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AICN Anime-Animated Evangelion Movie News, Mushishi, and More

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Manga Spotlight: Mushushi Volume 1 By Yuki Urushibara Released by Del Rey

It's almost regrettable that Mushishi has a reputation, because had it not been talked about, as in unknown quantity it would have made for an amazing surprise. Mushishi is one of innumerable manga that fit horror/mythology stories into a connected anthology style framework. In this case, a young man named Ginko travels through rural Japan solving afflictions caused by a strange form of life known as "mushi". Described as a classification of organisms that are the distant ancestor of plants and animals, the forms of the mushi are tangled in with the spiritual world and ancient tales, making Ginko as a mushi seer or mushishi, a bit like a folk doctor. As biology goes, the manga's description of mushi isn't especially valid, but the manga's key strength is constructing interesting metaphors that blend legends, human behavior, and creative pseudo-science. To some degree, the lives of humans and mushi are so distinct that the two life forms are mutually oblivious to each other. Each of the manga's stories focuses on some case where the lives of the two forms happen to intersect. Ginko steps in to solve problems in which the mushi have altered the minds or bodies of humans. The symptoms range from acute light sensitivity to precognitive dreams to drawings brought to life. As with legends and folk lore, the character of Mushishi's stories is simple, often formulaic, often with an easily navigable plot layout. At the same time, there is a profound subtext that weights the work with a more cerebral core. These fairy tales feel reminiscent of a child's observational questioning, for example what a young person might ask when regarding how the moon stays in what might seem to be a constant place while they travel; in other words, looking for patterns and explanations in mundane phenomena that an older or busier person would ignore. Mushishi uses this approach to the symbolism of words, letters, dreams, and even natural tableaus. As with the concept that the mushishi are common ancestors of plants and animals AND at the same time, they are a case of radically divergent evolution, the ideas don't necessarily conform to fact or science, but they are fascinating philosophical and poetic constructs. The visual side of Mushishi ably takes up the challenge of putting this idea into form. Urushibara's illustration is sublime in its cumulative subtle impressions. The stories inhabit quasi-spiritual realm suggested by slight bends and asymmetries in the characters and a balance between negative space and isolating scenes of nature in the backdrops. Part of the reason that logic melts away in the stories is that Urushibara takes pains to situate the stories in far-out organic landscapes. It might be hard to picture a spirit world lying over the a scene of tight packed artificially constructed buildings, but deep in snow locked mountains or surrounded by the reeds and water of a swamp, a collision of worlds is easier to imagine. The mushi themselves mark a furthest point from human reality. Their looks blends sea plants, human organs, and plankton with creatures from classic prints. There manifestations are profoundly disturbing in a poetic way. Like Junji Ito's Uzamaki, the most upsetting quality is that they are closer to patterns than objects. In the manga, As other worldly currents overtake a room or a substance oozes out of a child's ocular cavities then reaches upwards, what is being illustrated is so divorced from regular experience that it leaves a deeply ingrained impression.

Anime Spotlight: Bleach Volume 2 Released by VIZ, Media

Bleach isn't exactly a surprise hit. Predicting that it would be embraced isn't exactly gold star worthy. For all the tendencies to react against what's popular, sometimes what most people latch onto is rather good. This might be especially true of anime, which is rarely not a populist or at least intently audience pleasing forms. An example of this would be the distributor selected, fan voted, American Anime Award nominations. It's hard to justify that the manga nominees demonstrated the most artistic merit within that tradition, but in the domain of anime, the nominee list seemed fine. From Robotech/Macross to Sailor Moon to Ranma 1/2 to Evangelion to Full Metal Alchemist, the works of anime that hook the bulks of fan generally possess some strong degree of merit. It's currently true or Naruto and it's true of Bleach. Bleach is certainly fun enough, human enough and exciting enough that it deserves the attention it receives. "Boy accidentally becomes death god" is both an outrageous high concept, and at the same time, it sounds like a whole lot of other anime/manga. By establishing its own personality, Bleach really accomplishes something in the field. It balances the need to produce action set pieces with developing characters who fulfill the Shonen Jump formula role of virtuous, odds overcoming heroes, but also exist as compellingly charismatic and fleshed out personalities. The attractive qualities of strength, virtue, vulnerability and attitude/coolness are partially derived from the Shonen Jump mold, but ignited by the forcefully individualism and style of Bleach, it really becomes a compelling offering. From the intense hero Ichigo to the sardonic Rukia, through the rest of Bleach's supporting players, there is a lot to like about the series cast. They are assertive, well dressed, and the anime is true to the spirit of the personality as the tone of the work as the modulates between horror and both character and physical comedy. A valid criticism of anime is that much of it features an over reliance on characters whose make-up is defined by a single event. While Bleach does subscribe to this approach, how it handles the effects is one of the chiefly appealing qualities of the work. As Ichigo demonstrates in this volume, he's neither hiding nor denying the tragedy in his past. Instead, he is trying to allow his past to inform how he relates to the world, and trying to live a sane, virtuous life according to what he has seen. This allows the character to be both brash and sensitive with both aspects comprising one complex personality rather than an overscripted shifting Jeckle and Hyde scenarios. These episodes appear to be pushing an agenda of quickly carrying the series the past period where the manga was gradually filling out Ichigo's world. With very little added buffering, the anime moves through the two-part story that introduces Ichigo's strong and silent confidant Chad, through the introduction of fan favorite Kon, and into the story that reveals the nature of Ichigo's family tragedy. There is almost a rush to get everything and everyone on screen. Yet to be introduced characters show up in the background. Elements that will later mark the direction of the series are inserted earlier than they were in the manga. For better or worse, the anime appears to be setting a pace to quickly reach the point where short stories are abandon in favor of the popular, larger Shonen Jump adventure arc.

