Posts in: September, 2005

Anime News Service – September 14-30 Anime News

9-30-05 (7:57AM EDT)—- Gackt: Admitted Gundam Fanatic

Japanese rockstar Gackt is currently providing the theme music for Sunrise’s Gundam Zeta movies. His song Metamorphoze was released in May as the first movie theme. For the occasion, Gact was in studio at TOKYO FM on the 28th for a live performance of the single and hsi song “Sound In My Life”. Gackt mentioned he was under alot of pressure producing the song because of being such a big Gundam fan. The key focus for him was matching the tune mood correctly to the animation.

9-30-05 (7:57AM EDT)—- TM Revolution’s Nishikawa Pledges Anime Culture Support

Japanese Pop artist T.M.Revolution just released his latest single “Vestige” in Japan last month on the 20th. There was a live perfomance on TOKYO FM shortly after the release. The single has become the new theme song of the TBS animation Gundam SEED DESTINY. After the performance Nishikawa mentioned: “I want to support the animation culture of Japan in music. ” The artist has enjoyed a great amount of success in supplying anime themes, next year will mark the 10th anniversary since his debut. “HEART OF SWORD -Yoakemae (before dawn)-“, his third single released in November 1996 became the theme song for the television anime “Rurouni Kenshin,” and he gained a strong following among both anime and music fans.

9-30-05 (6:45AM EDT)—- Gundam Art Exhibition In Tokyo

The “Kitaru Beki Mirai No Tame Ni” Gundam art exhibition that ran at the Suntory Museum of Art in Osaka from July will be coming to Tokyo. The Ueno area of Tokyo will host the exhibiton November 6th – December 25th at the Ueno Forest Museum. The concept of the exhibition includes modern art renditions based on the first Gundam series.

9-30-05 (6:14AM EDT)—- UPDATE: Takashi Miike On Waru – FINAL

Director King of Japanese Shock Cinema, Takashi Miike has began filming a new movie based on the Maki Hisao (not Hashida Yukari) manga, Waru – FINAL. The news was announced on the 24th in Tokyo. The film will star Matsusaka Keiko (Fall Guy), Aikawa Shou, and Ishibashi Ryou and Maki Hisao (Miike adapted Hisao’s own Yakuza manga into the 1999 feature, Silver). The manga was originally serialized in Kodansha’s Weekly Shonen Magazine in the 1970’s. Going along with the film’s title, this will be an adaptation of the final section of the original manga. Waru – FINAL opens in theaters nationwide across Japan next spring.

9-29-05 (7:06PM EDT)—- FUNimation Announces 24-Hour Digital Anime Network

FUNimation Entertainment, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Navarre Corporation (NASDAQ: NAVR), and one of the nation’s leading brand management and independent home video entertainment companies, is launching the FUNimation Channel(SM), a 24-hour digital network featuring programming of top-rated anime brands from Japan. “The broadcast success we’ve experienced with our anime brands proves that solid TV exposure gives fans the chance to see more great anime and it increases sales and licensing opportunities. This has driven us to pursue additional avenues to get more of our shows broadcast exposure in the United States,” said Gen Fukunaga, president and CEO of FUNimation Entertainment. “The FUNimation Channel will give us the opportunity to bring more of our proven, high-rated anime titles from Japan to fans throughout the United States and expand awareness of anime to whole new audiences.”

FUNimation is a brand management company that manages a full spectrum of rights for many of its brands including broadcasting. The company has already experienced notable broadcast accomplishments with network partners in the United States. “Thanks to engaging content and strong titles, both FUNimation and our network partners have experienced success and we look forward to continuing our relationships going forward,” explains Fukunaga. “The FUNimation Channel is the first step in getting more of our top-rated anime shows broadcast and grabbing a larger share of the growing U.S. anime market.”

FUNimation recently signed an agreement with OlympuSAT, a leading distributor of independent digital programming networks, for the distribution of the FUNimation Channel. OlympuSAT is the exclusive distributor and the FUNimation Channel is now available to video service providers throughout the nation. “FUNimation is dedicated to bringing the best anime to the United States and we are extremely excited to begin working with OlympuSAT to bring these leading shows into homes across the nation via the FUNimation Channel,” said Fukunaga. “OlympuSAT is one of the top distributors of independent digital programming in the United States, and coupled with the high quality anime programming from FUNimation, the FUNimation Channel will be an attractive offering for operators across the nation.”

“The FUNimation Channel features great programming from some of the most engaging anime brands in the United States,” said Colleen Glynn, Senior Vice President of Affiliate Sales and Distribution for OlympuSAT. “We are confident that U.S. operators will see that the FUNimation Channel is the perfect complement and addition to their digital line-ups.” FUNimation also announced plans to launch the FUNimation Channel website (www.funimationchannel.com) within a few weeks. Fans will be able to find more information on the programming, the schedule and the shows. For interested video providers, detailed programming and other exciting network information is available exclusively through OlympuSAT.

