Manga Spotlight: Japan
written by Buronson
illustrated by Kentaro Miura
Released by Dark Horse Manga and Digital Manga Publishing
Japan is a second nudity and violence heavy nationalistic time traveling one shot written by Fist of the North Star's Buronson and illustrated by Berserk's Kentaro Miura.
The book should be viewed in light of the fact that it was first released in 1991, notable for the contentious sentiments on the international trade front. For perspective, its the year before Michael Crichton milked the headlines for Rising Sun. While Japan is an opportunity to see more of Miura's lushly gory illustration work, this time around when he had moved past the initial three volume trial of Berserk into the view of the character's young life, the manga is an ugly, vitriolic look at the flip side of the Japan-bashing seen in the US at the time.
Following up on King Of Wolves, an ethnocentric historical action about a modern academic/kendo champion who travels back in time to join with legendary Japanese heroes in assuming the identities of Genghis Kahn and his generals, Japan follows a hulking Yazuka captain who gives up his promising career to pursue a beautiful reporter. Accompanied by his wiry second, he meets up with her as she is lecturing a group of students. As the teens vacation in Barcelona, the reporter expounds on a comparison between Japan and Carthage. Her thesis, that like Carthage, Japan's position as an envied economic leader is a dangerous one is soon given brutal evidence, starting when the ground opens up, swallowing the group. In a mausoleum, surrounded by the corpses of Carthaginian soldiers and elephants, a crone reiterates the warning.
The group is then propelled a hundred years into the future, where ecologic disasters and nuclear meltdowns halted the global economy. Unable to sustain themselves, the Japanese became hated, scattered refuges. As the Yazuka captain moves up from slave pits to a position as rebel war lord, the time lost modern Japanese group are not just beset by Mad Max raiders, but scenes of muscular Europeans with harems of Japanese women.
The statement is an unambiguous warning that if you're on top, be ready for the world to turn against you, specifically if you're Japan. Be proud, be ready and be willing to go out all when the conflict comes. It explicitly rejects pacifism and dances close to some statements about racial purity though would have really capped the case as to how unpleasant this narrative is.
Fans of Kentaro Miura still may want to check out the release. He isn't as comfortable with moving cars as his more frequent iron age warfare, but he fits in plenty of his detailed smashmouth action in the work. It's also interesting to see a hero who looks alot like Berserk antagonist Nosferatu Zodd fighting as a hero with a very close range, physical style.
Manga Spotlight: Ghost Hunt
Manga by Shiho Inada
Story by Fuyumi Ono
Released by Del Rey
Though at a cursory glance Ghost Hunt in appears non-distinct, it proves worth a try. Horror manga can succeed brilliantly (ie Junji Ito works) or it can easily fail. Ghost Hunt finds an unexpected method for succeeding.
Things go down hill quickly when something that trades on being exceptional becomes routine: ie giant robot stories, super heroes, vampires. Psychic horror follows these lines. There's so much Sixth Sense meets... or folklore and twists getting recycled that it becomes overly familiar. Ghost Hunt succeeds in bypassing this. It doesn't go the horror anthology route, but instead focuses on process and character dynamics. Far more than reacting to the shock of the situation, the characters are reacting to each other and the problem that they are trying to solve. As a consequence, it doesn't have the speed or quick chills a strong situation based horror might. Instead, it is teasing out how people with different personality traits and backgrounds react to a situation.
The original Ghost Hunt novel was written by Fuyumi Ono, best known internally for creating the complex political fantasy 12 Kingdoms. Shiho Inada's adaptation looks a bit like Yuu Watase's (Fushigi Yuugi) design, with more range in the look of the characters, and less exaggeration in the staging.
The entire first volume is based on one case, To safely demolish a building, the series investigators take a job to determine if it is in fact haunted, and if so, how to remove the problem. The core relationship is between Mai, typical high school girl heroine and Shibuya, the handsome, and haughty owner of a supernatural research firm, with a third wheel in Kuroda, a gloomy psychic girl who's intrigued by Shibuya and the spirits haunting the building.
A number of other young professionals are called into the case, including a very urban shinto priestess with her equally unconventional monk assistant, an Australian Catholic priest, and a TV psychic. Together, the group offers a wide range of personal and professional perspectives. The volume takes the time to develop the procedural story: researching background, monitoring with real-tech equipment and examining a problem, then work to solve it. Divorced from either shock or morality tale tendencies, the series works more like medical mystery than horror.
Released by FUNimation
Galaxy Railways works within the continuity flexible mythology of space operas established by Leiji Matsumoto, best known for Battleship Yamato/Star Blazers and Captain Herlock. While it exhibits moments of wonder of space and limitless possibilities with the forced wisdom that comes from seeing great devastation that mark Matsumoto-verse classics, design and plotting are a more normalized version of his standard. There's no willowy women with curtains of hair or men who can stare down primordial gods.
