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AICN Anime - Drifting Classroom, Mangaka America and More!

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Manga Spotlight: Drifting Classroom Volumes 2 and 3 By Kazuo Umezu Released by VIZ Media

There is little room for indifference in Kazuo Umezu's work. As horror manga's prime vector (it seems wrong to call him the "father" or "elder statesmen"), Umezu's bombastic style suggests a radical departure from most horror traditions. Rather than sullen, morbid, mad, or cautionary, Umezu establishes an unmodulated manic voice for Drifting Classroom. Anime and manga generally divide their audiences as a function of genre. Despite cross-over appeal, it is easy to pick why some love and some hate ultraviolent martial arts or flowery relationship shoujo. This reasoning is less applicable to Drifting Classroom. While horror is certainly a divisive genre, the polarizing factor in the work is the style of its creator.
Kazuo Umezu
Umezu's tool kit is over loaded with heavy emphasis. Rather than an orchestrated piece with lulls and crescendos, it's more like a pounding assault. There is hardly a panel in Drifting Classroom that doesn't feature shouting characters, jagged speech balloons, tilting speed lines, faces of expressionist panic, or another visual indicator of immediate menace. The impression is enforced by the positioned-joint, akimbo look of the character poses. After the release of the first volume of Kazuo Umezu's child endangerment masterpiece Drifting Classroom, it was rare to find anyone with a tenuous opinion of the work. For some, the ceaseless stress model represented a nails-on-chalkboard approach to storytelling, but, for others, the 200 page dose of bugged out screaming made for an intriguing experience. Going forward, readers' initial impressions will be enforced. With a populated elementary school transported to a desolate far future, its teachers and staff cracking under the non-logic of the events and the children already devising means of capital punishment for each other, readers who were thrilled by the first volume's horror in a constant state of agitation will continue to be engaged by the series. Conversely, Umezu is still guilty of felony degree melodrama and the series' progression isn't going to convince readers who didn't care for the initial volume. With every moment at a maximum level of tension, Umezu has a counter-intuitive method of building the stakes and the magnitude of the danger. Drifting Classroom is punctuated with cliffhangers: between volumes, between chapters, or transitioning the focus in mid-action. While these carve a staccato pattern into the flow of the manga, they also work as slight of hand misdirection. In many chases the cliffhanger's resolutions are less severe than first suggested. What looks like a character getting speared, might really be a blunt poke. At first glance, this fostered overexcitement might leave the impression of a dodgy narrative. While Umezu might not be strictly playing honest with the audience, the approach does yield several benefits. From a long term storytelling perspective, Umezu is able to build the stakes without calming the characters down. While the readers tensions are resolved, and though the initial reveal might be underwhelming, the larger build of the story eventually does catch up and fears are realized. Even if things initially as bad as they seemed at first glance, with unknowable wilderness, human savagery and madness at work, reality quickly catches up with fears. While there is constantly a suitably thrilling payoff, Umezu is an unpredictable storyteller. In hindsight, chains of events generally make sense, but there are times when the reader needs to have faith that the screaming and running will coalesce into a structured resolution. The second benefit of the tone's screaming spontaneity is that is suggests the mind set of the characters. For any audience, Drifting Classroom captures a child's fear that any unknown shape in the darkness could out jump and cause harm. It reproduces the feeling of an overactive imagination, and uncontrolled subconscious in which images on a page represent something to be afraid of. Even if the world doesn't come crashing down, there's a sense of emotional plausibility, that it might.

