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AICN Anime-Live Action Nana, Speed Racer Manga, and Surprisingly Cool News From the Ailing Industry

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Live Action Spotlight: Nana Released by Viz Pictures Playing at the ImaginAsian April 04, 2008 To be Released on DVD April 8, 2008

When Neil Simon wrote the Odd Couple, the play, which became a movie and a TV series, he based it on observations and anecdotes of divorced or separated men that he knew. While "Odd Couple" calls to minds the sitcom antics of opposite personality types coinhabitating, there is core pathos in its vision of how the lives of these men went astray. The premise for Ai Yazawa's manga Nana had that potential to be formula comedy or a conceit that provides an opportunity for humanity and insight. Nana Komatsu was born the middle daughter of a middle class family, in a mid sized town surrounded by mountains. Most of her challenges were of her own making in her efforts chasing after the next dream guy. Nana Osaki never knew her father or her place of birth. At age four, her mother left her in the care of her strict grandmother. She discovered punk music and found a guy she loved, but when he accepted a spot in a band on the ascent, she opted to strike out on her own rather than assume a support position in his life. Simultaneously, Nana K. and Nana O. struck out for Tokyo to establish their lives and in the process were brought together by fate to room in apartment 707. (Nana K.'s given name, Nana O.'s given name, and the word for the number seven are homonyms in Japanese). Living in the apartment, the young woman who grew up with plenty of support, accustomed to heedlessly leaping after the person she felt would bring her happiness finds her life complimented by that of a young woman accustomed to looking out for herself and driven by her guarded passions. Nana is plain in articulating its symbolism. Nana O. rechristens the quick to smile, quick to whimper Nana K. "Hachi," short for Hachiko, the name of the preeminent dog in Japanese culture. When you see a statue of a dog in anime/manga, it's generally the Hachiko bronze from Shibuya Station. By the same token, Hachi begins to think of the prickly, standoffish Nana O. as a proud cat. The thing about a formula like this sort of binary relationship is that outcome is a function of input. Start with something lazy, and it is going to produce tiring situation comedy. As with her other works, Gokinjo Monogatari and Paradise Kiss, Ai Yazawa's shoujo manga demonstrates a perspective where fashion is a mirror for living. She designs real costumes, elaborate sets of outfits and accessories than pins down the person and the context. Then, fills in these clothes with the artists or other stark personalities who live the look. In this case, it's the precious pinks and soft fluffiness of Hachi's clothes and the ragged edges, straps and studs of Nana O.'s outfits. As suggested by the clothes, they are people whose lives pass the overheard conversation test: if they were in a near by table in a restaurant, you might be tempted to listen in on their account of their lives rather than tune out the drone. As contrived as Nana and Nana meeting up in apartment 707 might be, as contrived as bouncing from one emotional peak to the next might be, Nana is elevated by its credibility. Given Hachi's infatuation with ideas, such as the idea of having a boyfriend, the idea of finding a job and living independently, or the idea of herself as a victim, the way that she makes herself a bumper car for relationship disasters seems as much like a natural consequence as it does grist for a serialized manga. Similarly, given Nana O's need to establish herself, her stubborn obstinacy is more than tool to prolong drama. From the opening narrations of the two Nana's through many pointed conversations and sharp jokes, fans of the Nana manga will spot elements of the original that are missing in the movie and lament their absence. Yet, writer Taeko Asano and director Kentarô Ôtani work out a brilliant re-creation of the manga as live action, while essentializing the story. Their work is helped along by concluding the feature before the manga really started introducing baroque convolutions in the relationships and at almost two hours, it isn't exactly a short movie. The movie succeeds at an abridgement for the same reasons that it does not feel like situation comedy. Every scene serves to establish then develop the characters and at the same time the scenes advance the plot. There are some very funny gags in the manga that the movie blows right by because it is not meandering to deliver the joke. Essential to the nature of Nana, it is the principal characters creating their own circumstances. It's not entirely conclusive. In addition to the extra manga and the anime series, there is a second Nana movie, but it bows out on a moment that is neither incomplete nor falsely complete. The movie doesn't have the great razor letter opening gag, but it does have Nana and Nana sitting outside a restaurant, Hachi wearing Nana O's leather jacket, and Nana O. wearing Hachi's pastel scarf. As distinctive as Ai Yazawa's manga looks, with the help of some precise costume design Aoi Miyazaki (of Tomie: The Final Chapter) as Hachi and singer Mika Nakashima as Nana O. inhabit their parts. Despite some staginess in the framing of the feature, there is a great chemistry between the pair. When they are in proximity to each other, there is a sense of the opposites effecting each other. It is possible to read a romantic subtext into the relationship. To a degree, this is the story of girl meets girl, girls drift from their boyfriends. More to the point, Nana is the story of two people, right or wrong, helping each other to define themselves. One of the elements that makes manga a compelling tradition is its ability to generate characters that the reader genuinely sympathizes with. The reader comes to invest an emotional stake in their success. Nana's ability to re-create that in live action is what makes the movie a superb manga adaptation. The closest thing to a wrong note in the movie is its music. Nana O's music career is essential to the work. Reading prose, one envisions the described sights of the narrative. Reading a manga about music, one imagines the music. In the Nana movie, the music seems like it was for the audience rather than from the character. Contrary to the punk passions of Nana O., the music of the movie is missing an edge and missing individuality. It sounds more like an anime's opening theme than Sex Pistols or Joan Jett. While it is catchy, it sounds overly utilitarian, like it is there to sell a CD. The story concerns individualistic Nana O. and Hachi's fairytale dispelling experience. At the same time, the manga's home anthology, Cookie, isn't exactly underground or alternative. Even if it isn't terribly cynically derived, it is a populist production, adapting a hit manga.

