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AICN Anime-Black Lagoon Manga, In Odd We Trust, News Updates and More

Logo handmade by Bannister Column by Scott Green

After working through some personal and professional static, AICN is back...

Manga Preview Black Lagoon Volume 1 By Rei Hiroe To be released by VIZ Media August 12, 2008

If you're bemoaning the fact that the premiere gunslinger anime of the decade took two in the hat with its distributor, Geneon USA, closing sales and production operations, the release of its source manga is call for mixed sentiments. Trouble is, the interests of the makers of the Black Lagoon anime and the Black Lagoon manga did not entirely overlap. Unmistakably in either case the star attraction, is Revy. If nothing else, the hot Chinese American by way of New York gunslinger chick unmistakably screams for attention. Sporting banded tattoos, tight muscles, a tighter shirt and Daisy Duke cut off jeans, willfully killing with a pair of ambidextrously wielded Beretta 92Fs, she presents an unabashed cocktail of boiling blood and shed blood. Rei Hiroe is eager to feature as much of Revy's physical attributes and deadly prowess as can be packed into a volume of manga. In introducing an exotic locale, a brutal and beautiful female lead and number of barn burning set pieces, Rei Hiroe introduced a stack of winning source material. As appealing as this may be to a hot blooded male American male, it also makes the absence of writer/director Sunao Katabuchi's approach to the material in the Madhouse adaptation that much more lamentable. Black Lagoon sets up shop in the fictitious outlaw town of Roanapur, Thailand. It's been theorized that over the millennia, various animal species washed up on the Galapagos islands, and isolated from the rest of the world, developed their own unique traits. In a similar fashion, Roanapur is a sunny spot that plays host to examples in divergent evolution for a host of species of pirates, exiles, fugitives, ex soldiers who could not reintegrate into their native societies, ethnic criminal associations, and dealers in illicit material. Basically, anyone who might be quick to pull a gun out of desperation or to prove a point. Rokuro Okajima, a shirt and tie, white collar worker for a traditional Japanese corporation was the last person might be likely to set up shop in Roanapur. Alternatively, maybe as a young man clinging to a nearly bankrupt, antiquated system of corporate hierarchies and life time employment, he might a perfect candidate for relocation. Regardless, to Rokuro's, or as he soon becomes known "Rock" consternation, Lagoon Company, an operation that chiefly works by hijacking and moving material via PT boat, was tasked with snatching the material that he was overseeing and decided to take him hostage to augment their income. This made Rock a liability for his corporation, and consequentially, when an armed retrieval team was sent to settle matters with Lagoon Company, Rock joined the "shoot to kill" list. When the dusk cleared, Rock found himself throwing in with Revy, shaggy techie Benny and their African-American boss Dutch as part of lagoon company. Madhouse displayed every intension of showcasing Revy to the fullest, but at the same time, the anime production was fascinated by her world as an expatriate living in Roanapur, as well as the traumatized addiction to violence that she represents. Maybe the first volume of the manga is not a wholly valid representative sample, but during that volume, Rei Hiroe seems far more interested in keeping the action moving full tilt than dealing with its implications. One of the telling moments comes in a sequence in which, with enemies approaching, Revy reflexively adopts a shark's grin before literally leaping into one of the series' audacious gun fights. Revy more or less single handedly executes a score of men in a high speed boat chase. In terms of action, the anime stuck very close to the manga, which speaks well to how the manga handles quick, explosive violence. In either case, Rock applauds Revy's work. In the anime, under his breath he remarks "I don't know what broke to make her like this, but I must be broken too if I'm standing here praising her destructiveness," indicting himself and the viewer for getting raised up by the spectacle. The manga does not introduce that note of ambivalence. Rei Hiroe is caught up footnoting the music that's playing in Revy's head phones and setting the stage for the next round of reprisals. The tensions of the anime simply do not exist in the manga. While the anime focuses on a dynamic relationship between Rock and Revy, with Rock clinging to traditional values for which Revy has little patience, rather than rejecting Rock, the first story ends with Revy inviting him to join Lagoon Company. If you found the anime too conversational and too interested in tense soul piercing, the Black Lagoon manga might be more to your liking. Volume 1 moves from the introductory story, to "Ring-Ding Ship Chase," the story with the above mentioned boat hopping, to "Rasta Blasta," the story in which Revy faces off against a Terminator in the form of Roberta, an ex-FARC guerrilla turned maid/protector in the household of South American nobility. According to Wikipedia, the Nazi shoot-out "Das Wieder Erstehen Des Adlers" is coming up in volume two of the manga. In the anime, that was the first multi-episode story. It featured Rock and Revy stuck together, contrasting their notions of morality and mortality. Without an opposite number like Roberta, the manga Alders is still probably going to be less explosive than Rasta Blasta, but given the gear in which Rei Hiroe has the manga set, it is hard to imagine the manga version featuring the anime's introspection. Rei Hiroe is also known by the pseudonym "TEX-MEX," and under that moniker, he is a creator of eroge doujinshi. Not all doujinshi are pornographic and not all TEX-MEX doujinshi are pornographic, "doujinshi" brings to mind fan comics in which Street Fighter characters do unkind things to each other with whips and chains, your conception of TEX-MEX work would not be far off. Like Gunsmith Cats' Kenichi Sonoda before him, Rei Hiroe is passionate about depicting women and guns. Black Lagoon, especially in its manga incarnation, excels at sharply presenting a young woman in a black halter-top and daisy dukes in a hail of gunfire. It's able to capture the dangerous allure of someone who is tough enough to chew through metal as well as the allure of someone physically attractive, without either contracting the other. Tracking fast moving objects is not the easiest subject for manga or comics to capture. When depicting a sequence of instants in the trajectory of a speeding bullet what is the right moment to depict? How do you capture the motion of a weaving car in still images? In either case, especially in manga, it's generally through effects or illustration shorthand: jagged spaces for muzzle flashes along with plenty speed lines. While Hiroe affords himself some flexibility in panel by panel logical choreography, he excells at capturing the essential stages of a fight. An illustrator like Sonoda would probably spend more time thinking about how combatants enter and exited rooms, but Rei Hiroe excels at projecting the grand movements and gestures of John Woo heroic bloodshed. Revy spinning into a circle of foes, both guns blazing, can't help but impress. At least in these early chapters, the manga does less with the look and character of Roanapur than the anime did, and it does less with the troubling aspects of the consumer's attraction who has internalized the run and gun ethic to a point where she kills second thought. It's all surface, as that goes, you can't ask for manga with more attractive woman with more blistering action.

