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Animation and Anime

AICN Anime-Blood Part II - Blood+

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Blood: Part II Blood+

For background on the Blood franchise and its first phase, Blood: The Last Vampire see part one

Anime Spotlight: Blood+ Five Episode Volume 1 and Twenty Five Episode Blood+: Part One, packaged in box set with t-shirt and manga preview Released by Sony Pictures

The centerpiece of any Blood is Saya Otonashi, a vampire girl who hunts vampires... in a school uniform... using a katana. In the initial Blood: The Last Vampire anime, manga, novels, ect, this character is an icy, bestial figure. She's human in appearance, but really predatory by nature: the wolf dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood. Rather than the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer dynamic of the victim who turns the table on the threat, The Last Vampire often functions more biologically, offering a cryptic organism that disguises itself as the prey of its prey. Blood+ swaps this for another model in which the protagonist looks harmless, but in reality is essentially capable. Blood+'s school girl Saya is decidedly moe, especially compared to the fierce features of the Katsuya Terada designed version of the character from the Last Vampire anime movie. Like the Yoshiyuki Sadamoto designed heroine of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Chizu Hashii's design for the Blood+ Saya's face is frame by short, messy hair. She looks like an active, independently minded teenager. True to the moe ideal, she's innocent; maybe a bit feeble. She can't remember her past. She's anemic. Yet, like Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne, this weakness is a cloak that covers a tragic past that has prepared the hero to combat the disruptive forces of the world. Activated by the tall, mysterious Hagi (or Haji in some translations, the former might be a better choice since Islamic connotations seem unintentional or at least inappropriate), Saya must move away from her adopted human family and work with a network of allies to suppress a global vampire threat. While Blood: The Last Vampire was daring, almost defiantly unconventional, its 2005 relaunch Blood+ takes a more populist, genre approach to the concept of a globe trotting Japanese sword wielding vampire school girl, whose mission is to hunt more monstrous blood suckers. The former had a movie that experimented with a, then new, style of animation, working off decidedly atypical character design; it had a manga by Benkyo Tamaoki, an artist known for his pornographic work; and, it had a novel by Mamoru Oshii that was more dialectic than horror action/thriller. In contrast, Jun'ichi Fujisaku builds Blood+ as a smartly engineered genre hybrid. The anime series is less about artistic endeavor and more about send the audience out on a long trip with characters for which that audience feels a connection. There's a bit of school drama, a bit of road trip, a bit of pulp adventure, and a super hero approach to the concept of an every-girl who discovers that she's born different, with special powers and a purpose that will send her into the world in search of her arch-enemy. He might lean on conceits such as amnesia, action sequences might not be his forte, but Fujisaku does construct an involving serial. Blood+ is not exactly what one might expect from "Production I.G produced-vampire-vampire hunter." It's not something entirely new, it's not particularly in love with vampire lore and it's not the next coming of horror-action. Yet, the Frankenstein's monster stitched together out of all of these traditional teen hero story formats is able to jog along at a solid pace for an extended stretch. As re-packaged as some of the tricks are, Blood+ is orchestrated deftly enough that the anime becomes engrossing. It finds success in creating scenarios that carry from episode to episode, and then lead into the next scenario before the current one becomes exhausted. Even for a jaded anime fan, the beat set by the plot progression commands attention. This first 25 episode-series half moves quickly and when it's over it has succeeded in making the second set of 25 episodes something to look forward to. The pacing is a function of the tight rein that Fujisaku holds over the anime. Like the work of an illusionist, he is very thorough in directing the audience's attention to one spot, while encouraging them to ignore others. As such, the glacial reveal of the obvious concerning Saya's back-story does not become tedious. By the same token, Fujisaku proves very skillful at implying, or not directly indicating something, grabbing attention, and then moving on. On a small scale, this happens in the opening episodes when Saya shares a physical casualness with a female classmate. It's not a tip toward romance, but it does establish a tactile sense of humanity for the character. The same goes for the naming conventions that tie the anime's organizations to the secret history proposed by Oshii in his novel. On a more thematic level, this is used to establish a deeper emotional resonance behind Saya amnesia, or bring up a nature versus nurture conversation concerning the different personalities she's assume throughout her life. Like the original Blood: The Last Vampire, which was set on the Yokota Air Force Base in 1966 as that base was about to be employed as a launching point for escalating the war in Vietnam, the thumbnail description of Blood+ makes the anime series sound politically engaged. In the madness of that war, a slaughter took place in which a feral girl armed with a sword began indiscriminately attacking native Vietnamese citizens, American soldiers and hulking, horse-faced predators known as chiropteran. Cut to present day Okinawa. This demonic girl doesn't remember any event prior to one year ago. She's being raised in a manner as close to that of a typical teenage student as possible thanks to the care of George Miyagusuku, an American, born of Japanese citizens, who served in the American army during Vietnam before later returning to Okinawa to raise a family. Setting the anime on Okinawa reintroduces the political discourse. For the anime, Okinawa is not an arbitrary community. It's sun drenched, which is pretty representative of how close the anime adheres to familiar vampire lore. The flora, the beaches and rock formations give the region local character that is distinct from most anime, the way that Metropolis in an animated Superman will look different than Gotham in an animated Batman. And, the location is shaped by the presence of America's Kadena Air Base. It drives the local economy. Bombers fly overhead. When a chiropteran sucks a teacher into a tree and grinds the poor guy into paste, the US military lays down a heavy hand, cordons off the school, confiscates the body, and supplies a drug addicted soldier as a patsy. The indictment expands until the anime ambiguously points to American imperialism as the chief vector for global, vampire infestation. At the same time, this is not a number of steps removed from Mamoru Oshii or the "Team Oshii" concept from Blood: The Last Vampire. As a more refined product than Last Vampire, it is harder to proscribe Blood+'s approach to the philosophy of one of its creators. Far from being a notable cynical work of anime, the question of motivation is still raised. In a production like Blood+, there had to have been discussions about how this would be received. Was it daring for a series apparently conceived with international exposure in mind to criticize American foreign policy? Or, by the same token, was it smart for a series that is meant to appeal to young adults to challenge authority in that way? After all, it's not like American foreign policy is especially well regarded in America itself. Yet, despite a provocative look at issues such as unexploded shells and other concerns with the lingering effects of war, the anime moves beyond this. The transition isn't so much an act of sweeping the politics out of sight as it is simply moving on. With matters external to the characters being swapped in and out, the anime is decidedly dynamic in its setting and topic. The core network of characters is moved placed to place, Okinawa to Vietnam to Russia to France, always one step ahead of stagnation, evolving along the way. Blood+ boasts a high level of production quality. There's music by Hans Zimmer and Mark Mancina, experimental credit sequences, and a host of interesting episode directors and story board artists. Action direction is far from a fatal flaw in the series, but it also stands as being far from a strength. Frequently, what should be a spectacle is absent. There is a lot of instances in which other characters are commenting on how impressive something is. Yet, though a character may delivers his grand coup-de-grace against a pair of foes off-screen, more often, the disappointment isn't for lack of effort. Short cuts aren't the reason why a protracted fist fight doesn't look credible or Hagi carrying his cello case into battle simply looks incongruous rather than like a gothic Django. "Like a video game" is getting to be a far overused comparison, but in this case, there are many situations where the action direction resembles nothing so much as a video game. The reason does not appear to be that Fujisaku wishes Blood+ to evoke the feeling of a game. Instead, it seems like he looks to other media as a model for his action. Unfortunately, comparing what the anime does with the apparent model, Fujisaku appears to be copying without internal understanding. The results do not look tailored to anime or innovative. There is a scene of monster-children overwhelming a squad of well armed soldiers. Given what is being displayed, it should be shocking, but by suggesting a survival horror game, without having the atmosphere of a great example of the genre, it is offering a point of comparison then failing to compare favorably. Similarly, when powerful combatants are leaping at each other, with simple motion trails following the charge, it does not just look like some one-on-one fighting game, it looks like a derivative game. For the most part, Blood+ is well served by Sony's release of the title. Purists are not going to appreciate the fact that it is "dubtitled:" rather than use a more literal translation for the subtitles than the English audio dub script, the same script was used in both cases. Consequently, there are cases where the subtitle text obviously has different meaning than the spoken Japanese dialogue. Yet, the idea to release a first volume AND release a box set of the first season day and date is a welcome initiative to cater to the different buying habits of anime fans. Given the continuity and pacing of Blood+ and given the fact that it has aired on Adult Swim, the option to buy half of the anime in one go well serves the title. And, the option to go for the piecemeal purchase is useful as well.

