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AICN Anime - Fullmetal Alchemist: Sacred Star of Milos, Kenshin, Kenji Kamiyama's 009:Re Cyborg and More!



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Column by Scott Green


Anime Spotlight: Fullmetal Alchemist - Sacred Star of Milos
Released by FUNimation

Ed, the spark plug State Alchemist with a prosthetic metal arm and leg, and his disembodied soul bound to a hulking armor brother, Al are back. Without many ties to the tightly plotted story, Sacred Star of Milos sends the pair out of German based nation Amestris to the more Indian inspired Creta. There, in the literally entrenched minority enclave of Milos, they uncover a nest of plots to take the dire step of creating a Philosopher’s Stone. The movie evokes real world issues without either being especially insightful or making an unseemly grab at false gravity. That points to the two good things about Sacred Star of Milos. It's a refreshingly pulpy, with plenty werewolf’s (well, wolf chimeras), jail breaks, assumed identities, steam tech-bat winged insurgents and oddly dressed mystery figures. And, it doesn't screw up.

I'll vigorously hand it to Fullmetal Alchemist: Sacred Star of Milos in this respect, it didn't leave fairly main stream international money on the table. The project tailored an anime property with global interest to the big screen, and handled the bang-up affair fairly amply. Anime doesn't do this too often. The Cowboy Bebop: Knockin on Heaven's Door movie, with sold quickly on the heels of the hit are the exception. Look at Trigun. Madhouse tends to have their eyes on the ball concerning what anime would sell, and it still took them 12 years to follow-up Trigun with the Badlands Rumble show. Where were the Berserk movies or new Kenshin projects when the audience was looking them? More often, as anime' boom years went bust, and interest in anime waned, the industry began increasingly playing small ball with series tailored its most dedicated fans.

It's welcome to see an anime studio make the smart gamble of producing something spectacular that could sell. Remember that a mainstream anime movie that aren't the annual One Piece or Detective Conan feature come along with little more frequency than something artistically ambitious from a figure like Mamoru Oshii or Masaaki Yuasa. It's further gratifying to the spectacle driven product not stumble in the effort the way projects like Toei's adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's Buddha or Welcome to the Space Show, Read of Die director Koji Masunari's attempting to surpass Star Wars, have. It's possible to nitpick the hell out of Sacred Star of Milos. It's not a top anime movie. It's not the best possible Fullmetal Alchemist movie. It's not even the best movie that could be made with the component parts that it brought to bear. It is however a solidly pretty good action anime movie, and I'm going to grade that an A on its scale.

In an attempt to apply alchemy towards the forbidden aims of resurrecting their mother, Ed and Al Elric respectively lost two limbs - replaced by metal prosthetic ones and an entire body - dealt with by having their consciousness imprinted on a suit of armor. To right that, Ed enlists in the military as a State Alchemist, but to the brother's dismay, the learn that righting their mistake trades in even darker consequences.

While the movie is by no means allergic to exposition, Sacred Star of Milos alludes to without explicitly explaining Ed and Al's origin story. Given the track record of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, that's probably for the best. The 2009-2010 anime was a new telling of the Hiromu Arakawa manga, that stuck to the path of the original work, where as the 2003-2004 Fullmetal Alchemist anime series veered into its own direction when it ran out of manga to adapt. Well Brotherhood proved to be an effective long term adventure anime, the early goings were rough. It evidently wanted to cover the material that overlapped where the earlier anime followed the manga. And, it evidently wanted to get through it quickly. The resulting rush a retread for the long term fans of the series, and at the same time, were treated in too perfunctory a manner to matter to newcomers.

Sacred Star gets around trying to fit the background of the characters into its narrative by not bothering with it.

In a sense it’s not needed. Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the strong post-Toonami, non-Shonen Jump (Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Death Note), non-young kids anime successes. It's huge in Japan too. Arakawa's follow-up, Silver Spoon, about a bright student n who schemes to get away from his family by enrolling in a Hokkaido (Arakawa's home prefecture) agricultural school that requires students to reside in its dorms, only to find it more work than he had envisioned, is winning prestigious prizes like the Manga Taisho Award and selling multi-million copies. To the extent that any anime movie can ride on international familiarity, FMA can.

But, it's more unnecessary than that. Mainstream, non-anime watching America critics noted that the movie didn't go into depth on the heroes' back-story, but generally were not entirely bothered by it.

Origin stories, ot at least the need for them have been overvalued. It seems the thinking in the Hollywood... look at all the prequels and reboots. And, it seems to be the think of many genre fans. But, there's a lot of fun to be had from jumping in at the deep end. Remember catch trying to find out what was going on catching long anime series mid process on Toonami or at an anime club. Remember, we got two Indiana Jones movies before one bothered with an origin.

Ed, with his metal limbs, blonde cowlicked hair and overcoat, Al with his squeeky voice attached to an imposing, horned armor are visually distinctive, and that counts for a lot. The blue uniformed military folks that they're associated with appear with even less explanation, but they manage to sell the notion it's big world with plenty of other colorful people operating in it. The result is anime by way of pulpy action.

Instead, going in-depth with Ed and Al, we get Julia and Ashleigh Crichton, the children of alchemy researchers who experience a string of traumatic events in the family's Milosian studies, culminating in the death of the parents and the disappearance of Ashleigh. After a chain of flashbacks, the movie settles on a young adult Julia (voiced by singer and perennial anime guest actress Maaya Sakamoto) attempting to reconcile her tragic by creating a Philosopher's Stone to correct the plight of the Milosian people. Meanwhile, a strained reunion is in the making as a fugitive alchemist reveals himself as the missing Ashleigh.

Fullmetal Alchemist, especially as the manga or Brotherhood defined it, could never sustain an annualized movie the way that Shonen Jump and Toei franchises like One Piece, Naruto and Pretty Cure do. The arc was too well defined. It was too intricately tied together, with international conflicts down to the family core family struggle satisfyingly intertwined. And, it wrapped up too well. A fan might want a short side story/continuation, but a limited one, better suited to a manga one-shot than a movie.

