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Manga Spotlight: Afro Samurai
Manga Spotlight: Toto!
New And Upcoming in Japa
Upcoming North American Manga Releases
Anime x Games
Event News
Cool Figures
Event News
The Business
Digital Distribution
Hell Girl Premiere on IFC
December Media Blasters Releases
Kitaro Scheduled
VIZ Talks Black Lagoon Manga Release
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Manga Spotlight: Afro Samurai Volume 1 By Takashi Okazaki Released by Tor / Seven Seas

Last Friday's AICN Anime column linked to CollectionDX's review of Toys Are Us - A Revolution in Plastic. Approaching the documentary on designer toys from the perspective of a toy enthusiast, CollectionDX's JoshB conveyed ambivalence towards a field that attracts artists for whom toys might be just another medium in which they can express their designs. Manga fans may encounter similar reservations when reading Afro Samurai. Afro Samurai is a work of design. It utilizes the medium to which it is applied as a platform rather than as an ends unto itself. It resonates with the visual impact of a character who is Sweet Sweetback AND Ogami Itto... the samurai and the antihero of African heritage. Showcasing that conceptual thread, starting with Afro and continuing through MC yakuza, DJ monks and a teddy bear headed Yojimba, is the manga's Raison d'être. Displaying these ideas trumps narrative and action, and as such, though Afro Samurai is formatted as a sequential story, it serves to function as an art book as much as it does manga. Takashi "Bob" Okazaki's original work was published in the dojin magazine Nounouhau. From the publication's description of itself NOUNOUHAU is a self-published comic magazine by young creators, who were just coming into action as artists in various fields like comic, illustration, animation, game and performance at that time, having the hope of set up their own media for their artistic self-expression. Now, each member is active in the front lines of Japanese pop culture. Their range of activities is expanding to not only art, comic and TV, but also world wide stages! Depending on the interview, there are various origin stories of how Afro Samurai came to be adapted into an animated series, boasting the talents of Samuel L. Jackson and RZA, broadcast on Spike and toping anime sales charts. The story goes, after Nounouhau's limited print run, Okazaki managed to have a few thousand figures of his swords, sandals and billowy hair sporting hero, Afro produced. One of these sat on a desk at the anime production house Gonzo. VP of Creative Affairs Eric Calderon spotted the figure and set the ball rolling. Nine years after the original publication of Okazaki's doujinshi, the franchise is still picking up momentum, with a best selling Blu-ray recently released, an anime sequel and a video game scheduled for 2009, and a live action film still in discussion. And, it's all predicated on the "wow" of see Okazaki's design. A veteran swordsman, identifiable for his cloud-like canopy of hair tells his son to wait as he walks across the plain to greet a gunslinger. The man in the serape and sombrero announces "long time no see, No. 1," to which the samurai responds "yeah... let's do this No. 2." When the confrontation is over, the gunslinger pulls a band off the head of the samurai, proclaiming his acquisition of "the power of a god!" Years later, there is a new Afro Samurai. He's hunting the No. 1 gunslinger. In turn, the rest of the world is hunting the bounty on his head. This premise is patently direct. With the single-mindedness of a genre hero unloaded with both barrels, there's a world of men with swords, guns and worse standing between the hero's revenge on the man who killed his father. Like Lone Wolf and Cub's Ogami Itto, who speaks of walking the road to hell as he embraces the Path of the Assassin or "the son of the Black Mass" Nemuri Kyôshirô/Sleepy Eyes of Death, Afro's mission transcends morality. As with Itto, Afro is prepared to carry out the adage "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." Which is to say, he's a hard-ass and generally not a sympathetic, humane character. In chronicling this drive towards vengeance, the manga's story around Afro is more skeletal than the anime's. Rather than interweaving episodes of his past with their echoes in his present, Afro cuts his way through emblematic encounters as parties looking for his head attack in waves. Knowing that Afro's going to gut and/behead the attacker and advance on, unpredictability comes in who Afro will encounter chapter to chapter rather than the result of the meeting. With the genre paired down to the basics in this way, attention falls to looking at the images rather than reading the story, and while there is progress and continuity, events do not crescendo. As manga, Afro Samurai is wanting. Its imposing full page illustrations of a bandit king with his feast layed over the bodies of bound women, the terraced temple build into Mt. Sumeru, or Afro relaxed as the shadows around him fill in with an encirclement of armed adversaries are undeniably evocative. Beyond that, Okazaki does a have a head for cinematic sequences. Afro react to a sky a Hero/300 style sky full of arrows by stomping on his canoe to capsize the vessel. It's the kind of decisive counter-measure to be hoped for from a fighter with unstoppable intentions, but a mortal body. And between the flying arrows, the flipped boat and the drive into the water, the waves of motion lend themselves to the kind of spectacle to be hoped for from a medium with the range of possibility of manga. Despite the strength of Okazaki's specific images, he does not seem to have a good head for manga as a storytelling form. With Jackson, RZA, and animation that brought in everything from quick draw chambara to an Itano circus, the Afro Samurai anime worked to leverage the strengths of it medium. In contrast, the Afro Samurai manga labors to show off Okazaksi' design. Consequently, the transition between panels are less apparent than they should be. One glance at Afro is enough to instantly grasp what defines the character. When motion begins blurring and figures start throwing themselves into the murky inks of the manga, that ability to quickly discern what to take away from the manga is lost. A collision between weapon wielding opponents that sends both combatants hurling backwards is an established conceit of the genre. Here, it loses the kinetic reverberation in the split second required to think through what the panels are illustrating. The trouble is not that Okazaki is sloppy or cheating with shorthand. It's that the images don't flow properly. A skilled manga artist will factor in how the reader processes the images panel by panel, page by page. Afro's fighting a mob of people. In the middle of one page there is a prominent image of a man swinging a ball and chain. The swinger is not in the rest of the page. The eye moves onto the adjacent page and he's still not present. Flip. Onto the next page. First two panels and still no sign. Middle panel: the ball is released towards Afro. Small, following panel, Afro is moving towards an ambiguous end. Below that: a panel of Afro plucking another foe and using the man's skull to catch the ball. Still on that page: a large panel of Afro dashing into the group. Ideally, the manga reader should be able to follow this sort of action intuitively rather than rationally. Okazaki's disappearing, re-appearing foes and unclear fight geometry means that the action requires thought to piece together. That Afro Samurai has captured international attention is an indication of the strength of Okazaki's work. Even coming into the manga from the standpoint of familiarity with the anime, it is still visually arresting. And, for fans of the genre, the raw, largely unpandering violence is impressive. Yet, as a manga enthusiast, Afro Samurai provokes a degree of ambivalence. It's manga that is a compelling showcase for Afro Samurai and not compelling manga.

