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Manga Spotlight: All My Darling Daughters by Fumi Yoshinaga Released by VIZ Media

If you want to see steam rise from the skull of a manga fan, suggest that the medium obeys a "house style." From the minimalism of Natsume Ono to photorealistic Ryoichi Ikegami (Crying Freeman), that notion is demonstrably incorrect, and it's amazing that you'll still hear it articulated by people you'd think would be better informed. Then, there is a corollary, more implicit idea that manga projects a consistent tone; that it's always marked by hysterical bombast. All My Darling Daughters is anything but reserved and not entirely naturalistic either, but if you do have those preconceptions about manga, the work will be eye opening. At the Anime Boston convention, I took part in a manga commentator round table. One of the questions that came up was "what current manga will be remembered 30 years from now?" I didn't get a chance to promote my designation of "bookshelf manga" for works that exceed the transitory moment in the spotlight enjoyed by the majority of even the well read and respected manga. That said, I didn't disagree with the momentum towards declaring Fumi Yoshinaga's gender minded alternate history Ooku a contender for manga that may be remembered and revisited decades from now. All My Darling Daughters is characterized by less importance than Ooku, but nearly as much craft. The five, connected short stories were published in Hakusensha's anthology Melody. Technically, that's a shoujo (for teenage or younger female demographics) magazine and not a josei (older female readers, women's) one. Yet, as shoujo goes, Melody can and All My Darling Daughters does feel more appropriate for older readers. There's a little exposed skin and some talk of sex, but the distinction is not that there's much to blush at here. (My personal, most embarrassing manga story involves Moyocco Anno's josei title Happy Mania, having to exchange a damaged copy, only to have the store clerk open the volume to a somewhat graphic sex scene). The differentiating factor here owes more to the subjects and the attitudes involved. My reductive take is that manga for younger audiences are largely about aspiration (with plenty of counter examples). Be the best. Achieve some honor, some social objective, some romantic objective. In contrast, manga for older audiences are largely about reconsolidation (with plenty of counter examples)... dealing with a lot in life or with personal failings. Much of All My Darling Daughters is about how characters got to where they are, and how they'll live with that. Yoshinaga's masterstroke is balancing a fine line between the shorthand used to draw out characters for fiction and conveying convincing humanity. The first story opens with a widowed mother berating her teenage daughter for the messy state of their apartment, for the daughter's habit of leaving stacks of manga in the bathroom and other minor domestic crimes. Daughter accuses mother of taking frustrations out on her, to which mother responds "you're right. that's exactly what I'm doing... parents are human. Sometimes they have bad moods! If you think everything is always going to be fair, then you're greatly mistaken!" As in that scene, All My Darling Daughters can be very much on the nose. When I divorce myself from the effect of the manga and start thinking about the mechanics, I see that it drifts into the limiting pattern in which what shapes a person's development can be pinned to an identifiable catalyst. Yet, it's never cheap or easy. The reactions that Yoshinaga evoke are never simple, and as such, the manga never violates a suspension of disbelief in regards to its characters. That first story reapproaches Yukiko in her thirties. She's an unmarried professional, still living with her mother, Mari. After Mari survives a serious cancer scare, she decides to live her life how she'd want to from then on. Yukiko internally retorts that she wasn't aware that her mother hadn't been doing that previously. The fall out is that Mari brings home a new husband, a couple years Yukiko's junior. Furthermore, the guy is an actor/model/whatever... or more specifically, an ex-host (to quote the end notes "host clubs are a type of bar that caters to female patrons. Attractive men pour drinks, flit and make conversations with the patrons.") The pieces are here for melodrama, but that's not the route that Yoshinaga takes. Instead, the remarriage is a provocation that manifests itself in the mundane. Cooking. Bathroom use. Little signfifiers of what's being thought and how relationships are functioning. Beyond that, the manga masterfully captures flustering moments and testy conversations. It evokes the spirit of moments that sets once head spinning... the conversation with your parent that you don't want to have yet again; listening to the anecdote that inspires unease; thinking back to a high school conversation that doesn't sit well with the course of adult life. In the past, I've applied an "overheard conversation" test to dramatic manga. If I heard these characters discussing their problem in a public venue, would I listen in? I'm inclined to think that these characters wouldn't be offering up anything fascinating or salacious. And yet, I haven't been able to stop thinking about this manga since first reading it a month ago. In All My Darling Daughters, Yoshinaga excels at overlapping particulars with universals. The specifics are mother/daughter dynamics, how women are or aren't shaped by relationships with their lovers, and how these women work their way through Japanese society. These aren't matters that I personally relate to or towards which I'm personally inclined to be interested. Yet, if you're over a certain age, you can relate to the need to deal with difficult relationships, past mistakes and matters that turned out differently than might have been hoped for. And, "deal" is the operative verb. Raging and weeping aren't over accentuated. As this may sound, it is not escapist but not monumental or important. As such the retort to a recommendation is likely "why bother?" All My Darling Daughters is manga that resonates, that'll leave you thinking about the decisions its characters made and how they arrived at those decisions.

