Anime Spotlight: Maria Holic Complete Collection Released by Section 23/Sentai Filmworks
Equals parts despite and because of its irksome sense of humor, I admire Maria Holic a bit. I did laugh out loud at a few iterations of the comedy's central joke, and a few examples of the tangential ones (such as the running gag about a fondness for the "dark history" of consumer electronics, such as the Virtual Boy and the Dreamcast). The "Panda-Chan, Since 1192" fictional brand logo did provoke a giggle. That said, how it treats what it believes is funny is potentially objectionable or at least eye roll-inducing. It's not just that it subverts the familiar or tries to be transgressive, one can accept the irreverent and still find Maria Holic's approach distasteful. The admirable bit comes in that at some point, Maria Holic seems to recognize what it is doing, and then starts laying it on so thick that the concerted excess becomes funny. That said, I'm not sure how much a sense of humor really matters in this particular comedy. While Maria Holic sense of humor is likely to provoke a reaction, presentation is the star of this anime. It's not plot and not characters that ultimately drives the appeal. It's AV flair.
Japanese game magazine Famitsu performed a survey of "foreign otaku." In the Favorite Animator or Animation Studio category, results included
In Maria Holic, Shinbo takes the freedom afforded by anime and uses it to project a visual glibness. It's not just quick switches into super deformed caricaturing, though swapping stylization is part of the formula. Design and motion are used to complement each other towards the goal of commanding attention. Shinbo works are often garish, but if his style doesn't necessarily elevate the work, it does it make it a more distinctive experience. And, isn't that quality of stories told in a ways not found in other media tradition a significant element of anime's appeal?
- Hayao Miyazaki - Oscar winning director of Spirited Away, the saint of anime
- Shinichiro Watanabe - director of one of the most western appealing anime, Cowboy Bebop
- Kyoto Animation - animators of several comedies finely tuned towards appealing to otaku, most prominent being the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
- Gainax - home of Otaku no Video, the studio formed by dedicated geeks, who would go on to make the otaku redefining Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Hideaki Anno - creator/director of Evangelion
- Satoshi Kon - a creator working outside typical anime genres and platforms, responsible for respected works like Millenium Actress, Paprika and Paranoia Agent
- bones - animators of the Cowboy Bebop Movie and cross-over hit Fullmetal Alchemist
- Sunrise - home of Gundam, Code Geass, and many of the other long mecha anime
- Studio Ghibli - home studio of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies, Pom Poko)
- Akiyuki Shinbo - probably the list most obscure. He has a number of works that are commercially available in English, including The SoulTaker, Le Portrait de Petit Cossette, and Pani Poni Dash, but he's really gathered a following from his extravagantly clever works, only very recently licensed
"Maria" in anime/manga calls to mind Maria-sama ga Miteru or The Virgin Mary is Watching or Maria Watches Over Us, commonly known by the compressed Marimite, a series based on Oyuki Konno and by Reine Hibiki's light novels concerning friends in a prestigious, Japanese Catholic school for girls. As I said when I reviewed the manga, I'd seen the Tatsuya Oishi's opening for the anime, in which a 2D animated blonde girl mischievously danced through a modeled white room, teased, tormented and tipped over domino lines of a crowd 3D shape of another girl. And I'd seen some amusingly absurd illustrations from a bonus section of the manga. Together, the two samples convinced me that Maria Holic was a cleverly playful take on the Marimite style notion of a Catholic girl's school. Going in, I was prepared for irreverence, but I wasn't prepared for what I got, and the irony was that I was in store for the sort of cruel stomping on preconceptions that Maria Holic's story trades in. Maria Holic opens with a familiar ode to a dead mother, not unlike Ouran High School Host Club. "Dear mother in heaven... Kanako has finally arrived!! Here, where you and father met... I too shall find my soul mate!!" The declaration refers to second year high school student Kanako's transfer to girl's Catholic academy Ame no Kisaki. (Her father was a teacher and her mother was a student. There was an age discrepancy. Yeah, it's creepy.) And, Maria Holic quickly introduces the reasons to derive mirth from Kanako: she's tall (5'8") and she likes girls. She's also self conscious about both of these elements of her identity. Her ability to mask her preferences is not helped by the familiar-in-manga visual gag of spouting blood from her nose when she meets a girl she finds attractive, and in a less familiar twist, she breaks out in hives when she comes in contact with boys. ("Allergy" to the opposite sex is not an unknown conceit in anime/manga. The first of the a number of examples that goes to mind... Back in the 90's, there was a series called DNA^2. The guy was so nervous around girls that he'd throw up on them. An agent comes from the future to prevent him from becoming the romantically irresistible, one man over-population problem known as the "Mega-Playboy," but she uses the wrong high tech bullet, and accidentally causes the problem she was meant to prevent.) Walking onto school ground, Kanako meets up with a silver haired girl in one of those fetishy maid outfits. Kanako approaches the girl to ask for directions, but before she can finish her question, silver quietly, dispassionately interrupts "what are you doing here sow?" Kanako, tries to figure out whether she misheard the girl. Cue litany of more and more absurd homonym jokes. "If you're trying to figure out whether you misheard me, don't bother! I was referring to you... sow. You're a sow who's as large as the Eiffel Tower." Mariya Shido, the blonde girl of the opening steps in and asks maid, Matsurika, to explain what's happening. The music picks up. Rose petals float through the wind, and Kanako thinks she's in love. Mariya apologizes for her maid's behavior and immediately begins treating Kanako with kindness. Kanako admits that she's looking for love. Mariya gives Kanako a kiss, and as they part company Kanako notices she's developed some hives. As the hives might suggest, Mariya is in fact a boy, cross dressing to attend the girl's school. There's a reason for this. The character does have an agenda. There are a few nods to that effect over the course of the series. But, really, the reason for Mariya's female identity/attendence at the school have very little bearing on the anime. Kanako finds out, and Mariya threatens to frame Kanako for raping Matsurika if Kanako reveals her true gender. Far from the kind persona she adopted in the first meeting, Mariya