Manga Spotlight: Toto! Volumes 1 and 2 by Yuko Osada Released by Del Rey Manga

Picture an Indiana Jones movie. Transpose it to one of anime/manga's quasi-fantastic landscapes, and repopulate it with the kind of armies, gangs and eccentrics native to those adventures. Abbreviate the chatty bits and exposition. You arrive at Toto!, a Wizard of Oz re-imagining (the way Kill Bill's House of Blue Leaves is re-imagining of Lady Snowblood) that spends little time at rest or waiting to establish an idea. When it's good, Toto! is sprinting from exploding zeppelin (the Baum) to kung fu dust-up with adventure serial zeal. When it's not as good, it's sprinting back to the better stuff. Lacking star power, Toto! is missing the compulsive draw of an a Naruto or a One Piece. Yet, even if Toto! is not a contender for the title of an A level shonen champion, it still fields a solid triple threat of danger, action and humor. As such, it is tremendously fun manga, if not seek out/mark on the calendar appointment reading. The above mentioned quasi-fantasy world was blasted into social collapse fifty years ago. In the intervening decades, the world that developed could be essentially characterized by the presence of two institutions: largely unchecked state armies and the machinery of a "second industrial age." Fans of Fullmetal Alchemist, Pumpkin Scissors, and the like should recognize the landscape. However, even if the reader may be familiar, the hero of the manga, Kakashi grew up on a small island with the desire to follow his father's lead and take an extensive look throughout this world. Toto! performs to the back row. The lineage from broad, physical comedy to expressive cartooning is evident in the buoyant pacing that the manga inherits from Kakashi's irresistible momentum. There is never a panel without every character, whether named or anonymous crowd extra, whole heartedly emoting. Even the icy folks broadcast their chilly disposition with each line of their faces. As a symbol oriented medium comics/manga can rely on shorthand for action. In contrast to works that merely suggest a punch or a collision, Toto! seldom sits flat on the page. Following kinetic action where a figure might dart and twist to snag and redirect a mid-air missile shell with the kind of two-page spread explosive destruction that should result from that sort of stunt, and pairing it with expressions of complete awe, Toto! works to re-establish the magnitude of action which is not objectively new or unseen. Throughout the first two volumes of Toto!, the Wizard of Oz part of the equation has been manifesting itself when Kakashi's scrambles spin into hammy weirdness that can only be described as "manga-style". Some of these references are worthy of a groan. Yet, while no acuteness points are awarded for figuring out which of the Wizard of Oz quartet the character Noil represents, the shamelessness in such a gag is endearing. But, the Wizard of Oz puns, and word plays also result in more vivid inspirations. Dorothy as a student schooled in the Tornado Senjutsu martial art is particularly brilliant, especially as she employs a weird mix of explosive leaps and dashes, combined with soft-style twists and plant-the-guy's-face-into-the-pavement redirections. The surprise concerning Toto's role is not revealed until volume 2. To invoke a recent comics hot-button issue, it is slightly bewildering, but far more strange and fun than the Wonderdog reveal in the Teen Titans. Much of Toto! is light hearted. When, during the first chapter, people are tossed from an airship into the ocean, then the assailants toss down inflated rafts after the victims, Toto!'s threshold for brutal mayhem is set low. Except, the manga also contradicts this sentiment, ending the volume with Kakashi receiving the warning "It's true that you can find many beautiful and delightful things. But there are many disgusting and ugly things as well. In this society, you'll find more disgusting and ugly things. " Two volumes in, Kakashi and company have narrowly escaped immolation, execution and other nastiness without the manga casting off the halo of light hearted adventure. Kakashi's undeterred intension to see the world in the face of the "disgusting and ugly" rings a bit of Kino's Journey's "the world is not beautiful, therefore it is." (If you haven't seen the Kino's Journey anime or read the light novels, make it a point to check out these gems). The Indiana Jones charm of toying with danger and cartoon evil that shines in the first two volumes of Toto! and the harsh, unsentimental fables that it promises would seem to contradict each other. While not on the path towards derailing itself by betraying either, Toto! doesn't appear capable of working the wizardry needed to construct this particular chimera of edgy whimsy. This is less a failing than it is a reason why Toto! is breezy fun.

New And Upcoming in Japan

Anime News Network reports that buzz indicates that Kodansha's Weekly Shonen Magazine will announce that George Morikawa's Hajime no Ippo (aka Fighting Spirit) boxing manga will return to television in a new anime series in January of 2009. Minetaro Mochizuki, creator of the cult horror manga Dragon Head, as well as Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl will commence a new manga this fall. Sammy has adapted the detective action story behind its upcoming Inazuma Eleven (based on the soccer RPG) Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl) Mitsuganae Switch Linebarrels of Iron Chaos;HEAd