It will be a while before Fullmetal Alchemist can do this again without "this again!" being the dominant impression, but Sacred Star of Milos wins itself this pass. It doesn't go the Conqueror Of Chamballa route of extremely skewing FMA, yet its setting, cast and events are sufficiently distinctive that it moves far enough off to the side to allow itself be something like consequential. At the same time, the non-origin story bit also helps. Sacred Star of Milos gets away with it by treating Ed and EAl with a light touch such that they are not contradicting established story and yet satisfyingly present. And, it is gets away with it by being very in character. The action is definitely Fullmetal Alchemist action, with violent bursts of fire arms, and slashing swords, mixed with the landscape altering effects of alchemy, evoking the thrilling bits of the anime series. Likewise, the themes of family and sacrificing as a consequence of extreme correcting measure are right for Fullmetal Alchemist.

There are plenty of rough edges to movie's script. The Crichton story bumps around, rattles into cascades of exposition and smacks onto some hard edges. Yet, graded on the scale of anime movies, it's more than competent. Yuichi Shinpo, who wrote a number of Doraemon movies, and not much other anime doesn't stumble on fitting the story into a film's run time. With a passable three act structure, that changes locale and visual motif with some logical progression, it balances spectacle and coherence in a way that, regrettably, many anime movies don't manage. Again, the movie is managing to get away with something. It's largely alternating set pieces and exposition. A street fight with alchemist, followed by an attempted train hijacking, followed by a werewolf rumbled, followed by a chasing the steam tech bat wings people, leading up to city transforming mega-rituals. The script does the trick of taking the characters and events to these interesting spots without offering cause for complaint.

The animation gets the job done. With all of its titanic moving pieces, high velocity fights and blazing effects, Sacred Star of Milos is certainly a big bold anime movie, even if it rarely goes to the lengths of being a great big budget anime movie. Ed and Al's introduction spells out the extent of where the movie is going. It's set in a town in the moments before a festival breaks out into celebration... kindof the fourth of July right before the fireworks. The setting looks great. It's a discernable, specific place and not a generic anywhere. However, study it and it quickly becomes apparent that the production yielded something more static than you'd expect from a great work. There aren't crowds of individually designed locals moving around the way that a scene in even a moderately impressive production like Trigun: Badlands Rumble did, to stay nothing or the works of anime's pantheon of great directors. When the town's celebration opens up, the CG fireworks are remarkably underwhelming. However, then Ed and Al get into a battle, and the gear shift in animation quality as the fight commences is evident. Sakuga (full motion animation) fans can pick out some great, fast, furious and fluid scenes, and maybe name who animated them. Even, when you're not train spotting the animators, it's impossible to miss the many times that the movie shift into top notch animation mode.

The stylistic choices of the movie's high quality action scenes were not universally embraced by all fans. There's a definite love for quick motions, quick angle shifts and don't blink attacks that further accentuates the different between the fights and the mainline of the movie's animation. It's quicker and grander than TV, and in this case, jarringly grander than most of the what the movie is doing. For my money, it's a solid approach for a spectacular anime. The bigger the screen the better, and Sacred Star of Milos apt to win more than on in theaters than it is on home video, this is designed for the action to flit across a the Big Screen, but a TV should still be able to broadcast enough of the excitement.

It's good to see these characters star in a movie, whether you knew them before or not. Ed is sufficiently spunky and heroically headstrong. Al is sufficiently stalwart and heroically romantic. And, their likability serves as a strong bolt for the onscreen action. If you come to the production with some familiarity, Sacred Star of Milos manages to leverage the large, rich world and not challenge it, while also not seeming entirely superfluous. Even if you don't know it, Ed and Al's look and personality is enough to elevate a decent anime movie story, with some exciting anime movie action, and a script that throws together a host of pulpy elements with vaguely relevant politics, and do so coherently.

Anime can do with some competent, enjoyable movies that don't need to be memorable classics; the kindof thing that an anime fan would enjoy, but which someone who doesn't identify themselves as an anime fan, who doesn't want to sit down for a full series, cam also have fun with. While it is difficult to imagine Fullmetal Alchemist stretching the franchise into another on-off feature, it pulls this one off with aplomb.



Following FUNImation's recent DVD/Blu-ray release of anime theatrical featur Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos,  AICN Anime is thrilled to have a special give-away for our readers, and you don't even have to trade an arm or a lag. One lucky winner will receive, a theatrical sized poster signed by the cast members,  set of the entire Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood series, and a copy of the Sacred Star of Milos.


Enter to win by sending an e-mail with the subject line "FMA," and your postal address to by May 24th. Sorry, but this restricted to residents of the United States.


DMP Shows Off Designs for Tezuka Manga Kickstarter T-Shirt and Poster

Back in January, Digital Manga Publisher launched a campaign on crowd-funding site Kickstarter to fund the release of legendary manga author Osamu Tezuka's mature work Barbara. Fans responded by pledging almost three times its $6,500 goal. Now, the publisher has shown off the shirt and poster to be offered with the book. 
From DMP's post:
The Poster

This 18"x24" poster will be screen-printed in six colors. The design was created by Digital Manga graphic designer Matt Akuginow using art from the book. The inscription is from a poem by Paul Verlaine, who is quoted extensively in "Barbara." It means "The poet is a madman." The full stanza reads:
Le poète est un fou perdu dans l'aventure,
Qui rêve sans repos de combats anciens,
De fabuleux exploits sans nombre qu'il fait siens,
Puis chante pour soi-même et la race future.
Which means (in my own very kludgy translation):
The poet is a madman lost in adventure,
Who restlessly dreams of ancient battles,
Of numberless exploits he makes his own,
To sing them for himself and the men of the future.
The T-shirt

This T-shirt is being printed for us at Forward Printing in Oakland, CA on 100% made in the USA cotton T-shirts from American Apparel. We'll be using water-based ink for a super-soft pattern that will last a long time (read this for more information on why this is awesome). It will be available in unisex sizes from S to 3XL and in Ladies' sizes from S to 2XL. (Larger sizes may be available if needed, so send me a message if you need them.)
How do I get one?
If you're not a backer or your reward level doesn't include a T-shirt or poster and you want to receive one, CLICK HERE. Fill out the survey and we'll get in touch with you.
Important notes about this:

  • Both of these rewards are exclusive promotional items that will never be printed again and will never be sold at retail.

