

    Matt Alt notes that Super #1 Robot: Japanese Robot Toys 1972 - 1982 is onsale for $6.99 on Amazon GONZO produced this Dream Theater music video Anime Jump's Mike Toole talks Kannon and moe in ANN TV Kevin Geiger from Animation Options has an article on the developing Chinese animation industry, specifically "Road To Home", on O-Meon Cerebus creator Dave Sim appears online and responds to questions about manga among others things. Apparently, he isn't too impressed by the important gekiga anthology Garo Peter van der Lugt (GhibliWorld.com) reviews Fear(s) of the Dark on Twitch Slate talks The March of Pingu An interview with Takeshi Miyazawa about trying to break into the Japanese manga industry An interview with Appleseed: Ex Machina director Shinji Aramaki is on Twitch Episode episode 59 of Right Stuf's ANIME TODAY podcast talks to FUNimation CEO Gen Fukunaga about the challenges of the current North American anime marketplace, the move toward online distribution and packaged anime collections, the advantages of having an in-house dub studio, and FUNimation’s plans for the rest of 2008. Production I.G's Ryutaro Nakamura & Chiaki J. Konaka talk session and interview with Le Chevalier D'Eon producer Katsuji Morishita Tiamat talks to Yen Press Takehiko Inoue on creating his mural at the Kinokuniya book story in New York. TOKYOPOP talks to Gakuen Alice's Tachibana Higuchi. The Reason I Quit My Job as a Manga Editor Epilogue Via An Eternal Thought in the Mind of Godzilla, part two of the jaPRESS interview with Aimee Major Steinberge is here Twitch also collects links to media for the upcoming CGI Korean giant robot feature Robot Taekwon V ComiPress on the history of NewType USA Revoltech posted an amusing photoshop of their Yotsuba figures. 1up reviews One Piece Unlimited Adventure for the Wii. 3D Haruhi Dance from the PS2 game. Via Danny Choo, very creapy Blythe Dolls Also, anime group shot Preview designs of the upcoming Birdy the Mighty anime. Bleach alteration in the English edition of Shonen Jump. The Gurren Lagann Olympics Same Hat! Same Hat! posted the re-issue covers for Kazuo Umezu's Crimson Spider Let's Anime looks at the secret history of anime parody dubbing Culture Pulp has a comic interview with Persepolis creator Marjane Satrapi. Super7 shows off their Valentine's Day Visighost

    For more commentary see the AICN Anime MySpace.

    Scott Green's Google Reeder shared items feed

    Readers Talkback

    comments powered by Disqus
      + Expand All
    • Feb. 3, 2008, 7:52 p.m. CST

      "None posted yet."

      by SkinJob69

    • Feb. 3, 2008, 7:53 p.m. CST

      Had to do something about that...

      by SkinJob69

    • Feb. 3, 2008, 7:55 p.m. CST

      Will there ever be some new Cowboy Bebop?

      by travis-dane

      That would be nice!

    • Feb. 3, 2008, 8:02 p.m. CST

      re:Will there ever be some new Cowboy Bebop?

      by ScottGreen

      Never say never, but probably not. The series never had THAT much traction in Japan. It might also be a bit post expiration date in the North America. Presumably, a new series would have to be largely funded from the North America. I can't see that happening.

    • Feb. 3, 2008, 8:08 p.m. CST

      Scott- as you appear to be an expert in this area-

      by SkinJob69

      Do you happen to know if there will be anything further (games, anime, live action, etc.) coming in relation to Project Zero (the Fatal Frame, Crimson Butterfly folks). I'd heard some rumors a year or so ago, but nothing recently. Seems like you might know such stuff, so I thought I'd ask. Thanks-

    • Feb. 3, 2008, 9:03 p.m. CST

      re:Project Zero

      by ScottGreen

      It's entirely possible that there are developments that I haven't heard about, but from what I've seen things have been entirely quiet on that front. I think that game developers are busy elsewhere and the live action seems scuttled.

    • Feb. 3, 2008, 9:27 p.m. CST

      how about a live action Bebop?

      by Robstar

      I know it would never be as great as the series, but im amazed that no hollywood types have tried to buy it up.

