Anime Spotlight: Fist of the North Star - The Movie Released by Discotek Media
Fist of the North Star occupies a position in anime akin to how popular media once imagined the "Missing Link" cave man - a hulking, brutish figure of raw power, that never the less represents an ancestor of the modern, refined form. This is the ur-interminable fighting anime/manga; the chest caving, cranium cracking standard bearer for internationally popular Shonen Jump work like Bleach or Naruto; while Dragon Ball was still charmingly joking on classical Chinese literature and Universal monsters, Fist of the North Star was wondering the waste lands, looking for progressively more powerful foes to turn inside out with a punch to a pressure point. You may only know Fist of the North Star by reputation. I find it difficult to believe that anyone who's reading this column is completely ignorant of the Gilgamesh of martial arts anime... Kenshiro, the Mad Max crossed with Bruce Lee action hero chimera with Ursa Major constellation scarred into his chest... the guy who screeches while unleashing a tornado of piston punches. I wouldn't call the word of mouth on this material "good," and if guy melodrama and pornographic violence fits your definition of "terrible," I'm not going to dissuade you from that prejudice. On the other hand, I am also not going to say that Fist of the North Star should be watched because of its significance in the development of anime and manga. I would argue that there is pleasure to be had from this sort of unrestrained spectacle. Uniqueness is purported to be a valued quality in anime. In North America, the appeal of the medium is supposed to be that it offers what isn't found elsewhere. Kenshiro might be one of the most parodied figures in anime, but there is still a primal vitality to seeing his routine done, when it was new, unshackled by the standards of television or localization adaptors. No one is going to confuse it with anything redeeming when watching Bartertown rejects bury villagers up to their neck in sand, before handing a saw to the victim’s compatriot and forcing the shaking extra to cut through his neighbor's neck. However, watching the situation unfold as a lone martial artist walks onto the stage and turns the table on the hulking toughs is ideal mondo brain candy. Fist of the North Star is a prominent entry in the litany of anime that are popular internationally, with America as a notable exception. Unlike say soccer anime Captain Tsubasa, which started with a topical handicap, this was pro-wrestling, staged on a dramatic dusty waste, with gladiators able to punch threw each other, stab a finger deep into the chest of their opponent or cut through limbs with a palm. Fight fans are often accused of having a prurient interest in savagery. I'd certainly debate the assertion, but I'd also say that is there magnetism to a savage beat down and that when Fist of the North Star is on course, that's exactly what it delivers. In the midst of a testosterone rush, one guy screeches, howls or flexes and another donates the blood and guts to paint the wall red. There are plenty of guys from any background who'll get a jolt from that. As such, rather than any deficit on the part of the material being mismatched with an audience, Fist of the North Star never took off in America because it was never correctly positioned for the right people at the right time. Time and technology have not been kind to spectacle anime like Fist of the North Star. Where once anime like it or Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend gave English speaking audiences the impression that anime was crafted to fill the prurient interests of an adult male audience, pornographic violence, pornographic sex and pornographic sexual violence, both the supply and demand have largely dried up for this sort of beer drinker's thrill anime. On the production side of the equation, graphically violent direct to video OVAs and movies have los their place in a business focused on mass market TV shows and narrow cast works that are hyper-tuned to a die-hard anime fan audience. As such, you're more likely to get more Strike Witches - moe anthropomorphization of military planes than an adaptation of a Hideyuki Kikuchi (Vampire Hunter D) novel. When something from that vein of bloody mess anime is produced, it's generally with a North American audience in mind, and generally tied into a familiar intellectual property (Highlander: Search for Vengeance, Batman: Gotham Knight). On the North American side, there isn't the same appetite for experimentation. Especially since graphics hit the fidelity of the PlayStation 2, the trend has been to seek out participatory experiences pulverizing baddies vicariously through games rather than through anime. Anecdotally, I can say that YouTube hasn't help the cause for this brand of anime either. Why spend 90 minutes on a film when the gonzo highlights can be accessed immediately on YouTube? Regardless of whether I correctly identified the audience, there is ample evidence that few new anime have crossed over to teen or adult male audiences. There is no reason why Shigurui: Death Frenzy should not have becomes as well know as Ninja Scroll. Let me explicitly emphasize this. If you enjoy timeless, crazy guy media, Fist of the North Star is a must see. Fist of the North Star is committed to extremes. It opens with voice of god narrator Tarô Ishida (Akira's Colonel Shikishima) expounding on yin and yang opposites "north and south, male and female, light and shadow. Hokuto Shinken and Nanto Seikyo. They cannot conflict. If the opposing forces fight, the Universe will fall into ruin." This leads into the film's super title, Seikimatsu Kyoseishu Densetsu - Legend of the Coming Century's Messiah, before cutting to the antithesis of Fist of the North Star's trademark atmosphere; idyllic shots of misty mountain tops. The scenes of natural beauty transition to flower covered fields, and bubbling streams, pastures, and harmonious communities. The movie offers a good couple of minutes before a title card reveals "In the year 199x, the world was engulfed in flames." With that, the idealized view of a world at peace gives way to images of human bodies bursting into flames as their organs rupture and