Posts in: February, 2003

Anime Tunerz – Irwindale Speedway Drift Showoff

By Jonah Morgan
Pictures and Commentary Supplied by Isaac Lew

 

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This past Sunday, March 2nd saw Mainstream Productions in association with On the Scene Video Magazine’s Falken Tires Drift Showoff featuring Japan’s top drift racers. In the past year alone, the sport of “drifting” has become an exciting new form of automotive exhibition and competition in the US. In drifting, the objective is to maneuver a vehicle through corners at speeds and angles that exceed the vehicle’s ability to adhere to the roadway. During a “drift” a driver slides almost sideways through corners with control and adequate speed. The Drift Showoff was designed to demonstrate the power and style of professional drifting in Japan and provide drivers with instructional guidance and track time to practice drifting safely. This event also provides fun and excitement for spectators of all ages and drivers of all abilities.

Events included:

 

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Drifting Demo Falken Tires Team Drivers: Yoshinori Koguchi and Seigou Yamamoto. Along with Signal Auto’s Guest: Fumiaki Komatsu.

Drift-Spec Vehicles: Falken Tires Chaser 100 & 180sx, Signal Auto’s Drifter X (Sil-Eighty). Watch these drivers get sideways tearing up the drift course in a jam session-styled format. Drifting Clinic Learn to drift like a pro. 40 advance drivers will be able to participant in the clinic taught by the professional drivers from Japan. Half hour in the class room and all day on the track! Intermediate/Novice drivers will also be able to learn on a separate course and slalom. Class size is limited for both groups so sign up now!

Drifting Competition The 40 drivers in the advance drifting clinic will battle it out for over $1,500 in cash and prizes plus the top 3 drivers will earn the right to drift against the Falken Tires Team drivers in the final jam session.

JDM vs DTM Car Show Watch as the top Japanese and Euro-Spec vehicles battle it out for the overall title and the coveted 6 ft. Best of Show trophy.

Isaac Lew attended the event and had the following to contribute:

The real action was in the skills displayed by Japan’s top drift pilots. You knew the track was about to feel it when these guys headed on to the pavement. Imagine tons of steel on wheels shifting back and forth like a skier would on slops. Better yet, Eastern automobile cowboys riding their high-octane monsters in circles, while swinging the door open and taking time to wave to the crowd. They were truly awesome and pictures do not do these guys justice. On an anime note, after the exhibitions the drivers were flooded for autographs. Among many signed materials, the Initial D Arcade Stage Card was one of the most popular. Big ups to Mainstream Productions and On The Scene Video Magazine for putting on a great show!

For more of our images from the event Click Here

For more info on Sunday’s event check out:
http://driftshowoff.com/
For even more on the Import Scene check out Live Socket’s On the Scene DVD on sale now at Akadot Retail: Purchase Here


ANS Pop Japan Tour Guide – The Giant Video Screen Capital Of The World

By Jonah Morgan

Japanese electronics firms were hard at work on advancements in display technology throughout the 1980’s that were to set the stage for a revolution in the way one can transmit high resolution video on a truly large pallet to large number of observers. These displays began deployment in several Japanese cities in the 1990’s and were constantly being retrofited to stay on par with the state of the art. While for the first examples, displaying 3 color combinations was enough the latest continue to hone improved picture clarity and depth, brightness, durability and efficiency. Composite materials went to lightweight, thin structures and easy maintenance making them ideal for unconventional outdoor installations.

After plans were revealed several years back to turn the now hyper-cosmopolitan Tokyo district, Shibuya, into a shopping and people hotspot, giant display after whopping giant display seemed to affix itself to surrounding buildings. Behind the scenes, oftentimes heated negotiations were waged as manufacturers, building owners/leasers, and video content providers vied for the chicest advertisement site in the city.

When I visited Tokyo in 2001 and walked out of the JR Train station into the square for the very first time I thought I had landed in some future city at some future time. Pictures can’t do real justice to the pure sea of elecromagnetic energy that is Shibuya. Beyond countless auditory streams of pop music, news, sports and financial reports, neon lighted signs, LED tickers and printed advertisements that plastered the sides of entire buildings, three gigantic video displays drew the attention of virtually every pedestrian and passerby at some point throught their Shibuya trek. From the guy who took his lunch break in the small park in front of the Tokyu building checking out the top 10 music video countdown to the ocassional footbound shopper who would glance up at the weather rundown, you could expect to see virtually any number of programming types on the walls.

