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Anime AICN by Scott Green: Sexy Voice and Robo, Toei Releases, and Comicon Manga!

Manga Spotlight: Sexy Voice and Robo
by Iou Kuroda

Released by Viz

Not only is Sexy Voice and Robo a wonderfully unconventional manga, but it features a great teen detective heroin appealing for the right reasons. The young sleuth is as updated as anyone could possibly wish for the concept and unbound from past genre baggage. Think a 14 year old, more local version of popular fiction criminal profiler on a cell phone, then throw away the conceived notions of how the topic would be handle in most popular media.

The best thing about manga is that it offers something different, and this collection offers some different from most manga in that it's unlike the standard shoujo/shounen or a derivation there of. Sexy Voice and Robo is intelligent and dense rather than slick. The engages the reader by putting them in the same mind of the heroin, interpreting conversations or the look in people's eyes, and weighing the ambiguous implications of actions. Though the reader needs to take an active role in the series, it isn't a labored effort.

Nico Hayashi is a social savant. The fourteen year old can read people from their speech, and combine the skill with modifying her own voice for brilliant manipulations. She tests her abilities in a hobby in which she takes her cell phone to a cafe, engages clients of a phone dating service, then spies on them as they arrive and wait for their hook-ups. An old man overhears Nico working the man who gets tagged "Robo", an underachiever clerk whose fixation on models and action figures trumps other interests(kind of the butt of the series). When the old man questions her, Nico explains she's honing herself to become a spy or a fortune teller, someone who can improve lives. The old man, who seems to be connected to seedy business in the sense that he's a guy knows things he shouldn't know, pulls influence he shouldn't have soon begins employing Nico for tasks or interpreting consultations. Thus agent "Sexy Voice" is born.

Sexy Voice and Robo sits well with its own contradictions. Operating through plays of conversation, it looks light, and in the early going it gets through some tight spots with only easily brushed off bruising to the characters. Without over-relying on guns and weapons, Sexy Voice's cases build to a point where the emotional blow back of the consequences on level with harsher spy fiction.

"Coming of age" can be a real turn off for readers. For younger readers, it invokes material foisted upon you that you're supposed to find profound. For older audience, it's been often there, don't want to go through it again.

Through a chain of crime stories and mysteries, not quite from the realm of every experiences, the narratives passes through a series of fascinating personal interactions that hit a state of personal reflection, which resonates, because along the way, the reader has been taken into the mental processes.

Nico's work start as a lark with the juvenile intension of creating happy endings. She's doing what comes natural to her, and basically disposes of the money she makes. While not completely innocent, she knows she's teasing men with sexual interests, many of whom are cheating on wives or girl friends, she's not prepared for the existential feedback in the work. From when she's starts working as Sexy Voice, Nico begins running into grifters and more serious criminals, some of whom mirror aspects of herself.

Starting with eating an ice-cream float and teasing men over the phone and in some ways ending with an old lady who explains her past saying "I was good with languages and I wasn't very pretty", the stories build a mature look at occupation, eventually forcing a young person to look at the kind of implications people would rather not think about when regarding themselves, even if their job never ties directly to a death.

As with the story telling the illustration invokes plenty of contradictions. With heavy ink and brush work, despite the very modern attitudes, fashion and devices of the story, the look sometimes invokes pre-modern work with paint or wood block. Reading of English language comics might find some parallels in the design to the work of Paul Pope.

Readers who are more into quick impression than the more detailed points of the medium may find that compared to many styles of illustration, it looks more sketch-ish, but they'll also find that Iou Kuroda is style able to capture action and scale as well as the distinct look of the characters.

Viz picked an unusual format for the unusual release, putting the whole series 2 volume work, with four hundred pages in one collection, will full sized pages for $20.00 The decision is perfect from a consumer standpoint (it may cause some issues from retailers looking to treat manga uniformly). It isn't a one sitting work, but it is ideal to have the whole work in one collection. If there's a flaw, it is that there's a properties of the paper's thickness and texture double turning pages a risk and on occasion a page is missed.

Anime Spotlight: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Volume 4

Released by Super Techno Arts

Super Techno Arts' extended releases of brief volumes of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has now reached the original OAV adaptation of the cult manga, released domestically after the later produced, but chronologically early series. The release structure of JoJo's has been its hardest selling point. Most volumes have been two episodes, brief by the standards of recent years. Though the series was initially scheduled to be complete in summer 2004, after two years of releases, the short series is just starting its second half. The situation looks like the catch 22 of needing buyers to ramp up the business, but buyers being inclined to stay away because the business is moving too slowly and uncertainly.

There's a wariness creeping into anime consumers that's going to be difficult for a series like JoJo's to overcome. Buyers have gotten burned, especially with less established companies, by purchasing early volumes of a series that was dropped when it didn't make the right profit. Combined with the increased prevalence of collected sets, companies are going to have to work to convince fans to jump on new series, and especially convince them that it will be seen through to its conclusion.

One saving grace for JoJo's is that though there is a progression, it works well in stand alone pieces. Episodes and phases work as self contained short stories. For example the original OAV (commenced in this release), starts nearly mid-action, with nearly all the characters in place and beyond some confusion, it is easy to get engrossed in the tension of the moment.

The other grace is that the series has something to offer: a hand of water spurting out a canteen to rip a man's head off. The detached cranium is quickly crushed and pulled into the canteen, where upon blood slowly gurgles out.

The real attention grabber in the opening of the recent hit anime Elfen Lied has to be its creatively bloody execution of super powers. A number of the most popular American superhero comics have hinted around characters viciously unleashing their abilities. Plenty of shounen manga have occasionally delivered on the idea. JoJo goes all out with violent and intelligent splatter-hero action. The characters think through the use of their powers, then unleash them with brutal, and gory results. It follows a pattern of the villains using their Stand tarot based spirit alter-egos' colorful manifestations to engage the heroes in a lethal traps and bloody the them badly, to which the heroes respond by quick-thinking through the situations, using their own spirit entity powers as tools to extricate themselves, and finally responding with lethal force.

