Animation and Anime

AICN Anime-Batman: Gotham Knight, More Manga Market Shake-Ups, Figures and More

Published at: July 3, 2008, 8:05 a.m. CST

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Anime Spotlight: Batman: Gotham Knight Released by Warner Premiere

"Have I Got a Story For You," the first of Gotham Knight's six pairings of Western writers and anime production houses, captures the potential of the arrangement. Written by Josh Olson of the film version of A History of Violence and directed by Shoujirou Nishima, the animation director and character designer for Tekkonkinkreet, the short works off the idea of juxtaposing radically different eye witness accounts of Batman. In this case, three members of a quartet of skateboarders spot the caped crime fighter in different stages of his cross town throw down with a particularly dangerous heist man. To the first, Batman is a demonic shadow-spawn, reaching out from the darkness to strike. For the second, he's a rabid beast man, salivating to rip apart his prey. To the third, he's a deployed mech, ready to spring an arsenal of gadgets to chase down a target. A project like Gotham Knight invites excited anticipation by promising to present a favorite character from the distinct vantage of a new medium and new creators. The notion of divergent accounts of Batman spottings is one that has previously been explored in the Batman comic and its animated incarnation. Yet, a TekkonKinkreet model interpretation of this flexible premise is exactly the sort of mash-up that makes a project like Gotham Knight exciting. Working off the foundation of a character with 70 years of history, the writing is clever in how it plays to the comic fans, with sly nods to the "biff!" "pow!" concept of comic action, while accessibly establishing what distinguishes Batman among comic book superheroes. Dedicated Batman fans will appreciate how the story pays tribute to the strength of the character. Those less familiar or less invested will find that the thrust of the story firmly establishes a reason to respect what the character represents. This facet of the appeal is not unique to "Have I Got a Story for You." The consistent trait across the different writers and animators of Gotham Knight is its focus on Batman's ethos and the human impact he suffers while pursing those values. Shoujirou Nishima offers a view of the urban roof top hero that is only shared by TekkonKinkreet, and if you have not seen that movie, make a point of rectifying that omission. It's a style in which a bustle of geometric, but often asymmetric people move against the solid, painstaking details of the city. In its abstract, but unidealized representation of people, there is a break between the organic looking people, and the convoluted system of physical structures around them. These two aspects complemented each other to suggest an inhabited urban environment. There is some logic to that bond between Batman and TekkonKinkreet. While Michael Arias' vision of TekkonKinkreet more often focused elsewhere, Taiyo Matsumoto's original manga spent more time playing with the idea of orphan children Black and White as urban avengers, leaping from their telephone pole perches to deal justice with metal pipes and broken bottles. Applied to Batman, and to this story in particular, Nishima's vision is fascinating in that it is seldom obvious. As diverse as the anime tradition is, this probably is not what you'd expect from an anime Batman. If each of the anime productions in Gotham Knight has a foundation of Batman and Gotham City to work with, Nishima built on his plot with an entirely unique blueprint. On the DVD commentary track, long time Batman editor Denny O'Neil recounts an elaborate version of a comic fan adage, which boils down to "Superman's stomping grounds, Metropolis, is New York City by day; Batman's home town, Gotham, is New York by night." While other entries in the collection take that to heart, sending the Dark Knight into the nocturnal realm, "Have I Got a Story for You" is largely set in broad daylight. Rather than the impression of dark, criminal harboring alleys, the short paints a city whose worn out, weary characteristics are still evident during the daylight hours; a relic of an art deco age, that's old, but not Old World old, weathered, but not venerable. Even when the action moves to a roof top, every angle captures a city that is enclosed with sooty pipes, fire escapes and sky scrapers. There's a gothic aura, in which the black and grey clad Batman is not out of place, even if he isn't set against the search lights and illuminated windows of a night skyline. Equally convention defying, the short does not swap out the aesthetic to mirror the story's three batman encounters. With the story features a set of original Batman designs, the antagonist, the city and its populous remain consistent. This is a subtly different from the Batman eyewitness stories than swaps out aesthetics to pay tribute to famous Batman artists or noteworthy eras in the characters history. Rather than a meta-level exploration of Batman fiction, keeping utilizing one look whiles altering Batman shifts focus to the perception and in-story reality of the actual character. Rather than a homage to stories told about Batman, it is about how Batman is Whether the rest of the anthology equals or surpasses "Have I Got a Story for You" is largely a function of expectations. In total, the anthology offers attractive, well produced Batman short stories. Each presents an involving take on the human heroism of Batman that is neither subtle nor obnoxiously blatant. Each offers a new approach to animating the character. Everything is at least thoroughly competent. If you're primarily approaching Gotham Knight as a Batman fan, the way it lionizes the character without insulting the viewer's intelligence, the way it brings in supporting characters from the comics, the way it ties into the continuity of the Nolan movies, are all considerable assets. For an anime fan, Gotham Knight runs into expectation problems. Part of the otaku mindset is arranging taxonomies. There are TV series, which make up the bulk of anime productions. There are movies, which are budgeted considerably more densely (funding over run time) than the TV series. There are direct to video OVAs, which generally receive more funding than TV series episodes, but less than movies; which are no longer produced with the frequency or trial mindset of the late 80's/early-mid 90's. In this landscape, anthologies are generally creator driven, experimental works. Robot Carnival, Memories, Neo-Tokyo and the like don't weigh heavily on the North American anime fan consciousness, but AniMatrix does help to foster that impression of anthologies. While each entry in Gotham Knight features a distinct approach to its animation, there are few surprises from the collection, in that if you looked over the credits, for the most part, you can correctly guess the relative strength of each. Unlike AniMatrix, which boasted the work of Koji Morimoto (Robot Carnival, Memories), Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop), Peter Chung (Aeon Flux), and Takeshi Koike, Gotham Knight had highly regarded studios attached (Production I.G, Studio 4°C and Madhouse in particular), but not "name" animators. Ultimately, no hard laboring key animator who stepping into the director’s role for Gotham Night turned out to be a startling innovative artist. The above mentioned "Have I Got a Story For You", which featured the work of Shoujirou Nishimi, as well as Shinji Kimura on animation directing, character design, and art directing (background artist for Akira, Angel's Egg, Catnapped!, and the recent Tetsujin 28th, art direction of TekkonKinkreet and Steamboy), and Takuma Sakamoto on CGI direction (Beyond and Detective Story from AniMatrix, TekkonKinkreet), demonstrate the confidence to go in a new direction with the subject. As such, it looks like a Shoujirou Nishimi work, and not the animated adaptation of a Batman comic or "anime." If anthologies represent an opportunity for talented creators to produce something daring, not only does "Have I Got a Story For You" deserve credit for animating Batman in a way that is both original and faithful to the character, it also deserves credit for vibrantly coloring outside the lines. Unlike "Have I Got a Story For You", "In Darkness Dwells" does not look outside comics for its inspiration. The Madhouse work, from Yasuhiro Aoki, who directed the Kung-Fu Love segment of Studio 4°C 's anthology Amazing Nuts, as well as a number of episodes of their Tweeny Witches series, and who worked on key animation for Beyond, Mind Game, and Princess Arete, along with co-director Yuichiro Hayashi (the opening of Kiba) and character designer/art director Kaoru Inoda (backgrounds for Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress and Paranoia Agent). Combining the oddness of a subterranean corpse transportation system, complete with pneumatic body-tubes, and Mike Mignola inspired stylization, it's an entrancingly strange trip. While Batman attempts to use his "World's Greatest Detective's" logic, wading through the sewage, past societies outcasts and the remains of an bizarre corpse delivery system, to face off against a pair of his crazed foes, the gap between the intellect of the hero and the insanity of his situation provides an opportunity for both the writing and the animation to shine. This feeds into some of the collections most sustained action, that fluidly animated and precisely coordinated, but given the situation, filtered through various levels of distortion. "Crossfire" demonstrated where expectations might set an enthusiastic anime fan up for a fall. With Madhouse and Production I.G involved in a Batman anime anthology, idealized visions of Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex's Kenji Kamiyama or Black Lagoon's Sunao Katabuchi possibly taking a crack at this great genre figure, expectations easily get out of hand. Yet, even trying to be realistic, when Production I.G (Ghost in the Shell, FLCL, Kill Bill, Dead Leaves) set up with Futoshi Higashide (animation director on the credits of Baki the Grappler, monster designer on Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D) at the helm, backed up by Shinobu Tagashira (character design on D.C. ~Da Capo~ , Law of Ueki and Shonen Onmyouji) on character design and animation direction, the disparity between anticipation and reality became an issue. To the extent that animation is a difficult field, this staff deserves credit. That said, this group is not exactly the brave and the bold of anime. Crossfire suggests the aesthetic of American super hero comics through the manner in which characters are stylized, the view is framed, and the animation is colored. Unfortunately, it also invokes the sort of excess where "comic book" becomes a pejorative term. Between garish colors and a clobbering attack on suspension of disbelief, it slaps away logic without replacing it with gleeful free wheeling. Nor is Crossfire buoyed by its script. Despite complex ties to the worlds of the movies and comics writer, Greg Rucka seems to have intentionally kept character interaction intentionally simple. The Gotham PD, who were the subject of Rucka's highly regarded Gotham Central comic, butt heads and are ultimately convinced with unwieldy sledge hammer statements. Not sounding smart or looking smart, the cumulative effective lacks sophistication or originality. If you remove the names and access the work on its own merit without knowing to whom the results should be attributed, you get "Deadshot," featuring a duel between Batman and the gun-for-hire anti-Batman of the title. Conspicuously, for this particular short, the only animation credit on the title lists "animation production by Madhouse." The statement was not in regards to this work, but the DVD commentary does allude to some friction between the animators and the anthology's producers. Did Ninja Scroll's Yoshiaki Kawajiri take his name off "Deadshot"? Was "Deadshot" a Yoshiaki Kawajiri/Yutaka Minowa pastiche by way of the Korean studio Dong Woo Animation and director Jong-Sik Nam (BASToF Lemon)? Given the recent history of the Highlander anime, the former seems possible. The latter appears to be a distinct possibility given that the action dilates time more often than it strikes with Kawajiri's decisive, snake bite quickness. With effective character design that fosters an interest in seeing hero and foe do battle, modeled background and object that lend some heft to the production, and enough style to the action, it's possible to imagine Kawajiri's involvement. However, "Crossfire" it doesn’t have the brutal cleverness of Kawajiri's best. Comparing Gotham Knight to the anime versions of Lady Death, Sin, or any number of video game adaptations, Gotham Knight comes out looking sterling. Yet, by fan physics, Batman + Production I.G + Madhouse + Studio 4°C is supposed to equate to unequaled potential. Even if the AniMatrix fostered that hope, this might very well have been an unrealistic, wrong headed estimation. On one hand, compared to open or topic/theme driven anthologies like Memories, Neo-Tokyo, or Studio 4C's recent collections, Batman might be like visiting a McDonalds in a foreign country: noticeably different, but still derived from a familiar, packaged formula. On the other, the diversity of Batman interpretations still have their boundaries, and it's possible to speculate on the level of guidence that the animators labor under, as well as the comparable openness afforded by the Matrix. As complaint provoking as Gotham Knight may be, "Have I Got a Story For You," "In Darkness Dwells," and highlights of the other shorts offer enough recommendable qualities that the collection is worth the time and funds of Batman and anime fans. And, if you welcome an exchange in pop cultures ideas that yield anime created with American audiences in mind, then the release is well worth supporting.