Prose Spotlight: Blood+ Volume 1: First Kiss Written by Ryo Ikehata Illustrated by Chizu Hashii Released by Dark Horse

The starkest criticisms that need to be raised against the Blood+ novel concern what it is not. It's not an ambitious work. It is not a work with a discernable authorial voice. It is not a work that expands on Blood+. The anime leaves space for more thorough exploration, such as Saya's life in Japan or her time in a Vietnamese boarding school, and there are works that do utilize the opportunity, such as the Blood + Russian Rose novels. Especially compared to Mamoru Oshii's Blood: The Last Vampire | Night of the Beasts, it is apparent that Ryo Ikehata is simply projecting the events of the anime into prose. Essentially, the novel is a light novel, young adults fiction with a dozen or so illustrations, that transcribes the events of the anime down to a rolling coin. Faithful to a fault, the trouble is more a function of conception than execution. If you're a fan of the anime...if you don't have the money for the anime release... if you are looking for something to read... a case can be made for the novel. If you have any doubts about your interest, the novel does nothing to make itself essential and little to make itself worthwhile. In describing the events of the anime, there are instances where the novel does offer insight into internalized sentiments. Especially in the transitions, the nature of the medium allows the novel to express thoughts that could not be vocalized in the anime. In capturing what the anime presented objectively, the novel feels like it doesn't want to presume. When code-locked doors are hacked with a USB connection on the door panel in the anime, the novel does not take the opportunity to clean up the groan worthy conceit. Yet, it does find freedom working with the thoughts of the characters. The internal dialog almost goes so far as to challenge the central premise of Blood in that Saya considers not wearing her school uniform on-mission. Far more often, the novel struggles to duplicate impressions that more naturally fit into anime. This leads to descriptiveness that touches on Lovecraftian; not grossly malevolent, but exotic bordering on laborious: "from behind an amniotic fluid wall of dripping wet obsidian black hair came the soft and unsure smiling face of a young girl." In reproducing the action sequences of the anime, the novel fails to transcend blow by blow scorekeeping. Wrapping his finger around the handle, George turned to face his transformed friend. The unsheathed blade shone like a white sash slicing through the dark night air. A hard blunt thud. The blade stopped in the deformed arm blocking Forest's face, The counter blow to the superficial wound George caused was a grand swipe from Forest's long left arm. His left hand pounded through George, sending him sailing sideways into the air. Beyond the matter of fact presentation, the novel relies on sound effects that don't resonate in English prose. "gurr!" "unnh.." suggest stylized super-hero and not heated anime battles. When the novel does take the opportunity to establish its own voice, it's unfortunately grating and elitist. The anime might have opened a politically critical discussion, but the novel's take on Euro-centric flunky Van Argiano voices a number of anti-American jibes, and the novel's author leaps on opportunities to echo the sentiment. Like the original Blood: The Last Vampire, Blood+ introduces agents "David" and "Louis". Blood+'s Louis is a heavy-set African American. And, the novel says of this man as a person who "looks like he's always eating French fries." Of David viewing Louis "despite the amazing revelation that his partner didn't have a mouthful of food." Ikehata is rarely more present than when he's casting aspersions on America. The issue is less that the novel expresses a distaste for American culture than that this distaste is one of the few subjects that excites the work. It could have benefited from expressing similar vehemence throughout.

