Father Geek here, now that Harry and his newly acquired robo-leg are finally entrenched a mile NW of The Geek Headquarters Compound here in central Texas at his (not soooo crowded) Fortress of Solitude I will more than likely be free to return to column posting duties on a regular basis. Meaning that weekly reports such as this one will fall back into a routine of sorts appearing roughly every 7 days or so. Scott put together a huge one for you this week, soooo grab some snacks and liquid refreshment, get comfortable, annnnd prepare to surf the worlds of Manga & Anime...
In honor of the return of the anime column, or by coincidence, I have 50 Google GMail invites to give away. These seem to be dirt common now, but I was very excited to receive mine. First come, first serve, send requests to firstname.lastname@example.org
by Scott Green
Anime Spotlight: Mind Game
Japanese R2 DVD release available through many Asian DVD importers A few years ago Triplets of Bellville grabbed plenty of attention by artistically capturing the freedom and possibilities of animation, rarely seen outside the classics such as Warner Brothers'. The Oscar winner nominee wasn't just applying the audience connotations of the medium, or using the medium to shift the effect style in an over familiar genre as too often happens in animated movies. Studio 4°C's Mind Game is the stunner that animation fans, particularly 2d animation fans have been awaiting for since Triplets. It's a reminder of the joy and impact of animation.
From what looks like what a creative animator might produce from a session of sensory depravation comes a feature that's medium expanding and thought inspiring. Rather than Triplets' beautifully clever Rube Goldberg, Mind Game is something more flexible, and more likely to involve the audience. It's a great life in a bottle work that is turn exhilaratingly absurd and familiar.
In design, it is more work to make something simple than it complex. In story telling, the work comes in making something natural. Mind Game must have been excruciatingly planned in ever detail to have produced something so very freeform in the flows with its own logic.
Studio 4°C has been making surgical attacks on what to expect from anime, in Mind Game they demonstrate new effectiveness in the mix of 2d and 3d animation, both experimenting with and stunningly mastering style and technique with attractive and effective results.
As technology has changed animation, and film making in general, possibility has begun to conflict with creativity. There is something about the working within the limitations that added more humanity to older pictures. In Mind Game, the animators use the cutting edge in a manner that is not just stylistically impressive, always surprising, and always with an attention to a human presence
Based on Robin Nishi's self inspired (not exact autobiographical) manga about what spirals about of an accidental meeting between an artist (Nishi) and the now-engaged girl he cared for growing up, but never had the guts to commit to. The movie takes a turn for the surreal when Nishi is killed by a gunshot from rectum to skull in a mob collection call at the girl's family's eatery. After a meeting with a Duck Amuck style form shifting God, Nishi tears out the chance to re-play the situation, only to find himself, his former girlfriend and her sister running from the mob. Never falling into a clear, predictable pattern, a bump in the chase sends the movie into a strange turn that maintains the avent guard spirit of the feature. Despite throwing off structure, there is enough of the characters' lives the give the movie weight beyond it visual effects.
Manga Spotlight: IWGP: Ikebukuro West Gate Park Story by Ira Ishida Art by Sena Aritou
Released by Digital Manga Publications
Beyond middlegound shoujo and shonen, there are plenty of manga genres and sub-genres that could use more representative exposure. Despite what looks like teen-school romance dress, IWGP: Ikebukuro West Gate Park is more of a late-teen Tarantino-ish mixed of violence and irreverence, and a surprisingly dark and brutal older audience manga with the wouldn't be that out of place with the unrestrained works of Hiroya Oku (Gantz) or Hideo Yamamoto(Ichi the Killer). It was originally serialized in Shonen Champion, an anthology that has had run some classic works, such as Tezuka's Black Jack, but not one that universally carries mature content. Still, with people having their eye-lids slowly removed, or, to borrow from Digital Manga's description, teen prostitutes being getting hooked on drugs after being sodomized with speed (not to mention genital-less nudity), the series certainly goes at it like they mean it.
The titular Ikebukuro West Gate Park is a nexus for late teens-early twenties. Among the gangs, and young women going on paid dates, Makoto is a bit of a social avenger, and sometimes more. He's on good terms menagerie of park regulars from the G Boys gang to some cops, but his stomping grounds also servers as a magnet for more unpredictable, dangerous elements. When the park's populations if increased by a serial rapist/straggler begins attacking prostitutes and a pierced tank with a reputation for killer Dobermans single handed returns from juvenile detention, Matoko finds himself personally involved with the area's dangers.
IWGP is excellent urban pot-boiler, that compares very favorably to manga series with similar intentions, such as Tokyo Tribes. It is quick to establish a palpable emotional intensity. Smiles and light heartedness are balanced with the intention, and execution, to kill or maim if necessary. There's a sense that the character aren't just exchanging dummy hits which everyone can easily walk away from. The first volume ends with two characters facing off against each other, one wielding a knife, the other a sledgehammer. While being glib, the illustration conveys that these two aren't going into the encounter lightly, that the possibility of substantial physical harm is real.
IWGP isn't quite a guilty pleasure and the characters don't seem cardboard during the stories, but it doesn't great a critical eye too kindly. After the fact there is a lingering echo that the series isn't exactly exploding any mental health or society stock caricatures. The style is novel factor rather than the characters or circumstances.
Anime Spotlight: Full Metal Alchemist Volume 1: The Curse
Released by FUNimation
Two marks for Full Metal Alchemist make are a serious contender for the Next Big Thing. It's sure to capture the imagination of plenty of anime fans. Expect the ranks of cosplayers at the anime conventions of the next few years to boast a large rank of Full Metal Alchemist uniforms.
First, it is a great action serial that knows how to keep a story interesting and inventive, what to keep known, what to keep mysterious, and how to populate of world with multiple of contingents of armies and networks of agents for the heroes to work within and against. It has the uniforms, conspiracies, depth of mythology and characters who are appealing in appealing in look, personality and ability to seize and hold attention. The look and feel of Full Metal Alchemist's world are immediately engaging visually and mentally. Layer on plenty of interesting characters, and you get a sure winner.