Stonebridge to Release Satoshi Kon Book

Stone Bridge press will be releasing Satoshi Kon - The Illusionist by Andrew Osmond on August 1. The 96 page book, with 60 color photos and illustrations will retail for $18.95 Speaking of Kon, Grady Hendrix on Satoshi Kon's Theory of Animation

Kodansha Entry Into US Manga Market Confirmed

ICV2 reports that the Nikkei financial carried the new that Kodansha has set up a U.S. subsidiary “to publish and sell translations of its Japanese manga” in the U.S. starting in September. The reason for the move, according to Nikkei, is “to boost its earnings in America, where its income has been limited to royalties received from U.S. firms. Kodansha has historically licensed their manga to Dark Horse, Del Rey and TOKYOPOP. Del Rey's Dallas Middaugh has stated Well, it’s business as usual at Del Rey Manga. We’re continuing to license manga from Kodansha, and as has been stated elsewhere, we’ve just about wrapped up our licenses for 2009 and are now starting to work on 2010. In a few weeks at the San Diego Comic-Con we’ll be announcing some of those new licenses, and we’ve got some really exciting new manga series planned. Then we’ll have a few more announcements at the New York Anime Festival in September… pretty much like we’ve always done. Also, we will continue to publish all of our manga. Kodansha has not pulled any licenses back from us. 2009 is a big year for us, since it will mark our fifth anniversary. More on that later, but suffice it to say that we plan to keep publishing manga for the foreseeable future. Mecha Mecha Media translated the Nikkei Net article that confirmed the initative Christopher Butcher at Comics212 posted the insight So I was able to actually confirm this a little while back, but in such a way that I couldn’t blog about it without getting a few people in some trouble. I can also confirm that Dark Horse no longer has the license for AKIRA (licensed from Kodansha) and that Tokyopop has canceled Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad volumes 13 and 14, and this is a Kodansha-licensed title as well, so it looks like they might have lost that license. There’s more coming too, but I’ll let it go until an official statement is made somewhere. – Also, just a quick guess here, but I would find it surprising if Kodansha pulled any licenses back from Del Rey, as they’ll likely be relying on Del Rey parent company Random House for distribution in America (under the auspices of the Kodansha/Random House “deal”), and that would likely sour the working relationship. Which isn’t to say that it won’t happen of course, but is far less likely and has not, to the best of my knowledge, happened yet. Heidi MacDonald register what's apparent from her vantage point here Anime News Network runs down the possible impact here gia spoke to Kodansha and heard "there are going to be no immediate or direct changes to Kodansha’s deal with Del Rey Manga." Mecha Mecha Media (who does translation work for Kodansha licensor Dark Horse) weights in Simon Jones gives his always insightful view Rob Bricken feeds the panic

Hellsing Ultimate OVA Changes

Sankaku Complex reports Rondo Robe 2008 has indicating that the upcoming, but undated, fifth installment of the Hellsing Ultimate OVA has moved to Madhouse (Trigun, Claymore, Lodoss, Texhnolyze, and dozens of other great titles) from Satelight (Macross, Geneshaf).

