Friday, March 30, 2012

WO Examines: Green (Manga)

It's not very often that I get to sit down and look over a manga series, let alone a new one that is currently being published in Japan. So when I get that chance, I do sort of jump all over that.

One thing about this manga right away, is that it is a yuri manga, meaning "girl-love", and while it is pretty bold in the conversations, the first four chapters are tame as far as the imagery is concerned. So no need to get all bent out of shape just yet.

The story is rather convoluted, even when we begin to get comfortable with the characters, and by the end of chapter 3, there are some rather complicated love triangles going on, and to me those only seem to drive home the back and forth pacing of the story.

I'm not going to say that it;s impossible to keep up with, but there are a lot of instances where the flow of the narrative gets wonky, and it makes for some double passings to get the gist of the scene.

The story primarily focuses on student Tsugumi, who has recently undergone a bad break up with her boyfriend, and almost immediately rebounds by running head long into cool composed fellow student, Shiraishi Megumi. At first the sparks are flying, but only because Shiraishi is something of a jerk, and then later on, you know that old adage about opposites attracting and all that...

I'd rank this one higher on the must read list, if it had better development, and the characters had a little more facial differential. But aside from some character confusion, a tad bit of flashback overlap, and some awkwardly fast romantic development scenarios, this is not a bad read at all.

Ninja Scroll Japanese Re-release

For those of you that love anime imports, or Ninja Scroll for that matter, will no doubt love this news. Flying Dog and Victor Entertainment are releasing a Blu-ray of Ninja Scroll May 23rd in Japan.

Yeah, it sucks that it's only in Japan, but this isn't just another hum-drum release that will only tickle the fancy of the linguistically suave, since this release will also feature an English dub track. So now—as long as the wallet isn't screaming—you can get the major hook-up with this essential anime film that is no doubt required viewing for any fan.

According to the information, it will retail at about $99.00 (equivalent), so make sure to get that birthday money ready.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Anime Artisans: 009 - Coffee Break

Well, the weekend is past, and it's back to the grind for me here at the office. Though the weekend managed to kick my butt every which way, and on top of all that, I am leaving in one day to make a ten hour trip to Springfield for a wedding. My wedding.

So I guess, I'll just sip on some coffee, and make like this girl behind her workstation, and try to have fun with it as much as possible.

Here's some art, have fun.

Monday, March 19, 2012

News & Stuff: 003 - Squid Girl, iDolm@ster, Digital Manga, and 07-Ghost

From the Editor in Chief
I've been wondering if or when the second season ofShinryaku Ika Musume  was going to get a distribution deal from Media Blasters, and according to some information, the company has confirmed that they do in fact plan on releasing the second season. As to whether or not it is going to have the same terrible translation, or if it is going to have new dialogue better suited for those of us that don't need the squid-puns inserted, remains to be seen.

Either way, it spells more Squid Girl for us North American fans, and that's still win on some small level, even if we cringe at the bad dialogue, and subtitles.

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As an interesting aside, for those of you that have been keeping up with the Strike Witches film as it began its run in Japan will find, the film managed to end with a "to be continued" title... there was some hub-bub about that, and several questions were asked with regards to more films, or anime, and the unofficial response has been positive. Though the idea is that the franchise could expand out further than just anime, or film.

It has even been suggested that the other fighting units could be open game for the continued saga. Which will make lots of fans really happy, especially yours truly as I've always wanted a peek at the other squads, platoons or what ever they are officially called.

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One of the first things that people think of when they hear the name, idolm@ster is a popular series of video games, and an equally popular series of anime shows. We only knew it was a matter of time, before the nerds in Japan decided to make the breakout possible, and Bandai Namco has finally revealed a mobile version of the successful franchise.

Of course, for the time being, the mobile version of idolm@ster will only be available for the iOS, meaning Apple mobile, and portable devices. I don't know what kind of special favors Apple did for Bandai Namco, but it must have been pretty intense to be catching this away from the more open and available Android devices.

I'll be sure and shake my fist at those bastards later on, and hope that someone somewhere somehow makes it possible for us Droid users to experience the thrill of coaching an idol team to success.

