Animation and Anime

AICN Anime-Studio 4°C's Tweeny Witches, Guin Saga, Chunchu: The Genocide Fiend, Upcoming Anime and More

Published at: Aug. 22, 2008, 8:35 a.m. CST by scottgreen

Logo handmade by Bannister Column by Scott Green
Reviews
Anime Spotlight: Tweeny Witches
Prose Spotlight: Guin Saga Volume 3 - The Battle of Nospherus
Manhwa Spotlight: Chunchu: The Genocide Fiend
News
Upcoming In Japan
Manga on iPhone
Anime on American TV
Astro Boy Casting News
Business News
Event News
Manga Catagory For Hugo Awards
AICN Figures News...
Upcoming CMX Reviews
Upcoming Viz Releases
FUNimation Schedules Titles, Sojitz/Geneon Releases
Worth Checking Out...

Anime Spotlight: Tweeny Witches Vol. 1-Arusu in Wonderland Released by Anime Works

Tweeny Witches can be thought of as an anime "There Will Be Blood". If you want to reduce There Will Be Blood, it's a man who does not find happiness in success. If you want to reduce Tweeny Witches, it's literally a brand of Alice in Wonderland. If you want to reduce it further, Witches appears to be a story of tweens compensating for absent parents. In the case of There Will Be Blood or Tweeny Witches, "what" is not nearly as fascinating has "how." Neither is offering a newly minted, original story, so much as they are an evolutionary mutation in the mode of relating that story In this case, Keita Amemiya (Iria, Mechanical Violator Hakaider) Yasuhiro Aoki and the animators at Studio 4°C (Tekkon Kinkreet, The Animatrix - "Beyond", "A Detective Story", "Kid's Story", Gotham Knight - "Have I Got A Story For You", "Working Through Pain") experiment with their craft while telling the story of a spirited girl from our world, transported to a fantasy land divided in war between witches and warlocks. Specifically, Arusu (Japanese phonetic Alice), was a problematically high spirited eleven year old, minding her single mother and causing a bit of havoc at school, when, mid prank, a book of magic left to her by her absent father, spirited her into a dense, tangled jungle. The situation turns even stranger after spotting a remarkably convoluted bit of fauna, a sort of stuffed animal/abstract art project, seemingly part button-eyed rabbit and part legume with bent bits of metal protruding from its back. With this creature in her arms, Arusu becomes the target of a sudden thunderstorm as two UFO's buzz her. And, without further ado, Arusu and her franken-friend are deposited in a series of cages by stern witch-ling Sheila and nervous second Eva. To Arusu's displeasure, she discovers A) the witches of this magical kingdom have a quasi-industrialized system for capturing 100 species of fairies, which are imprisoned and utilized for spell components B) humans are about as welcome as a virulent plague C) far from her idealized vision, few practitioners see magic as a tool for making people happy. In characterization and plot, the conceit free dynamic transitions make developments fascinating to watch. A character like the painfully serious Sheila might be a stock personality, but without inventing a new back-story, Tweeny Witches offers a credible justification for the behavior. Beyond the well reasoned initial equation, the anime demonstrates a deft ability to redirect personalities like Sheila's. Characters change course or reveal hidden facets without betraying previously established traits. It's a matter of applying the right force to the right spot. Because its believable, even during these early episodes it is quite intense and moving to watch a well aimed comment or event cause the subjects to reconsider or change course.
Where Tweeny Witches really strikes its own path is in how it presents itself. At a recent party, I watched the host give a glass of carbonated lemonade to a four year old. The kid had had lemonade before, but because the kid's parents restricted his soda consumption, he was unfamiliar with carbonated drinks. He didn't know what to make of the lemonade, so he described it as "spicy!" Structurally, Tweeny Witches is definitely "spicy!" It's not manufactured for ease of use. Nor is the difficulty part of some intellectual puzzle. Instead, it's new. It's fast, but not interested in the shortest distance between two points. It's in love with elaborate mechanisms and animated "performances," but not capturing the obvious ones. Bits of Pokémon, Harry Potter wizard school, and the anime approach to Alice and Wonderland bubble in the brew of Tweeny Witches. Then, the pacing of this concoction of familiar ingredients is brought to a frothing boil. The jumbled product does not resemble a puzzle so much as it does a kid telling a story in spurts, occasionally out of order, and generally without the context needed to gracefully follow the narrative. Episode one initiates the confusion. The transition from Arusu's world of domestic stress and school based social stress to the world of witches and fairies is a bit like following someone walking out of a middle school detention room and into a particle physics lab in the middle of a deadline crush. Not only does the viewer share Arusu's disadvantage of unfamiliarity with the esoteric rules of the world she stepped into, the narrative initially jumps back and forth between before and after the transition. Exacerbating this confused excitement is a format in which 25 minute episodes are divided into 12 minute mini-block, with mid-way title cards. In practice, this means far fewer eased transitions than the typical anime series. On a smaller scale, the pronounced confusion and naturalism is even more unconventional. Characters are often viewed through imperfectly framed shots. If the focus is on the face of a slouching figure, one eye might be in view, while the top of the other is cut off. During a conversation, the point of view might be across the room, looking at the back of the speakers or focusing on the face of the person listing then one speaking. If this were film, you could call the look "haphazard," as if not only being shot without a script, but shot by an operator uninterested in formalizing the images. Get most of the shot here... Focus intensely on the expression of an observer there... Get distracted by a shoe or some background motion somewhere else.
In a way, this directorial style is life like. If something exciting or something really weird is happening-if a kid is standing on a broom stick to surf/fly it, if someone is going to get grabbed and lifted up by their collar, if some creature is performing some ritual behavior - then you stop to watch with full attention. If a teacher, a peer or a boss is droning on, then your gase my wander to check the reactions of other listeners, or a spot on the wall. This might be am alternative, experimental approach to presenting action in anime, but it does not feel like cleverness for the sake of cleverness. Still, whether it is the zany antics of creatively bizarre creatures or the pronounced expressiveness of the character animation, the evident thought that went into the crafting of Tweeny Witches stands out. No opportunity is squandered in this production. Whether it is an expression, a posture, a color hue or a set design, each shot is doing something interesting. When it comes together, such as in a scene of Arusu and Eva traipsing around a swamp, outfitted with odd fairy-busting gear, as they increasingly become disillusioned by the activity, the combination of imaginative oddity and human character animation is a delight to observe.
Beyond these diversions from the norm, episodes are capped with short avant-garde previews, featuring more profoundly experimental or alternative works of animation, such as minimalisticly animated Moebius like sketches, pastels or cut-out silhouettes passing over a traffic light. Occasionally these are simply transfixing spectacles, but when they reflect the characters' memories or foreshadowing, the fluid emotiveness of these sequences can be heartbreaking. Neither American nor Japanese anime fans have uniformly embraced radical experiments. In recent years, a number of prominent anime productions have allowed visionary animators to put their mark on specific episodes. To identify some noteworthy examples: Osamu Kobayashi on episode 4 of Gurren Lagann Hiroyuki Okuno on episode 7 of Samurai 7 Satoru Utsunomiya on Aquarion episode 19 Norio Matsumoto on Naruto episode 133 And, when these innovators opt not to slavishly follow the static rules of limited models and clean, face-on shot framing, the outcry is invariably "what happened to the animation budget!?" In the case of Gurren Lagann, the counter-criticism to message board posts was contentious enough to result in the resignation of producer and studio co-founder Takami Akai. As much as North American anime fans like to proclaim their passion for the distinctive imagery of anime, for every embraced FLCL, there is a rejected or ignored Cat Soup.
Fan-events generally offer plenty of upsetting tableaus. Near the top of my personal list a was situation where a large screen projection conference room attracted a couple dozen viewers for Tekkon Kinkreet, then filled to capacity with hundreds for a few episodes of the Death Note anime. To put the observation another way, if there is not a recognizable name like "Satoshi Kon" attached, even among dedicated anime fans, the interest in the frontiers of the form is minimal. Not to discount the opinion of fans that dislike the style of Cat Soup or Tweeny Witches, but if your first impression is that these anime are "weird" or "low budget," try giving them a closer second look. Any fan of anime, or animation in general should at least give Tweeny Witches a concerted try. Even if it is not to your liking, what it attempts still warrants appreciation.

