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Manga Spotlight: Go West! Volume 1 Yu Yagami Released by CMX

Yu Yagami's Go West! is an energetic, enjoyable comedy western, not to be confused with Ruruoni Kenshin creator Nobuhiro Watsuki's brief shonen adventure, Gun Blaze West. Lacking a solid hook in its heroine, her predicament or her high concept, Go West! is not likely to become the next manga series to follow enthusiastically. However, even if it isn't anything powerfully compelling it's still distinctly fun to read the manga's Buster Keaton-esque romp through the cacti and saloons. Go West's Yu Yagami has a clever approach to developing comedy homages to genres. I wouldn't call these works parodies because rather than satirizing his subject, the intent is more along the lines of erecting absurd, humorous situations out of recognizable building blocks affectionately borrowed from other genres. This pattern is demonstrated throughout the Yagami titles released in North America. Those Who Hunt Elves featured a trio of accidental modern adventurers, a martial artist, a schoolgirl military geek and an actress, running rough shot over a fantasy world. Rather than play the role of hapless strangers in a strange land, they literally attack their ridiculous problem, charging out into the world, stripping the clothes off elves in search of the magical tattoos that will send them home. Yagami's Dokkoider mixed character types from various works of sci-fi, particularly tokusatsu serials (Ultraman, Power Rangers) with corporate politicking and a sitcom's apartment complex of troublesome neighbors. Hikkatsu! Strike a Blow to Vivify grafted post apocalyptic wear and tear onto a martial artist's quest, but rather than featuring an action hero like Fist of the North Star's Kenshiro wandering the deserts, the manga followed a young man looking to help people by perfecting his "Repair Blow," a strike based on the principle that hitting a broken TV will cause the malfunctioning machine to correct itself. As might be deduced from it's title, Go West! is Yagami's western. While the summary on the back of CMX's release of the book makes Go West! sound marvelously incomprehensible, in fact, the high concept is rather simple. A young Asian woman gets off the boat, and entering America she declares that she is Naomi, no last name, 18 years old, in the country to locate her parents, who were missing since she was born. She immediately begins moving west, and meeting people who formulate assumptions about her, some of which are sane, some of which are far more questionable. The journey starts with being measured for a casket, which might have been one of the saner ideas because it's prelude to Naomi traipsing into the course of a showdown in which a gunman in a black overcoat shrugs of a barrage to the chest before dropping his three opponents. Naomi thuds to the ground to find a scorpion staring into her eyes. She jumps up, and almost lands on a rattle snake before capping off her slapstick routine with a near trampling by a cattle stampede. After being informed that this jarring experience is par for her western course, Naomi hooks up with the first of her bizarre travelling companions. Far from a creature of "inherent deep kindness, docility and warmth," the horse that she meets is a rampaging beast insistent on running west in a straight line. The core of the volume expands the manga's western cinema references, but also drives home its attitude of playful political incorrectness. "White, Black and Yellow" is about as classy as it sounds. Naomi is described as "yellow" by several characters, as well as by the design notes appendix. "White" is "Gunman," a bounty hunter modeled after the Good, the Bad and the Ugly's Clint Eastwood, down to the pattern on his serape, but markedly older. "Black" is Mingo Bomber, an afro sporting, dynamite chucking, kung fu kicking wanted man. Throughout my reading of the book I thought Mingo was wearing a black suit, a la Pulp Fiction's Jules or a Motown singer. It turns out that the dark coloring and how the character was framed obscured the reference. A gray toned design in the appendix revealed that it's the Lee Van Cleef look from a Few Dollars More. So, the story develops into a three way standoff of White, Black and Yellow gunning down each other with devastating revelations and challenges to those revelations. In his comic strip afterword, Yagami jokes about doing research by visiting western themed amusement parks, Western Village, the western area at Tokyo Disneyland, the frontier village at Universal Studio Japan... Almost like a video game, this is the west as stage-like town square set pieces, surrounded by empty badlands to be travelled through. This plastic cactus of a world neither deserves nor asks to be taken seriously, and that frivolity proves to be an asset to the manga. Rather than simply turn a blind eye to plausibility and verisimilitude, the manga embraces its faux west as the ideal stage for its style of reference adorned visual comedy. Much of Go West's success should be credited to Yagami's commands of the tools afforded by the medium. It's a manga that leans heavily on visual humor, and between the pantomime gesticulations, the cartooned expressions and occasional, well placed metaphorical imagery, Yagami wrings the most out of the available panels. With a thin lined, thin figured style, characters don't look bolted onto the page. With this light presence, it's as if the characters don't need to wait for the next panel to start moving. It's as if they're always ready to spring up or broadcast their next reaction across their face. This is the perfect visual attitude for the quirky, often physical, often slapstick interactions. CMX's translation is remarkably adept at carrying the tone of the manga into the localization. The work's charm is enhanced when there's a distinctive voice to the manga, and beyond that its characters. Dialog like "I'll tell you a joke... There was this slim-hipped little filly who didn't know her right from her left and said she was headin' out west on her lonesome" is not necessarily natural, but this isn't a naturalistic manga. In moments like that "joke," the English wonderfully captures the playfulness of Go West. A few of the gags in Go West! turn quick enough to prompt a laugh, but the manga does not generally have the sharpness to elicit laugh out loud mirth. It's more fun than funny. While I wouldn't rank Go West! high in a list of hilarious manga comedies, scenes like Naomi on her maniacal horse, plowing through the western landscape, straight through a cactus field, past a tranquil watering hole, careening through the path of a bear are as amusingly exhilarating as any Dragon Ball fight scene or Initial D race.