Upcoming North American Manga Releases

CMX ASTRAL PROJECT VOL. 2 Written by marginal Illustrated by Syuji Takeya on sale January 7 * 5.5" x 8" * 232 pg, B&W, $12.99 US * MATURE
CLASSICAL MEDLEY VOL. 2 Written and illustrated by Sanae Kana on sale January 14 * 5" x 7.375" * 162 pg, B&W, $9.99 US * TEEN
GON VOL. 7 Written and illustrated by Masashi Tanaka on sale January 21 * 5" x 7.375" * 176 pg, B&W, $5.99 US * TEEN
FIRE INVESTIGATOR NANASE VOL. 1 Written by Izo Hashimoto Illustrated by Tomoshige Ichikawa CMX. Firefighter academy student Nanase is a promising rookie fire investigator, still haunted by her parents' fiery death. Three years ago, she saved a man from a burning building; he turned out to be the arsonist responsible for the death of her parents. Now this serial fire-starter has started helping her solve fire-related crimes. Can Nanase reconcile his willingness to help her with his role in her personal tragedy? on sale January 28 * 5" x 7.375" * 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US * TEEN+
THE NAME OF THE FLOWER VOL. 1 Written and illustrated by Ken Saito CMX. Devastated by the loss of her parents, 18-year-old Chouko loses her will to live. After staying with several different relatives, she settles in with a handsome young writer named Kei and finds solace in tending to the flower garden. Kei's a solitary person who doesn't quite know how to deal with this emotional young woman, but Chouko's dedication eventually leads him to accept her presence. Will their mutual affection grow into something more? on sale January 7 * 5" x 7.375" * 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US * TEEN+
SUIHELIBE! VOL. 2 Written and illustrated by Naomi Azuma on sale January 14 * 5" x 7.375" * 162 pg, B&W, $9.99 US * EVERYONE
TERU TERU x SHONEN VOL. 4 Written and illustrated by Shigeru Takao on sale January 21 * 5" x 7.375" * 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US * TEEN+
KING OF CARDS VOL. 6 Written and illustrated by Makoto Tateno on sale January 28 * 5" x 7.375" * 200 pg, B&W, $9.99 US * TEEN
Also of note, from CMX's publisher TOKYO DAYS, BANGKOK NIGHTS TP Written by Jonathan Vankin Art by Seth Fisher and Giuseppe Camuncoli & Shawn Martinbrough Cover by Seth Fisher and Giuseppe Camuncoli Two tragicomic tales of cultures in collision. When Americans venture abroad, they find that their assumptions about everyday life don't fit in a backpack. Collecting eight issues of the critically heralded VERTIGO POP!, written by Jonathan Vankin and featuring Eisner-nominated art by Seth Fisher (GREEN LANTERN: WILLWORLD) as well as Giuseppe Camuncoli and Shawn Martinbrough (BANGKOK), TOKYO DAYS, BANGKOK NIGHTS presents a journey to the far side of the world where Americans learn that they may be neither ugly nor innocent, but they still have everything to lose. Advance-solicited; on sale January 21 * 192 pg, FC, $19.99 US
Dark Horse AMANO LIMITED EDITION PRINT On sale Jan 28 18" x 24", signed and numbered, limited to 250 pieces $200.00 We celebrated our 20th year of publishing manga with a specially commissioned in-store poster featuring a calligraphy-style illustration by renowned artist Yoshitaka Amano. This has been one of our most talked-about promotional items—its simple artistry captures the elusive spirit of creativity. We asked Mr. Amano if we could produce a special collector’s edition of the piece as a lithograph for collectors. He agreed, and we present this frameable edition of this artwork while supplies last.
BLOOD+ VOLUME 5 Asuka Katsura (W/A) On sale Feb 11 b&w, 208 pages $10.95
EDEN: IT’S AN ENDLESS WORLD! VOLUME 11 Hiroki Endo (W/A) On sale Feb 4 b&w, 240 pages $12.95
GANTZ VOLUME 4 Hiroya Oku (W/A) On sale Feb 25 b&w, 224 pages $12.95
MPD-PSYCHO VOLUME 8 Eiji Otsuka (W) and Sho-u Tajima (A) On sale Mar 4 b&w, 208 pages $12.95
OH MY GODDESS! VOLUME 11 Kosuke Fujishima (W/A) On sale Feb 25 b&w, 200 pages $10.95

Anime x Games

Atari will be adding to the Dragon Ball game line with ‘Dragon Ball: Origins’ on Nintendo DS and ‘Dragon Ball Z: Infinite World’ on PS2 on November 4th. Developed by NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc., Dragon Ball Z: Infinite World aims to combines all the best elements of previous Dragon Ball Z games (previous Budokai and Shin-Budokai series), whilst also boasting new features such as “Dragon Missions”, new battle types and drama scenes. The new “Dragon Missions” in Dragon Ball Z: Infinite World include many famous scenes from the Dragon Ball Z series never before seen in a video game. A range of missions from time attack in the “Snake Road Mission” alongside other action and racing-style missions puts players’ strategy and quick-thinking skills to the test beyond simply showing off their deadly fighting skills. But no Dragon Ball Z game would be complete without its fair share of spectacular battles. Dragon Ball Z: Infinite World uses a simplified battle system taken from the recently released next-gen Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit for thrilling hand-to-hand fighting on the ground, or flying leaps and aerial combat in the skies. Defeat your opponent by blasting damaging Ki attacks from the sky or by diving into him and launching an explosive smash attack. The game features over 40 unique characters, not counting the different forms that each character can transform into which multiplies the playing potential. On top of characters, fighting techniques and battle stages, Dragon Ball Z: Infinite World also includes selected drama scenes from the previous games all presented using beautifully refined effects and shading techniques. Developed by NAMCO BANDAI Games, Dragon Ball: Origins for Nintendo DS is an action-adventure game with touch pad controls. The single player game follows Goku and his clever sidekick Bulma as they travel the world overcoming enemies and obstacles to collect the 7 Dragon Balls. In the shoes of Goku, the player must protect Bulma from incoming enemy attacks using special skills, such as fighting with his power pole, or unleashing a kamehameha. Combined with Bulma’s brains and her knack for inventing machines and weapons out of discarded spare parts, the intrepid pair make a formidable team able to defeat even the strongest of boss enemies or trickiest of obstacles. The innovative controls mean the player uses only the touch pad to control Goku. Players must draw lines or shapes to direct the character and control the action by tapping on the screen, for example a double tap on Goku followed by tapping on the Ka-me-ha-me-ha letters unleashes his devastating signature move. Goku can perfect his skills in training with Master Roshi or by gaining experience through playing mini-games, so when the Dragon radar warns of imminent danger he’s always ready to fight. Bulma’s spare part creations include a time machine, different vehicles and add-ons to Goku’s power pole to help in battle. For extra Dragon Ball fun, hunt down and collect the many virtual figurines hidden in the game world which can then be swapped and traded with friends via wi-fi to get the full collection.
Popular horror/yokai hero Karas and PTX-40A Ivan mecha from Lost Plane have been added to the Tatsunoko vs Capcom lineup. Kotaku notes Hakushon Daimaou will be a Wii exclusive. The Wii version, scheduled for Japanese release December 11th is currently 70 percent done . Majoria's News points out the PTX-40A against Gold Lightan test location footage. Tales of Hearts will be made available in two versions, one with 2D anime cutscenes, the other with 3D CG style ones. Kotaku's Hands On Dragon Ball Z: Infinite World Gundam branded PSP

