Anime Spotlight: Slayers Revolution The Complete Fourth Season Released by FUNimation
Slayers, the poster child for pre-Evangelion 90's anime (at least in North America) is back. Nostalgia be damned, the spirited action/comedy fantasy franchise has returned with an attitude little dampened by its long hiatus. I'm not going to pretend that those were the golden days of anime. The throw an idea against the wall direct to video OVA market had already begun to wither. Late night anime for adult audiences, with Serial Experiments Lain, Berserk and the like was still a couple years off. Now, I can say that I couldn't sit through the opening of recent K-on! and someone will without fail accuse me of being predisposed not to like new anime. Well, after being enamored with Voltron and Force Five as a kid, and picking up the occasional Akira or Vampire Hunter D later on, I got into anime in earnest during the mid-90's. And, I can tell you that there's plenty that I didn't like at the time. The then regarded as classic sci-fi relationship comedy Tenchi Muyo... never did much for me.
On the other hand, Slayers was the kind of anime that I remember fondly and wish still had more of a presence in the medium. It was a raucous fantasy comedy starring then ubiquitous, but always fun voice actress Megumi Hayashibara as the chaotic sorceress Lina Inverse back when the presence of full motion video in games was impressive, before fantasy in games eclipsed anime's relationship with the genre.. before Hayashibara became best known for Evangelion's Rei Ayanami the role in which she played against type... before anime fell in love with 2D girlfriends, when female characters had fangs, breathed fire, and showed a hostility that wasn't a preamble to warming to some male character. Prior to Slayers Revolution, Hajime Kanzaka's 50+ Slayers light novels spawned three TV series, the last of which aired in 1997, two OVA series in '96 and '98, and five movies, the latest of which was a short work, shown with Sakura Wars: The Movie, DiGi Charat and Azumanga Daioh: The Very Short Movie. After spending most of the 00's dormant, Slayers return in 2008 with Slayers Revolution. Animation had shifted from cel to digital. Some newer anime sensibilities might have crept in, but Slayers remained Slayers. Slayers is based on a series of light novels, and, like many anime based on those quick genre prose works, it has an extensively developed setting. It's a basic fantasy, along the lines of Dungeon and Dragons inspired Record of Lodoss Wars. There are wizards, shamans, swordsmen, ect. It's definitively unoriginal in that regard. Where Slayers does establish itself is in its cosmology. Like various other Japanese fantasy, Slayers works with the concept of mazoku. These are monsters++ They're demons who defy the order of the universe. Slayers has a demon overlord named Ruby-Eye Shabranigdo, one of four corresponding to four alternate dimensions (another of these alt was showcased in infamous Lost Universe). In the anime and especially in the novels, pieces of Shabranigdo get resurrected frequently... too often. And there's a demiurge known as the Lord of Nightmares beyond those overlords. And god/dragon in balanced opposition to the mazoku. Where Slayers is at its most intriguing/fun is the layers below Shabranigdo. RES has five vassal demon-lords: Deep-Sea Dolphin, Dynast Grausherra, Greater Beast Zelas-Metallium, Chaos Dragon Gaav, and Hellmaster Phibrizzo. In turn, these lords have generals and priests or priest/generals below them. These convolutions are utilized to great effect as they spin off exotic adversaries for the leads. Slayers TV series will always come to involved the mazoku, but protecting the world is not really high on the agenda of Slayers' protagonists. In these TV series (as opposed to movies/OVAs), Lina travels with her confidant Gourry Gabriev, a handsome brilliant swordsman, but otherwise dull guy from a lineage famous for using the Sword of Light to slay the Demon Beast Zanaffar. Their MO is to hunt down bandits and take the criminals' gold for themselves. These crooks often anger the less than even tempered Lina, and she responds to that by unleashing devastating magical attacks that destroy the neighboring landscape, most notoriously via the spell Dragon Slave. With the doubly ill-gotten gain, the pair proceed to find eateries, order giant meals and fight over the food. Slayers has two modes. There's the mode in which Lina and company save the world, and in that mindset, the anime mixes consternation over the threat with some of the humor that might be hoped for from a fantasy action comedy. And, then there's the full goof mode; one-off episodes in which Lina and friends chase booty and chow under outlandish circumstances. Generally anime fans refer to this as "filler," less consequential entries that fill out the episode count of an anime. Neither aspect has a perfect track record, as both have managed effective and groan inducing episodes. However, in contrast to the majority of anime, you'll find plenty of fans weighing in favor of the episodes in which Lina fights for hedonism rather than world preservation. The mazoku flow chart might be nicely organized, but Slayers is more winning when it revels in its physical comedy and exaggerated mannerism of the characters, offset against a world that affords all manner of zany creatures and societies. For better or worse, Slayers has never met a running gag it didn't like. From fishpeople to the episode naming scheme, Slayers Revolution continues the franchise tradition of being abound in call-backs. This philosophy applies to plot/character composition as well, and if you don't know some of the referenced history, that will dull the effectiveness of Slayers narrative. A bit off the effectiveness of what wasn't Slayers' strong suit to begin with isn't going to fundamentally damage the anime. Irritable Lina and thick Gourry might as well be a sand-up comedy pair. They're basically the tsukkomi and boke of manzai duo. So, while you might not know how Gourry lost his sword of light, even if Slayers re-juggles some bits into the routine, the danger is that a franchise fan might tire of the latest iteration of Lina and Gourry fencing forks over the last bit of food and not that the gag is inaccessible. The synopsis of Slayers Revolution effectively captures the franchise's wackiness. Lina had expected