From left to right Akami’s Super LISA Shibuya features a curved screen attached to the Taiseido Building, folks can see music video programming on this one throughout the day. LISA dominated the Shibuya videoscape with almost exclusive visual access to the estimated 3 million passengers a day for most of the 90’s until the even more gargantuan Q’s Eye was realized. LISA Size: 6,480mm (Height) x 8,640mm (Width)

In 1998 the largest video screen in Japan, Q’s Eye flickered on attached to the QFRONT building at 23.5×19 meters. The master control for QFRONT lies beneath the square of Shibuya in the tunnelways, explore about some and you can easily find it. The images above were captured by ANS and are QFRONT and the master control on New Year’s Eve.

From the American perspective who has not seen the giant video screen that dominated the Times Square commercial imagery morass before there even was one? That screen was developed by Sony until Panasonic placed their Astrovision unit there in 1997. The screen was dubbed “the Visual Centerpiece of Times Square” upon debut and this quote goes along way to revealing the implication of this type of technology. Panasonic Astrovision uses Light Emitting Diodes to produce a display almost three stories high and four stories wide. Capable of more than a billion shades of color and containing 1.5 million LED’s, the very same screen is in place world-wide at major entertainment and sports venues, including the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Pacific Bell Bark, San Francisco and Universal Studios CityWalk, Hollywood.

Now you can come and see the giant video screen capitial yourself as part of the Pop Japan Travel tour coming up in April, go to the link to find out more! Be sure to mention ANS when signing up!

Super Lisa Shibuya Image (C) Akami


Anime News Service – Febuary 19 – March 4 Anime News

3-4-03—- Meriam Webster Acknowledges The Word ANIME

Merriam-Webster recently updated its Online Dictionary and among the words included was the term ‘anime.’ Here is the full definition from Merriam-Webster: Main Entry: an·i·me Pronunciation: ‘a-n&-“mA, ‘ä-nE- Function: noun Etymology: Japanese, animation, short for animEshiyon, from English Date: 1988 : a style of animation originating in Japan that is characterized by stark colorful graphics depicting vibrant characters in action-filled plots often with fantastic or futuristic themes

Source: Animation Insider

3-4-03—- TRSI Announces Yamamoto Yohko Rerelease

Yamamoto Yohko, Starship Girl DVD Collection Pre-book date: 5/27/2003 – Street date: 6/24/2003 Approximately 180 minutes, Dolby Digital Stereo, Color. Adventure / Comedy

DVD (English, Japanese, Japanese with English Subtitles) Catalog#: RSDVD9010 Suggested Rating: 15+ ISBN: 1-57032-069-1 UPC#: 7-42617-9010-2-7 SRP: $19.98

Right Stuf is proud to announce that on 6/24/2003 STARSHIP GIRL YAMAMOTO YOHKO the DVD COLLECTION will be re-released with ALL NEW PACKAGING at an ALL NEW LOWER PRICE of just $19.98 for all 6 OVA episodes!

From J.C. Staff (the producers of EXCEL SAGA / HIS AND HER CIRCUMSTANCES) and Character Designer Kazuto Nakazawa (TENCHI IN TOKYO / EL HAZARD) comes a trip into the fantastic fun of the future!

A thousand years from now, the great battles between civilizations have been reduced to the shoulders of a handful of chosen champions. When a war is waged, each side picks its representatives, gives them spaceships and the fight is on! Of course if their champion looses, they must admit defeat and give in to the wishes of the other. Very handy, very civilized … unless you don’t happen to have any good fighters…

Terra team has had it tough lately: Ness’ “Red Snappers” team has had things their way. Even with technically superior ships, things are bleak for Terra… To make matters worse, they only have three pilots. Despite a concerted effort to recruit girls from the past, the team simply keeps losing! Now they desparately need someone special… someone powerful, capable, and who possess a killer instinct. A pilot of extraordinary skill to crew the new model ship. They need … Yamamoto Yohko!

