Anime Spotlight: Devil May Cry Volume 1 Released by ADV Films
Skip to here if you don't want to read the long industry rant preamble... By all appearances, Devil May Cry is on the forefront of the North American anime industry's woes. "By all appearances" because as much as many distributors tout their close relationship with the fan/consumer, when need be, that's a window that can be shuttered. Of the companies that are chiefly thought of as anime distributors (Sony puts out anime, but it's not an "anime distributor" ) only FUNimation, which is owned by Navarre, is part of a publicly traded company. Maybe the bunker mentality is needed, and it is unnecessary and uncalled for to assign fault, but when matters get dicey, and the potential unavailability of a high profile title that looked earmarked for North American release could definitely be described as "dicey", in the absence of definitive, primary source explanation, guesses and deductions are all that can be applied. Warning signs began causing considerable ripples in the composure of anime fans when sales and marketing information for anime such as Devil May Cry were dropped from distributor ADV Film's site. A removed, but cached item from ICV2, a site that provides news and commentary aimed at geek/genre material specialty retailer, stated that titles including anticipated anime like Devil May Cry, Gurren Lagann, 5cm Per Second and Moonlight Mile were to be put on indefinite hiatus. As ICV2 pointed out in their retracted piece, the timeline of the effected titles suggested a link to ADV's funding deal with Sojitz Corporation, announced in late June of 2006. The message that ADV eventually relayed to fans/consumers was "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." The take aways from the Case of the Vanishing ADV Titles A) The sky is not following B) The North American anime industry is ailing, considerably C) It's not a good time to be a fan of anime in North America D) It's a bad time to be making your living in the North American anime market E) If you fall into C and not D, it's time to reconcile yourself to A and B. Living in the Boston area, I can say that this past Super Bowl was a marginally noteworthy demonstration of what happens when an escapist pursuit goes sour. You pour in your passion. You gripe about the minor things. You give it more attention than perhaps is warranted, but at the same time it is a welcome diversion from real concerns. Then, bang, that pursuit gets capsized, your mood is ruined and you have to move on. In defending Road House and exploding the notion of a "guilty pleasure" Chuck Klosterman made the point that one reason why "guilty pleasure" is a foolish concept is that, to re-contextualize, we don't watch giant robots in lieu of reading Tolstoy or brushing up on our calculus. We do it with time we probably would have spent on a different, unessential activity. In flipping this, if you take away or greatly reduce the presence of one escapist pleasure, what's really the net effect? Tough times for any industry means tough times for someone trying to make a living. The people who have been laid off in the anime biz deserve sympathy, but so do the people laid off from Macy's because that corp. didn't make its numbers, or the software engineer sent packing because their employer is "re-balancing" their work force with Indian resources. For the anime industry, if it's not your gig, it probably makes sense to temper your lamenting a bit. I was taken to task for reporting on this in the last column under the headline "North American Anime Industry Continues Its Nose Dive", and the criticism was not wholly unwarranted. But, ADV is a bellwether of the industry. They weren't the first in, and it's not likely that they're going to be the next one out, but they were one of the mainstays of the boom. It is easy to envision their anime branch following the trajectory of their manga: an explosion of titles, ultimately reduced to a trickle. As the person who responded to that column pointed out, ADV isn't the North American industry, and the North American anime industry isn't going to die any time soon. Naruto, Devil May Cry, Highlander: Search For Vengeance, the next CLAMP anime and so on aren't going anywhere. 