Manga Spotlight: Speed Racer: Mach Go Go Go Box Set by Tatsuo Yoshida Released by Digital Manga Publishing

Digital Manga Publishing's (DMP) collection of Speed Racer offers brilliantly fun pop art in a beautiful collection. The entire run of the manga is collected in a two volume set housed in a box bearing the design of the racing series' famous Mach 5 car. It boasts the sort of iconic, retro look that a long time Speed Racer fan would want from their definitive collection of the material: nicely what it is, of its time, without applying anachronistic sentiments. Panels and pages are arranged in the original Japanese right to left, which might make the collection difficult for some non-manga reading, Speed Racer fans, but beyond that, the reproduction and localization is clean and clear. Especially factoring in the manga's age, with the quality of its ink and paper, it's great looking printing. With touches like translating the sound effect illustration next to, in the style of, the original Japanese the adaptations offers a very transparent localization. For fans of manga, it is welcome to receive this sort of well preserved time-capsule release, but the rationale owes less to Speed Racer's artistic merit than it does the title's enduring niche in American culture and its regular revivals. Speed Racer was part of the second wave of modern manga, after Astro Boy, Tetsujin 28 and 8-Man, contemporaneous with Lupin III and before the major works of Go Nagai. Anime had already become a factor in the market. Everything was fresh, up and running. Speed Racer took to that with what has been credited as part James Bond gadget-mobile, part Viva Las Vegas and parlayed it into a feverish petrol-sport merry-go-bound. Bouncing, hurtling cars were tearing up the road with a hurricane of speed lines in their wake. In fast ages it was sending packs of cars ripping around mountain bends, where the slow or dull were doomed to plummet and explode. I wanted to say that there is a brief moment, earlier in Speed Racer where the manga was not quite campy, where it dealt with a real context and concerned itself with the Japanese automotive industry trying to assert itself on the world stage. However, when I returned to the first volume, and opened up the first chapter, I found that it didn't quite open with Pops Racer trying to protect his engine innovation and east-west-cooperation. Of course, it opens with Speed Racer himself burning rubber on a fantastic race track, before skittzing off with visions of Pops barking reprimands ringing in his head. The manga version of Speed Racer might be slightly lighter on the gadgets than the famous anime, but in terms of two fisted automotive adventure, with blind driving, sailing over cliffs, thrown wrenches, punches and bodies, the Speed Racer manga speeds towards craziness at full throttle. Speed Racer might not be artistically enduring, but the way its earnest white hat protagonist will pick up a tommy gun and start blasting at assailants, or the way that his father will start throwing fists when his work is maligned, or even a bound, old man hostage will bite his captors demonstrates a boy's exuberance that still makes Speed Racer memorably fun. Speed Racer can be exciting, but it's not surprising. Unlike what Osamu Tezuka or Shotaro Ishinomori were frequently attempting, it wasn't parlaying the entertainment into something touching or significant. Despite multi-chapter stories, the manga does not have the continuity associated with popular boys'/shonen manga of recent decades. Pops Racer built an incredible car that Speed wasn't ready to use in racing competitions, but with Pops fuming, under the knowing eyes of Mom and girlfriend Trixie, Speed was going to use that car to compete in some wacky race, usually encountering the mysterious Racer X along the way. There's at least an effort to always have Speed going to some far off place, racing strange people under stranger circumstances. Especially deep into the manga, the results are inconsistent. The Alpine Race with its Car Acrobatics team and handicap driving final leg is wonderfully outlandish, but some of the convolutions don't pick up excitement with their swerves. The manga collection is positioned more for the bookshelf of the Speed Racer enthusiast than the manga archivist. It opens with personal history mixed with behind the scenes from Peter Fernandez, the voice and pen behind the work to localize Tatsunoko Production's 1967 anime Mach Go Go Go as Speed Racer. Then, the translation precedes to use the names familiar to American audience since the animated series hit American TV: Speed Racer rather than Go Mifune, Trixie rather than Mitchi, Rex Racer aka Racer X rather than Kenichi Mifune aka Masked Racer. It's a trade-off between representing Speed Racer's significance in American pop culture, and Mach Go Go Go's in the manga tradition, and it's a trade-off between cleverness in one language and another. Both the original Japanese and the American adaptation are heavy on puns. The Japanese plays with the homonym "go" as Japanese for 5 and "go" as an English word, while the American adaptation has fun with names like Tongue Blaggard and Lightfingers Klepto. Any adult has to appreciate Speed Racer ironically. The industrial elbowing is of an era. Speed's rebelliousness and Pop's feisty grumpiness represent eternal family dynamics. Beyond that, Speed Racer is really in its own world. Physics, logic, global culture: the strictures of reality don't exactly apply. The repeated insistence on breaking these rules make the manga laugh out loud funny. As much as it frequently feels like laughing at the work rather than with, the experience still feels all in good fun. The Speed Racer manga was created by Tatsuo Yoshida, the founder of Tatsunoko Productions that would produce Space Ace (the anime, not the game), Gatchaman, Casshan, Time Bokan and Yattaman during his lifetime. According to Manga: The Complete Guide, Juro Kuwata, best known for his work on the robot superhero 8 Man was the manga's uncredited illustrator. Kuwata is an interesting figure in manga lore, who spent time in prison for firearm violations, and had numerous personal problems before becoming a devout Buddhist. Most of the Speed Racer manga's stories are clean, professional and exciting, but, it is also evident that it was not an entirely smooth production. In volume one, there is a situation where Speed's brother Sprittle and the monkey in suspenders Chim-chim are racing model cars when the mysterious Racer X shows up and brides Sprittle to deliver a secret message to Speed. Speed meets up with Racer X on a dark and stormy night. The pair engage in a one-on-one race and Racer X shows Speed the price of his inexperience. Volume 2 comes, and ground hog day rolls around. The same scenario plays itself out again. The panels are re-arranged slightly. Comparing them one-to-one, improvements in shades, tones and details can be noticed, but the illustrations are the same, down to an odd panel with an owl necked Racer X looking over his shoulder at an impossible angle, arms akimbo as he leaps into his car. Not that Speed Racer was ever an exactly precise manga, it's full of panels where failures of perspective turn Racer X pudgy or downright obese, but the manga ends on a strangely rushed chapter, where the Speed Racer/Racer X storyline is hurried into a conclusion by way of a rush of sketchy lines, rough shapes and a precipitous drop in details. DMP puts out nice looking, quality prints of manga collections, and, providing they aren't troubled with right-to-left, fans of Speed Racer will find a lot to like in this collection of the manga. Especially with the live action movie on its way, the commercial rationale for releasing this particular older title is plainly evident. By the end, the manga doesn't seem like it excited its creator, but, still, there is a lot to be fond of in Speed Racer. It's an attractive, fun set of books to keep on a shelf or coffee table.

