Posts in: November, 2004

ANS Exclusive Interview: Berserk Soundtrack Composer Susumu Hirasawa

By: Jonah Morgan

Susumu Hirasawa’s ethereal melodies first reached these ears in 1998. The work was the TV series adaptation of Kentaro Miura’s low fantasy horror epic manga, Berserk. Clearly, his name and creations, in my mind and the minds of many anime fans, ranks at absolute top of highly esteemed composers and musicians working in this genre. Before the anime was even officially licensed in America, still others will know his soundtrack work in 1999’s Dreamcast title, “Sword Of The Berserk: Guts’ Rage”. 7 years after his work on the original TV series, a new Sammy PS2 Berserk videogame has just been released. At Miura’s request, the title once again carries the musical accompaniments of Mr. Hirasawa. ANS recently interviewed this master musician and probed him on a range of questions ranging from to the future of the Berserk anime to his personal working habits as an artist:

::Special Note::
MP3 files of 2 tracks that Hirasawa composed for Berserk video game will be on sale in his online shop on December 20. You can enter the online shop from his official site. http://www.s-hirasawa.com/e/

Anime News Service: Just recently the latest Berserk video game title hit the Japanese market. Can you tell us how your tracks for this volume came together?
Susumu Hirasawa: It is the nomination from Mr. Miura, the author of Berserk. He has nominated me every time for the products which need sound track such as TV anime and games, etc.

ANS: You’ve now collaborated on the score for Kentaro Miura’s Berserk in it’s various media incarnations for 7 years. How did your collaboration originate, where has it taken you and where does it currently stand?
SH: Before the Berserk anime series start in Japan, Mr. Miura eagerly asked me to compose the sound track. Because he had been a listener of my music so that he thought there was commonness in the nuance of his work and my music, and I thought so, too. Not only TV anime but generally big projects are involved in various rights, therefore, it would be rare that original writer’s intention is accepted 100%. This time, however, Mr. Miura and the staff who understood him well solved various difficulties, and finally they could contract with me. Since then, the Berserk project and fans came to have an idea that my music is essential for Mr. Miura’s works.

As for anime in Japan, I was ignorant until taking charge of the sound track of Berserk. I came to take charge of the music of the work of Satoshi Kon who made the awarded anime from all over the world now. Then I realised that Japanese anime ware so diversified from awful ones to works with very deep interior, and also I realised that they were deserved attention by all over the world.

ANS: As for the continuation of the animation, are there definitive plans to continue the Berserk story in anime adaptation? Have you signed on to score any of the future animaton?
SH: I have no idea whether the new Berserk anime is produced. Also I have no plan to join new anime project at the moment. But I have a vague prediction that one project will start next year. However, I do not always accept all offer to compose music.

ANS: Outside of Berserk, what have you been doing with your music lately?
SH: I released my new CD, and held the concerts very recently. I make two different types of music. One is uptempo and noisy music based on Japanese techno in 80’s. Another is a symphonic and electronic music such as used for anime sound track. The CD I released this time is a former type.

ANS: Do you travel outside of Japan often? Would you like to?
SH: I often go to Thailand. I have many transgender friends there. I can learn many things from them and they’ve been giving me big inspiration.

ANS: Superimposing some ideas from Berserk on your view of reality, what are your thoughts on fate, destiny and divine intervention?
SH: In my view, I read the story of Berserk is a collective unconscious rebellion suppressed to the civilization. I am Jung’s fan so that I read the episodes and the characters of Berserk in Jung style.

ANS: Miura-sensei is known as doing most his work late into the night. Do you also work well in the nocturnal hours?
SH: I used to work in the nocturnal hours. But since I started a project in 2000, which was covered all electricity for making music by only solar power, my life style greatly changed. It made me work from the morning to the evening. However, sometimes I have to work until midnight when I have a lot of work.

 


Anime News Service – November 4 – 9 Anime News

11-9-04

The San Francisco Chronicle reports former japanese TV commercial star, presently, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will arrive in Japan this week seeking to strengthen commercial ties between the world’s 2nd and 5th largest economies. JBOX’s Peter Payne is interviewed and mentions the complications of starting a business in Japan:
“There are a lot of barriers to getting started, like the requirement that you have to have $30,000 in the bank when you incorporate,”
Now, the monetary requirement is rarely enforced, said Payne, who studied Japanese at San Diego State and moved to Japan in 1991 to teach English.