Event News

If you're at Anime Expo this weekend, events to check out include Otaku USA's panel, Sunday 7/6 1:30pm to 2:30pm Heisei Democracy will have a panel The new Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone will be screened at Anime Expo on Saturday at 10pm. Digital Manga Publishing will be presenting Hideyuki Kikuchi, the author responsible for Vampire Hunter A Wind Named Amnesia, Wicked City and Demon Beast Shinjuku and Saiko Takaki, the artist behind the Vampire Hunter D manga as their industry guests for Anime Expo. Appearances include DMP Presents: Hideyuki Kikuchi and Saiko Takaki! Saturday, July 5, 2008 2:00-3:00pm WS1 Hideyuki Kikuchi and Saiko Takaki Autograph Sessions Saturday, July 5, 2008 - 1:00-2:00pm Sunday, July 6, 2008 - 1:00-2:00pm Booth #510 Panel prizes include Takaki’s ink sketches of D, exclusive Vampire Hunter D merchandise and the grand prize of a dinner date for you and a friend with both creators For more information stop by the DMP booth (#510) before the panel eigoManga will hosting an anime releases panel and screening on Friday from 4:00pm-5:00pm at LP4 (LACC 411) They are hosting video screenings on Strike Witches/Tower on Druaga - Thurdays 4:00pm - 5:00pm Video 1 (LACC 403) Blassreiter - Friday 8:00pm-9:00pm Video 2 (LACC 408) Tower of Druaga Saturday- 12:00pm-1:00 PM Video 1 (LACC 403) Bandai Entertainment make a last minute reveal, that their "mystery guest" is Masahiko Minami, involved with the production of hit anime titles such as Escaflowne: The Movie, Cowboy Bebop, Mobile Suit Gundam 0083, Wolf’s Rain, and Company President of Bones. Anime localizers Bang Zoom! will present a series of Voice Acting Workshops at Anime Expo. These workshops will be held each day during Anime Expo and be led by notable voice actors Tony Oliver (Lupin The 3rd, Robotech) and Philece Sampler (Last Exile, Bleach, Eureka 7). Topic to be covered include an overview of the dubbing process and the technology used in recording as well as an insider’s view of voice acting business as it relates to the Anime industry. The classes are scheduled for 5:30-6:30pm on Thursday, July 3 in LACC Room #304, Friday, July 4 from 11:00am-12:00pm, also in LACC Room #304. The workshop for Saturday July, 5 will be held from 2:30pm-3:30pm in LACC Room #304 as will the Sunday session which runs from 11:30-12:30 also in the same room. Those interested to attend one of the workshops may pre-register at the Bang Zoom! booth (#811) to reserve a spot. Bang Zoom! will also offer behind the scenes documentary ADVENTURES IN VOICE ACTING - Volume One for sale at their booth Kotobukiya will have a booth at Anime Expo (1100-1102) Kotobukiya’s booth will be located at booth#1100&1102, where representatives will be answering fan questions. Featured sales items includes: GURREN LAGANN PLAIN MODEL KIT $10.00 INDIANA JONES INDIANA JONES ARTFX STATUE $100.00 INDIANA JONES HENRY JONES ARTFX STATUE $100.00 STAR WARS BOBA FETT BOUNTY HUNTER SERIES ARTFX STATUE $100.00 FFVII CLOUD STRIFE MASTERPIECE ARTS $400.00 Del Rey Manga announced plans for Fairy Tail manga creator Hiro Mashima’s appearance at Comic-Con International in San Diego, California. During his appearance at the convention, which takes place from Thursday, July 24 through Sunday, July 27, Hiro Mashima will be featured on a panel hosted by Del Rey Manga. Del Rey Manga Presents: Hiro Mashima Saturday, July 26, 2008 2:30-3:30 PM Room 10, San Diego Convention Center Join Hiro Mashima, Dallas Middaugh, Associate Publisher of Del Rey Manga, and Del Rey Manga’s Director of Licensing and Acquisitions Mutsumi Miyazaki for a conversation on Mashima’s latest creation, Fairy Tail. Signings with Hiro Mashima: Friday, July 25, 2008 2:30-3:30 PM Del Rey Booth (#1128), San Diego Convention Center Saturday, July 26, 2008 4:30-6:30 PM Official Autographing Area 1, San Diego Convention Center All signings with Hiro Mashima will be ticketed events. Tickets will be limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tickets will be distributed at the Comic Cellar booth. Convention goers who purchase a copy of any of the first three volumes of Fairy Tail from the Comics Cellar booth will receive a ticket to one signing, limited to one ticket per customer. Mashima will be signing exclusive copies of Fairy Tail shikishi boards specially created for his San Diego convention appearance. Shout! Factory announced the what they've organized for San Diego Comic Con Friday, July 25 (7:15 PM – 8:15 PM) Room 6B – MST3K 20Th Anniversary Reunion Panel Moderated by Patton Oswalt, an historic reunion of cast and crew, including creator Joel Hodgson, producer Jim Mallon and fellow MST3K family: Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, Mike Nelson, Bridget Nelson Mary Jo Pehl, Paul Chaplin, J. Elvis Weinstein and the MST3K robots Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot Shout! Factor will be releasing MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: 20th Anniversary Edition DVD box set on October 28, 2008. The set will feature four of the show’s most requested unreleased film episodes (the exact 4 titles will be revealed at Comic-Con) and boasts exclusive DVD bonus content that explore the genesis, life and afterlife of MST3K. More in-depth info to be revealed at the 20th Anniversary Reunion Panel JANE AND THE DRAGON: A DRAGON’S TALE The DVD collection of the first five episodes of the animated series adapted from Martin Baynton’s popular children’s books will be released Auguat 19th. Talent appearing at their booth includes: Friday, July 25 (11 AM) Sam & Max creator Steve Purcell will be at Shout! Factory’s booth (#3749) Friday, July 25 – TBD – MST3K talent at Shout! Factory’s booth (#3749) Saturday, July 26 (1 PM) Swamp Thing star Dick Durock and co-creator Len Wein at Shout! Factory’s booth (#3749) Saturday, July 26 (3:00 PM) Dan Milano, co-creator and voice talent) of Greg The Bunny will be at Shout! Factory’s booth (#3749) Baltimore’s Otakon is running a "a webcomics challenge" through July 11th. Two winners, who produce comics about convention, will be selected and awarded a free table in Otakon’s Alley, complete with two complimentary memberships (or suitable replacement) to the convention and “front of the line” pass pick-up. See the convention's site for details and sign-up. Otakon also announced that the convention will be hosting Last Unicorn author Peter S. Beagle, sponsored by Conlan Press The conventions artist alley arrangements have been posted. The New York Anime Festival today announced it will again partner with the World Cosplay Summit at the second annual New York Anime Festival this September in New York City. The World Cosplay Summit is an international costume competition that is the equivalent of the Olympics of Cosplay. It features cosplayers from nearly every continent competing before famed anime and manga creators, with previous judges including Leiji Matsumoto (Galaxy Express 999) and Go Nagai (Cutie Honey). New York Anime Festival's partnership with the World Cosplay Summit will make the convention, September 26-28, 2008 at the Jacob Javits Center, the site of the World Cosplay Summit's Official USA Preliminary Round -- with the winners of the convention's Cosplay Masquerade receiving trip a Japan to represent the USA in the World Cosplay Summit Finals.