  • If you are a current backer who's already pledged high enough to receive the poster and/or T-shirt, you don't need to do anything. You will get the chance to select the poster and/or T-shirt in our rewards survey, which will be coming soon.

  • If you are not a current backer but want to become a backer to receive the poster or T-shirt, you will be able to add a new pledge at the $60 or $110 levels so as to receive a poster or T-shirt (along with all the other rewards that come with those pledge levels).

  • If you are a current backer, you can either raise your pledge level to receive a poster or T-shirt or keep your current pledge level and simply add a poster or T-shirt on top of it.

  • You cannot use this form to decrease your pledge level below what you've already pledged.

  • The images here are mockups and the final products may not look exactly the same.

"Put simply, Barbara is the story of a man caught between artistic decadence and madness." - Osamu Tezuka

Barbara opens with famous author Yosuke Mikura wandering the packed tunnels of Shinjuku Station, where he makes a strange discovery: a drunk woman, her rags caked in mud, who can quote French poetry. Her name is Barbara. He takes her home for a bath and a drink, and before long Barbara has made herself into Mikura's shadow, saving him from egotistical delusions and jealous enemies. But just as Mikura is no saint, Barbara is no benevolent guardian angel, and Mikura grows obsessed with discovering her secrets, tangling with thugs, sadists, magical curses and mythical beings - all the while wondering whether he himself is still sane.



Upcoming in Japan

Given his work with advertising firms and with product placement in his anime, it should be little surprise that Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Eden of the East) is very active promoting his upcoming Re:Cyborg 009. Attentive to foreign audiences, his PH9 brand has pushed out a new "international trailer" promoting the movie's October 29 Japanese release date.

The final chapter of Ken Akamatsu's young wizard series Mahou Sensei Negima! was collected in a 38th volume of the manga, released in Japan this week. In it, the author included a note discussing the series' future.
via My Anime List

Everyone, thank you for your long-lasting patronage. "Mahou Sensei Negima!" which has continued for 9 years, will come to a temporary stop at volume 38. By "temporary", I mean the series will be revived sooner or later. To put it like Chao, the conclusion shown in this volume is merely one of several parallel worlds. "Negima!" still has far more undiscovered mysteries that would easily surpass 100 volumes in length (lol). However, given that the multimedia franchise has met a thorough completion and that I was able to see the "B Version Ending" in the movie, I decided to depict a conclusion for the original story as well. If, in the future, you happen to see a new episode of "Negima!", I would be ever grateful if you could take it into your hands. One of your remaining questions may just melt away.

Square Enix has revealed that, after seven-and-a-half years, Dall-Young Lim and Sung-woo Park's supernatural action manga Kurokami (Black God) will be ending its Young Gangan run with this year's 13th issue, on sale June 18.

Music distributor Lantis has posted an early look at all the girls in uniforms and girls in tanks that we can expect from the upcoming Girls & Panzer anime, along with a staff listing.

Director: Tsutomu Mizushima (Squid Girl, Genshiken, Blood-C)
Writer: Reiko Yoshida (K-On!, Polar Bear's Café)
Character Design: Humikane Shimada (Strike Witches)
Animation: Isao Sugimoto (Squid Girl)
Original Character concept: Takeshi Nogami (Strike Witches doujinshi)

Yuka Iguchi (Nisemonogatari's Tsukihi Araragi, Certain Magical Index's Index)
Mai Fuchigami
Ai Kayano (Lagrange's Muginami, Medaka Box's Mogana Kikaijima)
Ikumi Nakagami

In a highly unusual, but topically appropriate tie-in, Fuji TV's noitaminA anime block's upcoming adaptation of Haruka Wakachi's josei manga Natsuyuki Rendezvous will be co-promoting with Japanese florist chain Hana Cupid.

The 4,400 Hana Cupid shops will be giving away Natsuyuki Rendezvous posters in time for the anime's July 5th premiere.

The series will be animated by Doga Kobo (Yuruyuri) and directed by Kou Matsuo (Kurenai), who will also be doing series composition, scenario, and sound direction, with character designs and overall animation direction by Junichiro Taniguchi (Madoka Magica). The cast includes Yuuichi Nakamura, Sayaka Oohara, and Jun Fukuyama.

Haruka Wakachi's Natsuyuki Rendezvous manga revolves around a love triangle between a widowed flower shop owner, a boy who fails in love with the owner at first sight and decides to work there, and the ghost of the owner's husband. The fourth and final volume came out April 7th.

The other summer noitaminA sees the return of the agricultural school/bacteria anime Moyashimon

Sword Art Online adapts the light novel series by Reki Kawahara, with illustrations by Abec. It also hits Japanese TV in July

Prominent voice actresses Masako Nozawa (Goku in Dragon Ball, Gohan in Dragon Ball Z) and Megumi Hayashibara (Evangelion's Rei, Cowboy Bebop's Faye), along with actor Kin'ya Kitaoji (hosts of period movies, Yakuza Papers) have been cast in Keiichi Satou's (Tiger & Bunny) adaptation of George Akiyama's dark 1970-1971 manga Ashura.

The works of children's writer/poet Kenji Miyazawa are beloved by many and influenced anime and manga greats from Leiji Matsumoto to Hayao Miyazaki. That's probably why the bankruptcy of an anime studio couldn't stop Miyazawa's The Life of Guskou Budori from returning to theaters.

