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Anime AICN - CLAMP Finally Coming to US, Original Gundam on DVD Finally Coming to Japan

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Column by Scott Green

If you're playing the AICN drinking game at home, take a drink because I'm about to mention my day/week. For various very uninteresting reasons, the past week was pretty much botched, so this column is later and less thorough than what I had hoped, but last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Kaiju Rally Party.

Kaiju Big Battel announced that their next Godzilla-style-suit wrestling event will be at the Anime Boston convention on Friday, May 26th. Anime fans, the majority of whom probably aren't familiar Kaiji Big Battel will have the opportunity to witness a spectacle that generates a level of excitement and absurdity that should be perfectly in line with their passion for anime.

Kaiju fighters expected to participate include: Dr. Cube, Kung-Fu Chicken Noodle, Uchu Chu, Shrooma Tango, Los Plantanos, The Apes of Wraths, Vegetius, Powa Ranjuru, RoBox, and more.

A prequel Rally Party was held Saturday April 1st, in Boston's (Cambridge really) Middle East Upstairs. The packed audience had the opportunity to see musical acts Peelander-Z, Gelatine and Carlisle Sound as The Kinks.

Kaiju personalities on hand included announcer Louden Noxious and his dweeb cohort Beav. The pair announced the Anime Boston Battel and the upcoming third Kaiju DVD "More Better Fighto". Space-Viking-thing Slo Feng did some dancing, and moved well for a big guy. One of the heroic Plantain tag team also made his presence known.

Later in the night the arch-villain with a block on his head Doctor Cube made an appearance along with two new kaiju monsters: a mushroom creature which revealed to be Shrooma Tango and three eyed crab creature.

If these two are indicative of direction, Kaiju seems to be going to a baroque phase of monster creation. The designs have always been bold visual draws, but these new ones are less geometric or sketched distinctive references, and more intensity realized creatures. The mushroom for example is not just a stalk, but a small waling ecosystem. In contrast to the straight weirdness of the mushroom, the crab has a strong 50's invasion sci-fi vibe. How mobile these suitx are, and to what degree these will be used in the wrestling action remains to be seen, but visually, they're oustandingly impressive

Before the event got underway, screens were set up to run Rockstar Games' upcoming Table Tennis for the XBox 360. Unlike other games in the last several generations of console systems, table tennis/ping pong to seems be an endeavor in which the player can already participate. Even more than other sports games, it's seen as accessible. The average person with no hand-eye-coordination still thinks they can play table tennis to some degree.

Having seen the game, I take back the knocks and jokes I leveled against it. From the perspective of someone who watched and not played it, it looks like I was privy to an early look at the game that will be dominating parties in the near future. The combination of rapid volleys and bullet time effects bring about a hypnotic trance. You can't take you eyes of this thing.

The concept is sold by the game's visual design. There's a deadpan intensity in the steel gaze and tuned sinews of the characters that immediately conveys the impression that the game isn't depicting half-serious Average Joe's batting around a plastic ball. In that wasn't enough to establish the idea that it's depicting athletes in serious competition, some of the arena venues have an ESPN coverage look, but others seem inspired by the Soviet arena of Rocky IV or the fighting bar of Ong Bak.

As someone who doesn't critique music, or even confidently make recommendations, it's difficult to get into too much detail describing the evening's performances, but suffice to say Gelatine was a punch in the head. Literally awesome.

Self described as "Hard Jap-Core", the sounds is J-Rock with blood rush tempo and screeching with moments of traditional references and allusions to anime (as in Animetal Marathon franchise, but, uh, interesting). Eclectic and striking to say the least the band's look includes a leader singer that seems to be a road-kill school girl in a diaper, a guitarist dressed as a yankee thug, a keyboardist as a yazuka soldier and a bass player dressed as a Heian official. (I couldn't see the drummer, so I'm not sure what effect they were going for, and from the band's web site, if appears that this isn't the typical configuration.)

With the lead singer's flailing, gesturing arms, the performances looks and sounds like anime/sentai insanity in its death throws. The energy and the effort completely blew the audience away. Few went into the night talking about Gelatine. Everyone left talking about them.

Especially if you're in the New York area, it's well worth going to their site, checking their scheduling and attending one of their performances. It's quite the experience.

Again, not being a music person, I can't say much about Carlisle Sound as The Kinks, except to my uneducated ears, they played a well performed set of classic, enjoyable guitar rock. Casey (can't find his last name on the band's site) performed an amusing pissed off Ray Davies impression through the set. Apropos of little, the real Ray Davies did an interview with NPR this week in which the interviewer pushed him on questions regarding the recent event where he was shot casing down the man the stole his girlfriend's purse.

Because I had to catch a train I missed Peelander-Z, but reportedly they performed the impressive spectacle that lived up to their reputation.

Anime Spotlight: Yukikaze
Volume 2

Released by Bandai Entertainment

The participants of the Yukikaze anime are in the middle of an interesting experience, and they don't want to talk about it. In examining what's happening , it doesn't help that there was the better part of two years between releasing the first two, of what will be three releases. The series is an anti-Top Gun, and even anti-Macross Plus. Yukikaze goes against tradition by using fighter jets in a subtle work. Rather than roaring engines, screaming dog fights and rapd emotions, it's a quiet story at the junction point of spy fiction, sci-fi and yaoi. This common point is identity, especially identity in flux.

Its been three decades since aliens known as "JAM" invaded Earth through an Antarctic porthole. The military followed them home to their world, dubbed Fairy, where, in the skies over a vast , nothing explicitly unearthly, but foreign landscape, the war is fought. The conflicts has come down to arms races of detection, with the JAM masking themselves as Earth planes and the Earth planes masking themselves as JAM.