Manga Spotlight: Black Lagoon Volume 4 By Rei Hiroe Released by VIZ Media

The fourth volume of Black Lagoon caps off the "Goat, Jihad, Rock 'n' Roll" plotline with its final chapter, then launches into the "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise" story and wraps things up with a silly gender swap gag called "Boys and Girls." "Goat, Jihad, Rock 'n' Roll," featured "Two Gun" Revy, a Chinese American heroic bloodshed hottie in Daisy Dukes and sleeveless top and Rokuro "Rock" Okajima, the white collar salaryman turned Lagoon Company smuggler working as unlikely proxies for an intel deal between the Roanapur, Thailand Triads and the CIA. So, Revy and Rock are set up with a blade slinging Taiwanese assassin and a stoned Irish driver with the goal of navigating/blazing a trail through territory control by an operation run by the partnered vitriol of Muslim radical and a former Japanese student protester who never abandoned the movement. The conclusion to this adventure features some kinetic scenes of screeching cars and bullets flying, as well as a few panels of raw nerve drama. However, not having read volume 3, I really can't comment on whether the manga's "Goat, Jihad, Rock 'n' Roll" incorporated the tense moments of characters reflecting on their actions and course of their lives that were woven into the story by Madhouse's lauded anime adaptation. "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise" is the rare (single?) Black Lagoon story to take its characters away from Roanapur and its neighboring seas and environs. Rock is loaned out as translator to Balalaika, the badly burned commander of a squad that evolved from a paratrooper team in the Soviet war against Afghanistan into the Russian mafia operation known as Hotel Moscow. Rock, along with non-Japanese speaking Revy, accompany Hotel Moscow to his native country in a mission to expand Russian criminal influence by exploiting a rivalry between yakuza organizations. Happenstance puts Rock and Revy in contact with prominent representatives from one of these yakuza organizations: the orphaned intellectual teenage heiress of the Washimine Group, Yukio Washimine and the similarly serious minded and traditional family retainer, uncanny swordsman "Manslayer" Ginji. Between the lack of a strong central authority, an insubordinate, degenerate contingent of young foot soldiers and the alien scorched earth tactics of Hotel Moscow, the Washimine find themselves in an untenable position. Transitively, Rock and Revy find themselves in a dangerous spot between the increasingly desperate yakuza and a school of Russian sharks that have tasted blood. Volume four caused me to reevaluate Rei Hiroe's work and his contributions to Black Lagoon. Hiroe is the creator of the Black Lagoon manga, and as such, he is the seminal force behind the premise, the magnetic characters and their exotic world. Fictional Roanapur, Thailand as a sort of criminal Galapagos, populated by miscreants, exiles, and expeditionary forces washed up on the shores of a pirate bay is a brilliant platform for an action serial. Similarly its bite the bullet, gleeful appropriation of the best from the globe's violent cinema is sure to raise the heart rate of any action fan. My read on Rei Hiroe was that he was a sometimes ero doujinshi author (under the pseudonym Tex-Mex) with a keen interest in specific details about guns and military accoutrements... a (possibly obsessive) connoisseur of the female form and of firearms. Given that a banner for Black Lagoon is bound to showcase Revy's short shorts and her hands clenching pistols, Hiroe deserved the credit for the marketable features of Black Lagoon. My idea was that Hiroe created the sizzle for Black Lagoon's manga and Sunao Katabuchi brought in the substance for his anime adaptation. This impression may have been formed by hitting the Black Lagoon anime before the manga that spawned it. After reading the early parts of the manga, I felt that the anime had a stronger command of the elements that intrigued me most about Black Lagoon: the character of Roanapur, and more importantly, Black Lagoon discomfort's with its own appeal. In an early scene, like us, Rock is entranced by watching Revy go rabid dog on her adversaries. She makes a team of armed men in a speeding boat look entirely ineffectual as she performs her Olympic run and gun routine. Rock's rejoinder, which clinched my appreciation of the anime, was missing from the manga. Maybe speaking for us, he comments "I don't know what broke to make her like this, but I must be broken too if I'm standing here praising her destructiveness." While I have no qualms against condemning a story that rails against excesses in which that story indulges, I was fascinated by how the Black Lagoon anime expressed discomfort with the exploitation that it exalted. Its characters are addicted to a violent life, but also traumatized by that existence. In sharing this with the viewer, the anime indicts the voyeur for their interest. There's a tete-a-tete going on that develops almost sadomasochistically. It encourages you to get excited about the infliction of pain and grievous injury, then it slaps you for that excitement. After reading the manga's "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise" I was persuaded that Katabuchi emphasized rather than invented this component of Black Lagoon. It's noteworthy that Katabuchi's anime shifted the placement of several of Black Lagoon's stories to develop friction between Revy and Rock concerning whether Rock was an outsider judging the Roanapur/Lagoon Company life, or whether he'd become part of it. And, it's noteworthy that the anime closed shop at "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise." "Greenback Jane," a story that rioted with the bizarre personalities attracted to Roanapur, preceded "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise" in the anime, but followed it in the manga. The manga's later place Jane was collected with the opening chapters of the possibly-to-be-animated "el Baile de la muerte." While a third anime series has now been announced, there were four months between the original Black Lagoon anime and Black Lagoon: Second Barrage, then 3+ years between Barrage and what's next. So, I'm assuming that Katabuchi and Madhouse assumed they were ending the anime with Fujiyama. This story is the Sartre evoking existential crux of Black Lagoon. In the manga incarnation, it does seem to romanticize the yakuza doomed by the incursion of globalization and generational schisms. Still, its hard look at the consequences of the outlaw life, goes a lone way to stripping the gunslingers of their mystique. These people aren't friends and aren't even friends with each other. Tenuous, self serving allies are recast as REALLY tenuous REALLY self serving allies, as we're reminded that the wolves who we've become attached to are liable to devour anyone not in their own particular pack. We've seen before, in the Hansel and Gretel child assassin case "Bloodsport Fairy Tale" that Rock is not able to emotionally disassociate himself from Lagoon Company's activities. In that case, he was a minor catalyst in the action. "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise" forces viewer and subject to recognize how he's alienated himself from his past as a Japanese business man, and instead, become party to the bloody Roanapur life. I didn't expect to find that many of the profound moments in this story came from Hiroe. I simply didn't think that quiet moments or introspection were in his repertoire. I was proven wrong. Revy commandeering a group of kids BB gun game, then pantomiming it really looks like to get shot is a brilliantly dark moment. It captures sorrowful self destruction among the gleeful violence, and proves that the manga shares the anime's fascinatingly dark soul.