009-1, Welcome to the NHK, Moonlight Mile, and so on, anime that aren't widely marketable products, are where you have to worry. Frankly, writing this column is motivated by an interest in discussing those titles. If the problem that's effecting Devil May Cry is shaking out of an ADV/Sojitz issue, it is worth remembering that before the Sojitz deal, ADV was in the midst of a licensing dry spell, in which plenty of editions of Evangelion and Azumanga Daioh were being released, and few new titles were being picked up for North American distribution. While highlights for 2005 included Elfen Lied and Gantz, it was also the year ADV release their creatively re-dubbed Ghost Stories. Primary licensing announcements include Place Promised in Our Early Days, Yugo the Negotiator, and Shadow Skill TV. The next popular Shonen Jump title is going to be made into an anime, and that anime is probably going to be available in North America. It's the quirky late night titles that you have to worry about not seeing, and conversely, maybe that quirky late night title doesn't get produced because there's no North American company funding it. It's not just titles that are plainly destined for North America like the second season Big O, Ninja Scroll TV and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, its titles that are added to because of intentional recognition, such as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and titles where the North American industry failed to find the right audience outside the niche of anime viewers, such as the gritty cyber-sci-fi Texhnolyze, the hard sci-fi Planetes, or the giallo like Requiem Form the Darkness. Unfortunately, this is a situation were bad begets bad. It IS possible to get a copy of the Devil May Cry anime. Due to lead-in considerations, it is bundled in the special edition release of the Devil May Cry 4 game, and it isn't too difficult to find a copy of the stand alone volume. But, if this is out there, do you buy it knowing that the rest of the series may not be available at a later date? If whatever is going on at ADV Films is resolved, do you buy it or the next series after this acute exercise in uncertainty. Ultimately, you don't need to be an OCD completist to not want to start purchasing an anime series not knowing if future volumes will be forthcoming. This might not be inherently just, but the expectation of the anime consumer is "I can stop purchasing the series at any point, but the distributor needs to see the series through to its completion." Hence the bad blood with situations like Synch-Point falling to finish their release of the mediocre I'll Be an Angel. It's difficult to imagine a scenario where this crisis of confidence does not affect anime sales. Some segment of anime buyers is going to cut down or eliminate buying individual volumes of anime in favor of waiting for complete set, if not resorting to piracy. Fans AND distributors may wish it wasn't the case, but at the end of the day, the North American anime market still relies on people buying the damn DVDs. It's pretty clear that illegal, digital distribution is pretty indefensible at this point. That it has hurt sales of specific titles and the chance that specific titles will be released in North America. However, no one can say that piracy is definitely hurting the industry, because no one can definitively say that, if the availability was cut off, a substantial amount of the people downloading fan translated copies of Japanese releases and rips of North American releases would turn to purchasing legitimately distributed anime, or if those people would simply consume some other form of media. A popular idea is that the future of the industry is to distribute digitally, but no one is close to overcoming the difficulties inherent to that medium. So far, the solutions have been too diverse, across too many proprietary systems (Amazon Unbox, various Microsoft services, iTunes) and often available later, harder to obtain and of lower video quality than the pirated version. Nor will this ADV trouble help in that regard. Given the issue of DMC protection, what happens if the distributor you purchase from drops their titles, if communication breaks down with the consumer, if it looks like they're losing many of their titles? Will the anime purchased from that distributor still be viewable? Or, something more commonplace... every year, under normal circumstances, the licenses by which a distributor can release anime titles expire without being renew. If you bought Title X from Company Y, and Company Y no longer has Title X licensed, can you still watch your DMC'ed copy? If worst comes to worst, and one volume of Devil May Cry is all that's ever available in North America, should you buy this release of Devil May Cry? Sure... Considering that games are the primary medium for Devil May Cry, telling a story between games, the anime isn't about to unveil a new, definitive development in the live of its lead. The first four episodes do seem to be leading up to something, but they function as satisfying stand alone episodes and at the same time, they don't offer a reason to get too worked up looking forward. One volume is enough to see this concept executed in anime. It's perfectly good gunslinger on monster action. The fact that this situation feels like an end to anime in North America is ironic, because for some, this is something like an updated version of where we came in. After seeing Star Blazers, Voltron and Force Five as kids, and having our interest re-ignited by movies like Akira and Ghost in the Shell, when we turned to the Sci-Fi channel or the video