Anime Spotlight: Golgo 13 Collection 1 Released by Section23
On a number of occasions, I've generalized that manga for younger audiences is often about aspiration... achieving some ends, whether it is being the best or just mundane happiness. Manga for older audiences is often about reconciliation... learning to live with mistakes, responsibilities or realities. As a straight escapist fantasy for men, Golgo 13 is one of the glaring counter examples to the latter count. Created as the 60's hardened into the 70's, immaculately dressed, well groomed assassin Duke Togo, aka Golgo 13, had the guns, the women and the adventure on a world stage of James Bond, but none of the national or ideological ties. It wasn't Lone Wolf and Cub either. Killing wasn’t an act of vengeance, or getting even with the world. It wasn't an outlet for rage. Instead, it served as a demonstration of unstoppable, superlative ability.
For decades, the Golgo 13 manga has been one of the main attractions in the most prominent anthology for adult males, Big Comic. The run begun in 1973 hit a landmark 500th chapter this spring. Despite, or perhaps because, of the manga's sex and violence maturity, in that decades long run, its stone faced mercenary sniper become a pop culture pillar along the lines of Batman or Superman. His imprint is such that a gag evoking this somber figure peering down the scope of his rifle is almost requisite for any parody of Japanese pop culture. Despite that persistent popularity, the manga had received remarkably little attention from anime. Or to be more precise, most of the classics of seinen never see an anime adaption. Up until recently, there was enough Golgo 13 to provoke the question "why not more?" With character design and animation direction from frequent collaborator Akio Sugino, Osamu Dezaki was the person to take Golgo 13 into anime . An animator from the Astro Boy generation who made his name as the king of melodrama in the 70's with titles including classics Tomorrow’s Joe, Aim for the Ace! and The Rose of Versailles, Dezaki got a shot at Golgo 13 with 1983's The Professional - which has subsequently become infamous for use of early CGI. Dezaki/Sugino adaptations are not fundamentally unfaithful, but they are obviously Dezaki-ized. This is the guy whose adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack featured paramilitary Doctors Without Borders in an armed take-over of a super-hospital. You have to sneer to call the Golgo 13 manga "realistic." It does feature its protagonist hired to destroy Iraqi super-guns and sent into space to shoot down compromising satellites. At the same time, it has played with historical events: the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, Princess Di's death, Tiananmen Square; and it adhered to a sort of believability with a wink. Mixing classic noir, 70's exploitation and almost Dario Argento like psychedelic violence, The Professional started out in traditional Golgo 13 fashion, with Duke Togo executing the son of a vastly wealthy industrialist but as he contended with the blow back for majority of the remainder, the conflict culminated with the assassin fending off extravagantly freakish adversaries, along the lines of what might be found in the works of Hideyuki Kikuchi (Vampire Hunter D) and Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Ninja Scroll). For over a decade, The Professional was a standalone venture. Then, in 1998 Dezaki returned to Golgo 13 with direct to video Queen Bee. This was Togo in black Bond mode, hitting the jungles of South America to hunt down the beautiful leader of a guerilla army. Again, it was Golgo 13, but it wasn't. The exotic, but fleshed out, sortof rounded foe was the requirement of a 60 minute feature and not exactly native to the spirit of the manga. Not to suggest that departure from the source material was the cause, but again, the Dezaki Golgo 13 didn't spawn more anime. With a resounding "what took them so long?!" from the fans, Golgo 13 returned to anime in 2008 with a 50 episode TV series. Director Shunji Ôga worked with Dezaki on the Professional and on Rose of Versailles. There are nods to Dezaki in the series. Dezaki's split screen, dramatic lighting shifts and freeze fame "postcard memories" all make occasional appearances. However, this was Golgo 13 anime that conformed to the workings of the manga. You couldn't ask for more in a Golgo 13 anime. It's stripped down to the title character's work. Beyond Duke Togo, the only reoccurring character is a rodent featured gunsmith, occasionally called in to customize the needed weapon. Beyond those best in the world guns, there is not much in the way of gadgets or gimmicks. The scenarios do tread a little into "wow, that's crazy!" territory. Proceedings go outlandish when they endeavor to put Golgo 13 someplace interesting, like an Alaskan, inescapable super-max penitentiary. And, they get outlandish when they're depictions of America aren't quite right. Some of the notions of gun laws a laughable. Despite the wide reaching travel and slight alien version of America, having Duke Togo as the single constant serves to make it a very spare anime. Each episode is a Golgo 13 mission, told from his perspective or someone's whose path intersects that mission. No overarching stories. No extravagant would be foes along the lines of what the movies offered. This is exactly the right translation of Golgo 13's appeal across media. And in providing that, the Golgo 13 TV series demonstrates why it took three and a half decades of its character being an icon to get a long form anime. As often as anime and manga are conflated, it is important to remember that they have distinct audiences. Electronic devices have changed the equation, but traditionally, there has been manga for and read by all audiences. There is plenty of kid’s manga. There are mass market anthologies like Shonen Jump. There's nice collections for more adventurous readers. And, there are anthologies for general, adult audiences. Despite notable outliers, anime was once for kids. Then, it broadened to kids and geeks. Programming blocks that have tried to further broaden its audience, such as noitaminA, have been rewarded with depressing ratings. Golgo 13 is not for an audience that watches anime. Golgo 