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Animation and Anime

AICN Anime - Yokaiden, an English Release of the Incredibly Pulpy "Wicked City" Novel, New Manga by Dragon Ball's Akira Toriyama

Logo handmade by Bannister Column by Scott Green

Spotlight: Yokaiden Volume 2 by Nina Matsumoto Released by Del Rey

I picked up and read the first volume of Yokaiden without looking at who'd created the work. Probably about three quarters the way in, I hit a linguistic pun that struck me as wordplay that wouldn't have originated in Japanese. That sent me back to the cover to check the credits. At that point, I discovered that the work was by Nina Matsumoto, perhaps better known as Space Coyote. Last time I wrote about Yokaiden I described Matsumoto as an artist who was internet famous for the manga Simpson's illustration. Since then, Matsumoto won an Eisner Award, along with Ian Boothby and Andrew Pepoy, for The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror #14's "Murder He Wrote." As such, if you follow comics, Matsumoto should be a recognizable name at this point. Picking up the series again, the chief uncertainty to my mind concerned how Yokaiden would hold up now that is now no longer an unknown quantity. Knowing who created Yokaiden and having some insight into the creative intentions, Yokaiden 2 was still a delightful surprise. It follows bamboo seller and enthusiast of the Japanese supernatural world of yokai, Hamachi, into the spirit world of the those creatures. Along with a pair of tsukumogami, a lantern and an umbrella with developed sentience, Hamachi journeys into the home realm of the yokai, hoping to locate the kappa (water imp) presumably responsible for his grandmother's death. One of the mainstays in the host of yokai is the kitsune, fox spirit. A number of species of Japanese animals can obtain the ability to change shape. One of these is the racoon dog tanuki. These animals are the stars of Isao Takahata's Ghibli eco-epic Pomo Pok - a feature noteworthy in this context, for two reasons. First, because the shape changing tanuki adopt the forms of a parade of yokai to scars humans out of their habitat - a scene that makes the movie a must see for anyone fascinated by this branch of supernatural mythology. Secondly, because of film's shape changing scroll, outlining the other species capable of altering themselves. chameleons, in a limited capacity, old cats, especially ones who have developed a second tail... and, foxes. Like the cats, with age and wisdom, foxes can manifest addition tails. Except, in the case of the foxes, it is up to the god-like nine tailed kyubi (a concept evoked in Naruto). Volume two of Yokaiden is driven by the kyubi "Christina," who sets Hamachi on a series of labors, or in video game parlance, fetch quests, in exchange for the promised location of his sought after kappa. Though not exactly on the up and up, these "go get it!"'s serve to set Hamachi on an intersecting course with various yokai, from the classic variety, such as the tengu mountain spirit or more modern, urban myths, such as kuchisake onna - slit mouth woman, as well as divinities, and Three Sacred Treasures of Japan. Hamachi's undaunted enthusiasm places the character in the company of manga's shonen "I'll be the greatest!" protagonists. However, here, that exuberant quality is recast as the characteristic of a fairy tail hero. Like a Giant Killer or a "seven at one blow" tailor, he's a grinning, half-smart innocent, who has virtue as much as cleverness going for him. This intersection of shonen and fairytale hero types plays out in a way that is almost meta, but amusingly, not quite. In the vein of a character like Pokemon's Ash, Hamachi is almost frothing in his recital of knowledge on his favorite, monstrous subject. And yet, that knowledge is either incomplete or doesn't click. Unlike Puss in Boots' gambit of tricking a shape changing ogre into adopting the form of a mouse, Hamachi rarely works the right ploy. Part of Yokaiden's joke is that though forearmed with some knowledge, Hamachi goes into a very rules based spirit realm with fairy tale inspired ideas that don't play out in practice. And yet, with a smile and a bit of FT virtue/luck, he scrapes through. What you get with Yokaiden's composite of inspirations is the Pan's Labyrinth of comics. That might sound like overpraise,and I don't want to encourage the expectation of that movie projected onto manga. What I mean is that Pan's Labyrinth was Guillermo del Toro's reinterpretation of a fairytale, informed by his background and his perspective, recontextualized based on his interests. It was the structure and in some sense trappings of a European fairytale rebuilt from the ground up via del Toro's point of view. Yokaiden is a synthesis of the North American tradition of retelling fairytales via comics (see The TOON Treasury of Classic Children's Comics for some great examples of this), along with European roots of those stories, along with yokai folklore and ghost stories, along with elements that are purely Matsumoto. It's not simply a shonen hero's odyssey into a den of Japanese spirits, restaged for an English speaking audience. Nor is it slavishly following any of the patterns from which it is drawing. It's its own chimera of those inspirations. Among the remarkable qualities of Matsumoto's comic is that she doesn't slow down for the reader. Chapters, ("or candles as they are referred to, see Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai gathering of a hundred ghost stories) are often exercises in "look, here's creature X!," accompanied by prose elaborating on X's identity and background. And yet, though it might look like it at first glance, this is not yakai with the training wheels on. On the kuchisake-onna, Matsumoto's describes "the slit-mouthed woman is a scary, lonely lady with a Glasgow smile and a serve need for reassurance." There are no foot notes on the foot notes, and if you don't get the reference, Matsumoto is content to let the joke slip by. In that sense, the risk of being left behind makes the repartee that much sharper. This quick wit is paired with excellent cartooning. From the touches of extravagance, such as the desiccated giant built into Christina's chambers, to the darling, such as the loping watery eyed, cyclops umbrella, nothing is done in half measures. As I said when discussing Yokai Attack, a good yokai story breathes life into a murky corner of perception. It takes the fright of a dark corner, the wonder of a natural phenomenon, some metaphor or word play that sticks in the mind and gives it semi-human form. It might take some ferreting out, but one of the fascinating attributes of yokai is that they generally trace back to some mental hang-up. A yokai is some object of fascination given form and life. A story of story fascinations strung together, watching Yokaiden working with these creatures, waltzing with its inspirations is a delight.