The anime follows the heated feud between the Joestar family and the vampire Dio Brand, in its third generation, or in the case of this set, the rush to the showdown between the new Joestar standard bearer in half Japanese Jotaro Kujo and Dio. It opens with Jotaro and his flamboyant allies (Josef Joestar, a, very well preserved, but aged, once globe trotting martial artist Indiana Jones is slightly out of place with the other muscular heros, who dress like 80's rock stars) in Egypt/a north African desert, preparing for this final push. With the delivery of supplies "backup" arrives in the form of a particularly strange Stand user, Iggi, an ill tempered, but uncommonly intelligent terrier (back to the old game of spot manga creator Hirohiko Araki's music pun) with a taste for coffee-flavored gum, whose Stand allows him to shape sand into large bio-mech meets Aztec creatures. Think Cowboy Bebop's Ein with attitude and super powers.

With one of Dio's fanatically loyal stand users is also waiting for them, the heros quickly find themselves in a classic horror movie predicament (think Tremors).

In terms of anime being released in North America, 1993 is on the older side. Despite the fact the series takes a leap into dated looking animation (after a couple years of digital animation, unfortunately even well made cell animation, and JoJo's is well made, looks a little off), taking the anime chronologically was the right move. The first anime doesn't exactly create the impression, but it does help in establish both the world tour nature of the characters' quest, and their desperate marathon through their opponent's agents.

The engagement is the perfect super hero work for an audience past the age of wonder, and into thinking strategy and practicality, without cheating by using personal virtues as trump qualities in combat. During the two episode long confrontation, Jotaro essentially has to defeat an entrenched opponent whose location he doesn't know, using the ability to manifest a large green warrior that yells and punches. When thinking about how the action will proceed, once you accept the super powers, and the looks (Jotaro's signature items are a chain dangling denim jacket and a ripped hat, there's a lot of super hero flair with an eye toward stadium rock, and early MTV rather than spandex), it doesn't over burden you with what you're asked to accept in terms typical genre conceits. For example, there are logical reasons for why one antagonist can generally put all the protagonists in mortal danger. So unlike many series that bend the encounters for story needs, you aren't left asking the if one enemy can tie up all the heros, the villain doesn't send two and completely wipe out his foes.

The animation rises to the scope of the concepts at work to deliver memorable effects and their gory aftermath, but like previously released episodes, there are rough spots. While the first set to be released had patches of laziness or at least short cuts, this set is incline is inclined to try out effects, a few of which don't work. Split panel attempts to mirror manga in particular comes across as a bit cheesy.

The producers worked with Skywalker Sound, and the expertise at work does leave an impression. In particular, the scenario's lulls punctuated by explosive burst from one source or another are given their full impact.

Viz will soon be releasing the JoJo's manga, starting with this third generation in the epic (volumes 13 through 28 of the 80 plus volume series according to this FAQ. In starting at the later point versus starting at the beginning, there arguments either way. The genre changed several times of the course of the series and the illustration ability improved greatly. Starting earlier, the martial arts pulp of the second phase might have been interesting. Starting later, there are markets for the more high school mystery fourth phase, the more yaoi toned crime story of the fifth, or Jotaro's attractive daughter in the sixth (one of the few active females characters in the franchise). Still, the appeal to the third phase in its evolution from supernatural horror to more cataclysmic action makes it a good place to start.

On the other hand, building to the point in rewarding. The Speedwagon company helping the heroes in the OAV was established by a Victorian thug who Jonathan Joestar, the first of the series' heroes fought, then allied with. Similarly, there's some significance in that Dio's head is attached to Jonathan Joestar's body. Certainly, the opening of animation in the series begun in this release makes little sense without knowing the earlier back-story.

Hopefully Viz will take the approach Super Techno Arts' took with their releases in working through a parallel telling of the back-story. (which the animated version does with vocal narration of manga panels)

Anime Spotlight: Case Closed: The Knight Baron Mystery

Released by FUNimation

Case Closed aka Detective Conan is brilliant for tv, it has an enormous body of material, an entertaining status quo, slow mythology, great, and hard to tire of character dynamics (at over 400 episodes, think the Simpsons of detective anime). It's not so great direct to video, more the kind of series you'd collect in big blocks after you're already familiar with the body of work.

It's a series with plenty of unusual aspects, but it is a detective series, and like many detective series, familiarity and consistency are chief attractions. The cases aren't particularly rewarding on their own, or building to anything rewarding. While the idiosyncrasies are enjoyable, it is not necessarily something that will satisfy from a DVD.

The series' detective is Kudo Shinichi (Jimmy Kudo in the dub), a teen sleuth prodigy whose body was reduced that of a grade schooler's after being poisoned during an investigation. He assumes the identity of Conan Edogawa and begins solving crime with, in a jumble of conventions, Kudo's girlfriend Ran (a skilled karate practitioner) as the muscle, and her amusingly witless and generally worthless private investigator father Kogoro Mouri (who Conan knocks out and vocally impersonates to deliver the solutions to cases) almost as the side-kick. A trio of child-peers also frequently accompany Conan, but not in this volume's case.

In the three part Knight Baron Mystery (or Night Baron as it is subtitled) Conan's confidant/gadget supplier Dr. Agasa sets Conan, Ran and her father up in a mystery competition at a resort hotel, where the winner who solves the identity of which of their fellow contestants has assumed the identity of The Knight Baron, wins a free stay at the resort, and a "special computer disk". Conan thinks he has leverage into the mystery, not only because of his skill, but because Night Baron is a fictional character created in the novels written by his father.

A three episode case, in a series that generally keeps the story to one or two episodes, especially one with a tie to Conan lore seems a promise of something epic, which the execution doesn't deliver. Especially noticable in that few aspects of what would make the case unique are explored in depth. Given the number of suspects involved, the story is three episodes in Conan pacing, which is to say that it isn't slow, but its not exactly cramming details in either. It does offer an array of clues that were interesting, if not completely original ideas, but thee number of place holder suspects and red herrings do leave it looking less complex and more padded than it may have actually been. The hardest to swallow red herring is the use of Night Baron, and its connection Conan/Shinichi's rarely seen parent as a brief meta series clue with very little involvement in the case itself.

