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AICN Anime - Top 10 Reasons Twin Spica and Bunny Drop Kick-Ass!

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Manga Spotlight: Twin Spica By Kou Yaginuma Volume 1 Released by Vertical A preview can be read here

When I'm not writing for Ain't It Cool News, my gainful employment is as an engineer for Software Co. In that capacity, I pour copious amounts of effort and thought into enhancing products that improves the efficiency of and solve problems for customers in industry X, and ultimately, raise the shareholder value of Software Co. It's stressful. It's demanding. And yet, as they say, I'm not exactly curing cancer. A decade ago, I was beating my head against a wall trying to secure a college degree. Pretty mundane aspirations in the scheme of things. A couple years before that, I was fussing over getting out of high school. Something that a large percentage of Americans manage. Even without indulging in self pity, it occasionally occurs to me that it'd be nice to think of these efforts as part of something greater. So, Twin Spica... it follows the efforts of a minimalisticly rendered, cherubically illustrated thirteen year old girl as she endeavors to become an astronaut. Up until its conclusion last year, the manga was serialized in Japan in Comic Flapper, a seinen anthology for males in their upper teens (or older). Comic Flapper does run some mecha, like the manga adaptation of Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino's anime concerning a video game champion turned mecha pilot in a post apocalyptic exodus, Overman King Gainer. It featured a recent incarnation of venerable space psychic sci-fi saga Locke the Superman. It had the manga version of risqué perfumer/secret agent Najica. But, stories about young girls for that seinen demographic are Comic Flapper's primary niche. Dark Horse published Translucent, about a shy girl who literally turns invisible, originated in Flapper. Controversial Dance in the Vampire Bund is another Comic Flapper work. I've recently been talking up Christie High Tension, Area 88 creator Kaoru Shintani's stories of Mycroft Holmes' daughter, and that's from this anthology too. The appeal of these works to their male readership isn't generally as apparently unified as the collection of titles bundled in an anthology like Dengeki Daioh, which similarly features cute girl series. For example, the draw of Translucent was its feel-good aura and optimism about human nature. I haven't read any Dance in the Vampire Bund or seen the anime, but I've read praise for the richness of its world creation and the quality of its action. The appeal of Twin Spica... it's a little girl working to realize her dreams of going into space. You might be in high school, or college or on the job, working toward something of dubious significance, but here's a girl giving it her all to rocket out of Earth's atmosphere. Now that's a goal with some gravity. The desire for meaning is universal. We all want our effort to take us someplace special. I look forward to the chance to read and write about some manga. While seinen material is often what has me watching my mailbox, Twin Spica wasn't the object of that anticipation. It was a well regarded work to which I thought I'd be indifferent. Maybe due to my dislike of travel in general, though I'm a lifelong geek, space in and of itself has does little for me. Even my considerable admiration for other manga on the subject (Planetes and 2001 Nights) didn't have me itching to read the next great space exploration story. Coming of age stories aren't of particularly keen interest to me either. Ultimately, the manga surprised me. Reading about Twin Spica's lead trying to go into space, I got choked up. I have reservations about seinen manga featuring young leads. It tends to open the door to iffiness. I shouldn't say that I distrust escapist manga. I certainly read enough of it. Nostalgia is ok for occasional fun, but it generally strikes me as unproductive. Mono no aware is a can of worms that I probably shouldn't open at this point. Recapturing the spirit of youth often seems to translate to thinking like a child, and that sort of regressive mindset bothers me. It's difficult to imagine Twin Spica going in those bothersome directions. Nor will its lead journey be simply a function of determination. It's set to push the character, but instead of regular formulas, it is more sensitive and naturalistic than other space academy manga (even ones I've liked). Twin Spica (named for the binary star system in the Virgo constellation) opens with thirteen year old Asumi Kamogawa quizzing herself on the history of space exploration. She then prompts herself to recall the three tragedies of manned space flight. You can read about the first two on Wikipedia: the Apollo 1 fire and the Challenger explosion. The third occurred when Asumi Kamogawa was one year old. In 2010, (the manga began in 2001 and ran until 2009, so this was always near future) Japan launched its first manned space flight. 72 seconds after takeoff, the liquid fuel in the rocket's boosters caught fire. The space center was unable to activate the "flight stop system" that would explode the craft mid air. As a consequence, the Lion crashed into the city of Yuigahama. Asumi's mother was one of the crash's civilian victims. Despite, or perhaps because of this, Asumi's dream since childhood was to fly a rocket into space. As Twin Spica opens, she's making her first steps toward realizing this hope with her entrance into the space academy that Japan set up. Though Asumi is evidently working as hard as possible, "dream" is the right word for her goal. The manga doesn't position it as an ambition in a heated sense. "Guts and hard work" aren't the theme here. And, while Twin Spica is attentively realistic in its handling of space, there is an ethereal quality to the manga. I didn't catch any pronounced examples in this volume, but Kou Yaginuma reportedly references favorite children's author Kenji Miyazawa's classic Night on the Galactic Railroad, about an allegorical trip into the heavens. This is haunted manga. It's explicitly subject to spirit visitations courtesy of the "Lion" apparition from the like named rocket, outfitted with a theme park mask. But, that's not the extent to the manga's ghosts. Asumi's mother did not suffer an immediate death in the Lion's crash. Prior to experiencing her mother's death at a young age, for a number of years, Asumi knew her mother as a mute, featureless mask of bandages. A pair of prequel stories included in the volume explore how Asumi processed those events. What's demonstrated in the chapters is that Asumi has her own way of relating to situations like her mother's, or at least that she's uninhibited and sees her visions to fruition. The preview that Vertical posted serves as an example of how emotionally devastating for the reader Asumi's efforts to bring her visions into reality can be. Small, practical despite her big dream, occasionally taken by self doubt or trauma, Asumi is an empathy magnet. This engenders emotion that does tread dangerously close to moe territory. Yet, because the manga appears to be devoid of cynicism, it's difficult to hold its similarities to a larger trend against it. Yaginuma finds effective ways to accentuate Asumi's significance without stacking the deck. It's apparent that a dynamic is being generated in which Asumi will have to rely on her peers and vice versa, but so far, she is her own guide. Sure, there's Jiminy Lion, but he serves to offset the ineptness of the adults around Asumi. Her father is a hard working laborer, who cherishes his daughter's dreams, but he doesn't seem to have either been well equipped or able to come up to speed in raising her alone. Beyond his domestic issues, the man hauls off and hits his daughter twice as a consequence of being unable to contain his emotions or otherwise communicate with her. Asumi's school teacher/guidance councelor is passively obstructionist towards her hopes of joining the space academy. At the space academy itself, so far, what been seen of the adults staffing the place has been questionable as well. Twin Spica does not rely on attachment to the character types or the subject matter involved. It speaks to a human need and that effect is compounded by the hope and sadness of its lead. Vertical's Minister of Enlightenment Ed Chavez has noted that Twin Spica's plot works a lot harder in driving the series than many other manga's. Yet, a volume in I've found it more driven by emotions. The result is a powerfully effecting manga.