Bandai Ent Licenses Rocket Girls

Bandai Entertainment Inc. announced that it has acquired the anime series Rocket Girls for distribution in North America. The release is expected for later this year, Rocket Girls is 12 episode comedy adventure series about a high school girl named Mortia who goes to Solomon island in search of her lost father and ends up as an astronaut. The series storyis by Rika Nakase whose past credits include Bleach and Fruits Basket.
© 2007- 2008 Housuke Nojiri – Muttiri Moon / Fujimishobo / Happinet

Media Blasters to Release Seirei no Moribito

The DVD release of Kite: Liberator reveals that Media Blasters will be releasing Production I.G's (Ghost in the Shell) Seirei no Moribito-Guardian of the Spirit). The anime had been picked up for North American distribution by Geneon USA before the company closed its sales, marketing and distribution operations. The anime, based on the fantasy novels by Nahoko Uehashi, follows the wonderings of Balsa, a spear woman who dedicates her life to protecting other to atone for the lives sacrificed to protect her as a child. The anime is written and directed by Stand Alone Complex's Kenji Kamiyama.

GaoGaiGar Release Plans

Anime on DVD notes that Media Blasters' John Sirabelle has commentated that after re-releasing the first season of super robot anime GaoGaiGar in a box set, a second set will be in the works. "Gaogaiger second season is being worked upon as we speak and will be released this year...probably August, sub only and cheap at like $35 for the whole thing I believe." Anime on DVD notes that Media Blasters' June releases include 6/3 Simoun Vol. #4 - 125 minutes - $19.99 6/10 GaoGaiGar King of Braves - Premium Box Collection - 625 minutes - $34.9 6/24 Kujibiki Unbalance Vol. #2 - 130 minutes - $21.99 Otoboku Vol. #1 - 125 minutes - $21.99

Ponyo Updates

Nausicaa.net notes that According to the March 23 production diary, voice recording of Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo has begun. The March 15 production diary stated that the number of the animation cels in Ponyo exceeds 160,000. Comparisons: *Howl's Moving Castle: ~148,000 *Princess Mononoke: ~140,000 *Spirited Away: ~112,000 A handbill for the feature can be seen here

Live Action Dragonball Sequel Planned

Tokyograph and Cinema Today report that the second live-action of what might be three Dragonball films may start shooting at the end of the first quarter of 2009. The fill will continue to be filmed in Durango, Mexico. The first is scheduled to debut in American theaters in April 8, 2009.

Digital Distribution Initiatives

Starz Media announced that a number of anime releases Manga Entertainment, including “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex,” “Noein,” “Tokko” and “Tactics” will be available through the iTunes Store. Fans who visit Manga Entertainment and Starz on iTunes are able to purchase episodes for viewing on a Mac or PC, iPod with video, iPhone or on a widescreen TV with Apple TV. Crunchyroll, announced partnerships with several content creators, Akibanana, DLE, G.D.H., and GTChannel to distribute streaming content online. The streaming video site states that they hope to pave the way for content creators to reach a global audience and effectively monetize their content in new markets. The site provides a community-based platform to deliver streaming content with advertising support, offering a viable alternative to piracy, while allowing content creators to leverage the distribution advantages of the Internet. “Crunchyroll is honored to work with several innovative content companies, such as Akibanana, DLE, G.D.H. and GTChannel to bring their unique content to our passionate community of fans. By providing a controlled environment for content creators and fans to engage, we can reward content creators and fans alike,” said Vu Nguyen, co-founder of Crunchyroll. “Consumption of media on the internet appears to be a powerful trend, especially in the younger demographic. Crunchyroll provides fans of Asian video content with the best possible user experience on the Internet.” Crunchyroll recently received $4 million in series A funding from Venrock, to help support infrastructure costs related to delivering high quality video over the Internet and additional staffing to pursue content partnerships and other community development initiatives. Crunchyroll and Speed Racer Enterprises announced a strategic digital video partnership to bring the iconic cartoon to audiences around the world through a combination of Crunchyroll's ad-supported, subscription, and download-to-own video services. Select episodes are now online with additional episodes to be rolled out soon. In the download-to-own service, fans will be able to purchase DRM-free individual episodes or digital boxsets, including special digital “goodies” for fans. G.D.H. K.K. announced that The Tower of Druaga: the Aegis of Uruk- and Blassreiter, two new animated series produced by its main production subsidiary Gonzo K.K. , will be made available online for viewers overseas on the same day of TV broadcast in Japan. The series will be provided with English subtitles on three websites - YouTube; Crunchyroll and BOST TV. The technical and commercial specifics of the video distribution will vary between these websites, from free streaming to fee-based download of high-resolution movie files, so as to cater to the different needs of users in the diverse digital climates. Partially as a result of this gap in availability, a substantial amount of fansubbed pirated footage has traditionally proliferated the Internet via file sharing communities immediately following the first broadcast on terrestrial TV in Japan. G.D.H.'s decision to provide its content globally in parallel with Japanese broadcast is an effort to offer equal accessibility and new viewing opportunities to fans around the world, while at the same time showcasing a legal online alternative to illegal file-sharing and downloading. The web VoD services in this venture will also explore new business models that both maximize revenues from content exploitation and savings on distribution costs. The Tower of Druaga: the Aegis of Uruk Drawing its inspiration from the hugely popular 1980s arcade games of the same name, The Tower of DRUAGA is a fantasy epic that seldom takes itself too seriously! A cast of oddball characters set out on an epic quest in a finely tuned parody of videogame cliches that's guaranteed to put a grin on any gamer's face. For additional information, visit The Tower of DRUAGA English site Blassreiter Only one man stands against the tide of destruction that is unleashed when there is an outbreak of 'demonic blood, which transforms humans into demons bent on violence and destruction. Joseph Jobson is able to control his cursed demonic form and he must hunt down the man who cursed him and save the world from apocalypse. With stunning visuals, epic battles and a dark, mature storyline, Blassreiter sets the standard for the next generation of animation. For more, see the English site here Anime News Network reports that Japanese multimedia publisher Kadokawa Shoten finished adding the entire Mamoru-kun ni Megami no Shukufuku wo! science-fiction comedy anime series for free, for a limited time, on the YouTube video-sharing website. Kadokawa's 24 epsidoe Venus to Mamoru is also on the company's YouTube channel.

