December 30, 1999 / by Anime News Services / Archived News / No Comments

December 20-30 Anime News

12-30-99—- Tokimeki Memorial DVD’s

King Records is set to release both volumes of the Tokimeki Memorial OVA series on DVD in Japan March 3rd. The discs will list for 5,800 Yen seperately, include Standard Stereo audio and new interviews with the seiyuu cast.

12-30-99—- Anime Music News

Nakatsukasa Masami’s first album, “Ame”, is scheduled for release Feb. 4th, listing for 3,059 yen. The album includes newly arranged versions of the opening theme of the To Heart Anime TV series, “Feeling Heart” and ending theme “Sorezore no Mirai (ashita) he”.

12-30-99—- Anime / Manga Gaming

Enix’s first PSX 2 adventure game, the 2 DVD-ROM 0 Story (Love Story) is scheduled for release in spring in Japan. 0 Story is about searching for true love, the main character is a young man who dies in an accident, with the help of angels, he becomes a ghost to find a true love before he crosses over to the spirit world. Appearing as a human, the player encounters different females who have the potential to become a true-love. As a ghost, the character has the ability to read others minds to find out their interest towards him. It’s also possible to use an “Arrow Of Love” to discover the nature of characters’ hearts.

SNK’s Dreamcast port of King Of Fighters ’99, has received the official title: “The King of Fighters ’99 Evolution”. The port will have new 3D backgrounds, and Striker characters not found in the arcade version. The DC game will feature internet support.

Nintendo’s Super Mario RPG 2 will feature 3D backgrounds, 2D characters, and a turn based battle system.

ASCII’s RPG Tsukuru (RPG Maker) is out on GameBoy Color on March 17th, it will list for 4800 Yen. As in previous ports of the game the player designs his or her own RPG, it supports the link cable, allowling exchange of designs with friends.

12-30-99—- Uri Geller To Sue Nintendo Over Pokemon

According to the British Guardian newspaper, world famous paranormalist Uri Geller, plans to sue Nintendo Co. for ?m over allegedly using his image without his permission on a Pokemon game card. Geller claims that the card, known in the west as “Alakazam”, and in Japan as “Un-geller” (available in two versions, Good Un-geller and Evil Un-geller), is clearly based on himself. The monster shown on the game card carries two bent spoons in its hands and is described as a magician and “psychic”. The Un-geller cards are worth around ? in shops and on the internet. British shops sell the English version for around ?.

Geller discovered the cards last week while Christmas shopping at the Pokemon Center, in Tokyo, Japan. At first, he said, he was bemused when the store manager rushed out from his office continuously bowing, as hundreds of children thrust Pokemon cards at him to autograph while chanting what sounded like Uri Geller.

Source: Guardian News

12-30-99—- Hideaki Anno Looks Toward The Future In Recent Interview

In a recent interview with Asahi Evening News reporter, Ken Kawashima, Studio Gainax’s Hideaki Anno (Director of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Fushigi No Umi No Nadia) has revealed he’s currently on a break period and getting ready to direct his second full-length live-action movie in the coming year. When asked about the proliferation of Japanese Animation in the U.S. and around the world Anno commented:

“Japan is the only country in the world that actually has an anime industry, and can mass-produce animated works of a high quality for a large audience. It’s only natural then, that this product would be in demand from the rest of the world.”

“Japan is unrivalled in this sense. Disney is really no competition because Disney can only release one film at a time. They are not capable of handling the wide range of stories that we see in Japanese anime. Real anime exists only in Japan, and this is about the only original product Japan can offer to the world-anime, manga and computer games.”

It was also revealed in the interview that Anno-sensei has just received a new haircut, he now sports a mohawk hairstyle. He leaves readers with comments on the direction in which he believes Japan is headed in the next millennium:

“Whether it be a few years into the future or 10 years in the future, I don’t know, but there is going to be a radical change or event that will change Japan.”

“There will come a time when Japan is going to go through a big shake-up-so much so that Japan may no longer be able to survive. But it won’t be because of politics, and it won’t be the result of any natural disaster.”

