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Anime Spotlight: Mai-HiME
Volume 1

Released by Bandai

Mai-HiME has a reputation for taking a dark, tragic turn, but its inaugural four episodes ending with its iciest character loosing her cool chasing an undergarment stealing goblin. The set up hasn't been unfamiliar other than it follows female character who aren't some brand of overt super-team, or follow the typical dictates of school girl characters. So far, it's an unchallenging male targeted action series, but done well with intelligence and style.

Mai manages to arrange scholarships for herself and her very ill younger brother Takumi to the prestigious Fuuka Academy. The journey to the school doesn't go smoothly, and once there she begins to learn that the school is gathering girls who can super-natural powers, known as HiME (there's a number of puns at work in the series title). So far the HiME include Mai, the cool and dangerous Natsuki and the younger , almost feral Mikoto. The immediate task of the trio is to rid the school grounds of various rampaging monsters. The student body don't see the battles or the creatures, but look in display at the swaths of destruction that constitute the aftermath.

After a world gone mad first episode that includes the sinking of a large ferry, in which the lead isn't given a chance to get a grasp on what is happening around her, action is used sparingly in this volume, but there is a attention to establishing the super powers as iconic and significant.

It is offering the a spectular opportunity to see super-hero comic book action in motion. Anime and manga typically don't feature derivation of powers found in American comics, and typically don't use their own rotating set, so if the characters aren't just lobbing fire-balls or cracking rocks, there's usually a short, but resounding demonstration of what the characters are capable of early on.

When the HiME do their thing, it the reaction isn't "oh, another fight, hope it's good". It's peal your eyes open and get ready... When there's a young girl with a Stormbringer-like claymore spinning it around with her whole body, sparks flying as it skims the ground and releasing a steal cleaving slice, or another girl spins derringers like pistols and summons a Zoids like robot tiger equipped with shell loading cannons, there's the ritualized routine of the genre classics given the spark of current animation. The actions are impressive the first time they seen, and remain as such because they're kept exciting in how they're adapted to new circumstances. The lead learns she has the ability to invoke rings of fire around her wrists and ankles. The freedom and inexperience of her motion is captured as she gracefully jets forward, followed by hap-hazard stops. There's the implied promise that it looks great now, and it look better later. At the same time, there seems to be a deliberate effort to keep these engagements simple. Interactivity and in-battle innovation of combatants hasn't been anything special yet though there was a great monster that looked like something from Jackson's recreation of the King Kong spider-pit and kept on mutating in response to having pieces chopped off.

Action has been presented as an incidental facet of the series. It doesn't structure itself around fights, and it appears to be avoiding the monster of the week format. As much, or pobably more, attention is given to the drama of the Mai's life. She's been established as a complex character. She's burden by the responsibilities of managing her own life and taking care of her needy brother. She's haunted by the death of her parents, but also seems to be vocal about what bothers her. The potential is there for her to be a whining character, but she also tries to stay up beat and keep her life rounded. She takes part times job for the money and for different experiences (get gets the job in a cafe where the wait staff wear Clash of the Titans by way of anime uniforms, so there may be some creator ulterior motives there). The requisite romance is also included in the form of a handsome older student she's infatuated with and a peer who she can't stand, but with whom she will undoubtedly build a bond.

The school offers a host of support characters who have been played for laughs in these episodes. There's been plenty of good natured teasing, a few calm manipulators and tempestuous self important student functionaries to react extravagantly when something strange happens. Oddly the school seems to be depicted as rather clique free. There are cubs and social circles, but there's a unity.
The environment also features a surprisingly young board of directors who, at this point, are shadily defined manipulators, and a Catholic church with a minister and a nun, who have similarly been nebulous or comic relief.

Despite the female leads, the sexual politics of the series is unmistakably male centered. No only does it feature an episode that centers on a bra stealing monster with the accompanying cup sided discussion, but that the lead has a noticeably large chest, more noticeable because the direction routines draws attention to it. There are plenty of more exploitive series than Mai-HiME, but it's worth pointing out that despite some shared structural similarities, Mai-HiME isn't Revolutionary Girl Utena.

Anime Spoltight: Leave it to Piyoko
Volume 2

Released by Synch-Point

Leave it to Piyoko volume 2 concludes the eight, 15 minute episodes of direct to video comedy, which could be described as anime version of Cartoon Network's original works. It's cute, colorful and gentle series for younger fans and older fans looking something that's saccharine but that will not insult their intelligence.

Pyocola Analogue III or Piyoko is ostensibly the villian of the Digi Charat franchise, sortof. Digi Charat is the green haired girl, a bit uncouth, who wears large bells and frilly cat ears, who travels to earth to become a star. She ends up working at Gamers (a real franchise) along with her mini sidekick Petit Charat and her rival Rabi~en~rose.

Piyoko, a child in an outfit that's Nightingale nurses gown via panda costume, is the princess of the poor planet Analogue. To support her home she plans to kidnap and then ransom Di Gi Charat. To his end she travels to Earth with the Black Gema-Gema Gang, three handsome men of various ages, a doctor, a dentist and a veterinarian. Leave it to Piyoko isn't too quick to hammer any joke, but part of the conceptual humor is that Piyoko and her gang are nice, nicer than Digi-Charat who's selfish and egotistical, and they're no so much hapless villains as very unlucky (they live in an abandoned lot).