Manga Spotlight: Bunny Drop Volume 1 by Yumi Unita Released by Yen Press

Bunny Drop is the story of a 30 year old office worker who takes it upon himself to raise his six year old aunt. It's not sci-fi. (Though, If you read much anime/manga, it's not hard to imagine a series that would actually do that.) Upon being notified of the death of his grandfather, Daikichi hastily arranged for some time off of work and commuted back to his home town. Upon opening the gate to his grandfather's house, he was met with the tense gaze of a young girl in black mourning dress, clutching a bellflower in her hand. While he'd been focused on his career, Daikichi hadn't been around his family for a while, so his immediate guess was that the young girl was his niece. Entering the house, Daikichi meets his mother and she corrects the assumption. In fact, the girl is Daikichi's grandfather's illegitimate daughter. No one in the family is quite sure of the circumstances that lead to the elderly man fathering a child, and no one is too enthusiastic about taking in the six year old girl. It is perhaps telling that the manga never identifies who lets Daikichi know that her name is Rin. Her silence is off-putting, especially in contrast to Daikichi's rambunctious like aged niece. Creepily, she begins shadowing Daikichi, presumably due to his sometimes startling resemblance to his grandfather. If Unita had illustrated her with dark rather than light hair, she could've been mistaken for one of Japan's "dead girl" ghosts. The child's presence spurs an impromptu family meeting. In the heated discussion, they cuss the old man. They make dehumanizing comments about Rin. Daikichi's mother in particular vocally asserts that the others in the room don't know the sacrifice it takes to raise a child. Daikichi angrily wonders where Rin's reality fits into the scheme of their reasoning. Quietly, he spells out that he believes Rin is more intelligent and more sensitive than they give her credit, not to mention, more likely to mature into a proper adult. Then, he leaves, taking her with him. Next we see Rin waking up in Daikichi's cramped apartment, telling him that she's hungry. He's immediately barraged with the practicalities of the situation. She needs clothes. He needs to figure out her daycare arrangements. And, there's an effect on his life. Minor alterations include being more selective about what programming he watches on TV least something like the new upset Rin. More major ones include a significant reworking of his career path. Prior to his grandfather's death, Daikichi was fine focusing on his work. A guy doesn't need to "have it all" - career, marriage, family - the first will suffice. After Rin moves in, he bemoans his single status, but being derailed from the fast track is apparently what really gets him. To reuse a previously made generalization, manga for young audiences tend to be about aspiration, while manga for older audiences tend to be about reconciliation. In discussing Bunny Drop, David Welsh brilliantly raise the point that men have a propensity for staging their involvement in child raising activities as heroic. Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys comes to mind. In that manga, the protagonist takes it upon himself to manage the family store and raise the infant daughter that his sister abandoned. I'll certainly admit that I was impressed. 20th Century Boy's hero is initially berated for this. He's the last bachelor in his circle of friends, and his mother laments for his future. It's an understatement to say that the character is on the receiving end of a lot of trouble, but sooner rather than later, he's positioned as not just responsible, but heroic... messianic even. In contrast, Daikichi is simply doing his best. I thought that Urasawa did a fine job capturing mature responsibility, but that holds nothing to Unita's matter of fact suggestion that her protagonist is simply filling the need to raise a child, and not entitled to be canonized for it. Bunny Drop is not presented with a heartwarming tone. The spirit of the work is captured when Daikichi walking Rin home from school thinks to himself "If I were to say, 'this isn't a sacrifice' at the moment, it would reek of a lie... but I hope to be able to say that in a few years time." Daikichi isn't a Job figure, the manga is far from humorless (as Rin tails behind Daikichi, he testily blurts out "this isn't Dragon Quest!!" and there is little denying that Rin is an adorable kid. Yet, essential to the spirit of Bunny Drop, the child is not a prop, a sitcom fixture or an avatar of youth. She has moods and while she is an almost preternaturally well behaved child, there are moments where it isn't just her needs that frustrate Daikichi, it's her personality. Unita's style of illustration proves to be an asset to Bunny Drop. It hits a balance between open simplicity and restraint from over-idealization. When Daikichi is said to look like his grandfather, one looks like a thirty year old and the other looks like an elderly man, the shared peculiarities in shape reinforces the statement that the two do resemble each other. Daikichi says that he's eventually able to pick up hints to Rin's mood through the subtleties of her expression. As with its lead, the manga's reader is encouraged to read the child's feelings and development from her face. I'm not going to pretend that Bunny Drop is a subtle manga. It's complex, but it is also overt as often as not. Without a whole lot of lines and with sparing usage of the expressionism you'll see in shoujo or shounen manga, Yumi Unita employs the right body composition and right degree of cartooning convey a lot with a little. And, in a larger sense, the style gives Bunny Drop a light touch. It gets to be meaningful without being overbearing. It grants the reader permission to have fun with the work. In manga licensed for North American release, when a work isn't mainstream shounen/shoujo, the origin can often be unexpected. Yumi Unita has works across a spectrum of different demographically aimed anthologies. Zettai Donkan is shoujo, running in Melody (home of Fumi Yoshinaga's Ooku, Keiko Takemiya's Bright no Yu'utsu and Yutaka Tachibana's Gatcha Gacha). She's written seinen (for an adult male audience), such as Sukimasuki, male and female peeping neighbors who fall in love with each other, published in Ikki and Yoningurashi, about the life of a nuclear family, published in Manga Life Original. She's written josei (for adult female audience), such as Nomino, about third year (senior in Japan) high school student and the relationship with his childhood friend two years his junior, from Rakuen Le Paradis. Beyond those, there are plenty of short stories collections across the seinen (Rakuraku, Kiki, Danjo ) and josei (Sake Rabo, Yuku Yuku ) genres. Bunny Drop runs in Feel Young, a josei publication. So, Bunny Drop is the story of a man, raising a girl alone, told to a female audience. I can't pretend to possess the familiarity or other knowledge needed to suss out how this fits into complex gender politics. I can say that feminist themes are further developed in later volumes. And, I am willing to speculate that for a female readership, having a man being the subject of the manga could add a maybe intentional level of separation from the subject. It adds a gap in identifying with the lead. Rather than see themselves in the circumstances, the reader has a zoomed out view, with the ability to evaluate what is going on from some remove. I've long been a booster of seinen manga. It's the genre that encompasses most of my favorite titles. It's a genre that I think could appeal to many beyond those who actually read/buy it. I think most Ain't It Cool News readers could find something that they could embrace from its ranks. While it's not filling the shounen/shoujo dominated best seller charts, it's not exactly the runt of the litter as far as manga in North America goes. It certainly managed a commanding presence among in the nominees in this year's prestigious North American comic industry Eisner Awards. Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys was nominated for Best Continuing Series (seinen, Big Comic Spirits) His Pluto was nominated for Best Limited Series or Story Arc (seinen, Big Comic Original) Jiro Taniguchi's A Distant Neighborhood (2 vols.) was nominated for Best Graphic Album (seinen, Big Comic) A Distant Neighborhood, Pluto, 20th Century Boys, and Oishinbo a la Carte by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki (seinen, Big Comic Spirits) were nominated for Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia. And, Naoki Urasawa was nominated for Best Writer/Artist, citing 20th Century Boys and Pluto. Josei's history in North America has been significantly more fraught with false starts than seinen. I remember picking up Moyoco Anno's biting anti-rom-com Happy Mania (like Bunny Drop, published in Feel Young) back in 2003 and thrilling at its sexy meanness. It's the kind of manga destined to inspire some degree of hatred, but I believe that it still has a small cult following. It's a personal favorite. Tokyopop briefly talked up a Manga After Dark, chick-lit-eque line of josei manga, but never went anywhere with it. The company has launched other josei over the years, and some, like recently revived Suppli, have been fan favorite, but it's been a struggle. Josei was the niche of the publisher Aurora, but whether they are still in business is currently in doubt. There are many outstanding voices and talents in manga that North America sees little of due to the apparent disinterest in josei manga. There's some brilliant Anno works we haven't seen (though the two that many would call out for, courtesan story Sakuran and office worker story Hataraki Man are both seinen). We've seen nothing licensed from brilliant, controversial Kyoko Okazaki (beauty body horror Helter Skelter). North American manga readers miss out by not supporting josei. On one hand, female readers lack material to graduate into when they tire of manga written for young audiences. On the other, from what I've seen, josei tends to be anything but alienating to male audience. Bunny Drop treats a mundane subject in a mundane manner. It's not Yotsuba where a guy is raising a radiant embodiment of the essence of childhood. It's not 20th Century Boys in which raising a child fits into a more global scheme of heroic responsibility. Here, it's simply a single guy raising a kid. Its sometimes amusing, sometimes provocative and sometimes touching treatment of the subject is simply wonderful.