The series pulls trappings from classic sci-fi from the days stories were cranked out from the genre factory with the sci-fi module replacing another like the western. Matsumoto trumps the space suits and ray guns with a flare for logic ignoring symbolism that puts furled flags, galley ships, and zeppelins in space. In the case of this series, the central visual is a system of inter-planetary trains (also seen in Galaxy Express 999). Like many of his symbols, the trains develop from a personal significance rather than wider cultural perception. In this case, they are taken from his memories of post war Japan where they were a rare embodiment of hope.
The hero Manabu Yuuki leaves his mother and home to follow along the path the cost his father and brother their lives in the SDF, whose work is to protect the Galaxy Railways. Through the second volume, he is still having trouble adapting to the force, which he finds not to mesh well with his idealism. Despite excelling in staged test scenarios, the process and trade-offs of the organization crash against his lone hero image of the work. He wants to carry his father's non-functioning gun, not kill anyone and save everyone
Galaxy Railways follows the adventure sci-fi model more closely than it does the Matsumoto classic. At this point in the series, the scale is still smaller and motivations looser. The character is not Herlock, Toshiro or Emeraldas, whose determination seemed to bend possibility, and he's not one of the characters out to emulate these demigods. Manabu is looking to his father and brother, who were heroes, but smaller, more human and more ambiguous heroes. They don't represent easily labeled concepts like "resistance", "freedom" and "honor". Manabu knew his father's mission, but wasn't clear on his personal qualities or code of behavior
Manabu's assumption of a role as more grounded hero of the Matsumoto-verse has the potential to be a compelling exploration of duty and compassion, but it needs to get out of this phase wear he's an liability to his team, and rightly deserves little responsibility. His stubbornness over what has become a long stretch of episodes has begun making him an unlikable character, and lends weight to the sentiment among the SDF that he should just get out of the way. He's not so much over coming obstacles and learning as dealing with problems created by this slow to adapt, process and think, mind. A series like this has problems when pulling for the hero becomes a trying effort.
Chained to the lead minded hero, are episodes that are problematically predictable. After two episodes establishing the tragic destinies of the older Yuuki men, it has been possible to deduce the progression and conclusion of the episode by the time the situation has been unveiled. If the hero is assigned to learn the mechanical aspect of the trade under a grizzled veteran, and the two disagree about everything, especially the veteran's obsessive care for an outdated machine, think they're going to bond when the old guy breaks out the machine for a rescue mission?
It does offer a few surprises in how well it handles and maybe less surprising considering its part of the Matsumoto-verse, that it is not afraid of tragedy or bitter sweet endings.
Original English Language (OEL) Spotlight: Dramacon
by Svetlana Chmakova
Released by TOKYOPOP
Dramacon fires up a shoujo-style relationship dramedy in a anime/manga convention. Regardless of whether you're a hardcore fandom participant, or feel an aversion to such gatherings, it is a setup with plenty of potential independent of topical interest. The situation is hugely volatile: strange surroundings, lots of people, little sleep, little food, possibly lots of alcohol. It's also condensing a potentially large amount of experience into a couple days. The first volume takes place over one event, promising a second a year later.
The ability to believably portray a sudden upheaval, and the possibility to shift this again in the space between volumes is one of the most creative effective uses of TOKYOPOP's three volume direct to graphic novel series format. This volume was dialed to teen girl bounce and goes through substantial shifts in the life and perspective of the character. It will be very interesting to see if and how it changes as the series progresses in subsequent entries.
Conventions can have about as much to do with anime and manga as tailgating does sports. While Dramacon does have the look and feel of a convention: cosplaying, masquerades, crowds and hotels, and despite including a bit of OEL process and inside baseball, Chmakova proves it can make a intriguing concept for relationship story. Dramacon isn't a fandom parody. It isn't looking at adherents of the media, not to the degree of a series like Comics Part or Genshiken. Instead it is packing a dizzying emotional ride into the frantic pace of a convention.
High school girl Christie travels quite the emotional rollercoaster when she attends the Yatta Con. Along with a pair of friends, and her boyfriend/comic creator partner (she's the writer), she plans to spend time as an artist alley-rat , and take in the social events.
It doesn't take long for things to get rocky. Her friends get a little too aggressive getting there and arranging matters. Progressing from annoying to more serious, her boyfriend reacts badly to stimuli of the convention. That assumes he wasn't always a complete heel, but Christie is in the process of becoming less naive, so its possible. A more positive trial is that she meets Matt, a cute, older (college age) guy from across the country. There's a definate connection, but not only does he wear a long dark coat and dark glasses, but he's emotionally remote.
Chmakova's style of cartooned illustration is ideal for the pacing. Through the highs and lows of events, the illustrations moves fluidly between different levels of abstraction, conveying light and dark moments. With the accompanying facial expression acrobatics, the ambition of the plotting is fully met by ability if the illustration.
Released by TOKYOPOP
Steady Beat is especially attention worthy in that it delivers on the promise that OEL manga would tell stories that spoke to an American audience with the strengths of manga storytelling. As much for the problems as the successes, Rivkah establishes herself as another TOKYOPOP-published creator well worth watching.
Shoujo has plenty of situations that are universal or familiar, but it also relies on cultural factors and pressures. While there's always plenty that can be taken away of, without a deep familiarity of the culture from it originates, there's always going to be details that are lost or misinterpreted.
