To be released by BCI on DVD and Blu-ray October 28, 2008
Inheriting much of the charm of Japan's yokai mythology, Kitaro serves as a winning introduction to the world of Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro.
The live action movie adapts one of the numerous venerable figures of Japanese pop culture that never really found a foothold in the English speaking world. Serialized in Weekly Shonen Magazine between 1959 and 1969, Shigeru Mizuki's GeGeGe no Kitaro, also known as Hakaba Kitaro (Graveyard Kitaro, the alternative "Ge Ge Ge" is onomatopoeia, possibly a cackling laugh and/or an insect call), looks to the notion of a boy problem-solver, but rather than outfitting the hero with science, reason and gadgets, Mizuki presented his protagonist with tools and allies from the kindof gross, kindof scary world of yokai spirit monsters.
Born in a cemetery on the boundary of the human and spirit worlds, Kitaro is a decidedly odd character. His shaggy vest is woven from the hair of his Ghost Tribe ancestors. His own long white hair can shoot out of his skull as needles, but it also covers an ocular socket that is either empty or housing the eyeball spirit that emerged from the decaying corpse of his dead father. The company he keeps includes his treacherous associate Rat Man, his spirit-cat girl childhood friend, a haunted sheet of cotton, an umbrella and sandals that came to life after their 100th year of existence, a self petrifying crying monk, and a sand storm witch.
There is something of Pokemon in Kitaro's ability to command, or at least exercise expertise, in the realm of monsters. It's applying some control to the wild things of imagination. At the same time, Mizuki's vision is fundamentally deeper, older, and more unpredictable. In interviews, he has often spoken about how the yokai, or stories about yokai, if the two are differentiatable, thrived in the time before the proliferation of electric lighting. As a response, GeGeGe no Kitaro fills in the framework of modern storytelling offered by manga (or action film) with elements of pre-modern tales.
Almost fifty years after it was first introduced, Kitaro is still spawning animated and live action adaptations. There is something in the human condition that predisposes us to take interest in a work like Kitaro. With all of the bizarre shapes and breeds of yokai lurking just out of sight, Mizuki taps into the childhood fascination with the scary and the grotesque. He's taking the impulse to turn over a fallen log in order to spy on the hidden creepy crawlies, and turning the world into that log.
In its live action adaptation, Kitaro tries to serve several purposes. Fortunately, they are not entirely cross currents. The Miura family has been plagued by hard times. Following the death of the mother of the nuclear family, the despondent father (Gô Rijû, a bit older than he was in Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters) has barely been able to maintain a facade of providing for his children. To compound their woes, their apartment complex is haunted by yokai, hired by a developer to clear the location of tenants. Teenage Mika (Mao Inoue of live action Hana yori dango/Boys Over Flowers) is too busy holding down the family to put much stock in hints of yokai activity, but grade-school-age brother Kenta (Ruka Uchida) is determined to get a letter to Kitaro in hopes of summoning a hero with the ability to combat the problem.
So, there's a Kenta audience for the movie, and a Mika audience. Kitaro, is generally portrayed as creepy, or even explicitly frightening, in his own right. In some stories, his role is to scare respect for yokai into the human populous, but this is also thanks in part to the stumpy cartooning of the manga and anime incarnations. Here, he's a role for actor/model/musician/comedian Eiji Wentz. Kitaro is still an unusual looking figure, due to Wentz's multi-racial heritage, and due to being outfitted with Kitaro's trademark hair and vest. While Kitaro still entrenched in a world of unquestionably ugly monster-people, the Kitaro of the live action movie is a decidedly cute guy, meant to hold the interest of teenage girls. The Kentas of the world can take or leave Wentz, but the Mikas are obviously supposed to notice the weird, but noble, sensitive, maybe a bit sullen Wentz-Kitaro.
For Kitaro purists, the best bit would probably be when Kitaro fires out all his hair-needles, leaving him bald, at which point, Wentz legitimately does look unattractively strange. From a less demanding vantage, he's no better or worse than Jô Odagiri as Mushishi's Ginko or Shinobi: Heart Under Moon's Genosuke. In a movie with competent, if broad, acting, Wentz offers a competent, if broad, performance. And, as gauged by a heterosexual male viewer, he does look sufficiently cute.
For the potential Kenta viewers, especially if they are rather young, Kitaro is something of a tricky proposition. In the post Lord of the Rings era, the movie's mix of cg (creatures like the eyeball spirit of the cotton sheet), practical effects (snake hand-cuffs created by wrapping a live snake around the actor's wrist) and prosthetics/suits does not offer up the best looking monsters. It is some where between old Doctor Who and new Doctor Who.
While the movie does offer a good look at many of the yokai creatures, it does not seem particularly confident about showing the creatures in action. Often engagements move at blink of an eye speed. Sometimes this is well advised. Slowing down a situation in which Kitaro's vest protects him by attacking a foe, the garment assault looks Ed Wood caliber. Other times, the speed masks inconsistency, hiding the good along with the bad. Rena Tanaka (Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms, Ganbatte Ikimasshoi) transforms from a cat eared girl to a ferocious cat spirit. At full speed, it gives a quick impression of a reasonable effect, not unlike Large Marge in Pee-wee's Big Adventure. Slowed down, there is a cut where the cat-demon face looks strikingly creepy on the actress, and another cut where the effect is laughable.