The ElseWhere Chronicles US Bound

The ElseWhere Chronicles, a comic adventure compared to Jeff Smith's Bon by Bannister (designer of the AICN Anime logo) and Nykko, will be released in North America by Lerner Publishing Group in spring 2009.
The book, which was first published by Dupuis in French under the title Les Enfants d'ailleurs, was the winner of Best Comic Book for Young Readers at the Lyon Comics Festival. Book One: The Shadow Door It's bad enough when Max, Rebecca, Noah, and Theo just think Grandpa Gabe's house is haunted. But then the old movie projector in the library opens a passageway to a world of monsters and creatures made of shadows-a place of secrets and dangers set loose when the sun sets. The only weapons to fight them lie in the land on the other side of the Shadow Door. . . . A preview can be seen here

The Business

ICV2 reports that Best Buy will be rolling out a new anime stocking strategy by March 1. The new strategy will kick off March 1st, when 50% off anime closeout sales will begin in over 460 stores nationwide. After the sales end on March 21st, those stores will offer only around 20 core anime SKUs. Over 500 Best Buy stores will continue to carry over 100 anime SKUs, and roughly the top 200 anime stores in the Best Buy chain will carry large scale anime assortments similar to what they're carrying now. The move is expected to retain most of the chain's anime sales, and perhaps even improve sales in the stores with larger assortments due to fewer stock-outs and deeper inventory.
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Christopher Butcher has called attention to Diamond Comics Distributors delisting of over 1,000 catalogue Viz titles. Diamond Comics Distributors is the primary distributor of comic to specialty comic shops. From the Comics 212 post The books will no longer be available through Diamond whatsoever, although these books will still be available through bookstore channels. ... The list includes more than 100 different series of manga, including still-running series like Zatch Bell, Whistle, Ultimate Muscle, Prince of Tennis, Inu Yasha Animanga, Hoshin Engi, Crimson Hero, Case Closed, Beyblade, Beet The Vandel Buster, and Bastard, amongst many others. Perhaps most importantly to readers of this site, this list also includes some of my favourite comics of all time, including Takehiko Inoue's Vagabond, Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix, Takao Saito Golgo 13, and Kazuo Umezu's Drifting Classroom. No announcement has been made about new volumes of any of these series, leading me to believe that the books will continue to be solicited as normal (I wonder if they'll make the new cut-off!?) and then be purged periodically as here. Retailer Brian Hibbs puts the move into perspective here I think that most of us can agree that DRIFTING CLASSROOM was the big "wait, what?!?" on the Diamond de-listing list -- thems some fine comics. But when I search for DRIFTING CLASSROOM on B&T's inventory, for their west Coast warehouse (they have four: East, West, Midwest, and South) this BOOKSTORE FOCUSED distributor only has inventory on hand for two volumes, and their thirty day demand for ANY of the eleven volumes is... wait for it! ZERO COPIES. Same thing for GOLGO 13. Same thing for Tezuka's PHOENIX, pretty much -- 2 of the volumes have single copy demand, wow, big seller. MangaBlog's Brigid Alverson spoke to Viz representative Evelyn Dubocq about the move here Other luminaries weigh in include Simon Jones Tom Spurgeon David Welsh. He also looks at the state of the anime industry here
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The Beat collection information on the woes faced by Diamond's owner, Stephen Geppis
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Via Anime News Network GDH announced that it will absorb its wholly owned Gonzo anime production subsidiary and assume the Gonzo trade name for itself. The consolidate business will move from GDH's Shinjuku location in central Tokyo to western Tokyo's Nerima ward, where Gonzo is headquartered.
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ICV2 reports that Borders cut another 136 employees, mostly from its Ann Arbor headquarters
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Anime Vice presents a FUNimation status report
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On Publishers Weekly, Despite Slowdown, Comics Retailers are Optimistic
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ICV2 spoke to Tokyopop CEO Stu Levy part one part two
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Action figure makers Jakks Pacific Inc. announced that it expects a first quarter loss due to acquisition costs for businesses including Disguise Halloween and revenue below analyst expectations
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Manga Recon covers the New York Comic Con 2009: ICv2 Conference here and here
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Canned Dogs looks at the characteristics of Japanese manga anthology Shonen Jump's Age 6~8: 1.0% Age 9~11: 21.8% Age 12~14: 40.1% Age 16~17: 23.5% Age 18~50 and above: 13.6% It's supposed to be well known but there are surprisingly a lot of people that don't realise that the majority of Jump readers are 14 and below, and the magazine's contents are targeted towards these readers. And as Kodansha (Shounen Magazine's publisher) has mentioned in a magazine feature, Shounen Jump almost has a monopoly over the market for children under the age of 18.
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Simon Jones explains why some of Icarus' ero manga was cancelled by Diamond
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According to Animation Magazine, the Tokyo Anime Fair expecting a record year. The eighth annual expo is expecting 130,000 visitors, up from just over 126,000 last year. The number of companies attending is overall up, with 242 exhibitors taking 761 booths-up from last year's 735 booths. The event, to be held at the Tokyo Big Sight, will begin with two days open to the trade only on March 18 and 19, then opens to the public on March 20 and 21.
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Erica Friedman lists 5 Things Niche Companies Do Right
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DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc has transferred its stock listing from the New York Stock Exchange to the Nasdaq Stock Market. The move is partially attributed to a cost cutting measure. Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen sold his entire holding of DreamWorks Animation as disclosed in a December 31 filing.
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Yahoo on how DVD sales are taking a bad beating, and Blu-ray isn't compensating