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One thing that actually managed to surprise me the other days was the license acquisition of 07-Ghost by non-other than Viz Media.

I know, after having read that article by Sabre, I was ready to run them out of town on a rail, or better yet, subject them to about a year's worth of bad fan-fiction, but in the end, they have bitten the bullet, and managed to take a swing at giving the fans more anime.

I can't tell if this is something that they think will just sell quick to buy them some quick cash, or if this is going to be another case of anime license Russian Roulette; but I do know that as a supporter of anime in America, any license announcement is a good thing, and helps bolster my faith in any form.

It could be that in the end, they will drop it like a hot potato, but that's a rant for another day. No point in making a big deal out of something, until it's time to do so properly.

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Okay, now those of you that read my articles and reviews on manga know that I'm not the biggest fan of manga, and that when it comes right down to it, I'd probably rather have the anime adaptation that flip through sketch-books. Nevertheless, I am pro-manga, and I support its distribution in the US, even if some of it should probably be burned at the stake for heresy.

So if you've read any of the online anime news sites, you may have come across a small write up about Kindle and Amazon cancelling Digital Manga Publishing's Yaoi/Boy Love manga series which according to the Kindle rules and regulations regarding pornographic content was deemed as inappropriate. Even though the write-up for the rules was about as clear as muddy syrupy water.

A couple of days ago however, Kindle has reinstated the account, and all seems right with the world. Though I have to wonder if this policy is in regard to self published content, or all content that falls under the realms of media entertainment... meaning, if a publisher like Seven Seas were to publish a manga like Dance in the Vampire Bund, would the rules still apply, or is this only for the people that self-publish through Amazon's Kindle program.

It is food for thought, and I for one would be very interested in seeing how this unfolds in the future, and how this is going to fare for the potential of us fans getting some digital manga on this outlet.

Beelzebub, Bleach, Gintama Anime to End

Man, things are not going well in the anime industry, and next week things are going to get messy. March 25th will see the end of the Beelzebub anime after 60 episodes. March 26th brings the end of the 200+ episode series Gintama. Finally, March 27th is the day that the Bleach anime is scheduled to air it's final episode. Geez, It's like somebody woke up one morning and decided that Shueisha shonen manga series no longer deserved to be on TV. 

It's plausible, and highly probable, that these shows will be back on the air within the next few months or years, but the news is still pretty bad for the fans. There's absolutely no guarantee that their favorite show will ever be on the air after this; Everything is depending on each series maintaining a high enough popularity to warrant future episodes. 

But a thought has crossed my mind, and I know it's hopelessly optimistic, but it would just be too great if it was true. What if this is a sort of experiment with seasonal TV shows? What if they are pulling long running shows off of the air in order to give their manga series a bit of a headway, that will later be used to give the show filler-free chunks (seasons) of episodes? That's not how things typically happen on Japanese airwaves, but it has has happened before. Bakuman seems to be thriving in it's seasonal rotation; It gets 26 filler free episodes a year, from what I know on the subject.

If my optimism turned out to be the case, it would definitely be an occasion for fans to rejoice for filler-free, well-paced episode adaptations of their favorite manga series. 

For now though, the future of these shows is unfortunately vague. Beelzebub, Bleach, Gintama, See you later, Space Cowboys. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Yu Yu Hakusho: A Manga's Transformation

"It's a straight up, pull no punches fighting anime" That's the first thing that you will see when you flip over a Funimation Yu Yu Hakusho DVD, and it's true. Yu Yu Hakusho is a head-on supernatural shonen fighting series, full of energy blasts and demon bashing. The show is renowned, often infamously, for it's almost total dependance on tournament-play. Of the 5 major story arcs, 3 of them are almost entirely composed of brutal death matches between our heroes and the denizens of demon world. 