Earlier attempts to adapt Miyazawa's odyssey of survival through natural disaster, The Life of Guskou Budori, at Group TAC (the animated Street Fighter II movie, Captain Tsubasa) nearly collapsed when TAC went bankrupt following the death of studio head Atsumi Tashiro. However, it was revived when producer Yoshihiro Shimizu (Black Jack The Movie, MURAMASA, Astroboy) brought the project to Tezuka Productions. Their adaptation hits Japanese theaters July 7th.

The Life of Guskou Budori was previously adapted by Ryutaro Nakamura (Kino's Journey) in 1994.

Cinema Today has posted a new trailer for the movie continuation of Production I.G and CLAMP's vampire series, Blood-C: The Last Dark. See a bit of the new movie's take on the original Blood: The Last Vampire's classic subway scene and hear Nana Mizuki's theme, "Metro Baroque," below.

The movie opens in Japan June 2, 2012 with animator Naoyoshi Shiotani taking over directing duties.

Bandai's Anime Channel has posted an eight-minute, mobile-suit-sized block of Gundam UC's fifth episode. Like the rest of the series, this looks engineered to thrill long time fans of the mecha war franchise.

In addition to its recent anime adaptation, Yukito Ayatsuji's 2009 highschool horror novel Another was adapted into a 2010 manga. And, in August, a live action movie version be hitting Japanese theaters. Takeshi Furusawa, who directed ADV released Ghost Train, helms the remake.

The anime short adaptations of Kajio's "Design Deformed" Fist of the North Star spoof manga are set to be released on DVD in Japan May 25th.

The shorts offer a take on the post-apocalyptic martial arts epic in which the world was not engulfed in nuclear flames in the year 199X. Instead, the Hokuto Shinken brothers must deal with their problems in a more mundane setting.

Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno's career has deep ties with the works of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Hideaki Anno worked as an animator for Studio Ghibli forerunner Topcraft on Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Anno impressed the crew so much that Toshio Suzuki has said that there was talk of making the ecological epic a trilogy with Anno directing the middle feature.

Now, a new project is combining their shared Nausicaä history, passion for tokusatsu (special effects) media, and concern with nuclear energy.

From July 10 to October 8, Tokyo's Museum of Contemporary Art will be hosting "Hideaki Anno's Tokusatsu Museum," a look at miniatures, costumes, and tricks used in special effects shows and movies. Anno storyboard collaborator Shinji Higuchi will also be working with Studio Ghibli on the live-action short "God Warrior Attacks Tokyo," in which one of the giant beast living nuclear weapons that destroyed civilization in Nausicaä attacks the metropolis.

Recently, composer Ichiko Hashimoto revealed that Code Geass side story Akito the Exiled will be a four-episode Gundam UC style OVA release, with its 50-minute episodes screened in limited theatrical runs before coming out on Blu-ray on a quarterly schedule starting this summer.

The time frame for the first has now been set for August 4.

In 2008, Madhouse produced an anime movie adaptation of Sin'Ichi Hiromoto's (Tokyopop-released STONe, the manga adaptation of Return of the Jedi) monster girl manga Hells Angels. The feature screened at Tokyo International Film Festival and 2009's Montreal Fantastic Fest, and hasn't been heard of since... Until now.

After three years of unseen obscurity, in which Hells Angels started to look like an anime project never to been seen again, the movie is now scheduled to be released in Japan on Blu-ray August 3rd, for ?5,040 ($64). The release will feature English subtitles.

From Fantastic Fest's description of the movie:
Why do the living die? Because they’re alive. And where do they go when they die? They go to Hell—but Hell isn’t quite the place you’ve always thought it was. Linne’s a lively teenage girl, rushing off to her first day at a new school, promising her mother that she’ll make a hundred friends. Oh, she’ll arrive at a new school and make some interesting friends, that’s for sure, but not at the school she expected. Not in the realm of the living, in fact, for a sudden traffic accident sends her through the gates of the afterworld. By the time she’s realized that she’s in the afterlife and that her new classmates are demons of hell and not just outlandishly attired urban hipsters, she’s already begun to make friends, make a name for herself, and catch the eye of the handsome, smooth-talking student council president. She’s also earned the attention of Headmaster Helvis—a fearsome red demon with the dress and manner of the King, baby—and that’s not such a good thing. Especially given that something’s not right here—Linne can bleed, which means she’s alive, and that will have some pretty serious consequences for her and in fact for all of Hell’s denizens.

The anime adaptation of Sin-Ichi Hiromoto’s distinctive manga series HELLS ANGELS—a startling mix of goofball teenage romantic comedy, rock ’n’ roll monster mash and mind-melting cosmic cataclysm—comes care of the respected yet highly daring studio Madhouse, which has previously had a hand in such prominent anime works as PAPRIKA, NINJA SCROLL, PATLABOR, METROPOLIS and countless delightful TV and OVA animes. Director Yoshiki Yamakawa, whose credits include the manga version of STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI, brings a special flavour to HELLS, opting for a rough-edged yet amazingly detailed and dynamic visual flair, packing this particular underworld with a dizzying array of characters and creatures—Kazita Nakagawa, who did his part for SAMURAI CHAMPLOO, and the demonically inventive Yasushi Nirazawa, a go-to guy for cool monsters, deserve a salute, as do the folks behind the vibrant colouring. Clever, cool, hilarious and horrifying, HELLS is a fresh, funky anime bursting with irrepressible energy.

In an increasingly less novel approach to releasing anime, Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is being screened in Japanese theaters, with a limited Blu-ray release available then and there, followed by later streaming/wide Blu-ray releases. Gundam UC and Code Geass: Akito of the Exiled are doing something simular.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199 episodes 1 and 2 ("Messenger of Iscandar" and "We're Off to the Sea of Stars") hit Blu-ray on May 25th, while 3-6 open in theaters June 30th. Get a look at the two bridging episodes below.

"We're Off to the Sea of Stars"

"Escape From Jupiter"

The new issue of four-panel anthology Manga Time Kirara has announced that the next issue, on sale June 6th, will feature the final installment of the latest run of Kakifly's K-On!