Now if they can just convince her that a better life awaits her in the future, with new friends, new videogames and some very powerful hypertechnology (well some things just take less convincing than others!), Terra might be able to defeat the Red Snappers for a change!

Contains ALL 6 Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko OVA episodes!

Bonus DVD content includes: Slideshow, Outtakes, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo for English and Japanese Dialogue, and English Subtitles.

3-4-03—- Australian Anime / Food Product Cross Promotion

According to an article found at SMH marketers are using Anime to help promote sales of Food products in Australia. Beyblades and Dragonball Z are among the properties mentioned.

3-4-03—- KosaKon Anifest 2003 In Philly

We’re proud to announce KosaiKon Anifest 2003 taking place on May 31, 2003 at Villanova University. A variety of anime titles will be featured, as well as a highly anticipated anime project being developed in the region.

Pre-registration for the event will be $13 until May 1, 2003. If space is still available, registration at the door will be $15. Space is limited to 100 seats.

Visit http://www.kosaikon.com for more information.

Rachael Carothers KosaiKon Chairperson

3-4-03—- Asian Cinema Mega Scoop

Thanks to Daniel for the following:

Originally 116 minutes, http://alliance.hellninjacommando.net/ has gauged Miramax’s version of Hero at 98 minutes.

Hong Kong-based Celestial Pictures launched its inaugural movie channel, Celestial Movies, on Malaysian satellite broadcaster Astro at 3 p.m. local time Monday in a ceremony attended by “Infernal Affairs” star Andy Lau and Shaw movies’ “Queen of Swords,” Cheng Pei-pei. Celestial, which owns the extensive Shaw Bros. film library, is owned by Malaysian-based conglomerate Usaha Tegas, which is a major shareholder of Astro through Measat Broadcast Network Systems. In addition to Celestial’s restored Shaw Bros. classics from the 1950s through the ’90s and new acquisitions, Celestial Movies will carry locally produced programming and documentaries. The channel also owns rights to Golden Harvest titles from the 1990s. “Astro is proud to be the first service in the world to provide the access to these timeless classics. I do believe that many of us will enjoy the offerings on Celestial Movies as award-winning classic titles such as ‘Come Drink With Me,’ ‘The Kingdom & the Beauty’ and ‘The Three Smiles’ are not easy to come by on our screens,” said Chia Boon Lim, executive director of Astro. Celestial Movies will be packaged with the Phoenix Channel and Astro’s Shuang Xing 1 and 2, which carry television dramas. The channel is scheduled to launch throughout Asia, Australia, North America and Europe in the coming year.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

After a bit of a slow start, the Korean video market is in the midst of a dramatic upheaval from VHS to DVD. For the third year in a row, DVD sales have more than tripled, and now, with the collapse of the videocassette market, DVD stands on the verge of becoming a significant factor in the industry. As of the end of 2002, Koreans owned 650,000-800,000 DVD players, according to figures from Culture Contents and Business Week, the main industry publication in Korea. This equates to a 3.9%-4.8% penetration rate of TV households, and a significant increase from the 228,000 in 2001 and 67,000 in 2000. An estimated 7 million DVDs were sold in 2002, representing 117 billion won ($100 million) in consumer spending. While this represents just a fraction of Korea’s flourishing movie industry, 117 billion won is a huge gain from just 45 billion won in 2001. The movie magazine Film 2.0 estimates that DVD will overtake video by April.

Source: The Hollywood ReporterThe Hollywood Reporter

Yahoo says Around the World in 80 Days with Jackie Chan should have a fall release.

Yahoo Movies says the sequel to The Eye should have a summer 2004 release in Hong Kong.

