Resource Spotlight: The Otaku Encyclopedia: An Insider's Guide to the Subculture of Cool Japan By Patrick W. Galbraith Released by Kodansha International
Otaku: Nerd; geek or fanboy. A hardcore or cult fan. Originates from a polite second-person pronoun meaning "your home" in Japanese, allowing the speaker to refer to the listener indirectly. Since the 1980s it's been used, much like the term "geek" in the US to refer to people who are really into anime, manga, video games or technology... As a proponent of informed discourse, I'd love to see the Otaku Encyclopedia become widely read among anime and manga fans. There's a discernable gap in the global subculture’s understanding of itself. While I'm inclined to believe that most English speaking members who apply the term "otaku" to themselves and other North American adherents are not entirely ignorant of how its been weighed, I am skeptical of how many are really, fully aware of its history and implications. When a pre-North American anime boom fan expresses discomfort with it being used for self identification or as a badge of honor, often those misgivings are met with confusion by more relatively recently committed enthusiasts. The Otaku Encyclopedia is the right book to flesh out an understanding of the culture around anime/manga enthusiasm. Yes, is does offer trivia, such as the original name of Ghost in the Shell and a brief profile of "the world's strong otaku." There are new bits of lingo to adopt (it's not unknown, but I don't think kimokawii - gross, but cute, like Ponyo, is part of the common North American parlance). Though it certainly showcases fan excess, the book is not gawking, and not an exercise in Look at This F'ing Moe Fanatic. While there is a cute mascot girl illustrated in the garb of various concepts throughout the book, the text is more given to sobriety than enthusiasm (without being devoid of the latter). Galbraith's allegiances are on the side of the otaku. After all, this is a guy whose author photograph shows him in Super Saiyan Goku cosplay. However, that does not prompt him to simply celebrate the subculture. Instead, he chronicles the landmarks and behavior of these diehard subjects. Case in point, "Itasha: painful car. A car decorated with designs from anime, manga or games, usually of sexy female characters." Otaku Encyclopedia addresses the etymology of the word, but also delves into internationally recognized pop culture high/low artist Takashi Murakami's assessment that "itasha is the desire to be seen and the joy of being embarrassed. It's like S/M play, with heavy emphasis on the M component." These are concepts and bits of history that build a more nuanced understanding of pop media and its devotees - how SEGA became a Japanese company, the creative and corporate challenges that set the stage for Gainax to make robot maid anime in the mid part of this decade, the names of some of the academics studying the field, events that made "otaku" a dirty word. While no book of this sort could possibly be considered complete, I did feel the absence of a few details. For example, there is an entry on the high profile World Cosplay Summit competition, but no space devoted to its tellingly contentious relationship with American organizations. Eiji Otsuka, the media critic, scholar and manga writer (MPD Psycho) might have made for a interesting, warranted spot, especially given his high profile reactions to momentous events in otaku history. A shoujo fan might be disappointed that more space is devoted to the "Nice Boat" meme than the trail blazing Niyuuyonnen Gumi. Still, the Otaku Encyclopedia is full of significant stories that aren't well known or aren't well articulated, even among informed fans. For example. there was a recent twitter conversation on the dicey history of packaging panties in with anime. Someone mentioned that FUNimation recently put the embarrassing fan trophy in the box for the title Shuffle. It was then pointed out that ADV had already done the deed with Najica Blitz Tactics. What Otaku Encyclopedia relates is that way back in 1991 , Central Park Media put out a risqué, but not particularly pornographic title called Minna Agechau. When Sony put out the set (even if you follow the anime industry, bet you didn't know that there was a relationship between CPM and Sony), it was packed with pink paper panties. The LA Times and Fox News noticed and piled on the moral outrage, and thus of the once profitable engine of hentai labels for anime kick fired on its startup. If there's one thing that otaku have a mania for it's categorization... sorting collections, trying to suss out the purpose of Comic Con and whether Twilight belongs, debating genre distinctions. As such, allow me to indulge in some.
Having written about anime online for a bit over a decade, I'm given to sorting the types and perspectives of anime commentary. To step into another field for a moment for the sake of analogy... most manga is produced for weekly anthologies. Even collected into graphic novels it retains the quality of disposable entertainment. When it's good, it's smart, involving entertainment, but it is still not something that you need to care about a couple of years down the line. Then, there's what I call "bookshelf manga;" Osamu Tezuka's Adolf or Phoenix, Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaa, Fumiyo Kono's Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms; works that you want on your bookshelf, that you'd actually care to have a decade or two latter. Similarly, there's disposable anime/manga commentary. Even though it's my gig and even though I'll look up a review from years back, I'd argue that the vast majority of online commentary is largely disposable. As smart as some of it might be, even the best tends to be supposition from intelligent, half informed writers. Print is still the platform that supports the "bookshelf" anime and manga commentators, whether they are expert enthusiasts (I wish there more collections of the columns from periodicals like Viz's Pulp), forerunners (Frederik Schodt, Fred Patten) or academics. Galbraith proves to be a writer of "bookshelf" commentary - material that's worth the money spent for its value above and beyond what is being offered for free online. He is a journalist (Metropolis, Otaku USA) and Ph.D candidate researching otaku at top tier University of Tokyo. His introduction points to why there is an engaging story to be read in the history of "otaku". He talks about being disowned for being an otaku by his Japanese "host mother" in 2004; returning to the US in 2005; going back to Japan in 2006, and finding the country in the throes of Cool Japan. While the word otaku originated as insider jargon, control of its fluctuating connotations was seized from the crowd who might apply it to themselves. "Fanboy" could be sited as a close English language