Manga Spotlight: Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei: The Power of Negative Thinking
by Koji Kumeta
Released by Del Rey
I'll willingly admit that I'm a sucker for a irreverently critical, absurdist comedy. It's this bad. Because I never watch TV, I don't bother to subscribe to cable, yet I've made sure that the comedy critique of TV programming The Soup is scheduled to record on my parents' Tivo so I can watch it when I stop by their place. Given these inclinations, it's been years since I've read a manga comedy that I've latched onto as forcefully as I have to Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei. The last one that comes to mind is Usamaru Furuya's Short Cuts. Like that collection of strips, SZS is a decidedly prickly affair.
Even if we're forced to watch a precarious downward spiral unravel in the day to day news, there's pleasure to be had in vicariously following the sharply written gallows humor of a terminal trajectory. In this case, I get the impression that SZS is kicking dirt into the open grave of situation comedies written by anime/manga fans for anime/manga fans. On the surface, Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei mirthfully shoots down the despair of its titular, suicidal teacher. Yet, even if we're laughing off that teacher's zany rants, reading the manga still feels like staring into the abyss. It's a smarter, and more self aware trump for a type of story of which fans of these media should be familiar. As such, the series might as well be regarded as the literate, wickedly funny closing argument to a certain approach to anime and manga.
One day, on the way to class, pathologically optimistic school girl Kafuka Fuura (this is a pen name that phonetically suggests "Franz Kafka") sees something strange blowing from a blossoming cherry tree. The feet floating in the air turn out to be connected to a man in traditional kimono in the process of hanging himself. She instantly grabs the appendages to help the stranger. Her weight strangles him, but also snaps the rope. Despite his intentions, the man's first reaction is shock that the girl almost killed him. "What if I had died?!" Once the man is able to suppress his instinctual grasp on life, he's able to assume his defining pessimism.
This man is revealed to be Nozomu Itoshiki. Write the name horizontally, and the characters look an awful lot like you're spelling out zetsubo ("despair") in Japanese. Like Kafuka, we soon learn that Itoshiki-sensei is to be the home room teacher for Kafuka and a classroom full of other extreme cases, such as the obsessively formal Chiri Kitsu, incorrigible stalker Matoi Tsunetsuki, bandaged up presumed domestic violence victim Abiru Kobushi (the manga's names are all puns, and this one's the especially fun "to bathe in fists"). There are male students in the class, but as in the beloved Azumanga Daioh, the guys are largely just wallpaper.
Between Kafuka, Itoshiki and the rest of the girls, Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei erects a funhouse of distorted world views. This goes beyond well defined personality traits or characters who think bit different. It's a host of people who are potentially pathological in their insistence on applying their warped perceptions to their daily routines. Part of the edge to this joke is that it reflects the point at which the multitude of school based anime/manga comedies has arrived. Instead of reflecting recognizable personality types from real experience, these stories have populated themselves with character types that are recognizable from other stories in the genre. Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei revels in this echo chamber. For example, the degree to which Evangelion character Rei Ayanami's bandages have become emblematic might be a bit disconcerting, but SZS has no problem gleefully appropriating the familiar markings of severe bodily harm for Abiru Kobushi.
You could call the meta gag in this comedy of oddly shaped perceptions "people watching for people who don't watch people." Appropriate to this shut in, media informed view of humanity, a favorite example of SZS's sense of humor is the manga's third story, "Beyond the Tunnel Was Whiteness."
This is going to sound a bit obscure and reference heavy, but the comedy broadcasts the points loud enough that the cultural end notes are only needed to confirm your assumptions. In other words, bear with me. The joke is funny even if it does work with a lot of examinations. To preface it, "hikikomori" is a term for people who have engaged in "acute social withdrawal." Putting aside sociological refinement, the idea refers to a social drop out who has given up on school or work, and instead confines themselves to their parents' house or apartment. Hikikomori have been a target for commentary and pop culture for most of the decade - the lead in Rozen Maiden, the manga that is reputed to be a favorite of Prime Minister Taro Aso is one of a number of anime/manga with hikikomori protagonists.
"Beyond the Tunnel Was Whiteness" opens with school counselor Chie Arai (supposedly, you can mangle the name to read "Niichie," as in Friedrich Nietzsche) sending off Itoshiki to retrieve truant student Kiri Komori. Arriving at her house, Itoshiki finds Kafuka loitering nearby, explaining her presence by saying she lives in the neighborhood. The pair encounter a girl screaming from behind a barricaded door and a father imploring his daughter to speak to her teacher. Itoshiki offers the deadpan, rather obvious observation "this is an extreme case of hikikomori syndrome."
The comment sets Kafuka off... "Hikikomori... There's no way there could be a hikikomori living so close to me! That's so serious, you only hear about them on TV and in the papers." Having eliminated the impossible, Sherlock deduces that the improbable truth is that Kiri Komori is in fact a zashiki-warashi, a child like house spirit that brings good fortune as long as they reside in a house, but who bring ruin upon departure. So, Itoshiki and Kafuka take it upon themselves to ensure the prosperity of the household by shuttering Kiri Komori inside...a rather traumatizing operation.
