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AICN Anime-Batman: Gotham Knight, More Manga Market Shake-Ups, Figures and More

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Anime Spotlight: Batman: Gotham Knight Released by Warner Premiere

"Have I Got a Story For You," the first of Gotham Knight's six pairings of Western writers and anime production houses, captures the potential of the arrangement. Written by Josh Olson of the film version of A History of Violence and directed by Shoujirou Nishima, the animation director and character designer for Tekkonkinkreet, the short works off the idea of juxtaposing radically different eye witness accounts of Batman. In this case, three members of a quartet of skateboarders spot the caped crime fighter in different stages of his cross town throw down with a particularly dangerous heist man. To the first, Batman is a demonic shadow-spawn, reaching out from the darkness to strike. For the second, he's a rabid beast man, salivating to rip apart his prey. To the third, he's a deployed mech, ready to spring an arsenal of gadgets to chase down a target. A project like Gotham Knight invites excited anticipation by promising to present a favorite character from the distinct vantage of a new medium and new creators. The notion of divergent accounts of Batman spottings is one that has previously been explored in the Batman comic and its animated incarnation. Yet, a TekkonKinkreet model interpretation of this flexible premise is exactly the sort of mash-up that makes a project like Gotham Knight exciting. Working off the foundation of a character with 70 years of history, the writing is clever in how it plays to the comic fans, with sly nods to the "biff!" "pow!" concept of comic action, while accessibly establishing what distinguishes Batman among comic book superheroes. Dedicated Batman fans will appreciate how the story pays tribute to the strength of the character. Those less familiar or less invested will find that the thrust of the story firmly establishes a reason to respect what the character represents. This facet of the appeal is not unique to "Have I Got a Story for You." The consistent trait across the different writers and animators of Gotham Knight is its focus on Batman's ethos and the human impact he suffers while pursing those values. Shoujirou Nishima offers a view of the urban roof top hero that is only shared by TekkonKinkreet, and if you have not seen that movie, make a point of rectifying that omission. It's a style in which a bustle of geometric, but often asymmetric people move against the solid, painstaking details of the city. In its abstract, but unidealized representation of people, there is a break between the organic looking people, and the convoluted system of physical structures around them. These two aspects complemented each other to suggest an inhabited urban environment. There is some logic to that bond between Batman and TekkonKinkreet. While Michael Arias' vision of TekkonKinkreet more often focused elsewhere, Taiyo Matsumoto's original manga spent more time playing with the idea of orphan children Black and White as urban avengers, leaping from their telephone pole perches to deal justice with metal pipes and broken bottles. Applied to Batman, and to this story in particular, Nishima's vision is fascinating in that it is seldom obvious. As diverse as the anime tradition is, this probably is not what you'd expect from an anime Batman. If each of the anime productions in Gotham Knight has a foundation of Batman and Gotham City to work with, Nishima built on his plot with an entirely unique blueprint. On the DVD commentary track, long time Batman editor Denny O'Neil recounts an elaborate version of a comic fan adage, which boils down to "Superman's stomping grounds, Metropolis, is New York City by day; Batman's home town, Gotham, is New York by night." While other entries in the collection take that to heart, sending the Dark Knight into the nocturnal realm, "Have I Got a Story for You" is largely set in broad daylight. Rather than the impression of dark, criminal harboring alleys, the short paints a city whose worn out, weary characteristics are still evident during the daylight hours; a relic of an art deco age, that's old, but not Old World old, weathered, but not venerable. Even when the action moves to a roof top, every angle captures a city that is enclosed with sooty pipes, fire escapes and sky scrapers. There's a gothic aura, in which the black and grey clad Batman is not out of place, even if he isn't set against the search lights and illuminated windows of a night skyline. Equally convention defying, the short does not swap out the aesthetic to mirror the story's three batman encounters. With the story features a set of original Batman designs, the antagonist, the city and its populous remain consistent. This is a subtly different from the Batman eyewitness stories than swaps out aesthetics to pay tribute to famous Batman artists or noteworthy eras in the characters history. Rather than a meta-level exploration of Batman fiction, keeping utilizing one look whiles altering Batman shifts focus to the perception and in-story reality of the actual character. Rather than a homage to stories told about Batman, it is about how Batman is Whether the rest of the anthology equals or surpasses "Have I Got a Story for You" is largely a function of expectations. In total, the anthology offers attractive, well produced Batman short stories. Each presents an involving take on the human heroism of Batman that is neither subtle nor obnoxiously blatant. Each offers a new approach to animating the character. Everything is at least thoroughly competent. If you're primarily approaching Gotham Knight as a Batman fan, the way it lionizes the character without insulting the viewer's intelligence, the way it brings in supporting characters from the comics, the way it ties into the continuity of the Nolan movies, are all considerable assets. For an anime fan, Gotham Knight runs into expectation problems. Part of the otaku mindset is arranging taxonomies. There are TV series, which make up the bulk of anime productions. There are movies, which are budgeted considerably more densely (funding over run time) than the TV series. There are direct to video OVAs, which generally receive more funding than TV series episodes, but less than movies; which are no longer produced with the frequency or trial mindset of the late 80's/early-mid 90's. In this landscape, anthologies are generally creator driven, experimental works. Robot Carnival, Memories, Neo-Tokyo and the like don't weigh heavily on the North American anime fan consciousness, but AniMatrix does help to foster that impression of anthologies. While each entry in Gotham Knight features a distinct approach to its animation, there are few surprises from the collection, in that if you looked over the credits, for the most part, you can correctly guess the relative strength of each. Unlike AniMatrix, which boasted