is really given to some nasty sadism. I've read descriptions of Mariya has a tsundere character - to quote Galbraith's Otaku Encyclopedia "combining onomatopoeia tsun tsun (which suggests turning your head away in disgust) with dere dere (to turn all lovely dovey)... a developmental process wherein an icy character shows their warm side of the course of time." Mariya kindof... maybe... warms to Kanako in some respects but a) the anime is excruciatingly sitcom. There is an episode to episode continuity, but for the most part, this is in the form of gags positioned as cliffhangers, bridging episodes by setting up something dramatic at the end of one episode then delivering something comedically inane in the next. Even then, the chain of situations is loosely linked. The anime isn't going anywhere, either in its plot or its character development. There are scenes that do illustrates multiple dimensions to the characters. Mariya is shown practicing kyudo (archery) in such a way as to suggest a supreme degree of self control. But, there's no real ends to these scant character moments. Kanako's family history; Mariya's motivation. The relationship between Kanako and Mariya. None factor into Maria Holic's priorities. Beyond the fruitless character dynamics, Maria Holic does little with it's themes. It's not satirizing perceptions of lesbianism or teenage lust. It's presenting Kanako homosexuality is a comedic trait, as she does little being defined as the goofy perv. b) the anime is excruciatingly mean. The bar for Kanako's happiness is set very low; a little female skin, a little companionship. It's perpetually dangling these in front of Kanako, then pulling away the prize from the teased girl. I'm not opposed to black comedies in which characters who refuse to learn any lesson repeatedly collide into the same brick wall. I'd point to Moyocco Anno's Happy Mania manga as a great example worth checking out. In this case, while exceptions can be argued, characters are for the most part static and representative of their roles in the comedy routine. Kanakao is not a rounded character who happens to be a lesbian. She's a lesbian, and that's the joke. This "hey, isn't the lesbian funny" predictable, emotionally (or hormonally) driven character is set up against Mariya or other, more thinking foils. If you were inclined to empathize with the character initially, the anime will disabuse you of the notion as she continually gushes her interest in just about any female member of the species and is continually slapped down for it. Maria Holic gets evilly good at conditioning the viewer to turn from indulging a character to sneering at them. A new character is introduced late in the anime. They're pretty good natured. They mean pretty well. Yet, it doesn't take long before the character's maltreatment has mounted up high enough that cheering them on doesn't seem like a particularly good idea. At least in part as a function of the condensed packaging, the issues of the anime aren't the issues of the manga. My objection to what I read of the manga was that it didn't work to sells the jokes. Horny Kanako gushing blood with stimulation at slightest provocations was transgressive enough that the manga didn't seem inclined to go to further lengths. The anime pounces on this weakness, and piles on more. It embraces the spirit of the manga. It relishes the idea that Kanako's lesbianism is supposed to be funny, making her the Catholic school version of the Tex Avery girl chasing wolf. Maria Holic cranks up the torment of Kanako (and a the other, 11th hour addition to the cast), until the bullying becomes meta. It's not just characters molesting characters. The narrative itself seems to want in on the action. And, ultimately in equal measure, the series turns its attention on bothering the viewer. By the end, it seems to be actively trying to aggravate the watcher. The impact of Maria Holic's principals colors the anime's fabric beyond the comedy. Here's the foil pair of a volcanic personality and a character from a world of nice things, defined by a sculpted appearance and a habit of pressuring that combustible partner. The nature of these characters colors the aesthetic of the anime. A world of pastel and flowers are alternately sprayed with erruptions of blood form Kanako's nose or chillingly bleached of color by Mariya's cold cruelty. At times, it calls to mind Revolutionary Girl Utena, with a bit more control by virtue of its shadow puppets, silhouettes and geometric architecture and at the same time brings in the sort of texture mapping that brought so much attention to Gankutsuou. If you've seen Shinbo's recent work, you can list out a number of trademark effects. Lists, specifically on screen text lists is one. Limited color seems to appeal to his design sense; black and white scenes, and red highlights on fades turns up here. As does his head twist over accentuated reaction shot. Stylization plays into the series jokes. Kanako's vision contorts into a shoujo (for girls) or yuri (lesbian), literally florid view of the world. On the flip side, horror derivations of the characters play into several of the gags. Beyond these, the stylization turns back to the Shinbo-isms, which, in this context, reach beyond the obvious. So, strange rag doll/clown presentations of the characters and art nouveau are mixed in with the anime types. None of this is particularly new territory for anime. What sets this apart from the franticness of Akitaro Daichi or Shinichi Watanabe? In Shinbo's case, there is a smart fluidity that lends his work a sense of now-ness. It's not just sped up, wild and staccato. Instead, it has the spirit of hiking through YouTube or Wikipedia. It gallops across associative leaps, taking full advantage of all it has to draw from, as well as the flexibility to capture it on screen. And, the whole production manages to keep pace with Shinbo. Maria Holic has some of the funniest music I think I've heard in an anime production. The off-key "Cosplay Angel" diddy that Kanako sings out when misinterpretation leads to her fantasying about girls dressed up as angels for a Virigin Mary pageants stands out, but composer Tatsuya Nishiwaki evoking Enya, Final Countdown and even klezmer is absolutely hilarious in its own right. Maria Holic's notion that its heroine's sexual preference is funny is both wrongheaded and ineffective. Considering that it's a comedy, I'm inclined to hold its being unfunny against it more than its being unPC. If it was intended to lampoon perceptions of homosexuality, it would have done well to try doing more than just torment the one-dimensional horny lesbian. Still, one can see why Shinbo and his home studio, SHAFT have been drawing a cult following with works like Pani Poni Dash!, Maria Holic, Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei and Bakemonogatari. Though Maria Holic abuses its protagonist and seems eager to aggravate the viewer, the dynamic spirit of Shinbo's animation is enough to make the anime fun to watch.
