Posts in: August, 2003

Anime News Service – July 27 – August 19 Anime News

8-19-03—- Latest Details On HK Initial D

….Location scouting has begun for Initial D which will most likely be set in parts of China and Japan, and shooting is set to begin in October. This Cantonese language film, about a delivery boy who turns to street racing, will be produced by Media Asia and cast Edison Chen as the lead.

Source: Special Thanks as always to Daniel-kun
http://www.kungfucinema.com/news/2003-08-18-02.htm

8-19-03—- Special Junkers Come Here Screening In Toronto

Cypress, CA (August 19, 2003) – After years of barking from enthusiastic fans, Bandai Entertainment, the premiere distributor of Japanese animation in North America, has slated August 19 for the DVD release of the animated feature film, Junkers Come Here. An anime family classic released in 1995, the film’s story has developed a diverse following from audiences who cannot seem to get enough of Junkers, a dog that speaks the human language and the companionship he provides his owner during troubled times.

“We are delighted to bring to North America one of the most compelling anime feature films produced in Japan,” said Jerry Chu, Marketing Manager, Bandai Entertainment. “Junkers Come Here is a story of life, hardship and growth told through the eyes of a young girl. With the recent success of Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, Junkers Come Here is a film that we believe American audiences can appreciate and relate to.”

Based on Naoto Kine’s two-volume novel published in 1989, Junkers Come Here boasts an impressive assembly of anime creators, including director Junichi Sato (Sailor Moon) and animator director Kazuo Komatsubara (Miyazaki’s Nausicaa: The Valley of the Wind). Junkers Come Here is a touching tale that illustrates the subtle and confused teenage emotions experienced by 11-year-old Hiromi, and her unique friendship with Junkers, a talking dog. As their relationship develops, Hiromi struggles with a longing for adulthood as she is faced with the challenges of her parents’ unexpected divorce. Will Hiromi be able to restore happiness in her life?

Junkers Come Here originally debuted during a limited theatrical release in Japan in 1995 where it received critical acclaim. To this day, independent screenings continue to be held annually throughout Japan at the request of the local communities, schools, and universities. Junkers Come Here has received the distinct honor of being officially approved by the Japanese Ministry of Education. As an advance preview to the DVD release, Bandai Entertainment will present Junkers Come Here on Friday, August 22nd in its original Japanese-language format (English subtitles) as part of the Canadian National Anime Expo in Toronto. The film will be shown at the Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor St. W / at Bathurst Subway Station). For pricing and showtime, please visit www.hobbystar.com.

8-18-03—- ADV Gears Up Hello Kitty Holiday Box

HOUSTON, August 15, 2003-ADV Films today announced a release date of October 28, 2003 for Hello Kitty’s Paradise: The Holiday Box Set, collecting all 16 episodes from the four volumes of the acclaimed animated children’s series Hello Kitty’s Paradise. The series has been enormously popular, with the title’s warm-hearted combination of learning and fun making it a favorite with parents and little ones alike. The Hello Kitty’s Paradise: The Holiday Box Set is a DVD-only release, including a custom seasonal art box!

Hello Kitty’s Paradise is another successful element of the Sanrio Company’s wildly popular Hello Kitty(r) franchise, built around the adorable, instantly recognizable kitten character. The title centers around the adventures of Hello Kitty(r), her best friend Mimmy(tm) and their friends from school. Hello Kitty’s Paradise is a joyful take on childhood adventures, with a healthy smattering of educational content about such important skills as sharing, having good table manners, writing letters and being polite.

Hello Kitty’s Paradise: The Holiday Box Set ($39.98 SRP) is a DVD-only release, including 16 complete episodes (32 segments) on four discs. Includes loads of “Fun & Games” special features, such as “Animals! Animals!,” “Guess the Shape,” “Kitty’s Caterpillar Quiz,” “Guess the Shape” and much more.

8-18-03—- 4Kids 2nd Quarter Statement

NEW YORK, August 13, 2003 – 4Kids Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: KDE) today announced net revenues for the second quarter ended June 30, 2003 climbed 185% to $23.4 million from $8.2 million in the same period last year. Net income for the quarter was $3.6 million, or $0.26 per diluted share, compared to net income of $1.2 million, or $0.09 per diluted share, in the yearearlier period, an increase of 200%.

For the six months ended June 30, 2003, net revenues rose 193% to $44.3 million from $15.1 million in the same period last year. Net income for the six-month period was $6.6 million, or $0.47 per diluted share, compared to net income of $2.8 million, or $0.20 per diluted share, in the same period a year earlier, an increase of 136%.

Al Kahn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, “Second quarter results reflect continuing momentum in our licensing segment as retail sales of Yu-Gi-Oh!T products remain strong. Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesT toys are also performing well at retail, adding significantly to our licensing revenues.”

Commenting on the FoxBox, 4Kids’ four hours of programming on Saturday mornings on the Fox Network, Al Kahn said, “While FoxBox ratings have been below expectations, the FoxBox has created additional revenue opportunities for 4Kids in merchandise licensing, home video and music publishing. These additional revenue sources, such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy line, were one of the primary reasons for the lease of the FoxBox programming block. We will be launching a new FoxBox season on September 6 with exciting new shows, including Shaman King, Sonic XT and Funky Cops as well as new episodes of returning shows Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesT, Kirby: Right Back At Ya!T and Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman LegacyT,” said Kahn.

