Posts in: March, 2007

TAF2007 Exclusive Report: Vexille: 2077 Nippon Sakoku

By Jonah Morgan

Shochiku chose this year’s Tokyo Anime Fair to rollout its upcoming SF Action / CGI animated film Vexille: 2077 Nippon Sakoku. A symposium held on March 22nd introduced cast, staff and a first ever video sneak peek. Over 1000 people attended making it a standing room only affair. Principal Photography on the project began in May 2006, completion is expected June, 2007. The tentative budget is $10 million. Production: OXYBOT, Avex Entertainment, CCRE, Shochiku, TBS, Shogakukan, Shogakukan Production. Directed by Fumihiko Sori (His second film as director, following Ping Pong / Producer on Appleseed), Scenario written by Fumihiko Sori and Haruka Handa (Appleseed), Music by Paul Oakenfold (Matrix Reloaded). The nationwide theatrical premiere in Japan is scheduled for August 2007. Cast include Meisa Kuroki, Yasuko Matsuyuki, and Shosuke Tanihara. The director mentioned the movie is the result of a highly technically advanced production process.

Story

From the beginning of the 21st century, the progression of biotechnology has evolved drastically to improve human life spans and medical treatments. However, with no global guidance on safety, there have been setbacks such as the creation of dangerous viruses and medical accidents. Due to all the issues occurring around the world, the United Nations created an international treaty restricting the research and developments of biotechnology.
Around the same time, the year 2067, the development of high tech robots were also expanding. Japan was especially in the lead of robots, developing and producing robots from home to military useages, monopolizing the global market. Robot technologies were also advancing into fields such as developing robot parts to live longer and androids (human-shaped robots). Similar to what they did for biotechnology, the United Nations issued another restriction treaty for robot technology as well since they were considered a threat to mankind. Japan, the leading nation for these cutting edge technologies objected to this proposal, however failed to veto the treaty and decides to leave the United Nations to take the path of isolation by closing its doors. The year is now In 2077 – 10 years has passed since Japan had decided to leave the United Nations to go into isolation. They have completely blocked the islands with an ultra magnetic field which prevents anyone to see what is going inside, nor for people to travel in/out of the country. Japan has become an extremely mysterious country and also a leading nation in producing weapons of mass destruction.
United States intelligence obtained information that Japan was developing a new weapon that would be a serious threat to not only the USA but the entire world. A US special forces unit, SWORD was ordered to go on a secret mission to enter Japan and find out what they are developing. Lead by a female commander, VEXILLE and LEON, who is also her boyfriend, the members of SWORD head to accomplish this dangerous mission.
With carefully scheduled plans, SWORD finally makes their way into Japan from the Tokyo Bay area. Already they have lost most of their men, but Vexille and Leon move forward. With attacks from every side possible, Vexille makes the lone escape into the sea and is helped by a group of Japanese, the underground forces which is lead by a woman named Maria/ The group lives in a neighborhood, where the streets are full of life but this is now way “developed,” where one would dream about the high-rise and the neo-futuristic city, which Vexille had expected to see in Japan. Instead the city keeps the nostalgic atmosphere, a life before all the technology had developed. Suddenly, without warning a nearby man clutches his head, then his body, and as he writhes in pain, collapses to the ground. People peer at the sight but do not assist him. Vexille stares at the scene and to her surprise, the man works through the pain to suddenly pop back up on his feet, with the only feature different from before being his empty, lifeless eyes.
The man looks into Vexille’s eyes and locks it as the target. Vexille suddenly notices that she is surrounded by the forces created by a mega corporation DAIWA, who is desperate to exterminate her.

In the meantime back in the SWORD HQ, with the help of the penetration of their members, they are finally able to decode the electromagnetic field that had blocked Japan out of the entire world map. As the shape of Japan is revealed, the command room staff members open their eyes widely to the sight. Almost the whole of Japan is wasteland, where strange, gigantic creatures roam all over. The only residential area that could be seen in sight is around Tokyo, and also an artificial island created in Tokyo Bay, with the words “Daiwa Heavy Industries” coming into view. They also find that there is scarcely no sign of biological activity on the map; ie: there are hardly any humans left in Japan. The staff can hardly believe what they see. This is Japan, 10 years after isolation. What has become of Japan? Why did this happen? What is Daiwa trying to do? Who is Maria, and why is she helping Vexille? Will Vexille be able to find out the answers to avoid the world from falling apart? One mystery leads to another which directs to the dramatic ending….