Digi-Charat franchise anime vary in tone from incarnation to incarnation. The look of Leave it Piyoko is close to creator Koge Donbo's original design with soft colors and friendly wide features. Director Hiroaki Sakurai (Kodocha, Cromartie High School ) and writers Mamiko Ikeda (Fruits Basket, Gravitation) and Hiroshi Nagahama (Fruits Basket, Utena) work with a calm level of absurdity and a sensibility that reflects an innocent child's mentality, getting lost in a blood, drawing songs with references to boogers and such, or simply plays of affection.

Voice acting in both the Japanese and English tracks is a treat. The Japanese track features once ubiquitous Megumi Hayashibara (probably now best know for the roles she wasn't playing her trademark fiery leading lady now that Evangelion's Rei and Cowboy Bebop's Faye are more thought of than Slayer's Lina Inverse or Saber Marionette's Lime). Miyuki Sawashiro provides the voice for Petit Charat/Puchiko in both the Japanese version and most of the English.

Manga Spotlight: Battle Club
by Yuji Shiozaki

Released by TOKYOPOP

Any manga that opens with an illustration of a crotch shot looking into the mini-skirt of a girl performing a back bridge exercise isn't masking its intentions. Similarly, if you end the first volume of your amateur wrestling manga with the team going to the beach to train by supplexing sharks, you know that those intention don't include being taken seriously.

Girls wrestling, girls in singlets and mixed gender wrestling are sexy ideas. Reality aside, the manga plays it up, such as having a dominant girl strip a less capable one in practice. Battle Vixens/Ikki-Tossen creator Yuji Shiozaki puts together a series knows that its exploitively sexy and stupid, and it duly takes advantage of it. If you're a fan of the former work, think of a series focused on the blue haired girl with an eye patch and frill apron Ryomou Shimei with amateur wrestling in place of ju jitsu submissions.

Those waiting for a good grappling manga will continue to wait. Horny teenage males looking for breasts, lots of breasts, large breasts, and breast revealed in full details, will find exactly what they're looking for. Shiozaki is directly shameless in how he features above the waste nudity and mosaic masked below the waste. The title is 18+ thanks to the inclusion of nipples in the illustrations, but reality, the appeal is probably a couple years younger.

The series is set in another school where the students are given leeway in asserting dominance through martial confrontations.
Mokochi Saitou shows up with a skull emblazoned bandana and a baseball bat looking to make a name for himself. His fight with the local tough is ended when he bumps into Tamako, a cute girl, who responds with a nice shoulder throw. Hapless Mokochi ends up strapped to a fence sans patents in front of the student body. He decides to join the wrestle team to become stronger, but is often distracted by his sexy female teammates.

Shiozaki captures the positions of wrestling, but, as with most manga depictions of sports, it's not really aiming for accuracy in depicting the endeavor. Particular panels look good, the muscles, position and leverage are in the right place. The effectiveness is there. However, if you try to piece together the motions between the panel, fight logic is lost. Given that these characters are grappling, the position continuity should be tighter to be effective. Major reversals happen between panels with no cohesiveness.

If the thought of busty girls in singlets or gym clothes grappling seems like a titillating prospect to you, there's a plenty to get excitable about in Battle Club. The characters aren't particularly interesting, but they are kept light enough, and there's enough of a playful genre humor that character deficits don't hurt what the manga is accomplishing.

Anime Spotlight: Law of Ueki
Volume 1: The Battle Commencement

Relesed by Geneon

If your a fan of fight tournament anime, and you have room for another title Law of Ueki gets the job done.
It's comparable to other shonen jump tournaments (the manga was from Shonen Sunday, home of Flame of Recca and Inuyasha), though not as good as the top tier like Naruto or the unedited One Piece. With competent animation, a teenage hero finding novel uses for a goofy super power and a mildly subversive/irreverent tone it's diverting light entertainment.

There's a vaguely clever premise to the show. Ueki, a scruffy kid with green hair, has been picked by one of his teachers to compete in a tournament that will determine who will be the next celestial king. (Explanations seem a bit confusing or inconsistent; it seems that the person who selected the combatant takes the office, not the combatant himself). The combatant starts off with by receiving a special talent, Ueki's is the ability to turn trash into trees. The winner of the tournament receives the "Talent of Blank" (any talent they want). If combatant uses their special talent to hurt a non-combatant, they lose an inherent talent, which when expended eras the combatant from the world. Ueki has done his a number of times in his do-good-ing and has lost the "talent to be liked by girls" (females are now compelled to disparage him on site), the talent to study and the talent to run.

Fight choreography is problematic, featuring moralizing speeches within the combat and threat-counter-maneuver loops in which the opponent keeps hitting Ueki with the same attack until he comes up with a solution (good thing he has so much fortitude). The battles still derive some fun some watching and guessing how a kid can use trees to defeat opponents who have more battle-credible, even if still odd super powers. Whacking people with branches is entertaining but so is the inventiveness, like using rubber tries or or launching heated chestnuts. The appeal is helped from recent (the show debuted in Japan last year) from the competent, if not always exciting Studio DEEN (Bandit King Jing).