Event News

Dave Merrill's Anime Hell has been added to 21+ Providence Anime Conference Speaking of Merrill, so noteworthy Anime Weekend Atlanta panels. Patrick Macias' schedule can be seen here
Via Anime News Network, Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) will be holding its "Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits" (SGMS) workshop from from September 26 to September 28. Guest speakers for the event ABe Yoshitoshi Anime/manga artist behind Serial Experiments LainLain, Technolyze, Niea Under 7 and Haibane Renmei Christopher Bolton assistant professor of Japanese, Asian Studies and Comparative Literature at Williams College in Williamstown, MA. Crispin Freeman voice actor know for his work as Alucard in Hellsing, Prince Turnip in Howl's Moving Castle, Togusa in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Rude in Final Fantasy: Advent Children. He's currently portraying Itachi in Naruto and Hagi in Blood+ Marc Hairston professional space physics researcher at the University of Texas at Dallas, Animerica contributor Thomas Lamarre author of Shadows on the Screen: Tanizaki Jun'ichiro on Cinema and Oriental Aesthetics (2005), Uncovering Heian Japan: An Archaeology of Sensation and Inscription (2000) and Difference in Motion: How Anime Thinks Technology (forthcoming). Megan Maude McHugh owner and designer for her clothing line, Megan Maude, featured at at the New York Anime Festival for the TOKYOPOP Gothic & Lolita Bible Fashion Shw Jeremy Ross director of new product development at Tokyopop Inc. Samantha R. Sangster (working name Samantha Rei), clothing designer featured in Shojo Beat magazine, Minnesota Women's Press, Five For Magazine, Pacific Rim Magazine, RX magazine and has an upcoming interview in the Gothic and Lolita Bible. Theresa M. Winge assistant professor of fashion design and theory at Indiana University--Bloomington
Bang Zoom! Entertainment will be holding a one-day voice acting work shop Sunday, September 28th, led by voice actor and director Tony Oliver, at John Marshall Sound in Manhattan NY from 10:00am-6:00pm. For more information see
The New York Anime Festival (NYAF) the announced Who Wants To Be A Voice Actor? voice acting contest produced by recording studios NYAV Post and TripWire Productions, will return to the convention for its second year. Who Wants To Be A Voice Actor?, hosted by NYAV Post founder Michael Sinterniklaas and TripWire Productions founder Tom Wayland, will put attendees through a series of contests, testing their vocal skills and range, narrowing voice actor hopefuls down until only one remains. The winner will get the chance of a lifetime to be cast in an upcoming animated series. The New York Anime Festival, an anime, manga, and Japanese pop culture convention from the creators of New York Comic Con, takes place September 26th through the 28th at the Jacob Javits Center in New York, NY. Who Wants To Be A Voice Actor? runs from 11:15 AM to 1:15 PM on Sunday, September 28th. Contestants wishing to enter can download an application now from
Bandai Entertainment Inc. announced its New York Anime Festival schedule Panels include Bandai Entertainment Industry Panel Friday - Anime Panel Room - 1A06 - 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM Gundam 00 with Brad Swaile Friday - Anime Panel Room - 1A06 - 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM Gurren Lagann with Steve Blum, Kyle Hebert, and Tony Oliver Saturday - Anime News Network Theater - 1A12 - 11:15 AM to 12:15 PM BANDAI ENTERTAINMENT BOOTH ACTIVITIES Friday 2-3pm Autograph signing: Brad Swaile of Gundam 00 with exclusive poster giveaway (Limited to 100 ticket holders, tickets will be available at the Bandai booth on a first come, first serve basis starting at Noon Friday) 4-5pm American Cosplay Paradise invades the Bandai Entertainment booth Saturday 3-4pm Autograph signing: Steve Blum, Kyle Hebert and Tony Oliver of Gurren Lagann with exclusive poster giveaway (Limited to 100 ticket holders, tickets will be available at the Bandai Booth on a first come, first serve basis starting at Noon Saturday) Sunday 12-1pm Autograph signing: Brad Swaile of Gundam 00 with exclusive poster giveaway (Limited to 100 ticket holders, tickets will be available at the Bandai booth on a first come, first serve basis starting at Sunday at 10am) 130-230pm Autograph signing: Steve Blum of Ghost Slayer Ayashi, Gurren Lagann and Code Geass with random poster giveaway (Limited to 100 ticket holders, tickets will be available at the Bandai booth on a first come, first serve basis starting at on Sunday at 11am) BANDAI ENTERTAINMENT SCREENINGS: Lucky Star Friday - TV & OAV Screening Room - 1A07 - 2:45 PM to 3:45 PM Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise Friday - Movie Screening Room - 1A23 - 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM Gundam 00 English language PREMIERE! Friday - TV & OAV Screening Room - 1A07 - 7:45 PM to 8:45 PM Bloodhound: Vampire Gigolo Friday - Live-Action Screening Room - 1A22 - 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM Gunbuster Movie Saturday - Movie Screening Room - 1A23 - 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM Gurren Lagann episodes Saturday - TV & OAV Screening Room - 1A07 - 12:15 PM to 1:15 PM Gundam SEED Saturday - TV & OAV Screening Room - 1A07 - 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM Toward The Terra Saturday - TV & OAV Screening Room - 1A07 - 2:45 PM to 3:45 PM The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Saturday - Movie Screening Room - 1A23 - 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM Code Geass Saturday - TV & OAV Screening Room - 1A07 - 7:45 PM to 8:45 PM Sword of the Stranger Sunday - Movie Screening Room - 1A23 - 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM Ghost Slayer Ayashi English language PREMIERE! Sunday - Anime News Network Theater - 1A12 - 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
NYTFGP2008 Festival Part One starts September 28th, 2008 at NYU's Cantor Film Center, with a steady stream of screenings in the following weeks in October, and at other key venues including Anthology Archive and Tribeca Cinemas around the NYC. Anime should should note GENIUS PARTY's presence on the roster. “GENIUS PARTY” is an anthology of short animated films from Studio 4.C, who are best known for their “Animatrix” and “Tekkonkinkreet” projects. The project’s theme given to seven and five selected directors for “Genius Party (2007) and was “ZERO regulation on creation.” Under this ultimate freedom, 12 geniuses created something special and unique for themselves. Director Shinichiro Watanabe (”Cowboy Bepop,” “Samurai Champloo”) said in an interview, “All of my anime is about guns, swords, blood, etc. Using this opportunity, I just wanted to make a real love story which I’ve never done before.” His “Baby Blue” in “Genius Party”, featuring the voice of Yuya Kagura (“Nobody Knows”) and Rinko Kikuchi (“Babel”) is a beautiful love story that cannot be missed. For event related interviews, see here