their eyes fly out of their heads. Sky scrapers fall into each other. Somehow, an ocean liner manages to lodge itself in the upper floors of a particularly towering building. This global nuclear conflagration leaves dusty world of withered vegetation and storm blown ash. A man and woman are seen walking across these wastes. Yuria, the woman in 80's-tastic pastel warmers laments the lack of life and expresses her dreams of seeing green landscapes once again. Kenshiro responds to his companions stoically. Suddenly, a pro-wrestler crossed with linebacker, decked out in purple suit and gold shoulder guards is on the scene along with a cadre of gamma irradiated bullies. These jerks proceed to take Ken's girl and kick sand in his face. Well, actually, the garishly dressed toughs hold Ken up while the guy in purple, Shin perforates Ken's chest with his fingers. Turns out that before the world underwent its nuclear redecoration, Kenshiro became the successor of Hokuto Shinken ("Divine Fist of the North Star") a martial art focused on delivering blows to pressure point to just about any effect in the recipient, from curing blindness to popping like a kernel of popcorn. Once friend Shin on the other hand is a practitioner of the rival Nanto Seiken (The Sacred Fist of the South Star), an art of causing external damage to the body, especially through piecing or slicing attacks. In this new lawless age, Shin decides to toss out the decree that Hokuto Shinken and Nanto Seiken must not fight in favor of notions that the strongest should be able to take what they want and that what he wants is Yuria. After Shin and company leave Kenshiro in a heap, the other practitioners of Hokuto Shinken arrive to judge the fallen. There's the deranged jackal Jagi who decides to toss Ken down a cliff, and then knock down the rock face on top of his adopted brother and scavenge the title of successor to Hokuto Shinken for himself. Raoh on the other hand opts for a bit of iconoclasty, destroying the principles of Hokuto Shinken, including the absolute rule that once a successor has been named, all other practitioners must abandon the art. After smashing representations of the gods, he voices his challenge to the divinities and the world. Capturing the spirit of the age, a group of people who look like Israelites fleeing Egypt, if they had hastily departed an 80's urban center rather than Nile valley slavery, wander the desert. A bunch of axe wielding jesters pop up from under the sand, hack up the travelers, take the victim's food and water, then seeing that the deceased were carrying money, let the paper currency drift into the wind. On another stretch of road, a motor buggy driven by a young boy, with a young girl passenger, zips down a cracked road, a gang of "Z" emblazoned motorcyclists in rapid pursuit. The chase hits a crumbling city where the buggy leaps from a brazen highway into the upper story of a skyscraper, down flights of stairs, down precipitous drops, only to bounce and keep going, before being stopped by a wall. After ransacking the youths' belongings, one of the tough begins stepping on the girl. Rather then being ground to paste, the child's aura is strong enough to summon Kenshiro out his rocky casing. Arriving with building toppling impact, 25 minutes into the film, Kenshiro begins unleashing his righteous fury. Trailers for the movie list out a fight card-like itinerary of the confrontations captured in the movie. This is an abridged segment of a, when produced, ongoing story. To put a positive spin on this, the aim to adapt does seem to have encouraged novel, cleaver approaches to situations, whether its the belief defying buggy chase in the opening or a first person view of Kenshin's disfiguring pumelling of would-be rival Jagi. The flip side of this is that plotting does Fist of the North Star's reputation no favors. Ken's confrontation with Shin is laid out in the early part of the original Fist of the North Star manga and the TV anime adaptation. It is able stand alone as a story. Here, it is reworked to motivate Ken deep into the movie, but then it is subverted in favor of what became Fist of the North Star's defining rivalry - Ken versus Raoh. Except, the movie was produced before that conflict was resolved. As such, the movie had to invent its own resolution that would not undermine the manga's. Disappointment in the movie does not come from the missing players (Ken's Karate-Jesus brother Toki is missing, as is rare counter-balance to Fist of the North Star sexist notions of women as contested property, the warrior Mamiya). The problem is that regardless of familiarity with the source material, it is evident that Fist of the North Star did not fully succeed in re-orienting its story for a 110 minute anime film. In particular, the conflicts that it established as significant were capped with stilted or abrupt conclusions. Not every anime movie is subject to the adaptation problems that Fist of the North Star faces. Yet, few are well scripted for the perimeters of a theatrical film. Apart from usual suspects like Miyazaki and Kon, maybe Oshii, in the attempt to fit the plot into the time frame of the movie, most crack and mutilate the structure like it was the victim of a highwayman from a Theseus myth. Consequently, it is best to consider a movie like Fist of the North Star piecemeal. Why is there a fat guy who seems to be embedded in a wall, waiting for Kenshiro to hatch the fight? It would be nice if there was an intelligently scripted build to that or any confrontation. But if the movie just introduces the situation, starts with the two fighters mouthing off and quickly moves into mutual assault and battery, that works for Fist too. It might not be aligned intelligently, but there's enough gory tumult in the film that, if that sort of spectacle attracts you, the film is worth your time. Those familiar with the movie will be pleased to see it preserved in the sharp video quality presented in the Discotek release. It's also a painful treat to hear the Streamline produced dub brought back. If there is one quibble to register against the DVD package, its that the minor variant ending was not offered on the disk. That's more a curiosity than anything substantial, so its absence is not a huge loss.
