Animation and Anime

AICN Anime: World Cosplay Summit Interview-Part Two, Guin Saga, Ghost Talker's Day Dream, Afro Samurai and More

Published at: July 25, 2008, 6:48 p.m. CST by scottgreen

Logo handmade by Bannister Column by Scott Green
Team USA - Renee Gloger and Sonnya Paz - Talk The World Cosplay Summit-Part Two
Reviews
Manga Spotlight: Ghost Talker's Day Dream
Prose Spotlight: Guin Saga - Volume Two: Warrior in the Wilderness
Anime Spotlight: Blood+ - Volume 1
Anime Spotlight: Black Blood Brothers - Volume 3
News
Afro Samurai 2 Info
Studio 4°C Takes Up the Street Fight
Initial, Noteworthy Comic Con License Announcements
November CMX Releases
Sky Girl Collected for North America
Upcoming Media Blasters Releases
Final "Worth Checking Out at San Diego Comic Con"
Other AICN Figures News
Crunchyroll and UDON E Z-Zine
Anime Game News
Upcoming in Japan
VIZ Pictures Announces Nana 2 DVD Release
Other Event News
Tokyopop/Gentosha Comics To Collaberate
Worth Checking Out
Sign Off

Team USA - Renee Gloger and Sonnya Paz - Talk The World Cosplay Summit-Part Two

On August 2nd and 3rd 2008, The World Cosplay Summit will be held in Nagoya, Japan. Renee Gloger and Sonnya Paz, Team USA, have been gracious enough to take some time from their busy preparation to share their thoughts on The World Cosplay Summit and cosplay itself. Read Part One here When crafting a costume, does your opinion or understanding of a character and its creator evolve? Have you ever felt radically different about a work of anime after making a costume? (Renee Gloger) Oh, definitely. I haven't actually cosplayed many villains, although my list of dream costumes to make is mostly villains. I like picking characters that are very terrifying and then when I make the costume, having a lot of fun really, REALLY out of character. I suppose that evolves my understanding of the character, in that I destroy the original. I cosplayed Pyramid Head and Bobblehead the nurse from Silent Hill. I had fun running around and scaring people and then acting like an idiot in the costumes. One of my favorite shows of all time is Princess Tutu, because I love ballet. I always really loved the main character. I don't know if my feelings about cosplaying Princess Tutu change after I actually cosplayed it. But, anything I make a costume of, I become even more affectionate toward. Q: Do you feel that cosplay is its own medium? If so, how would you characterize that medium, and how is cosplaying characters from anime, games and manga different from costume design and other performance art? (RG) With all due respect, I could not rank cosplay up there with other performance art and costume design. We're taking characters that have already been designed and turning them into three dimensional costumes, which I guess you could say is sort of an art. But, at the same time, we are not creating things. We are only imitating. You can't make a career out of this. It's very unusual to get something like WCS where there is a big deal about it; everyone is flown into Japan and is on TV. Most of the time, you sew in your bedroom and you make a cool costume and you go to a convention. And, maybe you bring home an award, and you thumb tack it to a wall or put it on your shelf. Then, you go on with you life. I love cosplay, but it's just a hobby. It's not performance art. (Sonnya Paz) No, I don't think so either. Definitely after this whole experience... And we've been doing this SO long now... It gets REALLY tiring after a while. I'm almost at my wits end with it. I'm just like "This is getting EXPENSIVE... this is getting ANNOYING... I just want to do real life stuff now." It's been hard trying to maintain the same enthusiasm about cosplay as in the past. Like Renee said, it's not as big a deal for us as it is for some other people, because we ONLY see it as a hobby, we don't see it as anything more than that. I've taken the step towards cosplay being somewhat of a career choice, but not really. I'd rather design costumes for films. It's just a hobby. That's all it is. A lot of people have a preconceived notion of how cosplayers are. Some of the stereotypes are true... We do not fall under that stereotype. (RG) I'd like to think... (SP) No, I don't think we do. (RG) Some cosplayers are really insane and they drop everything else in their lives to do JUST cosplay. (SP) We can't do that. We have real lives.
Could you see yourself continuing to cosplay, but toning it down... being less invested in it, or are you too much of a perfectionist to continue doing it at a lower degree? (RG) I definitely don't see myself stopping any time soon. I don't have the same time that I had to devote to it as I did in college. Which is a little bizarre, because I was always exhausted and busy in college. I think even when I make less costumes and go to fewer conventions, I wouldn't lower my craftsmanship. At this point it would be embarrassing to do less than I could do. I want to always do my best, but its not a big deal if I don't go to a convention or make a new costume. (SP) For me it is the complete opposite. I could see myself stopping some time soon actually. (RG) I wouldn't soon, I'm just thinking in 10 years... I'm thinking of making two costumes to bring to cons, maybe... (SP) Right, yeah, if you put it that way I'd probably still do it. But, doing it as hardcore as we've been doing it has taken its toll, obviously. I can't see myself doing this for VERY much longer. Probably in one or two years, I'm going to concentrate on more important stuff, like my life. Lately, because I've been so busy with the World Cosplay Summit stuff my craftsmanship on other costumes has deteriorated. I just don't have the time to concentrate on them. And that's OK, because they're like closet cosplays. I just pull them out of my closet and if people get upset about it I don't really care. (laughter) (RG) Nice (SP) Yeah, I can't see myself doing this much longer. If anything, I see myself going to more comic conventions, more sci-fi oriented conventions and hanging out with those groups of much more mature people. how do you balance your own individual expression with faithfulness to the subject that you are re-creating? RG It really depends on the costume. There's this certain artist, named [Yoshitaka] Amano, and I love his art work. It's very undefined. He uses watercolors and very vague lines. A lot of people love making costumes of characters that are drawn by him because they really can use a lot of different methods. 