“It’s the Japanese economy; the backlash of our economy. Right now, people are always telling us that our economy is on the upswing and all that …” (pause) … “but I don’t believe them.”

Source: Asahi Shimbun | Text In Quotation: © Asahi Shimbun

12-29-99—- Bandai Entertainment Confirms First DVD Releases

Bandai Entertainment, via the Anime Village Website, has posted official information regarding their first DVD releases, they also have hinted at a new DVD area to be setup on the site next month.

BLUE SUBMARINE No. 6 (Vol 1 of 4) April 2000 | 5.1 Japanese (English subtitled)
2-Channel English | 1st OVA $24.98

COWBOY BEBOP (Vol 1 of 6) April 2000 | 2-Channel Japanese (English subtitled)
2-Channel English | Ep. 1-5 SRP $29.98

EAT-MAN ’98 (2 disc set) April 2000 | 2-Channel Japanese (English subtitled)
Ep. 1,2 2-Channel English | Ep. 1-12 SRP $39.98

12-29-99—- Kite DVD Release

Media Blasters will be releasing the cut version of Kite on DVD on April 25th for 24.95. Extras will include: Interactive Menus, Scene Selections, Animation Cel Gallery, and Storyboards, contains 2 episodes, length: 45 Minutes.

12-29-99—- Manga U.K. Releases

Rod Shaile of Manga Entertainment sent an e-mail to UK Manga email club members listing the following titles to be released on DVD and VHS in the United Kingdom in the coming year.

DVD:
Akira
Legend Of The Overfiend & Demon Womb
Street Fighter II The Movie
Perfect Blue
Ghost In The Shell
Ninja Scroll
X
Macross Plus The Movie
Patlabor 1
Patlabor 2
BlackJack
Sword For Truth
The Guyver Series
Angel Cop Series
Evagelion Movies
StreetFighter Alpha Movie
GhostSweeper
DevilMan 1&2
Virus

VHS:
Rayearth OVA 1,2 & 3
X
StreetFighter Alpha Movie
Virus
GhostSweeper
Evangelion Movies

12-29-99—- Anime / Manga Gaming

SNK will has plans to port The King of Fighters ’99: Millennium Battle to PSX and Dreamcast. The Dreamcast release is scheduled for March, and will feature new anime FMV sequences, 2D characters and 3D backgrounds, and new battle stages. Features on the PSX version are clear yet, although they could be similar, it is scheduled for release in Japan this spring.

Nintendo will release WarioLand 3 for Gameboy Color in Japan in March, listing price is 3800 Yen.

Nintendo of Japan will also release Zelda: Acorn of the Mystical Tree Episode 1 for Gameboy Color in March, it will list at 3600 Yen.

12-28-99—- Pokemon / Princess Mononoke American Boxoffice Update

Pokemon: The First Movie, in it’s seventh week of release in North America drew in $112,214 over this past weekend, dropping it to 35th place on the Daily Variety movie chart. To-date, Pokemon has grossed $83,608,861. Meanwhile, in it’s fifth week of expanded release, The Princess Mononoke (which is in it’s 9th week of release total) pulled in somewhere under $18,500 bringing it down from the #34 spot to somewhere below #60. To-date Miramax’s limited Mononoke release has grossed an estimated $2,317,000.

12-28-99—- Anime / Manga Gaming

Sega’s dramatic-puzzle title, Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2, is scheduled for release on Dreamcast in Japan Jan. 6th. There will be several play modes, including: Story Mode, 1P Mode, 2P Fighting Mode, Tournament Mode, and Cinderella Mode. The game supports the DC Modem, allowing online battles.

NEC Interchannel’s delayed Dreamcast love-adventure title Sentimental Graffiti 2 wil finally see releae in Japan on March 23rd, the game is said to now be expanded in length.

Konami will release “Want To See You: Your Smiles In My Heart”, a new 4-CD PSX dating-sim game on March 16th, it will list for for 6800 Yen.

ASCII’s 2-CD RPG Tsukuru 4 (RPG Maker 4) for PSX is out in March, listing for 6800 Yen. In this game/toolkit you can customize animation sequences for spells throughout the game.

