The Comic Book Legal Defence Fund is offering signed Peter Kuper print as part of a fund raiser for the defence in the obscentity case of manga collector Christopher Handley. The case is scheduled to go the jury on February 2nd
For perspective on the case, see MTV Splash page's conversation with Neil Gaiman *A protest of the non-Asian casting for live action Avatar adaptation is gaining support from a number of fans and artists. M. Night Shyamalan's will feature Noah Ringer as Aang, Nicola Peltz as Katara, Jesse McCartney as Zuko and Jackson Rathbone Sokka.
Ouran High School Host Club Season 1, Part 1 Released by FUNimation
I'm generally too busy working through the anime that I should be watching to look forward to something on the horizon, but Ouran High School Host Club was one of the rare titles that inspired acute anticipation. I'd seen clips and been intrigued by the way that Bones (the studio behind Fullmetal Alchmest, RahXephon, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie) leapt on the metaphor heavy visualizations of shoujo (female audience) manga. Between the fabulous setting and endearing running gags, the resulting Revolutionary Girl Utena by way of a screwball comedy certainly didn't disappoint. Thanks to FUNimation's 13 episode release bundles, I've now seen half of the anime, and from that perspective, I find some of the steps taken by Ouran High School Host Club to develop its characters a bit disagreeable. (I get that the heroine has a problem relying on others, but it seems wrong-headed to condemn her for instantly reacting to a crisis as inappropriate for her gender). Though it's manic comedy, I only found myself cracking a smile at a minority of Ouran's jokes. (I'm inclined to award Ouran the title for most slip-on-a-banana peel jokes in an anime series; though, at least it's relatively subtle about evoking the crocodile-banana linguistic pun). Yet, I'd highly recommend the series. It's from the under represented genre of shoujo anime. And, it's animated by Bones, who, in fully embracing the opportunity to work in the genre, produce some joyfully clever work.
A key ancestor of modern shoujo manga is Osamu Tezuka's Princess Knight. Serialized three times, in 1953, 1958 and 1963, Knight detailed the fairy tale adventures of Princess Saphire, a girl with a female "heart" and a male one, who assumes a male identity to inherit the throne of her kingdom. While it would be a mistake to suggest that any segment of manga is monolithic, these notions of mutability, particularly of gender, and a sense of a fractured fairy tale would become hallmarks of shoujo. With works like Riyoko Ikeda's The Rose of Versailles, about a young woman raised to take her father's position as a Palace Guard in the time leading up to the French Revolution, these themes would be prominent in the works of the Nijuyon-nen Gumi/Year 24 Flower Group as female creators began establishing themselves in the genre. And, the inheritance can be seen in current shoujo like Ouran High. One reason to embrace Ouran High is that anime isn't exactly overflowing with its like. While manga has established audiences among almost any segment of the Japanese population, anime has spottier coverage. It's largely for young audiences and anime fans. You'll get movies like those produced by Studio 4C and Madhouse as well as programming blocks like Fuji TV's Noitamina (home of the anime versions of Honey and Clover, Paradise Kiss, Jyu Oh Sei and Antique Bakery), but these efforts to speak to different audiences are the exceptions that prove the rule Last week's column reviewed Oishinbo, a foodie manga written for male professionals. That was adapted into an anime series that lasted four years and 136 episodes. From the same anthology, Big Comic Spirits, Rumiko Takahashi's relationship comedy Maison Ikkoku was similarly adapted into a 96 episode anime series; Birdy the Mighty has been adapted into anime twice; TekkonKinkreet's been made into an anime movie. However, readers of the Big Comic family of anthologies are generally not the people who watch anime. This is probably a contributing factor in explaining why it took Golgo 13 39 years to be adapted into a TV anime. There's the concept of shoujo anime/manga as it is recognized by North American anime/manga fans - a prominence of female characters, a focus on relationships and emotion. Then, there's the concept of shoujo as it applies to the Japanese market - works from shoujo anthologies or adapted from works in such anthologies. By this latter definition, a lot of relationship comedies, such as the works of Ken Akamatsu, a lot of pastel works (Shuffle, Kanon), and female lead stories (Azumanga Daioh, Gunslinger Girls) are not shoujo. There are plenty of anime that actually are shoujo; plenty of high quality; plenty of classics; plenty of popular works. However, shoujo anime has been a minority voice in the field. This condition is exacerbated when considering the North American market, where anime like Kodocha, Princess Tutu and Marmlade Boy, are well regarded but hardly industry leaders. Based on the manga by Bisco Hatori (released in North America by Viz), Ouran High follows Haruhi Fujioka, the child of a widowed father, attending the astronomically elite Ouran Academy on a scholarship. The androgynous Haruhi turns up to school without the expensive girl's uniform, and, thanks to a bubblegum mishap, cropped hair. With a student body comprised of the uber-rich and well born, most of Ouran's students don't take academics especially seriously. Amidst the chatter and socializing, Haruhi finds the school's rococo libraries unsuitable for studying. So, she wanders around the grossly extravagant arcs and stairways of the campus, looking for a quiet, out of the way room. She slouches by "Music Room #3," and not hearing any music, incorrectly deduces that it is unused. Instead, she opens the door to find the school's Host Club - a student version of a business in which attendants charm patrons, primarily of the opposite gender, and encourage them to purchase drinks. "Those with the wherewithal - first, in social standing, and second, in money - spend their time here, at the private Ouran Academy. As such, Ouran Host Club is where handsome boys with too much time on their hands entertain and charm girls, who also have too much time on their hands. It is the school's own personal, elegant playground for the super-rich." Here, she meets a group of boys who fit into anime/manga character types, acknowlege that, and, for the delight of their "customers" and their own amusement, play to that