Second, and maybe in what give it its real distinction is that it is shonen with conviction. It's neither the typical shonen "I'll be the best" or fantasy quest story. Regardless of how well these text book series construct their characters and situations, they're still tournament fights against opponents of escalating ability. Consequently, even well regarded series like Ruruoni Kenshin, One Piece or Naruto may remain engaging, thanks to how the characters are maintained, they become predictable because of the dictates of the formula, an lose the ability to cause suspension of disbelief due to need to continually up the ante. It takes the energy, action characters of shonen without the simple victory through moral value, determination, and believing in your friends, and joins it a more complex, and not always sympathetic view of life.
In Full Metal Alchemist, alchemy is a science that follows the law of equivalent exchange. Matter can be transmuted into a new form with proper know how. A broken radio can become a fixed radio, a mound of sand can become a wall or a weapon. When the goal is more sophisticated, the equation becomes more complex, and for the alchemist, uncertain. For the characters of Full Metal Alchemist, the law is always waiting with its jaws open, ready to bite them, not only in alchemy, but life in general. More than the typical shonen unarguable themes of friendship, the value of life, dedication or the like, Full Metal Alchemist is a harsher, morally complex lesson in the cost of getting what you want.
Full Metal Alchemist accomplishes the frequently attempted, and often failed effort to attach decisions to consequence, not even forgiving of its protagonists. Uniformly, at some time the heroes of the Full Metal Alchemist do what to a detachment observer could clearly be labeled the wrong thing. Aspects of the quest include why people get involved in harmful movements, what is sacrificed for advancement, as well as the limitations and frustrations of the search for a goal.
The series establishes its own steam in progression without resorting to conventional methods, eschewing the typical stepping stones such as skipping the opportunity to increase the characters' powers. Down to an economy with characters, where little is thrown away, and with an absence of "it's a small world" coincidences story telling is impressive.
At ages 10 and 9 Ed and Al Elric lost an arm and a leg, and a body respectively attempting to resurrect their deceased mother. In the wake of the accident, Ed is able to bind Al's body to a hulking suit of armor, and thanks to a close, mechanic neighbor outfit himself with prosthetic automail limbs.
Determined to restore their bodies, Ed and Al burn their house and enter the world to find an alchemy solution. Setting aside his reservations about becoming a "dog of the military", Ed enlists in the army of State Alchemists, earning the code-name Full Metal Alchemist, and a reputation that outstrips his youth
note: there are a number of "Full Metal" anime and manga series around. In this case it is a translation of "hagane", a word more often, and less title-impactfully translated as "steel".
The volumes first volumes of the series features long one-off story, early origin and a short one-off. Generally the series' stories are tied to a more direct progression than these early blocks. The first story starts building on the number of agendas Ed and Al work within, and the inertia set against any changes they may try to make. Ed and Al hit a small country run by a corrupt priest who sways its people with alchemy, and the object of Ed and Al's search, the philosopher's stone.
Resource Spotlight: Japanese The Manga Way: An Illustrated Guide to Grammar and Structure by Wayne P. Lammers
Released by Stone Bridge Press
Knowing Japanese is certainly invaluable for an anime and manga fans, but knowing a little beyond the emphasized words tend anime fans pick up on still pays dividends. It doesn't take much knowledge to pick up different nuances than a translator may choose to emphasize, and add more of your own interpretation to anime viewing.
Though, barring linguistic savants, you're not going to pick up Japanese from Japanese The Manga Way alone, meant to be used in conjunction with a program, the book is an excellent tool for learning, and more importantly remembering key rules of grammar in Japanese.
The book uses recognizable manga, including Crayon Shinchan and What's Michael among other works, to demonstrate key exchanges of language use. Accompanied by the text of the manga panels line by line in kanji (Japanese character) romanji (English letter phonetic spelling), word by word translation, and meaning, the manga serves as excellent mnemonic by establishing context, conversation flow and use. An ancillary benefit is that these examples of manga that are good in their own merits, and liven up the flow of exposition.
For manga readers of translated manga, the book will also help a reader to pick up on the meanings of often user, and increasingly seldom translated, sound effect illustrations.
Japanese The Manga Way isn't just a how to book with a good gimmick. Wayne P. Lammers has formally taught in addition to translating Japanese, but his didactic text is free of linguistic study baggage. From its preface on text and pronunciation through the steps of grammar and use, Lammers builds the rules and use of the language in a clear, easily followed manner.
Regardless of whether you plan on making a serious attempt to learn the Japanese Language, Japanese the Manga Way is sure to the an asset for any anime viewer.
Manga Spotlight: Phoenix: Resurrection By Osamu Tezuka
Released by Viz
Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix cycle has been building an examination of humanity through a series of reincarnation linked stories, alternating between moving forward and backward through human history. The future segments have reach a point where the science is more concrete and at issue than its alien or cataclysmic predecessors, look at the point where humans begins reinventing the natural order of like through robotics and prosthetics.
Resurrection looks like part of the pre/early space flight mind expansion zeitgeist of Kirby's comics or Kubrick's 2001 and reads like a Hitchcock chase/mystery with Philip K Dick sci-fi perception paranoia and Tezuka humanism.
It begins with that's almost Tezuka's equivalent of a man with a gun walking through the door, a young man in an auto accident. Is this case, Leona makes a certain to be fatal fall from his flying car, only to be brought back in an experimental replacement body. Psychologically Leona remains the same, but he undergoes a metamorphosis in perception. He wakes to see living humans as artificial constructs. First as piled cairns, then as chipped flint, eventually into rough statues and into more immediately recognizable forms.
Tezuka followers will note that while he has maintained his cartoonish still, and still wields with as an emotionally devastating weapons, his gags have faded out. Strange visual jokes are rarer and never inappropriate. He no longer breaks tense moments with inserted humor or background spots.
The convolutions of the story, for the most part, aren't quite as gripping as another entries in the Phoenix cycle. The since of a life's progression is more focused on a late teen/early adult point, it losses the melancholy of a full life's decision. But to see Tezuka's interpretation of this brand of chase/discovery story is spectacular. The Tezuka-meets Kirby-space look of Leon's resurrection and vision, and the natural desolation of the mountains that Leon journey are moment mental evidence to the span, impact and possibilities of comic illustration.
Anime Spotlight: Gundam SEED Volumes 4-7
Released by Bandai
In the Gundam tradition SEED sets up a teen genius as the pilot of pivotal robot in a war between Earth, and its orbital colonies. SEED's addition is a racial divide between the Earth born Natural and the genetically modified coordinators.