10 people could make the same outfit and come up with 10 different costumes that look entirely different and they're still accurate and beautiful in their own way. Even if you are doing a costume that you can see a lot more detail on, like Super Smash Brothers Brawl, where the renderings of the characters were really detailed, so you can see the materials used, you can still use creativity in using different fabric, putting seams or using a nice top stitching... even with the most basic design you could have your own flair to it. (SP) I tend to do that with a lot of my costumes actually. I generally stray from the actual art work and put my own twist to things. Which is a nice way to have more creativity, and be in control over your costume. I have more fun doing costumes that way. That's what we've been doing with our Jojo's costumes. (RG) Oh yeah. (SP) Our Jojo's costumes that we're bringing to the actual WCS have so many design liberties on there. We're making them as flamboyant and as gaudy as possible. But that's OK because that's kind of part of the series. It's fabulous. (RG) The art work for Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, the mangaka, the artist who creates it, uses different colors and different hair and different designs for every single picture that he draws. So, it's a lot of fun because you can pretty much make up anything you want. As long as it is kindof FABULOUS looking, it works. We've had a lot of fun making the costumes as flamboyant and as obnoxious as possible. You have to see pictures. It's awesome. I'm really excited. Everything is like metallic, reflective spandex. (SP) and lots of rhinestones. (RG) So many rhinestones!
This might fit into that Jojo's a bit... As an outside observer there seems to be a gender component of cosplay exhibition. This is by no means universal, but in the arena, the attention seems to be drawn to female cosplay artists who wear costumes based on anime, manga or video games that target a male audience. At the same time, cosplay has strong currents of androgyny or crossing gender lines. How do you see gender as factoring into cosplay? (RG) It depends on how you perceive cosplay. There are different types of cosplayers. There are people that make the costume just to get attention. There are always going to be that type of person in any walk of life, and it's not bad by any means. And I've definitely cosplayed in my fair share of not that modest costumes. It really depends on what your goal is. If your goal is to make a really sexy costume and have a nice photo shoot in it, that's a good thing. And you will get a lot of attention. In cosplaying, cross dressing, or as we call it, crossplaying is totally acceptable. In Japanese anime and manga, a lot of times a lot of the really pretty guys cannot be cosplayed by guys because they would be too manly. And so the really pretty guys are acceptable to be cossplayed by a girl. And it's totally normal. (SP) It really depends on the body type as well when it comes to crossplaying. For girls who want to cosplay as guys, it could be hard. I can't do it personally. Cause I have... (RG) Huge tracks of land... (SP) I have a prominent chest, but Renee can... (RG) Because I have no tracks of land. (SP) Because she has no boobs. (laughter) And she pulls it off a lot better than I can. Guys can do it also. Guys can dress up as girls, but obviously... (RG) I've met very few who can... (SP) It's very rare to see it, but some times a very girly guy will come around and dress up like Bridget from Guilty Gear, and do an awesome job at it. (RG) But that's not cross... (SP) YES it is... (RG) Bridget ?! (SP) Yeah, but you see Bridget is like a girl... looks like a girl, but is a boy. There are lots of boys who can pull off female characters, but not generally. Yeah, it really depends on the body type when dressing up as the different gender. The cosplay scene is a lot more prominently female also, which keeps the guy characters mostly done by girls.
To wrap things up, what anime are you currently watching? (RG) I'm watching Shugo Chara. This is the best story ever. I love telling people. I have this 19 year old younger brother, and he is going to be a junior in college. He calls me up one day and he goes [in a deep voice] "Renee, I have this show that you've got to watch... it's AWESOME..." And I'm like "Eliot, so tell me about this show" [deep voice again] "It’s about this magical girl, and she's in fifth grade, and she's really fashionable. And, she can magically..." And he starts telling me about this show, and it's literally aimed at 10 year old Japanese girls, in elementary school, and he's SO into this show. She magically transforms... and she's got love interests and she has really cute outfits. So I started watching it, and it's awesome. I love to call my totally straight 19 year old, kindof super dude brother, whose not a super dude at all, he's a super geek too... and we geek about this show, which is aimed at little girls. So, I have fun, and it's called Shuga Chara. (SP) My current love right now is definitely, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. OH MY GOD. Quite possibly the best anime I've ever seen in my entire life, because it just consists of drills, scantily clad women, totally buff dudes that "believe in me that believes in you" (RG) piercing heaven... (SP) piercing the heavens with the drills! And mecha. Lots of mecha. And fighting in outer space. Mecha so big that they're the size of universes. It's amazing. (RG) she's really into it. Shuga Chara is the only anime I'm watching, but I'm totally obsessed with Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, which is 90 something manga volumes long. It's been going on since the mid 80's. It's all about punching and American rock music. So good! Everyone needs to go read Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, no joke. (SP) And everyone needs to go watch Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.