the work of Koji Morimoto (Robot Carnival, Memories), Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop), Peter Chung (Aeon Flux), and Takeshi Koike, Gotham Knight had highly regarded studios attached (Production I.G, Studio 4°C and Madhouse in particular), but not "name" animators. Ultimately, no hard laboring key animator who stepping into the director’s role for Gotham Night turned out to be a startling innovative artist. The above mentioned "Have I Got a Story For You", which featured the work of Shoujirou Nishimi, as well as Shinji Kimura on animation directing, character design, and art directing (background artist for Akira, Angel's Egg, Catnapped!, and the recent Tetsujin 28th, art direction of TekkonKinkreet and Steamboy), and Takuma Sakamoto on CGI direction (Beyond and Detective Story from AniMatrix, TekkonKinkreet), demonstrate the confidence to go in a new direction with the subject. As such, it looks like a Shoujirou Nishimi work, and not the animated adaptation of a Batman comic or "anime." If anthologies represent an opportunity for talented creators to produce something daring, not only does "Have I Got a Story For You" deserve credit for animating Batman in a way that is both original and faithful to the character, it also deserves credit for vibrantly coloring outside the lines. Unlike "Have I Got a Story For You", "In Darkness Dwells" does not look outside comics for its inspiration. The Madhouse work, from Yasuhiro Aoki, who directed the Kung-Fu Love segment of Studio 4°C 's anthology Amazing Nuts, as well as a number of episodes of their Tweeny Witches series, and who worked on key animation for Beyond, Mind Game, and Princess Arete, along with co-director Yuichiro Hayashi (the opening of Kiba) and character designer/art director Kaoru Inoda (backgrounds for Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress and Paranoia Agent). Combining the oddness of a subterranean corpse transportation system, complete with pneumatic body-tubes, and Mike Mignola inspired stylization, it's an entrancingly strange trip. While Batman attempts to use his "World's Greatest Detective's" logic, wading through the sewage, past societies outcasts and the remains of an bizarre corpse delivery system, to face off against a pair of his crazed foes, the gap between the intellect of the hero and the insanity of his situation provides an opportunity for both the writing and the animation to shine. This feeds into some of the collections most sustained action, that fluidly animated and precisely coordinated, but given the situation, filtered through various levels of distortion. "Crossfire" demonstrated where expectations might set an enthusiastic anime fan up for a fall. With Madhouse and Production I.G involved in a Batman anime anthology, idealized visions of Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex's Kenji Kamiyama or Black Lagoon's Sunao Katabuchi possibly taking a crack at this great genre figure, expectations easily get out of hand. Yet, even trying to be realistic, when Production I.G (Ghost in the Shell, FLCL, Kill Bill, Dead Leaves) set up with Futoshi Higashide (animation director on the credits of Baki the Grappler, monster designer on Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D) at the helm, backed up by Shinobu Tagashira (character design on D.C. ~Da Capo~ , Law of Ueki and Shonen Onmyouji) on character design and animation direction, the disparity between anticipation and reality became an issue. To the extent that animation is a difficult field, this staff deserves credit. That said, this group is not exactly the brave and the bold of anime. Crossfire suggests the aesthetic of American super hero comics through the manner in which characters are stylized, the view is framed, and the animation is colored. Unfortunately, it also invokes the sort of excess where "comic book" becomes a pejorative term. Between garish colors and a clobbering attack on suspension of disbelief, it slaps away logic without replacing it with gleeful free wheeling. Nor is Crossfire buoyed by its script. Despite complex ties to the worlds of the movies and comics writer, Greg Rucka seems to have intentionally kept character interaction intentionally simple. The Gotham PD, who were the subject of Rucka's highly regarded Gotham Central comic, butt heads and are ultimately convinced with unwieldy sledge hammer statements. Not sounding smart or looking smart, the cumulative effective lacks sophistication or originality. If you remove the names and access the work on its own merit without knowing to whom the results should be attributed, you get "Deadshot," featuring a duel between Batman and the gun-for-hire anti-Batman of the title. Conspicuously, for this particular short, the only animation credit on the title lists "animation production by Madhouse." The statement was not in regards to this work, but the DVD commentary does allude to some friction between the animators and the anthology's producers. Did Ninja Scroll's Yoshiaki Kawajiri take his name off "Deadshot"? Was "Deadshot" a Yoshiaki Kawajiri/Yutaka Minowa pastiche by way of the Korean studio Dong Woo Animation and director Jong-Sik Nam (BASToF Lemon)? Given the recent history of the Highlander anime, the former seems possible. The latter appears to be a distinct possibility given that the action dilates time more often than it strikes with Kawajiri's decisive, snake bite quickness. With effective character design that fosters an interest in seeing hero and foe do battle, modeled background and object that lend some heft to the production, and enough style to the action, it's possible to imagine Kawajiri's involvement. However, "Crossfire" it doesn’t have the brutal cleverness of Kawajiri's best. Comparing Gotham Knight to the anime versions of Lady Death, Sin, or any number of video game adaptations, Gotham Knight comes out looking sterling. Yet, by fan physics, Batman + Production I.G + Madhouse + Studio 4°C is supposed to equate to unequaled potential. Even if the AniMatrix fostered that hope, this might very well have been an unrealistic, wrong headed estimation. On one hand, compared to open or topic/theme driven anthologies like Memories, Neo-Tokyo, or Studio 4C's recent collections, Batman might be like visiting a McDonalds in a foreign country: noticeably different, but still derived from a familiar, packaged formula. On the other, the diversity of Batman interpretations still have their boundaries, and it's possible to speculate on the level of guidence that the animators labor under, as well as the comparable openness afforded by the Matrix. As complaint provoking as Gotham Knight may be, "Have I Got a Story For You," "In Darkness Dwells," and highlights of the other shorts offer enough recommendable qualities that the collection is worth the time and funds of Batman and anime fans. And, if you welcome an exchange in pop cultures ideas that yield anime created with American audiences in mind, then the release is well worth supporting.