Prose Spotlight: Guin Saga Volume 3 - The Battle of Nospherus by Kaoru Kurimoto Released by Vertical

The Battle of Nospherus would be comparable to Return of the Jedi's Battle of Endor, if rather than a crowd pleasing demonstration of Luddism, the Ewoks were a species that had to put aside inter-tribal cannibalism and slave capture in order to wage an ecology razing insurgence on the invading empire. Three volumes into the 120+ volume long Guin Saga, the fantasy epic has committed itself to total war. It might only encompass tens of thousands of monkey-men versus an expeditionary force, but rather than skirmished based Risk tactics, the novel commits itself to unbridled, apocalyptic warfare. Gainax's Evangelion precursor Aim For the Top-Gunbuster acted out genre tropes on a staggering scale. Gainax purposefully dwarfed this in some respects by the sequel, Diebuster, then by the recent work, Gurren Lagann, but in huge, consequential genre conflicts, in the arena of anime/manga/ect, Gunbuster is still a king of the hill. As the six episode OVA approaches the midnight hour, humanity's battle with the Space Monsters (charmingly "Uchuu Kaijuu" in Japanese), with the creatures reacting like antibodies fighting off an infection, it begins to look like a matter of extermination of one species or the other. In a move of desperation, humanity begins cannibalizing the planets of the solar system in order to build weapons capable of erasing swathes of the galaxy. Within the context of Guin Saga, the scope of the Battle of Nospherus hardly represents a vital juncture on the world stage. It's fighting off some tribal creatures that harry the outposts of a nation whose ambitions generally relate to conquering other, developed nations. Even if the volume does reveal that there is more on the agenda than ending the threat of raiding monkey men, what drives the volume is that for these monkey men, the invading army represents a threat as dire as the Uchuu Kaijuu of Gunbuster. The clash of precise military planning against cunning and animal ferocity brilliantly taps into the male fascination with violence and might. Ironically, or perhaps fittingly, "Kaoru Kurimoto" is the pen name employed by female writer Sumiyo Imaoka. As exciting as it is to read about squads of armored men swallowing their fear and regrouping in formation to slice through their savage foe in a brutal counter attack, nothing in the novel is more than a stray thought away from a grounded, unpleasant implication. The story is exhilarating but not comfortable in its thrills. As a host of popular media (games, movies, novels, franchises across all three like Bourne or Tom Clancy) can attest, there is something compelling about the idea of crack forces for a highly trained military on the front line. While the armored knights of the novel are unambiguously the antagonists of the story, the chapters that focus on this group do glory in the fascist appeal of uniforms and the pursuit of pragmatic objectives over morality. Yet, without invasively making a point of it, Kurimoto does allow disquieting echoes of modern empire-building to sound some haunting notes. At the same time, the story of young conscripts dying far from home can't help but rein in the martial glee. Guin Saga's attention to lore and complex details lends the novels' an impression of a well realized world. The Battle of Nospherus describes how a tribe delicately gathers a substance, then how that tribe pours years worth of that effort into corralling nearly all of the region's flesh eating slime monsters, finally, how, after setting the nauseating organisms onto the invading army, the amorphous colony was set on fire. It doesn't take pathological geek obsessiveness or sensitivity to consider, even if the monkeys win their battle for survival, using up most of their vital supplies and killing off most of a species is going to have some nasty consequences. Given that this is a fantasy novel, Battle of Nospherus does leverage more than invocations of concrete concerns. Specifically, in what appears to be a point in the charted course for Guin Saga, the volume features an account of a Unknown Kadath-ish trek through an unearthly landscape. Though this sort of Lovecraftian venture is generally "indescribable," Kurimoto does not stumble on the task of expressing it. Comparable to the realized nightmares of works like Stephen King and Peter Straub's The Talisman, Kurimoto successfully establishes the details to make the location tangible. Starting with the resolution of the cliff-hanger to Book Two: Warrior in the Wilderness and diving into the heat of the Battle of Nospherus, the like named novel is perpetually eventful. There is always a rationale for what is happening. One action, decision or plan sets the next in motion. There is some authorial slight of hand, keeping some mystery and throwing in some X factors, but there is little cheating. No sudden "and then...." introductions into for branches from the narrative. What "The Battle of Nospherus" lacks is characters. The primary personalities of the previous two books, and presumably going forward in the Saga do make appearances and play out their roles. There are small, but presumably significant developments in the personalities of the antagonists. Too much occurs to call anything in Guin Saga static world building, but while all the events of the first two volumes where taking place, a story telling engine was being erected. Now, it’s churning. Given the efficiency witnessed in telling an involving story without using much character or setting developments, the fact that Guin Saga has run over 120 volumes seems less surprising.