What I find funniest about this sequence has little to do with familiarity with the concept of a hikikomori or a zashiki-warashi. First, it's cartooned sight humor. The odd couple pairing of spritely Kafuka and professionally pessimistic Itoshiki is the perfect launch point. When they begin flailing about, trying to set things in what they perceive to be the proper order, the manga really hits the right notes of clever zaniness. The second bit of hilariousness is the manga's abrupt bushwhacking of the potential to relate to hikikomori as a true phenomenon. Kafuka is quick to set us straight. This manga's not about dealing with reality. It's about smirking at the fractured reflections that bounce off the wall after too much news coverage, manga and demented interpretations
The podcast Dave and Joel's Fast Karate for the Gentlemen espouses the notion that anime and manga have history of producing poor parodies. The criticism is that rather than smartly satirize a subject an anime/manga parody will lob out a recognizable sight, then rely on out of context recognition for a laugh. Hey isn't that Gundam's White Base passing by? Woah, look at the teddy bear screeching and piston punching like Fist of the North Star's Kenshiro! Exceptions probably exist, but generally I agree that this school of anime/manga parody has progressed little since Gainax produced their shorts to open the Daicon conventions.
That said, I do find that anime and manga are occasionally adept at engaging in meta conversations with the consumer. A favorite example of this is heroic bloodshed action Black Lagoon. The manga, and especially the anime encourage the consumer to share in the excitement, then knowlingly indicts them for it. There's a tete-a-tete going on that develops almost sadomasochistically. It encourages you to get excited about the infliction of pain and grievous injury, then it slaps you for that excitement.
SZS fits into a trend in this geek media, but also rolls its eyes at that trend.
Let me quote something from an old Gurren Lagann feature
A poll answered by 2 million Japanese fans selected the following as their favorite anime of 2007
1 - sola a fantasy romance written by Naoki Hisaya of Kanon
2 - Lucky Star - based on a four panel gag strip, following cutely designed, uber-geek girls
3 - Katei Kyoshi Hitman Reborn - a Shounen Jump action comedy
4 - Ookiku Furi Kabutte - based on a seinen baseball manga
5 - Higurashi (When They Cry) - murder mystery with cute girls, based on a series of visual novels
6 - Gintama - a Shounen Jump action comedy
7 - Nanoha StrikerS - cute, military magic girls for an older audience
8 - Nanatsuiro Drops - magic girl, based on an eroge visual novel
9 - Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei - an absurdist, and somewhat literate comedy about a suicidal highschool teacher and his female students (by far this reviewer's favorite of the list)
10 - Hidamari Sketch - based on a seinen four panel manga about cute girls living in an artists' haunt
In this list, Hitman Reborn, Ookiku Furi Kabutte and Gintama stand out as the subset that does not, at least to some extent, rely on cute girls, presented for a slightly older, male audience. What this marks is that the geek cult has rallied behind a passion for a certain type of character, and anime production has fallen into step.
The proliferation of moe characters and a geek-friendly, cute girl aesthetic look like evidence of an echo chamber between fans and creators. This is relevant to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann in that in the current landscape, anime explicitly for anime fans, made by creators who are or were anime fans now tiles the landscape.
Fast forward to this month, and there are suggestions that anime like moe titles that are narrow cast towards existing anime fans will be the death of the industry. If there's a growing notion that that sort of anime/manga is a malignant danger to the industries, Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei can be said to have been ahead of the game in recognizing, then laughing at, the cause for despair. Regardless of whether these are actually the end times for anime, manga or this brand of moe/for fans-by fans, SZS can be said to mine the character types and the mind-set behind those works for some hilariously sharp material.
Mad Max Anime?
MTV's Movieblog reports that writer/director George Miller has inducated that, with Mel Gibson off the table for a new Mad Max, "an R-rated, stereoscopic anime flick" is being hatched.
From the MTV piece
“I see myself as someone who is very curious about storytelling and all its various media,” Miller said. “I’ve always loved anime, in particular the Japanese sensibility. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
The project is one phase of a “Mad Max” renaissance of sorts. Along with “God of War II” designer Corey Barlog, Miller is developing an action-adventure videogame based on the fourth film. Gibson won’t be participating in that endeavor, either.
For the anime release, Miller isn’t looking simply to mimic Japanese-style animation but rather to adapt it for Western audiences. “The anime is an opportunity for me to shift a little bit about what anime is doing because anime is ripe for an adjustment or sea change,” he explained. “It’s coming in games and I believe it’s the same in anime. There’s going to be a hybrid anime where it shifts more towards Western sensibilities. [Japanese filmmaker Akira] Kurosawa was able to bridge that gap between the Japanese sensibilities and the West and make those definitive films.”
