Manga Spotlight: Biomega by Tsutomu Nihei Release by VIZ Media
To my mind, one of the mysteries of manga in North America is why Tsutomu Neihei (Blame!) is not a more recognized figure. He renders armed men in immersive biomechanical labyrinths in a way that few others in the field and match. The visceral thrill that he taps into would seemingly find a receptive audience in the fans of first person shooting games of the Doom/Gears of War/Kill Zone lineage. This thought appears to have struck Marvel Comics too, because they've paired Neihei with properties such as Wolverine and Halo. As such, you can't really say Nihei is underexposed to North American readers. I can't name many other manga creators who've had that sort of bridge to build a reputation off. And yet, the demand for Nihei manga appears to be far from exceptional. I don't think "Nihei" on the cover moves copies of manga. The deduction does not hold up to logical scrutiny, but this makes we wonder if first person shooter fans are manga buyers. My Twitter description of Biomega was "Terminator/Kamen Rider enters a cyber-Lovecraftian zombie haunted town, meets talking sniper bear. Fearless guy in madness." That, and "Wouldn't want the job of the person who had to localize the art in Biomega (Sam Elzway)." It's the kind work whose high concept accelerates the heart rate of a geek/fan, and one perfectly suited to Nihei's distinctive imagery. There isn't much more than that, but it does deliver the promised spectacle. In 3005, humanity accomplishes its first manned flight to Mars in seven centuries. The crew, enchased in heavy exploration suits, feels their way through a girdered hall, until they come face to face with a pale woman with dark, dishevel hair, standing in the believed to be abandoned structure with no breathing apparatus. Six months earlier, a black clad, black helmeted man rode his black motorcycle towards the towering perimeter of a locked down megalopolis. Warned of the danger inherit in going in alone, our man Zouichi brushes aside the advise with a "whatever." Surrounded on all sides by walls and overpasses, Zouichi tracks the rollercoaster like highways. With little space to avoid confrontation, he attempts to steer around a swipe from the bludgeoning arm of an shambling ex-human, and Akira-Tetsuo's into an out of place, normal-if a bit-pail young woman as she walks across the street. Zombified N5S infected drones swarm. Zouichi responds with a drawn pistol and hail of bullets. While the onrush doesn't challenge Zouichi's composure, he is taken a bit aback when the young woman's body begins to stitch itself back together, at least to the extent that a grizzly bear carry a sniper rifle is able to get the drop on him. What works in a Nihei manga like Biomega is the technology-retrofitted Lovecraftian sense of being entombed by something man-made, yet incalculably malignant. He is not a great action manga artist. The space and interaction between physical objects occasionally does not look right and generally don't hold up to scrutiny. The intension is clear, but the sense of speed and weight is lost. Similarly the logic behind panel to panel transition is certainly discernable in a way that can't be said of all manga, and yet, how the illustrations advance from one panel to the next is not as considered or effective as it could be. What Nihei does excels at is design of sense of scale assaulting artificial landscapes and their ghastly inhabitants. Rather than aping Geiger, he offers his own nightmare vision of sanity consuming landscapes. With its spires stretching up a against a black sky and streets that are alternately empty and full of rampaging ghouls, Nihei's scope of astronomically misaligned architecture is projected onto a Silent Hill/Mist damned settlement. His best known work, Blame! was set in a cyclopean labyrinth of endlessly stacked layers. Whereas Biomega is still cyclopean and labyrinthian, Biomega is set in a sort of Innsmouth, a town (well, large city) corrupted by something extremely dark, perhaps as the spearhead for something larger. Rather than Grand Canyon meets Metropolis, meets Alien infestation, this one is House of Usher meets Space Mountain meets Metropolis meets Alien infestation. As in Blame!, Biomega is situated in a terrifying landscape. And, as in Blame!, there is a disparity between the mind shattering immenseness of the threat that surrounds the hero, and that hero's cool, professional detachment. This is man with no name versus town of zombies Tull scene of Stephen King's Gungslinger magnified into Matrix sci-fi proportions. You can accuse a character whose unaffected by that Lovecraftian menace of being underwritten. As with the sequential illustration, Nihei's writing talents are more workable than impressive. But, he does pull off the trick. Rather than thinking about a poorly defined trouble shooter, attention is turned to how hard/inhuman the guy who went in alone against the city of infected monster might be. Based on past performance and the trajectory established by Biomega's first volume, I don't imagine that one should expect much depth, insight or humanity from the manga. It's not Blade of the Immortal or Vagabond, in which the author is working from some larger vision of how people think or interact. Biomega is an effect. It's an effect that has become familiar from video games, but Nihei's mastery of it is so particular that it has to be seen.