Manhwa Spotlight: Chunchu: The Genocide Fiend Volumes 2-3 Written by Kum Sung-Jae Illustrated by Kim Byung-Jin Released by Dark Horse Manhwa

Judging by how its high concept could be described, this Korean manhwa should be as invincible as its protagonist. In its quesi-medievel age of warring, tribal nations, zipper adorned leather jackets and sexy plate armor, there are three people you don't want to mess with. "The first one! Very strong! The second one! Very fast! The third one! The demon's only son. Chunchu!" Here's the story of a guy who's off day entails getting bound to a tree by barbs through the shoulders, impaled through the kidney, then locked in mortal combat with a couple of 300 year old sociopathic lovers. Essentially, it's Final Fantasy meets Wolverine - an angst ensemble of young adults, in elaborate outfits, armed with exotic swords, focused on an unhappy individual, made more unhappy by people sticking sharp objects through vital portions of his body. Fans of either, or both, will be pleased to find that the ingredients of this bloody cocktail complement each other. The full potency of the fantasy melodrama expected from Japanese role playing video games, and the bloody valor of an unstoppable, but not invulnerable hero carry into the manhwa. Similar material has been mined for deeper significance. Given some of the predicaments inflicted upon its lead, in addition to Final Fantasy and Wolverine, the manhwa opens itself to comparison with Hiroaki Samura's Blade of the Immortal. Unlike Samura's work, Chunchu is decidedly not a vehicle for exploring larger themes. Yet, if the series does not command thought, it does command attention. Packed with pitched emotions and bloody confrontations, each volume ends with a lament over the wait for the next. Though far from consciously serious, Chunchu is not quite as outrageously giddy as the title might imply. "The Genocide Fiend" sounds like part of a string of nonsensical, offensive Babel, or an XBox live handle. Rather than an advirtisingment for trashy fun, the way that Go Nagai titles are given names like "Violence Jack," "Hanappe Bazooka," or "Iron Virgin Jun," "The Genocide Fiend" is equal parts perplexing and intriguing. While the manhwa itself is not quite so charged, it does seem intent on keeping its reader off balance. Events commence with a prophecy about how an emperor would father a cursed demon. As bad as that prospect might be for the empire, the issue (in multiple senses of the term) is complicated when empress gives birth to twins, where upon the demonically inclined newborn shoves the cursed spirit into the body of his innocent sibling. Years pass and Woolpaso, "The Original Son of the Demon" has become the brutal lord of his domain, while Chunchu, "The Cursed Son of the Demon" is a hunted, reviled swordsman in the renegade Mirmidon clan. Brother versus brother must be on the agenda, but the path to get there is more careening than a head on collision course. While the long haired, pretty Final Fantasy VII's Sepheroth-ish Woolpaso makes a few appearances in the mode of Machiavelli's Prince meets Enter the Dragon's Han, Chunchu is up to his eyeballs in depression, drama and distraction. Beyond the global consensus that the world should be rid of a Son of a Demon, there are specific people looking for Chunchu's extermination, from a young boy who blames Chunchu for his father's death, to a wily veteran looking to cash in Chunchu's head for the funds to atone for the wrongs committed as the captain of a legendary mercenary band. Then, there are the Mirmidons. Between the rage-aholic, the exiles, the poker faced mystery man and the simpleton trying to keep track of his severed finger, in the realm of unhappy families, this make-shift clan has truly found their own way to be unhappy Chunchu's unsettled dance from one set piece to the next is anything but predictable. Rather than a story arc, it navigates a Candyland board path. If it goes from point A to point B, there might be a causal route between the two points, but that route is bound to be a convoluted one. While not always coherent enough to follow easily, it is spirited enough to be exciting; and, what it lacks in structure or introspection, it makes up for in a bellicose willingness to throw down. When characters start boasting of their martial prowess, or the reputation of others, ("My father told me this. If Shinji pulls out his sword, get out of the way..." "Do you know why the White Brigade was feared. We have this rule, you see..."), the manhwa reliably follows through on the implicit promise to initiate a rowdy engagement that is going to end with someone stabbing their foe with a blade clenched in their teeth or a thrust to the jugular.