All images courtsey of Anna Fischer of Cosclips Thanks to Renee Gloger and Sonnya Paz for their time and thoughts. Thank you to Peter Tatara from the New York Anime Festival and Anna Fischer of Cosclips for their help. The World Cosplay Summit's Official USA Preliminary Round will be held again during this years New York Anime Festival, as part of the convention which takes place, September 26-28, 2008 at the Jacob Javits Center Follow Team USA's blog at community.livejournal.com/teamusa2008

Manga Spotlight: Ghost Talker's Day Dream Volume 1 Story by Okuse Saki Art by Meguro Sankichi Released by Dark Horse Manga

Who doesn't love a wacky spiritual medium. When I got my current car, one of the AM radio presets was programmed to call up a Christian station. I've never been much of a practitioner of religion, but I've always been interested in hearing about it. I picked up plenty of new insights before my listenership came to a halt when I lost my radio presets and didn't bother re-adding the Christian station. One of the frequently reinforced tidbits was that there are plenty of people who are particularly fascinated by the biblical episode in which King Saul visited the Witch of Endor so that she'd call up the ghost of Samuel. Part of the fascination seemed to be because the episode was an opportunity to ask "if X happened, why can't Y" questions, and part seemed to be because, from the bible to the talk with Tiresias in the Odyssey to TV psychics and Jennifer Love Hewitt, there is always something impressively theatrical about attempts to talk to the dead. In that "wow!, look at that weird person trying to talk to the dead" line, Ghost Talker's Daydream adds Saiki Misaki, a young albinistic woman who'd rather be identified by her primary profession: dominatrix, than her secondary one: ghost talker. Like many titles that set up some physical attribute from which to launch jokes... laugh at the character getting enraged when someone notes her small chest... laugh at the character who flares up because someone notes his shortness... Ghost Talker's Daydream erects a gag tee-ball stand to bat jokes off of whenever it's time for a swing at comedy. In this case, Saiki is terribly self conscious of her lack of pubic hair. She goes commando... she's knocked over... she flushes with embarrassment, then rage as the male spectators gawk. The manga features a plenty of attempts at humor utilizing this set-up. At least it's original in particulars if not principle. Saiki is prompted to take work as a ghost trouble shooter at the behest of Kadotake Souichiro, a spooked, officious nebbish, who can never the less take care of the human dimension of problems, thanks to a solid background in mixed martial arts training. While Saiki unwinds a demon thread from under her S<M gear and guides the deceased, Kadotake takes care of human trouble makers with a bit of single leg takedown, full mount, ground and pound action. Piecemail, Ghost Talker's Day Dream illustrates the specific qualities of this premise well. Saiki might read more like a manufactured character than a actual person, and the concept might be muted by cultural differences. But, when she's gesturing at the yakuza across the table from her or smack talking the guy that she's about to club with a metal pipe, the mannerisms in her specific brand of impatience and irreverence do make her endearing. In addition to a solid handling of these character moments, Meguro Sanikichi proves to be an impressively harsh illustrator of physical violence. During the fights, there is a combined impression of concussive force and that the people slamming into each other are rather familiar with the hurting business. Both in action sequences and in crime sequences, the depiction of violence manages to look dangerous. Going back to Osamu Tezuka, one of the key assets of the manga tradition has been its willingness to modulate tone. Rather than staking down one mindset, stories can briskly shift weight from light hearted to heart felt. Look at Astro Boy's origin story.... he's sold to a robot circus, a concept that is as whimsically goofy as it sounds. Yet, after reveling in the oddity, Tezuka pulls back the curtain to demonstrate the sorrow of the robots forced to perform. If done well, these modulations can capture surprises and dynamic twists of experience. If done poorly, the manga can undercut itself or appear soulless. One moment Ghost Talker's Day Dream is playing in unrestrained quirkiness and Kouta Hirano style cartoon camp. The next, it's cry for humanity material, with infanticide and intense depictions of rape. By unpredictably, rapidly oscillating between scenes intended to raise a smirk and scenes intended to twist your guts in a knot, the experience is flattened. Nothing has the chance to break the threshold where what is on the page is surprising or real enough to provoke a reaction.

Prose Spotlight: Guin Saga Volume Two: Warrior in the Wilderness By Kaoru Kurimoto Released by Vertical Inc.

Especially over the last year or so, there has been a conversation about the appropriate form of video games for adults. A facet forwards the notion that a person with a career and responsibilities is unlikely to want to commit 40 or more hours to completing a video games. The notion was given support when the audience started cheering games like Portal (of "the cake is a lie" fame) that offered an experience that was satisfactory encapsulated in a dozen or so hours. Kauro Kurimoto's Guin Saga is enormous. It's plowed past the 100 novel mark into Destroyer territory. Yet, the novels are perfect for adults who no longer have the time or patience for the binding straining bricks that line the fantasy section of book stores. The novels move briskly with escapism that is not intelligence-insulting. You can work through one of these stories of sufficiently rational characters in a couple of nights. Especially in the paper-back release, the exploits of heroes and villains who mean business in a world whose political strife, as well as whose natural and supernatural dangers offer little leeway for unwariness makes for resoundingly satisfying diversion. Book Two: Warrior in the Wilderness does not have quite the parkour pacing of Book One: The Leopard Mask. It's not as dexterous. It's not a sprint into new territory with the same lively gate. Though, in its favor, it accomplishes some intriguing world building without tripping on its feet. The volume finds its protagonists the morning after volume one's fiery battle royale. Guin, the amnesiac warrior with a leopard mask affixed to his face, Remus and Rinda, the fugitive orphan royalty of the recently destroyed kingdom Parros, Istavan the mercenary / consummate survivor and monkey-girl Suni are forced to raft their way into the deadly Nospherus wilderness to escape the marshaled armies of the Mongaulis. If you start pulling apart the arms and legs of the Guin Saga action figure, you're not going to be terribly impressed by the artistry. It's fantasy as you know it. Assessed critically, an ubermensch in a animal mask with kids and furries is laughable. There are no points awarded for guessing when Guin will be able to stare down an army and when he'll be surrounded and forced to surrender. It's plainly obvious. Starting back in the PlayStation 1 days, when Final Fantasy moved away from borrowing from older TSR books, the games would introduce truly absurd monsters with drills and tendrils, feathers and who knows what. That sort of conspicuous design always raised the question "wow, who thought of that?" Guin Saga answers the question "who inspired that?" and in a lateral, equally absurd leap, "what would happen if a Robert E. Howard hero come-luchador took his sword to that?" The brilliance of Guin Saga is atmosphere and action. There's this wide world where every shadow and spider hole is the potential home of some being that's waiting to consume a human, if not consume the human, then animate the deceased's corpse. Volume two is quick to reveal that something unseen ate all the bodies from the events of the first book. And, soon after that, it is quick to introduce Guin and co. to the malevolent beings that chewed through volume one's hefty body count. The corollary to that danger is a spirit of necessarily that hangs over the motivations of protagonist and antagonist alike. Warrior in the Wilderness builds on the first volume in casting the conflict as a melee of dangerous people in a dangerous world. Even if they are in opposition to the heroic Guin, there is a Starship Trooper martial appeal to the villains as they grab their torches, build a pontoon bridge, and launch an invasion into the heart of a death forest. Even if the second volume does not have the snake bite tendencies of the first, it does consistently deliver events that realize the potential promised by mixing armies of battle hardened knights, savage monkey men, hungry beasties, and a particularly adept leopard headed swordsmen. In doing so, Kaoru Kurimoto conveys images that would make for amazingly epic anime or film.