Anime Spotlight Rewind: Appleseed (2004) Re-Released by Sentai Filmworks/ADV Films Review first presented June, 2005
Because of the budgets available, the great achievements in anime have generally been theatrical features. Because of the possibilities this allows, the format is also the source of many of the greatest disappointments. It seems as if most anime creator's aren't comfortable with the constraints of a movie. There have been many breathtaking ones, but few have been able to effectively tell a story during the allotted time. The creators of Appleseed built an innovative and eye pleasing 3D cell shaded animation style that will stand out, and doubtlessly be re-used and copied going forward. The accompanying story is passable, at times entertaining, and better than many in high profile anime movies, but lags behind the quality of the animation to the point of detracting from it. Because the story telling doesn't cripple the proceedings, it can be considered that the strength trumps that average anime movie. Appleseed is a must see for animation fans, but from a pure enjoyment standpoint, it is less dazzling. Credited largely to the digital effects artist Fumihiko Sori (Titanic), Appleseed uses a cell shaded, technique that keeps some of the aesthetic of 2d animation, integrated with the depth of 3D. It is a distinctive look whose appeal is more than novelty. Viewers will not want every movie, anime or otherwise to look this way, but it is very forgiving of camera shifts as well as time deceleration and accelerations. The reasons the movie enthralled bullet ballet master John Woo is apparent, it fits perfectly with his trademark style. The animation technique is good for a specific type of action story, that is a bit larger than life in it's depiction of abilities, but it also proves to be great for large scale battles. For a movie with slightly sub-matrix departures from the laws of physics and set in another world of mecha assisted elite forces cyborg cops from Ghost in the Shell creator Masamune Shirow, (the trifecta Dominion Tank Police is also being revived), the animation is the perfect engine for Appleseed. Based on a longer manga, by a creator with a habit for idea over-verbosity, the movie has a chore adapting the source. Following one of the first commando manga-chicks to gain notoriety in North America, the movie has to work in a character who was a war veteran, forcibly recruited for a Utopian society's elite force, who rediscovers lost memories while dealing with factions that are hiding their true agendas. In other words, there's too much story to deal with. The saving grace that helps the movie remain watchable in the face of the complexity may have been that there are relatively few characters vying for screen time. The amazing look of the cell shading is perhaps too amazing. It is immersive enough that in the movie's talkier middle you forget how impressive the look is. By the time you get through the false endings and twists that fall as flat melodrama thanks to characters and concepts that didn't have time to establish themselves, the momentum of the kinetic earlier scenes had been stolen. By the time it reaches the bang up finale of Masasmune Shirow's landmate armors versus a mobile fortress the excitement has been tempered with shifting through the plot convolutions. The movie opens with a bombed out city reminiscent of the future parts of the Terminator movies, established by the slow, freely shifting pans of video game cut scenes (a bit too much camera freedom, missing a little logic). A team of commandos, stalk and are at the same time stalked by a pride of rampaging, red eyed combat robots, backed by tanks. As the tide begins turning harshly against the humans, a small, but muscled, blonde woman fights her way out of a circle of enemies, and begins desperately trying to escape the pursuers. Before the woman meets her fate at the hands of the robots, helicopters drop in Landmates, Appleseed's humanoid mech armors, which destroy or drive off the robots and capture the woman. The engagement provides the first hints of some of the short cuts the movie will be taking in its plotting. That fact that homicidally berserking cyborgs and robot tanks stop to dramatically move in slowly when the hero is surrounded might be explainable, but only with unnecessary and unrewarding logical exercises on the part of the viewer. The woman, Deunan Knute is taken to the Utopian city of Olympus where she is informed that she had been fighting the echoes of a war that had already ended. She is re-introduced to her former lover and partner Briareos, who now has a largely artificial cyborg body (his metal head, with five red eyes, and rabbit ear protrusions is one of Appleseed's trademark features). Briareos doesn't seem to raise much of an argument when Deunan is forcibly recruited for the city's ESWAT policing force.(A phase of the plot that isn't allowed much time for development in the movie). Deunan is soon embroiled in new conflicts, but tangled in their source rather than as a foot soldier/cop. In this, she must contend with players that include Bioroids, artificial humans who manage the city, but are kept in check by accelerated aging that needs to be periodically reversed and the inability to breed, the city's human run military, Gaiai the city's powerful maintenance computer and the Seven Elders, a council of technologically preserved men from before the age's defining wars. Unfolding in a manga it's interesting material. Unfolding in a 105 minute movie, there is too much on the agenda to sell the viewer on the characters' motivations. Deunan is a hard character to connect to in the movie. she's strong, but too confused and angry. She can barely keep up with unfolding events, and with all the conspiracies and counter-agendas, the viewer does not get a good sense of the characters. Consequently, the twists fall as false melodrama. For all the plot complications, the reward is rote flagellation about the sins of humanity along with the rejoinder about giving it another chance. Too much thought makes the plot seem brittle. For all the machinations involved, it seems like one stray bullet could have easily unraveled the plan.
Blood: The Last Vampire Preview
Another early look at Blood: The Last Vampire preview, reacting to the earlier ones, has been sent in, this one from Gavirel I was able to see a screening of Blood over a week ago while visiting Japan. I am a big fan of the original anime short film and had high hopes for the live action adaptation. My first pangs of doubt came at the opening credits when I realized it was basically a Hong Kong film. That said, I was briefly encouraged by the near shot-for-shot remake that made up the opening scene. Unfortunately, shortly after that the film cuts most of its ties with the anime. Yes, it's set in a school on an army base in Japan but that's where most of the similarities end. The whole origin story and the eventual antagonist are entirely new creations, as far as I'm aware, and many of the other details are seemingly invented solely for the screenplay which, frankly, wasn't that good. The typical Hong Kong cinema experience kicked in early on - poor dialogue, poor digital effects, poor overall production value. The film was made mostly in English but, again typically, even the Caucasian characters come off as sounding dubbed. I had to shake my head when the original reviewer refers to the film as being believable and faithful to the source material, as it is not even close to either of those. The acting is sub-par all the way around and the interaction between the military staff and "council" agents is only slightly less believable than the "relationship" between Saya and the general's daughter. Perhaps it's true that the film makers were attempting to make both a horror and an action movie, but they succeed in neither. It wasn't at all frightening and I didn't see any of the "awe inspiring fight sequences" to which the first reviewer refers. Apart from the opening sequence, the only other scene I really enjoyed was the final battle, primarily because it was more exciting than the rest of the film combined and it was nice to see Koyuki on screen. In closing, Blood is NOT a Japanese film. It is NOT like Kill Bill and it is NOT faithful to the source material. Expect nothing more than a lack-luster attempt that actually feels like most video-game movie adaptations.
Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance, the second part of the Rebuild of Evangelion theatrical anime series hit Japanese theatres. The film took in $5.37m (Y512m) - for comparsion, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen opened at $5.88m (Y560.7m) - Evangelion 1.0, You Are (Not) Alone, earned about 280 million yen in its opening weekend. Matt Alt has seen it The movie? Pardon my Japanese, but absolutely fucking awesome. From the very opening, which features a bespectacled schoolgirl in a prototype Evangelion unit pummeling the living shit out of some insane-looking creature (and with a nigh-incomprehensible English running commentary, no less), the action barely lets up for the next hour and forty five minutes. This is "post-anime." It feels like a culmination of every trick, every technique, every mind-bending spin Japanese animators have been perfecting for the last half century. We all know that most anime flicks start with a literal bang, often an atomic-style mushroom cloud. Evangelion 2.0 drops bombs (and worse) on the hapless citizens of Tokyo-III every ten to fifteen minutes, bouncing the characters like pinballs from one potential holocaust to the next. Alternately breathtaking in scope and claustrophobically intimate, high-tech and rustic, epic and personal, one emerges from the experience dazed, confused, and strangely satisfied. Patrick W. Galbraith (Otaku Encyclopedia) reacts First, this is an absolute visual feast. Truly, Studio Khara and directors Tsurumaki Kazuya and Anno Hideaki have done an amazing job. Every individual frame is a work of art, a complete composition full of symbolism, and the dense frames work together to create breathtakingly fluid motion. The action is blistering, the carnage visceral and the scenes of destruction epic and terrifying. Some standout examples are the opening scene where Mari chases and battles an Angel at high speed inside the corridors of her base, the showdown between Unit 01 and 03 and the climatic confrontation with the fourteenth Angel, Zeruel. With these visuals, the music is a real let down. Mistakes of Youth's spoilers and impressions - screening photos Evangelion 2.0 TV spots The new Evangelion theme The third Rebuild of Evangelion film will be named Evangelion Shin Gekijoban: Q quickening
*FUNimation announced EVA 1.0 is in theatres this summer and is what we are screening this evening at 5:30 pm in LP 1. EVA 1.01 will be released on DVD this Fall while re-edited EVA 1.11 will be released on DVD and Blu-ray in Spring 2010. *Kotobukiya's Evangelion 2.0:Makinami Mari Illustrious and Asuka figures - sculptors, you do realize that these characters are 14? More Evangelion Merchandise: Summer Drink Bottle Nerv Tuned Panasonic F8 (with the old logo) Erin Finnegan on Evangelion spinoff manga The Shinji Ikari Raising Project
Ponyo, Miyazaki and Ghibli
Reminder: Hayao Miyazaki's Ponzo hits Japanese DVD on July 3rd and American theaters on Agust 14th. The LA Time confirmed Miyazaki will be appearing at Comic-Con in San Diego in July showing clips from Ponyo. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will also be showing "Spirited Away" on July 17; Pixar's John Lasseter, who has executive produced the American-language version of the last three Miyazaki films, will be interviewing the master animator at the academy on July 28. Ponyo event held at Aquarium Kaiyukan, Osaka
Zac Bertschy at ANN reviews Ponyo Drew McWeeny at HitFlix on the movie Ponyo adaptation thoughts and a survey of international Ponyo trailers Speaking of Ponyo on the international front, Nausicaa.net reports Walt Disney Home Entertainment announced that the Japanese release of "How Ponyo was Born" (DVD and BD) and "Ponyo Special DVD BOX" are postponed until December. Toshio Suzuki commented that the delay is due to rights negotiation on incidental music. Ghibli World reports that a new short ,a href="http://www.ghibli.jp/15diary/005802.html">is being produced for the Ghibli Museam. The douga work of the new short finished on June 25 and the people at the studio play its rush film every week. Ghibli World also offers an update Miyazaki's manga Kaze Tachin Ayumi Suzuki's essay A nightmare of capitalist Japan: Spirited Away At look at the Grave of the Fireflies musical Ghibli gate crest Kiki's Delivery Service - Japanese Trailers T.H.E.M. Anime review on Ghibli ga Ippai Special Short Short CG Totoro Mae
Upcoming in North America
ADV ADV Nation reports ADV Films to distribute Sentai Filmworks' new license acquisition, Satelight (Aquarion, Noein, Basquash) animation studio's 13 episode Hokuto no Ken Raoh Gaiden: Ten no Haoh under the title Legends of the Dark Kings: A Fist of the North Star Story. Legends of the Dark Kings: A Fist of the North Star Story will be released on September 15, 2009 in a complete English-subtitle box set containing all 13 episodes and will retail for $39.98.
