Ultimate Hellsing IV Guest Review
After two-missed release, dates – October and December ’07 – and a five-month delay “Ultimate Hellsing IV" finally hit the shelves in Japan. So was it worth the wait? In a word – or two – “Hell Yes." The fourth OVA is, in my opinion, the best one to date, a skillful combination of existing material, top notch animation and music. Not to say the preceding ones weren’t good – they were. The OVA’s have gotten better with each release: number one was the weakest with it’s truncation of the plot and some dodgy animation but there’s been steady strengthening with each OVA. A good state of affairs since OVA number four is pivotal in the Hellsing saga: it introduces the remaining main characters, hints at future developments in the lives of Seras and Walter – pay close attention to his conversation with Alucard - and sets the stage for the siege on London. I’ll go in some depth about the plot so to avoid spoilers stop now and know that whenever number IV reaches the U.S. you won’t be disappointed. OVA III ended with the Major’s zeppelin heading to a meeting “with the old men at the opera house" and the Major singing the theme from “Fist of the North Star." (Even homicidal maniacs like anime, it seems.) And IV begins with the longest pre-title sequence yet, in fact IV is the longest OVA, clocking in at almost an hour. Contrast it with III that ran about 35 minutes. Most of the pre-title sequences are scenes that appeared in Volume three of the manga, but were left out of the third OVA. It opens with the arrival of the Major and friends at Nazi HQ and his confrontation with the old Nazis and their demands that he turn them into vampires. Cut from there to Enrico Maxwell’s interrogation of one of the priests who helped the Nazis escape to South America at the end of World War Two – shades of the “Odessa Files". And from there to Seras and Pip returning from a food run and being chummy, while Alucard, via telephone, teases Integra, asking if his slaughter in Rio excited her. (She doesn’t take well to his suggestion.) The sequence ends with the Major showing the old men who exactly is in charge, Enrico having Heinkel Wolfe (her first appearance) kill the priest and Alucard and Anderson having a memorable but short confrontation. (These two squaring off always enlivens the proceedings.) From there its full bore into volume IV: Alucard meets with the Queen of England, Warrant Officer Schrodinger appears (who by the way is an artificial life form created by the not-so-good Doctor), and Lt Rip Van Winkle, with her magic musket, several traitorous British sailors, and a boarding party of Nazi vampires take over the HMS Eagle. This sets the stage for the action set piece of the OVA: Alucard’s retaking of the ship. Integra, Walter and Alucard know the ship is a trap: once Alucard is on the vessel he is stuck because he can’t cross flowing water but neither can they leave a warship in the hands of the vampires. Alucard uses an SR-71 as a battering ram and this plus the ensuing battle is beautifully animated and scored. (set to the music of Carl Maria von Weber’s “Der Freischutz" – “The Marksman" which Lt Rip sings throughout) But the scene I think that will fans a geekgasm is when Alucard and the vampire soldiers go at it hammer and tong: RPGs, grenades, flame throwers and more lead then is found in a shipment Chinese toys. Add to that Alucard’s impalement of Rip with her own weapon, the Major‘s eight minute speech on why he so loves war and let us not forget the matter of finger sex twixt Integra and Seras. (Well, Hirano Kohta did do hentai for a while.) It’s hard to find fault with this disk. The animation is amazing, the music spot on, and the packaging top notch: I sprang for the special edition: it came with a soundtrack DVD and a 200-page sketchbook by the sketch artist for the series. “Hellsing Ultimate" has been an excellent series since disk one, each one better than the last and OVA IV is the best yet. Unfortunately, no distributor has picked up this series since Geneon USA’s collapse so for right now ordering it from Japan – I recommend Amazon Japan – appears to be the only option. But if you’ve read the manga you can easily follow the story, even if you don’t understand Japanese. One last note: at the recent anime festival here in Tokyo, Satelight (the company that produces the series) ran a trailer for OVA V. No new footage, simply sequences from IV ending with the title card “Coming Soon." Can’t be soon enough for me. If you use this, call me Dr. Fell
Live Action Spotlight: Funky Forest-First Contact Release by Vic Pictures
I'd be lying if I said I'm able to follow along with Funky Forest's trip into the bizarre. As an American viewer, the distance from its native cultural context complicates attempts to read into the movie's connections and implications. Yet, someone who is immersed is still going to be challenged by Funky Forest. Its collection of recounted dreams, drunkenly mouthed anecdotes, spaced out musings and doodles simply defies complete comprehension. Not only are the stories subjective, they're unreliable, ending in a dance set to the chant "Uso, Uso-so" ("I lied") Funky Forest director Katsuhito Ishii's personal story is no longer a novel one. He made his name in advertising before turning his talent to creating visually imaginative movies. In addition to directing the films Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl and The Taste of Tea, Ishii was involved with Production I.G's animated segment of Kill Bill, as well as Madhouse's animated Trava Fist Planet and Hal & Bons. Some familiar faces from Ishii's past works turn up in Funky Forest. A long haired Tadanobu Asano (probably best remembered in North America as Ichi the Killer's masochistic Kakihara) and a haggard Susumu Terajima (nobody knows, Casshern, The Taste of Tea) are joined by the chubby Caucasian adolescent Andrew Alfieri as "The Unpopular With Women Brothers," a particularly endearing thread in the tapestry of interwoven shorts subjects. Asano strums his guitar, contemplating the point at which his skill will be sufficient to attract chicks. Terajima sequesters himself in a room and works on perfecting a painful to watch fusion of Noh and yoga, with the same aim in mind. Alfieri munches on snickers. In connecting the trio to other narratives within the movie, Asano's "Guitar Brother" works at the same school as Takefumi (Ryo Kase of Letters from Iwo Jima, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, Honey and Clover), an English teacher who spends lazy afternoons DJing for and swapping dreams with his ex-student Notti. And it's the same school that hosts "HOME ROOM!!!!!!!!!" a boisterous comedy with an incongruous collection of students ranging from a pig tailed pre-teen girl to Neon Genesis Evangelion Hideaki Anno (wife/manga artist Moyoco Anno is in there too, but she's not playing the ADHD kid at the front/center of the classroom, or shop talking anime production like Hideaki). Other aspects of the movie pop and in out, crossing paths with these characters or staying on oblique tangents. At 150 minutes, the string of interwoven sketches is almost shockingly long. There's an inherent gamble in watching a movie that dips into the absurd, the confusing, and the irritating as often as Funky Forest. Inevitably, some of its audience is going to hate it. Beyond that quotient, as winning as many