Upcoming In Japan

Awesome Engine has posted a three part fall anime preview. Notables include:
  • Casshern Sins - Madhouse's new iteration on the sci-fi super-hero
  • Hokuto no Ken Raoh Gaiden: Ten no Haoh - new Fist of the North Star
  • Shikabane Hime - Aka - Gainax does zombies
  • Tytania - from the creator of epic, hundreds of episodes long space opera Legend of Galactic Heroes
In July a supposedly leaked list of Studio Bones animators indicated that a new Fullmetal Alchemist was being produced. Though Bones decryed the list as a fabrication at the time, the new Moonphase Buzz is that the Japanese release of volume 20 of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga will feature an announcement on concerning a new season of the anime.
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A second season of the new anime incarnation of action/sci-fi Tetsuwan Birdy Decode (or Birdy the Mighty) is scheduled to air on Japanese TV in January 2009
From Anime News Network Popular anime music composure Yoko Kanno (Cowboy Bebop) will be making a voice acting cameo in Koji Morimoto's (Animatrix: Beyond) "Dimension Bomb" entry in 4°C's Genius Party Beyond anthology. The film will open in Japan on October 11.
Kyoto Animation (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Clannad, Lucky Star) will be producing the anime adaptation Ajico Kojima's Tonari no 801-chan comedy manga blog for television. The manga blog features a fujoshi (an otaku of boys-love stories), represented by a woman who turns into green furry monster 801-chan (801 being a pun of the Japanese spelling of yaoi, the general of homosexual male romance for female readers)
Tomoko Ninomiya's blog revealed that she will be putting classical music student relationship comedy Nodame Cantabile on hiatus while she takes a maternity leave. The manga is expected to return in October along with the new season of the adapted anime. Kagurazaka Atsushi's light novel series Taisho Yakyuu Musume (Taisho Era Baseball Daughter) is scheduled to be adapted into an anime series. Yo nimo Kimyo na Man-gataro (Extremely Bizarre Man-gataro), an avant-garde gag manga by Yudai Yamaguchi (attlefield Baseball) will be adapted into a video project. Big Comic Spirits manga includes Akira Hanasaki's adaptation of Ryo Wada's Warring States period era novel Nobo no Shiro, also scheduled to be adapted into a movie, an a new Tohru Fujisawa (GTA) series. Trailers/Previews
Michiko and Hatchin Chaos;Head Kannagi ~ Crazy Shrine Maiden Akikan! Asu no Yoichi!Higurashi (When They Cry) Rei
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Anime on DVD reports that Japanese Blu-ray releases, scheduled for December include Aquarion movie and Origin: Spirits of the Past will be released on by Media Factory on December 5th for ¥8,190 each Bandai Visual Japan will release the first Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam TV Box set on December 19th, 2008. The second box will follow on January 23rd, 2009. Each set will retail for ¥36,750. Robo Japan collect rumors that Toho is developing a new Godzila franchise that will feature feature CGI effects over the traditional miniature sets and "man-in-the-suite" effects.

Manga on iPhone

Yoshitoshi ABe (Serial Experiments Lain) is published manga as an iPhone application, readable on the iPhone and iPd Touch. The 53 "page" Pochiyama at the Pharmacy is available in English and Japanese. The North American price for release is $4.99 Anime News Network notes ABe commented, "When I am invited to overseas conventions, I hear a lot of requests from anime and manga fans who want to read Japanese dojinshi. Until now, we could not present dojinshi to overseas [fans] easily because of the problems in translating and the costs of shipping books — but this form of electronic comics can make that a reality."
Kodansha, Sonoran Blue, and Bbmf are adding about two dozen manga titles to Apple's App Store in Japan, but Pochiyama at the Pharmacy is the to be available internationally, an in English. Other manga for the iPhone/iPod Touch include
  • Alice Infinity Wonderland byakako Tanaka
  • Billy the Kid 21-mai no Album byNoboru Rokuda
  • Bukkake bySeiji Matsuyama
  • Danzai Otome by Sakuya Yuuki
  • Densen Uta Movie Gensaku-ban by Masaru Urakawa & Kaya
  • Fukkatsu! Daisan Yakyuubu byToshiyuki Mutsu
  • Golgo 13 byTakao Saito
  • Hataraki Man by Moyoco Anno
  • Juneai by Ryo Kurashina, Hisashi Fujiwara
  • Keroro Gunsou (Sgt. Frog) by Mine Yoshizaki
  • Kichijoji Moho-Men by Seiki Tsuchida
  • Kindaichi Case Files: The Opera House Murders byYozaburo Kanari, Fumiya Sato
  • Lemon Angel 2 by Jun Watabe
  • Life by Keiko Suenobu
  • Mahiru no Tenshi by Kouji Inoue
  • Muyon -Kagenashi- by Tsutomu Takahashi, Jung-Hyun Kim
  • Radical Scanty Returns by Katsumi Yamaguchi
  • Sento Megami Anunga by Atsuji Yamamoto
  • Shin Naniwa Kin'yudo by Yuuji Aoki Production
  • Souta no Houchou byYuichirou Sueda
  • The Silent Service byKaiji Kawaguchi
  • Tokumei Kakaricho Tadano Hitoshi Final by Kimio Yanagisawa
  • Uranoruma by Shuichi Sakabe
  • Urekoi by Inosuke Rodrigues
Publishers Weekly looks at the feature of digital comics here