Stonebridge to Release Satoshi Kon Book

Stone Bridge press will be releasing Satoshi Kon - The Illusionist by Andrew Osmond on August 1. The 96 page book, with 60 color photos and illustrations will retail for $18.95 Speaking of Kon, Grady Hendrix on Satoshi Kon's Theory of Animation

Kodansha Entry Into US Manga Market Confirmed

ICV2 reports that the Nikkei financial carried the new that Kodansha has set up a U.S. subsidiary “to publish and sell translations of its Japanese manga” in the U.S. starting in September. The reason for the move, according to Nikkei, is “to boost its earnings in America, where its income has been limited to royalties received from U.S. firms. Kodansha has historically licensed their manga to Dark Horse, Del Rey and TOKYOPOP. Del Rey's Dallas Middaugh has stated Well, it’s business as usual at Del Rey Manga. We’re continuing to license manga from Kodansha, and as has been stated elsewhere, we’ve just about wrapped up our licenses for 2009 and are now starting to work on 2010. In a few weeks at the San Diego Comic-Con we’ll be announcing some of those new licenses, and we’ve got some really exciting new manga series planned. Then we’ll have a few more announcements at the New York Anime Festival in September… pretty much like we’ve always done. Also, we will continue to publish all of our manga. Kodansha has not pulled any licenses back from us. 2009 is a big year for us, since it will mark our fifth anniversary. More on that later, but suffice it to say that we plan to keep publishing manga for the foreseeable future. Mecha Mecha Media translated the Nikkei Net article that confirmed the initative Christopher Butcher at Comics212 posted the insight So I was able to actually confirm this a little while back, but in such a way that I couldn’t blog about it without getting a few people in some trouble. I can also confirm that Dark Horse no longer has the license for AKIRA (licensed from Kodansha) and that Tokyopop has canceled Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad volumes 13 and 14, and this is a Kodansha-licensed title as well, so it looks like they might have lost that license. There’s more coming too, but I’ll let it go until an official statement is made somewhere. – Also, just a quick guess here, but I would find it surprising if Kodansha pulled any licenses back from Del Rey, as they’ll likely be relying on Del Rey parent company Random House for distribution in America (under the auspices of the Kodansha/Random House “deal”), and that would likely sour the working relationship. Which isn’t to say that it won’t happen of course, but is far less likely and has not, to the best of my knowledge, happened yet. Heidi MacDonald register what's apparent from her vantage point here Anime News Network runs down the possible impact here gia spoke to Kodansha and heard "there are going to be no immediate or direct changes to Kodansha’s deal with Del Rey Manga." Mecha Mecha Media (who does translation work for Kodansha licensor Dark Horse) weights in Simon Jones gives his always insightful view Rob Bricken feeds the panic

Hellsing Ultimate OVA Changes

Sankaku Complex reports Rondo Robe 2008 has indicating that the upcoming, but undated, fifth installment of the Hellsing Ultimate OVA has moved to Madhouse (Trigun, Claymore, Lodoss, Texhnolyze, and dozens of other great titles) from Satelight (Macross, Geneshaf).