Steady Beat filters rich drama of shoujo structured trials brought by the relationships of love , family and school through an American sensibility that readers will easily be able to identify with. Even if some of the configurations are unusual, the sentiments are familiar. It is clearly suburban, but it might be a more specific viewpoint. It's unique delineations of what's acceptable and what isn't looks to stem from a culturally Jewish environment where a few particulars are brushed over, but you can't live down past mistakes, and the expectation is to achieve something that will stand up in comparison to the next person's success.
The execution does have various non-critical flaws, some of which owe to its ambition tangling up the work; others seem to be caused by format worries due to its web comic roots. Despite the bumps, it's apparent that the creator understands what works in shoujo as well as having her own ideas, which takes some of the tone if not content nearer the cusp of josei (20 something characters rather than high school) material.
Leah Winters does well for herself, but has to work at it, and gets a bit emotional. Her life is generally kept on edge by her demanding state senator mother, who has high expectations for the Winters sisters. Additional complexity quickly arrives from several fronts. First, she stumbles on what appears to be evidence that her perfect, older sister is in a same-sex romance. Then, tussling with a panhandler, she stumbles into the middle of the street for a near miss with an oncoming car, which leads to her meeting Elijah, an African-American Jewish guy with his own parent conflicts.
Because the characters, especially the protagonist, react like what is happening is completely unexpected, Steady Beat is able to feel edgy without being sexual, or explicit. Conversely, non-traditional aspects are handled like components of the characters. Clashes with parental expectations and approval are far more significant than race, religion or sexuality.
Steady Beat reads like it was written for an anthology, and that it would work better in that format than it does in a graphic novel collection. The individual chapters have their own crescendos and arcs that make a single sitting reading a bumpy ride, but seem to be the perfect catch point for intervalled distribution. It's not unusual for manga to have this quality, but it has been rare in OEL releases. It's unfortunate for both the manga and OEL releases that the commercial viability of English language anthologies seems limited. This would be a perfect title to look forward to on a monthly basic.
Perhaps because of this, Steady Beat is a bit shorter than many TOKYOPOP releases. The collection is built up with 10 pages of sketch book, 32 of preview (Mark of the Succubus_ and 10) pages of ads
Steady Beat is part of the new breed of OEL work that gets manga story telling. The effect the work wouldn't be the same if it didn't look so much like shoujo manga. The design is certainly reminiscent. It has all the flashy, but also descriptive trapping of the genre, large eyes that are cute, but also emotionally expressive, sculpted hair and fashionable outfits that drawn in an audience , but also invite them to look in as windows to aspects of the character's makeup. Less apparent, but as significant, if not more so is that Rivkah utilizes the page composition of shoujo illustrators who know what they are doing. The use of space, angles of view and aspect cuts all subtly dictate how the reader progresses through the story, and effectively take them into the manga. Together these aspects produce a crisp flow of ideas the build on getting the most out the medium.
Also effective is the localized system of visual effect. For example, super deformed figures are present, but the sequences look to be in a Tex Avery vein. The familiar shoujo playbook use of flower symbolism is missing. Instead, there's a nice motif relating to the phrase "elephant in the room".
There are panels where Rivkah really looks to have out-clever-ed herself, and not just the ones with hidden "help!" desperation notes. Spaced out through the volumes are panels that are harder to parse than the situation calls for. One featured Leah imagining her mother about to strike someone with a lamp. Because the form is bent and is cut off by the top of the panel/page, it takes a few mentally beats to work the way up from the dangling cord to the deduction that it is a lamp being held.
Anime Spotlight Ghost Talker's Daydream
Released by Geneon
In recent years, the quick, small episode count, play with a concept and leave it style of direct to video OAV has become increasingly rare. The four episode Ghost Talker's Daydream adaptation of Saki Okuse and Sankichi Meguro's manga doesn't necessarily cover the whole topic, but instead samples pieces of high concept. It's a couple cases in the career of a dominatrix/spiritual medium consultant who isn't really loving either occupation.
Sexed up Sixth Sense isn't an unexpected turn for anime/manga, but the degree to which it mixed light, bawdy comedy with serious supernatural viewed violent crime investigation is a strong sweet and sour experience. There's child murder and rape one moment, jokes about a woman's lack of pubic hair the next. It's played as the characters' reality, and the series doesn't acknowledge anything odd about its bipolar identity.
The crime aspect is notable dark, with an offering of chillingly heinous people. It presents enough snips of grunginess and dark intent, along with conclusions that don't resolve nicely that the horror does have a punch.
Much of the humor falls into the expected gags: accidental nudity, groping, ect, though here it is take further than most televised anime, and it's helped by the fact that the character is hot and different looking (including white hair). More notably, her domintrix profession is handled differently than in other comedy anime, she gets to be sexy and job weary. The work is treated not as much an extension of her disposition, but as a job, with, what for her, are very mundane but annoying hassles.
Resource Spotlight: Gogai! Gogai!