expectation. There's "Mori" - Takashi Morinozuka, the big, silent "wild" type; "Honey" - Mitsukuni Haninozuka, a seventeen year old who looks to be about a decade younger than his actual age, often accompanied by a pink, plush rabbit; Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin, identical twin pranksters who work to suggest a twincestuous relationship (also, the only members of the Club in Haruhi's class); Kyoya Ootori, the quiet, intense "Shadow King" of the host club; and Tamaki Suoh, the handsome, mercurial alpha of the group. The novelty of a visitor who is a "commoner" and "boy" excites the club, particularly Tamaki, who proceeds to make a grand show of his magnanimity in welcoming Haruhi. Skeeved out, Haruhi knocks over a vase, scheduled to be auctioned with a starting bid of 80 million yen. The club decides that the best way to handle the situation would be for Haruhi to serve as the club "dog" until her debt is repaid. Even after the last member of the group has figured out that Haruhi is a girl, it strikes their fancy to have her dress in a boy's uniform and serve as a gopher, junior member of the Club. While the setting, situation and events of Ouran high are exaggerated into the upper octaves of absurdity, the anime encourages an emotional investment in Haruhi. As a serious, well meaning and able character, she's quite likable. This cast is intended to be comprised of realized characters in a fantasy world, and Ouran High accomplishes the goal well enough that when it betrays or mistreats the characters, it strikes a sour cord. And the characters do get pushed around, in the service of the comedy driven nature of the anime, and in service of character development. If forced to decide between a joke and being true to a character, in most cases, Ouran High is going to favor the joke. The premise highlights this. Despite being unnerved in the vase breaking Host Club introduction incident, Haruhi is a largely unshakable character. Sure, she has a low tolerance for foolishness, and her visible agitation is an endearing character tick, but, in retrospect, being party to physical havoc looks like a bit of a conceit. Yet, even if it's of questionable wisdom to present a person acting out of character while they're being introduced, the extent to which this should be criticized is not cut and dry. The disparity between the expected and the actual is a fundamental of comedy that Ouran High does leverage, but, beyond that, the joke and the dramatic trajectory get tangled up. The joke is seeing someone play a role based on an assumption known to be false (girls who fall for Haruhi, thinking that she's a darling, innocent boy), or when our own assumptions are lead in one direction, then upset (suddenly, someone who appeared physically helpless is revealed to be a martial arts master). The weight of the dramatic core picks up this thread and revolves around unraveling why these characters mask their true selves. There are cases where this is funny and enchanting, as when it reflects complexities in the nature of the subjects. Moments in which Haruhi allows herself to let down her wariness and self-sufficiency to indulge in luxury food are particularly delightful. The flip side of that is that there are plenty of situations in which supposedly brilliant people are subject to idiot plots. Episodic dramas devote themselves to a mixed agenda of unraveling host club with unraveling the people with whom the club cross paths. The success of this is mixed. There's amble reason to care for the characters and particularly empathize with Haruhi. However, the reasons to like these characters are often symptoms of there problems. When it comes to the Host Club guys, their comedic premise and exaggerated character type appeal are either defense mechanisms or hide their real personalities and concerns. Dramatically, the plot should move toward shedding these, but for the sake of entertainment, is that desirable? Similarly, Haruhi's independence registers as convincingly admirable, yet this trait gets cast as an issue that needs to be overcome or at least mediated. Between the in-context wealth that allows the characters to jet to Okinawa or redo their meeting room in a Balinese motif, the literally florid symbolism and sifting character stylization of shoujo, and all of the eccentricities in play, Ouran High offers Bones carte blanche, and Bones embrace the license. I'm not going to hazard a guess as to what jokes a particular audience might find funny in Ouran High. I hardly smirked at many, but for some reason the performers from the Takarazuka Revue like rival Zuka club from girls' school at St. Lobelia, struck me as hilarious. (As did the joke where an otaku girl cosplays as a character from another Bones show, which prompts a references to the anthology that serializes the Ouran manga). While I wasn't dying of mirth, I was loving every minute of Bones' animation. I'm inclined to think that Ouran High doesn't have a legitamate claim on being great animation. It's a bit too obvious; a bit too reliant on the symbolism equivalent of high way billboards. However, this is part of the fun. The animation acts as almost a meta-actor pranking on a cast of characters who are too busy masking themselves to notice. Anime is often oblivious to spoilers. Next-episode previews frequently give away significant plot twists. Ouran High follows suit , but it also paints over the action with dead-giveaway symbolism. The illuminated light bulb as a marker for a revelation makes a brilliantly clever appearance in Haruhi's meeting with the host club, and at the say time, a flickering arrow points to the vase that Haruhi is about to knock over. This playfulness and empowered expression sets Ouran High apart as genuinely fun anime.
Anime Spotlight:Code Geass - Leouch of the Rebellion Season 1, Pt. 2 Released by Bandai Entertainment
In the red corner... we have Sunrise... Legend of anime's 50 episode weight class, and mecha contender, having set the pace for the genre with unforgettable entries like Gundam, Armored Trooper Votoms, and The King of Braves GaoGaiGar. In the blue corner... we have the full set of anime watchers. Sunrise has targeted this titanic foe before. Not content with old school model builders and sci-fi enthusiasts, the veteran studio has tried reworking its game, adapting the aesthetic and cast of its mecha blue-print for a female audience, famously in Gundam Wing. It refined the plan for Gundam SEED, a return to the structure of the original Mobile Suit Gundam, with the handsomeness, colorful flair and interpersonal drama of Wing.