Anime Spotlight: Blood+ Volume 2 Released by Sony Pictures

Blood+ director Junichi Fujisaku has the marks of being more a concept person than a details oriented implementer. He wrote for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, as well as its prose spin-offs. He laid out the recent Production I.G/Shirow Masamune collaboration Real Drive, and scripted the studio's movie adaptation of CLAMP's xxxHoLiC/Tsubasa Chroncile. Here, he constructs an anime series that builds upon involving story traditions, while differentiating the results from previous efforts. Fujisaku successfully puts together an anime series that positions itself as something for everyone without being for no one. One point of confusion regarding classifying the genre of manga, and anime based on manga, is under emphasizing the importance of where the original manga was published. Female audiences in North America strongly took to relationship comedy Love Hina, and because it focused on relationships, because relationships are generally regarded as female targeted material, the manga was labeled "shoujo" - for young, female audiences. In fact, the manga was published in the anthology Weekly Shonen Magazine, and as the title suggests, the manga was "shonen" - targeting young, male audiences. This does not mean the female audiences are entirely alienated by a shonen work. In Otaku USA, Daryl Surat of Anime World Order forwards the term "neo-shonen" for shonen manga like Fullmetal Alchemist or Prince of Tennis that actively try to expand their audience to more female readers. Yet, audience expanding or not, a manga series is going to be informed by the main demographic of the anthology in which it is serialized. Then, if that manga is adapted into anime, the intended audience may be refocused, but, it will still be influence by the targeting of the original manga. In contrast, Blood+ is an anime original. Given Production I.G's track record with anime like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, IGPX, xxxHOLiC, and Le Chevalier D'Eon, the studio seems to be actively working to ensure that their anime finds a broad audience. Blood+ looks like it was written for male and female audiences, as well as Japanese and American audiences. Saya, the vampire school girl with a sword is reworked from Blood: The Last Vampire's concept of an alien creature in an alien place. Instead, she's a super hero, an anemic, amnesiac who appears to be an unassuming, even feeble, everyperson, who secretly has the innate power to solve a particular crucial problem. What generalizes the appeal is that Blood+ is less about realizing fantasies and more about raising implications. Rather than building to Saya's bloody confrontation with heavy weight man-bats, the anime builds to moments in which Saya confronts herself or her adopted family about what she is and what she has to do. Volume two of Blood+ emphasizes the strength of how the anime had been constructed. It ends a chapter set in Saya's adopted home of Okinawa and begins a chapter set in Vietnam. The anime invests thought into the look and concerns of these non-traditional locales. The coasts of Okinawa or the French architecture and rural fields of Vietnam, as well as the change from one to the other, separates Blood+ from the general body of anime series. As does the baggage that these places carry. Okinawa is the site of a major American military base. Vietnam was the site of a major American war. Blood+ is not political to the degree that it is willing to commit to exploring an issue to the extent where its plot is entangled in that issue's complexity. It's not anime as essay or editorial. That does not mean that the anime is not willing to present indictments based on the implications of the places that it visits. As characters explicitly speak against foreign policy, there's no masking the metaphor. In Okinawa and Vietnam, US foreign policy is presented as a disease vector. Regardless of the motivation, the deployment of American military force is tied to the horrors that Saya is purposed with destroying. As a commentary, this isn't any more valuable than any other blanket judgment. As a foothold, grounding into something relevant, that suggests that the anime fits into a global framework, where actions have consequences, tapping political hot buttons benefits Blood+ Occurring in the middle of the volume, the conclusion of the anime's first chapter locks into Blood+'s view of the horror superhero. Like anime/manga's tradition of the character type, going back to Go Nagai's Devilman and Mao Dante, Saya is forced to come to terms with the realization she is terribly dangerous, though also necessary. In the model of a Spider-Man, she is given her Uncle Ben figure in the form of her adopted father, Okinawan-American Vietnam veteran George Miyagusuku. The model of someone who has lived with the experience of combat, and lived with the experience of moving beyond the tragedy of losing love ones sets the stage for an intriguing conflict between nature and nurture in Saya. At this point in the series, whether the anime explores this or leans on it for support remains to be seen. However, here is a character who recently underwent what, for her, should be traumatic events. Unlike Blood: The Last Vampire's Saya, Blood+'s did not know that she was in a world where vampire girls fight vampire monsters. Laying out a framework for how she might process the shocking discovery, such as the behavior of others to whom she might look, draws out some active consideration for how Saya might think. To reiterate "Blood+ director Junichi Fujisaku has the marks of being more a concept person than a details oriented implementer." In directing Blood+, the small things that aren't well considered distance the work. As well considered as the construction of Saya's personality and relationships might be, scenes play out in a manner that defy credulity. Locked military complex barriers are hacked by plugging in a USB cable from a phone to the slot on the secured door. A girl who had been separated from her family for an extended period of time is called back to care for her injured father the one night that Saya's adopted brothers are present. Saya decides to fulfill the obligations of being a vampire girl.. she walks out into the rain to start practicing with her sword, the Hans Zimmer scores , and her movements are so unfocused that she looks like a kid waving around a stick. Because these events don't look right or occur in a believable fashion, the dissonance is enough to detract from the anime. When compared to other Production I.G work, it is clear that the animation of Blood+ could have been better considered and more potent.

Anime Spotlight: Black Blood Brothers Volume 3 Released by FUNimation

As gaudy as Kenshin's purple kimono and Vash the Stampede's red duster might be, their vampire descendant Jiro Mochizuki takes the prize his red slacks, overcoat and frightening hybrid ten gallon/witches hat. Though, as back handed as the complement sounds, Black Blood Brothers is more than the sum of characters who are anything but cool, jokes that are darling at best, and action that relies on unspectacular effects. The charm is that the series carries on with blissful self-confidence. What is great about the series is not that it so bad it's good. Nor is it entirely out on its own. It is not short on well worn character types that are meant to appeal to anime fans. Instead, the anime's naked enthusiasm for presenting ideas that are almost bewildering, like a grumpy vampire who resembles Igor of Count Duckula or an army of Béla Lugosi clones, eventually proves contagious. It vocalizes its own excitement, and after a while, the excitement sticks. Black Blood Brothers effectively translates the quality of a good light novel to anime. Over the course of a brisk three volumes/twelve episodes it efficiently introduced a complex premise and executed on a story idea that showcases the particular premise. The keys to success in the light novel/light novel based anime are pacing, mapping the landscape of its world and completing a closed story that still leaves trails of intrigue. "Never say never" is increasingly a useful mindset for approaching anime. If 90's fantasy comedy The Slayers can be revived, almost anything can. That said, you can lay good odds that the 12 episodes of Black Blood Brothers will be the only anime adaptation of its source novels. THAT said, even though the series is an introductory arc, tasked with selling the viewer on what's significant about the characters and the complex community that they inhabit, leaving the anime at the end of the series is fine. At the point of departure, it sets the stage to be satisfyingly interested, but not so enthralled as to lament the lack of additional anime.

