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AICN Anime - The Vastly Delayed Look at Apollo's Song, Upcoming Ghibli, Bat-Manga Contest Winners, Upcoming Figures...

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If you missed the mid-week post AICN Anime Recommends Baccano! - Cowboy Bebop Meets Tarantino Meets Heroes Set In 30's

Manga Spotlight: Apollo's Song
Manga Spotlight: Princess Resurrection
Manga Spotlight: Gantz
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New and Upcoming in Japan
Murakami Launching LA Studio
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Manga Spotlight: Apollo's Song By Osamu Tezuka Released by Vertical

If I were planning to select a shelf of manga to stand as a testament to the potential of the medium, I'd be sure to include Apollo's Song. If I were going to pick a stack to lend to someone who was interested in reading manga for pleasure, I'm inclined to think that I wouldn't add Apollo's Song. The manga is structured around the visions of profoundly damaged teenager Shogo Chikaishi. Born to a prostitute who lacked a maternal attachment to her child, he began exhibiting violent rages when confronted with images of close knit families or romantic couplings. After an assault on a chicken coup lead to the discovery of his attacks on living animals, Shogo was committed to a psychiatric institution. Upon receiving electric shock treatment, Shogo experienced a vision of a Pallas Athena-like marble statue. The goddess informed him that, in punishment for distaining love, he shall love one woman again and again for eternity, but every time, before the two are united, one shall perish. From there, in and out of the hospital, in hypnosis and in hallucinations, Shogo experiences cycles of tragic romance. There's a commanding notion of Osamu Tezuka as an artist and innovator. The cartoon self-portrait of the big nosed guy in the black beret persists as an avatar for a force that was instrumental in shaping anime and manga, and was responsible for creating enduring characters like Astro Boy and Black Jack. Tezuka could tell a story in manga as well as any artist could in any medium. If you open up Mw, you immediately launch into a desperate chase scene. It's chillingly immersive, and you're thinking about the tension of the moment being depicted, not the artist involved or the effort that went into depicting that moment. I wouldn't call reading something like his intense World War II tragedy Adolf a "pleasure," but it is exquisitely compelling. I don't qualify my recommendations for Tezuka works like Black Jack or Dororo. I've given people who don't regularly read comics or manga copies of Ode to Kirihito. Apollo's Song is different. In this case, the pleasure of reading the manga is seeing Tezuka opperate as a creative force. Tezuka produced over 400 volumes of manga in his lifetime. Looking at a manga like Apollo's Song, it's quality not the quantity that is incredible. You can almost see Tezuka furiously combining ideas and reacting to concerns. His ability to draw connections and develop ideas is stunning, as is his committal to realizing these chimeras on the manga page. It looks like the product of a mind that was consistently pulling in new ideas and trying out new permutations. In this case, we're looking at manga from 1970. Pink film was becoming a full fledged industry. Like America, Japan was seeing a protest movement and a sexual revolution. Tezuka demonstrated a need to be at the forefront of a movement, and the zeitgeist was clearly fomenting in Tezuka's thoughts in 1970. The year before, he wrapped up Swallowing the Earth, about Zephryus, the woman who used her sexual appeal to take revenge on the world's men. In this period, the same anthology, Big Comic would see the 1972 premiere of Tezuka's Ayako, about the tribulations, incest and sexual violence visited upon the Tenge family during post World War II reconstruction. In the middle of the 1970 serialization of Apollo's Song, Tezuka would begin work on Marvelous Melmo. This manga, and later anime, was created with sexual education in mind. Following her mother's death, God gave Melmo magic candy pills that would allow her to transform back and forth between the body of a 9 year old and a 19 year old (also, turn into an animal). Tezuka is famous for reusing character models and types across his works. Doubtlessly, it's not coincidental that the Venus figure on the cover of Apollo's Song and Shogo's doomed love is the mature Melmo. 1970 would also be the year that Tezuka would produce and direct Cleopatra, an animated film released in North America as an X. Tezuka's body of work embraced both sides of a dichotomy. There was compassion for humanity and its perseverance, and at a same time, exasperation with crimes that the species committed against itself, and ways in which it hindered that push to survive. Apollo's Song concerns the split dichotomy between love and biological procreation. There's the imperative to produce offspring, and then there's all the social packaging with all of the spill over into crimes against oneself or others. And, Apollo's Song looks to a divide between hope and pessimism. There are complex relationships in Tezuka's dialectics, but, that does not mean that he balances the opposing forces. Tezuka's stories have viewed the Holocaust among other black moments in modern history, they've imagined biblical disasters and the end of humanity. Though I'm missing key points of comparison in my familiarity with his work (the above mentioned Ayako for one), I have to say that I can't think of a Tezuka manga that left a darker impression than Apollo's Song. "Nature divides us into males and females. We come together and create offspring for posterity... As long as the world exists, men, women and their children they bear will repeat the endless drama day after day..." The act of procreation has rarely sounded so Sisyphusian The rub is that Tezuka expresses these ideas through downright strange fables. There's Shogo as a World War II German soldier. Shogo as a pilot, marooned with a haughty young photographer on an island with animals who ferociously protect each other rather than conform to the natural food chain. Shogo as an assassin in a future where humanity has been replaced by genderless clones. On one hand, it's captivating to watch Tezuka act as Dante, envisioning infernal punishments for Shogo. In the Dante model, Shogo's situated in something like one of the middle circles of Hell. His crimes are partly of his volition, and partly as the result an intrinsic weakness. We can sympathize with him, but at the same time, his punishment does seem to conform to some universal law, and the terms of that punishment become a source of fascination. On the other hand, it's tempting to cast these stories in an ironic light. It's a very unmediated manga, as if Tezuka was rapidly working from mind to hand. The prologue, "Union of the Gods," opens with a horde of heroic looking men racing towards a queen in a less than subtle metaphor. From there, it stays pitched and unrestrained. The melodrama. The society of Disney animals. At issue, it's mixing a serious tenor with motifs that have become comical. A fable of a robot maid crushing her master to death with a hug has a kernel of profundity, but, from a modern perspective the elements have become associate with camp. The artistry of Apollo's Song is fantastic. Tezuka labored to create a vision that would engrave itself in the reader's mind. As campy as a 70's sci-fi future can be, the image of Mount Fuji turned into a level plateau by rationalist minds or Tokyo turned into a necropolis are powerfully rendered. Whether it's a World War II era train yard or a remote mountain lake, the craft in Tezuka's work is breathtaking. Because modern perspective shades many of the elements with an ironic hue, attention is drawn from Apollo's Song to its creation. Reading the manga, it's difficult to divorce the work from thoughts of its context and author. Apollo's Song is remarkable in every way, but not necessarily an engrossing reading experience.