Spotlight: King of RPGs Written by Jason Thompson Illustrated by Victor Hao Released by Del ReyOfficial Site
In part, the assessment is due to the book's writer, but King of RPGs marks an interesting place in the cross pollination of American and Japanese pop culture. Its exuberant adventure of college age gaming nerds is a hybrid of geek comedy from both sides of the ocean that coalesces into a densely packed odysseys of thrown dice and sprayed Mountain Dew. "Densely" not being applied an empty platitude... Crammed with visual gags, references and excess motion, it's not a graphic novel that you can tear through in minutes. Fans of role playing games will find much to delight in. It both articulates a passion for the subject and knows how to how fun with it. Some of the mania will translate and the humor in writing and arts sells itself well enough for some amusement regardless of reader attachment to the subject. From manga, it borrows the zeal of competition for presenting its topic. In that, it sidesteps a lot of geek baggage. As nerdy as the endeavor is, the intensity in the eyes of his principals is that of a dreamer or an athlete rather than a fantasy wonk. The gamers are neither Genshiken style embodiments of justification nor Eltingville Club style troglodytes. While the reader is invited to judge them and does not need to embrace their passion, getting caught up in their enthusiasm is encouraged. Yet, there is a dependency on the perspective of the reader. If you're not familiar with RPGs, your grasp of the humor will be diminished. If you know about RPGs but don't care for them, you're enjoyment will likewise probably be diminished. To really love King of RPGs, you probably need to be a fan of the subject. In the English language discussion of the subject, "wrote the book on manga" can only refer to a few people. There are certainly other English books on manga, but "the book" is either Frederik Schodt’s seminal Manga! Manga! (absolutely invaluable, but even updated and expanded upon with Dreamland Japan, coming to require the qualification that it reflects the nature and evolution of manga up to the point where it began competing with mobile devices for consumer attention and gained a considerable following among English language readers) or, it's Jason Thompson's Manga: The Complete Guide (an insightful survey of the manga that gas been translated into English). To stretch the point a bit, a Thompson written manga is like a Peter Bogdanovich directed movie... the exciting possibility of seeing a highly respected commentator on the craft produce their own work. (Thompson has previously edited the English editions of manga, including Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, Bastard!! and the Shonen Jump anthology and he's created his own Lovecraft comics). As advertised on the tin, "King of RPGs" is modeled after one of those "I'll be the greatest..." manga in which green and tentative and/or volcanically enthusiastic leads set themselves on the path to achieve greatness in some endeavor. And, here, that endeavor is RPGs, of the gather around a card table with character sheets variety. Once maniacal massively online RPG addict Shesh Maccabee along with long time buddy/anime geek Mike Ba, matriculates to University of California, Escondido. And, while wandering around during orientation, they wander into a game club meeting/recruitment trap. From there, they are further lured to the "Mages & Monsters" table of fanatical RPG evangelist Theodore Dudek. So, Shesh, Mike, their ren faire/acting/wannabe fantasy novelist neighbor Jen, a cute girl named Callie, and a chunky extra wind up around the RPGing in the deep end. Most of these players don't get it to one extent or another, but Shesh really doesn't get it. As Theodore lectures Shesh after his twitch competition instincts kick in and he proposes having his character kill a crying foundling at the moment of encounter. "It's not 'the players vs the game master. I don't just play the monsters! I also play the millions of people in the world who bear you no ill will whatsoever!" The pairing begins looking a bit like irresistible force versus immovable object. Theodore attempts to roll out his RPG gospel with mood music, sound effects and live snakes. While the other games are only distracted, thinking about other things and sortof playing along, Shesh is cheating and otherwise loudly insisting on ensuring victory. And yet, more than a marriage of convenience, Theodore becomes convinced that he must convert Shesh into a right minded tabletop gamer as a step to realizing his RPG world order. A hallmark of manga is the tradition's capability for inspiring interest in an just about anything. Wine is said to have not had many connoisseurs in Japan before The Drops of God and Sommelière inspired people to learn about the drink. Slam Dunk is said to have developed a Japanese following for basketball. Hikaru no Go is said to have reignited interest in go. If there is a manga about American football (Eyeshield 21, for which NFL Japan sponsored an anime adaptation) or competitive Chinese cuisine cooking (Iron Wok Jan) or competitive bread beading (Yakitate!! Japan), it has to be created with the assumption that the reader is largely unfamiliar with the subject. A badminton manga (there are several, including Yamato no Hane, Badminton Girl and Smash!) isn't pitched to the reader with the assumption that they have any familiarity or interest in the subject matter. King of RPGs builds with the mechanisms of many of the shonen style, aspirational manga that complements these stories of striving for greatness. Beyond Shesh's combustible demeanor and Theodore’s dreaming, it has the ticks of manga. For example, it explains the mindset and creates sympathy for an antagonist by using a flashback the way a tournament fighting manga series would. And yet, the way it reaches its audience with its central endeavor is far closer to the approach of American geek comedies than competition manga. In Doctor Slump, and then again in early Dragon Ball, Akira Toriyama created adventures in which anything could happen. Look how Dragon Ball started. It's the religious/culture