The best material comes from the character's standard routines: seeing Conan gather information by probing under the guise of a child or Ran's father being an unrepentant ass. Along with some passable character moments with the main cast, such as Ran's about the implications of accusing someone.

The trouble in of what auidence the series best fits for North American release takes an interesting turn in this volume. The crimes in these episodes are not particularly gory. However, there is some very blatant and effective sex appeal with some very revealing outfits, whether they're bathing suits or evening gowns. With the Henson-like ears and facial features of the characters, sexuality isn't always a welcome fit.

Manga Spotlight Gon
by Masashi Tanaka

released by Paradox Press

With the makers of Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within recently announcing a CGI movie starring mini t-rex Gon, perhaps best known in North America for his appearance in Tekken 3, it is a good time to recommend tracking down the out of print series. (While hunting, try to find a copy of Viz's release of 2001 Nights, an excellent hard sci-fi manga inspired by Arthur C Clark).

In the quintessential Gon story, the spunky little guy demands a position at the top of the food chain, fights his way there, and maybe shows some benevolence. Along the way, he sets off some chain of events within some remote local environment. Tanaka's silent wild life Rube Goldberg adventures stand as classics in sequential illustrated storytelling. There are plenty of dinosaur characters, but there's something about the pure idea in Gon that sets him apart in the way Mickey is set apart from talking funny-animal mice. It takes one short story to build a great affection for the character. Tanaka skillfully brings together cartooning with capturing the detains of animals and their environs. The tight lined details balance a natural form and anthropomorphically expressiveness. It's an ideal all ages work where young ages will love for the characters and situations, older readers will be entranced by the brilliantly rendered images.

In the original story, a very reptilian Gon head buts a bear into submission for the lion's share of the salmon catch, before leveling some final humiliation by dragging the unhappy creature away to be used as a comfy sleeping spot. Soon, during later stories his face gets a bit rounder and his scales dissipate, leaving a cuter creature. The stories of his tours through the worlds natural environments fall into a set of templates that are kept fresh through the use of news areas and compelling twists of emotion bubble up through the humor and action: he's generally finding food, asserting himself, or spending time with maturing young animals. For example playing coocoo in a nest of mountain eagles, leading an anti-dingo campaign in the outback, scuffling with lions in the savannah.

On volume in particular to look for is "Gon Swimmin", which collects three brilliantly fun stories: one involving Gon experimenting with a tortoise shell, only to become stuck, after some difficult adapting he hooks up with a newly hatched brood of sea turtles to experience the under-water world, then Gon, an impala, a savannah monkey and an ostrich blow by a tornado into the middle of a desert painfully trekking their way to an oasis, and "Gon and his Posse" featuring the dinosaur raising a group of orphan African big cat cubs.

Anime Spotlight:Air Master
Volume 3

Released by Toei

The announcement that Toei, one the giant's in Japanese anime, responsible for a number of the most popular names is anime seemed to have potential to change the face of the North American market. After a warm up, with titles such as the international basketball hit Slam Dunk it looked as it the company would be expanding to release series like Sailor Moon (which they wouldn't re-license to the distributor who had previously released the series). Yet, good material horribly marred by slapped together releases didn't do much for consumer opinion of the company, and it now looks like the it is withdrawing from their botched expedition.

Not everyone is won over by Air Master, there are some joke characters that some viewers will find aggravating, such as a child-bodied high school girl, load and abrasive but in some way endearing with a voice that is at the same time deep and shrill (ironically voiced by the actress who performed the role of Chiyo in Azumanga Daioh), and a thick often muscular design for women in the series is called ugly by some, but for most, thanks distinctive characters and actions, Air Master was in the running to be an unlikely contender as one of the most plain entertaining anime series. Yet, three volumes in, Toei continued to put out some of the poorest anime localization releases in recent years.

Volumes one and two were release together, but after a chance to correct the progress, the company still uses small, crowded, painful to read subtitle text a fan translator would be ashamed of, still uses dubtitles (the same script for the English dub and the subtitles, generally subtitle scripts are more literal), still lacks chapter stops, still goes to the menu between episode and still translates lucha (Mexican wrestling) Roo-cha. The litany of awful authoring and translation decisions take a heavy toll on the release.

And the series is still worth watching, as an amazing well directed fighting anime with untraditionally compelling characters. It finds a niche in anime martial arts, between the obviously super-hero fights and stepped up movie martial arts. It specializes in goofy techniques, but Dragon Ball Z's Daisuke Nishio puts together action that displays an understanding of real fight mechanics.

The majority of what transpires is factually BS and acknowledgely so, but a character who fights with tai-chi uses tai-chi and there attacks work like tai-chi attacks. A submission grappler acts differently in a fight than a more thrown based grappler. In a fight between a grappler and a striker, the striker gets in their first hit, the grappler recovers and gets in their take down. It does only point out that getting slammed into concrete can be quite lethal rather than at lease serious injuring the person on the recieving end, but there are plenty of bloody noses and split lips.

With a demonstrated understanding of how a punch and kick work it freely captures twists of action. Even if it doesn't sound impressive, a character catching a punch and turning it into a throw almost has the impact of live action. Nishio delves into choreographing the flow of the fight, where it isn't just exchanging and defending blows, but a story of how one move causes a reaction, effecting an opponent or giving them something to work with. With the central gimmick of a gymnast turned street fighter, the ability to spin or launch in reaction to a strike or throw bounces with exhilaration.

In the series, Nishio displays a great skill in the timing for comedy and action. Air Master's ability to get air born, and go above the ground in a street fight in which combatants aren't flying or throwing fireballs, forces the director to deal with a problem that effects animated and live action incarnations of characters like Batman and Spiderman. Barring scenes in Raimi's movie, climbing a build, or swinging between are ideas that work better as panel in a comic than in a medium with motion. Seeing Batman on top of a gargoyle is imposing, watching him get there has to be an awkward sight. See the latest Star Wars for a problem when too much jumping around isn't handled carefully. In the series, timing and force complement each other so that when a character bounces up hydrants, signs, awnings into the air, their is something special and almost credible in the action.