of these episodes are, when the film hits an intermission, it's hard not to look around and wonder what's to come with as much dread as anticipation. Comparisons like this might be a crutch, but the Cronenberg quality to some of the shorts is worth pointing out. Between costumes, practical effects, and CGI, Funky Forest frequently showcases creative effects work. Some of this, such as animator Takeshi Koike's groove to one of the movie's mind-burrowing songs is blissfully whimsical. Other effects are amazingly disconcerting. Many of the most jaw dropping scenes stem from the objectification of humans or near human creatures, or the manner in which the human body is warped and utilized. In these cases, the effects works build some potently disturbing images in the manner of a Cronenberg movie or the animated Aoen Flux. There is a sort of narrative to the exchange of humorous, absurd and disconcerting stories. Most happen during in-between moments: spacing out while doing homework, between classes at school, vacation, lounging around. When there is labor, it is addressed from a skewed perspective. For example, the movie frequently cuts to a pair of comedians called the Mole Brothers. They're terrible. They're pained, sweating, trying too hard, making a slapstick performance difficult to watch. Yet, when they're on stage performing, the feature flicks forward, as if a DVD watcher was skipping around looking for a good spot. Similarly, there is a scene of constant work as Anno labors on anime, but it's offset by a stream of gossipy chatter. In this vein of nodding off in the down time, there is an overly normal foundation to all of the episodes. Many of these short excursions into the acutely absurd pull back to reveal a familiar situation, as if they were the product of a wandering mind or the dreams between snooze cycles on an alarm clock. At best Funky Forest half makes sense. Yet, the movie is not simply vomiting up oddities. There is narrative after a fashion and it is possible to discern themes from the film. While the movie can ostensibly be thought of as a comedy, full of smiles and laugh lines, the lingering impression is one of casual unfulfillment. The subjects of the movie might dream of contesting control of the stars or they might impress their friends with staggeringly slick disco moves, but ultimately, there is still homework to be done, dateless evenings, and a distinct lack of alien visitors.
OEL Spotlight: Gyakushu! Volumes 1 and 2 By Dan Hipp Released by TOKYOPOP
Gyakushu! is a surprising entry in TOKYOPOP's slate of "original English language" or "world" manga. It is an action work by a publisher who has been openly wary of what they describe as an overcrowded field. Beyond that, it reads like a concept piece. TOKYOPOP has published other distinctive, imaginative, even experimental OEL works, but the way that Gyakushu! ghoulishly gnaws on its genre sets it apart in its own class. In genre movies, "Gyakushu" often translates to "revenge". Gojira no gyakushû is Revenge of Godzilla, or Gojira Strikes Again or Gojira's Counterattack or The Return of Godzilla. Mekagojira no gyakushu is Revenge of Mechagodzilla or The Escape of Mechagodzilla. Daimajin gyakushu is Majin Strikes Again or Return of Daimajin. Bear with me, I'm enjoying this.... Gyakushû! Satsujin ken is Street Fighter Counterattacks! or The Street Fighter's Last Revenge. Finally, Sukeban Deka: Kazama san-shimai no gyakushû is Girl Gang Boss Detective: Revenge of the Three Kazama Sisters. In Dan Hipp's work, "Gyakushu" is also a sound effect. It's what you see when someone slashes into a trio of onrushing cannibals as their blood sprays into the snow. The look for the series is more Dan Hipp (rock adventure "The Amazing Joy Buzzards") than it is "anime" or "manga." In the manner of video games that don't attempt to suggest realism or an art form like urban vinyls, the look is marked by an essentialized expressiveness. This is bold simplicity; weighed more towards creating an impression tham exactly mirroring nature. That could be thought of as the mark of classic cartooning, but the blades and blood narrative to which it is applied here warrants a comparison with edgy connotations. While Gyakushu does not look "manga style", in that it does not bear the prevalent hallmarks of popular manga, it does engage the familiar male oriented manga motivating factor: revenge. The Thief stole a spot in Eden. Using a pilfered book of secrets, he was able to take his wife and child to the hidden Valley of Parthenion, a fertile oasis in the frozen wastes. Unfortunately, the book's previous owner was able to track down The Thief, and strip him of his home, his family and his health. As the karmic wheel turns, the horrible disfigured Thief picks up a sword and sickle, then begins hunting the people who destroyed his happy life. The story churns through battle royale death matches that circle back to complicate the account of the Thief's prior life and deeds. Each of the volumes recounts the preceding events several times, some of which are predictable, most of which are not. These revolutions place Gyakushu on an unstable surface. It's clear that the Thief was profoundly wronged, and that he created the circumstances that lead to his punishment, but, beyond that, the entire chain of cause an effect is unknowable until the story itself gets around to revealing it all. Hipp's pronouncement heavy dialog is far from conversational or comfortable. There is a narrative slight of hand being performed throughout Gyakushu and part of that involves intentionally generating confusion. However, due to the style of the language used, this is not as easy to appreciate as perhaps it should be. There is a lot that requires multiple readings to parse. While that aspect of the narrative is more oblique than, maybe, it was intended, Gyakushu seems to be governed by an effort to strip its unrelenting story of anything other than the need for opponents to hurt each other. Many of these revenge stories deal with the subject as an exercise in algebra or accounting. A story like Kill Bill will make the point that the ledgers are impossible to balance, that revenge begets more revenge. A story like Blade of the Immortal will make the point that given the complexity of personal histories, it is futile to try to balance violence with violence. Gyakushu is nothing but these bloody abacus strokes. Revenge fiction blots out everything else, leaving little that is not confrontation. With two sides exchanging opportunities to brutalize each other, it is almost an action-tragedy Tom and Jerry. Speaking about badly exploitative movies, British film critic Mark Kermode often, sarcastically repeats the saying "being post modern means never having to say you're sorry." Gyakushu! is provocative or insufferable because it teeters in that territory. Characters are ciphers, created specifically to suffer, inflict suffering or be sacrificed. As such, their role is to convey joyless discomfort. The unrelenting tear is more exhausting than it is fun. However, for a fan of stories that use revenge as a starting point, whether they're shounen manga, spaghetti westerns, samurai chambara, Shaw Brothers wuxia or so on, reading an experiment in condensed confrontation is fascinating. If your passions don't lie in this arena and the exercise does not interest you, Gyakushu! is going to be a hard story to take.