Manga Spotlight: Dorohedoro Volume 01 By Q Hayashida Released by Viz Media Also Serialized on Sigikki
In honor of all of the Oscar nominations for Kathryn Bigelow's Hurt Locker, check out very strange, very violent manga Dorohedora. The identity of its creator is interesting in a couple of respects. Q Hayashida was an assistant to much talked about cyber-horror stand out Tsutomu Nihei (Blame!, more recently Biomega). And, though you probably couldn't guess from the moniker or grisly work, Q Hayashida is a woman. Dorohedoro is set in "the Hole," a slum hunting/dumping ground for the human subjects of Sorcerers' experimentation. One of these guinea pigs blows back a response with equally cruel disregard. Caiman turned up in the Hole with a reptilian face, a case of amnesia and a raging lust for vengeance. He also proves to be immune to the Sorcerers' magic. Not a unique special ability in fantasy, but at least Dorohedoro doesn't tease out the revelation. Allied with a young woman named Nikaido, the proprietor of a dive eatery known as the Hungry Bug, Caiman applies a ferocity that might make Jack Bauer blanche to hunting down the identity of the person who cursed him with lizard features. The manga opens with what is apparently Caiman's MO. Locking his jaws onto the face of one magic user. Drawing his knifes and slicing apart a fleeing guy. Breaking the fingers of another to ensure he wouldn't be casting spells for a while. I can't think of many other obscenely violent genre works created by women. In manga, Rei Mikamoto's Reiko the Zombie Shop, one of the most brilliantly indefensible works of manga not called Golgo 13 or written by Kazuo Koike, comes to mind. I don't believe that it's an unsupportable generalization to say that women typically don't make works like this. And, beyond the stabbing, rending and tearing, Dorohedoro's female characters do get debased. The book is packed with statements of offensiveness, but the volume's real exploitation marker comes when, after mutilating one of the series' women, a sorcerer sits on the back of his victim. At the same time, Q Hayashida's approach is distinctive. It's Kafka mixed with graffiti meets fight manga. Absurd formality is mixed with not-exactly mammalian animal impulses. It builds the kind of situation where people shout "watch your tone shit head!" while sitting down for fine dining. The implication to all this is that Dorohedora is a macho work, not driven by machismo. Characters are brutalizing each other, but they aren't pissing on each other's legs. Unlike similarly bellicose works, the fighting and anger does not seem to be aimed towards pack alpha posturing or applying a sense of order to the world. In terms of trappings, Dorohedoro has all the masks of a super hero story, but these don't stand in for the significance they might in mystery man fiction. As opposed to identity cryptology or compartmentalization, in many cases, Dorohedoro's masks obscure and/or mutate the relationship between the person and their role. Beyond Caiman, there's a person with a Tarantino style gangster suit and a human heart shaped mask, in another motorcyclist leather and a Clive Barker meet luchadore mask, another in ninja gears and a death-head. In most cases, what's under the outfit is grossly incongruous with the conspicuous attire. Function follows form, at least in theory, and we seem to be seeing this sort itself out. Some participants in the conflict are the equivalent of the moth with eyes on its wings to fool predators into believing that it's a larger animal. Others are as dangerous as the warning colors imply. Compared to other entries in the genre, Dorohedoro works off of a different dynamic, offering a look at a different kind of danger. I'm a sucker for fight manga. I'll put up with rock-em sock-em robot characterization. I'll put up with plotting that's more bracketology than narrative. Just give me something that taps my primitive instinct to pay attention to physical confrontation. As I see it, there are two essential elements of fight manga. A) details - the manga effectively captures points within the sequence of the struggle. Has the author thought out how to project the interaction between combatants well enough that it does register as a fight and not just a flow of short hand of attacks? B) spectacle. Is it strange, exotic or brutal enough to inscribe its name in your memory? In the first respect, Q Hayashida is reasonably ok. Fights are snappy. Panels aren't isolated, but there isn't the flow of great choreography. If you stop and consider, there isn't a great degree of logic for how a character goes from a rear choke in one panel to kneeing the guy in his gut the next. In terms of the pageant of violence... fire in the hole, this one is awesome. The knives are pulled. Hammers get their most brutal usage since Oldboy. Heads litter the ground. A naginata is used to crop off the top of a fool's skull, after which the victimís brain is flicked into the air and caught in his baseball cap. Dorohedora's litany of violent acts lends itself well to a Joe Bob Briggs style list of selling points. And, that does cinch its solid standing among fight manga. But, beyond that, the manga boasts a imaginative, artistically refined vision. A volume in, I don't see it flirting with making some larger statement in a way that trips up other resolutely grotesque manga. (Gantz comes quickly to mind) The relationship between Sorcerers and the victim underclass does posses some social satire implications, but that's more a piece than a complete intention. The look of Dorohedoro is an outlier in the field of manga. I've had arguments about the falseness of a notion of a "house style" in manga. Even among a given genre, in a given anthology, there's a diversity. Shonen Jump's Naruto doesn't look like Toriko, and neither looks like Bakuman. It's tempting to throw out a "unique" description, but I'd point to the often geeky work of Sin-Ichi Hiromoto (the manga adaptation of Return of the Jedi, the Tokyopop published STONe, various Fist of the North Star spin offs) as evidence that Q Hayashida's style is not entirely without comparison. Still, Q Hayashida gives her work an unconventional bend that puts its look well outside what's generally expected from manga. And, Q Hayashida's head is in a more artistic place than Hiromoto's worlds of Dune sands and Star Wars X-Wings. This is after all someone educated at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, who assisted of the impressive cyber-Lovecraftian architecture of Nihei's manga. Dorohedora always maintains its particular visual identity. Few panels fail to offer context for the action. What caught my attention, in terms of what Q Hayashida brought to the proceedings, cropped up when a couple of Caiman's battered victims try to get themselves into something resembling black tie attire ( sufficiently disastrous in one case that, as the manga puts it, she has a "tit hanging out") and fly a broom over to a rococo-esque spot for a Sorcerersí' meeting. There's a warped elegance to it, defined by a solid understanding of how these things should look, then a violation of that ideal. Like the dress with the "tit hanging out," the direction of the grains columns and walls are over the place. The lighting is dismal. It's extravagance warped. Looking back at the Hole, it's a place of meat, slabs, and disorder. It looks like the kind of locale that people with insect appendages might inhabit. Yet, as ramshackle, stuck together and dirty as it is, it's evident that the people who live there aren't entirely without taste or resources. Like the Sorcerers' stop, the setting suggests the details of a society. You get the impression that these streets and buildings could be mapped out and that chart would spell out something about the lives of the collection of shaken, desperate people who inhabit the city. The character design for Dorohedora is unforgettably scratched, untucked, bent and spiny. Beyond freak show Caiman, whether by nests of hair or by composition, even when not deform, Q Hayashida offers little symmetry in her figures. Especially with the solid presence given by the quantity of ink in the dark shapes, Q Hayashida puts you on guard. Yet, as disconcertingly bizarre as these characters are, the artists maintains coherence. Nothing is malformed in such a way as to diffuse attention. The action is always comprehendible and maintenance its impact. Dorohedora can be sample of Viz's Sigikki site. Some will undoubtedly take one look at its concerted ugliness and pass. But, if you stick with it, you'll find an impressive fight manga, presenting brutal spectacle, situated in an engrossingly bizarre vision.