Code Geass to Premiere on Adult Swim Scheduled

Bandai Entertainment Inc. announced that the Sunrise anime series Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion will debut on Adult Swim April 26th at 1:30AM pacific. Prior to the premiere, and every subsequent week new episodes will be made available at adultswim.com on Friday nights prior to the Saturday broadcast. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion features animation studio Sunrise and a story by Goro Taniguchi (s-CRY-ed, Planetes) and Ichiro Okouchi (Eureka SeveN, Planetes) and character designs by the legendary manga creators CLAMP. The story is a military drama with intricate plot lines and robotic action about the character Lelouch and his journey to overthrow a totalitarian regime that has invaded Japan.

Release Set for Azumi 2

Urban Vision will be releasing live action ninja movie Azumi 2 on DVD May 6th, 2008. Aya Ueto reprised the role of the assasin Azumi in the film written by Rikiya Mizushima and Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Nina Scroll) and directed by Death Note's Shusuke Kaneko. Features on the $24.95 disc include * Through the Eyes of Azumi * Image Gallery * Trailers * English 5.1 Surround * Japanese 5.1 Surround * Optional English Subtitles

"Batman: Gotham Knight" Voice Cast Announced

Kevin Conroy will return to voice Batman in Batman Gotham Knight, the third release in the DC Universe Animated Original Movie series from DC Comics, Warner Premiere, Warner Home Video and Warner Bros. Animation. The original movie will street July 8, 2008 on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, as well as OnDemand and Pay-per-View. The film will be available for download on the same date. Conroy voiced the character in Batman: The Animated Series, The New Adventures of Batman and Robin and The New Batman Superman Adventures. He reprised the role as an aging Bruce Wayne playing mentor to a new Caped Crusader in Batman Beyond. The cast also features popular voice over artists Corey Burton, Rob Paulsen, Kevin Michael Richardson, Will Friedle, Jason Marsden, Jim Meskimen, Pat Musick, Scott Menville, Hynden Walch, Corey Padnos and Crystal Scales.

Joe versus Joe Release Info

Anime on DVD has been gathering information about new anime distributor AnimeWho's release of the boxing title Joe Vs. Joe. The dub being done for the English release is being worked on by Tom Wayland and Trip Wire Production. Volume 1 of 3 is currently scheduled for 05/20/2008. The company has launched a site here