equivalent to otaku. In the case of English language fandom, the significance of monikers is generally shaded by the fans themselves or by those with overlapping interests. At its worse, "fanboy" connotes an overzealous fan with obsession, bad taste and/or misaligned priorities. While other parts a fandom or its critics might devise ugly epithets, the worst association that the general public might pin to "fanboy" is along the lines of the Simpsons' Comic Book Shop Guy. Conversely, in the case of "otaku," the significant shifts in connotations have come from Japanese mass media. In January of 1989, a group of sci-fi zealots who had created their own anime studio called Gainax released the second volume of Aim for the Top! Gunbuster, a mecha parody of tennis anime/manga Aim for the Ace! that would go on to establish the character depth and epic scale that would carry into the anime that would win the studio international fame - Neon Genesis Evangelion. In that volume's cutesy super deformed bonus feature an anime fan character references a fictional mecha anime, and her senior responds by calling her an otaku. The Otaku Encyclopedia notes that "otaku" was used in anime as far back as 1982's Super Dimension Fortress Macross (the first third of Robotech), but the Gunbuster mention is significant for several reasons: because it was from the otaku-phenomenon-shaping folks at Gainax, and because 1989 was a painfully significant year in how otaku have been perceived in Japan. In June 1989, Tsutomu Miyazaki was arrested for grotesque crimes concerning the murder of four young girls. The media identified Miyazaki as an otaku, showcased his massive collection of thousands of pieces of media, which included anime, porn and horror, some of which was quite disturbing material, and labeled the sight the "typical otaku room." The Otaku Encyclopedia notes "being in Otaku in the 1990's meant being associated with Miyazaki, effectively killing all high-profile activity in the community." The late 90's and early 00's began to shape a different story. Evangelion and the rise of Akihabara established a commercial enterprise in selling to the otaku. Pokemon fueled theories of Soft Power and Cool Japan - commercial and political power through intellectual property. Densha Otoko (Train Man), the supposedly true story of an otaku who protected a woman from being harassed on a train, then went to online mega-forum 2ch for advice on how to pursue a relationship, recast the otaku as a frog prince who just needed coaxing to leave their isolated shell and become productive members of society. The concept would become a marketing paradigm. Rather than just the anime/manga/video game fan with shelves of figures, there was a "hiking otaku" that you could sell gear to or a "fashion otaku" that you could sell special interest magazines to. Of course the story would not end on this high note. Hikikomori (acutely socially avoidant shut-ins), NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training) and parasite singles (people in their twenties or later, living at home with parents) would capture the attention of the media and reflect badly on otaku. Taro Aso, reputedly a fan of the manga Rosen Maiden - concerning a hikikomori's adventures with living dolls, would become prime minister, partially on a platform of foreign policy and economic gains through soft power and Cool Japan. He'd later be criticized for his ability to read kanji - blamed on his habbit of reading too much manga before his Liberal Democratic Party was voted out of power in a landslide due to the record unemployment. Because the book is formatted as an "encyclopedia," Galbraith does not map out a linear channel for observing the evolution of "otaku." However, entry by entry, his hyper informed perspective and clear writing establishes that story. He's laying out the subculture's CV in a manner that's punchy without being invasive or tongue in cheek. It's not that Galbraith is unbiased, a different writer would be inclined to include different mentions and emphases, but not only does he convey expertise, he plays it straight. Especially compared to the incessantly opinionated Anime Encyclopedia or specifically review based Manga: The Complete Guide, when obvious admiration sneaks into Otaku Encyclopedia's entry about figurine designer Bome ("glorious, eye-popping 3D), it's a noticeable breach in tone. I'm guessing that Galbraith is irreverent. There is an "Otaku Essentials" appendix to the book. In the anime section, along with Neon Genesis Evangelion, Spirited Away, Grave of the Fireflies, Ninja Scroll and the rest of the recognizable, highly praised names, there's La Blue Girl - tentacle porn from Urotsukidoji creator Toshio Maeda – also on the essential manga list Ebichu Minds the House - Gainax's adaptation of Risa Ito's often sexual manga about a 28 year old woman's various frustrations, told from the perspective of her pet hamster - not commercially available in North America Sexy Commando Gaiden:That's Amazing Masaru - Akitaro Daichi (Fruits Basket, Kodacha, Jubei-chan) adaptation of Kyosuke Usuta's absurd gag manga about school club dedicated to Sexy Commando martial arts - again, not commercially available in North America Maybe this attitude can be seen in the book's accoutrements. In addition to the text entries, Otaku Encyclopedia features a dozen interviews with the likes of Gainax co-founder Toshio Okada, doujinshi mega-event Comiket organizer Koichi Ichikawa, artist Takashi Murakami and noted gamer Haruna Anno. Galbraith's tone is consistent with that of the entries. The interviews vary in value along predictable lines. Scholars, thinkers and artists make provocative statements. Okada draws paths of evolution between Japan's student protest movements of the 60's and 70's and a desire for animators to impart meaningful stories to young audiences, and between a lack of parental filtering of entertainment content and the rise of otaku culture. Conversely idols, cosplayers or "maid" personalities tend to stay in character and eschew being pinned down to a meaningful definition or statement (apart maybe from an admission, such as idol Sakuragawa Himeko saying that she's never really done a live performance on the streets of Akihabara). The personality turns up in Otaku Encyclopedia's graphical adornment. That moe girl questioning "oniichan, what does 'moe' mean?" on the cover, appears dressed up for the concepts within. Cheki - instant photographs of Galbraith with the attendants at various theme cafes similarly decorate the interior. Being an otaku is not entirely an act of masochism. I'm not going to disagree with the old school fans who say that calling yourself an "otaku" is not a great idea. The term certainly has a marred history. Yet, that does not halt the Otaku Encyclopedia from presenting an enjoyably colorful map of the subculture.