Spotlight: In Odd We Trust By Dean Koontz and Queenie Chan Released by Del Rey

In Odd We Trust sees The Dreaming creator Queenie Chan adapt horror novelist Dean Koontz's popular necroglot Odd Thomas for the manga/comic medium. While the one volume story succeeds in serving as an introduction to Odd and his small town outside the Mojave, I chose to read the first two novels, "Odd Thomas" and "Forever Odd" to pick up some perspective. Not as an indictment of the particular novels, but I have to say, I did have to force my way through the books. As a general assessment, I don't dislike Koontz’s work. I read Dragon Tears in high school and I remember bits of the cop versus paranormally gifted sociopath novel more than I do many contemporary reads. I listened to an audio book of last girl chase Intensity about five years and a couple of apartments ago when I had a particularly long commute. The trouble is, like vampire novels and X-Men comics, I developed an aversion to Koontz's brand of philosophical peril after consuming too much as a teen. Currently, I'm willing to accept that people like this kind of book a lot more than I currently do, because I used to like this kind of book a significantly more. As my tastes currently stand, I don't have an abundance of patience for a thriller packed with local flavor and monologues. It takes some will to complete works Odd or the Dexter novels. However, as a demonstration of authorial craft, I did find Koontz's approach to moralizing through the perspective and experiences of his hero to be interesting. Queenie Chan's In Odd We Trust is effective in introducing and visualizing Koontz's Odd and his environs, and the graphic novel is generally faithful to the prose incarnation. Laboring to fit people, premise and plot into the span of a graphic novel, it does not find the space to layer in the significance that Koontz works into his Odd thrillers. Despite the frequently successful effort to recapture the spirit of the novels, lacking that moral dialog, Odd We Trust is shallower than the original. Koontz introduced his hero, whose birth name is in fact Odd Thomas, having already accepted his ability to see the dead (he can also speak to them, but they don't back), and having already been through various harrowing, life threatening situations while do-gooding in service of that gift/curse. The character is a 19 year old fry cook, living in the small town of Pico Mundo, dating the fiercely independent young woman named "Stormy" Llewllyn. He's a tremendously likable person, if you like likable people. In part this is because his ability to see the dead and compulsion to avert the disasters that these spirits portend requires the maintenance of a simple life and an upbeat attitude as defense mechanisms. In Odd We Trust is a prequel to the first novel, though not one of the cases to which Koontz alluded. Original character Sherry Sheldon is at the center of events. The young woman, who has shared history with Stormy, was working as the nanny/house keeper at a residence where a seven year old boy was stabbed to death. With the boy's ghost prompting Odd, worries turn to whether the killer is stalking Sherry's other charge, or Sherry herself. At least in the two that I read, Koontz's novels funnel Odd towards the story defining confrontation. While there is an element of the amateur detective, with evidence gathering and deductive reasoning, and plots often utilize Odd's fallibility in this regard, Odd's progress towards the showdown always feels inevitable. Spirits and morality impel him to save lives. Then "psychic magnetism," which guides him to the people that he needs to find or vise versa sets Odd on a path that is often dictated by the quick thinking or preparation of story's villain. In Odd We Trust likewise keeps Odd busy through sleuth work, with Stormy fitting nicely into the firearm packing Watson role. As with the novels, the trail followed is less dictated by the investigation than it is by external factors, such as Pico Mundo's town parade, misdirection by the villain and psychic magnetism. Especially in this graphic novel where the one suspect is in fact the villain and the person who is explicitly threaten is in fact the target, the mystery accomplishes little more than providing structure. The method by which Odd finds and defuses the threat is ultimately less engaging than the character himself. There is room to nitpick how closely In Odd We Trust adheres to the novels. In the first book, wasn't the "Together Forever" card in Stormy's apartment? Considering that the local police officers acknowledge that Odd regards their chief as a father figure and know that the chief reciprocates the sentiment, but only the chief knows that Odd can solve crimes by seeing the dead, the officers probably should not be as deferential to Odd in the midst of a murder investigation/stake-out as they are in the graphic novel. Queenie Chan rises to the task of handling the complex requirements of Odd's appearance. Because the novels are told from the first person, Koontz was never explicit in revealing exactly what the character looks like. There's the sense that he's a handsome California kid. Given his personality, he probably dresses respectfully, but casually. That's off looking, but not outright weird. Ultimately, the character in the graphic novel admirably fills out the complicated requirements. In a more general sense, Chan's work is reminiscent of other manga, without outright copying it or falling into the uninspired realm of the "manga style". Characters in the graphic novel do look a bit like other, popular manga characters, but there's far more of Chan's specific