epic Journey to the West, with pilgrimaging Buddhist monk Xuánzàng replaced by a blue haired girl named Bulma who pulls various shrunk down vehicles and gadgets out of capsules, while her Monkey King companion Son Goku is turned into an adventurous tailed kid... and there's wish granting dragons and dinosaurs and hermits wearing turtle shells. It's the spirit of imaginative sputter that inspired Eiichiro Oda (One Piece), Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto) and a generation of shonen manga artists. For example, the official line for why Hiro Mashima's (Fairy Tail, Rave Master) work looks remarkably like Oda's is that both were Toriyama devotees. Between the antics of Shesh and Theodore, King of RPG's ignites the anything can happen Toriyama spirit. Beyond simple, excessive, escalating behavior, there's dice throwing provoked terrorist scares, grand theft auto and a sub-game store oubliette of collectable card game commons. Anything can happen volatility needs a handle: Goku's boisterous curiosity, Naruto's belief that he can overcome his alienated past, Luffy's boundless forward momentum. Contrary to the general composition of "I'll be the best" manga, King of RPGs chief handle is its subject. It does sell the appeal of RPGs. Late in the volume, Theodore treats Shesh, and by extension, the reader, to the nature of his vision of an RPG enthused world. Earlier, the pitch is framed in opposition to other branches of gaming under the RPG label... massively multiplayer online ones, Japanese console based video games and so on. While no reader is going to entirely left out in the cold, that conversation is largely pitched to an audience familiar with the domain. Unlike a manga that guides its reader into the subject and uses caution when introducing humor based on jargon or familiarity, King of RPG's in-jokes have recursive in-jokes. As Shesh, Mike and Jen walk into the gaming club meeting, the Dead Alewives' Dungeons and Dragons sketch is quoted by a couple of giggling club veterans. A nice chunk of the book is devoted to a gaming session, cutting between the players and their characters, with dice roles overlaying the action in the latter case. As much as the recognition humor draws from game trappings and terms, it also draws from patterns of behavior... which happens pretty quickly as the adventure opens with the group paladin (an ultragood-guy) opting to kill a ship full of sailors rather than pay them. And, the in-jokes extent to tangential subjects. A flame spell is called Red Colored Elegy, while a stream of projecting blades is called Beauty Labyrinth of Razors. Thompson and Hao have a handle on situation comedy in addition to their parody humor. A memorable scene features the characters "diversity training role-playing" during orientation. During the activity, they composite identifying characteristics drawn from barrels, yielding assignments like Mike's "Latino woman with struggling business" and Jen's "African American lesbian with Asperger's Syndrome." It's a great instance of something familiar, taken to extreme lengths that also gives the characters an avenue by which to express themselves. In a great turn, Shesh draws "18 year-old college student, Jewish American," then tosses the assignment behind a coach "No! I'm 17. Not 18. I'll leave the acting stuff to the experts." However, as good as that scene is, the jokes more typical revolve around Wallet Monster cards or Capitalism board games. Personally, I haven't played a table top RPG in 15+ years. It was largely in middle school. It was largely with people I'm not too broken up about not seeing anymore. And, like the King of RPG's first game, our sessions almost ways either imploded or exploded. As such, I have a bit of an antipathy towards RPGS. Though I don't follow it too closely, from what I can tell, the domain hasn't evolved to a point where I don't understand it anymore. From that standpoint, King of RPGs rang true to me. I think I got the Guild (a digitally distributed comedy about MMORPG players), but never found it funny... I think I get KoRPGs. While I was not falling over laughing, I was amused by it. In addition to appreciating manga references, I smirked at its critique of console RPG characters as wind up automata and King Conan nods. Yet, throughout King of RPGs, I had the impression that my active indifference towards what the characters were getting excited about was inhibiting my enjoyment.
Live Action Adaptations
Mamoru Oshii, director of the Ghost in the Shell movie, will be directing a live action adaptation of Mitsuteru Yokoyama's seminal boy and his remote controlled giant robot Tetsujin 28-go (aka Gigantor). Oshii had already directed a stage play version of Tetsujin 28-go, which featured a 500-kilogram (1,100-pound), six-meter-tall (20-feet-tall) replica of the title robot. Imagi (the recent Astro Boy movie) had indicated the intension of produce a CGI Tetsujin 28 CG movie. Previous adaptations of the 1956 manga include a 1960 live action tv series, 1963 anime TV series, 1980 anime TV series, 1992 anime TV series, 2004 anime TV series, 2005 live action TV/CG movie and 2007 anime movie. 1967 live action TV series Giant Robo (aka Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot), 1998 OVA Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still, and 2007 GR: Giant Robo anime tv series are also variants of Tetsujin 28.
*Arashi's Kazunari Ninomiya and singer Kou Shibasaki will star in the live action adaptation of Fumi Yoshinaga's historical fiction manga Ooku, scheduled to be released in Japan in October 2010. The manga, released in North America by Viz, features a Japanese society transformed by a disease that reduces the male to female ration to 1 to 4. *If you can stomach watching Entertainment Tonight footage, Paul Bettany speaking about starring in the adaptation of Hyung Min-woo's horror/western manhwa Priest *Kenichi Matsuyama as Masaru Kato in GANTZ - a not so teenage looking lead for a manga that projected teenage against onto a violent bug hunt *An $11 million ad blitz using being used to roll out the new Yamato live action movie, scheduled to hit Japanese theatres in December 2010.
