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AnimAICN: Special Report - Anime Boston Convention, plus all the latest releases...

Father Geek here at Geek Headquarters in Central Texas posting our man on the scene Scott's great report on the big Anime-Manga Convention held up in Boston, Mass.

Well Geeks, this is one hell of a report! The most comprehensive coverage I can remember ever receiving on ANY Festival-Convention (of ANY type, anywhere) that wasn't written by that long-winded son of mine, Harry. Scott's got everything packed into this report, but the drinks and eats, annnnnd parties if you were lucky enough to get invited to any of those.

Soooooo, sit back and relax. Prepare to take a flight-of-fancy to ol' Bean-town for a fun-informative time at ANIME BOSTON...

AnimAICN's "Anime Boston" Report by Scott Green...

First the big news out of the Anime Boston convention...

FUNimation licensed Kodomo No Omocha, Geneon licensed Satoshi Kon's Paranoia Agent, ADV licensed Princess Tutu and Synch-Point licensed the original Di Gi Charat TV series. More on this after giving the convention some recognition...

Conventions are one of the cornerstones of anime in North America. Generally, other than specific release date, most major anime announcements come out the convention.

I don't personally attend many, partially because of a dislike for travel, and partially because while the in's and out's of the anime industry interest me greatly, I have little use for fandom. But, because Anime Boston is so close, I decided to take the opportunity to meet some of the personalities face to face.

At least as far as the coasts are concerned, the north east has sat quietly at the back of the classroom when it comes to anime conventions. Last year the area really decided to make itself known with Anime Boston (I'll ignore the Big Apple Anime Fest for this discussion and avoid qualifiers, the differences in the natures of the two entities, and some of the odder aspects of the BAAF).

In 2003 Anime Boston sprung out the ground fully formed thanks to what had to have been staggering amount of behind the scenes work. In the typical Boston tradition of competitiveness and overachieving in its first year the convention pulled in 4,110 attendees, 13 North American guests, 1 Japanese guest and a string of "Most...", "Biggest..." and "First..." bragging rights.

Due to the lag between discovering the true size of the fan interest and venue availability, the convention spent a second year in the Park Plaza Hotel and as a result of space limitations quickly filled up all slots in the online pre registration period.

The real black mark on the year's convention is that it lost its scheduled Japanese guest, character designer Nobuteru Yuuki (Loddoss War, Heat Guy J, X, Escaflowne). This didn't have a substantial effect of the convention's quality, but it was certainly a blow to its prestige. Rightly or wrongly the presence of a Japanese guest is seen as mark of delineation between the tiers of American anime conventions. Not to dam the convention, but if he wasn't to have been a gold star on their forehead they wouldn't have given him the entire third page of convention program, right after the table of contents and letter from the chairman. Everyone would have been thrilled to have had a guest of the caliber of Nobuteru Yuuki, but in practice his absence didn't leave a noticeable void to the con-goers.

Guests who attended included voice actors Michael Coleman, Crispin Freeman, Lauren Goodnight, Hilary Haag, Lex Lang, Monica Rial, and Dave Wittenberg artists Robert and Emily DeJesus, manga editor Carl Horn and representatives from ADV Films, AN Entertainment, Bandai Entertainment Inc.. FUNimation Productions, Ltd., Geneon Entertainment (USA) Inc., Manga Entertainment Inc. and Media Blasters, Inc.

Pulse of the anime industry...

The new watch word in anime is co-production: funding an anime title during its initial development. (Use of the word was generally accompanied by a glance toward Geneon marketing manager Chad Kime if he was in the room due to the fact that Geneon USA's name adorns a very noticeable chunk of the new anime titles that start in Japan's spring television season). The chief appeal of co-productions is avoiding increasingly common and costly bidding wars which had begun to eat into profit margins.

The gamble in co productions is the potential for the finished product to differ from the original plans. Many of the companies joke about horror stories: Geneon on Licensed by Royalty's smoking, and ADV on their early experience with Plastic Little (which would explain why the feature's synopsis bears little resemblance to its content).

Having a title co-produced by a domestic distributor neither guarantees an American release, or even that if it is released in America it would be released by the co-producer. Nor does it necessarily speed up the American release. Reanimating series after their TV run is becoming more common in Japan. The most used example is Heat Guy J, which was reportedly 40% reanimated after its television run. Simultaneous or even near simultaneous releases also will continue to be very rare due to localization production time.

Co production does not mean that anime is becoming dominated by American tastes. Creators in Japan are still getting to make what they like, in fact, it has given to many the opportunity for pet projects to go into production. Funding or potential America funding has justified projects that would previously have had to grope for merchandising connections or appealing demographic.

Another side effect of co productions is that domestic interest in series currently airing in Japan isn't as important as it once was. Previously domestic fan reaction would be taken into account along with looking at the Japanese demographics and ratings number, but now series are often licensed when they are still in their proposal stage, before they ever reach Japanese TV. Fan translations (fansubs) were never approved or endorsed, few tears would be shed if they went away, but in the old way of doing things some used them as a tool in their licensing decisions.

There was a general consensus that the industry still has plenty of room to grow. Looking at comparisons within video industry sales and demographic penetration there is clearly expansion room, but many predict that there will be more shakeups within the industry due to the recent growth spurt.