Yet, the gameplan fell apart with the follow-up, Gundam SEED Destiny. Introducing a new cast, linked to the antagonist of the previous show, and at odds with former protagonists was a gambit previously used in Zeta Gundam. For a while, Destiny was flying high. Having the old heroes muddy the water by unilaterally entering into a conflict had dramatic and political relevance going for it. Unfortunately, in its push, creative indecisiveness caused Gundam SEED Destiny to zig when it should have zagged, losing its way to the extend that this commentator has never been able to muster the interest needed to finish the last 1/12th. So, now Sunrise is putting its pound for pound cred on the line again. Can the home of many of anime's most successful sci-fi franchises hold down the interest of a body of viewers that includes discerning enthusiasts looking for realism in their giant robots and martial strategy, but also capture viewers who are more focused on complex personal relationships? Are these dispersed hooks also contradictory? Look at the drab, boxy motifs of the mass produced mecha of a focused "real robot" show, and compare them to the colorful totems of a Gundam Wing or Gundam SEED. Is one audience going to be forfeited to hold the other? Geass hits the hot buttons from the opening bell. Japan has been conquered, stripped of its autonomity and even identity by the Holy Empire of Britannia (which includes the geographic bounds of the United States of America). Resistance groups, including both old hold-outs and young revolutionaries, have had little success in loosening the hold of a government whose embrace of social Darwinism affords a comfort with strife. Yet, a game changing player has entered the field. Exile prince Lelouch Lamperouge was a chess hustler attending Ashford Academy, an elite school for children of the powerful in what was Japan. Then, the pieces began falling into place to allow Lelouch to realize his dream of destroying the Britannian Empire. He acquired a very rules bound power to command any person with whom he locks eyes. He recast a revolutionary cell as the champions of justice known as the Black Knights. He found a way to outfit them with the appropriate Knightmare Frame humanoid mechanical suits and command them on the battlefield. Soon, he's gained the support of other resistance groups and achieved major strategic victories. At the same time, his fascist tendencies and his disregard for life have begun to compromise his dreams of excising the wrongs of the world. Soon, the consequences of these actions are compounding. You have an ethically compromised genius protagonist... Death Note comparisons come to mind. You have attention to the mechanics of how weapons work and how tools with defined limitations are applicable to a battle field. Factor in character designs that are a spectacle in and of themselves , produced by the star manga creators CLAMP, and spread across a diverse cast, a many of whom change outfits on an episode by episode basis. Rather than a patch work of battle field scenes, political machinations and down time drama, Code Geass elegantly weaves these pieces together such that they are less compartmentalize than characters would desire. 70% the way through the first season of this exercise, I'm both amazed and dubious of Code Geass. Both reactions stem from the same factor. Series director Goro Taniguchi and writer Ichiro Okouchi have a solid grasp on how to complicate or simplify the anime. The creators have shown an amazing deftness at creating compelling dilemmas for their characters, and also for removing or icing those concerns. These puppet masters are smart enough that they don't have to cheat, and as such, they don't betray the viewers or characters, but there's still the shadow of dropped threads. Code Geass leverages a chess metaphor, but I'm not so sure how meticulously its creators planned their gambit. The running story has so far been brilliant, but given expansive ambitions, and the enormity of its cast and themes, I'm not convinced that elements aren't going to be lost in the rush. The anime is probably going to necessitate a retrospective judgment to determine whether it was a sharp crowd pleaser or one of the great anime to succeed in pursuing a broad audience.
New Kill Bill Animated Segement
According to The Quentin Tarantino Archives a new animated segement is being produced for a new cut of Kill Bill. “We’ve actually added some things to it. We did a whole little chapter that I wrote and designed for the animated sequence, that we never did, because we figured, back when it was gonna be one big movie, it was going to be too long, so we didn’t do it. So when we were talking about re-releasing it, they asked is there anything you can put in, and I said no I put everything in there, but… there’s one sequence that we wouldn’t even have to shoot! So we got together with Production IG and did it, and it’s really cool. So it’s this little seven minute sequence, it’s really cool, it’s in the O-Ren chapter.” - Quentin Tarantino
New and Upcoming in North America
Sky Crawlers Mamoru Oshii's Sky Crawlers has recieve a PG13 rating by the MPAA for material involving violence, some sexual content and smoking. DMP - Swallowing the Earth About.com:manga has confirmed that Digital Manga Publishing will be releasing Osamu Tezuka's Swallowing the Earth in June 2009.