Ueki isn't a dull hero. With his zen-trickster attitude the series celebrates the unconventional. He mixes selflessness with what looks like laziness and when it comes to doing what's right, determination. Yet, the series doesn't sell us on why we should like the character. He's a dirty kid who despite appearances, always, intuitively, takes the right action. As such, he doesn't have the charisma or connectiveness of other leads. He doesn't have the exuberance of a character like Luffy. He doesn't isn't alienated like Naruto. Undoubtedly, some explanation will come up at some point and will reveal the cause the incongruous blasé and determined sides of his personality, but so far, he's a closed book.

Shaman King's Yoh Asakura was similarly laid back, but not only he have a character actively pushing him, the anime/manga introduced enough of his philosophy and motivations to make his actions convince and intriguing.

Media Blasters Licenses GaoGaiGar

MediaBlasters has confirmed that they will be releasing GaoGaiGar: King of Braves Vol. 1 of (?) ion August 29. The fan favorite mecha series was created by Sunrise as the final entry of their thematically linked, Takara funded Brave/Yuusha series. It ran 49 episodes in 1997 with a eight episode OAV follow-up in 2000. Cross one of the wish list of many older fans.

iFilms Anime

iFilms has launched an anime section featuring clips, trailer and special features at Videos includes classics such as the works Studio Ghibli and Satoshi Kon (Tokyo Godfather), movies such as Steam Boy and Korean Blue Sky, CPM releases and recently FUNimation releases such as Lupin III, Spiral, Dragon Ball, and Blue Gender. Their new Samrai 7 playlist can be seen here. The site provides a trailers of favorites, see bonus material and be exposed to works you may not have heard of, such as Labyrinth of Flame, the crazy comedy from the creator Najica and Agent Aika.

Tekkon Kinkurito Trailer

When Studio 4°C (Mind Game) animates a manga from Taiyo Matsumoto (No. 5, Blue Spring), genius is guarenteed. They're adapting Tekkon Kinkurito, released by Viz, but out of print as Black and White, Twitch points out that a trailer is now online here

Witchblade Trailer

Anime News Network points out that a trailer for Gonzo adapation of Top Cow comic Witchblade can be seen here.

Crazy Action Figures

Same Hat! Same Hat! points out here, which pictures that Art Storm has unveiled figures based on the works of Yoshida Sensha (creator of disconcerting gag manga), Junko Mizuno (creator of disconcerting fairytale retellings), Hideshi Hino, including Hell Baby and Bug Boy (disconcerting horror) and Kazuo Umeza (disconcerting gags and horror). Umeza also made an appearance at the at the event.

Blame Creator Contributes to Halo OGN

Tsutomo Nihei, creator of cyber-crawl manga Blame! will be one of the creators working on an original graphic novel based on Bungie's game Halo. The 128 page hard cover will be released in July 2006. For more information, and a complete list of creators see here

Idoru Anime

Play Magazine has talked to Alexy Steyermark (One Last Thing) about his next project, a Japanese animated adaptation of William Gibson's (Neuromancer) Idoru.

"The studio people that were reading the script all loved it," Steyermark says. "They said, 'This is a $150 million movie.' One of them came back and said, 'How would you feel about doing this as an anime film?' I thought that is really cool, really creative. It's exciting, it's a great way to do it on a smaller budget. At the same time, [it] could set up a live action version of it."

Legend of Earthsea Synopsis reports Ursula K. Le Guin has post a synopsis of Studio Ghibli's Gedo Senki (Tales from Earthsea) on her site here. She comments "I have no further information concerning the film, and of course will not discuss it until I have seen it." The first special campaign "Gedo Senki special preview" will be held on July 7-9 in 17 cities. 20,000 people will be invited by lottery.

Kayne West Manga

Anime News Network reports Kanye West is working on a "manga-style" book with animator Bill Plympton, according to Time magazine. Simon & Schuster is publishing the book, which will be based on West's lyrics.

Pumpkin Scissors Anime Announced

AnimeNation reports Gekkan Shonen Magazine has announced that Iwanaga Ryoutarou's action manga Pumpkin Scissors will be adapted into an anime. Moon Phase reports that the TV series will be animated by Gonzo & AIC and directed by Akiyama Katsuhito, director of Bastard!! and Bubblegum Crisis 2040.

AniPages Looks at Masami Hata's Return

AniPages Daily, one the best views of anime as art looks at Masami Hata's return to theatrical anime with on of Madhouse's slate of promising features, as well as Hata's career here. Hata has had a long and diverse career from Little Nemo in Slumberland to Inu-Yasha to Initial D to classic tennis series Ace wo Nerae! to erotic Cleopatra to gross out Ping Pong Club.

AniPages also looks at Ryosuke Tahahashi, of hard sci-fi Votoms and most hard Gasaraki and his new anime Flag, going for a documentary style.

Manga Library Contravery

ICV2 Bill Postmus, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of suburban San Bernadino County, California responded to a controversy started when a 16 year old checked out Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics from an adult section of the library by having the county's copies of the book removed from circulation.