Prose Spotlight: Wicked City: Black Guard Volume 1 by Hideyuki Kikuchi Released by Tor/Seven Seas

"So bad it's good" is a tired phrase for justifying enjoyment of a work of questionable or difficult to pin down merit. Along with "slice of life" and "guilty pleasure," it's a description whose use I endeavor to avoid. That said, the joys of Wicked City specifically are the qualities for which it could and should be excoriated. So, "awesomely terrible," "enthrallingly painful, "or "so bad it's good." From the mind of Vampire Hunter D and father of light novels Hideyuki Kikuchi comes the hard boiled story of an agent patrolling the line between our world and the supernatural. Secretly, passage between a demonic world and the mundane one has been going on for centuries. Machiavellian humans have gone to the demon world to deal for wealth and power to propel their ambitions. Demons have trespassed into our world to prey on humans. The gears of much of human history were driven by this relationship between the worlds, from Hitler's rise to power and downfall to the inspiration for George Romero's walking dead movies. Beyond the micro-incursions going in one direction or the other, the macro conflict cycles between periods of war and peace. Wicked City finds the two worlds at a critical point prior to the signing of the latest peace accord. With Militants from the demonic world looking to disrupt the agreement, Taki, a powerful psychic/veteran member of the Black Guard is partnered with beautiful demon/opposite number Makie to ensure the completion of the process. To facilitate the establishment of a new age of peace, the pair must protect two century old human psychic heavyweight Giuseppi Mayart. And, unfortunately, Mayart isn't interested in cooperating, insisting on touring Tokyo's seediest districts rather than lay low ahead of his appointment. Along with Kaoru Kurimoto, best known for 126 novel fantasy series Guin Saga, Hideyuki Kikuchi established the template for what's now known as "light novels." Guin Saga,Hideyuki Kikuchi's similarly seminal Vampire Hunter D and their descendants are brisk pop-lit books that are generally for a teenage/young adult audience, and generally printed in tiny, compact, smaller than manga-books . And like Kurimoto and Kikuchi's work, light novels trended towards genre and often concerned themselves with inventing a world. Yet, despite their affinity for describing places, peoples and actions outside the familiar experience, a key quality of light novels is that they're quick reads. In several reviews, I made the point that Guin Saga is fantasy for an adult audience who no longer has the time for a Tolkien-esque doorstop. You can get through most of a light novel in a sitting or two. Wicked City is not unlike the other light novels to have hit North America in these regards. It develops the work of human/demon interaction, largely through digressive exposition. Beyond the alternate history bits, Kikuchi explains other elements of the supernatural, from spontaneous combustion to zombies, in terms of the demonic world spilling into our own. And, it does this at a head long rush. The main action takes place over the course of a single night, and even carrying the exposition, maintains its sprinting pace. Wicked City has been adapted a couple times. There was a 1992, live action Hong Kong production via Hark Tsui. In 2006, Variety reported plans for German produced work directed by Mark Dippe. But, the version of Wicked City best known to Asian media fans has been the 1987 anime movie, directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri. As might be expected from the animator who made his indelible mark on the North American perception of anime via Nina Scroll, the Wicked City anime was characterized by sex, violence, and sexual violence. Sitting on the Blockbuster shelf, it was the kind of work that established anime's "not for kids!" reputation as blood drenched porn. On one hand, violent horror action anime has never entirely vanished from anime production. On the other, action/horror movie and OVAs had their moment that came and went with Japan's 80's boom economy. There really weren't that many comparably sordid anime works produced. Wicked City was one of Kawajiri's first works in the genre, and he certainly demonstrated a mastery of how to accentuate the granite hero and marble heroine violently engaged with slimy, spidery and tentacly monsters. While the emergence of Kawajiri's trademark style is noteworthy and well suited to Kikuchi, it is also noteworthy that most of Wicked City's pulpy salacious bits originate from Kikuchi and not Kawajiri or anime screenwriter Kisei Choo. The insanely high caliber pistols, the airplane blowing up just prior to landing, monsters emerging from unmentionable and other explicit Freudian nightmare imagery... all Kikuchi. Kikuchi is the giant on whose shoulder the maestro of anime sleaze stood. As demonstrated in his most internationally recognized work, post apocalyptic, western, gothic horror Vampire Hunter D, Kikuchi novels operate through genre bending. In keeping with that principle, Wicked City is genre to its eyeballs. It's noir, which has its complicated relationship with gender politics. And, it's a strain of erotic grotesque horror that had just about hit critical mass in Japanese pop culture. A year after Wicked City's 1985 publication, Toshio Maeda would launch the manga version of the infamous Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend. As such, Wicked City is brutal. Expressed through Taki's first person narrative, so much it it so wrong headed. Stupid or offensive in turn, its underwritten female badass spends a sizable portion of the novel being sexually assaulted. Still, that misogyny might not be as risible as the view of relationships on which the novel's plot hinges. Painfully unerotic sex scenes. A woman who literally becomes a walking vagina. It's bad. It's really bad. It's trying to capture this tension of a stalwart guarding the wall between humanity and a demon threat at a critical moment. Lust and love, and the weight of these against mission obligation factor in. And, Kikuchi is going for some cigarette smoke and gunpowder tinged affair. Yet, at no point can the atmosphere or characters be bought into. Comprehension is bounced from the narrative receptors to the irony ones. It's impossible to accept what's happening as presented over the giddy mirth of imagining someone writing this. The audacity and the creativity do warrant some credit, but you can open up any page, glance at any paragraph and chuckle. "Mayart's eyeballs fell to the ground with a popping sound, trailing their shredded optic nerves. The Strange life-form, wearing Mayart's skin, quickly came into view." "Makie supported the staggering body. The slimy tentacles wound around her black clothing and tightened." In college, I knew someone with a copy of Naked Lunch that they kept around to read from aloud at random after a few drinks. A bit tedious, but not a terrible idea. And, along those line, if you're a genre fan, I recommend owning a copy of Wicked City. You wouldn't go wrong with some less than sober dramatic readings of this Kikuchi work.

