Anime News Service - January 6 Anime News

1-6-05---- Digital Manga Expands Relationship With Diamond

Digital Manga - having selected Diamond Book Distributors as the exclusive North American distributor of English-language editions of some of its top books - has extended its agreement with Diamond to include even more titles and properties.

In addition to the original agreement, Diamond will now also distribute more manga/yaoi titles as well as the highly successful Let's Draw Manga series. Also, in keeping up with the rising trend of comics as an education tool, a new line of non-fiction "edu-manga" will be distributed. Digital Manga specializes in building corporate and cultural bridges from Japan to the Western Hemisphere - specifically through the licensing, importation and preparation of anime, manga, and related merchandise for the North American mainstream and subculture markets. In this capacity, Digital Manga serves as a catalyst for the expansion of Japanese pop-culture institutions into global arenas.

"For months now, Digital Manga and Diamond have already been actively importing top-notch Japanese products into the U.S.," said Diamond Vice President of Purchasing Bill Schanes. "We're proud to take our relationship further with even more titles and lines from Digital Manga." "We are pleased that Diamond recognizes in Digital Manga a unique product portfolio available no where else, and saw fit to an agreement which will increase our shelf presence and provide an added boost to our distinctive reputation in the manga market," stated Digital Manga CEO Hikaru Sasahara.

"With manga and related Japanese products and art continuing to make sales history through the U.S., this is a great opportunity to introduce a new piece of the diversity puzzle," added Schanes. Diamond's Sales Team will begin working with bookstores, book wholesalers, warehouse clubs, mass merchandisers, and libraries to place Digital Manga's books across the country.

1-6-05---- ADV Films A Tree Of Palm Theatrical Release

ADV Films announced today the American theatrical premiere of A Tree of Palme, which will take place at Houstonfs Rice Cinema starting January 14, 2005. A Tree of Palme is a modern retelling of the classic Pinocchio story with a sc-fi/fantasy twist. The cinematic Japanese animated feature was written and directed by highly respected animator Takashi Nakamura, who first came to the attention of American fans with his work as chief animator for the cyberpunk masterpiece Akira.

Palme, a wooden puppet, has been created to care for the dying wife of his master. After her death, Palme looses his sense of purpose and ceases to function. He remains inactive until a mysterious woman, followed by a group of ruthless pursuers, arrives at the masterfs workshop. She is desperately seeking aid in delivering a precious package to its destination across the world. When his master is mortally wounded by the womanfs pursuers, Palme agrees to aid the woman with her mission, thus taking the first step in his long and incredible journey to discover who he truly is.

John Ledford, President and C.E.O. of ADV Films, said, gWe are very excited about bringing this visually exotic anime to American filmgoers. Takashi Nakamura has a long and distinguished list of anime films to his credit and we are pleased that American audiences now have a chance to see A Tree of Palme.h A Tree of Palme will play for two weekends at the Rice Cinema located on The Rice University campus. Operating for more than 30 years, Rice Cinema has screened cult films and revivals as well as festivals and retrospectives. Founded as an integral part of the Media Center, Rice Cinemafs mission has long crossed boundaries to bring people together to promote scholarly dialog and cross-cultural interaction.

gA Tree of Palme, which is our first feature to be released in 2005, is only the beginning of what promises to be a busy year for our theatrical divisionh remarked Steve Buck, Director of ADVfs theatrical Division. Palme will play selected theatres in major cities including Boston, San Francisco, Nashville, Hartford, Portland Oregon and Austin following the Houston engagement. Specific dates and theatres are listed on the ADV Theatrical website at www.ADVFilms.com/theatrical