that the world would always have bandits "like cockroaches." As such, she hunted them in the way that she approaches every pursuit... without restraint. Having managed to bulldoze most of the bandits, Revolution finds Lina leaving that resource fallow. Instead, she and Gourry are on the high seas, lobbing fire balls at Jack Sparrow and his kind. While terrorizing a pirate fleet, a navel armada shows up. The arriving ships carry a pair of Lina's allies (or helpers as she refers to them) cursed shamen/rock golem-demon-human chimera Zelgadis Greywords and princess/justice zealot/white magician (part of the gag in Slayers is that while Lina is, after a fashion a heroine, she uses demon-god invoking black magic) Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun. Though these are ostensibly her people, they manage to bring an end to her pirate hunting adventures, partially because the navy destroys Lina's ship, but also because Amelia and Zelgadis bring Inspector Wizer with them. Unbeknownst to Lina's allies, this self satisfied lawmen, one of Revolution's new characters, is tasked with arresting Lina Inverse for the crime of being Lina Inverse. Turns out that someone or something has been using Lina's trademark tactics to destroy his patron's magic tank advanced weapons systems. Handcuffs or even platoons of armored knights aren't the kind of measures to present much of a challenge to Lina, but Wizer and the forces at his disposal do manage the not particularly difficult task of driving Lina into an acute state of annoyance. Out of rage, Lina hunts down the real culprit, which turns out to be a Pokemon/person thing with prehensile floppy ears and both a personality and abilities that mirror her own. Slayers, particularly before they get into their final, existence threatening battle, constructs cabals of odd antagonists. In Revolution's case, there's a gowned and frill collared marquess whose crimes include profiteering on tragedy and getting a little too enthusiastic in who sword dueling, a tiger beastman, an incongruously present maid, a dog person roundhead and his cat person companion, and black clad, spikey haired assassin (this last character didn't original in Revolution, and it's not universally an issue, but he is an example of how the anime features some instances of dull, unappealing character design). And, Xellos the popular trickster priest from Slayers Next and Try is present to make matters more difficult for all involved. Revolution brings back all that could be hope for from a Slayers revival. It's a spirited fantasy that discernibly enjoys its boisterous characters. While set in a world rigorously defined by a system of magic that could have been brought from or brought to a game, it delights in launching into ideas that really don't make a ton of sense, such as serial pet-knappers or putting the characters into a cruise ship who-done-it. Ranma 1/2 featured a rambunctious, male martial artist who is cursed to turn female when doused with cold water. The belligerent, red headed female is another Hayashibara role and isn't too far divorced from Lina. Anime has far fewer fiery leading ladies, with a bit of a fang and temper than it did when Megumi Hayashibara was voicing the majority of them. Or, rather it does, but now the point is to see those character softened, generally by a male lead. As such, it's fun to see eternally selfish, uncompromising Lina back in the mix. Yet, I'm not quite sure that Revolution treats Lina as well as previous Slayers incarnations did. I do remember that something like the second episode ever of the anime featured the character tied up and force-kissed by a fishman because she temporarily lost the ability to cast spell due to the onset of her period. While she is her dominant and willfully dominating self, she seems to need assistance more in this outing than she did in earlier Slayers. There is a Slayers Revolution-R that follows up on the 13 episode Revolution, and maybe Lina gets her mojo back there. Here, she seems to be thanking her companions for the save more often than I remember. Factor in Revolution's failure to use the tools afforded by digital animation to add some spark to its magic effects, and Slayers has lost a slight chip of its identity while not using the trends in anime that could've complemented Slayers' style. As a stage for spectacle, fantasy anime has largely lost its place to games and movies over the last decade, but comedy is a niche that it is capable of filling. Slayers Revolution might not be ready to blast its way into a position of prominence in current landscape, but Slayers faithful will like it. Newcomers will like it too. It features fun characters of a variety in which anime reveled in the 90's and is still able to exalt in. This might not be the force needed to overcome the inertia of the better part of a decade of inactivity and the counter-currents of trends are going against it, but, it does get some mileage out of these comfortable old shoes.
Manga Spotlight: Princess Resurrection Volumes 6 and 7 by Yasunori Mitsunaga Released by Del Rey
As anime and manga have increasingly become the domain of long time fan creators speaking to long time fan consumers, the dependence on reference has increased in kind. Comedies base their humor on recognition. Action shows rely on the viewer knowing the template to feed their anticipation. In no configuration is this reliance more acute than male oriented relationship stories. There's an established language of character types and relationships in which the majority of these works communicate. And, Princess Resurrection is a native speaker. It's point of view is a dull guy, with little going for him other than being explicitly the hero (his name is Hiro) of these circumstances and, despite being dull, magnetically attractive to virtually every female character. There's a female lead who literally goes by "Princess," (Hime) whose iciness towards the lead melts away - 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." And, there's literally a wild girl (surname Wildman). A social queen bee... a particularly young girl.... all of the standard types. These relationship stories need a specific tone or gimmick. In the case of Princess Resurrection, this identity is found in black and lace. Yasunori Mitsunaga applies solid black ink and nice curves to the loligoth attired Princess of the monster