The UK's Barbican Film will mark the 80th anniversary of the birth of Osamu Tezuka with a major season of feature films, short films and television episodes curated by Helen McCarthy, many of which will be screening in the UK for the first time. Alongside this, Barbican Film will present an exhibition of Tezuka's drawings. Editor's note: this is amazing, so I'm going to include the whole list.. Saturday 20 September 11.00am - Family Film Club: Jungle Emperor Leo (Jungle Taitei/Jungle Emperor) (PG*) (1997 Dir. Takeo Takeuchi 99 min Dubbed)
Saturday 20 September 1.15pm - Childrens' Programme: Astro Boy: The Brave In Space (Tetsuwan Atom: Uchuu no Yuusha) (PG*) (1964 Dir. Atsushi Takagi, Eiichi Yamamoto & Shigeyuki Hayashi 87 min) ^
Osamu and Musashi (PG*) (2005 Dir. Rintaro 18 min) ^ Saturday 20 September 3.45pm - The Film Is Alive: Osamu Tezuka Filmography 1962-1989 (PG*) (1990 42 min) A documentary made for the Tezuka Osamu Exhibition at the Tokyo National Museum the year after Tezuka's death, this film boasts probably the most over specified title card in the world. Each of the ten letters has been handwritten by one of his friends, all superstars of the manga and anime community. It provides a thumbnail introduction to his work and records its diversity and energy, as well as featuring live footage of Tezuka himself. + Panel discussion: Being Osamu Tezuka Season curator Helen McCarthy discusses Tezuka's work with a panel of experts. Legend of the Forest (Mori no Densetsu) (PG*) (1988 Dir. Osamu Tezuka & Kouji Ui 30 min) Saturday 20 September 6.00pm - Phoenix 2772/Space Firebird (Hi no Tori 2772: Ai no Cosmozone) (PG) (1980 Dir. Suguru Sugiyama 122 min) Saturday 20 September 8.30pm - The Phoenix: Chapter of Dawn (Hi no Tori: Reimei Hen) (PG) 1978 Dir. Kon Ichikawa 138 min) Sunday 21 September 12.00pm - Jungle Emperor Leo (PG*) (1966 Dir. Eiichi Yamamoto 75min) ^ Sunday 21 September 1.45pm - Fantastic Adventures of Unico 1 (Unico) (PG) (1981 Dir. Toshio Hirata 90 min Dubbed)
Sunday 21 September 3.45pm - The Lion Books (12A)
Akuemon (1993 Dir. Macoto Tezuka 25 min) Adachigahara (1991 Dir. Hisashi Sakaguchi 25 min) The Green Cat (Midori na Neko) (1983 Dir. Osamu Tezuka 24 min) Lunn Flies into the Wind (Lun wa Kaze no Naka) (1985 Dir. Osamu Tezuka 24 min) Rain Boy (1983 Dir. Osamu Tezuka 24 min) Sunday 21 September 6.30pm - Tezuka On The Telly 2 More first episodes from Tezuka's later work for television.
Princess Knight (Ribon no Kishi/Knight of the Ribbon) (PG*) (1967 Osamu Tezuka & Sadao Tsukioka 23 min) Vampire (PG*) (1968 Dir. Ken Yamada & Kikuchi 22 min) Marvellous Melmo (Fushigina Melmo) (PG*) (1971 Dir. Osamu Tezuka 23min)
The Three-eyed One (Mitsumi ga Toru) (PG*) (1990 Dir. Hideki Hiroshima 25 min) Sunday 21 September 8.30pm - 1001 Nights (Senya Ichiya Monogatari) (18*) (1969 Dir. Eiichi Yamamoto 128 min)
Monday 22 September 11.00am - Schools Screening: Tezuka on the Telly 1 (PG*) Monday 22 September 6.00pm - Prime Rose (Time Slip 10000-nen Prime Rose) (12A) (Japan 1983 Dir. Tetsu Dezaki 90 min)
Monday 22 September 8.00pm - Baggy (aka Bagi, the Monster of Mighty Nature) (12A) (1984 Dir. Osamu Tezuka 90 min)
Tuesday 23 September 11.00am - Schools Screening: Baggy (aka Bagi, the Monster of Mighty Nature) (12A) Tuesday 23 September 6.00pm - Kamishibai theatre: Tezuka Osamu (Two stories introduced by Helen McCarthy and Paul Gravett. With soft titles. Location: Garden Room). A live performance from artist Mr Yasuno of two stories including a Kamishibai based on episodes from Tezuka's life. Kamishibai (paper-theatre) evolved in Japan in the late 1920s from a long tradition of picture storytelling, performed on street corners. The form became so popular that television was initially referred to in Japan as denki kamishibai, or "electric kamishiba". As its popularity declined, Kamishibai artists turned to manga and Mr Yasuno's recreation offers audiences a rare opportunity to witness this street performance whose influence lives on in modern anime. Wednesday 24 September 8.30pm - Cleopatra (aka Cleopatra, Queen of Sex) (18*) (1970 Dir. Osamu Tezuka & Eiichi Yamamoto 112 min)
Also at the Barbican, the third season of Japanimation returns with the latest live action movie by Katsuhiro Otomo of Akira fame. Mushishi is based on the manga that inspired Revelation Films' current hit anime series of the same name. Here Barbican Film presents two episodes from the series before the feature in this Mushi-fest introduced by anime expert and author Helen McCarthy. Mushishi (15) (Japan 2006 Katsuhiro Otomo 131 min) The Mushi are neither plants nor animals, instead they resemble the primeval substances of life. A travelling mystical doctor, a 'Bug Master' passes through remote regions of Japan curing the ill effects of these supernatural creatures. + Mushishi (15) (Japan 2005 Dir. Hiroshi Nagahama 50min) Few humans are actually aware of the Mushi's existence and among them is Ginko, a 'Mushishi' who travels around investigating them. In the course of his research he aids those plagued by supernatural phenomenon caused by the Mushi. Episodes 1 & 3 of the anime TV series. Cinema Hotline: 0845 120 7527 Ticket prices: Book online and save up to £2 off every ticket! Standard: £7.50 online (£9.50 full price) Barbican Members: £6.50 online (£7.50 full price) Concessions: £7.50 Under 15: £4.50 The New York International Children's Film Festival (NYICFF) has announced their call line-up. Tickets can be purchased here
Bandai Entertainment Inc. and Kadokawa Pictures USA announced that the English language version of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time will play Saturday October 18, 2008 at the Black Bear Film Festival in Milford, PA.
AZUR & ASMAR France, Animation, Michel Ocelot, 2006/2008, 98 min US premiere English language version IN ENGLISH - FOR AGES 6 TO ADULT THIS EVENT IS EXPECTED TO SELL OUT SO ADVANCE TICKETS ARE RECOMMENDED Sat & Sun, Oct 18 & 19, 11am - IFC Center, 323 6th Ave (at West 3rd) Sat, Nov 29, 11am, 2pm - Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway (at 95th) Azur and Asmar is the story of two boys raised as brothers. Blonde, blue-eyed, white skinned Azur and black-haired, brown-eyed, dark-skinned Asmar are lovingly cared for by Asmar's gentle mother, who tells them magical stories of her faraway homeland and of beautiful, imprisoned Fairy Djinn waiting to be set free. Time passes, and one day Azur's father, the master of the house, provokes a brutal separation. Azur is sent away to study, while Asmar and his mother are driven out, homeless and penniless. Years later, as a young adult, Azur remains haunted by memories of the sunny land of his nanny, and sets sail south across the high seas to find the country of his dreams. Meanwhile, back in her homeland, Azur's nanny has become a wealthy merchant and Asmar has grown into a dashing horseman. Reunited but now as adversaries, the two brothers set off on a dangerous quest to find and free the Fairy of the Djinns.