Manga Spotlight: Gantz Volume 6 by Hiroya Oku Works. Released by Dark Horse Manga
For better or worse, Gantz apparently comes into its own in volume 6, with its pop culture refracted focus set squarely on sex and violence. This outing opens with Gantz's teen hero losing his virginity to a Laura Croft doppelganger (not an exaggeration of the woman's appearance) in the hallway before a mission debriefing. Then, the bug hunt alien stage in question turns out to be a showdown with stone kaiju Daimajin (stretching the point this time, the deity in question is Buddhist rather than Shinto). While the manga still concerns brutalization by wish fulfillment, the worm has turned in favor of our protagonist. Volume one opened with its Holden Caulfield-esque hero mentally urinating on the commuters waiting with him on a subway platform. A chance meeting with a childhood friend ends with the young misanthrope guilted onto the track in an ill advised attempt to rescue an inebriated vagrant. From his death by oncoming express train, he's carbon copied and reconstituted in a room with a number of fellow recently deceased. The understandably bewildered teen is given guns, what Warren Ellis would call a perv suit, the mission to terminate some ugly looking "aliens" and the opportunity to prove that he is in fact smarter than the average bear. Instead, his power fantasy metastasizes, as he scrapes by, generally panicking or outsmarting himself rather than proving that he's more effective than the bullies, psychopaths, and victims who get mushed up by the alien targets. Gantz is still acerbic throughout its sixth volume. It offers its subjects little margin of error, with those who are stupid or act stupidly getting croaked in graphically nasty ways. What's changed is that the hero is now getting his way. His teenage hormonal drives are satisfied by a hot young woman who latches onto him moments after the pair meet. His ego is satisfied when he does succeed in becoming a brave, effective battle commander. Gantz previously oscillated between "mature" - as in capturing a thoughtful, adult perspective - and "mature" - as in keep it away from the youngsters. If volume six is in fact a significant point in the trajectory, Hiroya Oku has committed to the latter. In early volumes, part of what was interesting about Gantz was that its hero was the guy who showed an abundance of potential as a kid, who never realized that promise - who's most developed talent is making himself unhappy. With the guy now living up to his potential and getting what he wants, Oku has steered Gantz away from servers as a critique of its genre. The lead achieves his aims in this volume, but he has not grown up. If anything, the manga is rewarding adolescent behavior. Croft-san falls for the lead when she seems him crying. She accepts his childishly awkward, proposal for sex. "If there's something worrying you, you can tell me... Just think of me as your trusted older sister." "Let me... do it." "Huh? WHAT?" "You know...have sex with me." She later finds his homophobia cute when he becomes uncomfortable with joking insinuation that he's gay. The combat effectiveness follows a similar pattern of power through juvenile behavior. The fight between copied dead people and aliens has always adhered to a game metaphor. There's mission objective and points awarded. The equipment and weapons are decidedly game like. Despite the consequences, the hero now seems to be winning because he's figured out the game and used that familiarity to let loose. Where I was once intrigued by Gantz' seeming indictment of the stories and characters that it was working with, I'm now a bit uncomfortable with its implications. Yet, while my estimation of Gantz might be falling, I am still a sucker for reading a manga tear things up, and Gantz will continue to be a series that I anticipate volume to volume. Oku has smeared his faced with the blood of the deceased, short time cast members and launched into a ramming speed charge towards grisly glory. The Otaku Encyclopedia talks about kichiku-kei, "extremely brutal or sexually violent" works, considered to have been born from the pen of dirty uncle of manga Go Nagai. Oku seems set on trumping prior works from this kichiku-kei tradition. The momentum of Gantz is carrying it towards producing the biggest, nastiest action manga spectacle possible. Gantz did not entirely drop its intelligence. The resurrected returnees that make it back to the bare apartment that serves as a waiting room between the often fatal alien hunting sorties include protagonist Kei Kurono, along with peers Masaru Kato, a big, buff, handsome and noble guy who at least initially possessed the moral certainty that Kurono lacked, and Kei Kishimoto, a busty girl who previously shacked up with Kurono out of necessity. "When I saw you crying... my heart skipped a beat." With that, Kurono has an in with Sakuraoka Sei, the Tomb Raider body double. This is not a hidden moment of lust and Kishimoto finds them in the act. With Kishimoto stomping off, it's not exactly Lev Grossman's The Magicians with its character dynamic, but it is provocative. Kurono's about to go into a desperate battle. Not that Kishimoto is a willful or confident character, but survival dictates that they should work together. You have to wonder if Kurono's emotional recklessness introduced a fatal flaw into bond between the few combatants who actually might have cared about each other. Also in those opening pages, Kato debates a Buddhist priest who interprets the predicaments as a pre-eternal destination purgatory. It's not a brilliant discourse, but it is understandable and interesting to see people in this extreme situation question their problems in this way. At least for his males, Oku has a knack for openings his characters' heads and offering a view of how they react to stimuli. Caged in demonstrably desperate situations, the subjects question their decisions, arrive at optimal solutions, maybe trade morality for survival and in some cases, embrace folly. You might rage for them or rage at them, but at least it's involving. Provocativeness aside, this is primarily an action volume of an action manga. It's also the "not-victims" go around in the horror grinder. With two missions under their belts, the heroes are now veterans of these sadistic bug hunts and have some sense of how to handle the situation. Previous missions teamed the above mentioned heroes with corrupt politicians, school teachers, grannies, ineffectual yakuza toughs and ineffectual biker gang toughs. The latest group is a bit more business-ready. In addition to the teen trio, a dog who improbably survived the prior missions, a Sadako-like loner who hovered in the background except for a nicely played save in the last outing, Ms faux-Croft and the Buddhist agitator, there's few everymen who for the most part at least adapt to the situation intelligently, a guy who's either military or more likely someone who died playing military otaku, a sniper and a number of species of martial artists, including a burly karateka in his gi (how all these young, healthy people might have died on this night is a bit of a conceit), a presumably MMA grappler dressed like he's been out pimpin' and a wild haired kicker (I can't identify the particular niche of this last one). The black Gantz sphere instructs the would-be hunters to "finish off" the "Berserker Alien" and the "Ill Tempered Alien" - a pair of Buddhist statues in the throes of divine rage. And, after Kuruno's hallway tryst and Kato's metaphysical debate, he ad hoc crew of the kindof-undead gather their gear (the smart ones at least) and are tossed onto the gates of a shrine where they're soon at battle with a pair of monumental statues. Given the disorganized slaughter of the previous fights and the argumentativeness of the crowd, it's amazing, but not entirely unbelievable, that Kurono is able to marshal these inglorious basterds for a bit of angry statue pulverization. Oku employs a process of digitally inking 3D models in the manga. Something similar is seen in the ninja death match manga Basilisk. It's not a great strategy for creating talking scenes, with characters seeming to speak directly at the reader. It is useful for adding an extra impression of dimension to the depiction busty of young women. Oku actually has a fair amount of self control when it comes to not twisting how he frames panels to sexualize his female characters - he addresses that directly in between battle circumstances and pin-up illustrations for chapter title pages, featuring characters in suggestive poses divorced from the tone or events of the internal material. The technique also pays dividends in establishing the scale and physicality of the manga's action set pieces. Manga is a medium capable of capturing almost anything an artist can visualize. That represents a challenge, and in Oku's case, the dare becomes gleefully embracing the "mature" tag and piling on the biggest, bloodiest, weirdest cataclysm possible. He's not the first manga artist to play with the idea that a person or being with super powers could really mess up an opponent, but with those 3D models, he gives himself a visceral advantage in the rend, splat and boom department. While earlier volumes largely featured extravagantly unnerving beasties doing their worst, volume six commences with human beings in super suits (hi, G.I Joe: Rise of Cobra) and sci-fi weaponry giving as good as they get. I'm no longer convinced that this is going anywhere meaningful, but that doesn't slow Gantz's wild ride to hell.