store shelves for additional anime, horror/action was the key genre. Devil May Cry takes that idea of painting the streets with the blood of grisly monsters, and updates it with the look and feel of more recent anime. The protagonist is a slack loser who can turn on cold competence in the mode of many anime heroes over the last decade. Offset with the stark colors and rapid movements you'd want and expect from a recent anime, it's the right monster shooter for the era. There's quite a only-in-Japanese-pop-media vibe wafting off the anime's protagonist, Dante. He's a perpetually in-debt gumshoe who chases after pizza and strawberry sundaes rather than booze and women. Graphically, this character is along the lines of horror anime meets heroic bloodshed, but he's no Tequila. Though he has the silver haired, gothic outfitted look of a bishonen, there's a lot of otaku in this guy. It's not until the newly released Devil May Cry four where apparently Dante's replacement Nero has the emo demeanor to fit the part. Dante's the viewer or gamer, but cooler and pistol packing. Opperating out of the titular "Devil May Cry," Dante takes various devil-trouble shooting jobs offered to him from his agent, starting with protecting pre-teen damsel in distress Patty Lowell until she can claim her true parentage and inheritance. Here, the specter of moe falls onto Devil May Cry. This spunky critic of Dante's poor finances and man-child ways might not be a primary element of the rest of the volume's episodes, but the anime allows her to inject bright, fluffy and domestic into what is, in theory, supposed to be a dark subject. Thematically, the rest of the volume falls into line, with endings that are romantic, Romantic or just nice. Then again, when that approach turns glib, the absurdism is amusing, such as when men in black from the Highway Department enlists an associate, who foists the job on Dante, to rid the place of a speed demon. Then after removing the menace, in Dirty Pair fashion, he gets grief for taking out a bridge in the course of the battle. Writer Toshiki Inoue might have recently been involved with the Death Note anime, but his work here recalls lighter subject such as his work on Galaxy Angel, Sumomomo Momomo, Papuwa and Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl within the context of demon killing and tragedy. If there's a advancing plot, it's less of a hook than the female supporting cast. It would be amazing if Patty developed into something more than moe-service. The game women, t.A.T.u.-ish gunslinger "Lady" and skimpy comic book outfit wearing lightning shooter Trish, are far more fun. A woman in a racing suit jumping from her motorcyle to fire her rocket launcher is what this amalgam of genres should be all about. With exhibitions of suitably memorable abilities like that, the dynamic between Dante, Lady and Trish achieves exactly what it needs for an anime like Devil May Cry. Little in the series provokes too much anticipation, but the promise of this trio fighting together might get an anime action fan's spider senses tingling. Yet, what it has in bursts of fire and toys (guns, motorcycles, swords, big guns) Devil May Cry doesn't have in creativity, which makes it satisfying, but not essential. While many current fans might prefer the digital look of the animation, there's lamentable lack of something like Kawajiri's cleverness in his Madhouse productions. Still, this is also a Madhouse production, and they're a a studio that knows how to make a work of anime look consistently good. Katsushi Aoki (Cyber City Oedo 80, Wicked City) is on board for art design to give the anime something of the looking of those earlier titles. Devil May Cry might tank in episode 5, but one through four look perfect. Director Shin Itagaki's major previous work was Black Cat, as he demonstrated in that anime, when he has some budget to work with, he's a fine director. Like many digital age director's his skill with quick burst of movement and quicker cut. Transitions slice to Dante firing and slice to the aftermath. When he does capture a range of motion, he demonstrates a good head for the details and complexity. For example, when Trish goes from a roof to a gable, he's mindful of showing that she's jumped out, to a slightly lower height relative to her opponent. Ultimately, Devil May Cry is a fine horror action. The question is whether that's enough in 2008, considering the competition in the field. With unexceptional plotting, and serviceable characters, Devil May Cry's appeal rests on its ability to capture reality breaking action. With what live action movies can and do do these days, this is nothing strictly the domain of anime. For example, Torgue out motorcycle-fu's the particular episode with Lady doing something similar. Unlike Black Lagoon (similarly from Mad House), which forcefully encroaches on Hollywood's territory, Devil May Cry doesn't reclaim ownership of its own niche.