Rei Fukai is a fatigued veteran of this constant uncertainty. Under his commanding officer Major Jack Bukhar, Fukai has become the pilot of the advanced AI augmented plane known as the Yukikaze (Blizzard). Very little about Rei, Jack or Yukikaze is spelled out. In the world of these characters the few people who explain themselves are aberrations. Rei's lost of his sense of self is clear, but the particulars of Rei's feelings towards Jack and Yukikaze have to be read from the subtleties of the series. Yukikaze's response is even more difficult to ascertain. The plane's growing intelligence and perspective is even more difficult to read given that the machine intelligence isn't expressed in human terms.

Because so little is made explicit, this is a challenging anime. Depending on your disposition, picking it part and gathering the clues may be interesting. Currently, it seems that the final episode is needed to determine who much of the reward is in the exercise and how much is in the fully assembled picture.

Few anime seem this narrow-cast. You have to want to work at psychoanalyzing the clues. You have to appreciate mecha and speculative technology. And you have to have an interest in human study. The are barriers for most fans. If you're a vanilla mecha fan the yaoi overtones might be a turn off. If you're a yaoi fans, the mechanical focus might be a turn off.

Gonzo regarded Yukikaze as a prestige project, which means that it isn't subject to the studio's history of uneven quality (it's brief length is doubtlessly partially to thank for that too). It's a beautiful series. The planes look and move like logical extensions of existing technology. Any scene of them moving through the sky is breathtaking.

Anime Spotlight Samurai 7
episodes 1-16

Samurai 7 began its 26 week run on the IFC network Saturday April 1st at 10:30PM following The Henry Rollins Show. It will re-air Thursdays at 11:30PM

Samura 7 had an exceptionally high episode budget, which is evident in the quality of the animation throughout the series. It had a continuous serial story which is well suited for television. It will be rare to find some one who doesn't enjoy the series, and it will also be rare to find some one who loves it. Distinctive, intricate character design coupled with fast, fluid action make it an engaging series to watch. Yet, there's something about its adherence to familiar ideas that distances the viewer and take out some of the spark.

The less you know, the less you can think about Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, the more enjoyable it's sci-fi retelling Samurai 7 will be. This is what the animation studio Gonzo does well, not what Kurosawa, to understate the case, did well. Start Comparing shots and you're lost. If you approach the series as pop, and you'll willing to get lost in the dance as projectiles are dodged in dilated time, or appreciate the detail in the character design work, you'll find a well crafted piece of entertainment.

The new and sci-fi elements bring the series further in line with what's typically seen in an action anime serial. For depth of humanity and plot, it isn't the best the format has to offer, but it does handle the continuity of episodes with a brisk pulse. The classic story of villagers who venture into the city to hire protectors is kept tight through the extended length by adding a merchant class into the interplay between warriors, bandits and farmers.

For the most part, the swords against robot armor isn't radically different from what's to be found in live action chambara. A relaxed adherence to the laws of physics, typical for anime, makes more of a difference to the character of the action than the inclusion of sci-fi weapons. When the battles are engaged fighting against the round boiler-like personal armored units or the larger attack ships stays close to what is typically seen in fights against traditional armor and mounted swordsmen.

While it tries to remain in that human reach physically, there are substantial difference in the movements. There's more use of vertical space, both in anime style super-leaps and in use of gaps and falls that are unavailable in most live action staging. It also showcases the slow dodges and rapid attacks of anime like Ninja Scroll.

Samurai 7 will be an interesting series to catch televised. While its helpful to be able to rewatching the series on DVD to catch visual density, it is paced for serialized weekly episodes. Some of the space between episodes seem less like gaps in this original format.

Animation fans owe it to themselves to mark their calendar to catch the 7th episode on May 13th. Hiroyuki Okuno with his controversially received episode showcases simple forms and complex motion mark one of the times that the anime truly escapes the conventional.

OEL Spotlight: Sorcerers & Secretaries
Volume 1
By Amy Kim Ganter

Released by TOKYOPOP

If Sorcerers & Secretaries could sell the reader on its protagonist better, with a story whose direction is intriguing and Ganter's brilliant design, it would be a winning, complete package work of OEL. The series follows a fantasy writer/university student/office administrative assistant who envisions a world where a sorcerer's familiar tricks its master, consumes his soul and leaves him almost powerless. Harried by oblivious coworkers, oblivious friends and oblivious suitors, she's constantly aggravated when not reading, writing or dreaming. As it stands, every piece of Sorcerers & Secretaries is well crafted, but there's something counter-appealing in that it is both critiquing the protagonist's detachment into her own internal fantasy live and raising her above the other self-involved shlubs walking the earth. It's well conveyed and convincing that the character is talented and a bit too much in her own head, but her expressions of superiority towards her friends are too strong to go without some counterbalance.

While well written, with characters are convincing, it seem that the characters aren't the type of people with which you'd like to spend time. In a flesh and blood context, either on a personable, likable level or on a people watching intrigue level they almost call to be ignored. What's missing is a point of perspective that could be used to sell the protagonist. Sometimes formula conventions are needed and Sorcerers & Secretaries needs someone the reader can accept as a credible source to tell them that the protagonist is likable. If someone gruff or sleepy-eyed, without an agenda, who was instantly likable in their own right could vouch for the lead, It would probably be easier to cheer for her. It's starts edging that way late in the volume, so maybe volume two will come out and lay down why the character should be liked.