Cool Figures News

AME-COMI: CATWOMAN (V.2) PVC FIGURE DESIGNED BY PAITOON RATAN on sale October 21, 2009 * Statue * $59.99 US
AME-COMI: BATGIRL (V.2) PVC FIGURE DESIGNED BY PAITOON RATAN on sale October 21, 2009 * Statue * $59.99 US
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ICV2 reports that Triad Toys has aquired a three year-license to produce figures based on samurai revenge epioc Lone Wolf and Cub. Planned collectables include 12 inch action figures and statues. Triad is currently working on figures of executioner turned assasin Ogami Itto and his young son Daigoro and expects to have them ready for preorders by April with shipments to retailers in August or September. Other Triad Toys licenses include Samurai Champloo, Soul Calibur 4, John Carter of Mars, and the classic TV series, Wanted: Dead or Alive, which aired from 1958-1961 and starred Steve McQueen.
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Upcoming Revoltech mecha figures include Lagann and Arc Gurren from Gurren Lagann, as well as Getter Dragon and Neo Getter from Gurren Lagann. From 2009 New York Toy Fair Bandai's Dragonball Z Bandai's Dragonball Evolution More here Bandai's Power Rangers: RPM Bandai's Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight Dark Horse (Domo Kun) NECA Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ugly Dolls
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Gurren Lagann ball-joint Dollfies are in the works. On a related note Bounty Hunter Yoko
Kotobukiyaís Yomiko Readman, Codename: The Paper
Umezz House merch
Cool Japanese Toys reviews Griffon Gothic Punk Mikuru Asahina How to make Cobra action figures look imposing Let's Anime talks The Terror of Tiny Toys
Four Constellation themed Gundam mecha