Steady Beat Volume 2 by Rivkah Released by TOKYOPOP

Many North Americans developing or creating comics are currently calling themselves "manga artists" or "mangaka". Rivkah's work should put to rest any notion that that aspiration or direction is necessarily a bad idea. (For the record, despite any implications based on her contribution to Mangaka America, Rivkah seems to refer herself as a graphic novelist rather than a manga artist or mangaka). Panel for panel and page for page, Rivkah's illustration work is often more creatively dynamic and more fascinating in its ability to capture the story within a visual moment than many well regarded manga creators. The character driven series derives its drama from looking at what would generally be deemed unconventional relationships behind scenes of successful lives. Its teen lead Leah thought she new what to expect from her family. She was to be the black sheep, causing concern for her admired older sister Sarai and her Texas state legislator mother. This world view is thrown into confusion when a discovered letter suggests that Sarai might be homosexual. As is the need in its type of story, Rivkah's illustration focuses on visual indicators of the state of the characters. While it is a reality grounded story, the graphic novel departs from concrete depictions of events in a manner that is certainly familiar to readers of shoujo manga. Regardless of the moniker used to categorize Rivkah as a creator, her work in Steady Beat strongly echoes the manga tradition, especially in handling characters and their emotions. The visual nomenclature used to illustrate a character's disposition and the use of space to focus attention on the characters shares key touch points with the manga tradition. Not the overt super deformed character abstraction shifts or reliance on large eyes and thin forms (though Steady Beat's characters are in fact stylized with large eyes and somewhat thin forms). The similarities is more about how to put a reader face-to-face with the character, so that while there is an impression of a context to the moment, what is most inescapably noticeable is the disposition of the character. The real lineage between Steady Beat and the Japanese makers of shoujo manga is in how Steady Beat is told in a chain of character expressions without simply being a face on every panel. What Rivkah brings to the equation is the ability to shift images fluidly without calling attention to that flexibility. Much of this is a function of angles of reference. There's a natural integration between the narrative and where a panel's view is located that suggests motion and emphasizes the intent of the characters. Whether it is subtle, such as the effect of upward or downward angles on a scene, or overtly impactful such as catching a sense from over the shoulder of the protagonist, or a cut off profile as a character strides by, every impression is mediated by the panel's position. This approach is gracefully coupled with shifts from detailed backdrops to toned backgrounds in a manner that both illustrates the location of the characters and allows the graphic novel to maintain a focus of the characters. Background effects are pushed as the scenery is replaced by more abstract or non-traditional approaches including processed photos of the state capital, silhouetting the characters in a scene or adding halos or air bending atmospheric auras around the characters. While many of these shifts happen are only used for single panels, the fluidity insures that it doesn't feel abrupt, and it doesn't challenge the work's sense of reality. Steady Beat still seems to be struggling to fit its story into the TOKYOPOP three graphic novel model. The problem would be more a function of the format than the particular work. Nothing, including the flagship title Princess Ai seems to hit upon an ideal manner of approaching these constraints. Dividing a story into three segments that both develop on each other and to some degree are self contained looks like an almost untenably complex plotting puzzle. Not being short work, and not being a long works draws tremendous attention to any sort of pacing difficulty. And, Steady Beat has demonstrated a few pacing problems. Spaced with regular micro-climaxes, the first volume seemed better suited to serialization than a graphic novel collection (you could even call it a steady beat of story punctuation). Volume 2 wants to build to a point of no return, and it wants to get there at an urgent, but natural speed. This is arrived at through a mix of incidents and focused development. Knowing that this volume is a full third of the complete work, the incidents, or the journey part of the trip, look unilluminating. Once a general understanding of a character is established, any time spent with the character behaving in an expected manner looks misspent considering that the plot needs to advanced and more details need to be unveiled if a stratifying story is going to be related. This is unfortunate considering how adroitly Rivkah constructs these side-moments, but with the page-clock ticking, anything that isn't new information seems old. Regardless of genre tastes, Steady Beat is an attention commanding comic, especially for fans and students of the medium. The plot of is compelling in its exploration of an interesting, and probably for many readers relatable tension in American culture, but the release format mandates are doing it no favors. From a graphics arts stand point, Steady Beat is an AMAZING first professional effort. The ability to tell stories in each image without overburdening the page with details makes the comic fascinating regardless of whether you generally find shoujo/shoujo influenced works compelling. TOKYOPOP's Stu Levy is one of the vocal proponents of the idea that the work of American manga influenced creators may in turn be read by Japanese audiences and may eventually influence Japanese creators. Though works, generally ones those attached to recognizable brands are already being translated for Japanese audiences, yet, to look at some of those works, the proposition of blazing an artistic trail doesn't look credible. Yet, someone like Rivkah may very well be the new face of American comics, and if that is the case, yes, probably it will not happen with Steady Beat specifically, but there is the potential to become a global trend setter.