realm. The porcelain young woman in a gown raises a hapless, regular guy from the dead and uses him as a protective vanguard... not that she isn't able to take care of herself. As each volume's cover illustrates, with a saber or rapier, sledge hammer or chainsaw, this Hime is willing to get her hands bloody, if not necessarily dirty. What Princess Resurrection says in that language of anime/manga relationship stories loops back into the referential business. Upper echelon horror enthusiasm is being applied here. Princess Resurrection features the obvious. Cute girls mixed with the Universal monster types are in the forefront. The vampire girl, complete with black sailor uniform, with plenty of panty shots as she hovers in the night sky; the werewolf girl, complete with large, fluffy mitt claws. The Frankenstein's monster girl... a little daintier than you'd expect. I imagine that Mitsunaga has a stack of international horror DVDs, because what's brought into Princess Resurrection hardly ends with this mandatory set. Hime and Hiro are the core of one of a network of monster cadres in which members of the royal family of the demonic realm and their entourages vy for the thrown. Along with assorted free agents and beasties the manga corrals a diverse host of horror figures. Previous volumes included triffids, the Fly, a little mermaid of the dark, pre-Disney variety, bag headed slashers, and so on. Princess Resurrection has impressed in this regard in the past, and this set of volumes nicely carries the torch. That includes a Duel like truck. There's a kaiju rumble between Godzilla and a Tetsujin 28-esque robot butler. And, a local spider goddess looks for her sacrifices in Hiro's school. The manga has gotten away from its gag of slugging grievous bodily harm upon the ill-equipped Hiro, but Princess Resurrection still has plenty of glib fun playing with the interaction between character types and horrific violence. It manages to turn thinly drawn characters into a virtue. The persistent smugness of the vampire girl, the unquenchable belligerence of the werewolf girl, it recasts horror as a sitcom. The characters are thoroughly relationship story types and the horror is an enthusiastic reproduction of the genre. This disparity works as comedy. It's rarely hilarious, but it is consistently funny. Princess Resurrection's failing is its fight scenes. Mitsunaga sets up an expectation. Hime's faction is stranded 2,000 years in the past, besieged by yeti and told that they must hold off the assault for three days. The group is locked into a monster world prison, where the werewolf must fight against her like type for supremacy and against a lethal vampire foe. If only Mitsunaga had an assistant that could choreograph these set pieces, because while Mitsunaga has plenty of horror expertise and a knack for illustrating black clad young ladies, he can barely manage disconnected blows in his fight scenes. The author appears to have figured this out, because while he continues to set up the battles, he cuts away before the deficit becomes too evident. Compounding derivative elements is not exactly a path to greatness and this weakness does not help. It's not a brilliant manga and it isn't as good as it perhaps could be. Still, Princess Resurrection is a consistently amusing manga series. Especially for horror fans who are familiar with the template of anime/manga relationship stories, there's a lot to like here.
Manga Spotlight: The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Written by Eiji Otsuka Illustrated by Housui Yamazaki Released by Dark Horse
I knew there was a reason why I really liked geek scholar/critic/writer Eiji Otsuka. The war in Iraq affected Hayao Miyazaki's adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle. And, it's been argued that shifting Howl's to serve as a reaction made it a far more confused picture. And, the war in Iraq apparently effected Otsuka's Leviathan. I only flipped through the series, so I could be getting this wrong. A man washes up on the shore of the Dead Sea, apparently embalmed by the salt, but it turns out he's actually living, with a body comprised of parts from five people. And, he appears to have Lovecraftian ooze filling his shadow. He picks up a Japanese passport, and ends up working with a group of people embroiled in the weird things around Tokyo's Shinjuku district: crop circles, tumors full of eyeballs, chimera refugees, imps that pull themselves out of people's head, something like Pinoko of Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack, gods and demons. Then, things start getting really weird and serious. As a character points out, it's the apocalypse as might be imagined by the dirty uncle of manga, Go Nagai (in his Devil Man vision of the end days, a riot results in the dismembering of the titular horror hero's girlfriend. The infernally possessed lead also discovers that his best friend is really the host of a dormant Satan. Satan wakes and his fight with a raging Devil Man results in the world's destruction. I forget if it was applied retroactively, but Satan/his human host also love the hero). Commenced in 1999, Leviathan's view of the Apocalypse evidently became informed by American foreign policy. George W Bush was its God. Saddam Hussein was the Devil. Shiva and Buddha were involved too. Astro Boy was a disciple or something, but also juvenile murderer Shonen A. Eiji Otsuka is great at feeding graphically gruesome visions to his artistic collaborators, such as Leviathan's Yuu Kinutani MPD Psycho's Shou Tajima and Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service's Housui Yamazaki. Volume 10 of the latter certainly has enough ocular damage to get a gore hound blinking. Beyond that, to my thinking, there is no better geek mind commenting on the state of the world than Eiji Otsuka. I'm not one to deny the appeal of schlocky horror. I'd love to see brilliantly indefensible shock manga Reiko the Zombie Shop continued for one thing. That said, from Dracula to Last House on the Left to 28 Days Later, the great works of horror are either consciously or subconsciously reflections on a social moments. Kurosagi Corpse Delivery service finds a Scoobie Doo gang of Buddhist college grads with few job prospects, in a world that has plenty of skeletons in its closets. So, what passes for work for this group is moving the dead to where the departed need to be. As that non-lucrative occupation suggests, difficult job markets and finances inform Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, along with wrongs perpetrated across the span of years or decades. Otsuka applies a perspective through these circumstances. The underemployed cast don't have much authority to lean on, but they become the problem solvers here by virtue of their attitude as much as their ability to discover and raise the dead. Reconciled, rather than entitled, pissed off or delusionally idealistic, as one character puts it, "hate to say it man... but I guess we are the grownups here." Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is at its best when Otsuka is shuffling his interests (folklore, the culture of extreme enthusiasts, rituals: both modern and traditional) with current social concerns. Volume 10's great example of this is Moonlight Story. It opens with a wood block presentation of a kaiden/ghost story about an itinerant monk who seeks shelter with a couple. The husband and wife initially offer welcomed hospitality to the traveler, but when they see he's actually carrying a purse full of gold, they kill him and hide the body under the floorboards. Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service breaks its recounting of this story with a jarring transition. When that's intentional, I love when manga, particularly horror manga pulls this trick. It shows that the artist is really anticipating how the manga will be read, and leveraging that to yield effecting surprises. Otsuka proceeds to weave the story of the monk's murder with a situation involving the Kurosagi folks delivering a retiring police dog to a officer, supposedly descended from the monk's murderers, about to marry a Russian immigrant (of note, immigration was one of the key themes of Leviathan), and that's further tied to drug trafficking. Utilizing a cast of intelligent, relatable characters, grabbing attention with cadavers come to life (and in this particular case, a cute dog) Otsuka begins developing ideas about the subtext behind stories passed along for centuries and their modern relevance. When Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is at its best, the ideas that Otsuka are able to associate and tie to pressing concerns are breathtaking. When the horror anthology manages suboptimal efficiency, it still registers head of its class intelligence. Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service has been developing its world of people who relate to the restless death in various ways. Volume 10 introduces a novel new one... an AED equipped bike messenger who can briefly revive the dead to allow them to enact final vengeance. But, as an engine, the meeting of necromancers isn't driving the manga with any urgency. On top of that, the manga's Japanese publication jumped from one anthology to another twice - a situation helpfully laid out by manga guru Carl Horn in his editorial notes. This may have been a license to borrow from past stories. These aren't entirely uninvolving, but there is a repetitive "again" quality to stories like volume 10's final situation. While the episode does draw in new concepts for Otsuka to work with it also combines an unfortunately familiar tragic history of one of the Kurosagi crew with the done premise of showbiz playing a dangerous game with real bodies. Horror manga is home to some real genre luminaries, but it has also collected story tellers who have little invested in the vehicle. There are plenty of horror manga series out there in which the creators seem to simply leverage ghost stories as a convenient template into which they can fit a few of their own ideas. In contrast, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is comparable to Osamu Tezuka's medical adventure Black Jack. At the same time, Tezuka indulged in his passion for discussing medical ethics and allowed the episodic manga to go where his inspirations took him. The results were one of the most successful manga works created by the medium's "God." Otsuka appreciates horror and is genuinely enthusiastic about the genre. Into that he mixes his academic interests, along with what he's seen on the news or read in the science journals. The results are truly exceptional horror manga.
Upcoming in North America
Hollywood Ghost in the Shell screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis has stated during a Shutter Island q & a that she plans to "turn in a draft in a few weeks." She expressed cautious optimism about the project, and indirectly noted an obstacle such a project faces in Hollywood: "Cross your fingers, guys — [it has a] female lead." Kalogridis was once hired by Avatar director James Cameron to script his planned adaptation of Yukito Kishiro's Battle Angel Alita (GUNNM) manga. When asked about the possibilities of the Battle Angel film or an Avatar sequel, she responded, "You have to ask Jim — anything to do with [those projects]."
*Buzz has it that MovieStop is listing a North American release of Mamoru Hosoda's Summer Wars MovieStop listed a DVD price of $24.98, & a Blu-ray version for $39.98. If you're interesting in Summer Wars: A look at Tokyo Anime Center's Summer Wars Exhibit Anime about games, game logic, and how SUMMER WARS IS KIND OF LIKE YU-GI-OH Mono no awar: A feelgood hit for the summer Xam'd and Ultraviolet 044 from Sony. Ultraviolet 044 had a completes series release for July 13 on DVD ($59.98) & Blu-ray ($99.98), while the first 13 episodes of Xam'd were listed for August 10 on DVD ($49.98) & BD ($99.98). *SyFy's right to Earth Sea expire in 2010. Rumor has it that Ghibli's adaptation, directed by Hayao Miyazaki's son, Goro, is coming to North American theatres. *Netcomics's Korean manhwa is being adapted into a film directed by Kalman Apple, with a script by Kevan Peterson. The story "follows a cartoonist and a musician as they end their romance and test the murky waters of platonic friendship." Digital Manga Publishing Digital Manga Publishing and Libre Shuppan announced the licensing of Ayano Yamane's Finder Series, previously licensed by Central Park Media For these series, all volumes will be newly translated and will be published under DMP’s June imprint. Finder Series is set to be released in Summer of 2010 and Kizuna is scheduled for September of 2010. FINDER VOL. 1: TARGET IN THE VIEWFINDER, Rated M+ (for ages 18+), MSRP: $13.95, Available: SUMMER 