SITA SINGS THE BLUES USA, Animation, Nina Paley, 2008, 82 min IN ENGLISH - FOR AGES 9 TO ADULT AUDIENCE Q&A WITH DIRECTOR NINA PALEY FOLLOWING BOTH SHOWS THIS EVENT IS EXPECTED TO SELL OUT SO ADVANCE TICKETS ARE RECOMMENDED Sat & Sun, Nov 8 & 9, 11am - IFC Center, 323 6th Ave (at West 3rd) Tragedy, comedy and musical collide in this gloriously animated new film from Nina Paley, New York's own "One Woman Pixar" (Wired Magazine). Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by email. Three bickering shadow puppets with Indian accents act as comic narrators as these old and new stories are interwoven interwoven in a post-modern retelling of the ancient Indian epic Ramayana, animated in a dazzling mix of traditional and collage animation styles, and backed by a soundtrack from legendary 1920's jazz singer Annette Hanshaw. Sita Sings the Blues follows in the line of Triplets of Bellville, Spirited Away and Persepolis to exemplify animation as a "serious" art form. The panoply of monsters, gods, goddesses, warriors, sages, and winged eyeballs fill the screen with vivid color from start to finish, while the narrators' hilarious improvisational debates over the Rama legend join the filmmaker's own tragicomic story and Hanshaw's done-me-wrong tunes to layer a modern feminist commentary on the ancient tale. The result is a subtly subversive, visually stunning, highly original work that is as enjoyable for children as it is for adults.
KID FLIX MIX IN ENGLISH - FOR AGES 3 TO 8 Sat & Sun, Oct 25 & 26, 11am - Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway (at 95th)
NYICFF PARTY MIX FOR AGES 8 TO ADULT Sat & Sun, Oct 25 & 26, 1pm - Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway (at 95th)
DUCK SOUP SPECIAL 75TH ANNIVERSARY SCREENING USA, Leo McCarey, 1933, 68 min FOR AGES 6 TO ADULT Sat, Dec 20 at 1pm & Sun, Dec 21 at 11am - Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway (at 95th)
BABES IN TOYLAND USA, Gus Meins, 1934, 77 min FOR ALL AGES Sat, Dec 20 at 11am & Sun, Dec 21 at 1pm - Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway (at 95th) This film is also known under its alternate title, March of the Wooden Soldiers.
Mikki Brown, co-owner of theBrowns retail store on Water Street will be showing fashion inspired by Japanese design at Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Friday, Sept. 26, at 6 p.m. A local article can be read here Japanamerica auhor Roland Kelts will be speaking at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute on Thursday, October 2, at 7 pm in Williamstown, Massachusetts
The Somerville Theatre outside Boston will host Anime After Dark October 18.08 7pm - 7am Amoung the films to be screened included Grave of the Fireflies Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society Project A-Ko Tekkon Kinkreet Millenium Actress
J-rock artists girugamesh will be performing at Sakura-Con 2009. Sponsored by ANCEA (Asia Northwest Cultural Education Association), 12th annual Sakura-Con, will be held April 10th - 12th, 2009, at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Downtown Seattle Washington. Formed in 2004, girugamesh made their USA debut at 2007's JRock Revolution event in Los Angeles, CA, which also featured artists such as Miyavi, D'espairsRay, alice nine, and MUCC. In 2008, the band has been performing non-stop, bringing their "Stupid" tour to fans in Japan and Europe. girugamesh is: Vocals - Satoshi Guitar - Nii Bass - ShuU Drums - ?yo
The 2nd Annual Naruto Trek Convention has been announced for MARCH 27 - 29, 2009 at The Sheraton Suites Cypress Creek Hotel (Cypress Creek & I-95) in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Guests include: MAILE FLANAGAN: The voice of Naruto MARY ELIZABETH MCGLYNN: voice actress, writer, singer, ADR director and voicing "KURENAI" from Naruto. JEFF NIMOY: Nimoy has written, directed, and served as story editor for "Digimon: Digital Monsters" and co-wrote and directed "Digimon: The Movie" and "Digimon 02: Revenge of Diaboromon" for Disney. QUINTON FLYNN: actor and writer known for providing the voices of video game characters Raiden in "Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty," Axel in "Kingdom Hearts II," and Myifee in "99 Nights." WALTER KOENIG DENISE CROSBY MORGAN SHEPPARD CHRISTINA MOSES MARC AND ELAINE ZICREE
MangaNEXT, held October 31 through November 2, 2008 at the Doubletree Somerset in New Jersey, announced that Misako Rocks, an artist featured in Elle Girl and the New York Times will be a guest at the event.
Electronica / Industrial / Ambient band Juno Reactor and legendary Japanese guitar superstar SUGIZO will be holding a series of promotional events in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York during Juno Reactor's first U.S. tour in seven years. SUGIZO recently released “COSMOSCAPE” an outstanding collection of ten years of his work. JUNO REACTOR's “Gods and Monsters” was released April 2008. The San Francisco event, hosted by Shibuya Airwaves, will take place at Kinokuniya Bookstore on September 23rd, from 3:30 to 5:00PM. It will feature a short question-and- answer session with the band, followed by an autograph signing. The Los Angeles event, hosted by Jrock Revolution, will take place at Anime Jungle on September 24th, from 8:30 to 10:00PM. It will be strictly an autograph signing. The New York event, hosted by Samurai Beat Radio, will take place at Kinokuniya Bookstore on September 28th, from 12:30PM to 2:30PM. It will feature a half hour talk show program hosted by Samurai Beat Radio, followed by an autograph signing. Tour Dates: 9/20, Denver, CO - Owsley's Golden Road 9/21, Aspen, CO - Belly Up Aspen 9/23, San Francisco, CA - The Independent 9/25, Los Angeles, CA - El Rey Theatre 9/26, Chicago, IL - Metro / Smart Bar 9/28, New York, NY – Blender Theater @ Gramercy Meet and Greet Dates: 9/23, San Francisco, CA – Kinokuniya Bookstore 9/24, Los Angeles, CA – Anime Jungle 9/28, New York City, NY – Kinokuniya Bookstore For more see
Tiffany Grant, voice actress of Asuka Langely from Neon Genesis Evangelion, will be a guest at Arazona's Phoenix Comicon
A restored version of Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon will be screen along with "Kagemusha," "Seven Samurai," "Ran," "Yojimbo" and "Dersu Uzala" Friday and Saturday evenings at LA's Goldwyn and Linwood Dunn theaters through Oct. 4.
To mark Comic Market's 35th year anniversary, Comiket Special 5 is planned for 2010