From Tezuka in English's description "One of Tezuka's most adult series, Swallowing the Earth treats the use of female sexuality as a weapon, and the abuses of women in human history. The central figure, Zephyrus, is a mysterious, icy seductress who uses her power over men to snare them into aiding her scheme to avenge the wrongs done to womankind over the course of history. The only one immune to her charms is young Seki Gohonmatsu, a Neanderthal-like perpetually-drunken sailor whose only goal is to drink all the liquor in the world, a crass parallel to Zephyrus' schemes to swallow the Earth with her revenge." CMX KING OF DEBRIS VOL. 1 Written and illustrated by Yusuke Aso CMX/Flex Comix. Citro’s an all-too-human android boy who lives with his “grandfather,” an old mechanic, and Corona, the mechanic’s granddaughter. When warring factions battle it out at his home, a powerful device implants itself in Citro, making him both more powerful and the target of evil forces. Tragedy propels Citro and Corona on a quest, accompanied by their new ally Tera, the broomstick- flying, techno-witch. on sale May 13 • 5" x 7.375" • 162 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN THE LAPIS LAZULI CROWN VOL. 1 Written and illustrated by Natsuna Kawase CMX. Everyone in young Miel’s family has magical powers, but she’s not really interested in developing hers. Miel wants to live a more normal life, much to her older sister’s disapproval. But when she encounters a boy who needs some help—and who happens to resemble the handsome and beloved young prince of the realm—Miel may just have found the motivation she needs to develop her own special gifts. on sale May 20 • 5" x 7.375" • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • EVERYONE FIRE INVESTIGATOR NANASE VOL. 2 Story by Izo HASHIMOTO/Art by Tomoshige ICHIKAWA on sale May 6 • 5” x 7.375” • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN+ THE NAME OF THE FLOWER VOL. 2 Written and illustrated by Ken Saito on sale May 20 • 5” x 7.375” • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN+ KING OF CARDS VOL. 7 Written and illustrated by Makoto Tateno on sale May 27 • 5” x 7.375” • 208 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN SWAN VOL. 14 Written by illustrated by Kyoko Ariyoshi Retailers: This title is resolicited. All previous orders are cancelled. Resolicit; on sale May 13 • 5" x 7.375" • 208 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • EVERYONE TERU TERU X SHONEN VOL. 5 Written and illustrated by Shigeru Takao on sale May 27 • 5” x 7.375” • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN+ TWO FLOWERS FOR THE DRAGON VOL. 4 Written and illustrated by Nari Kusakawa on sale May 6 • 5" x 7.375" • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN Dark Horse GANTZ VOLUME 6 Hiroya Oku (W/A) On sale June 24 b&w, 228 pages $12.95 TPB, 5 1/8" x 7 1/4" MPD-PSYCHO VOLUME 9 Eiji Otsuka (W) and Sho-u Tajima (A) On sale June 3 b&w, 208 pages $12.95 TPB, 5" x 7" NEON GENESIS EVANGELION: THE SHINJI IKARI RAISING PROJECT VOLUME 1 Osamu Takahashi (W/A) On sale June 10 b&w, 184 pages $9.95 TPB, 5" x 7" Stunning, hotheaded Asuka Langley Soryu has been friends with Shinji Ikari since they were little. And she always sort of assumed they'd stay together--until the day the beautiful, brilliant Rei Ayanami showed up in class! When Shinji starts to get curious about Rei, Asuka needs to figure out if she wants to be just friends with Shinji, or something more. But why are so many people keeping an eye on these relationships--people like homeroom teacher Misato, school nurse Ritsuko, and Shinji's mother--NERV's chief scientist, Yui Ikari . . . ? OH MY GODDESS! VOLUME 12 Kosuke Fujishima (W/A) On sale June 24 b&w, 200 pages $10.95 TPB, 5 1/8" x 7 3/16" SHAMAN WARRIOR VOLUME 7 Park Joong-Ki (W/A) On sale June 3 b&w, 200 pages $12.95 TPB, 5 3/4" x 8 1/4" THUMBELINA: THE POP WONDERLAND SERIES POP (A) and Michiyo Hayano (W) On sale June 24 FC, 32 pages $16.95 HC, 10 1/8" x 8 1/4" Hans Christian Andersen's classic tale of the smallest girl in the world is brought to life for a new generation! Thumbelina was a very special girl: no bigger than your thumb, she captivated everyone who met her with her charm and innocence when she emerged from the center of a flower. Soon after, Thumbelina was spotted by a frog, who stole her away to marry his son. Trapped floating on a lily pad, Thumbelina was rescued by a beetle who took her back to his family. Thumbelina's adventures were just beginning. as she would meet fish, butterflies, moles, and other woodland creatures, all enchanted by the littlest girl in the world. Would she ever find happiness? Also DARK HORSE/AMANO MUG On sale May 27 11 oz. mug $9.99 Mr. Yoshitaka Amano gave us his interpretation of the Dark Horse logo earlier in the year and it was elegantly applied to a limited poster and lithograph. We have taken this same piece of art and placed it on a new Dark Horse mug, yellow on the outside, black on the inside, with the company logo on the opposite side. The perfect thing to show off your love of comics! EMPOWERED VOLUME 5 Adam Warren (W/A) On sale June 3 b&w, 208 pages $14.95 TPB, 6 1/2" x 9" After saving much of the superhero community from certain doom, costumed crime fighter Empowered is dismayed to find that, in the suspicious eyes of her caped colleagues, she's gone from being merely a "pair of training wheels for supervillains" to possibly being a closeted supervillain herself! Worse yet, she's wrestling with envy and resentment that her roommate Ninjette and boyfriend Thugboy are now more popular in masks-and-tights circles than she is! Meanwhile, our stressed-out superheroine must also unravel an alien-spawned body-image conspiracy, overcome "cosplay" dress-up disasters at work and in bed, and try to survive a potentially lethal confrontation with her teammate Sistah Spooky! SINFEST VOLUME 1 Tatsuya Ishida (W/A) On