Event News

If you're at Anime Expo this weekend, events to check out include Otaku USA's panel, Sunday 7/6 1:30pm to 2:30pm Heisei Democracy will have a panel The new Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone will be screened at Anime Expo on Saturday at 10pm. Digital Manga Publishing will be presenting Hideyuki Kikuchi, the author responsible for Vampire Hunter A Wind Named Amnesia, Wicked City and Demon Beast Shinjuku and Saiko Takaki, the artist behind the Vampire Hunter D manga as their industry guests for Anime Expo. Appearances include DMP Presents: Hideyuki Kikuchi and Saiko Takaki! Saturday, July 5, 2008 2:00-3:00pm WS1 Hideyuki Kikuchi and Saiko Takaki Autograph Sessions Saturday, July 5, 2008 - 1:00-2:00pm Sunday, July 6, 2008 - 1:00-2:00pm Booth #510 Panel prizes include Takaki’s ink sketches of D, exclusive Vampire Hunter D merchandise and the grand prize of a dinner date for you and a friend with both creators For more information stop by the DMP booth (#510) before the panel eigoManga will hosting an anime releases panel and screening on Friday from 4:00pm-5:00pm at LP4 (LACC 411) They are hosting video screenings on Strike Witches/Tower on Druaga - Thurdays 4:00pm - 5:00pm Video 1 (LACC 403) Blassreiter - Friday 8:00pm-9:00pm Video 2 (LACC 408) Tower of Druaga Saturday- 12:00pm-1:00 PM Video 1 (LACC 403) Bandai Entertainment make a last minute reveal, that their "mystery guest" is Masahiko Minami, involved with the production of hit anime titles such as Escaflowne: The Movie, Cowboy Bebop, Mobile Suit Gundam 0083, Wolf’s Rain, and Company President of Bones. Anime localizers Bang Zoom! will present a series of Voice Acting Workshops at Anime Expo. These workshops will be held each day during Anime Expo and be led by notable voice actors Tony Oliver (Lupin The 3rd, Robotech) and Philece Sampler (Last Exile, Bleach, Eureka 7). Topic to be covered include an overview of the dubbing process and the technology used in recording as well as an insider’s view of voice acting business as it relates to the Anime industry. The classes are scheduled for 5:30-6:30pm on Thursday, July 3 in LACC Room #304, Friday, July 4 from 11:00am-12:00pm, also in LACC Room #304. The workshop for Saturday July, 5 will be held from 2:30pm-3:30pm in LACC Room #304 as will the Sunday session which runs from 11:30-12:30 also in the same room. Those interested to attend one of the workshops may pre-register at the Bang Zoom! booth (#811) to reserve a spot. Bang Zoom! will also offer behind the scenes documentary ADVENTURES IN VOICE ACTING - Volume One for sale at their booth Kotobukiya will have a booth at Anime Expo (1100-1102) Kotobukiya’s booth will be located at booth#1100&1102, where representatives will be answering fan questions. Featured sales items includes: GURREN LAGANN PLAIN MODEL KIT $10.00 INDIANA JONES INDIANA JONES ARTFX STATUE $100.00 INDIANA JONES HENRY JONES ARTFX STATUE $100.00 STAR WARS BOBA FETT BOUNTY HUNTER SERIES ARTFX STATUE $100.00 FFVII CLOUD STRIFE MASTERPIECE ARTS $400.00 Del Rey Manga announced plans for Fairy Tail manga creator Hiro Mashima’s appearance at Comic-Con International in San Diego, California. During his appearance at the convention, which takes place from Thursday, July 24 through Sunday, July 27, Hiro Mashima will be featured on a panel hosted by Del Rey Manga. Del Rey Manga Presents: Hiro Mashima Saturday, July 26, 2008 2:30-3:30 PM Room 10, San Diego Convention Center Join Hiro Mashima, Dallas Middaugh, Associate Publisher of Del Rey Manga, and Del Rey Manga’s Director of Licensing and Acquisitions Mutsumi Miyazaki for a conversation on Mashima’s latest creation, Fairy Tail. Signings with Hiro Mashima: Friday, July 25, 2008 2:30-3:30 PM Del Rey Booth (#1128), San Diego Convention Center Saturday, July 26, 2008 4:30-6:30 PM Official Autographing Area 1, San Diego Convention Center All signings with Hiro Mashima will be ticketed events. Tickets will be limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tickets will be distributed at the Comic Cellar booth. Convention goers who purchase a copy of any of the first three volumes of Fairy Tail from the Comics Cellar booth will receive a ticket to one signing, limited to one ticket per customer. Mashima will be signing exclusive copies of Fairy Tail shikishi boards specially created for his San Diego convention appearance. Shout! Factory announced the what they've organized for San Diego Comic Con Friday, July 25 (7:15 PM – 8:15 PM) Room 6B – MST3K 20Th Anniversary Reunion Panel Moderated by Patton Oswalt, an historic reunion of cast and crew, including creator Joel Hodgson, producer Jim Mallon and fellow MST3K family: Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, Mike Nelson, Bridget Nelson Mary Jo Pehl, Paul Chaplin, J. Elvis Weinstein and the MST3K robots Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot Shout! Factor will be releasing MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: 20th Anniversary Edition DVD box set on October 28, 2008. The set will feature four of the show’s most requested unreleased film episodes (the exact 4 titles will be revealed at Comic-Con) and boasts exclusive DVD bonus content that explore the genesis, life and afterlife of MST3K. More in-depth info to be revealed at the 20th Anniversary Reunion Panel JANE AND THE DRAGON: A DRAGON’S TALE The DVD collection of the first five episodes of the animated series adapted from Martin Baynton’s popular children’s books will be released Auguat 19th. Talent appearing at their booth includes: Friday, July 25 (11 AM) Sam & Max creator Steve Purcell will be at Shout! Factory’s booth (#3749) Friday, July 25 – TBD – MST3K talent at Shout! Factory’s booth (#3749) Saturday, July 26 (1 PM) Swamp Thing star Dick Durock and co-creator Len Wein at Shout! Factory’s booth (#3749) Saturday, July 26 (3:00 PM) Dan Milano, co-creator and voice talent) of Greg The Bunny will be at Shout! Factory’s booth (#3749) Baltimore’s Otakon is running a "a webcomics challenge" through July 11th. Two winners, who produce comics about convention, will be selected and awarded a free table in Otakon’s Alley, complete with two complimentary memberships (or suitable replacement) to the convention and “front of the line” pass pick-up. See the convention's site for details and sign-up. Otakon also announced that the convention will be hosting Last Unicorn author Peter S. Beagle, sponsored by Conlan Press The conventions artist alley arrangements have been posted. The New York Anime Festival today announced it will again partner with the World Cosplay Summit at the second annual New York Anime Festival this September in New York City. The World Cosplay Summit is an international costume competition that is the equivalent of the Olympics of Cosplay. It features cosplayers from nearly every continent competing before famed anime and manga creators, with previous judges including Leiji Matsumoto (Galaxy Express 999) and Go Nagai (Cutie Honey). New York Anime Festival's partnership with the World Cosplay Summit will make the convention, September 26-28, 2008 at the Jacob Javits Center, the site of the World Cosplay Summit's Official USA Preliminary Round -- with the winners of the convention's Cosplay Masquerade receiving trip a Japan to represent the USA in the World Cosplay Summit Finals.

