Live Action Spotlight: Tokyo! For screening information see here
The title "Tokyo!" can be interpreted in a number of ways. Maybe "Tokyo!" is a declaration? I've heard some reservations about the film that have credited wariness to a city film anthology fatigue. It's my supposition that some of that ambivalence is due the title's suggestion that of encompassing the nature of the city. Were that the case, I would not think it unreasonable to bristle at the reductive proposition. The second interpretation of the title is that it signifies a reaction. The danger in that case is less a matter of being presumptive and more a matter of being superficial, reflecting an inaccurate or insubstantial aspect of the subject. My impression of the film is that the title can be taken in this way, and that the movie succeeds in producing a captivating refraction of the city lights by passing them through a trio of distinctive directors. Each of the three shorts feels like a work in keeping with what's expected from its director, and at the same time, their works seem to be bent by the shape of the city. "Interior Design," opens with a view of Tokyo to which anime fans are accustomed... an apocalypse. There's been a biblical rainstorm. Most of Japan has been washed away. All that remains are the mutant gill people who must repopulate the city... Or, at least that's what experimental film maker Akira (Ryo Kase) tells his girlfriend Hiroko (Ayako Fujitani) as the young couple lurches through rain pounded traffic, looking for the apartment of high school friend Akemi (Ayumi Ito), where they'll crash until they can launch their own metropolitan lives. A transposed adaptation of Gabrielle Bell's graphic novel Cecil and Jordan in New York, Michel Gondry's entry introduces us to a charmingly cute couple. I'm not sure that its really an entirely appropriate reaction, especially as the short develops, but I've got to say that Ayako Fujitani is adorable... Adorable enough to make Tokyo! worth seeing just to watch her. Yet, a gulf begins to divide them. Hiroko begins to consider Akira's good natured remark that she's missing a purpose or a passion. Then, after lugging a smoke machine to the adult theatre for the debut of Akira's first movie, she overhears a member of the audience observes that a person who dates an artist often finds themselves eclipsed by their significant other. Hiroko immerses herself in apartment hunting and retail work. When neither of these help her to define herself... well... "Interior Design" becomes a sort of pun. Gondry watchers will notice parallels between the style of Akira's work and the creative minds depicted in films like The Science of Sleep and Be Kind Rewind. Meanwhile, the manifestations of Hiroko's odyssey yield the kind of showy, yet crafted effects for which Gondry is admired. Anchored by a likable performance by a likable actress, the short effectively grafts bits of the creator with bits of the city, seen in situations like the stories that a film maker weaves from their experiences or cramped spaces full of the artifacts that an urbanite uses to make a place their own. Like "Interior Design," Léos Carax's (Lovers on the Bridge, Mauvais Sang, Pola X) Merde opens with a vision of catastrophe frequently exported to international audiences. In this case, it's a rampage scored and framed to evoke Godzilla. Denis Lavant ( Les Amants du Pont-Neuf, Beau Travail, and germane to Merde, UNKLE's music video Rabbit in Your Headlights) portrays the titular wildman, distinguished by his shaggy red beard and milky eye. As a cyclone of rudeness he jostles through the crowd, snatching crutches, smoking, grabbing money and eating it, grabbing flowers and eating them. As the echo chamber of public outrage and media coverage begins to erects itself, Merde's subterranean nesting leads him to a cache of explosives alongside a "Nanking 1937" banner. This makes the violent misanthrope a target for government attention. The US releases footage of him training with al-Qaeda. The Japanese government releases footage of him with the Aum Shinrikyo cult. Soon, he's a live grenade in the political trenches. For nationalists, he epitomizes the ugly foreign interloper. For protesters and counter-culture, he's a symbol of dissent. He's put on trial with Jean-François Balmer as his advocate and almost certainly kin (and gaijin tarento Julie Dreyfus, known to geeks as Kill Bill's Sofie Fatale playing an interpreter). As the judicial and political proceedings get underway, the role of mischief maker and provocateur is taken from Merde and held by Carax. What starts as a cheeky homage turns alternately satirical and poetic. There's a final loop around, but by then, it feels like a forced reminder of the initial man-Godzilla premise. The fit of outlash, then the dizzying meditation on that fit sees the short transform from angry fun to something headier. Joon-ho Bong, the director from this trio who actually made his own kaiju film in The Host is the one who doesn't launch into his vision of Tokyo with cataclysm... he gradually gets to it later. Like The Host's grafting of a dysfunctional family's story onto the giant monster movie, or Memories of Murder, his true crime not-really a thriller with an eye towards the nature of things tangentially involved with the investigation, "Shaking Tokyo" is a rom-com that doesn't feel like the genre it's mirroring. Over the past decade or so, a subject that has fascinated my domain within AICN is the "hikikimori;" shut-ins who have dropped out of the world of social interaction in favor of confining themselves to their apartment or parents' house. Rozen Maiden, the manga that is reputed to be a favorite of Prime Minister Taro Aso is one of a number of anime and manga that have made protagonists of these hikikomori. "Shaking Tokyo" follows Teruyuki Kagawa (Sukiyaki Western Django, 20th Century Boys) as a hikikimori who has not left his apartment in a decade, but who from the confluence of an attractive pizza delivery woman arriving at his door and an earthquake striking the city, is forced to take action. In terms of plot and development, the entry is not much more than that. There's a greatly amusing intruder into the story, but the set up and delivery of the plot is little more than the above outlined premise. Instead, Joon-ho Bong gets into the head of stir-crazy hero. Small stimuli are grossly magnified. There's a moment where the hikikimori receives the delivery of an envelope of cash from his parents. He opens it and pricks his finger on a new bill. Then, the fried wiring fails to complete its circuit. At once it's tactile and withdrawn from sensation. The welling blood fills the screen and at the same time, we pick up the hikikimori's emotionless detachment. Gradually, the short invites us to share his awakening experiences. This builds to a particularly brilliant house of mirrors moment where we're observing the hikikimori on the streets seeing other shut ins. In other words, we're seeing him see himself as other saw him. I sympathize with some of the sentiments of people reluctant to sit through another city-anthology or anthology in Japanese by non Japanese writers and directors. As a reaction to Tokyo, as the city exists and as its been portrayed in Godzilla movies and Haruki Murakami novels and Edogawa Rampo stories, there are aspects of superficiality in Tokyo!, but it's also a clever engagement with the place and its mythology. While I wouldn't say that I was entirely won over by any of the three entries, I'd have to say that I've turned Tokyo! over numerous times in my head and in each iteration, I've come up with an interesting theme, connection or twist. Maybe it's not a triumph, but it is a curio that rewards consideration.