Anime Spotlight: xxxHOLiC First Collection Released by FUNimation
Beyond an accentuated version of what could be considered "anime style", where large eyes peak from beneath translucent bangs in cascading sculptures of hair, the hallmark of the creations by all-women circle of manga authors CLAMP was their bent approach to genre. Magic Knights Rayearth was the story of a trio of girls transported to a fantasy world to save its princess, where their mission was revealed to be anything a but conventional exercise in solving a comfortably familiar problem. Wish, the story of an angel who looks to fulfill the desire of a satisfied, well adjusted doctor was anything but an Ah! My Goddess story of a bland guy and his magical girlfriend. This applied to Card Captor Sakura and the transforming "magical girl" genre. Angelic Layer served as their commentary on Pokemon style fighting surrogate stories, X/1999 was informed by all the anime/manga that concern parallel, contesting groups of super-powered individuals, and so on. In this way, xxxHOLiC, pronounced "holic," (as in the suffix for addiction) is CLAMP's response to horror anthologies. CLAMP has stated that their apocalyptic X aka X/1999 was derailed by editorial conflicts, specifically the concern that the events of the manga too closely paralleled real world tragedies. Before that happened X looked like it was going to be the lynchpin for CLAMP's wide ranging body of works. Since X/1999 was shelved, xxxHOLiC and its sibling work Tsubasa Chronicles took the place as avenues that connect the CLAMP-verse. In the case of Tsubasa, this claim was on the forefront of the manga, which featured alternate versions of the heroes of Card Captor Sakura questing from one world to the next, frequently meeting other CLAMP characters that were redesigned for alternate genres. This often had a fantasy bend, and more often than not, the style of illustration reflected an action comic feel. In contrast, xxxHOLiC is often subdued. Marked by solid blackness, broken by undulating clouds of mist or smoke and curved lines, xxxHOLiC is presented in an Art Nouveau look. In adapting this into anime, Production I.G (producers of the Ghost in the Shell anime, Blood+, collaborators with Gainax on FLCL) went solid into this style for xxxHOLiC's opening sequence and the long, curving "noodle people" characters still suggests the look for the anime, but colored in a fashion that is only a shade off the norm, the anime looks distinctive without being full-out unique. With some of CLAMP's flare and some of what they specifically did for xxxHOLiC being normalized in the transition to anime, it is possible to imagine a more fascinatingly strange xxxHOLiC anime. In Japanese, Kimihiro Watanuki's name can be written out to read "April 1st." In most stories, this guy would be a humorous foil to bother the hero. He's fussy and neurotic. He looks like a stiff wind or a light shove could knock him over, yet he's irritable and confrontational. The degree to which Watanuki is the high school age cartoon of an IT manager extends to what looks like a very early onset of male pattern baldness. This anime Don Knots is plagued by the duel trouble of seeing and attracting creatures from the spirit world. A day in Watanuki's life might find him crawling down the sidewalk under the weight of a black miasma of phantom eyes and tentacles that would be invisible to any onlookers. The only people who seem not to react to this guy by stepping aware from the apparently mad teen are Watanuki's stoic "rival" (to Watanuki's mind if no on else's) Shizuka Dômeki (one of CLAMP's sharp eyed cute guy bishonen), and his kindly oblivious crush Himawari Kunogi (the subject of an exercise in CLAMP's baroque hair sculptures, specifically, arcing, cyclones of spiraling pig tails). In the midst of one of these attacks, where the black ooze is enveloping Watanuki, and the crowd around him is giving him the evil eye, Watanuki stumbles onto a solution that might be as troublesome as the problem. On a particularly developed Tokyo block, Watanuki encounters a strange, gated dwelling in skyscraper bordered lot. This exotic structure takes the form of a Victorian house, with blossoming cherry trees in the yard and crescent moons on the gates, gable and roof. It's here that Watanuki meets the "Dimensional Witch" Yuko. Yuko peddles the service of granting wishes in exchange for something of equal value. In Watanuki's case, she's willing to free him from his haunting visions in return for services rendered. As such, Watanuki becomes Yuko's maid, cook, and errant boy, fetching saki for her, cleaning her massive collection of chachkies from across the CLAMP-verse and such. In theory, the riff on anime/manga horror anthologies would revolve around Watanuki observing what happens when Yuko grants the wishes of the troubled, unsuspecting visitors to her odd house. And, the opening episodes of the anime do cover that to some extent. The CLAMP-ian twist here, so far, seems to be a tie between the ailments of the people seeking Yuko's help (so far, except for Watanuki, they've been girls and women) and diagnosable mental neurosis, such as pathological delusions or Munchausen syndrome. In these cases, the actual events are less creepy than the implications. Considering the severity of the consequences, the sins of the victim seem venial. Part of their mental composure has lead them into something awful. It seems unfair, and at the same time, the unfairness is credible. xxxHOLiC's approach to short, scary stories serves as a backdrop to the anime rather than a dominant factor. The chief focus of these early episodes is the relationship between the principal characters, particularly Watanuki and Yuko and Watanuki and Dômeki. In both cases, the ever frazzled Watanuki is a foil to someone who is composed and certain. In the former case, it is someone who is hedonistic and deeply connected to the supernatural world. In the latter case, it is someone who is so down to earth that the spirit world can't challenge his composure. These are comedic couplings and at the same time, CLAMP suggests deeper underpinnings in terms of plot and in terms of inter-character drama. This is an eminently watchable configuration of characters. For all Watanuki's irritability, Yuko's heavy handed supremacy and Dômeki's aloofness, they form a likable unit. Even though Watanuki's discomfort fuels much of their interaction, there is a comfortable humor in how they play off each other. Between the shifting exhibition of Yuko's elaborate outfits and the anime's routine of ornamenting the static Watanuki and Dômeki with comical accessories, the characters are likewise visually appealing. CLAMP's designs are processed by Kazuchika Kise, a Production I.G lifetimer, but frequently as an animation director. As in the manga, Kise is able to decorate these characters such that they always offer something new to look at. There is also an intriguing promise of drama lurking behind their relationships. It is evident that each is compensating for something. It might be that one secret defines each, but there seems to be greater depth than the post Evangelion formula of defining behavior as a function of a single catalyst in a person's history. Even if Production I.G soft sells the particular look of xxxHOLiC, the distinctive, pleasing look of the anime still draws attention. It does present a psychological bend to familiar horror situations. However, ultimately, the pleasure of watching xxxHOLiC is a tight focus on the look and behavior of its characters that is constrained and narrow without being self important or limited.