Manga Spotlight: Princess Resurrection Volume 4 By Yasunori Mitsunaga Released by Del Rey

There are a number of phrases that I attempt to avoid whenever possible. "Slice of life." "Like X on mind altering substance Y." And, relevant to Princess Resurrection "guilty pleasure." Not only is this latter one overused, I don't find it to be particularly accurate. It's not as if by watching trashy anime or reading offensive manga, you're wasting time that you otherwise would have spent deriving a solution to the global financial meltdown. Yet, given the kind of anime and manga of which I've been critical, defending Princess Resurrection as a favorite is a bit tricky. Hiro Hiyorimi is an unembellished instance of the nobody who gets the girl(s) character archetype. Starting out as a entirely non-descript school boy, he's brought back from his accidental death to become the champion of Hime (literally "princess"), the second daughter in the royal line of monsters. This unlikely prominence is compounded as the female members of Hime's fractious yet growing monster cadre develop affections for the undead loser. The classmates who can spit blood in jealousy that the clueless Hiro gets to spend time with the local vampire student queen bee or the hot blooded werewolf girl tend to be a bit cretinous, and Hiro seems like an okay guy, but if Princess Resurrection weren't otherwise interesting, this agency-free blank slate would make for an aggravating protagonist. This sort of wish fulfillment relationship comedy can be given to more pandering than cleverness. However, personally, Princess Resurrection overcame my antipathy for that part of the premise. I'm not going to say that Princess Resurrection is one of the more inspired manga that you can find, but Mitsunaga's appealing design mixed with an affection for horror tropes does it for me. In Princess Resurrection, you get what the cover advertises, the manga version of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer - avenging last girl. Each volume features an image of Hime in a goth gown hefting some extravagant weapon, such as the giant pair of scissors on volume four. Hime in her scream queen regalia and Hiro in his shirt and slacks wander into a ghost town and find something a bit like one of the European interpretations of a slasher movie. From a farm house, she grabs an imposing scythe, he grabs a hoe, and the death match against the local bag headed stalker is on. Volume four also offers the bickering, hand-cuffed vampire and werewolf in a showdown against a Harryhausen cyclops, an Assault on Precinct 13 / Alamo situation against a horde of lesser vampires, and a cross between The Fly and Mimic in a sub-mansion system of catacombs. As Princess Resurrection is read, you're watching someone who is evidentially a genre fan construct homages to a wide range of favorites, then execute those familiar set pieces with manga vitality. Mitsunaga gets into a fluid rhythm with the manga's illustration. The sexy young women of anime/manga are cast with an eye towards fashion and black (the shade, not the mood) aesthetic. These character don't lose their attractive distinctiveness as Mitsunaga fits them into intricately rendered horror context shots. Panels of a stubby Franken-maid at the shore of a murky lake or wolf and vampire looking into a stone, medieval European street are beautiful examples of cross genre/cross cultural mash-ups. Working off this, Mitsunaga goes in a couple of intertwined directions. There's action/violence, which is often people getting stabbed, bludgeoned or otherwise grievously injured, often with storms of speed lines, gushers of inky blood and infernos of flame; Princess Resurrection is manga that does love its arterial sprays and dismemberments. And, there's slapstick with comic strip style cartooned expressiveness. The accumulation of these elements is shamelessly fun, even if it isn't genre defining brilliance. Its faults are actually a testament to the extent of its accomplishments. Though there is a progressing continuity at work in Princess Resurrection, it is very situation based. A premise is introduced, and while there might be ongoing implications, matters are resolved over the course of a 40 page chapter. Maybe as a function of fitting the development and resolution of the story into that page count, the manga ends up doing a lot of teasing. Both small and grand elements that are introduced never see action. A given story promises the deployment of an army in violation of Hime's game of king making. This will probably be brought to bear later, but in that story, it was a disappointment. In another case, the cast gears-up, with Hime grabbing a chainsaw, Hiro a battle axe, and the Franken-maid a sledge hammer. Turn the page, and the action is resolved, the characters are drinking tea, and the story is ending. Beyond that, and despite the frequency of characters getting shanked in the ribs, it is often more about the impression than actual, graphic violence. For example, a character promises to torture Hiro, then comically slaps him around, followed by a later panel with a bloody knife getting licked. This difference between expectation and actuality might be partially the result of unfamiliarity with the manga's background. Princess Resurrection ran in Shonen Sirius. That's an anthology dominated by moe or bishojo manga, with cute girls integrated into various genres from sci-fi/fantasy to horror like Princess Resurrection. As opposed to an anthology like Shonen Ace (home to MPD Psycho and The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service), you're really not likely to get stomach turning expressions of grisly scenes. Princess Resurrection’s a cute enough and fun enough date that it's possible to forgive plenty of it's teasing. Early on, the manga seemed to be limiting itself to the Universal Monsters. When that was the scope, the manga looked like it might have been in danger of wearing out its premise. In that respect, volume four turns the corner. As Mitsunaga's set the sights wider for the manga's inspirations, concerns about tiring of seeing Hime swat monsters with chainsaws have been allayed. Especially as a horror fan, the manga's been evocative enough that it's created anticipation for what's coming next. It isn't often that the untranslated, out of context previews pages that Del Rey appends to their manga releases excite me, but a glimpse of the cast in a Day of the Dead scenario earns Princess Resurrection volume five a spot on my looking-forward-to calendar.