1-6-05

- New Fushigi Yuugi adventures continue to playout in audio format via Marine Entertainment's release of a new Drama CD.
- Animate has added a listing for the OP single release to majikaru kanan due on 2/25 at 1,260 Yen.
- Toei has renewed their official website for the coming OVA Iriya No Sora, UFO No Natsu. A promtional video in real video and windows media streaming formats can be accessed here.
- Sega launched the Japanese site for it's X-Box release of Outrun 2. Noteworthy from the start of the site's loading is that unlike well known racing games of recent such as Project Gotham and Gran Turismo, Outrun 2 features several Ferrari cars both recent and classic. included are F40, F50, ENZO, 365 GTS4, Dino 246 GTS, 288 GTO, Testarossa (Outrun 1 car), 360 Spider, 250 GTO and 512BB.
- Animate has details for the upcoming classic early 90's anime, Kingyo Chuuihou (Goldfish Warning) DVD BOX set due on March 25, 2005. The movie version is collected as well as original TVCM. Others include set material, picture continuity, a special album CD with song and drama selections, and booklet collecting the comments of staff. Retail is 52,290 Yen. 54 TV episodes of the TV series make up the bulk of the set. Toei animation produced Goldfish Warning which aired at 19:00-19:30 on Saturdays via TV Asahi between January 12, 1991 and February 29, 1992. Series director was Junichi Sato (Sailor Moon).
- The 4th drama CD based on Mizuki Kawashita's popular manga, Strawberry 100% was announced by Shueisha.
- Tatsuya Kaneda's Ayakashi Dou No Hourai manga has been announced to run in Weekly Shonen Sunday from issue No.7.
- The manga Sensei No Susume begins running in Hanayume magazine from No.4 on sale from the 20th according to Hakusensha. A special 71 minute audio CD "2005 Kirakirawawonderful will accompany the issue.
- Music label Key just announced it has collected Kannon BGM tracks together to form the CLANNAD OST due out on the 28th at 3990 Yen. The 3 disc (45 track) set was anticipated by fans of the series since the summer when the original release date was scheduled for the end of August. 2 unused tracks from the game have been added.
- A TV Commercial clip for Konami's upcoming game version of the Ken Akamatsu manga Magister Negi Magi has been uploaded the gamemaker's official site and can be accessed directly here

1-6-05---- Touch Live Action Advances

Twin actors Shouta and Keita Saito (19) will portray baseball players Uesugi and Kazuya Tatsuya in the live action Movie adaptation of mangka Mitsuru Adachi's TOUCH manga which is now in production. Director Inudo Isshin (Shini Bana / Futari Ga Shabetteru) will helm the project slated for release this fall. For the younger actor, Keita, this will his first leading role casting experience. The main theme of Touch is the love triangle between Tatsuya, Kazuya, and Minami. The two actors baseball experiences in junior high school served as valuable experience for the roles. The twin actors are know for their previous roles in "Kids wars" and the "Hot man" TBS drama. Masami Nagasawa (17) will play the heroine manager of the baseball club, Asakura Minami. Touch was previously serialized in Shounen Sunday 1981-87 (26 volumes), was made into several animated movies and a 108-part TV series.
Source: Nikkan Sports

1-6-05

- The 3rd compiled volume of mangka Kazumi Yamashita's Wonder Boy manga has just been released to market in Japan, retailing at 609 Yen. Yamashita was born in Hokkaido birth in 1959, here work, "The Life of the Brilliant Professor Yanagisawa."serialized in KCMorning in 1988. It was adapted to a drama in Japan and won the 27th Kodansha cartoon prize general section in 2003. Mysterious Boy was irregularly serialized by KCMorning in 2001. According to her website a feature will include her in the Feb. 2005 issue of Da Vinci magazine in Japan. Kodansha's English summary for the story of the manga is as follows: The story In every age there appears a boy with miraculous powers-an immortal wonder boy who watches over people as they struggle through life. The place where he appears vary: Japan in the aftermath of the Second World War, with a family whose lands and roots keep them back; nineteenth-century London, where an orphan girl struggles to survive; and in the middle ages, with a young man who learns to die before he ever learns to live. In all these scenarios, the boy seems to exert a profound after upon people.
- Young Jump begins serializing the manga Chin Nyuusha In Kintarou from No.8's release on the 20th of this month.
- Monthly Shonen Jump will begin running Daisuke Higuchi's manga 'GO AHEAD' from the issue released on March 5th according to Shueisha.
- Newtype's Japanese site reports on the postrecording for the first episode of Heartful Days and includes an image of the vocal cast. The original story is produced by Square Enix and the broadcast begins from January 9th on Sundays at Midnight via TV Tokyo. Animation production is by JC STAFF, Animation Production by Masahiro Fujii, Original Story by Kimura Shin'ichirou Directed by Shinichiro Kimura and Character Designs by Yasshisatoshi. The official website was launched by TV Tokyo at:
http://www.tv-tokyo.co.jp/anime/mahoraba/
- From Daniel, BBC News talks about how Korean drama actor Bae Yong Joon and other representatives of Korean pop culture have removed some of the tension between Japan and S. Korea. Yahoo News mentions that Joon's charitable contributions to the tsunami victims have encouraged his Japanese fans to follow. Yahoo Australia analyzes whether S. Korea will embrace Japanese pop culture. Yahoo Asia writes about Asian performers such as Jackie Chan doing a concert which features a Chinese rendition of "We Are the World" from LiveAid.