Upcoming in North America
MTV Splash Page is quoting producer Jon Landau to the effect that James Cameron's Battle Angel adaptation is now penciled in after Avatar 2. He also said ìIf people are familiar with the series at all, thereís something they call Motorball,î Landau said of the one aspect of ìAlitaî that heís most eager to see Cameron capture. ìThat is something that Jim has always been dynamically excited about. Itís racing on a super track, with characters that are built and created in the cyborg world to race against each other in an arena.î ìItís almost like a gladiator match meets an Indy 500 race,î Landau added. ì[Their mode of battle] depends on who they are. It depends how theyíve been modified as cyborgs; theyíre not in cars ó itís their physical being that is out there. Some of them are on roller skates ó and Alita participates in this, and sheís on roller blades, while other people might have different devices. Itís a wonderful, rich world to design and develop.î
*Hollywood Reporter relates that Watchmen's Alex Tse has written an adaptation of Ninja Scroll. *Monster will be running on Canada's Super Channel starting March 15th. *Imagi Astro Boy will be released on DVD and Blu-ray March 16th. bonus features will include -- "Astro vs. The Junkyard Pirates" Animated Sequence -- "The RRF In: The New Recruit" Animated Sequence -- "Designing A Hero" featurette -- "Building Metro City" featurette -- "Getting The Astro Boy Look" featurette -- "Inside the Recording Booth" featurette with the all-star cast -- Astro Boy Image Gallery: Creating a Global Icon Bandai Entertainment Bandai Entertainment Inc. announced that it has licensed two new manga anthology series: Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion KNIGHTS and Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion QUEENS. Knights Vol. 1, which features the subtitle ìOfficial Manga Anthology for Girlsî will be released in May of 2010. The series runs five volumes to date and features a series of short stories, many with a humorous slant, by different Manga-ka focusing on the male characters of Code Geass. Queens Vol. 1, which similarly features the subtitle ìOfficial Manga Anthology for Boysî will be released in June 2010. This series also has five volumes and focuses on the female characters of the Code Geass storyline in a series of short stories from various Manga-ka. May releases include 05-02-2010 Hayate The Combat Butler Part 5 - 150 mins - $39.98 Kurokami Part 2 05-18-2010 Mobile Suit Gundam Trilogy (Anime Legends) - 441 mins - $39.98 Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 Part 4 (regular and LE) have been moved from a 03/02/2010 release date to 04/06/2010. Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Season 2 Part 1 (regular and special edition) has been moved 03/02/2010 to 04/06/2010. CMX CMX will be releasing Carved, Shizu Takamura's manga adaptation of the Kuchisake-Onna (Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman) - the is based on urban legend of a women with a sliced open mouth Del Rey Jason Thompson as posted about the plans for King of RPGs volume 2. King of RPGs volume 2 is on schedule for a Spring-Summer 2011 release. I donít have an exact date at this time, but the book is completely scripted and about half drawn. Itís a 260-page epic of dice-melting melodrama which will make the first volume look like ìGenshiken.î Victor and I will be at several conventions over the summer, and Iíll be running some tabletop RPGs, while Iím settling into my new home in Seattle. In the meantime, Iíll be posting some new material on the site over the next few months! FUNimation May releases include 05-04-2010 CLAMP Double Feature: Tsubasa Chronicles and xxxHOLic Dragon Ball Season 4 Box Set - $49.98 Dragon Ball Z Dragon Box 3 - $59.98 Tsubasa, RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE Collected Memories - 1280 mins - $99.98 Tsubasa, RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE Season 2 Complete Collection - 625 mins - $59.98 Vandread Ultimate Collection (Seasons 1-2 + OVAs) - 766 mins - $49.98 Rozen Maiden + Rozen Maiden Traumend Complete Set - 05-04-2010 - $49.98 05-11-2010 Initial D Stage 3 Movie One Piece Season 2 Part 7 Shin-Chan Season 1 Complete Set Shin-Chan Season 2 Complete Set 05-18-2010 Air TV Series Complete Set (S.A.V.E. Edition) - $19.98 Dragon Ball Z Kai Season 1 Part 1 xxxholic Complete Series (Viridian Collection) - 600 mins - $49.98 05-25-2010 Air Gear Complete Collection (Viridian Collection) - $49.98 FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part 1 Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple Season 1 Complete Set - 600 mins - $59.98 Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple Season 2 Part 2 - 280 mins - $49.98 Upcoming FUNimation releases include 6/22/2010 Guyver: The BioBoosted Armor Complete Series 07/13/2010 Black Cat Complete Collection Desert Punk Complete Collection 07/20/2010 Rin ~ Daughters of Mnemosyne~ Complete Collection non-dated releases include Afro Samurai - The Complete Murder Sessions Black Blood Brothers Complete Casshern Sins Part 1 Casshern Sins Part 2 Eden of the East - Complete Fullmetal Panic! Season One Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Evangelion 1.11 clios have been posted on Funimation's YouTube channel IDW IDW will be launching the six issue Last Unicorn comic adaptation at WonderCon, held April 2nd through the 4th in San Francisco. Under the close direction of Beagle himself, writer Peter B. Gillis, illustrator Renae De Liz and her husband, colorist Ray Dillon, have all joined forces with IDW to capture the depth of this heartfelt story. Beagle will be a guest of WonderCon and host a panel to discuss his famous story. A signing at the IDW booth with an exclusive variant cover number one issue will follow. The Last Unicorn #1 (of 6, $3.99, 32 pages, full color) will be available in stores in April 2010. Diamond order code FEB10 0936. The animated version of the Last Unicorn featured animation by Studio Ghibli precusor, Topcraft. Media Blasters Media Blasters will be releasing classic Dungeon and Dragons