Manga Spotlight: Battle Angel Alita: Last Order Volume 12: Angel Redux by Yukito Kishiro Released by VIZ Media

Volume 12 of Last Order doesn't feature an invention that can match 11's 11's Anomaly. Then again, Yukito Kishiro does present a half page chart laying out the "Birth and Evolution of Karate" from the 17th century to the collapse of civilization due to meteor impact, then, following a break in history, from the birth of the space age to Battle Angel Alita's present. This info graphic sets the stage for a battle royale between the branches of the martial art, as combatants jockey for a spot along side block faced and traditional gi clad master of Electromagnetic Space Karate Toji and rowdy biker Zekka on the Space Karate team. So, for a chapter that will bring a smirk to the face of any geek, the likes of Robbie from the Robo Karate school, Grasshoppa from the Rider Karate school and Chupacabra from the Vampire Karate school square off. The original Battle Angel offered more cause to be invested in its characters. You cared about the directions that their lives took and were curious about how Kishiro would adapt or develop his style to take them there. That's not in the offering for Last Order. Volume 12 has a scene in which a Versailles-esque noble from the Republique Venus turns up with a biogeneered clone of a particular character. The hermetically emblazoned Biovouivre rep unfurls a Hieronymus Bosch-esque tableau of a man dressed in clothes biogeneered from this character, on a chair biogeeneered from the individual, at a table... eating meet... accompanied by a dog all incongruously shaped from the person. This is an apt metaphor for what Kishiro himself is doing in Last Order; breeding together ideas that would seem unlikely to find themselves in the same contextual habitat, and having those ideas duke it out. It's the same trick again and again with one oddity replacing another in the kinetic, finely detailed fight illustrations. Unlike the character odyssey of the original, nine volume Battle Angel Alita, its sequel, Last Order, took a few volumes to lock into the fighting tournament formula. The concept utilized here, seen in many of the most popular shonen manga series from Dragon Ball to Naruto to One Piece, is that a team of protagonists faces off against an escalating hierarchy of opponents. Especially in their current form, these stories generally jump onto tangential narratives to explore the histories and motivations of the swelling ranks of allies and opponents. The attraction to writers and editors of boys' manga is obvious. It gives the hero's fighting a purpose. With the reader able to see who will be fighting who in future installments, there's a readily available hook. And, by iterating on the tournament bracketing, the manga in question can repeat the pattern as long as the titles popularity hold's up. Any story formula that can be used as the engine for a serial that can last years, or even decades, is liable to possess a tendency to become tedious. And, if any genre is indictable for loitering in an easy loop, fight tournament stories are a repeat offender. Last Order has been running since 2001, and still seems closer to a midpoint than an end of the current tournament arc, with plenty of doors open to continue the manga after the maybe misleadingly named Zenith of Things Tournament (Z.O.T.T.) wraps. It might even shift its framework the way the earlier manga series. In this volume, Alita has upgraded her physical presence with a new the new overcoat and cat-tail adorned Imaginos 2.0 body. And, she has a mid-ring stare down with Last Order's uber-heel, yoga/Kalarippayattu - Buck Rogers gone pathological Aga Mbadi. If this were the original Battle Angel Alita, and the heroine were eyeball to eyeball, in the range to physically strike her greatest foe, there would be emotional resonance. In a manga series that is narratively inching along, volume 12 constitutes a move up a rung of the tournament ladder, and as such features a step forward. The Aga Mbadi meeting is the equivalent of two combat sport fighters exchanging threats in anticipating of meeting in a few fights. In order word, an act of promotion. While this could be a dire way to run a manga series, Kishiro embraces it with frothing zealousness. His talent for fleet footed complexity applies to the ideas utilized in Last Order. There's no reserve; a foe that could trouble heroes for a chapter is disposed of in a panel, to give way for another, just as ingenious and just as quickly consumed. And, the quality applies to his illustration; in one great sequence of panels Alita crushes her opponent's hand, spins herself 360 and flicks the gristle off her fingers; in another Zekka drains his bottle of "Mothman TNT Beer," holds the mouth between his fingers and shakes the bottle, places it down, puts his palm over it, and using his Space Karate, swats it, leaving a palm impressed disc of glass . Realizing this level of complexity in the first Battle Angel Alita ultimately proved taxing on Kishiro's heath. He simplified the work for the initially rocky, but eventually inspired Aqua Knight. Then, when he returned to Alita for Last Order, a monthly schedule allowed him to pack as much into a chapter as he wanted without hurting himself. I recently sketched out a list of what I believed to be the best (in terms of artistic merit and significance) manga to be released in North American in the 00 decade. Then I sketched out a list of my favorite manga from the same period. Last Order was firmly in the latter list, and nowhere near the former. Simply, as a manga reading experience, its gleeful pairing of an unrestricted, silver age-like torrent ideas with the kinetic force of action manga can't be beat.