FUNimations licenses Heroic Age

FUNimation Entertainment announced in its weekly podcast that it has acquired rights to the 26-episode sci-fi action-adventure anime series Heroic Age from Kodansha Ltd. Their release is scheduled for spring 2009. Frun the distributor's descriptions Among the ruins of a forgotten planet lies the salvation for the Iron Tribe, also known as humankind. This lost warrior will stand against the tyranny of the Silver Tribe, who proclaimed themselves the new dominant race after the departure of the advanced Golden Tribe. Humanity's last hope: A wild and unruly hero, “Age,” and an ancient prophecy. A trailer can be seen here

Enoki Films USA, Inc. Presents Slayers Revolution

Enoki Films USA, Inc. has begun looking for a North American licensor and distributor for their new, fourth season of fantasy adventure/comedy Slayers.
©2008 KANZAKA•ARAIZUMI/FUJIMI-SHOBO-Slayers R PRODUCTION COMMITTEE All RIGHTS RESERVED A preview can be seen here

Anime-Game News

Playstation 3 will be getting a port of Leaf's eroge game White Album Via Majoria's News Soul Calibur IV manga
Yatterman Gou and Street Fighter III's Alex have been added to Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes Capcom USA is "investigating" the title Via Japanator, a preview for Super Robot Wars Z, scheduled for Japanese release September 25th Sega has picked up the rights to produced Suzumiya Haruhi games for the Nintendo DA

UDON Announces Street Fighter Remix #0

UDON announced that they will be returning to monthly comic and Street Fighter in August with Street Fighter Remix #0, a one-shot prelude issue featuring three all-new stories, each of which leads into a new UDON comic book series: Street Fighter II Turbo with art by Jeffrey "Chamba" Cruz (Sinbad: Rogue of Mars)
Street Fighter III with art by Joe Ng (Transformers, Red Sonja)
Street Fighter Legends: Chun-Li, a four issue mini series with art by Omar Dogan (Street Fighter Legends: Sakura, Robotech)
The 32 page issue will be released on August 27th for $3.95

TOKYOPOP Updates

The Lying in the Gutters rumor column gave a yellow light to LITG had previous reported that TOKYOPOP would be negotiating the return of rights to its creators of properties, after the current reduction of publishing plans. Well, it seems to have been all mouth and no trousers. Those who have made approaches buoyed by the news and with prominent publishers lined up have suddenly been rebuffed. It seems that those who escape the dead claws of TOKYOPOP will be the lucky exceptions, not the rule. And will probably attract all sorts of jealous attention. IGN recounts the TOKYOPOP situation here Rivkah (Steady Beat) shows off some of her post TOKYOPOP work; namely a Bright Future card game Queenie Chan has announced the winners of the Lucid Walking: The Dreaming Writing Competition winners a geek by any other name collects talk of creator compensation via Manga Blog, M. Alice LeGrow's Bizenghast has been extended to seven volumes. Volume one can be read free, online here

Viz Plans Release of Second Naruto Movie

VIZ Media will be releasing NARUTO THE MOVIE 2: THE LEGEND OF THE STONE OF GELEL on DVD July 29. From Viz's description In the latest feature film, Naruto, Shikamaru and Sakura are in the middle of returning a lost ferret to its owner, supposedly the easiest mission ever. Or so they think! When a young knight, Temujin, attacks them out of nowhere, they are drawn into a fierce struggle over a treasure harboring legendary power – the Stone of Gelel. Temujin's master wants to use the stone's power to create a utopia, while the last of the clan who once controlled the stone wants to keep it sealed away forever. Naruto and the others, along with help from Gaara and Kankuro, must protect the stone from those who want to misuse its power. When the dream of utopia becomes a nightmare, it'll take a ninja to set things right! Bonus features on the two DVD set include “Creating the World of Naruto 2” and one on how to “Write and Adapt Like a Ninja,” plus “Words From Japan,” “Production Art Gallery,” “Original Storyboards,” and the “Original Japanese Movie Trailers.” In addition, the disc contains a director’s commentary track and a trailer for the upcoming third NARUTO movie, Naruto the Movie 3: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom, which will be released by VIZ Media in the near future.

September ADV Releases

Anime on DVD reports that retailers are listing the following ADV releases 9/2/08 Rahxephon Grand Canon Collection (Thinpak) - 770 minutes - $99.99 9/9/08 Aquarian Age Complete Collection (Thinpak) - 325 minutes - $39.99 9/16/08 This Ugly Yet Beautiful World Perfect Collection (Tin) - 300 minutes - $59.99 9/23/08 Gantz: The Complete Series Collection (Thinpak) - 650 minutes - $89.99 9/30/08 New Fist of the North Star/Neo Tokyo Double Pack - 225 minutes - $19.99 Currently, only AAAAnime is listing a 9/23 release of Welcome to the NHK volume six.

AICN Figures

Go Hero and Bluewater Productions as revealed an initiative to create collectibles and apparel are based off of Bluewater’s titles as well as the "Ray Harryhausen Presents" series. Announced work includes 1:6 Sinbad w/ Homunculos - from Sinbad "Rogue of Mars" & "Merchant of Ages" 1:6 Perseus w/ Bubo - from "Wrath of the Titans" 1:6 Skeleton Warrior- from Jason and the Argonauts: Kingdom of Hades 1:6 Cyclops - from "Wrath of the Titans" Sideshow Collectables are taking pre-orders for Bertie - Dirty Deeds and Bertie - Desert Combat Bigshot Toyworks' Bertie the Pipebomb is designed by renowned artist Ashley Wood. The 12" figure retails for $299.99.
Sideshow is also offering ‘Appleseed Saga: Ex Machina’ Snap Kits series of Deunan, Briareos, Manuel Aeacus, Tereus and Rhoetus by Hot Toys. The fully poseable kits come with a piece of Landmate power armor, which can be assembled into a wearable ES.W.A.T. suit for the 1/6 scale Appleseed figures. The 4", $12.99 figures can be pre-ordered here
Organic Hobby, Inc in conjunction with Beagles will release Umisho “Amuro Ninagawa & Mirei Shizuoka (Healthy Naked Swimming Team Version)” in August with a price of $85.00 each. Second year student, and a new transfer student from Okinawa at Umisho, "Amuro" & the very skillfull swimmer "Mirei," are the heroines based on a manga series by Mitsuru Hattori also known as "Kenko Zenrakei Suieibu Umisho." It has been serialized in Kodansha's Weekly Shonen Magazine from issue 33 since 2005. [1] It has also been adapted into a TV anime series, directed by Koichiro Sotome and written by Mamiko Ikeda[2], which premiered in Japan on numerous television stations from July 2007, and a video game. "Amuro & Mirei" are 8" (1/8 scale) tall PVC figures with a removable outfit and comes in a window box.
will be introducing its Machine Animation Gurren Lagann and Linebarrels Of Iron line-up at Anime Expo, where Gonzo will be premiering the 1st episode at the Linebarrels Of Iron. Collection DX finds infamous Korean kaiju Pulgasari also on the site Master Grade #100 Turn A Gundam YF-21 Valkyrie YF-19 Valkyrie A custom Totoro Dunny Summer Yotsuba in Hokkaido Alfred Hitchcock The Birds Barbie Doll