Upcoming in North America

It's not specifically or definitively US bound, but ICV2 notes that Toei Animation is offering 200 refurbished episodes of the Sailor Moon Magical Girl anime at the MIPTV market in Cannes. In addition to the Sailor Moon episodes Toei is also offering the rights to the 243 episodes of the 1980s TV anime Dr. Slump, which is based on the manga series by Dragon Ball-creator Akira Toriyama.
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Brian Michael Bendis has confirmed that an animated Ultimate Spider-Man is in the works Disney XD, target for Fall 2011 According to producer Greg Weisman, the announcement of a new Ultimate Spider-Man animated TV series effectively means that The Spectacular Spider-Man will not be renewed for a new season Wolverine and the X-Men has also been cancelled for undisclosed reasons. Bandai Entertainment Bandai Entertainment Inc. announced today that it has acquired the North American distribution rights for the theatrical film The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya from Kadokawa Pictures Inc. The film, which is based on the novel of the same name by Nagaru Tanigawa and Noizi Ito, was made by Kyoto Animation and supervised by Chief Director Tatsuya Ishihara and Director Yasuhiro Takemoto. The story follows the two seasons of the anime series phenomenon The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and tells the story of Haruhi’s sudden disappearance and her friend Kyon’s attempt to untangle the mystery of why she’s vanished. An English subtitled print of the film will be shown theatrically at the Viz Cinema in San Francisco (www.vizcinema.com ) staring on May 21st followed by a theatrical distribution in Hawaii in mid-June by Consolidated Theaters (http://www.consolidatedtheatres.com ) and Artisan Gateway as part of their SPOTLIGHT ASIA FILMS Program. Hawaii dates and venues will be announced soon. Subsequently, an English language version of the movie will be produced by Bandai Entertainment and Bang Zoom Entertainment and released on DVD at a date soon to be determined. Aniplex of America Inc. will release d Gurren Lagann the Movie –Childhood's End- (on July 1, 2010), and GURREN LAGANN the MOVIE –The Lights in the Sky Are Stars- (on July 30, 2010) DVDs in the United States and Canada. The DVDs will be exclusively available at Bandai Entertainment - THE STORE There will be two SKUs per movie: A Limited Edition and a regular version; both featuring 5.1 Japanese audio with English subtitles. The Limited Edition includes: Feature disc: Japanese 5.1 audio with English subtitles Bonus disc: 4 video segments from Gurren Lagann Parallel Works music video on each Limited Edition sku A deluxe 32-page recreation of the Movie Program Book that was sold at theaters in Japan Original postcards that were included in Japanese Special Edition DVD LE list price is $49.98 and the regular version is $29.98, however if you pre-order now using the Early Bird Special Discount the LE is $39.98 and the regular version is $23.98, but this offer expires on May 13 (for movie 1 versions) and June 11 (for movie 2 versions). After that LE and regular versions will be available for $42.98 and $25.48 respective AnimEigo Upcoming chambara live action include Samurai Vendetta: A Chronicle of Pale Cherry Blossoms and Shinsengumi Chronicles: I Want To Die A Samurai Cartoon Network Home Entertainment Comedy Central’s reality TV/cartoon parody “The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!” will hit DVD on April 20th.
Drawn TogetherOn DVD April 20
Red Band Trailer
www.comedycentral.com
Futurama New EpisodesFunny Demon Zombie TV ShowFunny TV Comedy Blog
This is the first animated film based on the "Drawn Together" series featuring the entire original cast and "Family Guy's" Seth MacFarlane as the voice of I.S.R.A.E.L. "The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!" DVD features over one hour of bonus features including: “Anatomy of An Animated Sex Scene,” an in-depth investigation into the genesis of the soon-to-be infamous 3-D sex scene; “Re-Animating Drawn Together: From the Small Screen to The Slightly Bigger Screen,” a technical piece focusing on the production/animation end of the project; “Drawn Together: The Legacy,” a faux-serious reflection on the show’s impact and lasting cultural relevance; “Drawn Together: True Confessionals,” intimate interviews with the actors and co-creators about the show and the dawn of the movie; “Drawn Together Minisodes,” a fond remembrance of all the loveable characters from the series hosted by The Jew Producer; “D.I.Y 3-D Glasses,” step-by-step instructions on how to create your own 3-D glasses; and deleted scenes. Dark Horse
BRIDE OF THE WATER GOD VOLUME 6 Mi-Kyung Yun (W/A) On sale Aug 18 b&w, 184 pages $9.99 TPB, 5 7/8 X 8 1/4 At the start of this series, Soah was willing to sacrifice her life to the feared god Habaek to save her drought-stricken village on Earth. However, she wasn’t killed by the powerful Water God—she was rescued and taken to the magical kingdom of Suguk. Once there, she met moody gods of the elements and a mysterious husband who took her as his bride but then spurned her. While Habaek yearns to treat Soah as a proper husband would, he’s cursed to live in the form of a little boy during the day, only reverting to his true adult self at night. Trying to keep this strange secret from Soah, he hides behind the fake identity of “Mui” at night, when he competes with other unusual gods for her attention. Will this be the volume in which the Water God finally spills the truth to Soah—or will other conspiring, jealous gods succeed in driving a permanent wedge between him and his human bride? Cursed and pursued by an unknown, shape-shifting tormentor, Habaek is also led to believe that his previous human bride is still alive!