Upcoming in North America

Not anime, but of note... The Beat points out the MTV's Oddities, The Maxx (adaptation of the Sam Kieth comic) and the Head, will be released on DVD(-R). The Maxx disc features The disc includes interviews with Kieth and director Gregg Vanzo as well as audio commentary.
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On the live action front, a special "Official Bootleg" sneak preview, limited edition White on Rice is being offered for the holidays. The White on Rice Sneak Peek DVD is priced at $19.99.  Official autographed posters are also on sale at $14.99.
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Also, in regards to other English speaking territories, the Australian Blu-ray release of Ponyo has been canceled. Madman announced Please note that due to circumstances beyond our control the PONYO BLU-RAY scheduled for December 29th is canceled. Furthermore, the PONYO DVD is now a single-disc DVD product and remains scheduled for release December 29th. We thank you for your ongoing custom and apologise for any inconvenience these changes cause. Digital Manga Publishing 801 Media, Digital Manga Publishing's adult yaoi imprint announced that it has licensed Under Grand Hotel by Mika Sadahiro (creator of Pathos). 801 Media will preserve the special trim size of this title (4 1/8" x 5 7/8"), and it will hold a special price of $24.95 for each volume for their large volume count (over 320 pages for each book)  After killing the husband of his lover, Sen is sent to a prison nicknamed the "Under Grand Hotel", which houses some of the most violent and corrupt offenders. Good-looking and rather soft for prison, Sen is forced to seek protection from Swordfish, the proclaimed leader of the prison. But when their relationship turns from one of convenience to one that may be more involved, can they protect each other in a place where the law has no bearing? Mika Sadahiro's (Pathos) controversial and fan-favorite title is finally available for the first time in print in English! Drawn & Quarterly Same Hat notes gekiga pioneer Yoshihiro Tatsumi's early Black Blizzard will be released a $20.00 softcover book, 144 pages, coming out on April 27, 2010.
THE PREEMMINENT GEKIGA-KA'S FIRST GRAPHIC NOVEL FROM FIFTY YEARS AGO Created in the late 1950s, Black Blizzard is Yoshihiro Tatsumi's remarkable first full-length graphic novel and one of the first published examples of Gekiga. Tatsumi documented how his love for Mickey Spillane and hard-boiled crime novels led him to create this landmark genre of manga in his epic, critically acclaimed 2009 autobiography, A Drifting Life. With Black Blizzard, Tatsumi explores the dark underbelly of his working-class heroes that five decades later has made him one of the best-known Japanese cartoonists in North America. Susumu Yamaji, a twenty-four-year-old pianist, is arrested formurder and ends up handcuffed to a career criminal on the train that will take them to prison. An avalanche derails the train and the criminal takes the opportunity to escape, dragging a reluctant Susumu with him into the blizzard raging outside. They flee into the mountains to an abandoned ranger station, where they take shelter from the storm. As they sit around the fire they built, Susumu relates how love drove him to become a murderer. A cinematic adventure story, Black Blizzard uncovers an unlikely love story and an even unlikelier friendship. FUNimation FUNimation Entertainment has signed a distribution agreement with Cybergraphix Animation, the California-based animation and entertainment group, to release the animated film “Guardians of Luna.” The action anime is currently in development with writer Michael Reaves (Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) as story editor and character designer Cindy H. Yamauchi (Naruto: The Movie, Black Lagoon, Akira).                                             “We have always sought to build strong partnerships for our productions,” said Avi Melman, CEO at Cybergraphix and Executive Producer of the series. “Having FUNimation as a partner will help build a strong distribution network and ultimately, increased exposure for Guardians of Luna.” Guardians of Luna is a dark story which centers around an ancient race of shape-shifters with the ability to change into powerful creatures. Four unlikely heroes descended from this once-great race are charged with protecting an ancestral power source from a ruthless mogul.   Animation of the film will be done by APPP Co. Ltd. (Robot Carnival, Fist of the North Star: Toki-den) and is expected to begin in 2010. Media Blasters Media Blasters has canceled their release of Genshiken 2 V.3 with Box Section23 Section23 will be releasing new anime licenses The Skull Man and Maria Holic (best opening of the year) and live action Kirenji Women’s College and Ryuji the Yakuza. SKULL MAN COMPLETE COLLECTION Run Time: 325 min. Street Date: 2/2/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $39.98 SYNOPSIS: Otomo City: where freedom and justice have atrophied to the bone; where conspiracy rules the day and death stalks the night… Death in the form of the Skull Man, a literal Grim Reaper whose skeletal grin presages grisly mayhem and murder, even to the monstrous mutants that haunt the city’s underworlds! Now, to investigate a bizarre slaying, journalist Minagami Hayato and photographer Kiriko Mamiya must stalk this ultimate predator, through a festering cadaver of a city where the corruption flows in rivers as deep and foul as the sins of the reigning elite, and unearth a secret so shocking that an entire city has been turned into a tomb to contain! In a nightmarish necropolis where nothing is as it seems, vengeance comes in the form of a living Death’s-Head in SKULL MAN - The Complete Collection! TO LOVE RU COLLECTION 2 Run Time: 325 min. Street Date: 2/16/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $39.98 SYNOPSIS: As if being accidentally engaged to a demon-like alien princess while attending high school and still making points with the girl he REALLY likes wasn't enough to keep Rito on the edge of insanity, he’s now stuck with an more dangerous challenge: living up to the expectations of Lala’s devil-like father, King Deviluke! And if that’s not bad enough, the girl Run (aka, sometimes, the guy Ren) decides to make her move on Rito, the school is overflowing with even more not-so-well disguised ghosts and aliens (some of whom need an education on how to emphasize their feminine side,) SOMEBODY lets word slip that Lala is actually an alien princess, and to cap it all off there’s a trip to the waterpark PLUS the obligatory Hot Springs episode! Love isn’t a battlefield… it’s the War of the Worlds in TO LOVE RU - Collection Two!!! MARIA-HOLIC COMPLETE COLLECTION Run Time: 300 min. Street Date: 2/23/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $39.98 SYNOPSIS: It’s not easy to find the perfect girl, even when you’re the same sex! Kanako thought attending