style fantasy Lodoss War, previously available through the now out of business Central Park Media. Anime: 5/4/2010 LION FORCE: Part One - Eps. 1-36 - 7 Discs - $49.99 LION FORCE: Part Two - Eps. 37-72 - 8 Discs - $49.99 5/11 HUNTIK: The Complete Season - Volumes 1-4, Eps. 1-26 - 8 Discs - $59.99 5/18 TWEENY WITCHES: Core Collection - Vols. 1-3, Eps. 1-20 - 6 Discs - $39.99 UROTSUKIDOJI: Legend of the Overfiend - Complete First Series 1 Disc - $24.99 UROTSUKIDOJI: Legend of the Overfiend The Movie - 1 Disc - $ 19.99 5/25/2010 IKKI TOUSEN: Dragon Destiny Premium Box - Volumes 1-3, Eps. 1-12 - 3 Discs - $79.99 ARMORED FLEET DAIRUGGER: Collection 2 - Volume 2, Eps. 19-36 - 3 Discs - $34.99 SAYONARA ZETSUBOU-SENSEI - Volume 1 - 1 Disc QUEENíS BLADE WANDERING WARRIOR - The Beaten Path - Volume 2, Eps. 5-8 RUROUNI KENSHIN - LiteBox - Volumes 1-22, Eps 1-95 - 22 Discs - $159.99 IKKI TOUSEN The Romance of the Three Kingdoms continues on in modern Japan, as the rival high schools involved in the retelling of the epic saga struggle to achieve dominance. The focus begins to shift to other high schools and the interaction of their front runners. In the backdrop, the dragons of the remaining two great leaders are awakening, leading to growing mayhem. As ancient artifacts are acquired and events unfold, the battles keep raging on with enough intensity to rend flesh and clothing. LION FORCE Keith, Lance, Hunk, Pidge, and Sven are an elite team of space explorers sent to find the last princess of planet Arus, Allura, and the keys to Voltron. Together they discover the five lions that make up the legendary robot, buried in the smoking ruins of planet Arus. However, the evil warlord King Zarkon appears and rains down destruction across the universe. When things seem darkest, our heroes form Voltron and begin a new struggle against his cruel empire. SAYONARA ZETSUBOU-SENSEI Nozomu Itoshiki is an average young adult male. His hobbies include contemplating the worst aspects of humanity, embracing the inevitability of extreme disappointment, and reminding others that they are all going to grow old and die someday. His skills include planning suicide, preparing implements of suicide, and committing suicide. Clearly, these are all invaluable to him as he pursues his chosen profession, that of a high school teacher. Also, please keep in mind that you or someone you love may become very ill in the near future. Tweeny Witches Arusu, a young girl who believes in magic with all her heart, one day finds herself suddenly dropped into the middle of a magical world that's beyond her wildest imaginings. At first, it seems that her life's wish has finally been granted, but things quickly change as she find out more about the less-than-perfect wonderland. She soon meets two young witches named Sheila and Eva, and one wild broomstick ride later, all three girls are blamed for the release of the witches' source of magic, captured fairies. After an unusual punishment is delivered, they are given the task of recapturing the fairies, a difficult thing to do when Arusu keeps freeing them! UROTSUKIDOJI Once every 3,000 years a monstrous being known as the Overfiend enters the human dimension in order to destroy it. According to legend, our world must be overturned to pave the way for a future in which humans peacefully co-exist with a world of Man-Beasts and a world of Monster Demons. People scramble amid the rubble of a dying universe in this film that single-handedly created the "erotic grotesque" genre of Japanimation. Live Action 5/18/2010 TOKYO GORE POLICE: One Point Five - 2 Discs - $24.99 Includes a special bonus disc filled with Tokyo Gore Police short films 5/25 THE MACHINE GIRL Blu-ray - $24.99 DEATH KAPPA - $19.99 ULTIMATE MACHINE GIRL In Collectors Tin - 3 Discs - $39.99 Death Kappa The kappa, in Japanese folklore, are water goblins that are closely associated with a certain town in the country. Unfortunately, the area is also home to a militant splinter group of researchers dedicated to developing amphibious super soldiers based on the kappa of legends. When their experiments result in murders by some escapees, the appearance of an actual kappa, and the triggering of an atomic bomb, the consequences are of epic proportions. A monster arrives in the midst of the nuclear fallout, and Japan's defenses are helpless against it. Mankind's only savior is an irradiated water goblin that is on a rampage with death in its eyes. Right Stuf Anime producer and online retailer Right Stuf, Inc. and its Nozomi Entertainment division have rescheduled the release of the ARIA The ORIGINATION DVD Collection to March 16, 2010. The ARIA The ORIGINATION DVD Collection will contain the 13 episodes and the DVD-only bonus episode that comprise the ARIA animeís third and final television season, plus The OVA ~ARIETTA~. ARIA The ANIMATION (Season 1) and ARIA The NATURAL (Season 2) are currently available on DVD from Right Stufís Nozomi Entertainment. Section23 May releases include Coming May 2010 YOU'RE UNDER ARREST: FULL THROTTLE COLLECTION 2 Published by: Sentai Filmworks Distributed by: Section23 Films Run Time: 300 min. Street Date: 5/4/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $39.98 SYNOPSIS: Theyíre tough, tenacious and would take no prisonersÖ Except itís their job! Miyuki, Natsumi and the other officers of the Bokuto police station are back on the case, although in the weird world of Japanís most unorthodox police precinct, the exact definition as to what constitutes a ìcaseî seems be largely up to individual officer discretion. After all, while working on the set of a documentary film could fall under the category of crowd control, how can anyone classify adventures that range from dog sitting to completing a romantic mission from beyond the grave as typical police work? And thatís to say nothing of pursuing suspects on in-line skates while wearing bikinis and wearing giant mushroom costumes? There are handcuffs; fisticuffs and high speed chases ahead in the second and final collection of YOU'RE UNDER ARREST: FULL THROTTLE! SAMURAI HAREM - ASU NO YOICHI COMPLETE COLLECTION