Manga Spotlight: Blood+ Volume 1 Volume 1 by Asuka Katsura Released by Dark Horse

The Blood+ manga opens with a still lanky, but slightly more busty Saya waking up with a vocal gripe about Okinawa's oppressive morning heat. This vampire is a girl, who sweats through her bed clothes. Asuka Katsura's manga is the antithesis of Ryo Ikehata's novel. Where Ikehata presents a literal account of the anime, the manga riffs on the same premise. Where the novel approached the anime as something untouchable, the manga goes at it with irreverence. From the anime and the novel, the events leading up to Saya's school yard encounter with the chiropteran seem like they should be part of a static origin story. Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider on a school trip to a science lab. Saya forgets her track shoes at school, sneaks in and gets caught between a mysterious stalker and the chiropteran, at which point the monster reveals its nature by snacking on an attending teacher. Katsura throws that out and sets up a different encounter. In fact, based on the illustrations in the manga, Katsura clearly understands the design and premise of Blood+, but it looks entirely possible that he never saw the finished product of the anime. An ocean outcropping that provides sentimental inspiration to Saya looks substantially different in the manga from how it was presented in the anime. Especially as anime to manga adaptations go, Blood+ was graced with a talented artist. By no means is Katsura a trailblazer in the craft, but there is a discernable degree of talent in the manga's storytelling. The manga is full of angles and aspects shots that cleverly, if unsubtly, build a more complex impression than more formalized head or body shots might: close-ups of eyes, mouths and hands, but also a through a car windshield shot with attention drawn to the driver's scowl captured strictly through a reflection of his eyes in the rear view mirrow. Early on, there is a sequence of Saya high jumping for the school track team and the transition from quiet, preparatory moment, to ground beating sprint to leap, twist and impact really capture a visceral sense of the activity. Katsura is keenly aware of the component elements of Blood+. There is a panel in which Saya's adopted brother walks in on the attendant physician who looks after Saya for the series' vampire hunter organization as she deals with a grisly situation. Over the brother's shoulder, you spy a woman in a lab coat and rubber gloves, also with prominent cleavage, scrubbing the blood out of an article of clothing, with Saya's uniform hanging in front of a blood spattered wall. It's absurd. It plays to the notion of a hot doctor. You can empathize with the way Saya's brother is about to assume the worst and go into a rage. While the anime succeeds in utilizing its conceits without getting stuck dwelling on them, Katsura's manga's composition is such that the manga can both embrace all of the genre tropes and wink knowingly at them. For example, the notion of dopey school girl Saya is played to the hilt. Given that it is not entirely serious and Katsura brings verve to the illustrations, there is something endearing about scenes like Saya double fisting soda to avoid a conversation. There's an unexpected, raw subtext on display in the manga. There are racks of more aggressively violent manga. Still, it is startling to see a pair of instances where someone gets Saya's attention by doing something profoundly violent to her. By the same token, the black void for faces on the US soldiers deployed in the manga goes beyond politics. There's a round, energetic, endearing quality to the manga, and it also seems a bit nihilistic. Considering that Blood+ isn't Gantz or Violence Jack, when an antagonist offers "shall I cheer you up by bringing you the lower half of Saya's body? It should still be servicable-- after all, she's invincible," irreverence has hardened into something like iconoclasm. In the manga, Saya is pressed into playing the part of an amnesiac in a play and in bizarro Blood+ manga world, this theatre morphs into "Hamletta." Saya dressed in a gown, on stage, doing "to be or not to be" is a weird turn in a manga with more than its share of weird turns, but it is also apropos. The manga's notion of a bubbly girl with a dark, violent history is not exactly a newly discovered summit in manga high concept generation. Yet even if Blood+ was a stand alone work, if there was no Blood+ anime or Blood: The Last Vampire, Katsura's adventurous "look at me charm" is at least enough that volume 1 of the manga would provoke a purchase of volume 2. Most readers will probably have seen the anime, which only enforces what's compelling about this manga: a curiosity concerning what is to come next. It will be interesting to see if it continues to track the anime, if and how it deals with the Vietnam leg of the story and if it diverges further.

Official English Name for Ghibli's Next

Ghibli World reports that the official English name for Hayao Miyazaki's next Studio Ghibli movie will be "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea." The Japanese name is Gake no ue no Ponyo, literally "Ponyo on a Cliff." For more information about how Ghibli chooses to translate their titles see here. From Ghibli world translation of a podcast on Ponyo "I moved the location of Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid to the Japan of today and cut off the Catholic color. It will show an adventure and love of small kids." said Miyazaki. Suzuki added, "It will be a movie kind to the old as well as kids." Miyazaki also told, "This is a story about a fish kid that has a selfish wish to get along with Sousuke, a human boy, and carries out her intention. Meanwhile it is a story about the 5 year old boy Sousuke carrying out his promise." The site also has plenty on Isao Takahata next film here

Gotham Knight Site Launched

Warner Home Video has launched the official site for Batman anime anthology Batman: Gotham Knight, scheduled to be released on July 8th.

Figures News

Sideshow Collectibles is accepting pre-orders for the 12" Death Note RAH Misa in Straightjacket. The figure retails for $124.99 and will ship in quarter 3 2008.
Go Hero has posted prototype images of their 1:6 scale Buck Roger’s Atomic Disintegrator here Yamato USA will be releasing 1:24 Infrared Remote Control Scopedog Turbo Custom, based on the Votoms OVA "The Last Red Shoulder", this Scopedog Turbo Custom. The Kenichi Nomoto sculpted figure has a remote that can roller dash forward / backward, turn left / right, and spin in place. The Scopedog’s machine gun fires an infrared beam and the remote control vibrates with the sounds of impact and explosion. Pre-orders are taken for $145 (regularly $174) through March 31. "A" Bandwidth and "B" Bandwidth
Yamato’s 1/12 Armored Trooper Votoms "Red Shoulder Document" Odone Equipment Set is now available for direct customer pre-order exclusively through Yamato USA’s Online Shop. The preorder is $60 (regularly $75) through March 31.
The Scopedog Turbo Custom - "Red Shoulder Document" Odone Set which includes Scopedog Turbo Custom and "Red Shoulder" Odone Equipment is selling for $210 (regularly $262).
Weapons Set No. 3 is sold separately.
ART OF WAR will be releasing a limited purple mantle 1/6 scale Griffith, based on Berserk comic episode 282, "Torn Battlefield", in July 2008 for 75,000 JAPANESE YEN(tax excluded). 100 limited editions will be produced. The size of the polystone, wood statue is 31.5 cm (H) x 32 cm (W) x 27 cm (D) (base included) with a 10 cm (H) x 8 cm (W) x 9 cm (D) mini statue of Ganishka figure. Pre-order starts at 11:00, 14 March(Japanese time).
White Day Visighost's White Day Visighost Mecha Sad Bear Fantasy Art Collection Akira by yamato Kino of Kino's Journey Toynami's One Piece Kotobukiya Evangelion 1.0