Live Action Spotlight: White on Rice Check whiteonricethemovie.com for screening information
Dave Boyle's first film, Big Dreams Little Tokyo followed the comedic travails of a young, Caucasian man trying to use his ability to speak Japanese to carve a niche for himself. While laughing at the skinny, business suit attired hero as just about everyone incredulously shoots down his attempts to peddle his linguistic skills, we observe a person creating a role that might not have previously existed or might not have generally been intended for a person of this protagonist's profile. Boyle's second film, White on Rice makes for an interesting thematic follow-up to Big Dreams Little Tokyo as both a progression and a regression from the slice of life carved out by the earlier film. In theory, 40 year old Japanese émigré Jimmy (Letters from Iwo Jima's Hiroshi Watanabe) should be actively living out a chosen role in society. He's definitely at an age to be responsible; to have a career or to be actively pursuing one; to have decided whether or not he'd like to try and build a family; to know whether he'd like to be settled or not. And, he can parrot the difficulties of adulthood, as when he laments failed relationships and bills to pay. Yet, we're dealing with an acute case of arrested development who wound up in America as a result of running out of food. Figuring that Jimmy would otherwise starve to death, his wife cooked him a three month supply of meals, then left him. Having exhausted those reserves, he moved into the household of his sister Aiko (Nae, Letters from Iwo Jima, MPD Psycho, Inland Empire) and her increasingly exasperated husband Tak (Late Night with Conan O'Brien), where he shares a bunk bed with their son Bob, a child whose artistic and entrepreneurial interests seem a lot more mature than Jimmy's passion for dinosaurs. So, Jimmy occasionally relives his brief stint in the Japanese movie industry (White on Rice opens with a hilariously overdone scene from a samurai movie in which Jimmy played the junior swordsman, featuring a vocal cameo that should really please genre fans), turns dates into painful awkward situations, aggravates Tak, stalks Tak's attractive niece and generally makes things awkward and unpleasant for all involved. One of my favorite jokes in Big Dreams Little Tokyo was a pun on the phonetic similarities between the Japanese word for octopus, "tako," and the Mexican food "taco." It's an obvious gag, and it was obvious that the movie was going to make it. And yet, it was sufficiently true to the characters and sufficiently well sold that, even if it wasn't surprising, it still hit the right chords to be funny. Many, possibly most, scenes of White on Rice are similarly predictable. The pieces of the comedy machine are in plain view. The supporting cast is well realized and multi-dimensional: Aiko is willing to mother her brother, but also has a propensity for getting lost in her work; Tak's tender love for his family and artistic soul make him more than a frazzled straight man. While these personalities are engaging to watch in their own right, especially as portrayed by the film's strong cast, the impression that they'll stamp on the gags' manufacturing is always evident. The primary agent in the joke automata is Jimmy. There's some suggestion that this character isn't mentally impaired, but the fact that you have to shift through some evidence to arrive at this conclusion is telling. Not just a greenhorn, he's a buffoon, naturally inclined to react in the most destructive, obtrusive, ill advised manner in all occasions. So, if these staged moments are moving along a path dictated by Jimmy and the rest of this cast of well defined characters, each time that events could branch based on one of Jimmy's decisions, he's invariably drawn to most disastrous choice. Aiko sets him up on a date with a tall woman. Thinking that she'll reject him for being shorter, Jimmy preemptively makes her uncomfortable about her height. "Do you eat a lot of protein? Do you have a favorite dinosaur? Let me guess... The brontosaurus. You know, the huge one with the really long neck. " (The expressions of Jimmy's adolescent mischief, Aiko's discomfort and Tak's unsurprised disgust are priceless.) After causing a fight between Aiko and Tak concerning whether they should throw him out of the house, Jimmy takes it upon himself to comfort Bob by instructing the child that his parents will probably not get a divorce. By the time that the movie runs its course, it's health and not just emotions being injured by Jimmy's pathologically bad judgment. Jimmy isn't the most sympathetic character. Though he's a smiling, good natured light spirit, the more time spent with this guy, the more sentiments evolve from cheering for the hapless guy to hoping that the movie will find a comfortable, at least vaguely positive destination for him. Yet, several factors keep the film buoyant and enjoyable. The movie is largely constructed of staged moments, where once the set-up is recognized, the trajectory of the character machinery is rarely difficult to predict. Yet, though it's apparent that events are hurtling towards unpleasantness, and that Jimmy's at fault, Boyle allows the viewer to laugh at these people without feeling sadistic for doing so. These particular situations might be comedicly broken and unfortunate for the participants involve, but hopelessness never sets in. Everyone keeps trying to improve their situation, and even if the results are spiraling in a negative direction, there's always a sense that events will ultimately arrive someplace at least mildly positive. As with Big Dreams Little Tokyo, Asian culture has a role in White on Rice, but here, its presence serves as texture rather than as an explicit part of the story. Jimmy's spoonerisms do have a place in the movie's toolkit of gags, but it is also noteworthy that it features several cultural misunderstanding jokes on the part of non-Asian incidental characters trying to read too much into the actions of the primary cast. There's also an over-enthusiastic hachimaki-headband wearing Caucasian worker at a Japanese restaurant, but either something has been cut, I didn't get it, or I just didn't find this thread of the movie funny. Less of a function of this different role for Asian culture, and more due to the stage of life chronicled, White on Rice feels like a particularly idiosyncratic instance of a story that's been frequently captured in movies rather than a distinctive story in and of itself. Where Big Dreams Little Tokyo was generally relevant to the pursuit of special interests, White on Rice is generally relevant. Chronicling the progress of a man who has spent far too long in adolescence is well trodden ground for movies. In that light, the film's serial of sketch comedy like set-ups do hit a point where they do seem a bit inefficient after stamping out the pattern a few too many times. Yet, White on Rice offers plenty of genuine charm and winning performances. Even if it resolved around a trying protagonist, White on Rice succeeds in conveying a likable sense of humor.