Published by: Sentai Filmworks Distributed by: Section23 Films Run Time: 300 min. Street Date: 5/11/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $49.98 SYNOPSIS: His Skill with a Sword is Magnificent butÖ His SOCIAL Skills Still Need a LOT of Work! After many long years perfecting the art of fighting, 17 year old Yoichi Karasuma is sent down from the remote mountains where he has been raised thinking that heís going to study some new martial arts techniquesÖ but what heís really going to learn about are some slightly more practical things, like electrical appliances, modern clothing and, most especially, how NOT to make girls to want to kill you! Unfortunately, that last lesson is one Yoichi may not survive, as his new Dojo is infested with the infernal creatures in the form of the Ikaruga sisters, and they donít really seem to understand how ìproperî girls are ìsupposedî to behave! Will Yoichiís bushido blade be struck down by the fearsome charms of Ibuki, Ayame, Chihaya and Kagome? Or will the equally lethal girls from the rival Tsubame School be his undoing? APPLESEED BLU-RAY EDITION Published by: Sentai Filmworks Distributed by: Section23 Films Run Time: 105 min. Street Date: 5/18/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $39.98 SYNOPSIS: Plucked from the last battlefields of the final war, mercenary Deunan Knute finds herself pressed into duty with the ESWAT, defenders of the Utopian city of Olympus. But serpents lurk beneath the peaceful surface of this apparent Garden of Eden, and new seeds of destruction have already been planted! Now itís up to Deunan and her former lover, the now-cyborg Briareos, to unravel a deadly web of plots that threaten to bring down Olympus from within! With blazing battles between giant Land-Mates and state of the art animation that set a new standard for cg anime, the spectacular feature film from creator Shirow Masamune (Ghost In the Shell) and director Shinji Aramaki is back in an amazing new special edition that pushes home entertainment technology to its limits! Get ready to survive the future with the animated masterpiece APPLESEED! EYESHIELD 21 COLLECTION 1 Published by: Sentai Filmworks Distributed by: Section23 Films Run Time: 325 min. Street Date: 5/18/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $49.98 SYNOPSIS: Welcome To The Gridiron Of The Damned! Huge hulking bodies throw themselves at each other, while a tiny lithe body runs between them for the goal! No, itís not a game of Football, itís Sena Kobayakawa trying to evade the monstrous Ha-Ha brothers down the halls of Deimon High School! But wait! Senaís incredible skills at not getting caught have been spotted by the devilish (possibly actually demonic) captain of the schoolís embryonic American style football team, and when Sena asks to be the teams manager, he gets thrust onto the field as a running back instead! But there are two BIG catches ñ first, to keep the identity of their new ìstarî player an absolute secret, Yoichi makes Sena wear an opaque visor on his helmet and gives him the alias of ìEyeshield 21.î And the second catch? Well, in order to hit his fastest ìspeed of lightî running mode, Sena usually has to be absolutely terrified... not that THAT will be a problem with the monstrous players that heíll soon find himself running from! The insanity hits the streets when the feet meet the cleats in EYESHIELD 21 ñ Collection 1!! HELL GIRL: TWO MIRRORS COLLECTION 1 Published by: Sentai Filmworks Distributed by: Section23 Films Run Time: 325 min. Street Date: 5/25/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $49.98 SYNOPSIS: They call her Jigoku Tsushin - the Hell Girl. For endless years Ai Enma has served as the embodiment of revenge itself. If you desire to send anotherís soul to eternal torment, contact her via the internet and sheíll come from her land of endless sunset to deliver your revengeÖ at the cost of sending your own soul, of course, but itís a price a surprising number of people are willing to pay. But things are changing with the Hell Girl. Once seemingly implacable and pitiless, glints of emotion now show through the cracks forming in her emotionless faÁade. And now there is a new girl with infernal connections who seems to be turning up with alarming regularity. Things are about to heat up in the damnation game in the first brimstone-blazing collection of HELL GIRL ñ TWO MIRRORS! Shout! Factory Shout! Factory will be releasing Marvel Animation's Super Hero Squad Show on home video. Under the multi-year deal, Shout! Factory will be the exclusive U.S. home entertainment distributor with licensing rights to the action-packed half-hour episodes of The Super Hero Squad Show, Marvel Animationís highly successful animated series currently airing on Cartoon Network. The Super Hero Squad Show launched on Cartoon Network US in October 2009 to tremendous ratings and continues to deliver impressive numbers in its regular M-F 8:30am and Saturday 7:30pm time slots. The Super Hero Squad Show animated series features super-stylized versions of Marvelís popular characters (including Captain America, Silver Surfer, Thor, Hulk, Wolverine and Iron Man) with a comedic twist. Voice acting on the show includes Tom Kenny (aka Spongebob) as Iron Man, Captain America and M.O.D.O.K., Grey DeLisle (Fairly Oddparents) as Ms. Marvel and the Enchantress, Alimi Ballard (NUMB3RS) as the Falcon, and Charlie Adler (Cow & Chicken, Transformers 1 & 2) as Dr. Doom. In addition, superstar guests have joined the cast to play various villains and heroes from throughout the Marvel universe, including Shawn Ashmore (X-Men films) as Iceman, LeVar Burton (Ali, Roots) as Rhodey, Taye Diggs (Private Practice) as the Black Panther, Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street) as Dormammu, Greg Grunberg (Heroes) as Ant-Man, Mark Hamill (Star Wars) as the Red Skull, Lena Headey (Sarah Connor Chronicles) as the Black Widow, Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) as Sif, Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Ugly Truth) as Stardust, Wayne Knight (Seinfeld) as Egghead, James Marsters (Smallville, Buffy