sale June 17 b&w, 208 pages $14.95 TPB, 8 1/4" x 9 3/4" AT LAST! "The webcomic to end all webcomics" has landed at Dark Horse, and we're starting the collections at the beginning! Sinfest is one of the most-read and longest-running webcomics out there, and explores religion, advertising, sex, and politics in a way fleen.com calls "both brutally funny and devastatingly on-target." In an era when most syndicated newspaper strips are watered down and uninspired, creator Tatsuya Ishida draws on influences ranging from Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts to manga and pop culture to bring us a breath of fresh air. If your comic-strip craving hasn't been satisfied since the nineties, deliverance is finally at hand. eigoMANGA eigoMANGA announced that the comic adaptation of 'God Drug' will be released as a graphic novel on March 29, 2009. The 'God Drug' graphic novel is based of a highly acclaimed American fiction novel. 'God Drug' is a story about the C.I.A. subjecting a group of low-ranking marines with experimental LSD-like hallucinogen. The experiments failed and created a being with destructive psychic abilities who was driven insane after being held in cryo-stasis for over 30 years. Media Blasters Anime 4/7 NIGHT HEAD GENESIS: Conciliation (Volume 4 of 5, Eps. 16-20 1 Disc) TWEENY WITCHES : TRUE BOOK OF SPELLS COMPLETE (Adventures 1-20 plus the Companion discs 8 Discs) - $99.99 4/28 VOLTRON - Volume 8 of 8, Eps. 37-52 - 3 Discs Manga DOJIN WORK: Pencil and Paper (Volume 2 of 3) 4/21 AH MY BUDDHA: The Two Uncovered Paths (Volume 2 of 6, Eps. 5-8) Live Action 4/7 THE BRAVE ARCHER 4/28 ONE MISSED CALL III - Final Ichi The Killer Blu-ray has been delayed indefinitely from its 3/31/09 prior release date Right Stuf Right Stuf Anime producer and distributor Right Stuf, Inc. and Nozomi Entertainment have rescheduled the release of the MARIA WATCHES OVER US (Maria-sama ga Miteru) - Season 3 DVD Collection to March 24, 2009. The delay has been attributed to the approval process. The three disc set will retail for $39.99 The Season 3 DVD Collection will feature the five-episode OVA (original video animation) and five specials that comprise the series’ third season. It is also the third of several “season box sets” scheduled for the North American DVD release of Maria Watches Over Us. The Maria Watches Over Us anime is based upon an ongoing series of novels – written by Oyuki Konno and illustrated by Reine Hibiki – that began in 1998 and currently spans more than 33 volumes. Short stories related to the series have been published in the shoujo (girls’) magazine Cobalt, and a manga adaptation was serialized in the anthology magazine Margaret. The series’ publisher, Shueisha, also produced 14 drama CDs (featuring radio-style plays). Summer has arrived, and the students of Lillian Girls' Academy are on break! Yumi and Sachiko head out to the Ogasawara family's summer home, but what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation takes a turn for the worse when some of Sachiko’s old acquaintances drop by for tea. These rich and snobby debutantes don’t think Yumi is worthy of Sachiko's affection, and they’re out to make this summer one she'll regret. Contains the complete 5-episode third season (OVA), plus “specials” 1-5. MARIA WATCHES OVER US (Maria-sama ga Miteru) 3rd Season OVA © OYUKI KONNO / SHUEISHA • YAMAYURIKAI II Licensed by d-rights Inc. Shout! Factory Shout! Factory will be releasing Viva Pinata: The Piñatas Must Be Crazy And Other Stories February 10, 2009. The five episode DVD will retail for $14.99srp The CG animated show adapts the popular sandbox video game. UDON Entertainment UDON Entertainment will be commemorating the 15th anniversary of CAPCOM's Darkstalker series with Darkstalkers Tribute, an art book tribute along the lines of Street Fighter Tribute. For more information, and details on the fan art contest can be seen at www.udonentertainment.com/darkstalkerstribute Udon also announced that he brawler Final Fight has been added to the publisher’s list of Capcom comic licenses. Final Fight cast members will be joining the Street Fighter Tournament in the Street Fighter II Turbo comic series starting with issue #5’s Japanese qualifying round. Then in issues #6 & #7, the tournament heads to Final Fight’s own Metro City for the American leg of the competition. In addition to joining in on the main Street Fighter storyline, Turbo issues #6 & #7 will also each feature a bonus Final Fight backup story. For those keeping track, the full Turbo backup story schedule now includes: Turbo #2 – Street Fighter IV - Abel Turbo #3 – Street Fighter IV - El Fuerte Turbo #4 – Street Fighter IV - Rufus Turbo #5 – Street Fighter IV - Crimson Viper Turbo #6 – Final Fight Turbo #7 – Final Fight Turbo #8 – Street Fighter III Turbo #9 – Street Fighter III Turbo #10 – Street Fighter III If reaction is positive to the guest appearances and backups, a full Final Fight mini-series could be just around the corner! For now, Street Fighter II Turbo #6 and #7 arrive in April and June 2009. See www.capcomcomics.com for more Viz (Shojo) FUSHIGI YUGI VIZBIG • Rated “T+” for Older Teens • MSRP: $17.99 US / $21.99 CAN Available Now FUSHIGI YÛGI is a beloved fantasy from Yu Watase, one of Japan's top manga creators. The new omnibus VIZBIG edition is wonderfully exciting, funny, and heartfelt tale of a normal junior-high-school girl who is transported into a fictional version of ancient China after reading a strange book called The Universe of the Four Gods. While there she becomes a High Priestess and encounters an array of villains and dashing heroes but yet she still manages to worry about her grades and her next school banquet. Each VIZBIG edition of FUSHIGI YÛGI contains three volumes, bonus color content, and updated text. HOT GIMMICK VIZBIG • Rated “T+” for Older Teens • MSRP: $17.99 US / $21.00 CAN Available March 17, 2009 