Being an animation fan I always look forward to checking out anything that comes my way during TIFF. Sometimes we get quite a few animated films, sometimes none at all… This year, we got one, and it was one I’d been looking forward to quite a bit! So on Sunday afternoon I found myself waiting in the Rush ticket line at the Elgin Theater in downtown Toronto to check out ‘The Illusionist’ by director Sylvain Chomet whom you may remember directed ‘The Triplets of Belleville’ which was in the running for Best Animated Feature Film in 2003 beside Pixar’s ‘Finding Nemo.’ Those of us in the rush line to get tickets for the film were treated to a last minute surprise when it was announced that we would all be getting free tickets! So I want to give a shout out to the good folks at Mongrel Media for treating us to this great movie! The story outline for the Illusionist is a simple one. It follows an aging magician struggling to find work, when one day he encounters a young girl who believes that he really can do magic. So pleased is he by her attention, that he goes to great lengths to keep this illusion alive by dazzling her and using any hard earned money he has to buy her lavish gifts. The story is based on a script by Jacques Tati, whom I must confess I had never heard of until I first heard of Chomet’s Illusionist. Tati, I’ve since learned, is a well renowned filmmaker and comedian though he made very few films, and in the end died penniless. The Illusionist was a film Tati planned on producing but never got a chance to make, and Chomet saw it as a story written by a father who wanted to reach out to his daughter whom he never got to be with due to his obsession with his work. Chomet has therefore dedicated this film to Tati’s daughter. The main character, the magician ‘Tatischeff’ is based on Tati himself, particularly on a character Tati himself played in one of his own films which is shown briefly in a scene during the Illusionist. The entire film is a work crafted to pay tribute to Jacques Tati. Many may wonder why Chomet would make an animated film out of Tati’s script when Tati worked in live action. The story after all is not something that couldn’t be done, perhaps more easily done, in live action. But this is often the usual bemoaning of those who believe animation has no place or business telling simple life stories about people and ought to stick to more fantastical things and characters that cannot be easily accomplished in live action. But such critics simply have no grasp of the beauty that animation brings to simple scenarios that live actors can never mimic. There is a charm and harmony that only animation can deliver with its caricatured personalities and the illusion of movement in well timed and thought out sequences that can illustrate far more story and emotion in the hands of the right director with the right talent behind him. There seems to be little attention paid to films such as Chomet’s in light of the popularity of 3D animation (especially now in stereoscopic 3-D), so it’s great to have films like his come along to remind us that while classical 2D animation does get sidelined, it is irreplaceable! There is nothing like it, and to lose it is to lose something magical, and Chomet shows us precisely why! The film is downright beautiful! It goes for a period look and feel and so abandons bright colour pallets in favor of some more muted painterly watercolour-like tones. Careful attention is paid to lights and shadow, and backgrounds are detailed, but not to the point of careful photographic accuracy, but more like clean impressions of the various places and locales the film takes place in. Chomet leaves the cartoony style of his previous film behind for something far less exaggerated. The Illusionist is a blend of the styles and aesthetics of both western and eastern animation. The character designs are a throwback to an old era of comic caricature illustrations, each character from the main cast to those in the background is created distinct and the animation is fluid and well timed managing to blend the animated movement and style of early Disney films with moments of stillness and subtlety typical of early Japanese anime along with obsession paid to lovingly rendered background art. While the film is largely a 2D effort, CG is also employed extensively in many scenes to populate the streets with vehicles and to pull off some complex shots. However, all CG elements are rendered with bold colours and lineart to look like it is hand-drawn and it meshes and blends in well with the rest of the backgrounds and characters. Chomet, the audience was told, is not fond of air travel, and that’s why he couldn’t make it to Toronto. But otherwise he’s quite fond of other modes of transportation and the film spends a good deal of time on showing travel by train, by road and on water. The locales we visit are both urban and rural areas of England and Scotland during the 1950s. These places and the times are brought to life by the talented group of artists at Chomet’s disposal, and without a doubt the biggest impression the film will make on any viewer is that it is thoroughly beautiful in its style and portrayal of landscapes and cities. The characters you encounter are a delight to behold thanks to the great acting and skill of their animators. These become places and an era you’d love to visit and you wished never changed… But change is the central theme of the movie. The era for performers like Tatischeff is coming to an end. Audiences are becoming bored of these old fashioned stage performers. Rock and Roll is replacing them as the primary form of entertainment, the times are becoming more modern, electricity is making its way to the villages, and people are becoming more consumer oriented. Tatischeff is growing old, but despite that he is still good at what he does, which is being a classic ‘pull-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat’ magician, nobody appreciates his illusions anymore seeing them as outdated parlor tricks. He has to travel far and wide simply to find any work at all. When he meets a young girl, Alice amongst an audience in a tavern that loves his act, he is joyful that finally he had a chance to perform before people who enjoyed his act. Alice naively believes that his magic is real and not an illusion, and he’s taken in by her innocence and her poverty. Together they begin a father-daughter relationship and he tries his best to make a living and to treat her to luxuries he struggles to afford while she is unaware of the hardships he secretly faces to keep her belief in him. As Alice spends time in the city she longs to be more like the grown up women around her with their feminine traits and lovely dresses and high heeled shoes. As Tatischeff becomes more desperate to make a living, he begins spending a lot of time away and it reaches the point where he is unable to give her any attention and misses the fact that she too is changing and growing; perhaps echoing Jacques Tati’s own feelings about his relationship with his own daughter. Tatischeff is not the only one having a hard time. Other performers he encounters like clowns, acrobats and ventriloquists are also having an equally hard time adapting to a changing world where their talents to entertain are no longer in demand. The Illusionist is not just a film about Jacques Tati, but also seems to be an allegory about the changing landscape of filmmaking itself. Times have also changed in the film industry and audience’s attention spans can no longer tolerate the classic filmmaking of old. It’s not rare to find younger audiences calling highly esteemed films such as Lawrence of Arabia or the Godfather, “boring” due to their pacing, or preferring the immediate thrill of modern horror films to the long buildup and initial establishing scenes of ‘the Exorcist.’ Times have changed, and the masters that were once revered are disappearing, and the films once loved by audiences of old are no longer worth considering by the newer generation. It might even be particularly so for the art of 2D animation. The producers of the Illusionist who were present for a Q & A after the screening, made it clear that they are aware of the fact that the millions who’ll flock to the next Shrek sequel, would never consider trying to appreciate a film in the style of The Illusionist. Chomet’s film runs at a slower pace than what most children and audiences are used to, it’s more in line with films from the 60s in terms of pacing, and what I’d consider the most remarkable thing about the movie, that may polarizing-ly be the disappointment and boredom of others, is that the film has hardly any dialogue! Its story and characterization and emotions are delivered purely from the visuals and acting of the animators’ craftsmanship. What little spoken dialogue there is in several languages like Gaelic, or I think some French and there’s some English and for all I know some of it might’ve been unintelligible mumbling. The film played to the audience without subtitles of any kind and there was absolutely no need for it as everything up on screen was visually understood by all! Again, this is homage to filmmaking that is rarely ever undertaken. Films no-one seems to make anymore. Things that are long forgotten and which future generations may never grow up with or have a chance to appreciate… A very sad and nostalgic feeling runs throughout the film. It is inevitable that Tatischeff must one day face the conclusion that his time is over, and that Alice will have to see him for what he is… Will he at the very end sell himself out and be used? Will he succumb to depression and despair? Or can he adapt and at least face his end and exit with dignity as the lights that once opened for him on stage now dim and flicker off? Watching the film made me wonder about the future of film, and 2D animation in general. Will these things fade gently into that good night with the passage of time? Will the great works, and entertainers, and illusionists of the bygone era of filmmaking and animation, those whose magic had enthralled and mystified generations before us, be lost, forgotten and unappreciated? When the audiences no longer care for classical animation on the large screen, and even the children tire of it, will its only fate be left as a gimmick in short commercials hawking products? Has the age of CG and knowing the tricks of the trade behind the curtain and up our sleeves robbed us of a certain joy? It is a sad thing to realize that the passing on of some things is inevitable. But Chomet perhaps does not feel that all is lost for good. In time, some of the younger generation will stumble upon the relics left behind by those who came before. They’ll dust them off, and like Alice did, they might discover the joy of something they had never known. It’ll always be there in its place for those who care to look to find them. And the things they left behind truly did pave the way for the era of things to come. Without them, we wouldn’t enjoy the current entertainment that we do. And when you turn out the bright flashing lights and take away the razzle and dazzle and extravagance found in today’s films, those that will stand out will be the ones that still contain the flicker of magic that the old classics once held. Sylvain Chomet’s ‘The Illusionist’ is a rare treat with humor, sadness and hope delivered on a wonderful platter of colour, music and the illusion of movement whose charm can only be discovered through the medium of animation. The audience at the Elgin enjoyed it and it is a film made for lovers of animation and classic films in general. It is in itself a love letter to the art form and to one who helped define it. It is definitely one of the most unique and touching films you’ll see this year, and I hope many of you will get the opportunity to check it out!
Gainax's mecha series Gurren Lagann was an anime that ignited passion among many viewers, and the compilation of its latter half, The Lights in the Sky Are Stars, gives those enthusiasts plenty of reason to get charged up. The people behind Gurren Lagann, Gainax, moved the initial crest of anime created by anime fans for a knowing fan audience. Their first work were exuberant celebrations of all things sci-fi, produced for the Daicon conventions. After making a creative statement with speculative society space race marvel Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise, Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno launched six episode direct to video OVA Aim For the Top! Gunbuster - a series that started out as a robot populated parody of tennis anime classic Aim for the Ace! and escalated into a conflict in which whole planets were used as weapons. Gurren Lagann erects something current and vibrant on the scaffold of Gunbuster, and as if there were any doubts, The Lights in the Sky adds even more signposts pointing to the earlier work. That said, the manner in which Gurren Lagann aims to magnify Gunbuster's scale to another level in no way undercuts the shoujo informed Gunbuster. In Gunbuster, the universe reacted against humanity by releasing an existentially threatening plague of space monsters. In Gurren Lagann, the universe is again looking to kick humanities ass. This time our species is under siege from an intelligent force called the Anti-spirals, looking to subjugate the biological urge to populate and expand. And, this time, rather than sweating our potential extinction, we're itching to fight back. Dedication to "Hard work and guts" is replaced by the challenge "who the hell do you think we are!" Gurren Lagann's characters are scrappers. Promising to smash fate with their own hands, in a callback to anime's classic existential hero, Space Pirate Captain Harlock, this rugby team-ish crew rallies around a banner, furled into space. Fairly early on in The Lights in the Sky, the movie reveals that Earth's moon had been replaced by a Humanity Annihilation System, a giant weapon configured to end the species if it got out of hand. As the exponentially expanding conflict proceeds, the moon is far from the largest astronomical body that gets thrown into the action. More than the familiar pool of talents that the heroes have to draw from, it's Gurren Lagann's particular blend of determination, belligerence and crazy that fuels the heroes' effort to counter the cosmic threat. Building off the intensity of literally challenging the heavens, an exclamation of "epic!" is well earned. The Lights in the Sky pours in all of the galaxy hurling action that a Gurren Lagann fan could hope for. That said, the movie's flaws are very apparent. For an anime about surpassing limitations, it's disappointing to see it manifest symptoms of a larger problem. Since Tezuka changed the field with Astro Boy, anime studios have primarily been producing TV series, and even after the post boom contraction, the numbers look unsustainable. With challenges flooding in from sponsors, ratings, and international licensing, observers have begun questioning the model. A suggested solution has been that the industry needs to evolve to focus on fewer, more significant productions. A shift to movies for example. If that is the future of anime, The Light in the Sky is a reminder that anime needs more of its creators to get their heads around the form. What you often get from anime movies is a bumpy ride through set pieces and set ups. Hayao Miyazaki movies fit compelling narratives into the parameters of a film. So do Satoshi Kon movies. And, Mamoru Hosoda, Mamoru Oshii most of the time, Isao Takahata... Mind Game suggests Masaaki Yuasa, and a few others. With that list in mind, it seems like only the geniuses can make their stories work as movies. That's not exactly true. It'd be difficult to find someone calling Takayuki Hirao