Bandai Entertainment The Eureka Seven - good night, sleep tight, young lovers movie will be released by Bandai Entertainment, and shown in theatres as a Fathom Event September 24. FUNimation Via Robert's Anime Corner Store Blog Due out in September Funimation Re-Releases: Reprices & Combo Boxes 009-1 Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Re-Price) Black Lagoon Series 1 & 2 Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-24) (Both Seasons!) Case Closed Season #2 DVD Box Set (Eps #27-52) (Uncut & Unedited) (Viridian Collection) Dragonball Z: Feature #1 Bardock The Father of Goku DVD Dragonball Z: Feature #2 The History of Trunks DVD Ergo Proxy Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Re-Price) Fate/Stay Night Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Re-Price) Ghost Hunt Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-26) Heat Guy J Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set Hell Girl Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Viridian Collection) Jinki Extend Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Re-Release) Jyu-Oh-Sei (Planet of the Beast King) Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Viridian Collection) Magikano Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-12) Negima Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Thin-Pak) (Viridian Collection) (Re-Price) Origin: Spirits of the Past the Movie DVD Red Garden Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set School Rumble Season 1 + OVA Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-26) (Viridian Collection) School Rumble Season 2 Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-26) Shana (Shakugan no Shana) Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Thin-Pak) (Re-Price) Wallflower Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-26) Re-Releases: BluRay Burst Angel (Bakuretsu Tenshi) Complete TV Series + OVA Boxed Set [BluRay] New Releases / New Content Big Windup! Season 1 Part 2 DVD Boxed Set (Thin-Pak) Dragon Ball Season 1 DVD Boxed Set (Uncut) Kaze no Stigma Season #1 Part #2 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #13-24) Nabari no Ou DVD Season 1 Part 1 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-12) One Piece Season 2 Part 3 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #79-91) (Uncut) Sgt Frog (Keroro Gunso) Season 1 Part 1 DVD Boxed Set (Eps #1-12) Sonic X The Egg Moon, Emerl & Homebound Sagas DVD Yu-Gi-Oh GX, Vol #6 DVD FUNimation Entertainment announced that it has acquired home entertainment, broadcast, digital, and merchandise rights to the first season (13 episodes) of the fantasy adventure series “Sands of Destruction” from SEGA of America Inc. “Sands of Destruction” is based on the game of the same name from SEGA. The series is to be launched in tandem with SEGA’s new RPG adventure game, Sands of Destruction™. It will be SEGA’s first anime launched in partnership with Production IG. This fantasy adventure series is directed by Shunsuke Tada and produced by Production IG (Ghost in the Shell). In Japan, the series is known as World Destruction: Sekai Bokumetsu no Rokuni™ and is critically acclaimed. FUNimation Entertainment will release the first season of the series in spring 2010. FUNimation Entertainment announced the cast and crew for the 26 episode supernatural adventure anime series El Cazador De La Bruja. Ellis – Maxey Whitehead Nadie – Trina Nishimura Blue-Eyes (AKA Jody Hayward) – Clarine Harp Douglas Rosenberg – Ian Sinclair Ricardo – Bob Carter Lirio – Monica Rial L.A. – Jamie McGonnigal Dr. Heinz Schneider – Christopher Bevins Additionally, the first release will feature episodic character performances by Jamie Marchi, R Bruce Elliott, Pam Dougherty, Julie Mayfield, Chris Ayres, Mike McFarland, Antimere Robinson, Laura Bailey, Carrie Savage, Linda Young, Eric Vale and more! Line Producer/ADR Director: Christopher Bevins ADR Scripts: Andrew Rye & Christopher Bevins 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. This original series is directed by Koichi Masimo (Hack// Sign, Avenger, Kagaku Ninja-Tai Gatchaman) and produced by Bee Train. FUNimation Entertainment will release the series in two complete season sets beginning later this year. Kino The Astonishing Work of Tezuka Osamu will be released July 28, 2009 for $29.95 The DVD features 1. Tales of the Street Corner / 1962 / 16:9 / 39:04 / English Subtitles 2. Male / 1962 / 4:3 / 03:09 / English Subtitles 3. Memory / 1964 / 4:3 / 05:40 / English Subtitles 4. Mermaid / 1964 / 4:3 / 08:17 / No Dialog 5. The Drop / 1965 / 4:3 / 04:18 / No Dialog 6. Pictures at an Exhibition / 1966 / 16:9 / 32:56 / No dialog 7. The Genesis / 1968 / 4:3 / 04:02 / English Subtitles / B&W 8. Jumping / 1984 / 4:3 / 06:22 / No Dialog 9. Broken Down Film / 1985 / 4:3 / 05:42 / No Dialog / B&W 10. Push / 1987 / 4:3 / 04:16 / English Subtitles 11. Muramasa / 1987 / 16:9 / 08:42 / No Dialog 12. Legend of the Forest / 1987 / 16:9 / 29:25 / No Dialog 13. Self Portrait / 1988 / 0.13 / No Dialog Also includes: Interview with Tezuka / 1986 / 4:3 / 18:19 / English Subtitles Known as the god of manga and the father of anime, Tezuka Osamu (1928 1989) has created hundreds of comics, dozens of films, and even some television series (including such internationally beloved shows as ASTRO BOY and KIMBA THE WHITE LION.) His pioneering, unparalleled career is without rival for its extraordinary range of visual styles. Included in this set are some of Osamu s most legendary works, including Pictures at an Exhibition and Legend of the Forest. The former combines 10 individual short vignettes to create stunning visual riffs on classic fine art. But the 30-minute Legend of the Forest is the animator s masterpiece. An epic of forest faeries, sprites, wizards, and animals defending themselves against greedy industrialists bent on destroying nature, the film stylistically traces the evolution of animation from 19th-century etchings, to Disney and Fleischer cartoons, to contemporary anime. The animation in Legend of the Forest is as ravishing and inventive as anything seen in Disney s Fantasia. Kimstim and Kino are proud to release this astonishingly imaginative collection of Osamu s 13 most innovative pieces, many of which are the master s own personal favorites. Media Blasters The first five episode of the 13 episode Bee Train