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AICN Anime - Mushi-Shi

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Anime Spotlight: Mushi-shi Volume 1 Released by FUNimation

"On a snowy night, if all sound disappears, you must either talk to someone or cover your ears... Otherwise, your ears will be eaten." Mushi-shi is a singular anime that offers a perspective that is at once child-like in its uninhibited wonder and sophisticated in the subtlety of the exact chain of events and the significance of its parables. Its meditative inquisitiveness is the antithesis of manic anime or serial adventure, but at the same time, it is not an aggressive mind-game either. A Otomo Katsuhiro directed live action adaptation of Yuki Urushibara's "Kodansha Manga of the Year" award winning work, raised some eyebrows at Sundance under the title "Bugmaster", but the Mushi-shi anime succeeds at its aim of being a collection of timeless tales. In terms of other anime, the newly invented legends are packaged as one of the occasional unconventional looking horror anthologies. However, compared to anime like Requiem from the Darkness or xxxHoLiC, it's more of an immersive experience than a harsh provocation. Almost sketched onto a raw, verdant landscape, a pale man dressed like a trekking researcher wanders out of the wilderness of a past tense Japan, and advises villagers on how to deal with a segment of the world that only he and other mushi-shi experts can see. The science fairy tales make real dangers of concerns from the boundary between juvenile "why" questions and profound philosophical queries such as seeing in the dark, the inherent significance of shapes or the cause of dreams. It then addresses these troubles a as procedurals inspired by folk stories.
In each, case, the answer is tied to "mushi", a classification of organisms that are the distant ancestor of plants and animals, and who, in their own way, shape the physical and spiritual worlds. Think of them like the white mushroom people kodama of Princess Mononoke. The friction of the series occurs in the cases where the two life forms collide into each other. In their interactions with humanity, mushi may cause haunting, obsessions, or affliction such as deafness or deformation. Rather than malice or judgment, this is caused by the alien creature's life cycle and mainly its move to persist. Besides their gift of vision, mushi experts or mushi-shi are needed because mushi are governed by rules, but not necessarily the rules that humans are familiar with from the natural world. This process of ferreting out the solution to mushi related occurrences and the meaning of phenomena involves a lot of Myst problem solving. As science, the mushi's taxonomy and properties fail, but as metaphors that blend legends, human behavior, and creative pseudo-science, they are a beautiful invention. Each episode details the travelling mushi-shi Ginko's encounter with a mushi phenomenon. The part shaman, part scientist trudges over Japan, carrying a peddler's medicine chest on his back, and a cigarette whose smoke wards off unwanted mushi. The particulars of Ginko's history does inform the stories, but to a limited degree, and the series is in no way his drama. Mushi-shi's stories are structurally simple, more so in that they have been stripped of much of anime's traditional draws. In Ginko, there is a single significant, reoccurring character that is intriguing, but not designed to be an attraction. There is violence, but no compulsion to put the acts on screen. The stories are strictly episodic, and without arcs, there is only light continuity. While this might sound sleep inducing, in practice, it is the kind of anime that will keep you transfixed. It's the late night anime trance effect. Especially considering that the series is composed of independent stories, its perfect pacing is a key asset. No episode struggles to fill 22 minutes or feels condensed. Mushi-shi might not be as pulse raising as a Berserk or even a Serial Experiments Lain, but its unconventional ideas and means of expressing itself ensure rapt attention. The tone is convincing enough that it's not even an anime that requires a specific mood for watching.