style than anyone else's. One drawback of this style as it applies to this graphic novel, is that it does not lend itself to cartooning recognizable people. LBJ and Elvis make appearances. If you compare the two to photographs, the facial structures of the real individuals is evidentially duplicated, but with the angles, shaded, inked and on a page, the abstraction does not easily translate back to the real individuals. There's a piercing quality to Queenie Chan's images. Character illustrations in comics and manga are generally oriented in such a way as to face the figure's body, or at least their head, towards the reader. Flip through a few random books and note how if the panel is not dead on to the focal character, unless there are contradictory requirements in the scene, characters are angled outwards or turning over a shoulder to face in that direction. Chan doesn't do much to twist this convention, but with gradient backgrounds and large, darkly outlined eyes, the characters noticeably project out through the page. This look of staring out at the reader, lends the work an impression of intensity that is well suited to its genre. In Odd We Trust has less of a problem contending with the concrete details of the novels than it does the nature of the originals. This work has less than 190 comic/manga pages to work in. In that time, it has to introduce Odd as a person, his abilities, his context and tell the particular story of the book. However, the model laid out by Koontz is neither economical nor terse. The graphic novel doesn't have the room for the richly detailed conversations and thought processes of the prose. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but in the case of the novel, it's all filtered through Odds first person narrative. The novel's details and descriptions are vehicles for Odd's view of the world. Frequently, this takes the form of judgment. Odd illuminates the special attributes of the people of Pico Mundo, while condemning the crimes and excess of the world. Serving as a mouthpiece character, in Forever Odd, praising the handsome face of a friend whose body is damaged by bone disease, Odd contrasts his friend’s depth with vacuous minds of the similarly handsome men of Hollywood. In Odd We Trust does feature statements of Odd's insight, such has when he comments on the depth of the bond formed by Stormy and Sherry's shared experiences. The graphic novel similarly does have some of the novels' verbose, evaluative dialog, as when Odd and his two parent figures, the police chief and the owner of the diner that employs him, meet at breakfast. "Thought I'd stop by and bask in the warm aroma of Odd's fluffy egg batter." However, the graphic novel can't afford to present too much of either. A little of that goes a long way in comics. It doesn't have the pages and it isn't the right medium for long, explicitly written out descriptive thoughts. In the adaptation to comics/manga, the graphic novel picks up what that medium instinctually has to offer a story like In Odd We Trust. Queenie Chan does utilize the effect of revealing something in the transition from one panel to the next, or one page to the next: in one panel a silhouette is seen in the driver's seat of a car, on the next panel, the characters , and ideally the reader, are startled by what the shadows were obscuring. From one page to the next, Odd launches himself over a fence, and as the flip of the page resolves, the reader sees what Odd has landed on. Trading prose's ability to present long, first person passages for a comics/manga's ability to intentionally stagger the reader's progress between images does not favor an Odd Thomas story. The notion of a heroic spiritual medium in and off itself is too familiar to be a winning high concept. As such, the driving force of the Odd stories is the morality play in which Odd, as the ultimate nice guy, is tested to his limits by the human capacity for cruelty. Despite some demonstrations of respectable biblical recall abilities, Odd also expresses religious irreverence and describes himself as a "man of reason." Even if it's not a dogmatic view or a religious faith being tested, Odd is almost a Job figure. What is emphasized in the main narratives of the novels, as well as the other, prior, situations referred to in those novels, is the personal danger and unpleasantness, if not outright physical and emotional torture of Odd's work. Stormy tells Odd that she sees this life as boot camp to prepare for a next life of service. However, it is evident that Odd has a role to perform in this world. In each of Koontz's Odd stories, Odd has a mission to perform, he does the right thing, and he suffers tremendously for it. More than his ability to see the dead, or the time bomb situations, Odd's account of his experience as his moral fortitude is battered, worn out and stripped bare under the assault of people who are as evil as he is good drive the novels. As good as Queenie Chan is at visually representing Odd, little of this dimension is fit into the graphic novel. In Odd We Trusts serves as an effective introduction to Odd and a satisfying visualization. Beyond that, trying to reproduce an Odd Thomas novel in manga might be a self-defeating proposition. Weighing it against other graphic novels, operating like an Odd novel, with the character lead by his psychic magnetism into danger, the chase is too prescribed to measure up to the best thrillers. On the other hand, the novels rely on Odd's monologues, which aren't fitting for comics/manga. Not able to equal the top manga and comics of its genre or the original novels, In Odd We Trust does not have the opportunity to be great.