Development of new DVD features is, if not dead, dormant. There is a feeling that the on disc extras have hit the boundaries of ideas and technology, leading most companies to experiment with packaging and external extras.

As the industry has become more competitive, package premiums such as collector's boxes and special edition items have begun to play a larger role in attracting buyers. Items such as plushie figures are difficult to coordinate for production, but have shown themselves useful in attracting fans. As the market has matured, it has divided itself into mass market, casual fans, and hard core fans. Premiums attract hard core, partially as a distinguishing feature, partially as an alternative to piracy: "you can't download a box".

While approval from the Japanese licensor holder can be tricky, packaged premiums are often separate from the merchandising license, allowing them to happen even if the company can not market other merchandise based on a series.

Getting a series on television has become very attractive. There are many examples, such as Witch Hunter Robin of television exposure greatly helping DVD sales. The trick is to convince the network of a show's merit above other anime, and original or non anime programming.

The licensing of older shows was also discussed a number of time. Older shows are a tricky position. Many consumers are reluctant to purchase animation that look dated, even if the quality is comparable to popular contemporaries (ie something that looks like Dragon Ball/Dragon Ball Z may be passed over as too old looking). Additionally older shows may still be popular in Japan (ie Herlock/Harlock), driving the license price above that it could being in domestically.

Many of the company representatives were personally pleased about the increase in diversity in the anime that is released in the US. While shoujo anime releases are still often tentative (such as TOKYOPOP's release Marmalade Boy in large blocks), the popularity of shoujo manga (comics) is starting to translate into shoujo anime sales. The next genre the representatives wanted to see take of is sports anime, which is still in infancy in terms of domestic market penetration.

Expect more anime titles to be licensed for live action Hollywood movie, but be cautious about riasing hope too high for seeing them on the big screen. Hollywood is the press release capital of the work, and it seems likely that most live action treatments are destined to languish in development limbo.

While Spirited Away's Academy Award was viewed as a watershed mark in the domestic acceptance of anime, few companies are reading too much into the shutdout of anime titles, including two widely respected films by Satoshi Kon, in this years Best Animated Picture nomination pool. It was instead viewed as a gap in the priorities of the movies' distributors. Many companies spoke from knowledge of the onerous process of forms and rules, and seemed to empathize with the decision by the likes of Dream Works and Sony not to divide their attention.

ImaginAsian news....

Going into the convention, there was some quiet, but not so subtle buzz that ImaginAsian would be the surprise name to watch for. The announcement lived up to its promise: a 24-7 Asian entertainment network, feature material from Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam and India. Anime will be shown two to three hours a day, including a primetime block. New and classic shows will be shown in subtitled and dubbed formats. The material must to conform to FFC regulations, so editing will be required, but much of the chosen content will require little editing. The first list of licensed titles will be announced within weeks.

Likely some titles will have already been released on home video, and some will be new. Korean animation will also be shown, most of which has not been previously available in the US. Justin Sevakis, formerly of Central Park Media, who hosted the panel, is serving as the ImaginAsian's Programming and Operations Coordinator.

Other content that will be shown on the network includes subtitled J-Pop and K-Pop music videos, live action drama, Japanese art hose, Hong Kong martial arts, and Bollywood cinema. There was no comment when asked about the possibility of Japanese professional wrestling. Prime time shows will be augmented by segments which discuss and explain the cultural aspects of the show being aired.

The network is scheduled to be launched in August. The network will be available on basic digital cable, and broadcast on the west coast through Equity Broadcast group. It is currently in negotiations with most major cable systems. The best way to express your interest is to nag you local provider. Phone was described as more effective than e-mail or snail male

Ownership of ImaginAsian is privately held by a group of five Asian Americans, and will be advertiser supported. The targeted demographics are 18-35 year old Asians.

A video on demand spin-off may or may not be launched, and may or may not use the ImaginAsian brand. If video on demand service was launched, its shows not need to follow FCC regulations, and would be unedited.

The network will also be opening a theatre in mid town New York. Among its capability with be ability to project subtitles over 35 mm unsubtitled print, which could facilitate theatrical shows quickly after licensed. The theatre will be a perfect venue for film festivals.

Internet streaming radio is being considered for music such as J-Pop, K-Pop, R-Rock ect.

Media Blasters news....

Media Blasters was not able to announce any new anime licensed. John Sirabella just returned from Japan, and like other distributors, Media Blasters stated that they have been licensing shows that haven't begun production.

Media Blasters emphasized their upcoming release of Invader Zim. They are working on including the unfinished episodes, and an uncut version of the Halloween episode. The first of three sets will be released in May, with a box set released after the three individuals. The box will likely also be released separately.

Zim creator Jhonen Vasquez has decided not to produce more Zim, or animated versions of his comic work such as Johnny the Homicidal Maniac or Squee. Reportedly he feels done with animation, at least for the time being, and is more interested in moving into other mediums such as live action. Knight Hunters: Eternity (Weiss Kreuz: Gluhen) will be released in August.

A replacement program for their DVDs that were erroneously released with mono audio should begin this summer, after replacement have been produced for enough of the effected discs. Information will be posted to their site when the issue program commences.