Upcoming in North America

Anchor Bay/Manga Entertainment Anchor Bay and Manga Entertainment will be releasing the live action adaptation of jiu jitsu versus the undead manga Tokyo Zombie on April 7th. The film was written and directed by Sakichi Sato, who wrote Takashi Miike's controversial, award-winning Ichi the Killer, and many observers have compared this film to Miike's ground-breaking work in the horror genre. Tadanobu Asano (the Academy-Award nominated Mongol) and Show Aikawa (Zebraman, Specter, winner of the Japanese Professional Film Award) portray a pair of full-time slackers and wannabe jujitsu champions who bring the murdered body of their sleazy boss to Tokyo's infamous toxic waste dump known as "Black Fuji." But when an army of the undead rises from the foul, festering trash heap, our "heroes" must battle a non-stop barrage of hasty decapitations, perverted teachers, tasty snack foods (!), stormy romance and zombie professional wrestling. Yes, the fate of humanity hinges on these two dimwit misfits ñ one dumber than the other! Based on the popular manga comic by Yusaku Hanakuma, critics and audiences alike have hailed Tokyo Zombie as a sure-fire cult favorite. "Insanely hilarious! Tokyo Zombie could be one of the greatest Jujitsu/Zombie apocalypse movies in the history of cinema!" raves The Film Fiend. The DVD release of Tokyo Zombie features the documentary Making of the Dead, actors' interviews, an exclusive Q & A session with cast and crew, an actor's in-store appearance, teasers and trailers. Antarctic Press Oldschool proto-OEL publisher Antarctic Press will be releasing Rod Espinosa's Prince of Heroes, Chapter II in April 2009. Born on a distant planet and crossing galaxies to reach his final destination, a young boy discovers he has a great legacy to fulfill. *Evacuated from their homeland by impending war, Ronen and his mother now travel aboard the Nebulous Mirage to the deep reaches of the outer universe. Beyond the borders of the United Empires Government lies the homeland of the superhuman Darem, Ronen's ancestral people. But the journey will be long, and challenges await, for Ronen soon finds out they are traveling with more than just war refugees. Danger awaits around the next corner!*H Bandai Entertainment 05-05-2009 Flag Complete Collection - 325 mins - $39.98 Zegapain Complete Series (Anime Legends Collection) - 650 mins - $49.98 05-15-2009 Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Season 1 Part 1 (also w/Special Edition) - 225 mins - $39.98/49.9 CMX
BALLAD OF A SHINIGAMI VOL. 1 Illustrated by Asuka Izumi Original story by K-Ske Hasegawa Shinigamis are usually thought of as dark and scary, but not Momo. She's the beautiful and sympathetic messenger of death who helps people transition to the other side, prevents others from ending their own lives, and carries messages from the dead to the living. Based on the Japanese light novel series that later became an anime, BALLAD OF A SHINIGAMI is a collection of stories about people coming to terms with death that are alternately sad, funny, and heartwarming. on sale June 3 * 5" x 7.375" * 184 pg, B&W, $9.99 US * TEEN + MOON CHILD VOL. 13 Written and illustrated by Reiko Shimizu Final volume on sale June 3 * 5" x 7.375" * 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US * TEEN
DOROTHEA VOL. 5 Written and illustrated by Cuvie on sale June 17 * 5.5" x 8" * 194 pg, B&W, $12.99 US * MATURE
THE FLAT EARTH/EXCHANGE VOL. 4 Written and illustrated by Toshimi Nigoshi Final volume on sale June 17 * 5" x 7.375" * 224 pg, B&W, $9.99 US * TEEN +
JIHAI VOL. 2 Written and illustrated by Toshimi Nigoshi on sale June 10 * 5" x 7.375" * 226 pg, B&W, $9.99 US * TEEN + KIICHI AND THE MAGIC BOOKS VOL. 5 Written and illustrated by Taka Amano Final volume on sale June 24 * 5" x 7.375" * 176 pg, B&W, $9.99 US * TEEN Fairview Press Self help publish Fairview Press will be release the middle-grade advice book called The Boy's Book of Positive Quotations (Sept. 2009, $13.95), with art by Queenie Chan (The Dreaming, In Odd We Trust) . The graphica will follow the life of a boy who receives mysterious text messages from a beautiful ninja. Her proverbs guide him on the honor code of the aspiring ninja and tie in with the rest of the book's modern-day advice, written by Steve Deger as well as compiled from various pop culture sources. FUNimation FUNimation has announced a number of new licenses, including:
Bamboo Blade FUNimation Entertainment today that it has acquired home entertainment and broadcast rights to the 26-episode sports-themed anime series Bamboo Blade from D. Rights. This humorous series is directed by Hisashi Saito and is based on a Japanese manga series written by Masahiro Totsuka. About Bamboo Blade Toraji Ishida is a high school kendo teacher who is challenged by a fellow kendo teacher: If Ishida can assemble a girls' kendo team that can defeat his girls' team in a practice match, Ishida can eat free meals at his father's sushi restaurant for a whole year. Now Ishida must find five girls to join the team. Luckily, just before the match he finds Tamaki! FUNimation Entertainment will release the series in two half-season sets beginning in late 2009.
Blassreiter FUNimation Entertainment announced that it has acquired home entertainment, internet, merchandising and mobile rights to the 24-episode action horror anime series Blassreiter from GDH. This original Studio GONZO series is directed by Ichiro Itano (Angel Cop, Robotech: The Untold Story, Violence Jack). About Blassreiter A mysterious plague has taken grip of Germany and is turning humans into demonic creatures out to destroy and kill. Joseph Jobson is the sole man able who is able to save the country and hunt down the man who has cursed them. FUNimation Entertainment will release the series in two half-season sets beginning in late 2009.
Tower of Druaga FUNimation Entertainment announced that it has acquired home entertainment, broadcast, and limited digital rights to the 25-episode action fantasy anime series Tower of Druaga from GDH. Based on the 1984 Namco video game, this Studio GONZO series is directed by Koichi Chigira. About Tower of Druaga In a summer once every five years, demons within in the mysterious Tower of Druaga lose their powers due to a magic spell cast by a god named "Anu". During this time, King Gilgamesh, ruler of the kingdom Uruk, and his army have invaded the tower and built a fortress city on the very first floor of Druaga. Thus begins the story of a warrior named Jil who embarks on a quest for the legendary Blue Crystal Rod, a powerful artifact said to be held on the highest floor of Druaga. However, others want the treasure for themselves. FUNimation Entertainment will release the series in two complete season sets beginning in late 2009.
Dragonaut FUNimation Entertainment announced that it has acquired home entertainment , broadcast, digital, internet, merchandising and mobile rights to the 25-episode sci-fi drama anime series Dragonaut from GDH. This Studio GONZO mecha series is directed by Manabu Ono (Hellsing, Full Metal Panic). About Dragonuaut In order to avoid Earth's impending destruction from an asteroid, the International Solarsystem Development Agency (ISDA) works on the "D-Project", and secretly creates weapons called "dragons ". However, they soon find out that the asteroid is not their only threat, as powerful dragon-like creatures appear on Earth. After witnessing a murder by one of the creatures, Jin Kamishina gets involved with the ISDA and becomes a dragon pilot, otherwise known as a "Dragonaut". Helping him on his journey is the mysterious Toa. FUNimation Entertainment will release the series beginning in late 2009.
My Bride Is A Mermaid FUNimation Entertainment announced that it has acquired home entertainment and limited broadcast rights and digital rights to the 26-episode romantic comedy anime series My Bride Is A Mermaid from Media Net. The series is directed by Seiji Kishi (Ragnarok The Animation) and is based on the serialized manga "Seto no Hanayome" in Gangan WING magazine. About My Bride Is A Mermaid Nagasumi Michishio is visiting his grandmother for summer vacation when one day he is saved from drowning by a mermaid named Sun Seto. According to Mermaid law, if a human sees a mermaid's true form, both must be killed. The only solution to the problem is for him to marry her -- but can they keep her secret? FUNimation Entertainment will release the series in two half season sets beginning later this year.
El Cazador De La Bruja FUNimation Entertainment announced that it has acquired home entertainment , broadcast, digital, internet, and mobile rights to the 26-episode supernatural adventure anime series El Cazador De La Bruja from D. Rights. This original series is directed by Koichi Masimo (Hack// Sign, Avenger, Kagaku Ninja-Tai Gatchaman) and produced by Bee Train. About El Cazador De La Bruja Ellis is a young girl on the run suffering from amnesia and wanted for murder. She is being hunted down in Mexico by a bounty hunter named Nadie who eventually becomes sympathetic to Ellis and the two embark on a journey to find clues to Ellis' past. FUNimation Entertainment will release the series in two complete season sets beginning later this year. Via Anime on DVD 05-05-2009 Baccano! Vol. #3 Darker Than Black Vol. #4 Karin Complete Series Set - 580 mins - $69.98 Last Exile Complete - 625 mins - $49.98 Murder Princess Complete Series - 150 mins - $39.98 05-12-2009 Case Closed Season 5 Box Set - 615 mins - $49.98 Claymore Vol. #5 Heroic Age Complete Series Part 1 - 320 mins - $59.99 05-19-2009 Dragon Ball Z Movies 12/13: Fusion Reborn/Wrath of the Dragon Dragon Ball Z Season 9 Box Set - 875 mins - $49.98 05-26-2009 Gad Guard Box Set - 575 mins - $49.98 Ikki-Tousen Box Set - 325 mins - $49.98 Marvel Comics Spider-Man J Vol. 2: Japanese Daze Digest Story and Art by Yamanaka Akira Translation by Yuko Fukami English Adaptation by Marc Sumerak Cover by Yamanaka Akira Reprinting stories from SPIDER-MAN FAMILY #7-9, scheduled to be released in May 2009 128 PGS./All Ages ...$9.99 ISBN: 978-0-7851-3718-4
Marvel Entertainment The all-new Marvel Super Hero Squad animated series, has been picked up by Cartoon Network for a debut in late 2009. The show features super-stylized versions of its must popular characters including Captain America, Silver Surfer, Hulk, Wolverine, and Iron Man. The cast includes Tom Kenny (Spongebob), Charlie Adler (Transformers 1 & 2), Steve Blum (Wolverine and the X-Men, Hulk Vs.) and Grey DeLisle (Fairly Oddparents and The Replacements) Guest stars includ Wayne Knight (Seinfeld), LeVar Burton (Reading Rainbow, Star Trek: The Next Generation), Michelle Trachtenberg (Gossip Girl, 17 Again, Buffy), Greg Grunberg (Heroes), Lena Headey (Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles, 300), Adrian Pasdar (Heroes), Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galatica), Jennifer Morrison (House), Tamera Mowry (Twitches and Sister, Sister), Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street films) and Stan Lee as the Mayor of Super Hero City. Executive Producers: Alan Fine, Simon Phillips and Eric S. Rollman Co-Executive Producer: Joe Quesada Supervising Producer: Cort Lane Producer: Dana Booton Supervising Director: Mitch Schauer Production Studio: Film Roman and Marvel Animation UDON Entertainment UDON Entertainment will be releasing new collected editions of Kia Asamiya's (Nadesico, Uncanny X-men, Batman: Child of Dreams, Star Wars Episode 1 Manga) Silent Mˆbius started with Complete Edition Vol.1 arrives August 2009, with new volumes to follow every few months. Silent Mˆbius follows the AMP (Attacked Mystification Police). This all-female police force protects a futuristic Tokyo from invasion by the Lucifer Hawks - an extra-dimensional race of demons who come in a variety of terrifying forms.
Silent Mˆbius: Complete Edition features a new UDON translation, the restoration of the traditional right-to-left reading format, as well as new scans of every page taken directly from the original artwork. Each volume also includes a full color illustration gallery, extras like characters designs, data files, and interviews, and many color story pages from the series original serialization in Comic Dragon Magazine. UDON will also be releasing 3 full volumes of never before collected stories - the two-volume Silent Mˆbius Tales, and a special prequel Volume 0 that reveals much of the series' backstory. For a preview see here
Warner Hone Video Tom and Jerry's Greatest Chases will be released on June 16th for $14.97. The 100 minute video features 14 of the cat and mouse's shorts