Anime on American TV

The FUNimation Channel will be premiering five new animated series starting September 1st DEBUTING SERIES: (All times are Eastern) Mushi-Shi (TV-14) -- The FUNimation Channel has picked up 26 episodes of this supernatural series. Mushi are neither plants nor animals, instead they resemble the primeval substances of life. Few humans are aware of their existence, among them in Ginko, a ‘mushi-shi’ who studies them and investigates strange occurrences that are related to their appearances. Slated to premiere Monday, September 1 at 8:00 a.m. Eastern (30 minutes. Airs M-F at 8:00 a.m. and again at 12:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 pm) School Rumble (TV-PG) – This comedic drama is about the tangled love triangles of teens. Premiering Monday, September 1 at 10:00 am (30 minutes. Airs M-F at 10:00 a.m. and again at 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.) Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle (TV-PG) -- This dramatic action-adventure about four travelers on an epic journey. Their goals are different, their destiny the same. Premiering Monday, September 1 at 10:30 a.m. (30 minutes. Airs M-F at 10:30 a.m. and again at 5:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad (TV-MA) -- In this comedy about a garage band trying to make it there is one thing to remember: music can change your life, sometimes against your will! Premiering Monday, September 1 at 12:30 a.m. (30 minutes. Airs M-F at 12:30 a.m. and airs again at 4:00 a.m.) Basilisk (TV-MA) – This 24 episode drama is set in feudal Japan as the young leaders of warring ninja clans fall in love. Their love is ill-timed. A forbidden love amidst a battle for blood. Who will be left standing? Premiering Monday, September 1 at 1:00 a.m. (30 minutes. Airs M-F at 1:00 a.m. and again at 4:30 a.m.) All of the episodes back-to-back in our weekend “rewind” on Saturdays and Sundays.
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iaTV announced a program acquisition deal and strategic ad sales partnership with TOKYOPOP. Through this agreement, iaTV’s ad sales team will represent the advertising sales activities for TOKYOPOP’s digital assets including www.TOKYOPOP.com, brand integration within original and user-generated video content, mobile advertising and other applications. Programming acquired by iaTV from TOKYOPOP includes anime series – Initial D and Psychic Academy – and anime film Spring and Chaos have also been acquired, with Initial D being televised Monday through Friday, beginning September 1, at 5:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. PT and Psychic Academy joining the network’s Tuesday primetime A-Pop lineup at 10:30 p.m. PT on September 9. Also coming to iaTV are several short-form (three- to four-minute) ‘iManga’ series: combining animation with still art, music and English voiceovers. In addition, iaTV has acquired the hardcore FMW Wrestling, which will air Fridays at 10 p.m. PT starting September 12, leading out of Pancrase: Legends of Mixed Martial Arts, and creating of a two-hour primetime block of male skewing sports entertainment. FMW Wrestling (22 episodes x 60 minutes) Sports Entertainment Japan, English FMW, or Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, is hardcore wrestling at its best. Featuring legends such as Hayabusa, Mr. Pogo, Leatherface, Mitsuhiro Matsunaga, and Kintaro Kanemura, this exciting sport will leave you breathless and wanting more. Initial D (41 episodes x 30 min.) Anime Japan, English Subtitled Created from one of Japan’s most popular manga, Initial D follows high school student Takumi Fujiwara, a tofu delivery boy whose driving skills are honed as he makes deliveries every day on Mt. Akina. When the local racing team finds itself in need of a replacement, they turn to Takumi, despite his lack of interest in the sport. Soon after his victory, racing groups from all over Japan come to challenge him. But when the ‘White Comet of Akagi,’ master racing driver Ryosuke Takahashi, challenges him, will Takumi have what it takes to win and become the legendary ‘Ghost of Akina’? Psychic Academy (8 episodes x 30 minutes) Anime Japan, English Subtitled Psychic Academy follows Ai Shiomi, a young boy who possesses psychic abilities known as ‘aura power.’ After much persuasion from his parents, Ai attends the prestigious Psychic Academy, where specially gifted students learn how to control the abilities that allow them to have power over elements. With his newfound friends, Orina and Myuu, and under the tutelage of his legendary older brother Zero, Ai learns about his rare ability while researchers try to artificially awaken the dormant aura genes in all humans, no matter how destructive the cost may be. Spring and Chaos (1 episode x 60 minutes) Anime Japan, English Subtitled Directed by one of the premiere directors in anime, Shoji Kawamori, who is famous for Macross, Escaflowne, Aquarion, amongst others. Set in the beginning of 20th Century Japan, this film follows the bright and eccentric Kenji from his late student years through his adulthood. Kenji suffers the tragedy of being an artist whose art isn't recognized during his lifetime. Based on the life of the author Kenji Miyazawa, Spring and Chaos depicts his brief but intense existence. Bizenghast (iManga Series) (17 x 2 to 3 minute episodes) In the run-down New England town of Bizenghast, Dinah, a disturbed young woman, enters into a bargain with an afterlife bureaucracy that she never could have imagined. Along with her best friend, Vincent, Dinah is tasked to go to the mysterious Sunken Mausoleum every night and set one of the tormented souls to rest. If she succeeds, she goes free. If she fails, she becomes part of the horrific mausoleum herself. Gyakushu! (iManga Series) (13 x 2 to 3 min episodes) After stealing a priceless treasure, a nameless Thief’s family is slaughtered and his home destroyed. Burned beyond recognition and left for dead, the Thief rises from the ashes to stain his steel with the blood of his enemies. But the path to vengeance is a treacherous one, as each step is filled with shocking revelations not only about the Thief, but his enemies as well. The only certain thing in this world of ice and death is white-hot revenge. Princess Ai (iManga Series) (8 x 2 to 3 min episodes) Ai, a beautiful young woman, finds herself alone in Tokyo, with no memory of her past. She only knows that she’s on a mission, and she has to survive on the mean streets until she can remember just exactly what that mission is. On her journey she finds the truth behind her royal parentage, global rock stardom, and...true love. Riding Shotgun (iManga Series) (20 x 2 to 3 min episodes) It’s just an average day for a hitman who’s short on cash, until his agent makes an important call. Doyle Harrington and his partner Abby finally get to interview with the federally funded National Assassin’s Commission… and it’s all down hill from there. When a wager to double his profits backfires, Doyle becomes the bounty, not the hunter. Sokora Refugees (iManga Series) (19 x 3 to 4 min episodes) When a skinny, awkward schoolgirl named Kana finds a magical portal in the girls’ shower, she and her friends are transported to a fantasy world called Sokora. There, they immediately find themselves at the center of an epic battle between good and evil. Kana is possessed by the spirit of a voluptuous elfin sorceress named Veila, who increases the size of Kana’s chest, but if they are to ever make it home, Kana must comes to terms with her new ‘endowments’ and defeat the evil forces sweeping the land.
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Toei Animation's CG series RoboDz will be running on the American Disney XD channel (formerly Toon Disney) in February 2009.

Astro Boy Casting News

In a week that revealed that George Takei will be the emperor or Japan in Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3, AstroBoy World learned that Takei will play a role in the Imagi CGI movie. Other casted roles include Astro Boy - Freddie Highmore Dr. Elefun - Bill Nighy Dr. Tenma - Nicolas Cage General Stone - Donald Sutherland HamEgg - Nathan Lane Orrin - Eugene Levy Ryan Stiles, David Alan Grier