Manga Spotlight: Gantz Volume Nine by Hiroya Oku Released by Dark Horse Manga

Gantz is the zenith of block buster manga. Naruto with its giant frogs and lightning punches is fine, but this is the real business. Aliens getting brained by a deftly wielded school desk. Roof top mortal combat. Tears and blood and a lot of other bodily fluids. I may be done trying to read meta commentary into Gantz. If this series wants to come back at a later point and present evidence that it's an intelligent manga, fine. For now, I'm satisfied and willing to take it for what it is, and not what it initially appeared to have promoted. I enjoy and enthusiastically evangelize smart manga, and sensitive manga and important manga. I'm not really convinced that Gantz is any of these. I'll also put in a good word for entertaining, brutally violent manga, qualities that Gantz exhibits in spades. Recently Biomega has been getting a lot of positive buzz. Many of its proponents are pulling images of its sniper rifle wielding bear and selling its inspired wackiness. Half facetiously, I've been calling these people out as interlopers in the genre. What's great about Biomega is not the bear on the grassy knoll. That's garnish. The appeal of Biomega is a motorcycle riding, black clad gunslinger dispassionately facing down an evil of mind shattering enormity. Gantz is similarly full-bore guy-catnip: people playing out desperate, first person shooter scenarios on streets, rooftops and school buildings. As might be expected from that sort of bombastic promise, there are plenty of people who hate Gantz. There are people who refuse or dread to read it. Even among those with an affinity for its brand of narrative, it's divisive. And, if you skip the manga, you aren't missing anything life changing. For better or worse, it's simply excessive violence and violation the likes of which isn't even approached by Kick Ass and the like. I can't remember the last time I hit a volume of manga the plot of which was more difficult to touch upon without spoiling it such that the revelations would affect the enjoyment of reading the manga. I could point out some highlights, but, really, plot doesn't really matter too much to Gantz. This isn't manga that is driven by its character or its plot. It defies prediction. It's not cheating around expectations, but when it's not shuffling the deck, it's spiking the cards on the floor. The engine moving the manga is momentum itself. It's always either in the midst of a huge spectacle or preparing for the next. Gantz is full of human and alien bodies being destroyed at high speed. People leap tall buildings, their limbs shattering at impact. It's all fast and out of control. And, it works in manga. Time in comics/manga is based on an agreement between the writer and reader. The writer makes suggestions based on the transition between panels and pages. In contrast to video, there's a native mechanism for breaking the flow. You get to a panel in which a character is on his heels, dodging a punch. It's natural to slow down, look at the panel and appreciate what is being conveyed. If constructed well, and Gantz is, in this medium, stopping to feed on the impact of one moment does not diminish the sense of speed in which the next one occurs. That next punch still seems a split second after the first. The spectacle of Gantz is rendered in such a way that the nature of the medium complements its intentions to present images meant to leave the reader taken aback. Hiroya Oku has referenced Die Hard as an inspiration for Gantz, and in seeing how physically vulnerable its action heroes can be, that comparison is arguably apt. Yet, I think a better point of reference occurs in the first act of classic X-Men story, The Dark Phoenix Saga. The heroes are all captured by their adversaries, the Hellfire Club. Team maverick Wolverine is presumed to be out of commission, but from the sewers, the comic iconically shows him hanging on, preparing to go in alone in a counter attack. It's been argued that that was a watershed moment in what had been called "superhero decadence:" in which, among other excesses, comics became too involved with their own iconography while trying to blow previous iconic moments out of the water . Gantz goes in that direction, with the violence restrictor plates pried off. The hugely sexualized chapter illustrations are one marker of Oku's ability to create attention commanding and divisive images. For a while, I thought Oku was discussing teenage male wish fulfillment in Gantz. Now, I believe he's wiring a series of "oh *expletive*!" moments. In theory, that sort of combustible shock approach should eventually exhaust its creators capacity for tweaking the audience. Nine volumes in, Oku's ability to put together those iconic Wolverine the skewer scenes, only more affrontary, is only growing more potent.

Live Action Spotlight: 14 Amazons Released by FUNimation

Well, obviously this isn't anime, but it is being released by a company that is typically an anime distributor (FUNimation). And, if no one else in AICN is going to speak to it, might as well be me. If Mel Gibson made movies in the Shaw Brothers system and had an interest in female protagonists, 14 Amazons is the movie he'd make. The Yang family (also featured in Gordon Liu's 8 Diagram Pole Fighter) are the Song's staunchest defenders. As the film opens, the family's last adult male, General Yang Tsung Pao, is slaughtered along with his army by the forces of Western Xia. When his widow Mu Kuei Ying hears of this, she convinces the family matriarch, her grandmothers, her aunts, her mother and her mother in law, to join her in taking along her young son Yang Wen and mounting a counter offensive. There's Bolo Yeung prisoner of war abuse, whips drawing day glow blood, decapitation by mace, a human bridge, and all sorts of martial ploys. The full package is an epic well capable of holding your attention for the two hour run length. When Quentin Tarantino opened up Kill Bill with a Shaw Scope logo, some saw it as an affectation or a cheap homage, but whether you want to put a positive or a negative spin on the pre-title logo, it was certainly a naked declaration that Tarantino would be sending nods in the direction of the Shaw Brothers' influential and once dominant production house. That movie's Pai Mei figure? One of the Five Elders survivors of the destruction of the Shaolin temple, portrayed by Lo Lieh in Shaw Brothers features such as Executioners from Shaolin, Abbot of Shaolin and Clan of the White Lotus. In the late 50's, businessman Run Run Shaw relocated to Hong Kong, and by the early 60's his movie studio had begun capturing audiences and shaping the history of kung fu movies with wuxia martial arts epics, including Five Deadly Venoms, The One Armed Swordsman and Come Drink With Me. Released in 1972, 14 Amazons hit in a space after Raymond Chow's upstart rival Golden Harvest released Bruce Lee's the Big Boss, but before Enter the Dragon. As a principle driven historical epic, 14 Amazons was a style of film that wouldn't go away, but which was about to lose traction. Raymond Chow left Shaw Brother, critical of Run Run Shaw’s militaristic approach. Filmed over two years, 14 Amazons appears to have been one of the Shaws' major campaigns. Unlike the Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan or Tony Jaa movies that would follow it, or even the classics that proceeded it, 14 Amazons is more a work of production than a showcase for a skilled, charismatic star. The movie was directed by Kang Cheng (Magnificent Swordsman, Flying Guillotine 2), with his son Tony Ching Siu Tung (Terracotta Warrior, Tsui Hark's Swordman, Dragon Inn, Heroic Trio, Shaolin Soccer, House Of Flying Daggers) as an action director along with Leung Siu Chung. Together, the team is able to stage or edit effective skirmishes out of the Shaw production system. Lisa Lu (The Joy Luck Club) stars as the Yang matriarch with Ivy Ling Po as the central widow/mother. Both have plenty of presence, but by in large, what marks the movie is that it is stylized within an inch of its life. For a modern, North American film watcher, even one versed in films like Tsui Harks wuxia or Five Deadly Venoms, the 14 Amazons is strange on the palette. Whether it's 26 year old, obviously female Lily Ho as the male child Yang Wen or the bloodied character who smiles as she proclaims "I'm glad to be able to serve you again" before extravagantly expiring, there are some eye poppingly stagey conceits in the film. At the same time, Kang Cheng and company put forth a valiant struggle implementing ideas in the film. It is successful at selling the notion of the last of the Yang taking up arms to war against a sadistically brutal enemy. There are enough people on screen that it does seem like a clash between kingdoms. There are bits of film editing and fight choreography that simply don't work, but for every silly effort to trip a charging army with a bamboo rod or wraps them in nets, there's a neat bit of diegetic wire fu as the Yang women swing around trying to knife a signal flare firing scout or to the death intensity. I'm inclined to think that most viewers will come away with a net positive impression of FUNimation's treatment of the material. I don't expect many to complain about the remastered video transfer. There's a new English dub done in the tradition of classic Shaw localizations that manages to capture the spirit without going overboard. There aren't any extras on the disc, and it would have been nice to get some original trailers of the movie, or classic poster art, a small reproduction of which is on the back cover. I'm not ready to put 14 Amazons among my favorite Shaw Brothers movies, but I did watch it or have it on three or four times while preparing this review. That says something for the movie. Even if parts don't stand up well, the heroic tale offers the kind of spectacle that will never be dated.