Manga series Kamanagura was licensed.

The Tales of Eteria license fell through.

Media Blasters will be undergoing some restructuring, which will be announced at Anime Expo. 12 Kingdoms will be stopping at episode 45. The character designer has experienced health problems. The series is based on novels, and because the author insists of the designer's participation, the series went on indefinite hiatus after episode 45.

A new "Ultimate" version of the live action zombie fight movie Versus will be released with new footage and score. A new version of live action sadistically violent manga Ichi the Killer wil with new extras will also be released.

The live action Kite movie is still in the works, and Media Blasters strongly hinted that they are interesting in facilitating developing other titles into live action movies. The discussion walked a circuitous route around what looked to be a corporate strategy keenly eager take advantage of bring titles from on market to another, taking titles into new mediums, and developing its own properties, such as new original comics, manga and novels.

Media Blaster has also begun to look into Korean live action and animated titles. The Korean animation industry has begun to come into its own, partially due to government function.

Anime News Network spoke with Media Blasters' Frank Pannone, and received the details on the upcoming Flesh for the Beast anthology. The 272 page book will have 8 stories and two covers, the American Side and the Japanese Side. The 7 American entries will read from left to right, while the one Japanese entry will read right to left.

American side

Cover... Becky Cloonan (Jennie One, Demo) (art)

Sixteen Trick Candles by Rick Spears (Teenagers from Mars, Batman) (story) & Rob G. (Teenagers from Mars, The Couriers, Batman) (art)

The Best I Ever Had by Steve Goldman (Styx Taxi, Everyman, Smut Peddler) (story) & Dan Goldman (Everyman, Smut Peddler)(art)

Night of Magic by Terry West (director & screenwriter Flesh for the Beast, & comic Blood for the Muse) (story) & Kevin Colden (Mauled, House of Twelve) (art)

Clubbing by Tim Smith 3 (Teen Titans Go! comic, Festering Season) (story & art)

Reunion by Mike Raicht (Marvel Age: Spider-Man, X-Men Unlimited) (story) Paul Azaceta (Captain Marvel, Spider-Man Unlimited, Namor) (art)

One Billion Bodies by Nick Mamatas (novelist: The Urban Bizarre, Move Under Ground, Northern Gothic) (story) Adriano Eduardo (Mauled, House of Twelve, Small Clue County) (art)

Good Parenting by Steve Goldman (Styx Taxi, Everyman, Smut Peddler) (story) & Dan Goldman (Everyman, Smut Peddler)(art)

Japanese side

Cover... by Studio Zombie (Tommy Ohtsuka and Yoshihiro Komada) (Slayers manga, X-Men Ronin, Hulk DVD extra)

An unnamed project By Studio Zombie (Tommy Ohtsuka and Yoshihiro Komada) (Slayers manga, X-Men Ronin, Hulk DVD extra)

Flesh for the Beast will be released on October 27th (just in time for Halloween) and will carry a suggested retail price of $9.99 (272 pages, black and white). An 8 to 16 page ash can edition will be given away at the San Diego Comic Con in July.

Synch-Point/ Broccoli news....

Synch-Point generally spoke within the bounds of the Gamers/Broccoli properties rather than branching out as they have with FLCL and I'll Be an Angel. Broccoli USA, the America subsidiary of content creator Broccoli International has three consumer divisions, Broccoli Books (manga), Synch-Point(anime), and Broccoli Gear (merchandise). The origin of the "Broccoli" name is that the company's founder was searching for a word that everyone would recognize, like "Apple" and apparently liked broccoli.

Their largest announcement was that they will be releasing the original Di Gi Charat TV series, which now, like the manga, will be divided between three companies (ADV is doing Di Gi Charat Panyo Panyo and Bandai announced Di Gi Charat Nyo Nyo) . The original TV series consists of 5 minute episodes, generically with a more manic tone than other Di Gi Charat anime incarnations It originally aired as segments of a live action pop culture show. The spinoff Leave it to Piyoko has been delayed until after Di Gi Charat is released

Synch-Point will now be handling consistency in the Di Gi Charat franchise after the licensor became upset will misspelling in the manga releases.

Manga releases include Galaxy Angel, Di Gi Charat Theatre, and Juvenile Orion, with 10 other titles being considered. Broccoli Books plans to be conservative about the number of titles being released rather than flooding the market.

Synch-Point will be releasing the Aquarian Age movie, where as ADV will be releasing one of the Aquarian Age television series. Aquarian Age, which is base on a collectable card game, has a number of different anime and manga series based on it. The series feature different sets of characters, and in some cased character playing the game (like Yu-Gi-Oh). The movie, and the series released by ADV feature distinct sets of characters. The movie features animation by Madhouse, and character design by Macross' Haruhiko Mikimoto. There is no firm information as to whether the Aquarian Age card game will be released domestically

Merchandise including plastic "clear posters", and will be available to specialty stores through Diamond Distributors.

The company is working on the release of the third volume of I'll be an Angel. There is no guarantee that it will be released this year, but it will not have the same delay as the between 1 and 2. There were some issue with cover art approval on previous volumes.