SPJA Announces Industry Award Finalists

The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA), the overseeing body of Anime Expo, announced the SPJA Industry Award finalists for 2008 at the SPJA Symposium held at Tokyo International Anime Fair held within Tokyo Big Sight's Special Theatre 2(Thursday; March 27, 2008; 16:30-18:00-Tokyo time). The public is invited to vote for their choices for the 21 categories via the SPJA and Anime Expo websites. SPJA Industry Awards Nominees Category 01: BEST VOICE ACTOR (JAPANESE) 1. Jun Fukuyama ­ xxxholic ­ Kimihiro Watanuki 2. Mamoru Miyano ­ Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (Double O) ­ Setsuna F. Seiei 3. Joji Nakata ­ Hellsing Ultimate ­ Arucard 4. Daisuke Namikawa ­ Black Lagoon ­ Rock 5. Tomokazu Sugita ­ The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya ­ Kyon Category 02: BEST VOICE ACTOR (ENGLISH) 1. Johnny Yong Bosch ­ The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya ­ Itsuki Koizumi 2. Crispin Freeman ­ The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya ­ Kyon 3. Alessandro Juliani ­ DEATHNOTE ­ L 4. Christopher R. Sabat ­ One Piece ­ Zoro 5. Jason Spisak ­ Zatch Bell! ­ Kiyo Takamine Category 03: BEST VOICE ACTRESS (JAPANESE) 1. Aya Hirano ­ The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya ­ Haruhi Suzumiya 2. Ayako Kawasumi ­ Nodame Cantabile ­ Megumi "Nodame" Noda 3. Rie Kugimiya ­ Hayate no Gotoku! ­ Nagi Sanzenin 4. Nana Mizuki ­ Darker Than BLACK ­ Misaki Kirihara 5. Mamiko Noto ­ sola ­ Matsuri Shihou Category 04: BEST VOICE ACTRESS (ENGLISH) 1. Laura Bailey ­ Shin-chan ­ Shin-chan 2. Maryke Hendrikse ­ Black Lagoon ­ Revy 3. Shannon Chan-Kent ­ DEATHNOTE ­ Misa 4. Anna Morrow ­ The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye ­ Honoka 5. Stephanie Sheh ­ The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya ­ Mikuru Asahina Category 05: BEST CASTING DIRECTOR 1. Randi Riediger ­ Black Lagoon 2. Kaeko Sakamoto ­ The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 3. Hiroyuki Sakurada ­ Ge-Ge-Ge No Kitaro 4. Jamie Simone ­ Naruto 5. Kazuhiro Wakabayashi ­ Darker Than BLACK Category 06: BEST CHARACTER DESIGN 1. Shoko Ikeda ­ The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 2. Makoto Koga ­ sola 3. Shino Masanori ­ Black Lagoon 4. Ken Ueno ­ Ge-Ge-Ge No Kitaro 5. Makoto Uno ­ Witchblade Category 07: BEST MECHANICAL DESIGN 1. Black Lagoon ­ (Staff includes Masahiro Kimura) 2. Eureka 7 ­ (Staff includes Shoji Kawamori) 3. Full Metal Panic! TSR ­ (Staff includes Kanetake Ebikawa) 4. Mobile Suit Gundam 00 ­ (Staff includes Kanetake Ebikawa, Naohiro Washio, Takayuki Yanase) 5. The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye ­ (Staff includes Naohiro Washio) Category 08: BEST MALE CHARACTER 1. Arucard ­ Hellsing Ultimate 2. Hei ­ Darker Than BLACK 3. Ichigo Kurosaki ­ Bleach 4. Lelouch Lamperouge ­ Code Geass 5. Luffy ­ One Piece Category 09: BEST FEMALE CHARACTER 1. Haruhi Suzumiya ­ The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 2. Matsuri Shihou - sola 3. Megumi "Nodame" Noda ­ Nodame Cantabile 4. Nami ­ One Piece 5. Revy ­ Black Lagoon Category 10: BEST MASCOT CHARACTER 1. Kanaka ­ Shigofumi: Letters from the Departed 2. Mokona ­ Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles 3. Mokkun ­ Shonen Onmyouji 4. Na-san ­ Kirarin Revolution 5. Shamisen ­ The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Category 11: BEST BACKGROUND DESIGN 1. Mobile Suit Gundam 00 ­ Sunrise 2. Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei ­ Shaft 3. Shigofumi: Letters from the Departed ­ J.C. Staff/Bandai Visual 4. sola ­ Nomad/Bandai Visual 5. The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye ­ XEBEC/Right Stuf Category 12: BEST ORIGINAL VIDEO 1. Detective Conan: Detective Conan vs. Kid the Phantom Thief ­ Shogakukan 2. Hellsing Ultimate ­ Geneon Entertainment 3. I Luv Halloween ­ TokyoPop 4. Naruto: The Lost Story: Protect the Waterfall Village ­ Viz Media 5. Super Robot Wars Original Generation: The Animation OVA ­ Bandai Visual USA Category 13: BEST FEATURE FILM 1. Paprika ­ Sony 2. SOS! Tokyo Metro Explorers: The Next ­ Bandai Visual USA 3. Stranger ­ Mukoh Haden ­ BONES 4. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time ­ Bandai Entertainment 5. Vexille ­ Oxybot Category 14: BEST TELEVISION SERIES 1. Black Lagoon ­ Geneon Entertainment 2. Darker Than BLACK ­ BONES 3. DEATHNOTE ­ Viz Media 4. One Piece ­ FUNimation Entertainment 5. sola ­ Bandai Visual Category 15: BEST ORIGINAL SCORE 1. Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad ­ Beat Crusaders ­ defSTAR Records 2. Darker Than BLACK ­ Yoko Kanno ­ Sony Music 3. Naruto ­ Toshio Masuda & Musashi Project ­ Aniplex 4. sola ­ Hitoshi Fujima ­ Lantis 5. The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye ­ Megumi Ohashi ­ Columbia Music Entertainment Category 16: BEST ORIGINAL SONG 1. "Hare Hare Yukai" (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) ­ Aya Hirano, Minori Chihara, and Yuko Goto ­ Lantis 2. "Hit in the USA" (BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad) ­ Hidaka Toru ­ The Beat Crusaders / defSTAR Records 3. "Nagareboshi ~ Shooting Star ~" (Naruto Shippuden) ­ HOME MADE Kazoku - Ki/oon Records 4. "Red Fraction" (Black Lagoon) ­ MELL ­ Geneon Entertainment 5. "Tsukiakari" (Darker Than BLACK) ­ Rie Fu ­ Sony Music Category 17: BEST DIRECTOR 1. Sunao Katabuchi ­ Black Lagoon 2. Tomoki Kobayashi ­ sola 3. Mary Elizabeth McGlynn ­ Naruto 4. Hiroshi Nagahama ­ Mushi-Shi 5. Tensai Okamura ­ Darker Than BLACK Category 18: BEST MANGA - ACTION 1. Black Lagoon ­ Rei Hiroe ­ Shogakukan 2. Gunsmith Cats Burst ­ Kenichi Sonoda ­ Dark Horse Comics 3. Murder Princess ­ Sekihiko Inui ­ Broccoli Books 4. Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles ­ CLAMP ­ Del Rey Manga 5. Vampire Hunter D ­ Hideyuki Kukuchi / Saiko Takaki ­ Digital Manga Publishing Category 19: BEST MANGA - COMEDY 1. Disgaea 2 ­ Hekaton ­ Broccoli Books 2. Dramacon ­ Svetlana Chmakova ­ TokyoPop 3. Hayate no Gotoku! ­ Kenjirou Hata ­ Shogakukan 4. Gintama ­ Hideaki Sorachi ­ Viz Media 5. Negima! ­ Ken Akamatsu ­ Del Rey Manga Category 20: BEST MANGA - DRAMA 1. Blood Alone ­ Masayuki Takano ­ MediaWorks / Infinity Studios 2. Eden ­ Hiroki Endo ­ Dark Horse Comics 3. Eureka Seven ­ Jinsei Kataoka / Kazuma Kondou ­ Bandai Entertainment 4. Kitchen Princess ­ Miyuki Kobayashi / Natsumi Ando ­ Del Rey Manga 5. Lovely Complex ­ Aya Nakahara ­ Viz Media Category 21: BEST PUBLICATION 1. Anime Insider ­ Wizard Entertainment 2. Newtype ­ Kudokawa Shoten 3. Otaku USA ­ Otaku USA 4. Protoculture Addicts ­ Anime News Network 5. Shojo Beat ­ Viz Media

