Ain't It Cool News (
Animation and Anime

AICN Anime-The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Gunsmith Cats and News

Logo handmade by Bannister Column by Scott Green

Paprika Contest

Want to be the envy of all animation fans? Then enter our give-away to win a 6"x4" statuette based on Satoshi Kon's Paprika! One of five copies will be awarded to each of the winners selected from a random drawing of e-mails sent to The deadline for entries is Midnight US Eastern 4/1/07. Paprika is the latest movie from Satoshi Kon, the anime auteur responsible for the acclaimed movies Perfect Blue , Millennium Actress and Tokyo Godfathers , and TV series Paranoia Agent. Produced at Studio Madhouse, Paprika adapts a novel from influential sci-fi writer Yasutaka Tsutsui, whose work also inspired the recent Madhouse/Mamoru Hosoda movie The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Anime's queen of voice acting Megumi Hayashibara plays the role of Dr. Atsuko Chiba, a scientist who must contend with her own alter-ego "Parika" in order to solve the mystery behind the thief of a device that can read a person's subconscious thoughts. Sony Pictures Classics' North American release of the film opens May 25th in New York and June 1st in LA. To see more, check out

Festival Screenings For Big Dreams Little Tokyo

Big Dreams Little Tokyo, reviewed here will be screened at a number of upcoming festivals.
AFI Dallas International Film Festival Screening Saturday, March 24th Noon and Sunday, March 25th Noon Tiburon International Film Festival (Bay Area California) March 29, 07:15 PM Philadelphia Film Festival Festival runs April 5-18 Ashland Film Festival (Oregon) Festival runs April 12-16

Anime Spotlight: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Should The Girl Who Leapt Through Time ever be released in North America outside select showings at film festivals and Asian culture conferences, it should be mandatory viewing for anyone who would like to bury 2D animation. Any commentator who posits that non-motion capture animation cannot re-create the essence of human motion and expression should be sat down with a copy of this movie. Time travel conceit aside, the movie is ingrained in the present day experiences of life in a modern, prosperous nation, set in houses, streets and schools. With light stylization acting as control factor in the demonstration, this work ought to prove that 2D animation is an irreplaceable, artistically viable form. The absence of an actor or physical model allows the image to be as loose or precise as the creators decision and ability can dictate. In the case of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, that level of abstraction is what the movie needs to set the viewer on the same wavelength as its heroine. The seamless flexibility creates room for composition and ambiguity. In the case of this movie, this is what adds new meaning to what is explicitly not a new story. This technical merit contributes to the artistry that makes The Girl Who Leapt Through Time a joy to watch. Picking a film to recommend to any viewer, regardless of their affection for animation in general or anime specifically, this movie should top the list. Tapping into the universal concerns of what one is doing with one's life and where one's life is heading, the movie offers a mature engagement of youth that is more relevant and interesting than a simple coming of age. Though it cracks in the third act, the fissures complement what is a thought provoking challenge in the powerfully moving film. If you haven't seen the work in question, it might come as a surprise that The Girl Who Leapt Through Time director Mamoru Hosoda's best exposure to North American audiences would be the cobbled together Digimon movie. Previously hailed for his composition, detailed motion and eye for talented collaborators, given the freedom of his own movie outside Toei's studios he produces a work of art. Hosoda's approach is less obviously experimental than films like Mind Game. Working with Madhouse Studios, his animation makes the motion that one sees every day captivating, and the scenery of life something profound, worthy of close study. The movie is an updated retelling of a Tsutsui Yasutaka novel, previously adapted into a popular live action film and TV series. In Hosoda's updated version, titular heroine Makoto Konno gains the ability to physically leap and land in a chosen point in her past. Initially she uses the ability as an instrument of escapism, spending her time pursing inconsequential activities and goals. As chaos theory, unintended consequence and the momentum of life conspire to confront Makoto, she is forced to make more significant alterations. What was light hearted, laugh out loud, slapstick hardens into gut twisting drama. As the compounding repercussions become evident, the film taps into powerful emotions felt either in retrospect or in anxiety when concerning the effects of action and inaction in the pivotal moments of one's life. The revelation of the nature of Makoto's time travel broadens the scope of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. It re-focuses the film to call attention to questions concerning the direction of the future, and the nature of art. Though essential and thought provoking, the information is introduced in such a way as to shove the film into a new angle. Given that the movie strongly encourages the viewer to share the lead's emotional progression, even if such a development is foreshadow, it still pulls the support out from under the narrative when the shift is introduced abruptly. Especially for a North American audience, the vast majority of which will be unfamiliar with the original story, the twist from what had been accepted as the premise of the movie, to the full set of facts is jarring enough to break the movie's hold. Yet, Hosoda spring it in a particularly heated sequence, where the shock is ensured, suggesting that this may have been his intended reaction. Studio Gonzo's first venture into feature length anime film is Origin - Spirit of the Past. A pivotal moment in the movie features its newly invigorated hero running as fast as he can. As his legs pound the earth, his torso is held parallel to the ground. This speed skate/run is a position that has been employed animating ninja or samurai running, and it does offer some dramatic heft, but in terms of human anatomy, the animated motion is distractingly nonsensical. Working off effectively abstract character designs from Evangelion's Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, Hosoda produces a studied recreation of human movement. Whether it is Makoto's titular leaps or an unnamed bystander in a crowd, there is a reality established in that the people move like people. Exact motion, and intensely recognizable expression are applied to design that is attractive and open. The balance creates characters that are very specific, but malleable for a viewer to imprint their own ideas. What makes The Girl Who Leapt Through Time brilliant also serves as a liability for getting the movie marketed. Rather than chasing after existing fans or serving as a vehicle for marketing other material, the movie doesn't just break out the anime ghetto, it ignores it. There is a degree to which The Girl Who Leapt Through Time does react to popular anime. It is informed by past versions of the story, the evolution of popular ideas of the future and bishoujo ideal. At the same time it rejects the pressure to distill anime production into algebraic formulas: if you like genre X or are of age Y, or previously enjoy Z, then you'll like A.

