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AICN ANIME: Scott Green on One Piece, Dark Water, Mars Daybreak,Cowboy Bebop Remix

Spotlight: Dark Water

Released by ADV

ADV has released the manga and live action incarnations of Dark Water, a Japanese horror from the mind of Ring/Ringu's Koji Suzuki, which is bound to gain more notoriety when the English adaptation with Jennifer Connelly is released, but currently stands as a recognizable name for followers of Japanese horror.

The live action version has the human drama and camera finesse that have become the hallmarks of Japanese horror. Centering around a troubled mother daughter relationship, the movie's human dimension trumps the horror, and its emotional material works better than the horror. The movie doesn't so much fail as horror as it does succeed as a character work with tangible emotions and chilling mysteries.

The movie has its share of creepy child moments, and effectively uncertain looming menace as well as Japanese horror corner of the eye/quick in and out, but the core visuals, such as damp elevators or water stained apartment ceilings are better thematically than they are for creepiness.

The plot is reminiscent of The Exorcist, transplanted to one of Japanese's claustrophobic, secret filled apartment complexes, and more focused on parenthood than religion. Yoshimi, a novel proof reader, raising her daughter in the middle of an acrimonious divorce, troubled by the violent works she's assigned to read, and busy enough to often keep her young daughter waiting for her. She's struggling while trying not look like she's struggling.

During her mid-divorce period of instability, Yoshimi finds a reasonably priced new apartment (in post Scream movie view even if it weren't a horror movie, the bad vibe along water stains, leaks is a bit distracting from the building character relationship tension)

While touring the apartments, her daughter runs off. Skipping through puddles, she find pocket book, which seems to have belonged to a local girl who disappeared. When the bag keeps turning up, it becomes a focus point for Yoshimi's stress over her divorce proceedings, her job and placing her daughter in a new school.

The short anthology manga, an adaptation of the original novel created after the movie, retells of the original Dark Water story (with a significantly different ending than the movie), then tells a number of shorter stories inspired by ideas. It figures out a great idea to work with,that water itself is something to fear, something that can birth inexplicable horrors, as a primal force that can birth creatures to counteract the human world. There are a handful of compelling horror moments, such as when a trio on a yacht find a child's shoe attached to their boats' propeller,and see something worse, underneath.

Maybe North American manga readers have been spoiled by having the majority of their horror manga come from geniuses like Junji Ito, and classics, but the Dark Water manga while passable is unexceptional. Much of the anthology comes across as weak campfire stories. Despite competent to good illustration, with appealing character design, nice page layout, and some creepy visuals, it is a problem for the work. The under water scenes are immersive, with a perspective the puts the reader in an alien environment. There are a number of effective submersed scenes, where the surface, ripples and plays of light are effectively eery. Above the surface, the manga is missing the established atmosphere a horror comic needs.

"Adrift", which looks at the ghost ship phenomenon is the weakest story and at 10 pages, the shortest. It introduces the mysterious disappearance of crew and passengers with an empty "big ships" style sailing craft. It then cuts to a modern pleasure boat with four attractive young women on board. One finds a floating bottle with a strange creature on board...over night, they all go insane and step over the rails into the ocean. The brief glimpses of the creature in the bottle are well rendered, both simple and strange, but with group of cypher characters going mad off page no emotion, visual or ideas that will haunt the reader. Other stories are able to offer more of the stronger elements of the manga, but Adrift's problems are indicative of what doesn't work.

Manwha spotlight: Arcana
by So-Young Lee

Released by TOKYOPOP

The Korean comic Arcana is an odd series that defies fantasy conventions. Expectations for how questing, roles and action should fit into the story don't apply nicely. It is less accessible and more challenging, but with it's own look and flow, more about talk, visions and manipulations that traditional swordplay, that includes some interesting inspirations rather than derivations.

Inez is a tomboyish orphan girl with the ability to communication with animals who travels with her grandfather and wolf/dog to her nation's capital in time to see the first signs of The Long Winter (if you're think Song of Ice and Fire, the parallels are superficial). She's sent questing when land's emperor sends Inez out to retrieve a guardian dragon.

The volume takes a rather long time setting up the circumstances. Consequently the visual aspects are needed to carry the work. The illustration is up to the task of building a compelling world. It's geographic and cultural landscapes particularly make the Arcana worth notice. A Caliphate era influence lends intricate geometric design in cloths and architecture, and in some cases panel borders. It's rendered strongly enough that that was a character who has a more Celtic look, the stranger appropriately stands out.

In addition to the design, So-Young Lee visual storytelling techniques skillfully feeds into the atmosphere, which isn't always a given with a manwha (or manga or American comics for that matter). The use of space, panel layout, borders hold up well against Japanese made shojo manga. It also finds an interesting way of using super deformed character exaggerations for the humorous moments by using sub-strips rather than just panels.

The character design does take come acclimation. The degree to which bodies are thin, and eyes are round and dolls like is somewhat alien-ish at first.

Anime Spotlight: Burst Angel Volume 1

Released by FUNimation

Studio GONZO has come a long way since the almost experimental 3D cgi Blue Sub No. 6. Thanks to the volume of work, and their skill with digital animation, it has become a popular, identifiable favorite. In Burst Angel, Gonzo returns with gusto to the sci-fi western fusion of a the late 90's.

Headlined by a twin Desert Eagle packing Rei variant in a tight outfits held together by strategic straps, Gonzo offers plenty of eye catching design, including some very hot outfits even by anime standards, plenty of impressive 3d work that brush into the meeting point in the looks of anime, live action and video games, along with and some noticeable, deftly crib elements of Evangelion and Bubblegum Crisis.