Anime Spotlight: Bake the Grappler Volume 10 Released by FUNimation

The 10th volume of Baki the Grappler features a fight between a mammoth Russian super-athlete and a giant snake. Clearly, the anime knows what it is doing. Shoujo adorns itself with flowers floating in the background void. Baki has men in physical combat against serpents. If the anime had not already staked its claim as the premiere men-fighting show, this bit of Freudian imagery would have done the trick. Especially in its second season, there is barely a speaking role for a female character. Furthermore, there is hardly a motivation beyond ripping out a position as the world's greatest fighter. When the anime does fill out the back-story for its subjects, as it does it this volume with a particular drug fueled monster, it is less to establish empathy than it is to build up the intrigue regarding what will happen when the character is launched into combat. Sports anime typically lavish as much, or more, attention on the characters as they do on the athletic endeavors. Shounen, even works like Fist of the North Star labored to establish compelling character arcs. The chief concern of Baki is establishing the intrigue around what will happen when two fighters throw down, then realizing that proposition. A large part of its second season (the second half of FUNimation's release) is matching up dream fights between martial arts styles. Given the realities of mixed martial arts competition, Baki is the venue to see at least an exaggerated concept of various styles colliding: karate versus kung fu, pro-wrestling versus shoot fighting, ect. And, it has been a consistent venue for imaginatively brutal attacks. While punching through one's own mangled hand to get into an opponent’s eye socket might not make much sense, it at least looks effective in Baki. The male attitude is demonstrated strongly in the series' drama. This is perhaps best exemplified in what is kind of an unimpressive fight. Among the host of combatants progressing into the semi final round of the series' fighting tournament, pro-wrestling veteran, Antonio Inoki stand-in Igari is one of the least impressive. Paired off against the series lead, uber-martial artist Baki Hanma, it's quite the mismatch. Except, it turns into a full force confrontation, with Igari pulling intensely dirty, deeply personal tricks. Though this volume does feature some grizzly displays of martial arts prowess, the Igari versus Baki match is far from being one of the series' memorable confrontations. An argument is presented along the lines that while pro-wrestling is pre-determined, the wrestlers do to be need incredibly tough to survive the in-ring physical spectacles, but in the realm of the series' a few shades-superhuman exaggeration, it doesn't wash. The mind games are clearly a transparent act of desperation. The interesting aspect of this fight, in line with the macho-male mind set of the series, is that while no mercy was shown, and while it was personally, physically and emotionally brutal, it ended with a sort of "aw-shucks" forgiveness. Both characters move on with no animosity. Not with a moralizing argument for better understanding, but with effective compartmentalization. Once both fighters put their cards on the table and the hands were fully sized up, both the series and the characters themselves lost interest in the antagonism. This isn't a recipe for great drama or fleshed out personalities, but it does maintain the focus on the action.

Resource Spotlight Mangaka America: Manga by America's Hottest Artists by SteelRiver Studio LLC Released by Collins Design