GANTZ VOLUME 13 Hiroya Oku (W/A) On sale Sept 29 b&w, 232 pages $12.99 TPB, 5 1/8" x 7 1/16" Dinosaurs. Seriously, can the frantic world of Gantz get any more scary? How about a giant doughboy with crazy fangs and a strange outie bellybutton? Yeah, it’s not just scary; it’s a very strange world for Kei!. At least this time the Gantz crew have a new weapon! It’s an awesome state-of-the-art uni-motorcycle thing! And one of the characters uses a massive space samurai sword. It’s Gantz!
GHOST TALKER’S DAYDREAM VOLUME 4 Saki Okuse (W) and Sankichi Meguro (A) On sale Sept 8 b&w, 216 pages $10.99 TPB, 5" x 7" If having hallucinations is scary, then seeing them at school would be terrifying. But when the hallucinations talk back to you, that’s the kind of fright you’ve come to expect from the world of Ghost Talker’s Daydream. Come join Saiki Misaki, the albino dominatrix necromancer, as she jumps head first into another supernatural mystery. This time around the case becomes more personal, as the power that gives Saiki the ability to see and talk to the dead is the very thing terrorizing her client.
MAGIC KNIGHT RAYEARTH OMNIBUS EDITION CLAMP (W/A) On sale Sept 29 b&w, 640 pages $19.99 TPB, 5 1/8" x 7 1/4" Umi, Hikaru, and Fuu are three schoolgirls out on a field trip to Tokyo Tower, whisked suddenly away by a strange voice and light to Cephiro, a world full of spirits and sorcery. They were summoned here through the last remaining strength of the Princess Emeraude, who hopes that they are the trio destined to become the magic knights legend says can save her realm! But how are a bunch of junior-high-school kids supposed to defeat the dark might of the sinister Lord Zagato . . . with only an exceedingly strange bunny creature named Mokona as their guide . . . ?
NEON GENESIS EVANGELION: THE SHINJI IKARI RAISING PROJECT VOLUME 6 Osamu Takahashi (W/A) On sale Sept 8 b&w, 192 pages $9.99 TPB, 5 1/8" x 7 1/4" Shinji is never quite sure whether he’s in a relationship or just some sort of bizarre lab experiment, and he probably didn’t need yet another cute, mysterious individual to arrive in his homeroom. But that’s just what he’s going to get in the person of Mana Kirishima. Will she prove to be a girlfriend of steel . . . or more of an iron maiden? Not manga, but of note...
EMPOWERED VOLUME 6 Adam Warren (W/A) On sale Sept 8 b&w, 208 pages $15.99 TPB, 6 1/2" x 9" After a fiery disaster claims the lives of several teammates, costumed crimefighter Empowered stumbles upon an ugly little secret of the masks-and-tights business: a growing number of ill-fated superheroes have found out the hard way that, while their bodies are still mortal, their superpowers are not . . . Now, only our downtrodden but doggedly determined heroine can save the (semi)living superdead from a very genuine “fate worse than death,” while simultaneously grappling with the challenges of vengefully vacationing ninja clans, car-trunk carpet burn, superhero-fantasy-league drafts, excessive bedroom chatter, and deals with the devil both figurative and literal! All this, plus Emp’s not-so-secret origin is revealed at last!
USAGI YOJIMBO #130 Stan Sakai (W/A) On sale July 28 b&w, 24 pages $3.50 Ongoing In the aftermath of a bloody gang war, the rabbit ronin and a new ally return to the town called Hell with a score to settle! Usagi and the swordsman Kato have come back to confront Boss Higa, the scheming gang leader who cheated Kato out of his fee and put the blame on Usagi. However, in the weeks since they left town, Higa has fortified his stronghold and amassed an army of mercenary samurai. To pay for it, he has ruthlessly oppressed the townspeople and taken everything they own. Now Usagi and Kato have even more reason to eliminate the tyrant! Del Rey Deb Aoki at About.com:Manga has confirmed that Del Rey has canceled manga style Marvel licensed titles Wolverine: Prodigal Son and X-Men Misfits FUNimation FUNimation Entertainment announced it has acquired home entertainment, digital and merchandising rights to the live action horror comedy VAMPIRE GIRL VS. FRANKENSTEIN GIRL from Eleven Arts Entertainment. VAMPIRE GIRL VS FRANKENSTEIN GIRL was directed by Naoyuki Tomomatsu and Yoshihiro Tomomatsu, the dark minds that brought you cult classics like TOKYO GORE POLICE, THE MACHINE GIRL, and ROBOGEISHA. Valentine’s Day turns twisted for Mizushima after the vampire schoolgirl Monami gives him a chocolate laced with vampire blood. One bite of the delicious sweet infects him with immortality. This does not sit well with Mizushima’s jealous girlfriend Keiko. She wants him all to herself. A bloody battle between the two women ends with Keiko falling to her death. To her luck, Keiko’s mad scientist father reanimates her into an undead Frankenstein girl. Now on a level playing field, the undead damsels fight for the heart of Mizushima. VAMPIRE GIRL VS FRANKENSTEIN GIRL begins a series of screenings at the Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa in Ontario, Canada starting tonight, followed by screenings on April 15 and April 16. Next week, The Nashville Independent Film Festival will present a late night screening of VAMPIRE GIRL VS FRANKENSTEIN GIRL on April 20. FUNimation Entertainment will release the film on DVD and Blu-ray in October 2010. Kodansha Comics Rocket Bomber lists out Kodansha Comics' release slate as its currently publicized Ghost in the Shell, Vol 2 - 18 May Akira, Vol 2 - 8 June Akira, Vol 3 - 13 July Akira, Vol 4 - 12 October Anime Vice spoke to a representative, who said In the future, we are going to publish more titles. Please note that, we will continue the titles which we can offer an extended array of multimedia franchises that include animated films, video games, prose