Upcoming in Japan
Promos Dissapearance of Haruhi Suzumiya Gekijouban Yu-Gi-Oh! ~Chou-Yugo! Jiku o Koeta Kizuna~ (10th anniversary movie) Detective Conan: The Lost Ship in the Sky Rintaro's (Rintaro's CG children's movie) Senko no Night Raid - espionage set in 1931 China Katanagatari Votoms: Gen-ei Hen promoted as the final part of real robot war franchise Girl Who Leapt Through Time (new live action, starring Riisa Naka, voice of the lead in the Hosoda anime) Tono to Issho Hellsing Ultimate VII Anime Makoto Shinkai, best known for his solo work greating Voices of a Distant Star, announced a new project, to be created with most of the main staff from 2007's 5 Centimeters Per Second. The project is being described as "lively" adventure, action, romance, and a girl dealing with loss and preparing a final farewell. Preview art can be seen on Shinkai's site
*20th Lupin III TV special, the Last Job will air on Japanese TV on February 12th The story follows the supposed death of not-so-gentlemanly thief Lupin's police inspector adversary Zenigata and his battles with a ninja gang over stolen Japanese treasures. *Tono Municipal Museum will host an anime adaptation of Mizuki Shigeru no Tono Monogatari (Shigeru Mizuki's The Legends of Tono), a work by the famed yokai manga creator, best known for GeGeGe no Kitaro. *Tatsunoko Production 's 1970 anime series The Adventures of Hutch the Honeybee (Konchu Monogatari Minashigo Hutch) will get a new anime movie, set to hit Japanese theatres in summer 2010. *A new DVD cut of Evangelion 2.0 has been confirmed to be in the work for a Spring release. *Junod, a Shinichiro Kimura directed 60 minute anime account of the account life of the first foreign doctor to arrive at Hiroshima after its atomic bombing is scheduled to be completed in January 2010. A trailer can be seen here. *NHK will be broadcasting four shorts based on the work of sci-fi writer Shinichi. The four animated stories and their animators are "Muryo no Denwaki" ("Free Phone") by Pantagraph, "Atarashii Asobi" by Tayuta Mikage, "Kotta Jikan" by Tetsuro Kodama, and "Gogo no Kyoryu" by Takashi Kato. The two live-action stories are "My Kokka" ("My Nation") and "Kofu na Ai." *A second Big Windup! (Okiku Furikabutte) baseball anime is scheduled for Spring 2010. A compilation OVA of the first series will be released in March *Fuyumi Ono (12 Kingdoms) and Ryu Fujisaki's (Hoshin Engi) horror manga Shiki will be adapted into an anime series by Studio Aniplex *2004 mecha anime Soukyu no Fafner: Dead Aggressor is on its way back via Soukyu no Fafner: Heaven and Earth *Masami Kurumada's (Saint Seiya) boxing series Ring ni Kakero 1 will be back in April with Ring ni Kakero 1: Shadow *TAGRO's Abnormal Physiology Seminar (Hen Zemi) manga is being adapted into an anime series Manga Via News Paradise New Code Geass manga Code Geass: No Shikkoku Renyi will run in Shonen Ace in Spring 2010 *Afternoon # 03 (on Sale January 25) will feature cat one shot manga Haruka Kanata by shojo legend Moto Hagio, based on a story by Ako Tanaka, as well as Sugimoto Iqura's (Variant) moet - Burning Girls. *Missile Kakurai's (Saber Shibito) Hokuto No Ken/Fist of the North Star spin-off Hoko No Kumo - Hokuto No Ken - Juza Gaiden will launch in Comic Bunch # 06 (On Sale January 8) *Peach Pit will be ending their Shugo Chara! manga, then relaunching follow-up Shugo Chara! Again in Nakayoshi # 04 (On Sale February 2). *Sensual Phrase creator Mayu Shinjo's Kido Senshi Gundam Zeon Kokoku Yonen Gakko (Mobile Suit Gundam: The Principality of Zeon Children's Academy) manga is launching in the March issue of Monthly Gundam Ace (on sale in January) *Monthly Comic Dengeki Daioh will be launching aMy-Hime EXA manga in the next issue on January 27. Koteiryu (Maji-Kyu 4-Koma Fate/stay night) will draw the manga based on a script by Ryo Suzukaze (Demonbane, .hack//CELL, IDOLM@STER: XENOGLOSSIA manga/novels).
Anime x Games
Dirty uncle of manga Go Nagai (Mazinger Z, Cutey Honey) provided the art for the first Nintedo published RPG?! Screenshots of the American release of anime inspired and adapted steam tech mech/psychic girls Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love
*Set 6: A Prelude To Battle of anime style digital collectable card game Alteil is now live, with 60 new cards, feature art by illustrators including Rei (Code Geass Manga), Masaki Hirooka (Culdcept Saga, Sonic and the Secret Rings), and Kazuno Yuikawa (Aquarian Age, Ragnarok Online). Uuntil January 4th, there will be a Gold Box available in the shop for Set 6. This box is 24 Packs for the price of 23, and includes a guaranteed 5-Star Rare, as well as better rates for all rares. New starts are also now available. *Embattled anime studio Gonzo has produced the opening to MMORPG Arcadia Saga *Eroge game maker Little Witch announced that the brand will be suspended indefinitely after the release of their upcoming Sugar Coat Freaks *Fist of the North Star screenshots and trailer *The top game on Japan's version of the Xbox Live Arcade download service for 2009 is mecha fighting game Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram
Nan Desu Kan will celebrate the Year of the Tiger with NDK NYE, a New Year’s Eve Costume Ball, on Dec. 31, 2009 at the Marriott Denver Tech Center. Tickets are only $15 and hotel rooms begin at $69. Doors open at 8 p.m. NDK NYE will feature a fusion of Japanese cultural activities and refined anime cosplay elegance in an all ages atmosphere, featuring a variety of music by DJ Bullock, door prizes, games, and a balloon drop at midnight. Food and drinks will be available for purchase and photo services will be offered by NDK convention photographer Chris Gilstrap of CG Photography. During this event, attendees will have the opportunity to purchase exclusive Japanese fortunes (omikuji). Proceeds will benefit the Japan America Society of Colorado, which promotes understanding of the arts, literature, cultural ideals and aspirations of the Japanese and American people.