Anime Spotlight: One Piece Movie: The Desert Princess and The Pirates Adventures in Alabasta Released By FUNimation in theatres this weekend for details see www.funimationfilms.com to be released on DVD February 19, 2008
For whatever reason, whether it was due to the grating localization and lackluster marketing of 4Kids initial distribution of the title, its semi-exile to inconvenient TV scheduling slots, or that its animation wasn't quite as crisp, One Piece never caught on in North America in the manner of it's A level Shonen Jump brethren, like Naruto, Bleach, Death Note and before that, Dragon Ball. Hopefully, under FUNimation's new stewardship of the title, this pirates to Naruto's ninjas will find an audience. While it's quintessential boy's adventure material, with its headstrong lead rising to ever more threatening challenges by way of his willpower and virtue, it has been able to maintain its gleeful eccentricity a decade into its run. One Piece's creator Eiichiro Oda and Naruto's Masashi Kishimoto both sight Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball as a primary influence. Not so much the later parts where super heroes were throwing energy blasts at planet cracking aliens, but the early stuff, where the Monkey King of the religious epic The Journey to the West was crossing paths with dinosaurs, Native Americans, Universal monsters, and robot girls. Those who follow Naruto have witnessed that it has reined in some of its meandering in favor of super powered teen drama-action. One Piece certainly has its straight periods, but it has also maintained the willful imagination of its inception. It introduced a hero, who, in the first chapter scarred himself proving his toughness by sticking a knife into his face, then, after proclaiming that one day he would be "Pirate King", ate a Devil Fruit that robbed him of his ability to swim. The manga and its anime adaptations have never dropped that irresistibly headstrong approach. Economy isn't exactly one of One Piece's virtues, but Oda gets mileage out of an idea like few others. It's primary hero, Monkey D. Luffy, stretches, more like the mother in The Incredibles than Mr. Fantastic. There are hundreds of chapters of manga and hundreds of episodes of anime, in which the pay off is Luffy grinning like an idiot while slingshotting his fists, and Oda's genius is that this remains weird and spirited. "The Desert Princess and the Pirates" is a One Piece movie that has received a PG 13 rating, and starting Thursday, February 7, the movie exclusively runs in 98 theatres nationwide (of note, FUNimation will also be theatrically distributing Vexille 2/14/08 - 2/17/08 and the live action Genghis Khan - To the Ends of the Earth and Sea aka Aoki Ookami 2/21/08 - 2/24/08). While One Piece is a great all ages title, with an energy that an older audience can appreciate and to contradict a point in the Devil May Cry review, it's a great guilty pleasure, woe to the non-fan guardian who gets dragged to this movie. Episode of Alabasta: The Desert Princess was the eighth One Piece movie to be released in Japan. Unlike the previous 7, which told original stories (directed by The Girl Who Leapt Through Time's Mamoru Hosoda, #6, Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island is the one to look out for), #8 is an abridged, re-animated, retelling of a milestone in the franchise. One that ran through episodes 92-130 of the anime, built to in the previous 30 episodes or volumes 18-23 of the manga. This stretch of One Piece, often referred to as the "Alabasta arc" follows Luffy and his crew of hero pirates rescuing the desert kingdom of Alabasta from the Captain Hook inspired villainous pirate Crocodile and his sprawling network of agents, aptly named Baroque Works. The agents of an insidious organization and the nefarious plot varies between a well formed, enjoyably bizarre imagined world and tremendously convoluted storytelling. Perhaps, incongruously for all that complexity that the scenario offers, the appeal of Alabasta is that after a considerable build-up, One Piece's heroes are challenged to their utmost. Not just the kid who would be king, Luffy, or Zolo (aka Zoro), his three sword wielding companion (one in each hand, one in his mouth), but his less combat ready friends, such as Usopp, a liar and wimp who tries to trick his way into surviving encounters with titanic foes, or Tony Tony Chopper, a were-reindeer who is Oda's small, fuzzy, genius combination of talking animal mascot and party healer. Re-condensed into something like a compilation movie, only with more new footage, this is all payoff, which is perfect for One Piece fans who don't want to re-wade through dozens of episodes of anime to see One Piece's heroes rise to the occasion. Even with some factions (Smoker and the marines), independent parties (Ace) and major encounters (the casino situation) excised from the dealings, there are still six major heroes, at least five major heroes/allies specific to