Manga Spotlight: Yuri Monogatari Volume 5 Released by ALC Publishing
"Yaoi", at least as it applies to the North American manga scene can be described as a genre that presents homosexual male romance to a female audience. In recent years, if a new publisher or imprint were to enter into the North American manga market, the odds were far more likely that their focus would be yaoi than action, sci-fi, or another genre that would generally be regarded as targeting a male audience. If the appeal of anime and manga is that they offer characters that draw the viewer's empathy, presented in a manner that is uncommon in other brands of entertainment, yaoi's ability to carve out a niche should not be surprising. Yuri, homosexual female romance, presents a trickier case, especially in regards to its intended audience. One of the biggest rough spots in the North American manga conversation concerns what constitutes "shoujo" (for young or teenage female audience). There are many relationship manga, such as Love Hina, or school girl manga, such as Azumanga Daioh that are marketed as "shoujo", that were originally published in shounen (boys') or seinen (teenage male or adult male) anthologies. Given that the female characters are often the most engaging personalities in these works, many do hold some appeal for female audiences. However the frequency in which the female characters are defined by their relationship with a male character, or framed for a male audience, can be problematic. History of yuri aside, a survey of North American yuri works finds a number of these titles that look like they may have been for a female audience, but prove to be written for males: Best Student Council, Strawberry Panic, Girls' Revolution. On one hand, these works adopt a light, pastel color scheme that does not exactly proclaim "masculine," yet, the way they are excited about suggesting homosexual female romance is a guy's approach to the genre. As someone who enjoys mecha and fight stories, but finds their appeal difficult to justify smart, mature pleasures, I'm not going to entirely trash a title like Venus Versus Virus, but I will say, that for many of these male audience yuri works, if you are not predisposed to the subject, the work itself is not going to convince you to find interest. Publisher Erica Friedman (also writer of the Okazu blog, which consistently offers an illuminating perspective on anime and manga) brings together original English language (OEL) and translated Japanese yuri stories written by women for the Yuri Monogatari anthology. In all, the 220 page, graphic novel-bound volume 5 collects 13 stories that are anything but monotonous. In most cases, the stories are contained short works in closed worlds. They focus on a relationship between two people, where, at most, other people facilitate the events of the story. Yet, in terms of form and tone, there are worlds of difference between Sakuraike Taki's "Last Day", which uses the expression focused mechanics of shoujo manga, and Sakuraike Kana's four panel comic strips, Lilyshield's fantasy comic, and the somber tones of Niki Smith's "Your Hair." Many of the male targeted yuri manga are delivering a product that is calculated to appeal to a specific audience. In contrast, the creators of the stories collected in Yuri Monogatari have evidently invested themselves in their work. Consequently, the material is convincing in a way that yuri that titters about girls holding hands and kissing is not. This is what good popular manga does best. It constructs a situation around sympathetic characters that encourages the reader to invest in the story. You don't need to bring any understanding or passion for the game of go to latch onto Hikaru no Go, and you can be indifferent to the prospective stories that focus on intimate relationships and still be moved by what is expressed in Yuri Monogatari. Both off line and online, Siku's Manga Bible recieved a considerable amount of coverage. The single volume OEL work surveyed the books of the Bible from Genesis to Revelations. The problem with the Manga Bible was that it was composed of los-res thumbnails of personalities from the Bible. From Osamu Tezuka to Junko Mizuno, the manga tradition has prorogated into a wide field, but as diverse as the works are, one can characterize manga by saying it is generally populated by compelling, attention grabbing characters. Whether it's OEL or it's origins are Japanese; whether the subjects are over thirty years old or teenagers, as with the majority of successful manga, each story in Yuri Monogatari present characters that draw interest and sympathy. The short stories are well served by the format. The North American manga market has been driven by long form collections of single works. In some cases, this has hurt specific manga titles. Most manga is written for serialization, and some works focus on specific chapter-based stories to the extent that they do not read well in collected form. Two hundred pages of anything from Yuri Monogatari would probably be too much, but the balanced tones in Yuri Monogatari, determination in one story, resignation in another, concrete reality in one, fanciful exaggeration in the next, allows the different works to indirectly complement each other and ensure that reading the collection does not become a grind. There are stories in the collection that are less polished than most published comics or manga. Several stories feature illustration that is not entirely technically refined. However, none of it fails to be effective in conveying the story. As should be the case in comics/manga, whether it is gripping, somber shades or endearing cuteness, the tone and nature of the story always established through the illustration. This may very well be a case of a pot calling the kettle black, but a subset of the stories are not as effective in clearly articulating their ideas as they should be. This seems to go beyond intentional vagueness in some cases. Some of the metaphors are less transparent than they probably should be. Some of the humor does not reach out as much as it should. A key example is Jessie B's Vagrants. The vaguely Clerks like story of two underemployed young women hopping between jobs is charming, in large part due to its lively illustrations. Yet, many of its gags don't quite make sense. The notion that someone is so poor that they eat copy toner stretches credibility to the point where I feel that I'm not picking up the full significance of the joke. I'm even less sure that I'm following the gag where one of the women breaks away from ignoring her manager at a video store as he lectures her on the mnemonics of doing everything in twos, "greet the customer within two seconds... stare into their two eyes," in time to a tackle middle aged man as he shop lifts. The trouble is not so much that it does not make any sense. The trouble is that the story seems to be trying so hard that the vague humor of the scene seems less than complete. While it can raise a smile, there's always a nagging suspition that the full intent is getting lost. Reading a Yuri Monogatari might not inspire one to hunt down earlier releases or anticipate the next, it does not have that imperative pull, but it is a worthy addition to a manga library. You could consider that a function of who created the manga and what the impetus for gathering the selection of works were, but from the perspective of a fan of manga and comics, the sampling of styles presented and the range of stories that result from the voices of its creators is compellingly distinctive. If you are interested in the topic of yuri, see yuricon.org for more resources.