*Monster wrestling troupe Kaiju Big Battel will be performing at Boston's Hynes Convention Center as part of the city's First Night new years activities. *Sita Sings the Blues is playing night at the New York IFC Center nightly at 8:25pm through January 6 *Pop Japan Travel's deadline for the Cold Steel 2010 tour is January 2nd. The trip will feature an option to meet Nizo Yamamoto, art director for Princess Mononoke, Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror of Shamballa, Perfect Blue, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, in addition to a trip to annual Yuki Matsuri (snow festival) in Sapporo *X-Japan will be running a one night only show January 9th in Hollywood, CA *The 30th of January 2010 will mark the 5th anniversary of the Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival(SFFSFF) put on annually by the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum in Seattle. Films for the upcoming festival have been announced on the official website. Tickets for the 2010 show can be found here. *Polysics will be touring the US Jan-28-10 Bottom of the Hill - San Francisco, CA Jan-29-10 The Roxy Theatre - Los Angeles, CA Jan-30-10 Casbah - San Diego, CA Feb-02-10 Plush - Tucson, AZ Feb-03-10 The Rhythm Room - Phoenix, AZ Feb-05-10 The White Rabbit - San Antonio, TX Feb-06-10 The Independent - Austin, TX Feb-07-10 The Loft - Dallas, TX Feb-10-10 Double Door - Chicago, IL Feb-11-10 Magic Stick - Detroit, MI Feb-12-10 Musica - Akron, OH Feb-13-10 The Gramercy Theatre - New York, NY Feb-14-10 Middle East - Cambridge, MA Feb-16-10 The Rock and Roll Hotel - Washington, DC Vocalist Kayo announced that she will be leaving the band following the tour. *The New York premiere of White on Rice is set for March 12th, 2010. The film will open exclusively at the Imaginasian Theater (soon to be renamed Big Cinemas Manhattan 1), the premiere showcase for cutting edge Asian cinema in Manhattan. *The second instance of the roflcon internet culture conference will take place at MIT May 1st, 2010 *New York's Japan Society Gallery will be showing Ukiyo-e masters, Utagawa Kuniyoshi from March 12 to June 13, 2010. via Art Daily "Kuniyoshi's work can be seen as foreshadowing the visual storytelling of contemporary manga, anime, and computer and video games," says Joe Earle, Director of Japan Society Gallery and organizer of the exhibition. "Like a number of the top creators in these genres of today, he was an eccentric who specialized in comic figures and action scenes sold in vast numbers at low prices to an insatiable and visually sophisticated audience." A new Takashi Murakami exhibition which opened this week at La Llotgeta. Organized by the Aula de Cultura de Caja Mediterráneo (CAM), "Superflat. New Pop Culture" gathers 21 lithographs and several small sized sculptures made by Murakami, considered to be one of the most recognized international Japanese artists. *Jerry Beck will be hosting a cartoon program the first Tuesday of each month, at the CineFamily/Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax Avenue.
VIZAnime.com has launched with eleven streaming shows including Bleach Buso Renkin Death Note Hikaru no Go Honey and Clover Inuyasha Inuyasha: The Final Act NANA Naruto Naruto Shippuden The Prince of Tennis
*Martell Brothers Studios has released COSPLAYERS: THE MOVIE , a documentary about Japanese animation fandom in North America on Crunchyroll Crunchyroll will also be hosting Cobra: The animation, the new 13 episode anime adaptation of Buichi Terasawa's Space Adventure Cobra. COBRA THE ANIMATION will be available in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Brazil, and Portugal, in standard definition free of charge to all visitors of Crunchyroll's website and across the Crunchyroll network one week after airing in Japan. Crunchyroll's Anime Members will receive early access to the program in 480P within one hour after its Japanese airing, starting with the premiere of COBRA THE ANIMATION in January. Title Synopsis: COBRA THE ANIMATION: THE PSYCHOGUN There is an man, impervious to pain, and his left arm has been replaced with a the Psychogun. His name is Cobra. He is a pirate alone on his own, pursued by the Pirate Guild, with a bounty larger than no other in the universe placed on his head by the Galactic Patrol, and he has disappeared for three years. Rumored to be dead, Cobra has changed his face and has been living a peaceful life. But then, one day he is told this tranquility will no longer last. Along with Lady, his beautiful cybernetic companion of Martian origin, they blast off into space in the Turtle, Cobra's favorite ship, looking for endless adventure. *Buso Renkin is being added to Hulu *Kanaban Graphics' ( Petit Eva ~Evangelion@School~ ) Yanyan Machiko is streaming on YouTube *Marvel has completed uploading the tokusatsu Spider-Man *ADNESS Entertainment confirmed that takes Tokyopop to task for how they're staging the digital distribution discussion
Cool Figures News
CollectionDX has Gunnm: Another Stories (aka Battle Angel Alita) also, Soul of Chogokin GX-48 THE BIG O A review the figure based on Sega Saturn's judoka mascot Segata Sanshiro
on CNNgo, Matt Alt offered a time line on how anime's going from "cool" to "cooling off" over the last decade
*Imagi International said its interim net loss widened to HK$725 million for the six months ended September 30 from HK$21.8 million last year. Loss per share was 30.32 HK cents. *Reuters has a feature on manga sales in Europe To understand Europe's growing fascination with the wide-eyed innocents and baroque demons of the Japanese comic books known as manga, it may help to look back at the end of the nineteenth century. "I envy the Japanese the extreme clarity that everything in their work has. It's never dull, and never appears to be done too hastily," the artist Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo in 1888. Van Gogh, whose boldly outlined, vivid painting is now instantly recognizable, copied some of the Japanese woodblock prints by Utagawa Hiroshige that are considered precursors to manga, which roughly translates as "freeform pictures". *ICV2 is claiming the home video industry is turning more optimistic *Variety took note of One Piece Film: Strong World's box office winning streak
