Anime News Service - August 26th-31st Anime News

8-31-06 (12:08PM EDT)---- DVD Delay Of Katsuhiro Otomo's FREEDOM

Bandai Visual has indefinetly postponed the Japanese DVD release of volume 1 to Katsuhiro Otomo's FREEDOM, the old release date was October 27th. Retail is 1,575 Yen. The 6 OVA (30 minutes each) collaboration with NISSIN CUP NOODLE features character and machinery designs by the Akira creator, the story focuses around freedom fighters in the 23rd century. The reason cited for the delay was to "improve the quality of the work".

8-31-06 (11:01AM EDT)---- Studio Fantasia To Animate Agent AIKa Sequel?

According to a post to Studio Fantasia's message board, they will be working on a new anime project titled "AIKa" in 2007. The project could possibly involve Stratos 4 Director Takeshi Mori or Character Designer: Noriyasu Yamauchi. The info was first leaked in the Stratos 4 Log Book which went on sale in Japan last week. Official confirmation is expected. In 1997 Studio Fantasia produced the animation for the 7 part Agent AIKa OAV series. Coincidently, coming up on the 10th anniversary of that work, an official website for the coming remaster DVD's will open on Sept. 1st.

8-31-06 (10:11AM EDT)---- Santa Inoue At Tokyopop

Tokyopop has posted an 8 part video interview between Stu Levy and Tokyo Tribes creator Santa Inoue. In the course of discussion the manga series end comes up and Santa hints at the possibility of a third installment. Tokyopop's chief confirms in part 6 that Tokyopop will be putting out the Neighborhood 13 manga which was made into a live-action film distributed by Media Blasters. Levy mentions the tv show will be dubbed and released for America for 2007, but not specifically through Tokyopop. Thanks to Daniel for the link.

8-30-06 (12:48PM EDT)---- Bishoujo Video Games?

IT Media has an interesting piece on the evolution (or devolution) of so-called Bishoujo Video Games. The common description of such games are those text / story driven games with many static images, miniscule amounts of actual animation and attractive girls. Such PC games have been popular in the mainstream in Japan since latter half of the 1990's. A recent conference for the game software developers "CESA Developers Conference 2006" was held and one panel probed the question: are these really games? Tokimeki Memorial released in 1994 and Sakura Taisen released in 1996 are widely held to have started the mainstream advance of the genre. They also established a story / choice / multi-ending driven interface formula that would duplicated several thousand times and has widely remained unchanged in over 10 years. Chun Soft's Shizuku (Leaf) in 1996 introduced the sound novel style. However, around 2000 the effort necessary for gameplay was oddly brought down to a minimum in many PC Bishoujo games and this was a widespread phenomena. A number of the panelists question the genre, citing the unchanged low spec formula even as PC hardware specs increase, allowing creators greater expression. This goes opposite to modern games with heavy 3D graphics, net community interaction and where the player is usually controlling some type of moving character.

8-30-06 (12:23PM EDT)---- Korean Dramas Spring Forth From Manhwa

The number of South Korean TV dramas in production based on Manhwa comics are growing. There's alot of hype over Kim Jonhak Productions' coming 40 billion Won adaptation of "Taou Shi Kamiki" starring Yon Jun. The telecast is set for the first half of the year of next year. Miya (Imperial Prince) aired earlier this year catapulting JooJi Hun to stardom. A series based on Kim Soo-Yeon's original manhwa Hip Hop is supposedly in the planning stages from the same production company, broadcast is set for winter. Jeies Pictures will produce a drama based on the 'Sponger' manhwa, it will broadcast on MBC from the beginning of next year. The KBS mini-series 'Full house' seemed to set off this latest boom.

8-30-06 (11:50AM EDT)---- PS3 Specs Downgraded Again?

The Inquirer mentions:
IT LOOKS LIKE the PS3 is way too powerful for us mere humans, and because the value is so overwhelming, Sony is going to make it a little more palatable. The RSX, previously scheduled to run at 550/700 core/memory has been realigned with expectations and the value chain at 500/650. We can't tell you why the GPU lost nearly 10% of it's clock, it could be an NVidia screwup, or it could be Sony/Cell. Either way, it just became much less of an overwhelming value, but you get a DRM infected drive for 'free' either way.

