Big Dreams Little Tokyo Give-Away
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment will be releasing Big Dreams Little Tokyo, (reviewed here) on DVD July 22nd. To mark the release, AICN has three copies of the DVD to give away. If you'd like to win one, send an e-mail with your postal address and the subject line BDLT to email@example.com. Entries will be accepted through 12:00am GMT-5 on July 22nd, 2008.
Matt Alt's account Otaking/Gainax co-founder Toshio Okada's eulogy for "Otaku 1.0" is a Must Read Vertical plans to release Okada's "Sayonara, Mr. Fatty: A Diet Memoir" in November.
Serval very notable releases are out this week...
Batman - Gotham Knight Gurren Lagann
On the manga front, Drawn and Quarterly is releasing Yoshiharu Tsuge's gekiga Red Colored Elegy
Anime Spotlight: Aquarion Season 1, Part 2 Released by FUNimation
In theory, Macross (or Robotech if that's your point of reference) mecha designer Shoji Kawamori paying tribute to Getter Robo, the title in which the mad uncle of anime and manga Go Nagai introduced the combining giant robot, should be the Nolan on Batman of mecha anime. Knowing what Kawamori is capable of, as demonstrated in works like Macross Plus and Escaflowne, the potential for mature drama and intricate world building enhance an expectation for well conceived, appealing mecha design. Then again, in a career that has included audience alienating works like spiritual/ecological lecture Earth Girl Arjuna and scattershot prequel Macross Zero, Aquarion 's complex ledger of accomplishments and faults are far from unexpected. Kawamori is the executive director at Satelight, the studio that produced Aquarion. Starting with Arjuna in 2001, and including anime such as Geneshaft (with Studio Gazelle), Heat Guy J, Glass Fleet (with GONZO),and Noein, Satelight has largely focused on sci-fi, and produced works that have created opportunities to experiment. If popular anime frequently develops staid tenancies, recycling successful formulas, Satelight should be admired as a vital contributor to the anime tradition for works like Noein, with its dynamic animation and Glass Fleet, with its ambitious attempt to build a space opera of Napoleonic France, Renaissance Italy and steam punk. Many Satelight works can be characterized as not being entirely audience satisfying, but works that are worth time and attention for attempting to shake up the concepts and animation that are utilized in sci-fi anime. In that Satelight mold, Kawamori is nothing if not bold in what he decided to include in Aquarion. If a staffer revealed that the series was inspired by dares and "bet you wouldn't include THAT in a mecha series" propositions, it would register more like a valid explanation than a surprise. Post Evangelion, religious mysticism is almost expected from mecha anime. In Kawamori's case, this is not simply a decision to invoke awe and confusion, or to tap into a design aesthetic. The presented premise, in part, reflects its creator's spirituality. When the central conflict features humanity in a pitched battle with Atlantian angels, who treat humans as "cultivated organisms" used for a supply of prana, who hope to pollinate the Tree of Life, it might be metaphorical, but it's a metaphor to which Kawamori is personally drawn. This sentiment marks a greater ambition than Getter Robo's maniac robot versus cyborg dinosaurs or mythical demons, but it is not necessarily the formula for rousing mecha anime. If there is a way to palatably present Gaia and yoga philosophy through anime, Kawamori has not stumbled into it. Even if he's evidentially passionate, he's not convincing. That the series' mecha pilots orgasm when their planes combine into a robot never ceases to be cause for giggling, if not scoffing. Key developments in the series' drama are emphasized with sets of three characters climaxing in union during this classic mecha ritual. Yet, the series does allow the viewer to draw conclusions and significance other than the obvious "mecha combination = sex". When the series addresses the phenomenon directly, it is often in comedic contexts, such as episodes focusing on "your first" or jokingly dealing with "merge addiction" (starring an unfortunately blatant stereotype in Latin romancer/soccer player Pierre Vieira). Considering that the series would benefit from the viewer taking the merge-orgasm seriously, reinforcing the impulse to titter at the event was counter productive. While Aquarion is not as didactic as Arjuna, it's far from lesson free. In addition to many moral-of-the-episode messages about balance, maturity, prejudice and so on, Kawamori spends considerable time and effort addressing the relationship between mankind and the organisms that are often considered to be less significant than humans. As in Arjuna, Kawamori can provoke a reaction. Illustrating that Aquarion's angels regard humans as humans regard plants and animals is a powerful tool for prodding the viewer to consider their relationship with other species. And as in Arjuna, these lessons are generally unconvincing and indigestible. On the topic of considering diet, Kawamori is not simply suggesting that we should consider what we are eating on a pragmatic level (that steak takes X much more resources to bring to you than soy) and not simply suggesting that we consider it on a moral level (consider eating the steak from the vantage of the cow). Once he starts invoking notions of a world organism and death/rebirth cycles the argument drifts into a territory that allows someone who would be inclined to disagree, to ignore the whole case. Few ardent carnivores are going to by an introduction to holistic meditation On the animation side, Satelight's approach yields a noteworthy episode directed by Satoru Utsunomiya (episode 19). Like Hisashi Mori's episode 7 of Samurai 7 or Osamu Kobayashi 's episode 4 of Gurren Lagann it's artistically driven, unconventional and ultimately, divisive. Rather than a standard look, driven by character models and color sheets, Utsunomiya introduces an alternate approach that focuses on shape and motion. The episode commits to the switch to the extent that it is only the episode in which the series' robots are animated in traditional 2D rather than 3D cgi, and the radically different appearance of the characters and their world are written into the script. Many viewers react negatively to these episodes that reject the clean, defined consistency of the majority of anime, in favor of more expressive animation, but in the details, down to the movement of the characters' wet hair, there is plenty to admire. FUNimation's release of Aquarion in two, inexpensive DVD sets is absolutely the perfect format for the series. Considering that the series waits too long to pass from largely stand alone episodes into a more direct approach to the overarching story, Aquarion lacks the momentum to propel one DVD volume into the next. Looking back at the plot arc, it probably could have been more engaging if it weren't so defuse, with elements that never amount to much. Despite effecting, dramatic moments, Aquarion's ambitious agenda constructs a hurtle that blocks opportunities to invest in the happiness of the characters or even in whether their world crumbles. Aquarion might not have been a series with serial impetus, but presented across two sets, there is enough intriguing material to drive a couple long afternoons of anime watching or a curiosity hold onto and fit between sessions of other anime. Assessed as a Satelight /Kawamori anime, Aquarion is a series to appreciate for its attempts rather than its successes. A complex system of planes transforming into robots, orgasming pilots, Utsunomiya animation, prana, mix and match stereotypes, there is no uniform evaluation to be drawn from categorizing the elements between effective and ineffective, ropey and serious. For better and for worse, it's Kawamori and Satelight at their fascinating and aggravating peak.