Burst Angel open with a bio-mechanical skeleton reaching out of a scrap heap to snatch to rip into a bird. The rest of the rusting, part industrial apparatus, part heavy metal album cover creature then emerges around the skeleton, revealing a titanic amalgam of bus tossing junk yard apparatuses. A sleeker, video-game-ish mecha with pistol like weapons moves in the engages the rampaging trash-colossus, and Gonzo begins working their magic, with circular pans, and movements.

Set in an Robocop-esque future Japan troubled by epidemic crime and rampaging robot-beasts, society has responded to the threats by arming the populace and putting a lethal police foce on the street. Burst Angel introduces its local problem solvers through the point of view of Kyohei Tachibana, a young man studying to be a chef. To fund his further edition, he responds to a job offer for cook's position, present in an odd, cutely doodled classified add. When he is picked up by a busty, dark haired bubblegum (classic Bubblegum Crisis Sylvia Stingray role), he is taken to an armored carrier where he is introduced to the rest of the team, a sharp tongued red head in rawhide over frills micro-skirt and taciturn girl, tanned, but disheveled pail hair, with strange shimmering tattoos (hello Asuka and Rei), along with the team's cute, young (loli) techie.

From set design to motion blurs, Gonzo has been working a seamless patch job of the colorful qualities of anime with the effects of live action movies and video games back into anime. Even in the CGI age, there is still material animation can pull off more easily than live action, such as large mechanical creations, and characters that can move outside the bounds of physics. The fusion tries to take some game freedom and depth, and live action impact into anime.

The canvas is still abstracted, and anime still doesn't have the same objective background, stylized characters mesh of manga, but the details in the run down city and its graffiti covered alleys in Burst Angel gives the characters some solid ground to work with. The dimension work extends surprisingly deep. Small touches, the ruffled paper often receive attention.

The motion blurs, bullet tracks and camera flow of video game give the series an effective action nomenclature of shooting game and cut scenes.

A considerable selling point in Burst Anel is it's tease-sexual appeal. The outfits for the female characters are revealing without the typical form fitting body suit look. It's very little, but colorful enough not too look like very little. In a rather distinctive touch Gonzo is wable to work puppy noses in select shots of some scenes.

When there isn't something new or nice to look at, Burst Angel begins to drag. Gonzo usually peppers the intermediary scenes with some interesting sights, but Burst Angel get stuck in the wait for the action to crescendo listlessness. Burst Angel's Koichi Ohata as much a mechanical designer as a director, and perhaps consequently, leaves a lot of flat scenes.

Too many of the languidness eaves the impression that the characters and situation aren't important. They are characters that look great on a poster or computer wall paper, but beyond that they are only superficially likable unless you have an strong attachment to their design or archetype.

Hurting their one asset personalities, and unintriguing motivations is that despite their spaghetti western influenced design the characters don't engage the situation the way their movie counterparts would. They have an MO, and are sometimes active it seem to be stumbling through as much as the viewer, but because it feels like they just get plotted into uninteresting and lightly explained situations, their mission is uninvolving.

Then, the characters will defuse their own dramatic tension. A conflict will brew before the POV characters and one of gunslingers, and as soon as it starts to simmer, the organizer and or the cute team mate will make a &don't mind her& move.

Even though the plot and characters sit waiting for the opportunity to dazzle visually, the concept opens plenty of space of something interesting. For example, it has laid out some political points that it could utilized, such as the inclusion of hand gun proliferation in the crack down on crime in the city, or the gender role-reversals that start with the male point of view character as the of hapless, rescued hostage starting when goes down the wrong alley way. It has to do more than just present the issue for them to help the series, but their presence is promising.

FUNimation has been putting more thought into standard edition packaging most other company's releases. Cover design, disc art, and inserts have all become very attractive. The flip side is that FUNimation has become enamored with front loaded, unskippable, un-fast-forward-able trailers. The Gunslinger Girls trailer well made, and easy to sit through , far easier than the Dragon Ball Z Uncut before Full Metal Alchemist, but not multiple times, and not involuntarily.

Burst Angel looks like a how a modern action anime should look, but the series needs to latch the plot and character element with some of vigor put into the animation if it doesn't watch its design to fizzle.

Anime Spotlight: Kyo Kara Maoh!
God(?) Save Our King!

Volume 1
Released by Geneon

Kyo Kara Maoh! is an example of how to smartly use a genre that's been run into the ground. The series is not so much a parody as an exercise in having plenty of fun with the familiar elements of the genre. Bending the genre adds an element of unpredictability, and opens the space for humor without over exaggerating existing elements. In this case it twists the story of travels to a mystical world the frequent rejoinder of a prophesied savior. A school boy who gets transported to a magic world, and finds out he's destined to hold the thrown of its demon population from which he is tasked with unholy quests and keeping its human population in check.

The tone is kept light. It is a comedy that doesn't take itself too seriously, but one that generally maintains a straight face. There us an element of drama on fringes, that asserts itself along with a clever sense of politics built from the ununiformity of views among the demon nobility regarding an ignorant but destined school boy ascending to their thrown.

The series is lead in by a dumbfoundedly "what the hell" openings that cuts from school boy scenes, to castles and sword armed cute guys (bishonen) in a variety anime styled European uniforms, to scenes baseball, to odder fantasy characters, to a busty modern house wife. With cuts to sports, and relationship comedy moments, there are enough breaks in expected pattern that without seeing an episode, it giddily makes no sense.