Upcoming in North America
Not in America, but in English of note, the next Yasutaka Tsutsui (Paprika, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) translated novel will be a Alma Books UK release of The Maid, scheduled for March 15. Nanase cannot remember when she first realized she could read people's minds, but not once during her eighteen years has she ever thought that it was a particularly unusual ability. Yet, when she gets a job as a live-in maid, she is inevitably drawn into the lives, thoughts and desires of her employers, with dangerous and, at times, hilarious consequences. From the sexual rapaciousness of her first boss, to the grime and stench of the house where she works next and her third employer's inability to accept she's no longer young, Nanase's adventures are a picaresque journey into the inner sanctum of the lives and psyches of ordinary Japanese people. Ryu Murakami's Audition novel, source for the Takashi Miike movie, will be released in North America in June
*The English language cast has been announced for the upcoming Gundam UC (Unicorn) - a anime adaptation of novels set during the Universal Century timeline of the original Gundam Banagher Links - Steve Cannon Audrey Burne - Stephanie Sheh Takuya Irei - Robby Sharpe Micott Bartsch - Rachael Lillis Marida Cruz - Tara Platt Suberoa Zinnerman - Michael Alston Baley Cardeas Vist - Steve Mann Syam Vist - Troy Baker Flaste Schole - Sean Schemmel Staff English adaptation produced by Sunrise in association with Nyav Post Voice Director - Michael Sinterniklaas *The Boondocks will be returning to Cartoon Network with its third season in early 2010. CMX DIAMOND GIRL VOL. 1 Advance-solicited; on sale April 7 • 5” x 7.375” • 162 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN Written and illustrated by Takanori Yamazaki CMX/FLEX COMIX. Tsubura has just moved to the countryside and is ready for some peace and quiet. At her new school, all she wants is to blend in. But when an errant ball shatters through her classroom window and she springs into action, Tsubura reveals her hidden talent for baseball. The school team is determined to get her to join and help to transform them from the worst to the best. No one really understands why Tsubura hates the sport, but their efforts to recruit her might just drive her away. BROKEN BLADE VOL. 3 Advance-solicited; on sale April 21 • 5” x 7.375” • 162 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN PLUS CRAYON SHINCHAN VOL. 11 Advance-solicited; on sale April 28 • 5” x 7.375” • 128 pg, B&W, $7.99 US • MATURE Written and illustrated by Yoshito Usui FIRE INVESTIGATOR NANASE VOL. 4 Advance-solicited; on sale April 14 • 5” x 7.375” • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN PLUS Story by Izo HASHIMOTO/Art by Tomoshige ICHIKAWA THE NAME OF THE FLOWER VOL. 4 Advance-solicited; on sale April 14 • 5” x 7.375” • 208 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN PLUS Written and illustrated by Ken Saito TWO FLOWERS FOR THE DRAGON VOL. 6 Advance-solicited; on sale April 21 • 5” x 7.375” • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN Written and illustrated by Nari Kusakawa DMP April DMP releases include Apr 7, 2010 Alice the 101st Vol. 1 How To Control a Sidecar In the Walnut vol. 2 Millennium Prime Minister Vol. 4 Moonlit Promises Apr 21, 2010 Intense Rain Mamiya Doll House FUNimation FUNimation revealed the English dub cast of Strike Witches, scheduled to be released on DVD March 30, 2010 Cherami Leigh as Yoshika Miyafuji Kira Vincent-Davis as Mio Sakamoto Stephanie Sheh as Gertrud Barkhorn Jamie Marchi as Shirley Yeager Trina Nishimura as Francesca Licchini Luci Christian as Erica Hartmann Kate Bristol as Lynnette Bishop Jad Saxton as Perrine Clostermann Jennifer Forrester as Sanya Litvyak Caitlin Glass as Eila Juutilainen Anastasia Munoz as Mina A DVD release of Gainax's Shikabane Hime is scheduled for summer 2010. Section23 March releases, including complete sets of anime series Yozakura Quartet and Tayutama: Kiss On My Deity. Also coming from Sentai Filmworks in February is the first collection of You’re Under Arrest: Full Throttle. Live action releases include Buyusenki Battle Chronicle and the Cat Girl / Super Dimension Odyssey Tritia. Title: YOZAKURA QUARTET COMPLETE COLLECTION Run Time: 300 minutes Street Date: 3/2/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $39.98 SYNOPSIS: When Demons Walk the Streets, The Cops need to recruit More Demons! In a town where humans and demons co-exist, it takes more than a normal police force to maintain the peace. Enter the Hiizumi Life Counseling Office, a fantastic foursome of unique teenagers, each gifted with an amazing super power! Since it sometimes takes real demon-fire to fight demon fire, the first three quarters of the team aren't exactly human: Ao, a cat-eared telepath; Kotoha, a half-human conjuror and Hime, descended from a dragon (and the town's acting mayor,) all of whom also happen to be delightfully female. Rounding out the group is the token male and human, Akina, the office director and "Oyakume," capable of banishing spirits permanently (and from their point of view quite fatally) via a process called tuning. They may not look as impressive as some other superhero teams, and they certainly don't have the most dynamic name ever, but come hell hounds or high water, but they WILL defend their city in Yozakura Quartet, the Complete Collection! Title: BUYUSENKI BATTLE CHRONICLE Run Time: 112 minutes Street Date: 3/9/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $19.98 SYNOPSIS: Mix motorcycles, drugs and yakuza under pressure and the result is bosozoku, the brutal motorized street gangs that terrorize Japan armed with swords and baseball bats. Kyosuke Jinnai was the leader of the "Buyusenki," the largest group of its kind in the Kanto region, but sick of the violence, he had planned to give it all up to make a family with his pregnant girlfriend. Instead, all of that was stolen from him in a moment of savage betrayal, and the man who dreamed of a life of peace has instead been transformed into an angel of death! The streets of Japan will be paved with blood in Buyusenki Battle Chronicle! Title: YOU'RE UNDER ARREST: FULL THROTTLE COLLECTION 1 Run Time: 300 minutes Street Date: 