Afro Samurai 2 Info

Afro Samurai will return to anime with original, GONZO produced, movie Afro Samurai: Resurrection, set to premiere on Spike TV in January 2009, followed by a DVD released by FUNimation in early 2009. Samuel L. Jackson will reprise the role of Afro (and Ninja Ninja), opposite Lucy Liu as new nemesis Sio. Additional casting includes Mark Hamill as Bin, Sio's manservant and protector and Yuri Lowenthal as Kuma, the teddy bear-headed warrior from the original "Afro Samurai" series. "Afro Samurai: Resurrection" is based on the original art and story telling of manga artist Takashi Okazaki, of a black samurai's quest for revenge and justice for his murdered father. Samuel L. Jackson ("The Spirit"), who also serves as an executive producer, reprises his role as the uncompromising hero, Afro and his motor-mouthed sidekick Ninja Ninja. When his father's body is stolen from its grave, Afro is forced to pick up his sword and wreak bloody vengeance against an army of deadly foes lead by a sadistic mastermind. Spike.com and Afrosamurai.com feature a sneak peek of the trailer for "Afro Samurai: Resurrection. A few years have passed since Afro's nemesis Justice was finally defeated on Mt. Shumi. Afro is back in his Swordmaster's dojo meditatively carving statues as penance for those he has murdered. The blood cycle is broken - the wearer of the "No.1" headband shall rule the world and only the "No.2" shall challenge the "No.1," but Afro holds both headbands and so there is no challenger. The fragile peace Afro has created is shattered as ghosts from the past appear and wreak havoc in Afro's dojo, escaping with the No.1 headband and also with the remains of Afro's father. Afro is forced once again to take on the burden of the No.2 headband and go back out into the world in search of the No.1 and his father's remains. The power of the two headbands is felt in the world once more, the world is once again painted with blood and the spiral of violence begins once again.

Studio 4°C Takes Up the Street Fight

Anime News Network notes that the Capcom's San Diego Comic Con panel revealed that Studio 4°C will be animating the in-game footage for Street Fighter IV. Koji Morimoto (Memories' "Magnetic Rose," The Animatrix's "Beyond" short, Genius Party's Dimension Bomb, ) and animator Jiro Kanai (computer graphics in Akira, key animation in "Beyond," Mind Game, The Wings of Honneamise) are involved in the project.

Initial, Noteworthy Comic Con License Announcements

Del Rey will be releasing Takuya Fujima's Negima!? neo spin-off of Ken Akamatsu's Ken Akamatsu's child/wizard school teacher manga Negima! Magister Negi Magi. Bandai Entertainment picked up geek schoolgirl comic strip Lucky Star, source of the same named anime.

November CMX Releases

GO WEST! VOL. 1 Written and illustrated by Yu Yagami CMX. A new series from Yu Yagami, the artist and writer who produced the manga version of DOKKOIDA?! GO WEST is a Wild West show unlike any you’ve ever seen before! Young Naomi leaves Japan to search the New World for the family she’s never known. Her search takes her deep into the West — which is a good thing because the agitated horse that comes into her possession will only run in that direction! Things get more twisted when Naomi interrupts a duel between an outlaw and a bounty hunter — and each of them suddenly believes he is related to her. Just as he sent up the super-hero genre with DOKKOIDA?!, Yagami puts his unique and crazy spin on the Western. on sale November 26 • 5? x 7.375? • 194 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN +
THE GIRL WHO RUNS THROUGH TIME VOL. 2 Original story by Yasutaka Tsutsui By Gaku Tsugano CMX. This two-volume story comes to its dramatic conclusion. As Kazuko investigates whether a friend and classmate is being abused by an older boyfriend, her efforts reveal a new twist in her powers. Then, when an accident occurs at school, will she be able to run into the past and prevent her fellow students from getting into harm’s way? And a mysterious new teacher warns Kazuko against messing around with time travel. What’s his connection with one of Kazuko’s best friends? on sale November 12 • 5? x 7.375? • 176 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN KIICHI AND THE MAGIC BOOKS VOL. 3 Written and illustrated by Taka Amano Resolicited; on sale November 12 • 5? x 7.375? • 160 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN
I HATE YOU MORE THAN ANYONE VOL. 6 Written and illustrated by Banri Hidaka Retailers: This title is resolicited. All previous orders are cancelled. Resolicit • On sale November 12 • 5? x 7.375? • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN
PENGUIN REVOLUTION VOL. 6 Written and illustrated by Sakura Tsukuba Retailers: This title is resolicited. All previous orders are cancelled. Resolicit • On sale November 5 • 5? x 7.375? • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN
TEARS OF A LAMB VOL. 4 Written and illustrated by Banri Hidaka Resolicited; on sale November 12 • 5? x 7.375? • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN

Sky Girl Collected for North America

It's not anime or manga, but fans of international comics of international comics should keep an eye out for Marvel Comics hard cover collection of Barbara Canepa and Alessandro Barbucci's Sky Doll 1-3, scheduled an October release at $24.99. SKY DOLL PREMIERE HC Written by BARBARA CANEPA & ALESSANDRO BARBUCCI Story by BARBARA CANEPA & ALESSANDRO BARBUCCI Art and Cover by ALESSANDRO BARBUCCI & BARBARA CANEPA English Adaptation by C.B. CEBULSKI Meet Noa, a so-called Sky Doll; a life-like female android without rights, who exists only to serve the State’s needs and desires. But when Noa meets two so-called "missionaries" who aid in her escape from her tyrannical master, all hell breaks loose for our cyborg siren as she uncovers clues that she may be much more than just a robotic toy. The first release in a new partnership between Marvel and cutting-edge French publisher Soleil! Collecting SKY DOLL #1-3. 152 PGS./Mature …$24.99

