Anime News Service – March 17 – April 11 Anime News

4-11-07 (3:23AM EDT)—- Hollywood Developing Films Based On Madhouse Anime

Madhouse made no bones about the fact that they are cozying up to Hollywood at this year’s Tokyo International Anime Fair. In fact, they put the information out into plain view. Checkout our exclusive high resolution pic of their poster heralding the news and follow our deductive reasoning on which of their anime will be remade into potential American blockbusters in the new feature: TAF2007 Exclusive Report: Hollywood Developing Films Based On Madhouse Anime.

4-10-07 (10:48PM EDT)—- Production I.G. Unveils Shinreigari / Ghost Hound At TAF2007

Back on February 27th ANS was the first (and only) English source to break details on Masamune Shirow and Production I.G.’s first collaboration since 1994’s Ghost In The Shell. The duo are co-producing the new manga and anime Shinreigari: GHOST HOUND. Following our short-line prediction, anime details were indeed announced at the Tokyo Anime Fair 2007: Celebrating the 20th anniversary from its foundation, Production I.G announces at TAF 2007 a new project, “Ghost Hound” (original title: Shinreigari / Ghost Hound), written by Production I.G and Ghost in the Shell-famed Shirow Masamune. The main staff includes director Ryutaro Nakamura (Serial Experiments Lain, Kino’s Travels), scriptwriter Chiaki J. Konaka (Serial Experiments Lain, The Big O) and character designer Mariko Oka (Jigoku Shojo, Jing: King of Bandits). The story will be co-developed by Crossroad. “Ghost Hound” will premiere in Japan fall 2007 on WOWOW. The comic version of “Ghost Hound”, drawn by Kanata Asahi, will start serializing in Japan on Monthly Comic Blade (published by Mag Garden) from March 30, 2007. www.productionig.com

4-10-07 (10:48PM EDT)—- Germany’s AnimagiC Convention Adds Guests

New Guests of Honor at this years AnimagiC, germanys biggest anime- & manga-convention We are pleased to announce the next guests of honor for AnimagiC 2007: Founder & President of Studio GONZO Shoji Murahama, Last-Exile-Character-Designer Range Murata and Black-Cat-Director Shin Itagaki. Together with the concert-agency Rock Identity we proudly present Plastic Tree as this years j-rock-act. More guests of honor to be announced. The ninth AnimagiC will be held in the famous Beethoven-Hall in Bonn from july 27th to july 29th 2007. AnimagiC, germanys biggest anime- & manga-convention, is famous for its guests of honor. This year we already announced the following guests: Kouta Hirano, Tomokazu Tokoro, Yasuyuki Ueda, Hideyuki Kurata, Thorsten Munchow, Koh Kawarajima and Haruka Fukushima. AnimagiC is presented by AnimaniA, Germanys leading magazin for anime, manga and japanese popculture (since 1994). The magazin ist published monthly and available in a normal and a special DVD-edition. AnimagiC July 27-29, 2007 estimated attendee: 12.000 + Beethovenhalle, Bonn, Germany www.AnimagiC-Online.de

4-10-07 (10:41PM EDT)—- Freedom To Release In USA / Japan on DVD / HDDVD Simultaneously In June

TORRANCE, Calif., March 20, 2007 – Bandai Visual today announced the simultaneous U.S. and Japan release of the bestselling OVA “Freedom” Vol. 1 in HD DVD/DVD Twin disc format. “Freedom,” which is the first HD DVD product from Bandai Visual, will be released in North America by Bandai Visual USA through their distributor Geneon Entertainment (USA). The product will also be available in Japan at .ANIME (www.dot-anime.com), an integrated online anime portal operated by Anime Channel Co., Ltd. After “Freedom” Vol.1, Bandai Visual will start releasing other HD DVD and Blu-ray titles in Japan, with plans to distribute overseas under its flagship international label Honneamise.

Bandai Visual is vigorously developing product for next generation formats and has previously announced a collaboration with Memory-Tech Corporation and Microsoft Co., Ltd. on a project to improve image quality for the latest HD DVD video compression technology for the global anime software market. The “Freedom” Vol. 1 release in HD DVD/DVD Twin format will be the first result of the collaboration. The three companies have fine-tuned VC1 specifically to achieve higher visual quality for Japanese anime. The “Freedom” HD DVD/DVD Twin disc will also include HDi network function which will offer new ways to enjoy the product. Bandai Visual intends to utilize the expanded technological capabilities of the new formats and hopes to present viewers with added-value on its new products. Its goal is to create a companywide structure to produce and release premier anime titles simultaneously in North America and internationally.

“Freedom” is a science fiction anime series whose use in Nissin instant noodle TV ads created much attention in Japan. The drama unfolds on the moon’s surface in the city of Eden, the last human settlement, and focuses on a youth whose actions threaten to shake the freedom and peace of Eden. The scale of the story and the dynamic action have earned the series high marks. Bandai Visual is confident that this work, which uses the latest concepts and technology to combine 3DCGI with the 2D animation that has long been a key strength of Japan’s anime industry, is ideal as a technology development source for the next generation medium of HD DVD. Two volumes of the six-part series “Freedom” have been released so far in Japan on DVD and already more than 100,000 units have been shipped. The June 26 HD DVD/DVD Twin release will be the first introduction of the title in North America.