an all girls school would be the perfect way to meet the girl of her dreams, but after her hot new roommate turns out to be a guy in drag, and catching the eye of the most popular girl in school only brings down the wrath of all the OTHER similarly obsessed girls, she’s not so sure! Complicate things with a cat-eared dorm leader, her roommate’s rude-mannered maid and identical twin sister (who attends an all boys school, of course,) and WAY too many attractive girls of questionable persuasions and the question becomes whether Kanako can die from frustrated nosebleeds! (Life would be SO much easier if guys didn’t literally give her the hives!) Will Kanako ever find a non-polar opposite of a compatible non-opposing polarity? Let’s just say that the quest for true love will not run straight in MariaHolic - The Complete Collection! KIRENJI WOMEN'S COLLEGE (live action) Published by: Switchblade Pictures Distributed by: Section23 Films Run Time: 125 min. Street Date: 2/9/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $19.98 Kirenji is so definitely NOT your typical Japanese girls’ school. For example, while the word “hot” might describe an attractive girl at other places of higher education, at Kirenji it’s more likely to mean “hot blooded,” “hot tempered” and “ready for red hot action” (as in physical combat, that is)! So when 17 year old Maki enrolls, thinking she’s the baddest bad girl of them all, she quickly learns the hard way that at Kirenji she’ll have to punch her way to the top of the pulchritudinous power pyramid… and it’s just too bad that the equally intimidating Natsumu is standing in her path! Epic battles, beauties bashing and girl on girl action abound, especially when new girl Kirei joins the fray, in the non-stop cat fight that is KIRENJI GIRLS’ COMBAT SCHOOL - the Complete Collection! RYUJI THE YAKUZA (live action) Run Time: 139 min. Street Date: 2/23/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $19.98 SYNOPSIS: Behind a bloody veil of mystery, the puppetmasters of the Yakuza secretly control Japan… Yet for all their power, the Yakuza are governed by their own codes of loyalty and honor, and there are those who are seen not as criminals, but heroes. Ryuji Ogami, of the Goda-gumi, is one such enigma: torn between the worlds of Bullets and Bushido, his hidden compassion perfectly balances the brutal force of his lethal iron hand. If your cause is just, it is said, seek out Ryuji. But endanger those he cherishes, like young club hostess Megumi and his junior Kazuki, and he will find you. And when the code of the Yakuza is violated by his own gang, Ryuji’s own code will leave him no choice. The city will burn as the deadliest man in Yokohama takes on his own in RYUJI THE YAKUZA- The Complete Collection! MAKIRIKO / BATTLER SIENNE MATRA DOUBLE FEATURE (live action) action has recently been released. Running Time: 60 min. + 67 min. Age Rating: Unrated (Contains Violence, Nudity) Language: Japanese with English Subtitles Format: DVD SRP: $39.98 SYNOPSIS: The monsters, maidens and mayhem are out of control as Switchblade Pictures dishes out a double helping of double-breasted demon hunting goodness! First up: MAKIRIKO, which transposes the perennial anime premise of high-school heroine with a giant sword into live action reality! When sailor-suited warrior Makiriko shows up at a new school, there are two immediate clues that trouble is brewing: 1) the soul sucking demons taking over the student bodies; and 2) the talking green demon thing sitting on her shoulder that tells her trouble is brewing! Then get ready for babes, blades and bare-chested battles galore as a nubile ninjette in training must confront her treacherous sister student, a possessed demon hand and the even more monstrous monster master to which the hand belongs. Why she thinks a tiny leather bikini is the appropriate garb for this is anyone’s guess, but that’s why she’s BATTLER SIENNA MATRA! Two totally twisted fantasy thrillers on one great Switchblade DVD… because we know you like things that come in pairs! Another new release is Tears to Tiara Collection 1 brings together the first 13 episodes of the Celtic-flavored fantasy-adventure series in a single two-disc set. SYNOPSIS: In a strange dark age, the Divine Empire’s path of conquest seems unstoppable, endlessly devouring its weaker neighbors in a brutal cycle of subjugation and pillage. But when a savage priest makes a critical mistake while attempting to resurrect a Demon Lord, the scales of fate begin to tip in the other direction! Choosing to side instead with the priest’s intended sacrifice, the Gaelic Priestess Riannon, the resurrected Lord Arawn joins with Riannon and her brother Arthur, as together they begin to assemble the force that will bring the Divine Empire to its knees! Wizards, archers, sword masters and even pixies take arms as the ancient Celtic, Gaelic, British and Roman myths of Albion receive a spectacular new animated interpretation in Tears To Tiara, Collection 1! Running Time: 325 min. Language: Japanese with English Subtitles SRP: $39.98 NFB Not anime, but of note to animation fans... The National Film Board of Canada announced the availability of DVD box set Jacques Drouin: Complete Pinscreen Works. “Jacques Drouin is a major figure in NFB history,” said Julie Roy, producer of the box set. “For three decades, he was the only filmmaker in the world who was working with the pinscreen, the incredible “dream machine” invented around 1930 by the Russian-born French filmmaker Alexander Alexeïeff. With his high-quality oeuvre, constant experimentation and eminently personal vision, Drouin proved that the pinscreen could express the imagination of people other than its inventor.” A box set in the prestigious Mémoire collection, Jacques Drouin: Complete Pinscreen Works brings together the six animated shorts Drouin made at the NFB, including his now classic Mindscape (1976), all digitally restored for the collection created to preserve significant film works for the collective memory. Bonus features include four student films, two trailers and several animated sequences with the director’s commentary, as well as Jacques Drouin in Relief. Made specially for the box set, this documentary portrait offers new insights into the work of an outstanding artist. Complementing the films is a bilingual booklet containing essays by animation experts, Drouin’s notes and other invaluable archival documents. The collection can be purchased on NFB's store Top Shelf An update on the AX, alt manga collection Two things to tell you: the AX book interior is now complete - Top Shelf will soon begin the final design stage and wrap it up in the cover, etc. It is, of course, looking super good! Second thing, is that a French edition of the AX collection will soon be agreed on. I will help put that together too. And... (third thing!) I may soon have some very good news to tell about ANOTHER classic gekiga book to come out in English.... watch this page.