the situation, and six major villains/antagonists. And, minimalistic not does begin to relay how bare the exposition in this movie. Fans of One Piece will appreciate the terseness of the movie, and its aim to meaningfully capture to the high points. That's if you already know what you are seeing. If you don't, you're going to have little idea, who you're seeing, what they're doing or why they're doing it. It's like dropping into a Japanese RPG for the last round of boss battle. Some of it is going to look impressive, but there's going to be frustratingly little context of significance. The OVA, direct to video in Japan, market is pretty anemic compared to its glory days. There aren't that many anime movies that get released in North America. Thus, the "TV quality"/"OVA quality"/"movie quality" stratification of anime has almost vanished from the American anime discourse. With "movie quality" One Piece, directed by Takahiro Imamura, who seems to have largely spent his career on this sort of franchise work (some Digimon as episode director and movie director, assistant director on a number of Dragon Ball Z movies, director on Fist of the North Star: Raoh Side Story Junai Arc), there is a lot to like and not much to love. The most declaratively "movie quality" aspect of the work is its CGI effects: buildings and city space, crowds of people, armies clashing, and sand storms. Not only are these effects outshone by CGI scenes in various fantasy live action movies, it's not really what One Piece does best. Basically, you want One Piece to offer emotionally charged, bizarrely choreographed battles with the heroes pair off against their opposite numbers on the opposition side. Most of the movie's fights rush to tell a story in a minute, leveraging a compact where if the movie jots the outline, the viewer should be able to fill in the meaning. Still, with the critical moments of impact crisply rendered, for what these are, they are remarkably satisfying. The final fight between Luffy and Crocodile is an aesthetically even take on a freeform fight, with hero and villain, breaking through walls, tearing up everything around them to get at each other. There is something of Hosoda's take normalized. It's not as free. It's not as clever. For a lot of viewers, who seem to dislike acute expressionism and radical stylization in anime (see the rejection of Osamu Kobayashi's work on episode four of Gurren Lagann), this might be preferable. Given the violence of the movie, its PG 13 rating is fairly justified, and it doesn't seem to be an overreaction to a little blood (though, conversely, the ratings note on the movie's sexual content might be overboard, considering that it amounts to characters' mentioning a bit of cleavage.) The movie is probably not going to excite fans as much as the Full Metal Alchemist movie did, but for One Piece followers, it is worth seeing theatrically, on DVD or both, just don't drag anyone who hasn't followed the story.
FUNimation Eying Geneon
FUNimation has again indicated that they are looking into distributing the titles previously carried by Geneon USA, before that company ceased its distribution and marketing efforts. Anime on DVD points out an ICV2 article stating "Navarre Corporation CEO Cary Deacon declared that the Navarre (through its wholly owned subsidiary, the anime market share leader FUNimation) was "in very early stages of negotiations to acquire some of the Geneon library of titles." Deacon noted that Geneon had about 10% of the anime market and controlled some attractive titles. Deacon expressed his optimism about the current market conditions, which he thinks will provide lots of opportunities for FUNimation, whose prospects for acquisition of new product "remain very strong."" Speaking of FUNimation, financials, a CNN article on Navarre's Q3 results stated "FUNimation's sales and profitability benefited from the resolution of a dispute with Atari, a licensee of interactive video game rights to the Dragonball Z franchise, which resulted in the realization of previously unpaid royalties. FUNimation anticipates that its licenses to Atari will provide an additional revenue stream going forward as a $10 million prepaid royalty advance that was received by FUNimation in 2004 has now been earned out."
From Anime News Network Evangelion: 1.0 You Are [Not] Alone, the first of four movie remakes of the Neon Genesis Evangelion ran a preview showings in 10 South Korean theaters during the January 18-20 weekend and ranked at 15th place. It then expanded to 31 theaters in its official opening weekend of January 25-27, and rose to 11th place. Evangelion's production studio Gainax placed a recruitment ad seeking out animation runners and animators for a new project refereed to as "Gonyogonyo (Mada Himitsu)" ["Mumble-mumble (It's still secret)"]. The listings also mention Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann, but do not necessarily indicate that a Gurren Lagann follow-up series is in the works.