an anime great, but Kara no Kyoukai - the Garden of Sinners: Paradox Paradigm is a perfectly solid movie. Still, a well scripted anime movie is far more rare than it should be. In his commentary track for Appleseed: Ex Machina, producer Joseph Chou suggested that as long as the spectacles thrilled, the over-all form of the anime movie is not much of a concern to Japanese audiences. Insistence of conforming to a three act structure is more of an American hang-up. Maybe, but if "Cool Japan" is going to hold international attention, it's time for anime to stop making the medium seem at odds with the film format. The fact that The Lights in the Sky is a compilation movie calls for it to be evaluated on a curve. With that in mind, regardless of whether fans will forgive all else for its spectacles, the script disappoints low expectations. Anime compilations retell the story originally presented in a longer TV series or direct to video OVA with edited footage, along with some quotient of original animation. As often as not, some elements of the story are tweaked too. These movies can serve as first exposure to the material. You could watch Gurren Lagann: Childhood's End and Gurren Lagann: The Lights in the Sky Are Stars and follow the story line from beginning to end. In my experience, generally first experience via compilation happens when the movie is employed as a tool in the kit of a veteran anime fan. You haven't seen the classic Gunbuster? Don't have three hours to watch the full OVA? Let me show you movie. General audience anime compilation movies do exist. Ghibli recently produced a set based on cofounder Isao Takahata's adaptation of Anne of Green Gables. However, the typical source for an anime compilation is more often something like Gurren Lagann than something like Anne. An anime compilation movie will be based on a finite work... one of Sunrise's 52 episode series and not a Shonen Jump based one that will go on until entirely exhausted. An anime compilation movie will be based on a series that an audience latches onto. It will often be the kind of series that produces a hard core fan's favorite models or figures. Mecha series have been the anime to fit the criteria for compilations. Even the boxier, less colorful "real robot" variety serve as totems that engender excitement decades after release. As such, 1985's Zeta Gundam got a trilogy of compilation movies in 2005. Even if mecha anime is on shaking demographic ground, releases like Macross Frontier The Movie: The False Songstress demonstrates it is still the genre to provide prime fodder. What sells compilation movies is the promise of some new material, hopefully animated to the standards of theatrical anime. You go in hoping to see new elements integrated into a favorite. That's enough to trigger some completist impulses, but really, they aren't director's extended cuts. You know that you'll be seeing less. In reality, the proposition is seeing what you've already seen. There's a passion for the original, but not the resources to rewatch it... it's little time to watch the whole thing and/or too few funds to purchase it on video. It's a distilled experience for the dedicated fans. The Lights in the Sky aces the new material criteria, in that to be a Gurren Lagann fan and to hear what the movie offers is to want to see it. It's Gurren Lagann super-sized. What you liked, more of, larger. It plays up the spirit to the hilt. Bearish villain turned ally Lord Genome yells "hacking!" then dives into a computer, a wire-frame animated avatar blitzing the foe's mainframe. The cast members each get their own uber-mech for a cosmo throw down. And, in keeping with Gurren Lagann's character, it's also thrillingly eager to get its knuckles bruised too. Not superlatively well directed, it doesn't always get the most out of its transitions and juxtapositions, its animation and design are exciting. For example, early on, it goes the Gunbuster route of cinematic black and white, but rather than historic stills, it's in furious motion. And, as the foes throw their weight into punches and slams, streams of red and blue wave in. The Lights in the Sky excels at whizzing, flames, particles and blurs. It invents an effective set of condition for choreographing its vision of interplanetary robot fisticuffs. This is unearthly and unbound by physic, but still impactful. Though it might be dashing outside science, there's still muscle and force. I rewatched The Lights in the Sky several times to see if I could just enjoy its thrills and not be bothered by its narrative issues. Ultimately, I found the flaws to be unignorable. It's not that the movie is a slave to necessity, trying to carve a two hour feature from the larger TV series. Nor does it skimp on original footage. It's that it makes the effort to adapt Gurren Lagann apparent. You can't not think about it or about how it could have been done more elegantly. There's a kernel of solid structure here. The movie opens with a pre-credit action sequence that could have been the climax for the first Gurren Lagann movie. At the center of a 7 day battle with mech versus mech clashing in the sky, a boy in a small face shaped robot lock up with a muscled titan. And as that's resolved, time lapses show seven years in which our heroes build their future. With the arrival of a would-be human annihilating threat, the movie spends another forty percent examining what baggage the heroes need to overcome to meet that challenge. Then, for its latter half, it's all out war. There are nit-pickable problems. No one is going to entirely agree with what's removed in any compilation movie. Major elements get excised or abbreviated. Here, the schism between establishment and anti-establishment heroes is reduced to a shadow. And small, favorite moments get dropped. Beyond that, the storytelling has actively aggravating habits. Subtly is antithetical to Gurren Lagann. So, it doesn't need to evolve gradually. Anime has a tradition of establishing restrained denial and then delivering a satisfyingly explosive resolution. Gurren Lagann begins with humanity locked up underground. Through tenacious rebellion, they break-out, and keep going upwards. So, Gurren Lagann is a compilation movie, that's allowed to be obvious, whose mechanisms are what anime does well. Even with those expectations, in what feel like an effort to talk a way through the adaptation work, getting wacked over the head by The Lights in the Sky smarts. Especially in that character building, talk punctuated first half, it's far too declarative, and inefficiently declarative at that. For a feature with the habit of allowing a few characters to go on and on, it unfortunately offers too little context and too few apparent implications. Even if points are developed in the series, here, it's a headache to hear the movie shout about distinguishing features of its characters in a disconnected manner. Likable characters are rendered less likable as they're just talked about. Big character moments resister as firework displays rather than storytelling. The problems of The Lights in the Sky are both forgivable and unforgivable. It's forgivable in that it entices and satisfies Gurren Lagann fans with its spectacle. It pours fuel on the fire of the series' climax, and that's a conflagration worth the stares. On the other hand, the narrative didn't have to be this problematic, It wasn't all necessity. Decisions were being made here. For example, it made sure to shine a spotlight on the uptight, restrained foil to the protagonist, and, it rewrote how his arc was resolved. Changes like that look like evidence that, if creators figured out how, they had the old material and ability to create new material to adapt more wisely. That it's not alone in its flaws, that what it fell victim too looked like the troubles of anime movies in general and not compilation movies specifically, only made the issue worse.