Manga Spotlight: Gunsmith Cats Omnibus Volume 1 by Kenichi Sonoda Released by Dark Horse Manga

Dark Horse's revised edition collects what was previously published across three graphic novels in one $16.95 volumes. Given that the works cuts to the chase from page one and never lets off the gas pedal, 455 pages of Gunsmith Cats is probably offering more action than anyone would ask for. Gunsmith Cats is appreciatable in that it brilliantly achieves its objective. No one is going to accuse Kenichi Sonoda of pretension or pursuing high art, but there is unarguable craft to what he accomplishes between the speed lines. Mixing close ups of weapons and faces, Sonoda builds off the attentions drawing glamour of what is fast and dangerous in his flashy choreography. Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy's Anime Encyclopedia used Gunsmith Cats as the yardstick for evaluating all of the girls with guns works in anime/manga. 16 years after its original publication, Gunsmith Cats stands as a useful measure for its model of capturing an audience through the opposing connotation mix of cuteness and violence. This is not only because the manga was an early example, but because it still significant in its undiluted dedication to the idea. It doesn't read like a calculated construct. Instead, it comes across as a composite of many of creator Keninchi Sonoda's favorite subjects: beaming young women, firearms and muscle cars. The Gunsmith Cats of the title are "Rally" Vincent, a Chicago based entrepreneurial nineteen year old who manages a gun shop and a bounty hunting service, and her sidekick "Minnie" May Hopkins, a slightly younger girl who has picked up an extensive knowledge of explosives and a cache of incendiary devices. Both have deep, unhealthy affection for their hardware. In the case of Rally this extends beyond the pistols to include her Shelby GT500. Most of the supporting characters simply play roles. There's the cop, the informant, the thief, ect. May's lover/teacher is around doing little other than staging the plot and serving as an explanation for how she became what she is. The exception to this is the ridiculously named, but ridiculously bad-ass Bean Bandit: kindof an urban, driver version of Go Nagai's Violence Jack, in other words, able to get away with bringing a knife to a gun fight. Sonoda attacks the work with an accelerated charge, except when it comes to Bean Bandit. He recognizes that his character's mystique could benefit from a slow build. In the first volume of what went into the omnibus, he is a legend and a shadow. In the second, he contributes to events and shows off a bit of his capabilities. Even in the third, he only partially demonstrates what will make him famous. With works like Gall Force, Bubblegum Crisis and Otaku no Video in his resume, Sonoda was a powerful influence on the look of anime in the early 90's. His faces tend to be broader, with more focus on the eyes than many popular current styles. An interesting attribute of his character illustration in Gunsmith Cats is that he tries for a ethnic diversity in his cast. For example, Rally is the child of Pakistani/English parentage. However, he tends to capture aspects like race with simple, caricatured touches. While there is the potential for work in that manner to look dated, here it serves Sonoda's intensions for the series. His characters, especially the females cast members look cute without being cloying. The look serves as an effective contrast to the over-designed look of the current moe movement. Gunsmith Cats starts with a shootout. Within the next handful of pages, there's a whole armory of additional guns, target practice and screeching cars. The blistering mix of burning rubber and gunpowder is in full force from the manga's inception. In filling every chapter with action, Sonoda does not hold any spectacles in reserve. While h hits the manga's ceiling early, he has plenty of affection for the subject matter to work through. Because Sonoda is using subjects that fascinate him, Gunsmith Cats' concepts fit together seamlessly. He is not shoehorning in any objects or characters that don't fit the scenario. He evidently loves working with speed. The 70's cinema classics meets manga approach paints bumping, skidding and spinning in hurricanes of speedlines. He evidently loves workings with the details of the manga's arsenal. Characters go on about the virtues of a CZ75 or the dangers of using exotic ammunition. Enough details are present that, at least for a reader who has never touched a firearm, as would be the case with the vast majority of the original Japanese audience, the guns look and fire with convincing realism. However, this doesn't preclude Sonoda from stretching matters in the pursuit of stunningly impressive trick shots. Not only does Rally spring the Travis Bickle concealed pistol and fire in such a way as to direct the cast off shell cases into the eyes of a person behind her, but her signature move is shooting the fingers off adversaries. The tone of the stories is so hyper inflated that there is not even a leap from what is realistic and what is exaggerated. For the course of at least one story, the sprinting pace of Sonoda's work is guaranteed to bowl over any action fan. After he demonstrates the goods, a reader may either be hooked, or become tired of the repetition. While Gunsmith Cats is given to more structural shake-ups than most fight manga, there is no inter-story momentum. The characters and settings are so ingrained into what constitutes Gunsmith Cats that they must remain in Chicago and say more or less unchanged. A consequence of accentuating a personal favorites list, rather than considering what is inspired or shocking, is the danger of encouraging or amplifying fetishized elements. Sonoda does not work with sexual violence to a great extent, but he does mix sex and violence is a discomforting way. Apparently he at least likes the aesthetic of young girls. As such, he creates tenuous plot justifications for why a sexually active 17/18 year old looks 13. He integrates a young girl into one of his driving stunts, and drops her off with her skirt blow upwards and her underwear exposed. Fully clothed, in a non-distressed state, Rally and May are less sexualized than many female manga characters, but whether it is losing clothes in a scrape or examining wounds, Rally in particular is frequently finds herself stripped. Factor in May's sex kitten tendencies and the frequency of bondage-like situations and the series becomes noticeably more sexualized. Sonoda apparently also likes his villains psychologically and physically mangled. The first two primary adversaries are both pathologically sadistic. Both lose limbs during the course of the stories and replace the missing appendage with weapon prosthetics. The persistence of these qualities reinforces the series' ick factor. Depending on the overlaps between ones fascinations and Sonoda's, these tendencies can easily tip one's patience for Gunsmith Cats.