    • Feb. 3, 2008, 11:27 p.m. CST

      Any word on Hellsing:Ultimate?

      by TheDude300

      I've heard the company releasing it here in the states went ass up...supposedly getting bought up by ADV...but now with all the rumors about ADV, I'm beginning to wonder about if we'll ever get to see another Hellsing Ultimate release here in the states?!

    • Feb. 4, 2008, 6:44 a.m. CST

      re: Any word on Hellsing:Ultimate?

      by ScottGreen

      Its distributor Geneon USA is no longer releasing or marketing anime in North America. They'll probably still broker a deal for another company to release it. That and Black Lagoon have good chances of being released by some one at some point, but there's no indication of who or when.

    • Feb. 4, 2008, 7:58 a.m. CST

      Re: Cowboy Bebop

      by scorpio2049

      Bebop is perfect how it is, no need to add anything. As cool as more Bebop would theoretically be, I'd rather just have the original and enjoy it.

    • Feb. 4, 2008, 8:16 a.m. CST

      I was thinking of a movie sequel......

      by travis-dane

      <p>to the first movie.<p>The TV-show ended with Spike dying and that should stay that way!<p>Thanks for the heads up ScottGreen.<p>

    • Feb. 4, 2008, 8:18 a.m. CST

      And nice to see the love for the "Space Cowboy`s"

      by travis-dane

      see you space cowboy!

    • Feb. 4, 2008, 9:19 a.m. CST

      ScottGreen

      by WarpedElements

      So far as Geneon goes, how would it work, their distributing season 2 of Black Lagoon and Hellsing OVA IV?

    • Feb. 4, 2008, 9:26 a.m. CST

      re: WarpedElements

      by ScottGreen

      The Third, Haruhi Suzamiya, Full Metal Panic: Second Raid, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time are Kodokawa USA titles, but they are released/marketed by Right Stuf, Bandai Entertainment, FUNimation and Bandai Ent. respectively. In theory, Geneon USA will work like Kodokawa USA, as a licensing office. They've still been producing material to cover their TV deals. Canada is getting Black Lagoon: Second Barrage on TV, and there is a TV deal for Hellsing: Ultimate, I think on Starz. Once they enter into some agreement with whoever might pick them up, the two parties have to figure out the production/localization details as well as the point at which the new party will release the title.

    • Feb. 4, 2008, 10:41 a.m. CST

      Anime on blu-ray huh?

      by Johnno

      I like it, but I supose that it depends. It would be awesome to get older titles that aren't HD in Standard def all on one disc. I'm down for some of that... But I don't see episodic stuff pulling off yet. For one: Not that much anime is in HD yet, and I don't see episodic content working out too well at the moment so I wouldn't count on getting releases of Gundam 00 or anything over here, the price of blu-ray at the moment is only suitable for enthusiasts... the only anime I see working on blu-ray are feature films like Appleseed or Advent Children...

    • Feb. 4, 2008, 1:19 p.m. CST

      by scorpio2049

      I'd be interested in seeing another Bebop movie if it takes place between the series. Anything after would be stupid. Anything before would be interesting, but we don't really need backstory. The vagueness of the backstory in the series is excellent. I'd love to see more of Pierrot Le Fou.

    • Feb. 4, 2008, 5:11 p.m. CST

      I second scorpio2049

      by TheDude300

      More Bebop would be great...and ANY WAY to put Pierrot Le Fou back in the mix, would be AMAZING!

    • Feb. 4, 2008, 5:16 p.m. CST

      Thanks for the reply, Scott

      by SkinJob69

      I also thought the Project Zero movie would be kaput. Too many similarities between the game series and the recent spat of J-horror flicks. Too bad, though, as Fatal Frame: Crimson Butterfly was scary as hell in its own right and could easily have made the transition to the big screen.

    • Feb. 5, 2008, 7:40 a.m. CST

      US anime companies folding

      by scorpio2049

      I think it might be because to begin with they were releasing the best of the best in the US, and when people started liking anime they started releasing anime left and right regardless of whether it was really *that* good or not. There are obvious titles that should be released in the US on a large scale, but then there are others that stores really have no need to have in stock. That's just overproducing.

    • Feb. 6, 2008, 4:46 p.m. CST

      Last

      by Pariah74

      When I got into anime (the late 80's) it was hard to get any of it. Usually what you found was the cream of the crop. Now it's not worth digging through all the shit to find one peanut.