Scheduled Releases

ANIME Via Anime on DVD Nozomi Entertainment will be releasing a season one collection (325 minutes) of Maria Watches Over Us on July 29th for $49.99. Bandai Visual USA has volume 6 (72 minutes) of Super Robot Wars: OG - Divine Wars planned for 05/13/2008, also retailed for $49.99 Bandai Entertainment has the following releases scheduled for May 5/6 Galaxy Angel S - 25 minutes - $9.98 5/20 Di Gi Charat Nyo! Vol. #07 - 100 minutes - $24.98 Flag Vol. #4 - 75 minutes - $29.98 My Otome Vol. #6 - 75 minutes - $24.98 Superior Defender Gundam Force Anime Legends Collection - 650 minutes - $49.98 Bandai Entertainment, INC. and Kadokawa Pictures USA announced the release details for Lucky Star. The first volume is scheduled for May 6th. Lucky Star is a 24 episode television series from Kyoto Animation, the same anime production company that created the anime series for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. 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 references. Volume 1 of the series will feature a regular and special edition and here are the specs: LIMITED EDITION --Collector's art box that can house all six DVDS --DVD Vol. 1 (see spec below) with Exclusive artwork --Motteke Sailor Fuku CD --Konata Character CD --Chocolate Coronet screen wipe --Sailor Uniform T-Shirt SRP: $64.98 REGULAR EDITION DVD Vol. 1 --Interactive Menus --English and Japanese Audio --English subtitle Extras: --Key Scenes Gallery -Creditless Opening with Karoke Lyrics --The Adventures of Minoru Shiraishi SRP: $29.98 MANGA The following are scheduled from Dark Horse APPLESEED BOOK 3: THE SCALES OF PROMETHEUS (3RD EDITION) On sale Aug 27 b&w, 216 pages $14.95 TPB, 8 ¼" x 5 3/4" Life seems ideal within the utopian confines of Olympus, a shining beacon in a post-World War III wasteland, but perfection is always an illusion. Stalking the ruins of New York City is Artemis, a renegade, flesh-eating bioroid (enhanced artificial human) carrying data critical to the future of Olympus. The elite ESWAT is sent in to tranq her and bring her in, but when Artemis recovers during transit the powerful combat bioroid brings down the transport ship and escapes into Olympus! ESWAT agents Deunan and Briareos are dispatched to bring in the feral Artemis, but will they emerge as heroes . . . or lunch?
BLOOD + MANGA VOLUME 3 Asuka Katsura On sale Aug 13 b&w, 200 pages $10.95 TPB, 5" x 7" OH MY GODDESS! VOLUME 30 Kosuke Fujishima (W/A) On sale Aug 20 b&w, 160 pages $10.95 TPB, 5 1/8" x 7 3/16"
STYLE SCHOOL VOLUME 3 On sale Aug 20 FC, 176 pages $16.95 TPB, 8 7/8" x 10 1/8" The third volume of Japan’s leading manga and anime instructional magazine. Learn the techniques of Japan’s top manga and anime artists, showing step-by-step methods to help today’s up-and-coming illustrators master the use of pen, brush, paint, marker, screen tones, computer modeling, and other tricks of the trade. Gain insight into the weapons of choice of today’s top creators, especially those brands and tools that are so hard to find outside Japan. Experience the eye-popping art of tomorrow’s manga and anime stars, with page after gorgeous page of spectacular visual imagination.
TOKIDOKI "KAITEN SUSHI" JOURNAL On sale July 2 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" spiral-bound journal $9.99
VAMPIRE HUNTER D PVC SET On sale Aug 12 Contains 3 fully painted, non-articulated figures Approx. 4" tall in a full-color window box $24.99 sculpted and painted by Tim Bruckner
DRMASTER PUBLICATIONS TO RELEASE MAMORU THE SHADOW PROTECTOR, NEPHYLYM, AND FENG SHUI ACADEMY DrMaster Publications has announced the impending release of three new titles, Mamoru the Shadow Protector by Sai Madara & Taro Achi, Nephylym by Rei Kusakabe, and Feng Shui Academy by Haruka Shouji.
Mamoru the Shadow Protector is the manga adaptation of the popular Japanese novel and anime, Kage Kara Mamoru by Taro Achi. Feng Shui Academy is also a manga adaptation of a Japanese novel series, Fuu Sui Gakuen by Midori Natsu. Nephylym is a new Japanese manga series by the up-and-coming manga artist Rei Kusakabe. Both Mamoru the Shadow Protector and Nephylym will hit stores this summer. Mamoru the Shadow Protector A story about protecting someone you love… in secret. Mamoru Kagemori is a dull high school boy who’s not handsome, athletic, or intelligent. But things aren’t always what they appear. He is actually the eldest son of the 400-year-old Ninja clan specializing in protecting their neighbors, the Konnyaku’s. And the object of Mamoru’s protection is none other than their only daughter, Yuna Konnyaku, a natural born accident-prone troublemaker. Mamoru must continue to protect her and carry out his duty regardless of how strong, bizarre, or stupid his advisories are. Will Yuna ever learn who her brave protector is? Mamoru the Shadow Protector volume 1 Price: $9.95 Availabilty: JUNE 2008
Mamoru the Shadow Protector volume Price: $9.95 SEPT 2008
Mamoru the Shadow Protector volume 3 Price: $9.95 Availabilty: DEC 2008
Nephylym Shun is has a unique power to electrically charge metal materials. A mysterious winged angel-like being named Ale picks up on his powers and chooses him to become her partner, thus enhancing Shun’s powers. The next day, Shin’s classmate, Sanari, who he has a crush on, tells him that she also has a winged angel partner, named Blissful. These beings are called Nephylyms. Sanari tells Shin that people like them, who have Nephylyms are called Answerers, and they are tasked to purify the crystals of negative consciousness called Noir. Together with their nephylyms Shun, Sanari, and Tsukasa (Shun’s rival in love) battle against Noirs that possesses human beings. Nephylym volume 1 Price: $9.95 Availabilty: SEPT 2008
Nephylym volume 2 Price: $9.95 Availabilty: DEC 2008
Feng Shui Academy Ozunu is the top student at Kusanagi School of Magical Architecture, a national polytechnic high school dedicated to raising professional magical architects of the future. Their job is to apply feng shui and other spiritual methods in architecture to exterminate fiends and demons in Tokyo, where the protective feng shui seal has been broken due to wars and urban development. Being raised by a spider fiend, Ozunu has always tried to purify or return monsters to where they came from, but he clashes with his rival Tsugaru, the heir to a magical architecture corporation, who believes strength is the key to everything. Feng Shui Academy Price: $9.95 Availabilty: 2009
Viz has announced their manga premieres for second quarter 2008.
GUN BLAZE WEST * Rated "T+" for Older Teens * MSRP: $7.99 * Available April 1, 2008 A brand new addition to the SHONEN JUMP imprint from Nobuhiro Watsuki, the creator of the successful samurai manga series RUROUNI KENSHIN and BUSO RENKIN (both published domestically by VIZ Media), GUN BLAZE WEST puts a new twist on the genre as it is set in 19th century America. Legend has it that in the far West lies a sacred land called Gun Blaze West, where only the strong can set foot. Viu Bannes, a cheerful and persistent boy, aspires to become a great gunslinger and yearns to travel to the West and test his strength. He befriends a vagabond, Marcus Homer, and they both decide to set off on a journey to find Gun Blaze West. The new title is VIZ Media’s first Western/Wild West series and will also be previewed in SHONEN JUMP magazine. Nobuhiro Watsuki’s critically acclaimed previous series RUROUNI KENSHIN is a fan favorite that has sold more than 1.1 million copies in North America and his BUSO RENKIN series likewise enjoys a wide and growing following.