13 is unapologetically adult. It's full of naked women and killing, but that's only part of what makes it an adult fantasy. It's about supreme competence. Nothing can stop this man from accomplishing his job. Let me repeat that. Nothing can stop this man from accomplishing his job. There's a defined objective. Obstacles seem insurmountable. And, no matter what, with cold precession, Golgo 13, completes his mission. Frustrated by your inability to get done what needs to get done? Here's a man who never has that problem. It's one vicarious success after another. The majority of each episode is comprised of the lead in to a Golgo 13 hit. They spell out and explore the nature of the given challenge. Especially considering that these problems are intended to be resolved with a single bullet, dynamic action and active struggle isn't the point. With precise violence being employed to resolve missions, don't look to Golgo 13 for flashy, action spectacle. Episodes are tight, with nothing but people working towards specific goals. That doesn't mean that there's tension. Not only will Golgo 13 succeed, he'll incur no consequences that'll hamper his future activities. Beyond that, there is little encouragement to care about those effected by Golgo 13's work. Though one offs might be marginally sympathetic, tragic, or even brave, the anime picks up on Togo's Terminator think - they're either targets or potential obstacles. The series willfully locks away implications. Duke Togo is a male ideal; a man who women throw themselves upon; a man that dominates any situation; one who causes other males to back down with a glance; the ultimate alpha, an evolutionary champion. There's no desire to dig deeper. There's no deconstruction, looking at how joyless this person is. This is a person who can't even bear to have someone move behind him. Being that eternally vigilant must be torturous. That said, It wouldn't be Golgo 13 to look into the psychology of that. The attention to morality is just as scant. There's no larger aim offered to provide justification for Togo's killing. He's an automaton that takes a mission as input, then does what's necessary to complete the instructions. There are no reservations about who the target might be, or who might need to be killed to get to that target. If a couple police men transporting a target are in the way, the question of whether to kill them isn't going to slow Golgo 13. Golgo 13's problem is that you can watch one episode and know that it's not for you. If you're not looking for the dry action, the dark protagonist or the sort of validation being offered, you can recognize that and drop it immediately. However, if you stay and bite, you're hooked. There are certain character types that humans seemed almost biologically wired to pay attention to. The fascination with super-predator-like serial killers appears to be almost evolutionary. A lone wolf like Golgo 13 is a similar recipient of this attention. I'll credit that for why I couldn't stop watching the 13 episode set of the series. Even if he is supposed to be a sort of powerful surrogate, given some thought, I think if a person was asked if they would really want to be Golgo 13, a non pathological individual would have to say "no." At the same time, its hard to ignore the positive feedback that Golgo 13 offers its viewer from the vicarious sense of accomplishment with each of his successful hits.
Manga Spotlight>Gunsmith Cats: Burst Volumes 1-5 By Kenichi Sonoda Released by Dark Horse Manga
Gunsmith Cats' greatest asset and liability are the same... it's the manga that Kenichi Sonoda created for Kenichi Sonoda. Kenichi Sonoda was part of a movement in the 80's that saw the introduction of anime creators who grew up anime fans and sci-fi geeks. There was The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, which was in part a tribute to works like Space Battleship Yamato. There was Gainax, who established themselves with the cameo packed opening animation for the Daicon III and IV conventions before works like sports/sci-fi homage Aim For the Top: Gunbuster. Sonoda himself was involved with the Alien informed anime girls in space Gall Force and the Blade Runner meets women in high heeled power suits Bubble Gum Crisis. In 1989, he created homage to Hollywood guns and autos flicks Riding Bean, an abbreviated manga that became a one episode anime OVA starring Bean Bandit, the tough as nails driver, also known as the Road Buster, capable of getting away with bringing a knife to a gun fight, and his blonde partner Rally Vincent. Rights disputes ended that venture, but a darker toned Rally and her small partner Minnie May took the opportunity to open shop in Chicago with the 1991 launch of eight volume manga series Gunsmith Cats. Rally was a gun customizer, bounty hunter and muscle car enthusiast. Minnie was a former prostitute and explosives nut. Together, they took down criminals who might not have been of the costumed Batman variety, but who were often physically mutilated and almost always pathologically sadistic. Bean Bandit brought his Mustang, bullet proof jacket and knives back. Though he was ostensibly an ally, circumstances generally found him in semi-antagonistic roles. Information broker Becky "the Nose," thief Misty Brown and rival driver Riff-Raff expanded the female character roster. There were some sympathetic cops. May's mentor/lover... and what do you know? Like the creator, he name was Ken. Sonoda's enthusiasm for firearms, cars and cute girls were unmistakable. In the former cases, he mixed otaku attention for precise details with a solid mind for constructing spectacles suitable to manga. Quickly moving objects like bullets and autos don't always apply themselves well to manga. Where less adept illustrators reduce it to a few suggestive frames, Sonoda's understanding of the subjects allowed him to envision the action and cut to the right mechanisms of the guns and screeching of the tires to effectively establish what's going on. And the girls... Sonoda would not or could not stay away from the titillating shots. In the midst of desperate violence, he'd look up the skirts of his heroines. That's if they could stay dressed. The fact that he evidentially liked them young or young looking didn't help much either.
