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Father Geek here, holdup behind the barbwire entanglement that surrounds AICN's Central Texas Geek Headquarters Compound and posting this week's edition of our regular Anime & Manga column...


by Scott Green

Manga Spotlight: Alien Nine Volume 3 By Hitoshi Tomizawa

Released by CPM Manga

It is easy to pass Alien Nine by, and miss one of the most ingeniously disturbing manga series. Something like Berserk or Uzumaki broadcasts what you will find under the cover, but the angelic school girls that adorn the front of Alien Nine don't look like the subjects of an invasion story that could stand with the works of Wells or Heinlein. It doesn't seem that all of the bedrock tenants of horror: disease, outsiders, loss of control, loss of self, could be wrapped up in an adorable winged frogs like alien that stares out with saucer eyes, mounded on a body that looks designed to inspire a merchandising fad.

Three young girls are chosen as their school's representatives of the Alien Party, and are given one of these symbiotic aliens, known as a borg, to wear on their head. The initial bargain is that these creatures will protect them, and feed off body waste such as sweat. The trio don roller blades, and pads to bat around other Pokemon-type buggers with modified lacrosse sticks. It turns out that their activity is less Collecting 'em All, and more about being on the receiving end of something along the lines of animal experimentation/training. This would be well and mildly insidious, except the orchestrators' rivals stumble onto what is happening, or try to reap the benefits for themselves, and discomfort shifts into mutilation.

Apart from the postscript Emulators, volume three ends Alien Nine. The conclusion isn't quite what was expected or hoped for. In keeping with the cute/children story only being a facade, answers aren't explicit, there isn't a resounding conclusion, and the lead grows older without growing-up/coming of age.

Despite a classic a classic "watch the skies" ending the progression never fit into any preformed templates. The story was never told in a strict narrative flow, or in vignettes. Instead its cascading situations were more like a school year: divided into standard length semesters, and subdivided into variably lengthed lessons, with an end that is a bit arbitrary and a bit someone's idea of complete.

Alien Nine peaked in its second volume. In volume three, the cause and rational for the conflict may not be crystal, but the stakes are. There is room to expand understanding, but the mix of surprising creativity, and cruelty of the second can't be recaptured. Interesting progression emerges from re-reading the three volumes

Alien Nine is worthily of distinction as something radical. Evan among manga, it is a unique experience.

Anime Spotlight: Rahxephon Orchestration 3: Harmonic Convergence

Released by ADV Films

For a while it looked like Neon Genesis Evangelion was going to the tombstone of giant robot anime. Rahxephon has been one of the best post-deconstruction work to come out of its wake. It acknowledges Evangelion's impact in the structure of its cast, and the attention to the mind of its protagonist, but it also moves on. It picks out the grandeur and big visuals of the subject matters and abandons the formula stricture of alien invasions followed by launched defense. It borrows Evangelion's cast dynamics and sense of mystery without Hideaki Anno's neurotic introspection, then builds a world of design from Bones, the studio that has been demanding notice since the Cowboy Bebop movie.

Intricately designed bird cages, and breathing cities are hallmarks of Bone's meticulous craft, but where they create something that it a marvel to watch is in their unearthly Dolem advisories. These marble sculpted acid trips combine numerous elements without looking like the typical rampaging Frankenstein's monsters, a bit like Big O's art deco giant robots, with wilder proportions, a smooth, aquatic like surface, and Arztec features.

The leap forward in this volume is that it revisits the multiple worlds of the series' twist in a dream/hallucination that captures the disconnection, skewed logic and impulse of the state in a frighteningly vivid manner.

If there is a flaw, it that is that the series sets high standards for itself than falls short by doubling, or focusing on elements without first establishing their gravity. While Rahxephon remains visually engaging, and inventive it hasn't lived up the first volume's mix of intelligent surprise, hard sci-fi, and surreal constructs. To follow the series' music metaphor, it feels like the main theme is still lurking below the others tunes, waiting to crescendo. At nearly the half way point, volumes two and three have left the series a little front loaded with diversions that would have been better served by being spaced out and after more of the situations mechanics are revealed.