The series follows Maki, a former gymnastic star, now WNBA tall and aimless since the death of her demanding mother/coach. The characters aren't out of the way interesting, but enough meat and well rounded personality traits to think of them as people, rather likable ones at that. There's unusually and quirky, but because they deviations from the norm aren't simple, one point anime-explainable traits, they're made to count. Seeing Maki come out of her daze to go into a fight or lapse into youthful immaturities sums up to make a turly memorable character.

The thrust of the volumes is a 3 episode mini-arc in which an army of sight seeing thugs make off with Maki's mountain chested, over-proper kindof girlfriend Mina. This manages to snowball through just about every recurring character so far introduced (Maki's younger sister is absent). It's a fun shaggy dog tale anime that waivers between taking jokes too far and putting the characters in oddly trying situations (a sequence in which a character who fights with a BMX bike rescues Mina and not so confidently riding over roof tops is a great exercise in incredible comic timing). Though it is a big event meeting, it's kept even lighter than most of the series' other confrontation, and avoids over-teaming the generally solo fighters.

The final episode of the volume introduces Maki and would-be rival Sakiyama Kaori, a consistent loser who wills and screams herself into a world outside her legue, to the world of pro-wrestling. It illustrates a number of elements of what the series does right, starting with a grappling versus tai-chi fight between Sakiyama and a loser chick with in a pink Terry Bogard hat looking for a partner in her pro-wrestling schema (accompanied by a great path of fame presentation, taking a pair of dolls through success, marriage, even to the post celebrity skin-magazine cash in). Between Sakiyama Kaori very vocal objections to revealing outfits and harassments, and that the wrestler is essential a cute-girl character, but rather than the typical small frame, fairly large, muscle athlete, the series has a different take on anime feminism.

Anime Spotlight: Neon Genesis Evangelion

Released by ADV
Based on Platinum edition

With the Anime Expo announcement that Neon Genesis Evangelion will be airing on Cartoon Network, anime's premiere lightning rod is certain ro gain even more attention than the perennial hot topic already receives. Few anime works have sparked as much debate as Evangelion, and in recent years the question has become whether it deserves its reputation. The argument against the series has gained weight by its demystification over the years. In part, the thrill of the series was that everyone who saw it was inspired to concoct theories about the workings of its internal mythology, and how this fit into the religious allusions that were heaped on the psychological giant robot sci-fi. When a creator enforced consensus came about, that much was never design to make sense, it took some of the magic out of the series, and some of the world viewers were offered for exploration shrank.

Still, even handicapped in this way, Evangelion demands and holds a place of prominence in the anime canon. Despite looking dated, over emulated and familiar, saying nothing of when it steps up the intensity, the opening credits or light reflecting off Gendo Ikari's glasses over his folded hands are as electric today as they were in '96.

Neon Genesis Evangelion was anime's perfect storm. It's a phenomenon like Star Wars, Harry Potter or the Matrix. Plenty of works are going to try to reproduce it, but ultimately it will stand apart. With the difficulties in its original production, the level of research and design that wen into the work, the demons that creator Hideaki Anno had to exorcise, the time which i was released domestically (with exposure from Ghost in the Shell, Ninja Scroll and Sailor Moon, anime was starting to pick up many fans), the genius and less than genius demands the creators put on its American release, the stars aligned in a profound way. There is a reason why the series is ingrained into anime and anime fandom. There's a reason why Rei Ayumani takes the beating from the waves of popularity and still stands as one of the most prominent anime heroines

While not precisely a trailer blazer, many of the ideas had been around, with the mecha genre's dirty uncle Go Nagai testing out a couple in his day, its deeply burdened giant robot pilots added a new dimension of psychological introspection along with its fanatically detail implementation of the story.

In Evangelon Shinja Ikari, an adolescent boy, is summoned by his estranged father to pilot the monstrous biomechanical Evangelion unit 01. At its skeletal level, the series is the uber-fans at Gainax creating the obsessively complete mecha anime. From logos designed better than most corporate work, to an encyclopedia of borrowed or created sci-fi concepts, they dot the 'i''s in explaining very genre convention (ie why the aliens always attack the hero's home base) , and cross the 't''s in packing extra layers of religious symbology.

While building on the episodic monster of the week model, the episode structure evolves through the series. It spends five episodes getting into the head of the lead, introduces the other pilots, pale, blank Rei and fiery read head Asuka and goes through a number of episodes of well constructed, but more standard episodic threat disposal. Though self contained, it never stops building, until it again shifts and magnifies until the psychological epiphany is starring strait into the double barreled blast of science and religion.

Fighting a black and white marbled sphere, Shinji is sucked into the creature's real body, a Sea of Dirac within its shadow. Close to death, he goes face to face with demons, and the series being to wade into more directly abstract and metaphysical waters.

As the series goes into its penultimate phase, it becomes embroiled in its mythology. As the past begins to catches up, history is exposed and the characters really start hurting each-other profoundly. When the characters begin decomposing, it has all the sickening frustration of someone you know having a breakdown.

These episodes painfully rip apart characters as the plans and manipulations of them play off each-other's flaws and issues. The deconstruction resculpts the viewers opinion of the character with two edges. First a new view of the characters through maturation, or peeling of layers of presentation of the personalities. Second, an enhanced view from explanation of there motivations and history that recasts every past action of the characters, down to a point where even throw away dialogue has to be reevaluated for its hidden meaning.