As simple as the structure may be, each story re-invents its methods for examining the relationship between humanity and mushi. There are a number of angles of approach: scientific rationale such as finding a explanations in the life cycle of mushi; personal stories, such as human motivations and limitations; or the mushi an active force that is also a symbolic device. The unpredictability of the series comes in the shifting weights in the complex relationship between mushi and humanity. There is never a guarantee that Ginko will ensure a welcome solution for the mushi-afflicted people. Like a fairy tale, there are rules, and to a degree these are cautionary tales. Almost like the laws of physics, rather than morality, the operating principles of the mushi can be discovered and dealt with, but they are not an outgrowth of how humans perceive the world. In the stories, a mushi might save or might consume a person regardless of the circumstances by which the two beings came into contact. Along with his dry, laconic personality, Ginko is chiefly shaped by a perspective of a wanderer by necessity. Because his presence attracts mushi, he cannot stay in any place for too long. The anime expands upon that concern by warning of the danger of staring too long in observation. Ginko acts as the instrument by which the anime views people, communities and their interaction with the life cycles of mushi. While Ginko, steps into these circumstances, and while he understands the human world and the mushi world, and admires aspects of both, he isn't part of any of it. Consequently, there is another level of detachment between the viewer and the drama of the series. The concern the Ginko that shows is muted by his role as a travelling practitioner and observer. As acute as a concern might be, Ginko is ultimately going to move on. Ginko's travels take him to remote spots buried in mountain forests, sea side villages, or, in general, communities that are geographically isolated. As the anime's view captures the undeveloped, largely unsettled landscape, it doesn't look exceptional for a community to be cut off from anyone who doesn't want to strap their possession onto their back and venture a trip into the wilderness. This isolation characterizes the appearance of the series and sets the structure for the stories.
There are modern touches that are present in the anime. While most incidental characters wear kimonos, Ginko is dressed in a button collar polo shirt and western-style overcoat. While a doctor has no noticeable modern instruments, Ginko talks of microorganisms and employs something like an otoscope. Yet, the people with which Ginko interacts are essentially living a pre-industrialized agrarian life. Further, with no sign of government, the series fights against being dated. Ecominics are a component of a number of stories, as are politics, but in every case, the story concerns a tight system, generally within a isolated community. These aren't tales from cities of cities of countless stories. Ginko will arrive at a community that can survive a disaster like a tsunami and weather an unpredictable world, but as systems, the communities rely on stability. This accentuates the effect of the mushi. When those human patterns collide with the patterns of the mushi there's a demonstrated need for someone like Ginko to sort out the situation. Director Hiroshi Nagahama has done some unusual works in the past, including the opening credits, ending credits, and camcorder framed episode of Fruits Baskets and design work for Revolutionary Girl Utena. His flair for inventing new metaphors in anime (the infamous car transformation sequence of the Revolutionary Girl Utena: Adolescence Apocalypse movie) and powerful visualizations of sentiments (the tear jerking alienation of the Fruits Basket opening) makes him the perfect choice for adapting Yuki Urushibara's work. As with the stories leveraging science, myth and humanity, Nagahama and Artland (Yugo the Negotiator, Emma) manage to seamlessly merge a number of disparate threads. There is the mushi, which appears as studied mash-up of movements, such as floating by like the insects from Miyazaki's Nausicaa crossed with jellyfish. There's the character design, which is handled by the supremely adaptable Yoshihiko Umakoshi (Air Master, Berserk, Marmalade Boy, Zipang). In this case, Umakoshi employs abstracted forms and subtle of Urushibara's original manga. There is much that is not said in the anime, and more of Ginko's personality comes out in his expressions than in his comments. Similarly, the toll of the mushi is established in the stress, weight loss or resignation in the faces of the effected. This is especially evident in the final episode of the volume, which features a man gradually wasting away as his story is told. And finally, the detail and vibrancy makes the scenery memorable in its own right.
Mushi-shi's music is a nice example of the completeness of the anime's vision. It starts on an unusual note with Ally Kerr's folk acoustic "The Sore Feet Song," which gets catchier with additional exposure. The music in the series itself is composed by Toshio Masuda, who brought an eclectic approach to a lot of manic comedies such as Excel Saga, and Digi Chart, as well as works by Akitaro Daichi such as Jubei-chan, Animation Runner Kuromi and Now and Then, Here and There. Here, he mostly works in ambient keyboard and tonal percussion, with occasionally flutes. Reflecting the series' unpredictability, episodes tend to have their own end credit themes. As with all elements of the series, there is a balanced lucidity that makes what, at first glance, looks like simple work, deeply effective.