Upcoming in North America
New Imagi Astro Boy Clip
*Deb Aoki's Fall Manga Preview *Emmanuelle Chriqui is Swan Jun in Imagi Gatchaman? (this may have made the rounds before) *Christopher Plummer has been cast in the live action adaptation of Min-Woo Hyung's Priest *A 3D cgi “Night of the Living Dead” is being called "an American-style anime." Now picture the "Angel of Death" looking like a child. a 14 year old. Now imagine this, this little girl goes through these guys like butter. Did you see the KICK-ASS trailer? Well imagine that girl via the Matrix via Ghost in the shell, via AI. "Remember the True Lies bathroom brawl?" Well take out Arnold, and "copy and paste" Bruce Lee on acid via the Terminator. as seen through the eyes of a sweet innocent 14 year old cyborg girl. And all of this done via the mind of James Cameron, Holy shit what is not to love? The lights flicker and shit hits the fan. Awesome stuff. *Test footage of James Cameron's Battle Angel Alita has supposedly been seen AnimEigo AnimEigo plans to begin releasing the Tora-San movies in North America with a boxed set of four films, the Tora-San Collector’s Set Vol.1, that is due this November. The series of live action movies features. The movies feature Torajiro Kuruma playing a sales man across 48 films. Bandai Entertainment Roberts's Anime Corner Store listed Bandai's December's releases. As Robert says "No, we didn't leave anything out. That's the whole thing.... Don't say it, I'm thinking it too.: Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 DVD Bundle #3 Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 DVD Bundle #3 (Limited Edition) Date changes include Gundam 00 , Vol #2 DVD (Eps #10-17) - Sep 29 to Oct 6 Gundam 00 , Vol #2 DVD Special Edition (Eps #10-17) - Sep 29 to Oct 6 Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 DVD Bundle #2 (DVD #3-4) - Oct 6 to Oct 20 Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 DVD Bundle #2 (Limited Edition) - Oct 6 to Oct 20 Some impressions from Neb's blog - tea leaves don't look good for a company whose recent history has not been great Dark Horse GUNSMITH CATS: BURST VOLUME 5 Kenichi Sonoda (W/A) On sale Feb 24 b&w, 216 pages $12.99 TPB, 5 1/8" x 7 1/4" OH MY GODDESS! VOLUME 14 Kosuke Fujishima (W/A) On sale Feb 24 b&w, 192 pages $10.99 TPB, 5 1/8" x 7 1/4" SHAMAN WARRIOR VOLUME 9 Park Joong-Ki (W/A) On sale Feb 3 b&w, 192 pages $12.99 TPB, 5 3/4" x 8 1/4" Final volume VAMPIRE HUNTER D VOLUME 14: DARK ROAD PARTS 1 and 2 Hideyuki Kikuchi (W) and Yoshitaka Amano (A) On sale Feb 17 B&w, 480 pages $14.99 Novel, 5 1/8" x 7 1/4" Dark Horse revealed at Kumoricon... But the exclusive news we got from Dark Horse today was the announcement of a summer 2010 release of The Art of Blade of the Immortal by Hiroaki Samura. This is a large-sized artbook out of Japan full of some beautiful and sometimes funny sketches and paintings of BotI characters. Simon also announced that the Dark Horse version will not only be hard cover, but will have at least 32 extra images not appearing in the Japanese original. There may even be a photo of the camera-shy Samura, whose afterword will be translated for this version. There will also be a new introduction by Geof Darrow, who had the role of Conceptual Designer on "The Matrix" movie series. FUNimation Spice and Wolf Season 1 Complete Collection DVD Boxed Set has been delayed Nov 24th to Dec 22nd Giant Robot Issue 61 is now making the rounds IDW IDW will launched a Transformers ongoing comic series, written by Mike Costa with art by Don Figueroa, in November. he ongoing series is also the launching point for two new miniseries, TRANSFORMERS: BUMBLEBEE and TRANSFORMERS: Last Stand of the Wreckers, debuting in December and January, respectively To help TRANSFORMERS fans rejoin the world of comics, IDW is also releasing TRANSFORMERS: Continuum, written by Schmidt himself. Manga Entertainment The Cover and features of the Ghost in the Shell 2.0 have been revealed. This is a redited, partially renamed version of the first Ghost in the Shell movie, due to be released on November 4th Blu-ray Features: • 1080p Widescreen (1.85:1) • DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 • Commentary by director Mamoru Oshii and animation director Toshihiko Nishikubo (with subtitles) • Making of Ghost in the Shell 2.0 featurette • Exclusive face to face interview with the director Blood: The Last Vampire will be released on Blu-ray November 24. Media Blasters Anime 12/1 SUKISHO - LiteBox - Volumes 1-3, Eps. 1-13 - 3 Discs - $19.99 12/8 MORIBITO: Guardian of the Spirit - Volume 8 of 8, Eps. 24-26 - 1 Disc - $19.99 MORIBITO: Guardian of the Spirit - Vols. 7 & 8, Eps. 21-26 - 2 Discs - $34.99 MORIBITO: Guardian of the Spirit - Designer Box 12/22 AH MY BUDDHA The Six Realms Below - Volume 6 of 6, Eps. 22-26 GAKUEN HEAVEN - LiteBox - Volumes 1-4, Eps. 1-13 12/29 GENSHIKEN 2 - Ante Baka! - Vol. 3, Eps. 9-12 - 1 Disc GAKUEN HEAVEN Ito Keita has one thing in his favor: luck! And luck has just landed him a special invitation to attend the Bell Liberty Academy for Boys, an exclusive High School only for the most privileged, the most talented, and the most beautiful. When a strange accident on move-in day attracts the