This Tanuki repays an old man's
kindness by helping him die
Interestingly, one of these 5 story arcs sticks out from the rest. The initial chapters of the series are completely devoid of any battle elements, instead favoring a detective-styled Bangsian fantasy story in which our future spirit detective helps and interacts with various supernatural entities. Yusuke helps a child come to terms with the immanent death of his dog, and helps an old man pass peacefully by with the help of a shape-shifting Tanuki, which transforms into the man's deceased grandson. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Viz Media's Great Degrade

What can I say about Viz media? I can definitely say that they are slowly devolving into a complete disappointment to me as both an anime fan and an anime collector. At this point, I can’t tell whether or not I dislike Viz as much or more than I dislike Media Blasters for their crappy releases and complete disregard for the Bakuman fans that they have so nicely dumped on (another rant for another day).

Alright, so what has Viz done recently to piss this guy off, you might ask yourself. The answer is pretty simple, but first I’ll share my overall viewpoint on Viz.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

WO's Honorable Mention: Ninja Nonsense

So what happens when you take a ninja training academy, add a plethora of faceless goofball ninjas, insert a perverted loudmouth obnoxious headmaster (a yellow round ball), and focus it all around one ninja trainee and her friend?

You get the makings of a whacked out overdriven comedy of lough out loud proportions. That's what.

Of course, there is more to the show aside from just the funny, though to be perfectly honest, it's not a lot. In fact, it's loaded with so much randomness, that it seems to eventually meld into an anime life-form all of its own caliber, and once that happens, it becomes clear, that you are probably hooked quite thoroughly on the comedy routine.

Based on the manga Ninin ga Shinobuden by Ryoichi Koga, the series follows the misadventures of ninja trainee Shinobu as she struggles to pass her training to become a full fledged ninja, all while absentmindedly Forrest Gump'ing her way through her everyday life, and managing to drag normal girl Kaede along for the ride, and managing to get themselves in more absurd scenarios than should be possible.

There are few absurdist anime with which one can compare Ninja Nonsense, but one that readily comes to mind, would be, the quack experimental anime, Excel Saga. Though that's taking a lot of critical license on my part.

The anime adaptation, directed by Hitoyuki Matsui, debuted in 2004, and was later licensed in North America and distributed across four DVDs, despite the fact that the show was only twelve episodes long. In addition, in June of 2010, RightStuf International re-released the set as a box-set featuring some new swag for the anime collector, but not at a modest price I might add.

Anyway, the series is comedy gold, and manages to toss in everything, including the kitchen sink, and the plumping.But don't let the randomness drive you off, or the fact that despite the rumors you've heard about it being overly perverse. There are some pervy scenes, and sure the occasional bath, hot-spring scene, but nothing that we haven't already seen in more modern and recent titles, and by those standards, it's really nothing to break a sweat over.

One thing that does manage to surface in the show, is Shinobu's girl crush on her friend Kaede, and while that's worthy of a causational eyebrow lift, it's nothing like what we've seen more recently.

The headmaster of the ninja academy, Onsokumaru does eventually become more the focus of the shows extremism, and the character manages to actually steal the show at almost every turn, when he's plotting or scheming, in a naturally plot induced way.

I will admit, though that of spectacular note, is the performance of the characters in the English dub. And while I have heard some serious smack talked about him, aside from his voice work in Dragon Ball franchise, Sean Schemmel gives what I would actually consider the greatest performance of his career. He manages to convey the perverted antics of Onsokumaru in such a way, that I was actually staring at the screen, refusing to believe that this was in fact Schemmel.

I'd recommend this anime, for anyone that wants a slightly retroactive slice of magnificent comedy, and ludicrous hilarity. Sure, I'd imagine that it isn't going to appeal to everyone, and while that's okay, I still say it is one of the best of its kind anime that I've seen in quite a few years.

Media Blasters Drops Record of Lodoss War

Once again, the folks at Media Blasters are doing everything they can, to keep from endearing themselves with the anime fanbase. This time, they've made the announcement that they are not going to be following through on their license/acquisition of Record of Lodoss War, and as such will not be releasing it on DVD as planned. 

This announcement comes, almost two years after they picked up the anime from Central Park Media.

In addition, they have abandoned plans to release the Record of Lodoss War movie that was also mentioned as part of the release effort. Fans no doubt will cough this up as just one more reason to dislike Media Blasters as of late, as this will add to the ever growing list of actions, and inaction that the company has exhibited this past year. 