HARUKA: BEYOND THE STREAM OF TIME * Rated "T+" for Older Teens * MSRP: $8.99 * Available April 1, 2008 HARUKA: BEYOND THE STREAM OF TIME is a highly anticipated new series based on a popular PS2 and Nintendo DS video game that is hugely popular in Japan. Akane is your typical teenage girl, until she swallows eight Dragon Jewels and is transported to the Heian period of ancient Japan! There in the Capital City, Akane learns that she has been preordained to lead the people as the Priestess of the Dragon God. But all is not well: Akram, the head of the Demon Clan, has sworn death and destruction on the Capital. So Akane is appointed Eight Guardians to stand by her side as she faces the danger that waits. HARUKA: BEYOND THE STREAM OF TIME is a new addition to VIZ Media’s SHOJO BEAT imprint and is currently being serialized in SHOJO BEAT magazine. The original Haruka video game was created by Ruby Party (aka Ruby Patty), the same group that designed the wildly popular Neoromance video game Angelique, and helped to define the modern Neoromance dating RPG format. Bandai Visual USA is also releasing the anime in April 2008. NIGHTMARE INSPECTOR: YUMEKUI KENBUN * Rated "T" for Teens * MSRP: $9.99 * Available April 8, 2008 For those who suffer nightmares, help awaits at the Silver Star Tea House, where patrons can order much more than just Darjeeling. Hiruko is a special kind of private investigator, he’s a dream eater, and he’ll rid you of your darkest vision - for a price. Each chapter of NIGHMARE INSPECTOR is a self-contained story that offers a glimpse of mankind’s folly and gradually reveals a little more about Hiruko and his dark past. A highly anticipated new series with a gothic edge, NIGHTMARE INSPECTOR was published in Japan by Square Enix, the publisher of the first manga series from Shin Mashiba. Fan-buzz has abounded on this series and comparisons have been made to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and DC’s classic House of Mystery/House of Secrets. B.O.D.Y. * Rated "T+" for Older Teens * MSRP: $9.99 * Available April 8, 2008 Everyone thinks 16-year-old Sakura has weird taste in guys because she can't stop drooling over Ryunosuke, the strong silent type who sits next to her in class. When she discovers he works for a host club, where women actually pay men to date them, will she finally wise up? Will he leave his job to be with her? Or will she take a job at the club so he can quit so she can be with him so...? Only one thing's for sure in B.O.D.Y. - you can't put a price on love! B.O.D.Y. originally appeared in the Japanese shojo monthly Bessatsu Margaret was created by Ao Mimori. It is her third shojo manga series and is also currently serialized in SHOJO BEAT magazine.
FAIRY CUBE * Rated "T+" for Older Teens * MSRP: $8.99 * Available May 6, 2008 Ian and Rin used to just see spirits. Now Ian is one. Using the Fairy Cube, Ian must figure out how to stop the lizard spirit Tokage from taking over his life and destroying any chance he has of resurrection. FAIRY CUBE is the long-awaited new series from gothic manga mastermind Kaori Yuki, who created ANGEL SANCTUARY, GODCHILD, and THE CAIN SAGA (all published by VIZ Media). A new addition to VIZ Media’s SHOJO BEAT imprint, FAIRY CUBE will be previewed in the April 2008 issue of SHOJO BEAT magazine. THE RECORD OF A FALLEN VAMPIRE * Rated "T" for Teens * MSRP: $9.99 * Available May 13, 2008 Thousands of years ago, Vampire King Akabara Rosered Strauss lost both his kingdom and his queen. Since humans were unable to kill the queen, they sealed her away, erecting thousands of fake seals so that the king would never find her true location. Despite being pursued by relentless humans and half-vampires alike, Akabara continues to search for his queen to this day. Akabara's quest takes a sinister turn when an entity called the Black Swan appears. The Black Swan inhabits the body of a young human girl every 50 years, giving her the power to destroy the Vampire King and his queen. With each incarnation the Black Swan grows stronger -will the 49th Black Swan mean the end of Akabara? THE RECORD OF A FALLEN VAMIRE is illustrated by Yuri Kimura and written by Kyo Shirodaira, the award-winning writer behind the popular mystery manga and animated series SPIRAL - BONDS OF REASONING. ROSARIO + VAMPIRE * Rated "T+" for Older Teens * MSRP: $9.99 * Available May 13, 2008 All-around average teenager Tsukune can't get accepted to any high school save one, but on his first day, he finds the rest of the student body doesn't appear average in the least. Best of all, the cutest girl on campus can't wait to fling her arms around his neck! Wait a sec', are those her teeth around his neck too? Tsukune's going to have one heck of a hickey when he gets home from Monster High! But does he have a chance in hell of raising his grades at a school where the turf war isn't between the jocks and the nerds but between vampires and the werewolves? Find out in the new series from Akihisa Ikeda. GIMMICK! * Rated "T+" for Older Teens * MSRP: $9.99 * Available June 10, 2008 Gimmick! is an interesting new series by Youzaburou Kanari and focuses on Kohei Nagase, a genius in the realm of movie make-up and special effects. With his stuntman buddy Kannazuki, Kohei helps various people in need get out of tough situations through the use of his brilliant make-up skills. This series has action, mystery, and lots of insights about the technical aspects that go into doing really cool movie make-up.
CAT EYED BOY * Rated "T+" for Older Teens * MSRP: $24.99 * Available June 17, 2008 Cat Eyed Boy is a half-human, half-monster child whose mostly human appearance bans him from the demon world. He lives hidden in the shadows of the human world, hated by humans and demons alike. Wherever he goes, awful events occur as the humans and demons interact. In 11 stories of revenge and retribution full of disturbing images, Cat Eyed Boy acts as a trickster, saving the innocent and helping the wicked receive the punishment that fate metes out. The first volume contains four stories and the first part of a fifth and longer story. CAT EYED BOY was created by Kazuo Umezu, the undisputed master of Japanese horror manga and creator of the critically acclaimed DRIFTING CLASSROOM (also published by VIZ Media). Cat Eyed Boy offers up a concoction of dark vignettes dripping with the macabre and the absurd. ICV2 reports TOKYOPOP has also announced that it will release the first two volumes of a three-shot Starcraft anthology series in August and November. Creators will include Josh Elder and Daniel Cross; Richard Knaak and Naohiro Washio; Paul Benjamin, Dave Shramek, and Nam Kim; and Simon Furman and Jesse Elliot. Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, a two-volume gothic dracula series by Kou Sasakura based on the Konami videogame, will be released in September. Natsuki Takaya's (Fruits Basket) first manga, Geneimuso, will be released as Phantom Dream starting in December Otsu-ichi's novel Goth as well as a one-volume manga adaptation by Kendi Ohishi (Welcome to the N.H.K.) will be published this fall. Fox Atomic has optioned Otsu-ichi's Goth, in which two "Goth" teenagers from very different backgrounds combine forces to solve six murders in their hometown. Videogame writer J.T. Petty is both adapting and directing the Goth novel for Fox Atomic. In September Tokyopop will publish the 192-page Goth manga, which will carry an 18+ age rating and retail for $10.99. Tokyopop plans to cross-promote the manga in its Welcome to the N.H.K volumes as well as with the 248-page novel, which will be published in October with a cover price of $12.99. Same Hat! Same Hat! notes that Vertical's release of Tezuka's medical thrill Black Jack has the following releases scheduled BLACK JACK, VOLUME 1 : SEPTEMBER 23, 2008 BLACK JACK, VOLUME 2 : NOVEMBER 18, 2008