Merchandise Spotlight: 2007 Shirow Calendar Released by Dark Horse

Seishinsha's 2007 calendar of Masasmune Shirow works walks a fine line between an almost fascinatingly novel idea for a selection of illustrations and a grouping that is insular enough to restrict interest to only existing fans of the Ghost in the Shell creator. Rather than following a theme like his previous calendars, his Intron Depot art books or post card groups, the 2007 calendar collects proof of concept works for various anime TV series, online games and such. Rather than depicting a scene, cover-illustration or pin-up the works are the equivalent of a project pilot, model sheet, or early promotional material. There are several recognizable franchises on display, but most of the particular works being developed never materialized. While the composition of the images is not typical of public facing works, these illustrations don't look unfinished either. Each is elaborately rendered in the hyperdesigned manner of Shirow' works (the crammed, foot-noted Ghost in the Shell: Man-Machine Interface for example). Each is fully colored in the vibrant digital processing of recent works. Shirow is a polarizing creator. His unmediated, bursting with ideas approach, yields exciting, intellect bolstered design, but also some strained narratives and questionable taste. His typical mix of sex and tech and action is certainly on full display here. And the qualities that make his work what it is are exacerbated by the fact that the images are strictly design. They give a sense of the feel of the characters and their environment without attempting to imply a narrative. A fan of Shirow's work may find this sort of raw presentation of his ideas fascinating, and they may find that the particulars, such as HIS take on Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and his take on an Appleseed movie/tv series are winning selection. Similarly, the print and paper quality of the calendar is sure to please Shirow fans. However, especially given the nature of the works, those who aren't overly favorable to Shirow's style, or those who are just more broadly interested in a colorful manga/anime calendar might want to pass. Though Shirow is never given to minimalism, as design work, these images are particularly crowded. More attention is paid to filling each image with as many characters and objects as possible, than any great deal of thought to layout. If you don't find his work to be aesthetically pleasing, visually processing this calendar might be as challenging as digesting chewing gum. The purpose for the illustrations did seem to force some constraint onto Shirow. The taste is not as questionable as some of his recent work. With almost uniformly straight standing characters, the illustrations are not overly sexualized. As such, there aren't any women posing provocatively or in peril in the manner of pulp novel covers. Dark Horse translates Shirow's comments on each piece. Though these assessments are dry, they demonstrate a great deal of personality. Shirow sounds weirdly detached. There's no feel fondness or excitement for any of the projects, coupled with an implicit negativity to the managers of each effort. He demonstrates a pure idea of his work, for example, arguing that he normally does not change plots to add more female characters. Again, Shirow loyalists will likely eat-up this brief deconstruction. Those would don't care for his work, might find it a bit baffling.

Plans for Release of New Evangelion Movies

AnimeNation reports that according to Sponichi Annex, executive director Hideaki Anno has announced that the first of four new anime movies, planned to retell the story of Evangelion, is schedule to premiere in Japanese theatres on September 1, 2007. In an odd footnote, two of the katakana characters in the Japanese spelling of "Evangelion" will be changed, resulting in "Ivangelion" becoming "Wevangeliwon."

Paprika UK Release

Twitch points out that Satoshi Kon's Paprika is listed for a May 28th 2007 R2 UK release on Sony Picture's UK site.

English Cast For Haruhi Suzumiya, the English site for Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya announced the cast for the upcoming North American release of the cult series. Haruhi Suzumiya: Wendee Lee Kyon: Crispin Freeman Mikuru Asahina: Stephanie Sheh Yuki Nagato: Michelle Ruff Koizumi Itsuki: Johnny Yong Bosch Ryouko Asakura: Bridget Hoffman Tsuruya: Kari Wahlgren The anime will be released by Kadokawa Pictures USA and distributed by Bandai Entertainment. The firt DVD is scheduled for May 29th.

Naruto News

ToonZone reports that Cartoon Network's upfronts include an indication that the network will run a Naruto "premiere movie event." Anime on DVD notes that Viz will be releasing the original Naruto OVA on DVD on May 22 for $12.98

Gunbuster Release Contest

In conjunction with the February 20th release of Gunbuster on DVD, Bandai Visual USA Inc has announced a sweepstakes that will be awarding one winner a trip to Japan. Other winners will receive Gunbuster merchandise, including collectible figures and posters. To enter, fill out the survey here. he contest begins February 13 and ends March 21, with the winner being announced on April 2. The six episode sci-fi OVA from Evangelion creators Gainax will be released in a 3 DVD set for $64.99. Due to the state of the original material, the collection only features Japanese audio, and due to licensing issue, one instance of background music has to be altered. More information is available on the official Gunbuster site here and on MySpace.

Voltron Delay

Due to material issues, Media Blasters' Anime Works release of Voltron Collection Three: Green Lion has been pushed back from February 27th to May 8th.

Kurau Phantom Memory Scheduled

ADV Films will be releasing the first of six volumes of Studio BONES' (Eureka 7, Fullmetal Alchemist, RahXephon) Kurau Phantom Memory on April 10. Many fans had been antipicating the release of this release, the license of which was announced shortly after its first episode air in 2004. Synopsis: Her name is Kurau, and in a world of mercenary agents, she’s the cream of the elite; a master swordswoman, martial artist and thief so skilled that no secret or objective is beyond her grasp. The greatest secret of all, however, is the one Kurau conceals inside herself: The freak result of a disastrous experiment with a new kind of energy, Kurau’s body has been fused with a binary alien life form called the Rynax. Every second Kurau lives is lived twice, one alien sharing her consciousness, the other still waiting to be born… and now none of those lives may last very long! The truth about Kurau has begun to leak out, a worldwide manhunt has been launched and now the ultimate agent is the ultimate target. From the craters of the moon to the most dangerous corners of the Earth, incredible action explodes at every turn in Kurau Phantom Memory!