Business News

FUNimation commented on the cease and desist notices sent on behalf of Japanese right holders to group that were digitally subtitling anime for which now North American license has been announced We can confirm that FUNimation Entertainment has obtained has obtained an agreement authorizing FUNimation to act on behalf of d-rights and Enoki Films, Ltd. to prevent infringement on specific titles. The authorization agreement for d-rights is for 5 series in total: Monochrome Factor Nabari no Ou Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn Bamboo Blade El Cazador de la Bruja We also have an authorization agreement for Enoki Films Ltd for Slayers Revolution. Though these series have not been licensed to a local distributor inNorth America, it is important to note that the rights owned by Japanese producers are still applicable, and enforceable, worldwide. Industry watchers and anime fans have long known our stance on the unauthorized distribution of anime, especially prior to localization. The practices of illegal downloads and 'fansubbing' are very harmful to our Japanese partners and as part of the longstanding relationship between FUNimation and d-rights and Enoki Films, we have been asked to monitor and take action against unauthorized distribution of these titles. Because we believe that this will benefit the industry, we have agreed to do so.
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ICV2 relays that Toho reports that the latest Pokemon movie has earned $32 million since its July 19th release and driven the total for all 11 Pocket Monster films past the 50 billion yen mark ($455) at the Japanese box office, making the series the highest grossing animated franchise in Japanese history.
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Also from ICV2, in its 2008 annual report Japanese broadcaster TV Tokyo calculated that over 18.1 billion Yu-Gi-Oh! cards have been sold world wide
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Anime News Network reports that 4Kids' (Yu-Gi-Oh!, the new Dinosaur King) quarterly filing listed a lost US$5.5 million in the period from April to June 30, even as revenues during those three months were up almost 40 percent. The market responded by a 5.9% in shares of the company. According to 4Kids CEO Alfred Kahn, the losses were caused by the high costs of launching the Chaotic trading card game, weaker than expected Yu-Gi-Oh! sales, and an increase general administrative expenses.
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According to Ghilbi World, Hayao Miyazaki's film, Ponyo has exceeded 10,000,000,000 Yen the Japanese box office in its first month of rekease. Since last year's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End it is the first movie to exceed this mark and for Ghibli the first since 2004's Howl’s Moving Castle. Compared to their previous releases, Ponyo’s 10-billion-in-one-month record is beyond that of Chihiro (25 days), though shorter than Howl’s (33 days) and Mononoke (43 days).

Event News

Bandai Entertainment Inc and Kadokawa Pictures USA have announced that The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is opening at the Brattle Theater in Boston starting tomorrow and the Varsity Theater in Seattle. The Brattle Theater will play the film Friday 8.22 through Monday 8.25. The Landmark Theares Varsity in Seattle will play the film Friday 8.29 through Thursday September 4th The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was directed by Mamoru Hosoda with original character designs by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (Evangelion) and features animation from Studio Madhouse. A continuation of the novel The Little Girl Who Conquered Time by Tsutsui Yasutaka, the film centers on a high school girl, Makoto, who gains the power to go backward in time after a near- death accident at a train crossing. Since its release, the film has received great critical accolades and international awards including the “Best Animated Film” at the thirty-ninth Sitges International Film Festival, “Animation Grand Award” at the sixty-first Mainichi Film Awards, “Animation of the Year” at the thirtieth Japan Academy Prize, and received “Animation of the Year” at the Tokyo International Anime Fair.
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Monster wrestling troupe Kaiju Big Battel will be performing in New York this weekend. What: Kaiju Big Battel at The Yard in Brooklyn Special Performances By: Evil Dee, Team Facelift, Peelander-Z Where: The Yard, 388-400 Carroll St, Brooklyn, NY When: Saturday, August 23rd Doors: 4pm Tickets: $15 Adv/$20 Day of Show; All Ages
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Roland Kelts (Japanamerica) has update his upcoming appearances
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Anime Masterpieces looks like an interesting project Each film in the series is preceded by a short introduction highlighting important things to look for and keep in mind when viewing the film; each screening is then followed by a panel discussion. Anime Masterpieces screening events are completely scaleable to an institution's budget and programming needs, with options including: Screenings with DVDs and Study Guides provided to the institution for “do-it-yourself” style presentation featuring local scholars/authorities in a panel/talkback. Screenings accompanied by panels and talkbacks featuring leading scholars of cinema, history, and popular culture; and, budget permitting, anime creators from Japan. Screening of both Grave of the Fireflies and Tekkonkinkreet as a “double-feature” on a single day or over a weekend, with panels and seminars featuring illustrious anime talent and notable academics.
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The New York Anime Festival, held September 26th through the 28th at the Jacob Javits Center in New York, NY, announced that the event be include an original short story Vampire Hunter D: The Wanderer's Ship by Hideyuki Kikuchi will be published inside its Official Guide Book.
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On the Japanese front, doujinishi mega-event Comiket has a problem with a hand grenade threat. The event attracted 170,000 people in its first day alone.
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Another look at Gundam Expo Tokyo 2008 to

Manga Catagory For Hugo Awards

Anime News Network reports that manga and graphical novel will have their own category in sci-fi community's Hugo Awards. Best Graphic Story category will be open to "any science fiction or fantasy story told in graphic form appearing for the first time in the previous calendar year." If ratified at next year's Denvention convention, it will become a permanent category in 2010.

AICN Figures News...