The concluding installment began with the April 2011 re-launch of the manga, which had the main cast in college, while a second series featuring high school light music club members Azusa, Ui, and Jun started in Manga Time Kirara Carat. No announcement has been made concerning plans for the latter.


New and Upcoming in North America

Tokyo-based Australian writer Andrez Bergen, author of Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, has announced his second novel One Hundred Years of Vicissitude - This time with the focus on Japan from 1929 on into the near future. A mix of surrealism, mystery, a smattering of dystopia/steampunk, a tad hardboiled, and there's sci-fi (kind of) in there as well - with characters oosely based on manga-ka Osamu Tezuka, Fujio Akatsuka (Tensai Bakabon), Shotaro Ishinomori (Cyborg 009), Toru Shinohara (Female Prisoner Scorpion), and Hiroshi Fujimoto & Motoo Abiko (Doraemon).

Included in the mix are nods and references to classic movies by Akira Kurosawa, Kon Ichikawa, Seijun Suzuki, Masahiro Makino, Mikio Naruse, Satoshi Kon, Kenji Mizoguchi and Yasujiro Ozu.

The novel will be published (in paperback & ebook) via new imprint Perfect Edge Books, in the second half of 2012.

"First up, a disclaimer. I suspect I am a dead man. I have meagre proof, no framed-up certification, nothing to toss in a court of law as evidence of a rapid departure from the mortal coil. I recall a gun was involved, pressed up against my skull, and a loud explosion followed."

Thus begins our narrator in a purgatorial tour through twentieth-century Japanese history, with a ghostly geisha who has seen it all as a guide and a corrupt millionaire as her reluctant companion. Thrown into the milieu are zeppelins, A-bombs, 1940s Japan, '70s Melbourne, a mystery, an eight-headed dragon, Red Riding Hood, King Arthur, comic books, and saké.

FUNimation has a hot July planned, with the long-awaited home video releases of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt and Fractale joined by some classics from the vaults such as sci-fi titles Ergo Proxy and Armitage III.

Ergo Proxy - "Classic" Label box set - $39.98
Hetalia -World Series (Season 4) Limited Edition - $39.98

El Cazador de la Bruja - Complete Series Box Set "S.A.V.E" Edition - $29.98
Panty & Stocking with Garter Belt - Complete Series Limited Edition - $64.98

Fractale - Complete Series - DVD/Blu-ray Combo Limited Edition - $69.98
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood -Collection 2 (DVD) - $69.98
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood -Collection 2 (Blu-ray) - $69.98
Girls Bravo - Complete Series Box Set "S.A.V.E" Edition - $29.98

Ai Yori Aoshi - "Classic" Label box set - $49.98
Armitage - Movie Collection - Armitage III (4 OVAs and two movies) - $29.98

Goemon (Live Action movie) - $19.98 DVD, $24.98 Blu-ray
Sacred Blacksmith - Complete series - $24.98
Strike Witches - First Season DVD/Blu-ray $54.98

Gen Manga
GEN Manga Entertainment, Inc. announced the upcoming release of issue 11 of the indie digital manga anthology GEN. (GEN 11, 156 pages, black and white, 1.99) will be available May 2012.

GEN, now available in both print and digital format, is also available on Apple's itunes and the free Comics+ app on Apple’s itunes. GEN Manga Entertainment will give away a free preview version of the popular magazine this month on the official GEN Manga website ( to introduce four all new stories!

Android Angels: Wouldn’t it be great to live with the perfect woman or perfect man? Android butlers and babes are the future. These short stories are tales from a land beyond, where androids not only protect humans, but also live and get intimate with them. Author: Kosuke Kabaya
One is Enough: Matsumoto-kun is just about to turn sixteen when he accidentally bumps into and injures his mysterious high school senpai, Mizushima-kun. Now, he is bound to make it up to him, but the lines aren’t clear on just how far this new angst filled steamy relationship will go. Author: love

Stones of Power: Café Renard seems to be your run-of-the-mill establish, but it is more than meets the eye. When strangers stumble upon the hidden secret within an average business front, they find a mysterious woman selling stones with magical properties. Before they know it they are transported on strange adventures of science fiction and fantasy. Author: Isora Azumi

Anomal: Weird tales of horror and the bizarre are part of a peculiar vision of the world in this collection of short stories. Author: Nukuharu

The indie series Alive and Good-bye Geist will also be continued in issue GEN 11!

Presenting new indie manga circles from Japan, GEN, a monthly publication, will be released in the US and Japan simultaneously. Digital format and print editions for GEN are available now. Based in New York, GEN Manga Entertainment endeavors to publish new and unseen graphic work from Japan, being in the unique position to bring readers work first, more original and untamed manga will be sure to come!

Manga Entertainment
Manga has launched an app on Xbox 360. It's free for Xbox LIVE Gold users. For more, see

Right Stuf
Anime producer and distributor Right Stuf, Inc. and Nozomi Entertainment want fans’ questions for Tatsuo Sato, the director of MARTIAN SUCCESSOR NADESICO and numerous other fan-favorite anime series. Please submit your questions, via the form located at the official Nadesico site (, by 4 p.m. CDT on May 25, 2012.

The MARTIAN SUCCESSOR NADESICO Complete Collection Limited Edition DVD set will be available on September 4, 2012.

This new DVD box set will feature the entire 26-episode television series and its sequel motion picture (Prince of Darkness), as well as its Gekigangar 3 OVA spin-off. This will be the first time Gekigangar 3 will be available to North American audiences.

It will also include remastered video from the Japanese DVD release for the Nadesico TV series and Gekigangar 3 OVA and the previously released English-language dub (TV series and film), plus Japanese audio, English-language subtitles and on-screen translations, and on-disc extras. The limited-edition set’s seven discs will be housed in a Thinpak-style, full-color chipboard art box.