OEL Spotlight: Zapt! Volume 1 by Armand Villavert Jr. and Shannon Denton & Keith Giffen Released by TOKYOPOP

Comic book commentators have recently noted that mainstream media coverage of the medium has shifted headlines from "Comics Are No Longer Just for Kids" to "Are There Comics For Kids Anymore?" As a release in TOKYOPOP's Manga Readers format, Zapt! artfully fills a useful niche. Packaged with 100 pages of comic content for $5.99 and featuring a younger protagonist, the work is tuned for a young audience. With that audience in mind, Zapt! has to cater both to the reader and the person who is likely to purchase the book. The key to its success might be that while Zapt! conforms to the standards of American parents, with cartoon action rather than the harsher violence of series like Naruto, it labors to capture the excitement and perspective of popular shonen. Without insulting the readers intelligence, Zapt! is not afraid to skew young. It follows a twelve year old who is enlisted into a galactic police force. This is a familiar conceit for American sci-fi novels and comics, probably best known from the exploits of Hal Jordan, the test pilot who became the Green Lantern. As Jordan grayed, more characters in his mold were introduced into American comics, but the youngest of these were older, high school aged teens. Boys' adventure may not have originated with shonen, but, especially in comics, it's currently the most recognizable source of works that mine the drama that a pre-teen could intensely recognize. In that tradition, Zapt! builds the situations for its action and comedy on top of the core concerns that the pre-teen audience would find significant. Older readers probably will not be enamored with the targeted silliness, such as the prominently named Pangalactic Order Of Police (POOP) or the gross-out humor, but for a younger audience, this aspect might be the icing on the cake. Zapt!'s star, Armand Jones' vocal criticism of everyday slights is tuned to an advanced level for his young age. The graphic novel's first few pages evocatively condense the frustration of piled on, but not exaggerated, friction of school life. The strength in Zapt!'s characterizations comes in how the graphic novel frames the humorous tussles with schedules and bullies as challenges to the pre-teen inclination for cutting loose. Unsurprisingly , Zapt! has a didactic edge. Its agenda also includes relevancy, touching on popular culture and the like. Fortunately, these objectives are consistently framed in service of the story. Rather than breaking the points out of the narrative, they are all compelling built into the narrative. For example, when Armand has to think through a situation and ascertain the truth before acting, the matter at hand develops into a more complex, fascinating situation. As would be expected, the troubles of working in a space policing agency map nicely to the troubles of everyday life, but Zapt! throw in a promising twist by introducing significant cases where Armand terran life actual intersects with galactic life. The format of the release does have a bearing that separates the work from shonen manga. Given that the book is scripted for a 100 page volume rather than 30 page chapters, Zapt! is not punctuated with introductions and cliffhangers the way that shonen works frequently are. Though the plot involves a character being "zapt" from Earth to space, the transitions are noticeably more even. The longer block-interval of the release has the benefit and liability of making the work less predictable. The unknown pacing complements a plot in which the reader doesn't know where the hero may go or when his life might be turned upside down again. However, part of the successful shonen formula is the reliability that micro-climaxes are constantly punctuating the story. If there is one thing that Zapt! doesn't have, it's talking heads. There are staggeringly few static panels in the comic. Even if it’s just some alien turning the pages of a book, there is always either illustrated or applied motion. The volume opens with a plot-action background prologue before looking to Armand. Making his way to school, imagining Bruce Lee kicking bullies and the line, it is immediate evident that the character has a bit of compressed spring tension in his personality. Whether it is the halls of the school, the fish out of water flailing of dealing with galactic police protocol or action scenes, the comic uses the nomenclature of motion to great effect. The slapstick of being zapt to other planets and zipped through tubes is fun, but the volume's fight scene climax is particularly outstanding. If this came out of Star Wars or Gundam, it would be well regarded. Think a dog fight between a pair of fighters and a sky-surfing armor through a bank of volcanic clouds. As the exotic hardware battles, speedlines, steam and shadows are carried panel to panel in a manner that is excitingly complex, but easy to follow. The toned geometric approach to illustrator lends an impression of sets to the series' environments, particularly the extraterrestrial communities. This makes them both distinctly alien and approachable, but they don't register as wondrously as a new world might be. This impression is fed by the manner in which scale is depicted. There are a number of encounters with over-sized beings in the volume, particularly giant robots. Using upward angles and the characters for scale, the size differences are captured, and huge robots do look huge. However, these scale panels do not receive emphasis within the page. Because they do not stand out in the panel to panel flow of the comic, they do not evoke a visceral reaction of awe. Active thought is requires to build up the impact of the size. Despite the strength of its action scenes, older audiences may find Zapt! readable and diverting , but not essentially compelling. For a younger audience, the comic seems bullet proof. It's hard to imagine a young reader not deriving some enjoyment from Zapt!'s speed, humor and well constructed narrative.