Central Park Media, the anime distributor whose library includes some relatively recent classics such as surrealist schoolgirl epic Revolutionary Girl Utena, and deconstructionist cute-monster bloodbath Alien 9, as well as older classics VOTOMS, has launched a monthly fanzine called "Gogai! Gogai!".
As free, online content, it's something to spend 5 minutes reading. Somehow the concept of a fanzine soured into something intelligence insulting. The center piece is a write-up on Hammerboy, a Korean take on a Miyazaki type story, sounds transparently like a fannish re-written press releases. What Ain't It Cool News talk-backers would label as plant-speak reads like "I just found this cool website..." spam. The rest is mostly inane, "My Mommy's Moon Cookies" or silly, a pirate vs ninja sort-of contest.
CPM might have gone for the wrong tact modeling their promo-piece out of a fan journal, because they put together something less fun than flipping through a catalogue. With a library of titles receiving re-priced re-releases, a wider, and straighter run down of titles would have been useful.
Hellsing Ultimate Trailer
Ghibli on Le Guin?
Anime News Service reports a blog entry of an anonymous editor working for a publisher in Tokyo is claiming that Studio Ghibli will be adapted the Earthsea novels by Ursula K. Le Guin. The editor says that Ghibli optioned the film rights and that Hayao Miyazaki, who has expressed admiration of Le Guin's works, intends to direct.
New Stand Alone Complex Season?
Anime News Service reports Production IG director Kenji Kamiyama hinted during an interview that a follow-up to Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2ndGIG might be in the works, but that he didn't know what shape it might take.
Live Action Adapations
ICV2 reports the live action adaptation of Parasyte, a horror action about a boy joined will an alien after a failed attempt to take over his body, that was one of TOKYOPOP's/Mixx at the time early releases will be directed by Takashi Shimizu of Ju-On, and the Grudge. New Line Cinema and the Jim Henson Co. are co-producing the live action Parasyte movie, which won't be able to go into production until Shimizu finishes The Grudge 2 for Columbia.
From Anime News Service Toei announced that the live action version of Saikano will debut at the Tokyo International Film Festival on October 29th, with a national opening in Japan in February 2006. The relationship tragedy stars Aki Maeda (Battle Royale) as the lead Chise, a school girl who loses her humanity becoming a mechanized weapon.
Classic shonen series Glass No Kamen (Mask Of Glass), which was recently re-adapted into an anime will be adapted for stage at Tokyo's National Noh Theater on the 24th and 25th of February 2006. Original creator Suzue Miuchi-san will direct. Shiji Ueda, fomrerly the chief director of Takarazuka Girls' Operetta Troupe will write the scenario.
Chie Shinohara's (Red River) manga Mizu ni Sumu Hana will be adapted into a live action movie this year.
Clooney Not Prime
IGN FilmForce reports that George Clooney stated, during the press day for For Good Night, Good Luck that contrary to rumors, he hasn't been contacted to voice Optimus Prime, or any role in the upcoming live action/CGI Transformers movie.
Robotech Collection Details
ADV has announced that that Robotech Protoculture Collection will be released on November 28th with the 3 English adapted sci-fi series for $129.98.
In 2002 ADV Films issued Robotech Remastered, featuring digitally restored video and 5.1 stereo sound, introducing a whole new generation to this anime classic. Robotech Protoculture collects the Remastered disks as well as the Robotech Legacy disks containing definitive commentary and other extras.
Synopsis: A massive alien battle cruiser crash lands on Earth in the midst of a bloody global war. With the possibility of a more perilous threat looming, the human race puts aside their differences and collectively undertakes the arduous task of rebuilding the spacecraft, redubbed the SDF-1, to defend the Earth should its extraterrestrial masters come to reclaim it. Eventually, the alien Zentraedi invade Earth to collect the SDF-1 and the technology it contains, forcing the inexperienced crew, including hotshot pilot Rick Hunter and his war hero mentor Roy Fokker, to launch the battle cruiser into wara war that will cross generations, stretch across the farthest reaches of the universe and turn ordinary soldiers into extraordinary heroes.
Del Rey Launches Manga Preview Sites
The Del Rey Manga imprint has announced new title-specific websites that will allow manga readers to preview thirty pages from the first volume of a new manga. Although other large manga publishers have offered preview content on their websites, Del Reys approach is unique in that each day for thirty days, a new page of manga content will be added for each individual title. In this way, Del Rey hopes to encourage readers to come back every day, and to build buzz for their hottest new properties.
The first three titles to be featured on the title-specific sites all Kodansha properties are GACHA GACHA by Hiroyuki Tamakoshi (on sale September 20, 2005; ages 16+), GHOST HUNT by Fuyumi Ono and Shiho Inada (on sale September 27, 2005; ages 13+), and SUGAR SUGAR RUNE by Moyoco Anno (on sale September 27, 2005; ages 10+).
The URLs for the first three title-specific sites are http://www.delreymanga.com/gachagacha, http://www.delreymanga.com/ghosthunt and http://www.delreymanga.com/sugar
Viz Talks World Bank Partnered Manga
Viz has announced a partnership with the World Bank to present 1 WORLD MANGA, an innovative and original new series that will use the universal appeal of the graphic novel to address key global issues, such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, and the environment. As part of its depositary library program, the World Bank will donate copies of the manga to 300 libraries around the world. VIZ Medias proceeds from the sales of 1 WORLD MANGA will go to several noteworthy charities.