Martian Successor Nadesico is a science-fiction comedy directed by Tatsuo Sato (Bodacious Space Pirates, Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars, Stellvia), with character designs by Keiji Gotoh (Sengoku Collection, Uta~Kata) and animation production by XEBEC (The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye, Fafner, Lagrange – The Flower of Rin-ne). Martian Successor Nadesico: Prince of Darkness won the fan-voted Animage Grand Prix award in 1998.

The Earth, its moon and its Martian colonies are under alien attack, but the war against the “Jovian lizards” has, so far, been nothing short of a series of disasters.

Disgusted by the incompetence of Earth’s military, the independent arms manufacturer Nergal builds its own space battleship and plans to launch a desperate offensive to save humanity. But due to a shortage of trained soldiers, they’ve assembled the most unorthodox crew to ever launch into orbit! With a pacifist cook-turned-unwilling mecha pilot and a ditsy admiral’s daughter in command, can this unprecedented gathering of geeks, misfits and anime fans prevail against the Jovian menace?

Format: DVD (Thinpak-Style Art Box)
Pre-Book: 8/7/2012

Street Date: 9/4/2012

Runtime: 740 minutes

Genre: Sci-Fi / Comedy

Suggested Rating: 13+

- TV Series: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo);

- OVA: Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo);

- Movie: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1)

Subtitles: English subtitles and English on-screen translations
Video: TV Series + OVA: 4:3, Color, Remastered; Movie: 16:9 Letterboxed, Color

Catalog #: RSDVD1268
ISBN: 1-57032-713-0

UPC: 7-42617-1268-2-6

SRP: $59.99

Interviews with actors and staff; "Welcome to Belle Equipe" featurette (45-minute documentary on the TV series, its music, and its staff); "Nadesico Sorekara" special (25-minute special with footage from the Nadesico Roadshow, as well as voice actor interviews and promo clips for the film); clean opening and ending for the TV series; TV spots; movie spots; movie trailers; music video for the movie, featuring Yumi Matsuzawa; and Nozomi Entertainment trailers.

Visit to find out more about Martian Successor Nadesico and to pre-order the Complete Collection Limited Edition DVD box set.

Sentai Filmworks/Section23
Sentai Filmworks has announced its acquisition of Cluster Edge, a sci-fi series from Sunrise, the folks behind Gundam and Code Geass. The 25-episode TV series and 3 OVAs will be released through select digital outlets soon with a home video release on subtitled DVD to follow.

Masashi Ikeda (Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, InuYasha) directs, with character designs by Yoshihito Hishinuma (InuYasha) and Wan Komatsuda, and music by Takayuki Negishi (Tokyo Majin, RIN – Daughters of Mnemosyne).

Cluster Edge Academy isn’t just any school; it’s THE school, where the offspring of the elite come together to prepare for their roles running a world where artificial soldiers and religious sects are major factors in the battle for total control. Which may be part of why new transfer student Agate Fluorite doesn’t quite seem to fit in. It’s not just that Agate’s enthusiastic attitude stands out among the somber, brooding balance of the student body. There’s something about him that demands notice, even from jaded honors students like Beryl Jasper, and from the moment of arrival he’s been at the center of a series of mysteries that not even Agate understands. Because Agate’s not just another student, he’s part of a something so momentous, and dangerous, that the world that built Cluster Edge may not survive its passing.

As the PR explains, "Forget about girls WITH guns, Sentai Filmworks is pleased to announce their acquisition of Upotte!, the show that’s all about girls who ARE guns!" Following its simulcast streaming, a home video release is planned.

Upotte! features scripts by Naruhisa Arakawa (Listen To Me, Girls! I am Your Father, Blue Seed), direction by Takao Kato (To Love Ru, Pandora Hearts), and character designs by Akio Takami (Buso Renkin, Steam Detectives).

Kiss kiss, bang bang! The arms race takes on a startling new development when the arms come with heads, legs and very feminine bodies attached! Yes, at Seishou Academy every girl is literally a lethal weapon, and they’re all gunning for the top shot at getting their own personal serviceman! Needless to say, it’s going to be difficult for newly recruited human instructor Genkoku to adjust to working with a living arsenal of high caliber cuties with tricky names like FNC (Funko,) M 16A4 (Ichiroku,) L85A1 (Eru,) and SG 550 (Shigu,). Especially since many have hair triggers and there’s no bulletproof vest that can stop a really determined coed! He’ll have to rewrite the operator’s manual on student/teacher relationships, and pray that his job description won’t include having to field strip and reassemble one of his cadets in the dark. But unfortunately (for him,) FNC’s already thinking about becoming HIS personal weapon, and she usually gets what she aims for! Get ready for explosive situations, amour piercing rounds, cheap shots galore and one VERY shell-shocked homeroom instructor in UPOTTE!

Home video distributor Section23 Films announced its August slate of releases today, including This Boy Can Fight Aliens, written and created by innovative director Soubi Yamamoto and produced by CoMix Wave, as well as The World God Only Knows Season 2, K-On! Season 2, No. 6, and more. Check out the full lineup below.

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 8/7/2012
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98

SYNOPSIS: Every otaku's favorite dating sims champion is back! And Keima still has his adorable lost soul-hunting, demon cutie with him! Together, they continue their pursuit of finding escaped lost souls who are hiding within beautiful, young school girls. But how to release these trapped spirits? Why they have to get the girls to fall in love of course! And this time when lost souls turn up in everyone from the school's sexy bully to the school's hottest new student teacher, Keima finds even his romantic powers are going to have to be working over time. And when a giant loose soul turns the entire school into a group of love-starved zombies, Keima and Elsie have to recruit a new demon to help! It's two times the adventure, two times the excitement, and two times the romance in The World God Only Knows Season Two!

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 8/7/2012
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98

Published by: AEsir Holdings
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 95 min.
Street Date: 8/7/2012
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $19.98

SYNOPSIS: In a near future world where the dividing line between the people and the plastic is becoming increasingly blurred, it's the job of the Branch to keep the streets of Genom City safe from the dangers of a technology that no one yet knows the limits of. If it even has any. Between the evolving sentience of an entirely new manufactured species, the chaos that inevitably ensues when backyard cyber-hackers attempt to do their own field mods and the willingness of powerful hi-tech corporations to cut a few corners, the men and women of the Branch have already got their work cut out for them. And that's before they factor in the danger of internal corruption, given that one of their own members boasts a metal endoskeleton. Join the ultimate robo-cops as they patrol the dark side of the day after tomorrow in PARASITE DOLLS!