Upcoming in Japan

A trailer for Masaaki Yuasa's (Mind Game) new series Kaiba. The official site for the Madhouse anime, schedule to run 12 episodes starting April 10 is online here A trailer for Shirow Masamune/Production I.G's upcoming Real Drive has been posted on the NTV site. A placeholder page for the movie version of popular mecha anime Gurren Lagann has gone online. The movie is scheduled for be released in Japan this Fall. Director Hiroyuki Imaishi and writer Kazuki Nakashima are attached to the project IESB notes that Warner Bros. is looking to market Mamour Oshii's (the Ghost in the Shell Movies upcoming Skycrawlers internationally. The film will be showcased at Showest in Las Vegas Via A Geek By Any Other Name, the next Fist of the North Star anime will be Hokuto no Ken Raou Gaiden Ten no Haoh (aka Fist of the North Star: Raoh’s Story: Celestial Conqueror or Conquering King of Heaven), set to air in fall ‘08. In addition to Stitch, Japanese Disney will be producing Fireball, a CGI sci-fi about two robots live in a mansion together. Disney is producing, and Disney’s Wataru Arakawa is directing and supervising the screenplay. The robots will be designed by Gundam 00’s Hitoshi Fukichi, and the CG director will be Hiroki Kawasaki. From Anime News Network and AnimeNation A site for manglobe studio's (Samurai Champloo, Ergo Proxy) Michiko to Hatchin has been launched. Staff includes Sayo Yamamoto (storyboarder for Samurai Champloo, Ergo Proxy, and Eureka Seven) directing, Takashi Ujita (live action Freesia) writing, and Hiroshi Shimizu (animation director for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG, Kemonozume, and Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi) on character design. Shinichiro Watanabe (of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo fame) will server as music producer. The title's Michiko is a free-willed "sexy diva" who destroys a supposedly inescapable prison fortress, while Hatchin is a girl fleeing her strict foster parents. The two join forces on an improbable escape to freedom. The official Japanese website for the Crystal Blaze "hard-boiled buddy" story has posted a promotional video. Blue Dragon: Tenkai no Shichi Ryu (The Seven Dragons of the Heavens), the second season of the anime based on the Xbox game, will premiere on April 5 in Japan. A second season of Yasai no Yousei - N.Y. Salad, based on work by Yoshitaka Amano (Final Fantasy, Vampire Hunter D), will start on March 31. Sanrio's Onegai My Melody will get a fourth series starting April 6. An anime based on Mizue Tani's historical fantasy light novels Hakushaku to Yosei (The Count and The Fairy) is being developed. Set in Victorian-era England, the story follows a 17-year-old girl Lydia Carlton whose fascination with fairies led to her nickname, the "Fairy Doctor." While sailing to London, Lydia encounters Edgar J.C. Ashenheart, the Count of the Blue Knights, and joins him on his search for the sword of his family lineage. A new manga based on real robot military sci-fi classic Armored Trooper Votoms starts in the May issue of Champion Red Ichigo, on sale March 19. Peace Maker creator Nanae Chrono and newcomer Kosho Nakabayashi will start a "first horse-racing battle" manga called Paka Run in the Mag Garden's Monthly Comic Blade's May issue (on sale on March 29). Canned Dogs Fujita Kazuhiro (Ushio to Tora, Karakuri Circus) will be launching his new Gekkou jourei in Shounen Sunday. Nobuyuki Anzai (Flame of Recca, MÄR) will apparently be returning to Sunday too on issue 21 + 22, even though he once wrote on his blog that there was no longer any place for him in Sunday. If you keep refreshing the home page for Ultra Jump spin-off Ultra Jump Egg you'll see the Araki Hirohiko (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure) rendition of the magazine's moe mascot