Aside from the character appeal issue, the dialog and script work well. There's no generic voice, each person haa their own personality. The illustration is a even better. The opening fantasy sequence that transforms a scrawny, sinister familiar into a mythic lord ought to do a quick job establishing a reputation for Ganter. The killer trait in the work is clearly her illustration and the design in particular. It leaves the distinct impressions that she could illustrate a phone book, and the results would be undeniably charming. Expect to see plenty more of her design around.

In the character design, she knows what space to leave open for the mind to fill in, and what to fill with her own details for distinctiveness. She also takes command of the conventions of manga design, and tailers it to work for her. The overdose of character personality, especially the lead might be a function of Ganter being too good at cartooning expressions.

There's an air on web-comics in the thick lines and fill tones, but there's no hint of a difficult transition to the page size or volume length of the graphic novel format. While the illustrations doesn't scream showiness, every panel from the fantasy sequences to a street corner is effective.The creature design is at times cutes, at times malevolent with a discernable sense of grand magic. The majority of the volume is in the brink and concrete real world, but the smallest snapshots of Ganter's fantasy world and the blending of the real and imagined are deeply memorable.

Manga Spotlight: STONE
volume 2
by Hiromoto-Shin-Ichi

Released by TOKYOPOP

Hiromoto Shinichi is probably best known in North America for his Star Wars manga adaptations. Here, he pays vibrant tribute to Star Wars, and Dune and Hellraiser and Mad Max and a host of other genres favorites. It's kindof a manga Kill Bill. Or, a punk mashup of the sci-fi classics, with the stodgy elements discarded. It's Star Wars if Leia was raised by the sand people and took over the Empire with a hoard of Mos Esley pirates.

STONe was never a particularly easy series to find, so if you see it, make it a point to purchase it. Along with Pilgram Jager, it's one of the fairly recent releases that worth a treasure hunt to locate.

The two volume work leaves an impression to closer to a movie's rollercoaster tour of an idea than the sort of exploration even short manga series typically provide. In the sense that it is bombarding the observer with a lot of ideas, a lot of influences, a lot of wild energy a lot of characters and a lot of plot points in a short time span, it resembles something like Fifth Element. As in this case, done well, the damn the torpedoes approach to story telling is guaranteed to make any geek smirk with glee.

Given the sand sea that hosts pirates and bounty hunters, the Slave-1 rotated 90 degrees and cruising the surface, battleships that look to be designed in a collaborative effort between Leiji Matsumoto and Clive Barker and the partly fleshed over sand-whales with impossible gaping maws, it's derivativeness bent back into originality.

The illustrations look like the work of someone who filled sketch books with reimagined versions of their favorite genre creations until they got damn good at it. There's a raw character to it that, with almost too much passion looks like the work of a professional fan, someone who wears their influences on their sleeve and doesn't hide their enthusiasm for the source material.

Manga Spotlight: Octopus Girl
By Toru Yamazaki

Released by Dark Horse

Octopus Girl is a peanut and chocolate meeting of Junji Ito (Uzumaki) style grotesque and Usamaru Furuya (the cult, older audience strip manga Short Cuts) ugly social humor. Think of it as manga Troma through a series of almost stream of conscious connected stories. The results would be hilarious, if the subtext didn't drain the joy out of life. It is almost as if someone like Michael Haneke filtered the material, and though they didn't explicitly drain the humor, they instilled something very bleak below the surface. There's vomit, mucus and flayed skin but the social deadness has a soul sucking emptiness that's more disturbing than the cute teen who turns into a slimy cephalopod.

Takako or "Tako"/"Otopus" is a favorite target for brutal bullying because she's a "super-cute goody two-shoes". Local stress relieving activities include tying Tako up, gagging her, and jumping on her chest until her lunch comes out her nose. This was taken too far when Taka was force-fed her namesake, invoking an allergic response. The immediate reaction is profuse vomiting, but that night she dreams of an octopus creature... and the following day she wakes up a human head on an octopus body. Problematic, but less so after a bit of a skewed Little Mermaid retelling (closer to Anderson's than Disney's) leaves her with the ability to assume a human body.

Yamazaki capitalizes on manga's flexible ability to shift emphasis. He utilizes small, tight panels and linework for the gag material, especially when playing off teen cuteness. These quickly establish the gags' setups and the vapid hammyness of the characters. As matters get twitchier and edge their way towards the grotesque, the panel sizes increase, the ink gets thicker and the lines wilder. The gorier the results, the more the narrative slows down to allow onlookers a full view of the nastiness.

Not everyone is going to love the manga's frozen examination of humans on meat hooks or with their chest cavities opened or centipede bite welts. For those who do get a charge out that sort of close eying of the unacceptable, the deeper bite comes from the series' view on society. What's most disturbing is that it will not acknowledge its cruelty. It paints a picture of an empty world where people rip each other for the slimmest amusement. Any sort of human attachment is depicted as a product of self interest or of naiveté, childish infatuation or blindly misreading a situation.

The violent turn-arounds of the gags are calculatingly disheartening. Other violent comics or animation have played with the idea of being trapped in a cycle of pointlessness. In Octopus Girl, it isn't so much as small cycle as it is the entire human experience. The stories are dominated by pointless cruelty where the sociopathic violence stems from pure capriciousness. There's a boredom and mundane indifference torture and evisceration. With her new amphibious life, Taka has vast freedom, but she seems trapped in an over insular world where everything turns to shit and she's continually stumbling on humanity's nastiest impulses. That she always smiling and thinking positively is almost more horrific.