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 28 min.
Street Date: 8/14/2012
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $14.98

SYNOPSIS: When aliens suddenly invade the world, Earth seems to be fighting a losing battle until Arikawa, one of the defense command staff, accidentally discovers a young man lying on a hill. Tests soon prove the impossible: this one teenager, Kakashi, has the power to defeat the attackers! Unfortunately, Kakashi has also lost his memory, and with it the knowledge of how to actually use his power. Moving Kakashi in with himself and his own commander, Shiro, Arikawa accidentally starts a strange triangle of emotions and relationships. A triangle that threatens the fate of the planet as Kakashi begins to question his own motivations! From up and coming director Soubi Yamamoto, and CoMix Wave, who spearheaded Japan's new wave of independent anime production with the works of Makoto Shinkai, comes a film that turns The War of The Worlds inside out: THIS BOY CAN FIGHT ALIENS!

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 28 min.
Street Date: 8/14/2012
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $24.98

Published by: Switchblade Pictures
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 73 min.
Street Date: 8/14/2012
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $19.98
SYNOPSIS: When Yui Kusunoki, an undercover geisha secretly in the employ of the Inner Secret Guard, disappears while en route to deliver an oral message concerning rogue Koga Ninja penetrations in southern Hikone, there's just one sword-mistress who can go down after her: the notorious but very easy on the eyes Rin Saejima a.k.a. the Sultry Assassin! But knowing that her identity may have already been compromised as a result of the Koga's Erotic Brainwashing technique, Rin devises a cunning plan of her own: one that involves bringing her "associate" Yasuburo back into her fold posing as her husband! Get ready for sword-handling of every kind and lots of derring-do getting done in the most unexpected places (and locations) as the team behind the sizzling escapades of THE APHRODISIAC KILL reunite for a double-sworded, sordid ero-ninja epic that scholars of Japanese history would very much prefer that you don't bring up in class: SULTRY ASSASSIN: NINJA BRAINWASH!

Title: NO. 6
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 275 min.
Street Date: 8/21/2012
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98
SYNOPSIS: In a near future world after the last great war, most of mankind now lives in a handful of city states. There, for the privileged elite, life should be perfect. But for young Shion, the only thing perfect has been the nightmare his life has become since letting a strange boy called Rat spend the night in his apartment. Banished to the outskirts of the city and stripped of all privileges for helping the mysterious stranger who has since disappeared, Shion now finds himself in even worse danger as his inquiry into a new series of mysterious deaths results in his being arrested on suspicion of murder! But even as Shion is being sent to the city's Correctional Institute, the long missing Rat reappears to rescue him! Now, on the run, the two young men have only one chance at survival: uncover the mysterious secrets that lie at the sinister heart of No. 6!

Title: NO. 6 BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 275 min.
Street Date: 8/21/2012
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 350 min.
Street Date: 8/28/2012
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98
SYNOPSIS: Sometimes music and words come together so perfectly that the combination is far more powerful than either would be alone. In much the same way, the five members of the Sakuragaoka Girl's High School's Light Music Club have become far more than just a group of girls with similar interests. More, even, than just a group of friends. Through the medium of music they’ve found a common course in life, and whatever the future may bring, they know they can get through it if they stand together. Which makes the coming end of the school year and the graduation of the four older members something that’s dreaded as much as it’s looked forward to. But in the meantime there’s so much going on, it’s as life has decided to throw everything it can at them. Going to music festivals won’t be hard to swing, but running a marathon? That will be a stretch! Yearbook photos? The horror! And a school play with Mio and Ritsu cast as Romeo and Juliet? Ooo, VERY awkward. And then, of course, there’s one big final performance for the band! The tempo is rising and emotions run wild as the final encore approaches in K-ON! Season 2 Collection 2!!

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 350 min.
Street Date: 8/28/2012
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 975 min.
Street Date: 8/28/2012
Format: DVD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $89.98
SYNOPSIS: You've heard of Mulan, you may have heard of Wu Zetian, but even before those legendary lady warriors, the soil of Ancient China had proved fertile ground for the cultivation of an elite force of ferociously female fighters! The saga begins as a girl named Aisha takes on the name Kan'u and sets forth on a journey that inspires others to shatter the shackles of their own tradition and take up the way of the sword. And once you and the girls have accomplished one heroic quest, how do you top it except by taking up another? And then another! (Some epochs it just seems like a woman's work is never done!) All three epic adventures in the spectacular Koihime Muso series, including the OVAs, are collected together at last as the ancient epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms takes on an unexpected new look and some very feminine curves in KOIHIME MUSO - THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION!

Shout Factory
Shout! Factory has set their plans for this summer's DVD release of the original Power Rangers. You'll have the opportunity to check whether the nostalgic sentai show holds up with inexpensive 30-episode sets, or you can declare your Ranger zealotry by committing to a 40-DVD set covering the localized tokusatsu shows from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers to Power Rangers Lost Galaxy.
From the announcement:
the first multi-disc set to be released will be the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season One, Volume One 3-Dvd set, which will arrive in stores and will be available through select digital entertainment platforms on August 21, 2012. Marking the DVD debut of the original Power Rangers series, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season One, Volume One features the first 30 original episodes from the first season and delivers over 10 hours of high-energy, family friendly entertainment. Poised to attract a new audience of kids as well as young adults who grew up with this popular series, this 3-DVD set is priced to own at a suggested retail price of $19.93. Pre-order is now available at and

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season One, Volume Two 3-DVD set is slated to arrive on store shelves Fall 2012. Featuring the subsequent 30 original episodes, this DVD set continues more action-packed adventures of five teens, who quickly learn the full impact and awesome responsibility of their new powers and weapons. The evil villain, Rita Repulsa and her henchmen prove to be very worthy adversaries for the young super heroes, and they are challenged at every turn.