Upcoming in North America (and Other English Speaking Territories)

MTV Splash Page notes that "The Losers" director Sylvain White has expressed interest in helming an adaptation of the classic "Robotech" animated series. "Well, ['Robotech' is] not a project that's greenlit," related White during an appearance at last weekend's WonderCon (via Sci-Fi Wire). "It's a great cult series. When it came out, I actually saw it in France, growing up. I saw it in French. It's a pretty amazing cartoon. And I'm hoping it's going to come to fruition." "I read a draft that's really good," continued White. "I'm interested in doing it, but the project is not fast tracked or anything like that, so there's no official thing. There's no deal... They sent me a draft. I liked it. It's a work in progress." Robotech was Harmony Gold's compiled localization of mecha anime "The Super Dimension Fortress Macross," "The Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross" and "Genesis Climber Mospeada." However, given the level difficulties involved, a movie is more likely to be weighed toward South Cross and Mospeada than the moe popular Macross.
Deadline reports Hiroshi Sakurazaka's sci-fi novel has been licensed by Warner Bros. " Warner Bros paid low-seven figures against a purchase price near $3 million for a Dante Harper-scripted adaptation of All You Need Is Kill, a Japanese novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Warners execs Jon Berg and production president Greg Silverman moved preemptively for the property and made a deal late Friday that has an aggressive progress to production clause that will likely get the film before the cameras within 12 months." The prose work was released in North America by VIZ Media. The storyline puts a Groundhog Day plot device into a futuristic alien invasion storyline. A raw recruit, pressed into battle against an alien species, gets killed in action. But he is reborn each day to suffer the same fate. Eventually, he notices that he is becoming a better warrior and that other circumstances are changing, which might be the key to altering the outcome.
Corona Coming Attractions reports that efforts to make a Voltron movie are back to square one. Neither the Justin Marks script nor the more recent Jeff Davis rewrite will be the shooting script; the production is officially in "reboot mode" and Max Makowski is no longer attached to direct. A harder-edged, PG-13-rated Voltron OVA in the vein of The Animatrix and Batman: Gotham Knight is being discussed. On the other hand, both a Denver: The Last Dinosaur animated series and movie are in the planning stage
Legendary Pictures will be giving American Godzilla another go. The movie, which will not be a sequel to the Roland Emmerich, is planned for 2012
A US site for The Gurren Lagann movie has been launched
Bandai Entertainment Bandai Entertainment has scheduled the partially reanamed compilation movies Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam movie for June 22nd. The trilogy will be $24.98 per dsic or $64.98 for a set. FUNimation FUNimation has been able to secure the rights to the Oasis performed opening for Eden of the East FUNimation Entertainment announced that it has acquired the home entertainment, broadcast, digital and merchandise rights to three anime movies which continue the story of the series “Eden of the East” (known in Japan as “Higashi no Eden”) from Fuji Creative Corporation. The three films are “Eden of the East Movie 1: The King of Eden”, “Eden of the East The Movie II: Paradise Lost” and “Air Communication”, all written and directed by acclaimed director Kenji Kamiyama (“Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”, “Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit”) and produced by Production I.G. The story continues where it left off from the Eden of the East TV series, and brings Morimi Saki back to the USA in order to find Takizawa Akira. The other Selecao however are actively moving to take part in the game, and a few in particular are making dangerous moves in order to eliminate Takizawa or move towards their picture of a better Japan. FUNimation Entertainment will release the films on DVD and Blu-ray in 2011. The company has licensed the second season of Spice and Wolf, Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler) - the manga of which is released in North America by Yen Press, Chobits Chobits is the 26-episode series is directed by Morio Asaka (“Cardcaptor Sakura,” “Gunslinger Girl,” and “CLAMP in Wonderland”) and based on the CLAMP manga series of the same name about computers known as Persocoms that can be designed to look like toy figures, animals, even people. FUNimation Entertainment will release the series on DVD and Blu-ray in 2011. Produced by A-1 Pictures, “Black Butler” was released in 2008 in Japan. Based on the manga written and illustrated by Yana Toboso, the anime of the same name is directed by Toshiya Shinohara. The series follows the story of the 12 year old head of a noble family, Ciel Phantomhive, and his demon butler Sebastian.