Upcoming in Japan

A site for the Blade of the Immortal site is online A day after its DVD release Evangelion: 1.0 You Are [Not] Alone will be back in Japanese theatres with 266 enhancements. A look at Takashi Miike's upcoming Yatterman Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO 2: Juryoku Sensen will continue Sunrise's 3D CG animated account of Gundam's original One Year War storyline. After the first MS IGLOO series looked at the original Gundam's antagonist from the Zeon war effort, this one returns to the Earth Federation perspective. Takashi Imanishi will direct. Mecha designers include Kimitoshi Yamane, Shinji Aramaki, Yutaka Izubuchi, Takuhito Kusanagi and Fumihiro Katagai. UltraViolet: Code 044, an Osamu Dezaki directed anime spin-off of Kurt Wimmer's live action sci-fi will air on Japanese TV starting in July. Bones' (FullMetal Alchemist) next series will be Bonen no Xamdo
The new Clannad TV series entitled Clannad After Story is in development. The third season of Hell Girl/Jigoku Shoujo will be called Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae According to AnimeNation, upcoming Madhouse anime productions include * a revival of Tatsunoko's 1973 anime television series Shinzo Ningen Casshan, scheduled for this fall * Mai Mai Atarashi to Sennen no Mahou from Black Lagoon's Sunao Katabuchi * Satoshi Kon's family-friendly feature titled "Yume Miru Kikai" ("Dreaming Machine"). * a new project from director Mamoru Hosoda (Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo). A new"Someday's Dreamers" anime television series titled "Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto ~Natsu no Sora~" ("Things That Are Important to a Mage ~Summer Sky~") has been annonced. The first Someday Dreamers was released in North America by Geneon and the manga was released by TOKYOPOP A trailer for the violent Amatsuki is online A trailer of Michiko to Hatchin, from Samurai Champloo's Sayo Yamamoto can be seen here A trailer for the anime adaptation of tsushi Ohkubo's Soul Eater online Anime News Network reports that Satoshi Urushihara (Plastic Little, Legend of Lemnear, Chirality) will be drawing a one-shot color manga called Evil Heart: lost one's deadline in the May issue (on sale on March 27) of the Comic Valkyrie magazine. Coamix's Weekly Comic Bunch is launching the manga adaptations of a number of novels. Mizu Sahara (The Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days manga versions) will cover Gong Ji-Young's Korean novel Our Happy Time (Watashi-tachi no Shiawase na Jikan) , about about the relationship between a woman and a death row inmate,in this year's 17th issue (on sale on March 28). Kazumasa Kawamura will be producing Ranjin: Sangokushi Ryofu Ibun (Ranjin: Romance of the Three Kingdoms: The Strange Tales of Lü Bu), a new adapation of the classic Chinese novel. Hiroto Oshi will adapt Miyuki Miyabe's Snark Kari (The Hunting of the Snark) suspense novel in the 18th issue, which will ship on April 4. Trigun creator Yasuhiro Nightow and gag manga artist Namie Odama will add a contribution of the "Supreme One-Shot Manga Series" in the June issue, which goes on sale in May. Wataru Arakawa will be directing Walt Disney Japan's CG animated Fireball. Hitoshi Fukuchi, a mechanical designer on Mobile Suit Gundam 00 and Blue Gender, will design the characters. Miyuki Kawasho (Kekkaishi's Toshimori) will voice Droselle, the daughter of a duke, while Toru Ohkawa (Fullmetal Alchemist's Roy, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children's Rufus) will voice the robot Gedächtnis. The first two-minute episode will premiere on Japanese TV April 7th. A small image of the anime Lilo and Stitch can be seen here Square Enix's Young Gangan magazine will launch five manga titles. Kazuya Machida and drawn by Kendi Oiwa (Goth, Welcome to the N.H.K.)'s punk rock band series Vari Drive starts in the year's eight issue. The manga almost feature design from Samurai Champloo's Masaru Gotsubo The April 18 commences Miki Nakae and Gatou Asou's Jin: Anime Seirei no Moribito Gaiden. Youn In-Wan and Yang Kyung-Il(Blade of the Phantom Master)'s Let's Bible opens in on May 2. Dai Sato (Cowboy Bebop, Eureka Seven, Freedom) and Masaru Gotsubo's Yuzu Paper Mint starts in the May 16. Hideki Ohwada (Beach de Q, Dai Mahou Touge, Kido Senshi Gundam-san) a currently unnamed title on June 6. The animated movie based on the new TV anime incarnation of Shigeru Mizuki's Gegege no Kitaro is scheduled for this December. Gegege no Kitaro: Nihon Bakuretsu!! (Gegege no Kitaro: Japan Explodes!!) will be an 80-minute movie directed by Tsuyoshi Koga (Xenosaga: The Animation, Happy Lucky Bikkuriman). The yokai supernatural tale follows a boy born in a cememtary whose father resides a spirit in his empty eye socket. The fifth Gegege no Kitaro series and the more mature Hakaba Kitaro are airing on Japanese TV. There have already been seven Gegege no Kitaro animated movies and one live-action movie before this year. The second live-action film, Gegege no Kitaro: Sennen Noroi Uta (Gegege no Kitaro: The Thousand-Year-Curse Song), will open in Japan on July 12. Suzuhito Yasuda's manga Yozakura Quartet, released in North America by Del Rey, is being adaptated into an anime series for Japanese TV. The Japanese government's Headquarters for the Abduction Issue is producing an anime version of Souichi Moto's Megumi documentary manga about Megumi Yokota, a Japanese girl who was abducted by North Korea in 1977 when she was 13 years old. The 30 minute feature will be released on DVD and for free digital distribution in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean.