Last Gasp to Release Tokyo Zombie
Ryan Sands of the SAME HAT! SAME HAT, the blog dedicated to "weekly manga commentary, featuring horror, gag & erotic-grotesque nonsense" announced that the "secret project" he had been hinting at is Yusaku Hanakuma's Tokyo Zombie. The book will be published by Last Gasp September 18. Sam Hat! describes the book as Tokyo Zombie is a self-contained story featuring Yusaku Hanakuma's two characters Afro and Hage. It was originally serialized in AX Magazine in 1998-1999, and was collected and published the year after by Seirinkogeisha. Seirinkogeisha is an incredbile indie/underground manga publisher, and publish the vast majority of Same Hat favorites including Suehiro Maruo, Takashi Nemoto, Shintaro Kago, Kazuichi Hanawa and many, many others. Tokyo Zombie was also made into a movie a few years ago, starring Tadanobu Asano and Sho Aikawa and features a short cameo by Kazuo Umezu! The storyline for the movie differs from the manga, but this is probably where most folks have heard of the book (but we hope to change that this summer). ... Tokyo Zombie is a horror-comedy manga about two blue-collar factory workers, Mitsuo and Fujio, whose plans for martial arts fame are sidelined when zombies take over Tokyo. In this gory and hilarious tale, the survivors of the zombie apocalypse have been enslaved by the wealthy ruling class, and must cater to their every depraved whim...or be thrown outside the city to fend for themselves. When some of the survivors are enlisted to fight in an undead gladiator arena for the amusement of the rich, Mitsuo and Fujio are locked in a battle for fame, freedom, and their very lives! Years before Shaun of the Dead introduced Western audiences to the zombie comedy genre, Yusaku Hanakuma's hilarious and outrageous manga was already a cult classic in Japan. Tokyo Zombie's class-conscious storyline about the haves and the have-nots during a zombie uprising anticipated such films as George Romero's Land of the Dead. Now English-speaking audiences will have the chance to check out the genre-mashing tale that started it all.
Blog@Newsarama points out that a Tokyo Zombie exhibit can be seen here
DMP To Release Tezuka's
Digital Manga Publishing's New York Comic Con announcements including plans to publish Osamu Tezuka's mature title Swallowing the Earth. Tezuka World describes the title as "a suspense comedy depicting modern male-dominated society with a sarcastic touch." In 1942, amidst the Pacific war on the Guadalcanal Island in the South Pacific, Japanese soldiers Adachigahara Kitaro and Seki Ichimatsu hear about a beautiful woman named Zefilth from a captured American soldier. He says that everybody falls in love with her at first sight. Twenty years after the end of the war, Kitaro and Ichimatsu, who have already returned to Japan but have never forgotten the woman, meet again. Knowing the woman named Zefilth is now in Japan, they decide to find out more about her. Seki's son, Gohonmatsu, stays at her hotel and approaches her. Then the truth is disclosed: there are seven Zefilths who are all sisters. They have spread out all around the world to take revenge on men and civilization for destroying their mother's life. According to ICV2 Digital Manga plans to publish Swallowing the Earth in a single 500+ page hardcover volume, in Spring 2009, likely for $24.95.
20th Century Boys Trailer Goes Online
A trailer for Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s live action adaptation of Naoki Urasawa's manga 20th Century Boys is on official site. The Stephen King-style story revolves around Kenji Endo, an unmarried 30 year and once almost-famous rocker who is trying to manage a convenience store and raise the infant daughter of his absent sister. Kenji begins to notice that a mysterious cult is using the symbols and outrageous plans that he devised with elementary school buddies devised as children. The first of the 20th Century Boys trilogy opens in Japan this August.
Bandai Ent. to Release Gundam 00 in North America
Bandai Entertainment Inc. announced that it will release the series GUNDAM 00 from animation Sunrise. The series will be released with an English dub on DVD and a North American television broadcast is in the planning stages. The series is directed by Seiji Mizushima whose past credits as a director and storyboard artist include Fullmetal Alchemist, Evangelion, and Appleseed: Ex Machina. Mobile Suit Gundam 00 is the latest installment in the long running franchise and takes place in the year 2307 A.D. When fossil fuels have been completely depleted and humanity has turned to solar energy to maintain its way of life, the controlling nations of the solar power find themselves at war with more impoverished countries and threats to the “promised land of God" lead to the formation of a group called the Celestial Being, whose purpose is to end war and unite humanity through the use of four Gundam mech. On the possibility of releasing the Gundam back catalog in North America, Anime News Network's report from Bandai Entertainment's New York Comic Con panel stated that international release decisions for them are made by a Japanese committee. Until the committee decides to clear these older shows for international distribution, the licenses are effectively off the market.
Kill Bill Anime Still in the Works
MTV Movie Blog's talk with Uma Thurman revealed that the promised anime companion films to Kill Bill are still going "strong." “It has nothing to do with me," Thurman said. “It has to do with another character. You’ll have to see." “Right now he’s putting the two films together with an intermission with an added anime sequence he had already written," she said of the ongoing saga of Beatrix Kiddo. “So additional stories are in there, in animation."
Yen Press Plans Anthology
Yen Press will be serializing an anthology titles Yen+ starting in July. The 460 periodical will be priced at $8.99 with suscriptions priced at $49.97. Announced titles include The Angel Experiment - from Marae Lee Bamboo Blade - from Masahiro Tohtsuka Higurashi no Naku Koro ni - from Karin Suzuragi Nabari no Ou - from Yuki Kamatan Night School - from Svetlana Chmakova Soul Eater - from Atsuki Ohkubo Sumomomo Momomo - from Shinobu Ohtaka Wild Animals - from Wang Shuo Y-Square
The website for Anime Central has posting a CosDocs. The short documentaries features interviews with a selection of UK Cosplayers, fans who dress in the fashion of popular characters from media such as anime and manga. Simularly, the latest episode Anime News Network's ANNtv features a behind the scenes look at Anime Boston's masquerade cosplay competition.
Code Geass Release Plans
Anime News Network's report from Bandai Entertainment's New York Comic Con panel relates plans for releasing the CLAMP designed mecha anime Code Geass in a US$79.99 collector's box, a “Season 1, Part 1" bundle priced at US$39.98, and two traditional stand-alone DVDs marked at US$24.98 and containing five and four episodes each. The limited edition collector's box will contain the first volume of the Code Geass soundtrack, one of the Sound Episode drama CDs, and the first volume of the Code Geass manga. The second segment of the first season, containing episodes 10 to 17, is set to come out in October with the same three different versions. The final eight episodes of Geass' first season are on track for January.