Anime Spotlight: Disgaea Volume 1 and 2 Released by Geneon

When it comes to works like Disgaea, it becomes regrettably that the direct to video OVA distribution model is largely no longer viable. The idiosyncratic look of the cult Playstation2 strategy role-playing game and the presence of a memorable, easily encapsulatable plot lend themselves to anime. Yet, while Disgaea is not exactly a one joke routine, it is too limited to stretch for 12 episodes. Especially with the comedic nature of the work, the charm of the characters is undermined by the padding and the predictability of the gags. A condensed four to six episode, Disgaea could have been a winning project that would have entertained fans with its light hearted fantasy, regardless of their affection for the original game. At 12, the animation slips, and the jokes grind. Demon prince Laharl wakes up after a two year slumber to discover that his overlord father has passed away. He must reconquer the Netherworld to claim his father's domain. Higher powers begin corralling vassals around Laharl, particularly the innocent, would-be assassin angel Flonne, send to kill Laharl's already dead father, and the impish would-be sexy demoness Etna. Following in their wake is a flock of Prinnies, souls of sinners stitched into peg-legged penguins that sport a tiny set of bat wings in addition to the birds' standard flippers. Antagonists come and go by the episode, with the one constant being a group of perpetual loser humans who crash land in the Netherworld: a Flash Gordon like defender of Earth, his Barbarella dressed scientist assistant and their Lost in Space like robot. Despite the ostensible conquest based plot, the anime operates without a real quest. Without real discernable logic or demonstrated motivation on the part of the characters, sense of an objective or how that goal is pursued fades. Brief inter-episode references are not enough to tie the episodes together. Instead, banal activities such as eating, sleeping, and chasing money are used as the engine for arriving at the jokes. The chemistry between the characters and eye-catching nature gives the series some leeway, but by the series' second episode, it starts employing desperate conceits like body swaps. At most the series' political elements vaguely shape the pivotal premise for a given episode's jokes. The lack of sophistication in the political jokes, especially compared with what could be provided, points to a trouble with being indecisive about the targeted audience. It never commits to whether is a slightly naughty series for younger audiences with jokes about female chest size and the like, or a work for older audiences that smirkingly captures the emotional conflicts of something younger audience. Flonne brow-beating Laharl to have a heart and Laharl's not-so-hidden compassion are grating even before they are accentuated. Many of the jokes become jokes more aggravating as it is repeated, not funnier, which is especially the case in circumstances like Laharl turning green every time an angelic chorus trumpets "eternal love" . Disgaea relies more on visual than verbal interaction for its comedy. Aspects of the series' animation, such as the strange motions of Laharl's Spawn-like grasping cape offer something novel to look at. The oddity of the Prinnies establishes the creatures as a reliable source of physical humor, even if their form is rather stiff and of limited mobility. Flonne's slight demeanor is such that when she acts or over acts, the discrepancy is good for a grin. While the stiffness is not a problem for the Prinnies, it cause trouble for the less eye catching sights of the anime. Reliance on an unimpressive blue flame and the frequency use of monsters that talk without moving their mouths appear as symptoms of the often disappointingly over-obvious short cuts used throughout the series.

Manga Spotlight: Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories Volume 1 by Hekaton Released by Broccoli

In its second iteration, Disgaea again proves to be better suited for a quickly read manga than a succession of 24 minute episodes. Manga certainly has a high ceiling for art, but there is also a comfortable floor offering room for lower expectation in the less expensive format. While the Disgaea manga has an impersonal, commercially tidy look, the simple design that was a weakness in the anime does not detract from the comic experience. Without the demands to filming six hours worth of anime, the good-naturedly sacrilegious premise is clever enough to win over someone who never touched the original video game (like this reviewer). By letting jokes go after they are presented, the manga become elevating even if it isn't uproariously funny. The cumulative effects of half clever jokes and the manga's commitment its half-odd demon world concept ensure a fun read. Unlike the first Disgaea manga, this adaption spans multiple volumes. However, more time doesn't equate to a better developed plot. if you don't know the games, it might be better to largely ignore the manga's storyline. The characters are board enough that it doesn't matter, but rapid shifts in focus lead to a convoluted and a bumpy reading experience. With the popularity of the original cast, it might make sense to spend time bridging the two series, but the volume overextends their stay with protagonists of the first holding the focus for half of the volume before relinquishing it to the new leads.