Anime Spoltight: Baldr Force EXE Released by FUNimation
My initial impulse was to unenthusiastically regard Baldr Force EXE as a past-effective-date mix of cyberspace and mecha pilot angst. Then, over Independence Day weekend, I read a few essays in Cinema Anime, particularly about Serial Experiments Lain, and the ideas conveyed through anime. On a second viewing, the series came across as fairly well constructed, and nearly an interesting information age allegory. Which is not to say that Baldr Force is brilliantly smart anime, so much as it is that for what Baldr Force is, it is surprisingly close to profound. FUNimation has packaged the complete four episode series on their DVD release of Baldr Force EXE. The 2006-2007 direct to video OVA adapted a Dreamcast/PlayStation 2 shooter, which was adapted from an eroge game in 2001 (not every eroge has sadomasochism, but this one does). That heritage goes some way to explaining the anime-meets Matrix idea of a cyberspace, in which net-divers transfer their minds into virtual, robotic pilot "Simulacrums" of themselves. It explains why, if you flip the DVD cover, you see a line-up of the female cast that looks like the mate choices in a date-sim. And, though, it is far from as graphic as the anime's exploding heads, the lineage explains the presence of a disconcertingly long, intense rape scene. The justifiably upset cyberspace pilot who anchors Baldr Force EXE is Toru Soma. Previously, he was part of the rebellious hacker gang "Steppenwolf," but that cadre was shattered when a caper gone wrong resulted in the death of Toru's confidant at the hands of Wired World's trouble shooters, FLAK. As a response, Toru allowed himself to be strong armed into joining FLAK, hoping to find his friend's killer as FLAK directs his attention towards hunting cyber terrorists, and an entity, rumored to be a Wired World haunting ghost. Of course, the terrorists, and the ghost, the fate of Steppenwolf, the efforts of FLAK and their rivals and so on all tie together, intertwined with Toru's personal history. Further, as is to be expected, the narrative attempts to raise questions concerning the nature of reality. What cyberspace anime doesn't? There are moments of insight to be found in Baldr Force. It almost casts itself as a discussion of how people evolve due to the time spend in a virtual space, and, in turn, how the contributions of those people shapes that space. It's a step away from discussing the feedback loop nature of virtual space. As potentially interesting, potentially relevant as that is, the problem with considering Baldr Force EXE allegorically is that it is build on familiar ideas that are not advanced. Baldr Force EXE's director, Takashi Yamazaki, and its writer, Hiroshi Ohnogi worked on Aquarion. While, Baldr Force EXE's problems are diametrically different from Aquarion’s, it is another Satelight work where compelling aspects don't coalesce into a compelling whole. SPOILERS START Here, it's all the product of a shadowy organization experimenting on children. While that theme has been prominently featured in a strong lineage of sci-fi anime from Akira, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex recently demonstrated, if it is treated with thoroughness, it can still resonate... SPOILERS END Unfortunately, Baldr Force makes the action feel like the work of witches and bogeymen. Anchored in that realm, Baldr Force's concern with cyberspace is not anchored in our concerns. Eroge games, shooters, and mecha anime tend to be the domain of dedicated fans. In general, they are material that are not stumbled upon with an "I'll try one out" attitude. While too familiar background may have been what hindered the anime in its attempt to establish a thoughtful subtext, Baldr Force proves deft at working with fan expectations, and particularly, playing up the high spots. Before introducing its teen cast, the anime shows a squad of adult FLAK net drivers searching for the ghost entity. Where teens may later succeed, veterans get Scannered. It's no Fist of the North Star, but the results hold up well against people-exploding scenes in anime like Gundam SEED. When Baldr Force punctuates a statement with nastiness, it is quite nasty. Similarly, when it employs an Itano Circus or a gaijin smash, it does so to great effect. Moments like these in Baldr Force contribute to a reductionist rule for Satelight's anime: nobody's favorite, but still reliably intriguing.