Anime News Service – March 9-16 Anime News

3-16-07 (8:02AM EDT)—- Paprika To Be Released On DVD – UMD – Blu-ray Disc In Japan

Sony Pictures has announced Satoshi’s Kon’s animated feature Paprika will arrive on a number of commerical media formats simultaneously on May 23rd. These include: Blu-ray Disc (5,980 yen), DVD (4,980 yen), DVD BOX (13,440 Yen) and UMD Video (3,990 Yen). The Blu-ray and standard DVD will feature the film which runs about 90 minutes in length with 2 Japanese audio channels (DD 5.1ch) and (DTS 5.1ch) along with an art direction featurette and a Megumi Hayashibara, Satoshi Kon and Susumu Hirasawa vocal commentary track. The DVD BOX will consist of a 2 disc set. The first disc will be the standard DVD release accompanied by a omake disk with about 30 minutes of extra material consisting of an interview with seiyuu Yasutaka Tsutsui, Megumi Hayashibaru and Toru Furutani. Additional featurettes will cover things like the filming supervision, 3DCG element construction, etc.. other extras with the BOX include a 760 page storyboard book, interview booklet and lavishly illustrated BOX enclosure. The UMD version will include the same features as the regular DVD version with 2 audio channels and Japanese subtitles.

3-16-07 (5:54AM EDT)—- Non-Exclusive: Shibuya Becomes Death Note Viral Promotional Vector

Yahoo has a photo of a real, life-size figure of the Death Note shinigami hero Ryuk being displayed at the Shibuya Tatsuya to commemorate the DVD release of the second film. Several other lifesize Ryuk displays showed up at HMV andTower Record Shibuya outlets on the 14th. Additionally, a promtional campaign for the coming spinoff “L” movie starring Ken Matsuyama has begun in the district centering on ad placements being made on the giant videoscreens such as Super Lisa and QFront which ring Hachiko Square. You can see an image of those ads here (click for enlargement).

3-16-07 (5:20AM EDT)—- Yoko Kanno In South Korea

Famed anime music composer Yoko Kanno will be in South Korea on March 26th, for a preview of “Yuuga Na Sekai”, a new film she scored. It stars Sung Ganho.

3-16-07 (5:10AM EDT)—- Blood Live Action Lead Adopts New Stage Name

Korean actress Jun Ji-hyun has taken on the acting name “Gianna Jun” for her Hollywood debut in the live action adaptaiton of Production I.G.’s Blood: The Last Vampire. She chose the pseudonym after as she’s run into the problem of foreigners not being able to remember her proper Korean name. Filming on Blood started on the 15th in Beunos Aires, Argentina, its scheduled to run about 3 months. The movie hits theaters in the summer of 2008.

3-16-07 (4:58AM EDT)—- Production I.G.’s Yoshiki Sakurai To Lecture In Eastern Europe

Ghost In The Shell: SAC scenario writer Yoshiki Sakurai has been elected to a special lecturer position to Eastern Europe by the Cultural Affairs Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He’ll tour the region giving several speeches in countries such as Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. The events will introduce the culture and the art of Japan via embassy and consulate general sponsorship. The tour will occur March 19-24th. Sakurai will talk about production and technology involved in the Japanese anime industry.

3-16-07 (4:45AM EDT)—- Sumomomo Momomo Episode 23-24 To Be DVD Exclusive

With the final broadcast episode having aired on March 15, 2007, it’s been revealed Sumomomo Momomo: Chijou Saikyou No Yome stories 23-24 will be appear exclusively as extras on the DVD release of the series. Then, let’s introduce the comment of the performer who finishes collecting

3-16-07 (4:09AM EDT)—- Sony Uses Moe To Sell Disc Drives In Taiwan

Sony’s been running an Taiwan exclusive “Be You” DVD/Blue Ray PC drive campaign utilizing Moe style anime characters in Taiwan.

3-16-07 (3:47AM EDT)—- New Versions of Vista Discovered In China

Watch Impress has images and details on the latest crop of Windows Vista pirate copies being sold on the black market (virtually everywhere) in China. Among them are some editions that don’t even legitimately exist from Microsoft including “Windows Vista Professional 2007.”

3-16-07 (3:31AM EDT)—- Yellow Tanabe Claims Shogakukan Manga Prize

As we first reported back on January 23rd, Yellow Tanabe’s manga Kekkaishi took the Shogakukan 52nd Manga Prize in the Childrens Division. The work has serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday since 2004 Web Newtype has pics from the awards ceremony.

3-16-07 (3:13AM EDT)—- Newsweek Japan Looks At World Of Moe

Newsweek Japan has a major feature article on the “Moe World” in its 3/21 issue which goes on sale in the country on March 14th.

3-16-07 (2:59AM EDT)—- Otome Road Video News Report

NTV News 24 has a television news excerpt on Ikebukuro’s female otaku locus Otome Road.