The lead, Yuri, is an average student who put aside his interest in baseball to focus on working to get into the right school. After sticking his neck out for a bullied classmate, he is rewarded by having he head thrust into a toilet. During the flush he's transported into a stretch feudal farmland. He's sort of helped by a burly warrior who squeezes Yuri head, after which he can understand the native language. It turns out the locals are reacting badly because from Yuri's black hair, black uniform, and dark eyes he is recognized as a stranger destined to take the demon thrown. The world's demon rulers, in the form of a gallant swordsman, and bone, winged flying skeleton soon arrive to take whisk Yuri to their court.

The first volume lays promising strands for humorous and dramatic threads to run through the series. Whether it's running gags or character relationships, there's plenty introduced in the first volume that you'd like to see more of, or more developed in subsequent volumes.

On the humor size, it puts together a number of gags that will probably run through the series. In addition to the situation, it builds a cast that feeds in particular jokes in addition to their role the more serious aspects. There's a wacky inventor (which anime has been lacking in recent years), a number who people who offer some some non-derogatory homosexuality jokes, along with plenty of mother issues, including a horny demon queen MILF, and Yuri's own mother, who, so far unknown to him is a fantasy romantic who was thrilled to marry a demon representative, and disappointed her children were not born with wings.

Though the series is built on what is generally a shonen model of questing, there is an abundance of shojo aspects in the series, in the vein of the pop Journey to the West retelling Saiyuki. The combination of action, politics, and characters will leave neither audience will be disappointed. There are a few element that will be slightly off-putting to one audience or the other, the bishonen (cute guy) design looks a bit stiff for example. Over-all there is little to detract from the enjoyable aspects of the series.

Kyo Kara Maoh provides a good example of how English language dub and subtitle scripts can differ when translators cater to both purist and English centric audiences. A plot point in the series is that Yuri has an unusual name that's plaguing his life as a target for teasing. In the English dub, it's a play on "urine" . The subtitle script explains how the tormentor are punning on the similarity between Yuri's full name and a phrase for unfortunate. Of course in both scripts retain an amusing reference to the Boston Red Sox.

Anime Spotlight: Mobile Suit Gundam SEED
Volume 10

Released by Bandai

Gundam father Yoshiyuki Tomino had a ambivalent relationship with latest, rejuvenating entry in the franchise he's best known for initiating, but &Kill 'em& Tomino certainly influenced its conclusion. The final stretch of episodes provides the opportunity to see everyone in action in the most dramatic manner possible. Everyone is driven to the same battlefield where it's capital ship on capital ship, mobile suit on mobile suit, and Gundam universe?s WMDs being deployed. Deaths are shocking in their victims, their brutality and their graphicness. You need to keep a box score to keep track of when people die and who killed who. Plenty of sci-fi franchises have been accused of skimping on, or simplifying their final conflict battle. The same can't be said of Gundam SEED's which concludes with a chain of episodes that throws everything into a melee up down a weepy ending that nicely pays tribute to the original and its own opening.

Though SEED deserves recognition lighting a grand conflagration for its ending, if you work to untwist the maelstrom, plenty of ideas weren't taken to fruition. Not open ended or left for viewer to determine the significance, but starved or given a brush off. Even if you factor in the sequel series Destiny, the roads to resolve some of these matters have been cut off (see massive body count).

Except for the short OAVs like War in a Pocket, 08th MS Team and Star Dust memories, there probably haven't been too many Gundams that viewers would feels wrapped up natural, well paced manner with all elements in place. In this case, the point in introducing the volume of the elements present in the series is called into question. The constant movement throughout the series made for a dynamic, never dull experience, but to deliver on the promises along the way a tighter script than SEED?s is needed. It doesn't appear that the creators knew where they were going to take everything, but went along curving more facets anyways.

Character death plays a complicated role in the conclusion of SEED. There are a number of deaths that pull emotional strings and a number that are suitably dramatic in their self sacrifice, redemption, or for acing away villains, but there are also a number that just seem to be clearing away elements that can't advance the central story any further. Several sets of minor characters even admit to be pointless or are referred to as useless shortly before being killed. Genre fans look to frequently death to punctuate story conclusion, and there are series where well place deaths are attributed as a point for why a series has impact. Conversely, there are character deaths that are criticized for largely being pruning exercise or add cheap significance. The end of SEED offers plenty of both the emotional impact, and the &Kill 'em All& cheap heat/emergency simplification.

Part of the Gundam formula has always been an aspiration to provide social commentary. Even the crazy G Gundam, with its ethnic stereotype giant robots and fight tournament story has been held up as statement on the human conflict resolution. The problem with many Gundam works, including SEED is that even allowing for the momentous implication politics generally receive when being used in fiction, it's hard to buy the platforms presented in Gundam, which get too caught in war and peace as abstract concepts.

Real world fanatics are able to construct arguments and if their successful present the position with some charisma. In SEED, the architects of the war all sides drone on. For measure a point or two of rhetoric is added, but they have such tunnel vision in their purely genocide or nihilistic views that it is usually hard to see how they convince their peers. Even the philosophical spokesperson for protagonists speaks at such a high level that the arguments seem more noise than signal.

There are some exceptions. Gundam is generally able to paint a few powerful pictures of the strategy of war. SEED does this, on one better in offering few minor characters that have interesting arcs (more interesting than the earthquake shifts of the principals) or are believably convinced by the rhetoric. Some show up throughout the series, a few only show up for brief moments. It add depth to the series to see characters with concrete beliefs about who their action will shape a better, more sustainable future, even if the beliefs are misguided. There is a mother of one of the supporting characters who is a politician, and comes to support one of the negative movements in the series, but how she's looking about her son, and believes it will better his future add some weight to the cartoonishly heinous politics.