FUNimations licenses Heroic Age

FUNimation Entertainment announced in its weekly podcast that it has acquired rights to the 26-episode sci-fi action-adventure anime series Heroic Age from Kodansha Ltd. Their release is scheduled for spring 2009. Frun the distributor's descriptions Among the ruins of a forgotten planet lies the salvation for the Iron Tribe, also known as humankind. This lost warrior will stand against the tyranny of the Silver Tribe, who proclaimed themselves the new dominant race after the departure of the advanced Golden Tribe. Humanity's last hope: A wild and unruly hero, “Age,” and an ancient prophecy. A trailer can be seen here

Enoki Films USA, Inc. Presents Slayers Revolution

Enoki Films USA, Inc. has begun looking for a North American licensor and distributor for their new, fourth season of fantasy adventure/comedy Slayers.

Anime-Game News

Playstation 3 will be getting a port of Leaf's eroge game White Album Via Majoria's News Soul Calibur IV manga
Yatterman Gou and Street Fighter III's Alex have been added to Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes Capcom USA is "investigating" the title Via Japanator, a preview for Super Robot Wars Z, scheduled for Japanese release September 25th Sega has picked up the rights to produced Suzumiya Haruhi games for the Nintendo DA

UDON Announces Street Fighter Remix #0

UDON announced that they will be returning to monthly comic and Street Fighter in August with Street Fighter Remix #0, a one-shot prelude issue featuring three all-new stories, each of which leads into a new UDON comic book series: Street Fighter II Turbo with art by Jeffrey "Chamba" Cruz (Sinbad: Rogue of Mars)
Street Fighter III with art by Joe Ng (Transformers, Red Sonja)
Street Fighter Legends: Chun-Li, a four issue mini series with art by Omar Dogan (Street Fighter Legends: Sakura, Robotech)
The 32 page issue will be released on August 27th for $3.95