Upcoming in Japan

From AnimeNation Studio Gonzo's trilogy of Kiddy Grade action sci-fi movies will be a re-edited director's cut of the 2002 television series, featuring an unspecific quantity of new animation. Kiddy Grade: Ignition will screen from April 7-20. Kiddy Grade: Maelstrom will screen from June 23-July 6. Kiddy Grade: Truth Dawn will screen from September 1-14. Xebec's (Nadisco, Stellvia) new mecha show Heroic Age will premiere on Japan TV in April. The official site for the new animated adapation of Terra E (also known as Towards the Terra) is inline at The anime, quick adapats a classic manga, which is to be released in North America by Vertical shorly, is scheduled to air on Japanese TV starting in April. Sola is likewise scheduled for April. The manga Kodomo no Jikan, to be released as Nymphet by Seven Seas, is being adapted into an anime series. A trailer for Idolmaster Xenoglossiais available in small and large resolution versions. Japanese multimedia site @nifty now hosts a 90 second streaming trailer for the upcoming Idolmaster Xenoglossia anime television series. The trailer Streaming trailers of Bones' (Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, Wolf's Rain, Full Metal Alchemist) Darker than Black -Kuro no Keiyakusha- can be seen in low and high bandwidth versions. The series is scheduled to premier in April. A trailer of Bones' adaptation of Shotaro Ishinomori (creator of Kikaider and Cyborg 009) horror super-hero Skull Man can be seen here. TOKYOPOP published the manga in North America as one their early releases. The manga Sunadokei or "Hourglass" is being adapted into a live action drama scheduled to premiere March 12th. A trailer for the Hayate no Gotoku ("Hayate the Combat Butler") anime can be seen here points out that a trailer for Production I.G's Sisters of Wellber is online A YouTube'd trailor for Keroro Movie 2 Trailer - "It’s the Deep Sea Princess!" can be sene online here Moetron reports that the staff of Bee Train's El Cazador de la Bruja include: - Music - * Opening Theme: “Hikari no Yukue” - savage genius * Closing Theme: “romanesque” - FictionJunction YUUKA - Seiyuu (Voice Actors) - * Ellis: (Shimizu Ai) * Nadi: (Itou Shizuka) * Jodie Hayward: (Hisakawa Aya) * Douglas Rosenberg: (Miyake Kenta) * L.A: (Miyano Mamoru) * Heinz Schneider: (Miki Shinichiro) * Ricardo: (Tachiki Fumihiko) ComiPress reports that the upcoming Idol Master Xenoglossia anime will be adapted into manga in Comptiq Ace.

New York Anime Fest Festival

A site has gone online for the New York Anime Festival, launched by Reed Exhibitions, organizers of the New York Comic Con. The event will run December 7-9, 2007 at the Jacob Javitz Center

Legal Anime Downloads

As part of Azureus Inc.'s content delivery agreement Starz Media, a number of Manga Entertainment anime titles including Street Fighter Alpha, Ghost in the Shell, Astroboy and Ninja Scroll will be offered through Azureus’ Zudeo bittorrent service. FUNimations titles will be offered through iTunes starting with Gonzo titles Desert Punk, Samurai 7 and Speed Grapher. The English audio only offering will sell for $1.99 per episode or $38.99 per season. For more see here

Broccoli Books News

Broccoli announces the following releases are scheduled for this month: February 7, 2007 Galaxy Angel II volume 1 February 14, 2007 KAMUI volume 6 February 28, 2007 Disgaea 2 volume 1 World of Disgaea Illustration Book ComiPress notes that Yaoi Suki carried a messages indicating a potential name for Broccoli Books's yaoi manga imprint. "a fruit. And apparently, it's something unheard of in Japan? but it's a commonplace fruit for Americans. Especially if you grew up in Southern California and went to a particular amusement park in Orange County that's not Disneyland." Previews of Broccoli's Di Gi Charat and Galaxy Angel II are online here.

CLAMP Creators Shows off Kimono Design

Anime News Network points out that Mokona of CLAMP has produced a photo and art book entitled (literally, "Kimono Clothing"). The collection of kimono-themed drawings and items will be available in Japanese stores on February 14th. The site for a tied in exhit at the Logos Gallery in Shibuya features a photo of the book's cover.

Giant Robot Updates

From Majoria's News Wowow's site for the revival of Go Nagai's Steel Jeeg is online here. Anime trailer for the anime is on YouTube. The official site and Gainax's site have been updated with new profiles of characters Kittan and Kiyoh. Majoria's News translated the profiles here The Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann site now hosts a 90 second trailer in 56K and 300K New images of Super Robot Taisen W for the Nintendo DS can be seen here

Official English Sites

The Right Stuf International has launched a site dedicated to the romance anime To Heart. Right Stuf will be releasing the first volume of the anime on March 27th. Based on one of Japan’s most popular games, To Heart follows childhood friends Akari and Hiroyuki, and their classmates, as they deal with life’s everyday – and not-so-everyday – dramas. Viz has launched a Death Note site here.