Anime Crash news....

Anime Crash, a former retailer, now DVD labe,l though later clarified that they do not consider themselves a DVD company but "multi-level" have begun to cement their first releases.

Their first title Geisters, a robot armor sci fi (like Tekkaman or Gatchaman) will be released in June The series featured a Japanese and Korean staff, and was described as resembling late 90's sci-fi anime. 2D and 3D animation were used in the show, and reportedly the integration of the two improves as the series progressed. The series will be released on a 6 week interval schedule. DVDs will be packaged with 3-4" non- articulated figures.

The title has also been spelled Guystars, and some differences in pronunciation of the dub and spelling in the subtitle track were caused by scripts where C and K and R and L were interchanged. They are trying to get the show on TV in the fall.

The next title will be Ki (Key?) Factor, a philosophical Korean children's series about a young Ti Kwan Do practitioner.

Part of their goal as a "multi-level" distributor is that they will be obtaining merchandise rights along with their titles and timing the domestic release of merchandise to coincide with the title's release.

Anime Crash was eager to show off their talking ink. It is conductive "active" ink which completes a circuit between a battery and a voice chip. The technology has been licensed in Japan by Bandai for talking color books: plastic boards with a lithium battery and interchangeable chips that can hold thousands of sounds. Sheets of paper with the active ink are placed in the board, which allows the child to press areas to produce sounds. Talking manga is also being produced. These collections house batteries and speech chips in the book's spine, and use the active ink to allow the reader to press certain sections to hear speech or sound effects. Other uses include talking glass in high rises, editable food dye for talking food, and in packaging. In Anime Crash is experimenting with using the ink in their DVDs so that the DVD case would talk on its own, or when pressed to a display

Bandai news....

Bandai announced the licensing of Di Gi Charat Nyo and Please Twins, the spin-off of Onegai/Please Teacher.

'Please Twins!' sequel to comedy hit, 'Please Teacher!' is planned for DVD release sometime this year, with 'Di Gi Charat Nyo' set to begin production later this year with DVD release sometime in 2005.

A spin-off series of the highly popular 'Please Teacher!' comedy released last year on DVD home video by Bandai Entertainment - 'Please Twins!' brings back veteran director Yasunori Ide (Please Teacher!) and accomplished writer Yousuke Kuroda (s-CRY-ed, Trigun, Tenchi Muyo) in a romantic comedy series with a twist.

Maiku Kamishiro grew up in an orphanage with no history of his family or of his past. Left with only a childhood picture of himself and another person in front of a house, he believes that the other person in the picture is his long lost twin sister. Discovering a house similar to one in his picture, has Maiku finally returned home? Will he finally be able to settle down and just live his life? Maybe.maybe not! One day, Miina Miyafuji and Karen Onodera show up on his doorstep, both claiming to be his sister! All three of them have the same picture and the same colored eyes, but since there are only two kids in the picture, one of the girls must be a stranger! With two pretty girls living under the same roof as him, how the heck will Maiku be able to keep his mind on school and work, while trying to figure out which one of these girls is his sister and which one is the love of his life?

Please Twins! is scheduled for DVD home video release sometime this year along with a planned Limited Edition release featuring a collector's artbox and other premium pack-ins.

Sugary sweet cuteness abounds as one of Japan's funniest franchise is makes its way to North America.anime style! From Broccoli, the creators of 'Galaxy Angel'- The Di Gi Charat Nyo animated series is based on the very funny 'Di Gi Charat' franchise spanning various television series, theatrical features, manga/graphic novels, merchandise, and more! Animated by the ever popular MADHOUSE (Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, Jubei-Chan the Ninja Girl), 'Di Gi Charat Nyo' follows the life of ultra-cute alien princess Dejiko as she begins 'Princess Training' on the planet Earth.too bad she ends up causing trouble for everyone else on the planet.

Other news from the convention includes...

Wolf's Rain will be released starting in June. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex will be releasing starting in July. Both series will be appearing on Cartoon Network.

The Ghost in the Shell release will include the Tachikomo special shorts.

The special edition of Wolf's Rain will feature a Kiba in wolf form plushie. The release will include the direct to video episodes that formed the series conclusion, but there is some question as to whether these episodes will appear on Cartoon Network due to their violence.

.Hack//Legend of Twilight will likely be shown on Cartoon Network.

Beyond problems reaching Canada (which are being addressed), the only consumer noticeable effect due to the change in distributors should be better prices, particularly on new releases.

It was clarified that Bandai currently holds the license to the first two seasons of Galaxy Angel. Season three is currently in Japan.

ADV news...

ADV films announced the license of Princess Tutu, and in a press release about the convention, the RahXephon movie.

The Princess Tutu licenses include 2 seasons: the 15 and 30 minute episodes. There was no comment on whether the specials have been licensed.

Princess Tutu (Those who have seen the series say this description contains spoilers, if you're very conscious of spoilers, skip the next paragraph)

Once upon a time, a duck named Ahiru fell in love with a beautiful but sullen prince named Mytho. Ahiru sensed something was very wrong with the prince and wished to help him, but being a duck, knew she could do nothing but pine for him from afar. One day, Ahiru met the ghost of a dead fairy tale writer, Drosselmeyer, who offered her the chance to become a human girl and help the prince. Drosselmeyer gave her a magic pendant, granting Ahiru the power to become the magical ballerina Princess Tutu, and instructed her to recover the missing pieces of Mytho's shattered heart and return them to their rightful owner. Will Ahiru and Mytho live happily ever after?