Manga Spotlight: Mushishi, Volume 2 by Yuki Urushibara Released by Del Rey

Reading Yuki Urushibara's original Mushishi is a notably more active experience than watching the anime. Constantly, comments in the dialog or images in the illustration suggest a pause for consideration. Hiroshi Nagahama, the director of the Mushishi anime series said that while he expected that watching the anime version of the story would be a different experience from reading the manga, he hoped that a reader who went to the anime would not be disappointed. While Nagahama labored to recapture the spirit of the manga, the formats themselves dictate a divide between the versions. Working with 22 minutes rather than 40 pages, Nagahama had some additional space to expand upon points. He also had the benefit of evaluating the successes and points of confusion of a previous implementation of each story. But, the key difference might be due to the media. While one might reconsider an episode of the Mushishi anime after its completion, one has to hang on every word and image of the anime to ensure that nothing is missed. While what is presented will likely be reevaluated after the fact, it can't help, but be a passive experience during the course of the episode. Despite being grounded in a simple mythological framework, given the convoluted chain of human motivations and mushi life-cycles, a number of Mushishi's stories seem vague at first glance. While the anime tends to fit in slightly more bridging exposition, the manga consistently suggests that the reader maintain their own catalog of facts and observations. With Ginko employing his own encyclopedic knowledge of mushi, neither the resolutions nor the clues indicate the reader should regard the stories as puzzles or mysteries. Yet, with the complexity involved, appreciating the stories requires some work to mentally reconstruct the cycle of cause and effect. Urushibara brilliantly captures the manga's view of nature, and Ginko's perspective through its images. Ginko's appearance is an actively muting influence. The manga does not spend much time looking at this character, but when he sits in the middle of a pane, his paleness and poker face, especially in contrast to the wear or scruff or youth of other faces, almost leaves a false impression of open space throughout the entire work. This outsider emptiness fits into the mental landscapes of the series. Whether it is from the view of a forested mountain where the incline and the canopy obscure any bearings, or a craggy, desolate island, or a wild meadow, Urushibara's manga always establishes a very discernable place for its stories. When a panel is empty, Urushibara is using that negative space to suggest recollection or some other cognitive perspective. To the manga's credit, Urushibara finds fascinating ways of fitting the mushishi between these poles. Whether it is a tendril growing out of a forehead or a effect captured in zip tones with maybe some digital touch up, the mushi look both earthy and ethereal. In this regard, the limitlessness of the manga's approach is amazing. Rainbows might not seem like a useful subject for a black and white manga, but Urushibara finds a way to make them haunting and beautiful. The stories of Mushishi's second volume are not categorically different from those of the first, and it still is not establishing larger arcs or traditional serial drama, but it does seem to be compounding points of concern between the stories. Even when the stories are almost whimsical, they cut to the core of how the subjects have lived their lives. However, the last story drives home the folk lore horror potential of the manga, and raises the volume of the issues that are being carried between stories. It functions perfectly as a changeling story. Ginko is introduced to a family with child whose life is fading away. The boy's mother reveals that on her wedding night, a green stain appeared on her veil. Later, when it came time for the couple to have a child, rather than a human baby, she gave birth to a green mass that immediately oozed away from the couple and took refuge under the floor boards of their home. A year later, with the woman still deep in depression over the loss of her child, the couple heard scratching noises coming from beneath their home. When they looked, they found an infant. Within six months, the baby physically, but not mentally, grew into a three year old, and began looking like the couple. Then, they found another baby under the floor, and later, another... This is a field day for fear of reproduction and rearing children. In it, you have the Cronenberg horror of giving birth to living, non-human beings. You have Children of the Corn's frightening kids. In its presentation, this isn't Hideshi Hino horror manga, and it is approaching the subject from the angle of timeless legends, not cataloging morbid trophies. It does not leave anything to the imagination, and the green mass would not be a welcome sight in any context, especially not of attached to a birth. The key difference in Mushishi, compared to works that push horror or gruesomeness is that Urushibara allows it to be viewed objectively. Despite being on edge from the green masses and un-babies under the floor, and empathizing with the feelings of the parents, it is unignorable that this is still from Ginko's perspective. This is where the everyday underpinnings of the manga start getting interesting. In the order to the stories, there is a degree to which it is "us versus them," where Ginko must contend with the potential necessity to exterminate mushi. This is not a war, not a monster hunt, but as a mushishi, there is an expectation for the practitioner to eliminate populations of the life form. Besides supernatural beauty and chilling scenarios, as Ginko questions whether the entrenched method is the best way and whether the course of his career is the right one, there is a compellingly mature conversation here about second guessing, the course of one’s profession.