The first 13 episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood were far from the worst anime I've seen. They probably weren't even the worst of what I saw in the time frame in which I watched them, but, there were flawed enough to disrupt my anticipation for a series that I was inclined to like. "Stick with the anime series, it gets better" is a debatable imperative, and the shift from home video to streaming is changing the talking points. It's not worth engaging here, because Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a special case. There's a meta-reason why it gets far better after the first set of episodes. So, great that Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood becomes an engaging show. Not so great that the improvement doesn't retroactively validate the rough early going. The theme of this week's column might be the failure to rise to narrative challenges. 2009/2010's Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood remakes the 2003/2004 series in a manner that conform to rather than veered off from the original Hiromu Arakawa manga. Necessitated by the strong possibility of new viewers, and to launch the anime with a coherent opening, for about 13 episodes, or one DVD set, the two anime series tread the same ground. Basically, the same events in the same order. And, the anime succeeded in making this feel like a task of necessity. As it heaved and ran through those event, it clearly had its destination in mind. At most, this first stretch of Brotherhood allocated an episode to a situation. Characters were introduced, and shuffled off just as quickly. It was moving on before you could mentally engage much of anything. The problems of that set of episodes might have been unavoidable. There may have been no option beyond plowing through that block in this manner. As such, I blame the series to the extent that I think the problem was solvable through clever scripting. The series had to do something outside the realm of tried anime for TV formula, and instead, it did what anime typically does, faster and more abbreviated. In this second set of episodes, Brotherhood gets down to business. The series is set in an early 20th century-ish world which has technology such as radios and rifles, but also has a magic-ish art of alchemy, capable of transmuting matter as long as the change obeys a Law of Equivalent Exchange. Ed and Al Elric, the children of an absentee alchemist father, lost their mother. When they tried to revive her, the violation of the laws of alchemy resulted in Ed losing an arm and a leg, to be replaced by metal prosthetics, and Al losing his body, to have his soul bound into a hulking suit of plate armor. As part of their quest to gains to tool to restore their bodies, Ed joins the corp of alchemists serving under his states military. Here, Brotherhood has the Elric brothers. There's the state military and there are actually factions within the state military. Ed is at odds with his superior, Flame Alchemist Colonel Roy Mustang, but Mustang represents something more idealistic than the institution as it is, and his cadre is conspiring against what they suspect to be corruption rotting from the head... Führer King Bradley. There's the Homunculi, intensely dangerous alchemical creations, and actually conflicts between the seven deadly sin named beings. There's Scar, a Fist of the North Star-ish martial artist/anti-alchemist looking to destroy the State Alchemists in revenge for the slaughter of his people (in an Middle East-esque conflict) and the Homunculi. And, as far as anime goes, new to Brotherhood, there's the people from Xing... an Asian-esque country in which an Emperor rules 50 clans. To win his favor, and secure the futures of their tribes, several representatives wander into the fray, looking to alchemy for the secret of immortality on behalf of the emperor. There's crafty martial artist Prince Lin and his two retainers, and small alkahestrist May Chang, accompanied by her mini-panda. Plot and cast aren't the only differences between Brotherhood and the first Fullmetal Alchemist. The two series work differently. The earlier one was driven by the macro. Attention was paid to the metaphysical laws at work. It minded how those rules transcribed themselves on Ed and Al's path. And, it was very conscious of how that defined the implications of the heroes' actions. Ed made a sacrifice by joining the military for the access to knowledge that it gave him. He became a "Dog of the Military," and at that, a military that had recently stained its hands with blood. The framework of Brotherhood is more micro and more psychological than metaphysical. Ed burned down his family's house before leaving on the quest to restoring his brother's body and his own. He carves the date into the pocket watch signifying his position as a State Alchemist. Spoilers... I guess... there's a pivotal moment for the character in which he's told that he didn't burn the house to sure up his resolve. That was where the boys tried to resurrect their mother and the act was akin to a child hiding their sheets after wetting the bed. Brotherhood made sure to establish how significant the date in the watch was, and unlike the first series, it reframed what the date represented. The mechanisms of Brotherhood are very personal. They concern how people think in behave. People move and are moved by the psychology the series establishes. It drives them and allows them to be leveraged. The metaphysics of the first Fullmetal Alchemist drove its compelling portrayal of the implications and consequences of actions. The psychological aspect of Brotherhood fits into what works in this new series. I'm a sucker for anime in which opposing forces go at it like they mean business. No slowly measuring out resources so that there's a reserve for later. No waiting for heroes to get stronger. No making sure that characters don't get seriously injured or killed. Here, everyone is doing what they can when they can, thinking on there feet and striking when possible. No one is playing the fool either. Hierarchical power plays and deceptions. The cast of Fullmetal Alchemist is intelligent, powerful or both, and they bring everything they can to bear. Ad hoc operations and military deployments. Ambushes and encirclements. Wushu and giant stone hands. It's a thrill to see its meaningful use of super-powers, but also espionage and politics. Though the series has streamed online, I've only seen what's been released on video. It might just be a function of the phase collected in this set pf episodes, but here, Brotherhood is consumed by urgency. The series might not have been able to script a way out of the problems with cramming together that early material, but it is able to offer characters credibly articulating for action in a manner that comes across as speaking to allies/coconspirators and not just the audience. The Elric brothers know that they're walking into mortal danger, but they also feel that their problems left unaddressed are a ticking time bomb. The plot of the Homunculi. The machinations of the state military. Scar's hunting. These are pushing forward, and the anime has hit a point where even if opposing forces don't know the whole truth, they are able to see the kind of threat that their opposition represents and the need to thwart it. Fullmetal Alchemist isn't really fantasy, but the spiritual/semi-magical alchemy, with its runes and conjuring circles makes it feel a bit like it. More than that, it fits into the tradition of fantasy with maps. There's a defined layout of nations, both near and far, and locales within those regions. This is used to heighten the tension in these episodes. Characters are constantly on trains going from one place to another, and proximity and distance is used as factors in the story. I've said in the past that Brotherhood's producers at Bones had hit a solid formula for building anticipation, then delivering what its audience had hoped. That formula isn't entirely applicable here. Brotherhood puts itself in a bit too much of a frenzy for waiting and hoping for something to happen. However, when its characters do throw down, the results are certainly grand. In prominent instances, a new guard of animators, such as Yoshimichi Kameda excite the best bits and they really produce sizzling material. With the nature of the characters and situation, dynamic fight choreography is built around opponents looking for openings, then swatting with something gigantic: geysers of flames, avalanches of rock and the like. The animators follow through with these strikes, taking the fierce motions, and shading them with solid, elemental colors. You have to work through that uninvolving first set of episodes to get to it, but with the urgency and the action in effect Fullmetal Alchemist turns into a rapier paced crowd pleaser.