Title: FREEDOM Vol. 1 (of 6) Format: HD DVD/DVD Twin Catalog #: BUHH0117 UPC#: 858604001172 Street Date: June 26, 2007 SRP: $39.99 Spec: Japanese audio with English subtitles Extras: Special prologue to the series and trailers Further information will be available at www.bandaivisual.us/freedom and also at www.myspace.com/honneamise.

4-10-07 (10:35PM EDT)—- Play Along Granted Domo-kun North American Master Toy License

New York-based integrated family entertainment company Big Tent Entertainment has named toy industry powerhouse Play Along, a division of JAKKS Pacific, Inc. (NASDAQ: JAKK), master toy partner for the Japanese animated character and viral sensation Domo. Through the long-term agreement, Play Along, known for creating innovative, blockbuster toy lines for such hit properties as Cabbage Patch Kids and Care Bears, has acquired the North American licensing rights to develop a wide range of captivating Domo toy products. Play Along’s line will be highlighted by Domo plush (with and without articulation and sound) and molded plastic figures targeted toward a tween and teen audience. The merchandise will initially roll out to the specialty marketplace in Fall 2007 coinciding with Domo’s highly-anticipated U.S. television debut on Nickelodeon’s buzzed-about Nicktoons network and worldwide on Nickelodeon International.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with such a true genius in the business like Play Along,” said Rich Maryyanek, Partner/Chief Marketing Officer, Big Tent Entertainment. “With their successful track record for building and supporting spectacular properties, we are confident their program will help take Domo-nation to new heights.” “One of the main ‘appeals’ of Domo is that people see in him what they want to see,” said Susan Evans, VP of Marketing, Play Along. “Domo has been virally spread and already has an amazing following; he is built for today’s lifestyle, and he stands out from the crowd. Domo is destined to become an icon for this generation, and we look forward to providing long awaited product that appeals to this dynamic fan base.”

The widely popular animated character Domo became a cultural icon with his first appearance as the Japanese public broadcaster NHK’s mascot in 1998. Domo’s unique look and personality catapulted the character into one of Japan’s biggest sensations, sparking more than 100 promotional spots, 600 products and a licensing campaign with merchandise generating tens of millions of dollars in Japan. Not only is Domo a hit in Japan, but in a few short years Domo has turned into a global internet sensation becoming the poster child for user generated content spawning thousands of fan-made websites and videos.

Big Tent Entertainment has developed a flourishing licensing portfolio for Domo with a number of deals for the property already in place including uclick (mobile content), Andrews McMeel (greeting cards and calendars), and Changes (apparel). Big Tent will continue to support and strengthen their licensing program for Domo with emphasis on major categories such as video, interactive games, collectibles, publishing, stationery, accessories and room decor.

4-10-07 (10:25PM EDT)—- Smithsonian Look At Anime And Manga

Japanese Art Forms Manga and Anime Topic of Smithsonian Event Experts Discuss the Development, Creative Process and Cultural Impact The Smithsonian Associates will feature the Japanese pop culture phenomena of manga (comics and printed cartoons) and anime in an all-day seminar on Saturday, April 21, 10 a.m. 5 p.m. as part of its cultural series “Japan WOW!” (March 31-June 9). The program “Manga to Anime: From Astro Boy to Spirited Away” will be held in the Meyer Auditorium at the Freer Gallery of Art (12th and Independence Avenue SW, DC, 20013). Tickets are $45 general admission, $30 for members, and $15 for students 18 years and under. For tickets and information, call (202) 357-3030 or visit www.smithsonianassociates.org.

Manga and anime are now two of Japan’s biggest cultural exports as evidenced by the popularity and record-breaking sales associated with the 2001 animated movie “Spirited Away.” In this seminar leading experts and industry veterans will explore the development of these interconnected art forms, commenting on the creative process, styles, characters and the effect these pop cultural creations have on United States markets and trends. Leading the discussion on manga is Michael Uslan, “Batman” series producer and creative chief officer and producer of Comic Book Movies LLC. He is joined by artists/ directors Ryuhei Kitamura, Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, Kazuhiko Kato and Lotus representative Hiroshi Koizumi. Presenters Osamu Tezuka (creator of “Astro Boy”), Leiji Matsumoto and Masashi Kishimoto (creator of “Naruto”), use the works of Shotaro Ishinomori, as they look into manga’s history, the interaction of manga and modern culture, as well as its impact on the worlds of publishing, animation, and live action cinema with these talented artists of today’s manga creations. In the afternoon, Dr. Susan Napier, professor of Japanese literature and culture at Tufts University, illuminates the world of anime. Considering it as a global cultural phenomenon, Napier expounds on the stories, characters and symbolism that define it.