8-30-06 (11:39AM EDT)---- Playstation 3 Official Website Launched

Sony has gone live with the official Japanese web presence for it's next generation PS3 console. With Blu Ray disc playing capabilities onboard and a growing list of corporate support the console is poised to possibly be the primary device fans the world over will be using to watch hi-def anime: www.jp.playstation.com/ps3/

8-30-06 (10:53AM EDT)---- Anime Network Now Reaching 40 Million American Homes

www.theanimenetwork.com
Continuing to draw in viewers with the strength of its programming and command of all things anime, Anime Network has reached a new distribution milestone. America's #1 anime channel is now available to 40 million homes across the United States and Canada -- a 233% increase and more than three times its reach in less than two years. "We are obviously pleased to have made such significant progress," said Kevin McFeeley, Anime Network's Vice President of Affiliate Sales. "Yet, we are even more encouraged by the possibilities for even further growth as we seek out new and exciting platforms on which to deliver content to our fans."

Available to its ravenous viewership on a variety of platforms -- 24/7 "linear" channel, video-on-demand (VOD), subscription-based video-on-demand (SVOD), pay-per-view (PPV) and transactional for both cable and satellite subscribers -- Anime Network has seen a swarm of carriage deals attribute to its success. In particular, the Network's recent deals with Wide Open West and Harron Communications (linear) and Service Electric Cablevision and Knology (SVOD) provided the reach that took its total distribution over the 40 million mark. "The addition of Anime Network to our On DEMAND library will provide our customers with an even more robust viewing experience," said Donald Brandt, Director of Programming & Program Marketing at Service Electric Cablevision. "While we were answering the call of numerous anime enthusiasts, we also knew this programming had the power and quality to attract and hook new viewers."

8-29-06 (7:44PM EDT)---- Tokyo Anime Fair 2007 Mascot

The latest Mascot (they call it "Formula Character") for the Tokyo International Anime Fair 2007 was unveiled at the Akihabara 3D Theater inside the Tokyo Anime Center on August 27th. For the 6th successive character, Mariko Tokida was chosen to be the desgner / illustrator. Her design submission was chosen out of 392 entries.

8-29-06 (7:18PM EDT)---- Rurouni Kenshin Revival Hits Japan

Closing in on the 10th anniversary of the broadcast of the Rurouni Kenshin TV anime in 1996, recent product releases have set off a small and quiet resurgence of widespread interest in Nobuhiro Watsuki's wandering samurai tale. An 84,000 Yen complete works DVD Box Set is said to have received 10,000 preorders closing in on the August 31st reservation deadline. A two volume compete manga set sold out in July and a new PS2 is due in September.

8-29-06 (6:46PM EDT)---- Innocence On Blu Ray

Rounding out the anime BluRay news of the day Watch Impress lists a number of the 75 confirmed Blu-Ray releases in Japan. Among them is Ghost In The Shell: Innocence from Buena Vista on December 6th, 2006. Retail is 7,800 Yen.

8-29-06 (6:35PM EDT)---- Solid State Society Stage Greeting

Eg has images from the Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society stage greeting event Monday in Tokyo. Director Kenji Kamamiya, associated other staff and the voice cast gathered to talk about the project.

8-29-06 (6:10PM EDT)---- Haruhi Suzumiya DVD Sales Good

Kadokawa Entertainment is very impressed with sales of the Haruhi Suzumiya TV animation on DVD. The series is adapted from the number 1 best seller light novel released by Kadokawa Shoten Publishing. 1.3 million copies of the novel are now in circulation. The Episode00 disc released in Japan on June 23 moved 70,000 units. DVD 1 followed on July 28 moved 90,000 units and the just released Vol. 2 hit the streets on July 25th. The measuring stick of 10,000+ units sold equals smash hit status. Top Kadokawa staff admit the Haruhi craze is no ordinary phenomenon. Marketing director Mr. Takafumi Ishibashi says DVD sales could exceed 500,000 units across 8 planned volumes if the trend continues. He says Haruhi could become Kadokawa's big pillar like Bandai's Gundam series. The radio drama is now being broadcast on CRK radio Kansai 558 at 24:30 every Friday now.

8-29-06 (5:44PM EDT)---- Witchblade PVC

Eg has pics of a new painted PVC/ABS Kotobuiya Witchblade statue. Size is 26cm, the prototype was created by Shunji Hagii. Retail is 8,190 Yen, release is set for December, 2006.