Make a Difference in OEL Campaign

Original English Language Manga (oel) is the term coined for manga comics whose story telling techniques and or content has been influence by the conventions of Japanese manga. You can argue it's a marketing invention, you can argue it's a movement in the art of comic creation, but there's no denying that it is a real trend with an impact that will be felt for the foreseeable future. While still new, it looks to be moving out of its infancy. Before it calcifies, it is time to make a difference in establishing diversity in the genres offered. Commercially, series marketed for teenage girls have the heft of the momentum.

There are many great shoujo series, series inspired by shoujo or series appealing to a shoujo audience. Steady Beat, Dramacon and Bizenghast to name a few, are well worth a reader's time and money. However, there are some very innovative creators working outside the material that specifically target that audience. Now is the time to lend some commercial weight to the works that will encourage the publishers of OEL to look at the viable demographics beyond that of teenage girls.

Maybe it's justice that after the North American comic industry largely starved that audience for decades, the audience gets its own movement and pushes the other genres out. Unfortunately, with the finite resources in production and retail shelf space, there's a danger of outstanding works being lost in the narrowing focus.

Some highly recommended titles to try and support:

The Abandoned associate free Amazone Link and review here
East Coast Rising associate free Amazone Link and review here
MBQ associate free Amazone Link and review here

For the next five weeks, this column will be giving aways copies of the Abandoned. To enter the randoms drawing, send an e-mail to Residents of the United States over 16 only.

OEL Spotlight: Psy-Comm
Volume 1

Written by Jason Henderson and Tony Salvaggio
Illustrated by Shane Granger
Released by TOKYOPOP

Bang! An opening with well scripted action. Super-power soldiers done right, established quickly. An APC trucking through the dessert and the precog screams "turn right" moments before a missile hits the vehicle. Small hover-planes attack and a girl jumps up to put a flaming fist through a cockpit. Quick flying chase through ravines, big skirmish, and tragic conclusion to the scene. Perfectly impactful genre material.

The OEL also tries to target a socio-political issue, specifically media manipulation and in that the intentions get a little sticky. If the aspirations are to explore an issue rather than just draw attention to it, it's questionable whether the format affords the space to discuss the topic and deliver the action, and whether the character of the action undercuts the audience's receptiveness to the message. Still, in this problem Psy-Comm is certainly in good company. It fares no worse than a large majority of the Gundam series.

What some readers will love about Psy-Comm is that has a specific look and feel that will be familiar to somewhat older audiences. The character, mechanical and even location design is distinctively reminiscent of the 80's GI Joe. The plates, pouches and even mini-skirts of the uniforms look ready for small, ball-jointed action figures. The small hover-planes, armored carriers and tanks, especially in that they seem constructed for figures so go inside or hook into external slots, look ready to become plastic models.

If Psy-Comm had been a cartoon that aired 15 years ago, it would have been one of the ones that tail-end Gen-Xer's remember very fondly. The combination of a series tone and action recall some of the grittier, not necessarily anime series that have made it onto American television, for example, the fondly remembered Exosquad.

The series' manipulation of society via media is depicted an active process of building a skewed view, as in Wag the Dog, rather than a passive process of going for what is easier and more comfortable, as in Network.

The general impression that the real world public gives is while not considered acceptable, it's accepted that the media can and does drive the social consequences toward certain desired opinions. Given this level of receptiveness, it's debatable whether depicting the process as being driven by automatons in dimly lit boardrooms has the heft to advance the discussion or whether framing it in that way softens the insidiousness by heightening the fictionalness

Calling to mind those animated shows also effects the ability to convey the message. Those shows had so many markers that told even young kids that they were unreal that they build a barrier harder ideas. There were jolts when there's an intrusion of harsh reality, but they rarely fostered a serious discussion on the implications. There's a shock in the opening sequence, but in that the shock fits too well into the convention of the genre, it doesn't jar the reader into accepting a shift into a different level of discourse.

If you look at Watchmen, the comic famous for deconstructing super hero comics, it opens with the famous smiling face in blood, a pool of blood. The view zooms up it reveals that the sight is from police detectives reconstructing a shockingly violent crime. Super hero comics don't, or didn't, start that way, and this readies the reader for a different view on the now unfamiliar circumstances. Psy-Comm has a great opening, perfectly worth the price of admission for any action comic fan, but it readies the reader for a brand of action that isn't going to challenge the reader's world view.

Psy-Comm does it brand of action better than you might think a comic could. The most effective drama and tragedy in the narrative isn't from the political message it forwards. But, again, you can say Yoshiyuki Tomino generally didn't achieve more. Children of the 80's early 90's will see Psy-Comm as a continuations and to some degree advancement of their favorite afternoon-animated fair. Younger audiences may or may not greet it with the same affection, but will certainly enjoy it.

Manga Eisner Award Nominations

The nominees for the American comic industry's most prestigious awards, the Eisners, were announced this week. As in recent years, the manga titles to be nominated with slim and slightly surprising. Volumes 7 and 7 of Vertical's hard cover collection of Osamu Tezuka's Buddha was nominated for "Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books". Adv's release of Eiji Nonaka's Cromartie High School was nominated for Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material. For more information see here

Disney Not To Screen Wild

Cartoon Brew points out critic Eric Lurio's comment that Disney will not be screening their CG animated from The Wild. "For the first time in its history, Disney will NOT, I repeat, will NOT be screening an animated feature for critics. As you know they've screened even live action shit like Meet the Deedles. I've been going to all-medias for Disney animated films for over ten years This has never happened before."

CLAMP's First US Appearance Revealed

Popular manga creation team CLAMP will making their first American appearance at this year's Anime Expo convention in a tour co-sponsored by Anime Expo, Del Rey Manga, FUNimation Entertainment and TOKYOPOP.