Manga Spotlight: Gantz Volume 2 By Hiroya Oku Released by Dark Horse

While the character of the field qualifies this statement to some degree, I still feel comfortable saying that Gantz is the nastiest manga in the North American market. (Yeah, I know how it compares to something like Shintaro Kago's work, but it's not like we're seeing much of that). Even if we did get more seinen manga, classic Go Nagai works and so on; even if older males were still the prime audience for manga in North America, I still think Gantz's pools of blood and bodies, cracked jaws, severed limbs would stand out. With frequent ventures into the alluring, seen in Gantz's pin-up , fashion shot chapter-title card illustrations, his body of work and his Soul Calibur IV design, no one is going to mistake Hiroya Oku for a manga Michael Haneke, but at the same time, he has a way of making Gantz's world of defying death and hanging with busty girls fascinatingly unpleasant. In volume two of this cool, sexy wish fulfillment gone hideously ugly, the manga isn't driven by a concern as to whether the characters will live or die. Instead, it is intriguing to watch a manga get straight to the action, turn violent and do so without any accompanying sense of vindication. The spectacle of seeing extraordinarily bad things happen to unpleasant or mundanely bad people feeds into the uneasiness, piling up a morally and viscerally terrifying manga. In volume one, disaffected teen Kei Kurono ran into long separated childhood friend Kato just long enough for Kurono's noble minded peer to guilt him into leaping onto a subway track to help save a fallen homeless man. The good deed did not go unpunished, with a bit of body shattering rekishi - death by being run over, courtesy of an oncoming express. The pair was revived in an apartment that was barren except for a black sphere and populated by a pair of yakuza toughs, an unimpressive looking elementary school teacher, a dog, an old politician, a young male actor/model/whatever, an evil looking junior high aged kid and a naked young woman. The surface of the sphere displayed a mug shot of an "onion alien" with the message "will all of you please go and finish off this guy," before opening up to offer racks of labeled suitcases and an arsenal of sci-fi guns. The confused crowd had a few minutes to gear up with weapons and black skintight outfits (in most cases, the latter option is forgone), before they were transported into a regular looking neighborhood. After finding the childlike "onion alien," things took a turn for the gruesome. Most of the group seemed to think they stumbled into a well staged prank TV show, while Kato wept at his inability to stop the wrongs going on in front of him and the teacher openly questioned whether the group was being subjected to some sort of Eichmann Test. As volume two opens, the blow back from the impromptu humanoid bug hunt has begun. A group of people who, for one reason or another, should have been dead were given video game weapons and put into a situation with a rightfully livid ogre. Objectively, it probably should not be surprising to find that the results encompass plenty of sundering, reaming and concaving, or that, as they say, the rain falls on the just and unjust alike. As a fan of seeing what a clever manga creator with an eye towards grisly spectacle can do with the medium, I'm admittedly predisposed to liking Gantz. I'm not necessarily an enthusiast of the live action gore flicks, but there's something about the twin challenges of conveying something convincing in an abstract form and contending with the possibility of the empty page that excites me about the artistry of violent manga. Gantz is serialized in prominent seinen anthology Weekly Young Jump, which is the new home to Rozen Maiden (allegedly Prime Minister Taro Aso's favorite manga), and Takehiko Inoue's wheel chair basketball manga Real. And it works from the foundations of what a seinen title needs to do to grab the attention of an audience that is comparable to the demographics of Spike TV. Seinen series like Gantz and Blade of the Immortal, as well as particularly violent, younger audience shonen (Fist of the North Star) have an interesting place in the North American manga scene. Many of the forerunners in the commercially released manga field came from these genres (in other words, the releases that hoped to attract buyers rather than introduce audiences to something significant, like the translations of Barefoot Gen or Phoenix). However, the manga boom crowded these series into a niche. In summer 2008's top manga sales estimates, I'd only put 24 Berserk and 50 Gantz in this category. As a manga that will startle any reader to attention, I can see why Entertainment Weekly gave Gantz a positive nod. It's splattery teensploitation that holds up when compared to like in any medium. By the same token, I can see why Gantz has not been a critical darling among manga commentators, as it's been slapped with some notable mild to negative marks. On one hand, I have no hard evidence for the assertion that I'm about to make. On the other, given what's popular in other media (see the success of a Saw movie or a game like Dead Space), there has to be a reason why seinen trails the manga charts. It's as if there's a separation between the interest and the product. Manga enthusiasts largely aren't seinen fans and the equivalent of seinen fans largely