3/9/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $39.98 SYNOPSIS: Welcome to You’re Under Arrest: Full Throttle, the follow up to Fast & Furious! The ladies of Bokuto Police Station are back, but there have been some BIG changes! Miyuki's been in the U.S., studying American police techniques while Natsumi's actually been serving in the military! So have these world-changing experiences had any effect on how everyone's favorite girls in blue carry out their duties protecting the Japanese public? Have they gained a more "mature" perspective? Well. let's just say that, if anything, they may be even wilder and less cautious than before! (Except for that blossoming "relationship" between Miyuki and Nakajima, where things are getting decidedly delicate.) Whether rescuing young orphans from yakuza types to confronting rogue wrestlers and even giant snakes, the plots have and action has never been more extreme than in the outrageous first collection of You're Under Arrest: Full Throttle! Title: TAYUTAMA: KISS ON MY DEITY COMPLETE COLLECTION Run Time: 300 minutes Street Date: 3/16/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $39.98 SYNOPSIS: Yuuri Mito is a typical, normal Japanese teenager. He goes to school, works on people's motorcycles and performs exorcisms. Okay, that last part's a little bit unusual, but his family lives in a shrine and they do that sort of thing. Still, you would think he'd know enough to be careful with an ancient relic he finds in the woods, especially when a mysterious goddess appears and tells him to leave it alone. Unfortunately, despite Mito's best efforts, the seal gets broken anyway and a number of dangerous "tayuti" that it held in stasis get loose. This is bad. Mito also ends up with a beautiful goddess girl who decides that she's going to marry him. This might not be so bad. if he wasn't already caught up in the middle of a war between the entities he's released. The flesh may be weak but the spirit's more than willing to compensate in Tayutama: Kiss On My Deity The Complete Collection! Title: CAT GIRL / SUPER DIMENSION ODYSSEY TRITIA DOUBLE FEATURE Run Time: 147 minutes Street Date: 3/23/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $19.98 SYNOPSIS: Which is more important to an exploitation movie: half naked girls or a logical plot? The eternal question is answered firmly in favor of the former in an all new and extra sexploitational Switchblade Double Feature! First, when a secret illegal fighting syndicate needs to recruit new wrestlers, the best and most logical way to do this is to kidnap unsuspecting women who visit an elite Beauty institute and dose them up with an experimental Cat DNA serum, right? Unfortunately for the bad guys, their latest feline enhanced femme fatale is actually an undercover reporter named Natasha, and they're in for a real pussy whipping from their latest CAT GIRL! Next, the scantily clad Princess Tritia of Blue Land comes to Earth in search of the long lost Treasure Sword, a mission so urgent that she apparently didn't have time to pack any pants. That's okay though, because while Tritia may be one of the ditzy-est super-heroines of all time, her well exposed assets are more than sufficient to counter the sinister conspiracies spun by Prince Gananga of Red Land! There's sleaze, cheese and loads of color coded chaos galore in Super Dimension Odyssey Tritia! Title: NEO ANGELIQUE ABYSS SEASON 2 COLLECTION Run Time: 325 minutes Street Date: 3/30/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $39.98 SYNOPSIS: In a land with no sun, the light of the soul must show the way. Six months have passed since the shocking climactic events of season one. As the monstrous Thanatos run rampant, and the world of Arcadia is enveloped in a shroud of smoke and darkness. The mysterious disappearance of the Orb Hunters has lead many to believe that their former protectors are responsible for the disaster. But the truth is even more shocking, for Angelique has actually been unconscious the entire time. Now, waking for the first time, she realizes that she must embrace her destiny, but to do so will mean placing her trust in those who could destroy her! The ancient prophecy must be fulfilled or Arcadia will perish in the complete collection of Neo Angelique Abyss ~ Second Age! Shout Factory! Shout Factory! is preparing a release of the showa series of turtle kaiju Gamera. The eight movies will be released with HD transfer along with new subtitles and many extras. VIZ MEdia February DVD releases include NANA Uncut Box Set 3 • Rated 'M' for Mature • MSRP: $59.90 US/ $85.99 CAN • Available February 2 BLEACH Uncut Box Set 4 Part 2 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • MSRP: $49.95 US / $71.99 CAN • Available February 16 BLEACH Volume 25 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available February 23 NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Volume 6 • Rated 'T+' for Older Teens • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available February 9 NARUTO Uncut Season 2 Volume 1 • Rated 'T+' for Older Teens • MSRP: $39.97 US / $57.99 CAN • Available February 16 Before the final round of the Chunin Exam, Naruto receives some special training from 20th CENTURY BOYS 2: THE LAST HOPE • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available February 16
Awards and Recognition
The Nippon Academy-Sho Association's 33rd Japan Academy Prizes recognized Hideaki Anno and Khara's Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance (Evangelion Shin Gekijoban: Ha), Mamoru Hosoda and MADHOUSE's Summer Wars, Kôzô Kusuba and Shinei Animation's Doraemon: Shin Nobita no Uchu Kaitakushi, Shinsuke Sato and Production I.G's Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror, and Yasuichiro Yamamoto and TMS Entertainment's Detective Conan: The Raven Chaser with the Excellence in the Animation category. Masaki Okada ( Boku no Hatsukoi o Kimi ni Sasagu), Hiro Mizushima (Drop), and Airi Taira ( 20th Century Boys films) wons Awards of Excellence in the New Actor/Actress category. Toshiyuki Nishida and Rentaro Mikuni will receive special Chairperson's Service Awards for their venerable 21-year-old movie franchise based on Juzo Yamasaki and Kenichi Kitami's Tsuri Baka Nisshi (Diary of a Fishing Fool) comedy manga.