attention of Niwa Tetsuya, the student body president, and Saiyonji Kaoru, the class secretary, Ito finds himself the center of attention. With the eyes of a whole school of pretty boys on him, where will Ito find the time to unravel the mystery of his invitation SUKISHO Sora fell from the roof of his high school and was knocked unconscious. When he finally awoke, he found a kind-hearted boy named Sunao waiting over him. Sunao claims to be his best friend, but the fall erased some of Sora's memory. He doesn't remember Sunao at all, the wide-eyed young man acts like much more than just a friend. From that day on, Sora begins to experience flashbacks in which he is not himself, but a mysterious alternate personality with hidden powers. He begins to search for the secret of his lost memory and the flashbacks, but will Sunao be his companion, or his enemy Live Action 12/1 EXTE - HAIR EXTENSIONS 12/15/2009 MIIKE COLLECTION - LiteBox - Set Contains Family & Bodyguard Kiba - 4 Discs - $19.99 12/22 BAIAN THE ASSASSIN - LiteBox - 4 Discs - $19.99 KAZUO UMEZZ’S HORROR THEATER - LiteBox - 3 Discs A BLOOD PLEDGE: BROKEN PROMISE 12/29 HANSEL AND GRETEL KID WITH THE GOLDEN ARM VERSUS - Blu-ray BAIAN THE ASSASSIN A TV series about a doctor during the Edo period who uses his Acupuncturist skills to both cure and kill. Dr. Baian is essentially a good man who accepts the money he receives for killing the bad so that he can heal the sick who can’t afford it. Authentically details the street life during the Edo period these stories are street level and often take place in the bars and brothels of Edo. A BLOOD PLEDGE: BROKEN PROMISE Strange rumors start to spread at the catholic girls’ high school after Unjoo committed suicide one night. Unjoo’s younger sister Jung-un who attends the same school gets suspicious about Unjoo’s death. After persistent investigation, Jung-un finds out that on the night of the incident, Soy, Eugene, Eun-young, Unjoo, the four of them had tried to commit a joint suicide after making a vow on blood. But the three are still alive, and only Unjoo had died. the desire, jealousy, and lies behind the pledge of death between the four girls are revealed, along with the hidden truth behind Unjoo’s suicide. KID WITH THE GOLDEN ARM Yang Yu Heng is asked by the government to escort a cargo of gold into a famine area. However, he must contend with the vicious Chi Sah gang who boast the individual talents of leader Golden Arm, plus Silver Spear, Iron Robe, and Brass Head. In order to protect the gold from their attentions, yang hires the services of swordsman Li Chin Ming and his girlfriend Miss Leng, the axe-wielding duo Yen and Feng, and drunk master Hai To. What follows is a battle of wits and strength between the protagonists, with the added dimension that the mysterious Iron Feet is also after the gold for his own purposes. But who is Iron Feet? The answer comes as something of a big surprise! EXTE - HAIR EXTENSIONS Customs agents discover a huge amount of human hair along with the bald corpse of a young girl. This arouses the curiosity of Yamazaki, a mortuary employee with a hair fetish (Ren Osugi), particularly since the girl's hair continues to grow. Now a mad hair-peddler with an endless stock of locks, Yamazaki hocks his wares to salons to be used for hair extensions. Meanwhile, Yuko (Chiaki Kuriyama, KILL BILL Vol 1, BATTLE ROYALE), an up-and-coming hair stylist, is entrusted with the care of her timid and frightened niece, Mami, whose body bares the signs of abuse. It's not long before death surrounds them and their extension-wearing clientele. The hair, it seems, has a life of its own, with lethal, vengeful intentions. And Yuko and Mami must untangle the mystery before more deaths occur. Directed by Sion Sono (SUICIDE CLUB), HAIR EXTENSIONS will make your hair stand on end! HANSEL AND GRETEL When Eun-soo gets lost in a country road, he meets a mysterious girl and is led to her fairytale ike house in the middle of the forest. There, Eun-soo is trapped with the girl and her siblings who never age. Eun- soo finally discovers a way out which is written on a fairy tale book. But the book tells a story of none other than himself! MIIKE COLLECTION Family Lightning Takeshi's cover is blown while executing a hit on a mobster. Soon the Matsuma gang is after Takeshi and his entire family. Takeshi's brothers are important men in a rival gang and will do whatever it takes to protect Takeshi. Meanwhile, Takeshi falls for the female witness and resolves to go straight. Family loyalties will be tested. Blood will be spilled. Bodyguard Kiba Big bucks bodyguard Naoto Kiba is hired to be the "Bodyguard of Darkness" to protect the Soryukai Family from the thieving Ishimine in this action-filled drama. Without weapons, Kiba conquers the enemy, and fight scene upon fight scene packs it in, with pinky slicing, torture, drugs, sex and violent exchanges prevailing. KAZUO UMEZZ’S HORROR THEATER Six Japanese Masters of Horror have united to adapt the works of Kazuo Umezz, the god-father of horror manga. He is so influential the Japanese horror awards are named :Umezz Awards” Re-imagined by the minds behind cutting-rdge Japanese horror classics THE RING, THE RING 2, JU-ON: THE GRUDGE, THE GREAT YOKAI WAR and many others, his horrific tales have been crafted to rattle your nerves, assault your senses and make you question reality. All six films in this classic-in-the-making have been assembled in this collection. Let the nightmares begin. VIZ Media WHV (Viz's DVD distribtor) lists that the live action 20th Century Boys 1: Beginning of the End will be released on December 15th The 9th and final VIZBig edition of samurai manga Ruruoni Kenshin, due in March 2010, will be packaged with postscript story "Yahiko no Sakabato" VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) has announced the DVD release of NARUTO SHIPPUDEN THE MOVIE on November 10th. The new film is the fourth in the NARUTO movie series, is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens, and will have an MSRP of $24.92 U.S. / $35.99 CAN. (C) 2002 MASASHI KISHIMOTO / (C) 2007 Shippuden (C) NMP 2007 ) New Haikasoru sci-fi prose include ZOO by Otsuichi – Price: $13.99 U.S. / CAN $16.00 A man receives a photo of his girlfriend every day in the mail...so that he can keep track of her body's decomposition. A deathtrap that takes a week to kill its victims. Haunted parks and a child with the power to do anything at all, and his poor unfortunate parents. These are just a few of the stories by Otsuichi, Japan's master of dark fantasy. ZOO sold over 740,000 copies in Japan and was made into a successful film that combined live-action and animation. USURPER OF THE SUN by Housuke Nojiri - Price: $15.99 U.S. / CAN $18.99 Aki Shiraishi is a high school student working in the astronomy club and one of the few witnesses to an amazing event—a mysterious tower being built on the planet Mercury. Soon after, the enigmatic Builders construct a ring around the sun, and the ecology of Earth is threatened by its immense shadow. Aki is inspired to pursue a career in science, and the truth. She must determine the purpose of the ring and the plans of its creators, as the survival of both humanity and the alien Builders hang in the balance. A compelling new hard science fiction novel, USURPER OF THE SUN won a coveted Seiun Award in 2002 for Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year. Warner Home Video Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Blu-ray Clip - Metallo Revealed! Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths will be released on DVD next spring An original story from award-winning animation/comics writer Dwayne McDuffie (Justice League) rooted in DC Comics’ popular canon of “Crisis” stories. Bruce Timm (Superman Doomsday, Green Lantern) is executive producer. Lauren Montgomery (Wonder Woman, Green Lantern) and Sam Liu (Superman/Batman: Public Enemies) are co-directors. In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, a “good” Lex Luthor arrives from an alternate universe to recruit the Justice League to help save his Earth from the Crime Syndicate, a gang of villainous characters with virtually identical super powers to the Justice League. What ensues is the ultimate battle of good versus evil in a war that threatens both planets and, through a diabolical plan launched by Owlman, puts the balance of all existence in peril. All-star voice cast led by Mark Harmon (NCIS) as Superman, James Woods (Ghosts of Mississippi) as Owlman, Chris Noth (Sex and the City, Law & Order) as Lex Luthor, William Baldwin (Dirty Sexy Money) as Batman, Gina Torres (Serenity, Firefly) as Super Woman and Bruce Davison (X-Men) as the President. Yen Press The publisher will be adapting Lisi Harrison’s series of Y.A. novels for girls, The Clique into OEL manga
Publishers Weekly has a must read piece on the ADV shutdown/asset sale “The anime environment itself is challenging, ” said Chris Oarr, former sales and marketing director at ADV, who occupies a similar position at the new entity, Section 23. Chris Oarr told PWCW, “We’re deep in a recession and there are changes in technology [that are affecting the market]. These factors really do impact home video sales. Nobody’s certain how it will play out.” Also the recent news from TOKYOPOP Marketing manager Kasia Piekarz told PWCW that Tokyopop was told over a year ago that Kodansha would let its current Tokyopop licenses expire, and the company hasn’t acquired any new licenses from Kodansha, the largest publisher in Japan, in three or four years. The decision leaves Tokyopop unable to complete some long-running series, such as Beck, although another publisher may pick up the license, as Del Rey did with Samurai Deeper Kyoearlier this year. And on the reorganization of DC Comics (publisher of CMX Manga) and its plans to use the characters create by the publisher to fuel IP in other media The winds of change once again blew over the comics industry last week as Warner Bros. announced a major restructuring and executive changes at DC Comics. The home of Superman and Batman will become part of a larger division called DC Entertainment, to be run by WB branding veteran Diane Nelson. The new arm is charged with expanding opportunities for DC's huge library of characters into other media, including feature films, television, interactive entertainment, direct-to-consumer platforms and consumer products.