2010, SIZE: B6, June' Imprint While out on assignment trying to document the illegal activities of the Japanese underworld, photographer Takaba crosses paths with the dark and mysterious leader Asami. Asami takes Takaba captive, in an attempt to subjugate and possess him. But when the son of the Chinese mafia enters demanding evidence that Takaba may have, will Takaba be able to survive being caught in the crosshairs of a deadly underworld feud Dark Horse BERSERK VOLUME 34 Kentaro Miura (W/A) On sale Aug 25 B&w, 240 pages $14.99 TPB, 5 1/8" x 7 1/4" NEON GENESIS EVANGELION: CAMPUS APOCALYPSE VOLUME 1 Ming Ming (W/A) On sale Aug 11 b&w, 192 pages $10.99 TPB, 5 1/8" x 7 1/4" Shinji Ikari’s parents are gone, and he lives with his legal guardian, Ryoji Kaji, while attending the private NERV Academy. But no one ever told Shinji about its secrets . . . or that he’d find his fellow students Kaworu, Rei, and Asuka out on the streets late at night—fighting with sword, spear, and whip against an enemy that looks very human, but who Kaworu insists are beings called the Angels . . . - Campus Apocalypse is straight from the pages of the stylish shojo magazine Monthly Asuka, home of Code Geass and Trinity Blood OH MY GODDESS! VOLUME 36 Kosuke Fujishima (W/A) On sale Aug 25 b&w, 160 pages $11.99 TPB, 5" x 7" VAMPIRE HUNTER D VOLUME 15: DARK ROAD PART THREE Hideyuki Kikuchi (W) and Yoshitaka Amano (A) On sale Aug 4 b&w, 256 pages $9.99 Novel, 5 1/8" x 7 1/4" Del Rey Publisher Weekly has a preview of Del Rey's Ben 10 and Bakugan plans Fantagraphics Art comic publish Fantagraphics has unveiled a manga line, set to commence in September 2010. Shojo scholar Matt Thorn will be editing the line Drinken Dreams, a collection of short stories by Moto Hagio, one of the pioneers of shojo manga for girls, created by woman, will be released in September. Stories include "Bianca" (1970, 16 pages) "Girl on Porch with Puppy" (1971, 12 pages) "Autumn Journey" (1971, 24 pages) "Marié, Ten Years Later" (1977, 16 pages) "A Drunken Dream" (1980, 21 pages) "Hanshin" (1984, 16 pages) "Angel Mimic" (1984, 50 pages) "Iguana Girl" (1991, 50 pages) "The Child Who Comes Home" (1998, 24 pages) "The Willow Tree" (2007, 20 pages) GLBT manga creator Shimura Takako's transgendered-centric manga Wandering Son will be released in December. Shimura Takako's ongoing series follows two young friends, Shuichi and Yoshino. These 5th graders struggle with only not puberty, but also severe identity issues; Shichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy. The two find solace in their mutual confusion and help each other cope with their gender frustration while embarking on the complicated journey of growing up. To celebrate the launch of the new Fantagraphics manga, Moto Hagio is making her first ever visit to The United States to attend Comic-Con International 2010 as a special guest. Moto Hagio spearheaded the rebellious shojo in the 1970's. She, along with a few other women, formed an artist collective called the “Magnificent 24.” Influenced by radical youth culture of the 60's, American and British rock ‘n’ roll, and European cinema, these women pioneered shojo and helped develop the style that so most manga-ka emulated today. Winner of the Shogakukan Manga Award, Seiun Award, Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize, Nihon SF Taisho Award and many others, Hagio has earned respect as a Japanese artist superstar and won the hearts of manga fans for the last 40 years. Shimura Takako is a female manga creator living in Tokyo. Her focus on GLBT issues places her work in a space that's rocked out by The Gossip and on par with Alison Bechdel. Several of Takako books have been honored with recommendations from the prestigious Japan Media Arts Festival Matt Thorn's interview with Hagio Moto About.com spot to president and co-publisher Gary Groth Shaenon Garrity on Hagio Moto's work a link roundup FUNimation FUNimation Entertainment has acquired digital, broadcast, home video and merchandise rights to the fantasy anime series “Baka and Test -- Summon the Beasts” (known in Japan as Baka to Test to Shokanju) and the supernatural action anime series “Dance in the Vampire Bund” and the from Media Factory. The agreement gives the American anime leader exclusive rights to the online streaming and simulcast of both series in the U.S. Both are now streaming on FUNimation.com FUNimation will also offer a download-to-own option for these episodes through www.funimation.com at $1.99 per episode. “Baka and Test -- Summon the Beasts” is a 13 episode series produced by Silver Lake and directed by Shin Oonuma (Pani Poni Dash, Negima! OVA’s) and adapted from the light novel series written by Kenju Inoue and illustrated by Yui Haga. About Baka and Test -- Summon the Beasts Fumizuki Academy’s students can summon Avatars, pint-sized versions of themselves that battle using special powers. The students are grouped by skill level, and those in Class A are the brightest. Then there’s Akihisa Yoshii’s group – lowly Class F. They’re the worst on campus, and they’re about to take on the school’s best. “Dance in the Vampire Bund” is a 12 episode series produced by the Japanese studio SHAFT and directed by Masahiro Sonada (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) and based on the manga by Nozomu Tamaki. About Dance in the Vampire Bund When Mina Tepes – queen of the vampires – suddenly appears in Japan to establish a colony for her blood-sucking brethren, Akira Kaburagi’s world will never be the same. As a boy, Akira vowed to serve the ruler of the night, and now he must fulfill his destiny by protecting Mina from those who would dethrone her! FUNimation has begun obscuring the nudity of a female character. This has already begun on the streaming version and may be present in the DVD release. FUNimation recently released a statement In the days since we announced the acquisition of the anime "Dance in the Vampire Bund," we have been following the varied responses from within the anime community to our decision to edit specific scenes from its streaming and later home entertainment release. First, out of concern for our distribution partners and advertisers, we will continue to make minor edits to the episodes which are available via free streaming and television broadcast due to the readily accessible nature of these platforms. We will be careful to keep such edits to a