Naruto Shippuden: ep. 98 The Target Appears is now available on Joost here
Shattering the force field with his newly mastered collaboration jutsu with the toads, Naruto and the reinforcement unit arrive at the battle site. But Naruto's new jutsu is repulsed by Guren's ability to crystallize fluids.
Hiroyuki Takei's Shonen Jump series Shaman King ended abruptly with a strange, almost nonscenical illustration. With a re-release of the manga, Takei will be putting together a new, proper ending. Chapters will be posted online ahead of the manga's release.
FUNimation will also be broadcasting their anime through the Gaia Online community's Gaia Online Cinema. Anime series such as Black Blood Brothers, MoonPhase, Peach Girl and Suzuka can be viewed by visiting and clicking on "What's New" or "Channels" and selecting FUNimation.
Anime News Network has worked with services such as Joost and YouTube to host embedded streams of anime including
Aquarion 1-26 sub, 1-4 dub
Black Blood Brothers 1-26 dub
Blue Gender 1-4 dub
Galaxy Railways 1-4 dub
Ga-Ra-Ku-Ta: Mr. Stain on Junk Alley 1-14 dub
Ghost Hunt 1-9 sub
Jyu-Oh-Sei 1-11 sub, 1-2 dub
Kiddy Grade 1-4 dub
MoonPhase 1-26 sub, 1-4 dub
Origin: Spirits of the Past dub
Peach Girl 1-4 dub
Rumbling Hearts 1-14 sub, 1-6 dub
School Rumble 1-4 dub
Shuffle! 1-24 sub
Slayers Next 1-26 dub
XXXHOLiC 1-4 dub
Avatar: The Last Airbender (season 1, episodes 1-20) has also been added
The buzz out of Wondercon is that following Cartoon Network's discontinuing of the Toonami JetStram site, Viz is looking at options for streaming anime including Naruto, MAR and Megaman Nt Warrior/ Star force themselves
The Japan Times Online talks about anime's doubtful future
Besides the gloomy economy, the overwhelmingly adult content of recent television animation — many featuring violent or highly sexual material and broadcast during late-night hours — has played a part in limiting the audience and making both marketing and merchandising of anime-related products difficult.
Crunch time: Cartoon character Doraemon, Japan's animation ambassador, smiles at the sight of his favorite Dora-yaki pancakes, presented last March by then Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura. KYODO PHOTO
Yoshihiko Noda, director of the media content division for ad agency Asatsu-DK, buys TV time slots for popular family programs such as "Doraemon" and "Crayon Shin-chan." He said these trends were a relatively recent phenomenon.
"The demographics of anime fans began shifting seven to eight years ago. Those who grew up watching cartoons became older, and began craving more 'otaku' (geek) and adult content," Noda said, noting such animation is mainly produced for DVD sales, with the late-night shows — usually consisting of only 13 episodes — used as bait to draw viewers into buying the full DVD set that comes with increased content and special features.
Matt Alt reacts
Saying that one is a fan of anime is like saying one is a fan of TV. It's a medium rather than a genre and needs to be judged by the content. And while there are undeniable bright spots like the occasional Miyazaki film, crossover hits like The Animatrix or Afro Samurai, and arthouse fare like Tekkon Kinkreet, it is growing harder and harder to deny that the quality of the content is really going downhill as a whole.
The Yomiuri Shimbun looks at Imai Shoten Group Co. pilot program for their bookstores that will allow customers to read the first few pages of manga comic books on a cell phone.
"Tamehon," a two-dimensional barcode, will take the user to a Web page on which they can read the first 16 pages of the book.
ICV2 Blockbuster has hired bankruptcy specialties Kirkland & Ellis to advise it on financing option
Virgin Megastores has announced plans to close their remaining outlets in the United States by the end of the summer.
Erica Friedman on Fandom, Fan Delusion and What Fans *Really* Want
Here's how I look at it. "fans" (we'll use the small 'f' to denote this level) are people who become engaged in a series. They identify with it, they think about it meta-textually, beyond the confines of the media itself. As a friend of my wife's said to me once as I was talking about Marimite, "You talk about these characters as if they are friends." Umberto Eco defines literature as any text that moves beyond the confines of its media. When people start to talk about the characters as if they are friends, the book is no longer just a book - it has become literature. And the people who discuss it this way are "fans."
By my personal definition, "Fandom" is made up of those fans who take the next step into engagement with a series - they want to become a part of it. These are the folks who cosplay, do fan art, fanfic, music videos, or simply rant endlessly on forums about the series, pick individual characters and scenes apart endlessly (often tediously.)
Jason Yadao's Cel Shaded reports that Appleseed/Appleseed Ex Machina director Shinji Aramaki (also design on Bubblegum Crisis, MASK, Fullmetal Alchemist) will be a guest at Hawaii's Kawaii Kon (April 10-12)
Other guests include voice actors Laura Bailey, Caitlin Glass, Illich Guardiola, Vic Mignogna, Brina Palencia, Monica Rial and Travis Willingham; producer/director David Williams; artists Stan Sakai and Robert and Emily DeJesus; and musical guests Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re and the Emeralds.