The World Bank and VIZ Media share a vision to engage and educate young readers about a range of important issues facing humanity and believe the extraordinarily popular manga format will be a compelling vehicle to educate them on a variety of global development issues. Many of the manga series published by VIZ Media present themes of struggling against adversity and seeing a mission through to the end, but 1 WORLD MANGA offers a unique premise where the hero must grapple with social problems of a global magnitude that are set in the real world.
The first three volumes focus on poverty, HIV/AIDS, and the environment. The immediate appeal of the series lies in the coming-of-age tale of orphaned teenager Rei, who dreams of becoming the greatest fighter in the world. Rei's trainer is a spirit guide who takes the form of various animals. Much to Reis chagrin, his trainer is more interested in developing Rei's mind, spirit, and heart than his raging, thrashing fighting moves.
In the debut volume, Rei meets Ayeesha, a young woman struggling to feed her family. Rei tries to help, but his bumbling attempts only worsen her plight. Seemingly defeated, Rei runs away ashamed, but his trainer urges the young man to return and repair the damage he caused. In the end, with Rei's help, Ayeesha finds a way out of her poverty-stricken existence and Rei learns a valuable lesson about maturity as he sees a problem through to the end despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Though the themes of 1 WORLD MANGA are serious and at times even grim, the pages are full of action, romance, and even humor. The animal guises that Rei's trainer assumes lead to plenty of slapstick comedy and funny misunderstandings. In Volume 1, when Rei's trainer turns into a rooster, Rei gives him to Ayeesha, despite his violent protests, to enable her to raise chickens, unaware that roosters (and spirit guides) don't lay eggs. Reis pride and ambition often set him up for many a fall, but throughout 1 WORLD MANGA, his good heart and inability to walk away from those in need makes him an engaging and likeable hero that will appeal to young audiences.
Upcoming Evangelion Products
Anime News Service reports Gainax's Evangelion Tenth Anniversary Project will include Apostle XX (ShitoXX), a line of PVC pre-painted action figures designed by Mine Yoshizaki of Sergent Keroro fame and manufactured by Japanese toy factory WAVE. "Apostle" is a more literal translation of what were called "angels" localization of Evangelion, and the figures look like girl cutes morphed the Evangelion invaders. See here. Shipping in mid-late December 2005, the figures are non-scale but measure 14cm tall. The two apostles are: (A) Evangelion Apostle XX Sachiel A-03 (The Third Angel) and (B) Evangelion Apostle XX Zuruel A-14 (The Fourteen Angel) Pricing is set at 2500 Yen apiece.
A PSP port of the Playstation 2 game "Evangelion 2" was also announced as the Tenth Anniversary Project at the Tokyo Game Show. The release will also feature new animated sequences.
Upcoming Geneon Box Sets
Geneon will be releasing "Trigun: Limited Collector's Edition I", featuring episodes 1-14 of the 26 episode sci-fi/western for $89.98 on Novermber 22nd. The release is packaged in an in an exclusive full color collector's case with limited edition metal case and individual think pak feature the new art by the creator Yasuhiro Nightow. It also includes an exclusive bullet necklace (Trigun logo engraved).
Haibane-Renmei, a unique series about people who have died and been reborn as creates with angelic wings and hallows, who must live with a strange set of rule in a larger human community, has been moved to an October 18th release. The series is priced at $99.98.
December CMX Releases
Moon Child Vol. 1
Written and illustrated by Shimizu Reiko
Will a half-mermaid, half-human girl bring an end to the feud between humanity and the mer-people -- or bring about the destruction of all life on Earth? As a merman named Shona is returning to his birthplace to spawn, he meets a young human, Jimmy, who suffers from amnesia. Together, Jimmy and Shona set off to find the missing girl. Will they be able to avert a mysterious prophecy, or will finding the secret of Jimmy's identity delay them enough to set Earth on the path to destruction?
176 pages, black andwhite, $9.99, in stores on Dec. 21.
Chikyu Misaki Vol. 2
Written and illustrated by Iwahara Yuji.
196 pages, black and white, $9.99, in stores on Dec. 14.
Pieces Of A Spiral Vol. 2
Written and illustrated by Tachibana Kaimu.
200 pages, black and white, $9.99, in stores on Dec. 7.
The Devil Does Exist Vol. 4
Written and illustrated by Takanashi Mitsuba.
192 pages, black and white, $9.99, in stores on Dec. 28.
Monster Collection Vol. 4
Written and illustrated by Itoh Sei, original concept by Yasuda
170 pages, black and white, $9.99, in stores on Dec. 14.
Seimaden Vol. 3
Written and illustrated by Higuri You.
180 pages, black and white, $9.99, in stores on Dec. 28.
Tenjho Tenge Vol. 5
Written and illustrated by Oh! Great.
232 pages, black and white, $9.99, in stores on Dec. 21.