Manga Blog has an extensive run down of the controversy in the following entries:
4/15 (2)

More on Cartoon Network Move Towards Live Action

Cartoon Brew has posted a e-mail from a Cartoon Network artist lending context to their the network’s increasing use of live action material here. Previous discussions have focuses on chasing the Nickelodeon and Disney ratings, but this artist raises the economic issues. The artist promises this residuals are one reason original shows like Johnny Bravo aren't shown. One comment of note to anime fans is

Cartoon Network is showing properties that they buy CHEAP and then broadcast sandwiched between original programming. Then they charge the same advertising rates. Buying cheap and selling at a premium is something that started on the Toonami program years ago. DragonBall Z and the other anime series they slotted were all purchased for next to nothing and yet still pulled in the highest ratings of their entire schedule when shown during the afterschool slot.

One could speculate that will the rise of anime's popularity, those anime shows aren't nearly as cheap as they once were.

Others refute this, and say the move is more dominated by ratings.

The motivation is definitely money, but not for the reasons your previous source has stated. They've always licensed Cartoon shows and now they're doing live-action, as an "introduction" to more live-action content. They are aggressively seeking original live-action content and have some in development. They are trying to compete with Disney and Nick, who own ratings with shows like Raven and Lizzie McGuire. But they don't wish to copy the same type of shows, they are looking for something different.

Lindsay Lohan Sailor Moon?

It does not seem credible, but Cinematical reports that Japanese anime periodical Animeage is reporting that Fox is planning a live action adapation of Sailor Moon, written by Joss Whedon with Lindsay Lohan as the title character and Jennifer Garner as the villain.

AX Announces First U.S. Guest of Honors

Anime Expo 2006 proudly announced the attendance of Vic Mignogna and Laura Bailey as the 1st ever official U.S. Guest of Honors. The 15th year anniversary convention will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center July 1-4, 2006.

Vic Mignogna is a producer, music composer and veteran actor best known as the voice of Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist. Most recently he has lent his voice to the role of Hikaru in ADV's Macross. His extensive filmography includes such roles as Dark in DN Angel, Tatsu in Peacemaker, Kurz in Full Metal Panic, Broly in Dragonball Z, Kougagai in Saiyuki, Mamoru in Raxaephon, Hiroki in Princess Nine, Goemon in Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Shougou in Megazone 23, and Gawl in Generator Gawl.

Laura Bailey is a professional voice actress and ADR (Automatic Dialogue Replacement) director who, among other roles, is well known as the voice of Tohru Honda in Fruits Basket and Sana Kurata in Kodocha. Her other roles include Henrietta in Gunslinger Girl, Ayaka in Negima, Serena in Case Closed, Ryoko in Spiral, Alv in Kiddy Grade, Marlene Angel in Blue Gender, and Lust in Fullmetal Alchemist.

Naruto Hit DVD Release

ICV2 reports the first volume of Viz's Naruto DVD debuted at #3 on the Neilson Video Scan list of anime best-sellers in its first week of release. Viz's TV advertising campaign for Naruto hit the airwaves during the DVD's second week of release and a Viz spokesperson told ICv2 that initial orders for the second Naruto DVD (due out on May 30th) were higher than they were for the first disk.

Viz will release an uncut version of Naruto on July 4th in a Box Set (MSRP $49.98) containing the first 13 episodes of the series with both English and Japanese (with optional English subtitles) soundtracks. A Special Edition of the Uncut Naruto Box Set (MSRP $69.98) that will contain a Naruto headband and wrist cuff.

Ice T Features 'Urotsukidoji'

ICV2 reports Ice T featured Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend, the hentai (porn) that introduced the world to tentacles, in his VH-1 pop-culture show Ice TV: The Cult S#!t.

Original OMG Re-Release

Anime on DVD reports AnimEigo will be re-releasing the original six

episode Oh! My Goddess series on June 6th for $39.98. The newer TV series is being releasing by Media Blaster's Anime Work as Ah! My Goddess and the source manga is released by Dark Horse.

4Kids Announces Older Audience Label

4Kids, a media company widely criticized by many anime fans for the extensive changes in their localized adaptations of licensed anime and for their disinterest in releasing unedit versions have announced a new subsidiary, 4sight licensing solutions, inc., to specialize in the marketing and licensing of brands geared primarily to adults, teens and "tweens."

From the press release:
Headquartered in 4Kids Entertainment's New York offices, 4sight licensing solutions will focus on brand building through targeted licensing and promotional activities. 4sight will take the lead in the branding efforts for existing brands that 4Kids currently represents, such as the Royal Air Force, the American Kennel Club and the Cat Fanciers' Association. Additional brands will be added to the 4sight stable with the ultimate goal of becoming a leader in the licensing and brand building of properties targeting an older demographic than what 4Kids currently specializes in.

"We have built an impressive roster of captivating and successful children's entertainment properties," said Alfred R. Kahn, Chairman and CEO of 4Kids Entertainment. "Given the increased number of brands that we are representing that focus on an older audience, we felt it would be beneficial to organize a new subsidiary primarily devoted to the marketing and licensing of these brands. We believe that we can successfully utilize our marketing and licensing expertise to build brand value for properties targeting an older consumer that are not necessarily media or character driven."