Cablefax’s Cableworld talks Cartoon Network, Ami Onuki and Yumi Yoshimura–better known as Puffy AmiYumi and the launch of their new show.
The St. Petersburgh Times Business Section profiles one of the leading anime retailers in the USA, Anime Nation.
Conneticut’s TheDay talks about Disney’s latest animation effort aimed at boys and drawn in the anime style, Super Robot Monkey Team.

11-9-04—- UPDATE: GoFish Pictures Acquires Casshern

DreamWorks’s division Go Fish Pictures has passed on more details of their pending “Casshern” release to ANS. “Casshern” marked the feature film directorial debut of acclaimed Japanese music video director Kazuaki Kiriya, who also wrote the original screenplay. The film opened to rave reviews in Japan and became an immediate hit. It has since gained an international cult following, including in the United States where fans on film and genre websites are already eagerly anticipating its domestic release.

An action-packed sci-fi thriller, “Casshern” blends Japanimation and manga-inspired live action resulting a new kind of hybrid filmmaking that is both visually stunning and thought-provoking. The human cast propels the action against a backdrop of CGI, special effects, and a wide range of animation techniques, from state of the art to simple stop-motion animation.

It is late in the 21st century. After 50 years of devastating war between Europa and the Eastern Federation, the latter has emerged victorious, and the new federation of Eurasia is formed. There can be no glorious peace, however, as the planet has been ravaged by chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons and the entire human race is dispirited and exhausted by half a century of war. A geneticist named Azuma brings hope in the form of a “neo-cell,” which can rejuvenate human parts with no risk of rejection. But nature interferes with science to create a new kind of menace that forces the entire human race to fight an ultimate war against its own extinction.

11-9-04—- New Juvenile Orion Gear From Broccoli

Broccoli Gear, the merchandising division of Broccoli International, announces the release of the Juvenile Orion character merchandise beginning in November 2004. The immense popularity of Juvenile Orion in the North American market has sparked the creation of brand new enameled pins and cell phone accessories, each one featuring one of the five main characters from the series in a “super-deformed” style. The cell straps also feature each character’s faction insignia and “Juvenile Orion” embossed in white.

Juvenile Orion is a five-volume fantasy-romance graphic novel involving a high school girl and the five young men who gather to protect her, and has been placed on Bookscan’s top ten bestseller list with each volume’s release. The manga series is a spin-off of Aquarian Age, a top-selling trading card game in Japan that has spawned the creation of numerous graphic novels and anime series. A number of prominent manga artists such as CLAMP, Takada Akemi, Narumi Kakinouchi, Keiji Goto, Koge-Donbo, and Haruhiko Mikimoto have illustrated cards for the game.

The cell phone straps will be available for purchase nationwide in local comic book and anime stores as well as Anime Gamers for $7.95 each. The character pins will be available for a retail price of $4.95 each.

Juvenile Orion Cell Phone Strap . Available in five character types: Kaname, Naoya, Tsukasa, Tomonori, and Isshin. . Rubber strap with detachable character mascot . Street Date: November 2004 . Suggested Retail Price: $7.95

Juvenile Orion Enameled Pins . Available in five character types: Kaname, Naoya, Tsukasa, Tomonori, and Isshin. . 1-1/2 inch enameled pin . Street Date: November 2004 . Suggested Retail Price: $4.95

http://www.broccolibooks.com/

11-8-04—- Japan For Sale Special On PopJapan TV

A special for Sony’s Japan For Sale album series will air part as the POPJAPAN TV program. It will feature music videos and comments from the participating artists. Below is the broadcast schedule:
International Channel: Nov. 12 (Fri.) 10PM Nov. 14 (Sun.) 11PM-Repeat
US Nippon (NY): Nov. 12 (Fri.) 9:30PM
Tokyo TV (SF): Dec. 5 (Sun.) 8:45PM

11-8-04—- eigoMANGA: Women Manga Artists Educates New Generation Of Fans

Fandom comes full circle for women artists featured in Sakura Pakk, an anthology of short manga stories that takes a new approach to furthering the black-and-white graphic novel as a medium in the United States. Manga has been an entertainment staple for sub-cultures of American fans for over two generations, but only for those who are either able to read Japanese, or have taken the time to investigate and immerse themselves in the language and culture. Book series were only available in specialty Japanese bookstores or by mail order straight from Japan. Over the past decade, mainstream readership of manga has increased due to widespread availability of popular manga titles translated into English. According to a recent article from a national publication, manga “is the fastest-growing segment of the publishing industry, with 2004 sales estimated at more than $120 million, up 20% from 2003.”