American comic creators have been finding inspiration in the Japanese manga tradition for decades, but in the wake of the boom, many readers and prospective creators have come to see manga as a viable, flexible and compelling form for telling stories. Now, there is an attention commanding movement of creators who aren't native to Japan working in this tradition. Mangaka America is beautiful book, showcasing talented manga inspired creators working out of North America, including Svetlana Chmakova, Ms,Shatia Hamilton, Jesse Philips, Christy Lijewski, Amy Kim Ganter, Felipe Smith, Lindsay Cibos and Jared Hodges, Corey "Rey" Lewis, Tania Del Rio, Rivkah and M. Alice LeGrow. The format is part art book, part profile, and part instructional guide. At 150 pages, this isn't a formula for depth. Noteworthy content is misfit into a flawed framework that could be charitably called overly ambitious. The strength of the book is its visual design. While the art work it captures is unfortunately light on the key sequential narrative aspects of the medium, it does afford an exciting opportunity to see the works of these artists reproduced in large, full color format on high quality paper. Its bold layout high lights the general tone of the specific subjects without distracting from the illustrations in focus, and allowing the creators to demonstrate their range. There is a mild, but significant commonality in the approaches of these creators (except mecha designer Jesse Philips, more on his work later). As different as their techniques are, there is a uniform approach in which their design has a sense of space that calls attention to specific hallmarks in their characters' features. While clothes and backgrounds may be intricate, there is an abstraction in the characters' forms that call attention to eyes (which generally aren't saucers, except for a few fitting cases) and expressions. With the key points of the characters' composition instantly recognizable, the results are both human and stylized. It is an energetic approach that brings life to the page. Flamboyant design is given relatable touchstones and more mundane design is given bold highlights. As a follower of comics, seeing the diversity and effectiveness of the works of these creators, who are at relatively early stages in their careers, is quite exciting. The work of each is engaging for its own reason, and it is evident that they have set their paths for a wide range of stories. None have stayed slavishly close to the mode of popular manga works. While Lijewski wears her appreciation for specific Japanese manga works and features some style references to Bleach in her illustration, none of the subjects are simply derivative. This isn't popular Japanese manga with the serial numbers filed off. Whether it is the forceful personality of Smith's cartooning or Lewis' colorful tagging abstraction, there is a strong current of inventiveness. All the featured creators prove to be multi-dimensional. Whether it is Del Rio, best known for her revamp of Sabrina the Teenage Witch revealing an icon of Shinto fertility divinity Inari, LeGrew fitting her loligoth style into Junko Mizuno like doll-forms or Chmakova, best known for Dramacon with an icy image of a young woman hiding a terrible scar, there are plenty of surprises for those familiar with the subjects' works. The ambiguity of the Chmakova piece is characteristic of the illustrations in the book, which is populated by art book works. While manga is defined by sequences of images, in this volumes the illustrations are constructed to stand alone. They tell a story without any further context. While it eliminates the opportunities to demonstrate the key page construction tenants of manga, it does highlight subtitles in the design and style of the subjects. Each of the creators (except Del Rio and LeGrow) has there own instruction subchapter dedicated to the process behind a specific aspect of preparing illustrations. Though most are directly applicable to comics/manga, as with the book itself, the emphasis is far more weighted towards design or single illustrations than sequential storytelling. The technical level is such that for those who do not intent to illustrate, the value is limited. Discussion of how images connect to ideas, which help non-creators appreciate the form is largely abscent. Smith's guide to expression accomplishes that, so does Lijewski's character design tutorial and these are the closest to a addressing the storytelling aspects of the medium. Others offer glimpses of information worth knowing. For an aspiring creator, the guides to aspects of digital images processing, such as inking and coloring could potentially be useful on a practical level. With little editorial vision in the direction instructions pieces, these entries lack a cohesive framework. There is some depth, but it seems like this aspect of the book would offer tips and considerations at best. The questionnaire based profiles build a rough sketch of the creators. Despite conveying the opinions and personalities of these subjects, few avenues were presented for insight. Nor was asking questions like "Evas or Gundams?" to shoujo based manga workers exploding any stereotypes. There are some interesting responses, a noteworthy diversity of opinions and some of the creators found enough space for liveliness. On a technical level, aspiring artists might be interested in some of the mentioned tools. But for the most part its thin, falling victim both to the limited space, and in some cases the subject's willingness to utilize the format. With the opportunity to read the opinions of creators who are in tune with visual storytelling, receiving high level, expected answers is disappointing. The templates take a more of a personality based approach ("morning or night?","Gundam or Eva?" "Source of fuel?") to mapping the creators. This "killer mechs or chibis?" minutia fosters an author as celebrity view that slights an active search for insight. At its best, many of the creators use "your art style:" as a door for personal descriptions of the aesthetics that they have created, such Amy Kim Ganter's description "Very simple, clear storytelling, friendly, and fresh. Colors tend to be flat shaded with an emphasis on experiencing a moment and appreciating a character." But, while some creators, especially