Upcoming Media Blasters Releases

Anime Work Releases 10/7 OTOBOKU: MAIDENS ARE FALLING FOR ME Androgynous Antics Volume 3, Eps. 10-13
10/14 OTOGI ZOSHI - Tokyo Arc - Volumes 4-6, Eps. 14-26 6 Discs ($29.99)
KASHIMASHI COLLECTION - Volumes 1-3, Eps. 1-13 3 Discs ($29.99)
10/21 MAGICAL WITCH – PUNIE CHAN - 1 Disc complete collection
10/28 NIGHT HEAD GENESIS Volume 1 of 5, Eps. 1-5
KASHIMASHI COLLECTION On a warm, cloudy afternoon, Tomari bursts in on two girls from her class, Hazumu and Yasuna, sharing a tender first kiss. Her heart breaks... from jealousy. Hazumu was born a boy, but he certainly doesn't act it. He's sensitive, delicate, and loves gardening. Lucky for him, he grew up with the tomboy Tomari, who is always there to protect him. Despite her own feelings, she pushes Hazumu to confess his love to the elegant Yasuna. After Yasuna rejects him, he retreats into the mountains in despair. This begins the strange series of events that changes him into a her, and earns her the love of both Yasuna and Tomari. MAGICAL WITCH – PUNIE CHAN On the outside, Punie-chan looks like your average magical girl. She's a cheery princess from another land, she's attending school on Earth for the year, and she has an adorable animal sidekick. But cross her and prepare to pay the price. The sweet young lady becomes a merciless force of destruction, leaving bodies, utterly broken by her signature submission holds, in her righteous wake. And while it seems that she has more enemies than friends, and that even her sidekick Paya-tan is out to get her, no one can deny that Punie-chan is irresistible in one shape or form. NIGHT HEAD GENESIS Due to their paranormal abilities, two young brothers (Naoto and Naoya) are cast out by their parents and given into the custody of a research center. They escape fifteen years later, and soon learn that they will play a pivotal role in the coming "Upheaval". OTOGI ZOSHI Karma dictates that souls will be reincarnated to right the wrongs of history. Driven by a need to complete what was left unfinished, 17-year-old Hikaru is joined by the freelance writer Tsuna. They travel across modern Japan and stumble across strangely familiar personalities from a long-forgotten era in their search for Hikaru's missing brother. As past and present collide, the enigmatic, black-coated man known as Mansairaku may once again tip the scales of destiny. From the "Production I.G." anime studio, who also created the anime sequence in "Kill Bill", "Ghost In The Shell" & "Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex", "Blood+", "Blood: The Last Vampire", "FLCL", "xxxHolic", and many more. Live Action 10/7 BEST OF THE SHAW BROTHERS - Collection One 2 Discs, Double Feature (Heroes Two and The Master)
10/21 LONE WOLF AND CUB TV Volume 4, Eps. 14-18 2 Discs
TOKYO SHOCK - Double Dose of Horror Collection I - DIECOVERY and TAXI TONIGHT
10/28 TOKYO SHOCK - Double Dose of Horror Collection II Double Feature THE COMMITMENT and THE UNBORN
KISARAZU CAT’S EYE The Movie
BEST OF THE SHAW BROTHERS Heroes Two Fang Shih Yu (Alexander Fu Sheng) and Hung Hsi Kuan (Chen Kuan Tai) escape the Manchus burning of the Shaolin Temple; but can they make a stand before their attackers amass warriors for a final assault on the survivors? The Master When an orphan (Yuan Tak) from a local kung fu school nurses an injured kung fu master (Chen Kuan Tai) back to health, the master has to train him to take revenge before a group of killers known as the Three Devils destroy his school. KISARAZU CAT’S EYE Despite being diagnosed with a terminal brain-tumor, a young musician is determined to live life to its absolute fullest during his final year by partying with his friends, playing with his band, and solving a perplexing crime. Bussan has been given less than a year to live, but he's not the type to simply lie down and die. On the contrary, Bussan is about to squeeze a lifetime of fun and experience into just a few short months. As the day of his death draws near, Bussan spends quality time bonding with his best friends, jams with his band Kisarazu Cat's Eye, and attempts to reveal the source of a lucrative counterfeiting scheme. TOKYO SHOCK DIECOVERY Newlyweds Ton and Mook are looking forward to enjoying their honeymoon at a resort in the deep wilderness of Thailand. Beneath the tranquility and seclusion there is something waiting for them – something with most evil intentions. Twenty-five years ago a young woman was brutally murdered at the very location Ton and Mook intend to visit. There, buried beneath a tree in the yard, a vengeful spirit waits. The couple unwittingly gets caught up in the wake of undead wrath! Now they must try to escape this ghostly nightmare and uncover the mystery in order to pacify this angry spirit's unrest. TAXI TONIGHT Bunmee buys himself a secondhand taxi from Mr. Tong. One day, he picks up a woman who suddenly disappears! And ever since, Bunmee has been surrounded by mystery. All of his passengers see the spirit of the disappearing woman in his taxi. His nightmares become reality when he meets a woman living in a mysterious house. Now he must unravel the mysteries and learn the secrets buried deep within his taxi. THE COMMITMENT Did you ever wish with all your heart to achieve some apparently unattainable goal? A group of high school graduates, led by Moss (Prangthong Chsngthom), do just that, embarking on a terrible journey into the unknown. Pushed by peer and parental pressure, they visit a mysterious shrine, offering gifts to a vengeful ghost, Kaew (Thitima Maliwan), and pledge their souls, rather than fail their entrance exams into prestigious universities. Their desires are met, but at a grim price. No one, least of all the skeptical Moss, believes that a mere slip of the tongue will lead to the death of her friends. The hateful spirit has some wishes of her own, and her demonic demands lead to a trail of doom and despair. THE UNBORN The story begins when Por wakes up a in hospital, after being brutally beaten by a drug dealer, to find herself about to give birth. Frightened and confused, Por finds herself confronting strange and disturbing events. She hears the weird voice of a child she can't see but whose doll moves around by itself. She also has to deal with the appearance of a mysterious woman whom she has never met before. Danger is all around her and she gets caught up in a series of life-threatening situations. Trapped between reality and illusion, Por faces the most terrifying experience of her life.