UDON Entertainment

UDON Entertainment will released Hitoshi Ariga's three volume Mega Man:Megamix starting in January 27th.
VIZ Media A first box set of Naoki Urasawa’s MONSTER is set to be released December 8th. Based on the acclaimed manga creator’s tense psychological masterpiece, MONSTER Box Set 1 features 3 DVDs/15 episodes (episodes 1-15) and is rated ‘M’ for Mature Audiences. The DVD box set will also include an exclusive digital booklet, which is a digitized version of the original Japanese booklet.
Cover art © 2004 NAOKI URASAWA, STUDIO NUTS/SHOGAKUKAN/VAP/NTV
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Josei manga title BUTTERFLIES, FLOWERS also recently hit store shelves. Choko Kuze is the sensible daughter of a venerable family who went bankrupt. She joins a real estate company as an entry-level office worker, but her eccentric boss is harder on her than anyone else in the company! After hearing him inadvertently call her "milady," she realizes he was the young servant boy she knew as a child. At work he's a tyrant, but after hours he insists on treating her like a lady of the nobility. Is romance even possible for a couple locked in such a crazy role reversal?
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January DVD releases NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Special Edition Box Set 1 · Rated 'T+' for Older Teens · MSRP: $69.97 US / $99.99 CAN · Available January 26 The Special Edition Box Set features 13 episodes on 3 discs and also includes a collectible NARUTO Shippuden Mininja figure. NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Box Set 1 Standard Edition · Rated 'T+' for Older Teens · MSRP: $49.95 US / $71.99 CAN · Available January 26
(C) 2002 MASASHI KISHIMOTO / 2007 SHIPPUDEN NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Volume 5 · Rated 'T+' for Older Teens · MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN · Available January 12 BLEACH Volume 24 · Rated ‘T’ for Teens · MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN · Available January 19 POKÉMON ELEMENTS, Volume 7: Psychic · Rated 'A' for All Ages · MSRP: $9.98 US/ $14.99 CAN · Available January 26 POKÉMON ELEMENTS, Volume 8: Dragon · Rated 'A' for All Ages · MSRP: $9.98 US / $14.99 CAN · Available January 26 Via WHV's listing 3/23 BLEACH, VOL. 26 HONEY AND CLOVER BOX SET 3 NARUTO SHIPPUDEN VOL. 7 POKÉMON ELEMENTS VOL. 9 (GHOST)
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YuYu Hakusho has ended its run in the English Shonen Jump anthology, to do so end to end since SandLand. Yu-Gi-Oh GX has also left the anthology, to be complete in graphic novels. A three month preview run of Toriko will be tking their place, then manga creation manga Bakuman will receive a run in May. Warner Home Video Cartoon Network Hall Of Fame: Johnny Bravo Season One will be released on March 9th for $24.98 Yen Press An adaptation of Gossip Girl, subtitled For Your Eyes Only, will be serializes in the Yen Plus anthology starting January 2010. GOSSIP GIRL: FOR YOUR EYES ONLY will be an original re-imagination of the girls' senior year focusing on the lives of Blair and Vanessa, written and illustrated by HyeKyung Baek.