9-29-05 (11:30AM EDT)—- ‘Hate Korea’ Manga A Bestseller In Japan

There was a manga published this past summer in Japan that was so controversial that the author simply couldn’t find someone to print it at first, newspapers refused to promote or advertsie it and finding coverage in the media was even difficult. That is, until it started flying off shelves. “Kenkanryu” (Hating Things South Korean) is the creation of Sharin Yamano, who insists the “comfort women” kept in South Korea by imperial Japanese occupational forces during WWII was an entirely fabricated issue. He says he has done his own research and made the manga to dispell the above and other “lies spreading in The Republic Of Korea”. All this comes in the middle of the recent South Korea Style Boom in Japan, Yamano mentions “South Korea Style Boom was produced recently due to mass communication initiation by Japan, it became popular, and there were a lot


ANS Interview – American Comic Legend Jim Lee

By Jonah Morgan

Jim Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1964. He graduated from Princeton University with a degree in medicine but decided to try his hand at comic-book art – his childhood fantasy. He found work at Marvel Comics, where his work quickly proved so popular that the company created a new X-Men title just to showcase it. In 1992, Lee formed his own comics company, WildStorm Studios, which became one of the founding components of Image Comics. There, he launched the best-selling WILDC.A.T.S and helped to create many other characters. He also helped to discover and train a phalanx of writers, artists, and colorists. With its steady success, WildStorm as a business grew so demanding that Lee found he no longer had any time to draw, leading to his decision to sell the company to DC Comics. He remains WildStorm’s creative director but now concentrates on his first love, art including penciling ALL-STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN, THE BOY WONDER. He lives in La Jolla, California with his wife Angie and three daughters. Jim is also the spokesman for DC’s CMX Manga line.

ANS: I was a hardcore American comics fan in my early teens when I was first introduced to your work. You were a favorite artist among myself and circle of friends who were drooling over your incredible illustrations and there buying your books towards the end of your stint at Marvel. So naturally, when you and the other guys at Image (Mcfarlane, Larsen, Liefeld) broke out and started doing your own thing, I can still recall how much of a revolution in the industry it was. From that point, it seemed more attention was being given to Indy books by the fans. It was during this period that I first discovered Manga. A lot of my friends started passing around Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira (released by Marvel) some of the early Eclipse (VIZ) titles and the odd one-off book you could get through the Previews catalog (Masamune Shirow’s Intron Depot 1 comes to mind). Seing just the miniscule amount Manga available on these shores (USA) even then I knew, this type of art and storytelling was destined to become something big here. It took a while, but here we are in the Manga revolution. The stuff is so hot that even the big three (Marvel, DC, and Darkhorse) have gotten involved releasing Manga and bringing in Manga artists in to draw their original books. Can you tell us your perspective on Manga’s march in fan popularity and industry impact from around the early 1990’s to the present?

Jim Lee: Funny thing is that my experience was very much like yours and probably many other hardcore American comic book fans. I started buying the early Marvel colorized editions of Akira but it was hardly a household name. Most American artists loved not only the attention to detail and visualization but the storytelling really opened up our eyes to what was possible in more ‘decompressed’ style. In other words, the cinematic approach of Otomo to the presentation of static images and the use of ‘speedlines’ and blurring of moving objects through rendering (vs the use of the blur filter in Photoshop these days) really made the action on the page feel alive and kinetic. Also, the way manga artists values and textures through gray tones really opened a lot of eyes here to how flat our standard black and white artlook could look. I think that probably helped usher in or at the very least inspire the drive to bring fuller color palettes and color rendering techniques to our work, perhaps as a substitute to the richness we were seeing and experiencing from all this great, imported material.

I also had purchased the laserdisc of the animated movie and was really impressed with Otomo’s conceptualizations of the future megapolis. I think one still sees these influences in the way many American artists visualize the look and feel of the near future. It certainly was a big influence when I was drawing X-Men for Marvel. I also bought Appleseed and fell in love with the tech and mecha look that Shirow Masamune crafted. That too made a huge impact in the way I approached the design of battle armor, spacecraft, vehicles and even standard Superhero costumes. I must have bought 3 or 4 different editions of the same Appleseed material over the years as well as the video tapes. I also loved Gunsmith Cats (published by Dark Horse I believe) being a big gun nut and Lone Wolf and Cub. So even though much of our readership were not following manga, the artform certainly affected the artists creating American comics and their approach to storytelling. Even as I was impressed with all this material, I had no idea that it would grow to the phenomenon it is now today. Moreover, it’s very interesting to see that the explosion of manga in the US has not been limited to just the action genre. The popularity and support of shojo manga really shows how diverse and strong the movement is America today and bodes well for the future of our craft and artform.

ANS: With such a variety of Manga titles on the shelves these days, how does CMX distinguish itself as a label and continue to sell books?

Jim Lee: Our goal for CMX is to have a tightly focused line of high quality books. The marketplace for manga is changing and has become far more demanding. Overwhelming fans and retailers with sheer quantity is not an effective strategy. Each prospective title is evaluated carefully by the CMX team based on how interesting the story is, the quality of the artwork, and whether or not we believe the series fills a currently under-represented but viable niche in the marketplace. If the series also has a tie-in to a well-known anime series and is a fan favorite, we certainly consider those factors as well. We publish