novels, merchandising and more. Now we are discussing new title line up for 2011 and planning to create a website to update our works. Media Blasters Death Kappa! Coming to DVD and Blu-Ray July 27th from Tokyo Shock! Media Blasters' John Sirabella said of Mania's forum "In the USA we are trying to change our model and even at MB we have decided that the time has come for us too. We have no choice to go boxsets initially, cheaper and even blu ray boxsets so Kanokon will be our last series of DVD singles. There may be some Blu ray singles but no more DVD. We also have to try and get people out the episodes initially for free on the web. Hope than later they will buy it. We have to see how the numbers will work...if they will work." Top Shelf AX:alternative manga is due in July. a bit of a preview VIZ Media VIZ Media will release KINGYO USED BOOKS on April 20th. The new series, by Seimu Yoshizaki, will be published under the VIZ Signature imprint, is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens, and will carry an MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN. In KINGYO USED BOOKS, a businessman discovers how his childhood memories can brighten his day. An art student finds inspiration. An archer hits a surprising bull's-eye. A housewife rediscovers romance. A teenager discovers his true self in the pages of a manga magazine. Welcome to Kingyo Used Books, a place where people find their dreams in manga... For more information on other SIGIKKI titles and to check out a sneak peek of chapter one through eight of KINGYO USED BOOKS, visit www.SigIKKI.com.
VIZ Media announced details for the collection of BAKUMAN. The series, rated ‘T’ for Teens, will be released on August 3rd under VIZ Media’s popular Shonen Jump imprint and will carry a MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. Previews for the series will start to run in the May 2010 issue of VIZ Media’s popular monthly manga anthology – SHONEN JUMP magazine which is on stands now. BAKUMAN?is written by the author of DEATH NOTE, Tsugumi Ohba, and the artwork is by Takeshi Obata, the artist known for series such as DEATH NOTE, HIKARU NO GO and RAL?GRAD. The story follows average student Moritaka Mashiro, who enjoys drawing for fun, but when his classmate and aspiring writer Akito Takagi discovers his talent, he begs Moritaka to team up with him as a manga-creating duo. But what exactly does it take to make it in the manga-publishing world?
Upcoming Haikasoru sci-fi prose include SLUM ONLINE by Hiroshi Sakurazaka Price: $13.99 U.S. / CAN $18.99 • Available April 20th Etsuro Sakagami is a college freshman who simply drifts through life, but when he logs on to the combat MMO Versus Town, he becomes Tetsuo, a karate champ on his way to becoming the most powerful martial artist around. While his relationship with new classmate Fumiko goes nowhere, Etsuro spends his days and nights online in search of the invincible Ganker Jack. Drifting between the virtual and the real, will Etsuro ever be ready to face his most formidable opponent? THE STORIES OF IBIS by Hiroshi Yamamoto Price: $15.99 U.S. / CAN $19.99 • Available April 20th In a world where humans are a minority and androids have created their own civilization, a wandering storyteller meets the beautiful android, Ibis. She tells him seven stories of human/android interaction in order to reveal the secret behind humanity's fall. The tales Ibis tells are science fiction stories about the events surrounding the development of artificial intelligence in the 20th and 21st centuries. At a glance, these stories do not appear to have any sort of connection, but what is the true meaning behind them? What are Ibis's real intentions?
LOUPS-GAROUS by Natsuhiko Kyogoku Price: $16.99 U.S. / CAN $23.00 • Available May 18th In the near future, humans communicate almost exclusively through monitors connected to online networks—face-to-face meetings are rare and the surveillance state nearly all-powerful. Even school children are only allowed to meet in the flesh in designated communication centers. So when a serial killer starts slaughtering junior high students, the crackdown is harsh. And despite all the safeguards, the killer's latest victim turns out to have been in contact with three young girls: Mio Tsuzuki, a certified prodigy; Hazuki Makino, a quiet but opinionated classmate; and Ayumi Kono, her best friend. As the girls get caught up in trying to find the killer— who just might be a werewolf—Hazuki learns that there is much more to virtual reality than meets the eye. LOUPS-GAROUS: Copyright © 2001 KYOGOKU Natsuhiko All rights reserved.
THE NEXT CONTINENT by Issui Ogawa Price: $16.99 U.S. / CAN $23.00 • Available May 18th The year is 2025 and Gotoba Engineering & Construction, a firm that has built structures to survive the Antarctic and the Sahara, has received its most daunting challenge yet. Sennosuke Toenji, the chairman of one of the world's largest leisure conglomerates, wants a moon base fit for civilian use, and he wants his granddaughter Tae to be his eyes and ears on the harsh lunar surface. Tae and Gotoba engineer Aomine head to the moon where adventure, trouble, and perhaps romance waits. The Next Continent: © 2003 Issui Ogawa Unconfirmed Viz licenses, seen listed by Simon & Schuster includes Iwashiro Toshiaki's Psyren from Weekly Shounen Jump and Yoshinori Natsume's Kurozakuro and Yuuki Iinuma's Itsuwaribito from Shounen Sunday Warn Home Video Titan Maximum, the combining robot homage from the makers of Robot Chicken, will be released on DVD August 10th for $19.97
Well Go USA Well Go USA will be releasing Gen Takahashi's Goth on region 1 DVD on May 11 - novel by Otsuichi, adapted into Kendi Oiwa's manga (novel and manga were released in North America by Tokyopop)