Upcoming in Japan

Promos & Previews Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi Character Sketches Designs for the latest installment of magical girl franchise Precure Anime The Halo Legends anthology will be released in Japan on February 16, 2010 on DVD, Blu-ray and digital platforms.
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Anime News Network notes Bandai's mobile phone website m-pub.channel.or.jp is hosting a graphic that reads as follows: New Code Geass Project Launch Green-Lit! Wait for more info in 2010!!
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Koroku Inumura's light novel (Flashbacks to a Certain Aerial Pilot) will be getting an film adaptation To Aru Hikushi e no Tsuioku's story revolves around Charles Karino, a Revaamu Empire mercenary aerial pilot who mans the twin-seater reconnaissance seaplane Santa Cruz. One day, he receives a preposterous assignment: to fly solo over 12,000 kilometers of enemy waters to protect a girl named Fana del Moral. Fana happens to be the next in line to the empire's throne and a girl possessing beauty "equal to 5,000 beams of light."
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The next installment of risque fight anime Ikkitousen will be entitled Ikkitousen XX (Ikkitousen Xtreme Xecutor). Aya Endo will voice character Bachou Mouki. A promo for the upcoming DVD promoting XX can be seen here
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AIC will be taking over for beleaguered studio Gonzo on the production of the upcoming Strike Witches 2-ki.
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Production I.G has indicated that second movie following up on "fantapolitical thriller" Eden of the East has been until March 2010 and has been expanded to a 90 minute runtime
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Jun Awazu’s Negadon: The Monster from Mars next indie work will be Planzet
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Ono Natsume's Sarai-ya Goyô (House of Five Leaves) manga will be adapted into anime. As will Shîbashi Hiroshi's Nurarihyon no Mago
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Noitamina, the programming block for anime for non-anime fans will be hosting an anime adaptation of Tomihiko's Yoj?-Han Shinwa Taikei novels, directed by Masaaki Yuasa (Kaiba, Mind Game, Kemonozume), written by Makoto Ueda (Summer Time Machine Blues, Fujiko F. Fujio's Parallel Space) and produced by Madhouse.
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Shin Itagaki (Basquash!, Black Cat, Devil May Cry, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World) will be writing and directing an upcoming bishojo (cute girl) anime series.
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The anime version of baseball series Major will be back for a sixth installment next spring.
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Evening has posted a teaser for the anime adaptation of demon detective manga Yondemasuyo, Azazel-san.
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Countries as cute guys have become an anime. Trains as cute guys has become an anime. Now, a planetarium's stars as cute guys are getting an anime.
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Amateur web series Gohou Shoujo Sowaka-chan (Esoteric Girl Sowaka-chan) will be released on two DVDs
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Grave digger light novel Sugar Dark appeals to be on the fast track to get an anime adaptation
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Two ending have bene created for Battleship Yamato, Previewing screening attendees will have the opportunity to vote on which ending is used in the final theatrical print Manga Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball) and Masakazu Katsura (I"s, Zetman) sci-fi action Jiya will run in Young Jump from December 10th, and is scheduled to run two volumes worth of content.
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Tying into the DVD release of the Genshiken 2 anime, a new one shot of the manga will be published in Afternoon issue 2, scheduled to hit stands December 25
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The soon to be released Umezz Perfection
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Following the hiking accident death of creator Yoshito Usui, Monthly Manga Town will run published Crayon Shinchan strips until the March issue, which will ship on February 5, 2010. After that, a sequel is being planned. The Shinchan anime will also continue. The 18th anime film, Crayon Shin-chan: Cho Jiku! Arashi o Yobu Ora no Hanayome, will open on April 17. For the first time in the series, the film will depict the future of the title character and his previously unseen bride, Tamiko.
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Peach-Pit's magic girl manga Shugo Chara will come to a close in Nakayoshi #2, on sale December 28th
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The Expansion's Higurashi: When They Cry (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni spin-off of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Jong will be adapted in a manga by J-ta Yamada (Asatte no Houkou), which will run in Takeshobo's Kindai Mahjong
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To Love-Ru -Trouble- manga artist Kentaro Yabuki is drawing the manga adaptation of Tomohiro Matsu's Mayoi Neko Overrun! (Stray Cats Overrun!) romantic comedy light novels.
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Banner for the upcoming Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex manga
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Iwa ni Hana has a description of the recently compiled Nokemono to Hanayome, written by Ikuhara “Utena” Kunihoko and illustrated by Nakamura Asumiko
Live Action The cast has been announced for the live action adaptation of make-up manga Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge(Wallflower) Sunako : Ômasa Aya Kyôhei : Kamenashi Kazuya Takenaga : Uchi Hiroki Yukinojô : Tegoshi Yuya Ranmaru : Miyao Shuntarô
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Moyashimon: Tales of Agriculture, the story of a college student who can speak with bacteria, will be adapted into a live action TV drama in 2010. The manga, published in North America by Del Rey, has previously been adapted into an anime series
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Gekiga pioneer Yoshihiro Tatsumi's memoir A Drifting Life is being adapted into a live action, black and white film, produced by Infinite Frameworks and Zhao Wei Films.

Cool (and Merch) Figures

Getter 2 + Getmachine Jaguar (Repaint Ver.
Prototype 3" Shogun Warrior Raideen discovered (Raideen, Getter Robo, Gaiking, Mazinger) Go Nagai x Panson Works
Evangelion Fracture Kubricks
Lots of Ultramen, Riders & so on in "Medicom Madness"
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Anime producer and online anime retailer Right Stuf, Inc. and its Nozomi Entertainment division announced plans release lithographs featuring art from The Irresponsible Captain Tylor anime series and to open a poll - accessible via www.tylor.com (and animetoday.com) - to determine which piece(s) of art will be produced. The deadline for voting is Friday, December 11, 2009. As with the recently released ARIA The NATURAL lithograph, each limited-edition print will be priced at $49.99 and include a certificate of authenticity.

Anime x Games

Screenshots of Keroro RPG: Kishi to Musha to Densetsu no Kaizoku - from Namco Bandai's Tales Studio, for the Nintendo DS Also on Magic Box, screenshots of Naruto Shippuden: Narutimate Accel 3
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“Goldfish Scooping” iPhone App by GONZO Founder Shoji Murahama’s New Studio
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Anime style digital collectable card game Alteil will be bingeing back favorite characters in the Legends EX Packs expansion. These cards are available in fixed packs until January 30. Previews and trailers can be here.
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The Japanese release of Koei's Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken) is scheduled to be released for the Xbox360 and Playstation 3 in March 2010 Speaking of Koei, Gamasutra spoke to Koei Tecmo's CEO On Synergy, Western Expansion - with talk of Gundam and Fist of the North Star
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The Business