Manga Spotlight: Dr Slump
By Akira Toriyama

Volume 1
Released by Viz

Before Dragon Ball became a sprawling planet destroying super hero epic, or even before it became a martial arts fighting tournament, it was a small, quirky retelling of the Journey to the West epic, where odd, comical deviations of Chinese mythology crossed paths with dinosaurs, strange technologies, and generally anything Akira Toriyama felt like putting into his manga. The results are memorably juvenile but charming with a character as deserving a spot in the heights of the manga pantheon that on level with Goku.

Dragon Ball's predecessor Dr Slump focuses on just the whit and whimsy of Toriyama's infectiously juvenile scene of humor with a touch of South Park cognoscente. The comic adheres to a kid logic with a curiosity, logic willingness to try anything, and propensity to get fixed on small things. The quality can be annoying when it over utilizes jokes about nakedness or poo, more often Toriyama takes it to some charmingly classic humor.

Integrated into the flexible reality of the series, with its randomness, like anthropomorphic animal a cappella groups with clockwork keys in their backs down to oddities in the scene margins (mythical creatures like kappa's going about their lives under bridges), or its goofy sci-fi is a distinctive illustration style that look more like caricatured people than simple character inventions. Given the diversity of stylized facial structures, hair styles and dress, the characters look more like abstracted real people than most invented character. Oddly, it is able to fit in well withe the more fanciful aspects of the settings and stories. There are plenty of clue on how it evolved into the more stylized Dragon Ball designs.

Senbei Norimaki, a 28 year old bachelor inventor builds a robot girl in what seems to be an exercise in because-he-could. Despite the self congratulations, it doesn't go off without a hitch. After creating the robot head-first, the talking head complains about being bored. Then the robot responds to a request to test her arms by punching Senbei in the groin. Finally he find that his perfect creation needs glasses.

The results are Arale, a precocious girl in overalls and large glasses who can set her hair with a grenade and bucket, or throw a baseball far enough to hit a world of talkative cannibal aliens.

Thanks to Toriyama's style, and his wide eyed, experience hungry lead, the facts that the high concept isn't particularly novel and humor can be familiar aren't detriments. detriments. A few of the jokes have been reused far too many times, including an earlier take on the gag about buying underwear for the female robot (which gets reused in anime and manga just about any time a guy finds or builds a female robot). Still, even in this case, Senbei is scruffy and surly enough, and Toriyama packs enough random jokes into the panels, that the routine becomes amusing.

Toriyama is knowing enough to play against expectations of the manga's inclinations. He has the right mix of crudeness and innocence. After gym class Arale realizes she's missing something, and insists on one. Senbei realizes his porn magazines are censored, so he invents x-ray goggles, which leads to an uneventful walk through town and a good punch line.

Part of the free form inspiration of the series is that is sometimes attacks the fourth wall, or throws in some pop culture reference. Anime/manga followers will be able to pick up on many of the classical mythology references, and most of pop culture is familiar material, like Godzilla and Gamera. Neither of these volatile aspects gets to a distractive level. The elements are kept on hands with the other strangeness in the series.

Another reason the series' humor connects is that though the characters don't have dramatic depth, Toriyama keeps the emotions and character reactions a manageable sizes. Senbei is fairly excitably, but it is a useful rudder to have characters who are less manic than the events around them.

Dr Slump's brand of short humorous stories don't always translate well from anthology to collected edition. Because it is pretensionless doesn't pretend to be something larger is has more in common with collections of good strip comics than many anthology based situation comedy manga .It is the kind of material to keep around to glance at for a grin.

Manga Spotlight: xxxHoLic

Released by Del Rey

Seeing the dimensional witch Yuko in stunning, quasi Victorian garb on the cover of the latest xxxHoLic, the title could easily be confused with its similarly visually impressive, lightly plotted brethren Tsubasa. The manga creation team CLAMP has also twisted genres to suit unusual aims. Both xxxHolic and Tsubasa seem to be envisioned with more visual goals than the typical plot or character directives. While the cast has clicked for xxxHolic, the development of relationships hasn't lead to a solid plot. It's a stunning and enjoyable series, but one where plot is a minimal factor. Storytelling is more a function of progressions of images and character moments. The energy here is clearly directed to trying a few new tricks on the page, with very artistic results. Anyone interested in the medium of comic arts should study xxxHoLic.

xxxHolic is built around the structure of the horror anthology. A central guide. An outsider with a special ability to view the supernatural world. Short stories with threads of an internal mythology. However, despite the structure and subject matter, the stories don't work as horror. They don?t have the cadence of the stories they're structurally influenced by. They're too funny, too attractive. It is easier to get caught by the beauty than tragedy or ominousness.

CLAMP has always handled the manga medium well, with it is stylistic techniques like super deforming characters, or stretching the idealized forms, or breaking into untraditional page layouts.

xxxHoLic works within the traditional aspects of the medium, using a grid layout, lots of flexibility in size ratios, but never absent of borders, never nesting them or using non-rectangular shapes, even seldom breaking panel borders. There are no gray tones (other than the reproduction of opening color pages). Taking out these variables leaves the page black and white. Space is solid black, solid white, or filled with parallel lines. Seeing all three within the moments of an exchange is an attention

grabber. Radiating into these spaces are elegance art noveau curves ranging from gossamer threads to complex shapes and scenes (up to a two page spread of flocks of butterflies around the flowers growing from the banks of a stream). Despite the tools, xxxHoLic is anything but a visual simple work.