Though generally literal about what it is presenting, some of it takes imagination to feel the full impact. Which doesn't mean that the yokai aren't wondrously weird. A disembodied face on a flaming wheel does leave an impression. With that in mind, it is easy to imagine that the kids who are susceptible to being scared by flying monkeys in Wizard of Oz or Gremlins or Ghostbusters will find some nightmare material in Kitaro. Beyond that, there are some events in the movie that might provoke some more grounded worries. It's not quite Bridge To Terabithia level concern, maybe more along the lines of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
The movie does manage to tap into some of the depth of Mizuki's work. The original manga was informed by the real horror of its creator's complicated World War II experiences. Saying the same of the movie would be an overstatement. Nor does its view of modern unemployment compare to post-war scarcity. However, if the scale isn't comparable, the movie still pursues the angle. Regardless of the movie-biz marketable looks of Wentz-Kitaro, it still presents a Rat Man, proudly stinky, and clad in one piece underclothes and rain coat, who acts as a self concerned standard bearer for a host of spirits scraping the barrel for left over food offerings at shrines and badly paying muscle work. Approximately, live action Kitaro is to the manga Kitaro what a classic Disney movie is to its source fairy tale. If you want to look for the subtext, it is still locatable.
A more apparent theme of the feature is one that is common to a number of modern yokai stories. Like Pom Poko, Ghibli's animated saga of shape changing tanuki trying to protect their habitat, the yokai of Kitaro are driven to desperate straights by human encroachment on their traditional stomping grounds. While this idea complements Kitaro's role as a bridge between the human and yokai worlds, the movie is often goofy in its handling of the issue. For example, there is never much of an intention to treat the conflict between the organization trying to develop a yokai forest and the group protesting that development with much seriousness. One of the movies more awe inspiring yokai looks to settle the issue with a capitulation to human progress in exchange for some cute, symbolic gesture. It's nice, but Spirited Away's polluted water spirit it isn't.
The movie is not the most artful handling of Kitaro or yokai in general, but it is effective in achieving its aims. If offers both a cute guy and not so cute monsters. While the dark could be darker, the winning yokai combination of a kaleidoscopic world of brilliant strangeness and hauntingly dark menace is present in the production.
"Chambara," is a genre term for frequently revenge driven period pieces. The defining characteristic of these stories is that their conflicts are settled with quick, brutal sword slices. Hence the name. "Chan-chan" "bara-bara" being the onomatopoeia for sword-on-sword, sword-on-person violence.
Hana: The Tale of a Reluctant Samura or "Hana Yori Mo Naho" ("even more than the flowers,") is renowned director Hirokazu Koreeda's (Kore-Eda)follow-up to his internationally recognized "Nobody Knows." As a non genre rebuttal to genre, the film opens with a snippet of the tale of loyal dedication, as expressed by revenge and suicide, the 47 Ronin. Clearly Hana is not entirely buying into the moral of the classic, as this prologue recounts the revered history in exaggerated comic-book word balloons, set to fairground whimsical flute music. Following a bit about how, after Lord Ako committed hara-kiri and his followers went to ground, looking for an opportunity to exact revenge on Kira Yoshinaka, the text explains "The setting for this movie is one year later (1702), in the back alley row house of the lower end of Edo (Tokyo). Incidents of bloodshed had blown out of fashion with the wind. Then, one ordinary winter morning..."
The sound that awakens ronin, fish mongers, rag collectors and wandering samurai is not the martial noises of chambara. It's the large, mentally impaired resident of the row house, running down the lines of ramshackle residences, calling out "it's morning!" The rare inhabitant not prodded to get out of bed by necessity or the verbal barbs of family members is Aoki Souzaemon or 'Soza.'
As his prominent fencing instructor father was killed in a duel inspired by a game of go, eldest son Soza was tasked with exacting revenge on the killer. Funded by a stipend from the fencing school, and promised a 100 gold ryo reward for executing the task, three years later, Soza has not accomplished much other than installing his life into the slum of Edo, and teacher the local children a few classes on reading and writing. Officially he hasn't found the killer. Unofficially, his target lives nearby. In truth, Soza has been frozen into inaction by his lack of sword prowess, as well as the inconvenient truth that the killer is now living an admirable life, with a wife and son.
As voiced by the drunkards and the wise men of the community, it is not exactly a revelation that samurai, once the martial forces of Japan's warring domains, are an atavistic institution in unified Edo era Japan. In fact, more for fun than political statement, this community has adopted a ritual of parodying the samurai law of vengeance in what could be called guerilla performance art.
Yet, Soza lingers; neither putting his mission behind him, nor committing to completing it. In the modern manner of delayed adulthood, he's not exactly agonizing about the issue either. Balancing the scales of duty and morality factor into his concerns about acting or not acting, but so do disinterest and an ambivalent perspective on a father who was eager to die in battle. Hana is not Kickboxer, with a hero seeking to obtain the skill to realize the act of vengeance, and it’s not overwrought Hamlet either.
Subtlety cannot be counted among Hana's many qualities. One of its explicit metaphors is that the row house community sells their human waste as fertilizer to nearby farmers, then pools the money to buy their holiday rice cakes. While not an unblemished feel good movie, Hana does serve as a complex affirmation. Like the falling cherry blossoms, it finds something to appreciate in the samurai aesthetic. That said, it regards relegating all of that saber rattling in the past as a step towards turning crap into rice cakes.
As a sort of anti-chambara, Hana is dedicatedly interested in human noise. During the film, Soza is summoned back to the family manor to account for himself. His uncle is thrilled to recount a very blue interpretation of Soza's stay in Edo. His brother is vocally upset by his martial shortcomings. And his mother... has her own approach to dealing with the arrangement. Point being, Hana is not simply reveling in the spectacle of the noisy slum hoi polloi. The well to do are equally dysfunctional.
In the row house, the difference is a function of the density of people. The noise of various life stories, from the 47 Ronin, to the tragic tough guy, to the malingering fishmonger buzz around Soza. Hana does not discriminate between the soapy, the obvious and the profound. Nor is it interested in capturing the stories in their entirety. There is an element of privacy, or lack there of, here. In this environment, these people can't help but stumble into each other's business. Even if someone is taking care to indulge in a secret when they think no one is watching, inevitably, someone is.