Matt Alt on the fall of Japanese animation and rise of Chinese
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Content network Adconion Media Group announced that it has acquired certain assets from privately-held, once anime carrier Joost, the online video service. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. In June, Joost announced a change in its business strategy to focus on providing white-label video platforms, and Adconion plans to pursue this strategy. Adconion announced its first long-term licensing partnership as the exclusive display and video ad-serving solution for the Goldbach Media Group in Europe.
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FUNimation Entertainment has appointed animation industry executive Chris Moujaes to the position of Director of Original Entertainment. Chris comes to FUNimation with extensive experience in developing international co-productions, managing overseas animation production teams and creating and marketing original entertainment properties. Most recently, Moujaes was with the Austin, Texas-based animation studio Boomstar Inc., where he was President and Chief Creative Officer. Under FUNimation’s important new co-production initiative, Moujaes will focus his efforts on the acquisition and development of a slate of original anime titles based on major intellectual properties. Moujaes is a native of Beaumont, Texas, and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor’s degree in Radio-Television-Film. He found his niche in animation and storytelling early on as an independent producer specializing in property development for AOL Kids and as President of branding agency, Spoonbend. Later, Moujaes co-founded Boomstar to negotiate international television co-productions and to provide animation services through Boomstar’s studio facilities in the United States and India. Moujaes begins his role at FUNimation immediately.
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Wall Street Journal on “Discontent Seeps Into Japan’s Anime Studios”
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Variety reports Kadokawa Group Holdings plans to raise Yen 10 billion ($117 million) by issuing yen-denominated convertible bonds this month. $33million will be allotated to a new digital post production facility. $60million will be invested in its digital and visual media businesses, including pic and game production. $5.8 million will go to boosting Kadokawa’s presence in the Chinese market.
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Icarus' adult anthology Comic AG will end with issue 110. We are a boutique book publisher. Our “trades” are our bread and butter. It is now the time for us to focus on them. Despite the current hiccup in the release schedule, we *will* be releasing more trades in the future. We will be speeding up our releases. We already have enough licenses to last us well into 2011. And even without Comic AG, the direct market will still be a major part of our business. So I want to give a heart-felt thanks to all the retailers and readers who have made Comic AG possible, who have supported us from the beginning. The last two issues are fantastic, and I hope you’d remind your local comic shop that you definitely want them. We will still provide a cheap (or free) option for fans in the form of Comic AG Digital, which we will be making available via torrents and direct downloads, and perhaps even other formats too soon for me to discuss. We do not forget our friends. When we published issue 100, we did so quietly, anonymously, without fanfare from either fandom to which we are affiliated. Perhaps in the distant utopia where everything is free and the printed paper is but a relic, a scholar may come across an old issue of Comic AG, and marvel, for the briefness of sparks from a match, that an unknown indie publisher was able to release so many comics in the time it did.
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Oricon's best selling manga of '09 1 One Piece Eiichiro Oda 14,721,241 Shueisha 2 Naruto Masashi Kishimoto 6,836,494 Shueisha 3 Bleach Kubotite 6,471,021 Shueisha 4 Fullmetal Alchemist Hiromu Arakawa 5,810,522 Square Enix 5 Gintama Hideaki Sorachi 4,733,511 Shueisha 6 Katekyo Hitman Reborn! Akira Amano 3,694,323 Shueisha 7 Mei-chan no Shitsuji Riko Miyagi 3,076,659 Shueisha 8 Fairy Tail Hiro Mashima 2,886,942 Kodansha 9 20th Century Boys Naoki Urasawa 2,655,379 Shogakukan 10 Saint Young Men (Saint O-nii-san) Hikaru Nakamura 2,614,269 Kodansha
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Leiji Matsumoto (Captrain Harlock) has settled his law suit with singer-songwriter Noriyuki Makihara concerning the simularities between his Galaxy Express 999 and the song Galaxy Express 999 in the song "Yakusoku no Basho" (The Promised Place). According to Makihara's lawyer, Matsumoto apologized to Makihara and agreed not to raise any more objections about the song's lyrics.

Digital Distribution

The Jump Super Anime Tour shorts of Naruto and strange eating comedy Toriko are streaming with English subtitles
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Episodes "Light of Venice, Darkness of the Heart" and “Phantasma” of the Gunslinger Girl Il Teatrino OVA will be released on PlayStation Network.
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New content on FUNimation download o own service include Bamboo Blade ENG 1-13 Casshern Sins JPN 5-6 Comic Party Revolution ENG 11-13 Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood JPN 32 Heat Guy J ENG 17-18 Kanon ENG 1-24 Nabari no Ou ENG 1-26 Sgt. Frog ENG 1-26 Sgt. Frog JPN 35-36 Shonen Onmyouji ENG 9-10 Slayers EVOLUTION-R JPN 5-6 Soul Eater JPN 27-30 When They Cry ENG 19-20 Soul Eater JPN 31-34
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The weekly Tezuka iPhone magazine has launched in Canada content on the second American releases include issue 2 Astroboy Buddha Black Jack Issue 3 Dororo:Hyakkimaru Astro Boy:The Greatest Robot On Earth-Chapter Three Black Jack:Teratoid Cystoma
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To promote the launch of Harlequin titles on the eManga manga rental service, when you rent any Harlequin book for 200 points, you will automatically receive a promo code for 50 points. The promotion ends at noon (12:00pm PST) on Wednesday, December 9th.
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Via Anime Nation Yokohama Arts Foundation launched a YouTube Channel
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Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 8, 2009, 6:44 a.m. CST

    I have nothing

    by genesis495

    relevant to bring to this conversation. Sorry just felt like I needed to share.

  • Dec. 8, 2009, 7:05 a.m. CST

    it's anime...

    by sith_rising

    nothing needs to be said

  • Dec. 8, 2009, 7:24 a.m. CST

    Damn it!

    by gopher

    Still no news of Black Lagoon. *weeps like a little schoolgirl*

  • Dec. 8, 2009, 10:33 a.m. CST

    The Golden Globes are SHITE

    by FeralAngel

    So detritus like Battle for Terra and Planet 51 get nods for Best Animated Film but Astro Boy gets zip? That just makes TONS of sense. And all the love for "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is stomach-turning. I finally saw it last weekend and the term "overrated" doesn't begin to cover it. And "Ponyo", which I found charming, is nonetheless not of the caliber of "Spirited Away". Does not deserve a Best Animated Feature nod, what with all the good choices available this year. Jeez. Well, I hope Astro wins the Annies' best writing award, but it's no doubt a futile hope; probably "Up" will, since it's become a freaking institution, as opposed to a mildly diverting, middling-quality film from The Gods Of Pixar. I wish Lasseter would start making FUN movies again, like "Monsters Inc." and "The Incredibles". And no, I don't consider the upcoming "Cars" sequel to be part of the "fun" category. The original bored me to tears.

  • Dec. 8, 2009, 11:47 a.m. CST

    3rd youtube embed from the bottom is interesting

    by HaterofCrap

    the tvshow one

  • Dec. 8, 2009, 2:19 p.m. CST

    TV Show music vid is awesome!

    by Johnno

    Also it's sad to see the one about the declining anime industry in Japan... Can't blame animators for hightailing it out of there on their wages.

  • Dec. 8, 2009, 6:23 p.m. CST

    Too much content in one post...

    by Galactic

    Hard to comment on one thing out of this entire mess, but the Totoro fanart was kickass!