Rivkah run with the opportunity, the generalized questions are not tailored to arrive at illuminating responses. The title "Mangaka America" is loaded, and invites reaction. The forward by Adam Warren and opening "You Say Potato, I Say Manga" essay by Tania Del Rio address the debate. From the point of establishing an identity for the book it is an understandable approach, and ultimately, the debate over the "manga"/"mangaka" label has little effect on the books value. The problem is that if "manga" doesn't mean "comics from Japan", the value bleeds out the word. At this point in the North American comic market many followers want a term that means "comics from Japan", that links Yuu Watase, Kazuo Koike, Junji Ito, Masamune Shirow, Kenichi Sonoda, and Hagio Moto, BECAUSE the term has nothing to do with a genre, aesthetic, screen tone or large eyes. "Comics from Japan" can be an argument for taxonomy, and not a hierarchical judgment or a matter of thinking what is "allowed". The 20 years since Frank Miller's Ronin, and the 10 years since manga has widely been read in North America have not erased the line between comics created from the culture immersed in the works of Osamu Tezuka and his descendants, and works inspired by that form. The complexity comes in that while manga stems from a specific tradition, it isn't monolithic, with quantifiable shared attributes. If "manga" can come from many anywhere, what defines the term? Is a super hero comic creator that borrows some flare or design a mangaka creator? Is a biographer working in the medium using white space and focused facial expressions? If a person is inspired by Crayon Shinchan to create crudely sketched four panel strips, is that work manga? Mangaka America stretches the debate further by including the works of Jesse Philips. Manga is not a genre or set of genres. Philips demonstrated bold mecha design, and certainly is a graphic artist worthy of notice. He offers a fascinating approach that subverts robotic artificiality. His design look like they are sculpted constructions, but there is always some sort of asymmetry, worn lines or aged rust that make the forms look like they were an odd cousin to living organisms. Appreciation for being exposed to the Philip's works aside, based on the book, he doesn't seem to work in the comic medium. Taking nothing away from his talent, and how well it is presented in the book, how is Philips a "mangaka"? Because "manga" is not a function of genre, it is unlikely that someone is going to argue mecha is synonymous with manga, or even a key feature of it. There certainly are mecha in manga, especially historically. The manga works of Mitsuteru Yokoyama and Go Nagai were essential to the genre. Currently? Not so much, Tie-ins mostly. "Will someone help me name my baby? Look at him, cute pudgy in his screen-tone romper as he blink at you with his enormous liquid eyes." would be a troubled call for identification. Manga is not an aesthetic. If it was, the likes of Tezuka and Ryoichi Ikegami would have to be omitted. Despite being inescapably influential, a minority of manga looks like their style. Their design work does not resemble that of Mangaka America's subjects. Nor are the common qualities found thorough the works of these creators present in the every Japanese manga creator. "Mangaka" is even more problematic. The term seems like an affectation. This column avoids it because it doesn't suggest anything that "manga creator" does not. To some degree it implies a process, such as one writer/illustrator producing the work (often with the help of assistants), but not the degree that the term becomes useful. Most of the Mangaka America subjects are single creators, which makes their process closer to the typical concept of a Japanese manga creator than to Marvel DC Comic staff, but that can be said of many independent worker in the comic medium. Here's the ugly separate but equal argument. If the label is going to have any value, it needs to have some meaning. This is arguably a case where the flexibility of language is at odds with a term's descriptive value. The tension is whether loan words can be usefully applied to work created outside its original context. Mangaka America's glossary describes mecha as "in sci-fi, manga and anime, 'mecha' is most commonly used for giant robots or war machines." In a Japanese context, mecha is any sort of designed mechanical object. The mecha designer on a project may design robots, but they will also design everything from guns to toasters. For an English audience, the more specific "giant robots" definition does have a use. Because of the anthology-light character of the North American manga publishing model, the definition of "shoujo" as work primarily for female audiences and "shonen" as work primarily for male audiences accurate describe the idea from the local perspective. The argument isn't that it is wrong headed to look at manga for inspiration, or that work inspired by manga is less valid than comics created under any under impetus or that the quality of the work is less. There is value to having a term for works coming from specific traditions. There is value having a separate term for works that look to an outside tradition for influence. For that reason, if Nabokov wrote Absalom, Absalom!, he still wouldn't be a "southern novelist." It isn't an overly purist comment to say that Christopher Nolan isn't going to make a French New Wave movie. In time, the perception among followers of the North American comics market might evolve. Given the current trajectory, it is plausible that the distraction between comics originating in Japan and comics originating in North America might lose its usefulness. Apprehension over losing a tool of distinction without good reason doesn't seem wholly inappropriate, especially when the argument for broadening the definition is slight, resting on prerogatives and insinuating the narrow mindedness of those who disagree. However, currently, the classification is useful when commenting on comics. While correcting what people can and cannot call themselves is not warranted, if the debate is introduced, and Managaka America certainly does introduce it, a rebuttal seems appropriate. While the value of the book rests of factors beyond the meaning of "manga", the discussion does cast a shadow over the volume.