Final "Worth Checking Out at San Diego Comic Con"

San Diego Comic Con has already started, but if you'll be in attendence, a few things to see are... Toynami has added the following to their offering at booth #3229 VOLTRON: LION FORCE COLLECTOR’S SET $60
VOLTRON: DEFENDER OF THE UNIVERSE BOOKENDS $175
ONE-PIECE BOOKENDS $175
Princess Blues Animated: The Book of Violence, by writer/producer Alex Ferrari and artist Dan Cregan, will be at displayed between 12:55pm - 1:20 pm in ROOM 26AB. Red Princess Blues Animated: The Book of Violence is an animated short film prequel to writer/director Alex Ferrari’s upcoming live action feature film Red Princess Blues starring the lovely Paula Garces (Knight Rider, The Shield, Harold & Kumar). Artist and Creative Director of the Visual Effects House Numb Robot, Dan Cregan makes his directorial debut. Attending the screening and panel discussion are Paula Garces, Alex Ferrari, creator/producer; Dan Cragan, producer. The film will screen on Friday, July 25, 2008 between 12:55pm - 1:20 pm in ROOM 26AB. The film will be followed by a panel discussion and then an autograph session with the star Paula Garces. She'll be signing Comic Con limited edition Red Princess Blues posters. Synopsis: In this tale we meet her as a 12 year old little girl who finds herself in a strange country looking for her father. She is then taken in by a "unique" looking man who goes by Nino. The short film is completely from the perspective of Princess and what she is going through. She soon discovers the "Book of Violence" and slowly begins her journey that one day will lead to vengeance. A trailer can be seen here.
Monster wrestling troupe Kaiju Big Batelwill be offering a Marmit designed vinyl figure of the monster Vegetius. In addition to the original green variant, which is available in the Kaiju.com online mall, a limited-edition of 50 glow-in-the-dark figures will be exclusively available at San Diego Comic Con.
Set in a stylized version of the 1970s, "Catblue Dynamite" is an action adventure anime about Blue, a principled mercenary who is half-human, half-cat and all female. When two drug couriers get mixed up in gang warfare over a mysteriously important Frank Sinatra tape they unknowingly received from their boss, Blue uses her feline attributes, her ability to shoot a gun with her tail, and her connections with the afterlife to save the day.
Japanese pop sensation Mimi will be performing live every day of Comic-Con International, July 24th-July 27th, at booth 3245. For more see www.organic-f.net/blog_product/anime/catblue.htm
Super7 will be showcasing the following SDCC Exclusive Toys at booth #4729 Squirm - Ikageruge Tribute The Snakes of Infinity's Sinister Squid makes his SDCC debut with the Ikageruge Tribute! Cast in white vinyl with silver, light blue, and black spray, this version of Squirm pays respect to the Bandai Ikageruge, one of the strangest Kaiju toys to come out of 1970's Japan! Stomp - Taigan Tribute Making a triumphant return to the place where he was born one year ago, Stomp is also sending a shout-out to a distant relative. Fashioning his colorway after the great Mirrorman villain, Taigan, another great toy from the height of Japanese Tokustaku television, Stomp is dressed to impress! Zombie - C.O.B.R.A. Tribute Super7's Snakes of Inifinity line of fight figures continues with the Zombie! Created by the evil mastermind behind the Snakes of Infinity, Dr. Killgore, the Zombie is a henchman with a hidden face. What horror hides beneath his hood and gloves? Take them off to find out what form the doom of humanity will take! Mummy Boy Mummy Boy, Super7's adoreable mascot, is so cute its scary! He may be missing an arm, and the heat doesn't do great things for his bandages, but he sure is happy to be here. Visit the Super7 booth to make a new friend! Dokuwash The Sprit Guide of Ghostland has returned and is now better suited to lead wayward spirits to world beyond. Cast in glow-in-the-dark vinyl and painted with blue, green, gold and pink sprays, Dokuwashi is a gleaming beacon, lighting the way to Ghostland. Don't be left in the dark! Super7 x Itokin Park Himalan Japanese toy deisgner Itokin Park is on a roll with his cute and unusual characters. The Super7 Himalan is far from an exception, and is sure to please fans of the sleepy eyed, lumpy-headed snowman. Visit the Super7 booth on Friday and meet Itokin Park himself! The Super7 x Itokin Park Himalan is cast in clear orange vinyl and painted with light blue, red, yellow and black spray. Super7 x RxH Mini set of Four While the popularity of Japanese boutique toy-maker RealxHead continues to grow, the size of the figures has begun to shrink! Super7 is happy to release a smaller, cuter version of the long gone Super7 x RxH set of the original four RxH characters, Mutant Head, Mutant Evil, Mutant Bigaro, and Mutant Chaos. Be sure to get in line early, as the reduced size of this set makes them even harder to catch. Super7 x Kozik Salary Ika Super7 is pleased to release our first collaboration with vinyl toy superstar, Frank Kozik. Kozik's Ika Gilas is now all grown up, and ready to join the workforce as Salary Ika. Donning his best crystal clear vinyl business suit, the Salary Ika is painted with translucent orange, red and black sprays, and is stuffed with shredded currency, to help him start putting away a little something for the future. Super7 x Buster Call Beetlar Up and Coming Toy Designer Buster Call of Tokyo knows how to bring the heat. His first vinyl figure, the 3" Beetlar has proved an underground hit, and now Buster Call is bringing his A-Game to the big leagues. Marking his second collaboration with Super7 is the SDCC Lucky-Draw Hawaii Beetlar, cast in gorgeous clear pink vinyl. Will you get a painted or unpainted version? You'll have to draw a ticket to find out! Will you be blown away by both versions? Signs point to yes. Super7 Jumbo-Style Stormtrooper!!! We are very very excited to announce the Super7 Jumbo-Style Stormtrooper! The prototype sculpt of the Super7 Jumbo-Style Stormtrooper will be on display at the Super7 booth, and will be on-sale later this year. Come check it out for yourself and see what everyone is talking about!
Super7 Events Skeletal Carnival 3 - Pushead and Friends We at Super7 are very excited to once again welcome Pushead for a special SDCC Event! As in years past, Pushead will bring his trademark mix of releases shrouded in mystery, as well as jaw dropping one-of-a-kind hand-painted vinyl figures. This year however, Pushead will also be bringing a few friends along for the ride, including Mike Sutfin and Usugrow!!!!! Expect Insanity! Expect to be blown away! Expect the unexpected!! Thursday, 3.39pm Itokin Park Signing Japanese Toy Designer Itokin Park will be joining us at the Super7 Booth for the release of the Super7 x Itokin Park Himalan. Come by and meet one of the hottest toy designers of Japan today! Friday, 4.00pm Brian Flynn Signing The brains and the beard behind Super7 will have his first official SDCC Signing on Saturday! Brian Flynn will take the center stage at the Super7 booth to showcase his creations, offer one of a kind custom figures, and drop the toy knowledge. Expect to be dazzled. Saturday, 1.00pm Gary Baseman Signing In a late-addition to the Super7 Schedule, Gary Baseman will join us on Saturday to release the Pink Hot Cha Cha! Visit the Super7 booth to add this devilishly cute vinyl fiend to your pink shelf! Saturday, 4.00pm