Simulation Gravitation EX Release

TOKYOPOP announced that the sequel manga Gravitation EX will be released scanlations by TOKYOPOP by Gentosha Comics in Japan and TOKYOPOP in America and Europe. According to TOKYOPOP, this is the first time for such a release of a manga of Japanese origin. The manga's release is schedule for February 2007. Mangacast notes that the books has been on the shelves at Border for the last several weeks.

Addition Screenings Added for NY The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

New York International Children's Film Festival has announced that extra showings of the award winning anime The Girl Who Leapt Through Time have been added to the schedule. For screening times and tickets, see GKIDS.COM The 10th anniversary New York International Children's Film Festival takes place March 2-18 at theaters across Manhattan. Advance purchase is recommended, as screenings sell out.

Manga Entertainment Announced First Volume of Tokko

The first volume of Abe Masashi (Tenchi Muyo,Blue Gender)'s zombie horror/action Tokko on March 27th. The five episode disc will retail for $24.98 Tokko Volume 1 begins when Shindo Ranmaru graduates from the police academy and is assigned to Tokki: Special Mobile Investigation Force. On the day of his graduation, he meets Rokujo Sakura, the half-naked girl he has been seeing in his dreams. He discovers she works for a secret group within Tokki, known as Tokko: Special Public Safety Task Force. Shindo ends up joining Tokko to avenge his parents' death and solve the mysterious mass murder of 185 families in his hometown of Machida. Linked to the deaths are bottomless pits that begin to appear all around Japan. From these abysses emerge mysterious creatures with a hunger for human flesh and blood, sent to seek and destroy. The investigation soon points to something called The Box of Dirge. Will Shindo uncover the reasons behind the mass murders and avenge his parents’ deaths, or will this assignment prove to be the first and last assignment for this young rookie?

Exclusive NYCC Death Note Trailer

VIZ Media announced that two Death Note anime cell phone trailers will be offered exclusively at the 2007 New York Comic-Con. The 2007 New York Comic-Con show takes place from February 23-25 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. The first trailer will be available Saturday, February 24th, and the second on Sunday, February 25th. Visitors should come to VIZ Media’s booth #619 to download the content to their Bluetooth-enabled cell phone or to get a code to enter through their cellular service provider. The anime will first be sold through online distribution. A DVD release of DEATH NOTE is also planned for US release and will include an English dub as well as subtitles, special packaging and possibly collectible premiums.

Geneon Date Changes

Geneon have movie the release dates of the DearS Complete Box Set and Stellvia Complete Tin Set to March 13th and April 24th respectively. The first volume of Ayakashi - Samurai Horror Tales is now scheduled for May 1st. From Geneon's description: In the era of medieval Japan, cultural arts flourished, territorial wars were waged, and man and demon co-existed! While attempting to retrieve a lost falcon for his feudal lord, bird handler Zushonosuke encounters and becomes irresistibly drawn to Tomihime, the supernatural inhabitant of a cursed castle. As a forbidden love between a mortal and a long-forgotten goddess begins to take hold, the horrifying existence of "Forgotten Gods" who feed on humans is soon revealed, inevitably leading to a deadly clash between the shogun's army and the clan of "Forgotten Gods." Amidst the escalating chaos, will Zushonosuke ultimately sacrifice his humanity for his love over Tomihime? In other Geneon scheduling news, the first volume of Rozen Maiden is scheduled for an April 24 release.

Go Comi Release Plans

The first volume of Go Comi's Black Sun, Silver Moon is now scheduled to premiere on April 30th.

Dramaqueen Announces New Manga Licenses

In honor of Valentine's Day, Dramaqueen announced the following manga licenses: Awakening Desires by Bohra Naono What do you do when the person you're in love with is too old for you? Or your best friend? Or you're the one who's too old? This is a collection of romantic stories about first love. Chronicle of the Divine Sword by Uki Ogasawara The ninja Shinkai Sumida gained immortality from Shiva, god of a, magical sword. Four hundred years later, he meets Tsunaie Hirasaka, a man whom he's already killed once, and has vowed to continue killing through the endless cycle of reincarnations. Maiden Rose by Fusanosuke Inariya Two soldiers caught on opposing sides of a war between nations must choose between country and an oath of fealty made long before. But the world that they live in is hard, distrustful and cold. What will happen to their innocent love, as they are tangled ever deeper inside the terrible ravages of war? Wicked Love Song by Kaoru Kyogoku Choco and Aasan met on a heavenly tropical island. Aasan seduced Choco with his sweet words, but in reality he's completely vicious! Choco's fiance has left him on the rocks--what surprising path will he take in the midst of this sadness? La Vita Rosa by Akira Honma Miyamoto works for the sales division of a major insurance company. Every day, he continues to put the moves on his cool, attractive boss, Himuro. Then one day, the young company president, Takarada, returns to Japan. Takarada is in love with Himuro too, and he and Miyamoto engage in a fierce battle for Himuro's affections. Can't Help Getting Hurt by Mika Sadahiro Shouji thinks his boyfriend, Honami's first love, Terumi, might still have feelings for Honami, so he goes to investigate. He finds out that while Terumi does love Honami, he's straight. Shouji can't seem to get Terumi out of his head and things get even more complicated when Honami's own lingering feelings for Terumi surfaces.