Industry Shake-Up Updates

TOKYOPOP Following TOKYOPOP's reorganization, MangaBlog has been able to confirm that the publisher will continue releasing Fruits Basket and Gakuen Alice. Dan Hipp has learned that Gyakushu! volume three will be online only. Rivkah reacts to the web-only plans for Steady Beat 3. The Beat's quotation elicits interesting responses. The Beat reports that TOKYOPOP is releasing a number of OEL from their contracts. Bettina Marie Kurkoski says My Cat Loki volume 3 will not be printed Tony Salvaggio worries about the future of Psy-Comm Christy Lijewski says speaks well of TOKYOPOP and Stu Levy Rumor column Lying in the Gutters gave a green light to the following TIRED OF TRAMPLING TOKYOPOP [Green Light]And now the sound of thousands of raised eyebrows as a publisher does the right thing, given the circumstances. TokyoPop, criticized for intangible contracts, and currently undergoing a financial crisis, is going through the process of giving full copyright back to creators wishing to pull their projects, with hardly any fuss. I can't think of a big company doing this in recent years - especially not so many at once. I understand that Image Comics has become suddenly favoured with a number of high quality, fully developed OEL content. All their Christmases have come at once. Anime News Network and Icarus note that the following TOKYOPOP releases have been cancelled as of the July edition of Diamond's Previews comic solicitation catalog Atelier Marie and Elie - Zarlburge Alchemist volume 5 Blazin' Barrels volume 11 Legend of "Zipangu" BLOOD SUCKER volume 8 Dragon Voice volume 11 Forget About Love volume 2 Gakuen Heaven-Nakajima Gosick volume 2 I Wish… volume 3 Kat & Mouse volume 4 Liling-Po volume 9 Love Mode volume 11 Missing (Novel) volume 4: The Hanged Man Mobile Suit Gundam: Ecole du Ciel Volume 9 Nosatsu Junkie volume 7 Pick of the Litter volume 5 Planet Blood volume 9 Poison Candy volume 2 Rure volume 4 Saver volume 7 Shin Megami Tensei: Kahn volume 3 Snow volume 2 Sorcerer Hunters — 100% Authentic Format volume 11 Suppli volume 4 That Guy Was Splendid volume 1 Trinity Blood - Reborn On The Mars volume 3 Zig•Zag volume 4 Star Trek: The Next Generation volume 1 (postponed until Spring 2009) a geek by any other name notes BLU editor “Shonen-Ai-Samurai” offers has stated Right now, these are postponed. Please support Love Mode 10 when it comes out in August. If it sells as well as volume 9 or better, it will be very difficult for us to not do volume 11. The Anime Almanac looks at "Tokyopop’s Fall From Grace" ComiPress has their analysis here Lori Henderson has her take here VIZ Media Anime News Network reports Shogakukan and Shueisha announced that, after Shueisha's investment in Shogakukan's licensing and merchandising subsidiary, Shogakukan Production (ShoPro), Shogakuan Production has been renamed as Shogakukan Shueisha Production The companies said that the strategic move was made in order to flexibly deal with the overseas marketplace and to streamline operations. Masao Yagi will still be president of the renamed company, and its capital stands at 99 million yen (about US$920,000). The announcement also included that the news that Viz Media, which is tied to Shogakukan and Shueisha, is setting up a Hollywood office in Los Angeles this month. The office is intended to promote Viz's properties to Hollywood interests. Representatives from both Shueisha and Shogakukan stated in a recent press conference in Japan that the strategic move was made to give more flexibility in developing titles for the overseas marketplace, including the burgeoning graphic novel/manga market in North America and Europe, and to streamline internal operations. Masao Yagi has been named President of the new Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions Co., Ltd. From the press release: Since it was established in 1967, ShoPro has handled a variety of popular properties related to Shogakukan manga and animated properties, such as Pokémon, Doraemon, INUYASHA, HAMTARO, DETECTIVE CONAN, and MEGAMAN, as well as other third-party licenses for the Japanese market. As a result of Shueisha’s investment, Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions will now handle properties related to manga from both Shogakukan and Shueisha “The formation of Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions by two of our key parent companies will undoubtedly speed the licensing process of future properties for domestic release,” says Hidemi Fukuhara, CEO, VIZ Media. “Our close relationship with both Shueisha and Shogakukan has played a key role in the success of VIZ Media and allows us to continually offer some of the best and most unique manga titles from Japan. We look forward to working with Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions to prepare new properties for release in North America as well as for other emerging markets in Europe and Oceania.” VIZ Media was established in 1986 with seed money from Shogakukan under the name VIZ Communications. Shueisha became an investor in VIZ in 2002, and was a key collaborator on the development of SHONEN JUMP magazine, which is the leading monthly manga anthology in North America. When VIZ and Shogakukan's ShoPro Entertainment merged in 2005, the new company was named VIZ Media. FUNimation Navarre, the publically traded parent of FUNimation released their Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2008 numbers. Anime on DVD pulled out the statement "FUNimation demonstrated double-digit net sales growth and more than doubled its operating profit during the 2008 fiscal year and we anticipate ongoing growth in the 2009 fiscal year." ICV2 covered Navarre's conference call. Speaking in a conference call with industry analysts, Deacon asserted that FUNimation had “gained a tremendous amount of market share” in the most recent quarter thanks in part to the shutdown of Geneon and reduced activity by some of the company’s other competitors. Deacon also said that “consolidation opportunities” remain present, but wouldn’t comment further on any possible acquisitions in the anime arena. According to Deacon, one result of the withdrawal of Geneon from the market has been that “our catalog uptake at retail has risen tremendously.” Another effect has been a lowering in the cost of acquiring new licenses from Japan. Deacon noted that “a year-and-half ago prices were in the stratosphere, but they have slowly declined and we are seeing some of the best pricing on content in the last two years.” Deacon sees FUNimation’s strong performance continuing in 2009, thanks in part to the release of a number of strong titles in the current quarter. PiQ NewType USA replacement PiQ will be discontinued after the new July issue. Freelance contributors Lesley Smith and Johanna Draper Carlson comment. PiQ's site confirmed the shutdown with a message stating "a combination of low advertising revenue, poor business management, and a lack of proper marketing and promotion." Kodansha David Welsh's Flipped Column looks at parallels between TOKYOPOP's history the rumors of a Kodansha/Del Rey divorce. Chris Butcher isn't saying that it directly relates to reports that Kodansha is ending their relationship with North American publishers in favor of launching their own division, but he does note developments in Diamond's Previews, where Dark Horse is no longer listing reprints of Kodansha title Akira. CMX Comic Book Resources' Rich Johnson learned John Nee handed his resignation in to DC Comics. Nee served as DC's Senior Vice President of Business Development, a role that included working to expand core business opportunities in areas such as the WildStorm studio, and the CMX manga imprint. Iris Print a geek by any other name and Boys Next Door note that authors R.W. Day, Tina Anderson, and C.B. Potts are objecting to how Iris Print has reportedly failed to provided payment or sales reports. Iris later clarified that they are shutting down and do not plan to sell books in the dealers room at Aranoa's Yaoi Jamboree. Yaoi Generation ANN notes that new yaoi manga distributor Yaoi Generation announced plans to release 24 manga titles a year in paperback, electronic, and "paid-per-read" formats and a bimonthly magazine. ImaginAsian Grady Hendrix's Kaiju Shakedown Bollywood super-conglomerate Adlabs has announced plans to purchase close to 200 theater screens across the USA in a move to create their own exhibition circuit that'll play Bollywood, Asian and second-run Hollywood films. As part of this initiative, Adlabs is now running the ImaginAsian theater in NYC, but it is not yet running the IA theater in Los Angeles. misc Cartoon Brew collects links to information about the unionization efforts Japan’s newest Intellectual Property Strategic Program

FUNimation Licenses Baseball Anime

FUNimation has announced that the company licensed the anime "Big Windup!" The Big Windup! anime storyline is adapted from the manga "Ookiku Furikabutte" by Asa Higuchi. The manga won the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize for best creative work in 2006 and the Kodansha Manga Award for general manga in 2007. About Big Windup! Ren Mihashi was the pitcher for his middle school baseball team and could never win a game. After being bullied by his teammates, who believed the only reason Ren was allowed to continue to pitch was because his grandfather ran the school, he quits baseball and transfers to Nishiura High School. Ren reluctantly takes the mound again when forced to join his new high school ball club. With the help of catcher, Abe Takaya, and his teammates, maybe Ren can regain his self-confidence and lead the team to victory.

Where's Shaman Warrior?