The Lying in the Gutters rumor column gave a yellow light to LITG had previous reported that TOKYOPOP would be negotiating the return of rights to its creators of properties, after the current reduction of publishing plans. Well, it seems to have been all mouth and no trousers. Those who have made approaches buoyed by the news and with prominent publishers lined up have suddenly been rebuffed. It seems that those who escape the dead claws of TOKYOPOP will be the lucky exceptions, not the rule. And will probably attract all sorts of jealous attention. IGN recounts the TOKYOPOP situation here Rivkah (Steady Beat) shows off some of her post TOKYOPOP work; namely a Bright Future card game Queenie Chan has announced the winners of the Lucid Walking: The Dreaming Writing Competition winners a geek by any other name collects talk of creator compensation via Manga Blog, M. Alice LeGrow's Bizenghast has been extended to seven volumes. Volume one can be read free, online here

Viz Plans Release of Second Naruto Movie

VIZ Media will be releasing NARUTO THE MOVIE 2: THE LEGEND OF THE STONE OF GELEL on DVD July 29. From Viz's description In the latest feature film, Naruto, Shikamaru and Sakura are in the middle of returning a lost ferret to its owner, supposedly the easiest mission ever. Or so they think! When a young knight, Temujin, attacks them out of nowhere, they are drawn into a fierce struggle over a treasure harboring legendary power – the Stone of Gelel. Temujin's master wants to use the stone's power to create a utopia, while the last of the clan who once controlled the stone wants to keep it sealed away forever. Naruto and the others, along with help from Gaara and Kankuro, must protect the stone from those who want to misuse its power. When the dream of utopia becomes a nightmare, it'll take a ninja to set things right! Bonus features on the two DVD set include “Creating the World of Naruto 2” and one on how to “Write and Adapt Like a Ninja,” plus “Words From Japan,” “Production Art Gallery,” “Original Storyboards,” and the “Original Japanese Movie Trailers.” In addition, the disc contains a director’s commentary track and a trailer for the upcoming third NARUTO movie, Naruto the Movie 3: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom, which will be released by VIZ Media in the near future.

September ADV Releases

Anime on DVD reports that retailers are listing the following ADV releases 9/2/08 Rahxephon Grand Canon Collection (Thinpak) - 770 minutes - $99.99 9/9/08 Aquarian Age Complete Collection (Thinpak) - 325 minutes - $39.99 9/16/08 This Ugly Yet Beautiful World Perfect Collection (Tin) - 300 minutes - $59.99 9/23/08 Gantz: The Complete Series Collection (Thinpak) - 650 minutes - $89.99 9/30/08 New Fist of the North Star/Neo Tokyo Double Pack - 225 minutes - $19.99 Currently, only AAAAnime is listing a 9/23 release of Welcome to the NHK volume six.

AICN Figures

Go Hero and Bluewater Productions as revealed an initiative to create collectibles and apparel are based off of Bluewater’s titles as well as the "Ray Harryhausen Presents" series. Announced work includes 1:6 Sinbad w/ Homunculos - from Sinbad "Rogue of Mars" & "Merchant of Ages" 1:6 Perseus w/ Bubo - from "Wrath of the Titans" 1:6 Skeleton Warrior- from Jason and the Argonauts: Kingdom of Hades 1:6 Cyclops - from "Wrath of the Titans" Sideshow Collectables are taking pre-orders for Bertie - Dirty Deeds and Bertie - Desert Combat Bigshot Toyworks' Bertie the Pipebomb is designed by renowned artist Ashley Wood. The 12" figure retails for $299.99.
Sideshow is also offering ‘Appleseed Saga: Ex Machina’ Snap Kits series of Deunan, Briareos, Manuel Aeacus, Tereus and Rhoetus by Hot Toys. The fully poseable kits come with a piece of Landmate power armor, which can be assembled into a wearable ES.W.A.T. suit for the 1/6 scale Appleseed figures. The 4", $12.99 figures can be pre-ordered here
Organic Hobby, Inc in conjunction with Beagles will release Umisho “Amuro Ninagawa & Mirei Shizuoka (Healthy Naked Swimming Team Version)” in August with a price of $85.00 each. Second year student, and a new transfer student from Okinawa at Umisho, "Amuro" & the very skillfull swimmer "Mirei," are the heroines based on a manga series by Mitsuru Hattori also known as "Kenko Zenrakei Suieibu Umisho." It has been serialized in Kodansha's Weekly Shonen Magazine from issue 33 since 2005. [1] It has also been adapted into a TV anime series, directed by Koichiro Sotome and written by Mamiko Ikeda[2], which premiered in Japan on numerous television stations from July 2007, and a video game. "Amuro & Mirei" are 8" (1/8 scale) tall PVC figures with a removable outfit and comes in a window box.
will be introducing its Machine Animation Gurren Lagann and Linebarrels Of Iron line-up at Anime Expo, where Gonzo will be premiering the 1st episode at the Linebarrels Of Iron. Collection DX finds infamous Korean kaiju Pulgasari also on the site Master Grade #100 Turn A Gundam YF-21 Valkyrie YF-19 Valkyrie A custom Totoro Dunny Summer Yotsuba in Hokkaido Alfred Hitchcock The Birds Barbie Doll