Upcoming in Japan

Promos Trigun: Badlands Rumble Toei Robot Girls
Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin Anime Nausicaa.net reports that the cast of Ghibli's Arrietty The Borrower will be Arrietty: Mirai Shida Sho: Ryunosuke Kamiki Pod: Tomokazu Miura Homily: Shinobu Otake Sadako: Keiko Takeshita Haru: Kirin Kiki specs were announced on the Japanese Nausicaa Blu-ray Audio: Japanese (2.0/Linear PCM) / English / French / German / Korean / Cantonese / Mandarin (all others: 2.0/Dolby Digital) Subtitles: Japanese / English / French / Korean / Chinese (Traditional) Bonus features: Storyboards, After Recording Script, Trailers Audio bonus features: Audio Commentary: Hideaki Anno and Kazuyoshi Katayama (same as DVD) Toshio Suzuki and Hideaki Anno's talk "Nausicaa and Evangelion!" (recorded in Dec 2009) First Pressing will come with a guide book (mini-book edition reprint, 9cm x 6.5cm)
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A second season of Sengoku Basara will be replacing Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood when the series completes Manga Via News Paradise Masakazu Katsura's Zetman will be staying in weekly anthology Young Jump, but will only produce one chapter per month.
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Shûeisha will launch quarterly anthology Jump Square Next The first issue (the Spring) will be released on April 30 Content includes a special chapter Nurarihyon no Mago 17 pages (with color page) news on the Bakuman anime -8 stories bonus manga from Shonen Jump ( Psyren, Lock-on, No Kuroko Basket Medaka Box Kiben Gakuha, Yotsuya Kaidan No Senpai, Beelzebub, Inumaru Dash Hokenshitsu Shinigami No ) A 50-page One-Shot (page with color) Baston of Yôichi Amano (Author of Akaboshi ) called Asobi Mono A-One Shot (With color page) from Kawashita Mizuki (Author of Ichigo 100% ) A-One Shot byMatsui Yosei ( Author of Neuro ) named Matsui Yosei Manga Report A-One Shot by Wajima Satoshi (author of wasshoi! Wajimania ) appointed Zekkyô! Horror-kun ) -9 One Shots from Young Authors: Matoba Fuminori / Zenchi Zenno Kyoshi Sensei Kamino (Upper Left), Chikusa Toshihiro / Pride (Upper Middle), Kobayashi Setta / Kido Bancho Samejima (Upper Right), Manabu Sato / Jigoku Hyassei Kantate (Middle Left), Uno Tomoya / Uchû Takkyu (Middle-Middle), Kouji Harada / Magist (Middle-Right), Sasai Shingo / Casha (Lower Left), Nagatomo Yoshihiro / or Obi Mijikashi! (Low-Medium) and Takeuchi Ryosuke / Jirabune-kun to Tentaikei Kanojo (Lower Right).
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Kawashita Mizuki (Ichigo 100%) will run a short manga in Shonen Jump Next and the Jump Sq.19.
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Quarerly Change Yellow H will feature Boy Meet Girl Meet Girl Boy by Amazume Ryuta (The One Shot is a series). -The 3rd chapter of Accomplice by Rikudo Koshi (Author of Excel Saga ) - Broom in Action of Etorôji Shiono -A Chapter of Enrance of Pon Takahanada (author of Bon Appetit Sakura ) -One Shot One named Taki Kyôju No Kojin Jûgyô from Yuji Shiozaki (Author of Ikkitôsen ) One Shot One-named Libra Policy of Akihito Yoshitomi (author of
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Ayamine Rando's ( Get Backers ) to Oniwaga Ushiwaga - Edge Of The World will start in Shonen Magazine.
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Akira Miyashita's Akatsuki! Otokojuku Seinen-yo, wo Daishi Idak ends in Super Jump # 10 after 25 volumes Yuka Nagata (Hokuto no Ken - The Legend of Toki ) will launch Gypsy Choju in Comic Bunch Live Action A live action adaptation of teacher manga Hagane no Onna ~ She’s a Steely Woman! will run on Japanese TV this May, starring Nodame Cantabile's Michiko Kichise Rei Mikamoto's (writer of Reiko the Zombie Shop, released in North America by Viz) Kyonyu Dragon (The Big Tits Dragon) will be released as live action The Kyonyu Dragon: Onsen Zombies vs. Stripper 5 May 15 at Tokyo's Cinemart Roppongi theater, followed by a 2-disc DVD release from Albatross on August 4. Reiko was adapted into a three-part live-action video series in 2004.