The Vampire Slayer) as Mr. Fantastic, Jennifer Morrison (Star Trek, House) as the Wasp, Adrian Pasdar (Heroes) as Hawkeye, Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, Meet The Spartans) as Ka-Zar, George Takei (Heroes, Star Trek) as Galactus and Michelle Trachtenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gossip Girl) as the Valkyrie. The cast is also joined by comics legend Stan Lee (co-creator of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor and many other Marvel characters) in a recurring role as the Mayor of Super Hero City. VIZ Media A Viz release of psuedo-Chinese history political drama nanga Saiunkoku is being listed NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Box Set 2 Special Edition ï Rated 'T+' for Older Teens ï MSRP: $69.97 US / $99.99 CAN ï Available April 20 The Special Edition Box Set contains 13 episodes on 3 discs, exclusive art card, and a collectible NARUTO Shippuden Mininja figure (Deidara). NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Box Set 2 Standard Edition ï Rated 'T+' for Older Teens ï MSRP: $49.95 US / $71.99 CAN ï Available April 20 Episodes 31-34 NARUTO Uncut Season 2 Volume 2 Box Set ï Rated 'T+' for Older Teens ï MSRP: $39.97 US / $57.99 CAN ï Available April 27 NANA Box Set 4 ï Rated 'M' for Mature ï MSRP: $59.90 US/ $85.99 CAN ï Available April 13 Contains episodes 35-47 BLEACH Volume 27 ï Rated ëTí for Teens ï MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN ï Available April 20 Episodes: 110 thru 113 From VIZ Pictures (Live Action Feature Films): K-20: THE FIEND WITH TWENTY FACES ï MSRP: $24.92 US/ $35.99 CAN ï Available April 20 It is 1949 in Japan, in a world where World War II never happened and the nobility system is still in place. Heikichi, a circus acrobat, is deceived by "The Fiend (Kaijin) with Twenty Faces" and is set up to take the fall for the phantom thief. Now, Heikichi must wage war against K-20. Directed by Shimako Sato, starring Takeshi Kaneshiro, Takako Matsu, and Toru Nakamura. Warner Home Video Warner Bros. Present - Saturday Morning Cartoon: The 1980's on May 4th. The 2 disc set will retail for $26.99
A survey of the challenges facing the anime industry
Producing Anime is very expensive to produce, market, localize and distribute. According to the info in 2007 from the Nikkei BP Anime Business Forum in Japan, it costs $20,000-30,000 dollars on average just to produce one episode. Sure, itís expensive to produce a longer series like 24 episodes opposed to 12 episodes since it would cost around $480,000 ñ $720,000 from these estimates. Sounds expensive, right? The studios couldnít afford to animate this alone, so they have sponsors to help them produce the show. If you take a look at this chart below, an animator makes less than an Office worker (money is in millions of Yen) *Toei Animation has raised its 2010 earning forecast thanks in part to box office performance of One Piece Film Strong World. The anime studio raised its sales projections from 17.7 billion yen (about US$199 million) to 20.2 billion yen (US$227 million), although they still remain 7.0% lower than the sales in the previous fiscal year. It now projects operating profits of 1.9 billion yen (US$21 million) ó up from its earlier forecast of 1.4 billion yen (US$16 million), but still 39.2% lower from the previous year. *Following the bankruptcy of TV-Toonland, rights to My Life Me, developed with Svetlana Chmakova (Dramacon) has been sold to Classic Media *Madhouse (Ninja Scroll, Paprika) has reportedly put an unnamed production on hold. Tatsuya Abe, the director of the Dogs: Bullets & Carnage anime and a key animator on Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie says the contracted staff members have been dismissed. *Dirk Deppey on what DC Comics' change of leadership might mean for CMX. Given this, putting Jim Lee at the top was a no-brainer. He may well be the only person under Levitz to launch a new, long-running line of comics ó the CMX manga line ó that didnít get canned within a year or two, once it became clear that the new line was not a quick road to wealth and fame. While it may seem odd for an Image founder to be seen as a forward-thinking innovator, thatís nonetheless one of the roles that Lee has quietly filled since DC bought him out to get Alan Moore back on the payroll. The proof is in his willingness to follow through on new publishing initiatives, or at least not give up at the first sign of resistance. Itís entirely possible that if heíd been in Levitzí shoes three years ago, Minx might still be an ongoing concern, possibly even a successful one. (Yeah, I know that sounds a bit far-fetched, but let me put it this way: Is there any way that Lee could have done worse with a six-figure marketing budget than did Alloy Media & Marketing?) *FUNimation's Adam Sheehan, the face of the company at many events, has been promoted to Marketing Manager for FUNimation's new social website *A look at the sales figures for ero manga *After a bad quarter, Blockbuster plans to close another 150 or so in April, and additional closures are planned for a total of between 500 and 545 stores in 2010 *DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. has reported net income of $43.6M on revenues of $194.2M. The amount represents a drop in profit of 16% from the same period a year earlier, based on a decline in home video sales and no new theatrical releases *China's Animation Growing Pains
Upcoming in Japan
Promos Yojo-Han Shinwa Taikei - Madhouse and Masaaki Yuasa (Mind Game) adaptation of Tomihiko Morimiís manga. Shiki - adaptation of Fuyumi Ono and Ryu Fujisaki's horror manga House of Five Leaves - adaptation of Natsume Onoís samurai manga Moyashimon: Tales of Agriculture - live action adaptation of the educational manga about a college student who can see bacteria Eve no Jikan The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya Gundam 00 movie Tail Enders Anime Anime Vice notes a Rue Morgue interview author with Vampire Hunter D creator Hideyuki Kikuchi in which he says he's involved with a live-action film and planning a new VHD anime series."