8-29-06 (1:34PM EDT)---- State Of Japan's Animation Industry

Nikkei BP has a new 2 page article on the current state of Japan's animation industry. Studio Ghibli's Gedo Senki Directed by Goro Miyazaki opened during summer vacation in Japan. The film's performance has exhibited traits of an apparant stagnation at the boxoffice there despite drawing in 5.3 billion Yen 4.2 million theater goers to see it. It's been estimated Gedo Senki is doing about 60% the performance of 2001's Sen To Chihiro (Spirited Away) thus far. Ghibli is looking for a 10 billion dollar gross when all is said and done there. With Gedo as an example Nihon Keizai Shimbun asks if there might there be a weakening of the animation industry of Japan? Could the reason be due to a new generation of creators coming in that cannot invent works capable of collecting the public attention of the world? It's mentioned a South Korean company produced some of the animation in the case of Gedo Senki. Securing talent within Japan who understands all aspects of animation such as canvas to character narratives, feelings etc. seems to become difficult. On the other hand, TV animation is booming in Japan. 103 series per week (the highest amount ever) were being telecast in Tokyo as of July, 2006.

Midnight broadcast anime and DVD releases aimed at hardcore audiences have been increasing although all but the most popular are making money. The onset of cost reductions in the animation industry first started in the late '90's with a great outsourcing of cell creation to countries like South Korea and China. Typical TV anime requires 4000 cells for a 30 minute program. This amounts to 8-24 cells / frames per second. Through outsourcing the creation cost of each indiviual cell can be brought down to around 150-200 Yen. Cost reduction measures advanced further around 2000 when digital technology and hand penciled, computer colored frames entered the equation. This method greatly reduced the lengthy time it takes to hand paint cells. Most production companies in Japan now wholey adopt the method. Nikkei staff writer Nobuto Ito asks what has occured overall as a result of this? His answer? A shortage of vital human resources of young men and women with detailed know-how has increased.

The long-running TV anime "Sazae-san" wethered through the period of the anime world boom virtually unchanged. The program celebrates it's 38th anniversary this year. Sticking to "Japanese tastes" around 50 employees carry out it's production in Arakawa Ward, Tokyo, still painting every cell by hand.

8-29-06 (1:15PM EDT)---- Death Note Anime Cast

Mamoru Miyano (Wolf's Rain) will take on the role of Light and Yamaguchi Kappei (Ranma 1/2) will take on the voice of L in the upcoming Death Note anime. Cast details were announced in Weekly Shonen Jump No. 40. The TV series begins airing at 24:56 on October 3rd via Nippon Television Network. More info is expected to come out through JUMP the REVOLUTION due out on 9/29.

8-29-06 (12:09PM EDT)---- KTT Aims At Boosting Anime Tourism To Japan

The Kanto Department Of Transportation And Tourism Department International Sightseeing Section is currently investigating a local foreign tourism revitalization focusing on Japanese animation. After running a survey they found Akihabara was the main draw for gaijin anime tourists. Now they are looking at possibly holding anime related tours, experience classes and hosting receptions and events in Akihabara. The project has a budget of about 16 million Yen and will launch their investigation on September 4th, it will run through March 19th 2007. Thereafter final results will be reported.

8-29-06 (11:29AM EDT)---- Blu Ray Association Symposium

New information is out following a Blu Ray Association symposium event centering on the next generation disc format created by SONY and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. was held in Japan on August 29th. At present the lineup of Japanese corporate support for Blu-Ray appears greater than that seen in the HD DVD camp with Sharp, SONY, Pioneer, Hitachi, and Matsushita all signed on. Additionally, at the event 14 companies announced 75 new software titles to go on sale including anime producers Kadokawa Entertainment, GDH, Production I.G. and Movic. With the moveback of AIR, GDH's Project Papo will now become the first Japanese animation title released to the format when it hits the market on November 3. GDH also plans a simultaneous sameday release on the HD DVD format. Aniplex has announced BLOOD THE LAST VAMPIRE Digital Master Version will street via Blu Ray on November 22nd for 5,040 Yen.

8-29-06 (11:29AM EDT)---- Blu-Ray AIR BDBOX Release Pushed Back

Pony Canyon announced it's Blu-Ray AIR release will be delayed from a Nov. 1 street (prior to Nov. 11 PS3 release) to a Dec. 6th street date. Resolving a technical issue was cited as the reason. The move comes in the wake of mass questioning and disccusion regarding the image quality of the set after demo versions had screened around Tokyo. This eventually prompted Pony Canyon release a statement clarifying many of the details. No word yet on those issues being related to this latest delay.

8-29-06 (11:09AM EDT)---- .hack//roots Site

The official Japanese website for the new TV anime .hack//roots has gone live at: www.hack.channel.or.jp/roots/.