Upcoming in Japan

Kotaku notes that Death Note artist Takeshi Obata will be illustrating a manga tie-in to upcoming Wii Castlevania 3D fighting game Castlevania Judgment. A second season of Neko Rahmen has been announced. From Anime Nation Geneon Entertainment (not to be confused with former distributor Geneon USA) announced that a second Ichigo Marshmallow (”Strawberry Marshmallow”) OVA and a ToHeart 2ad Plus OVA are indeelopment. The recently broadcast final episode of the fourth Major baseball anime television series included an announcement of a January 2009 planned premier of a fifth Major television series. the anime adapation of Alive: The Final Evolution, released in North America by Del Rey, will be animated by Gonzo & AIC studios and directed by Hiraike Yoshimasa (Solty Rei, Sketchbook ~full color’S~). Gonzo will be hosting the upcoming Strike Witches pm YouTube and Crunchyroll. From Anime News Network Slayers Future will premiere in the September issue of Kerokero Ace (on sale on July 26). The series by scenario writer Yoshijiro Muramatsu and manga creator Shin Sasaki, with transpose sorceress to a technology based near-future. Macross Frontier, the ongoing sequel to the Macross space opera franchise, is inspiring a third manga series, the first novel volume (written by Ukyo Kodachi with illustration by character designer Mikan Ehime and the main manga artist Hayato Aoki), and a biweekly reference magazine Macross Chronicle in July. Sorahiko Mizushima's manga Macross Frontier: Dakishimete, Ginga no Hate made (Macross Frontier: Hold Me Tightly to the Edge of the Galaxy) will join Macross Frontier Cho Jiku Utahime Ranka (Macross Frontier: The Super Dimension Songstress Ranka)?as well as the main Macross Frontier in Kadokawa Shoten's Comp Ace magazine in the September issue (on sale on July 26). The August issue of Jump Square (on sale on July 4) will feature the premiere of Kuzumoto Sanchi no Yon-Kyodai manga by Dragonaut - The Resonance artist Satoshi Kinoshita, the one-shot manga Sonezaki Shinju by Ichigo 100% (Strawberry 100%) and Hatsukoi Limited creator Mizuki Kawashita and Kawashita's adaptation of Chikamatsu's celebrated Edo-era play Sonezaki Shinju (The Love Suicides at Sonezaki) Yuu Watase will be ending Perfect World Fushigi Yuugi magazine and moving Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden to Monthly Flowers. She will also be launching an unnamed new manga series. Di Gi Charat manga creator Koge Donbo* will launch a new manga called Naki Shojo no Tame no Pavane (Pavane for a Dead Girl) in the September issue (on sale on July 30) of Mag Garden's Monthly Comic Blade magazine. The story revolves around a boy and 12 girls at a music school at the end of Japan's Meiji era (or early 20th century). New Temagotchi movie Eiga! Tamagotchi Uchu Ichi Happy na Monogatari!? will be in Japanese theatres December 20th. Trailers/previews Mamoru Oshii's The Sky Crawlers Kiku-chan and the Wolf, based on the story by Grave of the Fireflies' Akiyuki Nosaka ef - a tale of melodies Scarecrowman 20th Century Boys Rosario+Vampire CAPU 2 Zero no Tsukaima: Princesses no Rondo (third season) Strike Witches The live action adaptation of Detroit Metal City

Pop Japan Travel's Mind Over Manga Tour Adds Meeting With Ghibli Art Director, Visit To Nippon Animation

Pop Japan Travel's Mind Over Manga Tour (Aug. 21 to 27) has added a meeting with Nizo Yamamoto, and a visit to Nippon Animation Yamamoto-sensei has served as art director on many acclaimed anime, including "Princess Mononoke" and "Grave of the Fireflies." His luscious background art has also appeared in "Spirited Away," "Perfect Blue," "Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro" and more. Tour guests will have a chance to ask him about his more than 30 years in the anime industry, take pictures and ask for autographs -- so bring your DVDs! Since its founding in 1975, Nippon Animation has produced some of Japan's best loved anime, including "Maya the Bee," "Dog of Flanders," "Locke the Superman," and some of the first work from Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata and Nizo Yamamoto: "Future Boy Conan" and "Anne of Green Gables." The Mind Over Manga tour, including round-trip airfare from LAX to Tokyo, full hotel accommodations, transport in Japan, entry fees, bilingual guides and customized guidebook, is $2,198 plus a $235 fuel surcharge. The Kyoto and Osaka option is $898, while Hiroshima is $100. For more information, see ww.popjapantravel.com

Code Monkey on DVD

Shout! Factory, in association with G4 TV and MonkeyWrangler Productions, will release 8-bit video game development coedy Code Monkeys: Season One on DVD August 5th. The 2 disc set is priced at $19.99 Bonus Features Include: Code Monkeys Daily Pranks Original “Barfight” and “Crosswalk” Promos “Sir Eats-A-Lot” Gaming Tips From G4’s Kristin Holt Original GameAvision Games –“Two Card Monty” and “Hangman” Downloadable Wallpapers

New Manga Licenses

ViaAnimeNation Digital Manga Publishing's new "Doki Doki" line will be releasing the following Shinshokan "boy's love" manga Brilliant Blue, by Saemi Yorita Color, by Eiki Eiki and Mikiyo Tsuda Living for Tomorrow, by Taishi Zaou Midnight Bloom, by Rico Fukiyama Fevered Kiss novel written by Arika Kuga and illustrated by Taishi Zaou Media Blasters will be releasing Torajirou Kishi’s two volume lesbian romance drama manga series Maka-Maka.

Favorite Anime By Gender

giapet has posted the results of Business Media Makoto's gender aggregated favorite anime poll results Men 1. Mobile Suit Gundam franchise 2. Dragon Ball franchise 3. Sazae-san 4. Doraemon 5. My Neighbor Totoro 6. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind 7. Lupin III franchise 8. Space Battleship Yamato 9. Laputa: Castle in the Sky 10. Kyojin no Hoshi Women 1. My Neighbor Totoro 2. Sazae-san 3. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind 4. Case Closed 5. Doraemon 6. Heidi of the Swiss Alps 7. Laputa: Castle in the Sky 8. One Piece 9. Chibi Maruko-chan 10. Dragon Ball

Gatchman OVA Streamed

The three epsiode 90's OVA version of Gatchman (previously released in North America by Urban Visions) will be streamed for U.S. and Canada on crunchyroll, after a licensing deal with Fireworks International. The site will also be offering virtual ‘badges’ for people who purchase the download.

Devil's Due to Produce Original Vampire Hunter D

ICV2 reports that Devil’s Due Publishing has struck a deal with Digital Manga Publishing to bring original Vampire Hunter D comics to American audiences in a typical monthly American style comic book series. The first series will be entitled Vampire Hunter D: American Wasteland. Devil's Due has said “have a noticeably North American feel never before seen in the Vampire Hunter D mythos, while closely paying respect to the history of D.”