The second volume featured a collection of the beach and bikini, or Christmas episodes that are better spaced out, while the third features character insights or revealing moments that seems like they would have more impact later.

Anime Sound Track Spotlight: Hellsing Original Soundtracks: Raid & Hellsing Original Soundtracks: Ruin

Released by Pioneer

Pioneer (or Geneon as it just became known) has recently released the second of the two soundtracks to action horror anime Hellsing. Both Raid and Ruin are rare non-vocal anime soundtracks that stand on their own merits beyond audio postcards of their anime source. They paint a complex demon haunted world of dissonance where Sesame Street type tune of children laughing are interrupted by sadistic cackling, easy jazz collisions, or tribal chanting overlaid with harsh electric guitar feedback. Beyond gothic tunes and guitar, the soundtrack features lighters tunes, and a consistently high level of the energy.

The track titles along make the cds worth owning. Who can pass up "Aha, Springtime of Life's Erotic Hell", "Primary colored Suicide Bombing Love Song" or "Non-neurosis tunes ~Who the hell are you?~".

This Week's Anime And Manga Releases

  • The Best Of Hello Kitty's Paradise
  • Blue Gender Box Set
  • Dark Myth
  • Doomed Megaopolis - Special Edition
  • Dual - Trouble Adventure - Boxed Set
  • Figure 17 Vol. 1:Soul Mirror
  • His And Her Circumstances (Vol. 5)
  • His And Her Circumstances 1-5
  • Najica Blitz Tatics (Vol. 2)
  • Sakura Wars Tv - Intermission (Vol. 4)
  • Twelve Kingdoms Vol. 2:Empress
  • Zaion - Epidemic (Vol. 1)
  • Zenki - Saga 4
  • Zoids 2: High Speed Battle
  • Zoids 3: Coliseum Battle

  • Angels Wing #3
  • Astro Boy Vol 19 Tp
  • Dance Till Tomorrow Vol 7 Tp
  • Fake Vol 3 Gn (Of 7)
  • Inu Yasha Vol 15 Tp
  • Maison Ikkoku Vol 1 Tp 2Nd Ed
  • Nadesico Book One Tp New Ptg
  • Popcorn Romance Gn
  • Vagabond Vol 7 Tp

Japanese Nausicaa DVD Release Info

From Natsume Maya Buena Vista had been considering using a pseudo-stereo audio track for the Japanese DVD release of the Hayao Miyazaki Studio Ghibli ecological epic Nausicaa, but opted to keep the original mono soundtrack after testing determined that it was superior.

Domestic Avalon Release

Anime News Service points out Yahoo is listing that Ghost in the Shell director Mamoru Oshii and screenwriter Kazunori Ito's live action cyberthriller Avalon has been passed up for a theatrical released by Miramax. The movie will be released to home video by Buena Vista Home Entertainment December 16th.

The movie's official site can be seen at

New Viz Manga Licenses

Anime on DVD reports that Viz has licensed Angel Sanctuary And Hana Zakari No Kimitachi E ("Hana-Kimi"). Both titles will be released bi-monthly starting in spring 2004.

Hana Zakari No Kimitachi E is a highshool romance about a girl who assumes the identity of a boy to follow a high jumper who she idiolizes to an all boy's school, then ends up as his roommate.

Angel Sanctuary is a bishonen (thin, feminin men) angst epioc about a trouble teen, in love with his sister, who learns that he is the reinarncation of an angel who revolted against God.

Ghost in the Shell Innocence pictures

Anime News Network points out Production I.G has posted 4 images from the upcoming Ghost in the Shell Innocence movie here

Bandai Licenses Kaze no Yojinbo

reports Bandai Entertainment announced at their panel at Anime Weekend Atlanta today that the had acquired the license to Kaze no Yojinbo

FUNimation Blue Gender Cel Contest

FUNimation Productions, Ltd. is celebrating the September 30th release of the Blue Gender Box Set by giving fans the opportunity to own a piece of the show. Five animation cels from the series are being given away as prizes in a trivia promotion.