Live Action Twentieth Century Boys Cast, News
Twitch reports that the first two of the trilogy of films based on Naoki Urasawa’s (Monster) Twentieth Century Boys are being shot now, with a June expected for June. The first film will release on August 30th. Then the third film will begin production around that release date and end in the fall. The total budget for the production is an estimated 6 billion yen, setting the mark high for production costs in 2008. Toshiaki Karasawa [Casshern] will star as the main character Kenji Endo, while Etsushi Toyokawa [Loft] plays Otcho and Takako Tokiwa plays Yukiji. The film will be directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi and Urasawa was involved in the script for the adaptation of his work. ANN's take can be read here
Super Robot Wars spin-off Endless Frontier will be adpted into a manga to be serialized in in Kerokero Ace. Not only is Endless Frontier: Super Robot Taisen OG Saga looking very Namco X Capcom, it will feature crossover characters from Monolith Soft franchises, like Reiji Arisu and Xiaomu from Namco X Capcom itself, and KOS-MOS from Xenosaga. From ComiPress Rumiko Takahashi will publish a new chapter of her Rumic Theater series titled Shiawase List (Happiness List) in Shogakukan's Big Comic Original No.5 An one-shot from Masakazu Katsura (mangaka of Video Girl Ai and I''s) and Akira Toriyama (mangaka of Dragon Ball) will appear in the May issue of Shueisha's Jump SQ (4/4). A one-shot titled Me o Mite Hanase by Hitoshi Iwaaki (mangaka of Historie and Parasyte) will appear in issue 4 of Kadokawa Shoten's Comic Charge (2/5). Anime News Network notes Shueisha has officially announced the schedule of Shaman King Kang Zeng Bang (Shaman King Kanzen-Ban or Perfect Edition), the reprinting of Hiroyuki Takei's supernatural manga that will include the never-before-published "true ending" starting in March. The last volume, with a new chapter that will replace the previous ending from the 2004 Shonen Jump title is scheduled for Spring 2009.
More Kyo Kara Maoh! on ImaginAsian
ImaginAsian TV announced they have begun re-running the first season of Kyo Kara Maoh! weekdays at 4:00pm. Season 2 will premiere on the network in early spring, and Anime News Network has confirmed that the channel will be showing the last 12 episodes, which did not make it to DVD before Geneon USA ceased distributing anime. Yuri Shibuya was living a pretty normal life. That changed the day he was dunked into a toilet after an attempt to save a classmate from a gang of bullies. Instead of just getting a good soaking, he's pulled in. The next thing he knows, he's in a world that vaguely resembles medieval Europe. If that's not odd enough, he's told that he is to be the next Demon King, who are coexisting not-so-peacefully with the humans in this world. Now, Yuri has to deal with trying to become a good king, while at the same time attempting to adapt to this land's customs and culture, all in a world where the tension between the humans and Demon Tribe is reaching its peak.
Right Stuf’s Nozomi Entertainment Reschedules
BOYS BE… Rescheduled Due to replicator delays, anime producer and distributor Right Stuf, Inc. and Nozomi Entertainment are rescheduling the street date for the BOYS BE… DVD Thinpak Collection to March 11, 2008. The four disc collection will retail for $44.98. Based on the best-selling manga written by Masahiro Itabashi, illustrated by Hiroyuki Tamakoshi (Gacha Gacha) and released in North America by TOKYOPOP, this 13-episode anime series was directed by Masami Shimoda (Ai Yori Aoshi / Someday’s Dreamers / Zegapain) and has appeared on both Comcast Anime Selects and the Anime Network.
'Old Testament' Mecha
JMG Comics has announced that its first comic book series, MECHA MANGA BIBLE HEROES, will start with MECHA-MANGA BIBLE HEROES 1: DAVID VS. GOLIATH, which ships May, 2008. 32-page, full-color comic, $2.25 US. Future issues will present the further adventures of David as well as tales of such bible heroes as Daniel, Joseph, Jonah and others. The creative team for MECHA MANGA BIBLE HEROES #1: DAVID VS. GOLIATH includes writers Tom Hall (King, Robot 13) & Joey Endres (Megazeen), with pencils and inks by Thom “Kneon Transitt” Pratt (Disney) and colors and letters by Daniel Bradford (King, Robot 13). Also included are bonus comic strips by popular Australian writer/artist Dean Rankine. Each issue features fully painted covers by fan-favorite Jeff Slemons, who has done covers for several comic book publishers and whose work has been featured in successful ad campaigns. The series is edited by Paul Castiglia (Archie, DC, Dark Horse, Antarctic Press). JMG Studios owner John-Marc Grob (Marvel, owner-producer of FriendFish and various animation projects) is editor-in-chief. For more, see www.mmbibleheroes.com or www.myspace.com/mechamangabibleheroes
Yamato’s SIF EX: Oneechanbara – Aya (Blood Version) is on sale for the special price of $55 (regularly $68) until Friday, February 29th. Sculpted by 'garage-kit' artist Shunji Hagii (Studio Saru Bunshitsu Kasetsujo), this 'blood version' 1/6 scale PVC statue of Aya is limited to 120 pieces in the US and available through Yamato USA's Online Shop. Speeking of Oneechanbara, a live action movie is in the works.