Business News

Bandai Entertainment has notified retails that they have taken over Bandai Visual USA's Honneamise. Release will preserve the original, controversial pricing structure for the release, but the two Patlabor movies and the first Aim for the Top! Gunbuster original video anime series, and the announced but never release titles (Engage Planet Kiss Dum, Shigofumi, sola, and true tears) were not included. Anime News Network has the listing here Tokyo Stock Exchange sent notice that Gonzo parent company GDH has until March 31, 2009 to improve their finances, or the company will be delisted from the exchange. See ANN's coverage for details on GDH's finances. The Animation, Young Adults Kids Media group of TBS, has named Jill Shields Senior Vice Pres. of Strategic Marketing and Promotions, overseeing Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and GameTap.com. Cartoon Network has promoted two of its key contributors in sales and promotions (John O'Hara Christina Miller), while letting go three other individuals. Canned Dogs and CNET Japan report that fan made videos will be removed from Japanese streaming video site Nico Nico Douga as part of an agreement with The Association of Japanese Animations (AJA), Japan Video Software Association (JVA), and Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan (MPPA)

Worth Checking Out...

Otaku USA's has relaunched their site with a new design FUNimation's branded YouTube channel a geek by any other name and Random Curiosity have summer anime previews Ghibli World looks at the first Ponyo on a Cliff review Via Kaiju Shakedwown, Comic Book Resource's J. Michael Straczynsk interview touches on the script for the Wachowskis' Ninja Assassin (rumored Ninja Scroll), written over the course of 53 hours. Muku's stop motion film, to be screened at the Junior 8 Summit can be seen on YouTube here Alt Japan notes this Here Be Monsters tour of Japan and other kappa released coolness On a related note, Shigeru Mizuki's "Fifty-Three Stations of the Yokaido Road" The First Time the Word "Cosplay" Appeared "Explanation of Evangelion 1.01?" has been translated Anime on DVD offers a guide to July anime collections Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat on Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms Ralph Bakshi interview jaPress PEACE NOW interview. PW sizes up the hyper-violent Gantz First peek at the full-scale Yatter-Bark to be featured in Takashi Miike’s ‘Yatterman’ Speak Media Blog looks at the U.S. Navy's "propamanga," created to address PR surrounding nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington's presence in the waters near Japan. Spore recreation of Pokemon Super Punch points out this strangely amusing Pokemon related web-comic essential books about manga Active Anime interviews translator Andrew Cunningham concerning his work on Death Note: Another Note Patrick Macias runs down his Speed Racer pieces, leveraging the movie's Japanese release News Week calles Osamu Tezuka Manga’s Homer and Walt Disney All in One Cartoon Brew notes the Tezuka short on iTunes Paul Pope shows of Battling Boy Speaking of Pope,Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat has interview The third Gurren Lagann Parallel Works has gone online

For more commentary see the AICN Anime MySpace.

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Readers Talkback

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  • July 3, 2008, 7:52 a.m. CST

    Damn You Michael Bay

    by MCMLXXVI

    Damn You Michael Bay

  • July 3, 2008, 8:17 a.m. CST

    hmm....

    by seanpb

    did anyone get through that gotham knight review? i kept losing interest.

  • July 3, 2008, 8:28 a.m. CST

    by MRJONZ72

    I've caught some of the Batman Gotham Knights - I like it so far.

  • July 3, 2008, 8:36 a.m. CST

    Gotham Knights is horrible.

    by La Frog

    I was expecting a lot of this anime crossover between the best japanese studios and the bat. Well, it looks horrible. Graphically speaking, the various designs of the Batman are all horrible and the stories poor rehash of the old Bruce Timm series at best (the Rashomon inspired episode. been there seen that) while the rest is just plain boring. Anime fans and batfans, you've been warned. Avoid.

  • July 3, 2008, 8:37 a.m. CST

    Saw it yesterday

    by Forrest75

    The animation is fun. I enjoyed the different interpretations and looks of "The Batman." I would have liked to hear a better voice on him though. Kinda weak/wussy.

  • July 3, 2008, 8:42 a.m. CST

    That Fox Batman cartoon in the 90's

    by zer0cool2k2

    Did an episode exactly like that "Have I Got a Story For You" bit.

  • July 3, 2008, 8:44 a.m. CST

    Gotta say... Gotham Knight is a bit shit

    by ODM

    The stories aren't given enough time to breathe... not they are worth exploring anyway. I expected more tbh.

  • July 3, 2008, 8:48 a.m. CST

    What about the Wonder Woman preview?

    by teethgnasher

    What does it look like?

  • July 3, 2008, 8:52 a.m. CST

    re: Wonder Woman Preview

    by ScottGreen

    It's primarily a mini-documentary about the character.

  • July 3, 2008, 8:56 a.m. CST

    Gotham Knight was fucking horrible...

    by Sledge Hammer

    ...and that first story was by far the worst one of the lot, not to mention being a complete and blatant rip off of the old Legends of the Dark Knight episode from the New Batman Adventures, only told far, far more poorly. I was actually looking forward to Gotham Knight too, but man it's shit. And no, it's not in any real way a prequel to The Dark Knight as it was hyped to be, apart from the fact that it contains Batman, Alfred, Gordon, and a couple of others. No matter how much of a Batman fan you are, try before you buy folks. Seriously.

  • July 3, 2008, 9:17 a.m. CST

    Gotham Knight was absolutely terrible

    by johnnyg korrupt

    I'd been waiting months for it with eager anticipation as soon as it was announced and what a letdown. Not even worth watching..imagine if you forked out cash for the limited blu ray version. Holy crapolla batman.

  • July 3, 2008, 9:20 a.m. CST

    hated teh first gothom knight short

    by logicalnoise01

    but thought the rest were ok and the final one was pretty damn cool. None even came close to the 90's animated show though.

  • July 3, 2008, 9:25 a.m. CST

    Avoid It Bat Fans It's Rubbish

    by StealthGeek01

    As a huge Batman fan I can say that any episode from the varios TV series is better than what is offered here. Warner Brothers are trying to con you for your money this is really that bad, animation was poor, the story was poor has nothing to do with the film series except it's name.

  • July 3, 2008, 1:19 p.m. CST

    Thanks for thye warnings guys

    by andrew coleman

    I was very interested in this but I'll avoid it now.

  • July 3, 2008, 1:49 p.m. CST

    Is it really that bad?

    by Johnno

    I wanted to pick up the blu-ray and I don't want to watch the leaked stuff... Besides, weren't all these shorts written by the American comic and TV writers you guys liked?

  • July 3, 2008, 2:30 p.m. CST

    Not enough time for each story

    by Mister C

    Although I don't think it was a complete waste I do however think it wasn't worth it's hype. Some of yall seem to be making it out as worse than it really was. There really wasn't enough time for a deep story of any kind and because of that I really had no "investment" in it. It certainly wasnt The Animatrix but thats because it didnt have anything new to show of, more of the same if you will, and it's because of this it was only enjoyable on a visual level. Take the very last story "Deadshot" and simple made that the entire movie and I think it would have been better. Too many versions of Batman made me feel like there wasn't any batman, it amplified the fact that it was "artistic vision" and I for one could not latch onto it. I'd recommend it to bat fans only.