adaptation of Hiroaki Samura's violent samurai manga Blade of the Immortal will be released on September 29th. Otaku USA A preview the magazine's latest issue Right Stuf ASTRO BOY DVD Mini Set 1, ASTRO BOY DVD Mini Set 2 and KIMBA: THE WHITE LION DVD Mini Set 1 will be released on October 6, 2009. ASTRO BOY DVD MINI SET 1 Street Date: 10/06/2009 Runtime: Approximately 550 minutes, Mono, Black and White Genre: Adventure / Sci Fi / Retro Television Suggested Rating: All Ages Format: DVD (English Audio) Catalog #: RSDVD0715 ISBN: 1-57032-773-4 UPC: 7-42617-0715-2-2 SRP: $49.99 Discs/Set: 5 Case Qty: 16 DVD Features: Contains episodes 1-25 of the original Astro Boy series! Scene access and English-language audio. ASTRO BOY © Tezuka Production Co., Ltd./Mushi Production Co., Ltd. ASTRO BOY DVD MINI SET 2 Street Date: 10/06/2009 Runtime: Approximately 594 minutes, Mono, Black and White Genre: Adventure / Sci Fi / Retro Television Suggested Rating: All Ages Format: DVD (English Audio) Catalog #: RSDVD0727 ISBN: 1-57032-770-X UPC: 7-42617-0727-2-7 SRP: $49.99 Discs/Set: 5 DVD Features: Contains episodes 26-52 of the original Astro Boy series! Scene access and English-language audio. ASTRO BOY © Tezuka Production Co., Ltd./Mushi Production Co., Ltd. KIMBA: THE WHITE LION DVD MINI SET 1 Street Date: 10/06/2009 Runtime: Approximately 550 minutes, Mono, Color Genre: Adventure / Retro Television Suggested Rating: All Ages Format: DVD (English Audio) Catalog #: RSDVD0716 ISBN: 1-57032-774-2 UPC: 7-42617-0716-2-1 SRP: $49.99 Discs/Set: 5 DVD Features: Scene access and English-language audio. KIMBA © Tezuka Production Co., Ltd./Mushi Production Co., Ltd. Anime producer and distributor Right Stuf, Inc. and its Nozomi Entertainment division kicked off Anime Expo 2009 by making several announcements during its July 2nd panel. Right Stuf President and C.E.O. Shawne Kleckner revealed the acquisitions of the anime adaptations of JUNJO ROMANTICA and ANTIQUE BAKERY, plans for the release of the third season and OVA of the ARIA series, and additional details about the future releases for several previously announced projects including RENTAL MAGICA and the fourth season of MARIA WATCHES OVER US. JUNJO ROMANTICA Right Stuf, Nozomi Entertainment and Kadokawa Pictures USA announced the license for the first and second seasons of JUNJO ROMANTICA, as well as plans to release the series on DVD in two “season box sets” – with Japanese audio and English-language subtitles – during 2010. The romantic comedy is a 24-episode anime adaptation of Shungiku Nakamura’s ongoing boys’ love manga and features direction by Chiaki Kon (When They Cry - Higurashi, Nodame Cantabile: Paris) and animation by Studio DEEN (Gravitation, Kyo Kara Maoh!). The Junjo Romantica manga is published in North America by TOKYOPOP. ANTIQUE (a.k.a ANTIQUE BAKERY) Right Stuf and Nozomi announced its license for the anime adaptation of ANTIQUE BAKERY, also known as “Seiyo Kotto Yogashi Ten -Antique - ” or simply “Antique.” The 12-episode series is currently scheduled for release in 2010, as a single DVD box set with Japanese audio and English-language subtitles. Based on the manga by Fumi Yoshinaga, the series aired as part of Fuji TV’s popular noitaminA animation block – home to series including Honey and Clover, Paradise Kiss, Moyashimon (Tales of Agriculture) and Nodame Cantabile. It features animation by Nippon Animation (The Wallflower, Fantastic Children, Library War) and Shirogumi, Inc. (Moyashimon) and opening and closing music by the band Chemistry. The original manga received the Kodansha Manga Award for shoujo manga in 2002 and also served as the inspiration for a live-action Japanese television drama and a recent live-action Korean film adaptation that drew approximately 1 million moviegoers during the first 15 days of its release in 2008. The Antique Bakery manga is published in North America by Digital Manga Publishing and was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2007. ARIA The ORIGINATION + The OVA ~ARIETTA~ ARIA Lithographs Kleckner also confirmed Right Stuf and Nozomi’s license for ARIA The ORIGINATION. This third and final season of the ARIA anime series will be released in a DVD box set, along with The OVA ~ARIETTA~, in 2010. For the 2009 holiday season, the anime publisher also has plans to release lithographs featuring artwork from ARIA The ANIMATION and ARIA The NATURAL. Each limited-edition and numbered print will be priced at $49.99 and include a certificate of authenticity. The release schedule for the prints will be determined by a “fan vote” that is scheduled to take place in July 2009. Additional Release Dates and Info for RENTAL MAGICA – Part 1, MARIA WATCHES OVER US and More Finally, Kleckner revealed release dates and additional details for several ongoing and upcoming series: - The Irresponsible Captain Tylor OVA Series Remastered DVD Collection is scheduled for July 28, 2009, and the value-priced His and Her Circumstances (Kare Kano) DVD Collection is scheduled for August 25, 2009. A trio of releases helmed by legendary anime creator Osamu Tezuka – Astro Boy DVD Mini Set 1, Astro Boy DVD Mini Set 2, and Kimba: The White Lion DVD Mini Set 1 – will be available on October 6, 2009. And a value-priced DVD set featuring the Boogiepop Phantom animated TV series and its live-action prequel film Boogiepop and Others will arrive just in time for Halloween on October 27, 2009. - RENTAL MAGICA DVD Collection 1, the first of two planned box sets for the 24-episode series, is scheduled for November 2009. As previously announced, the set will offer fans the option of viewing the show in both “broadcast order,” as it aired on Japanese TV (and appeared on the Japanese DVD release), or “chronological order,” according to the timeline presented in the novels that served as the anime series’ inspiration. Additionally, each box set will include a book that features well over 100 pages of background information about the series and its mythology. - The MARIA WATCHES OVER US (Maria-sama ga Miteru) – Season 4 DVD Collection is currently scheduled for 2010. - And in addition to producing shirts and apparel with art from licensed properties, Nozomi has plans to continue its line of original designs (Sounds of the Samurai, Ninja Crossing and Crane Inspiration). Sony The re-release of the 2003 Astro boy Anime has moved from