As fans will note, Media Blasters had placed the second set of acclaimed Bakuman on indefinite hold, at the same time they announced the plans to put Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians on hold. When asked about the future releases of Queen's Blade, they replied in the positive, and that they still had plans of putting it out.

I would love to comment on this, but there is so much that is just going wrong with Media Blasters, that I'm not even sure where to start. So I'll just leave those comments up to Sabre, when he comes along and sees this.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Guardians of Luna Manga Licensed by Seven Seas

Some part of me is wondering at what point American made Anime is capable of getting a manga adaptation from Japan, and whether it should even be considered. Though it seems that, that is exactly what the world is coming to.

Earlier Seven Seas announced that they have acquired the new manga Guardians of Luna from Dance in the Vampire Bund author Nozomu Tamaki, and will see its first volume on American shelves in early 2013.

The story of Guardians of Luna is primarily about werewolves, and of course what better person to helm a manga adaptation than Nozomu Tamaki?

Unfortunately, while the manga will differ from the anime, it still unsettles me that this is based on the screenplay for the original animation by American writers Avi Melman, Michael Reaves and Mallory Reaves; and it begs the question.

If an anime is made in any other country other than Japan, is it still an anime?

I'm not thrilled about this, especially since the cover sports the FUNimation name at the header, and I am loath to appreciate any originality from them, let alone knowing that such a good writer is delving into that froth.

I guess we'll wait and see what the outcome is.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Anime Artisans: 008 - Tenchi & Friends

Well, it's time once again for some artwork, and since I'm reaching way back into the vault, I thought I would dig up some classic cute anime, and there is nothing more cute or adorable than a sleeping Sasami... of course, the Jurai is still out on whether there is actual underwear under those sheets. I'm gonna just pretend that there are.

As for you non-Sasami fans, I managed to find this cool picture of the Tenchi Gang, and it looks like those girls are at it again, at least this time they can maintain their stage composure...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

News & Stuff: 002 - Another Live Action, Fate/Zero, One Piece, and Mass Effect

From the Editor in Chief
There are shows that are what I would consider worthy of endless seasons and spin-offs, and revamps, and others that I would consider nothing more than a name to just sell for the flash and the dazzle.

One such title, is of course, the Fate/Stay Night  series of anime shows, and the constant releasing of that horse to the stream.

According to some obscure piece of advertizing, it has been revealed that Fate/Zero Season 2 will begin its broadcast on April 7th, to the thundrous applause of the nerds, and the otaku.

Unfortunately, I feel that the series has ran its course, and should be let out to pasture, before we end up making a mockery of the thing... I'm talking about other shows as well, like Pretty Cure and Shakugan no Shana and let's not forget The Familiar of Zero.

Come one people, I lost interest after season one, of nearly each of those shows, let alone actually want to sit down and watch more of it.

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Next up on the list is of course, the live action sampler for the new thriller horror film, Another which has a site that features a really annoyingly short teaser for the film.

But that hasn't stopped me from watching it about a billion times already, and wondering if this is going to capture the deep mystery of the anime, and no doubt the book as well. I'm hoping that it does, because, there has been a serious lack of true scary films and thriller come from Japan in a long time, and the ones that do, are more or less, the sort that are cashing in on a fad, or a string of hits that have nothing to do with either the source material, or are more stupid than scary.

The anime Another is not only a slow building mystery that unravels as it progresses, it's a better more circumstantial type of horror film, where I don't know if it's actually ghosts that make the murders, or if it really is just piss poor luck on the character's parts.

One thing is for sure, I'll be keeping a close eye on the East, to make sure I don't miss an import or something.

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So now it seems that not only is One Piece now impossible for me to get away from, it seems that I am cursed to know that it is being used as a tool for Civil Rights lectures in the class-room...

So yeah, it seems that to emphasize better some finer points of civil rights to his students, high school teacher Akitoshi Maekawa, used the character of Chopper to show the dynamics of individual abuse, growth and equality.