Gundam SEED is Gundam at is most addictive. Especially after watching a large block, the greatest disappointment is seeing that the next release is over a month away. The animation, sci-fi and characters are all good, but it's the pacing and the forward momentum that drives the series. While politics are present, SEED is less conflicted about balancing an entertaining series with a political message than the Yoshiyuki Tomino original. A viewer couldn't ask for more in a pop sci-fi war serial. It's exciting, engaging and attention riveting, but everything is service to plot, and to an aesthetic. The series' architects has learned the appeal of big action, bright visuals, and flamboyant characters, and crowded some of the franchise's not always successful social intentions.
Over previous Gundams, SEED has a more viewer friendly logic, fitting the ideas into what works best for a animated series. The flow and objects of the war, along with the Gundam-tech aren't the esoteric knowledge that requiring additional source material that other franchise entries have used as a crutch. With its characters, the hero is allowed to be conflicted about his role, and even weepy without dragging down the series. Together these make the series easy to follow, with few encumbrances.
Comparisons can be made to the original Gundam, which SEED in some ways updates. The hero's look more like teens than children, and many of the support cast are given more attractive presences. It's Gundam having learned the appeal of Wing. The best example is SEED's replacement for the original's Ramba Ral, the sympathetic genius general of the opposing army (Gundam's answer to Rommel). In place of an old, large veteran, SEED's Andrew Waltfeld is a more Harrison Ford-ish rogue, with a common law wife/companion whose similarly fashionably updated.
Unlike many longer anime series, there very little lag in SEED's pacing. Apart from occasional re-cap episodes or summary blocks, there is no waiting for something exciting to happen. While threads develop, there the progression doesn't forced delays waiting for payoffs. Characters don't suffer from inaction, and the breath of material provides between of areas to swap attention. The cast is large enough, and there are enough facets to the story that it an always be hitting something of significance and it consistently delivers on the promise of high emotions and big battles giant invasions, fleet battles and dog fights on, interweaved with secret family histories, Shakespearian vendettas, and chilling confrontations.
The series isn't changing direction quickly or consistently revealing many new points, and doesn't move with distracting rapidity, but because the episodes carry right into the end theme, moves cliff hanger to cliff hanger, there's rushing sense of forward momentum that ensures no scenario stagnates.
Not just fast and moving, the direction is well managed, highlighting the positive, minimize the faults. The impression isn't that the new hero-giant robot is far too complex and colorful, shooting 6 beams in five color, or that the mystery girl is a fairly textbook runaway princess, but that the robot makes an incredible and entrance and that the princess is rather competent and likeable.
What does leave a negative impression is that the hand of a scripter is too visible. Despite believable character motivations, the staging feels like the work of plot dictates rather than natural evolutions of the character's actions or reactions. The most obvious example is the hero's first combat robot, that had power limitations which forced it too loose power at plot opportune times (an end of the episode, when the hero shouldn't be pursuing his enemies, or when he needs to be overpowers). Equally, it's too clear at specific points, the decision was made to bounce the conflict to the next level, and escalate the brutality. Often a character reaction or death comes across more as charted points to move along the path than part of a natural continuum. Deaths in particular are problematic, and especially in how telegraphed they are. Moments are often shockingly brutal, but, between the opening animation, and the leads up, its has been obvious when someone will die
If SEED is aspiring to be something more than a very engaging serial, it isn't accomplishing the goal. Social relevance is present, it is looking at genocidal racial hatred, but in service to the plot. Maybe for the original Gundam in its original context it was subversive to have the heroes working for under morally bankrupt leaders, but for SEED its too familiar. The heroes are never weighed down by agendas of those above them. They resent their role in the war, but aren't really weighed down by who they've become. There are deeper character conflicts, and characters who actually level some emotional momentum, but consequent to the pacing character arcs fade in and out as needed.
The hero, Kira Yamato is bland enough to cast little shadow over the series, but not bland enough for it to be a problem. His motivations to protect his friends, then end the war are generally unimpeachable. The proper course of his actions is always unambiguous.
The series does represent some thought out political and moral discord. The antagonist government hierarchy displays at least some political complexity weighing options, other characters have more interesting arcs.
The most impressive cast of a solid cast member for Gundam series is Flay Allster, the senator's daughter whose loses during the war turned her into a schemer, and sexual manipulator before being manipulated into role of genocidal poster girl.
Kira's childhood friend/antagonist enemy ace Athrun Zala is probably the series most compelling (sharing the Char slot with this series masked, skill pilot with his own agenda) . Fallible and more conflicted, but given to independent though, and works hardest to obtain his abilities and answer Athrun's action do invite thought from the viewer.
Anime Spotlight Get Backers Volumes 2-4
Released by ADV Films
What Get Backers does well isn't what it's premise, on paper, suggests it should do well. The story of a pair of homeless, penniless teenagers who use their unusual abilities to start their own business retrieving items that have been lost or stolen doesn't have the social foundation that might be expected. Poverty is more a running gag that the characters can't pay their diner bill. Instead, the series does an exceptional job of updating the idea of a teen superhero: distinct look rather than costumes, extended length, stories that aren't stretched or sprawling, characters with problems, but not ones that bog them down, attitude and a spirit of independence that both fits and rebels against modern culture. It does right that many main stream, American super hero comics and their adaptations do wrong.
The Get Backers retrieval service is run by Ban Midou, a cold thinker with darting hair and Natural Born Killer glasses who fights with Snake Bite martial arts, and illusion invoking Jagen Eye, and Ginji Amano, a more cheerful and open hearted blonde, who once held together the gangs of the Limitless Fortress slums with the help of the ability to generate substantial electricity through his body. (Get Backers is firmly an action anime, but one that flirts with shoujo audience appeal, including a romantic heart, and what to anime/manga fans is the familiar yaoi game: suggesting homosexual romance between Ban and Ginji, without ever going anywhere). After the first volume, the series build out a support cast the Get Backer's chesty negotiator, a girl from Ban's past with her own exceptions abilities, members of Ginji's former gang who are now operating on their own and reoccurring third parties. The result is the creation of plenty of material to work with an underground economy of retrieval services, transportation services, elimination services and the like.