New Licenses

Anime on DVD reports Del Rey has licenses Mitsunaga Yasunori's manga Princess Resurrection (Kaibutsu Oujiyo in Japan), an action/horror with a chainsaw-wielding heroine. Anime News Network reports Media Blasts will be releasing Ramen Fighter Miki, High School Girls and Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl ADV Films announced that it has acquired exclusive broadcast, home video, and major merchandising rights in the English-speaking world for Sgt. Frog, which ADV has called "the biggest franchise to come from Japan since Hello Kitty !" In addition to broadcast and home video rights, ADV is the master toy, merchandising and interactive game licensing representative for the franchise in the English-speaking territories, including but not limited to printed goods, food and drink, and apparel. ICV2 spoke to ADV CEO John Ledford about the title here. The manga version is released in North America by TOKYOPOP


Kaiju Shakedown points out that Apple Japan's Quicktime site has a trailer for the Nana 2 live action movie here. has Youtube'd the trailer for One Piece: Episode of Alabaster - Sabaku on Ojou to Kaizoku Tachi. The retelling of the pirate anime's famous desert war arc is scheduled for March 3rd. A new trailer for Byousoku 5CM is online here.

Industry Deaths

Ken Ishikawa, best known as the co-creator of Getter Robo, the first combining giant robot, passed away at age 58. Alt Japan has translated an obituary from Haruka Takachiho, creator of "Dirty Pair" and "Crusher Joe" and co-founder of the famed Studio Nue. Anime News Network and Ghibli World report Koichi Murata, president of Oh Production and animator for Panda Kopanda and Anne of Green Gables, passed away last week at the age of 67.

New Series From the Creator of Death Note?

ComiPress points out that a blog has released scans of Death Note co-creator Takeshi Obata's new Weekly Jump series here and here. According to the new scan, Obata's new series will be called Blue Dragon: RaruOGurado. ComiPress also points out that the scans have not been authenticated.

Legal Downloads

ICV2 reports Manga Entertainment and Central Park Media anime can now be purchased from IGN's Direct2Drive. IGN has signed multi-year deals with Lionsgate, Fox, Central Park Media, and Starz Media, which includes Manga Entertainment. Manga Entertainment’s anime, including the original Ghost in the Shell, Ninja Scroll, and Hayao Miyazaki's Castle of Cagliostro can be downloaded for $19.95 (each). Four episodes of CPM's Legend of Himiko can be downloaded for $9.95. Anime News Network reports ADV's download store has been updated with several titles, including episode 1 of Utawarerumono, which is scheduled for a January 2007 DVD release.

ADV's Stephen Foster Honored in 'OUT Magazine'

ICV2 reports that anime localizer/ADR Director Stephen Foster is being honored in the December issue of OUT Magazine as one of the "The 100 Men and Women Who Rocked 2006". The magazine noted that Foster was "one of the few out men working in the (anime) genre." Foster has been a controversial figure in anime, known imposing external humor and using liberal translations. Beyond the Ghost Stories, which took the approach of discarding the original dialog in favor of a fresh, comic approach, many of works he localized have included lines with content not suggested in anime’s original dialog. In many cases, this added dialog featured characters accusing each other of homosexuality in a comedic tone.

Cut Names 30 Greatest Anime Films

Patrick Macias has initiated a discussion of CUT magazine's list of the 30 Greatest Anime Films of all-time 1. Nausicca 2. Gundam Trilogy 3. End of Evangelion 4. Ghost in the Shell 5. Laputa 6. AKIRA 7. Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro 8. Space Cruiser Yamato 1 9. Princess Mononoke 10. My Neighbor Totoro 11. Spirited Away 12. Grave of the Fireflies 13. Howl’s Moving Castle 14. Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer 15. Galaxy Express 999 16. Porco Rosso 17. Kiki’s Delivery Service 18. Patlabor 1 19. Crayon Shin-chan 20. Girl who Leaped Through Time 21. Jin-roh 22. Wings of Honeamise 23. Perfect Blue 24. Mindgame 25. Night on the Galactic Railroad 26. Macross: Do You Remember Love? 27. Ashita no Joe 2 28. Memories 29. Full Metal Alchemist 30. Tekkon Kinreet (Black and White)

Figures News

Because there is always a market for disturbing Evangelion figures, 12" injured Rei Ayunami Mediacom figure will be released in North America. Images here