Upcoming in North America
ADV Films ADV will be releasing a Go Nagai pack of over the top Mazinger reimagining MazinKaizer and supernatural action Shuten Doji in a double pack on June 2nd for $26.98 CMX BROKEN BLADE VOL. 1
Written and illustrated by Yunosuke Yoshinaga BREAK BLADE © 2007 Yunosuke Yoshinaga/Flex Comix Inc. CMX/Flex Comix. Rygart Arrow is the only one in his world who lacks the inherent ability to power up quartz, the energy source that makes all of the machines run. Good thing the King and Queen of his country of Krisna happen to be old college friends! But so is Zess, the leader of the army of mechs invading Krisna. As usual, Arrow feels useless in the face of battle, until he comes across a powerful, ancient battle suit that no one else can run. His natural affinity for the suit’s operating mechanism may just turn Arrow into the most important player of all. on sale July 1 • 5” x 7.375” • 162 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN + EMMA VOL. 9 Written and illustrated by Kaoru Mori on sale July 1 • 5” x 7.375” • 216 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN + GO WEST! VOL. 3 Written and illustrated by Yu Yagami on sale July 8 • 5” x 7.375” • 194 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN + FROM EROICA WITH LOVE VOL. 14 Written and illustrated by Yasuko Aoike Re-solicited; on sale July 15 • 5” x 7.375” • 200 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN MARCH ON EARTH VOL. 2 Written and illustrated by Mikase Hayashi on sale July 15 • 5” x 7.375” • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN ORFINA VOL. 6 Written and illustrated by Kitsune Tennouji on sale July 22 • 5.5” x 8.5” • 282 pg, B&W, $12.99 US • MATURE FUNimation FUNimation revealed plans to release Fumihiko Sori's (VEXILLE, Ping Pong) live action film Ichi, in which Haruka Ayase plays a blind musian modeled after the famous chambara swordsman Zatoichi. ICHI will make its U.S. film festival premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival April 3rd followed by a screening April 11th at the Japan Film Festival Los Angeles. FUNimation Entertainment will bring ICHI to DVD in 2010. *Robert's Anime Corner Blog is reporting that Funimation has announced the first half season box of Romeo X Juliet for release on June 23rd, and Kaze No Stigma for June 30th. Kyo Kara Maoh and Samurai Champloo collections will also be released in June. Dark Horse Via Anime Vice CLAMP's “mangettes” are planned for a near-simultaneous publication in Japan, the United States, and South Korea, with Dark Horse handling the US side of the equation via 80 page monthly releases. The UK Amazon listing for Mangettes' Gate 7 is described as Between our conscious, waking world and the subconscious state of slumber, there is a thinly veiled plane of lucid dreaming. While the conscious state belongs to individuals, the hidden plane of dreams is one shared by all human minds, past, present, and future. Yet only a few have ever possessed the power to enter this secret realm at will - where a war is being waged to control the waking world. For our earthly wishes and desires are not our own, but under the manipulation of these unseen masters of dreams. The heroine of Gate 7 is Hana, a high-school girl hailing from Kyoto, the daughter of a temple caretaker. Her peaceful ways give her the self-control to act in the hidden realm. But Hana can only reach it through the strange beast that acts as her totem in the world of dreams - and her companion on a journey to confront the puppeteers of our reality! This listing has the hitting on August 15, 2010 Kadokawa No America plans have been announced, but Kadokawa Pictures USA is now listing Chrome Shelled Regios In the distant future, near the end of time, the world is covered by “polluntants” and harvests have vanished from the face of the earth. In the wildness where no humans can survive, huge monsters mutated by pollutants called “deformed monsters” roam, and mankind lives within “autonomic mobile cities”(Regios), which can walk around, equipped with own consciousness. The boy Layfon comes to join one of Regios “School City Zuellni.” At the school entrance ceremony, he gets involved in a trouble caused by other students, and ends up joining the “17th Platoon,” whose mission is to protect Zuellni. But soon, he finds it is a notorious “platoon for losers!” Layfon's new school life begins, surrounded by unique members of the “17th Platoon.” But what secrets does Layfon hide when he refuses to talk about his past and what secrets are hidden in the autonomic mobile cities Regios? Magician's Academy In a realm which exists right next to reality but no ordinary people can see, there is the “Magician’s Academy — the school for today’s wizards and witches who live between the realms, hiding their true identities while they are among us. Takuto Hasegawa looks like a high school boy who embodies the word “ordinary” in every sense, but he is actually a wizard in the making who secretly attends the Academy. At his makeup exam in “Summoning Skills II,” he happens to summon Tanarot, a beautiful girl with a beast’s ears! She has “a Magic Power Value that measures over 100,000,” and “a Deification Value measuring 5,000,” though her “Attribute is unknown.” The Academy orders Takuto to live