FUNimation Entertainment will begin releasing the 24-episode series later this year. Manga UK Manga Entertainment UK will be releasing Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, the anime incarnation of the puzzle games series, on DVD and Blu-ray in September MGM MGM manufacture-on-demand (MOD) will be offering live action Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot on Amazon Right Stuf Anime producer and distributor Right Stuf, Inc. and Nozomi Entertainment have rescheduled the release of the RENTAL MAGICA Part 2 DVD Collection to April 27, 2010. The four disc set will retail for $49.99 The Part 2 DVD Collection will offer the series’ remaining 12 episodes in both “broadcast order,” as seen on Japanese television (and on the Japanese DVD release), and “chronological order,” according to the timeline presented in the novels that served as the anime series’ inspiration. Additionally, the release will include a book that features 144 pages of background information about the series and its mythology. (These supplemental materials were originally included with the Japanese limited-edition DVD releases.) Right Stuf and Nozomi’s Rental Magica Part 1 DVD Collection is now available. In addition to the two viewing orders, it includes a 128-page book featuring cast interviews, a director’s commentary, and background information about the mythology as it is presented in the series. A supernatural action-adventure, Rental Magica is set in a world where magical organizations – staffed by specialists wielding both Eastern and Western disciplines – vie for work, prestige and power.
A promotional site has been launched for Junjo Romantica. The first set of the series is due to be released May 4th. Based on Shungiku Nakamura’s best-selling boys’ love (yaoi) manga, the Junjo Romantica anime consists of two seasons (a total of 24 episodes) and features direction by Chiaki Kon (When They Cry - Higurashi, Nodame Cantabile: Paris) and animation by Studio DEEN (Gravitation, Kyo Kara Maoh!).
MARIA WATCHES OVER US (Maria-sama ga Miteru) - Season 4 DVD Collection will be released on July 6, 2010. The four disc collection will retail for $49.99 The Season 4 DVD Collection will include the 13 television episodes and 11 specials that comprise the fourth season of Maria Watches Over Us.
MARIA WATCHES OVER US (Maria-sama ga Miteru) 4th Season © OYUKI KONNO / SHUEISHA • YAMAYURIKAI III Licensed by d-rights Inc. Section23 New releases include Hidamari Sketch X 365 Complete Collection and Neo Angelique Abyss: Second Age
HIDAMARI SKETCH X 365 COMPLETE COLLECTION Running Time: 400 min. Age Rating: TV PG Language: Japanese with English Subtitles Published by: Sentai Filmworks Distributed by: Section23 Films Street Date: 4/6/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $39.98 SYNOPSIS: You didn't think Yuno's story was over, did you? Of course it isn't, but if you've seen the first series of Hidamari Sketch, you should know not to expect the "A happens after B after C" pattern of the rest of the world. In fact, instead of just taking place after Yuno's first year at Yamabuki High, X365 continues the saga on both sides, around and in-between, filling in the details in an ever-expanding collage that's both avant-garde and slice of life! And if the format's not completely unexpected, we guarantee that some of the things that you never knew about before WILL be!
NEO ANGELIQUE ABYSS: SECOND AGE Running Time: 325 min. Age Rating: TV PG (V) Language: Japanese with English Subtitles Published by: Sentai Filmworks Distributed by: Section23 Films Street Date: 3/30/2010 Format: DVD SRP: $39.98 SYNOPSIS: In a land with no sun, the light of the soul must show the way. Six months have passed since the shocking climactic events of season one. As the monstrous Thanatos run rampant, and the world of Arcadia is enveloped in a shroud of smoke and darkness. The mysterious disappearance of the Orb Hunters has led many to believe that their former protectors are responsible for the disaster. But the truth is even more shocking, for Angelique has actually been unconscious the entire time. Now, waking for the first time, she realizes that she must embrace her destiny, but to do so will mean placing her trust in those who could destroy her! The ancient prophecy must be fulfilled or Arcadia will perish in the complete collection of Neo Angelique Abyss ~ Second Age! Seven Seas Seven Seas has picked up the licenses for Gunslinger Girl and Blood Alone. Featuring all-new translations and lettering, Seven Seas will release the previously-published books in omnibus editions that contain three volumes in one, priced at $15.99 each. Seven Seas will then introduce subsequent books in the series that have never been published in North America. Gunslinger Girl is a dark action-packed series about a secret counter-terrorism unit that transforms young girls into ruthless killers. The manga series, which is ongoing in Japan and currently up to volume 12, has spawned several popular anime. Seven Seas will relaunch the manga in two separate 544-page omnibus editions for $15.99 each, and will then release later volumes of Gunslinger Girl starting with volume 7. Gunslinger Girl Omnibus 1 is scheduled for a February 2011 release. Blood Alone is a beautifully drawn, lyrical vampire manga whose first three volumes will be collected in a single omnibus for $15.99. Book 4 onward will follow soon after. There are currently six volumes published in Japan, and the series is ongoing. Blood Alone Omnibus 1 is scheduled for a May 2011 release. In addition to the Gunslinger Girl and Blood Alone omnibus editions, Seven Seas will also release several other series in its successful omnibus format. Strawberry Panic: The Complete Manga Collection (containing both volumes of the manga, plus two all-new previously unreleased chapters) and Venus Versus Virus Omnibus 1 (collecting manga volumes 1-3) are set for an October 2010 release and carry a $14.99 price point. Hayate X Blade Omnibus 1 (collecting manga volumes 1-3) and Inukami! Omnibus 1 (also collecting the first three volumes) will be released the following month in November 2010 for $15.99. In addition, Rachel Roberts' original manga series Avalon: The Warlock Diaries, a spin-off from her twelve-volume hit middle grade novel series Avalon: Web of Magic, also published by Seven Seas, will see an omnibus release in December 2010. This omnibus will collect all three volumes of the manga in a single 320-page tome for $11.99. Tokyopop ANN notes that Amazon is listing a September 28th release for the manga version of anthropomorphized nation title Hetalia - Axis Powers. The anime is being released in North America by FUNimation UDON Entertainment UDON Entertainment will be releasing Street Fighter: World Warrior Encyclopedia in June. Profiles are accompanied by illustrations from UDON artists like Alvin Lee, Jo Chen, Arnold Tsang, Jeffrey Cruz, Joe Ng, Gonzalo Ordonez, Omar Dogan and more.
