Friday, May 28, 2010

Slayers Megumix CD

So I was going through the list of anime related audio and what-not yesterday and came across something that I absolutely think is a "Must Have" for any serious Slayers fan.

Yeah, I know I was just going on about the Slayers - Evolution-R just yesterday, but this has got to be something for the collector in all of us.

I know I am a fan of Megumi Hayashibara, and couldn't imagine any of the opening or closing segments for Slayers to be performed by anyone else.

Now bear in mind that this triple-album was released in 2008, so there probably won't be any songs or themes from Slayers - Evolution-R on there, but there are plenty of other Slayers songs in the track listing. Including the TV version of Slayers - Revolution. The 4th season of the franchise.

Even though Megumi has really managed to voice in some major anime over the past 24 years, with roles including Ai - (Video Girl Ai), Rei Ayanami - (Neon Genesis Evangelion), Ai Haibara - (Detective Conan), Faye Valentine - (Cowboy Bebop), Haruka Urashima - (Love Hina); just to name a few. However, it seems that Megumi's most known role is that of red-head loud-mouth sorceress Lina Inverse.

Now, I'm not saying that Megumi has the greatest voice in the anime industry, and I'm certainly not going to argue who can do better or worse; but aside from some of the newer talent, like Aya Hirano, or others, Megumi is one of the old school VAs that still manages to hang on in a time when it's overly popular for the VAs to be mega pop-idols, and run their poor careers into the ground well before they have the opportunity to see a decade in the industry.

That said, I am a huge fan of Slayers and really hope that Megumi Hayashibara keeps on doing what I'm sure she loves doing best; which is bringing me more of the beautiful talent she has right there on the screen.

In a ddition to there being 2 full CDs of songs from nearly everything Slayers, the third CD is an instrumental disc with Karaoke versions of 13 of the songs, so those that have the pipes, can sing their little hearts out.

Here's a little sampler to tide everyone over.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

FUNimation's Future

As of today it seems the Navarre Corporation is looking to arrange the sale of FUNimation Entertainment; or as they put it "Evaluating Strategic Alternatives for FUNimation Entertainment". When according to the press release today:

"Navarre is pursuing a more focused strategy. Now that we have substantially reduced debt and improved operating margins, we are focusing our efforts on driving revenue, particularly in new product lines. We are concentrating all efforts on our distribution and software publishing businesses where we have significant expertise and considerable systems and physical assets that can be leveraged. The Punch! acquisition announced last week strengthens our software publishing business and demonstrates a step in our execution of this strategy," stated Cary L. Deacon, Chief Executive Officer. 

So then, what exactly does that mean? Sounds to me like the Navarre Corp. is wanting to focus on something other than the production of anime, and stick with what they say they are best at.

"FUNimation Entertainment's strategy and capital requirements are distinctly different from those of the Company's core business. While FUNimation's recent results have generally met expectations, the strategies required to grow the business include co-productions of original anime content, social networks and digital broadcasting. The Company anticipates that those plans are best executed with ownership that has assets or expertise in those areas. 

The Company will be discussing its going-forward strategy and financial outlook in greater detail next week in connection with its FY 2010 year end conference call. That conference call is scheduled to take place at 11:00 a.m. ET, Friday, June 4, 2010."

One thing is definitely for sure, this move is gonna have a lot of fans very nervous. I'm sure there are going to be those that think this is the beginning of the end, and others that are surely going to be blaming this on the rising issues that have recently been expressed by other companies concerning illegal anime.

For the most part though, I've noticed that for today, a great many of the fans are of the "Wait and see" variety, and are either un-willing to delve too deep just yet, or are trusting that if a proposed sale of FUNimation is designed, that the company will only be in a much more focused and self-controlled stance.

While this may be the start of either worse things in store for the industry, or better things. I too am of the opinion that we should ride this out, and see where it goes.

Slayers - Evolution-R: Lina Inverse & Co.

It may come as some surprise to the more casual fans of anime, that a franchise that is well into 15 years can sustain such a determined momentum as Slayers, in fact, for some of the more hard-core fans, it seems unusual that a title that has just hit its fifth season has the devotion of the fan-base the way that it does.