Tickets remain for New York Int'l Children's Film Festival screenings:
- SON OF A LION - Sat Mar 7, 11am, IFC Center
- SHORTS FOR TOTS - Sat Mar 7, 11am, Symphony Space
- HEY HEY IT'S ESTHER BLUEBURGER - Sat Mar 7, 11:15am, IFC Center
- SHORTS FOR TEENS - Sat Mar 7, 1pm, Symphony Space
- SHORT FILMS TWO - Sun Mar 8, 11:30am, Cantor Film Center
- SHORT FILMS ONE (JUST ADDED) - Sat Mar 14, 10:30am, Scholastic Theater
- GIRLS' POV SHORTS - Sat Mar 14, 11am, Symphony Space
- SHORT FILMS TWO - Sat Mar 14, 12:30pm, Scholastic Theater
- SITA SINGS THE BLUES with FILMMAKER (JUST ADDED) - Sun Mar 15, 1pm, DGA Theater
- BEST OF FEST & CLOSING PARTY (WITH WALLACE & GROMIT) - Sun Mar 15, 4pm, DGA Theater
Screenings for Tokyo!, the surreal triptych film by Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, and Bong Joon-ho, is currently scheduled for
Landmark's Sunshine Cinema
143 East Houston Street, New York, NY 10002
(on the Lower East Side)
Landmark's Nuart Theatre
11272 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Los Angeles, CA 90025
Landmark's Lumiere Theatre
1572 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94109
Landmark's Shattuck Theatre
2230 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704
3/20/09: San Jose
Camera 12 Downtown
201 South Second Street, San Jose, CA 95113
3/27/09: Washington DC
Landmark's E Street Cinema
555 11th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
(entrance on E Street between 10th and 11th Street)
4/10/09: San Diego
Landmark's Ken Cinema
4061 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116
Landmark's Ritz at the Bourse
400 Ranstead Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
(On Fourth Street between Market and Chestnut)
Landmark's Gateway Theater
1550 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43201
"Interior Design" (Dir. Michel Gondry) -
Tokyo! opens with the first of three featurettes, "Interior Design," from beloved international sensation Michel Gondry, whose previous features, including, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), The Science of Sleep (2006), and Be Kind Rewind (2008), revealed a master of surrealist whimsy at the very top of his game.
Hiroko and Akira (Ayako Fujitani and Ryo Kase) are a young couple from the provinces who arrive in Tokyo with limited funds, short-term lodging and what appears to be a solid and mutually supportive relationship that will seemingly carry them through any challenge. Akira is an aspiring filmmaker whose debut feature will soon screen in the city — and hopefully land him an entrée to a more solid career; in the interim he lands work wrapping gifts at a local department store. After securing short-term housing in the cramped studio apartment of old school chum Akemi (Ayumi Ito) — a career girl with a demanding boyfriend who grows weary of Akemi's houseguests — Hiroko hits the streets of Tokyo in search of a suitable apartment, finding a series of rat-infested hovels that neither she nor Akira can afford on their limited salaries. After Akira's film screens, to dubious acclaim, one spectator informs Hiroko of the inherent struggles in relationships between creative types: often times, one half of a couple feels invisible, useless or unappreciated, something Hiroko relates to wholeheartedly in the wake of her numerous trials and tribulations in the unfamiliar city of Tokyo. She starts to question her role in the relationship, resulting in a Kafkaesque transformation of self-discovery that will delight fans of Gondry's trademark surrealism. Adapted from Gabrielle Bell's comic "Cecil and Jordan in New York."
"Merde" (Dir. Léos Carax) -
Tokyo! continues with the second featurette, "Merde," from acclaimed French filmmaker Léos Carax, whose previous features include the Cannes Film Festival selection Pola X (1999), the international art-house sensation The Lovers on the Bridge (1991), starring "Merde" lead actor Denis Lavant and Juliette Binoche, and the classic French indies Mauvais Sang (Bad Blood; 1986) and Boy Meets Girl (1984).
Merde (a French term translating as "shit") is the name given to an unkempt, gibberish-spewing subterranean creature of the Tokyo sewers, played by Denis Lavant, who rises from the underground lair where he dwells to attack unsuspecting locals in increasingly brazen and terrifying ways: he steals cash and cigarettes from passersby, frightens old women and salaciously licks schoolgirls, resulting in a televised media frenzy that creates mounting hysteria among the Tokyo populace.
After discovering an arsenal of hand grenades in his underground lair, Merde slips into full-on assault mode, hurling the munitions at random citizens and creating a Godzilla-like atmosphere of urban terror, which the media promptly laps up and reflects back to its equally voracious television audience.