with Tanarot, but his cousin Suzuho who is in love with him moves into his house. In addition, Falce, the female incarnation of the ”magic machine wand“ joins them, creating an absolutely chaotic “harem” around him! Garei -ZERO- The hero Toru KANZE and his fellow agents, Natsuki KASUGA, Masaki SHINDO, and Kudo KAZUNO, are members of the Troop — Defense Ministry’s Paranormal Disaster Countermeasure Headquarters Special Tactics Troop 4th Division (aka Special Tactics 4th Division). Regardless of their age or gender, talents who can see spirits and wraith without depending on devices were recruited to form the Division. Locking any sense of conformity or unity, they may even act like a gang of outlaws. The Division’s Special Mission Compact Troop consists of four agents, Agent 11, 33, 55, and 77. Toru KANZE, Agent 77, at the age of 25 is the main character of story. His girl friend “Aoi Hosho” was killed by an evil spirit and since then, he has been looking for the killer. He can see evil spirits without using special “seeker” devices. Natsuki KASUGA, Agent 33, belongs to the same division as Toru. Always concerned about Toru whose girlfriend was killed. Masaki SHINDO, Agent 55, mainly supports his colleagues in Special Tactics 4th Division from a helicopter. Kudo KUZUNO, Agent 11, is a leader of the Special Tactics 4th Division. Mainly engages in explosive disposal. Media Blasters Live Action 6/2/2009 ZATOICHI COMPLETE 1st SEASON: The Blind Swordsman - 12 Discs, Eps. 1-26 - $69.99 6/16/2009 BLACK MAGIC 2 6/30/2009 MONSTER X STRIKES BACK LADY NINJA KAEDA ONE Anime 6/2/2009 MORIBITO: Guardian Of The Spirit - Volume 4 of 8, Eps. 11-13 6/16/2009 SIMOUN: Complete - Volumes 1-5, Eps. 1-26 - 5 Discs - $49.99 6/23/2009 MORIBITO: Guardian Of The Spirit Series Part Two - Volumes 3 & 4 of 8, Eps. 8-13 - 2 Discs - $34.99 6/30/2009 AH MY BUDDHA: The Three Exposed Jewels - Volume 3 of 6, Eps. 9-13 GENSHIKEN 2: The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture - Full Circle - Volume 1, Eps. 1-4 (also available with Collectors Box) TWELVE KINGDOMS - TV Series - Eps. 1-45 - 10 Discs - $69.99 Manga 6/24/2009 DOJIN WORK - Pencil and Paper - Volume 3 of 3 GENSHIKEN 2 The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, otherwise known as Genshiken, is now under the charge of a more confident Sasahara. Things have changed in between semesters (for all the details, check out the bonus Genshiken OVAs included on the Kujibiki Unbalance TV series), and the otaku club now has a new otaku-hating member named Ogiue. Sasahara's initial goal of starting a dojin circle and selling those fan-made magazines at the next Comic Festival becomes a reality, but reality is a cruel master. Who apparently cross plays. Afterward, the club is abuzz with talk about Tanaka and Ohno's relationship, which takes a hesitant step forward. Simoun In the peaceful theocracy of Simulicram, everyone is born female. At age 17, each maiden undergoes a special ceremony where she chooses her sex. However, only Pairs of maiden priestesses can synchronize with the ancient flying ships known as Simoun needed to defend Simulicram. These Pairs refrain from undergoing the ceremony as long as they wish to keep piloting their Simoun. Aeru is recruited to be a Simoun pilot after a terrifying attack by an enemy nation decimates the squadron known as Chor Tempest. To earn her wings she needs to find her way into the heart of Neviril, Regina of Chor Tempest. But Neviril’s heart still belongs to her previous Pair, lost in the battle when she attempted a forbidden Simoun maneuver. TWELVE KINGDOMS Upon being confronted by a mysterious stranger, Youko is told of her destiny and pulled away into another world. Thus begins Youko’s perilous journey to the Kingdom of Kei on an epic road of espionage, terror, and betrayal. The mystic world of The Twelve Kingdoms assails her with one challenge after another. Will Youko embrace her destiny? Right Stuf Anime producer and distributor Right Stuf, Inc. and Nozomi Entertainment to announce the GAKUEN ALICE DVD Collection will be released on June 30, 2009. The 5 DVD set will retail for $49.99 The thinpak-style box set will contain the entire 26-episode television series with Japanese audio, English-language subtitles and English on-screen translations. This anime adaptation of Tachibana Higuchi’s ongoing Gakuen Alice manga features direction by Takahiro Omori (Baccano!, Hell Girl), as well as performances by Kana Ueda (“Yumi” in Maria Watches Over Us, “Rin” in Fate/stay Night and “Hayate” in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s); Rie Kugimiya (“Alphonse Elric” in Fullmetal Alchemist, “Touko” in Maria Watches Over Us and “Shana” in Shakugan no Shana); Romi Paku (“Edward Elric” in Fullmetal Alchemist, “Nana O.” in NANA); and Akira Ishida (“Chrono” in Chrono Crusade, “Shin” in NANA and “Cho Hakkai” in Saiyuki). The original Gakuen Alice manga is currently serialized in Japan’s Hana to Yume girls’ anthology magazine, where it has appeared alongside titles including Fruits Basket, Hana-Kimi, Skip Beat! and S.A (Special A) since its 2003 debut. It is published in North America by TOKYOPOP. About GAKUEN ALICE Mikan and Hotaru are best friends! (Well, according to Mikan, anyway. Hotaru doesn't seem to care.) Then one day, Hotaru is