During an NDK2010 panel, Harmony Gold reps reported that Akiva Goldsman, Jason Netter and Tobey Maguire are on board as producers of the live action Robotech movie. Warner Brothers has secured merchandising rights. A 25th Anniversary 3-disc soundtrack and documentary are in the works. Anchor Bay Anchor Bay Films announced it had acquired U.S. and Australia/New Zealand distribution rights to TEKKEN from Steven Paul’s Crystal Sky Pictures. Based on the bestselling videogame franchise from Namco, TEKKEN was written by Alan McElroy and directed by Dwight Little. Kevin Kasha, Executive Vice President Worldwide Acquisitions and Co-productions at Anchor Bay Films, made today’s announcement. TEKKEN will be released widely in the United States in 2011. Dark Horse Dark Horse editor Philip Simon confirmed that the publisher is bringing back political sci-fi Eden: It's an Endless World and horror/crime MPD Psycho Gantz has been accelerated to a monthly release schedule FUNimation the US trailer for FUNimation's release of Robo Geisha Section23 Section23 Films has announce the release of the hit series GHOST HOUND. The Complete 22 episode Collection is available on both DVD and Blu-Ray. From Masamune Shirow, the creator of Ghost in the Shell & Appleseed, and Production I.G. GHOST HOUND COMPLETE COLLECTION Running Time: 550 min. Age Rating: TV 14 Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles CAT: SF-GH300 UPC: 814131017901 Published by: Sentai Filmworks Distributed by: Section23 Films Street Date: 9/14/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $69.98 GHOST HOUND COMPLETE COLLECTION BLU-RAY EDITION Running Time: 550 min. Age Rating: TV 14 Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles CAT: SFB-GH100 UPC: 814131014115 Published by: Sentai Filmworks Distributed by: Section23 Films Street Date: 9/14/2010 Format: BD SRP: $89.98 SYNOPSIS: When he was three, Taro Komori and his sister were kidnapped, but the kidnapper was run over and killed before the ransom could be delivered. The police eventually found Taro, but not before his sister died. Eleven years later, Taro still has nightmares of the events surrounding the kidnapping and is haunted by a tall, featureless specter. Now, Taro searches for answers in the Hidden Realm, but something sinister is brewing there. The spirits are restless and a malevolent ghost is appearing with increasing frequency. In the "real" world, an out of favor religious cult is finding dozens of new converts, especially among high ranking politicians. And just what the scientists at Dai Nippon Bio are up to is a question in need of an answer. Can Taro and his friends find the answers they need in time to save their friends and families? Unseen spirits, ghosts and out-of-body experiences all combine in an intriguing exploration into the workings of memory and our perception of the world. Don't miss the latest masterpiece from Masamune Shirow and Production I.G: Ghost Hound! UDON UDON will be Itou Mami's (ROBOT, Pilgrim Jäger) releasing Darkstalkers / Red Earth: Maleficarum on October 13, 2010.
This standalone volume includes five short stories from across the monstrous Darkstalkers universe, as well as a four-chapter tale featuring the swords & sorcery world of Red Earth. You’ll see succubus Morrigan fight the wolfman Talbain, the devilish Jedah confront vampire lord Demitri, the heroic lion-man Leo questing to cure his cursed body, and several more fantastic tales. Also included are gag strips and artist commentary.
FUNimation Channel has launched a high-definition feed broadcast in true HD along with new branding across it’s HD and SD platforms in conjunction with an exclusive, expanded programming line-up of the most popular anime titles available. To showcase the FUNimation Channel's evolution, the network will bolster its programming line-up with many new series and top hits including, "Samurai 7", "Baccano", "Darker than Black", "Slayers Evolution R", "D Gray Man", “Soul Eater”, “Claymore”, “Slayers Revolution” and "Devil May Cry"
*Comcast On Demand's Funimation Anime on Demand’s Manga style craft series is now offering drawing instructions from Mark Crilley for free *No anime, but of interest, new episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold air starting September 17 at 7:30 p.m. on the Cartoon Network with "The Siege of Starro! Part 1" Written By: Joe Kuhr Synopsis Led by Faceless Hunter, the Starro Invasion comes on full swing. Only Batman and a handful of unlikely heroes remain uninfected to thwart the alien parasites and their mind-controlled hosts before all of Earth is sucked dry.