Pre-manga boom, when the selection of manga available in English was far more narrow than it became, Gunsmith Cats was a manga that I wanted to like more than I actually did like. I owned most of it, then decided that all I really needed was the first volume and gave away the rest. The "Bonnie and Clyde" story lacked the ever impressive Bean Bandit, but it was a nicely nasty grudged match between a former bounty that lost a thumb to Rally's trick shooting and leg in an auto confrontation, who then turned her attention to revenge. Sonoda left Gunsmith Cats in 1997. Between 2000 and 2004, he worked on Cannon God Exaxxion. Anime and manga are often conflated, and as such, there's an assumption that like anime, manga has plenty of mecha work, and plenty of classic mecha work at that. In truth, though there are several important mecha works with manga incarnations, Tetsujin 28 - the first mecha hero in anime/manga and Mazinger Z - the first mecha hero piloted from its interior, manga is not really the medium for mecha stories. As such, Exaxxion, stood out simply by virtue of being decent mecha manga. Beyond that, it was distinguished by a great sense of immense scale, and Sonoda's attention to his female characters. Then, in 2004, after wrapping up Exaxxion, Sonoda returned to Gunsmith Cats for what has every appearance of being a final five volume Gunsmith Cats Burst (he has a new manga called Bullet the Wizard, launching in the anthology Afternoon this summer). Reading all of Burst in one go shifted my opinion of Gunsmith Cats. The issue was not specifically that the imposed panty shots spoiled the action. It's that Gunsmith Cats is too strongly distilled Kenichi Sonoda. There certainly, and probably is, fan demand for more Gunsmith cats. Yet, the manga reads like Sonoda wrote it for himself. He's almost excessively interested in how guns and cars work. He's attempted to be truthful to the story's Chicago setting. Though he's invested in that reality, but make no mistake, this is Kenichi Sonoda land. In an interview, Sonoda said "To be perfectly honest, though, I feel more comfortable creating stories in the Riding Bean world where I've got a leading man. No matter how much I like Rally and Minnie, it's hard for me as a guy to get inside their heads. Bean Bandit is a guy I can identify with much more personally. No matter how much they say Japanese women have gotten tougher in recent years, you don't meet many people like Rally and Minnie in Japan, or anywhere else. They're a challenge!" The corollary to that is that Gunsmith Cats male characters are single minded. It’s a formula. Male villains sneer when they're not in pain, where as male heroes set their jaws. Smiling when not actively concerned is a trait of female characters. Brutal gang leader Gray is certainly not comprised the way that Lesbian, brainwashing mafia captain Goldie is. In fact, late in Burst, Sonoda goes to great pains to establish what type of person the latter is. Yet, as colorful and in many cases particular this may be, the characters all feel reducable to their apparent roles. Especially in Burst, where, with all its short, chained incidents, dumping ideas and shuffling characters off, Sonoda just seems to be spinning the chambers. The manga blurs into a crowded highway of sneering toughs threatening women and car crashes, and bandages and female nudity. Sonoda does successfully use his cast to produce memorable moments. And, with Rally's balance of firearms know-how and flashy ability, May's quick thinking application of explosive devices and Bean's bullet stopping toughness, these impressive bits of action are tied into what he's established. However, Sonoda spends too much time playing his own game by his own rules. There's a scene late in the final volume in which May's mentor explains cult brainwashing in terms of an action movie franchise with too many sequels. Most people will see the inconsistencies and be brought out of the action. In a cult, the indoctrinated lack the bearings to notice those problems. The observation was either incredibly meta, or Sonoda was not being too mindful of what he was doing to divorce the reader from the action in his own work. He skimps on narrative necessities and in doing so, a sense of these figures as characters fade. It devolves into violence and exposition in the end, with little credible personality to bridge the two. Black Lagoon sticks out as a counter example to Gunsmith Cats Burst's problems. Like Gunsmith Cats, it's driven by authorial fanboyism for girls and guns. I don't think that Rei Hiroe's original manga manages the trick as well as Sunao Katabuchi's anime adaptation, but though Black Lagoon is borrowing a lot from recognizable media types, it always feels as if its specific set of characters drive the action. Gunsmith Cats Burst lost that. It had a maelstrom of action, that fans of action manga can appreciate. It moved the characters towards and end point, and fans of the characters might be interest in that. But, it was missing the ligaments to tie the muscular action to the skeleton of characters.
Manga Spotlight: Gantz Volume 10 by Hiroyo Oku Released by Dark Horse
Though I'm occasionally tempted to be pulled back in, I'm going to say that I've learned to stop worrying about whether Oku is going to begin deconstructing his subject in earnest, and love Gantz. The decisive break from wondering if Gantz would turn its attention to mental rather than visceral instigation came when it became unmistakably apparent that, at this point, the manga is feeding the wish fulfillment fantasies of its guy audience to a staggering extend rather than subverting it. Where it once got millage out of hugging onto a notion of reality with nasty consequences, it's leaped off the rails. Particularly in regards to his relationship with the opposite sex, the main character is now reaping benefits for his participation in Gantz's action. The fact that bits seem to resonate around larger implications go along with Oku's provocateur tendencies. But, really, Gantz has crossed a line where it's become apparent that it is not ideology or consideration driving Gantz. It's simply committed to agitating and exciting the reader. It's just that the manga is so full out... and that I do enjoy trashy, violent manga, that I have to appreciate rather than condemn Gantz. Ever see, Drunken Master? Jackie Chan's adversary, Hwang Jang Lee as Yan Ti San, had an attack called the Devil's Shadowless Hand where he'd flash his digits in front of Jackie's face, and follow the quick burst of motion with a solid strike. Gantz advances with a similar MO. Even when it's not in the midst of something devastating, it's advancing with something attention grabbing to set up the big crush. Teen malcontent Kei Kurono is given the opportunity to assert himself when he's plucked from the moment of his premature death and outfitted to play out lethal video game like scenarios on the streets of Japan. These level like sorties resolved into complete cluster you-know-what's. He was matched with yakuza, stars and politicians. He was matched with grannies, and low rent toughs. And he's been paired with people who actually seemed prepared... various varieties of martial artists, a sniper, a military geek, ect. If Oku was credibly developing the implications of Gantz, it would be interesting to try to put together a thesis regarding these support crews. Volume 10 is more wave than it is strike, setting up the next team to go out with Kurono. This latest group to be developed is distinguished from the previous by several factors. The early part of the manga reflected Kurono's misanthropy. The people he dealt with were, for the most part, the dull, corrupt, weak people that he believed populated the world. As the manga has progress, he's been lightening up a bit. While, still chilly, he's developed some attachments. Similarly, the latest group are getting cast in a more favorable light than previous ones. Maybe they will not be long for this world, but Oku is encouraging the reader to want them to fight and survive, and not just get chewed up and spit out in a graphic spectacle. The layer of fiction in Gantz had been that real-ish, regular people were given guns and black spandex outfits and sent to go kill and be killed by aliens in a recognizable urban conflicts. Again, Gantz has come off the rails. A subthread of the manga had been really rage inducing male dominance rituals/bullying going on in the background, occasionally percolating up to bother Kurono. It was presented as life ruining/traumatizing hazing that the hero was able to swat down with the help of his Gantz toys. From this soup of testosterone, Gantz has summoned characters more routed in fiction than reality. I can point to few manga that can be as damaged by spoilers as Gantz. Revealing specifics is actually apt to ruin the fun. To dance around that, I will say that some of these folks are pulled from fight media, and others are a bit Stephen King-ish. Curiosity is directed to the same questions that applied to previous groups. What's going to happen when these people who have credibly believed that they live in a reality safe from aliens and things that go bump in the night are put into kill or be killed situations with monsters ready to eviscerate them? Part of this question is still phrased the same way it was when Kurono was paired with grandmothers and sickly politicians; what will their reaction to the threat be? But, increasingly, the second part of the question has become, what happens when Kurono and company step up to the challenge? With that becoming an operative factor, the confrontations have become recast as brutal action rather than brutal horror. I've had to reset my expectations for Gantz. Oku simply isn't engaging what the early manga looked like he might be, and that narrows the appeal of the provocatively shocking work. If you're looking for more than a gratuitous display of flesh and blood in a manga, definitely pass on Gantz. Conversely if the notion of the most unapologetically guy oriented manga on the market appeals to you, Gantz is a must see.