After Dark Horse's most recent solicitation list indicated that volume 7 of AICN recommended martial arts manhwa Shaman Warrior missed its biannual release schedule, editor Philip Simon was able to clarify "We WILL be publishing SHAMAN WARRIOR 7, 8, and 9. Several factor are slowing us down -- but look for SHAMAN WARRIOR 7 in future catalogs for sure."

AICN Figures

Go Hero has posted pictures of the Atomic Disintegrator wooden box and Buck Rogers, Bubble Helmet from their Buck Rogers replica and figure Yamato USA announced the upcoming the Fantasy Figure Gallery, which will consist of PVC figures, based on fantasy art by western artists, including Luis Royo, Dorian Cleavenger, Julie Bell, and Boris Vallejo, sculpted by Asian talents including Shungo Yazawa, Plant-jzero Moekichi, and Heavy Gauge’s Tobe.
Organic Hobby, Inc will release “Tezuka Moderno Labo “Atom” (limited production)” in August with a SRP of $14.00 "Atom" is a fictional character created by Osamu Tezuka, introduced in the 1951 Captain Atom manga. Astro Boy has appeared in animated television series and feature film adaptations of its eponymous manga and other works by Tezuka. "Atom (Santa Version)" is being introduced in his Santa costume and he is ready to bring you some joyful moments for this winter holidays. The figure stands 3" tall and comes in a clear box. “Atom" has swivel joints located at the neck, shoulders and legs.
McFarlane Toys announced that they are cancelling their Dragons, Legend of the Blade Hunters and Warriors of the Zodiac lines. Cool Japanese Toys has Tokyo Toy Show photos here Custom MMA Fighter Munny Custom Strider Hiryu action figure mini Shonen Sunday Magazine's 50th anniversary figures packaged with coffee Blog@Newsarama notes that Paul Pope's a new Masked Karimbah 2-piece vinyl toy set vinyl will be debuting at San Diego Comic Con. According to the Kid Robot site, it will retail for $150 and is limited to 300. Collection DX looks at Go Nagai Kewie dolls, anyone who was traumatized by Mazinger Z, aka Tranzor Z should take a look at the Doctor Ashura Ikkaku Daioh, The fifth, final and rarest of the Nitto Yokai Monsters Lot's of Macross, including VF-1A Valkyrie Fighter GNU-DOU VF-11B Valkyrie YF-19 Valkyrie and YF-21 Valkyrie Cool Yotsuba summer Revolech figure Alt Japan looks at super collectors In other merch news, Dark Horse Deluxe will be releasing Tara McPherson's "Somewhere under the Rainbow Coloring Kit," a carrying case that includes concealed spiral-bound 96-page coloring book featuring 48 black-and-white McPherson illustrations, four “color-them-yourself” postcards, a sticker sheet, and 24 crayons.
In addition to the coloring kit, Dark Horse will be releasing a coffee mug and a second journal to complement its existing line of products based on McPherson’s work. The Tara McPherson “Somewhere under the Rainbow” Coloring Kit will be available in retail stores August 27, 2008, for $24.99. The “Love Blows” coffee mug is coming in June ($12.99) and the new “Mr. Wiggles” journal is scheduled for a mid-September release ($9.99).

iaTV Anime Block Announced

iaTV and Bandai Entertainment Inc. announced that several Bandai Entertainment Inc. anime series have been acquired for broadcast on iaTV in a new programming showcase called “THE BLOCK fueled by Bandai Entertainment” which will air on Wednesday nights from 8:00 to 11:00p.m. PT, and premiere on August 6, 2008. The featured series will include My Hime, My Otome, Planetes, Scrapped Princess, Toward the Terra, Ghost Slayers Ayashi, Mars Daybreak, Rocket Girls and the live action series The Great Horror Family and Bloodhound.

Shiguri Blu-ray Release Possible

Anime on DVD reports that FUNimation's Anime MidAtlantic panel report indicated that FUNimation has the Blu-ray rights to violent samurai anime Shigurui. DVD and Blu-ray releases are tentatively planned for spring 2009. Summit Entertainment and IMAGI Studios have entered into a global alliance whereby Summit will distribute IMAGI's upcoming CG-animated motion picture Astro Boy worldwide except for IMAGI's reserved territories of Japan, Hong Kong and China. The announcement was made jointly by Rob Friedman, Co-Chairman and CEO of Summit Entertainment and Douglas Glen, CEO of IMAGI Studios.

Miyazaki's Ponyo

From The cast has been announced for Hayao Miyazaki's next film, Ponyo on a Cliff. Rumi Hiiragi, Chihiro in Spirited Away, will be voicing a role. Other announced specs include Run time: 101 minutes Screen size: Vista size Sound: Dolby Digital Surround EX, dts-ES (6.1) Chain master theater: Tokyo Hibiya SCALA-ZA1 Ghibli released a synopsis on the movie stating One day, Ponyo gets on jellyfish and runs away from home. Ponyo meets Sosuke, and they become good friends. But, Ponyo is taken back in the sea by her father who was a human being once but became a resident of the sea. But, Ponyo who wishes to meet Sosuke again causes a storm using the magic of father and goes to meet Sosuke with a massive tsunami... Japanese store chain Lawson has posted their ads for a deal in which ticket purchasers can receive merchandise tie-ins to the movie here After Ponyo, Hayao Miyazaki next project will be producing more short animated works for the Ghibli Museam. Toshio Suzuki specifically mentioned the Miyazaki is considering a short about sumo-wrestling mice.

"The Other Miyazaki" Executed

Tsutomu Miyazaki, the notorious child killing "The Otaku Murderer" was executed on June 17th. Following his arrest for the murder of four girls between 1988 and 1989, public outrage and coverage of Miyazaki's library of anime and horror films shaded public perception of introverted fanatical geeks, referred to as otaku. Though the term "otaku" has become less a charged and more of marketing demographic over the intervening years, many have credited the Miyazaki case as the reason for the sharply negative connotations of the word.

Cast Added for CG Astro Boy

Imagi has announced that the CG animated Astro Boy will feature the voices actor Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Nathan Lane, Bill Nighy and Eugene Levy with Freddie Highmore in the title role. David Bowers is directing Astro Boy from a screenplay written by Timothy Harris, with Maryann Garger producing.