Event News

NYCIFF will be screening Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away - May 1, 2, 8, 9 Secret of the Kells will be screened through April 22
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Studio Ghibli will be opening a new look at their short films called Ghibli no Mori no Eiga - Yokoso Dosei-Za he (The Movies of Ghibli Forest - Welcome to the Saturn Theater) at Ghibli Museum.
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Art of Akira VIP Opening Party May
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Garo Manga, 1964-1973 is running at New York's Center for Book Arts April 14, 2010 - June 26, 2010
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Voice actor Kappei Yamaguchi (Death Note, Ramna 1/2, One Piece) will be a guest at Raleigh, North Carolina's Animazement (May 28-30).
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The makers of Eden of the East will be at Anime Expo
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Ozone Commandos film will be screened at ANIME NORTH coming up in May Kazuo Umezu's 55th Anniversary Dinner Show

Anime x Games

Princess Maker, original developed by Gainax, is going massively mulitplayer online
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Cyberfront will be releasing a Strike Witches game for the Xbox 360 on July 29, 2010
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New screen shots of mecha mash-up Another Century's Episode: R. Namco Bandai will be releasing the PlayStation 3 game in Japan this summer.
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Namco Bandai announced PSP two on two tag team fighting game DragonBall TAG VS, scheduled for release in Japan this summer.
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Sony announced Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 for PSP. The game will feature 4 players battles and battles with humongous beasts.
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Dengeki magazine publisher ASCII Media Works have announced a new Durarara!! adventure game for PSP

Digital Distrobution NEws

FUNimation Entertainment is partnering withFuji Television Network, Inc., to simulcast anime series featured in its late-night noitaminA programming block airing in Japan on Thursday nights. The partnership gives the American anime leader rights to the online streaming and simulcast of the series in noitaminA in the U.S. “House of the Five Leaves” will premiere on Fuji TV on early Friday morning, April 16 at 1:30 a.m. Japanese Standard Time (JST) and at 12:30 p.m. CDT Thursday, April 15, just one hour after its Japanese debut, FUNimation will deliver the first episode of the series for North American streaming via www.funimation.com. On Thursday, April 22 at 11:45 a.m. CDT, FUNimation will stream the first episode of “The Tatami Galaxy” one hour after its Japanese premiere. Each episode will be high-quality and contain its original Japanese dialogue accompanied by English subtitles. A new episode will be rolled out weekly at www.funimation.com as well as key video-sharing partners as both series continue their television run. “House of the Five Leaves” is a 12 episode series produced by Manglobe and directed by Tomomi Mochizuki (OCEAN WAVES, “Ranma ½”) and adapted from the Natsume Ono samurai manga of the same name. Set in the Edo period, the series centers on a masterless samurai, Masa, and a gang of mysterious outlaws called “Five Leaves.” The upcoming “The Tatami Galaxy” is an 11 episode adaptation of Tomihiko Morimi’s novel “Yojo-Han Shinwa Taikei.” The series is animated by MADHOUSE (SUMMER WARS, “Claymore, “Black Lagoon”) and directed by Masaaki Yuasa (“Kemonozume”, “Crayon Shin-chan”). This month, Fuji TV is expanding the noitaminA block to one hour and announced that five new titles will be aired by the end of the year.
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All of Oh! Edo Rocket is now streaming on FUNimation.com
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Through April 21, the first episode of Afro Samurai can be watch for free on PlayStation Home
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IDW Publishing and Digital Manga Publishing are working to offer Vampire Hunter on Sony's PSP Digital Comics Set in the far future, Vampire Hunter D chronicles the fallout of massive world war. From the darkness of war’s devastation, mutants and a race of vampires known as the Nobility have spawned. They rule the weak with no remorse. Once bitten by a Nobility, one is cursed to become a member of the undead. Villagers cower in fear, hoping and praying for a savior to rid them of their undying nightmare. All they have to defend against this fate is a different kind of danger – a Vampire Hunter. Vampire Hunter D Volume 1: Chapter #1 ($1.99) is now available through the PlayStationStore.
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12 more Zatoichi films are being offered on Hulu
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Roland Kelts on whether we on the verge of the new digital world of iManga
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A profile of Crunchy Roll's growth

The The Award (or Nomination) Goes To...

Haikasoru/VIZ Media's release of Otsuichi's Zoo has been nominated for Single-Author Collection in the Shirley Jackson release. Jackson wrote the famous short story "The Lottery." The reward in her honor began in 2008.

The Business

Dentsu Inc. launched a Dentsu Entertainment USA in Santa Monica, California. The wholly-owned subsidiary will develop original entertainment content and promote international licensing with US$358,000 in capital.
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A translation of Yamasaki Osamu's comments on what workers in Japan's anime industry are paid New Cool Japan strategies were presented to Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry's Industrial Structure Council The strategy calls for setting up a system in which such organizations and firms consistently help small and midsize companies in doing everything from product development to finalizing sales contracts overseas. The Yomiuri Shimbun notes exports only account for 2 percent of Japan's total sales in the content industry, far below the 18 percent seen by the United States.
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Astro Boy animators Imagi had their stock trading suspending due to a "bubble warming." When trading what resumed, shares fell 43 percent. A look at the auction of their US office
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O-chan's Blog of Protoculture continues a look at the anime industry with the Pokemon era
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A translator is leaving fansubs, saying he's being paid $150 an episode to work for Crunchyroll

Cool Figures News

Umezu's Cat Eyed Boy and Orochi Project BM! Shotaro Kaneda

Worth Checking Out...