In tiny, company-owned rabbit-hutch apartments live tenants who can't afford to live anywhere else. This apartment complex, in which high-school girl Hatsumi Narita lives, is ruled over by the rumor-mongering, self-righteous Mrs. Tachibana. Get on her bad side and life becomes hell. One day Hatsumi buys a pregnancy test for her popular but flirty sister Akane. Mrs. Tachibana's son, Ryoki, who used to bully Hatsumi as a kid, promises not to tell the world about Hatsumi's secret, only if she will become his slave. Soon after a boy named Azusa, who was Hatsumi's protector in their youth, reappears to save her again! He's moving back into the neighborhood, and despite a budding romance between Hatsumi and Azusa, Ryoki continues to have control over her through the secret pact that could ruin the lives of everyone in Hatsumi's family. Usually a sensible and mild-mannered young girl, Hatsumi suddenly finds herself in a swirl of drama that threatens to drive her totally crazy. HEAVEN’S WILL • Rated “T” for Teens • MSRP: 8.99 US / $10.99 CAN Available Now Sudou Mikuzu has a very special talent/power – she can see ghosts. And because of this, she's become a magnet for all sorts of unwelcome spirits and monsters. Lucky for her she's just met Seto, a friendly, cross-dressing young exorcist. Sudou needs protection from all the creepy phantoms bugging her and Seto needs to practice his exorcism skills. Consequently, the pair decides to team up and help each other. In return for Seto’s help, Sudou promises to bake him a cake every time a ghost gets zapped! THE MAGIC TOUCH • Rated “T+” for Older Teens • MSRP: 8.99 US / $10.50 CAN Available February 3, 2009 Aside from being the star of her high school's Massage Research Society club, Chiaki Togu is a normal, quiet girl—until she falls head over heels in love with a gorgeous back, which happens to belong to Yosuke, the hottest guy at her school! Unfortunately, Chiaki's attraction to Yosuke is thwarted by her own insecurity and the scheming of other girls, especially those of her twin sister Sayaka! Although Yosuke seems out of Chiaki's league, she will do almost anything to give him a massage. The two eventually strike a deal where she will be allowed to touch his back if she can make him fall in love with her. What Chiaki doesn't know is the real reason Yosuke wants to hang around her: to avenge his younger brother, who was allegedly deceived and dumped by somebody named Chiaki Togu! Is this a simple case of mistaken identity or the beginning of a tragedy? OTOMEN• Rated “T” for Teens • MSRP: 8.99 US / $10.50 CAN Available February 3, 2009 Asuka Masamune is a guy who loves girly things–sewing, knitting, making cute stuffed animals and reading shojo manga. But in a world where boys are expected to act manly, Asuka must hide his beloved hobbies and instead play the part of a masculine jock. Ryo Miyakozuka, on the other hand, is a girl who can't sew or bake a cake to save her life. Asuka finds himself attracted to Ryo, but she likes only the manliest of men! Can Asuka ever show his true self to anyone, much less to the girl that he's falling for? Warner According to Digital Bits, Warner is soon to announce a pair of animated Watchmen-related titles for release on DVD and Blu-ray in March, including Watchmen: Motion Comics and the Watchman: Black Freighter/Under the Hood double feature. This is part of a promotion/tie-in to the theatrical release of the new live action film on 3/6. Zakka Films announced a DVD of 8, subtitled, early anime. THE ROOTS OF JAPANESE ANIME Until the end of WWII With 8 Ground-Breaking Films A rare glimpse of early Japanese anime and prewar Japanese culture, The Roots of Japanese Anime features the masterworks of such pioneers of Japanese animation as Noburo Ofuji, Yasuji Murata, and Kenzo Masaoka, in addition to Mitsuyo Seo’s Momotaro’s Sea Eagle, the notorious war cartoon billed as Japan’s first feature anime. WITH BONUS FEATURES: Japanese anime history and commentary for each film by prominent scholars Momotaro’s Sea Eagle’s ad collection
Diamond Comic Distributors, the primarily distributor of comics to speciality comic shop has raised their minimums orders from $1,500 to $2,500 and eliminated the print version of their adult release listing. PDFs of the mature catagloue will be available on a PDF. Reportedly, the $2,500 figure is based on the amount that Diamond pays the publisher. Ero-manga distributor Icarus Publishing's Simon Jones revealed the concern More here and And now I officially christen this Indy Deathwatch 2009: The Bloodletting ™. Let the massacre begin! SLG Publishing’s Dan Vado comments here Joe Nozemack, publisher at Oni Press, shares his though with The Beat. More here More on The Comic Reporter, with an initial reaction on the site here The math is worked out on Comics Worth Reading Newsarama and The ComiChron The Beat offer their thoughts here Christopher Butcher is calling it beginning of the end for the Direct Market Newsarama tracks the ripples A suggestion to migrate to digital distribution David Welsh touches on the Previews Adult side of the changes