But despite the fact that Lina and Friends have been around for so long, and have survived the Anime Dark ages, is a real testament to this shows staying power. I'll admit that I was one of the more skeptical fans, the first time I dropped down my hard earned cash for a re-vamped title that looked like it had been sifted from the before time of anime. At the time, all I kept thinking to myself, was that at least it was cheap. So if it came down to me shelving the title forever on the one shelf that is the doomed wasteland of my collection, I wouldn't have to reach for my box of tissues to dry my eyes from crying over the loss.

Somewhere around episode 5, I realized that I was really hooked on this thing, and that I really had to see more. And of course, me being me, once I start a collection, I am hell-bent on finishing it. So I made it a quest of mine, to own every Slayers episode, movie, OVA available.

Now that my collection is complete, I can sit back, and take a breath of fresh air. But not before we cover some of the things that may or may not make this latest season of the adventures of Lina Inverse & co. a huge success.

One thing is for sure, this Lina Inverse has a bit more curve to her features; and no, I am not talking hips and bust. Her breast size is still as small as ever, and is still a firm foundation for many jokes and puns throughout this season as well as its predecessors. What I'm referring to, is that this Lina's animated self is a bit more modern, her looks aren't as rough-cut, and her nose no longer looks like it was the victim of a deranged plastic surgeon.

JC Staff has taken its concept of Lina from the OVAs and films, and re-introduced her into the modern era of anime with a more comfortable look and feel. And it isn't just her, there are improvements through out the anime, where the art and animation has made several leaps, since closing the several years long gap between Slayer TRY and Slayers REVOLUTION, which in essence, this is more or less a conclusion to.

At first I thought the improved art style was a bit off putting, but then remembered that I didn't have any problem with the new look that shows like Gunslinger Girl - Il Teatrino received. I also loved the fact that the original cast returned to voice this season, and not only the original Japanese cast, but FUNimation Entertainment managed to work a miracle and get the original New York cast to reprise their roles as the main group of heroes. With the greatest exception being David Moo, who was replaced by Michael Sinterniklaas -- not that we really liked the character of Xellos all that much anyway.

So I'm gonna assume that those of you reading this blog post, have at least some working knowledge of the show, else I'll be forced to let loose my furious Angry Chibi Otaku to bite at your ankles, so that I don't have to bring you much up to speed.

Season 5 or oddly enough the play on the word Revolution (switch the R to the end add hyphen), takes place mere days after that of season 4. So really it could have been a 26 episode series instead of two 13 episode series, but what ever. It picks up right after a terrible fight, and leaves the group of adventurers no closer to finding a cure for Pokota's people, and now trying to locate the legendary Hellmaster's Jar.

Yeah, I thought that name could have used some work. I mean in the past, there were some really cool sounding names for things, like "Lord of Nightmares", or "Dark Star", and even Hellmaster itself is a cool sounding name. But "Jar"? Why not call it the Hellmaster's Cauldron, or even the Hellmaster's Box (if it were a box), but calling it the jar, is like calling it the Hellmaster's Sock.

Now another small let down is the fact that there was an abundance of "Dragon Slave" uses. You know, that super powerful spell that can annihilate a small town, or blast a chunk out of the side of a mountain? Yeah, it got really over used in season 4, and with the help of Pokota tossing a few of those around, it sort of made it
seem a bit commonplace.

Fortunately, there as a good reason for their uses in season 5, and by the end, it becomes apparent that one just isn't nowhere near enough (no spoilers).

I liked everything that I saw about Slayers - Evolution-R, but then I am also I giant
nerd, and a huge fan of almost everything Slayers; so I'm gonna like it regardless.

The season 5 box-set is set to hit the street June 1st 2010, and I know at least a few fans that will be dang near chomping their fingers off until they get it.

Not only is this latest season entertaining, it is funny, and still something original. A real blast to watch, and a real joy to see.

New-ish Blog for the Western Minded Otaku

Well, it isn't everyday that I actually get to start a new blog, or enterprise; and it certainly isn't everyday that I get to do this with something that is actually a major past-time for me. Meaning of course, Anime and Manga, and Video Games.

Hopefully with this Blog, I'll be doing something a little newer that I haven't done in the past with some of my other endeavors, and that is to provide valuable and useful information about the Otaku culture that has begun a major growth here in the United States over the past decade or so.

The purpose of this blog is to give you, the tools and resources you need to to make well informed decisions when purchasing Anime and Manga, figurines, collectibles, and to not be mis-lead by the sheer hype that can often associate itself with this fandom.

But mostly this is to have as much fun as possible, and to listen to me ramble on and on, about the stuff I really like the most.