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Volume 6 Written by Eiji Otsuka Illustrated by Housui Yamazaki
Exploitation fiction is at its best when it is informed by political outrage. For a fan of the genre, a brutally evocative work is a pleasure in its own right, but there's something about the focus required to direct shocks towards a central statement that keeps exploitation creators invigorated. The apparent draw to Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is Housui Yamazaki's fulfillment of the work's gore hound quotient. As the title suggests, the series illustrates some of the ripest corpses in manga. Five underemployed graduates of a Buddhist university form the titular Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, hoping to receive some compensation for employing skills in rituals, embalming, divination, and such to bring the bodies of the dead to the deceased’s desired resting place. It's work that is about as unprofitable as it sounds, and it's work that brings the heroes in contact with a variety of corpses from almost peaceful looking fresh suicide victims to ones closed off in an apartment "black with gas, and white with maggots." As Yamazaki demonstrates in sibling title/solo project Mail, he is an able story teller and impressively capable of projecting the qualities of cinematic horror in manga. Like with many science or technical based arenas, if corpses are shown in a manner that is detailed and precise, you can probably convince an untrained eye that you're illustrating the subject correctly. Not knowing any better, his ability to capture crime scenes and moribity and mortality looks like it's as disturbingly good as you are going to get in manga. It's Eiji Otsuka's writing that elevates Kurosagi into the realm of exceedingly smart horror. The manga does stage for effect, including humorous character moments, sexual nudity or tight close-ups of brutal violence and its consequences. However, this is never haphazard in a manner that would derail the reader's ability to stay mentally engaged with the manga. The sight of a body with its face ripped apart can't be allow to trap the reader's focus, because Otsuka needs the reader to stay on his wavelength. Otsuka challenges the reader to keep up with his thought process. In part, this relates to the manga's mysteries. Beyond guessing the true nature of particular situations, stand alone stories are constantly presenting clues to a secret that promises to define much about who the characters are and what they are doing. In addition to those mysteries, the manga is a platform for Otsuka's social insight. With the Akihabara knife attack in the news, and his execution on June 17th, notorious child killing "Otaku Murderer" Tsutomu Miyazaki was recently a topic of discussion amoung followers of Japanese culture. Following his arrest for the murder of four girls between 1988 and 1989, public outrage and coverage of Miyazaki's library of anime and horror films shaded public perception of introverted fanatical geeks, referred to as otaku. Though the term "otaku" has become less a charged and more a marketing demographic over the intervening years, many have credited the Miyazaki case as the reason for the sharply negative connotations of the word. Otsuka is tied into this revived discussion. The frequently sited rebuttal to the public case against Miyazaki was Otsuka's criticism of how horror's influence on Miyazaki's crime was debated in the media, as well as Otsuka's accusations that Miyazaki's cache of anime/horror was fabricated. Hopefully, what is not lost in that thumbnail of Otsuka's involvement in the public debate of the Miyazaki crimes is that Otsuka is not simply a "leading otaku critic" jumping to the defense of his favored pop art form or genre. With a background in which he studied subjects that included anthropology, women's folklore, human sacrifice and post-war manga, he has used manga as a tool to comment on broader issues and he has been outspoken on the relationship between manga and society. Frederik L. Schodt's Dreamland Japan quotes Otsuka, saying "Why were manga able to surpass, even overwhelm, other media in postwar Japanese culture? Ultimately, the main reason must surely have been their utterly, almost hopelessly 'cheap' quality." In manga like Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Otsuka demonstrates the social value, or at least, potential, of manga. The AICN Anime piece on volumes 2 through five of the manga stated There's a distinctive, liberal arts educated authorial voice to The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. It's interested in esoteric facts. It's interested in history. It's conscious of the implications of those facts and history. And, it's a bit aggravated about how education failed to open the door to a well paying job. In terms of the esoteric, the volume's second story "If I'm With You," draws in talk of corpse decay scenarios, medical abnormalities and Kaspar Hauser. In terms of implications, "A Letter For You," in which the Kurosagi folks bump into a strange source of competition in the post office, demonstrates how Otsuka uses these stories to explore issues of social concern. In this case, he touches on youth politics and delves into the complexities of privatization. He's not proposing solutions through the manga, and it is not a Trojan horse vehicle: "come for the eviscerated bodies, stay for the lecture." As in his invocations of topics from the Iraq War to elder care, to buried crimes of World War II, there is no pretence that the problem addressed can be reduced to a simple solution that is symbolically implemented as the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service complete their case. As with "A Letter For You's" weird story of parcel carriers and suicide victims, the manga encapsulates troubling social concerns, fits it into the format of morbid short stories, and leaves the reader with something to think about.
Manga Spotlight: Princess Resurrection Volumes 3 By Yasunori Mitsunaga Released by Del Rey Manga
So... there's this regular teenage guy. On sight, you'd expect him to pass an unspectacular journey through high school, to an unspectacular passage through higher education, to an unspectacular career... basically the person destined to be one of the faceless masses presumed to populate a modern, developed nation. Except, in this case, said guy is identified as something special by a girl who is beautiful, exotic, and magical. Manga has long found success flipping to this section of the wish fulfillment playbook. Nor is Princess Resurrection putting a new spin on the material by adding an element of the grotesque. Like Princess Resurrection, Yuzo Takada's (All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, Blue Seed) grisly horror action 3x3 Eyes started with the premise of a supernatural maiden who accidentally tramples a typical teenage guy while he was crossing the street, then, feeling a bit bad about killing the young man, the maiden decides to revive him to become her semi-immortal servant. What distinguishes Princess Resurrection from the would-be earnest Ah! My Goddess and Chobit and the outright adventurous 3x3 Eyes is a princess in a tiara and black dress duel wielding chainsaws or humming Molotov cocktails at incoming shambling mummy hordes. Yes, Hime (literally "Princess"), of the title, falls for hapless, yet intrinsically noble Hiro, after bringing him back to un-life with a bit of her blood. There's an anime-geek term, tsundere, that describes this sort of cold, haughty personality that's destined to warm up to the male lead. And Hime's rather young, triffid planting, impish sister Sherwood also falls for him...and so do a host of amalgams of Universal Monsters and school girl archetypes, such as rage-a-holic half werewolf, with giant fluffy paws Riza Wildman and the vampire queen bee in a long, dark sailor suit uniform Reiri Kamura. To Hiro's normal peers, he remains, an "eh," entirely dismissible presence. To women of the power games among Hime's siblings, the few who remain indifferent