Manga Spotlight: Toriko By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro Released by Viz's Shonen Jump Manga Line
Toriko pulls its apparent recipe from a number of manga sources. There are two obvious ingredients, and a couple other influential, and no less significant in the scheme of manga, but more subtly present flavors. The eponymous hero of Toriko is a mountain of muscle, along the lines of what you'll find in martial arts manga from the likes of Keisuke Itagaki works such as Baki the Grappler or Garouden; which is to say, muscled to an almost grotesque extent, corded and bulging from feet to neck, built through training with maniacal intensity. While this character is in fact a martial artist of sorts, the endeavor towards which he turns his prowess relates to a drastically different type of manga. North America has seen a bit of foodie manga. Oishinbo is the straightest example. This is a bit different than cooking manga, like Iron Wok Jan or Yakitate Japan. In foodie manga, the protagonist goes to some length to find some editable, explains what they're eating, then offers an extravagant reaction as they consume it. Basically, Toriko is the Brock Lesnar of food connoisseurs. In the opening pages of Toriko, the Gourmet Hunter hero karate chops off the bottom of a bottle of Maker's Mark bourbon and pours the 50 proof contents into his mouth; cracks a branch off a cigar tree and snaps his fingers to light it; casts a van sized grasshopper into a river; as he yanks his fishing line out of the water, his bus sized clawed crayfish-cod catch is grabbed by an even more gargantuan five tailed eagle. Toriko snaps the rod down, stunning both fish and bird. Toriko is commissioned to bring in dangerous meats such as the garagara gator and fight off other mega-mega-fauna such as the four armed troll kongs to get at rewards like the fruit of a rainbow tree, with juice so concentrated that one drop could flavor a swimming pool full of water. He feasts on the proceeds, but also uses the experience to seek out foods worthy of filling the empty slots in his life's full course menu. In that pursuit, Toriko's search for the most delectable foods takes him through a landscape that is like a cross between Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and the rationality free world of the original Dragon Ball. However, though this Gourmet Era is populated by the Akira Toriyama style free rein of imagination that inspired the current generation of manga hits like One Piece and Naruto (particularly their early parts), Toriko himself is a shonen throw back to an older model of the genre. As opposed to Luffy or Naruto proclaiming that one day they will be the best, like Fist of the North Star's Kenshiro, who starts his manga as the true successor of unstoppable martial art Hokuto Shinken, on the first page, Toriko is already the best. The manga punctuates the exaggerated machismo of Toriko taking his knife and fork shaped hand attacks to the Gourmet Era's fantastic bestiary with exposition concerning the threats and rewards of braving the wildlife for fantastic edibles. It's absurdity driven manga. There isn't much apparent room to grow Toriko as a character. Nor does there seem like much intension for the plot to be taken seriously. The appeal is seeing the next inspired bit of weirdness Toriko will have to contend with to get his meal, then the over the top display of ecstasy as he consumes it. Who wouldn't want to check out a concept as gleefully demented as Toriko. Beyond execution that lives up to its promise, there is plenty of room for Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro to run here, and volume one shows no signs of the manga wearing out its welcome. However, Toriko going toe to toe with titans he hopes to eat is amusing and not fascinating, and in a way that suggests that graphic novel collections might not be the best vehicle for this particular manga. This would be perfect for reading in an anthology. Its wackiness would be an ideal palette cleanser; something to read between manga that are sometimes too serious for their own good, like Bleach and Naruto. As a meal in and of itself, a volume of Toriko is nice to have around, but as a comfort food distraction rather than anything sustaining. It's a problem shared by other static manga in North America's graphic novel driven industry. As fun as it is, there's nothing developing to propel towards the next volume. To anticipate more, you really need to have a deep affection for the material. The manga's teen rating is another non-optimal factor. With the violence, the alcohol, and the tobacco, it makes sense, but the dinosaur punching imagination of this manga is something that young readers might really latch onto.