And if you’re at the Cannes this year, you might want to look for The Matrix: Reloaded, because Yahoo Movies suggests it will be played


Anime News Service – Febuary 1-8 Anime News

2-18-03—- DBZ Budokai Sales

DBZ Budokai Sales are out of control Bandai, the game’s publisher in east Asia, today announced that Dragon Ball Z: Budokai, the PS2 fighting game on the TV Series, has sold more than 1.94 million units in 20 countries worldwide. The game was published in the United States by Infogrames. This figure includes no sales from Japan, where the game was only just released on the 13th, thus proving that the franchise has developed some very strong legs outside its home country.
Source: www.saiyanz-rage.net

2-18-03—- Astroboy Theme Song Adopted As Departure Jingle For Yamanote Line Station

Thanks to Yukio-san (The Dead Shot Club) for this news:

It was announced on the 18th that JR east (East Japan Railway Company) changes the departure bell of the Yamanote Line Takadanobaba station (Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo) into the theme song of the popular comics “Astro boy” of Mr.Osamu Tezuka from an electronic melody.Astro boy is supposed to have been produced in Takadanobaba on April 7, 2003. The local shopping center was requested from JR East Japan as commemoration of birth of Astro boy.JR east has consented with “if it becomes an aid of local activation.” It tries for two months from March 1, and it will be planned to continue if satisfactory. In JR east, there is an example for which the Kamata station uses the theme song of a movie “Kamata march” (Kamata koushin-kyoku.Directed by Kinji Fukasaku) for, and the Shinagawa station uses “Tetsudou Shouka” (Railroad song) as a departure bell.

Source: Goo News

2-18-03—- Unauthorized Sale Of Goods In Japan

Thanks to Yukio-san (The Dead Shot Club) for this news:

The Metropolitan Police Department arrested the suspect who sold animation products featuring popular characters without notice. By February 18, a Metropolitan Police Department High technology criminal center and the Suginami police station are the violation suspicion of the Copyright Act, and arrested the president of the miscellaneous-goods selling company of Kitamoto-shi, Saitama. According to investigation, the suspect sold the character of a popular animation movie “Spirited Away” and “TOTORO” in January through the pin badge and strap Internet auction which carried out unapproved use from December, last year. This suspect infringed on the copyright which Studio Ghibli holds. Source: Goo News

2-18-03—- Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Release

Ahearty thanks to Daniel for this news:

http://www.supertechnoarts.com/ has updated with an official Jojo page at http://www.jojo-ova.com/, a contest at http://www.animenation.com/contest0203d.html , and the following press release:

The first volume of “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” DVD will be released on March 11, 2003. 13 episodes will be available on total of 6 volumes, with sound and music upgraded to 5.1 surround system for the original 6 episodes. Character design and animation director by Junichi Hayama, music composed and arranged by Marco d’Ambrosio of MarcoCo., and sound design by Tom Myers of Skywalker Sound.

– Street Date: March 11, 2003 – Episode count: 1st Volume 3 Episodes x 30 minutes each – Format: Region 1 DVD – Animation Production: A.P.P.P. – Executive Producer: Kazufumi Nomura – Distribution by: Super Techno Arts Inc.

This 13-episode anime is based on the long-running manga by Baoh creator Hirohiko Araki. The series follows 17-year-old Jotaro “JoJo” Kujo and his grandfather Josef Joestar as they battle the immortal vampire Dio, who holds Jotaro’s mother prisoner in a nightmare-filled coma. Joining them in this effort are four warriors who, like Jotaro and his grandfather, each posses mystical powers called a “Stand,” derived from the names and meanings of certain Tarot cards. These powers are manifested in giant spectral warriors that emerge from the bodies of the group. But Dio has gathered Stand warriors as well, and he possesses a secret and incredibly powerful Stand of his own.

2-17-03—- American Comics Looking More Like Manga

Information on even more manga-inspired U.S. comics can be found at Jagged Team . Of particular interest is that Tsutomu, creator of Blame will be working on a Wolverine series called “Snikt!”. Thanks to Daniel for the link.

2-17-03—- Production I.G. Confirms “Escape From” Anime

A post to Production I.G.’s Forum has officially confirmed a Snake Plissken anime much rumored in recent months. In addition, photos of one of their other upcoming projects, Dead Leaves, can be found at this link. Thanks to Daniel for the news.

2-17-03—- New Zoids Series Coming

Hasbro has anounced a new 26 episode series that cartoon network picked up and will be airing it this fall. Excerpted from the release:

In 2003, Hasbro will bring kids and fans even more new and unique ways to challenge themselves while they build, customize and mobilize their team of ZOIDS beasts into battle, with approximately 80 new line items, including: an all new Z-BUILDER MODEL KIT collectable segment; an expanded core model kit segment with new looks, action features, figure sizes and characters; and new ways to build and customize ZOIDS action figures to recreate the ZOIDS battles to be showcased in 26 new episodes of the hit Cartoon Network animated series slated for fall 2003.