minimum. However, FUNimation is — as always — committed to bringing the best anime content to the United States in its unedited form on home video. Therefore, we are evaluating the release of the series in unedited and uncensored form for home video. Since only 7 episodes have broadcast in Japan, final determination must be reserved until all episodes can be reviewed to ensure compliance with current U.S. law. We would like to thank everyone in the anime community for the feedback provided to us on this matter — your opinions count. Right Stuf Anime producer and distributor Right Stuf, Inc. and Nozomi Entertainment announced that NINJA NONSENSE: THE LEGEND OF SHINOBU DVD Collection will be released on June 1, 2010. The four disc set will retail for $49.99 The Ninja Nonsense DVD Collection includes the complete, 12-episode anime adaption of Ryoichi Koga’s Ninin ga Shinobuden (2 x 2 = Shinobuden) manga – plus video extras and a 32-page booklet with production journals, “Happy Doodles” from the Japanese staff, liner notes and more – housed in a colorful, Thinpak-style art box. NINJA NONSENSE: THE LEGEND OF SHINOBU (Ninin ga Shinobuden) © 2004 Ryoichi Koga / MediaWorks / Ninin ga Shinobuden Production Committee. *Right Stuf also has a license announcement countdown, with a series of clues, suggestion the license Section23 A trailer for Section23's Gintama release Section23 has begun release You’re Under Arrest: Full Throttle, the follow-up to You’re Under Arrest: Fast & Furious and Buyusenki Battle Chronicle, a motorcycle gang action thriller from Switchblade Pictures. YOU'RE UNDER ARREST: FULL THROTTLE COLLECTION 1 Running Time: 300 min. Age Rating: TV PG (V) Language: Japanese with English Subtitles Format: DVD SRP: $39.98 SYNOPSIS: 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! BUYUSENKI BATTLE CHRONICLE Running Time: 112 min. Age Rating: Unrated – (V, L) Language: Japanese with English Subtitles Format: DVD SRP: $19.98 Buyusenki Battle Chronicle - 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. SYNOPSIS: 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! One of his subordinates betrayed him, and Kyosuke won't stop until he knows why. The streets of Japan will be paved with blood in Buyusenki Battle Chronicle! Sentai Filmworks has announced that Clannad will be receiving an English dub. Originally released in a subtitled only format, Clannad is receiving the dub as part of an agreement in which several affiliated groups have come together to create English language versions for five of Sentai’s most popular titles. In addition to the 24 episode Clannad, the four other series that have been selected for this limited program are: the science fiction drama Blue Drop (13 episodes,) the psychological thriller Ghost Hound (22 episodes,) Legends of the Dark King ~ A Fist of the North Star Story (13 episodes) and the 26 episode historical fantasy Tears to Tiara. English dub production duties for all five series will be handled by Seraphim Digital under the auspices of a team of veteran ADR directors such as Steven Foster, who will oversee the English dub for Clannad. In appreciation of those who supported the subtitled only release of these shows, Sentai Filmworks is developing an “Upgrade” program which will allow owners of the subtitled versions to upgrade their DVD’s for the new release containing the English dub. The shows will also be available both through broadcast, streaming and retail outlets over the coming months. Shout! Factory G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero Season 2.0 will be released on April 27th. The 4 disc set retails for $29.93 The box set contains 30 episodes of the epic G.I. JOE saga, beginning with the 5-part mini-series Arise, Serpentor, Arise. Bonus content, including fan-favorite PSAs, archival Hasbro toy commercials and special featurette Greenshirt: The Legacy of G.I. JOE. Synopsis After COBRA’s countless defeats by the heroic Special Forces unit known as G.I. JOE, the mad super genius Dr. MINDBENDER seeks to dethrone the maniacal COBRA COMMANDER by genetically combining the DNA of history’s most formidable conquerors. The result is a threat more menacing and power-hungry than COBRA COMMANDER can ever hope to challenge: the mighty SERPENTOR! Armed with a new master, a new army of Battle Android Troopers (B.A.T.s) and a new set of plans for world domination, COBRA seems unstoppable! That is, of course, unless GENRAL HAWK and his team of commandos have anything to say about it. Yo Joe! Tokyopop Tokyopop will be releasing 4 panel gag manga Neko Ramen A English dubbed DVD-on-demand of the English dubbed Rave Master anime is available for $39.99 Vertical ICV2 has a preview of Vertical's release of Osamu Tezuka's Ayako The story is about a formerly powerful family of landowners who find themselves caught up in the political, social, and economic changes in post-World War II Japan. Though the cover for Ayako is still being designed, the title character is featured on the front of Vertical’s Fall 2010 catalog. That image was designed by Peter Mendelsund, art director at Vertical, who will be designing the final Ayako cover. Also, Publishers Weekly took at look at Twin Spica win Spica takes place in 2024, fourteen years after Japan's first manned rocket launch, the Lion, fails and crashes into the small seaside town of Yuigahama. The crash killed many of the town's residents, including Asumi's mother. Spica was originally serialized back in 2001 in the manga anthology magazine Comic Flapper, from Japanese publisher Media Works, where mangaka Yaginuma was voted Best New Artist for that year. The storytelling is understated and matter-of-fact with a natural tension built into the narrative, not fabricated by screentones or frames. " It's nothing like what you would see in a Shonen Jump magazine," Chavez says. The series ended and the final volume was published in Japan in 2009. VIZ Media Upcoming Viz manga include Kyousuke Motomi’s shoujo romantic comedy Dengeki Daisy is scheduled for July 6th. Asou Haro’s shounen supernatural adventure series Hyde & Closer (Juhou Kaikin!! Hyde & Closer) is scheduled for July 13th. Gente, Natsume Ono’s sequel to Ristorante Paradiso, is scheduled for July 20. *BLEACH Season 5: The Assault uncut box set will be released on 6/8 for $49.95 Naruto Shippuden Vol. 10 will also be released on 6/8 *VIZ Media has announced the release on March 16th