Princess Tutu is a fanciful shoujo series conceived by Ikuko Ito, character designer for several Sailor Moon series, and produced by HAL Film Maker (Kaleido Star) and TBS (Chobits). Directors for the series are Junichi Sato, director of the original Sailor Moon and creator of Kaleido Star, and Shougo Kawamoto, director of You're Under Arrest! Season 2. ADV Manga recently announced the acquisition of the Princess Tutu manga series, which will see release later this year.

No release date has been announced for the Princess Tutu anime.

RahXephon: The Motion Picture

Hailed by many as one of the finest examples of the mecha (or "giant robot") anime genre, RahXephon set new standards of excellence upon its home video premiere in early 2003. Now the acclaimed TV series returns for RahXephon: The Motion Picture, the previously unreleased feature-length follow-up to the smartly crafted science-fiction thriller. RahXephon: The Motion Picture revisits the TV series, presenting new perspectives of the familiar events as they unfold and uncovering new mysteries and secrets along the way.

Although no release date has been announced, RahXephon: The Motion Picture is currently in production at ADV Film's studios and is expected to debut on DVD this summer.

DVD releases of catalogue titles My dear Marie and Sonic Soldier Borgman were also announced.

Excel Saga will be collected in the The IMPerfect Collection, which will be available in July for $89.98. The box may be available separately through their website and Right Stuf. The announce was introduce by a hilarious musical commercial. It would be a sin if it didn't turn up elsewhere.

Trailers where shown for the Get Backers anime, Grrl Power, Sister Princess (looks shoujo and humorous) and Nurse Witch Komugi (a high energy parody, ironically spun off from darkly violent Soul Taker)

Few details were announced about the release of these titles. The comment was made that fans will like the episode per volume count on Get Backers.

No comment could be made on whether the second season of Super Gals would be licensed.

Bubblegum Crisis 2041, the follow-up to the Bubblegum Crisis 2040 TV series is still in production.

Regarding the recent English dub only and cut release on Once Upon a Time, that is the only version of the title ADV has licensed. They may be interested in pursuing the original Windaria at some point in the future.

In response to questions on whether they held the license to Full Metal Alchemistic, which is rumored to have been already licensed by a domestic company, ADV hinted that they did not hold them.

The animated Farscape has gone into pre-production. The process had been held up while decisions were being made as to what should be done with the franchise, but now that the live action miniseries has been announced progress can continue on the animated version.

For another year, Lady Death has been schedule for an October release. Voice actors are currently being auditions for the movie.

The current status of the live action Neon Genesis Evangelion movie is that a treatment has been created and now talks are underway with potential directors. Because decisions regarding the movie must be approved by a number of parties, news will unlikely be announced during conventions, and instead will come through official channels and press releases.

The release of "brick" collections of old shows has slowed because individual disk sales are still selling well. Typically a series is evaluated for potential collected released one to two years after the release of the series' final volumes. Some planned collections, such as the Go Nagai set have been shelved.

The special edition box release of the first volume of Azumanga Daioh will ship with two lapel pins, and a display back, which will hold pins that will be included with future volumes.

Older shows such as Saint Seiya and Dubine have been doing well.

The Anime Network is now reaching 6 million households. Subtitled shows, and shows available before their DVD release are starting to work their way into the system(currently done with Azumanga Daioh). Big announcements are coming up.

FUNimation news....

FUNimation's big announced was that they licensed Kodomo No Omocha aka Kodocha aka Child's Toy. The series is currently scheduled to start in spring or summer 2005. FUNimation also hold merchandising rights to the title.

The series Akitaroh Daichi's adaptation of Miho Obana's dramatic comedy manga (released as Kodocha by TOKYOPOP) about an energetic child actress, her home life with her eccentric author mother and handler or as she calls him "pimp", and her problematic school life.

It will likely be monumentally painful to localize, thanks mostly to a lead character who speaks at breakneck pace in dialog filled will be puns, youthful misconception, and double meanings.

The Blue Gender: The Warrior movie will be released July 20th. It features an alternate ending to the harsh bug hunt sci-fi television series.

The skipped first 16 episodes of Dragon Ball GT will be released starting July 13th.

Case Closed (formerly Detective Conan) will be released starting in August. Despite some cute character design and a logos, the often dark mystery series will be marketed to mature audiences, and will be run on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

A Yu Yu Hakusho box set of the first 6 volumes of the Dark Tournament arc will be released July 22nd, with a second set of the arc latter 7 volumes coming later.

FUNimation is waiting to receive masters from Japan for the next set of Lupin III movies.

Season 3 of BeyBlade will be distributed on DVD for Nelvana before it is televised.

News regarding 4Kids titles is coming soon.

When asked about the possibility of more Fruits Baskets anime being produced, the response was never say never, but none is currently planned.

Bidding (by unnamed parties) is still underway for the domestic release of One Piece.