Vertical At Anime Boston, Vertical statement that they hope to release a new Osamu Tezuka title in 2011, and "Manga Series R," by an author once published by Viz. Osamu Apollo's Song will be released across two paperbacks Warner Home Video Cartoon Network Hall of Fame: Courage the Cowardly Dog Season One will be released on DVD July 20, 2010 for $24.98
The Superfriends: Season One, Volume Two will be released on 7/20 for $26.99 VIZ Media Live action will be released on Battle League HORUMO 7/6 for $24.92 As a college freshman, Akira Abe is invited to a welcome party hosted by the club "Azure Dragon" and joins to get closer to his dream girl. At first, the club appears to be an ordinary social club but the new members soon find out about the 1000 year-old tradition upheld by the four universities of Kyoto and the Horumo battle. Members must go through rigorous training to achieve the fluency of the Oni language and learn to manipulate an army of Oni spirits. Let the battles begin! VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media, LLC that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, will release the action film, K-20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces, on DVD on April 20th. The film will carry an MSRP of $24.92 U.S. / $35.99 CAN, and will be distributed exclusively across North America by VIZ Media.
Director Shimako Sato assembled a strong cast and used cutting edge special effects to bring K-20 to life. The movie is set in the fictional city of Teito in the late 1940s, in a world where World War II never happened and the nobility system established during the Meiji Era still exists. An extreme divide exists between the upper and lower classes, with 90 percent of the country’s wealth being held by the upper class. The capital of Teito is in crisis with the emergence of a menacing phantom thief known as "The Fiend (Kaijin) With Twenty Faces" or simply "K-20." The film is based on The Story of Nijyumenso, a novel written by Soh Kitamura, and also features the mesmerizing theme song, Shock of the Lightning, by the British band OASIS. To celebrate this new release, VIZ Pictures has also announced a special theatrical screening of K-20 at VIZ Cinema in San Francisco on April 20th at 7:00pm. Tickets are $25.00 and also will include a copy of the DVD, a K-20 poster and more! VIZ Cinema is located at: 1746 Post St., San Francisco, CA 94115. Tickets are available at the box office and online at Naruto Shippuden Box Set 3 will be released on 7/27 for $49.95 Rinko Ueda’s shojo manga series – STEPPING ON ROSES – has debuted. The new release, to be published under the company’s Shojo Beat imprint, is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. Poor Sumi Kitamura… Her irresponsible older brother Eisuke keeps bringing home orphans for her to take care of – even though they can barely afford their own basic needs! Just when Sumi's financial problems become dire, wealthy Soichiro Ashida enters her life with a bizarre but intriguing proposition: he'll provide her with the money she so desperately needs if she agrees to marry him. But can Sumi fool high society into thinking she's a proper lady? Moreover, is it worth giving up everything for this sham of a marriage?
BLEACH Uncut Box Set 5 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • MSRP: $49.95 US / $71.99 CAN • Available June 8 Contains episodes: 92 - 109 (Original and Uncut).
© Tite Kubo/Shueisha, TV Tokyo, dentsu, Pierrot / SHONEN JUMP and BLEACH are trademarks of Shueisha, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. BLEACH Volume 28 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available May 25 Contains episodes 114 – 117. BLEACH Volume 29 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available June 22 NARUTO UNCUT SEASON 3 BOX SET Volume 1 • Rated 'T+' for Older Teens • MSRP: $49.95 US / $71.99 CAN • Available June 29 NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Volume 9 • Rated 'T+' for Older Teens • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available May 18 NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Volume 10 • Rated 'T+' for Older Teens • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available June 1 MAKOTO AIDA: CYNIC IN THE PLAYGROUND, NEW PEOPLE Artist Series Volume 5 • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available May 4 Known for his diverse and controversial works in various media, Makoto Aida shares his work and private life as he creates his "Human Project" and "Shinjuku Castle." Through his creative process his unique character surfaces. 20th CENTURY BOYS 3: REDEMPTION • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available June 1 KATSURA FUNAKOSHI: WHISPERING GAZE, NEW PEOPLE Artist Series Volume 6 •MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available June 15 Witness the visionary sculptor Katsura Funakoshi as he breathes life into camphor wood. His human-like sculptures are known for their distant gaze as if pondering philosophical thoughts and projecting subtle yet bold emotions.

Upcoming in Japan

Promos and Previews Black Lagoon OVA Queen’s Blade: Utsukushiki Toshi-tachi (Queen’s Blade: Beautiful Warriors ova) Togainu no Chi Sekirei Pure Engagement Chinka Danny Choo's anime series Sarai-ya Goyou Colorful Bungaku Shoujo Nurarihyon no Mago Mardock Scramble a bit of Marduke Scramble analysis Densetsu no Yusha no Densetsu Hetalia – Axis Powers on the Silver Screen: Paint it, White Tegami Bachi 2 Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler) 2 Hyakka Ryoran Samurai Girls Captain Harlock CGI
Senko no Night Raid Highschool of the Dead Garo the Movie 3D: Red Requiem Anime Wakaki Tamiki's manga Kami no Mizo Shiru Sekai (The world God Only Knows) will be adapted into anime. The features the devil challenging a dating sim master to chase real women Kanan Minami's shojo Kyo, Koi wo Hajimemas will have an original anime packaged with a special edition of the manga
Illustrator/designer Yoshitaka Amano (Vampire Hunter D, Final Fantasy) will be making his directorial debut with anime Zan, produced by his Studio Deva Loka. The story of the 3D film begins at the end of the 19th century, when a samurai named Zan is led to a world in an alternate dimension to battle evil. In addition to directing for the first time, Amano conceived the story and drafted the original art.