Go Hero's Buck Rogers figure and Atomic Disintegrator Pistols are expected to be released in later October, and will soon be available for pre-order
Sideshow Collectables has the Organic 8.5" PVC Figure Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. Motoko Kusanagi for pre-order The figure will be released in 4th Qtr 2008 for $79.99
Motoko Kusanagi - Ghost in the Shell Real Action Hero 12" can be pre-ordered here The figure will be released in 3rd Qtr 2008 for $174.99
12", Polyresin Figure, High Dreams Piccolo R&M 555 Dragon Ball Z can be pre-ordered here The figure will be released in 4th Qtr 2008 for $149.99
9.5" Polystone Statue Samus Zero Suit by can be pre-ordered here The figure will be released in 3rd Qtr 2008 for $119.99
8" x 11" Samus Phazon Suit by First 4 Figures can be ordered here The figure will be released in 1st Qtr 2009 for $224.99
Sideshow is also sell Robot t-shirts
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Organic Hobby, Inc in conjunction with Kaiyodo will release "Revoltech Enki & Revoltech Protect Gear" in September with an SRP of $24.00 each Enki, is based on a Japanese shonen anime television series animated by Gainax and co-produced by Aniplex and Konami known as "Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (or Break-Through Heaven Gurren Lagann" or more loosely "Heaven Shattering Gurren Lagann)." The figure is 5-6" tall and has 55 articulation points with 18 joint parts. "Revoltech Enki" comes equipped with interchangeable accessories and parts (1 built-in weapon, 2 Enki missiles, 2 swords, 4 optional hands, 1 optional G.Lagann head, 1 forehead accessory and 1 display base). Protect Gear (also known as General Zatola)," is based on a Japanese live action movie knows as "the Red Spectacles" from the Kereberos saga directed by Mamoru Oshii, co-written with Kazunori Ito, and starring Shigeru Chiba. The live action films and manga series take place in the then-future decade of the 1990s and 2000s while Jin-Roh takes place in the 1950s. The opening narration to Jin-Roh explains that Japan lost the Second World War, not to the Americans, but to the Germans, who occupied the archipelago for at least a decade. The figure is 5-6" tall and has 37 articulation points with 10 joint parts. "Revoltech Protect Gear" comes equipped with interchangeable accessories and parts (1 MG34, 1 MG42, 1 Mauser C96 storage, 1 Mauser C96, 1 antenna for bag pack, 4 optional hands, 1 ammunition belt and 1 display base).
Organic Hobby, Inc and Kaiyodo will release Fraülein Revoltech #010 – Yoko in Ostober for $26.00.
Fraülein Revoltech Yoko the pilot of Dayakkaiser is based on a Japanese shonen anime television series known as "Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (or Break-Through Heaven Gurren Lagann" or more loosely "Heaven Shattering Gurren Lagann)." The figure stands six inches tall and has 19 articulation points with 11 joint parts. "Fraülein Revoltech Yoko" comes equipped with interchangeable accessories/parts (such as 1 rifle, 1 optional head, 7 optional hands and 1 display base).
Organic Hobby, Inc and CM’s Corporation will be releasing Mecha Action Series “Baangaan & King Exkaiser” in September for $58.00. "Sunrise Mecha Action Series-Baangaan" is based on the Japanese T.V mecha action series "Yuusha Seisen Baan Gaan (or Crusade of the Braves Baan Gaan)." The Yuusha series (or Brave Saga) first started at February 1990 by the broadcasting of Yuusha Exkaiser. The Yuusha series were made by Sunrise (one of Japan's major anime companies) with Nagoya TV (Japan's local TV station which broadcasts all the Yuusha series) and Takara (one of Japan's software company as the Yuusha series' main sponsor). Sunrise's staff, inspired by the American made series, Transformers begins a new concept of anime show called Yuusha series (cooperation between humans and robots, or vice versa). The figure is 6" tall, fully articulated and comes equipped with accessories. "Sunrise Mecha Action Series-King Exkaiser" character is from the famous Japanese anime TV mecha action series "Brave Exkaiser." The figure is 5~6" tall, fully articulated and comes equipped with accessories/weapons.
Organic Hobby, Inc will be releasing Bamboo Blade "Tamaki Kawazoe" in October for $82.00. The kendo prodigy "Tamaki Kawazoe," is based on a Japanese manga series known as "Bamboo Blade," written by Masahiro Totsuka, and illustrated by Aguri Igarashi. The series tells the story of a Toraji Ishida, a luckless high school Kendo instructor, who is challenged by his former upperclassman, also a kendo instructor, to a competition between their female students. The bet inspires Toraji to gather and train a team of five girls. Fortuitously, at this time he meets Tamaki Kawazoe, a gifted young female kendo practitioner. The figure is a 7" tall PVC figure fully painted in a window box with accessories (display base & cat).
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Kotobukiya has announced a host of upcoming releases, scheduled for imported to North America Four new Marvel Comics Fine Art Busts include Havok Fine Art Bust Cyclops Fine Art Bust Punisher: War Zone Fine Art Bust Daredevil Movie Fine Art Bust The 8", Manabe Seijoro sculpted cold cast porcelain Havok and Cyclops will be released in January for $79.99 each. Havok’s rings Glow-In-The-Dark, while Cyclops’s visor glows red via LED lights
The 9" Marvel Movieverse Punisher, based on the Ray Stevenson portrayal of the character, is scheduled for a December release. The base is a special Movie Marquee that lights up, replete with bullet holes on the sides, and the PUNISHER: WAR ZONE logo on the front.
The 9" Daredevil is based on the Ben Affleck role, featuring a Daredevil movie logo and light-up marquee
TM & © 2008 Marvel Halo 3: Steel Spartan – Field Of Battle – Limited Edition Artfx Statue The Spartan holds two Submachine Guns, or you can switch the bonus arms and have him grip his M90 Shotgun (CAWS- Close Assault Weapon System). When not using the Shotgun, it can be stored on his back. Additional hands are also included for expression, and as a special bonus for fans that collected the other Kotobukiya ARTFX Statues, you can swap some of the weapons and hands with the other releases (Master Chief Field Of Battle, Master Chief, Blue Spartan, Red Spartan, and others) The Kotobukiya import is a Limited Edition of only 2000 pieces worldwide, available now for $99.99
© 2008 Microsoft Corporation. Super Robot releases include Super Robot Taisen: Wildwurger Fine Scale Model Kit The Wildwurger Fine Scale Model Kit is a larger size 1/100th scale kit that requires assembly, but painting is optional as the pieces are cast in different colored plastic. It's 520 individual parts sports 60 different points of articulation Included are pictorial assembly instructions. Scheduled to be released in February for $69.99
Linebarrels Of Iron: Arma Idaten & Arma Fine Scale Model Kit The 1/144 scale Arma mecha both stand 4 3/4 inches tall, featuring 20 points of articulation Easy snap-fit assembly, pieces cast in different colors, and pictorial assembly instructions guide you in making this plastic model kit into either form of the awesome combat machine. The figure will be released in December for $34.99
© 2008 GONZO Bishojo-Sexy Anime Girls And One Coin Mini Figures Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya: Haruhi Suzumiya Ani*Statue The 1/7th scale Haruhi Ani*Statue (Anime Statue) is 6 inches tall in her kneeling pose, and is comprised of pvc and abs plastics. Poised on a special cork base, Haruhi requires no assembly. Scheduled to be released in January for $49.99
© 2006 ???•??????/SOS? Sengoku Rance: Senhime Ani*Statue Sengoku Rance is the seventh release in the long running series (almost 20 years!) containing historical action and “eroge” content. The 7 ½ inch PVC figure will retail for $59.99 in December.
© ALICESOFT Tears To Tiara: Riannon Ani*Statue Tears to Tiara: Kakan no Daichi (“Earth’s Wreath”) is a new role-playing game for the PlayStation 3, based on 2005’s Tears to Tiara. The 8" (1/8th scale) scale PVC stature is based on an illustration by Nakamura Takeshi The figure will retail for $59.99 in January
©AQUAPLUS To Aru Majutsu No Index: Index 1/8Th Scale Statue The Japanese novel series (and soon to be anime) To Aru Majutsu No Index tells the story of a world where science-based superhumans live side by side with magic-users. A mad plot to eliminate magic from the world is halted by the discovery of INDEX, a young nun implanted with all of the magical texts known to the church. The 6 ½" (1/8th scale) figure, sculpted by Syoukaku Kitaike will be released in December for $49.99
©????/????•???????? To Heart 2 –Another Days- Nanako-Chan Sukumizu Ani*Statues White Regular Edition & Black Limited Edition The the 11 ½ " long (large 1/5th scale!) Nanako-Chan is sculpted by Toshinori Makio. The NANAKO-CHAN SUKUMIZU BLACK variant is limited to 1500 pieces. The figurs will be released in January for $79.99 each
©Leaf/AQUAPLUS With You –Mitsumete Itai- Noemi Itou 1/8Th Scale Statue From the classic ren’ai (dating simulation) adventure game With You – Mitsumete Itai comes one of the most popular imooto (“younger sister”) in the genre, NOEMI ITOU The 8" (1/8th scale) pvc and abs plastics figure is sculpted by Takaku & Takeshi The figure will be released in December for $59.99
©COCKTAIL SOFT/F&C Co., Ltd. Hiiro No Kakera One Coin Mini Figures The latest in the One Coin Figure series are the boys of HIIRO NO KAKERA (loosely translated as Scarlet Fragment) the series of Japanese otome games. Figures feature a magnet display and interchangeable heads on ball joints Each of the mini-figures is made of pvc and abs plastic, and sold in individual Mystery Box packages for added collectability. Takuma Onizaki Mahiro Atori Yuuichi Komura Shinji Inukai Suguru Oomi Ryou Kutani O-Chan The set will be released in January for $5.49 each
©Idea Factory | Design Factory Tales Of Destiny 1 & 2 One Coin Mini Figures 4" figures, sculpted by Tsukuru Shirahige and Oya Hideaki based on the PlayStation 2 game Packaged in mystery boxesm the line includes: Stan Aileron Rutee Katret Lion Magnus Lilith Aileron Kyle Dunamis Reala
The figures will be released in January for $6.99 each ©??????? ©NBGI
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The Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann itself will be pre-produced as a Revoltech figure, for release in Japan on October 15th.
A look at Tetsujin 28/Gigantor figures Valkyria Chronicles capsule figures might interest anime fans A tribute to Kinnikuman/MUSCLE figures
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Tomopop looks at Max Watanabe's Oh My Goddess statue Good