Anime on Blu ray

From Anime on DVD According to a portion of an interview with Appleseed Ex Machina producer Joseph Chou, the Appleseed Ex Machina Blu-ray release accounts for nearly 30% of the films sales on home video. In the first week of DVD sales, Chou states that they've sold through just over 100,000 copies and it's doing quite well at large chains like Walmart and Best Buy which will likely cement this as one of the best selling anime releases of 2008. Gunota reports that Bandai Visual Japan Bandai Visual Japan will be releasing the six episode two part OVA series MS Igloo on Blu-ray on 08/22/2008, and 09/26/2008

TOKYOPOP Release Plans

ICV2 reports that TOKYOPOP will be releasing Tohru Fujisawa's (GTO) supernatural action manga Tokko starting in July. The anime version was released in North America by Manga Entertainment. Anime on DVD forum goers note that TOKYOPOP has begun priced their older audience titles, such as Speed Grapher for $10.99

Gonzo Announces Asian Game Expansion

G.D.H. K.K. has announced an online game licensing deal between its group company Gonzo Rosso K.K. and IP E-GAME VENTURES, INC. The deal grants to IP E-Games the license to publish Gonzo Rosso's first original title PANDORA SAGA in the Philippines. PANDORA SAGA is a Japan-made MMORPG published by Gonzo Rosso and developed by HEADLOCK Inc. Its service has been available in Japan since February 2008. This full-scale war game offers a highly strategic and action-packed game experience in a battlefield where three battling nations employ an extensive array of siege weapons and horsemen for the ultimate victory.

Newly Announced AX Guests

Anime Expo announced that television celebrity, blogger, voice actress and illustrator Shoko Nakagawa (“Shokotan” as her fans call her) will be a guest of the convention, held July 3-6, 2008 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Born in Tokyo in 1985, Ms. Nakagawa broke blog visit records in February 2008 when her blog, 'Shokotan Blog' received over one billion hits. Filled with photos and entries written in her own unique slang, this blog is arguably the most popular of the many celebrity blogs. The site, which Ms. Nakagawa updates as many as 15 times a day, garners over 1,800,000 hits a day. Her single 'Sorairo Days', released in June of 2007, was chosen as the theme song to the popular TV anime TENGEN TOPPA GURREN LAGANN.
Voice actor David Hayter is the first American guest of honor ro be announced for the convention. Mr. Hayter's acting credits include the lead in the Anime inspired live action sci-fi film GUYVER DARK HERO, the voice of Captain America on the SPIDERMAN animated series and recurring roles as both Solid Naked and Old Snake in the METAL GEAR SOLID video game franchise.

VIZ Free Comic Book Day Selection

VIZ Media, LLC has announced its participation as a Gold Level Sponsor in the 2008 Free Comic Book Day, taking place May 3rd. VIZ Media is producing a special edition (rated "A" for All Ages) of SHONEN JUMP Magazine (rated 'T' for Teens) to be distributed for free at participating stores nationwide. SHONEN JUMP will publish a special, free condensed issue of the magazine to appeal to new comic book fans as well as established manga readers. The SHONEN JUMP Free Comic Book Day issue will contain 32 action-packed pages including special previews of three of VIZ Media's most exciting serialized series - NARUTO, BLEACH and the newly serialized SLAM DUNK - as well as coverage of many of the magazine's other popular series such as ONE PIECE and YU YU HAKUSHO, and introduce new readers to the diverse array of content the magazine offers.

Dubbed Perspolis to Run Theatrically

Toonzone notes that Holly Reporter announces that "Persepolis," will return to theaters in an English-language version on April 11. The English-language version of "Persepolis" features the voices of Chiara Mastroianni and her mother, Catherine Deneuve, reprising the roles they played in the original film: Marjane and Marjane's mother, Tadji. Sean Penn will provide the voice of Marjane's father, Ebi; Gena Rowlands plays Marjane's grandmother; Iggy Pop is Uncle Anouche; and Amethyste Frezignac plays young Marjane. The English soundtrack was recorded under the direction of Satrapi and Paronnaud as the French-language version of the film was being completed. The film will bow on 100 screens nationwide.

Figures News

Yamato US is offering Kouichi Yamazaki's TANDEM TWIN Animal Girls: Dog Annerose for $60 (regularly $72) through April 2008. Quantities are limited to 300 pieces and will ship May 2008
Cool Japanese Toys reviews Creators’ Labo REI AYANAMI CollectionDX reviewed Dog Alma. The site also notes that Muttpop will be releasing Oban Star Racers figures Revoltech's Starscream Upcoming Transformers figures Danny Choo's photos form Tokyo Anime Fair 2008

Bleach Movie US Bound

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), announced that it has secured the license from TV Tokyo Corporation, Shueisha Inc. and Dentsu Inc. for BLEACH THE MOVIE: MEMORIES OF NOBODY in the Americas, Europe and Oceania. The feature film will have a limited theatrical release in major cities throughout North America this summer with the DVD release to follow winter 2008. Subsequent details will be released in coming weeks.

NYICFF Online, Screenings

Following its US Premiere at the New York International Children's Film Festival (NYICFF) Spain's NOCTURNA is playing an exclusive one weekend engagement at IFC Center, Bronxville Cinemas, and Red Bank Art Cinemas. Shows at 11:00 am, Sat & Sun, April 5 & 6. Tickets can be purchased here
Short films from the just completed festival are now live in the NYICFF 2008 video channel on GKIDS.TV.

Kaiju This Weekend

Man-in-suit monster wrestling performance troupe Kaiji Big Battel will be at Providence, RI's Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel Saturday, March 29th 2008. 6:30 PM doors. 7:30 PM show. $16 in advance, $18 day of show. All Ages. Lupo's Box Office, online at eTix.com, and at F.Y.E.