2-17-03—- Spirited Away In Brazil

Courtesy: Renato Siqueira:

I am one of the Brazilian journalists responsible for helping in the promotion of the movie “A viagem de Chihiro” (Spirited Away) in Brazil. The film will be really release between March and April, taking advantage of all this Oscar’s merchandising. This release is very important to brazilian fans, because it will be the first Hayao Miyazaki’s movie to arrive at Brazilian Movie Theaters. This can be the beginning of a new level of Japanese animation in the Brazilian theaters. The last Japanese animation to come to Brazil at cinemas was the “fast Food” Pokemon. Nothing really original and interesting. As Buena Vista/Walt Disney Company didn’t want the rights for this film distribution in Brazil, Europa Filmes get the rights. Me and Manga Xplosion’s team (http://www.mangax.com.br), as journalists and fans of Hayao Miyazaki, decided to offer help in this release of the film here in Brazil. T! he official site will be ready in some weeks. The web site is being elaborated


Anime News Service-Review: St. Tail: The Enchanted Collection

  • 15th Feb 2003
  • Blog

By: Jay

Saint Tail: The Enchanted Collection

Content: B+ Video: B Audio: B Presentation: B+ Overall: A- Company: TokyoPop Length: 480 min

After nearly a year’s wait, the final Saint Tail collection has been released by TokyoPop collecting the final 21 episodes into a 3-disc set. Saint Tail is a fantastically cute series that is oddly greater than the sum of its parts. The premise of the show is typical magical-girl stuff, except that Saint Tail tends to use skill over the typical magical girl charms. The typical Saint Tail episode consists of Meimi (Saint Tail) finding out about a stolen item from her friend (and nun-in-training – go figure), Seira. Meimi then notifies her crush and official Saint Tail detective, Asuka Jr., about the heist. Chaos ensues, and happiness and cuteness prevails.

This happens every episode. Every single episode. All 43 episodes are exactly alike. Hopefully, you get my point. The question then arises, is this not monotonous? The answer is, it can be, except for the developing relationships in the background. For once, we see a relationship develop over a couple years. Asuka starts off only thinking of Saint Tail, and sometimes, if she moves in just the right way, Meimi. Will remind him of Saint Tail. Slowly, almost so you don’t recongnize it, Asuka begins to see Saint Tail and think of Meimi, as his thoughts and affections turn toward the real personality.

As well, while there are engaging characters, there is absolutely nothing objectionable in this series whatsoever! Not only that, we have the rare opportunity to see parents in anime that are actually in love and relatively normal! They show affection, show concern for their daughter, but don’t overly try to control her life. You see a happy, well-adjusted family.

The video on this set is surprisingly clean since 7 episodes are smashed onto every disc. TokyoPop has done a wonderful job mastering them to lessen the macroblocking and bleeding one would expect. However, one layer on the final disc does seem to have more clarity issues than the other, probably because of the extras on the disc. It is not overly distracting since Saint Tail is very much in the old school of hand-drawn anime, so crystal clarity was probably never there. The sound is equally clean. However, as with all the later episodes of the series, there is no dub track, to those who prefer to avoid subtitles.

There are limited extras. You get the textless openings and closings from the second season that were, for some reason, never used in the TokyoPop release. This was either to save space or money. The bumpers where commericals are inserted were changed, as well. So, purists take note that these episodes are not exactly as created.

These episodes do complete the series, bringing it to an appropriate conclusion. While many episodes are totally stand alone, the last 4 or 5 begin a totally connected story-arc that leads to the conclusion. One has to wonder why the creators didn’t do this more often as that arc and another two-parter were some of the best of the series. Several of the stand-alone episodes were excellent as well, improving greatly upon the mediocrity of the middle of the series.

Pretty much everything in the series (except for perhaps the excellent voice acting and some of the nice character character designs) deserves a pretty solid “B” rating. So, how can it get a higher overall grade? The series is just fun and happy. Sometimes, that is enough. All the parts work well enough that they lift the totality of the show. Having a proper conclusion does a lot for a series, as well. I can, with good conscience, recommend this show to anyone who likes cute things or innocent romances, with a few really good heist capers thrown in for good measure.