Other AICN Figures News

:: destroy tokyo :: has a list of upcoming Revoltech figures Releases for August 15th: ARX-8 Laevatein (Full Metal Panic!) 2,590yen Gurren Lagann Full Drillized (Gurren Lagann) 1,995yen Releases for September 15th: Protect Gear (The Red Spectacles) 1,995yen Enki (Gurren Lagann) 1,995yen See official shots here
CollectionDX finds a Boss Borot mini machinder

Crunchyroll and UDON E Z-Zine

UDON Entertainment, best known for their Street Fighter comics has partnered with online media distributor, Crunchyroll, to launch a weekly digital Crunchyroll manga and comic digest called UDON COMBO! UDON Entertainment Chief of Ops Erik Ko comments, "Providing free and easily accessible comics/manga to readers is a proven business model. The benefit of working with Crunchyroll is that both our large fan bases can receive free manga and also have an option for DRM-free premium downloads without the hassle of needing custom viewing software.

Anime Game News

ICV2 notes that a Search for Vengeance expansion of the Highlander TCG 2nd Edition card game, based on anime movie will be released in late October. The set will be packaged in 10-card Booster Packs ($3.99) and 50-card Starter Decks ($12.99). 1Up features a Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Preview Super Robot Wars Z trailer 3 trailer 4

Upcoming in Japan

Anime News Network report that software developer Ryukishi07 (Seventh Expansion) revealed that pyscho thriller mystery Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (aka When They Cry) side stories collection Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Re will be released on DVD December 26 and on Blu-ray in January. The first of five volumes, "Hajisarashi," will be a gag story set in the municipal swimming pool. The next three volumes, which will be the "Saikoroshi" arc, will be a serious drama involving one of the story's heroines after the resolution of the two previous television series. This arc will be released between February and June of next year. The final volume, "Hirukowashi" on August of 2009, will be a slapstick romantic comedy based on a novel spinoff from the Higurashi Daybreak game, which is being ported to the PSP. Studio DEEN will be adapating web manga Hetalia - Axis Powers - a "cynical gag" story mainly recounts the era between World War I and World War II starring bishonen (cute guys) Previews/Trailers Kara no Kyoukai - the Garden of sinners - five World Destruction: Sekai Bokumetsu no Rokunin

VIZ Pictures Announces Nana 2 DVD Release

VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media, LLC that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, has announced the release of NANA 2 will be released on July 29th. To promote the second adaptation of Ai Yazawa's punk rock/relationship manga, VIZ Pictures is holding a special NANA 2 poster giveaway promotion. Fans can enter to win a full-color cast poster at /www.nanathemovies.com

Other Event News

Baltimore's Otakon will be hosting Japanese music act DaizyStripper. YU-GIRI provides the explosive vocals, backed by wild guitars from MAYU and NAO. The heartbeat of the group is REI's steady bass guitar and KAZAMI's energetic drumbeats and intricate piano melodies. The group has consistently sold out shows throughout Japan, and their first single "Dandelion" skyrocketed to #1 on the Oricon Indies chart. Newly announced voice actor who will be attending the convention include: Taliesin Jaffe (Hellsing, Hellsing Ultimate, Neon Genesis Evangelion, R.O.D. The TV Series, Paranoia Agent, Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad) Voice Actor/ADR Director Mr. Jaffe appears courtesy of FUNimation. Laura Bailey ("Chi Chi" in Dragonball, "Shin" in Shin Chan, Lust in Fullmetal Alchemist, "Tohru Honda" in Fruits Basket) Voice Actor Ms. Bailey appears courtesy of FUNimation. Tara Platt( "Caster" in Fate/Stay Night, "Barasuishou" in Rozen Maiden Traumend, as well as "Temari" in Naruto) Voice Actor Ms. Platt appears courtesy of Bandai USA. Yuri Lowenthal ("Sasuke" in Naruto, "Keigo Asano" in Bleach, "Pip Bernadotte" in Hellsing Ultimate, "Simon" in Tengen Toppen Gurren Lagann, and "Sena Kobayakawa" in Eyeshield 21) Voice Actor Mr. Lowenthal appears courtesy of Bandai USA. Tony Oliver (Lupin the 3rd: The Movie – The Secret of Mamo, Robotech's "

Readers Talkback

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  • July 25, 2008, 6:45 a.m. CST

    First?!

    by Galva

    Sweet.

  • July 25, 2008, 6:47 a.m. CST

    WOO!

    by Galva

    My first "FIRST"- now if only I could get laid, I could die happy. As for the article: more Afro Samurai is always welcome news.

  • July 25, 2008, 8:14 a.m. CST

    Galva...

    by LordPorkington

    Keep acting like a stupid cunt and shouting 'First!' and you'll *never* get laid. Now take off your 'Thundercats' t-shirt, put on some proper clothes, turn off your X-Box and go outside and meet some real people. You can thank your Uncle Porky later for turning your life around...

  • July 25, 2008, 8:47 a.m. CST

    Don't own an xbox, or a Thundercats shirt...

    by Galva

    ... but owning one or both WOULD be pretty keen...

  • July 25, 2008, 9:13 a.m. CST

    Hmmm..

    by kbass

    If I pull out my old towel from the days of running around the house pretending I'm Batman does that count at COSPlay? Do I have a shot at the title?

  • July 25, 2008, 10:04 a.m. CST

    Bitch from The Ring needs a Taxi!

    by Baron Karza

    RINGU TAXIU!

  • July 25, 2008, 10:38 a.m. CST

    Randy Pausch died, guys

    by ArcadianDS

    the "Last Lecture" guy that Harry updated about a while back has died of pancreatic cancer.<p> sad day.

  • July 25, 2008, 1:49 p.m. CST

    More Afro Saumrai!!!

    by Johnno

    MORE!!! Lucy Liu-ness and Mar Hamil-ness will be a very welcome addition to the Samuel L Jackson-ness!