Geneon news....

Geneon announced the licensing of Paranoia Agent, Dokkoider, and Stelvia. The name change from Pioneer to Geneon came about because the ownership of the division went from Pioneer to advertising company Densen after Pioneer divested from some of its non hardware properties.

Paranoia Agent (aka Mousou Dairinin) is the first television series from director Satoshi Kon (Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers). The series seems to be a psychological suspense with interesting notions of mutable reality and causality winding through a cast including a toy designer, a writer, a pair of investigator and homeless woman.

Dokkoider (aka Cosmos House) is a strange outrageous sci-fi/ slice of life comedy about an unemployed man who finds works as wearing a super power suit to fight alien invaders, only to slowly discover that everyone else in his apartment complex has similarly absurd job.

Stellvia is a cute looking sci-fi academy series.

June releases include a Ai Yori Aoshi soundtrack with the company's first CD drama track. A translation of the drama track will be available on the company's website. The first of the individual volumes of girl in mystical world shoujo epic Fushigi Yugi will also be released in June. The released will feature new menus for the series previously release in season box sets.

July releasing include the first volumes of Fighting Spirit (Hajime No Ippo), first volume of shounen (for male audiences) relationship drama Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi and Trigun creator Yasuhiro Nightow designed Gungrave. It isn't clear how much of the lengthy boxing series Fighting Spirit has been licensed, but 15 releases have been penciled in. Gungrave will feature 5.1 English audio. Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi will be released in a standard edition and a special edition with a box and figurines.

August releases include soundtracks of Memories, the remastered Akira, and an anime release of the first volume of Dokkoider.

September releases include the Evangelion Day of Second Impact best of soundtrack, ROD sound track, FLCL OST2, which will feature a drama track, an anime release of Stelvia and the non anime Gregory Horror Show.

October releases include the sequel to live action Onmiyoji 2 live action movie and Paranoia Agent

Due to a decision by the Japanese licensor, Geneon will be unable to renew their Sailor Moon licenses when they expire. The movies are set to expire this year; no time frame was given for the television series. Like the Sailor Moon S television series box set, Geneon is planning a Sailor Moon Super S thin case box set.

When asked about releasing more music CD based on artists rather than anime series, such as Yuki Kajiura: Fiction, Geneon responded that artist CDs have become Tofu records' niche, and Geneon isn't looking to compete. CD single, which have been popular in Japan are unlikely because they have not sold well in the US.

Regarding the release of more Lupin III TV episodes, the TV series is barely selling well to release more, but more has been licensed.

A Few Fandom Observations...

Judging by the convention the sci-fi geek anime fans is getting crowded out by the screeching fan-girl. Fans that grew up on Transformer, Voltron, Battleship Yamato and Tranzor then found their way into anime with Slayers, Ranma, and Tenchi Muyo are dinosaurs (this included many of the journalists, ie myself). Those who were translating Urusei Yatsura for themselves or working from laser discs and translation print outs are the venerated elders. A good fast paced comedy is wildly embrace by the new crowd (ie Azumanga Daioh), not to mention anything with attractive, thin and feminine male characters (bishonen), especially if these characters are kissing each other.

Annnnnd The Convention Itself...

All things considered, the convention was stunningly well run. It had its share of technical glitches, procedural flaws, and surly staff members. I'd personally nitpick on the badges, which where indistinguishable from each other. Due to coloring and font size, you couldn't read a persons name from a distance greater than 3 feet, and couldn't tell if a person was an attendee, press, a guest or a vip, and who they were representing unless you held the badge to your face.

From an attendees perspective, everything ran smoothly. The crowd control was effective, even the Soviet era length lines more briskly, and everything started and ended on time. It would be difficult not to be impressed by the effort.

At times the panel offerings could be sparse, but what was available delivered. There was a full retinue of announced and Q&As from most of the major domestic anime distributors. Many of the fan panels were excellent. A stand out was "Dubs That Time Forgot" by Anime Jump's Mike Toole, such featured among other memorable a Hong Kong produced English dub of Transformers Headmasters (a series that never made it to the US), and four distinct English dubs of Lupin III Mystery of Marmo.

There were many aspects that despite their quality didn't appeal to be personally, much of which revolved around voice actors. Many voice actors are great people, and produce great work but I can't generate a huge enthusiasm for seeing them. Their works seems difficult, and in many ways thankless, but to me, not particularly interesting. Chirpy voice actors, a dictionary of injokes and innuendo brought joy to many attendees, but did nothing for me. Many loved "Whose Line is it Anime", but that is something I'll make a point never to subject myself to again.

Video rooms ran a number of recent releases, recently re-releases, and a few classics. There was nothing too exotic, but the first volume of Azumanga Daoih, Saikano, World of Narue, Wolf's Rain and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex , and the first episodes of ROD the TV and Gad Gaurd were previewed (a bit impressive)

Two pillar of anime conventions have been cosplay (a Japanese abbreviation of costume play), and fan created music video (as close to ignoring legal limitations as most major conventions now get, and even then many are eliminating them).