12-28-99—- Burger King To Recall Pokemon Toys

U.S. Hamburger chain Burger King announced the recall of 25 million Pokemon Pokeball toys yesterday, after a 13-month-old California girl suffocated to death on half of one of the toys. In another incident, a father was able to remove part of a ball that had gotten stuck on an 18-month-old girl’s face before she suffocated.

“More than 25 million of the Pokeballs are part of the recall,” said Burger King spokesman Charles Nicolas. “That’s because they may pose a suffocation hazard for children under three years of age.” In exchange for the toys, the restaurant chain is offering a free order of French fries.

Pokeballs are 7 centimeters in diameter and consist of two plastic hemispheres containing small figures of Pokemon characters, they are part of a toy promotion launched last month to coincide with the premiere of Pokemon: The First Movie.

12-28-99—- Megumi-Toon Translations

No Name Anime has setup a page where they are posting scanned and translated into English, Megumi-Toons, manga depicting events in seiyuu Megumi Hayashibara’s life that run in Anime V magazine. You can view it here.

12-27-99—- Anime / Manga / J-Pop Events In The Netherlands

Anime 2K
A2K in Veldhoven (Feb. 4-6) is the Benelux’s largest J-pop event. Organized by the J-Pop foundation Holland, A2K includes an anime movie festival, sales market, cultural events, and more.http://users.bart.nl/~totoro/a2k.html

Manga Manga!
The Kunsthal in Rotterdam’s Manga exhibition: 1/22 – 3/26.
http://www.kunsthal.nl/agenda.html (dutch)

KinkFM in Japan
Evenings of 12/27 – 1/2, Radio KinkFM is broadcasting live from Japan. Between songs DJ’s will discuss Japanese culture. http://www.kinkfm.com/ (dutch)

12-27-99—- Anime TV Series To Begin In January

Megami Kouhosei (Goddess Candidates) (Begins: Jan. 10th At: 18:00 On: NHK BS2)
Produced by Xebec, Goddess Cadets (Megami Kohosei), is based on Yukiru Sugizaki’s popular manga. The series will make use of 3D CG, Production IG and IKIF wish to make the series visually stunning. Directed by Mitsuru Hongo, with Character Designs by Shinichi Yamaoka.

Production staff: Assistant Director: Takahiko Hoshiai
Megami Designer: Shingo Takenaka
Ship and Victim Designer: Akitoshi Maeda
Mechanical Artists: Takeshi Matsuda, Yoshiki Kuge
Setting/Script: Akira Okeya
Science Fiction Setting: Mitsuhasu Sakai
Color Setting: Yuko Kanamaru
Art Director: Toshihisa Koyama
(Production AI)
Sound Director: Masafumi Mima

Seikai No Senki (On: WOWOW)
Sequel to the 13 episode sci-fi TV series, Seikai No Mansho, 13 episode sci-fi television series airing earlier this year. Directed by Yasuchika Nagaoka (New Cutey Honey OAV series), and featuring the voice talent of Yuka Imai, the anime itself is based on a series of science fiction novels by Shibue Morioka. The story chronicles a distant future where the planet Martin is invaded by the Arv, a group that is on its way to establishing a galactic empire. “Seikai No Senki” is planned to run 13-episodes.

Kazemakase Tsukikage Ran (Begins Jan. 26th On: WOWOW)

Boogiepop Wa Warawanai (Boogiepop Never Laughs) (Begins: Jan. 5th At: 25:45 On: TV TOKYO)

12-26-99—- Top Anime LD Sales (Japan) (As Of 12-27)

1. Card Captor Sakura Vol. 13
2. To Heart 7
3. Sakura Taisen Gokajukuran Episode 1
4. You’re Under Arrest Special 5
5. Seikai No Mansho 7
6. Detective Conan Seikimatsu No Majitsushi (Movie 3)
7. Queen Emeraldas Vol. 4 Siren no Megami
8. Betterman 5
9. Shugogetten! 6
10. Maho Tsukai Tai! TV 2
11. Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 Vol. 9
12. Angel Links 4
13. Pia Carot 2DX ORDER. 1
14. Kakyusei The Director’s Cut, Vol. 4