The program “Manga to Anime: From Astro Boy to Spirited Away” is supported by the DC Anime Club. The Japan WOW! series is made possible by Amway Japan LTD, The Boeing Company, The Hay-Adams, Kikkoman, Mitsubishi International Corporation, Toyota and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (METRO); with additional support by All Nippon Airways (ANA), EYA, Embassy of Japan, Japan Information and Cultural Center, Japan Commerce Association of Washington, D.C., Japan Foundation New York, the Japan National Tourist Organization New York, Comic Book Movies, LLC, Lotus, Inc. and the Palomar Hotel.

4-10-07 (10:15PM EDT)—- FUNimation West Coast Premiere Of Tsubasa At Sakura-Con

Courtesy Jeff Dronen of FUNimation: Seattle is the home to Sakura-Con, an anime convention that is being held at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center this year April 6 – 8. This year FUNimation is bringing Tsubasa to Seattle. We have a great anime debut event planned for Tsubasa on Friday night, April 6 from 3:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in room 606 at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. FUNimation will be screening the West Coast debut of Tsubasa episode 1, followed by the North American debut of episodes 2, 3 and 4. We will also have a panel discussion featuring the director of the series along with voice actors from the show. They will be taking questions from the fans and providing an inside look at the creation of one of this year’s most sought after anime titles.

4-10-07 (10:08PM EDT)—- Souten Kouro Appears At Abu Dhabi Comics Festival

The first Abu Dhabi International Festival of Comic Strips was held between the 27th and 31st of March in the United Arab Emirates. The event was a first of it’s kind in the region. The King Gonta mangaka Souten Kouro appeared at the festival as a guest of honor. The festival will last till the 31 of march. Visit the official website here. Thanks to Jalal Siah in Dubai for the news.

4-10-07 (9:48PM EDT)—- Japanese ‘Mileage Maniacs’ Hack Prius To 116 MPG

Treehugger reports Enthusiasts in Japan have hacked their Priuses, and use zen-like driving techniques to get up to 116 miles per gallon (they go 1000 miles on a 13 gallon tank of gas).

4-10-07 (9:46PM EDT)—- Tamagotchi Phone Hits America

First introduced as a pocket-sized toy in 1996, the classic Tamagotchi virtual pet now comes as just one of the many features loaded onto a fully functional prepaid mobile phone for kids. The phone is being brought to retail through a joint effort between PlayPhone and Bandai America. Bandai’s original Tamagotchi virtual pet has sold more than 40 million units worldwide, with more than 12 million in the U.S. and Canada. Not only did the original toy spur a pop culture phenomenon, but also created a new toy category and prompted countless imitations. During its peak, 15 Tamagotchi units were sold every minute in the U.S. and Canada. The Tamagotchi-branded mobile phone is brightly colored and comes with an enhanced version of the original Tamagotchi toy as a mobile game and a custom Tamagotchi wallpaper. The Tamagotchi mobile game allows kids to “hatch” their virtual pet right on the phone and participate in feeding, cleaning up after and playing with the pet in an attempt to be a good parent and raise a well behaved Tamagotchi. Unique to the Tamagotchi prepaid mobile phone is PlayPhone’s ability to convert users’ prepaid airtime minutes into mobile content credits that can be used on the TamaPhone.com Web site. Kids will be able to further customize their Tamagotchi phone with popular wallpaper, ringtones and games without having to use their parent’s credit card. In order to appeal to kids and their parents alike, the Tamagotchi phone will also come with strict, easy-to-use parental controls and a no-contract, pay-as-you-go system powered by PlayPhone’s mobile storefront. In addition, parents can easily implement dialing access limitations for incoming and outgoing calls. “The Tamagotchi phone will be the must-have accessory for every kid this summer,” said Masao Ohata, vice president of Network Entertainment for Bandai America. “Instead of having two separate electronics, the Tamagotchi phone combines the classic virtual pet with what every kid already wantss a phone of their very own.” “Tamagotchi appeals to an electronic toy-savvy market of young people, and we thought it a natural segue to combine that with the go-anywhere fun that wireless entertainment offers,” said Ron Czerny, chief executive officer at PlayPhone. “Whether it’s keeping in touch with your kids or offering them wholesome entertainment options like Tamagotchi, this new prepaid mobile phone has something for everyone.”

4-10-07 (9:30PM EDT)—- Kaiyodo 2G REVOLTECH: Saber [Fate/Stay Night] North American Release Through Organic Hobby

One of the most fan photographed figures unveiled at this year’s Wonder Fest 2007 in Japan, Organic Hobby has announced a North American release for the Kaiyodo 2G REVOLTECH: Saber figure:

After the successful releases of the first generation of Revoltech’s figures sculpted by the brilliant “Yamaguchi Katsuhisa”, Organic Hobby, Inc in conjunction with Kaiyodo proudly introduces the second generation (or 2G). For this second generation of Revoltech and in addition of “Yamaguchi’s line,” Kaiyodo & Organic Hobby planned to release more humanoid (or human) characters sculpted by different well known sculptors. To introduce the 2G, not one, not two, but three new products will be released for the U.S. market, “Revoltech Eva-Mass Production,” “Revoltech Eva-02 (Movie Version)” and “Revoltech Saber.”