By answering five trivia questions about the show, fans are entered to win one of five animation cels used in the production of the show. All five animation cels come complete with multiple matching sketches. These cels have been professionally graded and are valued at $250 each.

The Blue Gender series is a very popular sci-fi anime series. Play Magazine describes it as "an addiction, one that is candy-coated with excellent character development and brushed with the venomous tang of suspense." Blue Gender has recently gained more fans with its airings on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

The Blue Gender Box Set is reason enough to celebrate, but FUNimation would like to give fans the chance to win these unique pieces of the show.

Highlights of the Blue Gender Box Set include:
  • . A Stunning Foil Collector's Box
  • . 8 Volumes
  • . 26 Episodes
  • . Over 9 Hours of Gripping Sci-Fi Action
  • . Commentary by Voice Director and Main Actors
  • . Includes Individually Signed Authentic Autographed Poster
  • . DVD Extras from Japanese Release

The complete 26 episode series of Blue Gender will retail for $119.00 and will be available at specialty retailers nationwide and at on September 30, 2003.

For more information see here

Anime Games

From Magic Box Umages of the upcoming Astro Boy/Tetsu Wan Atom Playstation 2 game can be seen here.

Sega and Red Entertainment announced Sakura Taisen V: Episode 0 for PlayStation 2, a dramatic action game based on the story of Sakura Taisen V. The story takes place in US in the year of 1927.

Images of Tomy's GameCube 3D anime fighting game Naruto: Gekitou Ninja Taisen 2, the game is scheduled for a spring 2004 release in Japan can be seen here.

FUNimation to Distribute Nevlana Series

Excerpted from the press release: Corus Entertainment Inc. (TSX: CJR.B - News; NYSE: CJR - News) today announced the creation of a new Home Entertainment Division for its Production, Distribution and Consumer Products subsidiary, Nelvana Limited. The move is part of a new market-driven operating strategy for the internationally acclaimed animation company, known for such wildly popular properties as Beyblade, Babar and Franklin.

Texas-based FUNimation Productions, licensor of current hot anime brands including Dragon Ball Z and Yu-Gi-Oh!, will release 44 of Nelvana's library titles in the U.S. market, including Redwall, Tales of the Crypt Keeper, Pecola and Molville Mysteries. The deal represents tremendous opportunity for Nelvana, as FUNimation also becomes a strategic partner on prospective new anime productions as well as a potential co-production partner.

Japanese' Ultimate MUSCLE?

Anime Nation is listing the first volume of super hero wrestling anime Ultimate Muscle aka Kinnikuman from FUNimation featuring Japanese and English audio tracks. 4Kids' English adpation of the series is currently airing of Fox.

Gunparade March Dates

Media Blasters will be releasing the first volume of Gunparade March on Janurary 27th.

Forget About Love

A post on Anime on DVD's forum relays a convention conversation with AnimEigo about Macross licensing. Repordedly, the rights holders to the Macross: Do You Remember Love will not license the movie to an American company because they do not want to share the revenue with the companies that they would be required to. Likewise the licensing of the Macross 7 series is too tangled with song rights to approach.

Pioneer Entertainment Inc. to Become Geneon

Entertainment Inc. After Acquisition Pioneer has announced that is has changed its name to Geneon Entertainment ' a new word combining "generate" and "eon," embodies Pioneer Entertainment's creative capabilities to produce new entertainment with eternal value.' Yosuke Kobayashi will continue to serve as President of Geneon Entertainment (Usa) Inc.

Excerpted from the press releas: Teaming with many of Japan's top production companies, including GONZO, Madhouse and Production I.G, Pioneer Entertainment has served as a creative partner in developing several anime favorites, including "Armitage Dual-Matrix," "Hellsing," "Strawberry Eggs," "SoulTaker" and "Fushigi Yugi Eikoden." In addition, the company licenses titles created by some of Japan's most popular and prestigious filmmakers and has entered the theatrical arena with strategically planned releases of motion pictures.