The Anime Innovation Tokyo (AIT) will be producing a new 52-episode television anime series called Kihei Senki Legacies. Story creator Shin Kibayashi (Bloody Monday, Kindaichi Case Files), mechanic designer Kunio Okawara (Mobile Suit Gundam, Armored Trooper Votoms, Yatterman), character designer Daisuke Nakayama (Tweeny Witches), and musical composer ReTurnTable (Transonic, Tanzmuzik) are collaborating on the science-fiction adventure robot anime with director UGAT. The story is described as This story is set in Kissyo City, an urban zone with a vaguely unnatural atmosphere, though reminiscent of a typical modern Japanese suburb. The city is one of several oasis districts around the world that are dying due to the consequences of wars in the previous century. In the past, many large-size robots were created during wartime, though due to constant battle none have survived intact. Only the deformed and customized robots remain. These relics robots [sic] from past wars are called Legacies. Underneath the veneer of a calm and peaceful oasis. Kissyo City is being targeted by a dreadful armed group, who steal resources and the 'secret' of the city. Simone, the mayor and commander of the defense forces, rises the occasion with determination, hiring 5 rogues who can operate the Legacies in defense of the city. Together they decide to counter the threat using their 'trump card', O99 (Omega Double Nine), a unique series of military robot that has been lying dormant for an age. Using their 'mind', each robot selects the pilot who should operate them. Only those who can 'synchronize' with these robots can board them, hence the pilots are called Synchronizer. Out of all of the combat robots, O99 is the most challenging to pilot, requiring the highest level of operational skiils. O99, the final hope of the defense forces selects an average teenage boy called Yamato, as the synchronizer; a character who is unaware of the dangers approaching the city; a good-for-nothing who's only apparent skill is at playing games.
The next part of the World Masterpiece Theater omnibus will be Maho Tsukai Haley no Speed Story. World Masterpiece Theater studio makes "scientific animation" with wizards The director and story creator Naoya is working with scriptwriter Takeshi Chikakiyo and The Japan Foundation of Public Communication on Science and Technology to create what THINK Corporation executive producer Hiroaki Takeuchi (Kakurenbo, The Animatrix) described as "scientific animation."
The Anime Innovation Tokyo (AIT) announced a new 75-minute theatrical film called Ichirin-sha with director and story creator Ushio Tazawa (character designer and animation director on Makoto Shinkai's The Place Promised in Our Early Days) Manga
Urotan will be creating a manga based on fighter plane girl anime Strike Witches via News Paradise upcoming on shots include... Aki Shimizu's (Suikoden III) Reijo Niwashi in Comic Flapper # 06 (On sale May 6) Koshiba Tetsuya's (Remote) Manka Shôjo in Young Magazine # 19 (On sale April 12) Makoto Raiku's (Konjiki no Gash! ) a new chapter of Aosor, Aosora -1990. Shoka- and Yamahara Yoshito's Ryûrouden: Chûgen Ryôran-hen in Gekkan Magazine # 06 (May 6) Saburo Ishikawa's ( A Sacred Ma ) No Ryoma Yuigon in Business Kon Jump # 52 Recently completed Dôsei Recipe will be continued in Sono Ato in Young Gangan # 09 Ao Mimori's (BODY ) Seito No Otehon ( The Model of the pupil ) and Aya Nakahara's Renai Bokumetsu Iinkai ( Committee for the extermination of love) will run in Margaret Deluxe # 07 (On sale May 28 ). CLAMP one-shots include xxxHoLiC special in Shonen Magazine # 25 (On sale May 19 ) and a new chapter of Shiritsu Horitsuba Gakuen (Spin Off Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle and Xxx Holic ) in the Sp Zôkan Magazine # 06 (On sale May 20 )
Shûeisha's Sq.19 Jump spin-off will feature
Uchimizu Tohru's (Kain & Asklepios ) Agrippa Yuki Nakashima's (Kirihôshi Hunters & Element) Usagi Himasupe Yasuhiro Nightow's (Trigun) Senso Kekki Usamaru Furuya's (Short Cuts, 51 Ways To Save Her) Teich no Kuni Honemaru Mikami's No Wakaki Utsumaru Nayami One shot by Kawashita Mizuki (Ichigo 100%) One shot by Yamato Yamamoto (Kure-nai ) New series by Miki Miyashita (Yoku Wakarua Gendai Mahô ) A Spin-Off Mayoi Overrun Neko! of Kentarô Yabuki
Kei Tome's (Kuro Gane) Sing Yesterday For Me will return in Business Jump # 10 (On Sale on April 21 ). Masami Kurumada's Saint Seiya Next Dimension is going on hiatus again, to resume in early summer
Tanaka Motoyuki's Saikyo! Toritsu Aoizaka Koko Yakyu-bu ends in Shonen Sunday # 20 (April 14) after 20 volumes Kyo Hatsuki's Motor-Boso-Toride No ends in Young Jump # 20 (April 15) after 6 volums. Sugimoto Iqura's Summer Wars adaptations ends in the Ace Young # 06 (On sale May 1 ). The series should be 3-4 volumes. Kenji Oiwa's Midas Eater ends in the Ace Young # 05 Shizuka Ito's Nanja Monja ends in Morning # 18 (On Sale Thursday ). The 6th and final book in the series released on April 23. Shibata Yokusaru (Air Master) shoji manga 81 Diver ends in Young Jump # 19 (On Sale on April 8 ). The series will have run 17 volumes. Yu Tachibana and Masaki Wachi's Moonlight - Tsuki no Tsubasa ended in Comic # 05 Rush Shinya Suzuki's Cross Treasures ends in V-Jump # 05 Chii Toriko's Clover will end after 13 years of publication. The 91st and final chapter will be published in the Chorus # 06 (On sale April 28 ). The series will have run 24 volumes.