Cosplay does nothing for me. While I appreciate the artistry and effort, I find the idea of immersing yourself so completely in some else's work a little creepy (says the guy who has spent 6+ years writing about and review anime). There are many aspects that I just don't understand. I consider myself pretty mentally flexible, but the popularity of girls dressing up as gay guys, and in some cases doing it while singing karaoke well hurts when I think too much about it. If anyone was at the convention and understands the badger joke, or why anyone, even ironically would dressed up in the Gundam Wing Hitler Youth outfits, feel free to explain it in the talkback. Even as someone who doesn't embrace cosplay, I was very impressed by the working wings in an Ah! My Goddess Belldandy (for some reason Ah! My Goddess, Tenchi Muyo, Slayers continue to be popularly among cosplayers and music video makers), some very funny mauk Shakespearian speeches from a pair dressed as Saiyuki demons, a pair from semi-obscure Rose of Versailles, and many well done costumes from a host of Final Fantasy flavor. An who would have thought the raciest outfit would some from Soul Hunter, a fantasy series that didn't seem to have made a splash.

Anime Music Videos (AMVs) are fan edits of anime clips to popular music (pretty much as leg nightmare). As much as cosplay doesn't appeal to me, I'm a sucker for AMVs. After a few I might get a title critical, and note that storytelling is frequently poor, they are far too often far too little and lacking in creativity, but I get into them and emotionally involved far too easily. Those shown at Anime Boston features some interesting ideas such as mix of Gainax's FLCL and Evangelion to Stark Effect's "Under Ice" mix of Under Pressure and Vanilla Ice, Noir set to a Castlevania remix, humorous montages set to Weird Al's Your Horoscope Today, and various anime supplied anagrams inspired by YMCA. There was also some breathtaking technical work, culminating in an amazing manipulation of Cowboy Bebop: The Movie.

This Week's Releases

  • All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku TV - Love Attack! (Vol. 2)
  • Angel Links:Collector's Edition *
  • Betterman:Awakening Vol 1 *
  • Betterman:Despairvol 5 *
  • Betterman:Finality Vol 6 *
  • Betterman:Inhumannature Vol 4 *
  • Betterman:Metamorphosis Vol 2 *
  • Betterman:Seeds of Death Vol 3*
  • Beyblade:Majesticmatch Vol 8
  • Brain Powered, Vol. 1 *
  • Brain Powered, Vol. 2 *
  • Brain Powered, Vol. 3 *
  • Carried By the Wind:Tsukikage Ran V 1 *
  • Carried By the Wind:Tsukikage Ran V 2 *
  • Carried by the Wind 3: Big Trouble in Little Nippon *
  • Carried By the Wind:Tsukikage Ran V 4 *
  • Cyber Formula - Boxed Set
  • Final Fantasy - Unlimited (Phase 5)
  • Gundam Movie Box Set *
  • Gunsmith Cats - Bulletproof *
  • Lain Vol 3 *
  • Legend of Crystania - The Motion Picture *
  • Lupin the 3rd:Lupin the Target
  • Master Keaton - Fakers & Friends (Vol. 6)
  • Meltylancer - Alpha (Vol. 1) *
  • Meltylancer - Omega (Vol. 2) *
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0080 Vol 1 *
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0080 Vol 2 *
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 Vol 1 *
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 Vol 2 *
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 Vol 3 *
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 Vol 4 *
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Vol 1 *
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Vol 10 *
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Vol 2 *
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Vol 3 *
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Vol 4 *
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Vol 5 *
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Vol 6 *
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Vol 7 *
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Vol 8 *
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Vol 9 *
  • Mouse Vol 1
  • Orphen 2:Revenge Vol 4
  • Pilot Candidate, Vol. 1: The Academy *
  • Pilot Candidate, Vol. 2: Training *
  • Pilot Candidate, Vol. 3: Working Together *
  • Pilot Candidate, Vol. 4: The Test *
  • Ronin Warriors OVA, Vol. 2: Message *
  • Ronin Warriors Ova:New Adventures V 1 *
  • Ronin Warriors:Arise New Armor Vol 6 *
  • Ronin Warriors:Call Vol 1 *
  • Ronin Warriors:Evil Priestess Vol 7 *
  • Ronin Warriors:Fate of Evil Vol 10 *
  • Ronin Warriors:Hardest Battle Vol 5 *
  • Ronin Warriors:New Ally Vol 8 *
  • Ronin Warriors:Rescue Operations Vol2 *
  • Ronin Warriors:Reunited Vol 3 *
  • Ronin Warriors:Shadow of Doom Vol 4 *
  • Ronin Warriors:Walls Crumble Vol 9 *
  • Saber Marionette J Vol 1 *
  • Saber Marionette J Vol 2 *
  • Saber Marionette J Vol 3 *
  • Saber Marionette J-X Vol 1 *
  • Saber Marionette J-X Vol 2 *
  • Saber Marionette J-X Vol 3 *
  • Saber Marionette J-X Vol 4 *
  • Saber Marionette J-X Vol 5 *
  • Saber Marionette J-X Vol 6 *
  • Sailor Moon S *
  • Shinesman
  • Silent Mobius:Dark Destiny Vol 3 *
  • Silent Mobius:Earth Under Attack V 1 *
  • Silent Mobius:Twists of Fate Vol 2 *
  • Super Gals - A Gal's Heart Never Stops! (Vol. 6)
  • Tenamonya Voyagers *
  • Tenchi in Tokyo *
  • Tokyo Godfathers
  • Trigun Vol. 3 - Wolfwood (Geneon Signature Series) *
  • Yu-Gi-Oh:Season 1
  • Z-Mind