of the manga -Natsume Ono’s RISTORANTE PARADISO. The story, a romance among the staff at a bistro in Rome, is offered in a single volume and will be published under the VIZ Signature imprint. RISTORANTE PARADISO is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens and will carry an MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN. At the age of 21, Nicoletta travels to Rome to find her mother, Olga, who abandoned her long ago. Nicoletta finds her at Casetta dell'Orso, a charming little restaurant owned by Olga's husband. The staff of bespectacled gentlemen welcomes Nicoletta warmly, but Olga's reception is not so pleasant. Olga has never told her husband that she had a child – and he must never know. In exchange for Nicoletta's playing "the daughter of an old friend," Olga offers her a place to live and an apprenticeship at the restaurant. Nicoletta fits in well among the unique personalities at Casetta dell'Orso. She gets along particularly well with the kindly headwaiter, Claudio, a divorced man who, in spite of the many years, has still never removed his wedding ring. As Nicoletta's feelings for Claudio become complicated, she finds a sympathetic ear in Olga, leading the estranged pair to form a friendship neither expected. But as they grow closer, the pressure of the secret they share may become too much to bear. Q Hayashida’s gritty urban sci-fi/horror series, DOROHEDORO will also be release March 16th. The new series under the company’s VIZ Signature imprint, is rated ‘M’ for Mature Audiences and will carry and MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN. In a city so dismal it's known only as "the Hole," an underground group of Sorcerers have been abducting people off the streets to use as guinea pigs for atrocious "experiments" in the black arts. In a dark alley, Nikaido found Caiman, a mutant man with a reptile head and a bad case of amnesia. To undo the spell, Nikaido and Caiman hunt and kill the Sorcerers in the Hole, hoping that eventually they'll kill the right one. But when En, the head Sorcerer, gets word of a lizard-man slaughtering his people, he sends a crew of "cleaners" into the Hole, igniting a war between two worlds. The manga is reviewed here Warner Home Video Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume 7 will be released on June 15th Squidbillies Volume 3 will be released on July 6th Tom & Jerry: Deluxe Anniversary Collection will be released on June 22nd for $26.99 Watson-Guptill Manga for the Beginner Chibis: Everything You Need to Start Drawing the Super-Cute Characters of Japanese Comics by Christopher Hart is scheduled to be released on March 23rd for $21.99
Upcoming in Japan
a video preview of the spring anime season looks at the spring season on Ani no Miyako bananamuffinblog THAT Anime Blog Yuri no Boke and part two
Upcoming in Japan
Promos Trigun: Badlands Rumble Heroman (Bones and Stan Lee) Pocket Monster Diamond & Pearl: Genei no Hasha Zoroark Detective Conan: The Lost Ship in The Sky Crayon Shin-chan: Super Dimension! The Storm Called My Bride IkkiTousen XX Mardock Scramble: The First Compression Ashuku - revived Tow Ubukata project Senko no Night Raid here and here Planzet from the solo animator of Negadon: The Monster From Mars Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider The Movie: Cho Den-O Trilogy Gothic & Lolita Psycho Anime The Mobile Suit Gundam 00 movie's subtitle will be A Wakening of the Trailblazer-
*Takako Shimura's Wandering Son manga, to be released in North America by Fantagraphics, will be adapted into anime. *a 3D version of the anime adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo and Shinji Kimura's Hipira: The Little Vampire will be showcased at Tokyo Anime Fair *Detective Conan related thief/magician Magic Kaito will be getting his own anime TV special *A Masayuki Ochiai directed combination anime/live action Kaidan Restaurant film is in development *Rumor is that a Future Diary anime is on the way. The manga is released in North America by Tokyopop *Toei is developing 13 episode Flash series based on LifeStyle Tsunoda's dog based Ketsu-Inu web comic. Manga Kodansha's seasonal manga anthology ITAN will launch March 25th. Canned Dogs notes The concept of the magazine is that it aims to be the magazine which will provide whatever the author feels is the best story he can think of, without any restrictions on genre. The magazine’s policy is to not stick to conventional methods in running the magazine, and they’ve been doing stuff such as deciding the name of the magazine via a web poll and having the front cover and back cover of the magazine done via a pixiv contest. *Miwa Ueda (Peach Girl) has launched her new Pure-Mari (Pre-Marriage) manga in the April issue of Kodansha's Bessatsu Friend *Freightening dog series will be revived Ginga Nagareboshi Gin in Business Jump *Kannagi creator Takenashi Eri’s brother mangaka Yuuki Shinichi will a Kannagi spinoff manga called Kanpachi on Comic REX *Magic: The Gathering is getting its own manga in Dengeki Maoh. The story is based on the Purifying Fire by Laura Resnick *Higurashi: When They Cry creator Ryukishi07 is launching horror manga Higanbana no Saku Yoru ni (On the Night the Amaryllis Flower Blooms) *Via News Paradise MMA fighter Takanori Gomi will be the star in a new Wakui Ken (Shinjuku Swan) manga, starting in Young Magazine # 15 (On sale March 15)/ "Abaddon" followers the fighter's efforts to reach the top in UFC competition *Ono Natsume will start a new series Nigeru Otoko (The Man who fled) in Manga Erotics F # 63 (On sale May 7). *Kaiji Kawaguchi, a writer who work is often military and/or politically based, began new manga series Boku ha Beatles (I am a Beatles) in Morning. The story follows a student in a Japanese Beatles tribute band who is hit on the head and makes up in 1961 Japan. *Mari Okazaki's (Suppli) new manga And will launch in Feel Young # 05 (On Sale 8 April) *Shigematsu Takako (Big Bang Venus) started bew manga Makami-sama no iu Tori! in Gekkan Princess # 04 *The first "season" of Kinutani Yu's Ghost in the Shell-Stand Alone Complex manga adaptation of the anime ended in Young Magazine # 14 (On sale March 8). The second season will begin in Gekkan Young Magazine # 05 (On sale April 14). *Taiyo Matsumoto's Bamboo Samurai (Samurai Takemitsu)will end in Big Comic Spirits # 15 (On sale March 15). The 8th and final book in the series will be released