In spirit, the quirky humanity of Hana feels like a Sundance indie film of the late 90's. Yet, the movie is a crowd pleaser, and for what it is, not one with a modest budget. The sets and costumes of its Edo neighborhood are as intricate and colorful as its cast of characters. As naturalistically grimy and ramshackle as it is, there is a touch of fabulist color to it all. Though neither strictly real or fantasy, it is captivatingly well realized.
Genre has conditioned a response where, when you hear "Reluctant Samurai," you start anticipating the point where the swordsman will reach a threshold where they have to abandon some of that reluctance to fight. Ruruoni Kenshin or Zatoichi aren't looking to draw swords, but their audience is marking time for them to do exactly that. Coming to Hana strictly for a bit of sword on sword, sword on flesh action, you're going to be disappointed. Yet, as an entertaining and provocative movie, Hana is a winner.
Maiko Haaaan!!! is a splendidly unusual film. While it's a particular audience who'd want this as part of their library, the extraordinary comedy is well worth the effort to see, whether through Neflix, a screening, or, if need be, a purchase of the DVD.
The film follows the life long geisha fanaticism of Kimihiko Onizuka. As played by Sadao Abe, it is dizzyingly amazing that Abe is a straight actor/musician, and not a long time performer of one of Japan's vaudevillian comedy routines. As if this were anime, the flamboyant, bowl cut sporting stooge basks in the near-visible aura of his own energy.
Onizuka's day starts with screaming into the cubicles of his ramen corporation workplace as he fervently, but ignorantly exchanges message board flames on the topic of geisha. The day would end with Onizuka leaving his girlfriend (played against type by Battle Royale's Kou Shibasaki ). Geisha-fiend logic obeys the apparent axiom, that if you can't be with geisha, or be near geisha, date someone with some tenuous connection to geisha. Onizuka's girlfriend had been from the epicenter of geisha culture, Kyoto. After being notified of his own corporate transfer/exile to the dead end "topping plant" in Kyoto, he decided that the vicarious connection to the locale that his girlfriend offered was superfluous, and so left her, at the cost of a severe razor stab wound. Is it better or worse that Onizuka explicitly states this to his girlfriend as he moves around their share apartment, clad only in his briefs while he packs to leave?
The efforts of this maniacal dervish to get into the presence of geisha start off as disconcertingly odd, and then continue to amass conspicuous weirdness. Initially, he only has to prove his worth to the chief executive of his ramen manufacturing company to enter through the well protected gates of the world of geisha, but, before matters have concluded, Onizuka's exuberant pursuit of the courtesans has led him onto the professional baseball field, the K-1 ring, and into politics.
The monomaniacal Onizuka is far from endearing, but he is a reliable compass, pointing to the heart of this convoluted narrative. In this shaggy dog tale, it is hard to imagine an actual script plotting Onizuka's trajectory. Twisting, and ratcheting up, the films starts feeling like a improvisational sketch gone out of control. Point A goes to B, goes to C sequentially, but the rationale demands plenty of leeway. At the same time, the set pieces are so vibrant and elaborate, that it is hard to imagine writer Kankuro Kudo (Ping Pong, Zebraman) not meticulously planning out whole the affair.
The films spends some time exploring and explaining the internal and external rules of the geisha community, but it has more fun watching Onizuka scream or constructing brilliantly vibrant set pieces, such as a phalanx of naginata-spear wielding geisha in full regalia marching on a municipal office.
In one hemisphere, Maiko Haaaan looks to geisha as a kitsch object of fanboy obsession. In this respect, there is Onizuka's life long ambition to play strip rock-paper-scissors with a geisha. And, in this respect, the movie features drag performances, a glorious clutter of colorful kimonos, bright make-up over white face-paint, arch characterization and CGI laden extravagance. As demonstrated by the public face of the movie, such as the boy art in the Japanese site, Maiko Haaaan brings the circus to town. Like Onizuka's hair cut, suits and personality, it is impossible not marvel at the bold obnoxiousness.
On the other side, there is a notion of a cultural role of the geisha that is largely misunderstood by the tourists that flock to Kyoto, as well as Onizuka, with their vague, uninformed lust. The movie shades this side with a backdrop of classical tragedy. Without presuming to bow over its audience, this element does succeed in giving the movie a center of gravity. Even if Onizuka and his rival aren't entirely forgivable, this approach does guide the movie into a satisfying conclusion.
Intentionally buffeted by these polar perspectives of the crowded circus and the history enriched significance, Maiko Haaaan becomes an unconventional, rare, possibly legitimately unique experience. You might not know that you want to see a fool cavorting with painted ladies, in fact, it probably is not on your queue of movie tableaus to see. That's exactly why Maiko Haaaan is worth seeking out.
By Rumiko Takahashi
Released by VIZ Media
Reviewer: Scott Green
Boxing comedy One-Pound Gospel is minor Rumiko Takahashi. Fortunately, there are some real gems among the artist's minor works. While it lacks the hook or formula engine of her most popular titles, it is an effective showcase of her award winning talents.
If you spent time in a comic shop in the mid-early 90’s, and weren't too informed about the international scene, the manga you might know included Akira, maybe Lone Wolf And Cub and definitely Rumiko Takahashi's martial arts relationship comedy, Ranma 1/2. A decade later, during the boom, with anime on Cartoon Network and manga dominating bookstore shelves, the title to know was Takahashi's story of a modern girl and a half-dog demon boy from Japan's pre-unification Era of Warring States - Inu Yasha. At a given point during her exposure to North American audiences, Takahashi has generally been one of the most popular manga creators, if not THE most popular. However, beyond that, no manga creator has been as popular in North America as Takahashi, as long as Takahashi.