August 18 to September 15th Viz Several artist documentaries will be coming from Viz's New People label, tied to the San Francisco cultural center Traveling with Yoshitomo Nara - NEW PEOPLE Artist Series Vol. 1 on September 15 This film is about the journey that the artist Yoshitomo Nara took along with Hideki Toyoshima and graf AtoZ team, and the others who contributed to the creation of his exhibit AtoZ in Nara's hometown of Hirosaki, Japan. This personal documentary allows one to get a glimpse of the artist's nature, creation process, where Nara came from and where he stands now, plus valuable images of the never-to-be-seen-again fictitious town AtoZ and allows one to relive it once again. Yayoi Kusama: I Love ME - NEW PEOPLE Artist Series Vol. 2 on September 22 As the second volume of the New People Artist Series, this documentary features the avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama, a polka dot loving artist recognized throughout the international art world. This film captures Kusama's creative process as she diligently works to complete her new series of 50 large monochrome drawings. As her work comes to life, one can witness the essence of her art as it wells up in the conflict between life, death, and love; sometimes quietly and sometimes just the opposite. Her firm self-confidence and dignified spirit combined with a year and a half worth of invaluable footage allows viewers to enter Kusama's world with never a dull moment. 10/20 Bleach volume 21 10/27 Death Note Re-Light #2: L's Successors Naruto Shippuden volume 2 Pokemon: Diamond and Pearl Battle Dimension Box 3 VIZ Media announced debut later this month of the first two prose titles from its new Haikasoru imprint. ALL YOU NEED IS KILL and THE LORD OF THE SANDS OF TIME will both be released nationwide on July 21st. ALL YOU NEED IS KILL by Hiroshi Sakurazaka Cover illustration by Yoshitoshi Abe Price: $13.99 U.S. / CAN $16.00 When the alien Gitai invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor called a Jacket and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On his 158th iteration, he finally sees something different, something out of place—a female soldier known as the Full Metal Bitch. Is she the key to Keiji’s escape or his final death? The Lord of the Sands of Time by Issui Ogawa Cover illustration by Bukichi Nadeara Price: $13.99 U.S. / CAN $16.00 Sixty-two years after human life on earth was annihilated by rampaging aliens, the enigmatic cyborg Messenger O is sent back in time with the mission to unite the humanity of past eras—during World War II and in ancient Japan, even back at the dawn of humanity—in order to defeat the alien invasion before it begins. But amidst a future shredded by war, love also waits for O. Will O save humanity only to doom himself? THE LORD OF THE SANDS OF TIME was nominated for the prestigious Seiun Award, the leading award for Japanese science fiction, the winners of which are selected each year by members of the Japanese National Science Fiction Convention. VIZ Media under its VIZ Signature imprint, OISHINBO: FISH, SUSHI AND SASHIMI is rated ‘T’ for Teens and will become available on July 21st with an MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $15.00 CAN. OISHINBO (or "The Gourmet") depicts the culinary journey of journalist Shiro Yamaoka, who is tasked by fictional newspaper Tozai News to create the ultimate menu. Previous OISHINBO editions have focused on other popular Japanese cuisine items such as ramen, gyoza, and sake. CHILDREN OF THE SEA is the first title to be published under IKKI from VIZ Media, a sub-imprint of the VIZ Signature imprint. In addition to offering the print version of Volume 1 (releasing on July 21st), VIZ Media and IKKI magazine in Japan have collaborated on an online destination to present free chapters of some of IKKI Magazine's most-loved stories to English readers – beginning with CHILDREN OF THE SEA. The website also features an interview with the creator. If you would like to check out a few chapters of the manga, please visit here Children of the Sea KAIJU NO KODOMO © Daisuke IGARASHI / Shogakukan Inc. Tokyopop Rocket Bomber notes a complete set of Fruits Basket will be released for $149.99
Reuters reports that the Steven Spielberg and Will Smith remake of Old Boy is moving forward despite the legal battle between the Japanese publishers of the original manga and the Korean producers of Park Chan-Wook's 2003 cult hit. Futabasha, publisher of the manga by Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya, has filed a case against Show East in Seoul, alleging the Korean company never had the right to negotiate a remake. Show East and Big Egg, who produced the Korean film are now out of business, but South Korean sales company Cineclick Asia, which represented Show East's "Oldboy" in international territories, actually negotiated the remake deal with Universal. From a Futabasha press release As a separate matter, Futabasha, along with Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, the original author and illustrator of the manga work, fully support plans for an upcoming film adaptation of the original “Old Boy” material currently planned by Steven Spielberg and Will Smith in conjunction with Dreamworks Studio. “We are very excited about this latest “Old Boy” project,” said Futabasha Board Member Kenji Honda. “Currently, the option rights are held by Universal Pictures. The legal action should not affect Universal's rights or the Dreamworks project in any way. The suit was commenced to protect the rights of Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, as well as to enforce and protect the rights of Futabasha under the contract with Show East.”
*The rumored death of the Hollywood live action Akira might be exaggerated. That assertion might also be an exaggeration. MTV Splashpage quotes rumored cast member Joseph Gordon-Levitt as saying “you never know” when asked about the project's fate. *Anime News Network reports Joshua Long, the production supervisor of 20th Century Fox's proposed live-action Cowboy Bebop film, has revealed on Thursday that live-action film projects based on the Kakurenbo supernatural horror anime and a Kazuo Koike work are being pursued. Long revealed the projects at the Anime Expo convention's keynote speech on "Making Anime and Manga into Hollywood Features."