  • July 3, 2008, 3:13 p.m. CST

    Well I guess shorts tend to be short...

    by Johnno

    Of course they would've been better if there was more time to flesh them out but that's the way it generally is. Oh well, as long as the animation is cool I'd pick it up. I absolutely loved Animatrix, so if it's along those lines then that would be awesome. I'm still going to give it a shot.

  • July 3, 2008, 3:25 p.m. CST

    Definately..

    by Mister C

    ..give it a shot, its not like it "RUINED MY VIEW OF BATMAN FOREVER" it just wasnt able to blossum because of its running time, thats not to say however, more talented people couldn't have done better with the givin time...

  • July 3, 2008, 3:54 p.m. CST

    Didn't care for "I got a story for you"

    by Stalkeye

    First off the animation was ugly, that's one of the reasons why I never saw TekkonKinkreet. Besides, it had been there done that with Timm's 90's BTAS in which kids shared stories about Bats from the Dick Sprang ea to Miller's Dark Knight (voiced by Micheal Ironside) The rest of GK was very promising and the final story in particular.Batninja Scroll anyone? Don't know about the haters but I highly recommend this DVD.on Blu-Ray? I don't think so.

  • July 3, 2008, 4:35 p.m. CST

    What're you saying??? GOTHAM KNIGHTS was GREAT!

    by TheGhostWhoLurks

    Fantastic anime, with strong storylines that are loosely connected! DEFINITELY check this anthology out!! If you're in doubt, just bittorrent it and see for yourself. Then BUY THE DVD, so we can get more stuff like this in the future!<p>Seriously, it's good stuff.

  • July 3, 2008, 4:37 p.m. CST

    Did I mention that Kevin Conroy is BACK as BATMAN?

    by TheGhostWhoLurks

    That ALONE makes Gotham Knight worth getting. :)

  • July 3, 2008, 5:50 p.m. CST

    OOps, I forgot to mention the great Kevin Conroy.

    by Stalkeye

    whose voiceovers alone are worth checking this out.Never cared for jeremy Sisto's Batman (JL: Final Frontier)Kev's gotta eat!

  • July 3, 2008, 6:12 p.m. CST

    Kevin Conroy sounded bored off his ass in this one...

    by Sledge Hammer

    ...and the rest of the voice cast was weak as hell for the most part. I'm sure some people might like this, but then some people like being shit on too, that doesn't make it any less disgusting. TRY BEFORE YOU BUY folks, honestly, many will be thankful in the long run. It really is that shitful.

  • July 3, 2008, 9:48 p.m. CST

    Hmmm...

    by Johnno

    Didn't mind getting the blu-ray version as it's only $2 more than the special edition 2 disc DVD version and has everything that does... However I'm hearing that the transfer on blu-ray isn't very good and the special features are all SD... man... Now I'm getting iffy... Maybe I ought to torrent it first... oh... what to do???

  • July 3, 2008, 10 p.m. CST

    Hell Yeah, It's worth seeing!

    by mistergreen

    It's a helluvalot better than that crap on saturday morning.

  • July 4, 2008, 6:19 a.m. CST

    Well Johnno...

    by Stalkeye

    If you're a patient lad, I would say wait till tuesday to either rent or purchase the DVD.However, I would suggest the torrent approach as a precaution.( Try before you buy.)Although I recommend GK, everyone has their own taste. That and many times have I felt ripped off when buying Media (be it Anime,Movies and especially Games) before "sampling" the damn things.It's your call.

  • July 4, 2008, 12:56 p.m. CST

    Alright then I guess I'll torrent...

    by Johnno

    I doubt there's going to be anyone around me that'll offer it for rental. If I like it I'll buy it and I'll wait to hear more reviews on the blu-ray version's quality which should be out around release date. If blu-ray's not worth it then I'll save $10 and pick up the cheaper DVD.

  • July 4, 2008, 4:54 p.m. CST

    re: voice acting

    by Chief Joseph

    In anime, the animation is almost always done first and the voices are "dubbed" in later. Japanese voice actors are trained to pull this off great, but American voice actors aren't an usually can't quite pull it off. That may have been the case here; the lips don't seem to be synched up to the mouths like you'd see in an American cartoon. As for the movie, the version I saw seemed to have a few shorts out of order... The Italian mob-boss played by Rob Paulsen gets captured by Batman at the end of one short and then he's free in the next. I hate that Tarantino non-linear crap. But on the whole I liked it, especially the final Deadshot one. And I agree the first one with the annoying skateboarders was a total ripoff of the '90s cartoon.

  • July 4, 2008, 5:24 p.m. CST

    As an Anime Fan..

    by TheAllSeeingEye

    I gotta say GK was pretty weak. It had some decent moments and I will admit that Batman suited the anime look. I liked the Deadshot section and the bit with Killer Croc but the rest of it was very meh...

  • July 5, 2008, 9:51 p.m. CST

    @ TheAllSeeingEye

    by Chief Joseph

    Agree. I wish they hadn't confined themselves to the Nolan "movie" universe. Wouldn't it have been great if each short could've been unconnected and the directors could be free feature a different rogue? (Joker, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, etc.)

  • July 6, 2008, 1:51 p.m. CST

    Alright... Here's the verdict!