A fall anime preview on Ani no Miyako - another at Gigazine Promos Star Driver Inazuma Eleven: Saikyo Gundan Ogre Shurai Tegami Bachi Reverse Arakawa Under the Bridge × Bridge Maramite (live action adaptation) Kimi ni Todoke Live Action (2010) Trailer Gainax's (Evangelion, Gurren Lagann) Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt The anime version of American TV drama Supernatural Anime A look at Iron Man anime, before (the proof of concept with Takeshi Koike) and now (without him)
*The manga for Highschool of the Dead will packaged a special edition collection with a 20 minute "Drifters of the Dead" original bonus anime. Gonzo, which has been hiring new production staff, confirmed that Range Murata (Last Exile) will be doing design for a new series, to air next year. *The home video releases of .hack//Quantum will be packed with original shorts *Capcom and Sony Pictures Entertainmentannounced that a sequel to Biohazard/Resident Evil: Degeneration. Biohazard: Damnation, again focusing on the character Leon S. Kennedy, will hit theatre in 2012 in stereoscopic 3D *Katsushi Ota, editor of prose fiction magazine Faust, annunced on twitter that anime studio ufotable (Manabi Straight!, Kara no Kyoukai) and illustrator TAKE (NisiOisin's Zaregoto, Katanagatari light novels) are collaborating on a project with voice actress Maaya Sakamoto (Escaflowne, Black Butler, Arakawa under the bridge) and illustrator Take (NisiOisin's Zaregoto, Katanagatari light novels) "Sakamoto Maaya no Mangetsu Roudokukan" (Maaya Sakamoto's Full Moon Recital Hall) will present a "new literary experience" based on beloved children's poet/writer Kenji Miyazawa's novel Night on the Galactic Railroad. ufotable also announced that they be developing an adaptation of Mikage Chihaya's "slapstick science comedy" Minori Scramble! *A second year of the anime adaptation of Hiro Mashima's shonen action Fairy Tail has been confirmed. *Norio Shioyama (Armored Trooper Votoms, Yoroiden Samurai Trooper/Ronin Warriors) is creating three animated shorts tied into the Dead Rising games * *supernatural anime 'Shiki' going on a 3 week hiatus after ep 11. *the Japanese home video releases of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 1st will feature English subtiles and an audience reaction audio track *A look at mecha upcoming in Code Geass *Hayao Miyazaki's Laputa: Castle in the Sky and Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata's comic strip adaptation My Neighbors the Yamadas will be released on Japanese Blu-ray on December 22nd. The discs will feature English subtitles. Manga The 12th and final volume of Shiho Inada's manga adaptation of Fuyumi Ono's Ghost Hound novels, released in North America by Del Rey, will be released in September *Manga artist Takehiko Inoue will be delaying the planned ending of his fictionalized biographic of swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, Vagabond due to health problems. Work will continue on wheelchair basketball manga Real whole he recuperates. Tetsuo Hara will be launching new manga Sengoku era manga Ikusa no Saburo Oda Nobunaga Ko-Den, along with a Cyber Blue sequel in Comic Zenon Shin Asai will also be launching a remake of Tsukasa Hojo's burglar series Cat's Eye *Rideback's Tetsuro Kasahara will launch new racing manga XAD in the upcoming Comic @ Bunch Live Action Lee Min-Ho will star as the lead in a Korean TV adaptation of Tsukasa Hojo's crim action City Hunter. *Choi Soo-Jong will star in President, a live-action Korean adaptation of Kaiji Kawaguchi's political manga Eagle. In this adaptation, the lead is a civil rights lawyer who aims to be elected to the South Korean presidency. The original manga followed a Japanese American running for the American presidency. *Kimio Yanagisawa's The Citizen Police 69 is being adapted into live action with Toshiya Sakai (Pyu to Fuku! Jaguar the Movie) as the lead. 15-year-old Momoiro Clover idol group member Akari Hayami and Saori Hara have also been cast. Ryuichi Honda (Dance Till Tomorrow, Cutie Honey The Live episodes) directs. *Natsuki Kato (25) and AKB48 member Chisato Nakata (19) will star in the live action adaptation of manga series "Musashino-sen no Shimai" The story is a comedy about the carefree lives of two beautiful sisters in Saitama who love Gothic Lolita fashion. Kato plays the older sister Ran, an unemployed girl addicted to the internet, while Nakata plays Pandora, who works part-time at a maid cafe. Misc The 14th volume of the Spice and Wolf economics/fantasy light novel series announced that the next will begin the final "Taiyo no Kinka" story arc for the series
LA's New Beverly Cinema will be screening Satoshi Kon's Paprika and Millennium this weekend.
*Aniplex of America Inc. announced that it will hold the world premiere screening of its newly animated theatrical thriller, Mardock Scramble –The First Compression– , a cyberpunk noir adventure, on Friday, October 8 at 7:00pm at the New York Comic Con and Anime Festival (Jacob K. Javits Center, New York). This exclusive film screening will be shown in Japanese language with English subtitles. In conjunction with this special event, New York Comic Con has invited Tow Ubukata—the award-winning author of the Sci-Fi novel which the movie is based upon—to make a personal appearance and presentation at the screening. The highly anticipated and long-awaited Mardock Scramble –The First Compression– will be released theatrically in Japan starting November 6 and is the first part of a film trilogy, based entirely on Tow Ubukata’s cyberpunk novels. (*Note: Audience members must be at least 18 years or older to attend this screening, as some content may not be suitable for those under the required age limit.) STAFF Original Story: TOW UBUKATA (Le Chevalier D’Eon, Fafner, Heroic Age) Director: SUSUMU KUDO Concept Design: KOICHI KIKUTA Character Design & Supervising Animation Directors: SHINGO SUZUKI, JUN NAKAI Music: Conisch / Starchild Records Animation Production: GoHands Produced by Mardock Scramble Production Committee (King Records, Aniplex, Brosta TV) MAIN CAST Rune Balot: MEGUMI HAYASHIBARA (Neon Genesis Evangelion) Shell Septinos: KAZUYA NAKAI (One Piece, Sengoku Basara) STORY of Mardock Scramble “Why me?” It was the last thought of Rune Balot, a teenage prostitute in Mardock City, when she was horribly burnt to death by a devious gambler named Shell, who had taken her in and made her a slave to his cruel and sadistic desires. Miraculously saved by Dr. Easter and his self-aware Universal Tool, Eufcoque, Rune is resurrected as a powerfully advanced cyborg, due to an unorthodox ordinance “Scramble-09,” which allowed the doctor to utilize forbidden scientific procedures and technologies. In search of her own past, Rune along with Eufcoque, confronts the worst of Mardock City’s harsh, psychotic underworld in an adrenaline-pumping cyberpunk noir adventure, but will she ever find the one killer who irrevocably destroyed her life? Aniplex