Updates on Next Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki next film will be "Gake no ue no Ponyo" (Ponyo On A Cliff). The project, scheduled to appear in Japanese theaters in summer 2008 tracks the story of the Princess goldfish Ponyo who wants to become human and 5 years old boy named Sosuke. An official site is online at here reports that Miyazaki found inspiration for the film from his visit to a cliff side house in Tomo-no-Ura . From the site: "According to Toshio Suzuki, Hayao Miyazaki reflected seriously about his relationship with his son Goro. The elder Miyazaki thinks Goro's debut as a director is a "resistance" to him and was caused because he was busy and did not care about Goro when he was a child. So, the 5 year old Goro became the model for Sosuke. A sense of closeness between a parent and child is also a theme for the film."

Dark Horse Talks Dirty Pair and MPD-Psycho

Dark Horse will be releasing the first pose novel of sci-fi duo The Dirty Pair June 13 for $8.95. Dark Horse Books is proud to present the first volume in a prose series based on the incredibly popular duo the Dirty Pair, which is available to U.S. fans for the first time! Haruka Takachiho’s best-selling novels in Japan are the subject of an animated series, three motion pictures, and a series of graphic novels. Charged with keeping the peace and investigating crime among the stars in the far future, the Worlds Welfare Work Association prides itself on a reputation of safety and regard for life and property. But try telling that to WWWA Agents Kei and Yuri, codename “the Lovely Angels,” who—because of their penchant for destruction—are better known as the Dirty Pair. Part female James Bond, part walking disaster, if the Dirty Pair are called in on a case one thing is certain: they’ll catch the bad guy but you may not live to tell about it! In Volume 1, the Angels are called in to investigate the cataclysmic destruction of the Gravus Heavy Industry facility on the planet Dangool. What they find there hurls the pair into a danger-filled trek across the galaxy. Created by popular science fiction author Haruka Takachiho in 1979, the Dirty Pair are among the most beloved characters in popular anime and science fiction circles. “Back in the prehistoric days of the anime invasion—also known as the 1980s—some of the first animes I looked at were the Dirty Pair films,” said Robert Simpson, editor of the translations for the novel series. “I say ‘looked at’ and not ‘watched’ because the bootleg videotapes weren’t subtitled or dubbed; I barely knew what was going on! But I loved the sheer mayhem and action of them, and as the films and TV episodes and Adam Warren’s comic made their way into the public eye I inhaled them all. I couldn’t be happier that the original novels are seeing print in English after all these years, and I’m enjoying reading where Kei and Yuri got their start. Hope all of the readers out there are excited as well!” The Great Adventure of the Dirty Pair Volume 1 features story by Haruka Takachiho with illustrations by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko.
Dark Horse says MPD-Psycho was deemed too shocking for other publishers, with violent images that most thought were too graphic for the American public, but the company will be publishing the Eiji Otsuka and Sho-u Tajima manga starting June 6 and retails for $10.95 Police detective Kobayashi Yousuke’s life is changed forever after a serial killer notices something “special” about the detective. Kobayashi is stable police detective until he witnesses the killer he’s hunting mutilate Kobayashi’s own girlfriend. The event triggers several dormant personalities that push Kobayashi into a complex tempest of deviants and evil forces, ultimately creating a multiple personality detective. Earning praise for its consistently shocking plotlines and Sho-u Tajima’s clean, arresting art style, MPD-Psycho is the manga event of the decade. The title was rated the eighth most wanted Japanese series in U.S. fan polls and has sold more than four million copies in Japan. MPD-Psycho is written by novelist and manga visionary Eiji Otsuka, author of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, with sleek, stylish art from Sho-u Tajima. MPD-Psycho comes shrink-wrapped and carries an 18+ content advisory.

Production I.G With Shirow Masamune Again

The creator of Ghost in the Shell is again working with the animators of the Ghost in the Shell anime. Production I.G announced at TAF 2007 that the studio will be producing an anime of "Ghost Hound" (original title: Shinreigari / Ghost Hound), written by the studio and Shirow Masamune. Main staff includes director Ryutaro Nakamura (Serial Experiments Lain, Kino's Travels), scriptwriter Chiaki J. Konaka (Serial Experiments Lain, The Big O) and character designer Mariko Oka (Jigoku Shojo, Jing: King of Bandits). The story will be co-developed by Crossroad. "Ghost Hound" will premiere in Japan fall 2007 on WOWOW. The manga version of "Ghost Hound", drawn by Kanata Asahi, will start serializing in Japan on Monthly Comic Blade (published by Mag Garden) from March 30, 2007.

New CG Blame!

Anime News Network reports that a CG adaptation of Tsutomu Nihei's subterranean cyberpunk manga Blame! is in the works. The 3D CG projects brings together Micott and Basara from the Appleseed CG movies with MTV trainsurfer and backgrounds from Production I.G.

Blood: The Last Vampire in Production

KF Cinema reports that Ronnie Yu's adaptation of Production I.G's Blood: The Last Vampire began filming on March 15th. Filming will take place in Buenos Aires for about a month before moving to China for an additional three more months. The movie is scheduled for release in summer 2008.