Game News

From The Magic Box

Battle Stadium D.O.N., a 4 playing fighting game, featuring characters from Shonen Jump including Dragon Ball's Goku, Naruto and One Piece's Luffy and Tony Tony Chopper can be seen here. The game will be releasing for the PlayStation 2n Gamecube in Japan on July 20th.

Idea Factory's Samurai 7 game for the Playstation 2 will be released in Japan on May 25th.

Sony will release the PSP anime fighting game Bleach: Heat the Soul 3 in Japan on July 20, 2006.

Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai for the PSP can be seen here

News images of Bandai's Neon Genesis Evangelion 2: Tsukurareshi Sekai - Another Cases for the PSP can be seen here. The game will be available in Japan on April 27, 2006.

Bleach: Heat the Soul 3, a fighting game for the PSP can be seen here

Bandai announced its first Revolution title - the anime fighting game Dragon Ball Z: Sparking! NEO [Dragon Ball Z: Tenkaichi NEO], the sequel to the popular PS2 fighting game; the game will have over 100 playable characters.

Banpresto announced Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation for PlayStation 2, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the series. This game will combine the two GBA titles Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation 1 & 2 as one game, plus additional scenarios and characters

Apropos of little, a video of the Evangelion synchronized attach from giant robot franchise Super Robot Wars/Taisen can been seen on Google video here

Gamespot has a review of the North American release of Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked here.

Game Daily looks at One Piece based party game One Piece: Pirate's Carnival from Namco Bandai here.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters Release

4Kids Entertainment Home Video, Inc., the home video unit of 4Kids Entertainment, Inc., in association with FUNimation Entertainment, has set a May 23, 2006 street date for Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters, the first of two all-new, direct-to-DVD Capsule Monster films to be released this year.

In the follow up to the hit theatrical film and DVD release, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie, the new film, Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters, pits Yugi, Tea, Tristen and Joey against a new crop of ancient monsters who are out to destroy them. To defeat the monsters, the kids must now work together as a team and abandon their trusty Duel Disks for different technology — Capsule Shooters.

RUNNING TIME: Approximately 95 minutes
SRP: $14.98
STREET DATE: 5/23/2006

North American Musical Performances

From Anime News Network Dir en Grey, probably best known for performing the song FUNimation used for the Baki the Grappler opening, will be joining Korn's 2006 Family Values Tour starting Virginia Beach on July 27. Korn singer Jonathan Davis described Dir en grey as, "This crazy Japanese band that are just out of their minds." For more information see here

Koji Kondo, who composed the Super Mario and Legend of Zelda themes, will join Nobou Uematsu, Yasunori Mitsuda, and several other composers at the Play! Video Game Symphony in Chicago. See here for information.

Broccoli Previews

MangaBlog points out that Broccoli Books is launching monthly online preview Bro Comi.

New Anime From Five Star Stories Creator

Mamoru Nagano, creator of the elegant and complex mecha epic Five Star Stories has started a new anime Gothicmade. The brief anime adaptation of Five Star Stories was released domestically by ADV. The manga is translated into English, but not widely distributed.

News Josie Anthology reports Kodansha will be publishing Beth , a new josei (older female audience) manga anthology aimed at "pretty otaku". The anthology will start serialization in Jpan starting in November. IT will features manga, and columns on anime, games, novels, movies, cosmetic, and health.

August CMX Releases

Written and illustrated by Naoe Kita
CMX. Jump in at the beginning of this 7-volume science-fiction shojo series from creator Naoe Kita! Long ago, the Emperor possessed great mystical powers. Now, a young boy wonders if he will have them as well. With no memories and only a rose-shaped scar on his forehead as a clue, he ponders his legacy while on the run with the girl who rescued him from a group of armed warriors. She takes him to a scientist who identifies Rose as the Emperor's clone and believes that this young boy must assume the mantle of leadership. But opposing forces with their own agenda have created another clone from the Emperor's DNA...and now the struggle for power begins!
on sale August 30 • 5" x 7.375" • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN

Written and illustrated by Meca Tanaka
CMX. You've heard of those who can "see dead people." But what if you could see dead people and a guy in a giant bunny suit trying to get them to the other side?
Madoka is a high school student who is recruited by Nabeshima - the guy in the bunny suit - to work for the GSG (Gokuraku So Gei, a transportation service to heaven). Nabeshima is just way too busy, and since Madoka seems to have the power to see lost souls, he's recruited to help lighten the workload. Madoka is given the job of transporting wandering souls to the afterlife - on motorcycle! But many of the dead are reluctant to leave this world, feeling they haven't accomplished everything they should have in their lives. Madoka must assist the deceased in performing tasks that will help them finally feel closure and make them willing to leave everything behind for good.
on sale August 9 • 5" x 7.375" • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN

on sale August 16 • 5" x 7.375" • 184 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN

on sale August 23 • 5" x 7.375" • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN

on sale August 16 • 5" x 7.375" • 216 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN

Advance-solicited; on sale August 23 • 5" x 7.375" • 208 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • MATURE READERS

on sale August 9 • 5" x 7.375" • 200 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN

on sale August 2 • 5" x 7.375" • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN

New Ice Kunion Site

Korean Manwha distributor Ice Kunion has launched a new site here

DrMaster Picks Up Asamiya's Lastest

IcV2 reports DrMaster has licensed Kia Asamiya's manga Junk: Record of the Last Hero for release starting in August. Asamiya has created anime adapated manga Nadesico and Silent Mobius, and worked on several American comic characters such as Batman and X-men. The series follows a teen who acquires a super-power armor and uses it get revenge on bullies.