Upcoming in North America
A trailer for the the North American release of Ghibli's Tales From Earthsea has been posted The movie will hit theatres on August 13th - Nausicaa.net notes that MPAA has given the movie a PG-13
*At Anime Expo, Production I.G mentioned mentioned that they might be working with Avi Arad on the production of the live action Ghost in the Shell Aniplex Aniplex will be localizing Durarara, the adaptation of Ryohgo Narita’s action mysteries from the people behind the adaptation of Narita's Baccano. The anime is currently streaming in North America on Crunchyroll. An English language dub is being planned Bandai Entertainment Bandai Ent. has picked up the rights to girl's rock band comedy K-on! Digital Manga Publishing New licenses announced at Anime Expo include Hideyuki Kikuchi's Demon City Shinjuku and Kiba Ichizoku no Garyuudo light novel, Kemuri Karakara's manga Countdown 7 Days and Replica and Aki Arata’s Houou Gakuen Misoragumi The Juné line will publish: Kazuma Kodaka’s Border and Kusatta Kyo Shino Houteishiki Gochisosama by CJ Michalski Boku no Shiru Anata no Hanashi by Tsuta Suzuki 801 Media line of explict boy-love manga will publish Shushushu Sakurai’s Sabaku no Oujisama Wedding Peach creator Nao Yazawa will be creating fantasy comedy “Mizuki” specifically for distribution on Digital Manga’s eManga website. FUNimation Nikkatsu Corporation and FUNimation Entertainment announced an agreement that gives FUNimation Entertainment an exclusive first look option on the home entertainment distribution of titles premiering from Nikkatsu Corporation’s new genre film label, The Sushi Typhoon. The first two films slated for release on DVD and Blu-ray through the partnership are the action gore comedy film ALIEN VS. NINJA and the splatter action comedy MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD in early 2011. Created by Producer Yoshinori Chiba, The Sushi Typhoon aims to bring the best talent from Japanese cult cinema to world-wide audiences. MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD is presented by three of Japan’s premier genre directors: Yoshihiro Nishimura (VAMPIRE GIRL VS. FRANKENSTEIN GIRL, TOKYO GORE POLICE), Noboru Iguchi (ROBOGEISHA, THE MACHINE GIRL), and Tak Sakaguchi (SAMURAI ZOMBIE). New licenses announced at Anime Expo include Moyashimon: Tales of Agriculture live action TV series titles that will be streamed concurrent with their Japanese TV airings Black Butler 2 Sekirei ~Pure Engagement~ Sengoku Basara Two Shiki The Legend of the Legendary Heroes, releases planned for 2011 Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail Darker than BLACK Season 2 Hellsing Ultimate volumes 5-7 Shakugan no Shana (season 2, movie, OVA) Toaru Kagaku no Railgun Toaru Majutsu no Index Trigun: Badlands Rumble film, theatrical screenings are planned licneses picked up from Geneon include Ai Yori Aoshi Armitage III Haibane Renmei Hellsing (television series) Serial Experiments Lain Tenchi Muyo! OVAs Tenchi Muyo! movies Tenchi Universe Tenchi in Tokyo Texhnolyze Hobby Japan Hobby Japan announced plans to release translated editions of the Queen's Blade and Queen's Blade Rebellion and Hyakka Ryoran Samurai Girls digitally on itunes and Kindle, and eventually in print. Right Stuf Anime producer and distributor Right Stuf, Inc. and its Nozomi Entertainment division made several announcements during its July 2nd panel at Anime Expo 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Right Stuf President and C.E.O. Shawne Kleckner revealed its licenses for the REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA (TV series and movie) and SORA NO WOTO television series, plus an English-language audio remaster for GRAVITATION and details about the future releases for several previously announced projects, including JUNJO ROMANTICA 2, DIRTY PAIR, EL-HAZARD: THE WANDERERS and ANTIQUE BAKERY. REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA TV Series Right Stuf and Nozomi Entertainment announced the license for the REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA television series, as well as plans to release its 39 episodes as three DVD box sets – featuring the remastered video from the Japanese DVD release with English audio, Japanese audio and English-language subtitles – during 2011. Utena is a spirited teenage girl with an unusual dream – to become a prince who helps those in need. However, this sense of chivalry soon places her at odds with her classmates at the Ohtori Academy and thrusts her into a series of mysterious and dangerous duels against members of its student council. SORA NO WOTO Right Stuf’s Nozomi Entertainment also announced its license for SORA NO WOTO. The 12-episode series and its DVD-exclusive special episodes are currently scheduled for release in 2011, as a single DVD box set with Japanese audio and English-language subtitles. Sora no Woto (literally, “Sound of the Sky”) aired on TV Tokyo during Spring 2010 and was the first series produced as part of the “Anime no Chikara” program, a joint initiative by TV Tokyo and Aniplex to develop original animated content for television. The series is based on an original concept by Paradores and features direction by Mamoru Kanbe (Elfin Lied, Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie), series composition and scripting by Hiroyuki Yoshino (Macross Frontier, My-Otome) and animation by A-1 Pictures (Black Butler, Big Windup!). Sora no Woto’s opening theme is composed by Yuki Kajiura (Noir, .hack//SIGN) and performed by Kalafina (Black Butler). Inspired by the female soldier who rescued her as a child – and haunted by the refrain the young woman played on her trumpet – Kanata joins the military, determined to become a bugler. She still has much to learn, though, and she is assigned to a remote outpost at the edge of the war-torn landscape. Although a ceasefire has been declared, the women of the 1121st Platoon are charged with both maintaining the Clocktower Fortress and defending the town where it is located from enemy attack. JUNJO ROMANTICA Season 1 & Merchandise Now Available More Merchandise on the Way; Season 2 Currently Scheduled for Early 2011 The first JUNJO ROMANTICA DVD Collection is now available. It features the complete 12-episode first season – with Japanese audio, plus English-language subtitles and on-screen translations – and is housed in a thin-profile art box with color booklet. The first wave of Junjo Romantica merchandise, from