Dir En Grey Touring US

Anime News Network reports Japanese rock band Dir En Grey will will tour sixteen US cities next February: February 1st Ft. Lauderdale , FL - Revolution February 2nd Lake Buena Vista , FL - House of Blues February 3rd Atlanta , GA - Roxy Theatre February 5th Baltimore , MD - Ram’s Head Live February 6th Philadelphia , PA - Theatre of Living Arts February 7th Boston , MA - Avalon Ballroom February 9th Toronto , ON - Guvernment February 10th New York , NY - Nokia Theatre February 12th Detroit , MI - St. Andrews Hall February 13th Chicago, IL - House of Blues February 14th Minneapolis , MN - Fine Line Music Club February 16th Englewood , CO - Gothic Theatre February 18th Houston , TX - Meridian February 19th Dallas , TX - Palladium Ballroom February 21st Tempe , AZ - Marquee Theatre February 23rd Los Angeles , CA - Wiltern Theatre Tickets are currently on sale.

Top Cow and Bandai Announce 'Witchblade Manga'

ICV2 reports Top Cow has partnered with Bandai Entertainment to publish the Witchblade manga series, starting with a 40 page/$2.99 in February. Top Cow will be localizing the work, including flipping the art to left-right format and coloring what was originally a black and white release. Later in 2007, Bandai will release collect title in its original black and white format ICV2 describes that the series introduces Witchblade bearer Takeru and, while not based on the Gonzo anime series, was written by Witchblade anime script writer, Kobayashi Yasuko. Interior art for the series is by Sumita Kazasa with covers for issue #1 by Yasuko, Christian Gossett and the Gonzo studio

ADV Anime Premieres

ADV will be releasing the first volumes of Coyote Ragtime Show and Utawarerumono on January 16th. Area 88 TV Complete Collection will also be released.
Coyote Ragtime Show is a "girls with guns" show marketed to fans of Cowboy Bebop. Synopsis: Insurrection will not be tolerated! To prove that point, the government has set a big, bad bomb to blast the planet Graceland right out of the sky. To make matters worse, The King is dead. However, before the Pirate King Bruce died, he hid billions in stolen loot on the doomed planet. Now, the galaxies most infamous criminal - a mystery man known only as "Mister" - has busted out of the slammer to get his hands on the booty before it's too late! Along with King Bruce's daughter and his misfit band of "Coyotes," Mister sidesteps government goons, dodges a hotty investigator on his tail and fends off a dozen Gothic Lolita androids programmed to kill, kill, KILL! Bullets, blades, bombs, beauty and boobs...all capable of destruction or distraction in this chilling, thrilling, killing, blood-spilling first volume of Coyote Ragtime Show! Volume: 1 of 3 SRP: $29.98
Utawarerumono: Mask Of A Stranger From Oriental Light and Magic studios (Berserk, Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor) Synopsis: Everything about him is shrouded in mystery. The mask he can’t remove, a past he can’t unravel and the very survival of the people who have chosen them as their leader. But what Hakuoro doesn’t know is this: He was gravely injured in the forest and left for dead. A kind, young girl named Eluluu found him and nursed him back to health. Welcomed into a barren land where strange creatures roam, an angry god seeks vengeance and an oppressive government slaughters the innocent, a bloody war looms on the horizon. Will the masked hero be able to liberate the people who saved him? Can he unlock the memories that elude him, or will he remain a stranger…even to himself. The answers are right before your eyes (or are they?) in the thrilling killing and pillaging first volume of Utawarerumono! Utawarerumono: Mask of a Stranger (SRP $29.98 DVD) is a DVD-only release including the first five episodes, presented in both English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 with English subtitles. Extras include a character art gallery, extended episode previews, the “Omake Theatre” video short, a glossary of terms, plus previews of upcoming ADV releases. Volume: 1 of 6 Running Time: 125 min. SRP: $29.98
Area 88 TV Complete Collection First broadcast on Japanese television a little over a year ago, Area 88 is based on the classic manga by Kaoru Shintani with a screenplay by Hiroshi Onogi (RahXephon, Macross Zero). It tells the story of Shin Kazama, an ace pilot on the verge of a comfortable life with a commercial airline. Tricked into joining a motley crew of mercenary fighter pilots, Shin’s only way out is to complete the three year term or pay $1.5 million to break the contract. Truly innovative animation and heart-pounding suspense transport you to a world where every breath could be your last. At Area 88, there’s no such thing as a normal day. Synopsis: Welcome to Area 88, a desolate outpost in the sun-blasted desert where mercenary fighter pilots risk their lives in service to the Kingdom of Aslan. Any skilled pilot will do - no questions asked. They literally kill for cash as they fight for the government of a country torn apart by a bloody civil war. Who are these pilots and why do they suffer the pains of the desert to serve a country that isn't their own? Some fight because it's all they know. Some have nowhere else to go. Some fly for the thrill of the game. Shin Kazama, the only Japanese pilot on the base, is different from the rest. He may be the only pilot capable of earning enough money to buy out his contract... if he lives long enough. But Shin fights only to return to Japan, to a life and a love that was stolen from him in cruel act of betrayal. Stunningly realistic animation and sound transport you into the soul of Area 88 where you can almost feel the jet wash on the desert wind. Once you're in, there's no going back Area 88 TV Complete Collection (SRP $44.98 DVD) is an anamorphic DVD-only release including all 12 episodes, presented in both English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 with English subtitles. Previews of upcoming ADV releases will be included. Running Time: 300 min. SRP: $44.98