Enter pompous French magistrate Maître Voland (Jean-François Balmer) — a dead ringer for the sewer creature's gnarled and twisted demeanor — who arrives in Tokyo to represent Merde's inevitable televised trial, claiming to be the sole person in the world able to speak his client's unintelligible language. The media circus mounts as lawyer defends client in a surreal court of law hungry for a satisfying resolution. Merde is tried, convicted and sentenced to death — until justice takes an unexpected turn.
"Shaking Tokyo" (Dir. Bong Joon-ho) -
The Tokyo! triptych concludes with the romantic featurette "Shaking Tokyo" from Bong Joon-ho, whose Korean monster movie The Host was the hit of the 2006 Cannes Film Festival before becoming a international box office sensation.
Teruyuki Kagawa stars as a Tokyo shut-in, or hikikimori, who has not left his apartment in a decade. His only link to the outside world is through his telephone, which he uses to command every necessity from a series of random and anonymous delivery people, including the pizza that he lives on and the hundreds of discarded pizza cartons he meticulously stacks in and around his cramped apartment. But one day is different — his pizza arrives thanks to a lovely young woman who succeeds in catching the shut-in's eye. Suddenly an earthquake strikes Tokyo, prompting the beautiful young delivery woman to faint in her client's apartment. And then the unthinkable happens — the hikikimori falls hopelessly in love.
Time passes and the shut-in discovers through another pizza delivery person that the improbable object of his affections has become a hikikimori in her own right. Taking a bold leap into the unknown, our hero crosses the threshold of his apartment and takes to the streets in search of his paramour, at last discovering his kindred spirit — at the very moment another earthquake strikes.
The New York Anime Festival announced it is partnering with Del Rey Manga, Japan Society, Karaterice, Keio Academy, Samurai Beat Radio, and Yen Press to hold an Anime Day at New York City's Kinokuniya Bookstore. The event takes place Sunday, March 15, Kinokuniya Bookstore (located at 1073 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan)
Anime Day Event Schedule
All Day: All customers who come into Kinokuniya Bookstore can enter to win a number of prizes from Del Rey Manga, Japan Society, and the New York Anime Festival, including a collection of 50 of Del Rey Manga's best-selling and fan-favorite manga as well as complimentary tickets to Japan Society's KRAZY! exhibit. Winners will be drawn at 6 PM, and customers must be present to claim their prizes. Note the Del Rey prize will be shipped to the winner following the event.
11 AM: Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei and Soul Eater Giveaway.
12 PM: Introduction To Cosplay.
1 PM: Japan Society Presents KRAZY!
2 PM: Let's Draw With Misako Rocks!
3 PM: Keio Academy Summer Camp.
4 PM: SamuraiBeatRadio.com Introduces Ai Kawashima
5 PM: Making Music With echostream
6 PM: Raffle Drawing.
Via EvaMonkeyThe Seventh Annual National Cherry Blossom Festival Anime Marathon will be held on March 28th at the Smithsonian Institution, Freer Gallery of Art - 1050 Independence Avenue, SW
Films to be shown include
Animal Treasure Island
Based on Robert Louis Stevenson's beloved novel Treasure Island, Hiroshi Ikeda's delightful children's film tells the story of a boy, Jim, and his mouse friend Gran, who set sail in search of riches, only to a band of dastardly pirates led by Captain Silver. Suitable for all ages. (1971, 78 min., English, video)
Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone
This sci-fi tale co-directed by Hideaki Anno, Masayuki and Kazuya Tsurumaki is set in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, where the population defends itself from alien invaders with the help of human/mechanical hybrid battle robots. Its hero, Shinji, is a shy 14-year-old boy mysteriously chosen to save the planet from the aliens for good. Rated PG. (2007, 98 min., Japanese with English subtitles, video)
Visual effects whiz Sori directed this stunning example of animation as high tech high art - a fusion of advanced techniques and sophisticated thinking about mankind's possible future. In the year 2077, Japan has isolated itself from the world. The film's eponymous heroine and her team of US commandos are ordered to infiltrate its barricades and get to the root of the illegal biotechnology experiments being conducted by sinister mega-corporation Daiwa. Rated PG-13. (2007, 110 min., Japanese with English subtitles, video)
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
In 35mm! As the title suggests, Mamoru Hosoda's cheery comedy is about a teenage tomboy who discovers that she can travel through time. After discovering her power, goofy, scatterbrained Motoko goes on all manner of exciting adventures, but ultimately realizes that friendship is the greatest adventure of all. Rated PG. (2006, 98 min., Japanese with English subtitles)
All films will be introduced by author Frederik Schodt.
Philadelphia's Cinefest 2009 (March 26 - April 6) will features the first two parts of the live action adapatation of Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys .
VIZ Pictures has announced that it will team with NCM FATHOM to present DEATH NOTE: L, change the WorLd, a live-action two-night, multi-city event on April 29th and 30th at 7:30 pm local time. By popular demand, a subtitled version will be presented on April 29th and an English-dubbed version on April 30th with L's voice played by Alessandro Juliani from the anime series.