With Ranma 1/2 running 36 volumes and Inu-Yasha running 56, especially given the formula driven nature of the works, and the natural inclination to hate on what's almost institutionally popular, Takahashi starts looking more like a one woman industry than a dynamic artist. However, even if Takahashi has milked her popular works for super-decade spans, even if her die-hard fans haven't embraced the conclusions to these epics, there is still a deservedly recognizable greatness in her craft. Bringing together memorable characters, informed by her training under Kazuo Koike (LONE WOLF AND CUB, Crying Freeman) and one of the great eyes for conveying physicality on the comic page, Takahashi won those huge audiences and huge serialized runs by connecting to her audience in a way that few working in the medium can equal.
More than her long running franchises (Inu-Yasha, Ranma 1/2, Maison Ikkoku, Urusei Yatsura) One-Pound Gospel closely resembles Takahashi's short explorations of curious people in mundane situations and mundane problems in curious situations, collected under the "Rumic World" banner. The series only ran four volumes, though, infamously, she started the manga in 1987 and didn't finish it until 2007.
The odd couple of One-Pound Gospel is Kosaku Hatanaka and Sister Angela. He's a young, professional boxer whose lack of self discipline when it comes to eating his way out of the flyweight class is driving his coach into an early grave. She's a novice at a nearby convent. In terms of a relationship, Sister Angela has the rare ability to lead Kosaku out of the temptation to gorge himself, at least until he passes the next food vendor.
Gifted with natural talent and luck, Kosaku has an innate upside that justifies his trainer's hopes, making him the focus of the local boxing gym despite his attachment to food and blasé attitude about staying at the weight class that his frame can competitively support. Here's a guy who occasionally works hard, almost always undermines himself and still has a considerable shot at winning a given match. When the coach laments that Kosaku is a "hard guy to like," it's hard to disagree. Consequently, Takahashi chooses not to direct One-Pound Gospel into sports manga territory. While competition does serve as an existential scalpel to reveal the bare truth about Kosaku and his opponent, One-Pound Gospel is not a Hajime no Ippo/Fighting Spirit or Ashida no Joe. One volume in, the manga has already presented evidence that there is no feedback loop weighed by the outcome of the fights. Kosaku's victory is not necessarily a step forward and defeat is nothing crushing, or even stimuli from which he can learn.
Instead of a goal driven journey, One-Pound Gospel functions as dramatic situation comedy. Given his reputation as an underachiever with natural talent, some fighter or their manager will decide that Kosaku is the perfect opponent to serve as a statement: a declarative introduction to the world of professional fighting for one newcomer, a chance to show that a veteran on a cold streak can still win a fight.
The strength of this approach leverages the strengths of Takahashi as a storyteller. The retinue of opponents, each with their own personal stories and connections, allows her to create new characters, exploit what they have to offer, then show them the exit before their novelty wears out. Whether it is the comeuppance of an evil-eyed fighter who skeezes his way into bad situations or the cutting comments from a fighter's no-nonsense wife, the characters are broad, but rewarding. Takahashi might telegraph a particular outburst from the moment that a scene or a character is introduced, but to some extent, that's the point. People watching is always more tantalizing when it's obvious that someone is about to get a drink poured on them, or a shouting match is going to commence at any moment.
Much of this is achieved with the blurred line between the credible and the cartooned in Takahashi's illustration. Abstracted, expressionist faces are married to bodies that carry a necessary realism as they precisely convey elements like Kosaku's yo-yo-ing weight. Rather than present short hand, presuming that the reader will meet her half way by imagining the details, she uses every visual tool at her disposal to sell the effect of her story.
At the same time, Takahashi has a rare skill for leveraging how manga is read. Anticipating how the reader will process the pages of her manga, she's the equivalent of film a director who excels at both comedic and action timing. Her pages use simple grids without the exotic designs of some manga artists, but the manner in which she dictates the time by tuning the size and position of the panels puts the reader in the perfect position to feel the impact of the joke or the in-ring action. A full page image of someone being knocked to the canvas of a practice ring might not be anything extraordinary on its own. Set up with a quick panel of a punch being ducked, then revealed with the turn of the page, Takahashi has put discernable heft into the image. Later, there is a sequence in which, as Kosaku is being pummeled in the ring, a cross that Sister Angela is praying to falls over. Modern comics and movies might be full of these parallel transitions, and if the technique might be distracting in some cases, Takahashi employs it with an unaffected naturalism that perfectly fits into the beat and tone of her stories.
The weakness, as evidenced by the fact that it took Takahashi two decades to complete the work, is that it is difficult to get worked up about a story that inherits its slacker protagonist's aimlessness. To Sister Angela and to his coach, Kosaku is a project, but one that backslides as soon as he's out of sight. There are no stakes, not only because of Kosaku's indifference to success and resistance to the proddings of those seeking to better him, but because there is no sense that any improvements might stick.
Takahashi specializes in these dead-ends. See the fiercely preserved status quos of Ranma 1/2 or Inu-Yasha. Without the circus of Ranma or the mythical questing of Inu-Yasha, the apparent immutability of One-Pound Gospel sits in center focus. Kosaku is too given to squandering his gifts and the faiths of other to root for. He's too decent to root against. He's not developing. Ultimately, the provoked Given that Kosaku is not a character that attracts sympathy, One-Pound Gospel 's run of a, for Takahashi, brief span of four volumes is not necessarily disappointing. However, Takahashi is a manga artist who knows how to entertain, and, in carrying out her craft, she offers plenty to admire and enjoy.
Having lost the majority of recent anime licenses with the dissolution of their relationship with Sojitz's ARM division, North American anime distributor ADV Films had indicated that they would announce a replacement partner at the Otakon anime convention. Instead, during their panel at the event, ADV co-founders Matt Greenfield and John Ledford announced that the company will be releasing live action genre films under the "Switchblade Films" label, including:
Attack Girl Swim Team vs. The Undead
Cruel Restaurant Gluttonous series
Female Prisoner Epsilon
The company also acquired the licensed to three episode robot maid anime OVA Koharu Biyori, which they will be releasing as Indian Summer
According to Anime on DVD, ADV's October releases include Peacemaker: Complete Collection ($89.98) and Slayers (Movies / OVAs): Complete Collection ($69.98) on the 28th.