Committed to meeting the needs of the ever-changing global business environment, Dentsu has expanded its business far beyond the scope of the typical advertising firm, and into the arena of the entertainment business. In Japan, Dentsu has made investments in the production of Hayao Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" and "Princess Mononoke." The company's entertainment portfolio also includes Japanese distribution rights for "Lord of the Rings" and the television distribution rights for Buena Vista properties. Aggressively pursuing the production and distribution for animation television programming, the company is also seeking the overseas distribution and sales of Japanese animation franchises such as "Astro Boy" and "Kirby." The synergy created from Dentsu's acquisition of Pioneer Entertainment will result in the promotion of Dentsu's entertainment-related business and a strategic entry into the software content industry.

Sony To Produce Animated Films in Japan

According to IMDB Sony Pictures Entertainment is planning an ambitious program to produce animated features in Japan and distribute them overseas, the Tokyo daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported today (Wednesday). The Culver City-based company said that it has set up an animation division in Japan that will produce two animated films a year, each about two hours long, with the first film due to be completed in 2005, the newspaper said.

Macross Goes to Court

From Natsume Maya Tokyo High Court rule that production company Tatsunoko Pro held copyright over Super Dimension Fortress Macross , since that company was the one with the responsibility for ensuring the completion of the work. On the other hand, the court distinguished this from copyright in the designs of the characters etc, which was held to reside with planning company Studio Nue.

Evangelion Manga News

From Natsume Maya GAiNAX has also confirmed that volume 9 of the Evangelion manga will be published in Japan in spring 2004 and that the limited edition version will come with Ayanami Rei action figure.

The Evangelion manga presents a skewed retelling of the anime series from Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, character designer for Evangelion, and a number of other Gainax titles including Nadia and Wings of Honneamise.

Full Metal Alchemist Previews

Three preview movies of the Full Metal Alchemist anime adaptation (no relationship to Full Metal Panic) can be seen here

Upcoming Anime in Japan

From Natsume Maya The web site for the upcoming can Bobobobo Bobobo, based on the manga by Sawai Yoshio, be seen here

GAiNAX has confirmed on its website that its TV anime (in conjunction with JC Staff) of Boukyaku no Senritsu (Melody of Oblivion) will commence broadcast on TV in the spring of 2004.

Mangazoo has details of the story in Kon Satoshi's upcoming TV anime series Mousou Dairinin (to commence broadcast on WOWOW in February 2004). The case of the phantom killer(?, I think) in Musashino City, Tokyo. At first it appears the victim may have been the author of their own work, but things change when a second victim surfaces. The criminal, who appears to be "the roller blading shonen with the gold bat", soon attacks those around the incident, one by one. Who is the "shonen bat"? And who's the next target?

Bones (Cowboy Bebop Movie, Wolf's Rain, Rahxephon) is working on the sci-fi anime anime Kurau, which will be directed by Irie Yasuhiro for a 2004 release.

Morimoto Koji's short anime film Onkyou Seimeitai Noiseman (Noiseman Sound Insect) will be released on DVD around 5 December 2003. Anime production by Studio 4ºC, animation and character design by Morimoto, music by Kanno Yoko. A sci-fi story in which a scientist develops an insect-like lifeform which neutralises sound waves. Other short works by Morimoto will be included on the DVD, and also "making of" clips such as staff interviews. DVD specs: approximately 60 minutes, Dolby Digital (5.1ch and stereo), single layer, anamorphic letterboxed.

According to this 2 channel post, an advance issue of Shonen Ace manga magazine (on sale 26 September 2003) states that the GAiNAX anime Boukyaku no Senritsu (Melody of Oblivion) will commence broadcast on TV next April 2004. At least, that's how I read the post. 2 channel posts seem to be very brief. Source: Moon Phase. The manga of Boukyaku no Senritsu by Karakura Shinji is serialized in Shonen Ace.