aren't manga buyers. Here's what the manga fans who don't care for seinen and the seinen fans who don't buy manga are missing out on. In setting an unimpressive selection of humanity loose with ray guns, then observing the pendulum swing of brutality, as the goons hurt others and in turn are themselves hurt, the manga starts looking like a metastasized case teenage angst and urges. Oku knows that he's writing for an audience who is interested in seeing naked flesh and shattered bodies. Volume 2, doesn't have anything like volume one's "Naked Suicide Girl," in which a young woman is plucked from a bathtub wrist cutting, cleaned up, and laid out in her fleshy, naked state for 20-something pages. It does however take long looks at channels of digitally inked blood running over 3D models and it frequently tracks back to the scene of the crime for another look at the piled carnage. One of the inherit strengths of manga is its ability to close in on one image and allow the viewer to stare at this instant without derailing the moving narrative. Gantz's large panels suggest rapid reading, but then it takes unflinching gapes at snap-sudden grievous consequences. This crystallized view of what's happening, cemented by mundane backgrounds and attention to realism in the rendering of people and places, is at odds with the subjective experience. The characters can't mentally reconcile how much trouble they're in. They keep drifting into the notion that they're part of a TV show, or they're screaming in frustration, trying to coax a gentler resolution to their predicament. The manga works to suggest a video game metaphor for what's going on, and consequently, applying a harmless framework for a severe conflict becomes easy. Meanwhile, we see characters graphically die in unenviable, non-heroic fashion. They might not have been the world's most noble people, but seeing it happen provokes some of the same feelings of frustration and rage that they express. Personally, I loath a story that both criticizes and indulges in excess. It would be one thing if Gantz tut-tut-ed the attitudes to which it appeals. Similarly, I'm inclined to think that Gantz would not work as a straight satire. What it does do, which I'm a fan of, is allow itself to get wound up and self-aggravated. Near the end of volume two, the black sphere sizes up the recent combatants with the kind of juvenile note book scrawl that a middle schooler would dedicate to a disliked classmate. This ability of the manga to jeer at itself might be the right attitude for a story that both plays to and rolls its eyes at prurient interests. The first pages of the manga features Kurono standing on a subway platform, thumbing through the bikini photos in a Jump magazine (the one that prints Gantz) while glancing from the mag to critically size up the people around him. "I may look stupid... but to tell the truth, I know I'm better than everyone else in the world." This sullen, egotistical teen contrasts the Kurono that Kato remembers from their childhood, who was brave, clever and noble, capable of thwarting bullies and scraping through unthinkable stunts. Given a super suit, and the instincts to be the only one in the group to put the thing on in the apartment staging area, Kurono is given a unique opportunity to impress the girl and demonstrate that he actually is better than ugly, unthinking world around him. Assessing Gantz via the criteria that Kurono sets for himself in that opening monolog can be provocative. He isn't exactly proven wrong. After a fashion, he does look brighter than the masses. Beyond that, his wishes are fulfilled. Then again, so much ends in disaster or near disaster, and so much is agony that the character has tears streaming down his face, and the vicarious reaction is teeth gritting frustration or a pained grimace. There's a discussion among commentators as to whether watching horror is an act of sadism or masochism. The pleasure of Gantz would suggest the latter. It's a compelling manga driven by its horrific violence, but it's working towards more than just something to gape at. Despite the fact that it's offering the spectacle of not-so-good people taking their lumps, it's more queasiness inducing than exhilarating. By no means is Gantz an entirely airtight, cerebral work. These first two volumes make up an introductory phase of the manga. As such, I can't really say if they're developing a well considered statement or laying out disconnected, but provocative ideas. I can say that I'm not wow'ed by how its establishing its plot mysteries. A particularly irksome bit is dropped in at the end of the volume to explain some of the core sci-fi conceits. An admitted liar gives the survivors of the "Onion Alien" a few answers to their questions, mostly in the form of theories. Other than the "I'm an alien" outright BS, the manga hasn't really offered enough evidence to filter the information from the mis-information. Beyond that, if the "theory" is in fact a theory, having a character intuit vital information seems like a cheat. I don't want to oversell Gantz, but its first two volumes do showcase the kindof incendiary, violent material that makes seinen an exciting segment of manga. Between this, Blade of the Immortal, MPD Psycho, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service and so on, Dark Horse is putting out a number of releases that should keenly interest Ain't It Cool News Readers.