I'll admit that it's a novel approach to a complicated subject, and while I'm all for spreading the love of anime and manga further in the world; why in the name of Martin Billany does it have to be One Piece? It's like everything that I hate in this world is what awesome people use to further flash about, and plaster all over everything.

What would have been the problem with using Bleach, or some other anime huh?

Anyway, civil rights wins out on this one, and the fans have more support in their corner, despite the fact that cardboard cut-out villains and heroes are a plenty, and in a perfect world, we wouldn't have to resort to using deer to get a point across.

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Okay, this last one is part of a rant that has been going on ever since I first saw that damn, trailer for Dragon Age that FUNimation and what ever other company decided to make. It looks like crap, and the fans are revolting... actually the film looks revolting, and the fans are rebelling!

Anyway, we all knew that FUNimation, unconcerned with their reputation, or their mental capacity for right and wrong, have erred on the side of wrong once again, by continuing with their plans to ruin the Mass Effect franchise, and to make sure that they don't go down alone in this fiasco, they've recruited Production IG to go down the flames of hell's highway with them.

Here's the look at the motion logo for the new prequel Mass Effect: Paragon Lost film to be prior to the events in Mass Effect 3 is now in the works... yeah, that title makes me think it's gonna be all about the sex... since that's what you get whenever you gain the "paragon" achievement right?

A total waste as an anime, and I'll be the first to say so. This film should have been live action, it should have been big budget, but now... it's gone niche, and it's probably going to be crap.

[insert applause here] Bravo FUNimation... bravo. You just keep finding new and impressive ways to take a shit on everything I love in life.

Anyway... that's all that I've been able to wrangle up this time... not much going on, and the posting has been really slow going, what with wedding talk and all... so maybe if I'm lucky I can get some articles or something out of Sabre before too much longer.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bleach Anime Possibly Moving Channels (UPDATE)

Much of what follows in this article is complete and total speculation mind you, but there have been several stern facts across the internet about the fate of Bleach, and its being cancelled on March 27th. Including the fact that Bleach is not on the new schedules.

Since the announcement last week, I've been scouring the internet, the interwebs, and diving into parts unknown for a sliver of hope that one of my favorite franchises wouldn't be taken out behind the shed, and shot. But then, stranger things have happened.

One of the biggest things that has bothered me about this whole thing, is the fact that unlike most other anime, the ending of Bleach would mean that the entire last major arc would be left untouched for the fans to see, and since the last episode will air in little over four weeks, there is no time to fabricate an ending for the anime to everyone's satisfaction.

Some speculation has been circulating that there could be a movie to tell the last arc, or perhaps a series of OVAs, though in all honesty, that could take a long time between releases and availability. And I for one don't feel like waiting even half that long.

A major rumor that has been circulating around has been that Bleach is not being cancelled out right, but that instead, it just switching channels. Due to some major disputes and problems with the show's current network, TV Tokyo, Bleach creators Studio Pierrot is letting the contract run out  — or not renewing it altogether — and the show is being moved to a new time slot (6:30), at new network TV Osaka.

I'm not wanting to breathe any sighs of relief here just yet, but somehow that makes more sense to me, than if the show was cancelled out-right so abruptly. Granted, there could be some way to have this current arc end, and the credits roll, and the show be done, but I am of the opinion that this is the actual news that is happening.

So, if in fact, Bleach is moving networks, then this will be the best thing in the long run. If it isn't, then I will be disappointed, but I guess I'll live.

Now to rub the old salt in the wounds... here are some Ichigo x Rukia pics to fuel your rage, or lust. Hehehe.

EDIT/UPDATE: There's been some more information spinning around that the episode to air after the network switch is to air on April 3, 2012 and is scheduled to be Goodbye to our Xuction. I would like to quote some concrete facts, so be warned that this could still all be a load of garbage, and the show still get's cancelled. So until this gets confirmed by either Shonen Jump, or some advertizements in Japan, I'm not going to go out on a major limb here. But I would like to be credited with being one of the first ones to make the claim about the channel switch when people start handing out awards if the rumors are true.