Production IG's Japanese website has characterdesigns up for the TV anime version of Sakigake!! Cromartie Koukou (Cromartie High School).

Bandai is list upcoming releases including a new Spirit of Wonder Tsuruta Kenji Wonder Box, with a new short anime called China-san or Miss China's Homesicknes. The cover can be seen here.

TOKYOPOP Hiring Fury

Comics Journal Journalista points out that TOKYOPOP is lookinf for an editor-in-chief, marketing director, cine-manga editor and manga editor.

Upcoming AnimEigo Releases

AnimEigo is listing the following upcoming releases: October 3 - Urusei Yatsura: Only You

October 17 - Arcadia of My Youth

October 31 - Kimagure Orange Road Movie & OVAs

November 7 - Madox-01

See the site for the status of these anime titles, and Samurai Cinema releases of a numbers of Lone Wolf and Cub and Zatoichi movies.

Urusei Yatsura is an earlier relationship comedy from Ranma ½ and Inu Yasha creator Rumiko Takahashi about a lecherous boy, and Lum, the alien girl with horns, green hair, and a tiger striped bikini.

Arcadia of My Youth is a movie that tells one version of the melodramatic origin of Leiji Matsumoto's Space Captain Harlock.

Live Action Sailor Moon Casting

Natsume Maya reports that Morikawa Kaori will be playing Sailormoon's mother Tsukino Ikuko in the live action series Pretty Guardian Sailormoon, and Sugimoto Aya will be playing the villian Queen Beryl.

Comic Shops Vs Chains over Anime Products

ICV2 has posted several pieces on a growing conflict between comic shops and distributors over who gets priority treatment over anime projects, such as the new Yu-Yu Hakusho collectable card game. The retail side can be seen here, and the distributor side here.

Dream Anime Store

ICV2 has a short profile of the new Kinokuniya flagship bookstore in Japan, which fearues 150,000 manga volumes and approximately 50,000 primarily anime DVDs.

ADV Manga Sales

Full Metal Panic! Volume 1, the first release from A.D. Vision, Inc.'s new ADV Manga division, exploded out of the gates with an exceptionally strong performance-a Number Seven ranking-on the national graphic novel bestseller list.

An action-comedy title telling the story of a high-school honor student who unwittingly carries a valuable secret, and the extremely gung-ho young secret agent who goes undercover to protect her, the Full Metal Panic! manga ties in to a highly popular anime of the same title, currently being released by A.D. Vision, Inc.'s ADV Films division.

Upcoming ADV Anime Releases

November 4:
  • Sin: Special Edition

November 25:
  • Saiyuki: Demon Rising
  • Slayers: Return
  • Sorcerer Hunters: Chocolate, Springs And Other Hot Things!

Sin: Special Edition

Sin: Special Edition, the movie tie-in to the video game of the same name from Ritual Entertainment. Sin: The Movie, produced by ADV Films and animated by Japan's Phoenix Animation, was originally released in 2000. This Special Edition release includes Sin on DVD, plus the original soundtrack on CD, performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra.

The DVD includes both English-language and Japanese-language audio, and offers viewers two distinct storylines in the subtitled versions. One is Sin: The Movie's original English-script, while the other is the Japanese-language translation of the English script-creating intriguing variations in the storyline.

The Story: Enter the world of SIN. Sometime in the 21st century, the city of Freeport teeters on the verge of collapse. The twin tides of rampant crime and ruinous graft face but a single barrier-an elite strike force called HARDCORPS. Led by Colonel John Blade, the HARDCORPS have become a fierce fighting force for justice in Freeport.

Now, Blade must unravel a mysterious series of unexplained kidnappings. An elaborate puzzle unfolds as he delves into the decadence of the city, and at its heart is SinTEK, one of the most powerful companies in the world. Elexis Sinclaire's genius, ruthlessness, and determination built an empire that, on the surface, seems to be giving society everything it wants and needs-drugs that prolong health and, perhaps, even life. But within the company's well-guarded walls, Elexis' secret experiments yield considerably darker results that may bring about mankind's greatest evolutionary leap-or its extermination.