Earthquake Provokes Manga Stories

Canned Dogs picks up the 2Ch message board chatter that noted the June 13th 6.9 earthquake felt by Japan almost matched a quake depicted on page 104 of vol 17 of Tezuka Osamu’s BlackJack. The manga depicted a 7.5 magnitude earth quake at the same time, date, and location. Japantor reports that after the quake, a 37-year-old Japanese man was found dead in his apartment in Sendai, buried under several hundred manga and magazines, which has been stacked 2 meters (6 feet) high.


VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media, LLC that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, released Nobuo Mizuta's "zany romantic slapstick comedy" geisha movie MAIKO HAAAAN!!! on DVD June 2th. From acclaimed screenwriter Kankuro Kudo of PING PONG, Yaji and Kita: The Midnight Pilgrims and Takashi Miike's Zebraman, MAIKO HAAAAN!!! is a slapstick comedy with an energetic twist of manic Japanese humor that centers on a geeky salary man named Kimihiko Onizuka (Sadawo Abe, from KAMIKAZE GIRLS) who dumps his girlfriend because he believes he can only fall in love with an apprentice Geisha, otherwise known as a 'Maiko.’ He decides to pursue his dream of courting a real Maiko in Kyoto. The lavish and private Maiko Houses become a social barrier partly caused by a rival who is actually also a millionaire baseball player (Shinichi Tsutsumi). But Kimihiko remains undaunted and embarks on a wild journey using some outlandish premises to gain entry to the Geisha inner sanctum. Meanwhile, Kimihiko’s girlfriend (Kou Shibasaki) tries to win him back by leaving Tokyo to become a Maiko herself.

New and Upcoming Productions

According to MoonPhase Giant Robo and G Gundam director Yasuhiro Imagawa will be working on Go Nagai's mecha meets Greek myth remixed of his first piloted mecha series, Z Mazinger. Subatomic Brainfreeze explains why this is something to look forward to. The release of the direct to video Lucky Star OVA has been delayed a month to September 26th. Anime News Network reports that Korean production company Tewon Media will be adapting Masashi Tanaka's mini-dinosaur meets nature manga Gon to be aired in early 2010. Sprite Animations Studios, a studio founded by Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within co-director Moto Sakakibara and other former Square USA employees, announced in 2005 that it was working on a computer-graphics film version for a 2007 release, but the project has yet to materialize. Leaf's (Comic Party, Utawarerumono) relationship games White Album and Tears to Tiara will be adapted into anime series. The buzz on Anime Suki notes that Yoshiki Nakamura’s Skip Beat, released in North America by Viz, is being adapted into an anime series. The manga Alive, released in North America by Del Rey, will be adapted into an anime series. A OVA 13th episode of Shigofumi ~Stories of Last Letter~ will be released in Japan on September 26th. Action fantasy "visual combat books" Queen's Blade will be adapted into an animated series Bandai announced that it will be launching the Battle Spirits collectable card game with associated anime and manga series in Japan this fall. ICV2 has a description of the franchise here ingresA is making statement that point to a potential Tales of the Abyss anime series, based on the new "Tales of" RPG game. Tower of Druaga ~the Sword of URUK~ and Vampire Knight are getting a second season. ANN notes that the July issue of Square Enix's Monthly Shonen Gangan magazine has provded details Gainax studio's television anime adaptation of Yoshiichi Akahito's Shikabane Hime (Corpse Princess) manga. The "Corpse Princess" of the title is Makina Hoshimura, an undead girl who hunts down 108 corpses in order to go to heaven. Masahiko Murata (Jinki:Extend, MazinKaiser, GR -GIANT ROBO-) will direct the Shikabane Hime: Aka anime with scripts by Shou Aikawa (Fullmetal Alchemist, Martian Successor Nadesico). Chikashi Kubota, an animation director on both The Girl Who Leapt through Time film and episode 14 and 24 of Gurren Lagann, will be designing the characters with Kikuko Sadakata, a fellow animation director on Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (episode 5, 15, 22) and Sugar Sugar Rune. Bishonen (cute guy) fantasy Neo Angelique Abyss -Second Age- will follow up the first Neo Angelique Abyss anime starting July in Japan. Trailers/Promos The Telepathy Girl Ran Sekirei Highlander: The Search for Vengeance Clannad: Tomoyo Edition Strait Jacket movie edit Korean manga creators Youn In-Wan and Yang Kyung-Il, best known for their work on Shin Angyo Onshi (the anime of which was released as Blade of the Phantom Master by ADV) will start new manga Burning Hell in Big Comic Spirit ANN reports Yu Yagami (Those Who Hunt Elves, Hikkatsu!, Dokkoida?!) started his new "medical comedy) Dageki Joi Saori (Batting Female Doctor Saori) in Comic Charge. Chihiro Tamaki's fashion manga Walkin' Butterfly, released in North America by Aurora, will be adapted into a live action TV drama.