Upcoming in Japan
Previews Bakemonogatari Baton Eden of the East (movie) Manglobe's (Samurai Champloo, Ergo Proxy) Sacred Blacksmith Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike (official English language profile) Anime A-1 Pictures and Satelight will be adapting Hiro Mashima’s fantasy adventure Fairy Tail into an anime series. The manga is released in North America by Del Rey. A unique version of Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone will air on Japanese TV this week Following November's Macross Frontier the Movie: The False Songstress, hich will present a compillation of the story chronicled in the Macross F TV series, a second, newly announced Macross F will tell an original story. The second season of risque fantasy adventure Queen's Blade is now scheduled to hit Japanese TV in October A new xxxHoLiC OVA will be packaged with a limited edition of volume 16 of the manga Fresh Precure! Big Secret of the Toy Kingdom will hit Japanese theatres October 31st. A forth Gag Manga Biyori anime adaptation is the works. Manga Ai Yazawa's Nana has gone on hiatus due to illness Bokurano, the painful approach to sci-fi adventure tropes by Shadow Star's Mohiro Kitoh has come to an end. A one-shot spin-off Yet Another Bokurano will be in the next issue of Japan's Ikki. The manga will be running in Viz's English, only edition of the magazine. Masato Natsumoto's Mobile Suit Gundam Battlefield Record U.C. 0081: Tears of the Seas and Skies and Tsukasa Kotobuki'sMobile Suit Gundam: Day after Tomorrow: From Kai Shiden's Memories have launched in the latest issue of Gundam Ace Macross Ace has also launched a new Macross F manga. Live Action Ultraman movie Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends The Movie (Daikaiju Batoru Urutora Ginga Densetsu) is Japanese theatre bound Kamen Rider Double (W) will premiere in September
A new (non-animated) IRrelevant Astromony short has been posted. Make sure to check out the archives if you've missed movies dedicated to NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.
*Banndai Visual Co., Ltd. has teamed up with Lantis Co., Ltd., a music production company concentrating on anime and game songs to announce that they are working on a new project to deliver downloadable J-pop and anime songs on iTunes Store. This service is scheduled to start this summer on iTunes Store and the first major songs to be available include Meikyu no Prisoner, VOYAGER and No Border by JAM Project. Meikyu no Prisoner is an opening song for the renowned anime “Super Robot Wars: Original Generation—The Animation” that was released in North America in 2007. A MySpace page at www.myspace.com/J_anisong will introduce the service. *Kadokawa has begun making English subtitled Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya available on YouTube This includes new episode, not released on DVD in North America, "The Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody." *FUNimation has resumed streaming Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood The new FUNimational video portal introduces many new backend features, including greater bandwidth, and we are continuing to develop and implement new features and functionality. *Via ANN Kunio Kato's Oscar-winning short, La Maison en Petits Cubes ("Tsumiki no Ie" or House of Blocks) is on CrunchyRoll Childhood friend/yuri anime Aoi Hana Other noteworthy animation includes Studio Fantasia's Glass Maiden Dark Side Cat Flash Greathunt Japan Tourism Anime Channel new Tai Seng Entertainment martial arts content include The Academy (Episodes 17-32) The Return Of The Condor Heroes (Episodes 26-50) Kung Fu Emperor The Invincible Killer The Young Bruce Lee *Anime Network formally launched its new online player at www.theanimenetwork.com. The site features over 40 hours of free content as well as a premium package that gives users unlimited access to more than 300 hours of anime, live action films, and J-rock videos. Content refreshed weekly includes new anime series such as Clannad and Princess Resurrection, as well as ADV catalog titles like Azumanga Daioh and Elfen Lied. High Def format content in a 720p H.264 encode includes Applseed and Promised In Our Early Days. HD content is just one of the benefits of Premium Membership with Anime Network Online, which costs just $6.95 per month. Three month packages are available for just $18.95, and an annual subscription costs just $69.95. *Joost has announced a change to its leadership and model. It will focus on providing white label online video platforms for media companies, including cable and satellite providers, broadcasters and video aggregators. This technology and service offering will support content owners’ efforts to build comprehensive branded environments online. As a part of this new direction, Joost will reorganize and restructure its business. A core team in New York and London will work on providing these solutions, as well as operating and supporting Joost.com and its associated video applications. Joost also will wind down operations in its Leiden development center. Matt Zelesko, currently SVP of Engineering at Joost, will take over as CEO while continuing to lead the engineering organization. Stacey Seltzer, currently SVP of international business development and content acquisition at Joost, will run the business operations. Mike Volpi has stepped down as CEO of Joost but will remain actively involved as Chairman of the Board. Joost plans to make its white label video platform commercially available to media companies around the world. This offering will provide a solution for companies looking to build a branded experience for their content on their own site as well as other sites and platforms in their distribution networks. *The Power Rangers Movie is on Hulu *On Yomiuri Shimbun, Publishers hope free manga online will boost print sales Morning 2 editor in chief Eijiro Shimada said: "We have three more hit manga that were published in book format and sold nearly 100,000 copies per volume each. When Morning 2 was launched three years ago, the situation already was that manga could be exposed to a lot of readers through the Net without spending a fortune for advertising or circulating a magazine in great numbers."
Cool Figures (and Merch) News
Kotobukiya’s second 2009 San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive is X-FORCE: WOLVERINE FINE ART BUST. Limited to only 500 pieces and only available at Kotobukiya’s booth #2601, this bust’s base features an in