-The concept of “REVOLTECH” is an innovative joint system that allows the figure(s) to demonstrate any kind of dynamic and realistic pose unlike any other PVC action figure.
-Not only can advanced “figure modelers” demonstrate “cool” and almost real poses for each “REVOLTECH” figure but also the consumers as well.
-Organic Hobby, Inc in conjunction with Kaiyodo will release every month, two to three new character figures as part of the “REVOLTECH Series.”

The following three figures set to be released in May are: – Eva-MP (or Eva-Mass Production [with wings]) is the mecha based on the famous anime series “Neon Genesis Evangelion.” The figure will be available in May with a SRP of $22.00. – Eva-02 [Movie Vers.] (or Nigouki [Movie Vers.]) the mecha piloted by Asuka Langley Sohryu based also on the famous anime series “Neon Genesis Evangelion.” The figure will be available in May with a SRP of $22.00. – Saber (Fate Stay Night) is a fictional character from the Japanese visual novel and anime series “Fate/stay night” by TYPE-MOON. The figure will be available in May with a SRP of $27.00. The figures stand five and half inches tall, have fourteen articulation points or more and each character comes equipped with “Replaceable” parts and accessories.

4-10-07 (9:07PM EDT)—- Production I.G. On Asience: Hairy Tale CM Animation

Production I.G has created the animation for Kao Corporation’s new commercial film promoting Asience shampoo, entitled “Asience: Hairy Tale.” The fully animated film is directed by Kazuto Nakazawa, who gained international fame by directing the animation segment in Quentin Tarantino’s world hit “Kill Bill: Vol. 1.” Nakazawa also designed the characters and directed the animation. Art direction has been entrusted to Shuichi Hirata, the texture wizard behind the stunning artwork of Cannes-nominated “Innocence” and Annecy-selected “xxxHOLiC – A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The graphic style of “Asience: Hairy Tale” is visually inspired by the Japanese woodblock prints, and personalized by Nakazawa’s nervous and expressive brush touch used for the characters outlines. The story concept, focusing on woman’s hair as metaphor of feminine life, is portrayed as a tragic love story in a samurai drama fashion. The commercial film will receive a sneak preview at Production I.G booth (B-02) at Tokyo Anime Fair 2007, to be held in Tokyo March 22 to 25, 2007.

On Kazuto Nakazawa – Born in Niigata Prefecture on March 4, 1968. Director and animator. After graduating the Toei Animation Gakuin, he joined studio Magic Bus, and is currently in force of Manglobe. His credits include “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” (animation sequence, 2003), TV series “Samurai Champloo” (2004, character design, chief animation director), Linkin Park’s video clip “Breaking The Habit” (2004 MTV VMA Viewer’s Choice Award) and the commercial film “Kirin Lemon Black: Monster Blacks Fights Back” (awarded Best Commercial Film at the 11th Holland Animated Film Festival)

On Shuichi Hirata – Born on December 25, 1961. Art director. Hirata is credited as background artist in Mamoru Oshii’s “Patlabor 2: The Movie 2” (1993) and “Ghost in the Shell” (1995). He served as art director on Rintaro’s “Metropolis” (2001, based on Osamu Tezuka’s manga). For Production I.G he worked in “Innocence” (2004, directed by Mamoru Oshii), “xxxHOLiC – A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (2005, directed by Tsutomu Mizushima and based on CLAMP’s manga) and French diva Mylene Farmer’s music clip “Peut-etre toi” (2006).

On Yoshihiro Ike – Born in Kanagawa Prefecture on August 25, 1963. Music composer and bassist. After his major debut in 1987 with the Aike Band, he pursues a solo career as composer for live action movies, TV dramas, animation and video games. He wrote the scores for many Production I.G titles, such as “Blood: The Last Vampire” (2000), “Kaidomaru” (2001), “Dead Leaves” (2004), “Oval x Over” (2005), and “Reideen” (2007).

4-10-07 (8:35PM EDT)—- Illumitoon DVD Subtitle Swap Program

Fans of Japanese subtitling on anime have a new reason to celebrate. Illumitoon Entertainment, Ltd. announced today that based on overwhelming demand it will be initiating a trade-in program for its “dubtitled” DVDs. “Dubtitles” are video with the English dialogue superimposed over Japanese audio, as opposed to true Japanese translations of the Japanese audio. “It’s something that’s obviously very important to the fans, and we want to give them what they want,” said Barry Watson, President/CEO of Illumitoon. “Going forward we want to incorporate literal translations on all our anime product.” The trade-in program is only available through Illumitoon’s website, and will not be available through retailers. Details are available at www.illumitoon.com. The trade-in offer applies to all Illumitoon DVDs released before April 30, 2007, specifically: BoBoBo-Bo BoBoBo – Bo-nafide Protector of Hair Beet the Vandel Buster – The Sacrifice B’t X – Empire of the Machines “We’re always listening to our fans, and are extremely grateful for their input,” said Watson. I think fans will be very pleased.” Illumitoon is offering the trade-in program through 5/30/2007. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.illumitoon.com

4-10-07 (8:33PM EDT)—- Emile Hirsch On Speed Racer?