Upcoming in Japan

Kotaku notes that Death Note artist Takeshi Obata will be illustrating a manga tie-in to upcoming Wii Castlevania 3D fighting game Castlevania Judgment. A second season of Neko Rahmen has been announced. From Anime Nation Geneon Entertainment (not to be confused with former distributor Geneon USA) announced that a second Ichigo Marshmallow (”Strawberry Marshmallow”) OVA and a ToHeart 2ad Plus OVA are indeelopment. The recently broadcast final episode of the fourth Major baseball anime television series included an announcement of a January 2009 planned premier of a fifth Major television series. the anime adapation of Alive: The Final Evolution, released in North America by Del Rey, will be animated by Gonzo & AIC studios and directed by Hiraike Yoshimasa (Solty Rei, Sketchbook ~full color’S~). Gonzo will be hosting the upcoming Strike Witches pm YouTube and Crunchyroll. From Anime News Network Slayers Future will premiere in the September issue of Kerokero Ace (on sale on July 26). The series by scenario writer Yoshijiro Muramatsu and manga creator Shin Sasaki, with transpose sorceress to a technology based near-future. Macross Frontier, the ongoing sequel to the Macross space opera franchise, is inspiring a third manga series, the first novel volume (written by Ukyo Kodachi with illustration by character designer Mikan Ehime and the main manga artist Hayato Aoki), and a biweekly reference magazine Macross Chronicle in July. Sorahiko Mizushima's manga Macross Frontier: Dakishimete, Ginga no Hate made (Macross Frontier: Hold Me Tightly to the Edge of the Galaxy) will join Macross Frontier Cho Jiku Utahime Ranka (Macross Frontier: The Super Dimension Songstress Ranka)?as well as the main Macross Frontier in Kadokawa Shoten's Comp Ace magazine in the September issue (on sale on July 26). The August issue of Jump Square (on sale on July 4) will feature the premiere of Kuzumoto Sanchi no Yon-Kyodai manga by Dragonaut - The Resonance artist Satoshi Kinoshita, the one-shot manga Sonezaki Shinju by Ichigo 100% (Strawberry 100%) and Hatsukoi Limited creator Mizuki Kawashita and Kawashita's adaptation of Chikamatsu's celebrated Edo-era play Sonezaki Shinju (The Love Suicides at Sonezaki) Yuu Watase will be ending Perfect World Fushigi Yuugi magazine and moving Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden to Monthly Flowers. She will also be launching an unnamed new manga series. Di Gi Charat manga creator Koge Donbo* will launch a new manga called Naki Shojo no Tame no Pavane (Pavane for a Dead Girl) in the September issue (on sale on July 30) of Mag Garden's Monthly Comic Blade magazine. The story revolves around a boy and 12 girls at a music school at the end of Japan's Meiji era (or early 20th century). New Temagotchi movie Eiga! Tamagotchi Uchu Ichi Happy na Monogatari!? will be in Japanese theatres December 20th. Trailers/previews Mamoru Oshii's The Sky Crawlers Kiku-chan and the Wolf, based on the story by Grave of the Fireflies' Akiyuki Nosaka ef - a tale of melodies Scarecrowman 20th Century Boys Rosario+Vampire CAPU 2 Zero no Tsukaima: Princesses no Rondo (third season) Strike Witches The live action adaptation of Detroit Metal City

Pop Japan Travel's Mind Over Manga Tour Adds Meeting With Ghibli Art Director, Visit To Nippon Animation

Pop Japan Travel's Mind Over Manga Tour (Aug. 21 to 27) has added a meeting with Nizo Yamamoto, and a visit to Nippon Animation Yamamoto-sensei has served as art director on many acclaimed anime, including "Princess Mononoke" and "Grave of the Fireflies." His luscious background art has also appeared in "Spirited Away," "Perfect Blue," "Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro" and more. Tour guests will have a chance to ask him about his more than 30 years in the anime industry, take pictures and ask for autographs -- so bring your DVDs! Since its founding in 1975, Nippon Animation has produced some of Japan's best loved anime, including "Maya the Bee," "Dog of Flanders," "Locke the Superman," and some of the first work from Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata and Nizo Yamamoto: "Future Boy Conan" and "Anne of Green Gables." The Mind Over Manga tour, including round-trip airfare from LAX to Tokyo, full hotel accommodations, transport in Japan, entry fees, bilingual guides and customized guidebook, is $2,198 plus a $235 fuel surcharge. The Kyoto and Osaka option is $898, while Hiroshima is $100. For more information, see

Code Monkey on DVD

Shout! Factory, in association with G4 TV and MonkeyWrangler Productions, will release 8-bit video game development coedy Code Monkeys: Season One on DVD August 5th. The 2 disc set is priced at $19.99 Bonus Features Include: Code Monkeys Daily Pranks Original “Barfight” and “Crosswalk” Promos “Sir Eats-A-Lot” Gaming Tips From G4’s Kristin Holt Original GameAvision Games –“Two Card Monty” and “Hangman” Downloadable Wallpapers

New Manga Licenses

ViaAnimeNation Digital Manga Publishing's new "Doki Doki" line will be releasing the following Shinshokan "boy's love" manga Brilliant Blue, by Saemi Yorita Color, by Eiki Eiki and Mikiyo Tsuda Living for Tomorrow, by Taishi Zaou Midnight Bloom, by Rico Fukiyama Fevered Kiss novel written by Arika Kuga and illustrated by Taishi Zaou Media Blasters will be releasing Torajirou Kishi’s two volume lesbian romance drama manga series Maka-Maka.