Leading up to a grand guignol, everybody's in, return to Ban' Limitless Fortress are a number of linked small arcs. Get Backers is rarely great, but consistently good. It has the formula and characters to remain consistently entertaining. Not memorable, but fondly remembered. With the format, the characters and situations are good enough. The big stories aren't new Kenshin Kyoto story arcs, but the small ones don't feel like extended filler material. The key is that is it moves quickly, and doesn't over labor points. The character are as baggage laden as you'd expect for a long action series, but they state their case, exchanges blows and move to the next scheme quick enough to remain engaging.
The series features plenty of unattractive qualities: moralizing speeches, over obvious twists, Scooby-Doo reveals, and card board villains character and plenty of weaknesses, especially in the actions, where can't carry a good blow-by-blow fight, many of the visuals aren't as spectacular as their role indicate they should be, but it moves along at a chip not to linger on the negatives.
If there is one thing that the pacing, and characters don't make up for, it's stringing along the user in character potential. The series goes to "I haven't shown you my best" well far too often. Rather than force the characters and creators to be more imaginative, the catch is always to withhold something, and state that it is being withheld.
Through good design, or good luck, the stories are well spread between volumes, unlike some release (ie Full Metal Panic), stories with are generally 2 to 4 episodic aren't being cut off at bad breaking points.
ShoPro to be Naruto's Master Licensor... Show to Air on Cartoon Network
TV TOKYO Corporation And Shueisha Inc. have appointed ShoPro Entertainment, which recently announced it's upcoming merger with VIZ, LLC to represent TV, home bideo and merchandising Rights In North America and Latin America for much anticipated ninja hit, Naruto.
ShoPro Entertainment, the San Francisco based affiliate of ShoPro Japan, plans to introduce a dynamic roll-out strategy that will leverage the strong manga and entertainment brand into a broad licensing and marketing program. Naruto's television broadcast partner and key licensing partners will be determined shortly.
The manga version of Naruto has been running in Viz's Shonen Jump anthology.
"We are ecstatic about Naruto! It is a great privilege to be bringing such an outstanding property to the Americas," said John Easum, Senior Vice President of ShoPro Entertainment. "Naruto became an explosive hit in Japan after it was first launched in Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in 1999 and it continues to be an enormous success. Naruto has also established a very large American fan base through the US manga series published by VIZ. We anticipate a huge success."
The story of Naruto takes place in another world where ninjas are the ultimate power. In the village of Konohagakure live some of the stealthiest and most respected ninjas in the land. But 12 years prior, Konohagakure faced a fearsome threat - a nine-tailed fox demon, which terrorized the village and caused massive destruction before it was finally defeated. The Hokage, the village leader and most powerful ninja, was able to subdue the fox by sealing its soul inside the body of an orphaned baby boy. Now that boy, Uzumaki Naruto, has grown up to become a ninja-in-training, learning the art of ninjutsu with his classmates Sakura and Sasuke. The trio of student ninjas study under the instruction of their teacher, Kakashi. With Kakashi, the group faces a series of dangerous and daunting tests and challenges. Through their adventures, the young ninjas learn the importance of friendship, teamwork, loyalty, hard work, creativity, ingenuity, and right vs. wrong.
The key characters are Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura. Naruto, shunned by the village because he bears the taint of the fox demon imprisoned within him, is a rascally orphan who has grown into an attention-seeking troublemaker. Although his preoccupation with playful pranks leaves him struggling to graduate from Ninja Academy, he's determined to become the next Hokage. Sasuke, the top student in Naruto's class, comes from the prestigious Uchiha clan. Sasuke is driven by a secret desire to win revenge against a mysterious person who wronged him in the past. And the smart and studious Sakura is the brightest of Naruto's classmates, but she is constantly distracted by her crush on Sasuke. She hopes to some day win Sasuke's heart…if Naruto doesn't get in the way.
Despite ShoPro's relationship with Viz, the announcement is not a definitive pronouncement of who will be distributing the highly anticipated anime series in North America, but, it is an indication that the answer is actively being resolved.
However, according to Anime News Network Cartoon Network announced at their Upfront press conference today that Naruto and One Piece will be airing on the network this year. One Piece starts in May, with Naruto following in the third quarter.
Innocence Subtitle Problem Addressed
Dreamworks has announced a replacement program for the DVD release of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, which used a text for the hearing impaired rather than the intended subtitle track. The program can be seen here
Anime on TV
Cartoon Network has announced their 2005 aquisitions, which includes anime titles IGPX (The Immortal Grand Prix), Dragonball GT, Duel Masters, D.I.C.E (DNA Integrated Cybernetic Enterprises), Zatch Bell, One Piece, Naruto, and Bobobo-bo Bo-Bobo, as well as non-anime titles of note Teen Titans (17 new episodes), Justice League Unlimited (23 new episodes), Totally Spies(26 new episodes), Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, Star Wars: Clone Wars, Krypto the Superdog amd Code LYOKO.
atch Bell: The new series takes viewers to the world of good and evil demons as Zatch Bell seeks to become the benevolent king over all of the demons that have come to Earth to conduct the ultimate battle. Reluctant as he may be to fight against the evil demons, Zatch battles his adversaries with the help of his human friend, Kory. The power of the duo grows stronger as their relationship develops. Cartoon Network has acquired 52 episodes of Zatch Bell, which will debut in March.
One Piece: A boy, whose body has the properties of rubber, and his friends are on the search for the treasure left behind by a pirate king called "One Piece." Whoever finds this treasure will become King of the Pirates. One Piece will begin in May.
Naruto: Twelve years ago, a nasty demon decimated a village but was contained in a baby who is now a student at a ninja academy. But this antisocial boy does not know that he is possessed. As he evolves as a ninja, his inner demon gives him more and more powers. To become a master ninja, he must learn to control his powers without destroying those around him. The series is scheduled to air in third quarter.
Bobobo-bo Bo-Bobo: In this silly action series, BoBoBo can talk to and understand hair. With the help of his blond hair, he is out to save the land from the Hair Patrol posse and their leader, Baldy Bald, who is forcing everyone to be bald. The action series is scheduled to air in fourth quarter.