Great Eastern Entertainment Co., is also now available and includes wallscroll, keychain and cell phone charm items, with more items on the way, including a plush backpack featuring the series’ mascot Suzuki-san. And the JUNJO ROMANTICA 2 DVD Collection is currently scheduled for early 2011. - The fourth season of MARIA WATCHES OVER US (Maria-sama ga Miteru) arrives on DVD on July 6, 2010, and the suggested retail price for the LOST UNIVERSE DVD Collection will be lowered to $39.99 in August 2010. - The EL-HAZARD: THE WANDERERS DVD Collection, which is scheduled for September 2010, will feature video that is a significant upgrade from the previous DVD release, as well as the original openings and closings. - The Super GALS! Complete DVD Collection is scheduled for October 2010. It will feature both seasons of the series together in one DVD set for the first time. Season 1 (Eps. 1-26) will feature English and Japanese audio options, plus English subtitles and on-screen translations. And Season 2 (Eps. 27-52) will feature Japanese dialogue, plus English subtitles and on-screen translations. Visit supergals.rightstuf.com for more information and to view the series trailer. - The first DIRTY PAIR DVD set is scheduled for November 2010 and will feature the first 13 episodes of the television series, with Japanese audio, English subtitles and English on-screen translations. Visit dirtypair.rightstuf.com for more information about the upcoming DVD release. - Also in November 2010, Right Stuf’s Nozomi Entertainment will release the GRAVITATION Complete DVD Collection, which will collect both the 13-episode television series and the Lyrics of Love OVA series together in one DVD set with remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio, Dolby Digital 2.0 English and Japanese audio options, and English subtitles and on-screen translations. - The ANTIQUE BAKERY DVD Collection is currently scheduled for early 2011. - The anime publisher has plans to extend its line of lithograph art prints – which currently includes art from ARIA The NATURAL, CLANNAD and The IRRESPONSIBLE CAPTAIN TYLOR – with a potential second lithographs (to-be-determined by fan vote) for Clannad and ARIA, as well as a new print featuring art from the fan-favorite series AZUMANGA DAIOH. - Right Stuf and Nozomi Entertainment have licensed both original and anime series artwork to MusicSkins, which produces protective coverings for phone, MP3, laptop, iPad, video game and other portable devices. Designs featuring artwork from the ARIA anime series, plus the original works Ninja Crossing and Crane Inspiration, are now available at www.musicskins.com and will soon be available via the RightStuf.com storefront. Sentai Filmwork Sentai Filmworks announced its acquisition of the new anime series HIGH SCHOOL OF THE DEAD. Based on the ultra-violent manga by Daisuke Sato, directed by Tetsuro Araki (Deathnote, Black Lagoon) and produced by the internationally famed studio Madhouse (Deathnote, Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D-Bloodlust, Wicked City) Sentai Filmworks will be releasing HIGH SCHOOL OF THE DEAD in both English dubbed and subtitled versions throughout North America. A deadly new disease is ravaging the world, turning the populace into mindless zombies, and the number of infected is skyrocketing by the second. As their fellow classmates and teachers succumb to the infection around them, a small group of students at Fujimi High School are fighting for their lives after surviving the initial outbreak. Now it’s up to Takashi Komuro to unite a small group of blood-soaked survivors in a desperate bid to escape! School’s not just out for the summer, it may be out forever as a handful of students face the ultimate test, survival, in HIGH SCHOOL OF THE DEAD! TOKYOPOP Upcoming release, announced at Anime Expo include January 11, 2011 The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko (Warau Kanoko-sama) by Ririko Tsujita Chibi Vampire Official Fan Book by Yuna Kagesaki February 8, 2011 Lives by Masayuki Taguchi Puzzle+ by Manami Sugano Hekikai no AiON by Yuna Kagesaki From the Blu boys-love imprint were also announced: January 11, 2011 Gakuen Heaven Shichijo ~Sweet Sweet Darling by You Higuri February 8, 2011 You and Me by Kyuugou UDON Entertainment UDON will be celebrating its 10 anniversary with anthology/art book VENT Featured artists include Attila Adorjany, Jay Axer, Greg Boychuck, Christine Choi, Jeffrey Cruz, Steven Cummings, Omar Dogan, Dax Gordine, Andrew Hou, Eric Kim, Alvin Lee, Leo Lingas, Matt Moylan, Joe Ng, Ryan Odagawa, Saejin Oh, Gonzalo Ordonez, Crystal Reid, Arnold Tsang, Eric Vedder, Long Vo, Joe Vriens, Emily Warren, and Jim Zubkavich. VENT premieres this summer at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con, with an exclusive hardcover edition available only at the UDON booth. VENT will arrive in stores everywhere Sep 15, 2010. UDON’S ART OF CAPCOM 2 is a follow up to the studios’s original Art of Capcom book, and collects all of UDON’s Capcom artwork from the past three years. The 280 page art book will feature work from Street Fighter, Darkstalkers, Rival Schools, Final Fight, from Tatsunoko VS Capcom, promotional art for Marvel VS Capcom 2 and an in-depth look at the sprites, backgrounds, and endings that UDON produced for the revamped Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. UDON’s Art of Capcom 2 will premiere at this July’s San Diego Comic-Con, with a limited edition hardcover version on sale exclusively at the UDON booth. The softcover version of UDON’s Art of Capcom 2 goes on sale everywhere August 2010. VIZ Media Naruto Shippuden Box Set 4 is due to be released 10/19 VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media, LLC that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, will debut the live-action combat comedy film BATTLE LEAGUE HORUMO on DVD on July 6th. The release, which will be distributed by VIZ Media in North America, will carry an MSRP of $24.92 U.S. / $35.99 CAN. Based on the best-selling fantasy novel Kamogawa HORUMO written by Manabu Makime, the live-action BATTLE LEAGUE HORUMO takes audiences on a wild adventure that blends the breathtaking backdrop of Kyoto with the bizarre legend of “Horumo.” After failing the entrance exam and enduring two years of cram school, Akira Abe (Takayuki Yamada) finally gets accepted to the prestigious Kyoto University. One day while on his way home with a friend, Akira meets