New Pre-Priced CPM Anime

Toonzone points out that Central Park Media will be releasing a repriced edition of Cat Soup on April 24th for $14.95. The avant-garde anime, directed by Tatsuo Sato features the work of Mind Game director Masaaki Yuasa.

Princess Princess DVD Release

Toonzone notes that Right Stuf currently lists a May first release date for Media Blasters' release of volume one of the Princess Princess anime. The manga is currently being released by Digital Manga Publishing. The school comedy follows underclassmen at an all boys’ schools who are given privileges in return for cross-dressing.

Yoshihiro Yonezawa Collection reports that writings of Yoshihiro Yonezawa, founder of the landmark bi-annual doujinshi sales market Comiket will be collected in a posthumous entitled Ureru Manga, Kioku ni Nokoro Manga (The Sold Manga, The Manga of the Reminiscence). The book of theory and criticism will be released in Japan on February 16th.

DrMaster to Publish Yasushi Suzuki Art Book

DrMaster has announced that Art of Yasushi Suzuki will be released in May 2007. The 100 images will include works from video games Ikaruga (Sega), and Sin & Punishment (Nintendo), and the Japanese language version of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.

Figures News

The New York Toy Fair 2007 has unleashed a storm of news. Sees's coverage here Square Enix announced two plans lines of Play Arts figures. The first will feature Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children versions of Reno, Yuffie Kisagari and Kadaj. The second will feature original same versions of Cloud Strife, Aerith Gainsbough and Tifa Lockhart. A Cloud and Hardy Daytona motorcycle box set is also planned. Square Enix's Final Fantasy Master Arm 1/6 scale diecast weapon models of Seifer Almasy's Gunblade, Squall Leonhart's Gunblade, Vincent Valentine's Cerberus Revolver and the Kingdom Keyblade are planned for North American release. These can be seen here Square Enix is planning 1/4 Scale Judge Master Gabranth and Cloud Strife "Masterpiece Arts" series statues are estimated to retail for at least $475. Scale Judge Master Gabranth can be seen here Poor sales have meant that Jazwares is no longer releasing a their second series of Viewtiful Joe figures. However the company is planning on pushing their Trigun figures in Saummer 2007. Plans includes Vash the Stampede (with trenchcoat and shirtless), Wolfwood, and Knives Millions. Kotobukiya has planned a third quarter releases of 1/6 scale ARTFX models based on Devil May Cry 3 and Devil May Cry 4 Kotobukiya will be releasing ARTFX statues of Masane Amaha NEO-GENE combat soldier Maria from the Witchblade anime in April for $59.99 each. A second armored Masane Amaha statue will be released later this year. Masane Amaha can be seen here. JAKKS' Dragon Ball Z license runs out in 2007. Planned releases for the year include Two Packs and new repainted Movie Collection figures. For images see here. DC Unlimited's Afro Samurai figures can be seen here DC Direct's controversial "Ame-Comi" sexy anime-style figures of popular DC Comics characters can be seen here. The first line will include Catwoman, Powergirl, Supergirl and Batgirl. Feature releases include Hawkgirl, Wonder Woman, and Poison Ivy. some net reaction to these figures can be seen here Mattel will be releasing lines of "Epic Battles" figures, 3" figure packs, 6" Battle Figures, and stunning 8" premium sculpts. Planned accessories include Quick Fire Kunai, Kolossal Kunai, Mega Strike Shuriken and Zabuza Sword. These can be seen here/ NECA's upcoming lines includes Castlevania and Devil May Cry figures. Devil May Cry is scheduled for October. See here for previews. Toynami will be releasing 6-7" figures based on Bleach. Series 1 includes Ichigi and Rukia; 2 include Sado and Orihimi and 3 includes Byakuya and Renji. Ichigo can be seen here Toynami's 2007 Robotech plans include a series of cyclone mecha figures, including Volume 1: Scott Bernard's Cyclone, Volume 2: Lancer's Cyclone and Volume 3: Rand's Cyclone. A cyclone based on the Shadow Chronicles movie is also planned. Toynami is moving forward with the BETA Fighter in 2007 and will releasing a "Shadow Chronicles" colored ALPHA Fighter. For images see here. In response to the success of Toynami's 20th Anniversary Masterpiece Collection Voltron, Toynami is planning a 8 include, die-cast/plastic. This can be seen here Other photo galleries can be seen here. Some noteworthy ones include: Attakus (Some Astro Boy buried in the gallery) Corgi Transformers (Movie) (merch) DC Direct Afro Samurai Diamond Select Transformers (busts) JAKKS Pokemon JAKKS DBZ Jazwares Samurai Champloo Jazwares Viewtiful Joe Kotobukiya Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig Kotobukiya Witchblade Kotobukiya Front Mission Mattel Avatar Mattel Cartoon Network Mattel Naruto SOTA Street Fighter Square-Enix Organic Hobby Revoltech Organic Hobby Witchblade Anime Organic Hobby Misc. (Bobobo One Piece Capcom Magical Doremi Solte Rei) Product Enterprises Thunderbirds Square-Enix Kingdom Hearts Square-Enix Valkyrie Profile Toynami Bleach Toynami Naruto Toynami Robotech Toynami Voltron Speaking of merchandise, Anime News Network reports "Don't Drink This" Coffee and "LCL" Orange Juice Evangelion soft drink have been launched. The coffee drink features "Don't Drink This" printed on the can. An images on the box feature Gendo Ikari saying "If you're going to drink, hurry up. Otherwise, go home!" and Shinji Ikari saying "I don't even know what's in it! There's no way I'm drinking this!" See for images. A NERV Evangelion optical mouse can be seen here