Right Stuf Launches "His And Her Circumstances" Site

The Right Stuf International announced that have launched a site for Gainax's relationship comedy His and Her Circumstances (aka KareKano) at Visitors can find screenshots, download desktop wallpapers and enter a His and Her contest in honor of the series’ long-anticipated thinpak collection release on November 28, 2006. His and Her Contest Two (2) winners will each receive copies of the His and Her Circumstances CD Soundtracks, Acts 1.0 and 2.0! To enter, visit, click the "contest" link and fill out the entry form before Friday, December 8. Winners will be announced during the December 8th edition of Right Stuf’s Anime Today podcast and posted at (Contest rules and regulations can be found, in full, at the series site.) About HIS AND HER CIRCUMSTANCES Like a drug, Yukino Miyazawa was addicted to admiration and praise from those around her. She worked hard to become the perfect student, the perfect girl. But that was before... him. Souichirou Arima. The instant she met him, she hated him. Without even trying, he snatched the very glory from her hands by easily acing the high school entrance exam that should have made her the class representative. To take back what is rightfully hers, Yukino is putting all her efforts into plotting her revenge; but was love part of the plan? From Gainax (EVANGELION / FLCL / MAHOROMATIC), with production by Toshimichi Otsuki (EVANGELION / SLAYERS / NADESICO), chief direction and story by Hideaki Anno (EVANGELION) and character design by Tadashi Hiramatsu (FRUITS BASKET / WITCH HUNTER ROBIN), His and Her Circumstances is a high-tension story of heart-rending rivalries and first love. HIS AND HER CIRCUMSTANCES TV Series DVD Thinpak Collection Street Date: 11/27/2006 Approximately 780 minutes, Dolby Digital Stereo, Color. SRP: $59.99 Bonus DVD content includes: Director’s Notes, Translation Notes, Production Notes, Character Biographies, Storyboard Samples, Voice Actor Interviews, English Actresses’ Outtakes, Original U.S. His and Her Circumstances Trailer, Phone Messages, Right Stuf Trailers, Scene Access, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio for English and Japanese dialogue, English and Spanish subtitles plus removable "soft" subtitles for on-screen text, and more! In other His and Her Circumstances News, FUNimation Channel will be showing the work starting in January. ICV2 points out that the title is part of the channel's Enoki Films programming, which also includes the recently commenced Revolutionary Girl Utena.