12-26-99—- Top Anime DVD Sales (Japan) (As Of 12-27)

1. Card Captor Sakura Vol. 13
2. Card Captor Sakura Vol. 4
3. Sakura Taisen Gokajukuran Episode 1
4. To Heart 7
5. Gundam 0080: War In The Pocket Vol. 1
6. Gundam 0080: War In The Pocket Vol. 2
7. Seikai No Mansho 7
8. You’re Under Arrest Special 5
9. Betterman 5

12-26-99—- Top Manga Sales (Japan) (As Of 12-27)

1. Yukan-Club 18
2. One Piece 11
3. Card Captor Sakura 10
4. Kanata Kara 10
5. Hikaru No Go 4
6. Mint Na Bokura 5
7. Crayon Shinchan 25
8. Hellsing 2
9. A Cheeky Angel 2
10. Kochira Katsushikaku Kamearikouenmae Hashutsusho 117
11. Jaja Uma Groomin Up! 21
12. Shaman King 6
13. Mars Sidestory
14. Futari H 9
15. Monkey Turn 11
16. Nervous Venus 4
17. Pocket Monster Special 6
18. Dokaben Professional Baseball Series 27
19. Heat 3
20. Line 2

12-26-99—- Top Video Game Sales (Japan) (As Of 12-27)

1. Gran Turismo 2 – PSX
2. Parasyite Eve 2 – PSX
3. Pokemon Silver – GB
4. Pokemon Gold – GB
5. Momotaro Dentetsu V – PSX
6. Donkey Kong 64 – N64
7. Crash Bandicoot Racing – PSX
8. Mario Party 2 – N64
9. Bakusou Deco-Truck Densetsu 2 – PSX
10. Muscle Ranking Vol.1 – PSX
11. Yugi-Oh Shin Monsters Duel Monsters – PSX
12. Berserk Millenium Falcon – DC
13. Space Channel 5 – DC
14. Bokujyou Monogatari: Harvest Moon – PSX
15. Pachislot Aruze Oukoku 2 – PSX
16. Legend Of Dragoon – PSX
17. Art Camion Geijyutsu Den – PSX
18. Digimon Adventure – WS
19. Street Fighter 3 W Impact – DC
20. Custom Robo – N64

12-26-99—- Top J-Pop Album Sales (Japan) (As Of 12-27)

1. “Recycle: Greatest Hits Of Spitz” – Spitz
2. “Chage & Aska Very Best Roll Over 20th” – Chage & Aska
3. “Magnum Collection 1999 Dear” – Masaharu Fukuyama
4. “Max 6 Best Hit’s In The World ’99” – Various Artists
5. “Music D.” – Koumi Hirose
6. “Loveppears” – Ayumi Hamasaki
7. “Absolute Ego” – Aco
8. “Sukinahito Kirorono Sora” – Kiroro
9. “On The Street Corner 3” – Taturou Yamashita
10. “Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix” – Various Artists
11. “Sheep” – Masayoshi Yamazaki
12. “Bonnie’s Kitchen #1” –¬†Bonnie Pink
13. “Single Collection+Hotchpotch” – Maaya Sakamato
14. “Muzai Moratorium” – Ringo Shena
15. “Limit Control” – ^ Ucifer
16. “Heavy Gauge” – Glay
17. “Now10” – Various Artists
18. “Yuzuen” – Yuzu

12-26-99—- February Kodansha Afternoon

The Kodansha Afternoon Magazine Page (Japanese) has been updated with outtakes from the February issue.

12-25-99—- Merry Christmas!

Anime News Service wishes everyone out there a merry Christmas, we’d like to extend a huge thanks for all the contributions, questions, support (we’ve litterally heard from every corner of our Earth), and most importantly readers to this site, and others where our news is featured. It’s been an exciting 2 years, we look forward to continuing to provide the most consistantly unique and professionaly presented Anime News anywhere, and being your global leader for anything going on in the world of Anime / Manga.