a senior who invites them to a welcome party hosted by his club called the Azure Dragon. With nothing to lose, they decide to go for the free food, but while there Akira meets Kyoko Sawara, a beautiful girl with a perfect nose, and he falls head over heels for her. Now smitten, Akira goes in to persuade his friend to join the club with him in the hope that he can get closer to the girl of his dreams. At first, the club appears to be an ordinary social group, but the new members soon discover the mysterious 1000 year-old tradition of the “Horumo” battle upheld by the four universities of Kyoto. The battle is fought between 10 players from each team who each manipulate an army of 100 spirits (referred to as Oni) to fight their opponents. The members each go through rigorous training to achieve fluency in the Oni language as well as learn the indefinable gestures that are required to complement it. Let the battles begin! Releases listed at Anime Expo include September 21 House of Five Leaves by Natsume Ono August 13 Seio Boys High School! by Kaneyoshi Izumi September 8 Dragon Sword and Wind Child (trade paperback novel version) by Noriko Ogiwara October 5 Grand Guignol Orchestra by Kaori Yuki October 19 Vampire Knight Official Fanbook by Matsuri Hino March Story - Art: Kyung-Il Yang - Story: Hyung-min Kim November 2 The Story of Saiunkoku - Story: Sai Yukino - Art: Kairi Yura November 3 Genkaku Picasso by Usamaru Furuya (51 Ways to Save Her) November 9 Kurozakuro by Yoshinori Natsume December 7 Kamisama Kiss by Julietta Suzuki December 14 Itsuwaribito (Itsuwaribito Utsuho) by Yuuki Iinuma February 2011 Mistress Fortune by Arina Tanemura March 2011 Oresama Teacher by Izumi Tsubaki April 2011 Sakura Hime Kaden (The Legend of Princess Sakura) by Arina Tanemura May 2011 Ai Ore by Mayu Shinjo Warner Home Video Cartoon Network Hall of Fame: Dexter's Laboratory Season One will be released on DVD 10/12/10 for $24.98
Upcoming in Japan
Previews and Promos Saiyuki Gaiden OVA Nurarihyon no Mago Gothicmade - from Five Star Stories' Mamoru Nagano You Are Umasou Colorful Satoshi Kon's Dream Machine
Anime via Anime News Network The final episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood included an announcement that an anime movie is in production *The 78th and final volume of baseball manga Major will be packaged with an anime OVA *Warner Brothers announced that the upcoming adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's fictional biography of Buddha, due to be released May 28, 2011, will be the first of a trilogy. The first film alone has a production budget of 1 billion yen (about US$11 million). *Te sixth limited-edition volume of the Kure-nai manga will bundle a new original anime DVD Sci-fi romantic comedy To Love-Ru will be adapted into a new anime series by XEBEC, the studio that produced the previous tv series and OVA adaptations of the work *Anime one shots of Bleach, Tegami Bachi, action eating manga Toriko and school action Beelzebub will be produced for the 2010 Jump Super Anime *Yusaku Hanakuma’s (Tokyo Zombie) Cyborg Salaryman Mecha Afro-kun will be adapted into a half hour anime OVA *a Black Rock Shooter DVD is being produced with seven language subtitles. Nagaru Tanigawa (Haruhi Suzumiya light novels) co-wrote the anime's screenplay with director Shinobu Yoshioka new screen shots *The fourth volume of the Senko no Night Raid television anime series will ship in Japan on September 22 with two unaired episodes. *Anime Nation notes the webmaster for Bandai Namco Games has announced that a 26 episode 3D Pac-Man anime television series will premiere in 2012. *animation production for Stitch! tv series changing hands from Madhouse to Shin-ei Doga Manga via Maximum Cosmo Boxing manga Hajime no Ippo hits its 900th chapter in Shonen Magazine *After recently completing Fullmetal Alchemist, manga creator Hiromu Arakawa announced that she will be ending y Jyushin Enbu (also known as Hero Tales) *Taro Nogizaka and Akira Nagai's Team Medical Dragon is being wrapped up in ig Comic Superior *a new collection of Yumiko Shirai's (author of Ikki title Wombs) early shorts manga is being published *Tsuyoshi Isomoto is launching new manga Sandaime wa Ume Kukuri! in Comic Birz *A Summer Wars Official Comic Anthology is being published with works from mes as the group CLAMP, Masakazu Ishiguro , Iqura Sugimoto , Ryuuji Gotsubo , Keiichi Tanaka and others a look at CLAMP's contribution *Yuhki Kamatani will be ending ninja manga Nabari no Ou with its 14th volume Live Action via krnerdnews Rumor has it that Satou Takeru will play the title role in a live action Ruruoni Kenshin movie *Tadanobu Asano has been cast as manga creator Fujio Akatsuka ("Tensai Bakabon") "Kore de Ii no da!! Eiga?Akatsuka Fujio." Maki Horikit will play his editor
Digital Distribution News
Spring and Chaos, the anime based on the life and work of beloved children's writer/poet Kenji Miyazawa is on Hulu
It's part of Tokyopop's new deal with Hulu *Highschool of the Dead, the highly anticipated new series from Madhouse (Deathnote, Macross Frontier), will begin simulcasting this July exclusively on Anime Network Online. Episode 1 of Highschool of the Dead will be available to registered users. *Crunchyroll, Inc., and Bitway Co., Ltd. announced a strategic alliance to create a comprehensive online manga platform. In conjunction with the strategic partnership, Bitway invested $750,000 into Crunchyroll in June 2010. Bitway, a digital comic distribution leader in Japan formed by shareholders including the world's largest print company, Toppan Printing, and 34 major Japanese book publishers , will leverage its expertise and relationships in the Japanese publishing industry to work with Crunchyroll to create a definitive solution for the transition of manga to the digital age. Bitway COO Tadashi Awano said: "Thus far, it has been a challenge to address the economically sustainable digitalization of Japanese manga outside of Japan. With Crunchyroll and its expertise in engineering, social media and the consumer, we hope to be able to shepherd Japanese manga's entrance into the digital era outside of Japan." *Crunchyroll, Inc. a direct publishing relationship with Microsoft for the Zune Marketplace, a video service that spans Xbox 360, Zune HD and Windows-based PCs, to release Japanese anime starting immediately. Launch titles include fan-favorites The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Yokuwakaru Gendai Maho