Digital Distribution News reports that TV Tokyo’s President, Masayuki Shimada has indicated that he's considering monthly membership fee for people to be able to view the Crunchyroll streams of TV Tokyo’s shows only an hour after Japanese airing about $12 a month. Current plans include free streams delayed one week.
Joost, the Flash-based, global, web video service, announced that Nippon Television Network(NTV), Yoshimoto Kogyo and Dentsu will offer Japanese anime and comedy programs on via dedicated channels. Under the terms of the deal, NTV and Yoshimoto will provide content, and Dentsu will handle the advertising sales for this content. Anime titles being added include Kaiji and Buzzer Beater. The site has also partnered with g VIZ Media, FUNimation, Anime News Network for anime context. “This partnership is key to fulfilling our objective of being the leading online destination for premium, legal anime,” said Danny Passman, Director of U.S. Content Strategy & Acquisition and Global Head of Programming for Joost. “We plan to continue to expand our offering of authentic Japanese language anime favorites simultaneously or immediately after airing in Japan.” The first four episodes of Kaiji and Buzzer Beater are now available and an additional four episodes will be added every two weeks. Hit reality show, Denpa Shonen also became available on, with additional comedy and reality titles to be added regularly. In addition to these titles, Joost will also launch a Japanese Humor channel called “Owarai” which will offer Japanese variety shows such as Nasubi, R-Mania and Funako from the Denpa Shonen series, 24-Hour Tag and Yamasaki vs Moriman from the Gaki series, and HITOSI MATUMOTO VISUALBUM, and EP FILMS.
Joost has launched an application that will stream content over Wi-Fi to the iPhone and iPod touch. Joost on the iPhone is ad-supported and free for users. Editorial note: I checked out FUNimation/Gainax series Shikabane Hime on the Joost iPhone app. I could have desired a more functionally extensive application (bookmarking movies, bookmarking position in movies, e-mailing links to movies). That said, the anime looked great. Definitely something I'll watch regularly, and not just a novelty.
Toei Animation has expanded its download-to-own offerings on Direct2Drive to include Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999
DYBEX S.A., the leading provider of Japanese animation content in France, and Directions, Inc., has announced the webcast of Director Yasuhiro Yoshiura's new anime project, "Time of Eve", in Europe. "Time of Eve" will be available in Japanese and English through Directions, but also in French, Italian, German and Spanish via Dybex. French versions of act01 and act02 are already freely available on both Crunchyroll and Dybex's websites since October, with other languages following in December. The french version of act03 will be available on 48 hours after the Japanese release on Yahoo! Japan. Starting from act04, the webcast of Time of Eve will be simultaneous in Japanese, English, French, Italian, German and Spanish languages, a world premiere for a Japanese anime show. A goal reached through close cooperation between the two companies, and that will certainly influence the future of anime distribution on the web.
Princess Ai Monogatari will be released in Japan through the WiiWare service for 500 Wii Points for the first three chapters and 200 Wii Points for additional sets of two chapters