The Hollywood Reporter notes that “The Girl Next Door” star Emile Hirsch is in talks for the lead role. Thanks to Daniel Zelter for the item.

4-10-07 (8:31PM EDT)—- Panini Comics Moves In Brazil

Panini Comics Brazil will be release Naruto soon. The price and format of the manga has not been announced. According to Wizmania #42 magazine, Panini finally will launch Samurai Executor in May and still Astroboy this year. About Naruto, Cartoon Network LA has currently acquired 52 episodes of anime. But, Viz Media will be revisiting the subject of further episodes with CN in the future. Source: Sandra Monte

4-10-07 (8:21PM EDT)—- Anime Expo Announces First Guest: Mary Elizabeth McGlynn

Anime Expo announces acclaimed voice actor, singer, writer and director Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as the 1st Guest of Honor for the highly anticipated 2007 convention June 29-July 2 at the Long Beach Convention Center. More information can be found on the website www.anime-expo.org. Ms. McGlynn has been involved in almost every aspect of Anime as a voice over actress, writer, singer and ADR director. She is well-known as an actress for many diverse roles such as “Kurenai” from NARUTO, “Julia2 and 3Twinkle Maria Murdock” from COWBOY BEBOP, “Helba” from .HACK, “Jagura” from WOLF1S RAIN and 3Caroline2 from VAMPIRE HUNTER D. Most notably, she portrayed 3Major Motoko Kusanagi2 in GHOST IN THE SHELL: INNOCENCE, SOLID STATE SOCIETY and GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX. As a director, Mary Elizabeth is currently directing all things NARUTO for Viz Media, Bandai and Cartoon Network which includes the series, the games and the movie. Among her many other directing credits are COWBOY BEBOP the series, COWBOY BEBOP: KNOCKIN1 ON HEAVEN1S DOOR, WOLF1S RAIN, DIGIMON TAMERS, FRONTIER and the movie APPLESEED. She was also a co-writer for the American adaptation of METROPOLIS.

4-10-07 (6:24PM EDT)—- Gary Coleman: Anime Fan

It seems that Gary Coleman is a huge fan of classic ’80s anime like Voltron, Robotech and Battle of the Planets. At the New York Comic Con he was interviewed by some guy wearing a banana costume and they reminisced about their favorite shows.

4-10-07 (6:18PM EDT)—- Gaming: The Localization Process

1UP focuses on Dragon Quest 8’s “editor” Richard Honeywood about the process of adapting Japanese games for Western audiences.

4-10-07 (6:15PM EDT)—- 10+ Anime To Be Pulled From Air On Animax Latin America / Brasil

Animax Channel will be puling 10+ animes on April 30th in Brazil and Latin America (local schedules). The Twelve Kingdoms starts at 8:00 p.m., Blood+ premiere at 9:00 p.m., Gankutsou: The Count of Monte Cristo will pass at 10:00 p.m. in Brazil. Hellsing also returns at 9:30 p.m. According to Jbox News, in May will have 10 new animes in the channel. Others informations coming soon. Source: Sandra Monte

4-10-07 (6:07PM EDT)—- MTAC 2008 Dates

Middle Tennessee Anime Convention has announced they will return April 18th-20th, 2008 to the Cool Springs Conference Center and the Franklin Marriott, site of the 2007 event, MTAC Prime. An additional hotel option will also be announced when room booking opens for the Marriott, as MTAC Prime rooms have been sold out for months. The 2007 event occurs this weekend, April 13-15.

4-10-07 (5:54PM EDT)—- Hironobu Sakaguchi Interviewed

The Final Fantasy creator talks Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey and more at Gamespot. Thanks to Daniel Zelter for the news.

4-10-07 (4:55AM EDT)—- TAF2007 Preliminary Visitor Numbers Released

Preliminary attendance figures for the Tokyo International Anime Fair were compiled and released by the Executive Committee on March 25th in English hardcopy form and released online on March 29th. ANS visited the TAF secretariat offices on March 28th and obtained our hardcopy (click here). These numbers are not final (hence “quick announcement”) as is erroneously being reported elsewhere. The final report on the event including these statistics is forthcoming soon. 107,713 visitors in total attended. This represents a difference of 108.82% from 2006’s data. These include 105,453 domestc visitors, 942 foreigners (118% from last year)(encompassing the business related overseas “buyer” visitors) and 1,318 members of the press. It should be noted that on public days a foreigner could walk up and buy a ticket with no screening process or information exchanged to the fair as to their nationality. So technically many foreigners slipped in under the radar as part of the bulk of “domestic” attendees. A more accurate and detailed breakdown is expected in the final analysis.