*Manga publisher Kodansha recently prompted online repository of scanned fan translations (scanlations) Manga Helpers to remove hosted manga, such as "Negima!" *Via AV Watch and Anime News Network - video sales fell 10% in Japan during the first ahlf of the year. The overall market, which includes DVDs, Blu-ray Discs (BDs), UMDs, and video cassettes, amounted to 127.731 billion yen (about US$1.381 billion). Animation on DVD sales ammounted to 22.447 billion yen (US$242.6 million), or 91.2% of the sales in the same period last year. Blu-ray sales jumped 386.8% to 8.443 billion yen (US$91.2 million). 1,744,105 copies were sold — an increase of 312%. BDs now represent 6.6% of the overall video software market by yen spent, and 4.5% by copies sold. Anime dominated BD sales with a 56.6% share; last year, it was only 20.9% of the market. However, only 32.7% of the BDs rented were anime. *Animation director Osamu Yamasaki (Anime V Comic Rentaman, Gestalt, Itazura na Kiss, Toward the Terra) is quoted as listing anime industry salary figures that pait a picture at odds with Japan Animation Creators Association (JAniCA) report that the average animator makes 1 million yen (US$11,000) a year. *Road map for increasingly accessible world of Japanese cinema - a look at Stuart Galbraith IV's JAPANESE CINEMA *Romance manga maker Harlequin Enterprises Limited announced the digital distribution of Harlequin comics in Korea. The publisher's Japanese operation, Harlequin K.K., and SoftBank Creative Corporation of SoftBank Group are making digital adaptations of Harlequin manga available at four popular Korean portal sites -- Daum, Mr. Blue, NATE and Paran -- with the cooperation of Teruten Incorporated *Another story on manga driven wine sales *Cartoon Network set a network ratings record with Scooby Doo! The Mystery Begins, which drew 6.1 million viewers - 2 -11 (3 million viewers), kids 6-11 (2.2 million), kids 9-14 (1.8 million), boys 2-11 (1.9 million), and boys 6-11 (1.5 million). *Publishers Weekly notes Hachette's parent, Lagardère Publishing Group (Yen Press' parent) is the only major house to show gains in 6 month sales and profits *Lessons Learned: Atamaii.com Founder Finds Success Selling Anime Toys *ICV2 reports Toys R Us has announced plans to expand its footprint for the holidays by opening nearly 350 “Holiday Express” locations for the season. The locations will include over 80 pop-up stores in malls, and over 260 Holiday Express shops within existing Babies R Us locations. *Also via ICV2 Blockbuster revealed in an SEC filing this week that it is closing as many as 960 of its stores in 2009 and 2010. The company also plans to expand its kiosks with 2,500 in place by the end of 2009 and 10,000 in place by the middle of next year, up from 500 now. The kiosks, built by NCR and licensed by Blockbuster, will offer 4,000 titles
Anime x Games
The North American release of Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces flight combat game for the Wii has been confirmed to ship without the Japanese language voice track as explained by an XSEED rep: “Unfortunately, it looks like The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces will not have the original Japanese voice-overs included, only the new English voices, this appears to be mainly a licensing issue with the Japanese voices for territories outside of Japan, but even if they were available, there are some questions about the disc capacity being able to contain both the Japanese and English voices.” A review of the game Tekkaman Blade (as well as his predecessor Space Knight Tekkaman) have been confirmed for the Wii version of Tatsunoko VS. Capcom. Web dedicative work suggest that other characters to be added to the console include Mega Man Zero (or Zero Gouki) Frank West (of Dead Rising) Yatterman #2 Joe Asakura Tekkaman Blade Gundam Senki 0081 for the PlayStation 3 reviewed
Super Robot Wars NEO screenshots - more here Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam vs. Gundam Next is being port to the PSP, planned for a December release in Japan On the pen and paper side of things Robotech: The Masters Saga Sourcebook is now available online A Sasori Akatsuki thumb ring is being offered as a GameStop exclusive for pre-ordering Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 The trailer for the long await premiere of the Sakura War games in North America
Digital Distribution News
Seven Seas announced that three of its manga series on the are now available Amazon Kindle and through the iPhone/iTouch’s “Kindle for iPhone” application. Amazing Agent Luna Vol. 1-5, Aoi House Vol. 1-2, and Aoi House In Love! Vol. 1-2, along with Christopher Rowley’s Arkham Woods, are now available on the Kindle at the extra low price of $3.50 per volume (200 pages each). Agent Luna features 15-year-old Luna Collins as the perfect secret agent, grown in a lab from the finest genetic material and trained since birth to be the U.S. government’s ultimate espionage weapon. But now, she has been given an assignment that will test her abilities to the max—high school! In Aoi House, a raucous harem comedy, Alex and Sandy are two normal guys just trying to get through college, until their troublemaking hamster, Echiboo, gets them thrown out of their dorm. With nowhere else to turn, the boys move into an anime clubhouse where five crazed yaoi fangirls call the shots! Arkham Woods, by acclaimed science fiction novelist Christopher Rowley, is an original manga tale of supernatural horror inspired by the Cthulhu mythos of H.P. Lovecraft. Kirsti Rivers, an L.A. teenager, is suddenly transplanted to the small New England town of Arkham Woods. Kirsti and her mom, Victoria, have to clean up and sell the old house left to them by Silas Scadmore, Victoria’s eccentric uncle. But from the hidden recesses of the house, Kirsti and her friends unwittingly unleash and ancient evil that could spell the end of the world—unless they can find a way to stop it first!
*Via Anime News Network, Shuho Sato's experiment to post manga online yielded 100,000 yen (about US$1,100) on its first day. After posting 500 pages of New Say Hello to Black Jack for free, Sato began charging 30 yen per installment, while old works cost 10 yen per installment. *Marvelous Entertainment has begun streaming "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" inspired Koihime Musou on Crunchyroll Crunchyroll and Tezuka Productions are now offering BLACK JACK episodes 14-29 BLACK JACK was directed by Makoto Tezuka (Osamu Tezuka’s son) and is considered one of the top three most famous manga titles by the world famous manga-ka and anime producer that won the 1st Kodansha Manga Award for the shonen category in 1977. Crunchyroll already streams the initial BLACK JACK episodes (1-13) of this series. Shochiku's moe Sketchbook has also been added to the site's offering *Devil's Due Publishing and comiXology announce that comiXology will be distributing Devil's Due comic book titles to the iPhone and iPod touch. Comic books published by Devil's Due include Jericho, Hack/Slash, Voltron, and Spartacus: Blood and Sand, based on the upcoming Starz TV show Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
Upcoming in Japan
Promos Kobato (CLAMP adaptation) Sunao Katabuchi (Black Lagoon) Mai Mai Miracle Broken Blade ( Kemono to Chat/Chat With Animals Happy Science's Rebirth of Buddha Promos Streamed New Three Musketeers Ultraman Mebius Gaiden: Ghost Reverse Trailer - Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends - The Movie (Daikaiju Battle: Ultra Ginga Densetsu - The Movie) Anime The December 8th Ponyo DVD release will feature English subtitles and audio in addition to Storyboard Theatrical Trailers (2 Types) TV Spots (11 Types) Tie-in TV Spots (3 Types) Nitterechin Spots (2 Types) Non-credit Ending (Long Version) Theme Song Release Press Conference Dubbing Session Footage Premiere Interview with Miyazaki Hayao Producer Suzuki Toshio x NTV Editor Tsuchiya Toshio Discussion NEWS ZERO Ponyo Spin-off Segment Miyazaki Hayao Quotations Venice Film Festival Footage Theme Song Music Video Korea Version Theme Song Music Video via Anime News Network Rintaro (Metropolis, X/1999) announced plans to to direct a 3D animated co-production. Producer Ji Young-jun (Boku no Kanojo wa Cyborg or My Girlfriend is a Cyborg) is also attached. According to Rintaro, the aim of the project is to "defeat Hollywood" by making a work that will "express characteristically Asian feelings." In the story, a Caucasian mother embarks on an adventure to save children who have been transported to a world of Asian mythos.