Set for release in early November by multimedia company eigoMANGA, Sakura Pakk aims to stand out from the abundance of manga already available to fans and new readers. Sakura Pakk stories are not translated from Japanese, but are written and drawn by primarily English-speaking artists who are enthusiastic manga fans themselves. As a result, literary elements that usually get lost in translation are virtually non-existent. Writers and artists make it a point to define any obscure Japanese terms or historical references in order to educate readers who are unfamiliar with the nuances of Japanese


Anime News Service – November 2nd – 3rd Anime News

11-3-04—- Bandai Entertainment And Cartoon Network Roll D.I.C.E

Bandai Entertainment and Cartoon Network announced today the acquisition of the brand new animated adventure series D.I.C.E.. Created by Bandai and animated by renowned animation studio, Xebec (subsidiary of Production I.G.), the series showcases the latest in cutting-edge CG/cel animation.

D.I.C.E (DNA Integrated Cybernetic Enterprises) is a large organization established to deal with emergencies occuring throughout the Sarbylion galaxy. D.I.C.E F-99 is the only unit comprised entirely of highly trained kids. When a problem arises, D.I.C.E is called to the rescue. And when their special training and skills aren’t enough, they rely on their Dinobreakers to help get the job done. Always on call, always on alert – D.I.C.E is ready for action! D.I.C.E. is scheduled to premiere on Cartoon Network this January, features non-stop action and adventure for 6 to 11 year-old boys. Transforming dinosaur vehicles are brought to life in this new anime entertainment property created by Bandai. .
Cartoon Network has acquired 26 episodes of D.I.C.E.
For more information about D.I.C.E, please visit the official website at www.diceofficial.com

11-3-04

-South Korea’s Donga.com reports the Sixth Pucheon International Student Animation Festival 2004 will be held from November 5 to November 9 in Boksagol Cultural Center in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province. The opening film will be “Phantom Master – Dark Hero from Ruined Empire,” co-directed by Korean director Ahn Tae-geun and Japanese director Joji Shimura. “Phantom Master” is based on a comic book by Yang Gyeong-il, and 150,000 copies were sold in Japan only. “Steam Boy” by Otomo Katsuhiro, the closing film for the Venice Film Festival this year, and a long Japanese animation, “Yu-Gi-Oh,” by Hatsuki Tsuji, will premier in Korea.
JapanCorp.net has more on POWEREDCOM, Toshiba Corporation and Tokyo Electric Power Company’s trial operation DVD content distribution service, “Hikari de DVD,” that delivers video to DVD recorders in the home via a high capacity fiber-optic broadband network. The trial service will offer approximately 300 titles, mainly movie and Japanese animation video content, from 19 content providers in Japan and overseas. A list of the content providers supporting the trial is appended to this release.
Gamespot has a report on Sega and Sammy’s first joint-arcade exhibit in Tokyo. A number of upcoming titles from the two companies were on display at the exhibit, though the focus was on Sega’s new game based on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, titled Sangokushi Taisen. News streaming from the event also tells Sega is collaborating with Kodansha Publishing to have its manga artists draw the character pictures imprinted on the cards. Kodansha is best known for its manga weekly Shonen Magazine. One of the artists who will be drawing for the game is Hiro Mashima, author of the manga series “Rave.”