4-10-07 (3:40AM EDT)—- Tokyo Anime Fair 2007 Coverage Kicks Off

After a long swim, we’re back from Japan! This year ANS was a specially invited guest of the Tokyo International Anime Fair Executive Committee. A huge thanks go out to the fair secretariat and their partners Japan Airlines and JTB Travel. From VIP yacht parties to private meetings and studio tours, this year’s event presented unique opportunities to mingle and meet with Japan’s anime elite. Besides the usual gigabytes of media and interviews, hundreds of business cards and hundred pound suitcase of loot, directly from the top, we’ve gotten an unrivaled, big picture view on the direction that the industry will take in 2007 that you will find no where else. The 6th year of TAF went down between March 22-25th, 2007 at Tokyo Big Sight. Our exclusive TAF2007 coverage kicks off with a view of the Yamanote line from our Daiba balcony and a bit of novelty via a High Resolution Birdseye View of the event.

3-19-07 (10:20AM EDT)—- Summer with Coo the Kappa Site Opens

The official website for Keiichi Hara’s new anime film, Summer with Coo the Kappa has gone live at www.kappa-coo.com. Japanese theatrical release is July 28.

3-19-07 (9:43AM EDT)—- First Look: Hellsing OVA III

Eg has some of the first cutscene stills from Hellsing OVA III, due out in Japan on April 4th.

3-19-07 (9:30AM EDT)—- Toei To Offer Works Through DVD Toaster Download And Burn Service

Similar to techniques pioneered in the world of fandom, Toei has announced a new deal in Japan with Webstream Ltd. and their DVD Toaster service which will allow consumers to purchase and download works that can then be legaly burned to DVD and viewed on the fly. The Video Toaster system and business model is said to be a worlds first ehich starts in Japan in April, 2007.

3-19-07 (8:56AM EDT)—- UA on “Hatsuko” Theme

J-pop singer UA will take charge of the theme song to the Yoko Matsuda manga based film Akai Bunka Jutaku No Hatsuko. She’s created the new song Moor for the occasion, theatrical opening nationwide in Japan is set for May, 2007.

3-19-07 (8:46AM EDT)—- Shigurui Anime Site

Wowow has opened their official website for the forthcoming Shigurui anime TV series.

3-19-07 (8:35AM EDT)—- Next Live Action Chibi Maruko Actress Selected

Fuji Television Network’s next starring actress in their live action Chibi Maruko has been announced as 8 year old Kanhatori Ito. She replaces the adorable Nagayo Moriseko, who had a voice in her replacement’s selection.

3-19-07 (8:28AM EDT)—- Yuya Yagira Announced to Star In Cowboy Bebop Director’s Next Film

Crtically acclaimed 16 year old actor Yuya Yagira has landed the starring voice role in director Shinichiro Watanabe’s (Macross Plus, Cowboy Bebop) “Baby Blue” Genius Party featurette. He won the 57th Cannes Film Festival award for “Best Actor” in 2004’s Nobody Knows. He’ll play the role of a highschool student who falls in love with his childhood friend. This will mark his debut as a voice actor.

3-19-07 (3:15AM EDT)—- Erika Toda Returns For “L”

Its been confirmed Death Note actress Erika Toda will return for the live action L spinoff starring Ken’ichi Matsuyama which is due in Japanese theaters in 2008.

3-19-07 (3:05AM EDT)—- Gake No Ueno Ponyo To Be Miyazaki’s Next

At a press conference held on March 19th, Toho and Studio Ghibli announced Hayao Miyazaki’s next directed film will be the full length anime feature Gake no Ueno Horyo or Gake No Ueno Ponyo (“Ponyo On A Cliff”) (there are several different pronunciations currently circulating), it will be released to theaters in Japan in July, 2008. This marks the master animator’s first return to the director’s chair in 4 years. At that time he made Howl’s Moving Castle which grossed 19.6 billion Yen at the box office, drawing in excess of 15 million people. The plot will based on an entirely original screenplay and tell the story of “goldfish princess” and a 5 year boy who lives in a seaside town and vows to become a man. Miyazaki based the scenery on Setouchi in Okayama prefecture where he lived in 2005. According to producer Toshio Suzuki, the story is in someway based on Miyazaki’s real life experience with his eldest son Goro (director of Gedo Senki) when he was 5 years old. The theme will be “Little Mermaid” with a thick Japanese twist. The story is halfway completed presently. He adds Ghibli will return to their “zero point” with no CG to be used in the animation process. The illustrations will be “drawn simply like those of a child”. These guidelines will pose a different challenge than past works. They are quite eager to get on with it.

3-18-07 (3:05PM EDT)—- Websites Roundup

ARMS animation studio renewed their site with a new flash movie for the coming OVA KITE LIBERATOR. The official website for the Piano Forrest film has been renewed. Sunrise launched a page for its upcoming Kyouryu King D Kizzu Adventure. Shochiku has launched a website for their new anime film Vexille.

3-18-07 (2:28PM EDT)—- Jet Li Confirms Slam Dunk Live Action Updates

We’ve gotten in some reports in that Jet or his webmaster might have changed some text in their blog entry, confirming the action superstar visited the set of the live action adaptation. The title, “Slam Dunk” was reportedly changed to “Guan Lan” (To Fill Basket), the Chinese title for the domestic version of the manga and anime there. Thanks go out to Daniel Zelter for providing us updates on this story.