Upcoming in Japan

ComiPress reports classic manga creators Rumiko Takahashi and Mitsuru Adachi are collaborating for a project. A preview image can be seen here A preview of the upcoming Kite: Liberator can be seen here Catsuka looks at the stunning Summer with Coo the Kappa here Be sure to check out AniPages Daily's coverage of the movie too. The anime's official site hosts a trailer. The film will schedule for a theatrical release in Japan on July 28. AniPages notes that a number of high profile trailers have gone online. Trailers for Studio 4C's Genius Party anthology have gone online. here/a> here here Collected work will include: Genius Party, directed by Atsuko Fukushima Space-Time Wars, directed by Shoji Kawamori Destik Four, directed by Shinji Kimura Doorbell, directed by Yoji Fukuyama Limit Cycle, directed by Hideki Futamura Dream Machine, directed by Masaaki Yuasa Baby Blue, directed by Shinichiro Watanabe Anime News Service reports that 16 year old actor Yuya Yagira (Nobody Knows) will be voicing a role in Shinichiro Watanabe's (Macross Plus, Cowboy Bebop) "Baby Blue". Bee Train's (Noir and Madlax) El Cazador de la Bruja has trailers on jvcmusic at here. Gainax's upcoming mecha series has Maiking Breakthrough Gurren-Lagann here Majoria News reports that Dengeki Gao! will start serializing a he Maiking Breakthrough Gurren-Lagann manga on April 27th. Majoria's translates Gainax's Gurren-Lagann character/mecha profiles here. Madhouse Studios' cycle racing Nasu: Summer in Andalusia, the first anime to be selected for Cannes, will be recieving a sequel. A trailer is online here A trailer for Terra E/To Terra can be seen here Wowow has a site for samurai violent anime Shigurui. The Norio Nanjo and Takayuki Yamaguchi manga was adapted by Madhouse. Screen captures from the third Hellsing Ultimare OVA can be seen on Eg From AnimeNation Horror anime Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, to be released in North America by Geneon as When They Cry - Higurashi will be receiving sequel called "Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai", scheduled for July. Speeking on horror to be released by Geneon, "Mononoke," a spin-off of the "Bakeneko" story in Ayakashi ~Japanese Classic Horror~ anime television series, will premier in July. A flash trailer to the second season of Victorian drama Emma is online here. The series is scheduled for April 16th. GONZO's "Dragonaut ~The Resonance~", scheduled for October has an online preview. Peach-Pit's (Rozen Maiden, DearS) Zombie-Loan will be adapted into an anime. The page for Shining Tears X Wind ("Shining Tears Cross Wind") is online. Comipress reports visual novel creators Type-Moon has launched a site for the anime adaption of Kara no Kyoukai. Kara no Kyoukai ~Garden of Sinners~ will be a 7-Part movie series. The seven movies will cover all seven chapters of the original Kara no Kyoukai novel. A promotional video will be shown at the Aniplex booth during the Tokyo International Anime Fair. The site for AIKa R-16 OVA features a trailer. A new OVA adaption of idiosyncratic sci-fi Aria is coming.

Gatchaman Trailer Reaction caught Imagi's 2 minute trailer for their upcoming Gatchaman theatrical movie at the 2007 Digital Entertainment Leadership Forum today in Hong Kong. Reactions can be read here

VIZ Pictures Announces North American Screenings Of Ping Pong

VIZ Picture has announced that a screening of Fumihiko Sori's live action adaption of Taiyo Matsumoto (Black & White, No.5, Blue Spring) will be screened in North America/ Best friends “Peco” Hoshino and “Smile” Tsukimoto have been playing ping pong since they were little kids. While the unique and brazen Peco plays to win and loves the sport, the quiet and introverted Smile thinks of it as just a way to kill time with friends, and only plays because he idolizes Peco. While Smile is the more talented player, he frequently and intentionally loses to Peco out of a misguided sense of friendship. However, after Peco is badly beaten by his rival, Dragon, in an important inter-high school tournament he suddenly quits the game leaving Smile to become the newest ping pong celebrity. He begins training hard for the next championship, waiting for the return of his hero and best friend, whom he is destined to meet in one last match. The film was nominated for eight Japanese Academy Awards in 2003. Actor Shido Nakamura won the 'Newcomer of the Year' award for his performance as Dragon, a rival of the two main characters. PING PONG is set to screen in the following cities: New York Press Screening: March 22 (Thurs), 2007 1:30pm General Opening: April 6– April 12, 2007 THE IMAGINASIAN 239 East 59th St. New York 10022 Contact: Greg Chang (212) 869-4288 Chicago General Opening: April 27 -May 3, 2007 FACETS CINEMATHEQUE 1517 West Fullerton Avenue Chicago, IL 60614 (773) 281-4114 Seattle General Opening: May 25– May 31, 2007 GRAND ILLUSION CINEMA 1403 NE 50th St Seattle, WA 98105 (206) 523-3935