Readers Talkback

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  • Aug. 22, 2008, 8:40 a.m. CST

    FIRST

    by JBouganim1

    Unfortun its for anime

  • Aug. 22, 2008, 8:50 a.m. CST

    Second

    by I AM THE EGG MAN

  • Aug. 22, 2008, 12:19 p.m. CST

    Tweeny Witches. Really?

    by Harry Weinstein

    And yet, no MINDGAME release.

  • Aug. 22, 2008, 12:30 p.m. CST

    re: Mind Game

    by ScottGreen

    Rumor has that Mind Game almost got a North American release (beyond the few events that showed it), but the fact that the whole thing got posted on YouTube scuttled the deal. Even if it's not Mind Game, Tweeny Witches is still worth watching.

  • Aug. 22, 2008, 1:26 p.m. CST

    revoltechs are $25? a jinroh fig here in aus is $200

    by ironic_name

  • Aug. 22, 2008, 1:34 p.m. CST

    re: ironic_name

    by ScottGreen

    Revoltech figures are 5 or 6" The Jinroh you're talking about might be the 12" Real Action Hero figure (about $140 US). Both seem fine in their own way, but the disparity in price also makes sense.

  • Aug. 22, 2008, 2:17 p.m. CST

    Any more info on 'Black Lagoon'?

    by gopher

    watched the first season as well as the Second Barrage and was really impressed. I think if there is a third it's a loooong ways away.

  • Aug. 22, 2008, 2:27 p.m. CST

    re: Black Lagoon

    by ScottGreen

    A third season was recently announced with the Japanese release of a Black Lagoon light novel. It should be in production soon. Speaking of Second Barrage. The special edition packaging look damn good http://tinyurl.com/6xqp8d

  • Aug. 22, 2008, 2:59 p.m. CST

    re: ricarleite

    by ScottGreen

    http://www.aintitcool.com/node/37852#worldcosplay

  • Aug. 22, 2008, 5:07 p.m. CST

    ScottGreen - I was mistaken

    by ironic_name

    the only revoltechs I've seen at retail here are the patlabor ingrams which are $200 - 38 <P> the $200 toy I remember picking up [and gently putting back] was a production garland

  • Aug. 22, 2008, 5:08 p.m. CST

    and thanks for the clarification.

    by ironic_name

  • Aug. 22, 2008, 6:49 p.m. CST

    As always...

    by BillyPilgrim

    Great post Scott! <p> Got to see a few eps of Tweeny Witches at Gen Con Indy last week. Very interesting to watch. Looking forward to seeing the whole series. Also got to see some episodes of Black Lagoon. I have no idea how I missed that one. Def on my DVD list.

  • Aug. 23, 2008, 8:18 p.m. CST

    studio 4c is great, but teeny witches is pretty much crap.

    by compn

    watch witch hunter robin if you must. i really doubt a youtube post could have killed some dvd release. non-shonen anime (dbz,naruto,bleach) is a hard sell in usa.

  • Aug. 23, 2008, 9:05 p.m. CST

    WHAT??? More FMA

    by There Are Twelve Models

    Yes, please! My favorite series by far. And more Darker Than Black would be great.