IGPX: IGPX (The Immortal Grand Prix) is set to debut in November and takes viewers inside the world of the "Immortal Grand Prix" with a team on their way to the championship race. For the new series, Cartoon Network partnered with Production I.G., the famed Japanese animation studio responsible for Ghost in the Shell and animation sequences in Kill Bill. The year is 2048 and the "IGPX" has become the world's most-popular sport. It's so big that an entire city was built for the racing industry and competitions are held on a huge, 60-mile track called "The Big Eye." Two teams of three robots, each with a human pilot, race at speeds greater than 350 mph for the checkered flag. Team Satomi, a crew of amateur pilots, has just won a minor-league championship and now find themselves vaulted into the sport's highest level- the IG-1. Now, the untested rookies of Team Satomi must overcome impossible odds and beat the world's most skilled pilots (and ruthless opponents) in the planet's biggest event, the "Immortal Grand Prix."
D.I.C.E: D.I.C.E (DNA Integrated Cybernetic Enterprises) is a large organization established to deal with emergencies occurring throughout the Sarbylion galaxy. D.I.C.E F-99 is the only unit comprised entirely of highly trained kids. When a problem arises in the Sarbylion galaxy, D.I.C.E is called to the rescue. And when their special training isn't enough, they rely on their Dinobreakers to help get the job done. Twenty-six episodes will air in 2005.
Dragonball GT: Goku, Trunks and Pan set out on their quest to recover the bizarre Black Star dragon balls, which were scattered across the entire galaxy after Goku was transformed into his boyhood state. If Goku cannot succeed in collecting the dragon balls, the planet on which the wish was made will explode. Goku has only one year to save the Earth. The quest continues with 16 new episodes in 2005.
Duel Masters: The animÃ© series about Shobu, a master of an engrossing playing card game who can bring the cards' creatures to life, will return in March with 26 new episodes.
According to Anime News Network G4' upcoming lineup includes:
February 23rd will see the premiere of Magical Shopping Arcade Abenoshi.
New episodes of Gad Guard will premiere on March 7th.
New episodes of R.O.D -The TV- will premiere on April 4th.
New episodes of Gungrave will premiere on May 2nd.
The first 12 episodes of Gad Guard, R.O.D -The TV- and Gungrave will each air during the week prior to the premieres of the new episodes.
Anime News Network the first episode of Mew Mew Power, The Main Mew's Muse, will air on 4Kids TV this saturday at 8am.
4Kids' adaptation of Tokyo Mew Mew is current scheduled to air Saturdays on Fox starting in the fall.
Cartoon Network has moved Rave Master to weekdays, Monday through Thursday at 10:30PM. New episodes air on Saturday nights at 6:30 PM
Canada's Teletoon will air AniMAtrix March 14th and 18th. YTB will be airing .hack//SIGN and Inuyasha: Affections Touching Across Time .
Viz's New Shojo Anthology
Viz has announced a new shojo anthology, to complement Shonen Jump, and replace Animerica Extra. The monthly Shojo Beat will start with the July 2005 issue, in stores in June with the cover price of $5.99.VIZ will offer a special six-month introductory annual subscription special of $29.95 to coincide with the debut. There will be a special preview issue available at specialty retailers beginning in May and also distributed at summer anime, manga and comic conventions.
The first six serials will be:
KAZE HIKARU by Taeko Watanabe
Kaze Hikaru is a story set in nineteenth-century Japan that's packed with action, drama, comedy, historical fiction, and—of course—a little romance. Kamiya Seizaburou is a young girl determined to avenge her murdered father and brother. To do so, she disguises herself as a man and joins the Shinsengumi, a group of swordsmen who her brother greatly admired and who supported the shogun government during the turbulent Bakumatsu Revolution. Amidst learning how to fight and fighting to keep her identity safe, she falls for Okita SÃ´ji (an actual historic figure), one of the most charismatic members of the Shinsengumi. Kaze Hikaru has been called the shÃ´jo equivalent to the immensely popular title RUROUNI KENSHIN—the setting, some aspects of the storyline, and even some of the historical personages are the same.
ABSOLUTE BOYFRIEND by Yuu Watase
Absolute Boyfriend shows us what happens when iRobot gets Orlando Bloom's good looks.
Riiko Izawa's idea of the perfect boyfriend is someone cute, stylish, smart, and nice. He's a great cook and all-around athlete. And he always wins a fistfight. Too bad Riiko has zero luck with boys. She's a gawky high school student and has never even been kissed, let alone been anyone's girlfriend! Her plots to attract the opposite sex never work—and the aloof boy next door, Soshi, is constantly teasing her about her lousy love life.
But when Riiko ends up helping out a mysterious salesman, he agrees to grant her wish for a boyfriend (for a three-day trial, anyway) in return! As it turns out, the gorgeous guy pictured on the sales website is part of a Nightly Lover series—an artificial being programmed to love his owner completely and absolutely. One kiss from Riiko is all he needs to come alive…
CRIMSON HERO by Mitsuba Takanashi
Crimson Hero takes volleyball and bends it like Beckham in a story that pits family obligation against the love of the game. All that matters to 15-year-old Nobara Sumiyoshi is volleyball; she's an awesome player with big-time ambitions. Nobara doesn't care that she's not feminine and pretty like her younger sister, Souka, but unfortunately her family does. As the eldest daughter, she's expected to work at her family's ryotei, an old-fashioned Japanese restaurant where she'll have to dress in traditional clothes and makeup and accommodate the patrons' every whim. No thanks!
Nobara knows exactly what she wants—now she has to figure out how to get it. She enters Crimson Field High School, known for its top-notch volleyball team, but her mother is willing to stoop to dirty tricks to keep Nobara off the court. With assistance from her feisty Aunt Momoko, who's got some helpful connections at Crimson Field, Nobara decides to start playing offense.
NANA by Ai Yazawa
Nana takes us to Tokyo to follow the tumultuous lives of two young women who have very different dreams. Nana Komatsu has endured an unending string of boyfriend troubles. Moving to Tokyo, she's hoping to take control of her life and put those messy misadventures behind her. She's looking for love, and she's hoping to find it in the big city.
Enter Nana Osaki. Confident and focused, she kicks down the doors to Tokyo's underground punk scene. Beautiful, charismatic, and tough as nails, this Nana wants to be a rock star, and she's not going to let anything get in her way.
The two Nanas soon meet, and their new lives step into high gear: love blooms, tempers flare, and egos clash. The world of Nana is a thundering ball of excitement sparked by sex, music, fashion, gossip, and all-night parties.