Free Yawara! Preview DVD

AnimEigo is now offering a free ($5 shipping) preview DVD for their upcoming release of the hit anime adaptation of Naoki Urasawa (Monster's) hit sports manga Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl. A preview page for the anime has been posted here. The series follows a girl who is pushed by her grandfather to train to compete in the judo competition at the Barcelona Olympics.

North American Anime Right Expiration

Anime News Network as confirmed that TOKYOPOP's rights to the first 24 episodes of anime adaptation of shoujo relationship comedy Marmalade Boy have expired. The company still has the right to episodes 25-76. The rights to magical girl series Saint Tail have also expired.

International Tales From Earthsea reports that the Goro Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli Tales of Earthsea will open in German theatres startings November 8th under the title "Die Chroniken von Erdsee". A two disc DVD will be released in Australia by Madman on September 12th.

VIZ Media Announces Download Rights To Bleach

VIZ Media has announced it has secured from TV Tokyo and Shueisha the download rights to the hit supernatural action anime series BLEACH. Twenty episodes of both the dubbed and subtitled versions of the series will be made available for download in the United States beginning on August 31, 2007 on and totalvid. VIZ Media has already made the highly acclaimed DEATH NOTE series available for download in the United States.

Ishii Leaves Vertical

Comic Reporter notes that Anne Ishii will be leaving her position as marketing manager of manga publisher Vertical Inc.

Viz Talks Brave Story Novel

VIZ Media will be publishing Miyuki Miyabe's light novel Brave Story as part of their VIZ Fiction imprint. The book is offered as a hardcover edition at a suggested retail price of $23.99 and is now available through retailers nationwide. BRAVE STORY tells the adventures of Wataru, a meek and unassertive 10 year-old elementary school student with mediocre grades and little aspiration. Things get worse for the boy when his father runs off with a mistress. Shocked and depressed, Wataru’s mother is hospitalized after a failed suicide attempt. Bewildered and seemingly alone, Wataru finds refuge in a half constructed building in his neighborhood that is supposedly haunted. But the building actually is the entrance to an alternate world called Vision, filled with fantastic creatures both fierce and friendly. Wataru must master magic techniques and collect hidden treasures on his journey to the Tower Of Destiny where a goddess of fate awaits, who it is believed, can make wishes come true. With winged dragons, corkscrew wolves and other intriguing life forms around every corner, Wataru realizes the task may be tricky. Before long, he acquires a band of loyal cohorts, including Kee Keema, a quirky lizard, and Meena, a circus cat. Only when Wataru has completed this journey and collected five elusive gemstones will he posses the Demon’s Bane, which is the key to unlock the future. And to complicate matters Wataru must also outwit a merciless rival from the real world. Charity, bravery, faith, grace and the powers of darkness and light are the provinces of each gemstone and Wataru must learn important lessons about each during his quest. When finally brought together, the stones have the power to finally reunite Wataru’s family. The novel has been adapted into an anime movie and a PSP game.