Anime Game News
The Japanese site for the upcoming Playstation 2 Samurai Champloo game is online at www.champloo-game.com
The game is schedule to ship in early 2006. It introduces an innovative fighting system that unleashes samurai hack-and-slash combos hinged on the hip hop soundtrack of the gamers' choosing. With inimitable "Tate" and "Trance" fighting modes inspired from the style of the series.
Staged as a lost eepisode, the player can choose unconventional break-dancing fighting Mugen, traditional samurai Jin and a new character. Music and fighter are linked as the player chooses an array of combos based on the different hip hop grooves that they can swap at will. Music tracks become collectible, opening an extensive assortment of linked attacks that can be implemented tactically during combat.
Two additional fighting modes accompany the music-combo combat system, the visually arresting "Tate" and "Trance." When the tension gauge (fueled by a series of successful combos) is filled, the gamer will enter in "Tate" mode where the samurai is faced with a lone opponent artfully staged in front of a vibrant Japanese screen. After initiating a combination of buttons to stay in "Tate," the gamer can fulfill a hit meter to enter into "Trance." At this point, the background changes to silhouettes and an unrelenting number of enemies will attack the player. The player must survive and cut down opponents without taking a number of hits until the music ends. If the player survives, he is rewarded with a new item or weapon.
From The Magic Box, Bandai announced they will release One Piece Pirates Carnival for GameCube and PS2 in Japan on November 23, a new 4 player party game featuring popular characters from the anime series One Piece, the game will have more than 40 multiplayer mini games.
Bandai announced the PS2 RPG .hack // G.U. will be released in 3 separate volumes in 2006, including:
* .hack // G.U. Vol. 1 Saitan (Resurrection)
* .hack // G.U. Vol. 2 Kimisou Fu Koe
* .hack // G.U. Vol. 3 Aruku Youna Hayasa de
For screenshots see here.
Shinshen Gumi Book
Ridgeback Press, publisher of Hillsborough's Samurai History Papers, an electronic quarterly, is making signed copies of SHINSENGUMI available to subscribers of the Papers. For more information on this offer and to view the book cover visit www.ridgebackpress.com.
The Shinsengumi is widely depicted in Japan. SHINSENGUMI: The Shogun's Last Samurai Corps (Tuttle Publishing) is the first book about the corps in English. While focusing on the Shinsengumi, Hillsborough has written a history-in-brief of the Meiji Restoration, Japan's greatest revolution. The revolution centered around the overthrow of the shogunate in 1868 and the restoration of power to the emperor. Just as the Meiji Restoration is considered "the dawn of modern Japan," knowledge of this history is essential to understanding how and why Japan has evolved into the nation that it is today.
In this nonfiction historical narrative of the Shinsengumi, Hillsborough spotlights the personalities of the corps' leaders. "This book is about bloodshed and death and atrocity," begins the Preface. "It is also about courage and honor and fidelity. It explores some of the darkest regions of the human soul, and some of its most noble parts. The underlying themesare the extraordinary will to power and sense of self-importance of the leaders of this most lethal samurai corps, and the unsurpassed propensity to kill instilled by them into the rank and file." The narrative is embellished by numerous vivid anecdotal episodes, including sword fights, assassinations and personal stories to illustrate the nature and spirit of the Shinsengumi. Also included are numerous quotes from letters, memoirs and interviews by corpsmen, eyewitnesses of events and other people directly involved with the Shinsengumi and their history.
Infinity Studios Picks Up New Manwha
Infinity Studios LLC has announced that it has acquired the rights for Zero; artwork by Mr. Sung-Woo Park and story by Mr. Dar-Young Ihm.
Based on a PC video game of the same title, Zero is the prequel to the game and encompasses a truly stunning story in which a young man must protect himself and his two sisters from those who are after their special abilities. Having been born in a secret government laboratory that cultivated esper (telepathic) powers within humans, Shuuichi and two sisters, Sumire and Katsumi, are forced to endure a difficult life as test subjects until their escape. Years later, these siblings are still being sought after by unknown organizations that are after Shuuichi powers as he is what they refer to as the "zero-sample" with the ability to cause "zero-shock."
Zero # 1 will be available in late December 2005 at Borders, Walden Bookstores, your local comic book stores, and on the Infinity Studios website. Each volume will be priced at $9.95.
Upcoming Geneon Soundtracks
Anime News Network reports Geneon will be releasing new soundtracks of Ah! My Goddess TV and Revolutionary Girl Utena on January 3rd.
Legal Fansub Project
International Anime Distribution (or "IAD") announces its intent to become the world's largest Internet-only distributor of licensed animation titles, with the grand opening of its web portal, message board, and weblog. This grand opening marks the start of what the company claims is the first large-scale attempt to legalize the sale of "fansubs," fan-produced subtitled translations of popular animation titles, by licensing the titles and subsequent translations for Internet sale.
Animation producers have long had an inherent dislike of fansubbing as it represents a revenue stream that is lost to online piracy. However, combating that specific form of piracy comes at the high price of having to attack your potential customers, who tend to also be repeat purchasers of licensed animation and related merchandise. IAD seeks to create a solution for this problem that satisfies both the producers and consumers of the intellectual properties by contracting fansub creators and licensing the sale of their translations.