Cool Figures News

Kotobukiya has announced a new slate of upcoming figures to be imported to the US from Japan. MARVEL COMICS ROGUE BISHOUJO STATUE A KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import The popular X-Men character presented in Japanese Bishoujo (pretty girl) style, as dsigned by Shunya Yamashita The 7 3/5 inches tall (1/8 scale) PVC figure has been sculpted by Koei Matsumoto. srp $59.99 Available in JUNE
Marvel, Rogue: TM & © 2009 Marvel Entertainment, Inc. and its subsidiaries. Licensed by Marvel Characters B.V. All rights reserved. MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS: THE KOTOBUKIYA COLLECTION NOVA FINE ART STATUE A KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import The hero’s feet are hidden within the fire blast at the top of his base, but the statue is removable so you can enjoy his flying pose without the base. Both the eyes and the three energy regulators on his chest are treated with special glow in the dark paint, while a powerful LED light in the base recreates Nova’s explosive energy effect, Nova, like the other Fine Art Statues in the Kotobukiya Collection, is a limited, numbered edition constructed of high-quality cold cast porcelain. The flying superhero stretches over 15 inches high, from his intricate blast-off base to his upraised fist. srp $174.99 Available in JUNE
Marvel, Nova: TM & © 2009 Marvel Entertainment, Inc. and its subsidiaries. Licensed by Marvel Characters B.V. All rights reserved MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS: THE KOTOBUKIYA COLLECTION MIGHTY AVENGERS: ARES FINE ART BUST A KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import The first in The Kotobukiya Collection’s chapter of Mighty Avengers Fine Art Busts, Ares stands nearly 11 inches tall atop a classically-inspired base. On the front of the base is a representation of Ares’ civilian face, and on the bottom is a metal plate marked with the individual serial number. Constructed from cold cast porcelain, Ares is sculpted by Junnosuke Abe and comes packaged in a stylish fifth panel window box. srp $79.99 Available in JUNE
Marvel, Ares: TM & © 2009 Marvel Entertainment, Inc. and its subsidiaries. Licensed by Marvel Characters B.V. All rights reserved. MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS: THE KOTOBUKIYA COLLECTION X-MEN CLASSIC CHAPTER: WOLVERINE FINE ART BUST A KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import Wolverine continues the tradition of the X-Men Classic Chapter, wearing his brown and yellow costume from the 1980s, complete with reddish-orange belt and pointed cowl. The 9 inch tall cold cast porcelain, with 2 1/3 inch long metal claws is sculpted by Takeshi Kimura srp $79.99 Available in JUNE
Marvel, Wolverine: TM & © 2008 Marvel Entertainment, Inc. and its subsidiaries. Licensed by Marvel Characters B.V. All rights reserved. LINEBARRELS OF IRON: APPARITION FINE SCALE MODEL KIT A KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import The latest “Real Battle Action Robot” from the mecha manga and anime sensation LINEBARRELS OF IRON (Kurogane no Linebarrels) is the mysterious APPARITION. With straightforward snap-fit assembly, pictorial instructions, and pieces cast in different colors, the Apparition model kit is easy to put together and requires no painting. In scale (1/144) with the other Linebarrels model kits, the mystery robot stands 4 4/5 inches tall. The Apparition is composed of 400 parts, and has 30 points of articulation for maximum poseability. Also included are alternate hands, an optional face shield, and a displaying stand for dynamic flying poses. The robot’s enormous rifle can be stowed on its back or held in firing position. srp $39.99 Available in JUNE
© 2008 Eiichi Shimizu,Tomohiro Shimoguchi,Akita Publishing/GONZO/Linebarrel Partners SUPER ROBOT TAISEN: SLADEGELMIR FINE SCALE MODEL KIT A KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import At 6 1/3 inches tall (non-scale), the Sladegelmir Fine Scale Model Kit is composed of approximately 350 parts and has 30 points of articulation. With pictorial instructions and pieces cast in different colors, assembly is easy. Sladegelmir comes equipped with two drill boost knuckles that can be attached to the robot’s back, or mounted as replacement hands. Also included is the Zankantou sword, fully 15 inches long.
srp $39.99 Available in JUNE ©SRWOG Project KANNAGI –CRAZY SHRINE MAIDENS- TSUGUMI ANI*STATUE A KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import KANNAGI –CRAZY SHRINE MAIDENS-, the manga hit, is now a successful anima adaptation in Japan. Seated at 5 inches in heightl, Tsugumi is in scale (1/7) with the other Kannagi -Crazy Shrine Maidens- girls. Constructed of pvc and abs plastics, she is sculpted by Masato Abe and comes packaged in a window box. srp $54.99 Available in JUNE
© ????/??? TO HEART 2 –ANOTHER DAYS- YUKI KUSAKABE SPLASH BEACH ANI*STATUE A KOTOBUKIYA Japanese import! Sculpted by Hide, Yuki stands 7 4/5 inches tall (1/7 scale) and is constructed of pvc and abs plastics. srp $44.99 Available in MAY
© 2007 Leaf/AQUAPLUS
Dark Horse Deluxe will be releasing the Vampire Hunter D PVC Set on January 14, 2009 for $24.99. The set, sculpted and painted by Tim Bruckner will feature 4" figures of D, Doris, and Magnus.
Meter tall Evangelion Vintage Star Wars figures Olde VS New: Madballs Dangard Devolution
Cool stuff from CollectionDX CollectionDX and Yamato toys USA team up for Christmas story contest give away!
Snake Eyes - Commando Getter 1 with Full Mantle Gaiking Necklace Megahouse Variable Action Shadow Mospeada Ride Armor
Golgo 13 from Hot Toys Transforming Fury Megazord Set Deslar Warship Metal Statue Here's some great news from Marmit today for all you chogokin, Yamato or Leiji Matsumoto fans...a diecast Deslar Warship! Tachikoma Collection EX HAW206 - Many Legs Equipment Thought Model Tank by Kenbishi Heavy Industries Megahouse Ita-Chikoma! Japanese Otaku love to pimp out their rides with images of their favorite anime character. So what if that Ride was a Tachikoma?
Kinnikuman USB key Sit up figures from Cube Kinnikuman KN Shirt Version Sofubi from Romando 10th Anniversary Zoids Shield Tiger (Van Spec) Be@rBrick series 17 feat. Gurren Lagann SAH Buster Vanks Dai it looks kind of neat, like the sort of thing you'd have seen if Clive Barker were Japanese. One part Henshin Cyborg, one part Tortured Souls. 55cm Ray Harryhausen Film Library Cyclops Ray Harryhausen Retro film library seris YMIR TakaraTomy Cool Girl Asuka from Evangelion
center>* Customs Grendizer Stikfas Yao Ming Transformer DIY Vinyl Toy: King Hippo Dunny (Punch-Out) DIY Vinyl Toy: Samurai Dunnys DIY Vinyl Toy: Samurai Munny Totem Stitch Gruesome lego constructions
In other merch news, Production Reed Co. is offering a limited number of animation celluloid reproductions (cels) of 1980's Japanese classics, Go-Shogun and Fairy Princess Minky Momo. Reprints of the original cels are now available for purchase on the Production Reed English website to be shipped directly from Japan.