All through the series, Shinji's portable audio player repeats the numbers 25 and 26, and as the series goes into its final episodes, 25 and 26, it takes the path of something like Last Temptation of Christ, which saves its most difficult departure from the accept mode for the final act, ending with anime's most hotly debated conclusion. The ending received plenty of negative reaction largely because it ends with a denouncement rather than a resolution of the plot that had been built. (look to the Evangelion movies for a more plot oriented resolution, and they are their own hornets' nests) As designed, it is still the piece that be can debated and deciphered. It forces the viewer to parse all decisions that appear on the screen in order to fully comprehend the creators' intentions, and even then what is taken away depends on what the viewer brings to the experience.

One reason the characters are have such resonance with the view is the makers manipulated the audience without playing to them. Unlike many prior and subsequent work it never mugged to the camera or broke out of its world. They save a scene where Rei broke out her demenoir for an alternate world clip during the conslion. Even when it broke the fourth wall in the episode preview naration, it was perflectly in keeping with the character. Consequently, the personalities are so strong that there are characters who viewers with eternally hate or be fascinated by, characters who will earn disgusts, and characters who will invoke ambivalence.

Complementing the characters is effects work that makes Evangelion one anime grandest playgrounds. The creators had plenty of fun having on their robots leap frog battle ships to engage an aquatic beast, or a two-on-two fight synchronized to music, but it also pays attention to the small visuals of how a room is entered. There's nothing like an Evangelion roar, a Rei Ayumani slap, or evan the series elevator ride pregnant pauses, or moments staring at a ceiling. It is staged so that every sense entrance has value and even a brief tangent to an inconsequential person's wedding is packed with humor and dramatic details. When when it came time to be mind breaking, it brings the sledge hammer. Even wild psychedelics are carefully orchestrated, and interpretable.

There is a lot of material that can and should be thrown away when processing the series, but it also rewards a viewer who cares to deconstruct the work. The depth to get academic about series exists, and there are cogent ideas to be gleamed. In some ways, coming into the series now, it is a shame that much has already been explained or demystified. You can still immerse yourself into Evangelion, but the world of anime is a smaller place now that there isn't room for everyone's theory on it.

Now that years have passed, the series aged a bit, and the rabid emulation in anime has receded there may be the distance to reevaluate the work. It remains a landmark on the medium, not just for its influence and popularity, but for its quality and value. Despite the backlash against Evangelion, claims that it's pretentious, less than it appears to be, or less than what followed it, the series continues to justify its reputation as required viewing. Even taken on the surface level of plots and events, its stands as one of fiction's superlatively realized worlds. If you haven't seen it make an appointment to view it when it airs on Cartoon Network, then pick up the, at this time definitive, Platinum release .It is a work that is best suited for a format that allows the viewer to pause, rewind, and rewatch.

Toei Pulls Releases

Anime production giant appears to have decided to cease the anime series that they have been releasing in North America, including Slam Dunk and Air Master. The releases had been criticized for their poor subtitles and DVD authoring.

Toei has been distributing the titles through Geneon.

Marmalade Boy Correction

Anime News Network points out that though Shueisha is not re-releasing shoujo drama Marmalade Boy to TOKYOPOP, it has not granted the licensed to Viz (which Shueisha shares ownership of with Shogakukan and ShoPro).

Manga Titles Announced at Comicon

From Anime on DVD
The following new manga licenses were announced at the San Diego Comic Con

Appleseed (Screen capture comic from new anime)
Chikyu Misaki by Yuji Iwahara
Cipher by Minako Narita
Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne by Arina Tanemura
Kikaider Code 02 by Meimu: A Sentai (think Power Ranger) title
Moon Child by Shimizu Reiko
Pieces of a Spiral by Tachibana Kaimu
Seimaden by You Higuri
Testarotho by Sanbe Kei
Tower of the Future by Saki Hiwatari
Young Magician by Narushima Yuri

The series will start in late 2005.

From CMX's October solicitations:

Written and illustrated by Narita Minako
CMX. Anise can't believe her luck when she finds herself in the same high school as famous former child star Siva. Although the cool and handsome Siva seems unapproachable, Anise manages to become his friend. But her happiness turns to surprise when she discovers Siva's secret: for years, he's been switching identities with his twin brother, Cipher!
On sale October 5 o 5" x 7.375" o 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US oTEEN

Written and illustrated by TANEMURA ARINA
CMX. The international blockbuster manga - which also spawned a hit anime series - comes to the U.S.! By day, Kusakabe Maron is an ordinary high school girl with more than her share of problems. But by night, she is Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, the reincarnation of Joan of Arc! Her mission: to hunt down demon-possessed paintings and exorcise the evil spirits! Too bad accomplishing this mission puts her into conflict with the authorities, who view her as a mysterious stranger vandalizing works of art. With only the help of angel-in-training Finn, she must survive high school during the day and battle evil by night!
On sale October 26 o 5" x 7.375" o 176 pg, B&W, $9.99 US o ALL AGES

Story by Ishinomori Shotaro
Art by Meimu
CMX. The manga behind the cult favorite animated series seen on Cartoon Network is here! What happens when a robot suffers an identity crisis? On the surface, Jiro appears to be a normal teenage boy - he's riddled with self-doubt, has trouble making friends, and owns a guitar he doesn't know how to play. But he's really Kikaider, a super-powered android with a secret "Gemini" device implanted in his brain to help simulate human qualities. Professor Gill, a former associate of Kikaider's creator, is hunting for the Gemini device and he'll go to any lengths to recover it!
On sale October 19 o 5" x 7.375" o 204 pg, B&W, $9.99 US o MATURE READERS

During CMX's Comicon Panel, the company representative deflected most of the questions regarding the contensious edited of the heavy sexuality in fight manga Tenjho Tenge. It was stated that other adult titles will be shrink-wrapped (including the upcoming Kikaider and Young Magician), and that the fact that Tenjho Tenge will be disclosed in the solicitation text for ordering the titles, though at this time not on the comic itself. The representatives would not give definitive statement on whether they were aware of the titles content when it was licensed, or whether an unedited edition will be published.

The representatives also mentioned that a new editor for the imprint will be coming onboard soon, and that they are discussing how to package series and use them to transition readers to the parent DC Comic's titles.