CLAMP consists of four women artists, Satsuki Igarashi, Ageha Ohkawa, Tsubaki Nekoi and Mokona, who create their own original story and characters in the Japanese graphic novel form known as ³manga². They made their debut as manga artists in Japan in 1989, and since then have become bestselling authors, and animation films based on their work have been prominent on both TV and the cinema screen.

CLAMP has also been at the spearhead of the current flux and rise in popularity of Japanese anime and manga in the US, with titles such as Magic Knight Rayearth, Cardcaptor Sakura, and Chobits. Among the manga and anime audience, CLAMP is one of the single most recognized names. The two series that they are currently writing in Japan, Tsubasa and xxxHOLiC, are both being published in English.

CLAMP will be the guests of honor at this year¹s Anime Expo held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA, from July 1 - 4. They will be involved with the opening ceremonies, there will be a discussion panel as well as limited autograph sessions for their U.S. and international fans. CLAMP will also present a premiere screening of the highly anticipated Tsubasa anime at the Anime Expo. The Tsubasa and xxx HOLiC anime DVDs are expected later this year.

Anime on Cartoon Network

From Anime News Network
Cartoon Network will show four episodes (3 new) of Naruto back-to-back on Saturday, April 15 starting at 8pm Eastern.

Bleach is scheduled to debut in the Adult Swim block in September, 2006.

Gigantor News

According to Cartoon Brew, a kit for a 15" for a remote control Gigantor aka Tetsujin 28 robot is being offered for about $3,000. See the Japanese site here

Anime News Network reports that the first "episode" of Fumiya Sato's Tetsujin 28 manga remake will appear in issue 5 of Kodansha's Magazine Special, on sale April 20 in Japan.

New Dark Horse Licenses

Tone Zone reports Dark Horse announced the following new licenses at SakuraCon.

Ohikkoshi: by Hiroaki Samura's, of Blade of the Immortal drama

Banya The Explosive Delivery Man
Shaman Warrior
Access Hybrid

Samurai Champloo TV artbook by Yoshitaka Am

Dark Horse also revealed plans to re-package and re-release sexy urban action series Gunsmith Cats.

Shonen Sunday Manga College Award Winner reports Slipher by Kimidzuka Tsutomu has won the December/January Manga College Award hosted by Weekly Sunday.

Anime Village Revived For Eureka 7 Preview

Bandai Entertainment has announced that, as a member of the "Eureka Project" (which includes Studio Bones, Bandai, Bandai Visual, and Hakuhodo), Anime Village will be back to stream the first Episode of Eurika 7 for one week, starting April 16th. Then in the second week a purchasable streaming and download of the episode will be available. This pattern will repeat with every subsequent episode.

Eureka SeveN will debut Saturday April 15th on Cartoon Network's premiere anime block, Adult Swim. A sneak peek of Episode 1 on Cartoon Network's free streaming venue, Friday Night Fix on Friday, April 14th, 2006, during the hours of 10pm-2am. This will be the first anime series to have a digital distribution premiere before the TV broadcast.

Eureka SeveN, produced by Studio Bones, who created smash hits like Cowboy Bebop-the movie and Full Metal Alchemist, just received top honors at the 2006 Tokyo International Anime Fair (TAF) that took place March 23-26th. It won the "Award for Best TV series" and for the individual categories, creator and script writer Dai Sato has received the "Award for Best Script" and Ken Yoshida has received the "Award for Best Character Design." The series focuses on Renton, a young boy in a world where "lifting" (an extreme form of hoverboarding) is common. Renton's life is changed forever by a mysterious and beautiful young girl named Eureka.

The Eureka SeveN DVD, manga, and soundtrack will be released on April 25th by Bandai Entertainment in a special edition collector's box set, with a stand alone edition of the manga coming out the same day, and a stand alone soundtrack to follow.

For more information go to

Anime Village was Bandai's direct sales site, selling titles and packages not available anywhere.. The pricing and packaging of the releases from its first incarnatin net with a mixed reception from consumers.

Legend of Earthsea Status and Clip

GhibliWorld reports Ghibli's production blog detailed the current state of their animated adaptation of Legend of Earthsea or Gedo Senkai

Key animation: 1,201 cuts (97%)
Animation: 942 cuts (76%)
Background painting: 1,034 cuts (84%)

A behind the scenes clip can be seen here.

The site also has a look a the Ghibli Museam here

Upcoming Viz Releases

Anime on DVD forum goers report that Amazon this the following upcoming releases from Viz:
Art of Hana Kimi
20th Centry Boys, previously scheduled, but pushed back, now to October, so that the creator's earlier work, Monster, could be released first
O-Parts Hunter
Hayate the Combat Butler
The Art of Fushigi Yugi
Der Mond: The Art of Neon Genesis Evangelion (re-release)
The Cain Saga
La Corda D'Oro

Naruto Uncut Date

Viz will be releasing the first uncut collection of Naruto on July 4th. A preview DVD will ship with the July issue of Shonen Jump.

Rising Stars of Manga Winners

TOKYOPOP announced the winners of their sixth Rising Stars of Manga talent competition here.

Rob Ten Pas
Manga Title: Bomango

Yasmin Saaka
Manga Title: Girl/Boy

Manga Title: Departure

JD. Robinson
Manga Title: 10 Simple Rules

Anthony Go Wu
Manga Title: Orphans

Ryo Kawakami (writer/artist) and Jamison Taylor (editor)
Manga Title: Little Miss Witch Hater

Manga Title: Chronicles of the Big Feet

The seventh competition was announced here. Entries are due January 12, 2007.

Chilli Peppers to be Featured on Death Note

Anime News Network reports that the Red Hot Chilli Pepper's new song Dani California will be the theme to the upcoming Death Note live action movie.