Latino Review has given an A+ to Justin Marks' Voltron: Defender of the Universe script.
What is so damn cool about the script is that it pays homage to both incarnations of the Voltron cartoon – the American and Japanese versions. GOLION came out back in 1981 in Japan, three years later in America. GOLION was considered too hardcore for American audiences so it was edited down into what would be VOLTRON. Wikpedia nailed down the differences of Voltron and Golion in an awesome article and expose of the Voltron phenomenon, check it out.
The script has the tone, edge and dark elements of GOLION.
VOLTRON is a post apocalyptic movie and a fucking awesome one at that too. Just the way it should be because that was the setup of both cartoons. A little bit of ROAD WARRIOR, a little bit INDEPENDENCE DAY, a little bit WAR OF THE WORLDS, a little bit of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, a little bit of THE TERMINATOR, and a little bit of THE MATRIX with some STARGATE thrown in for good measure!
Bloody Disgusting reports MERCY writing duo, Vince Di Meglio and Tim Rasmussen will be writing Dimension Films' adaption of Tomie.
The frequently adapted Junji Ito manga looked at the murderous influence of an immortal teenage girl.
In contrast, Bloody Disgusting describes the plot
In the film, following some trauma in her past that has since been repressed, a young woman is trying to recover her memories with the help of a psychiatrist. During her hypnosis sessions, she repeats the name "Tomie" but is unable to recall where she knows it from. Meanwhile, a police detective is investigating a string of brutal murders, where he also runs across the name "Tomie." How are two connected?
Via Anime News Network, KFCinema reports that the news out of Korea is that Chris Nahon's live action adaptation of Blood: The Last Vampire is scheduled to open 2,000 screens in North America next March. The film stars Gianna Jun (Ji-hyun Jun of My Sassy Girl) as Saya, the vampire hunting, vampire school girl.
France's Pathé and Hong Kong's EDKO Film plan to distribute the film in other countries around the world simultaneously. Pathé lists a June 2009 release date for France, but the current Korean release date has not been announced.
Palgrave Macmillan is scheduled to release Andrew Osmond'sSpirited Away: BFI Film Classics in America on August 19th, following its recent British release. The book discusses Hayao Miyazaki's Best Animated Feature Oscar award winning film's themes and explores its production history, as well as offering quotes from Miyazaki and his colleagues and more than sixty color stills.
Osmond, a freelance film journalist published in Sight and Sound, Empire and SFX, has also written 'Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist,' scheduled to be released by Stone Bridge Press this fall.
Amazon has the book for order here
Osmond's Sight and Sound piece on Howl's Moving Castle can be read here, and his feature on Spirited Away can be read here.
The 18-inch Mixed Media Statue retail for $249.99
Sideshow also revealed the Darkwing Duck statue.
The 6" polystone statue Electric Tiki will be released in 1st Qtr 2009 for $99.99
It can be pre-ordered here
The Yamato USA Akira fantasy statue, based on Dorian Cleavenger is available for pre-order.
The 10.5" statue will be released in 1st Qtr 2009 for 1st Qtr 2009.
The formerly SDCC exclusive Anarchy Mini Gobi Kozik, with character design by Gobi, paint design by Frank Kozik, sculpted by Monster 5 is being offered online
What might be a Revoltech Dark Knight
Danny Choo looks at recent anime figures
Custom Brock SampsonGo-Go Yubari Munny
Alt Japan on omoke figures
In other merch news, Right Stuf, Inc. and Nozomi Entertainment announced new T-shirt and hoodie sweatshirt design -- featuring the characters of "Shuichi" and "Ryuichi" from the GRAVITATION, as well as three new T-shirts -- featuring character artwork from the anime series THE MELANCHOLY OF HARUHI SUZUMIYA -- for 2008.
The new design is printed on "regular fit" T-shirts, constructed from 6.1 ounce, 100% pre-shrunk cotton, as well as a hooded, "regular fit" sweatshirt, constructed from a 9.5 oz., 80/20 cotton/poly blend. (Sizing information included below.)
Gravitation T-Shirt: Shuichi & Ryuichi Pals -- Blue
(Advance Release) Pre-Book: 8/26/2008 - Street Date: 8/31/2008
(Wide Release) Pre-Book: 9/30/2008 - Street Date: 10/28/2008
MSRP: $16.99 (XXL $18.99)
Available in sizes S-XXL
Regular fit; 6.1 ounce, 100% pre-shrunk cotton
- Small: Catalog #: 5524S
- Medium: Catalog #: 5524M
- Large: Catalog #: 5524L
- XL: Catalog #: 5524X
- XXL: Catalog #: 5524XX
about.com:manga has confirmed that Vertical's release of Osamu Tezuka's medical adventure Black Jack will be available in exclusive hard cover editions through Diamond.
The limited editions will be packaged with extra stories that are not available in the softcovers, starting with "The Two Janns" in volume 1.
According to Vertical's marketing guru Stephen Vrattos, "When Diamond approached us to do exclusive hardcovers of Volumes 1-3, we needed something to make the volumes worthy of being hardcover exclusives, i.e. unpublished material. So we asked Tezuka Productions if they'd allow us to translate and include these recently re-released stories one each for the hardcover volumes."
So far only three hardcover editions are planned, and they'll only be printed in limited quantities: 1,500 copies for Volume 1 and 1,200 copies for both Volumes 2 and 3. These limited edition hardcovers will only be available at specialty / comics shops with Diamond Comics Distributors accounts. The striking cover art by Vertical Art Director Peter Mendelsund also make these volumes, at $24.95 a pop, well worth pre-ordering from your local comics shop. Both hardcover and softcover editions of Black Jack will hit the shelves in September 23, 2008.