Dark Horse
Ghost in the Shell 1.5: Human-Error Processor by Masamune Shirow
Gungrave Anime Manga by Yasuhiro Nightow
Reiko the Zombie Shop by Rei Mikamoto
Eden Volume 1: Its An Endless World! by Hiroki Endo

From Dark Horse's description of Rei Mikamoto's Reiko the Zombie Shop

Terror has struck the sleepy, little town of Shiraike. A serial killer stalks the streets murdering innocent girls. Twenty-nine grisly murders have been committed, with no clues to catch the killer. Until the town receives a strange visitor: a beautiful young woman who can raise the dead. She is Reiko: The Zombie Shop, necromancer for hire. For a price, she'll wake your dead, if only to find a clue to their demise, but she's not responsible for what the dead will say or do once they awake!

Part SIXTH SENSE and part EVIL DEAD - the ultra-violent, comical, and disturbing manga THE ZOMBIE SHOP has been resurrected stateside and translated into English in its original format for the first time. Dont miss the first volume of the series that took Japanese readers by the throat and made them scream for more!

Del Rey
School Rumble by Kobayashi Jin: a school life comedy/drama
KageTora by Segami Akira

Del Rey also indicated that they will be releasing more older audience josei and seinen manga.

Digital Manga Publishing
Sweet Revolution (Binetsu Kakumei) by Yukine Honame and Serubo Suzuki
My Only King (Boku dake no Ousama) by Lili Hoshino
Il Gato Sul G (G-Senjou no Neko) by Tohko Miyagi
The Art of Loving (Renai Koufukuron) byEiki Eiki
Almost Crying is this (Naichaisouyo) by Mako Takahashi

Hatenko Yugi (retitled Dazzle) by Narumi Endo
Shonan Junai Gumi by Toru Fujisawa (a preqel to GTO)

BlackCat by Yabuki Kentarou, a popular super powered bounty under versus assasins action
D. Gray-man by Hoshino Katsura: a gothic supernatural title
Claymore by Yagi Norihiro
Boboboboobo Boobobo by Sawai Yoshio an action comedy
All of these titles are Shonen Jump or in the case of Claymore, Shonen Jump Advance.

Viz will be completing Osamu Tezuka's Phoenux, possibly publushing the series is a hard cover format similar to Vertical's Buddha.

Viz also announsed that the anime adapation of go strategy game manga Hikaru no Go will be announced from a new Shonen Jump Home Video label, with 4 bilingual episodes per DVD. The title will be released quaterly starting in December.

The Cartoon Network edit of the Naruto anime will be released starting in March 2006. The uncut version will be released in 13 episode sets starting in July 2006.

Ghibli News

Contradicting previous reports, a Ghibli represenative has denied that Hayao Miyazaki's next film will be an adapation of "Wo diushile wode xiaonanhai (I Lost my Little Boy)" by a Chinese writer called Yishu.

A new Ghibli produced short film will be released theatrically in Japan on September 10th in conjunction with the live action adaptation of the manga Touch.

The dialog-less "retro future" short is titled "Sora Tobu Toshi Keikaku (A Flying City Plan)," directed by Yoshiyuki Momose with music by capsule.

A clip of can be seen here.

TOKYOPOP to Make MirrorMask and Henson Manga

The Jim Henson Company has partnered with TOKYOPOP Inc. in an exclusive manga publishing deal to bring three of its fantasy titles to fans. Most notable among them is MirrorMask, the feature film from Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman due for release on September 30th of this year. TOKYOPOPs MirrorMask prequel manga will be plotted by Gaiman, the award-winning writer of the highly successful Sandman comics as well as the novels Good Omens and Coraline. Also included in the deal will be all-new original graphic novel series for the immensely popular properties The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.

The MirrorMask prequel will tell the story of the princess' escape from the Dark Palace and how she came to acquire the MirrorMask.

TOKYOPOP also plans to release a sequel manga to Labyrinth, which first hit the big screen in 1986, remained a fan favorite over the years and also served as an inspiration for MirrorMask. Its manga version will follow 13-year-old Toby as he journeys back to the Labyrinth to assume his role as the heir to the Goblin Kingdom. Manga writer Jake Forbes will write this series.

The final title will be a prequel to 1982s The Dark Crystal, the classic tale of good versus evil that broke ground as the first fully animatronic feature. Henson also recently announced that it is in preproduction on a sequel theatrical film of this cult classic.

ADV to Collect Newtype USA Manga

Anime on DVD reports that starting in November, ADV will be collecting the manga that was serialized in the Newtype USA periodical, including Aoi Nanase's Angel/Dust and Yukiru Sugisaki's Lagoon Engine Einsatz, in graphic novel form.

Bandai Hints

At San Diego Bandai did not make an expect announcement about their manga line, but there were indications that the line, which will publish original manga tied to Bandai's anime releases may include a Eureka 7 title.

The first volume of Gundam SEED Destiny is expected in fourth quarter 2005.

Manga at Eisner Award

This another thin year from manga winners at North American comic's prestigious Eisner Awards. The 17th annual awards, announced at the San Diego Comicon rewarded Vertical's release of Osamu Tezuka's Buddah volumes 3 and 4 the prize for Best US Edition of Foreign Material.

Friends of Lulu Award for women in comics also inducted Rumiko Takahashi into their Women Cartoonists' Hall Of Fame.

New Robotech Comic

Comicon Pulse has a run down of upcoming Robotech projects here. Wildstrom will be running a five-part five-part Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles comic from Tommy Yune, Udon's Omar Dogan and some of the original US Robotech: The Sentinel creators Jason and John Waltrip, which will lead into Harmony Gold's upcoming Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. The comic is set to hit stores this October on a biweekly basis.