Upcoming From CMX

ASTRAL PROJECT VOL. 1 Written by marginal Illustrated by Syuji Takeya A modern tale of the supernatural by the author of the Eisner Award-winning Old Boy. (“marginal” is one of several aliases by creator Garon Tsuchiya.) Masahiko is estranged from his family and lives a dead-end life in Tokyo, working as a chauffeur for high-class call girls. When his sister dies under mysterious circumstances, he inherits an unlabeled CD from her possessions. Listening to the jazz music it contains, he is propelled into an out-of-body experience. As he repeats the experience, he begins to wonder if this was how his sister died. Masahiko is determined to find the cause of her death, and the mystery behind the CD. on sale October 1 • 5.5" x 8" • 232 pg, B&W, $12.99 US MATURE READERS
CLASSICAL MEDLEY VOL. 1 Written and illustrated by Sanae Kana CMX/Flex Comix. In the kingdom of Classical, an ancient evil is unleashed! A ceremony held once every 100 years has kept the entity imprisoned inside of a mystical orb. But when the evil force escapes, it takes possession of the King and Queen. They try to overpower Prince Soprano, but his guardian knight Alto and his pet moondragon Mezzo help him to get away. Soon, the three of them are on the run and branded as outlaws. Alto carries the force used to entrap the evil entity, but will he be able to use it to help them bring harmony back to Classical? on sale October 15 • 5" x 7.375" • 162 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN
SUIHELIBE! VOL. 1 Written and illustrated by Naomi Azuma CMX/Flex Comix. Comedy meets sci-fi in this new, all ages title. Junior high student Tetsu is alone in a classroom when a small flying saucer crashes into the room. The pilot is a cute, human-looking alien girl named Lan. She’s searching for some alien life forms that have escaped from her planet and are now on Earth. Lan enrolls in the school and joins Tetsu as the only other member of the soon-to-be-defunct biology club, hoping that together, they can somehow round up the truant creatures. But Tetsu has a deadline to meet – he must recruit at least three more members in three months, or the biology club is history. on sale October 29 • 5" x 7.375" • 162 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • EVERYONE
CRAYON SHINCHAN VOL. 5 Written and illustrated by Yoshito Usui on sale October 29 • 5" x 7.375" • 128 pg, B&W, $7.99 US • MATURE READERS
THE FLAT EARTH/ EXCHANGE VOL. 2 Written and illustrated by Toshimi Nigoshi on sale October 1 • 5” x 7.375” • 210 pg, B&W $9.99 US • TEEN + BATMAN: DEATH MASK COLLECTED EDITION Written and illustrated by Yoshinori Natsume Manga superstar Natsume (creator of Togari) debuted his unique vision of the Dark Knight with the miniseries collected in this compact, manga-sized edition! There’s a new serial killer in Gotham, who may have ties to the young Bruce Wayne’s training in Japan. But does the murderer know Bruce Wayne is the Batman? Did his past experience somehow lead to a killer’s rampage through the Gotham underworld today? on sale October 15 • 5” x 7.375” • 192 pg, B&W $9.99 US • TEEN +
DOROTHEA VOL. 3 Written and illustrated by Cuvie Dorothea has agreed to serve as a decoy for the army’s zealot enemies. The commander hopes that they can draw their opponents into the open and confront on sale October 8 • 5.5" x 8" • 164 pg, B&W, $12.99 US • MATURE READERS
GON VOL. 6 Written and illustrated by Masashi Tanaka on sale October 15 • 5" x 7.375" • 176 pg, B&W, $5.99 US • TEEN
I HATE YOU MORE THAN ANYONE VOL. 6 Written and illustrated by Banri Hidaka on sale October 8 • 5" x 7.375" • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN
KIICHI AND THE MAGIC BOOKS VOL. 3 Written and illustrated by Taka Amano on sale October 22 • 5" x 7.375" • 160 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN
TEARS OF A LAMB VOL. 4 Written and illustrated by Banri Hidaka on sale October 1 • 5" x 7.375" • 192 pg, B&W, $9.99 US • TEEN tearsofalamb_v4_fc_300.jpg

Upcoming Bandai Ent. Releases

Via Anime on DVD 8/5 Code Geass Lelouch of Rebellion Vol. #1 - 125 minutes Code Geass Lelouch of Rebellion Vol. #2 - 100 minutes Code Geass Lelouch of Rebellion Part 1 (also w/Limited Edition) - 225 minutes - $39.98/74.98 - 08/05/2008 Gurren Lagann Vol. #2 - 225 minutes - $29.98 Zegapain Vol. #6 - 100 minutes 8/21 Galaxy Angel AA Anime Legends Edition - 325 minutes - $49.98 Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny TV Movie Vol. #2 Overman King Gainer Anime Legends Edition - 650 minutes - $49.99 Tide-Line Blue Anime Legends Edition - 325 minutes - $49.98

Event News

New York Tokyo Satoshi Kon will be at NYC's ImaginAsian for ANA PRESENTS “NIPPON EIGA” SERIES: PART 13, with a screening of Paprika. ANA PRESENTS “NIPPON EIGA” SERIES: PART 13 Paprika - with special guest appearance by director Satoshi Kon - Monday, June 30th Doors Open 6:15pm, Director Talks: 7:00pm, followed by Screening The ImaginAsian: 239 East 59th Street, NYC ANA PRESENTS “NIPPON EIGA” SERIES: PART 13 Paprika - with special guest appearance by director Satoshi Kon - Monday, June 30th Doors Open 6:15pm, Director Talks: 7:00pm, followed by Screening The ImaginAsian: 239 East 59th Street, NYC Jerry Beck detailed his Worst Cartoons Ever panel, which will take place at the San Diego Comic Con on July 25th Tokyograph notes that the band Glay will make their American debut in August with perfoemance at the The Fillmore in San Francisco on August 12 and The House of Blues Sunset Strip in Hollywood on the 15th and 16th. A look at JAM Project's set list from their tour. The super group will be performing at Otakon. The animated antholohy Batman Gotham Knight will be screened on June 28th at Wizard World Chicago Attendees at this year’s Wizard World Chicago convention will have the opportunity to see the direct-to-DVD animated film Batman Gotham Knight a little bit earlier than the rest of us. Warner Video sent over some info on the premiere screening of the film on June 28 in the Windy City. Hey, one of our bloggers even gets to introduce the movie: According to Blog@Newsarama The Batman Gotham Knight premiere will commence at 7:00 p.m. in the 1,500-seat hall within the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, and the screening will be followed immediately by a panel featuring executive producer Bruce Timm (Superman Doomsday, Justice League: The New Frontier) and a quartet of the film’s writers: Academy Award nominee Josh Olson (A History of Violence), Eisner Award-winning writers Brian Azzarello & Greg Rucka, and five-time Emmy Award-winner Alan Burnett. The film will be introduced by DC Comics President and Publisher Paul Levitz, and DC Comics Senior Vice President of Creative Affairs Gregory Noveck will moderate the panel. The 21+ Providence Anime Conference has posted a list of featured panels Anime Expo announced that it will hold the 3rd Annual SPJA Industry Conference at the convention, July 3-6, 2008 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA. Key note speeches will be provided by representatives from the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, Japan External Trade Organization, FUNimation and Crunchyroll. Panel will be moderated by key editors and journalists from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Anime Insider, Otaku U.S.A. and the Anime News Network. Participants include executives from Anime News Network, Axis Entertainment, CMX, Crunchyroll, Dark Horse Comics, Digital Manga Publishing, FUNimation, GDH K.K., Go! Comi, MTV, Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, Spike TV, The Right Stuf International, TokyoPop, Tomy Corporation and Viz Media, LLC. Panel topics include: SCHEDULE: KEYNOTE SPEAKERS/PANELISTS THURSDAY; 11:00 am Trulee Karahashi-Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, Chief Executive Officer THURSDAY; 3:30 pm Shigeru Kimura-Japan External Trade Organization, Chief Executive Director FRIDAY; 10:00 am Gen Fukunaga-FUNimation, Chief Executive Officer Saturday; 10:00 am Vu Nguyen-Crunchyroll, Vice President-Business Development and Strategy ANIME IN THE U.S.: FANSUBS-THE DEATH OF ANIME? Date, Time: Thursday; 11:30 am MANGA IN THE U.S.: MANGA-ULTIMATE PUBLISHER SHOWDOWN 2008 Date, Time: 4:00 pm TECHNOLOGY, ENTERTAINMENT AND LICENSING Date, Time: Friday; 10:30 am THE FUTURE OF ANIME IN MOVIES, TELEVISION, VIDEO GAMES, ONLINE AND CABLE Date, Time: Saturday; 10:30 am The arcade version of Aksys Games's 2d fighting Blazlue will be making a Location Test Tour stop at Anime Expo. Speaking of Anime Expo, it looks like Mecha Fetus (featuring Paul Robertson of Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006 fame) will have an artist's table at the event