To that end, IAD is constructing the infrastructure required to sell animation titles online. IAD's infrastructure includes a complete sales portal, fansubbing group management, the capability to sell a title immediately after its first airing, an affiliate system to tie fan-operated websites into IAD's network, advertising and cross-promotion capabilities, and a complete video-on-demand delivery system using the latest developments in online content protection.
IAD has also built two means of social interaction into their website: a message board to foster a community of fans and the fansubbers that provide translations for them, and a weblog for IAD staff to discuss the personal side of their efforts. These are now publicly accessible.
IAD is now seeking distribution licensing with a number of animation producers and distributors, "fansubbing" groups interested in translating professionally, affiliates interested in advertising and promoting animation-related merchandise, and of course animation fans.
For more information, or to join one or more of IAD's programs, please visit IAD's main website at http://www.animedist.com/ or IAD's sales portal at http://www.subs4sale.com/.
CPM Announces Outlanders Fan-Casting Contest
Central Park Media announced an online contest letting fans cast the lead roles in CPM's upcoming release of the anime cult hit Outlanders. As this has been an often requested title, CPM wanted to make a DVD that will truly satisfy the fans and is giving anime fans everywhere a voice in the creation of this release. Initial information about Outlanders and CPM's fan-casting contest can be found at www.centralparkmedia.com/outlanders. Beginning on September 23, the site will be updated with the video auditions for all of Outlanders's main parts. After watching the videos, fans will be able to vote for their favorite actors and actresses throughout the week. Voting closes as of 11:59 PM EST on September 28th, and recording will begin soon thereafter.
King of Fighters Anime Scheduled
Anime News Network and Neo Geo Freak report that Production IG's direct to video adaptation of the King of Fighter fighting game series will be released in Japan starting in December. The anime is expected to run for four episodes.
New TOKYOPOP Licenses?
Anime on DVD reports that Amazon lists the following manga titles from TOKYOPOP, which haven?t been officially announced: Die Todliche Dolis, Glass Wings, Gorgeous Carat, and Sequence.
Stand Alone Complex Official Log
Manga Entertainment and Bandai Entertainment announced release the exclusive DVD and 148-page Official Guide to the first 19 episodes of the ground-breaking Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Television series featuring an encyclopedia of technical information as well as an in-depth analysis of the development and creation of this immensely popular TV series. This exclusive DVD and book comes only as a limited edition, a must-have for collectors and fans interested in the production of Japanese animated films.
The 90 minute DVD includes never-before-seen footage and a host of provocative interviews with creative staff including series Director Kenji Kamiyama, Japanese voice-actor Atsuko Tanako (Motoko Kusanagi), and countless other animators, producers and staff members from the Stand Alone Complex team.
Specially created by 9th Studio Digital Works to supplement this unique DVD, the Official Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Log Book features detailed reports on the innovative digital animation techniques used by Production I.G to create the distinctive look of the anime series, as well as interviews with 3D animator Eiji Inomoto, colorist Yumiko Katayama, Director of 3D animation Makoto Endo, Mechanical Animation Director Nobuhiko Genma, and Producer Yuichiro Matsuka.
In addition, the Official Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Log Book traces the historical development of the Ghost in the Shell phenomenon from its origins with Masamune Shirow's original manga (comic book) through Mamoru Oshii's pioneering 1995 feature film adaptation, all the way to the current Stand Alone Complex television series. Also included are detailed profiles and operational track records for each of the series' characters, detailed story breakdowns and background notes designed to allow viewers to fully appreciate hidden elements within the individual episodes, and exclusive interviews with Producer Mr. Ishikawa and other members of the Production I.G creative staff. There is even a scientific essay exploring various aspects of the cyber-brain as it has been characterized within the various Ghost in the Shell projects.
A second DVD/Book volume, Official Log 2, featuring background, commentary and examination of Stand Alone Complex episodes 20 through 26 will be released on January 24, 2006.
Iron Kid from Manga
ICV2 reports Manga Entertainment is collaborating with the Korean animation studio DesignStorm to produce Iron Kid, a robot-themed martial arts animated series. Targeted at kids from 6 to 13 years old, the Iron Kid series features high quality 3D animation and could be available in the States (on DVD and TV) as early as next spring.
Armed with an "Iron Fist," one lone young human warrior battles against a robot army bent on world domination in this anime-like saga, which is being written by Nicole Duboc (Jackie Chan Adventures), Ben Townsend (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and Javier Martinez (Medal of Honor).
Upcoming Kids WB Shows
ICV2 reports Transformers Cybertron will be show on the weekday Kids' WB block at 4:30. The anime adaptation of Capcom's movie action hero game Viewtiful Joe will air starting later this fall.
Novel Translation Sales
ICV2 reports that the sales of translated Japanese genre novel sold along side manga have been better than some have expected.
Released in late July, the Dot Hack AI Buster novel spent its first three weeks of release in the Top Ten on the BookScan list of graphic novels sold in bookstores. In less than two months of release it has racked up numbers that would put it in the Top 50 manga titles in year-to-date sales in the bookstore market.