From CMX's October solicitations:

Written by Tommy Yune, Jason Waltrip & John Waltrip
Art and cover by Omar Dogan & Udon Studios
The legendary Robotech saga continues! After 20 years, the mysterious circumstances behind the disappearance of Admiral Rick Hunter will be revealed in this 5-issue miniseries featuring much of the original Robotech cast as well as a behind-the-scenes look into the production of the upcoming Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles DVD!
In 2022, an Expeditionary Force departed from Earth in search of the homeworld of the Robotech Masters. However, its discovery would spark an interstellar conflict that would last decades. An uneasy alliance is finally reached, but a secret pact with an enemy within the ranks threatens to start a new war that could destroy the Expeditionary Force and the human race!
And in issue #2, the treachery of General Edwards is revealed, but not before the SDF-3 is nearly destroyed! When betrayal harms the very ones that he loves, how far is Admiral Rick Hunter willing to go to take retribution? With their flagship in ruins, Rick sends Captain Vince Grant with the upgraded battlefortress Tokugawa in hot pursuit to the Invid homeworld of Optera, but will it be enough to take on Edwards's new alien technology?
On sale Oct 5 and Oct 19 o 1 and 2 of 5 o 32 pg, FC, $3.50 US Edited by Ben Abernathy

Live Action Adaptations

AnimeNation reports that several Japanese fan comics say that the upcoming live action film Shinobi: Heart Under Blade appears to be either a live action adaptation of the ninja feud anime/manga Basilisk, or an adaptation of the same novel that the Basilisk manga is based on.

Variety reports Japanese director Takashi (Juon) Shimizu will direct an American live action film adaptation of Hitoshi Iwaaki's Parasyte manga series for New Line Cinema. The horror manga Parasyte about a teenager whose arm was taken over by an alien in a failed attempt to control the teen was an early TOKYOPOP release.

Bottle Fairy Premiere

Geneon wil be releasing the first volume of the very cute Bottle Fairy on November 22nd.

Action Figures has photos of booths from companies at San Diego Comic-Con including

Bleeding Edge's Princess Ai

Kotobukiya's Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Kingdom Hearts, Dragon Quest VIII, Full Metal Alchemist, Ninja Gaiden, To Heart, Comic Party

Mattel One Piece, Justice League Unlimited

G.I. Joe Sigma Six

Palisades Invader Zim, Adult Swim

Hasbro Transformers

Playground Maniacs Capcom: Street Fighter vs SNK, Capcom: Fighting Evolution

Yamato USA Appleseed, Berserk, Blade of Immortal, Devil May Cry, Samurai Champloo, Samurai Deeper Kyo, Trigun, Hellsing, VOTOMS

(not anime related)
Bif Bang Pow!'s Spaced

Electric Tiki's Mr Magoo and Underdog

Toynami's Inu Yasha series 3 and 4 can be seen here

JoJo's Turns Up on Jump! Super Star

It has been revealed that characters from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure will be appearing in Jump! Super Stars, a Nintendo DS game featuring character from many popular Shonen Jump titles including Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, One Piece, and Ruruoni Kenshin. See Magic Box's screen shots here.

The game, scheduled to be released August 8th has passed 300,000 pre-ordered units.

The Magic Box also has screen shots of Bandai's Nintendo DS action RPG Full Metal Alchemist: Dual Sympathy here

New Anime Licensed

Anime on DVD reports based on the series credits it looks Ichigo Mashimaro has licensed Ichigo Mashimaro aka Strawberry Marshmallow, but it has not been confirmed.

Media Blasters will be releasing Sukisho short for Suki na Mono wa Suki Dakara Shouganai!!

(a yaoi romance).

New Black Jack Movie

Anime News Network and Animaxis reports Osamu Tezuka's son Makoto Tezuka will be directing a new movie adaptation of his father's medical adventure hero Black Jack, which will be released in Japanese theatres this December. The official site is online here.

Cromartie Law Suit Update

According to Anime News Network, Kyodo News is reporting former baseball player Warren Cromartie has dropped his move to delay release of the live action Charge!! Cromartie High in exchange for a notice clearifying that the movie has no relation to any actual person. The movie adapts an absurdist anime/manga about the students a high school for youth delinquents.

Cromartie's lawyers have said that he does not accept the use of his name in the movie or comic and will file a lawsuit over the issue. One of the series jokes was that the school it featured were named after foreigners playing professional baseball in Japan, including naming the main school after Cromartie.

Still, some observers are speculating that given Cromartie's past sense of humor, the legal battle may not be as serious as it looks

FUNimation announced News VP

Navarre Corporation, who recently purchased anime distributor FUNimation has announced that they have have appointed Ward Thomas as Senior Vice President of Sales and Operations at FUNimation Entertainment. Ward brings some impressive knowledge and experience to FUNimation. Under his leadership and with his development of the distribution sales team, Navarre Distribution Services experienced triple-digit growth. Ward also brings extensive knowledge of Navarre's customer base, which we look to leverage for FUNimation going forward, and his experience with Navarre will further assist integration efforts at FUNimation.

Anime Network Inks Five SVOD Deals

Anime Network has announced five new carriage deals for its subscription video-on-demand service (SVOD).

BendBroadband, Click! Network, Massillon Cable TV, PrairieWave Communications and Sunflower Broadband have signed on to carry the service. These newest affiliates join Cablevision and Cox Communications Inc. in Anime Networks SVOD offerings, increasing the number of providers to 15 that carry the on-demand content throughout the United States and parts of Canada.

With thousands of half-hours of programming already in its library, Anime Network continues to bring out new top titles and classic hits. This summer Anime Network is proud to feature the highly anticipated series Elfen Lied; a story where innocence and evil collide in the mind of one woman with supernatural powers. Also airing this summer for the first time on American television is the classic series Gatchaman and the original Japanese version of the live action hit horror movie Dark Water.

September Pre-Priced CPM Releases

Central Park Media announced that in September, it will re-price and re-release an assortment of its best-selling mainstream anime titles at the favorably low price of $9.95 SRP each. Slated for re-release at the beginning of this fall are the popular Agent Aika series from the creators of the renowned Project A-Ko, the supernatural action-packed adventure, Geobreeders, and the five distinct comedic gems from the over-the-top Ping Pong Club series, an anime widely acclaimed as one of the funniest of its kind. Box sets for two of these series will also be re-priced and re-released in September; the 2-disc Geobreeders DVD Collection will be available at $19.95 SRP, and The Ping Pong Club DVD Collection, which includes all 5 of the DVDs, will be $49.95 SRP. In addition to these riveting titles, CPM also plans to re-release at only $9.95 the must own DVD, Photon: The Idiot Adventures.

Late August ADV Collections

ADV will be releasing thin-pack collections of Orphen 2: The Revenge Collection and New Fist of the North Star: Complete on August 30th.

Orphen 2: Revenge Collection
An action-packed fantasy-comedy, Orphen 2 picks up where the first series left off. Orphen is a powerful young sorcerer whose magical abilities are exceeded only by his bravado. Based on the original manga by Sadanobu Akita and Yuya Kusakawa, published in North America by ADV Manga.

Tower of Fangs most powerful sorcerer, Sorcerous Stabber Orphen, and his friends are back with all new adventures. But with every step of their journey, mysterious forces are watching them from the shadows. Who are they? What do they want? Will Orphen and his allies be strong enough to defeat them? Join our intrepid band as they fight against powerful mutated monsters in their search for the perfect hot springs and never-ending feasts!

Orphen 2: The Revenge Collection (SRP $39.98 DVD) is a DVD-only release containing all 23 episodes, presented in both English 2.0 and Japanese 2.0 with English subtitles.

New Fist Of The Northstar: Complete
Based on the original manga by Buronson and Tetsuo Hara, Fist of the Northstar is one of the films credited with launching an anime revolution in America during the 1980s. An indomitable hero, voluptuous women, and over-the-top carnage elevated Fist to instant cult hit, alerting US audiences to the fantastic possibilities of Japanese animation. This series, first released by ADV in 2004, picks up where the 80s classic anime ends.

In the aftermath of the great apocalypse, across a scarred and barren land littered with corpses, a new order rises. This land no longer resembles the one we live in now; it is a new land, with new rules. The strongest survive, the weak fall. Water is gold. Who holds the water holds the land and its people. Bandits loyal only to their overlord enslave survivors with an unwavering grip of fear.

With "survival of the fittest" a grizzly epitaph for the vestiges of civilization, a lone warrior will rise from the ashes and cut a swath of justice across the Earth's ruined landscape with his unconquerable martial art. He is Kenshiro. Believe him when he says, "You're already dead!"

TOKYOPOP Talks Original Series

Creators Jason Henderson (Sword of Dracula), Tony Salvaggio and Rising Stars of Manga artist Shane Granger team up to give fans a precognitive look into the corporate sponsored wars of tomorrow where genetically altered combatants are treated like celebrities. For fans of science fiction combat and super powered humans Psy-Comm promises to be a unique hybrid combining the best elements of both genres.

In the not-too-distant future, sovereign nations have been replaced by corporate city-states. War is entertainment and the stars are psychic commandos, known as "Psy-Comms." Trained from an early age, these gifted soldiers have honed their abilities to lethal perfection. In the corp-state of Electromedia, a young man named Mark Leit is destined to become the greatest Psy-Comm of all time. But a tragedy from his past, and a desire for redemption, will cause Mark to abandon everything for which his life has stood. In the eyes of his partner and best friend, Marks decision will be the ultimate act of betrayal.

Psy-Comm will be available at bookstores everywhere in November 2005.

A Midnight Opera
Star in the making, artist Hanzo Steinbach delivers an expansive tale of the ancient undead and shadowy religious conspiracies. Fans of Interview with a Vampire, Demon Ororon and heavy metal rock will certainly include A Midnight Opera among their favorite manga.

For nearly a millennium, undead creatures have survived in Europe by quietly infiltrating society. Some among the undead feel that, in the midst of human complacency, now is the time to strike against the mortals. Of course, a mysterious religious order also feels that now is the time to strike against evil, hoping to wipe out the undead once and for all with little regard for the cost to human life. The power to stave off this ultimate, destructive conflict between evil and righteousness rests with two wise and powerful undead brothers. But the only problem is they havent spoken to each other in a hundred and fifty years.

Steady Beat
Aunique love story that will set hearts fluttering and heads reeling. From acclaimed Wirepop creator Rivkah, Steady Beat is a coming-of-age shojo series that reminds readers that theres no such thing as simple love.

"Love, Jessica." That's what high school student Leah Winters finds written on the back of a love letter to her older sister--but who is this Jessica? When more letters, flowers and gifts start popping up, Leah goes undercover to discover her sister's secret. What she doesn't expect is to find a love of her own. But she does find it in some very unexpected places.

Miyzaki Two of Movies To Show Children

Twitch points out that the BFI has posted a top 50 list for children up to the age of 14 here, which includes Hayao Miyazaki's My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away.

Boondocks Date

ICV2 reports that the animated adaption of Aaron McGruder's comic stop will be airing on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block starting October 2nd at 11:00pm.

Regina King (Miss Congeniality 2, Ray) will provide the voices for both the 10-year-old Huey Freeman and his 8-year-old brother Riley. John Witherspoon (Friday After Next) voices the key role of Grandad, while an eclectic mix of actors including Mos Def (The Italian Job), Ed Asner (Elf), and Charley Murphy (Chappelle's Show) lend their vocal talents in various episodes as guest characters.

Promised Place to Open Theatrically in August

AnimeNation reports reports New York City's ImaginAsian Theater will screen The Place Promised In Our Early Days for one week beginning August 5th.

Upcoming Fox Animated

Toonzone reports 4Kids Entertainment and MGA Entertainment's line-up will include anime imports Magical Doremi and new series G.I. Joe Sigma, Bratz and returning shows Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, One Piece, and Sonic X.

More Movies From Pop TV

The movie adapation of Teenagle Mutant Ninja Turtles is back on schedule for an early 2007 release.

Rotton Tomatoes says less than a day after an all-new CGI version of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" was confirmed, word comes from Variety that an all-new CGI version of "The Smurfs" will hit multiplexes in 2008.

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