New and Upcoming in Japan

Preview An English language Saint Seiya: Lost Convase site
k-On Precure Allstars Anime Anime News Network reports that the second of the new Envangelion anime films, Evangelion: 2.0 You Can [Not] Advance, will open in Japan theatres on June 27.
via ANN The project's official website and the second film's teaser, which was shown with the first film, promised the fan-favorite character Asuka, the EVA-02 through -06 units with new designs for many of them, a new eyeglasses-wearing brunette girl character, more fan "service-service," "a shocking new story, and new visuals." The character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto designed three Be@rbrick toys - one each for Asuka, the character Rei, and a mystery character - to be sold separately on March 14 or bundled with advance film ticket purchases. Evangelion: 1.0 You Are [Not] Alone, will get a "1.11" will be released onBlu-ray Disc and DVD on May 27. The 1.11 release will include new cuts and digital mastering. FUNimation is releasing the first film in North America in film festivals and later on DVD this year. Kotaku has posted some designs from the upcoming anime adaptation of World War II based strategy RPG Valkyria Chronicles Tenchi Muyo spin-off Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari will be offered on Animax pay per view on March 20th, ahead of its April 22 DVD release. Via The Street Fighter Blog The Japanese release of The legend of Chun-li Movie will be screened with a short Street Fighter IV anime featuring Sakura Via Anime News Network Production Reed a has revealed a new anime project for the 30th anniversary of the original 1982-1983 Fairy Princess Minky Momo magical girl television series.
The remastered Japanese broadcast of Dragon Ball Z will be called Dragon Ball Kai. The show will debut on April 5th. A Fate/Stay Night Blu-ray set will be available for pre-order April 24th and be released on in August for 39,900 yen After some speculation that the Shonen Jump adaptation might be ending this spring, Gintama confirmed that the samurai and aliens anime would be back for a fourth year. Rumors were fueled when the current director, Yoichi Fujita, had indicated in the February issue of Tokuma Shoten's Animage magazine last month that he will not be working on the series this spring. Manga Via Anime Vice Manga team Ujiko-Ujio will be creating a shot shot manga for Big Comic Spirits called Aozora Chu-Ihou ("Blue Sky Warning ñ Kiss"). The clever thing about this is that Ujiko-Ujio are characters from Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys. Background material can be read here Creator Katsura Hoshino announced that the D.Gray-Man manga will resume publication in Weekly Shounen Jump in the March issue. Hoshino has taken his third health related break in November 2008 due to wrist problems. Via Anime News Network Shogakukan's Weekly Big Comic Spirits has resumed Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki's Oishinbo cuisine manga, which had stopped serialized last May after 25 years and 102 volumes. During the long break, Hanasaki drew a manga adaptation of Ryo Wada's Nobo no Shiro samurai novel. Viz has begun releasing selection of manga in North America According to Kodansha's Magazine Special, GetBackers team of writer Yuya Aoki and artist Rando Ayamine "are planning their next work." The announcement came at the end of the one-shot GetBackers manga story that the two created in this issue. "Legendary romantic comedy for young men" Boys Be... manga will return in a special one-shot manga installment in the next issue on March 19. Live Action Medical drama manga God Hand Teru will be adapted into a live action TV series, scheduled to air on Japan's TBS network starting April 11th.