*Fumiko's Confession is among the nominees for for the second annual YouTube Video Awards Japan *The Guardian's 10 most underrated movies of the decade included Studio 4C's adaptation of Taiyo Matsumoto's manga Tekkonkinkreet and Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away Rob Schwartz's top 10 Japanese films of the decade included Spirited Away and Mindgame On Japan Times, David Cozy's Best books of 2009 included A DRIFTING LIFE (manga), by Yoshihiro Tatsumi and THE EDOGAWA RAMPO READER (of note to genre fans) New York Magazine's comics of 2009 list included 20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa and A Drifting Life by Yosihiro Tatsumi *Precocious Curmudgeon's For your Eisner consideration list Top 12 Manga of 2009, As Picked by Comics and Book Critics Jason Thompson's (Manga: The Complete Guide) top 10 manga of 09
Worth Checking Out...
Insight Andrez Bergen, Tokyo Correspondent of the late, lamented magazine Anime Insider has launched/rebranded his blog JapaneseCultureGoNow! - a noteworthy addition to online writings on geek pop culture in Japan, with pieces on the Japanese launch of Star Trek, reviews of early Miyazaki movie Panda! Go, Panda! and sites like Matsumoto Castle. Ogiue Maniax look at the character of anime and manga over the last decade
Anime lecture at UMSL Tim Eldred's YAMATO REBIRTH: An Eyewitness Account of the New Beginning ANN spoke to Girl Who Leapt Through Time (and more recently, Summer Wars) director Mamoru Hosoda Sci-Fi Japan spoke to ULTRA GALAXY Composer Mike Verta Otaku USA on Mai Mai Miracle "in every aspect except pure eye candy, Mai Mai Miracle is a better film than Ponyo" and on 90's fantasy action comedy the Slayers okazu on the worst light novel ever THEM Anime Reviews of Daughter of 20 Faces, based on Edogawa Rampo's master of disguise About.com:manga on Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture and Raiders Shaenon Garrity picks up on the translation conversation When you’re translating manga, you have to choose between a literal translation and one that sounds good. Japanese and English are radically different languages in their generalities (basic elements like sentence structure and tenses are entirely different), specifics (Japanese has no parallel to English articles, English has no parallel to Japanese honorifics), and cultural quirks of usage (conversational Japanese typically drops as many words as possible, leaving many a sentence incomprehensible out of context). Every translation team has to decide what balance the translation will strike. The trouble is, there’s no reward for striking that perfect balance. David Welsh On Osamu Tezuka's MW It does strike me as atypical, but it is hard to compare something like MW to series like Astro Boy or Black Jack, which are episodic, character driven properties. It's kind of like comparing A Contract with God to The Spirit, you know? MW was conceived with a beginning, middle and end. It's slick, but it's also tight. There's no waste in its construction, but there's that frugal artistry that's kind of unique to thrillers. I've seen it said that Tezuka wanted to trump the emerging gekiga artists of the time, to do what a lot of them did -- gritty drama for grown-ups -- better, so the level of craft in MW might just reflect Tezuka achieving that goal: "I can be a great gekiga artist, too." And it's interesting to watch his progression in terms of the available work of that kind, starting with Swallowing the Earth from the late 1960s, which is fascinating but a mess, moving on to Ode to Kirihito from the early 1970s, which marks a significant improvement in his telling of a high-minded thriller, to MW in the mid-1970s, which is pretty much flawless at least in terms of construction and pacing. Tezuka's journey with gekiga could be your basic shônen story -- a novice chooses a goal and decides to become the best in all of Japan. I don't think there's enough gekiga available in English to determine whether he achieved that goal, but he did make some great comics in that category. Iwa ni Hana on Loups - Garous - a sci-fi novel to be released in North America by Viz and adapted into anime by Production I.G History of Manga entries at Three Steps Over Japan a look at Yayoi-Yumeji gallery's exhibit on Shojo no Tomo an overview of the influence of Kodansha's Kenichi Katou A chronology of the work of Suihou Tagawa, creator of the influencial prewar manga Norakuro. Chris Arrant spoke to TOKYOPOP's Marco Pavia about the state of the company, and what to except from them. The Top 5 Industry Disasters of The Decade Manga license rescue requests, Precocious Curmudgeon also presents a look at The Summit of the Gods vol. 1 Japan Tikes spoke to Mamoru Oshii about Assault Girls a guest review of the movie at Tim Maughan Books Japan Times on why Super Flat artist Takashi Murakami is still relevant and what he needs to do to stay that way A survey of the winter anime season Japan Times' Hiroaki Sato criticizes Roger Cohen's New York Times otaku opinion piece Japanese film site Midnight Eye has posted their latest update Directory of World Cinema: Japan is available for download Media