Upcoming in Japan

A site for Bones' (Full Metal Alchemist) Sword of the Stranger is online at Trailer for the Production I.G/Masamune Shirow (creator of Ghost in the Shell) series Ghost Hound here and here. The Ryutaro Nakamura (Serial Experiments Lain) directed series will air on Japanese TV in October. Production I.G will also be producing a second season of their adaptation of CLAMP's Art Nouveau horror anthology xxxHOLiC. Production I.G notes that the main staff from the first series has been confirmed: Michiko Yokote supervises the series plot with CLAMP's leader Ageha Okawa; Tsutomu Mizushima directs; and Kazuchika Kise is in charge of the character designs. A trailer for the third of the Kiddy Grade sci-fi action compilation movies is online here. A site hosting trailers and clips has been launched for anime movie adaptation of the Key (Kanon, Air) romance visual novel Clannad. The site for Kite Liberator, the Media Blaster co-produced sci-fi remake of the popular action tragedy is online at Anime News Network reports that a Madhouse Studios animated adaptation of the MMO MapleStory will replace Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann on Japanese TV starting October 7th. An Ah! My Goddess TV special will air on Japanese TV this winter. Comipress notes that Cromartie High School creator Eiji Nonaka's next manga series will be Hataki , which starts in issue 18 of the Evening anthology.

Live Action Adaptations

Geek By Any Other Name notees the actress Koyuki has been cast in the live action version of Blood: The Last Vampire. Canned Dongs reports that a live action version of Higurashi/When They Cry is in the works for 2008. Cast includes Ono Erena(13) as Houjo Satoko, Aika(15) as Furude Rika, Maeda Gouki as Keiichi, Asuka Rin is Mion, and Matsuyama Airi is Rena. Speaking of Higurashi, Rena voice actress Nakahara Mai will be appearing the live action TV drama Joshiana icchokusen!. Anime News Network notes that 13-year-old Mayuko Fukuda has been cast as Maki, the mysterious "genius girl" of the Death Note spin-off movie L. Fukuda played Hana in the live-action Grave of the Fireflies and Takako in the animated Piano no Mori. Natsumi Konjoh's rom-com manga about a yaoi fan Mousou Shoujo Otaku Kei will become a TV series.

Upcoming North American Releases

Red Garden volume 1 and a complete collection of This Ugly Yet Beautiful Work will be released by ADV Films on September 18th Red Garden: Live To Kill (Volume 1 of 6) An Urban horror series set in modern New York from studio Gonzo (Afro Samurai, Chrono Crusade) and director Kou Matsuo (Rozen Maiden) Synopsis: An odd string of suicides surrounds a private institution on Roosevelt Island. On the night a classmate dies, Kate, Rachel, Rose and Claire wake with no memories of the evenings' events. The next night, the four girls are drawn together by mysterious red butterflies only they can see. Converging at Central Park, the girls are approached by a strange woman who tells them they are dead. Now, the four girls must work together to learn the secrets of their death – and the means to return to their previous life.
This Ugly Yet Beautiful World: Complete Collection ($59.98) From Studio GAINAX (Neon Genesis Evangelion) as a showpiece to celebrate their 20th anniversary Synopsis: "There’s nothing I can do to make a difference. Wars will be fought. People will die," Takeru said. "I’ll never matter." He didn’t know how wrong he was. Because Takeru has a very special place in this universe. And he doesn’t know how special until he meets a beautiful girl who falls from the stars. Hikari seems to have no memory of who she is (or, for that matter, where her clothes are). So Takeru takes her into his care. And that’s when things get nasty. For Hikari is not like other girls. Her name may mean "light", but she has a dark history-and an even darker future. One that will change Takeru and his friends forever, and show them all just how beautiful yet cruel this universe can be!
Geneon has scheduled the following releases 11/13/07 Kyo Kara Maoh, Season 2 volume 7 Shonen Onmyouji volume 3 Karin:Human or Vampire (volume 4) Geneon will also be distributing Bandai Visual's release of Super Robot Wars: Original Generation - The Animation on 10/23/07. The three episode OVA will be packaged with a bonus disc, featuring cast interviews, music clips, character profiles for $49.99 The future. Humankind, once driven to the brink of annihilation, has regrouped under the banner of the Earth Federation, which protects its citizens from the very real threat of alien invasion. Seeking to increase its defenses, the Earth Federation Army has continued development of Personal Troopers, a form of mobile weaponry used to combat the alien menace. But when the Bartoll, the latest and most advanced Personal Trooper, is unveiled to an eager public, something goes terribly wrong... From Anime on DVD VIZ Media will be releasing a standard edition of the Naruto movie is September and a delux edition in November. The latter will be a three disc set with a CD soundtrack, collector's tin, movie program guide and art prints An Entertainment will be releasing a box set of Hare+Guu on September 11th for $99.95 Discotek will be releasing Lupin the 3rd: Fuma Conspiracy on October 30th.