Fashion is other side of xxxHoLic's aesthetic coin. If Tsubasa is CLAMP's chance to play period, this volume's cover aside, xxxHoLic is their chance to go modern, with enough outfit changes to keep George Lucas and Baz Luhrmann on their toes. Yuko, the lithe, horror hostess with a lazy gaze is a blast to read about (no way anyone would like to deal with someone with her personality), partially for being a well of fantastically designed outfits.

xxxHoLic is short cut free illustration. Down to a small, inconsequence panel, such as a character running into a building often seen over the source of the work, it is given its full details. Even in this sort of quick appearance Yuko's house is given its full, mysterious effect with its traditional Japanese first flour, a second level of odd gables and small porticos gables, odd weather veins and sky scrapper surroundings.

Del Rey does an exemplary job keeping up with the creative illustration in their translation. They really had work in the odd spares within panels. CLAMP dripped word bubbles, strung them and otherwise building scenes around text space, which Del Rey did an amazing job of maintain and working with. Additionally, they do their typically great work translating sound effect illustrations along with the Japanese original and including useful cultural end notes.

One Piece Video To be Released by Toei

Anime on DVD reports Toei will be releasing the pirate adventure One Piece themselves rather than licensing it to a North American distributor.

Volume one is listed as 66 minutes, on sale 9/27 for $19.99. Volume 2, with 75 minutes, will be released on 11/08.

Anime News Network points out that the cover lists &English TV Version&

New Guyver in August

Anime News Network and the official WoWoW site report that the new TV series based on bio-armor super hero action Guyver will be released on Japanese TV this August.

New Anime From Love Hina Creator

Anime News Network reports Love Hina and Magister Negi creator Ken Akamatsu has announced a new 2-episode direct to video OAV based on Itsudatte My Santa (Always My Santa).

WB Drops Weekday Animated Programming

AWN reports that WB will be canceling the weekday afternoon Kids WB block in January 2006, and extending the Saturday block to five hours.

TenTen Manga Edit Rundown

A complete run-down of the edits in CMX's second volume of fight manga Tenjho Tenge is online at here

Hellsing and Gungrave on UMD

Geneon announced that Hellsing and Gungrave with the released in the UMD format for the Sony PSP on August 16th with the first two episode of either series for $14.98. Geneon previously schedule the release of Appleseed and the first volume of Samurai Champloo on July 5th.

A wildly popular title among action lovers, Hellsing tells the story of a secret war brewing in the night where the worst enemy of the darkness is one of its own. The rogue vampire Arucard is the ultimate weapon against the undead and humanity¹s last hope of survival in an unholy war. The UMD release of Hellsing will pave the way for the release of a long-anticipated sequel, Hellsing Ultimate OVA Series, currently in production.

Featuring hardcore action and bloody mayhem, Gungrave follows mob enforcer Brandon Heat on his dark journey back from the dead, driven by his thirst for revenge against the organization that betrayed and murdered him. Based on the Playstation 2 Gungrave game, Yasuhiro Nightow¹s (Trigun) edgy series showcases production by Masao Morosawa (Jubei-Chan, Ninja Scroll TV) and Shigeru Kitayama (Ninja Scroll Movie, Noir) as well as music by Tsuneo Imahori (Trigun) and animation by the powerhouse studio Madhouse (Animatrix, Tokyo Godfathers, Trigun, Texhnolyze, X).

New Burst Angel

Anime News Network reports FUNimation announced a new OAV is being produced based on guns and girls sci-fi western Burst Angel/Bakuretsu Tenshi. The Japanese title looks to be Bakuretsu Tenshi: Tenshi Sairin.

Aria to be Animated

Anime Nation reports that the manga series Aria by Kozue Amano is being animated.

Zeta Movie Third in Box Office, Breaks Records

Gunota reports that the new Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: A New Translation -Heirs randed third in the Japanese box office on its opening week.

The movie broke daily records a the theatres Cine Libre Ikebukuro, Shinjuku Joy Cinema, Cine Libre Umeda, Osaka's Paradise Square, Cine Libre Kobe, and Cine Libre Hakata.

Broken Saints News

The DVD collection of the flash animated, anime style horror epic has been released in Canada, and will be released in the US in July/August. It can currently be purchased online here. The series will also be airing on airing on CBC On Demand, with hopes of moving into anime and specialty channels in the US and Europe.

The series will also be featured in a full booth at this year's San Diego Comicon.

Broken Saints's Creator/Director/Writer/Producer Brooke Burgess, won "Producer of the Year" at the prestigious Canadian New Media Awards (CNMA.)

Broken Saints also received a CNMA nomination in the category "Excellence in Cross Platform", along with industry heavyweight ZeD TV (ZeD, CBC Television).

Tony Jaa Animated Feature

TwitchFilm repots that a Thai animated film called Tri: Muay Thai Chronicle, which will feature the star of Ong Bak, Tony Jaa is in development. The feature will retell a legend about a martial artist who must fight his way to gates of hell in order to repair them.

Design work can be seen at here

Top 10 Manga Earners

Anime News Network reports Ranma/Inu-Yasha creator Rumiko Takahashi has again topped the list of Japan's highest tax paying manga creators. She also ranked second in the Mainichi Shinbum's list of list of actors, singers, politicians, authors, and athletes, which includes manga-ka (as authors). Gosho Aoyama , who was also in the top 10 again this year, ranked the 5th highest taxed individual on the list, he paid 138.3 million yen in taxes in 2004. Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto ranked ninth overall aftering paying 12.7 million yen in taxes.