*Nausicaa.net reports while received the 2nd annual Grand Prix of The Digital Entertainment Group Japan/Blue-ray Disc Award, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment revealed that Ghibli back catalog will be released on Blu-ray this year. Nausicaa is planned this summer. The site also presented a translation of the production blog for the upcoming Ghibli film Arrietty the Borrow. Hayao Miyazaki commented What Nishioka (Arrietty blogger) had talked are all lies. Shooting this now? The production team becomes impoverished. Chief animator Kagawa-san and Yamashita-san become impoverished most. Art director Takeshige and director assistance Noboru Yoshida becomes impoverished by another dimension more. The skin of the face of Yoshida-san peels off once in 3rd. He tries various medicine, but it is not yet improved. I think that the unprecedented spurt not to understand what will happen in the future approaches gradually with the time limit. It will be in time or not in time, I do not really understand it. That's all. You are not able to broadcast this, are you? (staff: I think good.) When Miyazaki leaves the chair at the 1:15 mark the Oscar from Spirited Away can been seen in the background case. The production status was posted last Sunday: Layout: 994 cuts are complete Key animation: 654 cuts - 65% Chief animator check: 529 cuts - 53% Animation: 493 cuts - 49% Painting: 356 cuts - 35% Background painting: 443 cuts - 44% Completed cuts: 332 cuts - 33% Arrietty has 995 cuts. Nishioka: Well, though these number shows the critical status, it's a speed-up from the last time. The postponement of the release won't be forgiven because the first day was announced. I think staff members will do their best from now on and continue working. Though it is the critical status, but please expect staff's perseverance. I'll announce the numbers again next month. *SD Gundam Sangokuden Brave Battle Warriors is slated to move into Sgt. Frog time slot in April. *the Gundam 00 Festival 2009-2010 "A trailer for the trailblazer" event DVD set will include the new "00 Anastasia" anime short *The second episode of Mobile Suit Gundam UC, "Akai Suisei" ("The Red Comet"), is scheduled for release in Fall of 2010 A mobile anime is being produced, based on Damens Walker, Mayumi Kurata's light-hearted essay manga about dating loser men. *The "Fan Disk" DVD release of anthropomoraphized country comedy Hetalia - Axis Powers will feature new episode "Ore-sama Nikki" (My [Prussia's] Diary). The Hetalia movie, scheduled to hit Japanese theatres this summer, will be titled Ginmaku Hetalia - Axis Powers Paint it, White (Shiroku Nure!) *Pop star Gackt will voice a part in the Shiki horror anime, scheduled to air on the Noitamina block in July. House of Five Leaves (Sarai-ya Goyou) and Yojo-Han Shinwa Taikei will air on the block in April, at which time the alternative anime programming will expand to one hour. *The first DVD for educational anime Elementhunters will be packaged with a pilot *Shonen Jump manga series Nurarihyon no Mago will be adapted into anime by Studio DEEN Actor Shun Oguri (Gokusen, Hana Yori Dango , Crows Zero, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Movie - Conqueror of Shamballa) has signed on for the anime adaption of George Abe and Masasumi Kakizaki's prison manga Rainbow. Hiroshi Koujina (Kiba, Majin Tantei Nogami Neuro) is directing the anime at MADHOUSE studio. Hideo Takayashiki (Akagi, Kaiji, Maison Ikkoku) is supervising the scripts, and Ai Kikuchi (animation director on Kiba, Majin Tantei Nogami Neuro) is designing the characters. *Akira Suzuki's Hyakka Ryoran Samurai Girls alternate present light novels will be adapted into anime. *The DVD release of Yamato Resurrection will include both of the movie's endings, featuring a signficant branch in the movie's resolution *D.C. ~Da Capo~'s Sakura Yoshino will be getting her own anime *A second Tegami Bachi is scheduled for fall '10 *Boy/alien cat girl light novels Asobi ni Ikuyo! will be adapted into anime *Tetsuro Satomi's (Galaxy Angel) Barnum Studio News Paradise Betsuhana will be ending Yuki Kaori's Punch Ky°tei Gakudan and Chika Shiomi's Chisetsu No Hana *Kaiji Kawaguchi, typically a writer of political and military manga, will collaborate with Tetsuo Fuji on a new manga, scheduled to start in Morning # 15 (On Sale March 11). a teaser image features a guitar *Yasuhiro Nightow will be returning to Trigun for two chapters.. The 1st in the Young King Ours # 05 (On sale March 30) and 2nd in the Young King Ours # 06 (On sale April 30). *Hiroshi Takahashi, ender of long runing gang conflict manga Worst responded to a Puff's survey question as to "What are your goals and hopes for 2010?" with the answer "The end (of Worst) arrives. Until this day I do my best. " Kazuhiro Fujita also indicated plans to end GekkÙ JÙrei. *Usamaru Furuya (Short Cuts, 51 Ways to Save Her) will end Genkaku Picasso in Square Jump # 05 (On Sale April 4). *Yoshioka Ririko (Kare ha Tomodachi) will be launching manga Eden no Shiro in Betsufure # 05 (on sale April 13) *Yo Higuri's Cantarella will end in Princess Gold # 05 (On sale April 16) *