Pioneer has posted a timely poem for the season that you can read here.

Merry Christmas!

12-25-99—- Anime / Manga Gaming

Bandai has announced plans to release a sequel to last year’s SRPG, Space Battleship Yamato for PSX in the spring, to be titled “Space Battleship Yamato: Soldiers of Love”.

Konami is developing a GameBoy Color SRPG based on the Hunter x Hunter anime TV series, scheduled for release in Japan next spring.

Winky Soft will release their Dreamcast war-sim, Spirit Machine Rayblade, in Japan on March 23rd. The title is developed by a team who worked on Banpresto’s Super Robot Taisen series.

Sources at Square USA’s Honolulu Studios have stated that the CG animation team has completed development of movie sequences for Final Fantasy IX, including the intro, cutscenes, and ending. Quality of the movies will surpass those in FFVIII.

Sega of Japan will release a satellite tuner for Dreamcast by the end of 2000, retailing around10,000 – 20,000 Yen, and allowing access to the BS (Broadcast Satellite) system.

12-24-99—- Nelvana Responds To Alleged Editing Accounts

The following post was made in rec.arts.anime.misc by Derek Sherman, he has allegedly contacted Canadian based Nelvana, inquiring into a fan’s report of editing on their recently acquired TV series, Card Captor Sakura, here’s the response he received:

From: “James Dye” jamesd@nelvana.com
To: doppleganger@pipeline.com
Subject: RE: Card Captor questions
Date sent: Fri, 24 Dec 1999 12:20:22 -0800

Dear Derek:

Thank you for your message.

It is unfortunate to see so much misinformation being disseminated amongst people who care about the program the most – you fans. Sometimes enthusiasm obviously leads individuals to jump to conclusions, make assumptions, and produce results that aren’t helpful to the fan community. The sheer popularity of the genre seems to also cause some people to seek the ‘limelight’ undeservedly.
One aspect of that message excerpt you shared with me which I will comment on is that the idea that a subtitled version is not being done is completely false. A subtitled, unmolested version is currently underway and will be made available in both Canada and the United States. It will be of a quality acceptable for DVD duplicates.
I hope that your sub-segment of our market enjoys that information over the holidays. Feel free to forward this information to whatever informal organization you choose. I assure you that it is credible.

Best regards,

P. James Dye
Distribution Manager

12-23-99—- Anime Music News

Ohmori Reiko’s latest single, featuring the opening & ending themes to the upcoming “Nyanda-Kamen” anime TV series (to begin airing on Asahi-TV Feb. 2nd), has been scheduled for a February 23rd release, listing for 971 Yen.

12-23-99—- Animazment Convention Announces Guests

The Animazment 2000 convention has announced the following as confirmed guests: Yuu Watase – manga artist Fushigi Yuugi, Kooichi Tsunoda – Toei Animation Institute, Nov. Takahashi – President of Studio Hard, Scott Houle – President Coastal Carolina Studio, Rachael Lillis – American voice actress, Misty and Jesse of Pokemon, and Lisa Ortiz – American voice actress behind Lina Inverse of Slayers. The Animazment Convention will be heald in Raleigh North Carolina March 10-12.

12-23-99—- Anime / Manga Gaming

Capcom has launched a special Bio Hazard Code: Veronica reservation campaign in Japan. Upon reserving the game between Dec. 22nd – Jan. 20th, you will receive a stainless steel Veronica ID Card.

Capcom officially confirmed development of a Naomi board sequel to Marvel vs Capcom, “Marvel VS Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes”, which is scheduled to be released in Japanese arcades this spring. 2 v.s. 2 tag battle will be replaced by a 3 v.s. 3 team battle system, players can transfer between 3 characters while in-battle + execute new variable combos and hyper combos with the characters continuously. The Naomi version will feature a VMS slot, allowing exchange of data with the Dreamcast port. Confirmed characters so far: (Marvel) Venom, Captain America, Wolverine, Ruby Heart (new), Cyclops, Cable, Marrow, and Doctor Doom. (Capcom) Son Son, Amingo (new), Ryu, Guile, Zangief, Hayato, and Strider. The Dreamcast port release will follow close behind the arcade version’s debut.