to Hiro's nobility are automata, such as Hime's tiny, one word uttering, franken-maid servant Flandre. Anime/video games podcast Fast Karate for the Gentlemen espouse a criticism of parody anime: that most of it, including the well regarded ones, make references without subverting or commenting on the subject that they are satirizing. Staccato anime comedies, from the classic Daicon IV openings by Neon Genesis Evangelion creators Gainax, to Akitaro Daichi's work like Elf Princess Rane, to Shinichi Watanabe's Excel Saga, rely on Pavlovian, flash card recognition of out of context, borrowed images. For example, the Gainax Daicon IV sequence elicits laughs by simply featuring the now mature girl from their previous Daicon short in a Playboy bunny girl suit light saber dueling Darth Vader, the Giger alien, a Macross Valkyrie and so on, set to ELO's "Twilight." Without the ability to swap images at the blink of an eye, this approach is muted in anime's sibling, manga, but it is still present. After exhausting himself on years of Dragon Ball, creator Akira Toriyama reacted in Neko Majin. That one volume manga became a send-up to the earlier work where the joke was reenacting Dragon Ball in abbreviating form, starring a blue cat. Along the lines of those parodies, the humor of Princess Resurrection is tied to presenting the recognizable in situations outside their native context, for example, the werewolf girl street racing the Headless Horseman around mountain roads. Like those flash reference animation, it aims to inspire a reaction through jarring juxtapositions rather than commentary or insight. Yet, the manga's approach to the joke works in its favor and makes it a genuinely enjoyable example of this brand of humor. It recognizes the ridiculousness of the situation. So, while there are some nice moments between Hiro and Hime, it does not presume the reader's emotional investment in the relationship. At the same time, it plays the absurdity to the hilt and does so with style. Most importantly, it manages to be outrageous without laughing at its own jokes. The manga sells itself on being good looking and acutely wacky. On the Hiro side of the story, one of the principle gags of Princess Resurrection is the character's ability to survive amputation, knife wounds to the chest, and other considerably nasty damage. Yet, despite churning on blood-stained confrontation between Hime, Hiro and company versus other cadres of familiar monsters, it is a light hearted, if severely violent, comedy. The most memorable bits are often the pain gags, such as Hiro noticing that something is wrong after walking through razor wire, then looking back with dismay to see that he has shed a foot and some limbs. It's not just that he's getting hurt, and hurt badly, it's that he's getting hurt by ghost sharks, and the like. For a world with undead kung fu pandas and the Little Mermaid hooking up with a giant robot, Hiro manages to find embarrassingly outlandish ways of sustaining injuries. The manga is sufficiently cartoonish, and Hiro is sufficient rag doll in his demeanor, that it doesn't suggest any guilt in chuckling at his woes. The Hime side of the appeal is the goth-glam look of an exotic, nonplussed girl assaulting monsters with weapons that would be suitable for a Simon Bisley painting. It is Buffy the Vampire Slayer taken to comic absurdity: snobby girl in delicate fashion up to her elbows in blood. The naughty impression of a proper looking, or at least flamboyantly dressed princess getting her hands dirty has some longevity, and the black and white fashion plays especially nicely in the similarly black and white manga.
Black Jack Preview
Vertical has posted a preview of their upcoming release of Osamu Tezuka's classic medical adventure Black Jack
BLACK JACK by Osamu Tezuka Translated by Camellia Nieh Graphic Novel/Manga Trade Paperback 978-1-934287-27-9 (Volume 1) 288 pages. 6 x 8 inches U.S.$16.95 / CAN$20.00 To be released September 23rd Among adult readers in Japan Black Jack is Osamu Tezuka’s most popular achievement, and perhaps the most close to the creator’s heart, as Tezuka considered entering the medical field—majoring in medicine in college—before devoting his life to comics. Black Jack is a genius surgeon who never acquired his license due to his clashes with the medical establishment. He is hired out by anyone willing to pay his exorbitant rates and is perceived as a heartless rogue because of his enigmatic nature and antisocial manner. But as readers will soon discover, that is not the whole story. Vertical, Inc. will release the Black Jack episodes in the order that Tezuka indicated for a hardcover “Deluxe Edition” planned before his untimely death in 1989 at the age of 60. Two earlier volumes of translations were released in 1998-99, but featured only 17 episodes of the nearly 250 that Tezuka created. Each 300-page volume of the Vertical, Inc. series will feature a dozen-plus stories, most published in English for the first time. The Vertical volumes will also embody the high production standards that readers have come to expect, not only from the publisher’s Tezuka output, but also its line of Japanese pop fiction.
ADV Status Updates, FUNimation Assumes Arm Titles
Though he mentioned that the existence of the panel was a late news to him, ADV's Matt Greenfield screened two episodes of card-game based action anime Kiba at Anime Expo's ADV Sneak Peak Panel. ADV will be handling localization and distribution of the title under master licensor Upper Deck. At the event, ADV deferred comments about their separation. with Sojitz and their Arm division, but earlier in the week, retailers were notified that five upcoming releases had been suspending indefinitely: Shattered Angels , Vol #2 DVD Shattered Angels , Vol #2 DVD w Art Box Kanon, Vol #6 DVD Tokyo Majin , Vol #4 DVD Welcome to NHK, Vol #5, 5th Conspiracy DVD The blog for Robert's Anime Corner Store commented on the licensing issue and retailer impact, then on the move to FUNimation Greenfeild state that the company was in negotiations for 23 new anime licenses. ADV expects to announce a new partner, replacing Sojitz, at August’s Anime Expo. FUNimation then announced their agreement to transfer ARM's interest in select series to FUNimation. FUNimation Entertainment will distribute and release these DVD titles in North America and other territories around the world. Under the terms of the deal, FUNimation Entertainment obtains varied rights to these titles including home video, broadcast, digital and merchandise to such international successes as "Devil May Cry" and "Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor TV". The complete list of acquired titles follows below: * 009-1 * Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy * Air Gear * Air movie * Air TV * Blade of the Phantom Master * Comic Party Revolution * Coyote Ragtime Show * Devil May Cry * Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor TV * Jing, King of Bandits: Seventh Heaven * Jinki:Extend * Kanon * Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora * Le Chevalier D'Eon * Magikano * Moeyo Ken TV * Moonlight Mile * Murder Princess * Nerima Daikon Brothers * Pani Poni Dash! * Project Blue Earth SOS * Pumpkin Scissors * Red Garden * Sgt. Keroro 1st & 2nd * Tokyo Majin * UFO Princess Valkyrie * Utawarerumono * Venus Versus Virus * The Wallflower * Welcome to the NHK * Xenosaga FUNimation Entertainment will begin releasing ARM titles later this year.
FUNimation Release of Geneon Titles Dated
AnimeNation reports FUNimation has announced release dates for its initial slate of Geneon titles. August 19 Black Lagoon season one Black Lagoon Second Barrage volume 1 Elemental Gelade volume 1 September 2. Karin volumes 1-4 Kyo Kara Maoh season 2 volumes 1-7 September 16 Black Lagoon Second Barrage volume 2 Fate/stay night boxed set Hellsing Ultimate volumes 1-4 in regular and limited editions, and a $49.98 Rozen Maiden boxed Shakugan no Shana complete boxed set ($69.98) September 23 Kamichu ($49.98) Paradise Kiss complete ($49.98) September 30 When They Cry volumes 1-4.