Vertical's editions are designed to reproduce the deluxe editions of Black Jack that were released in Japan, which include stories in the order that Tezuka-sensei himself selected. In these deluxe editions, Tezuka opted to exclude a few stories for reasons unknown. Very recently, Tezuka Production announced that it would be re-publishing a few of these 'forbidden' stories for the first time since their original release. It's from this stash of stories that the extras for the hardcover edition were found.
Jason Thompson (Manga: The Complete Guide) is speaking August 15 at the opening recent to the Napa Valley Museum's "Manga & Anime: An Exhibition of Popular Cartoon Art" exhibit.
Opening Reception 5:30pm-7:00pm. 6:30pm Special Presentation featuring Jason Thompson, author of Manga: The Complete Guide. , 55 Presidents Cir., on the grounds of the Veterans Home of California, Yountville.
Fee: Members:Free, 7-17 yrs: $3.50, Adults: $5Time: 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. Phone Number: (707) 944.0500
The New York Anime Festival, held September 26th through the 28th, at the Jacob Javits Center in New York, NY, announced that the convention will host voice actor Brad Swaile (Setsuna F. Seiei in Bandai Entertainment's Gundam 00 and Light in VIZ Media's Death Note).
NYAF also announced it is partnering with Del Rey Manga and Samurai Beat Radio to hold a Cosplay Day at the largest Japanese bookstore in North America -- New York City's Kinokuniya Bookstore -- on Sunday, August 17.
Kinokuniya Bookstore, located at 1073 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan, will present a day-long series of events showcasing the diverse world of Japanese cosplay and the World Cosplay Summit -- an international cosplay event held each summer in Nagoya, Japan. Sonnya Paz and Renee Gloger, Team USA in the 2008 World Cosplay Summit, will attend Kinokuniya's Cosplay Day as Special Guests.
Kinokuniya's Cosplay Day will include special all-day activities as well as a series of cosplay-themed presentations…
Kinokuniya Cosplay Day All-Day Events
Anime And Manga Discount: Any customer who comes into Kinokuniya Bookstore at 1073 Avenue of the Americas on Sunday, August 17 wearing anime, manga, or video game cosplay will receive 10% off all anime and manga purchases.
Cosplay Day Giveaway: All customers who come into Kinokuniya Bookstore can enter to win a number of prizes from Del Rey Manga and the New York Anime Festival. Winners will be drawn at 5:30 PM, and customers must be present to claim their prizes.
Kinokuniya Cosplay Day Event Schedule
3:00 to 4:00 PM: World Cosplay Summit Memories.
4:00 to 4:30 PM: Cosplay Q&A.
4:30-5:00 PM: Samurai Beat Radio.
5:30 PM: Raffle Drawing.
Photo by Anna Fischer
VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media, LLC that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, has announced a series of special theatrical screenings of Happily Ever After, a live-action comedy directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi (Memories of Tomorrow, 20th Century Boys) and based on a popular manga series by Yoshiie Gouda.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER was the subject of controversy upon its initial release in 2007 for its depiction of a co-dependent and devoted, but troubled wife, and her boorish, unemployed and often abusive husband. But director Yukihiko Tsutsumi keeps the laughs coming as he explores a sensitive subject in a visually striking, and darkly comedic way. Yukie Morita (played by Miki Nakatani of Train Man: Densha Otoko) works hard at a noodle shop and struggles to make ends meet, while her husband Isao (played by Hiroshi Abe of Godzilla 2000) hangs around all day gambling and getting into trouble. Isao's uncontrollable temper often results in the dinner table being overturned and their meal on the floor. Everyone advises Yukie to leave Isao, but her love for him is unconditional because he was the one who initially saved her from misery with his unconditional love.
SEATTLE - Theatrical Screening: August 15-21
Grand Illusion Cinema
1403 NE 50th St. , Seattle WA 98105
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - Theatrical Screening: October 4
Scotts Dale International Film Festival
Pittsburgh, PA - Theatrical Screening: October 10
2008 Japanese Film Festival at University of Pittsburgh
Bang Zoom! Entertainment announced an Adventures In Voice Acting™ workshop will held on September 26th and 27th during the 2008 New York Anime Festival, taking place September 26-28 at the Jacob Javitz Convention Center in New York City.
Otakon announced that next year, the east coast's largest anime convention will be held July 17th-19th
Canned Dogs notes that in light of recent events, and received threats, this year's Comic Market (Comiket) has instituted bag check. The prominent doujinish event starts August 15th and expects over 150,000 people a day.
Japanese metal/visual kei band Dir en grey will start a North America tour on November 5th. Anime News Network lists the dates here
Anime News Network reports that VCI Entertainment announced plans to release 80's sci-fi anime Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs (originally Star Musketeer Bismarck), starting with a 16 or 17 episode DVD set on November 18th. The remaining portion of the anime will be released across two additional sets. Only the English localized audio will be included, but clips of the Japanese original ill be used as extra features.
Digital Manga Inc, known for their DMP manga releases, has launched emanga.com Beta
At emanga.com, customers can view sample pages for free or view the entire book by paying for a time-based rental. "All content available through eManga is streamed to your computer through Adobe Flash player," explains Director of Operations Miguel Balauag, "You can trade eManga points to rent titles for a limited amount of time. If you later decide to rent the same title again, it will be automatically upgraded to an "unlimited" rental, which does not have time restrictions."
The emanga.com site features a unique manga viewer that allows readers to view single pages, double page spreads, or each individual panel. In some cases, readers will be able to press play and have the panels scroll automatically for a hands free experience.
The site will be in beta testing for the next month. Readers are invited to take a look at the free samples currently available on the site – including L’ Étoile Solitaire by Yuno Ogami.
The first 100 readers to register will receive 400 free points with which to purchase additional content.