The top 10 taxed manga creators in 2004 were

  1. Rumiko Takahashi
  2. Gosho Aoyama
  3. Masashi Kishimoto
  4. Yuji Horii
  5. Ritsuko Kawai
  6. Naoki Urasawa
  7. Takehiko Inoue
  8. Fujio Akatsuka
  9. Takashi Yanase
  10. Masami Kurumada

Previews of Upcoming Gonzo Projects

Anime News Network reports that studio Gonzo has posted sited for movie Gin-iro no kami no Agito at here and the TV series Solty Rei here

Trailers for Gin-iro no Kami Agito can also be seen here

International Innocence DVD

TwitchFilm suggests that viewers who were unhappy with the problematic subtitles in Dreamworks' North American DVD released of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence may wish to check out the R2 Japanese release of the international version of he movie, which will feature Japanese, English, Taiwanese, Korean and French subtitles. The disc will retail for 3990 yen.

Geneon Box Sets

Geneon will be releasing a box set collection of Paranoia Agent and Licensed by Royalty (L/R) on July 5th for $99.99 and $79.99 respectively.

Geneon later added Ikki Tousen, Burn-Scramble and Rumiko Takahashi Anthology to the list of collections to be released in July.

Hikaru no Go Anime in September

Viz will be releasing the first volume of the anime adaptation of the popular Shonen Jump manga Hiraku No Go on September 27th.

The manga used the strategy game of go to construct a story that had both compelling drama, and tournament competition.

September Bandai Releases


  • 9/13
    • Cowboy Bebop Remix Volume 1
    • Mars Daybreak volume 1
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Movie II: The Far-Away Dawn
  • 9/27
    • Panda-Z Volume 1

Anime Legends (re-priced re-releases)

  • 9/13
    • Escaflowne Movie Special Edition: Anime Legends Edition
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Walt

Sound Tracks

  • 9/13
    • Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence Soundtrack

The limited edition release of Scrapped Princess was reduced in price from $49.98 to $39.98

Cowboy Bebop Remix volume 1 is the first remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The 5 episode volume will retail for $29.98

Mars Daybreak

Life on Mars is hard for those who live here. As the economy worsens, work becomes scarce and food becomes expensive and highly prized. Gram and his friends try to do the best they can but, he finds himself on the run with the most notorious pirates on Mars. The only problem is he soon starts to enjoy the adventure.

Mars Daybreak was animated by Studio Bones (Wolf's Rain, Scrapped Princess, Cowboy Bebop: the movie), directed by Kunihiro Mori (Cowboy Bebop, Mobile Suit Gundam 08th MS Team and InuYasha) with character Design by Hiroshi Ousaka (Vision of Escaflowne, Wolf?s Rain and Full Metal Alchemist).

The collected edition release will feature an embossed tin, a soundtrack CD, and a magnet frame.

Gundam Seed Movie II is the second part of an abridged, in part re-animated retelling of the popular sci-fi war series.

Gundam Wing-Endless Waltz
Contains BOTH Theatrical + 3 OVA Episodes
Dolby Digital 5.1- Japanese

Escaflowne Movie S.E.
Gaia is a mythical realm ruled by sword and sorcery and immersed in blood and violence.
Thrust into a conflict she doesn't quite understand, Hitomi helps aid the young Prince Van as they embark upon their journey of discovery. The battle over a legendary suit of dragon armor, Escaflowne, has begun.
Escaflowne: The Movie Booklet
Escaflowne: Collector?s Keepcase

  • Disc 1
    • Interactive Animated Menus
    • English/Japanese w/ English subtitles
    • DTS Audio (Japanese)
    • Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio
    • Widescreen Letterbox
    • Extras: Overlapping Realtime Storyboards
    • Extras: Isolated Score Audio Track
  • Disc 2
    • bonus materials not rated
    • Production Art Gallery
    • Staff and Cast Interviews
    • Escaflowne Premiere Event Interviews
    • Extras: Theatrical Movie Trailers
    • Exclusive Musical Performance by Maaya Sakamoto
    • The Making of the Escaflowne Theatrical Poster Gallery
  • Disc 3:
    • Original Escaflowne: The Movie CD Soundtrack

Jin Roh: S.E.
In his first directorial debut, Hiroyuki Okiura (Ghost in the Shell) brings to life Mamoru Oshii's (Ghost in the Shell, Patlabor) haunting tale of innocence caught in a web of politics and intrigue. Set in an alternate history of Japan, Constable Fuse becomes entangled in a web of intrigue and politics between the Capital Police, the government intelligence bureau, and a secret society known as Jin-Roh - the Wolf Brigade
3 disc special offer.

  • Disc 1
    • Interactive Animated Menus
    • Japanese & English Lanuage
    • English Subtitles (Optional)
    • Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio
    • DTS Audio (Japanese)
    • Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc 2
    • Japanese/English Theatrical Trailers
    • Director/Creator Interviews
    • Cast Interviews
    • Production Art Gallery
  • Disc 3
    • Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  • Bonus
    • Special Edition Slipcase
    • 12 Page Collector's Booklet

Panda-Z VOL.1
Remember Speed Racer? How ?bout Hello Kitty and your favorite 80s giant robots? Well, lets throw all these in a pot, stir well, and what do you get? Panda-Z!!

Panda-Z follows the hilarious misadventures of Pan-Taron and his giant robot Panda-Z as they battle the evil skull Panda and his notorious Warunimal forces!

The special edition version of the volume is package with a figure.

Novel Line Expansions

Both Viz and TOKYOPOP, who have released anime/manga related novels in the past, will be expanding their novel lines.

Viz Fiction line novels toreleased in the Fall of 2005 will be novelizations of popular action and science fiction titles such as Full Metal Alchemist, Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence After The Last Goodbye and Steamboy, all to be published under the VIZ Media brand. Two additional Fiction Novels aimed at female readers include Socrates In Love, the best-selling Japanese novel of all time, and Kamikaze Girls and will be published under the newly launched Shojo Beat Fiction imprint.