Format Wars: Anime Front

Anime on DVD Bandai Visual (USA and Japan) will be launching the first Freedom OVA on 06/26/2007. The North American release include the HD DVD format in a HD DVD/DVD combo disc for $39.99. The first of six OVA releases features Japanese language track with English subtitles and the special prologue to the series. Wings of Honneamise will US HD-DVD release in August with a price of $79.99 Bandai Visual Japan will be releasing in title in bundles set containing both next-gen disc and DVD (BD & DVD, or HD DVD & DVD. Price is 10,290 JPY (incl tax). 7/27 AKIRA : BD + DVD Wing of Honneamise : BD + DVD, HD DVD + DVD Patlabor the Movie : BD + DVD, HD DVD + DVD 8/24 Patlabor the Movie 2 : BD + DVD, HD DVD + DVD Ghost in the Shell : BD + DVD Steam Boy : BD + DVD 9/22 Avalon : BD + DVD Jin-Roh : BD + DVD In non-Bandai Visual release, Tekkon Kinkreet (Blakc White) will be released in Japan on Blu-ray 06/27/2007

Right Stuf Releases

The Right Stuf International has relaunched the site for cultural SF Shingu: Secret Of The Stellar Wars at in preparation for its thinpak collection ($59.99) on April 24, 2007. In addition to reading about the series and its characters, visitors to the site can watch a trailer, download new desktop wallpapers and even more avatars, and enter a contest for a chance to win the entire series on DVD with the exclusive first-run art box and T-shirt.
To Heart, Vol. 3: Bonds of Friendship ($19.99) will be released on June 26th. This third of four volumes features episodes 8-10, plus the next two “mini” episodes (“omake”) found on the Japanese DVD release. Additionally, To Heart, Vol. 3 marks the introduction of robot-girl “Multi,” whose extreme popularity in Japan elevated the character to an almost iconic status. NYICFF 2007 Award Winners NYICFF has announced the winners from their 2007 festival. Grand Prize FLATLIFE Jonas Geirnaert, Belgium
Special Jury Award SNEAKERS Peter Barlach, Sweden
Audience Award, Ages 3 to 6 THE FAN AND THE FLOWER Bill Plympton, USA
Audience Award, Ages 5 to 10 (tie) JOURNEY TO MARS Juan Pablo Zaramella, Argentina
SHAUN THE SHEEP Christopher Sadler, United Kingdom
Audience Award, Ages 8 to 14 FLATLIFE Jonas Geirnaert, Belgium Audience Award, Ages 12 to 18 WAT A WONDERFUL DAY Philip Eddolls, Canada
Parent’s Choice Award SHAUN THE SHEEP Christopher Sadler, United Kingdom

Schodt on Tezuka

Stone Bridge Press announced that the publisher will be releasing 'The Astro Boy Essays: Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom, and the Manga-Anime Revolution,' a look at the master manga innovator Osamu Tezuka from close friend and main translator Frederik Schodt (Manga! Manga!, Dreamland Japan). Stone Bridge Press will officially release 'The Astro Boy Essays' in September, but copies will be available at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco for their upcoming exhibit, "Tezuka: The Marvel of Manga," which runs June 2 - September 9, 2007. The exhibit is a National Gallery of Victoria Touring Exhibition in association with Tezuka Productions. It features more than 200 original drawings, paintings, and related media.

Production I.G Animating Shampoo Commercial

Production I.G has created the animation for Kao Corporation's new commercial film promoting Asience shampoo, entitled "Asience: Hairy Tale." The fully animated film is directed by Kazuto Nakazawa, who gained international fame by directing the animation segment in Quentin Tarantino's world hit "Kill Bill: Vol. 1." Nakazawa also designed the characters and directed the animation. Art direction has been entrusted to Shuichi Hirata, the texture wizard behind the stunning artwork of Cannes-nominated "Innocence" and Annecy-selected "xxxHOLiC - A Midsummer Night's Dream." The graphic style of "Asience: Hairy Tale" is visually inspired by the Japanese woodblock prints, and personalized by Nakazawa's nervous and expressive brush touch used for the characters outlines. The story concept, focusing on woman’s hair as metaphor of feminine life, is portrayed as a tragic love story in a samurai drama fashion.

"Freedom" HD Simultaneous Release

Bandai Visual announced a June 26, 2007 simultaneous U.S. and Japan release of the bestselling OVA “Freedom” Vol. 1 in HD DVD/DVD Twin disc format . “Freedom,” which is the first HD DVD product from Bandai Visual, will be released in North America by Bandai Visual USA through their distributor Geneon Entertainment (USA). The product will also be available in Japan at .ANIME (, an integrated online anime portal operated by Anime Channel Co., Ltd. After “Freedom” Vol.1, Bandai Visual will start releasing other HD DVD and Blu-ray titles in Japan, with plans to distribute overseas under its flagship international label Honneamise. The disc, featuring the first of six episode is priced at $39.99 “Freedom” is a science fiction anime series whose use in Nissin instant noodle TV ads created much attention in Japan. For more information see

Sales Success Continues For Naruto

VIZ Media has announced that sales chart heights have continued for popular shonen ninja action Naruto. The manga hit number 25 in USA Today's Top 100 Best Seller for the week ending March 11. In 2004 Naruto was the first manga title to be featured on the USA Today Top 150 and has placed repeatedly on the list since, most recently in September 2006. VIZ Media looks forward to further expanding the NARUTO property with the DVD release of the NARUTO - THE LOST STORY ‘Mission: Protect The Waterfall Village!’ and the next installment of the manga series, Volume 14, both in May.”