escorted away in a fancy black car, apparently scouted by a school in Tokyo called "Alice Academy." Crushed at the loss of her favorite pal, Mikan scurries after her, determined to enroll, too! But Alice Academy is a mysterious place. Can Mikan tough it out in a school where explosions, superpowers, giant baby chicks and axe-wielding teddy bears are the norm? Though it's not as if she has a choice, because once students enter Alice Academy, there is no escape! Contains the complete 26-episode TV series! GAKUEN ALICE © Tachibana Higuchi • Hakusensha / Alice Academy Committee 2004. Virgil Films & Entertainment and Fabulous Films Virgil Films & Entertainment and Fabulous Films are working together to release The Mysterious Cities of Gold on DVD April 7, 2009, with a $49.95 series edition and $79.95 complete edition. Having originally aired in Japan in 1982, “Mysterious Cities of Gold” ran in the US in the 1980’s on Nickelodeon and NBC. A special Deluxe Edition of “Mysterious Cities of Gold” will be available for collectors, which will include a 32-page booklet, a 12-page historical facts booklet, 6 exclusive postcards and a double-sided fold out poster. “Mysterious Cities of Gold” Synopsis It is the sixteenth century. From all over Europe, great ships sail west to conquer the New World, the Americas. The men are eager to seek their fortune, to find new adventures in new lands. The long to cross unchartered seas and discover unknown countries: to find secret gold on a mountain trail high in the Andes. They dream of following the path of the setting sun that leads to El Dorado, and the Mysterious Cities of Gold. Three children – Esteban, Tao, and Zia – set out on an adventure across the Americas to find the Mysterious Cities of Gold. Neither Esteban, a Spanish orphan who can command the sun, and Zia, an Inca girl kidnapped from her people, have any interest in gold. Their only dream is that their quest will lead them to their missing fathers, and they hope the strange medallions they both wear may hold the key to the cities’ location. Tao, the last descendent of the legendary empire of Hiva, believes the cities could reveal long-lost secrets about his heritage and the strange jar he has been left by his ancestors. They are joined on their journey by Spanish navigator Mendoza, and his two sailing friends Sancho and Pedro – men who seek to plunder the cities of its wealth. With the aid of the magnificent Golden Condor, their adventure takes them to the empire of the Incas, being ravaged by the invading Spanish; to the vast Amazon rain forest, where they encounter fierce female warriors; and finally to the land of the Mayas, far to the north. But they are not alone on their quest – with treasure-hungry Spaniards, greedy Mayan traitors and tyrannical Olmecs hoping to ensure they will never find their way to the Mysterious Cities of Gold.
Upcoming in Japan
Previews Sora no Manimani (astronomy club romantic comedy) Hayate the Combat Butler (second season) Ristorante Paradiso Valkeria Chronicle Sea Story Saki (schoolgirl mahjong) Shin Mazinger Tokyo International Anime Fair Trailers Anime Another anime adaption of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, about a suicidal teacher and his pathological students, may be in the works. The first volume of the original manga has recently been released in North America by Del Rey. Studio Fantasia> ( AIKa, Najica Blitz Tactics) will be producing new anime series Gonzo mecha anime Linebarrels of Iron will be extended with a original to DVD 25th episode called “Tensai Bishoujo Kagakusha Rachel-chan” (”Genius Beautiful Girl Scientist Rachel”) , bundled on its ninth disc. Manga Via Anime News Network Santa Inoue (Tokyo Tribes and Rinjin 13-go/The Neighbor No. Thirteen) will be commencing a new manga series called Dan Da Barbarian in Monthly Comic Birz magazine on April 30. Kadokawa Shoten's Comp Ace magazine has announced that the following manga series will launch in the July issue (which ships in May) or later: Shin Strike Witches (New Strike Witches, tentative title) CANAAN Shin Koihime†Muso (True Koihime†Muso) G-Senjo no Mao (The Devil on G-string) Summer Wars Gaiden (Summer Wars Side Story, tentative title) Angel Magister Valkyrie Complex After breaking in October 2007, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's Evangelion manga will be resuming in July issue of Young Ace magazine. Sadamoto also recently released his third art book, Carmine on March 2th. This collection will feature art from Evangelion, FLCL, Diebuster, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and .hack. Live Action Tokyograph reports that public interest in the soon to be institutionalized "saiban-in" (lay judge) syste has lead Fuji TV to adapted Toma Ikuta's court manga series manga "Samayoi Zakura" into a live action series, retitled "Majo Saiban." Written by Mamora Goda ("Mori no Asagao"), the drama features Atsushi Ito as Keiichi Aiba, a "net cafe refugee" who gets chosen as a juror in the trial of a 28-year-old NEET ("Not currently engaged in Employment, Education or Training") accused of killing three women. Takashi Tsukamoto plays the role of the killer, while Rosa Kato plays a law student who is also selected for the jury. Fuji TV has tentatively scheduled the drama for this May.