GODCHILD by Kaori Yuki
Deep in the heart of nineteenth-century London, a young man named Cain emerges from the shadowy cobblestone streets. Forced to become an Earl upon the untimely death of his father, Cain assumes the role of head of the Hargreves, an aristocratic family with a dark past that seems to unfold one scandalous revelation at a time.
Lost, lonely and disenchanted with his fate, Cain develops an obsession with lethal poisons and an uncanny ability to solve the mysterious murders that seem to follow him wherever he goes.
With the aid of Riff, his faithful manservant who has a background in medicine, and Oscar, his long-time friend, Cain wades through his tormented life and struggles to find the truth behind his father's mysterious death and alleged involvement with a sinister secret society.
BABY & ME by Marimo Ragawa
Baby & Me is a moving story about a boy who is forced to grow up quickly and who, through sacrifice, shows us the true meaning of love. Takuya Enoki isn't your average 11-year-old Japanese elementary student. The tragic death of his mother puts him in the difficult position of taking care of his 2-year-old brother while their father works long hours. Takuya must devote all of his free time to becoming his brother's guardian.
Cooking, cleaning, sewing, and scolding become an integral part of the young boy's life—responsibilities usually reserved for adults. Baby & Me follows Takuya and his brother through their unique new life together, filled with trials and tribulations, humor, and adventure.
The premiere issue of SHOJO BEAT will launch several serials that include CRIMSON HERO and NANA (from Shueisha), KAZE HIKARU and ABSOLUTE BOYFRIEND (from Shogakukan), and GODCHILD and BABY AND ME (from Hakusensha). To further complement the new magazine's launch, VIZ will also simultaneously debut a SHOJO BEAT graphic novel line, which will offer an ongoing library of new shÃ´jo titles from all three publishers at $8.99.
Relating to the awarding of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement to Hayao Miyazaki, it is being stated that Miyazaki has once again delayed his returning, planning on three more films.
Studio Ghibli will be going indipending from Tokuma Shoten in March, forming a new corperation with Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki and Isao Takahata as board members.
Nausicaa.net reports that the reason that Disney replaced Hayao Miyazaki classic My Neighbor Totoro with the recent, and not as highly regarded The Cat Returns, in the second wave of Ghibli DVDs, was technical problems with the DVD transfer. Totoro has been dlayed until the problems can be resolved.
Bandai to Co-Produce Eureka Seven
Bandai Entertainment has announced that it will be working with serveral companies to oridyced the new anime series 'Eureka Seven' set to air every Sunday at 7:00 AM on Japan's MBS/TBS national network beginning April 17th. A total of 11 partners are involved in the 'Eureka Seven' project with the television series being the core, there will also be various product development, and other media related expansions set to fire-up this new project.
Created and animated by internationally acclaimed animation studio, BONES, Inc. (Cowboy Bebop the Movie, Scrapped Princess, Full Metal Alchemist) – 'Eureka Seven', the production boasts an extremely exciting line-up of creative talent including the young talented director - Tomoki Kyoda (Rahxephon), veteran mechanical designer - Shoji Kawamori (Macross, Macross Plus), and veteran character designer - Kenichi Yoshida (Cowboy Bebop the Movie). 'Bandai Entertainment is extremely excited to be part of such an epic production and along with all of our 'Eureka Seven' partners, can't wait for its distribution domestically in Japan and later on for the International market", says Ken Iyadomi, Executive Vice President of Bandai Entertainment, Inc.
The story of 'Eureka Seven' centers on Renton, a young man who occasionally helps out his father as a mechanic. But Renton's feelings of dissatisfaction and frustration grows as his mundane and routine work clouds his visions for his future and begins to dream about flying around the world. It isn't until one day, a large human-like mech falls from the sky in front of young Renton and appearing from the depths of the machine is a beautiful young girl named Eureka. And as she asks the dumbfounded Renton for repairs, the two will embark upon a fantastic journey into the unknown.
Along with the animated series for 'Eureka Seven', the video game will depart in their respective project with new characters and storyline paralleling the television series. Bandai will also be developing merchandise such as plastic models, action figures, playing cards, apparel, and snacks. As part of the "Eureka Seven" project, Kadokawa Shoten Inc. will release a comic series based on the TV animation in the "Gekkan Shonen Ace" with Sony Music Group partnering to create music for the animation and video game portion. Sony Music Entertainment Inc. is expected to release a CD of the theme songs, and Aniplex Inc. will release a CD of the animation music.
Gundam Music News
Anime News Network reports that the second end theme to Gundam SEED sequel, Gundam SEED Destiny had topped Japan's daily singles charts. Mika Arisaka's "Life Goes On" is the second gundam theme to top Japan's singles chart after T.M. Revolution's "Ignited," Gundam SEED Destiny's first openning theme.
While "Life Goes On" only held fourth over its release week, "Ignited" held its #1 position over a week.
Fifteen year old singer Hitomi Takahashi has been selected for the third opening song of Gundam SEED Destiny.
New Viz Manga Titles
Viz has solicited the premier volumes of the the manga versions of Baron: The Cat Returns,Full Metal Alchmestic and Kekkaishi on May 3rd.
Yu-Gi-Oh Uncut Release Information
4Kids Home Entertainment in association with FUNimation will be releasing the third volume of the uncut edition of Yu-Gi-Oh on February 22nd.
Never before available in the U.S. and Canada, the discs will contain the original, unedited Japanese animation and Japanese dialogue with English subtitles, as well as optional English language tracks.
The collector's uncut editions restore many features of the original Japanese versions, changed due to the necessities of American broadcast standards. Also restored is footage cut in order to meet on-air time requirements for commercials. The releases will also feature newly recorded English language tracks with the entire original cast, as well as the original Japanese tracks and English subtitles.
Anime News Network reports manga creator Ken Akamatsu (Love Hina) has announced the DVD release of the anime adaptation of his wizard school relationship comedy has been delayed until may for animation improvements. Changes range from a dozuen cuts amended in the first volumes to complete re-naimated of the second with new storyboards from director Nagisa Miyazaki. The openning will also be re-animated.
Starting with episode #10, the Fafner team from Xebec will join the project to work on the animation.
Re-animation of televised anime series for their DVD release has become more common in anime.
Borders Tests Imported Manga
Anime News Network has learned that some Borders and Walden Books outlets are testing marketing untranslated, imported manga, including Ichigo 100%, Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru - Secret Sweethearts, Death Note, and Spiral.