Konami will release “Dancing Stage Featuring Dreams Come True” in Japanese arcade on Dec. 28th. It will feature songs from the -Pop group Dreams Come True. Song lyrics will be displayed on screen.

12-22-99—- Anime / Manga Gaming

Sega has said the development cost of their highly anticipated Dreamcast title Shen Mue is estimated at 7,000,000,000 Yen. According to industry analysis, the total development cost for Shen Mue Chapter 1: Yokosuka is close to 3,000,000,000 Yen.

Tokuma Shoten, Mitsubishi Corp, Nippon TV Network Corp, Touhoku, Tokyo FM broadcasting, and Amuse Capital will jointly establish a new software development company called Cavia in February 2000. The new company will publish video-games based on Japanese animation licenses. Although no titles have been officially announced, possibilities for games based on licenses include Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, Raideen and Patlabor. Former Sega Enterprise sub-chairman, Mr. Nakayama will serve as the president of the company.

Banpresto has announced development of 2 Gameboy Color Great Detective Detective Conan titles: “Mechanism Buddhist Temple Homicide Case” and “Legend of Fantasy Island Treasure” (March release). Both will retail for for 4500 yen.

12-22-99—- Pokemon / Princess Mononoke American Box Office Roundup

Pokemon: The First Movie, in it’s sixth week of release in North America drew in $537,573 over this past weekend, dropping it to 13th place on the Daily Variety movie chart. To-date, Pokemon has grossed $83,127,955. Meanwhile, in it’s fourth week of expanded release, The Princess Mononoke pulled in $96,782 bringing it down from the #30 spot to #34. To-date Miramax’s limited Mononoke release has grossed $2,298,191.

12-22-99—- More U.S. Companies To Add Anime To Encore

Central Park Media has now joined ADVision, Manga Entertainment and Urban Vision in providing content for the Encore Action Channel. New additions begin in Febuary.

Source: DVD Animania

12-21-99—- Anime / Manga Gaming

Enix will port their Super Famicom RPG, Star Ocean to GameBoy Color in the coming year.

Square’s Chocobo Collection for PSX is set for release in Japan on Dec. 22nd. In celebration of Chocobo’s 10th year anniversary, the title will include Chocobo Stallion, Dice De Chocobo, and Chocobo Racing. The player’s goal in the game is to breed, train, and manage Chocobos in your farm and take them to races. PocketStation support is in place to exchange + mate Chocobos with friends. A unique remote control signal recognition system is incorporated in the PocketStation mini game, allowing the unit to receive different remote control signals, altering the generation of new Chocobos.

Sega of Japan is starting a new Dreamcast promotion, giving away a new, comprehensive demo disc, “Dreamcast Express Extra” upon purchase of Dreamcasts console at select stores in Japan. The demo includes playable demos of Chu Chu Rocket, Cool Boarders, Tokyo Highway Battle, Sonic Adventure International, Soul Calibur; CG movies of Dream Flyer, Seaman: Forbidden Pet, Shen Mue, Space Channel 5, and Virtua Striker 2 Ver. 2000.1.

Shen Mue creator Yu Suzuki has said that Shen Mue chapter 2-5, will feature less dialog / speech and more facial animation and body expressions.

12-20-99—- Anime Music News

The Seraphim Call original soundtrack scheduled for release in Japan Jan. 25th, listing for 3,059 Yen. The CD will feature select background music + TV versions of the series opening song (“Pray”) and the 12 ending themes.

The 2nd Trouble Chocolate mini-album is scheduled for a February 23rd release listing at 2,100 Yen. The CD will feature 8 tracks, 1st pressings include a special sticker.

12-20-99—- Editorial: U.S. Pokemon Toy Craze Makes Children ‘Monsters’

The following does not neccesarily reflect the views of Anime News Service or the editor:

Article by John Hiscock with introductory commentary by Jeff Rense.
Excerpted from www.sightings.com

By John Hiscock in Los Angeles
link

This report smacks of strange societal pathology. Is it remotely possible there is a new technology being tested which involves static visual images alone to create/achieve mind control/modification…or some kind of personality modification in children and young people?