*Anime News Network announced that Bandai Entertainment is reacting to economic conditions by reducing its full-time staff and developing a new three year strategy. When asked about how many people would be laid off, President Ken Iyadomi said, "Those details are not final yet." The company currently has 19 full-time staffers, and the layoffs will affect production and other departments. However, many of those laid off will remain on board as contracted consultants to finish their current projects. After completing its ongoing release, the company will focus on "strong titles." *FUNimation parent company Navarre will be announced their third quarter of its fiscal year 2009, ended December 31, 2008, following the close of the financial markets on Thursday, February 5, 2009. *The been a number of online attempts to read the Best Buy teave leaves. It does appear that the retailer are reevaluating their anime racks. *Forbes on the funding of Imagi's CG Astro Boy movie *Variety reports Toho and Kadokawa Group are reacting to digitalization of the American films business by partnering to convert their screens in Japan to digital transmission and projection by 2012. Working with telco giants NTT East and NTT West, they will roll out the first conversions this year. Toho's 483 screens and Kadokawa's 112 make up around 20% of the country's 3,300 screens. *GDH K.K. has announced that it will open an IPTV video-on-demand channel dedicated to GONZO anime on the MOD (Multimedia On Demand) service provided by Chunghwa Telecom Co., Ltd.. CHT is the largest telecommunications company in Taiwan, providing not only local and overseas landline call services, but also mobile services and Internet communication services for home and business purposes. CHT’s MOD is provided via its ADSL network, subscribers are provided with rental Set Top Boxes to select and receive programs. In addition to broadcast TV channels, CHT MOD offers on-demand services for movies, TV series and anime titles. *AWN and Variety report that Toei Animation will purcahse shares of Hong Kong joint venture Toei Animation Enterprises , turning it into a wholly-owned subsidiary. *Co-founders Kevin Geiger and Moon Seun announced that The Animation Co-op, established in summer of 2003, is disbanding. *Publishers Weekly on New York Comic Con in the face of economic problems *MangaCast continues their report cards with BLU Manga
Upcoming in Japan
Promos Basquash! (sports robots with Macross' Shoji Kawamori and Oban Star Racers' Thomas Romain) Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari (the Tenchi Muyo spin-off) Kodomo no Jikan Second Term (manga almost released as "Nymphet" in North America) Street Fighter IV (Studio 4°C's animated feature) Taisho Yakyu Musume (Taisho-Era Baseball Girls) Yoku Wakaru Gendai Maho Properly Learned Modern Magic) Viper's Creed Anime Via Anime News Network Shoko Iwami's Kanamemo, a four panel manga about a middle school girl orphan living in her grandmother's newspaper delivery office, will be adapted into an anime series. NHK will be premiering an educational anime called Elementhunters in July. The sci-fi adventure will look to teach children about chemistry. The concept was created by Kazunori Ito (.hack//SIGN, Magical Angel Creamy Mami, Maison Ikkoku). Yoshiaki Okumura (Antique Bakery, Bakkyuu HIT! Crash Bedaman) and Han-Pyo Hong are directing aruhisa Arakawa (Blue Seed, DNAngel, Steel Angel Kurumi) is supervising the scripts, and Daigo Okumura (Tales of franchise, Yumeria game) is designing the characters. Ryuichi Kaneko (Gene Diver, RahXephon) is contributing to the development of the science fiction concepts, and Apuo Reino (SD Gundam) is contributing to the designs. NHK will also be launching a new anthology of adaptation of Osamu Tezuka manga on April 10th. Weekly Osamu Tezuka will remake 19 of Tezuka works from throughout his carrer. Isao Miura's "unconventional fantasy" light novels Seiken no Blacksmith will be adapted into anime and manga
*The start of a spring anime preview Between Guin Saga and Valkyria Chronicles the Anime, RPG fans should be pleased There's been a lot of renewed talk about second season of Haruhi Suzumiya ahead of the upcoming NewType feature. However, apparently, it's not even in production yet *Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children will be released on Blu-ray in Japan on 04/16/2009. Manga via Anime News Network Citing a challenging economic climate, Kadokawa Shoten announced that Monthly Comic Charge is slated to be cancelled. Eiji Otsuka's manga series MPD-Psycho, The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, and Yakumo Hyakka will be moved to a new manga, which will also feature a new work by Those Who Hunt Elves' Yu Yagami Monthly Comic Charge was launched in 2007 for an audience of young businessmen. Kodansha's Magazine Special has announced on Tuesday that a one-shot GetBackers manga side story will appear in the next issue on February 20. The super-powered action was released in North America by Tokyopop and the anime adaptation was released by ADV Films. Peach-Pitt's manga series Zombie-Loan, Rozen Maiden, and Shugo Chara! will resume this month and next, after a reported health crisis. The Japanese arm of Harlequin Enterprises, announced a new Monthly Harlequin anthology of one-shot manga stories "in the style of overseas romance novels," aimed at female comic readers from teenagers to those in their 30s. The initial lineup will be stories from Rebecca Winters and Marito Ai, Sarah Morgan and Masami Hoshino, Renee Roszel and Takako Hashimoto, and Sylvia Andrew and Rin Ogata. Nodame Cantabile creator Tomoko Ninomiya, who recently put her manga on hold due to maternity leave will extend her absence due to carpal tunnel syndrome Live Action A TV drama based on Yuho Hijikata and Tadashi Matsumori's Yukemuri Sniper (Steam Sniper), written by Old Boy's Garon Tsuchiya; directed by Train Man play's Hitoshi Ohne will air on Japanese TV in April. Hijikata is one of the reported pennames of Old Boy writer Garon Tsuchiya's pen names.
Cool Figures News
Kotobukiya has announced a new slate of upcoming figures to be imported to the US from Japan. MARVEL COMICS BLACK WIDOW BISHOUJO STATUE A KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import Continuing the series of Marvel Comics superheroines presented in the Japanese Bishoujo (pretty girl) style is BLACK WIDOW, the beautiful Russian super-spy and member of the Mighty Avengers, as re-imagined by illustrator Shunya Yamashita Black Widow stands 7 3/5 inches tall (1/8 scale), and features a solid construction of pvc and abs plastics. Sculpted by Yu Ishii, the super-spy comes packaged in an attention-grabbing window box.