The imports, which are generally available online for under $10, are being sold at Borders for $12.99.
Embattled manga translators/distributors Studio Ironcat has announced that that the company will be closing. Remaining stock will be sold off, and existing orders will be filled.
New Street Fighter Confirmed
Manga Entertainment has solicited the release of Street Fighter Alpha
2 for June 28th.
ADV Cancels HD Release
TOKYOPOP's New Spring-Summer series
TOKYOPOP will begin a full length series of Rising Start of Manga talent competition winner Van Von Huner from Mike Schwark and Ron Kaulfersch of PseudomÃ© Studio in May 2005.
The manga, and Korean manwha series that TOKYOPOP will start in June and July include:
Los Angeles, CA (February 10, 2005) The country's number one graphic novel publisher turns up the heat on summer reading when it unveils a half-dozen must-read new manga! From Goth fantasies and musical escapades to time-travel epics and out-of-this-world adventures, TOKYOPOP's manga du jour will only be offered to readers one way this summer: extremely well done! Read on if you have a burning desire for more details.
Arcana (Fantasy, Volume 1 Release: June 2005)
So-Young Lee, creator of TOKYOPOP's best-selling Gothic vampire drama Model, crafts a classic shojo fantasy about Inez, a young girl who possesses the unique ability to communicate with animals. When Inez travels to her country's capital, she learns that she must protect her people from an evil demon race!
BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad (Comedy/Drama, Volume 1 Release: July 2005)
A huge hit in Japan, this highly addictive manga series spawned a popular anime. Yukio is a shy, introverted teen. His life forever changes when he meets Ryusuke, a wild and unpredictable 16-year-old. When these musical youths form a band named Beck, they begin one unforgettable rock'n'roller-coaster ride.
Blazin' Barrels (Action/Comedy, Volume 1 Release: June 2005)
Breathtaking adventure and humor abound in Min-Suh Park's futuristic Wild West tale starring Sting, a bumbling yet loveable bounty hunter. When he comes across a reward notice for the criminal outfit named Gold Romany, Sting decides that capturing the all-girl gang is his ticket to fame and fortune!
Chrono Code (Action, Volume 1 Release: July 2005)
In the vein of The Butterfly Effect and The Jacket comes a thrilling, nail-biting series from the creative minds of Eui-Cheol Shin and Il-Ho Choi. A mysterious girl with amnesia holds the key to changing the fate of all humanity, as she and her friends cross over time and space to meet their destiny.
Heat Guy J (Action/Sci-Fi, Volume 1 Release: July 2005)
Based on the hit sci-fi anime featured on MTV in 2004, a peacekeeper named Daisuke and his android partner Heat Guy J team up to make sure that anything illegal stays off the streets. But this most unusual odd couple irks the local mob boss, who wants Heat Guy J to sleep with the fishes.
Tokyo Mew Mew a la Mode (Action/Sci-Fi, Volume 1 Release: June 2005)
The cats are back! In this highly anticipated sequel to TOKYOPOP's mega-hit Tokyo Mew Mew series-the basis for the popular anime-Berry becomes the first Mew Mew with two sets of animal genes in her blood. Half cat, half rabbit, Berry joins the Mew Mew team just in time: A new danger threatens to destroy the planet!
Adaptations Labeled Japan's Worst
Anime News Network reports that the live action adpation of anime/manga series Devilman and Cassehern have been given the the Kiichigo (raspberry) Awards, a Japanese version of the Razzi Awards for the Worst Japanese Movies of 2004 by a panel of 20 movie reports and film critics.
New and Upcoming Japanese Releases
Most from AnimeNation
The anime adapation of the Victorian Romance Emma (Eikoku Koi Monogatari Emma) manga likewise has an updated site at www.emma-victorian.com (no relation to Jane Austin's Emma)
Shonen Sunday Magazine has announced Fukuchi Tsubasa's ecologically minded comedy manga series Ueki no Housoku will be adapted into an anime series to air this spring.
Japan's Kids Station will broadcast the first two episodes of Stratos 4 Advance: Code 201 Wave Off on March 5th and March 27th respectively.
A trailer for the series can be seen at The official site for the anime adaptation of Tsukasa Hojo's Angel Heart, the follow-up to urban action City Hunter can be seen here. The show is schedule to air starting in April.
Shochiku's 2005 movie schedule includes Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: Heir to the Stars, the Fullmetal Alchemist movie, CLAMP's XXXHolic movie, Prince of Tennis: The First Game and live action Tetsujin 28-go live-action adaptation in 2005.A trailer of the Full Metal Alchemest movie can be seen here
Sketches of Xenosaga: The Animation are online here
Studio Fantasia (Aika, Najica) will be working on a new five episode OAV called Kirameki Project
According to Patrcik Macias' Studio4°C is working on an anthology called Genius Party will entries by Koji Morimoto, Shinichiro Watanabe, and Mahiro Maeda and a Sachiko by Koji Morimoto.
Denshin Mammotte! Shugogetten OAV small and
Other official sites:
Studio Gonzo's Trinity Blood
Spring Manga Releases
ADV New Series for April
Maburaho Volume 1 Manga
Written and illustrated by Miki Miyashita, based on the novel by Toshihiko Tsukiji
Meet Kazuki Shikimori, a student at Aoi Academi, the elite school for training wizards and warlocks. Kazuki ranks at the bottom of the class. Worse, he can only use his magic eight times over his entire life before he turns to dust. But while Kazuki's magic may not be top notch, his future child is destined to be the greatest magician of all time! Enter three conniving hotties determined to bear his child. Hilarity ensues!