11-3-04—- Latest Domo Music Releases

Yoshida Brothers – Yoshida Brothers II

“In the world of global music, it’s hard to make a bigger splash than the arrival of the Yoshida Brothers.” – The Globalist Magazine “The framework of the Yoshida Brothers’ art may be traditional, but its essence and spirit are altogether revolutionary.” – World Music Central The Yoshida Brothers’ star continues to rise with their highly anticipated album, Yoshida Brothers II. Mixing traditional Japanese music with Western influences, their brash, signature sound has elevated them to rock star status in their native Japan. The Brothers play the age-old Tsugaru-shamisen—an instrument akin to a rustic three-stringed banjo—with the fervor of Jimi Hendrix, while incorporating jazz-like improvisation, pop-rock sensibilities, and disparate global music idioms into their virtuoso shamisen mastery. The framework of the Yoshida Brothers’ art may be traditional, but its essence and spirit are revolutionary!

SLEEP: Volume 1

For stressful days & sleepless nights… This album puts people to sleep… but in a good way! A collection of beautiful melodies and healing harmonics, “SLEEP” is an intricate blend of the latest in psychoacoustic research and highly evolved musical composition conceived with the sole purpose of inducing sleep. Each handpicked song contains soothing, healing sounds specifically designed to ease tension contained within both the mind and physical body, while at the same time producing a tranquil atmosphere conducive to sustaining a state of deep relaxation.

Domo Artists – Domo 10th Anniversary Collection

To commemorate its 10th anniversary, Domo Records is releasing a special compilation album spotlighting the “greatest hits” from throughout its ten year lifespan. The album features sixteen beautiful tracks from the Domo roster and highlights the some of the finest works from the world’s greatest artists, including legendary composer/musician Kitaro, Dave Eggar, Luis Perez, Randy Armstrong, and The Yoshida Brothers. The album also features a bonus track — a brand new, previously unreleased track by Kitaro, Theme for Earthdance. A soothing, ethereal collection of music, full of reflective, delicate moments and dreamy, intimate ambience, this album is perfect for anytime of the day when a sense of inner calm is in order.

Fumio – Best of Fumio

The Best of Fumio is a collection of music from the groundbreaking Japanese composer Fumio Miyashita. Fumio’s illustrious career spans over three decades, during which time he has released over 80 albums in Japan alone, and millions worldwide. Fumio’s healing music was created in the riches of nature in the Iizuna highlands of rural Japan. It is here that Fumio sought to understand the principles of harmony found in Oriental philosophy and Medical Science, which he then applied to his unique style of therapeutic music. Our present world, referred to as a “left-brain society”, puts great emphasis on logical, information processing — versus creativity and imagination, which are ruled by the right hemisphere of the brain. Certain music has been known to bridge the gap between the two hemispheres by releasing blockages to the right-brain, and thus giving the left brain a rest by balancing the functions of both with sound vibrations. More than entertainment, this collection will last into personal moments of healing to help minimize stress and serve the mind, body and spirit.

Susan Mazer and Dallas Smith – The Circle of Life

Collaborating since 1984, Susan Mazer


Anime News Service – October 27 – November 1st Anime News

11-1-04—- Blade: Trinity Soundtrack Anime / Manga Features

Lil’ Flip, WC, E-40, The RZA, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan are among the platinum artists who appear on the highly-anticipated “Blade: Trinity” motion picture soundtrack from New Line Records. Set for a Nov. 23 release, the soundtrack features five tracks produced by The RZA (Wu-Tang Clan), who co-composed the film’s score with newcomer Ramin Djawadi. A complete track listing for the soundtrack is below. Starring Wesley Snipes, Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel, “Blade: Trinity” is the third film in the successful Blade franchise and is scheduled for a Dec. 8 release.

“Working with The RZA was a great experience,” said David Goyer, “Blade: Trinity’s” director, writer and producer. “He pulls in so many different, wide-ranging elements for his sounds and constantly surprises you. You never know where he’ll find inspiration.”

The movie’s soundtrack will be available in two editions. The “Deluxe” edition includes a nine-panel manga comic piece by Takashi Okazaki, the creator of the successful Afro Samurai series; and a bonus DVD that features a four-and-a-half minute anime piece from the creators of Blokhedz, a 13-minute behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the movie’s music including interviews with David Goyer, The RZA and Djawadi; a 5-minute behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the anime comic; a “Blade” weapons gallery; early costume and production sketches for the “Blade” films; and a gallery of the international “Blade” movie posters.