In an effort to provide avid collectors with an exclusive first-to-own experience, fans will have the first opportunity to collect upcoming box sets through a Time Life direct-response television and online campaign. Shout! Factory has teamed up with Time Life to make Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Season One 6-DVD set and the 40-DVD collection of Power Rangers: Seasons One - Seven directly available to fans starting July 30, 2012 through Time Life's direct-response on-air TV campaign, as well as online.

The Power Rangers: Seasons One -Seven 40-DVD collection will include: All 145 original episodes from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Seasons One, Two and Three, plus the ten-episode series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Alien Rangers. It then continues on with Power Rangers: Seasons Four - Seven, featuring all of the original 183 episodes spanning the seasons entitled Power Rangers Zeo, Power Rangers Turbo, Power Rangers In Space and Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. In-depth bonus content includes: a retrospective featurette on the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers phenomenon, brand-new interviews with members of the cast and the creative team, and much more!

Shifty Look
Namco Bandai has announced that ShiftyLook will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Dig Dug franchise with a webcomic series, added to the site's line-up of re-imaginings of classic arcade games such as Bravoman (writer: Matt Moylan; artist: Dax Gordine) and The Five-Dimensional Adventures of Dirk Davies (writer: Ben McCool; artist: Dean Haspiel).

“Dig Dug is one of those iconic games that means a lot to retro gamers, especially those of us who grew up constantly trying to inflate many a Fygar, so we wanted to do something very special for the webcomic,” said Rob Pereyda, Producer & Editor-in-Chief of ShiftyLook, “And I think we just might have the comics team-up of the summer and a must read for video games and webcomics fans alike.”

Each creative team will craft self-contained Dig Dug stories, with a different angle brought each time. A partial list of talent is as follows (additional talent to be announced):

Raynato Castro (Buttersafe)
Jeff “Chamba” Cruz (ShiftyLook’s Sky Kid)
Javier Charro (Soul & Sword)
Brian Clevinger (Atomic Robo)
Mike Costa (Smoke and Mirrors)
Alex Culang (Buttersafe)
Omar Dogan (ShiftyLook’s Wonder Momo)
Joey Esposito (Footprints)
Greg Fisher (Vivian)
Dax “D-Gee” Gordine (ShiftyLook’s Bravoman)
Dean Haspiel (ShiftyLook’s The Five-Dimensional Adventures of Dirk Davies)
Marko Head (Vivian)
Jerry Holkins (Penny Arcade)
JJ Kirby (ShiftyLook title to be announced at London MCM Expo on 26 May)
Mike Krahulik (Penny Arcade)
Erik Ko (ShiftyLook’s Wonder Momo)
Scott Kurtz (PVP)
Nick Langley (Rocket Llama)
David Maliki (Wondermark)
Ben McCool (ShiftyLook’s The Five-Dimensional Adventures of Dirk Davies)
Matt Melvin (Cyanide & Happiness)
R. K. Milholland (Something Positive)
Matt Moylan (ShiftyLook’s Bravoman)
Hoang Nguyen (Carbon Grey)
Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics)
Robert “Robaato” Porter (Title to be announced Summer 2012)
Krishna Sadasivam (PC Weenies)
Elliott Serrano (Geek to Me)
Edmund Shern (ShiftyLook’s Scar)
Kris Staub (chainsawsuit)
J. Torres (Power Lunch)
Zach Weiner (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)
J. N. Wiedle (Helvetica)
Marv Wolfman (ShiftyLook title to be announced at London MCM Expo on 26 May)
Jim Zub (ShiftyLook’s Wonder Momo, ShiftyLook’s Sky Kid)

Additional Dig Dug collaborators will be announced at a later date.

VIZ Media
With Bakuman leaving VIZ Media's digital manga anthology Shonen Jump Alpha, the timing was perfect for Viz to implement a replacement in Rurouni Kenshin Restoration, a.k.a. Rurouni Kenshin Cinema-Ban. Editor-in-chief Andy Nakatani discussed plans with
Rurouni Kenshin Restoration, which ties into the live-action adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki's samurai action manga, made its debut in the June 2012 issue of monthly Japanese anthology Jump SQ ahead of the movie's August 25 Japanese release. The first chapter will cross over to the North American digital weekly in the the May 21, 2012 issue of Shonen Jump Alpha.
Nakatani told

Rurouni Kenshin Restoration will appear monthly in Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha, or to be more exact, a couple of weeks after each chapters appear in Japan. So, just like the other series, if it takes a break in Japan, it won't appear in the corresponding issue of Alpha.


We want to put cool stuff in Alpha, and Rurouni Kenshin the first time around was such a great series!


Also, I wouldn't necessarily call it "filling a slot." Sure, Bakuman ended and that left Alpha with only five instead of six series, but at the same time, I wouldn't equate a monthly series (albeit with a slightly higher page count) to a weekly series. We want to keep making Shonen Jump Alpha better, and adding this new Rurouni Kenshin series is just one of the things we have in store...

Shonen Jump Alpha is also offering a deal for new subscribers. Sign up before June 22 and you'll also get an exclusive limited edition Yu-Gi-Oh! card. Visit Shonen Jump Alpha's website for more details.

Hayao Miyazaki's ecological epic Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is back in the news thanks to inspiring the monster in the live-action short for Hideaki Anno's tokusatsu (special effects) exhibit. While the manga version was last printed in North America in 2004, Viz will be bringing the classic back this fall.

According to an Amazon listing, a 1,104-page hardcover box set will be released November 6 for $68.

The seven-volume series is Hayao Miyazaki's longest manga work, running in Animage magazine between 1982 and 1994. The story of a messianic heroine in a devastated world served as the inspiration for the anime movie by Studio Ghibli precursor Topcraft.

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