Tickets for this special event are available at presenting theatre box offices and online. For a complete list of theatre locations and prices, see www.FathomEvents.com (theatres are subject to change). Advance tickets will be available to SHONEN JUMP e-subscribers beginning March 20 (sign-up is available at www.shonenjump.com) and tickets to the general public go on sale on March 23.
Pre-registration has opened for Anime Expo (July 4th of July weekend, July 2-5, 2009, at the Los Angeles Convention Center). Details are available on the site.
Anime Expo is working with Intermixi Japan Tours to award one pre-registered AX guest all expense paid trip (including roundtrip airfare, hotel, excursions, some meals) on one of Intermixi's seasonal tours
Kame Hame Kansai Tour
Neo Tokyo Tour
Tokyo Game Show Tour
The Samurai Re-Imagined: From Ukiyo-e to Anime exhibit has opened at at the Pacific Asia Musuem
Tied events include:
March 7 and 14, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. "Drawing a Revolution: A History of Japanese Anime and Manga." UCLA Extension course with classroom discussion and museum field trip and tour. $85-$95. To register, visit www.uclaextension.edu/visual arts.
March 14, noon-4 p.m. Japanimation Festival. Performances, crafts, demonstrations, exhibits and more for all ages.
March 21, 2-5 p.m. "Games People Play" Discussion of the history and development of game design with Alexei Othenin-Girard. Workshop follows. Reservations needed.
March 22, 3 p.m. "Authors on Asia: Stan Sakai." Creator of the Usagi Yojimbo series, Sakai, will discuss and sign his books and demonstrate his art. Reservations needed.
May 2, 1 p.m. Curator's Tour with Julian Bermudez. Reservations needed.
May 14-July 23 Anime Film Festival. Seven films over five nights. Screenings will include "Momotaro's Sky Adventure" by Yasuji Murata, "The Animal Village in Trouble" by Sanae Yamamoto, "Samurai X," and "Gundam Wing: The Movie".
May 23. Student Animation Festival. Screening of short films by local students inspired by artwork from the Pacific Asia Museum. Reservations needed.
July 25. 1 p.m. Curator's Tour with Julian Bermudez. Reservations needed.
Guin Saga (the first five novels have been released in North America by Vertical)
Dragon Ball Kai
Toei confirmed that the remastered Dragon Ball Z will be edited to quicken the pace of the popular super hero action anime.
Kotaku has posted the trailer for the next Pokemon movieanime
Via Anime News Network
The staff off the upcoming Shin Mazinger have commented that the upcoming incarnatition of the first pilot mecha is not a "Mazinger Z remake" or a "new Mazinger Z." As part of a request to Japanese anime magazine Animedia, the staff asked that the magazine avoid mentioning the old television series to introduce the new series and avoid using the phrase "Mazinger Z" in big letters in article captions and such.
Coverage of a Mazinger promotional event can be seen here
The voice cast for the new Fullmetal Alchemist anime will be
Romi Paku as Edward Elric
Rie Kugimiya as Alphonse Elric
Megumi Takamoto as Winry Rockbell
Shinichiro Miki as Roy Mustang
Fumiko Orikasa as Riza Hawkeye
Kenji Utsumi as Alex Louis Armstrong
Keiji Fujiwara as Maes Hughes
Yuji Ueda as Jean Havoc
Kenji Hamada as Vato Falman
Kaori Nazuka as Maria Ross
Hidekatsu Shibata as King Bradley
Kenta Miyake as Scar
Kikuko Inoue as Lust
Tetsu Shiratori as Gluttony
Minami Takayama as Envy
Hiroyuki Yoshino as Kimblee
Kouichi Yamadera as Isaac
Avex label, will ship am 18-minute Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom/Mighty Atom) anime short with its debut album, trax, at the end of April. The what if story follows the end of Tezuka's manga series. The shorts will feature redesigns of other Tezuka character such as Black Jack and Princess knight, packaged with music from artists such as BoA, Maki Goto, Anna Tsuchiya, Tohoshinki, and TRF. The album marks Avex's 20th anniversary and what would have been Tezuka's 80th birthday.
A promo can be seen here
An unaired episode that bridges the first season of sci-fi action anime Birdy the Mighty Decode to the second will be released on DVD in Japan on July 22
The second season of Hayate the Combat Butler, "Hayate the Combat Butler!!" will premiere on Japanese TV on Friday, April 3 at April 3 at 25:23 (effectively, Saturday, April 4 at 1:23 a.m.)
Kotaku reports that the upcoming Blu-ray rekease of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete will be released with an original anime features called Final Fantasy VII: On the Way to a Smile - Episode: Denzel - from animation studios A-1 Pictures and BeStack.
Gokusen manga turned anime/TV drama about a yakuza heiress turned high school teacher will be adapted into a movie, scheduled to hit Japanese theatres in July. TV series direct Toya Sato will oversee the movie.