“I’m really excited about the deluxe edition of the soundtrack — it’s always cool when you can give the fans something special and authentic,” said Goyer. The soundtrack’s other version does not include the DVD, comic, production sketches or the movie poster gallery. Following is the complete “Blade: Trinity” Original Motion Picture Soundtrack track listing:

Fatal — The RZA I Gotta Get Paid — Lil’ Flip/ Ghostface Killah/ Raekwon When The Guns Come Out — WC/E-40 Thirsty — Black Keith & ODB Daywalkers (Foot Chase) — Ramin/ RZA Party In Tha Morgue — Kool Keith Skylight — Overseer Hardwax — Manchild Bombs Away — Paris Texas Weapons of Mad Distortion — Crystal Method The Blood — Black Lab Blade’s Back — Ramin Diawadi

11-1-04—- China’s Sun Wukong Realeases To High Definition EVD Format

From China’s Xinhuanet comes details that the animated feature ‘Sun Wukong’ has been released for the first time in Beijing on Thursday, in the form of High Density Digital Laser technology or EVD, China Radio International reported Thursday. EVD is the upgrade of DVD, or Digital Video Disc, and the publisher planned to use EVD form to show world’s cartoon fans a high definition picture. The old tale ‘Sun Wukong,’ based on the book of same name by the late Japanese renowned cartoonist, Osamu Tezuka, who is well known for the animation ‘Astro Boy’, or A Tong Mu in Chinese, now gets a new look with a sharper image.

11-1-04

– Indiana’s Fort Wayne Journal has the piece, “Mad for manga”, which describes America’s continuing fascination with the art form.
The Seattle Times restaurants section has a review for Fort St. George which offers up eclectic food and culture. For 11 years, this funky Asian joint in the Chinatown International District has given a Japanese twist to American staples, serving to a whirlwind of anime fans, fashionable Japanese women and Asian teens with dyed-blond hair. Former Mariners pitcher Kazuhiro Sasaki also used to frequent the place.
Macworld.uk examines the viability of Apple’s itunes in the Japanese market. Yankee Group analyst Mike Goodman suggests that Apple may face cultural and market issues in the region. Speaking specifically of Japan, he told NewsFactor: “For a Japanese version of iTunes Music Store to work Apple will need to be sensitive to the unique dynamics of the Japanese marketplace. Although Japan has a reputation for being gadget-happy, its citizens tend to adopt products made by domestic companies, such as Sony.”
Microsoft’s experience with the Xbox gaming console in Japan is a case in point. The Xbox had done well did well in the United States and Western Europe, but failed in Japan. Goodman said: “It did horribly because Microsoft did not provide users with the sort of games they like. The Japanese tend to prefer fighting games that stylistically have the look and feel of Japanese anime … rather than the sort of shoot-’em-up or racing games Westerners tend to go for.” He predicts: “In order for iTunes to avoid Xbox-like pitfalls and have a successful iTunes Music Store launch in Japan, Apple needs to provide Japanese consumers with a strong library of Japanese music from top Japanese record labels and pop stars.”

Yahoo has a candid conversation with Tsutomu Kitagawa, the third suit actor to play Godzilla. (Thanks to Daniel for the link)
– The first volume of MPD Psycho, the detective/horror tv series based on a manga, will be released by Adness at the end of February 2005. The 2nd and 3rd volume will follow in April and June. The release dates have not been confirmed yet and you might expect the series to move for a spring/summer 2005 release. Source: Kung Fu Cult Cinema (courtesy Daniel Z)

11-1-04—- Black Salt Martial Arts Film Coming

Owen Ratliff, the president of Ratti Entertainment Group informed ANS that in collaboration with Aries & Co. are releasing a new martial arts film entitled Black Salt. The PG-13 movie will feature positive role models and strong discipline technique. This story is about a father’s honor and an ancient and powerful style of martial arts that has been practiced in Shaolin for hundreds of years. Also on the table are plans for merchandise lines including apparel, comic book, video game, toys and mix martial arts tournaments to be held around the U.S. where Ratti Entertainment/Aries & Co. will be searching for some of the next fighting stars for the film.

The Black Salt film project will be produced in China and the United States. The firms have just developed a fundraiser program