Ghibli on TCM points out TCM has added the following additional Ghibli showings on the network:

Castle in the Sky (Friday, May 5, 2:00 AM)
Porco Rosso (Friday, May 5, 4:15 AM)
Princess Mononoke (Friday, May 12, 2:00 AM)
My Neighbor Totoro (Friday, May 12, 4:30 AM)
Whisper of the Heart (Friday, May 19, 2:00 AM)
Pom Poko (Friday, May 19, 4:00 AM)

10th Tezuka Osamu Cultural Award Finalist has announced that the following manga have been named finalists for the 10th Tezuka Osamu Cultural Award

Eve no Nemuri by Akimi Yoshida (Shogakukan)
Ousama no Shitateya ~Saruto Fuinito~ by Okawara Ton (Shueisha)
Shissou Nikki by Hideo Aduma (Eastpress)
Danchi Tomoo by Tobira Oda (Shogakukan)
Nana by Ai Yazawa (Shueisha)
Nodame Cantabile by Tomoko Ninomiya (Kodansha)
Hataraki Man by Moyoco Anno (Kodansha)
Historie by Hitoshi Iwaaki (Kodansha)
Moyashimon by Ishikawa Masayuki (Kodansha)
Real by Takehiko Inoue (Shueisha)
Little Forest by Daisuke Igarashi (Kodansha)

Nodame Cantabile is released in English by Del Rey
Nana is released by Viz

Game News

Magic Box has picture of PSP fighting game Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai, to be release in Japan on April 20th here

Trailers of Namco's RPG adapation of Kyo Kara Maoh!, the anime version of which is released by Geneon, can be seen in 300Kbps and 500Kbps resolutions.

Ubisoft announced that it has signed a licensing agreement with VIZ Media, LLC, to develop video games series for the Xbox 360™ video game and entertainment system from Microsoft based on the Naruto anime. The game will hit stores in North America, South America, Central America and Mexico in 2007.

NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc. announced that "Eureka Seven(TM) Vol 1: The New Wave," a mecha combat adventure for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, that will server as a prequel to the anime is scheduled to ship this fall.

Featuring transformable mechas called LFO (Light Finding Operation), "Eureka Seven Vol. 1: The New Wave" introduces Sumner Sturgeon, a budding LFO pilot trainee on a lush, futuristic planet whose primary energy source are "trapars" - invisible energy particles that provides lift for aerial travel. An aspiring elite military officer, Sumner can transform his LFO into its humanoid form to surf the skies on a ref board or remain in vehicle mode to participate in exhilarating high-speed chases. "Eureka Seven Vol. 1: The New Wave" offers a variety of gameplay modes as the gamer can switch from playing the character and controlling the LFO mechas in real time. With customizable mechas, this upcoming title guarantees an intriguing storyline and exciting combat in an unforgettable sci-fi world.

Gundam News

From Gunota The original Gundam series is finally scheduled to be released on DVD in Japan in the following format
DVD-Box 1 (Ep 1-25, 6 DVD) : Dec 22, 2006 - 37,800yen
DVD-Box 2 (Ep 25-43 5 DVD): Jan 26, 2007 - 31,500yen
Individual DVD volumes will come out on Feb 23, 2007.
Rental DVD will come out first on July 28, 2006.

The North American release of the series did not feature a Japanese audio track, widely amused to be a preventative measure to close the release from the Japanese market. No statements have been made regarding whether this frees the path of a new English subtitles release.

The official site for Gundam SEED Stargazer, the online follow-up series is onlone at

Yaoi Publisher Bankrupt

Anime News Network reports that Biblos, Japan's premiere publisher of yaoi (homosexual male romance) manga declared brankrcpty. American distributors comment on the potential effect here

Star Trek OEL in September

ICV2 reports TOKYOPOP will publish the first volume of its Star Trek original English language manga anthology in September. The volume will feature five stories from the original series timeframe, as opposed to the originally announced Next Generation time. The release will be part of the 40th anniversary of the series. Announced creators include Chris Dows, Gregory Johnson, Jeon-Mo Yang, Jim Alexander, Joshua Ortega, Michael Shelfer, Mike Barr and Rob Tokar.

Top Manga Anthologies for Female Fans reports Oricon polled female Japanese manga readers about their favorite manga anthologies, with the following top selects resulting:
Weekly Shonen Jump
Bessatsu Margaret (Betsuma)
Hana to Yume
Weekly Shonen Magazine

Samurai Champloo Collected Release

Geneson will be releasing a box set collection of Samurai Champloo on July 4th for $200.00

Next VOTOMS Set Scheduled

Central Park Media has announced that the third collection of mecha, sci-fi war series VOTOMS is scheduled for June 13th, 2006. The 12 episode two-disc set will retail for $34.95

Armored Trooper Votoms - Stage 3: Deadworld Sunsa
From Ryosuke Takahashi (Creator of Gasaraki and Blue Gender, Director of Silent Service), Norio Shioyama (Character Designer of Ronin Warriors), and Kunio Okawara (Mecha Designer, Mobile Suit Gundam)


Podact Anime-Pulse has posted a recording of Production I.G. president Mitsuhisa Ishikawa's lecture at University of Colorado at Boulder here

Comics World News has intervied Viz's Vice President-Publishing, Alvin Lu here

Love Manga points out a Publisher's Weekly interview with Paul Pope, a comic creator who spend time at manga publishing juggernaut Kodansha.

PWCW: You worked for years in Japan for Kodansha, producing a lot of pages of manga that were never published. How important has manga been to your development as a comics artist?