Via Anime News Network
Manga Action announced that Mamora Goda's manga about the relationship between a rookie prison guard and a death row felon Mori no Asagao will be adapted into a live action movie
Tottori, the hometown of acclaimed manga creator Jiro Taniguchi (Hotel Harbour View, Quest for the Missing, Benkei in New York) are organizing a commission to develop a film based on Taniguchi's first manga Chichi no Koyomi (Father's Calendar). The manga followed the effects of the Great Tottori Fire of 1952 on a family.
Upcoming in North America
Bandai EntertainmentBandai Entertainment Inc. and Kadokawa Pictures USA will be releasing the Lucky Star OVA in North America. This is the follow-up to the 24 episode TV anime adaptation of Kagami Yoshimizu's four panel geek comedy comic strip. Dates and details are to be determined.
FUNimation has posted their schedule of upcoming releases
Darker Than Black - v. 3
Fullmetal Alchemist - Season 2 - Box Set
Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple - Season 1 Part 1
PaniPoni Dash - Complete Series Box Set
Shigurui: Death Frenzy - Complete Series Box Set - BluRay
Shigurui: Death Frenzy - Complete Series Box Set
Speed Grapher - Box Set - VC
Tsubasa - v.12
Baccano - v. 2
Claymore - v. 4
Solty Rei - Box Set - VC 9
Tokyo Majin - Part Two Martial Fist Chapter
Trinity Blood - Box Set - VC
D. Gray-man - Season 1 Part 1
DBZ - Movies 8, 10 & 11
DBZ - Movies 8, 10 & 11 Blu-Ray
Negima - Season 2 Part 2
One Piece - Season 01 - Fourth Voyage
Shuffle - Complete Box Set
The Wallflower - Complete Collection, Part 2
Fruits Basket - Box Set - VC
Tenchi Muyo! Ryo Ohki - Box - VC
Instant Star - Season 1 and Season 2
Vandread - Complete Series Box Set
Black Lagoon Season 2 - Box Set
Air TV - Complete Box Set
Genghis Khan -To the Ends of the Earth and Sea - Special Edition
Genghis Khan -To the Ends of the Earth and Sea - BluRay
Ghost Train - Movie
Moonlight Mile - Complete First Season
Beck - Box Set - VC
The Count of Monte Cristo: Gankutsuou - Complete Series Box Set
Kanon - Complete Box Set
Project Blue Earth SOS - Complete Box Set
Synesthesia - Live Action Movie
MangaBlog reports that NetComics has licensed yaoi titles
Age Called Blue by est em
Dining Bar Akira (Kuimonodokoro Akira) by Tomoko Yamashita
Merry Family Plan by Sumitomo Morozumi
Love Full of Scars by Delico Psyche
Black-winged Love by Tomoko Yamashita
For details, see hereRough Guides
Rough Guides will be releasing the Rough Guide to Anime on June 1, 2009. The 304 page book by Simon Richmond will retail for $18.99/
The Rough Guide to Anime provides a comprehensive overview of the diverse and amazing world of animation from Japan. Combining a critical approach with all the essential background information - from history and short biographies of the key people in the industry to the different genres, themes and cultural references of anime - this is the ultimate guide to Japanese animation. The book introduces the creative talents behind the major anime movies, TV series and OVA (original video animation) - from the Oscar-winning Spirited Away to classic works like Howl''s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, and the iconic shows Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, Speed Racer and Robotech. Written by anime expert Simon Richmond, features include the Top 50 must-sees, with details on the most influential directors and creative artists. There''s an exploration of the art form''s history, plus information on the anime conventions and manga-related attractions in Japan. Newcomers will love the glossary of all the anime slang and jargon, while devoted fans will relish the fresh exploration of themes, genres and obsessions in the colourful anime universe.
A Rough Guide to Manga will be released on September 21, 2009.
VIZ Media has announced the products that will tie into the upcoming DragonBall: Evolution live action movie, scheduled to hit domestic theatres on April 8th.
DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION JUNIOR NOVEL * Recommended for Ages 9-12
MSRP: $5.99 US / $6.99 CAN * Available Now
The Junior Novel is aimed at readers ages 9 through 12 and also features 8-pages of full-color glossy photos from the live-action film.
DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION CHAPTER BOOKS * Recommended for Ages 7-10 *
MSRP: $4.99 US / $5.99 CAN * Available Now
The DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION Chapter Books is a series composed of 3 volumes designed for younger readers, ages 7 through 10. Based on the upcoming feature film, the Chapter Books depict the adventures of Goku as he tries to save the world from a madman that is looking for the seven Dragon Balls.
DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION STICKER BOOK * Rated "A" for All Ages *
MSRP: $6.99 US / $7.99 CAN * March 24, 2009
100 reusable stickers with 8 pages of full-color backgrounds
Guilty Gears maker Arc System Works has confirmed that the anime inspired 2d fighter will be release on the PlayStation 2 and XBox 360 in Japan this summer.