Manga News from New York Comic Con
801 Media (yaoi) New licenses include Koi wa Aserazu- from Mio Tennohji Ze- from Yuki Shimizu. Bandai Entertainment New licenses include Ghost Slayers Ayashi - aka Ayakashi Ayashi, historical supernatural action, the manga version of the anime that will be released by Bandai Ent. CMX New licenses include Astral Project- from Marginal (aka Garon Tsuchiya of Old Boy) Ballad of a Shinigami Classical Medley - from Sanae Kana Fire Investigator Nanase - from Izo Hashimoto and Tomoshiya Ishikawa Jihai- from Toshimi Nigoshi. Suihelibe!- from Naomi Azuma. Venus Capriccio- from Mai Nishikata. Dark Horse Dark Horse will be collecting CLAMP's Clover in a omnibus. The 512 page volume will be priced around $20. A new print run of the Akira manga is likely on the horizon. Del Rey New licenses include Gakuen Prince-Jun Yuzuki's “bishonen romantic comedy" Samurai 7-by Mizutaka Zuhou, the manga adaptation of Gonzo's retelling of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei- an absurd comedy about a suicidal teacher and his eccentric cast, planned for release in March 2009, tentatively planned to be re-titled “The Power of Negative Thinking The Curse of the Dragon Slayer (novel)- fantasy mystery from Boogiepop Phantom's Kouhei Kadono TOKYOPOP New licenses include Kyo Kara Maoh!(novels)- Tomo Takabayashi and Temari Matsumoto. TOKYOPOP's original English language manga plans include a release of the fifth of seven planned volumes of Bizenghast in July and a novel tie-in novel in August. I Luv Halloween and Dramacon will be re-collected in colorized volumes in September and October respectively. TOKYOPOP plans to release more manga from Mugen Spiral's Mizuho Kusanaga, but Otomen, from Soul Rescue's Aya Kanno is licensed by a different publisher and the company have no plans to re-release the out of print Kodocha. TOKYOPOP start commissioning short OEL to be published on their website. Popular ones will be expanding into graphic novels. Viz Viz will be re-collection Dragon Ball, Slam Dunk and Vagabound in their VIZBIG format. The original manga version of gun-fu action manga Black Lagoon is scheduled for August. Bleach character book Rain Drains Black Sun Down will be released in October for $14.98. Responding to a question, Viz stated that they currently do not have plans to release additional Osamu Tezuka manga. They expressed interest in the Blu-ray format, but do not have any solid plans. The company also mentioned that they are formalizing plans to launching a program to publish original English language manga. ComiPress presents an omnibus collection of coverage links. a geek by any other name's coverage Anime News Network's coverage. In particular, their industry panel report is worth reading. Publishers Weekly Comic Book Resources has coverage of Dark Horse's panel The Venture Bros. panel TOKYOPOP's panel Newsarama's Dark Horse report
Haruhi Manga/Novels Scheduled
Yen Press, an imprint of Hachette Book Group USA announced plans to release the manga version of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya starting in October 2008 for $10.99. Acquired from well-known Japanese publisher Kadokawa Shoten, the manga series will be adapted into English from the original Japanese manga volumes illustrated by Gaku Tsugano. English language translations of the popular novels will be published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Also acquired from Japanese publisher Kadokawa Shoten, the first title in the program, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa will be published in April 2009 as an original trade paperback with 8 volumes to follow. The program will be overseen by Director of Paperbacks Joe Monti and is the first joint publishing venture between Yen Press and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, both imprints of Hachette Book Group USA. Yen Press is describing Haruhi: These “Hannah Montana meets Heroes" adventures chronicle the life of a high school girl, Haruhi Suzumiya, in her quest for all things extraordinary. Haruhi and her friends, who turn out to be pretty extraordinary themselves, form a club called the SOS Brigade which is dedicated to bringing excitement to the world by befriending aliens and time-traveling beings. Each volume will feature spot art, and the first novel will include a back-of-book excerpt of Yen Press’s English language manga edition.
New Dragon Ball Anime - More Upcoming In Japan
The 20th anniversy of Shonen Jump will be marked by an animated special featuring Dragon Ball and One Piece to be screened in Japan as part of the Jump Super Anime Tour. Super hero wrestling manga Kinnikuman (M.U.S.C.L.E. in the US) and soccer manga Captain Tsubasa will also be returning in special manga one-shots. A trailer for Mamoru Oshii's has made it online Thanks to "logboy" for pointing this out. a geek by any other name reports that the shounen light novel series Akikan, about a boy who turns into a girl after drinking soda, will be adapted into anime. Bakemonogatari, the light novels by NisiOisiN (possibly a pen name of Death Note creator Tsugumi Ohba) will be adapted into an anime. The geek title follows a nice ex-vampire who meets a fiery girl. Hajime Segawa's “non-stop after school demon action" manga Ga-Rei is being adapted into an anime by ZEXCS. The award-winning mystery light novel “Bungaku Shoujo" to Shinitagari no Piero (roughly: “Literature Girl" and the Clown who Wished to Die) will be adapted into a manga A promo movie of the Blade of the Immortal anime can be seen here Anime News Network reports a new Tetsujin 28 (Gigantor) manga will run in Kodansha's Magazine Special. Tetsujin Dakkan Sakusen 2: Simeon no Gyakushu (The Tetsujin Recovery Operation 2: Simeon Strikes Back) will be a follow-up to the 2006 manga up on boy detective Kaneda trying to take back the Tetsujin 28 robot ANN also reports that Masami Tsuda, the creator of the Kareshi Kanojo no Jijo (Kare Kano or His and Her Circumstances) manga and anime series, will launch the Chotto Edo Made manga series in the July issue of Hakusensha's LaLa manga magazine, which will go on sale on May 24. The comedy story is set in an ultra-prestigious middle school at the height of Edo-era Tokyo, over 150 years ago. It will center around a son of the ruling Tokugawa clan's Mito family and a daughter of an elite Tokugawa shogun. Tetsuya Nakajima (Kamikaze Girls) will be helming the Flash-animated Itsumo Wagamama Gama Oji (The Always Selfish Prince Gama), a spin-off of live action Paco and the Magical Book (Paco to Maho no Ehon, twitch has a trailer here). A trailer can be seen here Production I.G will be adapating saga's fantasy game World Destruction. A trailer for the Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna movie is online
Collector's Box Offered For Shuffle
A post on Anime on DVD's forum revealed that FUNimation is responding to fan demand by offering an "ender" box released with the 6th volume of Shuffle which will hold the series in total.