NewType USA Replacement Hits Stands

Issue 1 of the PiQ magazine was released March 14, 2008. The "entertainment for the rest of us" magazine, which replaces NewType USA is devoted to anime and genre entertainment including product reviews, feature stories and interviews with creators and entertainers, as well as columns by industry experts, examinations of fan culture and insider perspectives and opinions. The magizne's covery took looks at Appleseed: Ex Machina, while other featured stories include anime releases Code Geass and xxxHOLiC, Nickelodeon’s Avatar, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, new game titles N and Crisis Core: FFVII, and a look at Marvel’s Secret Invasion. With the LIST section, PiQ reviews Tweeny Witches, Aquarion, Patapon, Fullmetal Alchemist, Battlestar Galactica and Frisky Dingo. “Is Anime Dead?” leads off PiQ’s MONITOR section. The magazine also includes an exclusive 16-page excerpt from CMX Manga’s Crayon Shinchan, Volume 2.

Tezuka Manga Offered Online

Blog@Newsarama notes that the Japanese company Papyless along with Tezuka Productions is offering 448 works of Osamu Tezuka, including Astro Boy, Black Jack and New Treasure Island manga starting March 18. Manga will cost about a dollar to read a volume over a 48-hour period. Buying the work online will run about $3.

Event News

ANIME EXPO 2008 announced that Pokemon director Masamitsu Hidaka will attend the convention a Guest of Honor. The event takes place July 3-6, 2008 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Currently, Mr. Hidaka is working as the Director for the GONZO television series LINEBARRELS OF IRON. The convention is also calling for entries for their Battle of the Bands. Entries are accepted through May 20th. See www.anime-expo.org/botb for more information. Japanese girl band Scandal will be performing at live as part of SXSW Japan Night at T. T. Bear's in Cambridge on 3/17. Tour dates include March 16th (Sun) NEW YORK @Knitting Factory March 17th (Mon) BOSTON @ TT The Bears March 18th (Tue) CHICAGO @ Empty Bottle March 19th (Wed) DENVER @ TBA March 20th (Thu) SEATTLE @ Hi Dive March 21st (Fri) SF @ TBA @ Independent March 23rd (Sun) LA @ Knitting Factory

"Heavy Metal" Coming Back

ICV2 reports Paramount is planning a new animated Heavy Metal film with segments directed by David Fincher (Seven, Zodiac), Tim Miller (Rockfish) and Kevin Eastman of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame (and coincidentally the owner and publisher of Heavy Metal). The new Heavy Metal film will consist of eight or nine individual animated short films that will mirror the format of the anthology magazine, which debuted in the U.S. in 1977 and brought a new level of sex, violence and sophistication to the world of U.S. comics to which it also introduced a number of key European creators including Moebius, Enki Bilal, Phillippe Druillet and Milo Manara to name just a few.

Worth Checking Out...

Happy third Same Hat! Same Hat! (also, a look at future for the great alt/horror manga blog, and a few teases on their secret project). The site also looks at some interesting upcoming releases, and updates on the Umezu House Dark Horse's Carl Horn taking at Center for Japanese Studies at Portland State University via Geek By Any Other Name and Mecha Mecha Media Roland Kelts on SOFT POWER, HARD TRUTH / Does pop Japan think its admirers wrong? The Problem with Japanese Animation Kadokawa: We Allied With Google or 'Black Ships' part 1 and part 2 via Precocious Curmudgeon, Simon Jones on misused manga publication/genre terms Angery Otaku presents some interesting metaphors for the problem of anime in America. Can catgirls save the troubled US anime industry? (viva marketing to the otaku?) Mecha Media Mania on the NewType USA replacement PiQ Publisher's Weekly on the significance of Guin Saga The WSJ profiles Paul Pope ANN interview Live Evil fansubber Tofusensei Comic Book Resources interviewed Jim Pascoe, creator of the Undertown TOKYOPOP OEL manga here Let's Anime recall's Animage's look at American anime fans bakc in the 80s Job hunting in the otaku industries A preview of the third Star Trek OEL anthology Yikes, Britney Spears' animated Break the Ice For fans of adult manga, Icarus Comics has a free sample of Comic AG Digital Alt Japan on Nintendo's karuta cards (the game co's original buisness), also otaku oragami Illustrations from Harikikigaki, a book of medical knowledge written in 1568 by a now-unknown resident of Osaka A "Manga Tasting" edition of The Hot Tears of Shame podcast Gunbuster legos Let's Anime on the releases of Peregrine Films Kaiju Shakedown reacts to Takeshi Miike's transforming cell phone show. A brief look at Hitsugi katsugi no Kuro Voting for the People’s Choice Award in TOKYOPOP's Rising Stars of Manga 8 A preview of the Crayon Shinchan manga and Yoshinori Natsume's Batman: Death Mask. Death Note's Ken'ichi Matsuyama as Johannes Krauser II, the hero of Detroit Metal City here The Fan History wiki has launched an anime section. Adult Swim's anime light upcoming schedule

For more commentary see the AICN Anime MySpace.

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Readers Talkback
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  • March 15, 2008, 11:36 a.m. CST

    Is anime still cool?

    by JohnnyThanatos

    I mean in the days of Akira... it was geek-chic but now it's the language of 14 year olds who think they discovered it.

  • March 15, 2008, 2:53 p.m. CST

    If you want to watch Blood+ DO NOT watch the ova

    by crayon

    Because you know how maybe you've heard that Saya is a total badass and just goes around fucking shit up in in Blood: The Last Vampire? Yeah, well it never happens in Blood+. You'll just be sitting around saying "so when does this get good?" and then, "Oh, it's finished. I should have watched something more awesome like Akagi and Kaiji back to back instead." <br><br> In fact, just don't watch Blood+ at all really, regardless of if you've seen the OVA or not. It's just not very good. The manga cover is pretty sweet though. <br><br> And Lucky Star, this is exactly the sort of show that doesn't need to be dubbed. Hell, it's even labeled the "ultimate otaku anime"! Bandai is just wasting money by dubbing this sort of content. And then anime companies go and complain about not making enough profit... sheesh.