Ghost in the Shell 2.0 US Bound
According to Anime News Network, animation studio Production I.G's Anime Expo panel including mention to Manga Entertainment's plans to release the updated/partially re-named and rescored Ghost in the Shell 2.0 in North America. Production I.G. Announcements From Anime Expo At this past weekend’s Anime Expo convention, Production I.G. announced that Manga Entertainment will distribute the Ghost in the Shell 2.0 motion picture re-release in North America. Manga Entertainment is expected to reveal detauks at San Diego Comic Con.
Sci Fi Channel To Broadcast Gundam 00
Bandai Entertainment Inc. announced that they have licensed the television rights to the series GUNDAM 00 to Starz Media, which has set the series for its US premier on SCI FI Channel. The first season will premiere in early November of the "Ani-Monday" block. Two episodes will air each week during a 13 week run. 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. The series is directed by Seiji Mizushima whose past credits as a director and storyboard artist include Fullmetal Alchemist, Evangelion, and Appleseed: Ex Machina.
Dub Cast Announcements
During Aniplex's Gurren Lagann Anime Expo panel the Tony Oliver directed English language audio dub cast for Gurren Lagann was announced. Tony Oliver will be Simon: Yuri Loenthal Kamina: Kyle Hebert Yoko: Michelle Ruff Nia: Hynden Walch Rossiu: Johnny Yong Bosch Kittan: Christopher Smith Kiyoh: Karen Strassman Kinon: Stephanie Sheh Kiyal: GK Bowes Viral: Sam Riegel Leeron: Steve Blum Billingual DVDs of the series are due to be released across six sets, starting in November. The first of three subtitled only DVD releases is scheduled for July 8th, and it will run on Sci-Fi Channel starting July 28th. The anime was previously scheduled to be released in North America by ADV whose dub cast was to have included Simon: Josh Grelle Kamina: Brett Weaver Yoko: Tiffany Grant Nia: Luci Christian Rossiu: Chris Patton Kittan: Jason Douglas Kiyoh (also Boota): Monica Rial Kinon: Brittney Karbowski Kiyal: Kira Vincent-Davis Viral:Vic Mignogna Leeron: Mark X. Laskowski Gimmy: Greg Ayres Darry: Hilary Haag Dayakka Ritona: John Gremillion The English principal dub cast of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time includes Makoto: Emily Hearst Chiaki: Andrew Francis Kousuke: Alex Sehara FUNimation announced the dub cast for Ouran High School Host Club, to the released in a half season (13 episode) box set in October Fujioka Haruhi: Caitlin Glass Tamaki Suou: Vic Mignogna Kyouya Ootori: Jay Michael Tatum Hikaru Hitachiin: Greg Ayres Kaoru Hitachiin: Todd Haberkorn Takashi Morinozuka: Travis Willingham Mitsukuni Haninozuka: Luci Christian Ranka Fujioka: Mike McFarland Umehito Nekozawa: Patrick Seitz The pilots for Gundam 00 will consist of Setsuna F. Seiei: Brad Swaile Lockon Stratos: Alex Zahara Allelujah Haptism: Richard Ian Cox Tieria Erde: Sam Vincent
New Manga Announcements From Anime Expo
Aurora Publishing * Hitohira by Idumi Kirihara From Aurora's josei label LuvLuv * Make Love and Peace by Takane Yonetani * Object of Desire by Tomoko Noguchi * Pretty Poison by Yutta Narukami * Sounds of Love by Rin Tanaka From Aurora's yaoi label Deux Press *Red Blinds The Foolish by est em Bandai Entertainment * The Girl Who Leapt through Time by Ranmaru Kotone CMX * The Name of the Flower by Ken Saito Digital Manga Publishing * 1 Sakura Hill by Fujiko Kosumi * Ghost Hunt Scramble by Ohotachibana * Lyrical Nanoha Strikers by Maki Tsuzushi * Overclock Once in a Blue Moon by Riya Hozumi and Ryouko Seki * RH Plus by Ayako Suwa * Tale of a White Night by Tooko Miyagi * Time for Magic by Morehe Yoshida * Utahime by Aki From DMP's Doki Doki yaoi label * Crimson Cross by Kyoko Negishi * Happy Boys by Makoto Tateno * Millenium Prime Minister by Eiki Eiki * Otodama by Youka Nitta * Princess Princess+ by Mikiyo Tsuda * Wolf God by Ai Tenkawa 801 label * Dog x Cat by Yoshimi Amasaki * Hey Class President by Kaori Monchi Juné label * Clan of the Nakagamis Volume 2 by Homerun Ken * Cut by Toko Kawai * Desire-Dangerous Feelings by Shinobu Gotoh * Double Trouble by Takashi Kanzaki * Eat or Be Eatern by Jinko Fuyuno Yamimaru Enjin * Hey, Sensei by Yaya Sakuragi * Honey/Chocolate by Nanao Okuda * Live for Love by Jun Mayama and Itsuki Sato * Love Potion by Sakuya Fujii * Love Syndrome by Yura Miyazawa * Love/Knot by Hiroko Ishimaru * Manhatten Love Story by Monoko Tenzen * Moonlit Promises by Souya Himawari * Planet of Earthquake by Miou Takaya * Pure Heart by Hyouta Fujiyama * Suggestive Eyes by Momoko Tenzen * The Lonely Egoist by Hikaru Masaki and Masara Minase * The Longest Time by Tohko Tateno * The Object of my Affection by Nanao Okuda * The Spiral of Sand by Yuna Aoi * The Way to Heaven by Yamimaru Enjin * Then Comes Love by Riyu Yamakami * Tricky Prince by Yukari Hashida * When the Heavens Smile by Aki Senoo * Where has Love Gone? by Ryou Tsunoda Dark Horse * Evangelion - Ikari Shinji Raising Project The company acknowledged that the Kodansha's North American initiative will affect an unnamed subset of their licenses Go! Comi * Angel's Coffin by You Higuri * Bound Beauty aka Shibariya Komachi by Mick Takeuchi * Crown by You Higuri and Shinji Wada TOKYOPOP * .hack//G.U. (novel) by Tatsuya Hamasaki * Castle of Dreams by Masami Tsuda * Demon Sacred by Natsumi Itsuki * Kaichou wa Maid-sama! by Hiro Fujiwara * Momo Tamaby Nanae Chrono * NG Life by Mizuho Kusanagi * Peacemaker Kurogane by Nanae Chrono * Phantom Dream by Natsuki Takaya * This Ugly Yet Beautiful World by Ashita Morimi * Togainu no Chi by Sugaro Chayamachi and Nitro+CHiRAL * Tsubasa o Motsu Mono by Natsuki Takaya Tie-in original projects announced include: * Battlestar Galactica * Camp Rock * Ghost Busters * Hannah Montana * High School Muscial Viz * Gestalt by Yun Kouga * Heaven's Will by Satoru Takamiya * Honey Hunt by Miki Aihara * Magic Touch by Izumi Tsubaki * Oishinbo by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki * Otomen by Aya Kanno