Robot Polls

Gunota has posted the rights of the great "Love and Fight of Robots" here

Some interest/amusing results:
The most intense robot anime series>
1) Mobile Suit Gundam
2) G Gundam
3) GaoGaiGar
5) Gunbuster

Robot anime series that influenced you the most as a child
1) Mobile Suit Gundam
2) Mazinger Z
3) Evangelion
4) Macross
5) Raideen

Favorite hero
1) Amuro Ray (MSG)
2) Kira Yamato (SEED DESTINY)
3) Kouji (Mazinger Z)
4) Guy (GaoGaiGar)
5) Domon Kasshu (G Gundam)

Favorite heroine 1) Sayla Mass (MSG)
2) Rei Ayanami (Evangelion)
3) Asuka Langley (Evagelion)
4) Lynn Minmay (Macross)
5) Elpeo Ple (Gundam ZZ)

Basic robot weapon/move
1) Rocket punch (Mazinger Z)
2) Beam saber (MSG)
3) Beam rifle (MSG)
4) Breast fire (Mazinger Z)
5) God finger (G Gundam)

Wicked City Live Action reports a live action adapation of Hideyuki Kikuchi's urban super-natural action Wicked City is in the works, to be directed by Mark Dippe (SPAWN). An anime from Ninja Scroll's Yoshiaki Kawajiri previous adapated the work.

Bankruptcy Effects reports that the bankruptcy of Japanese publisher Hetensha, the publication of works from over 250 authors has been halted. Currently there is the possibility that the publishing fees (several hundred thousand yens) will not be returned to the authors, resulting in the authors feeling "cheated."

Animaxis and Anime News Network report that the publishing division of bankrupt brankrupt yaoi publish Biblos has been acquired by Animate Group. Plans currently include continuing the Be X Boy anthology.

New Saint Seiya

MangaNews reports series creator Masami Kurumada will be involved in the new revival of Saint Seiya, schedule to run in the Shounen Champion anthology<.o<

Upcoming Geneon Releases

Geneon will be releasing the classic Barefoot Gen, Keiji Nakazawa's account of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, will be releasing on August 8th.

New edition of CLAMP's X will be releasing in new "Remix" editions on the following dates:
1 - 07/11/2006
2 - 07/11/2006
3 - 08/15/2006
4 - 08/15/2006
5 - 09/12/2006

Viz will be releasing volumes 1 and 2 of the Pokemon 10th Anniversary Edition on June 6th.

Live Action Death Note Cast Announced

Comic Press reports a press confererence was held to announced the cast of the upcoming live action adapation of manga thriller Death Note, the first part of which will be released on June 17th. The movie's Shinigami/death gods will be depicted with CG effects

Director: Kaneko Shuusuke
Subdirector: Yamaguchi Kouji
Director-something: Matsue Yoshiki
Camera: Takase Hiroshi
Light: Fujiwara Tatsuya
Souichiro: Kaga Takeshi
Sayu: Mishima Hikari
Sachiko: Godai Michiko
L: Matsuyama Ken'ichi
Watari: Fujiwara Shunji
Naomi: Seto Asaka
Raye: Hosokawa Shigeki
Matsuda: Aoyama Souta
Aizawa: Shimizu Shin
Ukita: Okuda Tatsuhito
Mogi: Nakamura Ikuji
Ryuk (voice): TBA
Rem (voice): TBA
Misa: Toda Erika
Shiori (original character): Kashii Yuu

FUNimation Box Sets

FUNimation will be releasing a box set of sci-fi action Kitty Grade on July 11th for $89.98 and sci-fi comedy Tenchi Muyo GXP on August 15th for the same price.

July August Dark Horse Release

Written and art by Hiroaki Samura.
"On the Perfection of Anatmoy," part 4 of 6.
32 pages, $2.99, in stores on July 12.

Written and art by Hiroki Endo.
208 pages, black and white, $12.95, in stores on Aug. 2.

Written and art by Housui Yamazaki.

Private detective Reiji Akiba has a theory about those awkward moments and weird coincidences we all encounter in life. They are actually encounters with the dead‹their way of sending us a message. But you may not want to open such strange mail from beyond‹not unless you can see the ghostly attachment, like Akiba can. And not unless you carry a gun that can kill what isn't alive, like Akiba's aptly named Kagutsuchi, "the tool between God and earth" . . . digging a divine grave to lay to rest the evil dead.

Volume 1 of Mail opens with a model's photo shoot at what was a lovely riverside. But someone's thrown their trash away here: human bones. When the negatives in the darkroom reveal hidden horror, it's time for the magazine to hire Akiba. The answers lie in the secret basement of a shunned house . . . but they don't lie peacefully!
208 pages, black and white, $10.95.