Rumors and Mentions

According to FearNet, Midnight Meat Train director Ryuhei Kitamura's company could be adapting one of Barker's Books of Blood stories, "In the Hills, the Cities", into an animated film.
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In an interviewed with Daily Yomiuri, Naoki Urasawa (Monster, 20th Century Boys) mentioned that movie rights to Pluto, the mature audience, detective story retelling of Astro Boy story, The World's Strong Robot, are currently under negotiation in Hollywood. The first volume of the manga is reviewed here
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Justin Chatwin, Goku in the DragonBall movie told SciFiNow that a script has been written for a Dragonball movie. "The second one goes more into the whole legacy and the genealogy of Dragonball. It goes more in-depth into a real Dragonball series, the kind of intergalactic world of Dragonball."

Anime x Games

A demo for the Afro Samurai game is now available on through the Xbox live service.
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A "Gold" edition of Kinnikuman Muscle Tag Match (M.U.S.C.L.E.) recently sold for US$10,023 in an online auction. During the mid-1980s, they were given out as prizes for a Kinnikuman Muscle Tag Match tournament that was held in eight locations across Japan. Japanese mobile applications publisher Appliya Inc. announced that they will be developing iPhone and iPod Touch applications based on the Rebuild of Evangelios films. The apps will be the result of a joint production effort between Appliya and Japanese game publisher BROCCOLI Co., Ltd.
Appliya's initial offerings for Evangelion will be "casual" apps that utilize the visual style, characters, and storyline from the Rebuild of Evangelion movies. These applications will take advantage of the innovative touch screen on the iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as the device's camera, calendar functions, and clock. More information can be found here
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Evageeks reports that alternate reality Evangelion game Girlfriend of Steel (I like the Iron Maiden translation) will be release for the Sony PSP in Japan on April 9th.
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The Magic Box has screen shots for Fate/Unlimited Codes Portable Capcom's PSP fighting game based on Fate/Stay Night Dragonball Evolution for the PSP
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1up's Kat Bailey blogs on what to expect from Super Robot Taisen Original Generation Saga: Endless Frontier "Whenever you initiate an overdrive attack with the android Aschen, you will get an animated cut-in in which half her clothes fly off. She then proceeds to kick the crap out of the enemy. "
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ICV2 reports that Upper Deck Entertainment has announced that it is canceling all future Organized Play programs and events in North America for the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game has a consequence of their rights despute with Konami Digital Entertainment.

Event News

The New York International Children's Film Festival has added the US premiere of Wallace & Gromit: A Matter Of Loaf And Death to its Film and Food Progamming. For tickets, see gkids.tv
from Academy Award winning director, Nick Park! Please join us at 3pm, Sunday, March 1, for an afternoon of cinematic and culinary exploration. A one-of-a-kind NYICFF food-themed film program will be followed by an international feast, with fabulous food from around the world, activities and gifts for kids, and drinks for everyone. Film program includes the US Premiere of the brand new 30 minute Wallace & Gromit short, A Matter of Loaf and Death. (Big thank you to our friends at Aardman Animations!!!) All proceeds benefit the Festival!
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Seattle's Sakuracon will be hosting voice actors Kappei Yamaguchi (Ranma of Ranma 1/2, Tombo of Kiki's Delivery Service, L of Death Note, Inuyasha of Inuyasha, Usopp of One Piece), Peter Fernandez (Speed Racer) and Wendy Powell (Envy in Fullmetal Alchemist).
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EVANGELION: 1.0 YOU ARE (NOT) ALONE has been selected to screen at the AFI DALLAS International Film Festival Presented by NorthPark Center, Founding Sponsor Victory Park. Created by the same production team behind the popular anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion that aired on the TV Tokyo network in the 1990's, the film tells the story of schoolboy Shinji Ikari as he is summoned by his estranged father to the vast city of Tokyo-3. The tearful reunion he was hoping for does not materialize as his father has a far more nefarious reason for wanting his son by his side again. Led down into the underground labyrinth of NERV headquarters, he learns that he is one of only a few children that can pilot one of the enormous Evangelion robots against a terrifying enemy. Tokyo-3 is under attack from the terrifying Angels, creatures of an unknown origin bent on laying waste to anything they find. However, there are greater forces at work behind the scenes, and is the true enemy the angels, NERV, the mysterious SEELE, or the demons held within the hearts of the people involved? Screening dates, times and locations will be announced in March. AFI DALLAS 2009 will run March 26 - April 2, 2009. Passes go on sale February 6; tickets go on sale March 2. Passes and tickets will be made available via online, phone (214.720.0663) and in person at the Box Office located at the AFI DALLAS locations at NorthPark Center and Victory Park.
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Anime Boston announced that Voice actors Chris Ayres, Laura Bailey, Troy Baker, Tom Wayland and Travis Willingham will all return to Anime Boston 2009, May 22-24th at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Mass. Previous guest announcements included voice actor Greg Ayres; industry guest David Williams; artists Robert and Emily DeJesus and Misako Rocks! and musical guest BESPA KUMAMERO.

Digital Distribution

When it was scheudle to debut online, web anime series Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya-chan premiered with a sunset video accompanying the message "It was not finished." Subtitled episodes one and now two have been posted on Kadokawa's YouTube channel
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Kunio Kato's Oscar nominated short "Le Maison en Petits Cubes" is now available on iTunes.
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Joost is streaming episode 96 of Narutu Shippuden here

Worth Checking Out...