Twilight Director Back Away From Anime Statements
Director of the vampire-romance adaptation Catherine Hardwicke mentioned on the commentary track for the DVD release that she thought "there's going to be an anime version of this in Japan." On MTV's movie blog, Hardwicke set the record straight. MTV dismisses it as an off the cuff comment. Hardwicke says "I haven’t heard any plans yet"
MTV Splashpage dissects the poster from Imagi's CGI adaptation of “Science Team Gatchaman”, with places the movie’s release in 2010. Tatsunoko's 1972 (Speed Racer, Macross/Robotech) adventure sci-fi Science Ninja Team Gatchaman was adapted for American TV as Battle of the Planets in the wake of the Star Wars phenomenon, then again as G-Force in 1986. In January, Imagi has to secure bridge financing in order to continue with the production of their adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy. Speaking of that project, the latest poster can be seen here A UK Blood: The Last Vampire live action poster Anyone envy the person who has to write up the Dragonball set visit? Dragonball Evolution clips
Digital Distribution News
VIZ Media has announced that the official Naruto web site at www.Naruto.com will feature a new watch-and-win contest beginning March 27th. Every week, a new Naruto Shippuden episode (English subtitled) will stream for free on the site and fans are invited to watch and take part in the contest by answering a trivia question about each new installment. The contest runs through September 2009. Winners will be announced weekly and are eligible for a variety of prizes, including action figures, apparel and video games. NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc. sponsors the first 4 weeks of the contest and will award each lucky winner a copy of Ultimate Ninja 4: Naruto™ Shippuden, the first video game released in North America based on the Naruto Shippuden animated series. On the fourth week the company will award one fan a copy of the video game and a PlayStation2 game console. VIZ Media has confirmed that an English dub is being produced for the NARUTO Shippuden series – Cast members include: Maile Flanagan – Naruto Kate Higgins – Sakura Dave Wittenberg – Kakashi Hatake Brian Donovan – Rock Lee In the NARUTO animated series, Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja in training, wants to be the best ninja in the land. He's done well so far, but Naruto knows he must train harder than ever and leaves his village for intense exercises that will push him to his limits. NARUTO Shippuden begins two and a half years later, when Naruto returns to find that everyone has been promoted up the ninja ranks—except him. Sakura’s a medical ninja, Gaara’s advanced to Kazekage, and Kakashi…well, he remains the same. But pride isn’t necessarily about becoming a ninja, especially when Naruto realizes that Sasuke never returned from his search for Orochimaru. Plus, the mysterious Akatsuki organization is still an ever-present danger. As Naruto finds out more about the Akatsuki’s goals, he realizes that nothing in his universe is as it seems. Naruto is finding that he’s older, but will he also prove wiser and stronger? VIZ Media announced the debut of the animated feature film BLEACH THE MOVIE: MEMORIES OF A NOBODY along with three full-length NARUTO animated movies; NINJA CLASH IN THE LAND OF SNOW, GUARDIANS OF THE CRESCENT MOON KINGDOM and LEGEND OF THE STONE OF GELEL on the iTunes Store (www.iTunes.com) in U.S. and Canada (www.iTunes.ca).
The movies are dubbed in English and available for purchase in standard-definition format for $9.99, for rent in high-definition for $3.99, and for rent in standard-definition for $2.99 in the U.S. In Canada the movies are available for purchase in standard-definition format for $14.99, for rent in high-definition for $4.99, and for rent in standard-definition for $3.99. *On March 26th, Joost began streaming an English subtitled version of Naruto Shippuden. This was the first time that Joost simulcast an episode with the broadcast in Japan. *Shogakukan has posted Rumiko Takahashi (InuYasha, Ranma 1/2) and Mitsuru Adachi's (baseball manga including Touch, H2) tribute to Weekly Shonen Sunday magazine's 50th anniversary, "My Sweet Sunday." Anime Vice has translated pieces of a Watch.Impress piece about Japanese companies considering DRM “Industry representatives in the Private Recording Subcommittee have previously stated that if content can be totally controlled via digital rights management software (DRM), there would be no need for the Compensation System. On this point Mr. Kawase explains, 'Of course, the subcommittee has developed a general consensus after debating specific (DRM-related) issues. However, the debate moving forward will center on refining that general consensus.'”
Anime x Games
Appliya Inc. announced that a "lite" version of the iPhone/iPod Touch Evangelion Puzzle game is now available for free, Evangelion Puzzle Lite is the latest entry in Appliya’s Evangelion application series, and it utilizes imagery taken directly from the Rebuild of Evangelion anime movies. The lite version features a time puzzle with Eva Unit 01, while the full version offers 9 scenes from the anime.
Evangelion vol.5: Puzzle Lite Application for: iPhone, iPod Touch Price: FREE Evangelion vol.5: Puzzle (full version) Application for: iPhone, iPod Touch Price: $1.99 *Stills from Ninokuni The Another World, Studio Ghibli's collaboration with Professor Layton makers Level 5are making the rounds Anime Diet reviews anime-style digital collectable card game Alteil The Magic Box has screen shots of anime-style fighting game BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, from the makers of Guilty Gear.
Cool Figures News
On An Eternal Thought in the Mind of Godzilla Tamashii Nations 2009: Kaiju Hyohon Mazinsaurus's Tamashii Nations coverage
CollectionDX has some interesting Tamashii Nations 2009 coverage, including Macross Urban Material Chogokin Mazinger Z (24" made of Carbon Fiber, Graphite and Titanum, selling for over $20,000) Soul of Chogokin (Big O, SRW Soul of Chogokin Dygengar & Au?senseiter, transforming cell phone Chogokin Keitai Sousakan 7, Mazinger Z, Tetsujin 28) Gundam Fewture Models is planning EX Gokin versions of Shin Getter 1 and the Machine Blaster set in the works. Details are expected to be announced in the summer. Making Robots With Rotobox & The Reveal Of GOLION Real Action Hero Jotaro Kujo Tomopop looks at the less high quality Gundam figures from the franchise's 30 year history.