Written and art by Kosuke Fujishima.
176 pages, black and white, $10.95, in store in Aug.

Written by Kazuo Koike, art by Goseki Kojima.
312 pages, black and white, $9.95, in stores on Aug. 30.

Written and art by Kazuo Umezu.
Kazuo Umezu, the grandmaster of horror manga, returns with the third chilling volume of his Scary Book anthology series. In "Fear," Aiko is always ignored and neglected when compared to her beautiful older sister, Momoko. But when Momoko is horribly disfigured in an accident and goes mad, it's up to Aiko to bring home young girls her sister can use . . . to make a new face! And in "The Coincidental Letter," a young girl named Yoko, in a fit of mischief, sends an insulting letter to a made-up girl at a made-up address warning her of a horrible fate. However, by incredible coincidence, both the girl and the address are real, and everything in the letter starts coming true!
232 pages, black and white, $13.95.

Written and art by Yasuhiro Nightow.
240 pages, black and white, $9.95.

Initial D Collects Awards

The Beat points out that the live act on adaptation of street racing manga Initial D took home a number of the Hong Kong International Film Festival's Hong Kong Film Awards. Jay Chou won for Best New Performer, Anthony Wong for Best Supporting Actor and the film won for Best Sound Design, and Best Visual Effects.

FUNimation Theatrical Info

Anime News Network reports FUNimation's theatrical Trinity Bood cut features a compilation of the first four episodes with the in-between opening & endings and the eye-catches removed. An opening and closing will bookend the features. Trinity Blood episode 4 ends a 2-episode arc.

The full theater list for Basilisk is not yet available, however the following three National Amusement locations have been confirmed:

The Bridge Cinema De Lux, Los Angeles, CA
Showcase Cinemas Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, MI
Showcase Cinemas Revere, Revere, MA

Funimation is aiming to publicise the full list of theaters farther ahead of the screenings than they did with Dragon Ball Z and Basilisk, which screened in 22 and 13 theaters respectively.

Trinity Blood opens on May 5.

xxxHoLic Preview

A half epsode preview of CLAMP's Art nouveau horror anthology is online here

Bandai Visual Plans for Next Three Years

Anime on DVD points out a press release from Bandai Visual, who are releasing the Patlabor movies (not to be confused with Bandai Entertainment who release Gundam, laying out their plans for the next thre years. Of note:

4) Rebuilding the overseas business model Bandai Visual's packaged animation software business in America has been weakened by an oversupply of products in the market. In this environment, the company will substantially revise its existing business model and target customers more accurately, aiming to focus more on developing high-quality, high value-added products. This year, Bandai Visual will begin launching products under its overseas brand, "Honneamise", which embodies our high value-added business model which has been successful in Japan. The company aims to rebuild its business in America by implementing this business model which emphasizes a "Made in Japan" approach to all aspects from quality to marketing.

Moreover, Bandai Visual aims to transplant this business model to Europe and Asia, enabling operations in the future where the same product can be sold simultaneously using the same marketing approach around the world

Anime Rental Buisness Closes

Anime News Network reports has announced that they have ceased all per-rental DVD rental operations as of April 7, 2006 and that all subscription DVD rental operations will stop as of April 30, 2006. was started in July of 2003 to fill the niche of making Anime available to all fans nation-wide, and was the first Online DVD Rental service dedicated solely to Anime. The staff at (all Anime fans) have enjoyed serving the Anime community and wish to thank everyone for supporting us these past 3 years.

Digimon CCG Placed on Hold

ICV2 reports Bandai's Digimon collectable card releases have been placed "on hold" for now, "pending a tentative restructuring of the game." The decision is due to the recent relaunch of the property in Japan.
According to Bandai national sales manager Andrew Lupp, support will continue. "Bandai will continue to support the Digimon CCG through its dedicated Website, and through promotional support for any hobby stores that currently carry the products," he said. "However no new cards will be issued in response to the resurgence of the game and the Digimon license in Japan."

Bandai plans to focus all of its collectible game efforts this year on the Naruto, Zatch Bell, and Gundam War CCGs, and the Navia Dratp CMG.

Previews of Note

Anime on DVD reports the latest Geneon releases feature trailers for Ergo Proxy and Fate/Stay Night.

Naruto Daily

ICV2 reports Naruto will begin running in a 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday strip on Cartoon Network, beginning June 12th. New episodes will continue to run at 9 p.m. Saturday in the Toonami block.

Gamerz-Edge Anime Giveaway

Gamerz-Edge, in conjunction with FUNimation, is running an anime contest now through May 1st. Prizes includes FUNimation anime and merchandise. See the banner on Gamerz-Edge for more information.

Alice Doujinshi

Priscilla Hamby and Clint Bickham, who won the first Rising Stars of Manga grand prize with their work "Devil's Candy", is selling a doujinshi (fan comic) retelling of Alice in Wonderland called "Aim for Alice" at here. Also be sure to read the beautiful silent story Kage No Matsuri on the same page.