Crunchyroll has announced deal to digitally distribute media from ADV, Gonzo, Media Blasters
Crunchyroll will to provide streaming, subscription, and download-to-own viewing for twelve animated series and feature film properties from ADV Films.
Over the next 12 months, the following will be offered
Angelic Layer - 26 episode animated series
BASToF Syndrome - 26 episode animated series
Best Student Council - 26 episode animated series
Chance Pop Session - 13 episode animated series
Lady Death - animated feature
Magical Play - 22 episode animated series
Martian Successor Nadesico: Prince of Darkness - animated feature
Nurse Witch Komugi - 6 episode animated series
Parasite Dolls - animated feature
Saiyuki - 50 episode animated series
Sin - animated feature
Yesterday - live-action film
Download to own Media Blasters titles include:
Flesh For The Beast (live action)
Download-to-own: $9.95. Catalog Number: SSDVD-0516
Eriko and her friends finally make it to an exclusive high school and they're ready to make the most of it! For these girls, having fun is their number one priority. Right from the start, they're causing trouble, meeting boys, forging friendships, making enemies ‹ you know, typical teenage girl behavior. The hit series GIRL'S HIGH gives you a raw, hilarious fly-on-the-wall peek into the lives of these girls as they experience for the first time the awkwardness, embarrassment and camaraderie of high school life.
Download-to-own: $1.99/episode. Catalog Number: AWDVD-0805
In 1998's Kite creator/director Yasuomi Umetsu explored the dark underworld of a teenage girl assassin. In Kite: Liberator, which is more of a spin-off than a direct sequel, ten years has now passed. A new teenage assassin is cleaning up the grimy streets of Tokyo. The police call her the Angel of Death, an unfeeling assassin who eliminates her targets with grace and precision, leaving only a flurry of feathers across the bloody crime scene as her calling card. What the public is unaware of is that this notorious hitman is actually a polite young lady named Monaka. Could the placid face of an innocent high school girl really disguise such a ruthless killer? Monaka seems to be just an average high school girl. But she has a dark and terrible secret linking her past to a murderous police detective and her future to a fatal duel with the one person she loves most in the world.
Download-to-own: $5.95. Catalog Number: AWDVD-0806
Machine Girl (live action
Download-to-own: $9.95. Catalog Number: TSDVD-0739
Ramen Fighter Miki
In a world where terror grips the land and innocents have no solace from violence and brutality, one girl walks the line between life and death to bring her own special brand of... Ramen! Miki Onimaru works at her parent's Ramen shop, making deliveries, waiting tables, and attracting customers with cute, girlish charm. Somehow, Miki can't complete even one of these simple tasks without the full employment of her extensive bone-crunching, skull-splitting martial arts moves and penchant for unleashing relentless destruction. Can Miki get through the day without messing up and angering her Mom, who makes her look like a gentle kitten in comparison?
Download-to-own: $1.99/episode. Catalog Number: AWDVD-0715
Shadow: Dead Riot (live action)
$9.95. Catalog Number: SSDVD-0604
Crunchyroll will provide free online streaming of GDH K.K. titles and provide download-to-own for a small fee ($2-$3.00 U.S. depending upon platform).
Sora Naegino is an ordinary girl in every way except that she has a big dream. She loves the Kaleido Stage - an extravagant circus show that's comparable to lavish Broadway entertainment. Her dream is to become the top star of the Kaleido Stage known as the Kaleido Star. Sora's life takes a dramatic turn when the owner of Kaleido Stage recognizes her potential and lets her join the troupe full of beautiful and unique performers.
Brace yourself as Sora plunges into the dazzling world of Show Biz. Sora's single-minded pursuit of her dream comes alive not only with acrobatic stunts and showy costumes but also with romance, rivalry and friendship.
Welcome to the days of ancient Edo-period Japan a time of social chaos and constant sword battle. PEACEMAKER KUROGANE follows the life of a young kid named 'TETSU,' as he is driven to join the SHINSENGUMI a sort of samurai S.W.A.T. force in search of power to avenge his father's murder. TETSU dreams of learning their renowned fighting prowess in order to be strong enough one day to face the shadowy figure who cut down his father. But along the way, he faces the complexities of the SHINSENGUMI; he rarely obeys the protective advice of his older brother 'TATSU,' and learns that perhaps his destiny is as his father once told him: to be the PEACEMAKER!
It's a world of war that desperately needs peace. And to achieve peace, a peacemaker is needed...
T.O Entertainment's computer animated film, EGG MAN will also debut in the Fall of 2008.
EGG MAN is a futuristic psychological computer animated thriller by T.O. Entertainment based off the prestigious Japanese Konomys award winning book, "Monologues of Universal Transverse Mercator," written by the critically-acclaimed author Mr. Yumeaki Hirayama. A psychopathic killer known as "Egg Man" has been caught, incarcerated and is awaiting his death sentence. Karen, a beautiful and brave police woman, is assigned to the "Egg Man" case to find the whereabouts of a missing dead body. "Egg Man" meets his cell-mate Š Prisoner 205. Who is Prisoner 205? Is Prisoner 205 another in-mate awaiting his death sentence as well or an android utilized by the police to collect information about him and his knowledge of the corpse? Who is really manipulating whom?
After his Shonen Jump collaberation Shaman King manga creator Hiroyuki Takei, and BONES anime Hero Man, Stan Lee revealed that this third Japanese collaboration will see the Spider-Man creaor work with Gonzo parent company on an anime called "Quartz"
Dream Ranch Japan recently announced that they will be producing an anime adaptation of Ultimo.
Nausicaa.net notes the Ghibli production blog indicates that Yoshiyuki Momose (director of the Ghiblies Episode 2 short) is working a new movie from the studio.
Gunota reports the first Zeta Gundam Blu-ray Disc Memorial Boxes will be releases on December 19th, followed by the second box on January 23. The limited item, available until January 22 (2010), will be packaged with a 60-page booklet and a box with brand new art, and features an HD master from a new print.