    by Johnno

    So I downloaded and watched it, twice now. Here's the bad... The biggest reason the shorts suffer is because of time. Everyone seems to have noticed this, they end too soon, in fact you might even say the biggest problem is that they end JUST when it's getting good. Like you're about to reach the first portion of a grand climax and then suddenly they just fizzle out because time's up... However... if this is a taste to what animated Batman can be... then SON OF A BITCH I WANT MORE!!!!<br><br> The film can be divided up into two portions, the first 3 and last 3 episodes. The first 3 episodes are mediocre and just passably interesting. The final 3 episodes just scream moments of brilliance off the screen! It's such a stark contrast to the earlier 3... In fact this project would've been truly fucking awesome if they jsut cut out the first 3 eps and used that time to extend the story of the latter 3, or better yet given the latter 3 about 30 mins of run time the same as an average half hour TV episode!<br><br> The first short "Have I got a story for you" is a copy of one from the recent animated TV series. It was probably deliberate and maybe could've functioned as a nice intro, where all these rumors of Batman are flying around, people are talking about him and we finally get to see the reality of it. At best it ended up being merely servicable... Perhaps this can be chalked up to the animation style which followed that of Tekkon Kinkreet. Now I loved Tekkon Kinkreet and I thoguht the style was great as well even though initially I was turned off of it from still images and a lot of other people also aren't digging it too much. But however you feel about Tekkon Kinkreet, the style just doesn't suit the Batman... The background work however was a different storay as there are some incredible backgrounds in that short! The other reason is also that a portion of it was in the daytime which was also a bit weird for Batman even for children's stories about him, but I could overlook it. There are also some shots in it that seem, well.. .amateurish, or not interesting enough which perhaps hints that a new guy was put in charge of boarding this. So there are some weak moments even visually. I wasn't digging this episode the first tim I saw it, but upon second viewing I did enjoy it better. There are some moments of cool visuals there and animation fans might enjoy watching it simply to look at it.<br><br> The second episode, 'Crossfire,' seems like something akin to what American cartoons are like, or can be if taken into a more mature direction. The art style definately seems to suit that aesthetic. Some have pointed out poor dialogue here and they are right, but it's not something that's really that bothersome... The other thing the short can be accused of is not being that clever... there's a set up between villians that is just done so half assed it's comical instead of intimidating and dangerous. Batman makes a cool entrance here, and there's some cool references to Begins such as the Narrows entrance bridge. There's also a nice atmosphere going on in this episode that would be great to translate over to a children's cartoon of Batman (sans the more violent content) for the effect of the dark world of Gotham, however it's a shame that kids shows can't show situations too dangerous or threathening or any blood despite that it's never intense in this short, you see people getting shot and people getting hurt and watching them twist from every blow the Batman delivers but its never overdone, but if I saw this as a kid it would be the best cartoon ever! With a longer run time you might even say it could even fit well into the spirit of the original WB series.<br><br> The third episode 'field test' is where we really see a typical anime style used. Unfortunately the biggest downfall of this episode is Bruce Wayne's appearence... It's not that this couldn't have worked were it a Japanese show voiced by a Japanese guy who suited the role, but adding Kevin Conroy's voice to this character design just doesn't seem believable... at all! Otherwise, this short is pretty good if also suffering from lack of depth due to run time but would make an interesting episode if they pushed it a lot more and fully utilized the new gadget Batman has that allows him to stop bullets. Maybe this little gadget might even feature in the Dark Knight... I don't know but I have an inkling particularly seeing as how the episode had Fox trying to equip it to the Batmobile... Perhaps this is what the Batpod uses to flip over trucks? I don't know... but I can't elp feeling it was underutilized in this short and that perhaps it is there simply to tie into the Dark Knight at some point in a different form...<br><br> Now here's where Gotham Knight takes a turn for the brilliant side of the spectrum! It starts off with the 4th episode 'In Darkness Dwells.' It is this episode, rather than 'Have I got a story for you' that should have been used to introduce and open up Gotham Knight! (Although considering the flawed first 3 episodes perhaps their decision for the order of episodes is best this way). The artstyle of this episode uses a very exaggerated and unique style that is simply badass! I love it! Even the direction and framing of each shot here is just so awesome! This is anime when it's at its most creative! When Batman is in flight dropping down from a height, his cape aloft as that of a bat, or whenenever he is moving about wildly, it's as if his cape and costume is a remarkable character in itself! You'll find yourself wondering where the man ends and where the bat begins without any need for a 'man-bat.' :P One scene of Batman and the kidnapped O'Fallon standing atop a ledge with pipes falling around them evoked me back to a moment in Akira where Tetsuo brings Akira's frozen tomb to the surface and witnessing the nitrogen filled pipes waving around wildly... If one could describe the visuals here it would be a colourful kind of gothic... Killer Croc makes an appearence here as being on of the Scarecrow's experimental freaks, and they make Croc in such a way that he really could fit into Nolan's universe. Scarecrow's toxic gas also features heavily here and could have some significance in Dark Knight. This episode was simple and two the point, Batman tracks down the kidnapped Cardinal O'Fallon, beats up everyone and escapes... and perhaps that's just what we want in a short, a digestable simple story presented extraordinarily well! This is a Batman I've never seen before and that I will always want to see more of!<br><br> Now while I have been saying that the shorts largely suffer from being too short and not having enough time to flesh themselves out... but there is one that's an exception to this and it is the 5th short 'Working through pain.' Here we have a story that does a lot with it's short run time and begins, tells and ends its story very effectively. It is the most well balanced and even perfect Batman short with good story, good characters and great animation that did well with the length it had! The story features Batman, badly injured and trying to reach the surface and in the midst of this we flash back to a young Bruce Wayne traveling the world trying to learn new skills to eventually become the Dark Knight. This one acts as both an intermediate between Begins and Dark Knight and a prequel to Begins. Bruce finds himself in India and seek training that will help him overcome pain. However Bruce Wayne's pain goes far beyond that of what he physically finds himself up against, his scars run deep and this is explored as an underlying theme in this episode. The story of this one is something all Batman fans will adore. It's animation style is more straightforward and works beautifully! I could easily picture a whole TV series of this being done even at a reduced budget and it would work! I don't think I need to elaborate more on this one. If there's any short in this collection that will linger with you, it's this one! Frankly it would be an awesome idea if Nolan played it as a feature before Dark Knight sort of like Pixar does before their movies. Out of all the shorts, this one fits in with Nolan's world the best and anyone seeing it in a theatre before Dark Knight might even be very interested in check out the rest, that's marketing that would work and given the movie's length already I doubt anyone would complain. It is a great short! And I found it's ending to be quite poetic. It made me feel for Bruce Wayne in a way no other Batman cartoon or movie has ever made me feel and I'm guessing that it's unlikely that even Dark Knight will evoke this sense of feeling...<br><br> This brings us to the last short 'Deadshot.' Arguably everyone loves this one and if we were to vote on what animation style would be best the majority would choose this one (I'm actually torn on which of the last three shorts I'd prefer to see become a full length series). The style basically put is that of 'Ninja Scroll' meets Batman. It's devilishly close to how we'd picture the good Batman comic art come to life. And in terms of Batman facing off against one from his supervillian's gallery, 'Deadshot' shows off a taste of how animation can fulfill our dreams of what a new hardcore animated Batman TV series could be! This short suffers from not being long enough to further develop characters and take the action much much further, but the plot is simple and effective enough to work. However it gets over right when it starts getting good... But what you see will delight you and you know you want more, much much MORE of it!<br><br> So is Gotham Knight worth your purchase, I'll say this much... If you want a really good Batman TV series, IF you love what you've seena nd truly want more... You will pick this up on DVD, The cheapest option is worth it, and if you want to wait to get it at a discount later on then that's probably what's best for many of you. But please, for the LOVE of ALL that is GOOD... Buy this sometime! The last 3 shorts totally amke it worthwhile for anyone with an interest in animated Batman. Then get together on forums throughout the internet community and raise your voices about which of the last 3 shorts you liked best and let DC know you want to see a full length Batman Series in one of those styles! Vote with your money, write your letters, get them to hire the best Japanese studio to make a full 13 or even 26 episode series that stands on its own without needing to tie itself to Nolan's storyline and bring Batman to life!!! Also I should point out my concern to the crummy voice acting job done on Dark Knight. The lips don't seem to synch and someone has pointed out reasons as to why that is... I know Conroy's iconic and all, but either get one of the local anime dubbing and distribution places to do this right with a new actor or get Conroy to receive direction form them. Hell I'm sure even if done originally in Japanese and subtitled will also be awesome, maybe that guy who plays Batou or Solid Snake could do it with a dep voice. But good dubs exist and can be done and Batman deserves a good english cast.<br><br>he last 3 eps of Gotham Knight have made me salivate at the thought of a full length no holds bar full 25-20 min running 26 episode series done in either one of those 3 styles. Hell I'd even settle for 3 full length Mask of the Phantasm type OVA movies in each style! There's amazing potential here folks, I ain't kidding! Please let's all do the right thing and encourage DC to make us something really amazing!

  • July 6, 2008, 2:01 p.m. CST

    ^ apologies for spelling errors...

    by Johnno

    I know I ought to learnt to type or stop typing in a hurry or take time ot proofread, or just stop using notepad and use Word...