* = repriced re-release

  • Berserk Vol 3 Tp
  • Ceres Celestial Legend Vol 7
  • Comic Party Vol 1 Gn Party Time
  • Hanaukyo Maid Team Vol 2 Gn
  • Heaven Sword & Dragon Sabre Gn
  • Hino Horror Vol 1 Gn The Red Snake
  • Hino Horror Vol 2 Gn The Bug Boy
  • Iron Wok Jan Gn #8
  • My Sassy Girl Gn
  • Ranma 1/2 Tp Vol 9 2Nd Ed
  • Ranma 1/2 Vol 26 Tp
  • Whats Michael Vol 9 The Ideal Cat Tp
  • Red Tokyo Storm Warning Tp (A collected edition of Warren Ellis' anime parody)

Manga Eisner Nominees

Nominees for the prestigous comic 2004 Eisner Award Nominees (for 2003 Publications).

Manga nominees include:
  • Astro Boy by Osamu Tezuka (Dark Horse) for Best Title for a Younger Audience
  • What's Michael vols. 7 and 8, by Makoto Kobayashi (Dark Horse) for Best Humor Publication
  • Buddha, vols. 1 and 2, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical) for Best Archival Collection/Project and Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material
  • Takehiko Inoue, Vagabond (Viz) for Best Writer/Artist
  • Usagi Yojimbo #65: "Usagi and the Tengu," by Stan Sakai (Dark Horse) was nominated for Best Short Story
  • Paul Pope, Giant THB 1.v.2 (Horse Press) for Best Short Story and Best Single Issue.

Paul Pope is an innovative comic artist and writer who has studied in Japan. While his work does not resemble the traditionally thought of manga style, manga may be interesting in his fusion of styles.

The awards will be presented at this summer's San Diego Comic Con.

Newsarama has the complete list of nominees here

Cartoon Network Showings

Cartoon Network will be adjusting their Saturday schedule starting this week with the premiere of Gundam Seed, and a showing of AniMatrix,

This week's schedule is:
  • 7:00 p.m. Duel Masters Wok on the Wild Side
  • 7:30 p.m. Bionicle: Mask of Light
  • 9:00 p.m. Jackie Chan Dark Hand
  • 9:30 p.m. Yuyu Hakusho Overcoming Grief
  • 10:00 p.m. Dragon Ball GT Fall of The Saiyans
  • 10:30 p.m. Gundam Seed
  • 11:00 p.m. Animatrix
  • 1:00 a.m. Cowboy Bebop Bohemian Rhapsody
  • 1:30 a.m. Trigun $60,000,000,000 Man
  • 2:00 a.m. Animatrix
  • 4:00 a.m. Cowboy Bebop Bohemian Rhapsody
  • 4:30 a.m. Trigun $60,000,000,000 Man From Anime News Network Upcoming premieres include
  • Gundam Seed April 17th 10:30 PM
  • Wolf's Rain: April 24th 11:30 PM
  • Case Closed: May 24th 12:00 PM (Early May 25th)

May schedule:

  • 6:00 AM Transformers Armada
  • 7:30 AM Yu-Gi-Oh!
  • 10:30 PM Dragonball GT (Mon - Thurs)
  • 12:00 AM Case Closed (Mon - Thurs) (Starts May 24th)
  • 12:30 AM Inu Yasha (Mon - Thurs)
  • 1:00 AM Cowboy Bebop (Mon - Thurs)
  • 1:30 AM Trigun (Mon - Thurs)
  • 3:00 AM AM Case Closed (Mon - Thurs) (Starts May 24th)
  • 3:30 AM Inu Yasha (Mon - Thurs)
  • 4:00 AM Cowboy Bebop (Mon - Thurs)
  • 4:30 AM Trigun (Mon - Thurs)

  • 7:00 PM Duel Masters
  • 9:30 PM YuYu Hakusho
  • 10:00 PM Dragonball GT
  • 10:30 PM Gundam Seed
  • 11:00 PM Inu Yasha
  • 11:30 PM Wolf's Rain
  • 12:00 AM FLCL
  • 12:30 AM Inu Yasha
  • 1:00 AM Cowboy Bebop
  • 1:30 AM Trigun
  • 2:00 AM Inu Yasha
  • 2:30 AM Wolf's Rain
  • 3:00 AM FLCL
  • 3:30 AM Inu Yasha
  • 4:00 AM Cowboy Bebop
  • 4:30 AM Trigun

  • 3:00 PM Hamtaro

  • Pokemon: The First Movie 7PM May 3, May 4, May 5
  • Dragon Ball Z: The Father of Goku 7:30 PM May 15
  • Pokemon 2000 - The Movie 8PM May 21
  • Dragon Ball Z: History of Trunks 7:30 PM May 22
  • Pokemon 3 - The Movie 8PM May 28

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