*May’n blogged that her recording for the Macross F movie is already done. a couple of movie images from NewType *Four classic works of Japanese literature will be adapted into the 12-episode Aoi Bungaku (Blue Literature) anime television series, set to premier on October 10. Adaptated works include Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human (Ningen Shikkaku) Run, Melos! (Hashire, Melos!) Natsume Soseki’s Kokoro Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s Hell Screen (Jigoku Hen) Manga artist Takeshi Obata (Death Note/) is involved with the anime versions of Osamu Dazai's No Longer Human (Ningen Shikkaku) and Soseki Natsume's Kokoro. Obata also drew the illustrations of Ryunosuke Akutagawa's Hell Screen (Jigoku Hen), but Bleach manga creator Tite Kubo will be involved with the anime version of that novel. Manga creator Takeshi Konomi (The Prince of Tennis) will be involved with Dazai's Run, Melos! (Hashire Melos), which was already made into a 1981 animated television special and a 1992 animated film. Via ANN The 10th Anniversary Yu-Gi-Oh! anime will be a film that will open in Japanese theaters in early 2010 with 3D graphics. Gekijo-ban Yu-Gi-Oh! ~Cho-Yugo! Jiku o Koeta Kizuna~ will feature the main heroes of all three TV Tokyo anime series: Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters' Yuugi Mutou, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monster GX's Judai Yuki, and the ongoing Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Yusei Fudo. Masatsugu Arakawa (Medarot Damashii/Medabots, Nurse Witch Komugi special, Time Stranger Kyoko, Vampiyan Kids ) will direct the Rose O'Neill Kewpie television series of 26 5-minute episodes - based on the famous Kewpie dolls Manga "Golgo 13" creator Takao Saito may be creating something for children Via ANN Mohiro Kitoh (Bokurano) will launch a new series — tentatively titled Nanikamo Chigattemasu ka? — in the next issue of good! Afternoon. Namie Odama will start a manga called Taorete Tattoshi in the next issue also. The next entry in bishonen riff on Saiyuki (Journey to the West) will be Reload Blast, commenced in Zero Sum Ward magazine CLAMP will end alternate world crossing fantasy manga RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE with the September 30 issue of Weekly Shonen Magazine Classic theatre-based shoujo manga Glass Mask is said to ending its 34 year run "soon." The manga 44 volume manga has slowed down of recent year, with only five volume spread across the last 16 years, Live Action Ultraman may be back on Japanese TV in December with Ultraman Zero Tokyograph reports Yukio Okada's manga "MOTEL" is being turned into a live-action film, starring popular young actor Toma Ikuta (24). This new movie is titled "Seaside Motel," set in a motel that is curiously named Seaside despite being surrounded by mountains. Ikuta plays Kameda, a traveling salesman who peddles questionable cosmetic products. His female lead is Kumiko Aso (31), playing a call girl named Candy whose popularity is already fading even before she hits the age of thirty. The two happen to meet at Seaside, and Kameda falls in love. Light Novel no Tanoshii Kakikata, light novels about a girl who writes light novels, is being adapted into live action. Anime Nation reports that adult actress Fujii Shelly has been cast in the adaptation of manga a comedy about an escaped robot created for sexual purposes to misinterprets most gestures Music The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya's Aya Hirano (new voice of Dende) us recoding a character song to tie into the Dragon Ball Kai new edit of Dragon Ball Z
Japanamerica author Roland Kelts will be attending the upcoming New York Anime Festival. Mr. Kelts will appear at NYAF to introduce Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino on his Friday panel as well as moderate idol group AKB48's Saturday panel and Sunday's Yui Makino (voice actress, Tsubasa Chronicle's Sakura) Q&A. The New York Anime Festival also announced Lolita fashion brand Baby, The Stars Shine Bright will participate in its 2009 event through an official boutique with show partner Kinokuniya Bookstore. Scheduling changes have been announced for the event. TOKYOPOP will be rurnning a panel Friday, September 25 from 3:45 to 4:45 PM. 20TH CENTURY BOYS PART 3 will not premiere at NYAF as originally intended dueto a production issue in Japan. VIZ Pictures will instead present L: Change The World on Sunday, September 27 from 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM in Room 1A08.
*Reed Exhibitions (RX), the organizers of the New York Comic Con (NYCC) and New York Anime Festival (NYAF) announced that both shows will co-locate next year, with the 2010 installments of these events taking place at the same time and place, October 8-10, 2010 at the Jacob K. Javits Center in Midtown Manhattan. The next New York Anime Festival is September 25-27, 2009 at the Jacob K. Javits Center and includes guests such as Yoshiyuki Tomino -- the Director of Mobile Suit Gundam -- and Yui Makino -- the voice of Sakura in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. Publishers Weekly spoke to Reed VP Lance Fensterman about the move *White on Rice has been extended at least another week at Edwards Irvine Spectrum 21 in Orange County for at least another week Starting on September 18th, the movie open at the Metreon in downtown San Francisco and at the Camera 3 Cinemas in San Jose. It opens in Denver on October 9th (with a sneak preview on October 7th) and Hawaii on October 30th at the Regal Dole Cannery 18 *2000+ Manga Books @ $1.00 ea. this weekend at Meltdown Comics in LA *Indie manga publisher Ponent Mon will be represented at Skylight Literary Salon in LA Sat, 09/19/2009 - 4:00pm *