Viz Holiday Releases

Viz's gift idea releases for the holiday seasons include new Shonen Jump Naruto, Inuyasha, Full Moon, Zatch Bell!, and Flame Of Recca. SHONEN JUMP NARUTO UNCUT BOX SET Volume 2 • MSRP: $49.98 • Special Edition • MSRP: $69.98 • Available December 5, 2006 The second boxed installment of the hit anime series about young ninjas in training now. A special collection, containing 3 DVDs and 13 episodes, features both the original broadcast as well as uncut episodes. Also available is the Special Edition Box Set, which includes a Sand Village headband and necklace in a collectible drawstring bag. INUYASHA SEASON 3 BOX SET • MSRP: $99.98 • Available Now! Deluxe Edition • MSRP: $119.98 Available Now The complete third season of the hit anime series presented on five DVDs. Follow the adventures of Kagome, a young girl who lives a double life as a present day schoolgirl and a feudal-era demon slayer. Together with half-demon Inuyasha and her loyal friends, she continues the quest to collect the shards of the Sacred Jewel in the exciting third season. Also available is the Deluxe set that includes: Exclusive necklace with shards of the Sacred Jewel, additional footage and more. INUYASHA THE MOVIE 4: FIRE ON THE MYSTIC ISLAND • MSRP: $24.98 Available Now The fourth and latest full-length INUYASHA feature film is set on mysterious island of Houraijima which has reappeared after 50 years, and with its reappearance has brought the attack of Four War Gods, the Shitoushin, who have their eyes set on the powers that protect and sustain the island. Now it's up to Inuyasha and his friends to find a way to defeat the powerful Shitoushin. INUYASHA Vol. 49: The Tragic Love Song of Destiny • MSRP: $24.98 Available December 5, 2006 FULL MOON Vol. 3 • MSRP: $24.98 Available December 5, 2006 FULL MOON depicts the story of 12-year old Mitsuki who loves to sing and dreams of becoming a pop singer. However, she has a tumor in her throat, which might only be cured at the cost of her voice. One day, she meets two Shinigamis (gods of death from Japanese mythology) who appear before her with news that she has only one year to live. In order to realize her dream she prevails upon the spirits to transform her into a 16-year old girl to take part in a singing audition. Of course, she passes the audition and starts her singing career, but can she realize all her goals in the time she has left? ZATCH BELL! Vol. 7 • MSRP: $19.98 Available December 5, 2006 FLAME OF RECCA Vol. 9: The Stolen Technique MSRP: $24.98 Available Now!

Boys of Flowers Films in New York

ComiPress reports that the second Hana Yori Dango/Boys Over Flower live-action series, based on Yoko Kamio's shoujo manga filmed its first episode in New York. The 2 hours and 15 minutes episode will air in January 2007.

Anime Screenings at NYCC

New York Comic Con (NYCC) 2007, taking place at the Jacob K. Javits Center in Manhattan on February 23-25, 2007, will be screening Ghost in the Shell | Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society, Blade of the Phantom Master, and Shinobi. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Solid State Society (Bandai/Manga), from the acclaimed animation studio Production I.G. and with a score by composer Yoko Kanno, is a cyber terrorism thriller based on the characters and events of the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex television series. Its NYCC showing is its New York City Premiere. Blade of the Phantom Master (ADV) is a lavish Japanese-Korean co-production about a lone lawman in a corrupt world. It is based on an epic manhwa spanning over 10 volumes. Its NYCC showing will be introduced by ADV Co-Founder Matt Greenfield and Producer David Williams. Shinobi (FUNimation), a dazzling, live-action Japanese blockbuster, is a tale of unrequited love set in the middle of warring ninja clans. Its lead actor and actress, Jo Odagiri and Erika Sawajiri, both received Kinema Junpo Awards (the Japanese equivalent of the Oscar) for their performances. Shinobi is based on the Futaro Yamada novel The Kouga Ninja Scrolls, which also served as the basis for Basilisk, a new anime series also being released by FUNimation. Shinobi will be screened at NYCC in 35mm.

Worth Reading Online...

The influence of Western culture during the Taisho period is created for giving rise to the vein of "ero guro nansensu" (erotic, grotesque, nonsense) in Japanese media. Same Hat has recently taken a look at several noteworthy manga creators who currently work in the guro tradition. (Reader digression is advised). Jun Hayami : TOO HOT FOR TV? looks at why a planned release of Jun Hayami's Beauty Labyrinth of Razors hasn't come to pass. TRANS-EUROPE EXPRESS 3: A preponderance of Maruo looks at releases of works by the infamous Suehiro Maruo. On a lighter note, ComiPress has translated a piece in which today's Japanese children were asked which Dragon Ball Z character would make a better father. Apparently lack of hair is a serious parenting flaw in the minds of many children. ComiPress also translates a blog piece about a proposal submitted by a certain child protection society to curtail inappropriate depictions in children in Japan, specifically mentioning games and anime. David Welsh ran through the three releases of Densha Otoko here Newsarama has spoken to C.B. Cebulski, a comic he wrote, illustrated by Sana Takeda, here.

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