Cool Figures

Dark Horse has planned the following releases: ReelArt Studios: Prince Valiant Statue will be release in December 2008. The limited edition prepainted statues (500) messures 12" in height, stretching 15" deep and 10 ¾" wide.
HALO 3 On sale Mar 25 Weta Collectibles: Halo 3—Cortana Statue 8" W x 17.5" H x 8" D, limited edition $250.00
Weta Collectibles: Halo 3—Master Chief and Arbiter Statue 12.5" W x 10" H x 8" D, limited edition $250.00
EELART STUDIOS BUCK ROGERS STATUE On sale Jan 15 16" tall x 8" wide x 8" deep Limited to 500 units worldwide $189.00 sculpted by Tony Cipriano and paint mastered by Joy & Tom Studios.
VAMPIRE HUNTER D BUST MONO VARIANT On sale Jan 28 8.5" tall, monochromatic style paint Limited edition, packaged in a deluxe full-color box $74.99 sculpted by Tim Bruckner. This version highlights the nuance of the monochromatic art style of Amano, as recreated by master prototype painter Kat Sapene.
Organic Hobby will be releasing Revoltech figures of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann & Ricky (Doko?Demo?Issyo in October for $24.00 each. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, 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 45 articulation points with 14 joint parts. "Revoltech Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann" comes equipped with interchangeable accessories and parts (1 core drill, 1 impact effect, 3 optional frame parts [fire], 4 optional hands, 1 optional head and 1 display base).
Ricky, is a fictional character based on the video game Doko Demo Issyo (also written as Doko Demo Issho, meaning "Together everywhere") on the miniature game console called PocketStation, produced by the same company. The figure is 5-6" tall and has 27 articulation points with 9 joint parts. "Revoltech Ricky" comes equipped with interchangeable accessories and parts (1 wooden spoon, 1 rice bowl, 2 iron weights, 3 optional faces/eyes and 1 display base).
Organic Hobby, Inc in conjunction with Kaiyodo will be releasing Fraülein Revoltech #011 – Haruka Hasegawa in November with a SRP of $26.00. Fraülein Revoltech Haruka Hasegawa a postgraduate student, is based Japanese manga series created by Masayuki Ishikawa known as "Moyashimon: Tales of Agriculture." The series follows the life of "Tadayasu Sawaki," a first-year college student at an agricultural university, who has the unique ability to see and communicate with micro-organisms and bacteria. The figure is 6" tall and has 19 articulation points with 11 joint parts. "Fraülein Revoltech Haruka" comes equipped with interchangeable accessories/parts (such as 1 sake glass, 1 wine glass, 1 laboratory plate, 2 optional head, 11 optional hands, 1 display base and more).
Organic Hobby, Inc will be releasing “Tom & Jerry Vignette Collection Figure (Series 1 thru Series 4)”n November with a SRP of $20.00. Tom and Jerry was a successful and long-running series of theatrical short subjects created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer that centered on a never-ending rivalry between a housecat (Tom) and a brown mouse (Jerry) whose chases and battles often involved comic violence. "Tom & Jerry Vignette Collection Figure" is a four piece/style window box assortment of 5" scale PVC figures and its part of Organic's original product. Master case: 24 pcs :: 2 Inners of 12 pcs :: Each Inner has 3 pcs of each series/style (4).
CollectionDX's recent coverage of note includes: On the mecha side... Mecharobo Gaiking (Shogun Warriors ZARGON) God Bless The Machine Dancouga Getter 1 (an oldschool edition, with comments on it's relevance) 1/60 VF-1A with SUPER and STRIKE parts (Hikaru Ichijo) CM's Brave Gokin Dark Legioss Mach Baron On the mini's front Marusan Mini-Sofubi Dynamic Productions Box (Devilman, Mazinger Z, and Getter 1,2,3) Galaxy Express 999 Figure Collection Also, New Marmit Kaiju releases Yamato VMF50 Macross Lynn Minmei Danny Choo on CNN Want a good sample of Choo's work? Check out his coverage of Lucky Star's Kagami Hiiragi Speaking as a moe-avoider, Alter’s 1/8 Hanamoto Hagumi (of Honey and Clover) is terribly charming. Also from How A Girl Figures, Eye Up Kamina Galaxy Defenders Variable Cyberbot - (Bandai Valkyrie knockoff) Petit Eva USB Organic Hobby Felix the Cat
Customs: Dragon Ball Krillin Munny Lego Constructicons