Worth Checking Out

Chapter five of action manwha Shaman Warrior A preview of Viz's localization of Slam Dunk Anime News Network has interviewed Vu Nguyen of controversial video streaming website Crunchyroll. Manga Life talks to Seven Seas' Adam Arnold. Brigid Alverson on Realbuzz Studios' Christian manga 80's toon fanzine Cereal:Geek post previews including a shot of all 300 pages of the magazine's body of work A Geeky By Any Other Name's Spring anime preview Jog's 20 things to be found on the R1 dvd for the new anime OVA, Kite Liberator RumicWorld on Shonen Sunday's 50th Anniversary ComiPress weigh in on their breakdown of PiQ Pencil test videos for Lupin III: Green vs Red. The feature ships on DVD April 4th. Viz is looking for Ouran High School Host Club fan art The conclusion of the American Godzilla 94's USN sea-battle is online: Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Anime producer and distributor Right Stuf, Inc. is pleased to announce the Spring 2008 edition of the Right Stuf Anime Catalog is now available for free download at RightStuf.com, as well as pre-order, and it will ship in April 2008. This new edition of the catalog features an exclusive interview with Kaoru Mori, the creator of EMMA: A Victorian Romance – in anticipation of Nozomi Entertainment’s summer DVD release of the series’ anime adaptation – as well as the answers to fans’ questions about the production of the English-language dub for The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye. AniPages Daily talks Masaaki Yuasa's (Mind Game) Kaiba Via majoria's news, Sgt Frogs's Yoshizaki Mine is contrubting to Soul Calibur 4 with Angol Fear. See more here and here A site is open for the live action Onechanbara movie. A trailer can be seen here The discovery of pre-war anime Some cool iterations of new video projects... Montyoum's Dead Fantasy II A Paul Robertson (Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006) has posted Kings of Power 4 Billion %, downloadable via a number of options A trailer for the upcoming animated wuxia sequel to Storm Riders. Twitch also has a look at Mad Monkey This is what 5000+ in-stock manga titles look like. Japanamerica's Roland Kelts will be at Sakura Con Midnight Eye's Tops of 2007 poll results is here

For more commentary see the AICN Anime MySpace.

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Readers Talkback
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  • March 28, 2008, 9:13 a.m. CST

    No love for Manga?

    by LordPorkington

    Hey, when are we going to get an Anime Star Wars based on the books? The world needs MORE Star Wars dammit. If they can do it for Batman, then they can do it for Han & Chewie too.

  • March 28, 2008, 9:28 a.m. CST

    Danny Choo's site

    by LordPorkington

    Definitely worth checking out, makes me miss Tokyo and all it's craziness :-(

  • March 28, 2008, 9:48 a.m. CST

    SPJA? WTH??

    by GodMars

    No Gurren Lagann?? One week to Macross Frontier...

  • March 28, 2008, 9:58 a.m. CST

    "The first is scheduled to debut in American TVs in April 8, 200

    by SilentP

    So it's... not going to be released in theatres? Or is that a typo. <br> I don't know why I care, actually, I fucking hate Dragonball.

  • March 28, 2008, 10:07 a.m. CST

    re: SilentP

    by ScottGreen

    That was a screw-up. corrected now.

  • March 28, 2008, 10:11 a.m. CST

    lots of good stuff

    by fried samurai

    I've watched a couple eps of Serei no Moribito and its really good.Great fight scenes with fluid animation...Michiko to Hatchin & Soul Eater both look cool..Interesting interview with CrunchyRoll.

  • March 28, 2008, 10:27 a.m. CST

    indeed good stuff

    by milurs big fat mouth

    I agree, Seirei no Moribito is awesome. Love the look and the action. Also really glad to see Paprika win Best Feature length. If you haven't checked it out, do so.

  • March 28, 2008, 12:18 p.m. CST

    Old Snake

    by lonecow

    Old Snake was the code name of Cobra Commander in Transformers. Either you mean Naked Snake or Solid Snake as an old man (Old Snake is what they called him in previews before it was reveled who he was, in which case he is still Solid Snake). Damn I love being a Faaaanboy!

  • March 28, 2008, 2:13 p.m. CST

    ultraviolet

    by Bouncy X

    my brother got the blu-ray as part of that 5 free movies offer from PS3 and i watched it last night and wow, talk about boring. with all the action and shooting and sexy milla, you'd think at the very least it be dumb fun or eye candy but nope....i was just bored senseless watching. cant believe they made an actual animated version, i guess it did well in asia.

  • March 28, 2008, 2:28 p.m. CST

    UV

    by milurs big fat mouth

    same here, barely could bring myself to pay attention to the movie. I can only guess the anime is much better.

  • March 28, 2008, 4:38 p.m. CST

    Monty Oum is always fun...

    by Johnno

    As for Ultraviolet, I also got it as part of the 5 free blu-ray movies. It's great just to look at the pretty colours in blu-ray, but it was just a glorified compositing demo, great for showing off your new HDTV though... As for an anime, is it a series or a film? If they take the time to give it mroe substance it could be very entertaining!

  • March 28, 2008, 4:47 p.m. CST

    I'm sure the Ultraviolet series will fare much better than it's

    by Stalkeye

    That said, I'm looking forard to it. and especially Gotham Knight, just looking at the scene in which Batman takes on Deadshot (courtesy of the special features section on my JL New frontier DVD)has me drooling..let the Geekgasm comense!!

  • March 28, 2008, 4:49 p.m. CST

    Hey Scott, any further word about the CGI RE Movie?

    by Stalkeye

    I'm ready to pre-order a BLU Ray copy the minute Amazon mentions it's release date.

  • March 28, 2008, 10:04 p.m. CST

    re: CG Resident Evil

    by ScottGreen

    In theory, Sony will release it in North America, but that's not necessarily the case. No one has announced as plans for releasing it in English

  • March 29, 2008, 6:44 a.m. CST

    New Clannad?

    by crayon

    I think I'm already getting burnt out on the first series. Not sure if I want another. Then again, a large part of that is due to how much Nagisa sucks. A series about Fuko and Student Council Chairman I would watch though. <br><br> Also sursprisingly excited for another Jikogo Shoujo. It's the repetitive series I can just keep watching as long as it hits all the right beats

  • March 29, 2008, 2:40 p.m. CST

    Given the success of Advent Children

    by Johnno

    Especially the live action films and games of Resident Evil... I'm saying it's pretty much a given that Degeneration will release here at some point. It might take awhile though unless Capcom is doing it in English to begin with or taking the American market into concern. FF7 is also supposed to be releasing on blu-ray with more scenes and edits, guess Square's still working on it.

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