  • March 15, 2008, 5:07 p.m. CST

    PRANTA RAPEU!!

    by Baron Karza

    Anime Death Tentacle Rape!

  • March 15, 2008, 8:05 p.m. CST

    Blood+ versus Blood OVA

    by Johnno

    I guess one might expect that the violence and general badassedness was toned down considering it was being made for TV... I liked it though, I tihnk it was maybe the cool opening credits that hypotnized me into watching it but it's rather good and with nice production values.<br><br>Also I finally picked up Ex machina on blu-ray... was really torn over whether to get that or the nice tin box... but HD won out in the end and boy am I gald, it looks damn nice in blu-ray! They've really improved significantly on the CG look too, though I find the story a bit hammy if entertaining...

  • March 15, 2008, 9:39 p.m. CST

    Amine guys,

    by Stevie Grant

    Why do so many Japanese cartoons, comics, video games, and animated movies feature whites? Are North America and Europe the targeted market? It's always seemed really weird how so many characters are blond or blue/green-eyed (white) instead of Japanese. I don't get it.

  • March 15, 2008, 9:46 p.m. CST

    Anime is...

    by tuan69

    gay yes it is. fuck anime!

  • March 15, 2008, 10:17 p.m. CST

    An actual real comment about this show and not some dumb shit co

    by kb1399

    I watched the first episode of this anime and it inspired me to see the Ova, which I mostly enjoyed. With Hagi and the blood kiss and some of the Vietnam flashbacks, the show sets itself up as a great gothic opus that is never fully realized. The flashbacks to the zoo are kind of cool. Basically, I wish it was more like the Highlander TV show with a flashback in each episode. However, those little gems are few and far between in the series. Also the 12-year-old, implied Riku sex is a little disturbing. All in all, I'm glad I watched it but it won't be something I buy or even re-watch in re-runs on adult swim.

  • March 16, 2008, 10:12 a.m. CST

    Blood: The Last Vampire > Blood +

    by LaserPants

    I like the scary, vicious Saya better than the demure, show-gaze-y, weepy, Saya of Blood +. They are supposed to be the same character, right? Just different takes on the same character? I think Blood + is pretty cool, and the opening sequence is really nice, but Blood: The Last Vampire was much, much cooler. I just wish it was longer and didn't feel so rushed. Its only like 80 minutes long.

  • March 16, 2008, 3:12 p.m. CST

    Doomsday bombed

    by skywalkerfamily

    It made like 2 bucks.

  • March 16, 2008, 3:46 p.m. CST

    Doomsday Was Doomed To Bomb

    by LaserPants

    But it'll do well on dvd. I'm on break this week, so I'm planning on seeing a matinee before it slips away to 'wait till dvd' land.

  • March 16, 2008, 4:51 p.m. CST

    It still bombed

    by skywalkerfamily

    Sweeny Todd opened in about ten theaters and made more money.

  • March 16, 2008, 10:37 p.m. CST

    ain't it cool news...

    by Dr_Ian_Malcolm

    needs an enema... where's the new stuff... where's the "cool" stuff... this site should be condemned...

  • March 16, 2008, 11:15 p.m. CST

    Stevie Grant

    by Johnno

    There are anime movies/shows that feature multiracial and ethnic casts. Cowboy Bebop is the most well known one. Plenty of movies do too. But most general anime tends to take place in Japan, a country with predominantly white skinned people so most characters are white as that's the location most of it takes place in. Otherwise most of it takes place in fantasy settings and they pretty much feed off fantasy as the west has typically created it. How many 'black' people do you see in Lord of the Rings for example? And on the topic of eye and hair colour, it's got nothing to really do with the typical Japanese or ethnic specific features, Japanese people and artists like colourful characters and designs and 'cute-ness.' Big eyes are cute and also expressive. When Tezuka started out the whole manga and anime thing, he wasn't trying to be American, he was just mimicking Disney cartoons and Mickey Mouse. He made cartoon characters who looked appealing and everyone took after him. Hair and eye colour are just there to differentiate characters who are cartoons. It's visuals for the sake of it. That said there is plenty of anime and manga that has more Japanese/asian looking characters hairstyles and eye colours. Most of these tend to be based on approaches closer to or in reality itself... The remainder that you are referring to are usually just trying to be funny, entertaining, mass appealing and then cash in on merchandise. But some of those also have their place in the pantheon of greats. You can search around the net to find better more in depth articles that tackle this common question. Maybe Scott Green can link you to some good ones...

  • March 16, 2008, 11:36 p.m. CST

    Thanks Johnno

    by Stevie Grant

    I'm not familiar with any Japanese comics or animated movies. I was basing what I wrote from video games and various anime movies and shows I've seen. The Lord of the Rings was the direct descendant of Germanic folklore (hence Northern Euro features). But from the Mario Bros. to the Final Fantasy series... it just seemed weird to me that all these Japanese games featured Euro/blonde/blue-or-green-eyed characters. I just finished Lost Odyssey... and Kaim is definitely "white" in looks but hardass samurai in character. I've just always found it weird how the Japanese game creators feature so many white characters. I don't get why the characters aren't Japanese.

  • March 17, 2008, 2:30 a.m. CST

    Daisey Chain Revolution

    by Hikaru Ichijo

    That's a great album by The Poster Children, btw. Available at your favorite used Dino store, Oldlings. At least now I know what they mean by the title; Trade in the Lotus for an H4 and let the fish keep swimming in the pond, Mah Fah! Afterall,we've got an ecosystem to preserve. Ain't nobody gonna miss a suit, either, what's been around long enough. Boys keep Swimmin'! Thanks again, Scott, for a well rounded column. Helps me feel like I'm fourteen again, without the MD Geist or Douglas Dougal. Peace out!

  • March 17, 2008, 1:21 p.m. CST

    This really does feel like old news

    by TruPhan

    I finished Blood+ sometime in summer of last year I think. Great production values, but not a very interesting story.

  • Feb. 15, 2010, 4:04 a.m. CST

    usHzTriT

    by TmvEqK

    DHimpT <a href="http://mcdwnl.com/ ">usHzTriT</a>

  • Feb. 15, 2010, 4:05 a.m. CST

    PUsnDa

    by TmvEqK

    RfvIoCa <a href="http://ochyvb.com/ ">PUsnDa</a>