Anime Network Licenses New Television Programming From Illumitoon Entertainment

Anime Network has licensed two new anime series from Illumitoon Entertainment, Ltd. The mecha robot-filled series B’tx and AM Driver are set to premiere on VOD on September 6 and September 9, respectively. B’tx follows the adventures of Teppei, whose plans to reunite with his scientist brother Kotaro are shattered when Kotaro is kidnapped during a conference. While searching for his brother, Teppei encounters a broken mechanical insectoid-like weapon called B'tx, which comes to life due to inadvertent contact with Teppei’s blood. Oddly, the unlikely pair develops a brotherly bond and end up on a quest to save Kotaro. In AM Driver, the story revolves around the exploits of a young group of warriors, known as AM Drivers, as they battle a dominating empire of machines. In this chilling future, human beings are attacked by creatures called the Bug-chine, which cannot be defeated by normal human weapons. The only hope: AM Drivers, using the latest "AM technology" to try to save the earth. Anime Network will also be offering Red Garden on Video on Demand starting September 13th.

Rei on the Cover of the Rolling Stone

Alt Japan notes that Neon Genesis Evangelion's Rei Ayanami graces the cover of the Rolling Stone Japan

Gonzo Promo Work

Anime Nation points out that a two minute long promotional anime video animated by Gonzo for Bandai's new "Duelpod" digital game device is now available for online viewing at the Duelpod homepage.

Protoculture Addicts eBook

North American anime periodical Protoculture Addicts is offering a Protoculture Addicts 2005 tjat features the first issue under the Anime News Network banner, 82, through 87. The ebook retauls for $19.99

Hunter X Hunter Returning?

Canned Dogs Yoshihiro Togashi's (Yu Yu Hakusho) Hunter x Hunter maybe ready to return to the Japanese edition of Shonen Jump after an 18 month absence. According to the buzz, the manga will stop again after a number of completed chapters have been published.

Original Yuu Watase Cover For Shojo Beat

Viz Media has announced has announced special cover art by renowned shojo manga artist Yuu Watase for the September 2007 issue of SHOJO BEAT magazine, which hits shelves nationwide on August 21. The issue will feature an original Yuu Watase cover art rendition of the character Night from ABSOLUTE BOYFRIEND, a title serialized in SHOJO BEAT magazine. This piece has never been published before and was drawn by Watase especially for the issue. In addition, the September edition boasts the artist’s ongoing "Drawing With Yuu" tutorial.


The New York Anime Festival (NYAF) announced musical artists UNICORN TABLE, HAPPYFUNSMILE, and Voltaire will all perform at its inaugural event December 7-9 in New York City. Japanese pop group UNICORN TABLE is renowned on both sides of the Pacific for its energetic alternative rock, and anime fans will know UNICORN TABLE from its debut album, uncountable, available from TenBu Productions as well as "Fly Away," the theme song to ADV's Jinki:Extend, and "Closer," "Distant Love," "Infinity," and "Amai Yume" from FUNimation's School Rumble. HAPPYFUNSMILE is a New York City-based band popular for its pop and rock renditions of traditional Japanese folk songs. Voltaire is America's gothic subculture's most prolific artist, famous for music that uniquely melds the baroque with the macabre. Samples of UNICORN TABLE, HAPPYFUNSMILE, and Voltaire's music can be heard at the New York Anime Festival's website. Admission to all three concerts is included with admission into NYAF, and tickets can now be purchased online at The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA) Board of Directors announced, in their August 2007 board meeting, that current Chief Financial Officer Trulee Karahashi has accepted the position of Chief Executive Officer for the organization. As Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Karahashi, will oversee day to day activities of the SPJA as well as take an active role in the development of Anime Expo.