Anime Boston News Announces Second Round of Guests

Anime Boston announced it will hosts guests of humor Junji Nishimura, director of "Ranma 1/2" and the "Violinist of Hamelin", and also Yasuhiro Imagawa, the creator of "Giant Robo" and chief director of "Mobile Fighter G Gundam." As for North American guests, the convention welcomes voice actors Chris Bevins, Luci Christian, Mike McFarland, and Mike Sinterniklaas and industry guests Grant Moran and Tom Wayland.

Howl's Moving Castle Nominated for Nebula

Hayao Miyazaki's anime adaptation of Howl's Moving Castle gas veeb nominated for the 2006 Nebula Award for best script award, Other nominees include Batman Begins, Battlestar Galactica:Unfinished Buisness and Doctor Who:The Girl in the Fireplace

Memories on Starz Encore

Katshuhiro Otomo's anothogy Memories will be airing on Starz Encore starting April 14th. The three segments were written by the Akira creator. Magnetic Rose was directed by Morimoto Koji, and written by Satoshi Kon based on a story by Katsuhiro Otomo, with music from Yoko Kanno. Stink Bomb was directed by Okamura Tensa Cannon Fodder was written and directed byKatsuhiro.

Anime in North American Theatres

From Anime News Network Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow will have a one night theatrical run on April 6th in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Atlanta. Additional information and screening times will be posted to the Fathom Events soon. Jerry Beck discusses the release here Korean-produced Sci-Fi animation "Aachi & Ssipak" and "The Girl Who Lept Through Time" by Mamoru Hosoda will screen at the Egyptian Theatre on March 31st. Following the two films will be a panel discussion on Korean and Japanese animation with special guests Bum-Jin Joe (Director of Aachi & Ssipak) and Mamoru Hosoda. Reservations can be made at or

Yaoi Licensing Trouble

MangaCast reported that Japanese BL publisher Libre is accusing Central Park Media is publishing their works without a valid licensed. From their website in English Notice on Unauthorized Translations by Central Park Media Thank you very much for your continued interest in our publications. Please note that we also offer copyright licensing service for translations of our own publications to foreign publishers. These are commissioned by each of the cartoonists and authors. Recently, it has come to our attention that some translations of our publications have been published and some are to be published by Central Park Media (Label: Be Beautiful) in the United States. We wish to make it known that these publications are considered illegal because they have not been authorized by us. It should also be known that the cartoonists and authors are being victimized by this illegal act, and they are very annoyed by it. We strongly protest this illegal infringement of our property and issuing a strong order for CPM to cease their illegal acts. We also wish our faithful readers to refrain from purchasing, loaning, or sharing any and all of these illegal publications. Thank you. Libre Publishing Co.,Ltd. CPM has responded to questions on this matter stating “We do not comment publicly on licensor issues.”

Guardian of the Sacred Spirit Licensed

AnimeOnline reports that Geneon has licensed Production I.G's Seirei no Moribito aka Guardian of the Sacred Spirit for North American release. The original novel is being released in North America by Scholastic Books

Figures News has posted some noteworthy reviews including: Yamato USA's Burst Angel: MEG (In Pink) Kaiyodo's Revoltech GIANT ROBO 1/6 Scale FullMetal Alchemist Figures Bandai's MASKED RIDER SIC Vol. 36 A preview of Play Arts' upcoming FFVII: Advent Children figures can be seen here Fewture is finally continuing their 1901/EX with Doublas and Boss Borot figures. A flier can be seen here, with more here Special Gundam models have been produced for each member of the Kawasaki Frontale soccer team. For more, see here. Action figure social networking site The Action Figure Network has been launched.

Japanese Online Distribution reports that publisher Gentosha offering manga online in Japanese, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Korean, Taiwanese. Currently Gentosha's planned line-up includes Gravitation EX, which is being released in the U.S. by Tokyopop. Anime News Service reports Toei will be working with Webstream Ltd.'s DVD Toaster that will customers to purchase content online to be burned to DVD.

Worth Checking Out

Anime News Network's editor-in-chief, Chris Macdonald, is blogging the Tokyo Anime Fair. Danny Choo search popularity clash between Gundam and Star Wars spawned an amusing/interesting search fight card at Alt Japan Irresponsible Pictures quotes noted anime/manga fan and potitician Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso here. An amusing interview looking at Gary Coleman's interest in 70's/80's anime is online here Same Hat looks at some great manga finds from NYC's Book-Off, including Tezuka's legendary Crime and Punishment adaption here. Janet Hsu of Capcom Japan, Localization Team was interviewed here Via the Newsarama Blog, Benjamin Roman's MySpace blog, points to a TOKYOPOP music video for The Dollyrots featuring animated art from Roman and Keith Giffen’s I Luv Halloween. A except of an interview with Usamaru Furuya (Short Cuts, Suicide Cirlce) can be read here BusinessWeek looks at anime here AniPages Daily looks at Topcraft, known for animating The Last Unicorn here Comipress translates Fujiko F. Fujio's thoughts on what it takes to be a good manga artist here Comic artist Chris Ware's animated work from This American Life can be seen ">here

For more commentary see the AICN Anime MySpace and AICN Anime on ComicSpace.

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus