Animation and Anime
AICN Anime-Studio 4°C's Tweeny Witches, Guin Saga, Chunchu: The Genocide Fiend, Upcoming Anime and More
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.
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 JapanAwesome 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
Manga on iPhoneYoshitoshi 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."
- 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
Anime on American TVThe 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.
Astro Boy Casting NewsIn 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 NewsFUNimation 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.
Event NewsBandai 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.
- Sept. 14th, New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY, Brooklyn Book Fest.
- Sept. 23rd, New York, NY, Art Space Tokyo US Launch, KINOKUNIYA Bryant Park, 6:00pm
- Sept. 24th, New York, NY, Happy Ending Reading Series
- Sept. 27th, Berkeley, CA, Anime Masterpieces West Coast Launch
- Sept. 28th, New York, NY Anime Festival
- Oct. 1st, Boston, MA, Anime Masterpieces East Coast Launch
- Oct. 2nd, Williamstown, MA, The Clark Museum
- Oct. 11th, Berkeley, CA, Live Conversation with Haruki Murakami
- Feb 13-15th, Washington, DC, Katsucon 15
Manga Catagory For Hugo AwardsAnime 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
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Aug. 22, 2008, 8:40 a.m. CST
Unfortun its for anime
Aug. 22, 2008, 8:50 a.m. CST
by I AM THE EGG MAN
Aug. 22, 2008, 12:19 p.m. CST
by Harry Weinstein
And yet, no MINDGAME release.
Aug. 22, 2008, 12:30 p.m. CST
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
Aug. 22, 2008, 1:34 p.m. CST
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
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
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
Aug. 22, 2008, 5:07 p.m. CST
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
Aug. 22, 2008, 6:49 p.m. CST
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
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
by There Are Twelve Models
Yes, please! My favorite series by far. And more Darker Than Black would be great.
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