Festival News

Anime News Network notes that the Girl Who Lept Through Time as well as the two Death Note movies will screened in Austin Texas' 2007 Fantastic Film Fest, held September 20 to September 27. The animated adapation of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis will be the closing film at the New York Film Festival, to be screened at the Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall on October 14.

Upcoming Dark Horse Release

BERSERK VOLUME 21 KENTARO MIURA On sale Jan. 23 b&w, 248 pages $13.95 Guts, the feared Black Swordsman, is on the rampage . . . and it’s personal. Mozgus, the malefic master Inquisitor of the Holy See, in his murderous campaign against heretics, has captured Guts’ former lover Casca and has her at the ready to be burned at the stake in the Tower of Conviction, little knowing that Casca’s demonic Mark of Sacrifice is drawing hideous dark powers to the Tower. It’ll take everything Guts has and more to defeat Mozgus-who is much, much more than a man-and even if he can, will be be able to save Casca from the hordes of Hell amidst the Inquisitor’s disintegrating citadel?
BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL #131: BADGER HOLE part 4 (of 4) HIROAKI SAMURA On sale Nov. 14 b&w, 32 pages $2.99 Ongoing Featuring a full-color pinup by American Splendor and Meathaus contributor Zachary Baldus and a black-and-white pinup by Pirates of Coney Island illustrator and Last Call creator Vasilis Lojos!
BLOOD+ VOLUME 1 ASUKA KATSURA On sale Jan. 16 b&w, 208 pages $10.95 Set several decades after the events in the popular Blood: The Last Vampire anime film, an amnesiac Saya Otonashi lives as a seemingly normal high school student with her adoptive family in Okinawa. Horrible nightmares are the only hints at the violent life she once led, but her past is about to catch up with her and awaken the merciless warrior within. Chiropterans-powerful shape-changing creatures who need and crave blood-threaten humanity once more, and a mysterious organization called the Red Shield needs Saya’s deadly sword skills and mysterious powers to aid in the fight against these beasts. As her submerged abilities begin to reawaken and as she seeks to regain her memories, Chiropteran warriors are guided by a mysterious leader to threaten Saya and her loved ones. Asuka Katsura’s manga series successfully expands upon the original Production I.G/Aniplex feature, delivering moments of jarring violence and thrilling action in a tale that spans several centuries.
BRIDE OF THE WATER GOD VOLUME 2 MI-KYUNG YUN On sale Jan. 23 b&w, 184 pages $9.95 Habaek, the mysterious Water God, is cursed to live his days in the form of a little boy-while he turns back to his true adult self at night. His new human bride, Soah, thinks that she’s been married to a child and has no idea that the attractive "Mui" is actually the adult Habaek. Surrounded by a cast of colorful elemental gods and their servants, Soah is tempted by flirtations from both "Mui" and the rascal Huye. When Tae-eul-jin-in spills Habaek’s surprising secret, Soah audaciously plots to uncover the truth for herself. She has to be careful, though, so she doesn’t anger the moody gods-including her powerful new husband!
CHUNCHU: GENOCIDE FIEND VOLUME 3 KIM SUNG JAE On sale Jan. 16 b&w, 184 pages $10.95 Chunchu is a sullen, dark figure. Hunted for the bounty on his head, with the blood of hundreds on his hands, and hated by his own comrades-it’s easy to see why. But it’s not his fault that he’s impossible to kill and thirsty for blood. It’s his brother’s fault. It was his own brother that planted the demon stone in Chunchu, while the two were just babies. So now Chunchu lives as a man possessed by a curse, fighting for a kingdom that should be his to rule. But who is this mysterious man who knows of Chunchu’s curse, and just may have the means to take him down? And will Chunchu fight him or welcome death? Learn more about these two shadowy warriors in the third volume of Chunchu: the Genocide Fiend.
THE DIRTY PAIR STRIKES AGAIN HARUKA TAKACHIHO (W) On sale Jan. 30 SC, 224 page $8.95 Novel When a miner on the industrial planet Chakra is attacked by an unknown animal yet somehow survives, Trouble Consultants Kei and Yuri are called in to investigate. How did the miner survive his wounds, and what are the ulterior motives of the company-town’s superiors-the enigmatic religious leader, the town mayor, and the owner of the mining facilities? The answers will shock the two women and embroil them in yet another highly dangerous-and highly destructive-adventure! This book contains nine illustrations in all; eight black-and-white line art illustrations, plus one two-page color tip in illustration. Features the original cover and nine interior illustrations by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, character designer for such anime as Mobile Suit Gundam and The Venus Wars, for which he was the writer, character designer, and director.
GUNSMITH CATS: BURST VOLUME 3 KENICHI SONODA On sale Dec. 26 b&w, 192 pages $10.95 The gang is all here, for a road rally on Route 66! Of course we’ve got Rally, Minnie-May, Bean Bandit, and the rest of the bunch, but this volume features the return of driving damsel Riff-Raff! When you have this crew going head-to-head against a gaggle of other dangerous drivers, then you’ve got yet another tome of lunatic traffic. And what would a volume of Gunsmith Cats be without the requisite gunplay! This time we’ve even got the classic Russian rocket-propelled grenades!
RED STRING VOLUME 2 GINA BIGGS On sale Jan. 23 b&w, 200 pages $9.95 Romantic high school student Miharu Ogawa believes that red strings of destiny tie lovers together forever, but a few hardened hearts around her feel that such bonds can be easily broken. Still struggling with the news of the arranged marriage that her parents lined up for her, Miharu begins to doubt her first instincts about Kazuo Fujiwara. After a rainy afternoon brings them together, Miharu finds that she has more in common with the salacious Makoto Yosue than she thought. Karen begins to vie for the heart of a boy who’s promised to another, as memories of a past love torture her. This second book presents chapters eight to fourteen of an ongoing journey of self-discovery.
TRANSLUCENT VOLUME 3 KAZUHIRO OKAMOTO On sale Jan. 30 b&w, 200 pages $9.95 Shoujo fans will enjoy the humor, romance, and sci-fi twists found in Translucent, as Shizuka Shiroyama tries to finish the eighth grade while coping with school woes, a hyperactive admirer, and a disease which is literally turning her translucent! In this volume, Shizuka also deals with a nosy new doctor, a friend’s emotional wedding, and her growing crush on classmate Mamoru Tadami. While the Translucent Syndrome brings many complications into her life, Shizuka is determined to follow her dreams, support her friends, and live a fairly normal life . . . despite the odd problems that life throws at her.