April 28. *Shingo Honda (Ping Pong Dash!) will launch new basketball manga Hakaijû in Gekkan Champion # 05 (On sale April 6). *Astral Project artist Shuji Takeya will launch samurai manga Guren no Hana - Sanada Yukimura in Comic Bunch # 15 (On sale March 12). *Yubisaki Milk Tea has completed its serialization. The cross-dressing manga is released in North America by Tokyopop *Coca-Cola’s Happy Teen’s Club is featuring an original Air Gear manga Misc Yoshiki Tanaka's Legend of the Galactic Heroes military space epic, famous for an anime direct to video OVA that went well past 100 epieosde, is being adapted for the stage. The adaptation is scheduled to open in April 2011 *Gainax has announced a second set of Gurren Lagann Parallel Works music videos animators will be producing the following segements Akemi Hayashi "The Sense of Wonder" Gekidan Inu Curry "Ore no XXX wa Uchu Hitotsu" Shouko Nishigaki "Sayonara Dai Gurren" Ayumu Kotake, Shintarou Douge "Big Building" (pictured at right) Satoru Yamaguchi "Kiyal no Magical Time, Sanpun Mae" ("Kyal's Magical Time, Three Minutes Before") Shouji Saeki, Shingo Abe "Gunmen Symphonia" Sushio "Kitan Zero"
New York's Japan Society announced that they will hosting illustrator Hiroki Otsuka as mangaka (comic book illustrator) artist-in-residence in conjunction with the Society's spring exhibition Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters: Japanese Prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi from the Arthur R. Miller Collection, March 12-June 13, 2010. The first residency of its kind in the U.S. in terms of content, scale and breadth of public engagement, Hiroki Otsuka will create an original full-length manga (comic book) inspired by the work of Kuniyoshi—often working onsite visible to visitors. In addition, Otsuka lends his talents to an array of related activities, including illustration workshops for the general public and New York City high school students, devising and judging an international manga competition, blogging about his work and experience at Japan Society, and creating original Kuniyoshi-inspired artwork to be made available to the public. Otsuka will also participate in Japan Society's food-themed all-day festival j-CATION (April 10), and the Society's second annual cosplay event, Cosplay Play 2.0 (May 15), for which he will create promotional artwork. Otsuka's yet-to-be titled original manga, which began production on the March 12 opening of Graphic Heroes Magic Monsters, centers on a teenager who comes to Japan Society's exhibition as part of a school group. The student literally gets drawn into the artwork as a Kuniyoshi-inspired warrior and is called on to save New York City from the multitude of monsters marauding throughout Kuniyoshi's prints. A new episode of Otsuka's manga will be made available weekly online. Visitors to Japan Society Gallery will have the opportunity to observe Otsuka working onsite on Friday evenings 5-9, and Saturdays and Sundays 11 am-5 pm. In conjunction with the residency, Japan Society offers the public manga workshop Brutes, Beauties & Beasts: Drawing Inspiration from Kuniyoshi with Hiroki Otsuka. With Otsuka as a guide, participants bring their art to life choosing from one or more of the five themes from Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters: Warriors, Theater, Beautiful Women, Landscapes, and Humor. The 2-hour workshops take place amidst bamboo gardens and an indoor waterfall in Japan Society’s Murase Room. [For ages 16 and up, single sessions take place Saturdays, March 13, March 20, March 27, April 24, May 22, May 29, June 5, June 12, 11 am–1 pm. Tickets are $30 per person including materials and free admission to the gallery. Parental permission slips required for children under 18. Otsuka will visit The High School of Art and Design and The Brooklyn Friends School as part of the Japan Society Education Program's Responding to… student outreach series, which pairs high school groups to participate in a multi-part, intensive study of Japan Society exhibitions. In Responding to Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters: Japanese Prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (April-June), students explore exhibition themes and make connections to contemporary culture in a manga project led by Otsuka. The program culminates in a special exhibition of the students' artwork at Japan Society and a reception for students, teachers, and parents. To further celebrate Kuniyoshi's impact on contemporary manga, Otsuka will serve as guest judge for Japan Society's first annual manga competition, MANGA MADNESS! (March 19-May 1). Participants are asked to submit previously unpublished manga artwork, and the top three winners’ will be displayed at Japan Society. [Beginning March 19, send complete applications to firstname.lastname@example.org. Digital scans are preferred but photocopies may be mailed to Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, New York, NY 10017, ATTN: MANGA MADNESS! Please DO NOT mail original art as hardcopy submissions will be discarded after the competition. Entries must be emailed or postmarked by May 1, 2010. Full contest information and rules will be posted at www.japansociety.org in March.]
an interview with Hiroki Otsuka *Kazuo Umezu's 55 anniversary event, "Kazuo Umezu Odaiba Puchidinasho 55 anniversary!" will take place April 11 in Tokyo in Odaiba culture day culture. *Yasuhiro Imagawa (Giant Robo, G Gundam) has cancelled his Sakura-Con appearence. The event will still feature rock bands High and Mighty Color and Dazzle Vision, voice actress Mayumi Tanaka, animator Tsuyoshi Nonaka, director Satoshi Nishimura, character designers Yutaka Minowa and Takahiro Yoshimatsu, and illustrator Noizi Ito *Anime Expo will host character design and Bones co-founder Toshihiro Kawamoto
Anime News Network reports that anime and shock movie distributor Media Blasters has laid off or furlough at least 13 of the company's 50 staff members. Media Blasters CEO John Sirabella told ANN that the company hopes to rehire the furloughed employees and explained the circumstances that led to the layoffs: "Recently, some of our larger vendors have slowed down quite a bit, so we have to take precautions." He added, "We are hoping that if we start to see the orders flow back from these vendors, we can bring [the furloughed employees] back later."
*Harvey Weinstein is