Industry Deaths

Mangaka Emiko Sugi, known for shoujo work including Luv Clinic, Ai Girl and Get You passed away on February 10th of stomach cancer. Journalista notes that Sugi's primary exposure to North American audiences was her chapter in Mezase!! Manga no Hoshi, released by Viz as Shojo Beat’s Manga Artist Academy. Anime News Service reports Hiroyuki Hoshiyama, script writer for Moomin, the original Mobile Suit Gundam and Turn A Gundam, and Megazone passed away at age 62.

Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro News

Anime News Network reports that Mizuki Shigeru's horror manga Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro will be adapted into a fifth anime TV series, scheduled to debut on Fuji TV in April. Twitch reports that the live action Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro movie was showcased at European Film Market (EFM) in Berlin, Germany to potential licensors.

News on Turok Animated Project

The popular dinosaur hunting Native American comic book/video game hero Turok, Son of Stone will be appearing in a 70 minute, direct to DVD feature. It's being developed as part of recently announced agreement between the Weinstein Company/Genius Products and Turok rights holder Classic Media. Currently, the movie is scheduled for a Thanksgiving/Q4 2007 release. Though the Genius/Classic Media announcement indicated a focus of family entertainment, the Turok feature will be more older audience oriented and action focused. The plot will revolve around the dinosaur threatened Lost Valley. Evan Baily is reportedly the main producer on the project. Voice cast invokes Adam Beach (Flags of Our Fathers) - Turok Jay Tavare (of the soon to the released Pathfinder) - Koba Cree Summers (Batman Beyond, Rugrats) - Sepinta Graham Greene (Dances with Wolves) Irene Bedard (Pocahontas) Gil Birmingham

Sienkiwicz's Animated Moby Dick

Comics rumor column Lying in the Gutters suggested an animated adoption of Moby Dick is being developed based on Bill Sienkiwicz's designs from the "Classics Illustrated" comic adaptation of the novel.

Weinstein Company Picks up Azur and Asmar

Twitch reports that the Weinstein Company has licensed Michel Ocelot's animated film Azur and Asmar. The French animator's Kirikou and the Sorceress was previously released in North America. A MP4 trailer for Azur and Asmar can be accessed here and a Quicktime can be seen here.

Cybil Award Winners

MangaBlog notes that The Cybil Awards recognized Amelia Rules in the 12-and-under category and American Born Chinese for 13 and up. No manga received awards.

2007 Annie Award Winners

The Beat notes the follows animated works have been awarded prizes at the 2007 Annie Awards. Animated Feature “Cars,” Pixar Animation Studios Home Entertainment Production “Bambi II,” DisneyToon Studios Animated Short “No Time for Nuts,” Blue Sky Studios Animated TV Commercial United Airlines, “Dragon,” Duck Studios Animated TV Production “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends,” Cartoon Network Studios Animated Videogame “Flushed Away the Game,” D3 Publisher of America INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT Animated Effects Scott Cegielski, “Flushed Away,” DreamWorks Animation & Aardman Features Character Animation (Feature) Gabe Hordos, “Flushed Away,” DreamWorks Animation & Aardman Features Character Animation, TV Yu Jae Myung, “Avatar” (The Blind Bandit), Nickelodeon Character Design, Feature Nicolas Marlet, “Over the Hedge,” DreamWorks Animation Character Design, TV Mike Kunkel, “The Life & Times of Juniper Lee” (Party Monsters), Cartoon Network Studios Directing. Feature Tim Johnson & Karey Kirkpatrick, “Over the Hedge,” DreamWorks Animation Directing, TV Giancarlo Volpe, “Avatar” (The Drill), Nickelodeon Music, Feature Randy Newman, “Cars,” Pixar Animation Studios Music, TV James L. Venable & Jennifer Kes Remington, “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” (One False Movie), Cartoon Networks Studios Production Design, Feature Pierre-Olivier Vincent, “Flushed Away,” DreamWorks Animation & Aardman Features Production Design, TV Martin Ansolabehere, “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” (Good Wilt Hunting), Cartoon Network Studios Storyboarding, Feature Gary Graham, “Over the Hedge,” DreamWorks Animation Storyboarding, TV Li Hong, “The X’s” (You Only Sneeze Twice), Nickelodeon Voice Acting, Feature Ian McKellen, Voice of the Toad, “Flushed Away,” DreamWorks Animation & Aardman Features Voice Acting, TV Eartha Kitt, Voice of Yzma, “The Emperor’s New School” (Kuzclone), Walt Disney Television Animation Writing, Feature Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais, Chris Lloyd & Joe Keenan and Will Davies, “Flushed Away,” DreamWorks Animation & Aardman Features Writing, TV Ian Maxtone-Graham, “The Simpsons” (The Seemingly Neverending Story), Gracie Films JURIED AWARDS: Winsor McCay Award Bill Plympton Genndy Tartakovsky Andreas Deja June Foray Award Stephen Worth Certificate of Merit Bill Matthews Michael Fallik Marc Deckter Eric Graf