Right Stuf Announces Licenses, Release Plans
Anime producer and distributor Right Stuf, Inc. and Nozomi Entertainment announced their upcoming plans at their Anime Expo panel. GAKUEN ALICE The newly announced license will be release in a a single DVD box set – with Japanese audio and English-language subtitles – during 2009. A comedy with supernatural and magical elements, the series chronicles the adventures of Mikan, a spunky and excitable 10-year-old, as she runs away from home and follows her genius best friend to a mysterious Tokyo school for students with exceptional abilities and gifts. This 26-episode adaptation of Tachibana Higuchi’s ongoing manga features direction by Takahiro Omori (Baccano!, Hell Girl) and aired on Japan’s national NHK television network. (Savvy fans will also notice “Mikan,” the series’ pig-tailed heroine, is portrayed by Kana Ueda, the voice of “Yumi” in Maria Watches Over Us, “Rin” in Fate/stay Night and “Hayate” in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s.) The original manga is currently serialized in Japan’s Hana to Yume girls’ manga magazine, where it has appeared alongside titles including Fruits Basket, Hana-Kimi, Skip Beat! and Special A since its 2003 debut. The Gakuen Alice manga is published in North America by TOKYOPOP. The release can be pre-ordered at gakuenalice.rightstuf.com TOWARD THE TERRA Movie A DVD release of the movie adaptation of Keiko Takemiya’s classic sci-fi manga that Right Stuf historically released on VHS and laserdisc. Vertical has released on the original and Bandai Entertainment plans to release the manga. The new DVD release will feature Japanese audio and English-language subtitles. The Toward the Terra movie depicts a future where mankind’s seemingly utopian society is strictly controlled by the government, which ruthlessly suppresses anything that threatens to disrupt the status quo. When 14-year-old Jomy begins to question the way the society is run, he suddenly becomes a target for both the government and the Mu, an outcast race that possesses extra-sensory abilities and has been fighting against the government for generations. Now, each group is determined to hunt him down – one to kill him and the other to save him. For more, see terra.rightstuf.com Remastered IRRESPONSIBLE CAPTAIN TYLOR A re-release of the TV series and OVA in bilingual, thinpak-style box sets that utilize remastered video footage from the Japanese DVD release and feature “soft subtitles.” As a service to fans who purchased the “Ultra Edition” versions of these releases, Right Stuf will offer a trade-in program, with details to be announced in the future. For more, see www.tylor.com Other coming releases include: * The EMMA: A Victorian Romance – Season 2 DVD Collection is scheduled for release on October 28, 2008. This second box set will include the 12 episodes of the series’ “Second Act,” plus “Episode 0: Intermission,” a recap/preview released prior to the start of the Season 2 telecast in Japan. - The MARIA WATCHES OVER US (Maria-sama ga Miteru) Season 1 DVD Collection was previously announced to street on July 29, 2008, and while supplies last, fans who pre-order the box set directly from RightStuf.com will receive a Lillian Girls’ School/ Chinesis Family cell phone charm. (The box sets for future seasons will also have similar “pre-order direct” special offers.) The Maria Watches Over Us – Season 2 DVD Collection, featuring the second television season, is currently scheduled for late Fall 2008. The third box set will follow in 2009. - The ARIA THE ANIMATION DVD Collection is scheduled for release on September 30, 2008, and it will have a special “pre-order from RightStuf.com” offer. Additional DVD releases for ARIA are scheduled for early 2009. - Nozomi also has plans to release new shirts and apparel featuring artwork from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, several FUNimation properties (Hell Girl, Mushi-shi, School Rumble and more), Gravitation and Ninja Nonsense (Ninin ga Shinobuden), plus a new line of original designs that includes the previously announced Otaku Collegiate and the soon-to-be-announced Sounds of the Samurai collections.
Bandai Licenses Hayate The Combat Butler
Bandai Entertainment announced the company has licensed the 52 episode Hayate the Combat Butler. The manga version of the title is being released in North America by Viz Media. The Romantic comedy series focuses on Hayate, an unlucky teen who is on the run to avoid being responsible for his family’s gambling debt. After he saves a wealthy girl named Nagi from kidnappers, he ends being hired as her butler and uses his amazing fighting skills to keep her from harm. Release details have yet to be determined.
Kadokawa USA Announces US Bound Anime Titles
Kadokawa USA has announced that they will be partnering with north American distributors to release the following titles in North America * Coo ~ Our Guardian (aka Wagaya no Oinarisama) * H2O ~Footprints in the Sand~ * Junjou Romantica * My Heartfelt Sympathy Ninomiya-kun * Rental Magica * Spice and Wolf
I.G's Takeuchi to Direct Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode
Anime News Network reports that Production I.G's Anime Expo panel revealed that the studio Maki Terashima ( Appleseed, Ghost in the Shell, Patlabor) will direct episode 12 of Lucasfilm Animation's Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series. Recently, Production I.G screened the new Mamuro Oshii feature Sky Crawlers for Skywalker Sound, after the Lucasfilm contributed to the film.