The Business

ICV2 reports that in the wake of Iwakaze Capital's investment in Gonzo parent company GDH, the companies have agreed on a take-over in which the management team of GDH will be replaced on October 1st.
Houston based ADV Film returned to operations on September 17th following a shutdown due to Hurricane Ike.
IMAGI International Holdings, Limited (TMNT, the upcoming Astro Boy, Gatchaman) announced that it had raised US$30 million in financing through two separate subscription agreements. The first agreement, the terms of which were originally announced to the stock exchange on September 3, is with a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shui On Holdings Limited. The subscriber will invest US$10 million for approximately 90.6 million new shares at HK$0.86 per share. Under the original agreement, Sunni International Limited, a controlling shareholder in IMAGI, was to provide the Shui On subsidiary with an additional 40 million gift shares. Sunni has since advised that it will transfer a further 30 million gift shares to the new investor, bringing the total shares owned by the new investor to 209.95 million (including 49.35 million shares already owned), representing a 10.99% ownership stake in IMAGI as enlarged by the US$30 million subscription shares. The second agreement, announced to the stock exchange on September 12, has been made with Mehta-IMAGI LLC, which will invest US$20 million for approximately 181.2 million new shares at HK$0.86 per share, representing a premium of approximately 68.63% to IMAGI's closing price on September 4. Sunni has agreed to transfer an additional 140 million gift shares to Mehta-IMAGI LLC bringing the total shares owned by Mehta-IMAGI LLC to 321.2 million, representing a 16.82% ownership stake in IMAGI as enlarged by the US$30 million subscription shares. Both agreements are expected to be completed later this month, once regulatory procedures have been completed.
According to Hollywood Reporter, BET Networks' president of entertainment Reginald Hudlin has left the company after three years on the job. Hudlin had been an advocate of animated programming, including an adaptation of Marvel Comics' Black Panther Hudlin said he would return to his entrepreneurial roots as an independent producer

Digital Distribution

Asian media digital distribution site CrunchyRoll is offering a free preview of the latest entry in the DJ Milky(Stu Levy)/Courtney Love franchise Princess Ai, "Encounters." Encounters will be available in its entirety for September 16-30, 2008.
* will be offering Manga Entertainment anime titles, including Ghost in the Shell, Robotech, Astro Boy, Street Fighter II V, Noein, Karas and Tactics. Premium feature-length films from Manga Entertainment will be available for $2.99, while all series episodes will be available for $1.99. For more, see
North American anime periodical Protoculture Addicts has added issues 93-97 to their eBook offering through here

VIZ Talks Black Lagoon Manga Release

VIZ Media, LLC, has announced the exciting North American debut of BLACK LAGOON, a manga series by Rei Hiroe about a misfit group of mercenaries and their adventures on the high seas of Southeast Asia. BLACK LAGOON is available now from the VIZ Media imprint and is rated “M” for Mature audiences. It carries an MSRP of $12.99 U.S./$15.00 CAN. The manga title was previewed here Readers will lock ‘n’ load with Dutch the Boss, Benny the Mechanic, Revy Two Hand, and Rock as they seek adventure and fortune aboard their World War II-era torpedo boat, the Black Lagoon. In the tre
Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 19, 2008, 9:52 a.m. CST


    by JD Lux


  • Sept. 19, 2008, 10:48 a.m. CST

    JD Lux is a cunt!

    by LordPorkington

    Double woop!

  • Sept. 19, 2008, 7:45 p.m. CST

    Tezuka = Genius

    by veritasses

    The original Tom and Jerry too. They sure don't make 'em like that anymore.

  • Sept. 20, 2008, 10:13 p.m. CST

    Great work Scott

    by BillyPilgrim

    Thanks for all the info. Ran out and got a copy of Black Lagoon Manga...awesome stuff. Also, ANN is reporting that Akira Kurosawa's The Masque of the Black Death will be animated and released in 2010. Not sure if its already been mentioned, but its sure exciting news.