of America Inc., in collaboration with Studio BONES will screen the US Premiere of STAR DRIVER -Kagayaki no Takuto- Episode 1 at the New York Comic Con and Anime Festival. This exclusive screening will be presented with English subtitles on Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 1:15pm (EST) in Room 1E14, to be immediately followed by a Q&A and autograph session with Mr. Masahiko Minami, the president and executive producer of Studio BONES. About STAR DRIVER STAR DRIVER is headlined by a creative powerhouse dream team from the anime industry, that includes Takuya Igarashi (Director/ Soul Eater, Ouran High School Host Club), Yoji Enokido (Screenplay/ Revolutionary Girl Utena, Aim for the Top! Gunbuster 2), Yoshiyuki Ito (Character Design/ Fullmetal Alchemist, Soul Eater) and Satoru Kousaki (Music/ The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Bakemonogatari) with animation production anchored by the highly renowned Studio BONES (Fullmetal Alchemist, Soul Eater, Cowboy Bebop the Movie, Sword of the Stranger). The official 1st episode airs October 3rd and subsequent episodes thereafter will broadcast every Sunday evening through MBS and TBS, Japan’s major national networks. STAR DRIVER -KAGAYAKI NO TAKUTO- Japanese official website: STORY of STAR DRIVER In the southern edge of Japan lies the Southern Cross Island where its inhabitants lead a seemingly normal daily existence, but far beneath the surface a monumental secret lingers in silence—that is, until the dubious arrival of a boy named Takuto Tsunashi into Southern Cross High School. When it’s revealed that a trove of approximately twenty giant machines called “Cybody” are sealed and hidden underground, Takuto and his classmates become embroiled with a ruthless, clandestine society bent on usurping this newfound power at any cost. The pivotal key to unlocking the “Cybody” lies within a special shrine maiden, and as old secrets stir and new ones begin to arise, how will Takuto deal with his own secrets? An intensive power struggle is about to erupt and tear apart the isle of Southern Cross! *Upcoming screenings from the New York International Children's Film Festival include LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA'HOOLE SPECIAL EVENT - FIRST US SCREENING - IN 3D - $12 ALL SEATS! FREE BOOK GIVEAWAYS FOR ALL FAMILIES Sun, Sept 19 - 4:00pm - DGA Theater, 110 West 57th Street (Between 6th and 7th) Based on Karyn Lasky's beloved Guardians of Ga'Hoole book series, this new 3D picture marks the animation debut of director Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300) and is his first PG-rated family film, with spectacular visuals from Academy Award-winning Australian animation studio Animal Logic (Happy Feet). The film follows the adventures of Soren, a young owl enthralled by his father's epic stories of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, a mythic band of winged warriors who had fought a great battle to save all of owlkind from the evil Pure Ones. While Soren dreams of someday joining his heroes, his older brother, Kludd, scoffs at the notion and yearns to hunt, fly and steal his father's favor from his younger sibling. But Kludd's jealousy has terrible consequences - causing both owlets to fall from their treetop home and right into the talons of the Pure Ones. Now it is up to Soren to make a daring escape with the help of other brave young owls. Together they soar across the sea and through the mist to find the Great Tree, home of the legendary Guardians - Soren's only hope of defeating the Pure Ones and saving the owl kingdoms. Comment: Rated PG by the MPAA for some sequences of scary action. KID FLIX MIX In English- Recommended ages 3 to 8 Sat & Sun, Sept 18 & 19 - 11:00am - IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue (at West Third) For ages 3 to 8, Kid Flix Mix is an upbeat, eye-opening, and highly entertaining mix of animated and musical shorts from around the world. Lineup features audience favorites from the past two festivals including Lost and Found, Hedgehug, Aston's Stones, Mermaid, Booo, Electric Car, and more. *Robotech's 25th anniversary will be celebrated with a fan-organized event at the Van Nuys AirTel Plaza Hotel on September 18, 2010. The list of special guests include long time industry professional, Tony Oliver (voice of Rick Hunter), famous “kid voice actor” Rebecca Forstadt (aka Reba West, voice of Lynn Minmei), multi-talented voice actor and director, Richard Epcar (voice of Ben Dixon, Lunk, and Vince Grant), Yuri Lowenthal (voice of Marcus Rush), and even a live concert performance by singer/songwriter, Michael Bradley (singing voice of Yellow Dancer/Lancer). The full complete (but still growing) list of the 27 Guests of Honor can be found at http://www.rt25celebration.com/guests.htm *September 14th, San Francisco's NEW PEOPLE and VIZ Cinema partner with Crunchyroll and anime convention, Animation On Display (AOD), for a special theatrical event for director Makoto Shinkai's acclaimed anime feature film 5 Centimeters Per Second. The ANIME NIGHT premiere includes a pre-show reception party as well as a Q&A session about the film, which screens at 7:00pm and 8:45pm. VIZ Cinema is located inside NEW PEOPLE at 1746 Post St. in the heart of San Francisco’s Japantown. General admission tickets for the film screening are $10.00. All attendees will also receive a special gift bag containing: * A re-mastered retail DVD of 5 Centimeters Per Second, courtesy of Crunchyroll. * Certificate for a "Buy One, Get One Free" tickets for AOD's upcoming 2011 convention * Free one-month Crunchyroll anime membership NEW PEOPLE teams up with Noise Pop, organizers of the independent music festival in the Bay Area, for a special theatrical presentation of 77 Boadrum on Thursday, September 16th at 7:30pm at VIZ Cinema. A pre-screening reception begins at 6:00pm, hosted by Shochu distiller Haamomii. 77 Boadrum is a documentary of the Japanese free-rock group the Boredoms’s astounding concert that took place July 7th, 2007 at 7:07pm in the Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park in Brooklyn, NY and featured 77 drummers performing simultaneously. The film will be preceded by a music video screening of Cornelius’ Synchronized & Sensurround. General admission tickets for the film screening are $10.00. J-Pop Week continues at NEW PEOPLE every night through Friday, September 17th with a variety of events celebrating Japanese and Asian film, anime, fashion design, music and other forms of pop culture. Special gift bags containing a variety of fun premiums will be given to all ticket holders each night. Check www.J-Pop.com for a complete list of nightly events. The J-Pop Summit Festival 2010 at New People takes place Saturday, September 18th The all-day celebration begins at 11:00am with a traditional Kagami-wari (breaking of a celebratory sake barrel) at the NEW PEOPLE’s entrance located at 1746 Post Street. A variety of Japanese pop-inspired