Insight Publishers Weekly spoke to translator and shojo guru here comics212 looks back through Naoki Urasawa's MONSTER Jog of Urasawa's 20th Century Boys and Pluto The Daily Yomiuri spoke to Urasawa about his new manga Billy Bat "Human history is tied to that kind of thing [symbols], and it has always been the expression and source of culture. It has repeatedly brought out the good and evil in people and guides them in good and bad directions. I think it's a pretty consistent theme," Urasawa says, refusing to expand on which direction the mysterious bat symbol will lead the reader. Nagasaki, however, drops a few possible hints: "When we started thinking about the series, we thought about, for example, what if Billy Bat was like Jesus Christ, and it might have this sort of ancient mystery about it? I was also interested in the idea of what if the very first image of God that humans ever saw was this [image of a bat]?" AniPages Daily on Maya Yonesho's entry in Winter Days and Katsuhiro Otomo's elder care sci-fi Rojin Z On SciFi Japan, SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, Part 2: From Valley to Peak Interview with Black Jack Translator Camellia Nieh Matt Alt touches on the idea of maid cafes transposed to North America Manga Recon Roundtable: Dream Teams Eastern Standard on Katsuhiro Otomo's manga Memories. "Before Katsuhiro Otomo squandered his talent and career directing anime movies, he was foremost a comics artist. Having made over 100 short stories in addition to his serializations, Otomo's body of work remains largely unrepresented in the English fandom." Otaku USA on the Yatterman premiere Erica Friedman on the second volume of Hayate x Blade, a manga whose first volume greatly impressed me; also Kitsune to Atori Manga Reverse Thieves run down impressions of interesting manga starting with Blade of the Immortal - also their NYCC odyssey Witness Go Nagai's puppet space opera X-Bomber If you've never seen it, read bout Aerial City 008
Mark Siegel on First Second's upcoming releases, including manhwa The Color of Earth A look at The Roots of Japanese Anime: Until the End of WW II Daily Yomiuri looks at Fruits Basket's appearl and the stage play Yomiuri Shimbun's Through Otaku Eyes says "it is clear that animation is no longer the central player in prime time." Midnight Eye's Best of 2008 NY Times on Sita Sings the Blues David Welsh on Tips for selling manga on eBay Media A preview look at the Ghibli music video Gundam Unicorn posters (based on serialized novels) Kamen Rider Black and here Obama in Japan one two Caractures of Tokyopop alumni and part two Must see MAD Kenichi Yoshida Vintage chemical attack posters Kaiju on Monster Brains
also Kawanabe Kyosai - Three Comic Grotesques, Ink and colour on paper, 1870s-1880s
Readers Talkback
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  • Feb. 20, 2009, 12:18 p.m. CST

    mmmm

    by menstrual_blitz

    that was a lot

  • Feb. 20, 2009, 12:21 p.m. CST

    and of course

    by menstrual_blitz

    i wind up first on a TB where I just don't care

  • Feb. 20, 2009, 1:30 p.m. CST

    THIRD, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!

    by Leafar the Lost

    YES, I'M THIRD!!!

  • Feb. 20, 2009, 2:17 p.m. CST

    Late breaking licensing news...

    by ScottGreen

    FUNimation has picked up an interesting, violent sci-fi series called RIN: Daughters of Mnemosyne. A bit of background http://tinyurl.com/bfk8tp

  • Feb. 20, 2009, 2:29 p.m. CST

    Thank you ScottGreen

    by Hamtaro Hentai

    And yet again, the most thought out, researched, and best written column on AICN goes under appreciated. It's funny when a bunch of movie and comic geeks look down on those of us who enjoy manga and anime. <p> Also thank you Harry for keeping this column. <p> Schoolgirl Milky Crisis has me extremely curious. I'll be checking it out. And what little I've seen of Black Lagoon I've liked.

  • Feb. 20, 2009, 2:48 p.m. CST

    Dragonball Evolution PSP game footage

    by Hamtaro Hentai

    If you posted it already, sorry, I missed it. I saw some and today, and saw some leaked footage as oozaru Goku. Anyway, the game looks sweet.

  • Feb. 20, 2009, 3:12 p.m. CST

    Oh, Evangelion.

    by HorrorFan81

    We've waited so long.

  • Feb. 20, 2009, 4:18 p.m. CST

    20009

    by landocolt45

    I hope this was a typo with it saying that Elsewhere Cronicles will be in the US in 20009..LOL! I can't wait for EVA movie tho....

  • Feb. 20, 2009, 4:46 p.m. CST

    List of Stores for Best Buy's Anime Close-Out Sale

    by ScottGreen

    http://tinyurl.com/afqyuq

  • Feb. 21, 2009, 12:13 a.m. CST

    Seto no Hanayome and Bamboo Blade??

    by crayotic

    HELLS YES. Looks like the industry isn't completely void of good licences yet. Now if they'd just licence Akagi, Kaiji, and One Outs.

  • Feb. 21, 2009, 12:59 a.m. CST

    Can't Find Les Maison

    by Sondhi

    I found every short film nominee except Kunio Kato's...

  • Feb. 22, 2009, 6:38 a.m. CST

    Of all Barker's IPs, They chose MMT as a Anime?!?

    by Stalkeye

    I mean what the fuck was Hellraiser,Nightbreed,Candyman or even Jericho (Based on Clive's 1st person shooter.Think of it as a Supernatural X-Men with guns.)<p>I'm gonna see what's so special about Midnight Meat Train...well, as soon as I find the time now that I'm busy "Street Fighting".(0:

  • Feb. 24, 2009, 12:02 a.m. CST

    holy shit, a new Yomiko figurine?

    by The Amazing G

    awesome

Top Talkbacks