Can trading card images alone do that? We know that answer is yes with respect to tv and film.

Are there somehow embedded stealth symbols or visual matrix patterns in the Pokemon trading card pictures and artwork that visually access the subconsicous of many children at some primal level that is triggering Pokemon card buying and possession lust?

Most everyone has seen the cleverly-constructed graphics and images, usually on posters, that reveal a secondary picture if one ‘stares’ at it just right. Could the Japanese (or some black ops motivational research group?) have taken that concept a step further?

Trading cards have been around for a hundred years..but neverbefore the subject of bizarre reports of such widespread rage, assault, and crime. Is what we are seeing here just another symptom and extension of our decaying, violence-prone society? Maybe. Is it some sort of visually-induced response syndrome being used to sell more cards? Possible. Or, is it a test of a new visually ‘passive’ (as opposed to tv and film) mass mind-influencing of children? Or, is it all of the above? Was the tv epilepsy event a simple case of accidental mass photosensitive epilepsy…or was it something else that we are now also seeing reflected in Pokemon trading card lust? Questions…questions.

-Jeff

– The latest craze to hit toyshops in Britain has been denounced by US police as “America’s most dangerous hobby” after causing a surge in child crime.

Children across the US are stabbing, beating and robbing each other to steal Pokemon trading cards, depicting the tiny monsters from on a Japanese video game. American police and Customs officials are being trained to spot counterfeits of the cards which can sell for more than ?0.

A police spokesman in Los Angeles, where 540,000 counterfeit cards were confiscated at two toy wholesalers, said: “This has become a war because such huge amounts of money are involved. This has got to be America’s most dangerous hobby because kids are literally fighting each other to get their hands on these cards.”

Police officer Charlie Sarkioglu of Philadelphia, where six children have been arrested for separate attacks on classmates to steal cards, said: “There are Pokemon card sharks out there. This is far worse than the Cabbage Patch doll craze.”

Prosecutors in Orange County, California, have filed charges against a 13-year-old boy who is accused of stealing a classmate’s Pokemon cards and then running him over with his bicycle. He faces five years in juvenile detention if convicted. The juvenile crime wave has led schools in many states to ban Pokemon cards and toys, which has confused some parents who were rewarding their children with the cards in return for good marks at school.

Alan Hardy, a Sheffield-born chef who lives in Marina del Rey, California, said: “It’s difficult to know what to do. My daughter and her friends are totally caught up in this craze. I don’t understand it at all and neither do any of the other parents I’ve spoken to but it’s something the kids have become totally obsessed with. I don’t know what will happen in Britain if this catches on over there.”

Packets of 11 Pokemon cards sell for about ?but some cards – especially first editions of such characters as Charizard and Mew – are selling for as much as ?0 in online auctions.

Forgers are cashing in on the craze and US Customs officers have seized counterfeit cards and toys worth more than ? million in the past six months. Officials from Nintendo of America, the creator of the craze, are advising police and Customs officials how to spot the counterfeit products.

Pokemon – short for pocket monsters – was the brainchild of Satoshi Tajiri, 34, a Japanese games creator, who invented it by combining his two childhood passions of monster movies and the study of insects. The first anyone outside Japan heard of the craze was in 1997 when -link- about 700 Japanese children suffered seizures triggered by the flashing of the Pikachu character’s lightning in a television episode.

The card game involves 155 different creatures, each with their own special powers. The goal is to win as many of the colourful cards as possible. Pokemon has spawned a cartoon television show, Nintendo games, a film which grossed more than ? million in its first five days, books, stuffed toys, key chains, rubber balls and clothing. Worldwide sales are estimated at ?8 billion.

While Pokemon’s appeal baffles most adults, Shigeru Miyamoto, a game developer at Nintendo, has an explanation. In an interview with People magazine, he said: “Pikachu and the other Pokemon characters look very cute, but if anything happens they are ready to fight. Maybe that is why they appeal to Americans.”