PP: I've become a lot more aggressive about claiming the manga influence. Manga has become surprisingly big in the States and I am the one comics guy that worked for five years for the biggest Japanese comics publisher. I know the structure of manga. I consider it my graduate school. The whole time there, I was being groomed for a top spot. And even though my time working there was like being in a Kafka novel, I came back to the States with a unique skill set.

Most of what I did during the years working for Kodansha wasn't published. That was frustrating, but my time there was also illuminating and enlightening and I worked for a lot of wonderful people at Kodansha. They paid me well and returned all the art—some of which will go into Pulphope, an art book that will be published by AdHouse Books. has posted a translated interview with the staff of GunXSword here.

GunXSword is a sci-fi western written by Read or Die's Hideyuki Kurata and directed by s-CRY-ed's Goro Taniguchi, to be released domestically by Geneon this summer.

Upcoming OEL

Love MAnga poits out that Seven Seas has revealed several original English Language manga titles scheduled for release later in 2005.

Upcoming releases include
Dead Already by Dwayne Smith and Michael Shelfer, known for Blue Phoenix: No Quarter entry in Rising Starts of Manga 5

The Outcast written by Vaun Wilmott with art by Edward Gan

Hollowfields by Madeleine Rosca

Icv2 reports Yaoi Press, a U.S. company specializing in original English language yaoi titles, is expanding its line with new releases in a variety of genres in the coming months. In July, the company will release Stallion, set in the Wild West. August will see Treasure, a pirate story.

For the first time in September, the company plans two releases. Saihoshi the Guardian Vol. 2 follows the quick sell-out of Volume 1; it continues the story of Sastre the Guardian, who must protect the spoiled prince despite his feelings for the servant forced to be the prince's decoy. Winter Demon is a one-shot about a monk forced to seek help from a demon.

All of these Yaoi Press releases are 192 pages at $12.95 MSRP. Each includes a back-up feature in addition to the lead story.


Twitch points out that a new trailer for the live action adapation of Prince of Tennis can be seen in Windows and Quicktime

Twitch points out a cam recording of Katsuhito Ishii's (Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl) racing anime movie Red Line from the Tokyo Anime Fair here

MangaNews reports new shonen anthology Shounen Blood has updated their website with previews of their upcoming series.

From AnimeNation
Coyote Ragtime Show has a Windows streaming and a downloadable trailer

A trailer of Tokko is online here

< a href="" >Strawberry Panic has a 1:30 streaming trailer in Windows Media and Real Media trailer.

A Simoun trailer is available here

A teaser of Marduk Scramble can be seen here.

Night Head Genesis has a flash trailer here

Gothicmade's site is open here

Spider Riders, recently picked up for distrobution by FUNimation is online here

Zenmai Zamurai

Protoculture Addicts Announces New Format

Anime News Network reports that starting with issue 88 of Anime News Network's Protoculture Addicts, the magazine will be 100 pages long (up from 80 pages in previous issues) and full color (up from 16 pages in previous issues). As a result of the format change, the magazine's cover price will jump from $4.95 to $5.95, however the subscription rate will remain the same, $30 for 6 issues.

Times Covers TIAF

The New York Times has posted an article on convention/trade-show/award ceremony Tokyo International Anime Fair here

Uncut SF2 Movie

For those still waiting to see the Chun-Li shower scene, Anime on DVD reports Manga Video will be releasing the Street Fight II animated movie uncut on July 18th.

Upcoming Stone Bridge Books

Asian culture publish Stone Bridge press will be releasing Cosplay: Catgirls and Other Critters in May and Cosplay: School Girls and Uniforms in June for $16.95 Each

Why just draw your favorite anime character when you can BE it? Cosplay – short for "costume play" – is sweeping the anime con scene from coast to coast, and once again we're leading the way with a pair of books for both beginning and veteran cosplayers. Each volume features: transforming ordinary fabric and accessories into fabulous contest winners, creating genre-specific costumes from scratch; duplicating your favorite characters or inventing your very own; cosplaying both for competition and just for fun; accessories from shoes to makeup; finding hard-to-get and imported items; patterns, measurements, and sewing techniques; money-saving tips and how-tos for cosplay on a budget; pointers on the care and transportation of costumes; resource lists, websites, where to find character models, etc.; plus full-color photos, plans, and drawings.

'Catgirls and Other Critters' Catgirls are a favorite of fans from All Purpose Cultural Catgirl Nuku-Nuku to Hyper Police and great for purring and prowling.

'School Girls and Uniforms' This is all about schoolgirls (think Sailor Moon) and how to make uniforms with just the right bouncy-skirt done anime style.

Covers can be seen here

Anime Expo 15th Announces AniMatsuri Illustration Contest

Anaheim, California (April 7, 2006) ‹ Anime Expo(r) 2006 (AX2006) seeks a winning colorful design for 15th Anniversary Celebration Party. AX2006 will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center July 1-4, 2006. More information is available at .

The winning illustration will be used to decorate the 15th Anniversary Cake during the Celebration Party. The winner will also be invited to attend the Celebration Party to have their picture taken with the cake, for press. Entrants are encouraged to incorporate the AniMatusri theme and any amount of Anime Expo(r) heritage, anime enthusiasm and high energy into the design. The Anime Expo(r) Anniversary Committee staff will select winning entry.