Cartoon Network Upfronts
Cartoon Network's upfronts are sure to raise reactions from anime fans. As Hollywood Reporter describes the event, "for a network with the word 'cartoon' in its name, there were an awful lot of real-life performers on hand during Cartoon Network's upfront presentation Wednesday morning." "Our voice is changing," said Stuart Snyder, president and COO of Turner Broadcasting's animation, young adults and kids media division, comparing the network to a young boy who wakes up one day with a deeper voice. "This is an evolution of our brand." The network's press release speaks for itself • 19 New Programming Ventures: Seven New Animated Series and Four Original Movies (Live-Action/CG-Animated) • Network Introduces For the First Time Six Live-Action “Alternative” Series and Two Scripted Live-Action Pilots • Sports Partnership with NBA, Recruits Boston Celtics Superstar Eddie House for My Dad’s a Pro Short-Form Series Highlights of Cartoon Network’s new content strategy to launch across the 2009-2010 season include the following: COMEDY AND ACTION-ADVENTURE ANIMATED SERIES • Adventure Time with Finn and Jake The 30-minute series is from Cartoon Network Studios, created by Pendleton Ward and executive produced by Fred Siebert and Derek Drymon. • Stoked Six teenaged groms (young surfers) come together for 12 weeks over summer to work and surf . From Cake Distribution and Fresh Animation, Stoked is created by Jennifer Pertsch and Tom McGillis (Total Drama Island). • Total Drama Action Showcasing all the elements of favorite reality TV shows, fourteen contestants face thrilling challenges on an abandoned film studio back-lot, all inspired by the movies. From Cake Distribution and Fresh Animation. • Ben 10: Evolutions An all-new animated series . • Sym-Bionic Titan From creator Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack) comes an exciting hybrid of high school drama and giant robot battles. • Generator Rex Infected by microscopic molecular-altering nanites, 15-year-old Rex has the ability to grow incredible machines out of his body. From Man of Action, creators of Ben 10. • Scooby-Doo – Mystery, Inc. More Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo. ALTERNATIVE LIVE-ACTION SERIES • The Othersiders This thrilling reality adventure series follows five friends on real missions to explore mysterious, potentially haunted locations in search of evidence that will confirm or deny the existence of paranormal activity. • Survive This An exciting reality series challenges teenagers ages 14 to 17 to push their limits, overcome fears and develop lifelong survival skills. Hosted by Les Stroud (Survivorman), each episode aims to test endurance, wit and self-determination. • Destroy Build Destroy In a huge construction zone, two teams become demolition experts with the guidance and assistance of experts in the field, using wrecking balls, human destroyers and real explosions. Each week brings a new challenge to build from the debris, with strategy, wits and teamwork deciding which team’s creation out-performs the other—and whose hard work goes up in smoke. • Head Rush Kids participate as game show contestants playing for cash while riding thrill-inducing amusement park rides. • Dude, What Would Happen? This series stars three adventurous teens who ask and answer imaginative questions such as, “Dude, what would happen if you attached 350 helium balloons to a sumo wrestler?” • Bobb’e Says Starring Bobb’e J. Thompson (30 Rock, Human Giant), Bobb’e Says is a fast-paced, viral video clip show where other people’s painful mistakes become tools for Bobb’e as he dispenses sage wisdom to an unsuspecting public. LIVE-ACTION AND ANIMATED ORIGINAL MOVIES • Ben 10: Alien Swarm An all-new, live-action movie based on the hit animated series • Scooby Doo! The Mystery Begins The never-before-told story of how a mismatched quartet of teenagers first came together before becoming known as the Mystery Inc. gang. Directed by Brian Levant (Snow Dogs, The Flintstones). • Firebreather Cartoon Network’s first original all-CG animation adventure, Peter Chung (Aeon Flux) is attached to direct. • Tiger’s Apprentice The best-selling young adult book by Lawrence Yep will be brought to life in a live-action movie. Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club) is attached to serve as executive producer/director SCRIPTED LIVE-ACTION PILOTS • Unnatural History An action-packed series centered around Henry Griffin, a teenager with exceptional skills acquired through years of globe-trotting with his anthropologist parents. Henry faces his biggest challenge of all when he moves back to America to attend a high school stranger than any place he’s ever lived before. Created and written by Mike Werb (Face/Off, The Mask) • Prepped A rebellious teen wakes up one morning to find himself trapped at a mysterious prep school that offers no escape. He forms a secret group to discover what they’re being trained for and how to escape. The pilot is executive-produced and written by Paul Dini (Batman Beyond).
AICN readers might be interesting in Firebreather, based on the Image comic with Peter Chung (Aeon Flux) involed and Genndy Tartakovsky's sci-fi Sym-Bionic Titan
FUNimatiion will be screening Evangelion 1.0 this Sunday at 7:00PM in Dallas, TX at Victory Plaza for AFI Dallas. Those who cosplay as an Evangelion character may receive a ticket for a theatrical screening Thursday, April 2nd showing at the Magnolia Theater
*Monster wrestloig troupe Kaiju Big Battel will be presenting the Kaiju in 3-D event at the Warsaw at the Polish National Home, 261 Driggs Ave, Brooklyn, NY - Fri, April 3rd, 8:00 PM The featured musical guest will be Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears Tickets are $20 and available from Ticketmaster *The It Came From Skullbrain! will be appearing at San Francisco's Super7 Store on April 18th Customization and photography of collectible vinyl figures hase become a large part of the boutique vinyl toy world. Super7 is pleased to announce an art show featuring the work of a gaggle of toy customizers and photographers who are part of the Skullbrain community. 