UVERworld (Bleach, Blood+) will be providing the initial theme song for the upcoming second season of Gundam OO
Virtual representations of Kyoko Kano and Mika Kano, the "Kano Sisters," will be appearing in direct to DVD collection of three animated 10 minute shorts. Susumu Matsushita (Kiba) will be creating designs for the Production I.G animated work. Distributions will be based on pre-orders
Via Anime News Network
Macoto Tezka, announced that he will be completing Mori no Densetsu (Legend of the Forest), the final unfinished work of his late father and anime pioneer Osamu Tezuka. Started in 1987, the first and fourth of the anime, set to the four movements of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4, were completed before Tezuka passed away in 1989.
Tezuka Productions released the two completed parts on Apple's online iTunes Store in the United States.
Studio Pierrot has animated four shorts adapting Julia Vuori's Sika books to be sold on memory cards at the Eki Museum's "Julia Vuori Picture Book Original Drawing Exhibition"
The newly launched site for Madhouse's Mai-Mai Shinko and the Millennium-Old Magic reveal that Black Lagoon's Sunao Katabuchi will be directing the anime feature.
Coast Guard manga Limit of Love Umizaru and single mother manga Nonchan Noriben will receive live action adaptations
Fist of the North Star's Kenshiro and Yuria will mark the 25th anniversary of the martial arts manga's 25th anniversary with a "soul wedding" on September 13th in Tokyo
777 free "invitations" will be distributed through Coamix's Weekly Comic Bunch magazine, the Wedding GyaO website for engaged couples, and the official Fist of the North Star website.
According to Ryuganji, reports that South Korean, Volcano High director Kim Tae-gyun and Death Note screenwriter Oishi Tetsuya will be collaberating on a live action adapation of vampire manga Higanjima. The film is scheduled for summer 2009.
The site also notes that Tekkon Kinkreet director Michael Arias will be directing live action film Heaven’s Door. Omori Mika ("Install", "Detroit Metal City") adapts the scripts based on 1997 German action comedy "Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door". Plaid will again work with Arias on the sound track.
the OVA 26th episode of Dragonaut - The ResonanceSpace Adventure Cobra
The trailer for the Casshen revival
Toru Furuya (Amuro Ray in Mobile Suit Gundam, Yamcha in Dragon Ball) has been cast as the title character in the Madhouse animated series.
Tokyopop Manga ‘Postponed,’ Not Canceled?
Following a the company's restructuring and layoff, Diamond distributors listed a number of Tokyopop manga releases as "canceled". The publisher has now clarified to Publisher's Weekly
Despite rumors that Tokyopop has canceled numerous titles, marketing director Marco Pavia says he has not issued any cancellation list and that many of the titles purported to be on the chopping block will be published on a modified schedule.
Pavia says the books on both lists were postponed, not permanently canceled. "We obviously have restructured our publishing program and are going month by month with fewer titles," he says. That requires going back to the license holders to discuss the new schedules. "We are talking about either revising the schedule or looking at alternatives such as online [publication]," he says. While he did not rule out dropping some titles, he says, if that happens, "We will certainly let everyone know."
Comics212 collects a list of effected titles.
During the Otakon anime convention, Bandai Entertainment announced that they licensed the .hack//G.U. Trilogy anime. .hack//G.U Trilogy the movie, was released on DVD and Blu-ray Japan in March. The multi-media .hack franchise followers characters whose lives become enmeshed in a fantasy MMORPG, though the game portion of the franchise themselves are offline, single players.
Anime News Network reports that FUNimation exercised a power-of-attorney agreement to remove digitally distributed, fan translated anime (fansubs) of Monochrome Factor, Nabari no Ou, and Katekyo Hitman Reborn! on behalf of d-rights, the Japanese production company of these anime titles. Funimation and d-rights' agreement also covers Bamboo Blade and El Cazador de la Bruja.
In the past, FUNimation has exercised power-of-attorney to stop the fansub distribution of anime that they have not licensed to distribute themselves (Bokurano).
Upcoming Dark Horse Manga Releases
BERSERK VOLUME 27
Kentaro Miura (W/A)
On sale Jan 28
B&w, 216 pages
TPB, 5 1/8" x 7 1/4"
CHUNCHU: GENOCIDE FIEND VOLUME 4
Kim Sung-Jae (W) and Kim Byung-Jin (A)
On sale Jan 28
b&w, 184 pages
TPB, 5 1/8" x 7 3/8"
GHOST TALKER'S DAYDREAM VOLUME 3
Saki Okuse (W) and Sankichi Meguro (A)
On sale Jan 14
b&w, 216 pages
TPB, 5" x 7"
THE KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE VOLUME 8
Eiji Otsuka (W), Housui Yamazaki (A), and Bunpei Yorifuji (Cover)
On sale Jan 7
b&w, 208 pages
TPB, 5" x 7"
PATH OF THE ASSASSIN VOLUME 14: BAD BLOOD
Kazuo Koike (W) and Goseki Kojima (A)
On sale Jan 7
b&w, 304 pag
in like a movie series or something. Especially with TDK being so popular, now would be the perfect time, lol. DO IT DISNEY. <br> Also, surprised to see Solid Snake so high on Japan's favorite characters list, I thought MGS was less popular over there. Not that he doesn't deserve to be there, just glad to see Japan recognizing true badassness.
I love the way they intertwined the story of the 47 Ronin into it...On a side note just watched the first couple episodes of the Blade of the Immortal anime.Very dissapointed in the crappy animation.They sucked the soul outta that great manga.
and as long as the Robots looks good, I'll be okay with it I'm sure. But that script concept sounds terrible, and nothing like the show. What does Earth have to do with any of it? Sounds like a lame cop out to set it in yet another NYC setting. Sounds like they don't want to bother with the effort it takes to create a whole new world. It's not a good sign.