New and Upcoming in Japan

Previews Hells Angels 20th Century Boys (second live action film) Nippon Cinema has trailer for Kanna’s Big Success! (Kanna-san, Daiseikou Desu!), the new live action adaptation of the umiko Suzuki manga that the 2006 Korean comedy "200 Pounds Beauty" was based. Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari (new trailer for the Tenchi Muyu spin-off) Utawarerumono OVA ICE (movie version) also here Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo Chrome Shelled Regios Tears to Tiara Rideback Queen's Blade Zero Anime Production I.G has announced that Kenji Kamiyama's (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit) new anime, EDEN OF THE EAST will air on Fuji Television's late-night time slot noitaminA starting in April 2009. Kamiyama will also be scripting the anime. Honey and Clover's Chika Umino will be providing the Chika Umino charactr design. EDEN OF THE EAST is the first original series to be broadcast within noitaminA, the previous shows being transpositions of existing manga or novels. The first series aired in the block was notably Chika Umino's "Honey and Clover" in 2005. Production I.G successfully debuted in the noitaminA block in April 2008 with the series "Library War," directed by Takayuki Hamana. STORY November 22, 2010. Monday. Ten missiles hit the territory of Japan. However, this unprecedented terrorist act, later to be known as "Careless Monday" apparently did not cause any victim, and was soon forgotten by almost everyone. Then, 3 months later... Saki Morimi is a young woman currently in the United States of America on her graduation trip. But just when she is in front of the White House, Washington DC, se gets into troubles, and only the unexpected intervention of one of her fellow countrymen saves her day. However, this man, who introduces himself as Akira Takizawa, is a complete mystery. First of all, he appears to have lost his memory. Secondly, he is stark naked, except for the gun he holds in one hand, and the mobile phone he's grabbing with the other hand. A phone that is charged with 8,200,000,000 yen in digital cash. Who is Akira Takizawa? What are the secrets behind his extraordinary mobile phone? What got lost with his vanished memory?
© EDEN OF THE EAST reports that the November 27 Ghibli production diary covered Hayao Miyazaki's "How Do We (Ghibli) Get over the Severe World" speach to the stud staff, in which he announced the start of two feature films by young staff members. It's unknown whether "young staff members" means "the director and animators are young" or just "the animators are young". According to the production diary of November 17, the preparation room for next film was established. The entry shows a hand-written poster that says "Preparation Room - Maro & Nayo 20XX public release". "Nayo" is probably referring to Kishimoto's nickname Nayo. According to a previous talk by Toshio Suzuki, preparation room member Kishimoto is collecting data for Isao Takahata's next film. Takahata has not released a full-length feature since 1999's My Neighbors the Yamadas. Kiyohiko Azuma has downplayed the possibility of a Yotsuba anime. Pony Canyon, Fuji Television and Production I.G have begun showcasing their anime incarnation of the Abunai Sisters This project encompasses a combination of Japanese marketing elements including a new program known as "THE GATHERING SYSTEM." Put into effect simultaneously in both Japan and the US, this direct-to-consumer initiative dictates the retail price based on the amount of overall orders. This program integrates experimental promotional tools from the three well-known entertainment companies sponsoring the project, creating buzz via unprecedented synergy. The official site for is online at Via Anime Nation The 13th volume of Saki Hasemi & Kentaro Yabuki’s sci-fi romanctic comedy manga To LOVEru -Trouble- will be available on April 3, 2009 in a limited edition that includes an anime OVA. Via Anime News Network Level5 announced that the Professor Layton: The First Movie anime adaptation of the popular Nintendo DS puzzle game will hit Japanese threatres in 2010. Castmembers Yo Oizumi (Brave Story, Howl's Moving Castle) and Maki Horikita (Densha Otoko series, Always: Sunset on Third Street) will reprise their respective roles of Layton and Luke. There is also a live-action film in the works as well as a Professor Layton manga by Sakura Naoki in Shogakukan's Bessatsu CoroCoro Comic magazine. Barnum Studio will be developing the 3D CG "experimental indie anime" Hoshi ni Negai o ("Wish Upon a Star"). Barnum Studio was founded by Galaxy Angel producer Tetsuro Satomi, and it has worked on Kyoran Kazoku Nikki, Kemeko Deluxe!, sola, and the Devil May Cry television series. Miyuki Sawashiro (Di Gi Charat's Petit Charat, Galaxy Angel's Mint, Strike Witches' Perrine) will star as the lead character Hikari. Kyoko Hikami (Wedding Peach's title character, Di Gi Charat's Hikaru) will play Mari, and Toru Ohkawa (Fullmetal Alchemist's Roy, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex's Saito) will play Romeo. Rokuro Naya (Zatch Bell's Nazonazo, Karas' Chief) and Kana Akutsu (Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino-'s Henrietta) round out the cast as Raven and the interviewer, respectively. Kazuya Ichikawa (Shadow Skill: Kuruda-ryu Kousatsu-hou no Himitsu director, Appleseed: Ex Machina CG layout and motion team leader) will direct the project. The Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas - Meio Shinwa of the long running fight manga will be adapted into a direct to video OVA, scheduled for next spring. Masami Kurumada and Shiori Teshirogi's Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas - Meio Shinwa takes place in the middle of the 18th century, 243 years before the first Saint Seiya storyline. NisiOisin's (Death Note: Another Note, the xxxHOLiC novel) historical martial arts novel series Maniwagatari will be adapted into anime. Natsumi Itsuki's (Jyu Oh Sei) shoujo Hana-sakeru Seishonen manga will be animated for NHK's BS2 premium television channel in April. The story focuses on Kajika Louisa Kugami Burnsworth, the product of a Caribbean encounter between the international magnate Harry Burnsworth and a Japanese woman 14 years ago. Kajika has been living in Japan as a middle school girl, until the elder Burnsworth summons her to America to choose a husband from three suitors. Kajika gets involved in international intrigue over oil and wealth in Southeast Asia, France, and America. Ritz Kobayashi's Saki mahjong manga will be adapted into an anime series directed by Manabu Ono (Dragonaut - The Resonance, Transformers: Cybertron) and scripted by Tatsuhiko Urahata (Card Captor Sakura, Hajime no Ippo, Strawberry Panic!) KOEI's female-oriented La Corda D'Oro 2 Forte (Kin-iro no Corda 2 F) romance simulation game will be adapted into an anime series that ties into the upcoming PSP game. A previous La Corda D'Oro game was adapted into an anime series in 2006, as where KOEI's Neo Romance line romance simulation games Angelique and Haruka -Beyond the Stream of Time-. A NetMile Research survey leaked that an anime adaptation of Satoko Kiyuzuki's GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class manga is in development. Hiroaki Sakurai (Di Gi Charat, Kodocha, Cromartie High School) will direct off scripts that will be supervised by Doko Machida (Allison & Lillia, Lucky Star, Tears to Tiara). Atsuko Watanabe (Fight Ippatsu! Juden-chan!!) will reportedly design the characters that AIC will animate. Yen Press announced at Comic-Con International in July that it licensed the rights to the original GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class manga. Manga Via Anime News Network BONES' Xam'd: Lost Memorie, the anime of which has been distributed via the video rent service on PlayStation Network , will be adapted into the manga series Bonen no Xam'd: Junreisha no Compass. The title will run on Kadokawa Shoten's Ace Assault starting December 9th. Mamoru Oshii's live action, dueling anthology film Kill was adapted into a one shot manga for Young Animal. Kenji Hiraya produced Samurai Sword, a story inspired by Oshii's entry in Kill. Natsumi Ando (Zodiac P.I., Kitchen Princess) will launch a new shoujo manga series named Arisa in the anthology Nakayoshi. Speaking of Nakayoshi, Haruka Fukushima recently produced a one-shot spinoff to Instant Teen - Just Add Nuts (Otona ni NUTS) for the anthology. Live Action Anime Nation and Tokyograph reports that Eri Fukatsu will portray a failed manga artist in Toshiyuki Morioka's film adaptation of Rieko Saibara’s 2005 manga “Onnanoko Monogatari.” Via Anime News Network Mao Inoue, the star of Hana Yori Dango and Anmitsu-hime, will headline a live-action film adaptation of Kotomi Aoki's Boku no Hatsukoi o Kimi ni Sasagu romance manga in Fall of 2009. Theatre Via Twitch Mamoru Oshii's Tetsujin 28 (Gigantor Stage play) commentary at J-Film Pow-Wow (and speaking of robots on stage "Hataraku Watashi (I, Worker)" Maboroshii Productions