Comic Abstraction Exhibit at MoMA

The Museum of Modern Art will host the Comic Abstraction: Image-Breaking, Image-Making at the Special Exhibitions Gallery, third floor from March 4 through June 11. From the museum’s description In recent years a number of artists have transmuted the lexicon of comic strips and films, cartoons, and animation into a new, representational mode of "comic abstraction" to address perplexing issues about war and global conflicts, the legacy of September 11, and ethnic and cultural stereotyping. From Julie Mehretu's intricately layered paintings—in which she uses cartoon explosions to portray the changing histories of civilizations as a result of warfare—to Arturo Herrera's psychological collages, made by slicing and reconfiguring the pages of Walt Disney coloring books, and from Ellen Gallagher's seductively Minimalist paintings permeated by "blackface" signs culled from minstrel performances to Rivane Neuenschwander's wiped-out cartoon characters in the series Zé Carioca, the world of comic abstraction reflects the intensely personal relationship that many contemporary artists maintain with the political makeup of the world. The image of popular culture is so imprinted in our consciousness that the partial or total erasure of its iconography always remains recognizable. Bridging the rift between abstract form and social consciousness in ways that are critical and playful in tandem, this exhibition presents the first investigation into the experimental outgrowths of comic abstraction.

Wendy Pini To Appear At Go! Comi Panel

Go! Comi has announced that ElfQuest creator Wendy Pini will be appearing at the manga publisher's New York Comic Con to announce a major new project, which she describes as "darkly exciting and adult oriented." The panel will be held at 2:00 PM on Saturday, February 24th. Wendy will be joined by her husband, Richard Pini, for an autograph session at Go! Comi's booth (#564) at 3:00 PM immediately after the panel.

News Christian OEL Distrobution Deal

Thomas Nelson Incorporated and Realbuzz Studios announced a multi-year contract to release a minimum of 26 faith based original English language manga titles through WestBow Press. 2007 Releases include Serenity and Goofyfoot Gurl series.

Animated El Santo On Cartoon Network

The Beat points out that Cartoon Network's upfronts for their 2007 lineup includes the announcement of an animated series based on the real-life luchador/movie star/celebrity El Santo. El Hijo del Santo (son of Santo), will work with series creator and executive producer Carlo Olivares Paganoni to develop this yet-to-be-titled adventure/fantasy series set in Mexico City. El Hijo del Santo is heir to the legendary silver mask, once held by his father, the flesh and blood icon - Santo, El Enmascarado de Plata.

Worth Checking Out

Anime News Network points out that the first episode of Le Chevalier D'Eon is offered online for free through ADV's Digital Universe store here. Publishers Weekly looks at Del Rey's manga growth here Pop Culture Shock has a guide to anime/manga programming a the New York Comic-Con here The Beat has looked at the NYCC presence of Go Comi and Vertical The Dreaming creator Queenie Chan looks at female geeks or Otomoe here Matt Alt is looking at geeks in Japanese culture in his post "All Men Are Otaku" Also from Alt Japan, a look at Pepo-Kun, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department mascot and Kamokamo, the anti-scam campaign mascot here. Irresponsible Pictures looks at the TV drama Koi No Mon (Otakus In Love) here Greencine looks at Korean film Dasepo Naughty Girls here. Same Hat looks at the poorly regarded Drifting Classroom live action movie here, a live action teen anime soap opera musical, based on popular internet manwha Multi-Cell Girl Manga Jouhou features an interview Seven Seas Entertainment concerning their "Strawberry" yuri ( lesbian romance plots) manga imprint. Others yuri week features included an interviews with Erin from scanlaion group Lililicious, and Erica Friedman, as well as translated articles on categorizing yuri and the popular title Maria-sama ga Miteru Manga Punk interviews Make5Wishes (the Avril Lavigne OEL graphic novels) writer Joshua Dysart here, artist Camilla d'Errico here and its producer, House of Parlance Dr Master interviews Yasushi Suzuki of the upcoming Purgatory Kabuki Comipress has an extensive piece looking at the return on the manga Hunter X Hunter to the Japanese edition of Shonen Jump, and the title's legendary hiatuses. ComiPress has posted another translated piece concerning Leiji Matsumoto's thoughts on copyrights here "Creators can sustain their passion to create, and be emotionally relieved that they can leave something for their families and descendants by being protected by copyright. I met the family of a famous deceased artist, and they told me that 'the copyright is about to expire' in tears. Sadly I realized that some day my family would be in the same situation. I just hope that that moment would be at least 20 years later. Even Osamu Tezuka's copyright will expire in about 30 years. More industrial countries are stating 70 years as the copyright limit, and it's being extended. Ultimately it might become 120 years. The trend is to make it longer, not shorter." We Male Money, Not Art looks at were to find Akira Kurosawa's Roshomon now that it's in public domain here MangaCast points out that Dark Horse has a preview of Tanpenshu online here Midnight Eye has posted the results of their Best of 2006 Readers Poll here ComiPress translates a Yoshikazu Yasuhiko interview here, in which the art director and character designer of Gundam gives his impression of the seminal anime. Twitch has reviewed Paprika.

For more commentary see the AICN Anime MySpace I've also jumped on the ComicSpace bandwagon. Manga fans should definitely check out the networking site. See my profile here.

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