Full Metal Alchemist: The Land Of Sand Release date: October 2005 This novelization, written by Makoto Inoue, is aimed at younger manga fans and depicts the adventures of Edward and Alphonse as they try to use an alchemy technique called &human transmutation& to raise their mother from the dead with tragic consequences. Now beset with mutated mechanical bodies as a result of the accident, the two brothers set out to find the fabled ?Philosopher?s Stone,? an object of immeasurable power and the only thing that can return the siblings to their natural states.

Ghost In The Shell: Innocence After The Long Goodbye
MSRP: $19.99
Release date: October 2005
This dynamic novel by Masaki Yamada serves as the prequel to the Ghost In The Shell: Innocence. Originally serialized as a manga in the pages of Japan?s popular anime monthly, Animage, Ghost In The Shell: Innocence After The Long Goodbye depicts a vivid and futuristic world where the line between humans and machines has been blurred almost beyond distinction. Humans have forgotten that they are human, and those that are left coexist with cyborgs and dolls.

MSRP: $17.99
Release date: December 2005
Based on the hit movie from Katsuhiro Otomo, director of the groundbreaking animated feature AKIRA, STEAMBOY is the story of Ray Steam, a resourceful young inventor whose father and grandfather have harnessed the ultimate energy source, a form of steam that can either revolutionize the world?or destroy it. Set in Otomo?s futuristic vision of Victorian England, the novel is aimed at older readers and follows Ray?s struggle to prevent his family?s steam ball invention from falling into the wrong hands and leveling the city of London.

Socrates In Love
MSRP: $17.99
Release date: October 2005
Socrates in Love took the Japanese publishing industry by storm, becoming the all-time best selling novel in Japan .
Affectionately known as ?Sekachu? in Japan, Katayama?s novel depicts a sweet high school romance between an average guy and a beautiful girl. But tragedy ensues when the girl falls ill with leukemia. Socrates in Love is a bittersweet tale of young love, enduring devotion, and heartbreaking love loss.

Kamikaze Girls
MSRP: $17.99
Release date: February 2006
Life in the boondocks of rural Ibaraki prefecture is anything but glamorous, and to escape her humdrum existence, Momoko, a ?Lolita,? fanaticizes about French rococo, dreams of living in the palace of Versailles, and decks herself out in the finest (and frilliest) of 18th century haute couture from an expensive Tokyo specialty store. Her dreams of an idyllic existence are rudely interrupted by the appearance of Ichigo, a tough-talking ?Yanki? motorcycle-chick (on a tricked-out moped) who leads a girls-only biker gang known as the Ponytails. Together, this unlikely duo strikes out on a quest to find a legendary embroiderer, a journey that takes them to back-alley pachinko parlors, chic boutiques, and epic bike-punk battles. Novala Takemoto?s hit novel Kamikaze Girls, already a cult-classic in Japan and the inspiration for an internationally acclaimed film of the same name, is more than a quirky coming-of-age picaresque, it?s a new way of life.

TOKYOPOP will be releasing .hack//AI buster, the heavily anticipated prequel to the .hack mythology in August 2005. With a unique layout incorporating design motifs from the .hack franchise and a peppering of manga-style illustrations, the .hack// AI buster novel successfully combines the best of the visual and literary worlds. Priced at $7.99


hack is a multimedia phenomenon unlike any seen before. Released simultaneously in Japan as a series of Playstation 2 games, two anime series and the manga series, each incarnation helps tell the greater story of .hack.

Welcome to The World, the most advanced online game ever created. In The World you can be anyone you want to be, act out your adventure fantasies and through teamwork and determination, you can even become a hero. In .hack//AI buster, the avatar Albireo is a solo adventurer in The World. When he comes across Lycoris, a strange little girl in a dungeon, Albireo wonders if she's simply nothing more than a bug in the system. As the two journey further into The World, Albireo watches Lycoris turn all of the rules of The World upside down. Slowly, he comes to realize that she may hold a very deadly secret--a secret that could unhinge everything in cyberspace...and beyond!

Gatchaman Release Info

ADV Films has announced that Gatchaman, the seminal anime series that was recut for broadcast as Battle of the Planets and later G-Force, will be released for the first time in North America in its entirety, uncut and unedited, featuring a brand new English dub track. Star comics illustrator Alex Ross (Kingdom Come, Marvels) produced a brand new Gatchaman painting for the first Collectors Box, and Ross?s artwork adorns each of the 18 individual DVD releases. The first Collectors Box and volumes one and two of the DVD series go on sale June 14.

The release will feature an all-new English dub in 5.1 sound, featuring some of the best voice talent in anime today, including Kim Prause and Luci Christian. The visual look of the series has been restored to its original glory, with rich, vibrant colors that pop off the screen. And the original Japanese soundtrack is also included in 2.0, available on every DVD with English subtitles.

Loads of extras have been developed for the Gatchaman DVD series - each Collectors Box includes a fully packed Bonus Disk. Extras on the first Bonus Disk include a documentary on Gatchaman producer Totsunoko Productions (Speed Racer, Robotech), an extensive interview with ADR Director Charles Campbell, and even Gatchaman toy commercials, not to mention various character profiles, sketches, and other series artwork.

Synopsis: In the 21st century, the evil organization Galactor has its sights set on global conquest. Their use of tyrannical terrorism and high-tech mayhem has the world in the clutches of fear! The only thing standing in the way of complete global dominance is the International Science Organization (ISO) and its chief scientist, Professor Kozaburou Nambu. Dr. Nambu?s primary weapon in the fight for freedom is his top secret experiment: the five kids who make up the Science Ninja Team. Bird, Go!