3-18-07 (1:55PM EDT)—- Goshou Aoyama Manga Factory Opens

With all the kinks apparantly worked out, the Goshou Aoyama Manga Factory exhibition facilities opened on schedule in Tottori prefecture Kitasakae-cho on the 18th. The mayor of the town cut the ribbon on the occasion of the grand opening. The Case Closed creator’s works released in 20 countries+ were among the items on display.

3-18-07 (1:53PM EDT)—- Anime Riders

Akibablog has some images of a Honda NSR50 done up in candy pink Shuffle livery spotted in Akihabara.

3-18-07 (1:31PM EDT)—- Satoshi Kon At DC Fifth Annual Cherry Blossom Anime Marathon

Fifth Annual Cherry Blossom Anime Marathon In Person: Satoshi Kon! Saturday, April 14 In celebration of this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival, the Freer presents a day-long festival of four Japanese Anime films. As a special treat, famous anime director Satoshi Kon will be on hand to discuss two of his films. The DC Anime Club will also present an interactive display of the evolution of anime fandom throughout the day. For more information please visit www.asia.si.edu. Tickets for all films (two per person) will be available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 10:30 AM. Tickets for all films will be available throughout the day. All films are in 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles, unless otherwise indicated. This event is made possible by the Japan Information and Culture Center of the Embassy of Japan, Otakorp, Inc., and Sony Pictures Classics. 11:00 AM Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Movie Fans of the wildly popular manga and card game will love this animated adventure, directed by Hatsuki Tsuji, in which a picked-on high school student unexpectedly becomes “the Game King,” and must battle the forces of evil. (2004, 90 min., English, video, rated PG) 1:30 PM Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters From anime visionary Mamoru Oshii, director of the classic Ghost in the Shell, comes this wildly experimental fusion of traditional Japanese storytelling, live action, and advanced animation techniques, which takes a humorous look at post-war Japan through the antics of some offbeat characters on the hunt for free grub. (2006, 104 min., appropriate for children 12 and older) 4:00 PM Tokyo Godfathers Join Satoshi Kon as he introduces and discusses his charming and visually arresting fable about three homeless people who discover an abandoned baby on Christmas and set off on a journey of wonder through Tokyo in search of its family. (2003, 91 min., rated PG-13) 7:00 PM Paprika For the crowning event for this year’s marathon, Satoshi Kon will also introduce and discuss his latest film, a surreal sci-fi adventure about a machine that can record dreams that falls into nefarious hands. (2006, 90 min., rated R)

3-18-07 (11:41AM EDT)—- Shigurui Anime Updates

The May, 2007 edition of Champion Red reports Takayuki Yamaguchi and writer Norio Nanjo’s Samurai manga Shigurui will be animated by Madhouse with a broadcast debut via WOWOW this July.

3-18-07 (7:51AM EDT)—- Space Adventure COBRA Stamps

In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the conception of Buichi Terasawa’s sci-fi action hero, Buichi.com mentions a stamp sheet is being released for Japan. You can also access a rare side-story to the manga here. (Note that some of the content may not be work-safe.) Thanks to Daniel Zelter for the news.

3-18-07 (7:40AM EDT)—- Bilingual Press Conference For Kenji Kamiyama’s Moribito: “GUARDIAN OF THE SACRED SPIRIT” To Be Held At TAF2007

Production I.G. will hold a press conference for Kenji Kamiyama’s New TV Series Moribito “GUARDIAN OF THE SACRED SPIRIT at the Tokyo Anime Fair 2007 on March 22nd. Guest panelists will include Nahoko Uehashi (Original Author), Kenji Kamiyama (Director), Mitsuhisa Ishikawa (Production I.G President & CEO) and Kenji Kawai (Music Composer). Japanese-English translation service will be available during the conference. “GUARDIAN OF THE SACRED SPIRIT Once in a century the Sacred Spirit dwells within a human being” Starting in Japan April 7, 2007 at 20:04 on NHK-BS2 Format: TV Series, 26 episodes running 30 minutes each in length Based on the original novel “Seirei no Moribito” by Nahoko Umehashi Directed by Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) Music by Kenji Kawai (Ghost in the Shell, Innocence). www.moribito.com | www.production-ig.com

3-18-07 (5:30AM EDT)—- Anime At Annecy Film Festival 2007

France’s Annecy International Film Festival, the world’s largest animation festival, held June 11-16, 2007 will feature anime on its roster including Koji Yamamura’s Country Doctor, Ayakashi JAPANESE CLASSIC HORROR, XxxHOLiC and Hiroyuki Nakao’s Dynamite Guys.

3-18-07 (5:23AM EDT)—- Happy Feet Director Wants To Work On Anime

New Zealand’s STUFF has mentioned George Miller, director of the 3DCG Happy Feet is interested in working on a Japanese anime. “The minimalist style of Japanese anime really, really intrigues me so I’d like to do one of those in collaboration with a Japanese director,” he said.

3-18-07 (3:56AM EDT)—- Japanese Manga Release Volume Snapshot

Just to profile the current volume of Japanese manga releases, 143 mainline titles will hit the market there next week, between the 19th and 25th of March.