Dark Horse Deluxe will be expanding their Kotobukiya ARTFX with the THE BOUNTY HUNTERS SERIES. The six 11 3/4" statues include Dengar, 4-LOM, Zuckass, Bossk, IG-88, and Boba Fett. Boba Fett will be available through Dark Horse Deluxe starting on April 23, 2008 with a new Bounty Hunter release each month. Each of the Bounty Hunters will have an SRP of $125.00 Fett will include Darth Vader’s left arm. There will also be additional extra-special secret bonus parts included with upcoming Hunters so that Darth Vader can be displayed in three different poses. Dark Horse also announced that they have signed an agreement to act as exclusive sales agent for the entire program of licensed products for MINDstyle—a California-based company which has recently emerged as a leading manufacturer of high-end collectible figures. The initial offerings, slated for release beginning in March, will include deluxe limited-edition vinyl figures and specialty products based on the classic Jim Henson film The Dark Crystal, comics artist Frank Cho’s Liberty Meadows, and award-winning painter Brom’s acclaimed book The Plucker “We are very pleased to be working with Dark Horse,” MINDstyle spokesperson M.D. Young remarked. “For MINDstyle, it was a natural progression in finding the right distributor for our products. We felt it was time to team up with someone who understood our vision and complimented our brand best. In this case, Dark Horse was the right company because of its “indie” identity and ability to reach a wider audience; and, it simply made good business sense. ” “It's an exciting year!” Young continued. “We are breaking new ground with the products that Dark Horse is distributing—doing things outside of just the vinyl art toys. We will release a series of 25 th anniversary Fraggle Rock vinyl collectibles, and there are some really limited The Dark Crystal figures in the works. We're very excited about the art replicas from the late Viktor Schreckengost, and there will be some really cool 12- inch figures from the Shaw Brothers kung fu classics, 36th Chamber of Shao Lin and Shao Lin Temple.” According to Figures.com, Bandai America plans to be showing action figures, cycles, weapons, role play toys and trading cards based on the forthcoming US TV series Kamen Rider Dragon Knight at the 2008 New York Toy Fair, going on from February 17 - 20 Go Hero will be producing figures and props based on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, including Buck Rogers’ Atomic Disintegrator limited edition functioning replica, and Buck Rogers 1/6 Scale Figure with a die-cast jet pack, working visor, removable helmet, a scale version of the Atomic Disintegrator.
T-Shirts From Right Stuf
Right Stuf, Inc. and Nozomi Entertainment have announced the April 2008 debut of seven new T-shirts featuring exclusive artwork from the FUNimation Entertainment series Peach Girl, School Rumble, Mushi-Shi and Hell Girl. Each full-color design is printed on “regular fit,” T-shirts constructed from 6.1 ounce, 100% pre-shrunk cotton. (Sizing information included below.) Peach Girl Collection 1. Peach Girl T-Shirt – Momo & Sae - Pink Available: 4/1/2008 MSRP: $17.99 (XXL $19.99)
2. Peach Girl T-Shirt – Momo - White Available: 4/1/2008 MSRP: $17.99 (XXL $19.99) 3. Peach Girl T-Shirt – Momo Winter - White Available: 4/1/2008 MSRP: $17.99 (XXL $19.99) School Rumble Collection 1. School Rumble T-Shirt – Tenma & Yakumo - White Available: 4/1/2008 2. School Rumble T-Shirt – Tenma Sport - White Available: 4/1/2008 MSRP: $17.99 (XXL $19.99) Mushi-Shi Collection 1. Mushi-Shi T-Shirt – Ginko - Black Available: 4/1/2008 MSRP: $17.99 (XXL $19.99) Hell Girl Collection 1. Hell Girl T-Shirt – Ai - Black Available: 4/1/2008 MSRP: $17.99 (XXL $19.99)