Major praise has to go out to TokyoPop for finishing the series after a disastrous launch (edited openings/closings, horrible menus, terrible video quality, only 3 episodes, etc). That launch probably hurt the series more than it deserved, but the second disc fixed every single issue with the first. It is a shame more people did not give Saint Tail another chance. With this final collection, hopefully some anime fans will give the series another chance – as it really is a fantastic value.

A note about reviews: Reviews are graded on a scale from A to F, including +’s and –‘s. A typical good anime score would rank a B. Content refers to the plot, characterization, etc. Video refers to the picture quality as well as the animation. Audio refers to sound quality and music. Presentation includes the case, menus, and extras. Overall is a ranking of the worthiness of owning this DVD. Unless otherwise noted, all DVDs are bought out of pocket by the reviewer. Full disclosure will be made of any reviewables received by companies. Contact me at jayntampa@yahoo.com.

 


ANS Exclusive Review – Japan For Sale Volume 3

Japan For Sale Volume 3By Jonah Morgan

The past 2 years have seen Japanese music labels mounting a greater push into the American marketsphere than at anytime previous. At the forefront of the effort have been pop label giants Avex Trax with their Tokyo FM @ New York project and Sony Music Imports who have to-date released 2 Japan For Sale compilation albums of their cream of the crop pop exports from the land of the rising sun. Originating as the non retail Japan NOT For Sale compilation in 1999, promotional CMJ chart listings alone prompted Sony to start the commercial Japan For Sale series in 2000. The “Japan For Sale Allstars” played the SXSW in the same year to critical praise. As of this review volume 2’s sales have surpassed 5000 copies.

April 29th sees the US release of the 3rd album in Sony’s sampler series and we’ve had the opppertunity to listen to the disc for 1 solid month previous to this writeup. As music goes in general the most novel sounding tunes to someone when they first hear them can quickly turn into melodius torture in the course of a few days. Amplified about 1 gazillion times in this age of unrivaled music disposability and “music on demand”, how does JFS Vol. 3 hold it’s ground? The concept behind this album as a compilation goes a long way to seeing after listening durabilty and Sony scores big points for making the variety present on JFS3 as diverse in Sony’s cache of artistic properties as possible.

The 1st 4 tracks on the album have a very urban feel to them. From the ambient ‘Time’ in which rhymes and raps spit by GOKU come down to the underground house sounds of DJ Krush’s custom sampling work in ‘The Lost Voices’ we go back into an ambient/trance sound with Matally’s Four Seasons V.S. YoYo-C and finally a lyrical R&B Loop Junction ‘Ja:pon’. Track 5 features ‘Black Out Fall Out’ by an electronica roick group called Polystics. This group reminds me of a cross between Devo and a mid 90’s American synth side project by Weezer’s Matt Sharp called The Rentals. Polystics has had music featured on the 3 previous JFS albums as well as 3 independant albums and are being brought stateside this summer in May and June, stay tuned to ANS for more info on this. Track six is Guitar Vader’s English heavy ‘Super Brothers’ and has a similar rock/electronica type sound. Tracks 7-8 are wonderfully warm and soft female pop melodies: Mai Hoshimura’s ‘Stay With You’ and Mayu Kitaki’s ‘Latata’. The Brilliant Green’s ‘I’m A Player In TV Games’ featues 100% English lyrics and an addictive rock melody remeniscent of Siamese Dream era Smashing Pumpkins that would not be out of place at the top of contemporary alternative rock charts. The Final 3 tracks are contributions from the strictly electronic Japanese scene: Kyoto Jazz Massive’s ‘Substream’ , Takkyu Ishino’s ‘Gimme Some High Energy’ and one of my personal favorites Yoshinori Sunahara’s ‘Spiral Never Before’. Sunahra has had music on JFS previosuly and represents the the true edge electronic music compostion in or out of Japan.

The final analysis on JFS3 is you’ve got a great variety of music here representing the contmporary hits in Japan with awesome playback value. Artwork for JFS3 is reprised by LA based artist Shag, the CD is expected to be promoted widely on the retail scene and on Cartoon Network and MTV2 on television.