3-18-07 (3:55AM EDT)—- Fruits Basket Manga Ends This Week In Japan

Natsuki Takaya’s long running international smash hist manga Fruit Basket will draw to a close when volume 23 concludes in the pages of Hakusensha’s Hana to Yume which goes on sale in Japan on the 19th. The comic had its start in 1999.

3-17-07 (3:55AM EDT)—- Live Action Slam Dunk Real: Jet Li Visited Shanghai Movie Set

A March 11th post over at Chinese action star Jet Li’s Blog mentioned he visited the Shanghai set of the live action Slam Dunk movie recently. The news comes even as creator Takehiko Inoue officially cast doubt on reports that surfaced via Variety on March 7th that Hong Kong’s Emperor Motion Picture and Japan’s Kadokawa Herald Pictures would co-produce the live action feature. The live-action adaptation of one of the bestselling manga comics of all time will be helmed by Kevin Chu Yin Ping (“Expect a Miracle”). Production gets under way next week with lensing in studios in Shanghai and on location in Taiwan for winter 2008 release. With a production budget of $10 million, pic is being touted as the most expensive Taiwan-originated movie of all time. It is set up as a co-production of Taiwan’s Chang Hong Channel Group and Shanghai Film & Television Group. A huge thanks to Daniel Zelter for updating us on this story.

3-17-07 (3:31AM EDT)—- Nasu: Andalusia no Natsu Sequel

Nausicaa.net links to Ghibli World who informs us Kitaro Kosaka who got his directorial debut in 2003’s “Nasu: Andalusia no Natsu” (Nasu: Summer in Andalusia) will receive a sequel this year called Nasu 2. Madhouse will direct and Yoshida Kenichi of Studio Ghibli fame has joined the production team as animation director. You can view a trailer here. The story will cover the Utsunomiya Japan Cup cycle road race. According to Wikipedia: Nasu: Summer in Andalusia was adapted from a short story, Summer in Andalusia, in the first volume of a 3-tankabon manga by Iou Kuroda, entitled Nasu, which consisted altogether of 24 chapters and was serialized in Kodansha’s Afternoon manga magazine. Nasu is a collection of stories, focusing on a returning series of characters, such as Takama, a farmer, and a young girl named Aya Takashi, who begins the series abandoned by her father and residing in Tokyo with her two younger siblings, and as the manga progresses to its second volume, leaves the city to reside in the countryside with her relatives, near Takama’s farm. Apart from the chapters concerning Takama and Aya, other stories are also featured, such as one telling the chronicles of samurai in the Edo period hunting forbidden eggplant (Nasu), another set atop a futuristic Mount Fuji, another tale concerning a truck driver, and also Summer in Andalusia, the story concerning the professional Spanish bicyclist Pepe Benengeli, from which the film was adapted.

3-17-07 (3:17AM EDT)—- Takehiko Inoue Slam Dunk Movie Hoax Official Commentary

In the latest English update to his studio’s site, manga creator Takehiko Inoue’s recent comments on the Slam Dunk movie hoax get an official translation: “I don’t know if the article was for real, but if it was, then it troubles me that something like this could proceed without me knowing anything about it. “I wonder what’s going on. “Of course I haven’t given them permission for it.” Thanks to Daniel Zelter for the link.

3-17-07 (3:03AM EDT)—- Tokyo Gets First Snowfall

Bringing a record snowless winter season to a close, Th Japanese Weather Bureau announced on the 16th that they had observed the first snow of the season withing the Tokyo metro area. The snow was spotted in Otemachi around 7:00AM. Oddly enough, the cherry blossom season (a signet of spring) has officially been predicted for next week.

3-17-07 (2:59AM EDT)—- Toranoana Opens Machida Shop

Mega manga retailer Toranoana announced it will open its “Comic Toranoana Machida Ten” shop on Saturday, April 14, 2007.

3-17-07 (2:51AM EDT)—- NHK To Document Hayao Miyazaki’s Working Style

NHK TV’s documentary program Professional Shigoto No Ryuugi (Professional Work Method) will turn its eyes on the working processes of master Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki for their March 27th program. The show will expand its usual format to a special running 60 minutes in length for the occasion.

3-17-07 (2:04AM EDT)—- Sota-Kun no Akihabara Funtouki OVA Progressing

Square / Enix’s G Fantasy magazine is celebrating its 14th anniversary and the cover of the April, 2007 issue features the first look at the forthcoming Sota-Kun no Akihabara Funtouki OVA.

3-17-07 (1:40AM EDT)—- Kimi Ga Aruji De Shitsuji Ga Ore De To Be Animated

Minato Soft has announced their erotic butler PC game Kimi Ga Aruji De Shitsuji Ga Ore De will be adapted to TV animation in the future. The story and characters will be close to the original game. Look for the initial broadcast to show up in a longer term timeframe.

3-17-07 (12:49AM EDT)—- Shinobu Tama Ran Tarou – Ojaru Maru TV Specials

NHK is planning to air a 15th anniversary TV special for Shinobu Tama Ran Tarou and a special for Ojaru Maru sometime in the near future.

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