New York's Japan Society will be showing pre-modern anime manga eiga (manga films). Screened for the first time in the U.S. with English subtitles, these short animations will be presented each night in four differing themes, matched with a silent live-action film of the same genre and era. Wednesday, February 13 Part 1: Chambara Action & Adventure Thursday, February 14 Part 2: Horror & Comedy Friday, February 15 Part 3: Propaganda Saturday, February 16 Part 4: Music & Dance Special Screening: Orochi Tickets: Feb. 13 Launch Screening and reception: $15/$12 Japan Society members, students & seniors. All other screenings: $10/$7 Japan Society members & seniors/$4.50 students. The Special Student Discount is made possible by The Globus Family. VIZ Media, has announced its participation in JAPAN! CULTURE+ HYPER CULTURE, an exhibit taking place February 5-17 at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The dynamic exhibit brings together more than 450 artists, 40 performances, and more than a dozen free events to showcase the best in Japanese theater and dance, music and fashion, architecture and sculpture, poetry and literature, photography and film. Throughout the exhibit, VIZ Media will welcome visitors to a special Manga Café and Reading Lounge, with various manga titles, including the popular Shonen Jump titles BLEACH, DEATH NOTE, NARUTO, INUYASHA, and HIKARU NO GO. Manga author Robin Nishi (Mind Game) will also be on-hand to capture festival happenings in a daily drawing and free workshop. More information on the VIZ Media Manga Café and Reading Room is available here More information on the Festival is available at here The DC Anime Club and Japan Information and Culture Center will be screening the xxxHoLic/Tsubasa Chronicle double feature movie at the Japanese Embassy on Thursday Febuary 28. Bandai Visual USA will be premiering HARUKA: Beyond the Stream of Time-A Tale of Eight Guardians at Sakura-Con 2008. The first DVD volume will be exclusively available for purchase at Sakura-Con 2008 and attendees will also have the chance to see it first and meet HARUKA director Aki Tsunaki
Shinkai Movies on HD
Anime on DVD reports Makoto Shinkai's 5cm Per Second and The Place Promised in Our Early Days will be released in Japan on Blu-ray and HD DVD for ¥5775 each 04/18/2008. The Blu-ray releases favor PCM for their tracks while the HD DVD releases vary between Dolby Digital+ and TrueHD.
Ernie Hudson In Dragonball?
The The Dragon Ball Movie Blog translates a Movieland post saying that Ernie Hudson will have a part in the live action Dragon Ball movie, where he plays an "altar boy in a temple."
Worth Checking Out
Same Hat! Same Hat! looks at Vice's Shintaro Kago cover Some beuatiful images of Ghibli's Iblard Jikan from Inoue Naohisa Via Canned Dogs "Alien Jones" Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei meets Final Fantasy VII and dancing Danbot A preview for Tsubasa: Tokyo Revelations OVA 3 Old favorites back for Street Fighter IV Character shots for the Fist of the North Star MMO Publishers Weekly talks to Amy Reeder Hadley About.com talks to Faust's Katsushi Ota Production I.G posted a Q&A with with Takayuki Hamana Via Ghibli World, an English version of Yomiuri Shimbun interview with Gake no ue no Ponyo theme song singer Fujioka Fujimaki here and GhibliWorld.com has an image of previously unseen artwork from the movie here Pokemon producer's Masakazu Kubo broad recommendation concerning fansubs The "season finale" of Bang Zoom! Entertainment's AnimeTV features an interview with the voice actresses of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Comics Worth Reading recommends Happy Mania (a personal favorite here) The Comics Should Be Good Blog looks at a month in 2001 where DC's super hero comics integrated the title's logo into the coverage. Of note, the piece brings back one of the Kia Asamiya covers that the mange creator illustrated for American super-heros. Via Alt Japan Ultramen's Wearhouse and French comic-book colorist Walter's Mecha work You can still get Super #1 Robot: Japanese Robot Toys, 1972-1982 on Amazon for $7 comics212 at the Nakano Broadway Mall Also Bryan Lee O’Malley’s (Scott Pilgram) Shojo Beat Cover on ComiPress, From Kajiwara Ikki Part 1: The Dangerous Charm of a Dark World Random photo from Activate Twitch has an English Trailer For Michel Ocelot’s AZUR AND ASMAR, also more Robot Taekwon V and a trailer For Miike’s stage version of ZATOICHI A trailer for Wolverine And The X-Men