srp $59.99 Available in JULY Marvel, BLACK WIDOW: TM & © 2008 Marvel Entertainment, Inc. and its subsidiaries. Licensed by Marvel Characters B.V. www.marvel.com. All rights reserved. THE KOTOBUKIYA COLLECTION - MARVEL STUDIOS FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER MR. FANTASTIC FINE ART BUST A KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import The FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER Fine Art Bust series continues with MR. FANTASTIC, leader of the superhero team the Fantastic Four. At 9 ½ inches tall, in scale (1/6), sculpted by Hajime Kimura Mr. Fantastic’s base features a deluxe marquee replica with the FF2 film logo that actually lights up and has an individual serial number on a special metal plate. srp $79.99 Available in AUGUST Marvel, The Fantastic Four, Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, Silver Surfer and all related characters: TM & © 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved. www.marvel.com. The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the movie: © 2007 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. ARMORED CORE WHITE GLINT FINE SCALE MODEL KIT A KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import From the long-running line of Armored Core Fine Scale Model Kits comes the WHITE GLINT, the main character robot from the new game: Armored Core For Answer White Glint stands approximately 6 1/3 inches tall (1/72nd scale), and is comprised of 350 individual pieces. White Glint, like all of the Armored Core kits, is easy to put together with snap-fit assembly and pictorial instructions srp $64.99 Available in JULY ©1997-2009 FromSoftware, Inc. All rights reserved. SUPER ROBOT TAISEN: FAIRYLION FINE SCALE MODEL KIT A KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import The Fairylion Fine Scale Model Kit is composed of many component pieces, and is easy to assemble with parts cast in different colors and the included pictorial instructions. The robot stands 5 inches tall (1/144 scale), and features approximately 20 points of articulation. srp $29.99 Available in JULY © SRWOG PROJECT NEON GENESIS EVANGELION: REI AYANAMI MAID ANI*STATUE A KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import Sculpted by Kakeru Kojima, Rei is 7 ½ inches tall (1/7 scale) sitting down. She comes packaged in a window box and is constructed of high-quality pvc and abs plastics. A Special Edition light blue Maid costume version will also be available. Rei is the first in a matching set, with a similarly-attired Asuka (in red maid’s uniform) coming soon. srp $59.99 each Available in JULY SHINING WIND X (CROSS): ELMINA ANI*STATUE A KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import From the all-new Shining Wind Cross cell phone game (the latest in the hugely popular Shining Saga by Sega) comes ELMINA RHODERIA Designed by acclaimed artist Tony Taka, Elmina is the protagonist of the game, a flighty girl from a royal house and friend to Blanc Neige. Sculpted by Horotoshi Nakamura, the pvc and abs plastic figure stands just over 7 inches tall (1/8 scale), srp $54.99 Available in JULY ©SEGA TO HEART 2 –ANOTHER DAYS- YUZUHARA HARUKA ANI*STATUE A KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import Yuzuhara stands approximately 7 ½ inches tall (1/8 scale) and comes packaged in a To Heart window box. srp $54.99 Available in JULY © 2007 Leaf/AQUAPLUS YOZAKURA QUARTET: YARISAKURA HIME ANI*STATUE Yozakura Quartet is a popular manga in Japan about a quartet of teenaged heroes that protect their town from supernatural threats. The first in a new line of Ani*Statues from this series is YARISAKURA HIME, the young mayor of Sakura New Town and mighty warrior! Yarisakura stands 8 inches tall (1/8 scale), and wears a jacket, short skirt, stockings, boots, and her trademark long scarf. Sculpted by Hideaki Kiyohara, Yarisakura is constructed of pvc and abs plastics and comes packaged in a window box. srp $64.99 Available in JUNE ©????/????•????????
FUNimation has posted two episodes of mecha anime STR.A.IN ahead of its January 27th release Naruto Shippuden Episode 92: Encounter has been posted on Joost Inside Orochimaru's hideout, Guren witnesses Sasuke defeating a thousand opponents. Meanwhile, Kabuto and Yukimaru conduct their experiment to summon the Three-Tailed Beast. Anime News Network reports that the anime adaptations of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya-chan (Suzumiya Haruhi-chan no Yuutsu) and Nyoron Churuya-san parody manga has announced that their first episodes will begin streaming on February 13 at "about 10:00 p.m.
Anime x Games
Samuel L. Jackson reminds you to buy the Afro Samurai game
*Screen shots of Dragon Ball Evolution for the PSP speak for themselves *The first game based on the Naruto Shippuden, post time-jump phase of the popular Ninja action anime will be Ultimate Ninja4: Naruto Shippuden. The game will feature one-on-one ninja battles with new characters and new modes. The new Master Mode combines role-playing and action-platforming elements, telling the story of how Naruto came to return to the Hidden Leaf Village after his training with Jiraiya. New Characters amoung the 52 playable include Deidara, Sasori and Chiyo as well as updated versions of Gaara, Kakashi and Sakura. *According to ICV2, Konami Digital Entertainment will be working with hobby shops to present a speak peak of Crimson Crisis, the next booster set for the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, on the weekend of February 28th and March 1st, followed by a release date of March 3rd for Crimson Crisis Boosters. *A review of Macross Ace Frontier for the PSP Suzumiya Haruhi no Gekidou for the Wii has been released *Canned Dogs on Best eroge of 2008 voted by 2channelers The voice actors of the Coraline movie will be voicing the game
New York Comic Con (NYCC) announced that Miike will appear at its 2009 event as a Guest of Honor and superstar actor and pop star Sho Sakurai will attend as a Special Guest. Miike and Sakurai will be at NYCC to speak about their upcoming feature film Yatterman-and then present the world premiere of the highly-anticipated movie, produced by Nikkatsu Studios and scheduled for release in Japan in early March. The 2009 New York Comic Con takes place February 6-8 in the Jacob Javits Center in New York, NY. Miike and Sakurai join Guests of Honor including Brian Michael Bendis, Carmine Infantino, Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, J. Michael Straczynski, and Bruce Timm and Special Guests including Seth Green, J.J. Sedelmaier, Matt Senreich, and Art Spiegelman. Takashi Miike and Sho Sakurai will be at NYCC to speak about Yatterman at 4 PM on Friday,