as well as a near-simulcast of currently-airing soccer action title Giant Killing. The release of the titles onto Zune Marketplace marks the first time any of the titles have ever been available for digital download purchase. *New Crunchyroll simul-streaming include Comedic historical gag anime Tono to Issho. Adapted from the popular "yon-koma" (four-panel) gag manga of the same name in Japan, the title features an all-star voice cast including Gackt. Additional voiceover talent includes Daisuke Hirakawa, Tatsuhisa Suzuki and many others. In conjunction with Aniplex, supernatural series, Occult Academy. Animated by Aniplex's own A-1 Pictures, title features voiceover talents of Takahiro Mizushima and Yoko Hikasa in lead roles. Occult Academy will become available each week via Crunchyroll's premium subscription in high definition one hour after first airing in Japan on TV TOKYO and for free in standard definition with advertisements one week later Asobi ni Ikuyo: Bombshells from the Sky, the romantic comedy anime based on Okina Kamino's Asobi ni Ikuyo! light novels published by Media Factory. Strike Witches 2 the World War II planes/girls versus aliens sequel. from leading Asian media producers directly to consumers. *New FUNimation streaming includes Afro Samurai, Afro Samurai: Resurrection and Claymore (dubbed) on FUNimation.com and Afro Samurai on Hulu *TV Tokyo's Akihiko Tamura's indicated that Crunchyroll had broken even during the month of May. *jaPRESS announced that Keiichi Tanaka's gag manga series Minari no Seishun is now available in English as a digital download in the Android Market As the synopsis puts it, "Artist Tanaka Keiichi is renowned for his raunchy take on Osamu Tezuka's classic manga style. Utilizing look-alike artwork identical to Tezuka's, 'Minari's Youthful Days' depicts the comedic adventures of a married high school girl and her friends in the form of a four panel gag strip." *iTunes accounts were hacked marked pirated manga content *An animated version of the manga series "Apocalypse Meow" is set to be released on YouTube on July 17. *Viz is streaming Ichigo 100% on their site and Hulu Viz has also begin streaming NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN on VIZAnime.com When night falls, the Yokai King will rise! Rikuo Nura is caught between two worlds, being three-quarters human and part yokai (supernatural demon). During the day, Rikuo's an ordinary teenager, but at night when his yokai blood awakens, he transforms into the future leader of the Nura clan, with a hundred demons at his command! *Anime News Network has begun carrying streams of The Slayers *Japanese video site Nico Nico Douga will be streaning Kuroshitsuji II, Shukufuku no Campanella, Strike Witches 2, Sekirei ~Pure Engagement~, Sengoku Basara 2, and Highschool of the Dead. *Kai-Ming Cha on the the battle against unauthorized manga distrobution
Anime x Games
Level-5 president confirmed to Nintendo Power that soccer game Inazuma Eleven and Ghibli collaberation Ni no Kuni: The Another World are US bound. Siliconera on the reluctance of retailer to carry second tier anime games
Montreal's Fantasia Film Fest will feature the premieres of the Space Battleship Yamato Resurrection and Gintama: The Movie, the North American premiere of Mamoru Oshii's short Je T'aime and screenings of Evangelion: 2.0 You Can [Not] Advance First Squad - The Moment Of Truth King of Thorn Mai Mai Miracle Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror Summer Wars
*New York International Children Film Festival THE SECRET OF KELLS FREE OUTDOOR SCREENING - LIVE MUSIC! In English - Recommended ages 6 to adult Weds, July 14, 7:00pm - Socrates Sculpture Park (3134 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City) AARDMAN ANIMATIONS: AWARD WINNING SHORTS In English - Recommended ages 6 to adult Sat & Sun, July 17 & 18 - 11:00am - IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue (at West Third) AARDMAN ANIMATIONS: WALLACE & GROMIT THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT In English - Rated G - Recommended all ages Sat & Sun, July 10 & 11 - 11:00am - IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue (at West Third) *Manga for Grown-Ups presentation at San Diego Con *Kill!, July 10th – 11th (Directed by Kihachi Okamoto, 1968, 114min, 35mm, English Subtitles) In this pitch-black action comedy by Kihachi Okamoto, a pair of down-on-their-luck swordsmen arrive in a dusty, windblown town, where they become involved in a local clan dispute. One, previously a farmer, longs to become a noble samurai. The other, a former samurai haunted by his past, prefers living anonymously with gangsters. But when both men discover the wrongdoings of the nefarious clan leader, they side with a band of rebels who are under siege at a remote mountain cabin. Kill! playfully tweaks samurai film convention, borrowing elements from established classics and seasoning them with hints of Italian westerns. Sword of Doom, July 10th and also July 12th – 13th (Directed by Kihachi Okamoto, 1968, 114min, 35mm, English Subtitles) Tatsuya Nakadai and Toshiro Mifune star in the story of a wandering samurai who exists in a maelstrom of violence. A gifted swordsman who plys his trade during the turbulent final days of Shogunate rule, Ryunosuke (played by Nakadai) kills without remorse, without merc, and becomes a way of life that ultimately leads to madness. Harakiri, July 11th – 13th (Directed by Masaki Kobayashi, 1962, 133Mmin, 35mm, English Subtitles) Following the collapse of his clan, unemployed samurai Hanshiro Tsugumo arrives at the manor of Lord Iyi, begging to commit ritual suicide on his property. Iyi’s clansmen, believing the desperate ronin is merely angling for charity, try to force him to eviscerate himself – but they have underestimated his honor and his past. Winner of the 1963 Cannes Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize, Masaki Kobayashi’s Harakiri is a scathing denouncement of feudal authority and hypocrisy. Samurai Rebellion, July 14th and also July 16th – 17th (Directed by Masaki Kobayashi,1967, 121min, 35mm, English Subtitles) Toshiro Mifune stars as Isaburo Sasahara, an aging swordsman living a quiet life until his clan lord orders that his son marry the lord’s mistress, who has recently displeased the ruler. Reluctantly, father and son take in the woman, and, to the family’s surprise, the young couple fall in love. But the lord soon reverses his decision and