Honneamise Titles on Blu-ray
After assuming the Honneamise label from Bandai Visual, Bandai Entertainment announced plans to release a four disc, Blu-ray set of Freedom in November, priced at $139.98 Gunbuster vs Diebuster Aim for the Top! The GATTAI!! Movie will also be released on DVD in November Beez Entertainment announced announce the forthcoming release of the first wave of Blu-Ray DVDs in the UK. Coming November 11th, 2008 to the UK - the limited edition release of the Freedom OAV series will contain content as of yet unseen by the world including the seventh Freedom OAV FREEDOM Blu-ray Disc Box (Limited Edition) Street Date: November 17th, 2008 Pricing: 69.99 GBP (UK) Product: Four (4) Blu-ray Disc Box Set/Color/approx. 280 min. / Japanese, English & French audio tracks / English & French subtitles Technical: Dolby True HD (5.1ch), Linear PCM (Stereo) / AVC/BD50G x 4 discs / 16:9 (1080p High Definition) Bonus Tracks: FREEDOM the Hope, Trailers, Prologue, Episode by Episode digest, Talking about FREEDOM, FREEDOM in the USA, etc. Bonus Item: Booklet containing original FREEDOM manga episode Coming November 24th, 2008 to the UK – Gunbuster vs Diebuster the movie boxset! Comes in boxset form with a bonus Blu-Ray DVD, the 2 movies are also available individually. GUNBUSTER vs DIEBUSTER: Aim for the Top! The GATTAI!! Movie-Blu-ray Disc Box (Limited Edition) Street Date: November 24th (UK) Pricing: 14,800 JPY(Japan); 99.98 USD(USA); 64.99 EUR(France); 49.99 GBP (UK) Product: Three (3) Blu-ray Disc Box Set/COLOR(partly B/W)/approx. 280 min. / Japanese Language/English & French subtitles Technical: Disc 1 (GUNBUSTER The Movie): Dolby True HD 5.1ch (Linear PCM Stereo) / AVC / BD-50G /4:3 (1080p Hi-Def) Disc 2 (DIEBUSTER The Movie): Dolby True HD 5.1ch (Linear PCM Stereo) / AVC / BD-50G /16:9 (1080p Hi-Def) Disc 3 (Bonus Disc): Linear PCM Stereo / AVC / BD-50G /4:3 (1080p Hi-Def) Bonus Items: Original Artbox Slipcase, Booklet
Anime Expo Coverage Worth Checking Out
Anime News Network lists their summaries here Particularly of note: Industry Roundtable: Fansubs - The Death of Anime? (Japanator put together a counter point "death of anime" list here keynote addresses a geek by any other name gia interviews... FUNimation's Gen Fukunaga Right Stuf's Shawne Kleckner Vampire Hunter D's Hideyuki Kikuchi and Saiko Takaki Japanator Anime on DVD interviewed Shawne Kleckner at the convention Deb Aoki on Anime Expo '08: Ultimate Manga Publishers Showdown ComiPress' collected links Publishers Weekly's Questions Abound At Anime Expo and a sibling piece looking forward to San Diego Comic Con
Bones Refutes Sequel Revealing Leaked Animator List
Canned Dogs reports that a leaked list of animators at anime studio Bones purported to show the phone numbers and home addresses of members of the studio's staff, attached to projects that included an announced second Full Metal Alchemist series, directed by Irie Yasuhiro , and a second Darker than Black. Bones' statement by representative director Minami Masahiko that no such document exists inside their office, and that the data and comments about the animators in the document are not from bones. However, to confuse matters, Mnemosyne director Ueda Shigeru's online diary indicated that fax yesterday from an unnamed company apologizing for the leakage of his personal data that he verifies as accurate. In an interview after the official statement was published, anime News Network asked Minami about the possibility of a sequel to Fullmetal Alchemist or Darker than BLACK. Minami told ANN, "It hasn't been decided yet. We are interested in doing them. As original science-fiction works, they were extremely fascinating. With these kinds of dramatic story lines, I feel that there's a lot we could do potentially."
Trouble For Shamo
There's trouble for AICN Anime's favorite brutal fight manga, Shamo. a geek by any other notes points ou the Iza report that Shamo illustrator Akio Tanaka is suing the original writer, Izo Hashimoto, over the copyright of the manga, claiming that the story and characters were all created by him. Shamo ceased printing in January because of the dispute, and its continued suspension has raised concern in fans. According to Tanaka, all Hashimoto did was write a very rough outline or summary of a manuscript, while Tanaka invented all of the remaining details. Tanaka is seeking ¥50 million– about $472,000 USD.
Worth Checking Out at San Diego Comic Con...