Insight A fabulous break down of major doujinshi works produced in 2009, in which number of titles produced based on a given subject, and the percept of which are adult only More disussion of manga translation quality Colony Drop on the highly recommendable Macross Plus
another recording of Anime Boston's Manga Mania Panel NPR on history otaku Post Bubble Culture has a number of recent "Gross National Cool" posts CNNgo on wine manga Kami no Shizuku scene fixture Geoff Tebbetts has launched an anime blog Categorizing Manga by Standardizing the Paratext relating Hiroki Azuma’s Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals to more recent moe comedy types comparison chart Manga Out Loud: Pluto Part 2 Otaku USA on Notes from Nippon: Woodstock in Pink Females in Anime blog Rob Schwartz on the live action adaptation of Solanin - jFilm Pow-Wow on the live action adaptation of Kaiju Manga artist Yuka Nishioka continues exploration of atomic bombings with release of second book A Feminist Otaku on Rose of Versailles
Ani no Miyako on the animation of Umi Monogatari #13 Melinda Beasi on You're so Cool Shaenon Garrity looks at manga Portrait of M & N Is it possible to create a light, wholesome romantic comedy in which the female lead routinely gazes up covered in bruises and blood, perhaps with a tooth chipped, and says things like, "Use your strong kicking skills and make me your love slave?" Those who aren't manga fans would probably say no. The rest of us know that in manga all things are possible, and Tachibana Higuchi sets out to prove it with Portrait of M&N, a shojo teen romance about two nice, kinky young people. Erica Friedman on Gunjo, Volume 1 Gunjo, Volume 1 by Nakamura Ching is a journey from madness to madness, from profound misery to profound misery and from derision and fear into depths of despair where there is respect and even love. It begins in the moments after a horrible crime has been committed. A woman has asked someone to kill her husband for her. She has asked someone she knows she can use - another woman, a lesbian, who has been in love with her since high school. The woman who requested the death is abusive, derisive. The woman who committed the crime is passive, almost apathetic. She flinches in the face of the other's harsh words, but doesn't fight back. Reverse Thieves talk female audiences and anime/manga on The Speakeasy Podcast - Drink #004: The Pink Lady The Wings of Honneamise: still reaching for the stars after twenty-three years The disaffected world of Inio Asano Mangaka Inio Asano has become one of the voices of his generation. His work--stories of youth that would be too alien or embarrassing for full-fledged adults--has found a home in the hearts of disaffected teens and twentysomethings. One of Asano's best-known manga is Solanin, the story of a young band, which was recently released as a live film starring Aoi Miyazaki. Perhaps it should have come as little surprise that during our interview at his Tokyo studio, Asano appeared to be one of his own characters--a "soshoku danshi" (lit. herbivore boy), a current lifestyle in which men tend toward hobbies traditionally associated with women, at the same time refraining from building close relationships with members of the opposite sex. An Eminent Legal Scholar's Journey to the Floating World Destroy All Podcasts DX Episode 135 - FLCL Volume 1 HomeTown Tales podcast did a Kuchisake-onna/Slit Mouthed Woman episode (#314) interview with Artist and animator Akino Kondoh Media Masami Kurumada (Saint Saiya) on Clash of the Titans
Felix Ip's Kamen Rider 01 Capsule Music Videos by Studio Kajino Clockwork Machina's
Readers Talkback
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  • April 16, 2010, 1:37 p.m. CST

    Kind of a disingenuous title there, Scott

    by seppukudkurosawa

    Yeah, I saw what you did! Haven't read the column yet, but I'm sure it's well-written like normal.

  • April 16, 2010, 1:39 p.m. CST

    re: title

    by ScottGreen

    http://tinyurl.com/59khww

  • April 16, 2010, 1:47 p.m. CST

    The Japanese man...

    by Sailor Rip

    ...they are some weird fucking characters.

  • April 16, 2010, 2:13 p.m. CST

    whaa?

    by torpedoboy

    huh?

  • April 16, 2010, 2:40 p.m. CST

    Aint it Kick Ass News

    by RPLocke

    In your face.

  • April 16, 2010, 2:43 p.m. CST

    ^^^ LOL WUT

    by turketron_2

  • April 16, 2010, 3:25 p.m. CST

    Kmtkr?

    by Connor225

    What's the name of that show with androgynous samurai and his/her pink girlfriend? It looks pretty cool, but I googled kmtkr and found nothing (in english).

  • April 16, 2010, 3:33 p.m. CST

    re: Connor225

    by ScottGreen

    Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran. The samurai in question is a woman. Released in North America by Bandai Entertainment. Very good fight scenes, but it is very routine period chambara formula. I like chambara, but all its episodes end up too samey. as good as the fight animation is, the routineness makes watching a chore. If you want to track down something like that, go for Jubei-chan, from some of the same animators.

  • April 16, 2010, 8:36 p.m. CST

    Hey Scott

    by buffywrestling

    Just wanted to thank you for the Crunchyroll viewing advice & for keeping up with this column. The pickings are really slim here to grab DVD's locally - which I would prefer to do actually, to send some sort of money into artist pockets - but sometimes things come out so fast, I don't want to be left behind, storywise. <p> Kinda of a double edge sword in some cases. Some artist take two years between drafts - then another year for subs - & some are subbed immediatly. Throws off my game :/

  • April 17, 2010, 2:45 p.m. CST

    Ninja Scroll

    by Phimseto

    So...for years there's been rumors of an actual Ninja Scroll sequel by the original creator. Does anyone know where that stands?

  • April 18, 2010, 6:49 p.m. CST

    Wrong headline, guy

    by Harry Weinstein

    ?On Thursday, April 22 at 11:45 a.m. CDT, FUNimation will stream the first episode of “The Tatami Galaxy” one hour after its Japanese premiere." We're getting the new series from the genius director of fucking MIND GAME and not only that, but we're getting it DAY AND DATE with Japan. EVERYTHING else should be considered "oh yeah, and also..."

  • April 19, 2010, 2:20 a.m. CST

    Can't wait to check out Evangelin 2.0!

    by Johnno

    And I was just listening to the soundtrack for Maross Plus last night. Man was Plus really awesome! It pretty much established anime at it's absolute best in my mind! If they ever get that Macross movie off the ground they might as well do their own thing given they can't completely adapt macross given all the legal brouhaha, and throw in similar things we all love into one movie which must include Sharon Apple!

  • April 19, 2010, 2:16 p.m. CST

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  • April 25, 2010, 6:41 p.m. CST

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