Broccoli International Usa Inc New Series for April
Di Gi Charat Theater Dejikos Adventure Gn #1
Dejiko's caused plenty of trouble with her Laser Eye Beam, but this time she's gone too far! In an attempt to teach Rabi~en~Rose a lesson, Dejiko shoots her Laser Eye Beam, but crushes the popular Gamers store too! With the manager fainting from shock and the store in ruins, Dejiko, Puchiko, and Rabi~en~Rose must go find the "secret treasure of posterity" to rebuild Gamers! Be the first to witness Dejiko's countless adventures as she fights off evil spirits, solves a mystery in a haunted house, competes in a beauty pageant, and more! It's up to Dejiko to revive the Gamers store, and bring happiness for all! Galaxy Angel 4 and 5 are also scheduled
Di Gi Charat Theater: Leave It To Piyoko Volume 1 by Hina
Pyocola Analogue III, also known as Piyoko, is the leader of the evil organization known as the Black Gema Gema Gang. She came to earth with one mission-to kidnap the princess of Di Gi Charat, Dejiko, and hold her ransom! Move over, Dejiko! Piyoko takes the spotlight in this two-volume series. Take a look into the daily lives of the Black Gema Gema Gang as they figure out their plans to kidnap Dejiko while trying to survive on the little money they have left. And now that Piyoko's loyal subjects-Rik, Ky, and Coo-are here, she needs to worry about more mouths to feed!
- Tenryu: The Dragon Cycle Vol. 1
- Madara Vol. 3 Illustrated by Sho-u Tajima On sale April 6
- Land Of The Blindfolded Vol. 3 Written and illustrated by Tsukuba Sakura On sale April 20
- From Eroica With Love Vol. 3 Written and illustrated by Aoike Yasuko On sale April 13
- GALS! VoL. 2 by Fujii Mihona May 25
- Musashi #9 Vol. 3 by Takahashi Miyuki May 11
- Swan Vol. 3 by Ariyoshi Kyoko May 4
- Tenjho Tenge Vol. 2 By Oh! Great May 18
- From Eroica With Love Vol. 1, Land Of The Blindfolded Vol. 1, Musashi #9 Vol. 1 and Swan Vol. 1 will be re-released May 4th.
Written and illustrated by Matoh Sanami CMX. From Matoh Sanami, the popular creator of Fake, comes a fantasy featuring two sword-packing brothers who must find their father's killer in war-torn ancient China. As they search for revenge, theyre sidetracked into adventure, stumbling upon the secrets of their origin while meeting up with plenty of weapon-wielding women and foes only too happy to take them out before they finish their quest! On sale April 27
Blade Of The Immortal Volume 14: Last Blood Tpb goes on sale June 1st, continues the story of Run, Anotsu and the ShingyÃ¶tÃ¶-ryÃ¼.
Blade Of The Immortal #101 "Trickster," part 3 of 4, on sale May 11th concludes the duel between Giichi and Magatsu.
King Of Wolves Tpb Buronson (W) And Kentaro Miura (A)
On sale May 11 A bright-spirited young historical scholar, Iba, disappears while on a lone expedition to study the ancient Silk Road. A year later his girlfriend, Kyoko, sets out for the Silk Road in order to find clues that will help to unravel the mystery of Ibas disappearance. When she arrives, she finds the charm she gave Iba for protection and moments later she is sucked into a black vortex and loses consciousness. Koyoko awakes to find herself in a very different place and discovers that that Iba is not only alive but is a warrior-slave under the reign of Genghis Khan in 13th century Mongolia! At last, when Iba and Kyoko reunite, they find that there are a series of fates, crueler than the ones they have already endured, awaiting them...
King of Wolves is an action/adventure masterpiece crafted by the superstar manga creative team of Buronson (Fist of the North Star) and Kentaro Miura (Berserk).
Samurai Executioner Volume 6 Tpb Written by Kazuo Koike, art by Goseki Kojima on sale June 8 features the crime stories of Lone Wolf and Cub's requel
Super Manga Blast! #52 in stores on May 25
Trigun Maximum Volume 5: Break Out Tpb Yasuhiro Nightow On Sale May 4
What¹S Michael? Volume 10: Sleepless Nights Tpb By Makoto Kobayashi in stores on June 22
Dark Horse will also be re-releasing the manga adpatation of Star Wars Phantom Menance, A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedia in April
Phantom menace is by Kia Asamiya. The others are by Hisao Tamaki
Del Rey In April
Genshiken Volume 1 Gn by Kio Shimoku
Its the spring of freshman year, and Kanji Sasahara is in a quandary. Should he declare his love for manga and anime fandom by joining an otaku club, like he has always wanted to? Meanwhile, Saki Kasakabe also has a dilemma. How can she turn her boyfriend, anime fanboy Makoto, into a normal guy? Kanji succeeds where Saki fails, when both Kanji and Makoto join Genshiken: The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture. Undeterred, Saki chases Makoto through the various activities of the club from costume- playing and comic conventions, to video gaming and anime model figures learning more than she ever wanted to about the humorous world of the Japanese otaku.
Nodame Cantiabile Volume 1 Gn by Tomoko Ninomiya
Winner of the Kodansha Manga of the Year Award! The son of a famous pianist, music student Shinichi Chiaki has always wanted to study abroad and become a conductor like his mentor. However, his fear of planes and water make it impossible for him to follow his dream. As he watches other young students achieve what he has always wanted, Shinichi ponders whether he should quit music altogether. Then, one day he meets a fellow music student named Megumi Noda, also known as Nodame. This oddball girl cannot cook, clean, or even read her own score, but she can play the piano in incomparable Cantabile style. And she teaches Chiaki something that he has forgotten; to enjoy his music no matter where he is.
Also CLAMP's Tsubasa Volume 5
Dr Master (titles formerly by ComicsOne)
Titles for April
Cosplay Koromo Chan Volume 1 Tp by Mook
At last a manga about cos-players, for cos-players! Ever since the school president established a casual dress code for the student body, Koromo has been wearing her cos- play outfits at her high school (although she claims they are her casual clothes). Follow the daily life of Koromo and her costume-designing best friend. Watch as she graduates high school, attends college and ventures into the real world all in one fun filled volume!
High School Girls Volume 3 Tp by Towa Oshima
Iron Wok Jan Gn Volume 12 by Shinji Saijyo
King Of Fighters 2003 Volume 1 Tp by Wing Yan & King Tung
New titles for April
Van Von Hunter Volume 1 (Of 3) Creators: Mike Schwark , Ron Kaulfersch
The winning team of TOKYOPOPs first Rising Stars of Manga competition! Rave Master meets Megatokyo! The forces of evil have come back to rip peace from the twice-peaceful Kingdom of Dikay! The lands only hope lies in the one man, who many years ago vanquished the evil tyranny: Van Von Hunter, Hunter of Evil...Stu! Together with his loyal memory-challenged sidekick, he faces off against the deposed, former ruler of Dikay, who has come back to reclaim his throne!