AniMatsuri Illustration Contest Rules:
* All entrants must be pre-registered or registered attendees of Anime Expo(r) 2006.
* All entrants must include, both, their real name and their artist name, if they have one, as well as which one they prefer to be used.
* All entries must be submitted in color and on paper of 8.5" x 11" dimensions. Please DO NOT fold submission!
* The AniMatsuri Illustration Contest is only open to amateur artists.
Please, no professionals.
* Entries must be received at the SPJA Office by June 1st, 2006.
* All entries will be returned, via mail, to their respective artists after the Anime Expo(r) convention if a valid postal address is included.
* By entering this contest, the winning entrant agrees to let SPJA / Anime Expo(r) use their illustration for promotional purposes through the year 2006.
* All entries must be mailed, no online submissions
. * Please use USPS mail only.

All submissions should be sent to:
Attn: AniMatsuri Illustration Contest
SPJA / AnimeExpo
1733 S. Douglass Road, Suite G
Anaheim, California 92806

Bastard!! Continued

Viz will be releasing volume 12 of popular fantasty action Bastard!! in June.

New Monkey Punch Anime

AnimeNation reports Musashi, a new anime developed by Lupin III creator Monkey Punch will debut on Japanese TV this month.

New Evin Dorkin Animation

Evan Dorkin (Milk and Cheese, Eltingville ) and Sarah Dyer (the TOKYOPOP adapation of Kodocha) have developed a new pilot for Adult Swim called "Tyrone's Inferno". A preview can be seen here

FUNimation Announces Live Action Ninja

FUNimation announced that it has acquired rights to the live action film SHINOBI from Shochiku, Japan's leading entertainment conglomerate. FUNimation has acquired theatrical, DVD and broadcast rights to the SHINOBI film.

Masaki Koga, the Head of Shochiku's International Business Division, said, "We are very proud of 'Shinobi' and hope that its success in the U.S. mirrors its success in Japan. FUNimation is one of the premiere specialty distributors in North America and the ideal distributor for this film."

Set in 17th Century Japan, SHINOBI tells the story of two warring Ninja tribes, each with special fighting abilities and techniques. The tribes are forced to fight each other in order to keep their existence. The young leaders of each tribe are in love, but are inevitably torn apart in the conflict. SHINOBI is fast pacing ninja action meets Romeo and Juliet.

The SHINOBI storyline was adapted from the Kouga Ninja Scrolls, a best selling novel in Japan. The popularity of this novel also served as the inspiration for an anime series called Basilisk, which FUNimation has also acquired.

Unearthly Problems

The Beat points out that Ted Naifeh has posted on his blog that his OEK work Unearthly hasn't been selling well.

My manga book, Unearthly, may never see a second volume. This is due to the abysmal sales of the first volume, which never seemed to find its audience, despite being beautifully illustrated, and (IMHO) rather well written. I suspect that the concept wasn't quite snappy enough. I don't know. In any event, though Seven Seas is taking steps to drum up interest in the series, they've called a halt to production for the foreseeable future. We'll see what, if anything, happens. Needless to say, this was rather frustrating, though I'm not as devastated as I would have been had it been my only project.

A review of tht title can be read here

MIT Schedules Symposium on Japanese Pop Culture

AnimeNation reports MIT will hold a "Violence and Desire in Japanese Popular Culture" academic symposium April 14 - 15. For more information see here

US Appearances

From Anime News Network
Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu will join Yasunori Mitsuda, Akira Yamaoka, and several other composers at the world premiere PLAY! concert on May 27 in Chicago. For ticket see here

Manga artist Junko Mizuno and singers TsuShiMaMiRe will be guests at Anime Central, May 5-7 in Chicago.

Vocalist Hakuei and guitarist Chisato from Penicillin will perform at this year's A-Kon, June 9-11 in Dallas.

Transformers Movie Update

ICV2 reports Shia LaBeouf (Even Stevens, Constantine) is in final negotiations to star in the Michael Bay movie version of the Transformers, due out July 4, 2007. The film is set to start shooting in May.

Second Printings for Three Go! Comi Titles

Go! Media CEO David Wise explained that both CANTARELLA 1 and TENSHI JA NAI!! 1 were completely out of stock at the time of the reprinting, while HER MAJESTY'S DOG 1, which had an initial print-run of 10,000 copies, had insufficient inventory to service its pending orders. He added that the reprinting is complete and all three books are now back in stock at Go!Comi's distributor, Diamond Books.

"We're incredibly pleased with the success of our launch," Wise said. "We sold 50,000 books four months. Volume Two of HER MAJESTY'S DOG made the Bookscan Top 50 Best-selling Graphic Novels list, and Volume 1 of CANTARELLA has been nominated as one of the ALA's 2006 Great Graphic Novels for Teens. The sales pace of our second volumes is exceeding our first ones, and pre-orders for our third volumes are generally larger than our Volume Twos. And, contrary to industry trends, our returns have been absolutely minimal."

Brothers Quay Stop Motion at Academy

Cartoon Brew points out The Brother's Quay's will discuss their work and show clip of their stop motion animation at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts in Los Angeles. For more information on the event see the Academy's website.

Voice-Over Actors on Cable Cartoon Shows To Get Raises

IMDB reports actors providing voice-over work in cartoons produced for cable will be receiving a 20-percent hike in their residual checks under a new pact agreed upon by Screen Actors Guild (SAG) negotiators during their current talks with producers. Although the deal is similar to one rejected by SAG for live performances, a spokesman for the union pointed out that animated episodes are generally rerun more often than live episodes. "The performers who work under this contract have waited a long time for these well-deserved gains," SAG President Alan Rosenberg said in a statement. "The Guild achieved this important victory by standing together as a united group of actors."

Samurai Kittens Flash Game

A "Samurai Kittens" flash game has been posted online in support of the Samurai 7 anime series on IFC at

Just Strange...

Via Twitch, Nekome Kozo, Mana Yasuda's adapation of Kazuo Umezza's (Scary Book, Orochi: Blood) manga.

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