'It Came From Skullbrain' focuses primarily on the world of customizing Japanese vinyl Kaiju toys, no platforms. *Due to overwhelming demand, NYAFF have extended the 2009 festival by adding screenings of SECRET OF MOONACRE and SHORTS FOR TOTS. Both programs play April 18 & 19 at Symphony Space. THE SECRET OF MOONACRE UK, Gabor Csupo, 2008, 97 min In English - recommended ages 5 to 12 Sat, April 18 at 1:00pm Sun, April 19 at 12:30pm Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway (at 95th Street) The new film from director Gabor Csupo (The Bridge to Terabethia) is a fantasy adventure complete with misty castles, a danger-filled forest, a black lion, a magic pearl necklace, and a reluctant city-girl-turned-princess decked out in an ever-growing collection of opulent, Victorian-era dresses. Newly orphaned Maria Merryweather is forced to leave civilized London and live with her reclusive uncle at Moonacre Manor, the family's remote and rundown estate in the woods. She soon discovers a secret within the walls of the large and crumbling castle: Long ago, a bitter feud between the Merryweathers and the rival De Noir family placed a curse on the land that only the young Moon Princess can undo. So Maria leaves the safety of Moonacre and enters the forbidden forest, where she comes face to face with a gang of marauding De Noir bandits - though with their black eye-liner and coordinated bowler hats, these smooth-faced young ruffians are about as menacing as an 80's New Wave boy band. But this is a fairy tale and all is for the best, as soon the head boy-bandit and scion of the De Noir clan has switched sides, defying his father to help Maria find the magic pearls and fulfill her quest. Starring Dakota Blue Richards (The Golden Compass) and Tim Curry. SHORTS FOR TOTS 65 minutes - in English - recommended ages 3 to 6 Sat, April 18 at 11:00am Sun, April 19 at 11:00am Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway (at 95th Street) SHORTS FOR TOTS features the best short film and animation from around the world, for ages 3-6. Aston's Stones Sweden - WORLD PREMIERE Animated, Uzi Geffenblad, 2007, 9 min No Monkey Germany - US PREMIERE Animated, Harry Flosser, 2007, 4 min The New Species Latvia - EAST COAST PREMIERE Animated, Evalds Lacis, 2008, 10 min Breaking the Mould UK - US PREMIERE Animated, Rebecca Manley/Luca Paulli, 2008, 1 min Horsie Finland - US PREMIERE Animated, Sara Wahl, 2006, 2 min Dinosaur Song USA - NY PREMIERE Animated, Christian Robinson, 2008, 3 min The True Story of the Three Little Pigs USA - NY PREMIERE Animated, Konstantin Bronzit, 2008, 10 min 7 Days of the Week USA - US PREMIERE Animated, Sean McBride, 2007, 3 min The Bridge on the River Zzzeee France - US PREMIERE Animated, Thomas Szabo, 2006, 5 min Hedgehug USA - NY PREMIERE Animated, Dan Pinto, 2007, 5 min Laban the Little Ghost Sweden - US PREMIERE Animated, Lasse Persson, 2007, 5 min Spot and Splodge Sweden - US PREMIERE Animated, Lotta Geffenblad, 2008, 8 min *Anime Boston has announced its third round of guests. Musical group Kalafina will make its U.S. debut with composer Yuki Kajiura (Kalafina and Kajiura featured in "The Garden of Sinners" - Kara no Kyokai, to be screened at event) and voice actor Veronica Taylor (Ash and May from "Pokemon") at Anime Boston 2009, May 22-24th at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Mass. Previous guest announcements included voice actors Christopher Ayres, Greg Ayres, Laura Bailey, Troy Baker and Travis Willingham; industry guest David Williams and Tom Wayland; artists Robert and Emily DeJesus and Misako Rocks! and musical guest BESPA KUMAMERO. Anime Boston also announced that the event has contracted with Expo Logic as its registration vendor. Expo Logic has previously handled the N.Y. Times Travel Show, the CHA Craft Super Show and the Philadelphia Gift Show. Last year, the convention's registration process extended into five+ hour wait times, An official statement about last year's problems can be found can be found her *Musical act m.o.v.e., featured in anime soundtracks for Initial D", "Final Fantasy: Unlimited", and "Ikki Tousen" will be appearing at the 12th annual Anime Central convention in Chicago, May 8-10th 2009. *Anime HELL has posted a list of upcoming appearances Anime Central - May 8th Anime North - May 22nd Anime Boston - May 22nd FanimeCon - May 22nd Animazement - May 22nd Project A-Kon - May 29th *Japanese Visual-kei band An Café announced three North American dates. April 11th show Where: Hollywood Avalon 1735 Vine Street Hollywood, CA 90028 When: 8:00 PM How Much: $29.50 Presale $35 Day of show April 12th show Where: Anaheim House of Blues 1530 South Disneyland Drive Anaheim, CA 92802 When: 7:00 PM How Much $30 Presale April 14th show Where: Slims 333 11th St. San Francisco, Ca 94103 When: 7:30 PM How Much: $30 General Admission *Toei Animation has announced a Japanase pro-wrestling event based on the anime/manga Kinnikuman (known as MUSCLE in North America). Tickets will go on sale in early April. At last New York's K-1 and DREAM MMA event, Akihiko Tanaka fought Bob Bapp masked as Kinnikuman's Kinniku Mantaro character.
Anime Insider Comes to an End
Wizard Entertainment has confirmed that the publisher has cancelled anime periodical Anime Insider as of issue 67. Launched in 2001 as "Anime Invasion", the magazine became Anime Insider in 2003 before going monthly in 2005. Magazine staff have been laid off. About.com:manga collects noteworthy reactions here
And the Award Goes To...
Yuki Suetsugu's story of a would be model, Chihayafuru has been named the winner of the Manga Taisho Award Anime Vice has the description of other readers
*Best of Pokemon Adventures was named "Favorite Manga Series" by Nickelodeon Magazine's Comics Awards. 17,000 readers submitted votes for the award. A complete list of winners can be seen here.
There's been some tea leaf reading concerning a possible dissolution of manga publisher Aurora Publishing due to book returns. Yaoi Press explains business here Icarus' Simon Joanes comments here Manic About Manga follows up here
*The Consumerist indicates that Borders is scrambling to right itself after being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. With rumors of bankruptcy, Borders closing down its unprofitable CD and DVD sections. *Asiaone digital offers a look at Singapore's anime distributor Odex trying to combat piracy with simulcast delivery of anime
Advent Children News
Amazon is now listing a June 2nd release of CGI movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children on Blu-Ray. Special features include * "Legacy of FINAL FANTASY VII" Featurette * "Reminiscence of FINAL FANTASY VII" Original Story Digest * On the Way to a Smile - Episode: Denzel Animated Film * "Reminiscence of FINAL FANTASY VII Compilation" Story Digest * Exclusive Sneak Peek at FINAL FANTASY XIII * Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete Trailers
*Anime News Network notes that Kyosuke Himuro announced t