Gatchaman: Collector?s Box Vol. 1 ($34.98 SRP) is a three disc DVD-only release containing the first two volumes (The Legend Begins, Meteors and Monsters) with twelve complete episodes presented in English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 with English subtitles along with a bonus DVD jam-packed with extra features and special behind the scenes looks at the series. Volume one and two extras include commentary tracks with the voice talent and Gatchaman Karaoke plus clean closing animation. The Bonus DVD includes a profile of Ken, the Eagle, an interview with Leraldo Anzaldua (Ken), character sketches of Ken, a Gatchaman ModelLock Commercial, and much much more.

NuTech Sued By Ken Groove

Anime production company Ken Groove has sued North American distributor NuTech media for unpaid licensing fees and royalties and for streaming their titles online. NuTech primarily released hentai, adult pornographic titles, but there had been indications that the company was to branch out into non-adult anime titles.

Anime News Network reports that Ken Groove's legal counsel told them that lawsuit against Nutech Digital claims NuTech bounced $300,000 in licensing fee payment checks because of insufficient funds and that Nutech Digital allowed Ken Groove's properties to be streamed online, a right that was not given to Nutech in the licensing contracts. See Anime News Network's article here for more details.

August ADV Collections

ADV will be releasing the following Thinpak collections in August:

  • 8/02 Najica Blitz Tactics
  • 8/09 Pretear
  • 8/23 Final Fantasy Unlimited
  • 8/30 New Fist of the North Star
  • 8/30 Orphen II

Appleseed Sales Surpass Expectations

Geneon Entertainment reported that home video sales of Appleseed have exceeded expectations with over 85,000 units sold to-date since the title¹s DVD debut May 10, setting a new standard for anime titles released in North America and shaping up to be one of the top anime releases of 2005.

Dark Horse Comics to Publish Harlequin Novels in Manga Format

Harlequin Enterprises Limited Dark Horse will publish manga adaptations of six topselling Harlequin titles under the Harlequin Ginger Blossom banner. Harlequin Ginger Blossom will be divided into two color-coded lines -- a &pink& line, which is aimed at younger readers, and a &violet& line, intended for more sophisticated readers. The agreement is a six-book deal -- three books for each line -- with a title from each line arriving approximately every three months.

Dark Horse will publish the first two North American Harlequin manga titles -- Harlequin Ginger Blossom: A Girl in a Million written by Betty Neels with art by Kako Itoh, and Harlequin Ginger Blossom: Response written by Penny Jordan with art by Takako Hashimoto -- in December 2005.

CPM Completes Patlabor

Central Park Media announced the upcoming release of Patlabor: The Mobile Police-The TV Series: Volume 11, concluding the series? long running action/comedy mecha adventures. This August release, which contains the last 5 episodes of the series, has a $19.95 SRP. To further celebrate the conclusion of one of CPM?s cornerstone series, the company will also release Patlabor:The Mobile Police-The TV Series:DVD Collection Volumes 9-11, which contains Episodes 35-47 on 3 DVDs for $49.95 SRP.

Stone Bridge to Release Samurai Cinema Book

Stone Bridge Press, publisher of books about Japan, introduces its third major book on cinema, this time celebrating one of the most beloved genres from Japan: the samurai film.

&Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves& is a critical guide to over 50 top samurai films, including such masterworks as the Oscar-winning 'Gate of Hell,' 'Yojimbo' (remade five times, including 'A Fistful of Dollars'), the influential 'Lady Snowblood,' and newly released hits like Takeshi Kitano's 'Zatoichi.'

Also here is information on the samurai era in Japan, the Japanese film industry, and the key actors and directors such as Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune, and Tatsuya Nakadai who turned these warrior tales of loyalty, duty, revenge, and explosive swordsmanship into a great dramatic art that has captivated the world.

Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves: The Samurai Film Handbook is 240 pages, paperback, with 40 black & white photos. It retails for US$19.95. . See the cover at here

Hideo Gosha -- Shinobu Hashimoto -- Raizo Ichikawa -- Shintaro Katsu -- Masaki Kobayashi -- Akira Kurosawa -- Toshiro Mifune -- Tatsuya Nakadai -- Tetsuro Tamba -- Tomisaburo Wakayama

Adventures of Zatoichi -- Band of Assassins -- Chushingura -- Daimajin -- Destiny's Son -- Gate of Hell -- Harakiri -- Heaven & Earth -- Hunter in the Dark -- Kagemusha -- Kwaidan -- Lady Snowblood: Blizzard from the Netherworld -- Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance -- Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx -- Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades --- Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance -- New Tale of Zatoichi -- Rashomon -- Red Lion -- Roningai -- Samurai 1: Musashi Miyamoto -- Samurai 2: Duel at Ichijoji Temple -- Samurai 3: Duel on Ganryu Island -- Samurai Assassin -- Samurai Banners -- Samurai Rebellion -- Samurai Reincarnation --- Sanjuro -- Seven Samurai -- Shogun's Samurai -- Sleepy Eyes of Death: Sword of Seduction -- Sleepy Eyes of Death: The Chinese Jade -- Sword of Doom -- Taboo -- Tenchu! -- The Hidden Fortress -- The Razor: Sword of Justice -- The Razor: The Snare -- The Razor: Who's Got the Gold? -- The Secret of the Urn -- The Tale of Zatoichi -- The Tale of Zatoichi Continues -- Three Outlaw Samurai -- Throne of Blood -- The Twilight Samurai -- Wicked Priest: Cast a Net of Drunken Anger -- Yojimbo -- Yokai Monsters: 100 Monsters -- Zatoichi -- Zatoichi Challenged -- Zatoichi: The Festival of Fire

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