attractions including fashion shows, theatrical film premieres, live art performances, video game demos, panel discussions, and an outdoor concert featuring musical talents from Japan and the Bay Area are scheduled. programming includes ART & PERFORMANCE “The Red Man” Ken Hamazaki Performance & Exhibition Osaka-based artist, Ken Hamazaki uses a sense of freedom to twist traditional Japanese ceremonies and ancient techniques to other worlds of imagination and experience. Coming to Summit Fest from Burning Man, Hamazaki will perform 2 breathtaking performances – “Red Tea Ceremony - YOU ARE GOD,” and shows the art of teeth-marking in “Get Bit: HAGATA-MAN.” As these performances demonstrate the pinnacle of Japanese Zen, its delicacies, and form, Hamazaki channels them through his own pop guise and serves up new recipes for titillation. NEW PEOPLE and the SUPERFROG Gallery will be hosting Ken Hamazaki exhibit Grateful Red from September 17th to October 24th. Making his way to San Francisco from Burning Man, Hamazaki performs his avant-garde Red Tea Ceremony -YOU ARE GOD in the SUPERFROG Gallery on September 18th for the exhibit grand opening and as of the day-long J-Pop celebration. During Summit Festival he will also perform his art of “teeth-making” in a special public performance of Get Bit: HAGATA-MAN from 1:00pm-2:00pm in Buchanan Mall. A performance of the Red Tea Ceremony is also set for the Asian Art Museum on September 11th at 12:00pm leading up to the festival, and again on the day after on September 19th at 2:00pm, at SUPERFROG. A special reception party hosted by the artist will be held at the SUPERFROG Gallery at 11:00am on Saturday, September 18th during J-Pop Summit Festival. The public is invited to RSVP to attend the reception to www.newpeopleworld.com/rsvp/rsvp-ken-hamazaki. Mori Chack Is Here Sit in for an insightful interview panel with ultra-hip Japanese artist and graphic designer Mori Chack, internationally known for his his character, Gloomy Bear. Be among the first 50 people to get exclusive Gloomy Bear shirt autographed by creator at NEW PEOPLE, The Store. Graffiti Artist Estria Witness Bay Area graffiti artist Estria create 4 original canvases – live! Artworks to be auctioned to highest bidders! Vinyl Village Marketplace A unique market offering a colorful and inventive collection of designer vinyl toys and other pop culture collectables, directly from the creators themselves! Artist’s Alley by Bazaar Bizarre S.F. A handmade market created by local artists opens in the adjacent Buchanan Mall and offers a mix of Western and Asian-inspired goods and artwork. GAMING & ANIME The SEGA® Experience Videogame manufacturer SEGA takes over VIZ Cinema for a captivating multimedia event and introduces their latest new titles on the theatre’s massive screen and with THX sound. Come play the latest SEGA games in a way you’ve never done before! Anime Lane by Anime On Display The organizers of Anime on Display (AOD), San Francisco’s annual anime convention, assemble a variety of vendors offering unique anime and manga products. Anime On Display Cos-play Contest AOD presents the creative flair and charisma of the best anime cos-players in a unique contest. MUSIC & FILM Girls Rock Explosion 2010 Once again girl-power takes over the Pagoda Stage at Peace Plaza to rock the Summit Festival Scheduled performers include, Hopie Spitshard, a performer presented by MYX-TV who is breaking the female rapper stereotype, Excuses For Skipping, a San Francisco indie rock quartet with soaring melodies, Jinny Oops!, an all-girl rock trio from Sakai City, Osaka and finally DJ Amaya, who will offer J-Pop diva remixes of popular female artists. Come dance the afternoon away to cool new sounds! Detroit Metal City Film Premiere At VIZ Cinema Check out the U.S. theatrical premiere in VIZ Cinema of this irreverently funny heavy metal comedy that takes the zany rock antics inspired by films like Spinal Tap to hilarious new extremes in this film directed by Toshio Lee and based on the popular manga comic created by Kiminori Wakasugi. Kiminori Wakasugi. Catch San Francisco’s air guitar champion in a special performance and enjoy
Sept. 14, 2010, 11:55 a.m. CST
by T 1000 xp professional
Keep it up Mr. Green!
Sept. 14, 2010, 12:03 p.m. CST
...for a long time.
Sept. 14, 2010, 12:04 p.m. CST
...that was a hell of a thing.
Sept. 14, 2010, 12:12 p.m. CST
Sept. 14, 2010, 12:13 p.m. CST
...on YouTube. Search 'Black Lagoon 26' if you want to see it. It's in Japanese however.
Sept. 14, 2010, 2:22 p.m. CST
Waverley Station and Princes St. One of the most beautiful urban landscapes in the world.
Sept. 14, 2010, 3:17 p.m. CST
by T 1000 xp professional
in a very good way
Sept. 14, 2010, 3:52 p.m. CST
The real reason why Sylvain Chomet was scared to get on a plane and face questions about his adaptation of Jacques Tati's Illusionist script. The full history of Tati’s Illusionist can be found here and well worth a read. Its an incredible story that Chomet inexplicably has tried to conceal and explains why Sylvain Chomet was scared to get on a plane and face questions about his adaptation of Jacques Tati's Illusionist script. Don't forget Triplets was made in Canada. http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/pages-for-twitter/the-shame-of-jacques-tati.html
Sept. 14, 2010, 3:54 p.m. CST
Versant, featuring Carah Faye from Shiny Toy Guns is putting out a record on September 21st, not to be missed at all. The most cheapest pre order ! http://itunes.apple.com/us/preorder/heartbeats-ep/id388971775
Sept. 14, 2010, 4:53 p.m. CST
Seems like such a gyp, you know? I'll probably check it out, though, cause Gurren Lagaan is an INCREDIBLE series.
Sept. 14, 2010, 5:18 p.m. CST
You know it's taken a while to come into it's own, but this article, has turned into one of Aintitcool's best assets. Unlike ANN, which is just snarky and insulting to the fans that go to their site, the news here, while maybe a little late to the game is always handled professionally and with respect to the audience, and I say good show sir.
Sept. 14, 2010, 7:26 p.m. CST
You should've had that in the title. Would've had the WB live action fans over on Herc's column coming out of the woodworks to check it out.<BR><BR> The new Ironman designs are 1000% better... but I think there's still a bit more work to be done. If the Japanese studio can find the right globally/universally acceptable designs (and story), this might be the beginning of some really insanely awesome Marvel flicks and perhaps even a resurgence of the Anime industry. They're not quite there yet though...
Sept. 14, 2010, 9:42 p.m. CST
Until they can bring back Koike to deliver the awesomeness of the original concept. What we have now is downright disappointing compared to the concept trailer!
Sept. 15, 2010, 5:14 a.m. CST
where in the hell is Redline, and when is it coming out here in the states?
Sept. 15, 2010, 5:16 p.m. CST
Panty & Stocking is by the creator of Dead Leaves.