Baltimore's Otakon has announced that Founder and Creative Director of award-winning MADHOUSE Masao Maruyama will be making his sixth appearance at Otakon’s fifteenth convention. Anime Expo ( July 3-6, 2008 at the Los Angeles Convention Center) announced that the convention will host the creators of popular stop-motion animation sketch comedy show, Robot Chicken. The Robot Chicken panel will feature Cameron Baity Mike Fasolo Chris McKay Jeanette Moffat Tom Root In addition, exclusive anime/manga related Robot Chicken skits will be played along side other original Anime Expo programming during the I-Show at the convention and at official Anime Expo® 2008 convention hotels on the official AX Dark Channels. The first episode of Gonzo's mecha anime Linebarrels of Iron will premier at LA's Anime Expo 2008. Director Masamitsu Hidaka will be a guest of honor at the event. Florida's www.JACON.org (Orlando Sun Resort the weekend of May 16-18) has announced several new sevents and contests. THE JACON CELEBRITY DINNER ($20 in advance and at the door; Friday night at 8:00 PM in Chibi Events) Scheduled to attend are Tara Strong, Gregg Berger, Richard Horvitz, Spike Spencer, Doug Smith, George Lowe, Steve Bennett, and Rob Granito. WASABI ANIME’S CLUB CONVENTION BREAKFAST ($7 at the door; Sunday morning at 8:00 AM in Chibi Events) Advance Registration Contests CELEBRITY DINNER SEAT #1 DRAWING WIN A CONVENTION ROOM PARTY AT JACON The winner will win the following: •A free room upgrade to a suite •Food and soft drinks catered by the hotel (scheduled Friday night in your suite) • A brand new PS2 and second controller (courtesy of JACON) • A copy of Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 3 for the PS2 (courtesy of Bandai Namco Games) To enter, you must reserve a hotel for Friday night and Saturday night at JACON 2008. The winner will be selected from all hotel reservations made as of midnight May 3, 2008. The winner will be announced the next weekend (one week before JACON.)
AnimeCons.com notes Dreamland Japan has announced pianist Jen Cho as the first guest of honor for Zuiichi, a one day event in Vancouver, Washington this August. AnimeBoston announced that as of Anime Boston 2009 will return to the Hynes Convention Center on May 22nd through May 24th, 2009 - Memorial Day weekend. False information was posted stating that the convention would move from Hynes Convention Center to the Boston Convention Center and Seaport Hotel, and expand to four days, running February 21st 2009, to February 24th 2009. The 21+ Providence Anime Conference has posted a preliminary schedule. The con is also looking for panelists Stone Bridge Press points out that Frederik L. Schodt, author of The Astro Boy Essays and numerous other books about anime, manga, and Japan, will be at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this weekend. Reading Manga: A Japanese Phenomenon Comes to America Panel 1114 3 p.m. Saturday, April 26 Location: Humanities A51 ComiPress notes that a manga event featuring a leacture by Manga for Dummies author Kensuke Okabayashi will be held at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden May 3 & 4 The event will also feature THE LEGEND OF NINJA KOTARO - is a ninja cosplay spectacle by the Spinnin Ronin Martial Arts Dance Theater. A Japanese nature manga comics library provided by AnimeNEXT. ZAN, a young band that uses these traditional instruments to write and perform thoroughly contemporary Japanese pop GAIJIN A GO-GO - A mock Japanese pop band plays sequin-studded '60s swing-rock. SAKURA J-LOUNGE - Four East Coast DJs playing Japanese and Japanese-American music Cartoon Brew notes that Shrine Auditorium Los Angeles Comic Con on May May 4th with host Corrine Orr (Speed Racer's Trixie), Art Clokey, creator of Gumby and producer of Davey & Goliath, and Stan Lee Same Hat! Same Hat! notes that ‘kisou mangaka’ (bizarre manga artist) Shintaro Kago will be the subject of an exposition at K-Space Amsterdam Date: April 24, 2008 until May 24, 2008 Location: Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 262, Amsterdam Opening hours: April 24, opening exposition from 17:00-21:00
Other days: 12:00-19:00 Entrance: FREE
Box Set Planned For Buso Renkin Anime
VIZ Media has announced the debut of a new animated fantasy action series – BUSO RENKIN – to be released as a DVD box set on April 29th. The 3-disc set is rated 'T+' for Older Teen and features the first 13 episodes (of 26 total) with an estimated retail price of $49.98. The second half of the series is slated for release later this year. The DVD box set comes in a collector’s box with a foil slipcase and features exclusive art prints. The DVD also features special bonus interviews with the English voice cast and series director. BUSO RENKIN, based on a popular 10-volume manga series by Ruruoni Kenshin creator Nobuhiro Watsuki, introduces audiences to Kazuki Muto, a high school student who thinks he's saving a girl from a monster, but it turns out that he's the one who needs saving! Kazuki is stabbed and killed while fighting a homunculus, a malevolent creature that feeds on humans. A girl, Tokiko Tsumura, revives him by replacing his heart with an alchemical device called a kakugane. With this device, Kazuki can create his own Buso Renkin, a powerful alchemical weapon in the form of a huge lance, capable of destroying homunculi. With his new weapon, Kazuki decides to join forces with Tokiko to eliminate the evil homunculi and destroy their master, the strange and eccentric Papillon Masked Creator!
Batman: Gotham Knights Release Details
Anime on DVD and High Def Digest Warner Bros. release of the Batman: Gotham Knights anime anthology will feature audio tracks with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround audio in English and Japanese, plus Spanish and German Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. Special features include the documentary "A Mirror for the Bat: The Evil Denizens of Gotham City," the "Batman and Me: The Bob Kane Story" featurette, a pair of bonus episodes from 'Batman: The Animated Series' (personally selected by 'Gotham Knight' director Bruce Timm), and a special sneak peek at the upcoming DC Comics/Warner Premiere animated movie, 'Wonder Woman.'