Favorite Anime By Gender

giapet has posted the results of Business Media Makoto's gender aggregated favorite anime poll results Men 1. Mobile Suit Gundam franchise 2. Dragon Ball franchise 3. Sazae-san 4. Doraemon 5. My Neighbor Totoro 6. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind 7. Lupin III franchise 8. Space Battleship Yamato 9. Laputa: Castle in the Sky 10. Kyojin no Hoshi Women 1. My Neighbor Totoro 2. Sazae-san 3. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind 4. Case Closed 5. Doraemon 6. Heidi of the Swiss Alps 7. Laputa: Castle in the Sky 8. One Piece 9. Chibi Maruko-chan 10. Dragon Ball

Gatchman OVA Streamed

The three epsiode 90's OVA version of Gatchman (previously released in North America by Urban Visions) will be streamed for U.S. and Canada on crunchyroll, after a licensing deal with Fireworks International. The site will also be offering virtual ‘badges’ for people who purchase the download.

Devil's Due to Produce Original Vampire Hunter D

ICV2 reports that Devil’s Due Publishing has struck a deal with Digital Manga Publishing to bring original Vampire Hunter D comics to American audiences in a typical monthly American style comic book series. The first series will be entitled Vampire Hunter D: American Wasteland. Devil's Due has said “have a noticeably North American feel never before seen in the Vampire Hunter D mythos, while closely paying respect to the history of D.”

Business News

Bandai Entertainment has notified retails that they have taken over Bandai Visual USA's Honneamise. Release will preserve the original, controversial pricing structure for the release, but the two Patlabor movies and the first Aim for the Top! Gunbuster original video anime series, and the announced but never release titles (Engage Planet Kiss Dum, Shigofumi, sola, and true tears) were not included. Anime News Network has the listing here Tokyo Stock Exchange sent notice that Gonzo parent company GDH has until March 31, 2009 to improve their finances, or the company will be delisted from the exchange. See ANN's coverage for details on GDH's finances. The Animation, Young Adults Kids Media group of TBS, has named Jill Shields Senior Vice Pres. of Strategic Marketing and Promotions, overseeing Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and Cartoon Network has promoted two of its key contributors in sales and promotions (John O'Hara Christina Miller), while letting go three other individuals. Canned Dogs and CNET Japan report that fan made videos will be removed from Japanese streaming video site Nico Nico Douga as part of an agreement with The Association of Japanese Animations (AJA), Japan Video Software Association (JVA), and Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan (MPPA)

Worth Checking Out...

Otaku USA's has relaunched their site with a new design FUNimation's branded YouTube channel a geek by any other name and Random Curiosity have summer anime previews Ghibli World looks at the first Ponyo on a Cliff review Via Kaiju Shakedwown, Comic Book Resource's J. Michael Straczynsk interview touches on the script for the Wachowskis' Ninja Assassin (rumored Ninja Scroll), written over the course of 53 hours. Muku's stop motion film, to be screened at the Junior 8 Summit can be seen on YouTube here Alt Japan notes this Here Be Monsters tour of Japan and other kappa released coolness On a related note, Shigeru Mizuki's "Fifty-Three Stations of the Yokaido Road" The First Time the Word "Cosplay" Appeared "Explanation of Evangelion 1.01?" has been translated Anime on DVD offers a guide to July anime collections Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat on Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms Ralph Bakshi interview jaPress PEACE NOW interview. PW sizes up the hyper-violent Gantz First peek at the full-scale Yatter-Bark to be featured in Takashi Miike’s ‘Yatterman’ Speak Media Blog looks at the U.S. Navy's "propamanga," created to address PR surrounding nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington's presence in the waters near Japan. Spore recreation of Pokemon Super Punch points out this strangely amusing Pokemon related web-comic essential books about manga Active Anime interviews translator Andrew Cunningham concerning his work on Death Note: Another Note Patrick Macias runs down his Speed Racer pieces, leveraging the movie's Japanese release News Week calles Osamu Tezuka Manga’s Homer and Walt Disney All in One Cartoon Brew notes the Tezuka short on iTunes Paul Pope shows of Battling Boy Speaking of Pope,Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat has interview The third Gurren Lagann Parallel Works has gone online

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