3-16-07 (2:49AM EDT)—- Bakugan Sets Sites On World Domination

The production announcement symposium for the coming Bakugan Battle Brawlers TV anime was held in Tokyo on the 15th. Broadcast begins on TV Tokyo on April 5th. The property will simultaneously launch a collectible battling card / toy game. The rock band “Psychic Lover” that will do the theme song to the show had a live performance at the event as did Elephant Girl who will perform the ED theme “Air Drive”. International distribution is already planned with a Canadian broadcast for the animation scheduled in May, followed by rollouts in Asian, American and European countries to occur in short order. Other product tie-ins extending to gashapon, chewing gum and videogames (including one coming up for the Nintendo DS) are in the works now. Staff includes: Director Mitsuo Hashimoto, Series Composition by Jun Maekawa, Character Designs by Yoshihiro Nagamori, Monster Designs by Susumu Imaishi, Sound direction by Jin Aketagawa, Animation Production by TMS Entertainment, Planning and Original Concept by Sega Toys, SPIN MASTER, Bakugan Project.

3-16-07 (2:22AM EDT)—- Shigurui To Be Adapted To TV Series

Illustrator Takayuki Yamaguchi and writer Norio Nanjo’s critically acclaimed Samurai comic Shigurui will be adapted to TV animation according to scans of handbill flyers that have been spotted in advance copies of Vol. 1 of the manga which streets on 3/20. The broadcast debut is set for July, 2007 in Japan.

3-16-07


Anime News Service – March 1-8 Anime News

3-8-07 (10:45PM EST)—- Goshou Aoyama Manga Factory Staff Uniforms

The staff uniforms for the Goshou Aoyama Manga Factory which opens in Tottori, Kitasakae-cho on the 18th of this month have been revealed. They are themed around similar clothing appearing in the Detective Conan manga.

3-8-07 (10:46PM EST)—- Kyojin No Hoshi Seiyuu Kyoharu Kobayashi Dies

Voice Actor Kyoharu Kobayashi died of a subarachnoidal hemorrhage in hospital in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo at 1:02 AM on the eighth, he was 75 years old. His funeral will be held on the 14th. He appeared in the 1969 anime TV series Kyojin No Hoshi.

3-8-07 (10:23PM EST)—- First Look: Dragon Ball Online

Rasphard’s Diary has some of the first screens from a new Dragonball Online MMORPG being developed in South Korea.

3-8-07 (10:03PM EST)—- Honda Comes Clean With Mask Rider Bike Details

Honda has added a new trivia FAQ related its motorcycle conncetions to Shotoaro Ishinomori’s Mask Rider.

3-8-07 (9:51PM EST)—- City Hunter 100t Hammer To Be Exhibited At Tokyo Anime Center / Auctioned

A 1/1 scale real life replica of the “100t hammer” that appears in Tsukasa Hojo’s manga City Hunter and Angel Heart will be exhibited at the Tokyo Anime Center between March 9th-20th. The hammer is being sold via a Yahoo Charity Auction. The composition of the object is styrene foam finished with fiber reinforced plastics. Weight is about 50 kilograms, and the size is 1.5 meters in height, 1.8 meters in depth and 1.4 meters in width. The auction runs until the 16th.

3-8-07 (9:09PM EST)—- DLSite Open To Foreign Works

CuriousFactory today announced that DLSite.com, Japan’s most notable distribution portal site for Doujin and Indy products, is accepting works from outside of Japan. DLSite.com carries thousands of Doujin products such as Doujinshi, CG collection, game, novel, music, and utility tool. Due to the increasing interest from the creators and users outside of Japan, CuriousFactory and DLSite.com is now working together to accept works from outside of Japan. Ayaka Hahn, the Director of CuriousFactory says, “DLSite.com has a long experience in the field of online digital product distribution in Japan. They have been helping many creators to self-publish their works effectively. Recently the Internet allows the creators all over the world to share, distribute and sell their works. With trusted, experienced product download distribution service like DLSite.com, it is now easier than ever for individual creators to distribute and market products to reach the world audience”.

Characteristics of DLSite.com
– In total, DLSite.com has more than 4,200 registered creators and productions, has more than 19,000 registered titles, and has sold more than 7,000,000 products to date. – There is no limitation to the product size that can be uploaded onto DLSite.com for distribution. (On average, each title is about 1 GB) – Once the creator registers his/her title, it is distributed on DLSite.com forever, unless he/she decides to terminate the distribution. – DLSite.com will take care of marketing, sales and distributing products in total so that creator can focus on just creating his/her works. – DLSite.com accepts products in various genre including General, R, and Mature (18+). – There is absolutely NO registration fee.

CuriousFactory will be the exclusive agent to handle products for DLSite.com that is submitted from outside of Japan. Creators outside of Japan are required to register with CuriousFactory’s distribution service in order for their products to be listed / distributed on DLSite.com.