Worth Checking Out

Same Hat!Same Hat! has posted a must see translation of subversive gag comic artist Yoshida Sensha's The Young Bandit, a tale of "banditry, baseball, monkeys and lots of pathos" here The site also looked at the Umezu House contraversy here And, the site's look at the San Francisco, the Asian Art Museum Tezuka panel/exhibit here Dark Horse has posted previews of Style School Vol. 1: Path of the Assassin Vol. 7 The Great Adventure of the Dirty Pair: The publisher is also running a Hellsing contest to promote the return of the popular manga here Ghibli World has a interview with Italian dub director Gualtiero Cannarsi. The site has also launched an RSS feed BusinessWeek talks to Satoshi Kon Production I.G has posted an interview with Le Chevalier d'Eon animation director Yasutaka Kubota here Danny Choo on Ken Akamatsu (Love Hina, Negima) here Kotaku has clips of the animated Heavily Sword Playstation 3 game tie-in here/ The site also looks at Japanese geek cook-books here Alt Japan's Daikaiju Trump Mamoru Oshii's works ranked Del Rey and ADV Films have relaunched their sites. Cool Japaneses Toys on Summer Wonderfest 2007 Claymore figures Haruhi Suzumiya figures, including one of the most innapropriate ever Figures from the Revoltech line To promote the release of More Better Fighto on DVD, Kaiju Big Battel has YouTube'd Vegetius VS Hero Intern Kaiju is also selling a t-short design by gag manga creator Nawoki Karasawa (Super Cruel and Terrible Tales of Mangaka, Figure King) See here.

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