Dark Horse and Digital Manga's Vampire Hunter D, which was released this past May, has done even better. It would rank in the Top Ten in year-to-date manga sales based on its performance in bookstores so far. First published in 1983, Hideyuki Kikuchi's Vampire Hunter D novel inspired the Vampire Hunter D anime OAV, which, in turn, spawned the popular Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust anime feature. Earlier this month Dark Horse (under its DH Press imprint) published the second book in the series, Vampire Hunter D Vol. 2: Raiser of Gales, and the third volume is slated for January 2006.
Viz is launching its fiction imprints in October, with Full Metal Alchemist: The Land of Sand and Socrates in Love.
Viz to Release Video Girl Ai Follow-up
Anime News Network report Viz will be releasing Video Girl Len, the final two volumes of Video Girl Ai, starting in January as Video Girl Ai: Len's Story.
Animation Kobe Fair Award Winners
Theatrical category - Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: A New Translation -Heirs to the Stars-
Individual award - Kenichi Yoshida
Special award - Ippei Kuri
TV category - Gankutsuou
Package category - Top wo Nerae 2!
Network category - Mayutoro The Toons
Radio Kansai (theme song) award - "Happy Material" by The Class of 2-A (from Negima TV series)
Animal Treasure Island
Discotek will be releasing their first anime title, Animal Treasure Island on November 15th.
Hell Girl Trailer
Substancial Anime Network Changes?
Anime News Network report that that programming grids for The Anime Network (TAN) on Comcast's free video on demand service are empty and in some cases the TAN menu has been removed from the Comcast service.
Anime Top 100
Anime News Network reports TV Asahi has aired a list of the 100 most popular animated TV series in six categories ( teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60+). The show was presented by actress Nakai Miho and comedians Bakusho Mondai with guests including Ris Shibata, comedic duo Yoiko, Tooru Yamazaki, Shouji Shinagawa, Kazuki Enari, and Chisato Morishita. The one Japanese show was Tom & Jerry at 58.
The top 25 are
1. Fullmetal Alchemist
3. Dragon Ball
4. Mahou Sensei Negima
6. One Piece
8. Detective Conan
9. Heidi, Girl of the Alps
10. Slam Dunk
11. Saint Seiya
12. Lupin III
14. Pani Poni Dash!
15. Chibi Maruko-chan
16. Crayon Shin-chan
18. Prince of Tennis
19. Sailor Moon
20. Neon Genesis Evangelion
21. Candy Candy
22. Space Battleship Yamato
23. Astro Boy
24. Kyojin no Hoshi
25. Dog of Flanders
The complete list is hereand the results of a second web poll are at here
Paradise Kiss Trailer
A trailer for the anime adaption of opular fashion manga Paradise Kiss, released domestically by TOKYOPOP is online here
Wolf's Rain on British TV
Rapture has announced that Wolf's Rain is schedule for Thursdays at 8.30pm, and repeated on Sundays at 8.30pm. Rapture will launch on the 14th of November in the entertainment section of Sky's EPG, with Wolf Rain's first episode screened on Thursday the 17th, and will be repeated on the 20th.
This 26 episode series is set in a post-apocalyptic future. The human race is reduced to living in large dome-like cities surrounded by barren wasteland. Although wolves are supposedly extinct, they freely roam the cities disguising themselves as humans in order to survive.
Toei Looks Oversees with Pretty Cure
Anime News Service reports Toei Animation Ltd. has annnounced the overseas deployment of it's Pretty Cure TV animation series. In Germany broadcast will begin on RTLII bureau from September 5th. Italian RAI2 broadcast is scheduled to follow in October. The series achieved top popularity status among Japanese girls when it was broadacast at 8:30 AM Sunday's weekly via ABC TV.
New Tomino Anime
Anime News Service reports that the November 2005 issue of Gundam Ace list that Gundam creator's Wings Of Rean, previously part of Aura Battler Dunbine, will be adapted into a TV series by Sunrise to start in December.
Boast for New North Star
According to Anime News Service, during a press conference for the upcoming he first Fist Of The Northstar revival film Hokuto no Ken - Raoh Gaiden Junai-hen, creator Hara Tetsuo said the scale and scope of the new Fist project is massive and he would like to achieve the same status of Star Wars.
New Saint Seiya
AnimeNation reports a web page has been opened for St. Seiya Hades Saga Chapter Inferno series, a new entry in the classic shonen tournament series that will be broadcast on SkyPerfect Pay-Per-View television beginning this December.
Ichigo Marshmallow Recap Movie
New Robotech in 2006?
Anime News Network reports the composer for the upcoming Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles has revealed in his biography that the film will be distributed by New Line Cinema in 2006. Harmony Gold has been hoping to distribute the new entry in the sci-fi epic in Q4 2005, and tells Anime News Network "Until details of the release are finalized, we cannot discuss who the distributor will be," adding, "However I can say that to give Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles maximum exposure, Harmony Gold is looking at all distribution venues beyond just the DVD. "