3-8-07 (8:24PM EST)—- Australia’s Eminence Symphony Orchestra To Score Romeo x Juliet

GDH K.K. has announced that the soundtrack for Romeo x Juliet, the animated series produced by GDH’s main production subsidiary GONZO K.K. will be performed by Eminence Symphony Orchestra (Founder & Artistic Director: Hiroaki Yura, hereafter Eminence), the celebrated orchestra based in Sydney, Australia. GONZO’s Romeo x Juliet is the first attempt ever to adapt William Shakespeare’s classic play Romeo and Juliet into an animation. The new series, set against a quasi-medieval background reminiscent of the original play, will revive the classic tale of love, addinginnovative twists to the storyline accompanied by GONZO’s incredible visuals and first rate music. Twenty-eight of the 39 tracks provided for the show by renowned composer Hitoshi Sakimoto will be performed by Eminence. Eminence was established in 2003 in Australia as the first orchestra in the world to specialize in music for video games and animation. It is highly recognized for its performances of scores for animations, films and video games. GDH looks forward to collaborating with Eminence and to bringing together their beautiful music and GONZO’s powerful animation capabilities. The animated series is scheduled for television broadcast from April 2007. Chubu Nippon Broadcasting and SKY Perfect Well Think join GDH in the production of the show.

3-8-07 (8:24PM EST)—- Different Afro Samurai To Broadcast In Japan

GDH K.K. has announced that AFRO SAMURAI, the animated series produced by GDH’s main production subsidiary GONZO K.K., will be broadcast in Japan on WOWOW starting at 23:00 on Thursday May 3rd, 2007. Based on Takashi Okazaki’s comic, AFRO SAMURAI is a five-episode animated series produced to commemorate the 15th anniversary of GONZO. It follows Afro Samurai’s journey to avenge his father who was brutally murdered before his own eyes. Packed with action and with an underlying message about the futility of revenge, the show takes the audience into a unique world that fuses American hip-hop culture with the world of the classical samurai. AFRO SAMURAI first aired in the US as a five-week mini-series on Spike TV from January 4th, 2007 and proved to be immensely popular. The program stars (and is co-produced by) Academy Award-nominated actor Samuel L. Jackson as the hero, and also features Ron Perlman (Hellboy) and Kelly Hu (X2: X-MEN United). The soundtrack is composed by the revolutionary hip-hop artist The RZA, adding his considerable creative talents to help create an animation experience for audiences around the world unlike anything seen before. The Japan premiere will feature a complete Director’s Cut version, including footage that was not part of the Spike TV broadcast. The series will be aired with English dialogue and Japanese


TAF2007 Exclusive Report: Yumedamaya Kidan

By Jonah Morgan

Back on March 22-25 at The Tokyo Anime Fair, Japanese Animation broadcaster Animax was hyping Akari Tsukino’s forthcoming Yumedamaya Kidan work with a poster featuring some of the first released artwork. The 2006 Grand Prize winner of its Animax Awards, Production I.G. currently has it in the production stage. Originally slated for summer, Animax told us its now due to see a broadcast debut in November, 2007.In November, 2006, the win was announced under some rather unusual and interesting circumstances at a symposium held at Tokyo Geo-Site 40 meters underground. The site is an access point to a huge earthquake and disaster reinforced underground multi-purpose duct (think subway tunnel sans train) accommodating electric lines, telephone lines, gas pipings, waterworks pipings and sewage pipings, etc. located near Toranomon Station. There were several comments made that the exotic locale looked like something out of anime. I.G.’s Keiki Sakurai, Yumi Kageyama, Ryuji Mitsumoto, Animax President Masao Takiyama, and Tatsuya Ishii all reviewed and judged the work. Many of them will guide the production of the work through the animation process. The result will be 30-45 minutes in length. Akari Tsukino’s submission was chosen from 905 entries made in 2006. In the fantastic story Naho (11) is an elder sister who enters her younger brother Jun’s (2) dream. They live with their father as their mother died soon after Jun was born. Naho acts in the mothers place in relation to her brother watching after him at home however and the situation is frustrating to her sometimes

as she wishes to go out and play with her friends. A man with a slender figure who has a big trunk shows up before Naho one day. He introduces himself as Kotaro of Yumedamaya and he guides Naho into the dream world. Mysterious phenomenon begin manifesting themselves to Naho in her natural everyday surroundings after meeting Kotaro. She strays off into a dreamworld of her younger brother and soon encounters her own mother.

Takahashi Yousuke will serve as character designer on the project, his wild illustration first shown at TAF, represents the only currently released artwork. Based on where Production I.G. has been with their animation in the past, Yumedamaya Kidan will yet again represent a markedly different direction for the studio, with newcomer Akari Tsukino responsible for forcing them to look in new areas of innovation, reach for new examples of creativity, presenting before them, a new set of special challenges. The resulting featurette is something you probably couldn’t arrive at following the traditional industry processes and the breath of fresh air will be extremely welcome and very interesting to see.