GDH to Release Adaptation of Hennako-chan Online
GDH K.K. will create an anime adaptation of Hennako-chan, a Japanese comic written by Fujio Akatsuka and produced by Fujio Production, Co., Ltd., and will distribute it worldwide on through their YouTube channel. This online release of Hennako-chan will also be provided with English and Chinese subtitles. Hennako-chan is a black comedy comic about a girl with psychic powers and was serialized in weekly magazine "Shukan Josei" (Publisher: SHUFU-TO-SEIKATSU SHA LTD.) from January 1991 to August 1994. Based on this comic, GDH's subsidiary GONZO Rosso K.K. will produce a web anime consisting of six 3-minute episodes which will be distributed at GONZO DOGA, GONZO's official channel on YouTube, from Friday, April 25, 2008, with a new episode coming out every other week. Fujio Akatsuka has previously written 540 comic series, and four of his works have already been made into anime; namely Osomatsu-kun (first aired in 1966), Himitsu no Akko-chan (first aired in 1969), Mooretsu Atarou (first aired in 1969), and Tensai Bakabon (first aired in 1971). Hennako-chan will be the fifth title to be animated after Tensai Bakabon was made available 37 years ago. The Internet anime version of Hennako-chan will be produced by digitally processing Akatsuka's autographed artwork, then adding movements, voice tracks, and sound effects to create a unique feel as if it is a "moving comic strip," as opposed to conventional TV animation.
Creative Team For New Wolverine Manga Named
Marvel Entertainment and Del Rey Manga announced the creative team for a manga based on the popular X-Men character, Wolverine. The series will be written by Antony Johnston, author of the Alex Rider graphic novels Stormbreaker and Point Blanc. The manga will be illustrated by Wilson Tortosa, artist of Tomb Raider and Battle of the Planets. The shônen thriller manga portrays the character as a rebellious teen training in a remote school in the Canadian wilderness, has no memory of his life prior to being found in the forest near the school. Design work can be seen here The Del Rey Manga and Marvel collaboration was first announced at the New York Anime Festival 2007. The collaboration includes two manga series: one based on Wolverine and another based on the X-Men team. Done in a shôjo (girl’s manga) style, the X-Men manga will be illustrated by Indonesian artist Anzu (The Reformed) and written by the husband and wife team of Raina Telgemeier (The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels) and Dave Roman (Agnes Quill). Both the Wolverine and the X-Men manga titles will be created with the cooperation and consultation of Marvel editors, and are scheduled to debut in Spring 2009. Antony Johnston is the author of thirteen graphic novels and is well known for his adaptations of the bestselling Alex Rider novels. He is writing two ongoing serials, the sci-fi epic Wasteland and children’s fantasy Texas Strangers. Johnston also contributed to Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened, published by Villard Books. Wilson Tortosa is the artist of several comic book series, including Jade, Banzai Girl, Battle of the Planets and Tomb Raider. He lives in the Philippines. Raina Telgemeier is best known for her work as the writer and illustrator of The Babysitter’s Club graphic novels. She received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts and has been nominated for numerous awards, including the Eisner, Ignatz, Cybil, and Web Cartoonists’ Choice awards. Dave Roman currently works for Nickelodeon Magazine as an associate editor. The co-creator of the Harvey Award-nominated series Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden and the Ignatz award-winning Teen Boat, he also pens his own webcomic, Astronaut Elementary. He is also the creator of the comic Agnes Quill. Anzu, a manga artist based in Indonesia, will make her US manga art debut in April 2008 with the first volume of The Reformed, written by Chris Hart. She has contributed to Hart’s bestselling How to Draw Manga series. About:Manga has images with their New York Comic Con coverage here
The Independent Film Festival of Boston will be showing Fumihiko Sori's CG anime Vexille on April 25 and 28 Vexille is a futuristic tale in which Japan is sealed off from the world and is being destroyed by a mega-corporation that has unleashed monstrous, android worms. It's up to a U.S. Special Forces unit to infiltrate the country and discover exactly what is going on within the devastated country. Friday April 25th 11:00 PM Monday April 28th 9:30 AM Somerville Theater 55 Davis Square Somerville, MA 02144 617-625-5700 VIZ Media has announced that it will partner with NCM FATHOM, the entertainment division of National CineMedia, to present the epic action anime hit BLEACH THE MOVIE: MEMORIES OF NOBODY in more than 300 theatres across the country on June 11 and 12. Advance purchase tickets will be available from May 2-8 to all subscribers of the SHONEN JUMP e-mail newsletter. Details will be included in an upcoming SHONEN JUMP Newsletter and fans are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to purchase advance tickets before they go on sale to the general public on May 9 at presenting theatre box offices and online at www.FathomEvents.com.
VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media, LLC that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, has announced upcoming theatrical runs scheduled for New York, Los Angeles and Seattle of MAIKO HAAAAN!!!, a film directed by Nobuo Mizuta. From acclaimed screenwriter Kankuro Kudo of PING PONG, Yaji and Kita: The Midnight Pilgrims and Takashi Miike's Zebraman, MAIKO HAAAAN!!!, is a slapstick comedy with an energetic twist of manic Japanese humor and a colorful introduction to the little-seen Maiko (apprentice Geisha) world. The recent premiere of this film at the Austin Fantastic Fest 2007 was very successful. MAIKO HAAAAN!!! will screen in New York, April 18-24, Seattle May 2-8 and Los Angeles, May 23-29. MAIKO HAAAAN!!! centers on a Japanese salary man named Kimihiko Onizuka (Sadawo Abe, from KAMIKAZE GIRLS) who dumps his girlfriend because he believes he can only fall in love with an apprentice Geisha, otherwise known as a 'Maiko.’ He decides to pursue his dream of courting a real Maiko in Kyoto. The lavish and private Maiko Houses become a social barrier partly caused by a rival who is actually also a millionaire baseball player (Shinichi Tsutsumi). But Kimihiko remains undaunted and embarks on the most wild journey using some outlandish premises to gain entry to the Geisha inner sanctum. Meanwhile, Kimihiko’s girlfriend (Kou Shibasaki) tries to win him back by leaving Tokyo to become a Maiko herself. “Imagine a frenzied and comedic version of Memoirs of a Geisha coupled with Forrest Gump and you have a pre