1-6-05---- ITMedia Survey: Can Anime Become Killer Content In The USA?

ITMedia Survey has posted an in-depth analysis piece which asks if Japanese Animation can become killer content in the USA. According to the research supplied by Rie Kamiyama, "Japanimation" mania has existed on the fringes and as a sub-culture up to now in foreign countries. Although "Otaku" carried negative connotation in the past the term is seen as cool now. Production costs between American and Japanese theatrical animations differ greatly. Disney animated films exceeding the production budget of 10 billion Yen is not unusual these days. The total franchise property rollout through venues such as overseas sales, character business, and games, etc. are usually calculated before the work is made.

Japan's animated theatrical films on the other hand, cost just around 300 million Yen on average. Studio Ghibli's (known as the "Japanese Disney") works top out with 2-3 billion Yen budgets. Calculating a multi faceted / multi tiered franchise license strategy prior to a work being made is still a rather new thing in Japan but when dealing with budgets of several hundred million Yen it has not be seen as neccesary to recoupe the profit. Furthermore, the model of anime programs being broadcast at midnight has been successful, having still gone on to sell 100,000+ DVD copies after the broadcast rights were sold. There are 2 flow chart graphics which follow (viewable at the link) that break down the diferences of the Japanese "Bandai" animation business model and the American "Disney" animation business model.

Common business areas have been defined as follows: 1. Original contents creation by mangaka or anime studio; 2. Advertisement and promotion for TV; 3. Advertisement and promotion for Film; 4. Broadcasting rights (terrestrial, CS, BS, internet, overseas); 5. Promotional event production; 6. Investment (production committee); 7. License / merchandising; 8. Performance and sales trackers; 9. Distribution and circulation. (film)

A large company like Disney can handle functions 1,4,7 and 8 single handedly. By doing this the corporate entity can inject a large amount of capitol itself but also distributes risk among various internal components. The Japanese model has been used for a long time and has predominately seperated all of the various functions. Traditionally though, the advertising and content creation have been connected. The lower cost production structure absorbs more risk. A major difference in the 2 models also comes down to how quickly the multiple tiers exapnd out.

The Pokemon phenomena is cited as an example for the way one such it project was done in Japan: Feb. 96 - Pokemon games for Gameboy; Oct. 96 - Card game; April 97 - TV anime; July 98 - Pokemon Movie; Nov. 99 - Pokemon Movie USA opening.

In the case of Pokemon, hit status was not expected at the time of the original game release in 1996. Consequently, the overseas distribution for the first film was not even decided when the same film was released in Japan. Pokemon's success (now on the three trillion Yen scale) is a an example of whether or not Japanese animation is inferior to US animation when you consider the intial small investment. There's currently no opposition to adopting the rapidly expanding, multi tiered business model in Japan's animation industry currently, however the author points out the technique of the tradional Japanese model "give birth small, and raise it greatly" might need to be evaluated more.
Source: ITMEDIA SURVEY

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