Star Trek OEL Cover

Cinescape has posted a preview of the cover from TOKYOPOP's upcoming original English language Star Trek manga here

Oshii Film Review

Japan Times reviews Mamuro Oshii's new film Tachiguishi Retsuden here. The movie, told with animated photos follows food cart con-artist from the days after World War II to the present.

Mobile Manga Hits Back

One of the commonly credited reasons for the wide spread readership of manga in Japan is its accessibility and appeal to the commuter culture. With the increasing usage of mobile electronics manga faced a downturn. The Daily Mainichi looks at manga for mobile devices here.

"We've passed 10 million downloads since starting the service in August 2004," a spokesman for the Osaka-based mobile phone company tells Sunday Mainichi. "We get about 2 million to 3 million downloads a month."

"In 2002, electronic books earned about 1 billion yen. By 2003, that had grown to 1.8 billion yen. But by 2004, the market was worth 4.5 billion yen. Of that, mobile phone e-book business skyrocketed to account for around 1.2 billion yen," Nakajima tells Sunday Mainichi. "Manga sales have grown phenomenally over the past year and it wouldn't be surprising if sales doubled again over the coming year."

Kari Wahlgren Profile

The Lawrence Journal-World from Lawrence, Kansis has profiled voice actress Kari Wahlgren here (FLCL, Steamboy, Witch Hunter Robin)

Transformers Movie Cast

Cimetical reprots the cast for the upcoming live action/cgi Transformers movie will include Jon Voight, Michael Clarke Duncan, Josh Duhamel, Bernie Mac, Tyrese, John Turturro, Rachael Taylor, Megan Fox, Travis Van Winkle and John Robinson.


Collector Times has posted in interview with Dramacon creator Svetlana Chmakova here

Manga Blog points out Broken Frontiers talks to Tania del Rio about bringing a manga look to titles like Spider-Man and Sabrina the Teenage Witch here

The Beat points out that Comics World News interviews Alexis Siegel, the translator of the Eisner Award winning French comic The Rabbi's cat here

Palladium In Trouble

Palladium president and owner Kevin Siembieda has posted an open letter saying that "betrayal of trust, theft, and embezzlement", makers of role playing games including Rifts and the Robotech game adapation, an estimate of $850,000 to 1.3 million dollars in damages. Failure of the N-Gage platform, which featured a Rifts based game, and a stalled movie adapations have cut off other revenue strea,s. See here for more information on the situations and how to help the company.

First Vigrin Comics

Newsarama has posted a run down of Virgins Comics/ Virgin/Animation's first release here.

Devi and The Sadhu are part of Virgin Comic's Shakti line (meaning "power" in Sanskrit"). They are original stories loosely based upon ancient Asian mythology and illustrated at the Virgin Comics studio in India. Snakewoman is the debut of Virgin Comic's Director's Cut line, a series of titles created with leading film makers.

Art & Cover by MUKESH SINGH
July 12 ? 32 pg ? $2.99

Be a part of history! This is Virgin Comics debut issue.

The rapid decay of the city of Sitapur and its festering crime forged by the fearsome renegade god Bala has forced the divine pantheon to re-birth a fierce feminine warrior by the name of Devi!

Taking the form of a young city girl now cast as a "warrior of the light," the Devi finds her only ally is a burnt out detective whose made quite a name for himself as a hunter of the strange creatures that lurk the city's underbelly.

A modern take on a very ancient myth.

Written by ZEB WELLS
July 19 ? 32 pg ? $2.99

Here comes Virgin's Director's Cut Line!

Created by acclaimed director Shekhar Kapur (Oscar-nominated Elizabeth, The Four Feathers) with comics rising-star Zeb Wells!

Jessica Peterson. Born 1981. First kiss 1996. Graduated with honors 2002. Moved to Los Angeles 2006. Within three years, she will have killed sixty-eight men.


Art & Cover by JEEVAN KANG
July 26 ? 32 pg ? $2.99

I was once a "Sadhu" - what, in the East, they call mystics. I was sitting on the threshold of moksha - spiritual liberation or enlightenment as it's called.
But I'm not one anymore.

Because I lusted after something else, something just as primal and ubiquitous.
It's called revenge.

Virgin Comics presents an epic quest created by VC's chief creator Gotham Chopra (Bulletproof Monk), and India's premier comic artist Jeevan Kang (Spider-Man India).

Queenie Chan Short

MangaBlog points out that Queen Chan (Dreaming) has posted an 8 page short on her site.

Tokyo Sketch Blog

Comics Worth Reading points out Dirk Schwieger's here, an illustrated journal about living in Tokyo.

Best of She-Ra to Debut at Comic-Con

ICV2 reports the BCI division of Navarre Corporation will debut its Best of She-Ra collection at this years San Diego Comic-Con, as they did last year with He-Man. The collection will feature The Secret of the Sword, condensed version the first five episodes and five addition episodes. After the release of the Best-Of compilation BCI is planning three chronological releases over the next 12 months, which will include all 93 episodes of the cartoon series.

Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006

If you haven't seen it yet, download Paul Robertson's Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006 here. The 12 minute animation goes through a run through of a imagined brawler video game, with plenty of gore, octopi and pop culture references along the way.

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.

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