The 1up piece says
BlazBlue, from the makers of the Guilty Gear, is getting a wide range of updates for its home port, most involving the new single-player story mode. "Simply playing through it will require more than 30 hours," general director Toshimichi Mori told Famitsu. "I think a lot of casual users enjoy the story modes [in fighting games], so we made an effort to allow people who want to enjoy the story and the characters to play through to the end."
The story mode, which will involve all 12 playable characters, will feature a variety of branching story choices, most picked directly by the player adventure-game style. Depending on how things go, your character may start at a disadvantage in some battles, either with reduced energy or without one or more of his signature moves. (Some branches will occur based off whether you win or lose a match, but these are the exception, according to Mori.)
Square Enix announced that Fullmetal Alchemist: Prince of the Dawn will be available this summer in Japan exclusively for the Wii
The game, which features an original story, directed by Final Fantasy XIII's Motomu Toriyama) based on the manga's volume 16, is being made to coincide with the news anime. Series creator Hiromu Arakawa is overseeing the game, contributing original characters to the story.
ICV2 report that Konami has announced that Konami Digital Entertainment has announced that starting on March 20th Champion Pack 8 will be available at tournament hobby stores for Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG prize support.
King of Fighters XII has now been confirmed to be US bound for the PlayStation 3, this summer
Super Robot Taisen K for the Nintendo DS
Via Anime News Network
The winners of Voice Newtype's 3rd Annual Seiyu Awards were
Best Lead Actor Award
Best Lead Actress Award
Best Supporting Actor Awards
Best Supporting Actress Awards
Best New Actor Awards
Best New Actress Awards
Best Singing Award
Best Personality Award
The nominees for the 13th Annual Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize are
Eki kara 5-bun (Five Minutes from the Station)
Ooku: The Inner Chamber
To be released in North America by Viz Media
Children of the Sea (Kaiju no Kodomo)
To be released in North America by Viz Media
A Drifting Life (Gekiga Hyoryu)
To be released in North America by Drawn & Quarterly
Saint Young Men
The nominating committee included Go Nagai, manga creator Keiko Takemiya, novelist Shion Miura, essayists, and university professors
Worth Checking Out...
AniPages Daily remembers Departed animators
Ghibli World spoke to Studio Ghibli's Kosaka Kitaro
Q: In fact, it is evident how Miyazaki's films, notwithstanding their highly imaginative stories, tend to present characters which are deeply human in their behavior and sensibility...
A: I believe that the fantasy elements, which are so evident in the latest Ghibli productions, have a meaning which is deeper than what may superficially appear. That is to say, I do not think that Miyazaki's stories have to be considered as simple flights from the real world of everyday problems. On the contrary, I think that Ghibli fantasies are a form of criticism of the human intellect. A criticism that works in the way of a negation. The contemporary society is something familiar to us, and we are used to its positive or frightening aspects. Ghibli films allow a critical separation from this context, because they show the world we passively live in from a whole new perspective. For example, we may have lost interest in blades of grass: however, I hope that someone, after having seen blades of grass in a Ghibli film, moving and transfigured by the detailed stylization of the drawings, will find a new pleasure in looking carefully when passing by a real meadow.
The site also spoke to Nick Mamatas about the English edition of Hayao Miyazaki's Shuppatsu Ten 1979-1996 ( Starting Point: 1979-1996).
abdm the site looks at Miyazaki's new manga, KAZE TACHINU
AOKIstudio Animation blog spoke to Jakob Jensen, animation director of the Imagi Astro Boy
Japan Times spoke to author/translator (Yokai Attack) Matt Alt
The Escapist spoke to Nina "SpaceCoyote" Matsumoto (the anime-style Simpsons, Yokaiden)
Complex.com spoke to Digital Content Programming for Manga.com, Steve Sargent
Roland Kelts (Japanamerica) spoke to novelist Haruki Murakami
Casey Brienza on mistreatment of female characters in anime/manga
Pink Ray Gun looks back at Pet Shop of Horrors
Destroy All Podcasts DX Episode 91 - tackles the meta anime TV special Osamu Tezuka's Last Mystery of the 20th Century
Manga Recon Show #009: Schedule of a Weekly MangaKa
The Weekly Anime Review Podcast signs off
Episode 87 of the Anime Today podcast welcomes writer, translator, lecturer and anime-industry insider Jonathan Clements.
In this new, four-segment interview, Clements discusses his new book - Schoolgirl Milky Crisis: Adventures in the Anime and Manga Trade - a collection of columns, speeches, interviews, insights and more from his nearly 20 years of writing about anime and the anime industry. He also discusses how the industry and its fans have evolved over the past two decades, the mainstream media's perception of anime, whether any subjects are "off limits," and his future projects.
Paul Robertson (Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006) is part of Mecha Fetus Visublog Podcast #1
Following World Makoto Shinkai Reverse Thieves look at his works
Tim Maughan on 5 Centimeters Per Second
Ani-Gamers on Follow aicnanime