Murakami Launching LA Studio

L.A. Time's Culture Monster blog reports that " Japan's Andy Warhol," superflat movement founder Takashi Murakami is planning on opening an animation studio in Los Angeles next summer. Murakami, who already has a studio in New York, plans to expand into Hollywood under the umbrealla of his production and artist-management company Kaikai Kiki. Murakami3_5 "Animation and film have always been among my greatest influences, ever since I first saw 'Star Wars' and Hayao Miyazaki's films," Murakami said in a statement. "This studio represents a great step in the evolution of Kaikai Kiki and gives me a closer proximity to the community of artists with whom I hope to collaborate as I continue my explorations of animated and live-action film." ... The studio's first project will be a feature-length animated film based on "Planting the Seeds," the shorts that premiered at Murakami's mid-career retrospective at MOCA, Rappaport said. It also created the Kanye West video for "Good Morning." The shorts also appeared last spring at the Brooklyn Museum's version of the exhibition and, more recently, at the 2008 CineVegas Film Festival in Las Vegas. The digitally animated works feature Kaikai and Kiki, the company's cartoon-character namesakes, traveling the world in a spaceship and learning to grow watermelons with the help of fertilizer, or "poop" as they gleefully call it.
24" inch Mazinger Z Santa Mazinger Gantz Reika Figma

The Business

Anime News Network reports that Gonzo (The Hellsing TV series, Basilisk, Speed Grapher) parent company GDH has aksed approximately 50 eomployees to voluntarily retire in an effort to restore the company to profitability. GDH and Gonzo currently employ about 200. The employees who choose to take advantage of the program between December 1 and December 12 will receive a one-time bonus equivalent to one-month's salary. Their retirement will become effective on January 31. The program applies to GDH and Gonzo employees, but not to those in Gonzo Rosso, an online game subsidiary. GDH will also sell of its GDH Capital financing subsidiary for 213 million yen (about US$2.2 million). The four-person unit was originally established in 2005 with 300 million yen (US$3 million) in capital.
* has speculated on the possibility that Bandai Entertainment and Bandai-Namco may be rolled into one business unit. The site also notes that according to a notice on Namco Bandai’s website, President and chairman of the board of directors for Bandai Visual, Tsunoda Ryouhei will assume the role of board of directors for parent company Bandai-Namco, starting January 2009. In addition, the headquarters of Bandai Visual and Bandai Networks will be moved from their two headquarters in east Shimbashi to the Shinagawa Seaside Tower buildings which also house Bandai-Namco’s administrative services by the middle of December.
The Beat relates that Tokyopop has laid off seven employees from their LA office last month, including one editor, the CTO, the HR manager, and two others from Media.
FUNimation, along with Anchor Bay, Funimation, DreamWorks, Universal, and Disney have signed on to offer Blu-ray rentals through Redbox supermarket kiosks.
Variety reports that Toei plans to spend $55 million on revamping and digitalizing its studio in Tokyo's Nerima Ward. Toei has been planning the revamp for four years. "We are facing the full-fledged arrival of the digital era in both films and television production," Toei prexy Yusuke Okada said on Tuesday. "We are actively investing for the future."
Top 20 manga Graphic novels in November genuinearticle on Viz's ambitions Savage Critics asks "Is Manga Dying" (in other works, what happened to ability for North American publishers to release another volume of Yotsuba, Beck Mongolian Chop or Jojo's Bizarre Adventure?) ComiPress on A Summary of France's Comics Market and the Future of China's Comics Market Some provocative thoughts on quality anime is not licensed Simon Jones considers manga after Naruto Comics Worth Reading the future of Scholastic's Graphix imprint after Bone Wired on Godzilla trademark protection

Upcoming North American Releases

ADV Via Anime on DVD 02-03-2009 Cyberteam in Akihabara Complete Collection - 650 mins - $39.98 Kino's Journey Complete Collection - 325 mins - $39.98 Zain: I Wish You Were Here Complete Collection - 120 mins - $29.98 02-10-2009 Full Metal Panic: Heavy Metal Collection (Seasons 1-2) - 900 mins - $89.98 Najica Blitz Tactics Complete Collection - 30
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