Sin: Special Edition (SRP $29.98) is a DVD-only release, including both English 5.1- and Japanese 2.0-language versions, and two versions of the English subtitles, and the CD soundtrack. Extras include: a photo gallery, storyboards, production sketches, Sin manga concepts, pre-production artwork and a

Saiyuki: Demon Rising

Saiyuki: Demon Rising, sixth volume of the thrilling, humorous, wildly entertaining, 50-episode anime saga.

The first iterations of the Saiyuki tale, which was inspired by the 16th-century Chinese novel Xiyouji (Journey to the West) by Wu Cheng-En, were animated in the late 1960s; ADV Films' release of Saiyuki is based on a manga by Kazuya Minekura, and directed by Hayato Date.

The Story: As draught and famine spread throughout the land, local townships have fallen under the control of demons. Sanzo and his crew teach one village to rise up against a Baron who demands a human sacrifice every year, and things get rough when the Armored Demon Corps comes after Sanzo's scripture. But, in the end, it is little Lirin who may prove to be the party's mightiest foe! With each step westward, the Sanzo party faces a barrage of both physical and psychological attacks!

Slayers: Return

Slayers: Return, the second movie tie-in (after Slayers: the Motion Picture) to the fan-favorite fantasy-adventure anime series Slayers.

Slayers: Return, based on a manga by Hajime Kanzaka (Lost Universe) and directed by Hiroshi Watanabe (King of Bandit Jing, Orphen), brings back odd couple Lina Inverse and Naga the Serpent in a series of (mis)adventures that are equal parts action and comedy.

The Story: The indomitable Lina Inverse and the inexplicable Naga the Serpent are in trouble up to their eyebrows again! If you thought Slayers: the Motion Picture was wild, just wait until you see Lina and Naga take on a horde of vicious demons and a band of road warriors intent on collecting an unpaid debt.

What starts out as a simple task ridding a village of some villains turns into a fiasco when Lina and Naga realize their spells won't work. An ancient elf-made weapon, a would-be world conqueror and a plot with more twists than a pretzel factory-this Slayers adventure is sure to have you in knots with laughter!

Sorcerer Hunters: Chocolate, Springs And Other Hot Things!

Sorcerer Hunters: Chocolate, Springs and Other Hot Things!, an OVA tie-in to the popular television anime series. The OVA brings back the zany (and tastily named) characters-Carrot Glace, Chocolate Misu, Tira Misu and more-and throws them into another series of hilarious and wacky adventures that are sexier than ever before.

Sorcerer Hunters: Chocolate, Springs and Other Hot Things! was directed by Koichi Mashimo (.hack//SIGN, NOIR) and Nobuyoshi Habara (Martian Successor Nadesico, Steam Detectives), and was written by Satoru Akahori, the creator of the original Sorcerer Hunters television series and screenwriter on the upcoming ADV release Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi.

The Story: Take two gorgeous women with whips, add a magician and a body builder, tie it all together with an amorous young man willing to put the moves on anything that moves, and what do you get? Simple: the funniest, sexiest adventure series around! That's right, Chocolate, Tira, Carrot and the rest of the cast of Sorcerer Hunters are back in three titillating episodes.

When Carrot tries to seduce a lovely older woman (while Chocolate is trying to seduce Carrot), a steamy hot springs vacation gets steamier... and funnier. Then our heroes leap into battle with the Death Master, an evil necromancer who's transformed an entire town into his willing zombie slaves! Finally, an ancient tree with legendary romantic powers turns a relaxing picnic into a love-crazed free-for-all! Can even the Sorcerer Hunters handle this kind of heat?

Sorcerer Hunters: Chocolate, Springs and Other Hot Things! ($24.98 SRP) is a DVD-only release, containing three complete episodes. Includes both English 2.0- and Japanese 2.0-language versions, and English subtitles. DVD extras include: Sorcerer Hunters: Chocolate, Springs and Other Hot Things! trailer, clean opening and closing animation, and ADV previews.

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