Koshi Rikudo's (Excel Saga) new series Saraklel will debut in Dengeki Black Maoh. A one shot of the title was published last year Hiroyuki Tamakoshi and Hiroshi Yamamoto's No Shanan Makkyô ended today in Comic Bunch # 1
Takashi Sano's Iketeru Futari ends in the Young King # 10 Kubo Mitsuro's Moteks ends in the Evening # 09
Mayumi Azuma (Eremenral Gerad ) will launch new manga Folklore Toraneko in Comic Blade # 06 (April 30).
Kenji Oiwa (Welcome to the NHK) will be adapting Arai Enjie's novel Sugar Dark starting in Ace Young # 07 (On sale June 4 ).
Sanbe Kei's (The Island of Hôzuki ) No Môryô Yurikago will premiere in Young Gangan # 09 (On sale April 16 ).
Tatsuya Endo (Tista ) will launch new series Gekka Bijin in Jump Sq # 06 ( May 1 ). A one shot ran in Shonen Jump # 51 (back in 2000).
Anthology H Exchange Editor Shônengahôsha will go quarterly. The first issue will feature - Boy Meet Girl Meet Girl Boy of Amazume Ryuta (The One Shot is a series). -The 3rd chapter of Accomplice of Rikudo Koshi (Author of Excel Saga ) - Broom in Action of Etorôji Shiono (The One Shot is a series) -A Chapter of Enrance of Pon Takahanada (author of Bon Appetit Sakura ) -One Shot One named Taki Kyôju No Kojin Jûgyô from Yuji Shiozaki (Author of Ikkitôsen ) One Shot One-named Libra Policy of Akihito Yoshitomi (author of Ray )
8 months after his recovery, Usune Masatoshi will be putting Desert Punk on hiatus again. Live Action The live action adaptation of Kimi ni Todoke will debut September 25th. Naoto Kumazawa ( Rainbow Song ) will direct the film, featuring Mikako Tabe and Miura Haruma as the leads
the principals in the live action adaptation of girl's school drama Maria-sama ga Miteru will be Honoka Miki and Haru
Kimi wa Pet/Tramps Like US will be adapted into a Korean live action starring Jang Geun-suk
Oshii's Assault Girls will be released on DVD June 23rd.

Cool Figures News

Custom figure maker Sillof has produced a mash-up of Akira Kurosawa/Star Wars mash-ups
A new slate of Kotobukiya have been announced ONE-SHOT BUG KILLER!! INTERCEPTOR DOLL COMBAT-SAN PLASTIC MODEL KIT The popular Japanese manga series One-Shot Bug Killer!! depicts a world in which insects have become immune to ordinary extermination. In response, two competing companies create tiny bug-killing robots... in the form of cute girls, of course. The number one competitor to the Hoi Hoi-san model, Combat-san is the number one bug extermination robot developed by the Kinryu pest control company. At 5 2/3 inches tall the robot is in 1:1 scale, so she stands just as tall as the robots in the manga! Sculpted by Misono Auto, the bug exterminator is comprised of approximately 100 pieces that include replaceable parts to change her eye line. You can paint the plastic model kit in any way you’d like, and she comes with special decals for her eyes, eyebrows, and eyelashes. With 25 points of articulation Combat-san is very poseable, and she comes armed with a stun gun and rapid-fire rifle. srp $39.99
Available in JUNE © ?????/????•???????? ONE-SHOT BUG KILLER!! INTERCEPTOR DOLL HOIHOI-SAN – HEAVY ARMS - PLASTIC MODEL KIT While she is the same size, 4 inches tall in 1:1 scale, and wears her traditional cute maid’s outfit (with matching slippers and bunny ears), it’s her armament and disposition that define her. Hoi Hoi-san comes with two different faces – one happy and one angry for furious combat. Her accessories include the massive Hoi Hoi Hammer, heavy machine gun, and exclusive “Bug Killer” bottle. Sculpted by Masatoshi Aoki, Hoi Hoi-san is comprised of approximately 100 pieces, and can be painted in any way you’d like! srp $39.99
Available in MAY © ?????/????•???????? ONE-SHOT BUG KILLER!! INTERCEPTOR DOLL COMBAT-SAN TACTICAL SUIT PLASTIC MODEL KIT Combat-san’s stern face is all business, and she wears a heavy-duty headband with dual antennae. The bug exterminator is comprised of approximately 120 pre-colored pieces that require no glue for easy assembly. 25 points of articulation mean that Combat-San is very poseable, and the included eye, eyebrow, and eyelash decals make her even more customizable. Finally, no interceptor robot would be complete without her arsenal, and so Combat-San comes equipped with a “Grind Frame,” combat knife, “Sundome-Kun”, and magazine pouch! srp $29.99
Available in SEPTEMBER © ?????/????•???????? BORDER BREAK HEAVY GUARD TYPE-II FINE SCALE MODEL KIT Trading speed for heavy armor and weapons, the Heavy Guard Blast Runner robot is covered in massive armor plates that will stop most conventional attacks. When it’s time to do some attacking of its own, the Heavy Guard lets loose with an arsenal of included massive weapons including the “Zaward” Rocket Launcher, Weasel Multi-Purpose Machine Gun, Titan Blast Guard, and ECM Grenade. When not in use the weaponry can be mounted on the robot’s back for storage just like in the game, and by swapping out parts you can shrink or extend the exhaust nozzles on the hip boosters! Each robot in the Border Break series is built on the universal core “Cross Frame” outfitted with additional armor, weapons, and accessories. The robots are fully articulated and poseable, and you can combine and interchange parts from different units to create your own original Blast Runner! Standing approximately 6 inches tall, the Heavy Guard has an outstanding 30 points of articulation. srp $34.99 Available in APRIL
© Sega BORDER BREAK SHRIKE FINE SCALE MODEL KIT Built for both combat and support roles, the Shrike is specially designed for extreme mobility and versatility. It has the leanest armor profile of any of the Assault Blast Runners to date, with a streamlined Cross Frame that resembles a power suit more than a heavy robot. The Shrike has plenty of accessories for its many roles including the Smackshot Shotgun, Heavy Mine, Lark Spy Plane Miniature Surveillance Drone and Repair Unit. All of the weapons and equipment can be attached to the support frame, just like in the game! The Shrike also has a removable clear faceplate and the standard deployable hip boosters. Each robot in the Border Break series is built on the universal core “Cross Frame” outfitted with additional armor, weapons, and accessories. The robots are fully articulated and poseable, and you can combine and interchange parts from different units to create your own original Blast Runner! Standing over 6 inches tall, the Shrike is comprised of approximately 400 parts and has an outstanding 30 points of articulation. srp $34.99 Available in JULY