“We had a strong second quarter and are very pleased with the performance of our properties. Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon® continue to be among the most highly rated kids shows on network television. While Yu-Gi-Oh! products continue to drive our licensing revenues, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles products have gained substantial momentum at


Anime News Service-Review: .Hack//Sign Vol 1. Login

By: Jay

.hack//Sign Vol 1. Login

Content: B+
Video: A
Audio: A-
Presentation: B+
Overall: A-
Company: Bandai
Length: 125 min

Games and anime have always been tied together, each spawning the other in a regular succession of capitalistic glee. Usually this incestuous relationship between the two mediums breeds misshapen offspring, the games regularly being unplayable and the anime being unwatchable. Usually the original creation is far better than the marketing scheme that follows.

Enter .hack (pronounced .dot hack), a multi-media blitzkrieg, crossing pretty much every platform: anime, games, and manga. The difference is that .hack was created as such a creature; each aspect is supposed to carry its own weight and depth, while interacting with the others to create a complete world. This is not the first time such a feat has been attempted (Blood – The Last Vampire is a good example), this is the first time that America is receiving all of the products. Bandai is releasing the four games for the Playstation 2 (including the OAV series .hack//Liminality), while TokyoPop has recently announced the release of the manga, .hack//Legend of the Twilight (.hack//tasogare no udewa densetsu, in Japan).

With all of that background, we come to Bandai’s release of the TV series, .hack//Sign. The story focuses on interactions in The World – an online role-playing game with 20 million users. In the first scene, a character named Tsukasa wakes up to find that he has lost some of his short-term memory and that he can no longer log out of The World. Soon after awakening he is met by Mimiru, a female player character who attempts to become his friend. The viewer is introduced to other characters, including a group of players called the Crimson Knights who purport to uphold honor and morality in the game.

The viewer always has to remember that these are characters being played by someone else inside of the game. Periodically, there are glimpses into the real world, but they are fuzzy and indistinct. As well, there are some non-player characters that, in the game, appear just as real as anyone else. As different characters become awake of Tsukasa’s situation, each responds differently, as you would expect real people to that are playing a game. Some take it seriously, some just view it as another part of the game. In any case, .hack//sign is very much about the mysteries the characters try to unravel.

The video is amazingly sharp and clean for having five episodes on the disc. Colors are bright and clear with little or no bleeding. Action scenes remain crisp with no pixellation or macroblocking. The animation is good, but hardly groundbreaking in its execution. While the picture is something you might want to show off to friends, they would hardly be impressed by how the show is animated. Then again, you wouldn’t be embarrassed by it, either. The character designs are also nice, if somewhat generic (other than the main characters). The menus are animated and accessed quickly, and, while they are thematically nice, they are not the most exotic in the world.

The sound is quite good, solid across the board, although there seemed to be a drop-out during the beginning of the first episode on the English language track. It was noticeable, but may have had more to do with the player. In any case, it cleared up quickly. There are a few instances where the music seemed either too loud or too soft for the particular scene. It was difficult to tell whether this was intended or not, but the situation would not be distracting unless it was something a viewer was focusing on.

Then again, the music is so amazing, it is hard for one to not focus on it. Those who have not heard the work of composer Yuki Kajiura are in for a treat. A current fan favorite, she has composed the soundtracks for shows such as Noir and Aquarian Age and performs in the J-pop group See-Saw. She has unique stylings, yet consistently comes up with new sounds for her projects. Interestingly enough, a large number of the songs in .hack//sign are in English. The music stands on its own well enough for an enjoyable listening experience, but it so wraps itself into the show itself, the music is almost like a character itself. And, it’s an excellent character, at that.

Fortunately, if you can find it, the limited edition version of vol. 1 comes with the first soundtrack to the series, something well worth the investment. However, you also get a T-shirt, a plush grunty (an animal player characters can raise in the show/game), postcards, and a game demo. The extras on the disc are pretty Spartan, including a textless opening and closing, a character gallery, and the PS2 game trailer. However, this is fine, since the room on the DVD was obviously well used to keep up the video quality.

While The World is a fantasy role-playing game, viewers should not expect Lodoss War. These characters are actually players from the real world. So, while there is some great in-game action, most of the movement through these first five episodes comes from character interaction and dialogue. Whole scenes will often consist of characters in a picturesque environment talking about the mysteries before them and trying to decide what to do. If you are a big fan of mysteries that unfold slowly and plots that hold importance over action, you’ll definitely enjoy .hack//sign. Much like Boogiepop Phantom was to the horror genre, .hack//sign is to the fantasy/cyberpunk realm. It is a thoughtful exploration into folklore and how it envelops people, while being punctuated by moments of action. So far .hack is not as deep or mind-bending as Boogiepop, but it is enjoyable. If you are looking for an action-oriented show or something that does not require thought, stay away.

If there is a downside to the online RPG portrayal is that sometimes it is difficult to realize that these characters actually have lives outside the game. The World actually seems like their