Shocker Toys has revealed their San Diego Comic Con exclusives (at booth Con Booth #3849) Metalocalypse Limited to 500 sets, selling for $80 The 5.5” collectible action figure line will consist of Dethklok band members Nathan Explosion, Skwisgaar Skwigelf, Toki Wartooth, Pickles and William Murderface and a secret pack-in
MTV's The Maxx Limited to 500pcs, selling for $30 Sculpted by Ricky K.Y. Lam with 4poa, It will also be available to non-attendees through the Shocker Toys Online Store. Also available at The Shocker Toys Booth: an MC Chris 500pc Limited Edition mini statue in "zombie form"! MC Chris will be selling his statue for $50. Kotobukiya's 2008 Comic Con International: San Diego exclusive: The Incredible Hulk Movie Fine Art Bust The 6 1/2" bust, sculpted by Seijiro Manabe will feature a new head sculpt and a special “film can” base, will be limited to 300 pieces. To try to ensure that fans attending on different days of the convention will all have an opportunity to obtain the Hulk, each day’s sales will be limited as follows: * Wednesday July 23 Preview Night – no sales * Thursday July 24 – 75 pieces * Friday July 25 - 100 pieces * Saturday July 26 - 100 pieces * Sunday July 27 - 25 pieces Sales will begin at 10:30am each day, and purchases will be limited to only 2 busts per person. It is priced at $80 and will be available exclusively at Kotobukiya’s booth #2301. TM & © 2008 Marvel Entertainment, Inc. Organic Hobby's SDCC.’08 Exclusive include: “Hellsing Collection Figure – Search & Destroy (Vol. 1) Awaiting” [$21.00, limited to 600 pcs] The character "Alucard" is originated from "Hellsing," an anime and manga series created by Kouta Hirano. It chronicles the efforts of the mysterious and secret Order of the Royal Protestant Knights (also known as the Hellsing Agency) as it combats vampires, ghouls, and other supernatural foes who threaten the kingdom of England. Kouta Hirano’s Hellsing world is in your palm with this highly detailed 5" collectible PVC figure. Alucard “Awaiting” comes in a clear box and this is the exclusive version of Alucard. Afro Samurai “Afro & Kuma” [limited to 200 pcs each, $45.00 each] The main characters "Afro" and "Kuma" are based on a Japanese dojinshi manga series known as "Afro Samurai," created by Takashi Okazaki, originally featured in the NOU NOU HAU  dojin magazine. It was adapted into a 5-episode anime television series directed by Fuminori Kizaki and produced by Japanese animation studio GONZO. The former holder of the title "Number Two," Afro is out to hunt down Justice, the man who killed his father for the rank of "Number One." "Kuma" (which means "Bear" in Japanese) is a swordsman that wears a cybernetic teddy bear mask in embarrassment because of a large deformity imposed on him. The figures are each 9" tall fully painted and comes in a window box. Figures will be available at their booth (#3245) Underground Toys will be representing the BBC Doctor Who and Torchwood toy lines. Exclusives at the BBC booth no 3635 and The Underground Toys booth no 3949 include a) Time Crash Twin Pack – 5th and 10th Doctor b) 9th Doctor exclusive variant. Each figure has been specially commissioned in limited numbers for San Diego Comic Con and each is individually numbered. The 9th Doctor features the green shirt worn by the Doctor in the Fathers Day episode of Series 1, while the 10th Doctor wears the darker shirt and tie, and the 5th Doctor comes with the later style, Edwardian cricketers outfit together with the iconic celery stick, as worn in the one off, specially written episode, Time Crash. To celebrate 80 years of Buck Rogers, Go Hero will offer 80 hand-made "proto" mini Atomic Disintegrator Pistols Each plastic mini-gun is a perfect 1:6 scale of the original pistol, literally cast from soft prototyping molds, assembled with clear red chamber window, and painted gold + black by hand. Each gun is packaged and hand numbered for $25 each. Go Hero will be special guests in the Rocketworld booth #4633, where attendants can see Buck Rogers' ' prototypes, Sinbad w/ Homunculus and the debut of Perseus w/ Bubo. Go hero will also be taking pre-orders for Buck Rogers figure and Atomic Disintegrator Pistol at the show. Official online preorders will begin when they return from SDCC. Final prototype images of Buck Rogers 1:6 Figure and the Atomic Disintegrator can be sen at www.inthe25thcentury.com Super7 has a preview of their convention exclusives here CollectionDX has images and details of Bandai's exclusives including GX-06G1 Getter Robo Metallic Limited Limited to 500pcs, $60 SHITAMA-KUN & KONTA Vinyl limited to 200 pieces, $40 GUNDAM FIX FIGURATION: RX-78-2 "Ver. Ka" (Comic-Con Clear version) Limited to 1,000 pieces, $30 Viz Media announced that they will be offering their first San Diego Comic-Con portfolio reviews on Sunday, July 27, from 2 to 4:30 in the Portfolio Review area in the Sails Pavilion. Portfolio will be reviewed by Marc Weidenbaum, VP of Original Publishing, VIZ Media and Eric Searleman, Senior Editor, VIZ Media. The Chosen One, an independent animated feature staring Tim Curry, Traci Lords, Debra Wilson, Lance Henriksen, Chris Sarandon, Danielle Fishel, Chad Fifer and Laura Prepon, will be screened as part of the San Diego Comic Con Film Festival before its DVD release on August 26, 2008. A down-on-his-luck lab technician is informed by the eccentric Church of Frank that he’s “The Chosen One” – the savior from prophecy who must travel to Kansas, speak to God and deliver the world into a new age. Together with his elderly roommate Zeb (Chris Sarandon), his best friend Donna (Danielle Fishel) and Lucifer himself (Tim Curry), Lou (Chad Fifer) must master his budding super-powers to overcome Ninjas, Thugs, Femme Fatales (Traci Lords), Religious Zealots (Lance Henriksen), his obsession with his SciFi star ex-girlfriend (Laura Prepon), Giant Monsters and a Posse of Kung Fu Robots in order to fulfill his destiny! Exclusive, advanced DVDs will also be available at the San Diego International Comic-Con
Other Event News
Anime News Network reports that Madman's ReelTime 2008 film program screenings of Appleseed: Ex Machina, The Girl Who Leapt through Time , Vexille, and the Batman: Gotham Knight anthology in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth Australian cities on July 16th. New Zealand's 40th Auckland International Film Festival will screen the Japanese animated films Evangelion: 1.0 You Are [Not] Alone and Vexille during the July 10-27 event in New Zealand. Evangelion will be aired July 19, 24, and 26. Vexille will run twice on July 11 and repeat on July 12 and 14. Kyoko Kano and Mika Kano will be appearing at Otakon, courtesy of Japanese entertainment company Pony Canyon. They first appeared as fresh-faced models in high fashion magazines, where they quickly caused a sensation with their unbeatable combination of style, beauty, and extravagant lifestyle. They attracted a large fan base and have been highly sought out for TV show appearances, magazine layouts, and publicity appearances as "the most famous, high-fashion sisters in Japan." Younger sister, MIKA's photobook (which was shot by older sister KYOKO) sold over 200,000 copies, and became a pop-culture phenomenon. The Kano Sisters are big fans of film and are well-known critics, writing for a variety of Japanese magazines. They've been spotted at many red carpet events and have made many friend