© SEGA BROKEN BLADE DELPHINE FINE SCALE MODEL KIT With an interior core robot “Cross Frame,” this fighting unit has universal attachment points which connect to multiple armor and weapon parts. All of the Frame Arms robots share interchangeable parts, and can also connect to and use the M.S.G. (Modeling Support Goods) series of support units for unparalleled customization. The Delphine resembles a robotic knight complete with heavy armor and tall “plumed” helmet. The frame features approximately 30 points of articulation, even with the added components. The Delphine comes ready for battle with its Prototype Heavy Grand Sword and Heavy Lance Type 4. Standing at approximately 6 ½ inches tall, the robot is comprised of approximately 300 parts. srp $34.99 Available in JULY
© Yunosuke Yoshinaga•Flex Comix / BBPC ARMORED CORE OMER TYPE-LAHIRE STASIS FINE SCALE MODEL KIT Piloted by Otsdarva and the pinnacle of Omer Science’s technology, the STASIS is a fearsome fighting unit on the battlefield of Armored Core For Answer. A powerful Next-type robot and one of the few to utilize aerial combat techniques, this unit is a perfect addition to the Variable Infinity Series. The Stasis is tall and lean, with long thin legs and heavy shoulder armor. In fact, the unit’s unique forward-bending legs are equipped with the “LG-LAHIRE” knee locking system allowing the model to stand up in a wide array of poses without external support. When it’s time to attack, the MP-0901 missile system opens up just like in the game! Ready for battle, the Stasis comes with plenty of weaponry and the head, core, legs, arms, and rifles are all new parts. Standing 9 ½ inches tall, this fearsome unit is comprised of approximately 400 parts extreme poseability! srp $49.99 Available in JUNE
© 1997-2009 FromSoftware, Inc. All rights reserved. SAMURAI SWORD CHOPSTICKS Following the massive success of Koto’s Star Wars Chopsticks comes a whole new series of utensils inspired by the samurai swords of real historical feudal Japanese warriors! MAEDA KEIJI.
srp each $9.99 Available in JULY © Kotobukiya 2010 GREAT KING AZUMANGA ~ KAGURA SWIMSUIT VER. ANI*STATUE The second in the series of 4-Leaves “Legends Girls” from the classic comedic manga series Great King Azumanga (Azumanga Daioh) has arrived! Celebrating traditional character types with definitive sculpts, the new series also includes updates of out of print garage kits. Following the release of Sakaki-San comes KAGURA (SWIMSUIT VER.), the active and athletic one in the story’s group of six unique high school girls. Originally released as a limited edition garage kit in 2002, Miss Kagura is back in a fully assembled and painted Ani*Statue! The sporty and playful Kagura relaxes on the beach after a good exercise, dressed in a hot red two piece swimsuit that reveals her cute tan lines. With one arm resting on her knee, the schoolgirl has a sly smile on her face and a refreshing drink in her hand. While the original kit required assembly and painting, this new version comes fully assembled and painted to Kotobukiya’s high standards, highlighting Kagura’s bright red swimsuit and deep brown eyes. Sculpted by Mirano, Kagura is 4 inches tall (1/7th scale) sitting on a specially designed display base. srp $59.99 Available in JUNE
© KIYOHIKO AZUMA/YOTUBA SUTAZIO SHINING WIND ~ XECTY E.V.E. ANI*STATUE Representing the ornate clothing of a bygone era, Xecty’s outfit is an amazing example of Kotobukiya’s excellent sculpting and attention to detail in an alternate version of her military uniform. The long bright red jacket features intricate hems, folds, and stitching, while layers and straps add white and black to the mix. On Xecty’s sleeves are complicated laces and bright white symbols adorn her jacket at the shoulder and base. The humanoid weapon has a serene facial expression under distinctive ears and forehead horn. Xecty comes armed with a large scythe and stands upon an exclusive base. Sculpted by Hirotoshi Nakamura, Xecty is almost 8 inches tall (in 1/8th scale with the other Shining Wind Ani*Statues). srp $69.99
Available in JULY © SEGA YOSUGANOSORA – SORA KASUGANO SUKUMIZU ANI*STATUE The ultimate “moe” sister character, Sora is based on art taken from Sphere’s exclusive microfiber towel designed by popular illustrator Taka Hashimoto. The provocative beauty is posed shyly reclining on her side in her school swimsuit, one strap slipping down her arm. The dark colors of her blue swimsuit and black hair ribbons are nicely contrasted with Sora’s pale skin and gorgeous golden pigtails. Sculpted by Munetoshi Makio, Sora is approximately 5 inches tall (1/6th scale) resting on her special white display base. srp $69.99
Available in JULY © Sphere. All rights reserved. WHITE ALBUM YUKI MORIKAWA ANI*STATUE Yuki Morikawa’s design is based on popular illustrator Kawata’s character art that appears in the PS3 game. Yuki is captured on stage performing her song “White Album,” dressed in her pretty red and white dress with pink sash belt with bow, white thigh high stockings, and bright red shoes. In mid performance, the singer stands with one foot in front of the other, one hand clutching her microphone and the other reaching out to her adoring audience. No detail has been overlooked on Yuki’s intricately sculpted clothing, and her face and pleated skirt are stunning! The idol singer comes with a special display base, and is pre-painted and assembled so you don’t have to do any work. Sculpted by MIC Corp., Yuki stands approximately 7 ½ inches tall (1/8th scale) and is constructed of high-quality pvc plastic. srp $69.99 Available in JULY
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