Sky Crawlers, which is being adapted into an anime movie by Ghost in the Shell director Mamoru Oshii, is also being adapted into a Wii flight combat sim by Namco Bandai's Ace Combat team. Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces will be released in JApan this fall. The classic version, 1975 version of Tekkaman (predesssor of 1992 Tekkaman Blade aka Technoman) as well as Rival School's Batsu Ichimonji have been added to Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes Shonen adventure anime/manga Soul Eater will make a Wii appearence in Square Enix's Soul Eater: Monotone Princess, scheduled for Japanese release September 25, 2008. Initial D: Extreme Stage, a Playstation 3 incarnation of the racing series, will be released in Japan on July 3rd. Playstation 2 fighting game Sengoku Basara X will feature a new theme song by T.M. Revolution Afro Samurai screen shots Hello Kitty DS Marvelous' Meitantei Conan: Tsuioku no Gensou or Case Closed: The Mirapolis Investigation for the Wii is reportedly scheduled for international release looks at Gaijin Entertainmen's notably anime inspired X-Blades and reviewed Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit VIZ Media and Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. (KDE), announced that KDE will exclusively manufacture and distribute the BLUE DRAGON Trading Card Game and Trading Card Game Accessories in North America. The BLUE DRAGON animation is based on the Xbox 360 video game Blue Dragon, developed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of “Final Fantasy”, and featuring character designs by Akira Toriyama, the creator of the best-selling DRAGON BALL series of manga (which is published in North America by VIZ Media and featured in SHONEN JUMP Magazine). The new trading card game is also based on the Xbox 360 video game. The animated series debuted in Japan on TV Tokyo on April 7, 2007 and is produced by Studio Pierrot, which is well known for its work on NARUTO and BLEACH, also licensed by VIZ Media. The highly anticipated BLUE DRAGON animated series, rated TV Y7FV, debuted across the United States on Cartoon Network on Saturday, April 5, 2008 and now airs regularly at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings. Kotaku scans Macross Ace Frontier for the PSP coverage in Famitsu Anime style 2d fighter Guilty Gear X2 #Reload is making it onto XBox originals

Aria Release Details

Right Stuf, Inc. and Nozomi Entertainment announced ARIA the ANIMATION DVD Collection will be released on September 30, 2008. Aria the Animation is the first of three television seasons, plus an OVA (original video animation), that comprise the anime adaptation of Kozue Amano’s best-selling manga of the same name. The Aria anime is helmed by Director Junichi Sato (Princess Tutu, Sgt. Frog, Sailor Moon/ Sailor Moon R) and features animation by Hal Film Maker (Boys Be…, Pretear, Slayers Premium, Sketchbook ~full color’S~). The franchise’s third season, Aria the Origination, completed its TV Tokyo broadcast in March 2008. Amano’s 12-volume Aria manga and its two-volume prequel, Aqua, are both published in North America by TOKYOPOP. In Japan, Aria was originally serialized in Mag Garden’s Comic Blade magazine. In the early 24th century, Mars has been terraformed by mankind into a sparkling planet covered in water. Akari Mizunashi, at the age of 15, has left everything behind to travel to that reborn world, now known as Aqua. More than anything, Akari wants to be an “undine” – a female gondolier who navigates the canals of the Aquan city of Neo-Venezia. As she begins her training with the prestigious Aria Company, will she be up to the challenges that await her on the path to achieve her dream? Contains the complete 13-episode first season. The 324 minute, four disc collection will retail for $49.99
ARIA THE ANIMATION © 2005 Kozue Amano / Mag Garden - ARIA Company.

Domo to be Showcased on Veoh

Big Tent Entertainment and Veoh Networks have teamed to launch a content iniative feature NHK's fuzzy brown monster mascot Domo. Exclusive shorts featuring the character on Veoh here The widely popular character Domo is a hilarious looking, fuzzy brown cave-dweller who became a cultural icon with his first appearance as the Japanese television station NHK’s mascot in 1998. Domo was hatched from an egg, that one day mysteriously fell into the home of a wise, elderly rabbit named Usajii. Domo loves watching television and named himself after the first word he ever heard on TV which can mean either 'hello,' thank you,' 'excuse me,' 'sorry' and 'goodbye'. Domo also enjoys drinking tea, listening to garage band music and sinking his sharp teeth into seasoned beef with potatoes. will premiere12 Domo sho
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