8-29-06 (11:08AM EDT)---- Zero No Tsukaima Novel Sells 1.25 Million Copies

In comemoration of the Zero No Tsukaima novel selling 1.25 million copies in Japan a new campaign called Zero No Tsukaima Sankusukyanpen is being launched that will include the anime DVDs, Monthly Comic Alive and MF Pocket Edition J. Apparantly the first 100 people to send in a ticket from each of these related releases occuring in late September will recieve a special prize.

8-29-06 (9:46AM EDT)---- Super-Robot Taisen OG Divine Wars

A few new tidbits of info are out on the coming Super-Robot Taisen OG Divine Wars series: Animation Production by OLM TEAM IWASA, the official website www.suparobo-anime.jp will open on September 11th, 2006. The story occurs in year 179 where a meteorite that is called "Meteor 3" falls into South Pacific near the Marquesas island chain. The Earth federation government proceeds with an investigation and it turns out the meteorite is an object of artificial manufacture. Dubbed an "EOT", investigations proceed as the event is seen an omen of possible invasion by some extraterrestrial force. A new armored force is started up using (drum roll..........) humanoid style "personal trooper" giant robots to combat the threat.

8-29-06 (9:28AM EDT)---- Rocket Girl Update

A few staff updates for the forthcoming Rocket Girl animation: Original Story: Housuke Nojiri, Director: Hiroshi Aoyama (Master Keaton), Chara Designs: Hisama Kinoshita (Photon: The Idiot Adventures), Series Composition and Screenplay: Rika Nakase (Bleach, Fruits Basket) and Animation Production by Mook Animation.

8-29-06 (9:15AM EDT)---- GONZO HD-DVD Release Of Project PAPO

GDH K.K. (Head Office: Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, CEO: Shinichiro Ishikawa, Securities Code: TSE Mothers 3755, hereafter GDH) has announced it will release an animation title produced by one of its group companies on the next-generation optical disc format, HD DVD (*1).

As the era of high-definition video technology dawns, GDH will start releasing animation titles on HD DVD, one of the next-generation video disc formats expected to play a central role in the consumer packaged-media market in the near future. The first title is Project PAPO, a cutting-edge video series created by fusing animation and music. The title is produced by GDH's group company G-creators K.K. (Head Office: Minato-ku, Tokyo, CEO: Hiroyuki Nakaki). It will be on sale November 3, 2006 from GONZO's official shop "GONZO STYLE" (http://www.gonzo-style.com) and DVD on-line shop "G-mall" (http://www.g-mall.jp/) (26 episodes, JPY 7,140 tax incl.)

GDH, known for producing novel animation titles using advanced CG technologies, currently releases videograms of its titles on DVD, VHS, and UMD formats. By adding HD DVDs to this line-up, GDH will be accommodating to high-definition formats as well. GDH will be releasing more titles on next-generation high-definition optical discs, which are capable of reproducing the powerful and high-quality video images that are one of the hallmarks of GDH titles.

(*1) The HD DVD is a DVD specification endorsed by Toshiba, NEC, etc. It is approved as the next-generation DVD format by the DVD Forum, the international association that develops and defines DVD formats, comprised of over 230 electronics-related companies from over the world. It uses a blue-violet laser to read the data stored in high-density, and has a capacity of 15 gigabytes for single-sided single-layer discs, and 30 gigabytes for single-sided dual-layer discs, enabling users to enjoy contents of high-quality video and sound. The HD DVD has the same physical structure as the current DVD, which makes it highly compatible for video playback devices.
http://www.gdh.co.jp/english/news/20060829_02.html

8-29-06 (9:15AM EDT)---- GONZO Blu-Ray Release Of Project PAPO

GDH K.K. (Head Office: Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, CEO: Shinichiro Ishikawa, Securities Code: TSE Mothers 3755, hereafter GDH) has announced it will release an animation title produced by one of its group companies on the next-generation high-definition format Blu-ray Disc(*1). The videogram will be distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment (Japan) lnc. (Head Office: Chuo-ku, Tokyo, President & Representative Director: Ken Munekata).

As the era of high-definition video technology dawns, GDH will start releasing animation titles on the Blu-ray Disc, one of the next-generation video disc formats expected to play a central role in the consumer packaged-media market in the near future. The first title is Project PAPO, a cutting-edge video series created by fusing animation and music. The title is produced by GDH's group company G-creators K.K. (Head Office: Minato-ku, Tokyo, CEO: Hiroyuki Nakaki), and will be released on November 3, 2006 (26 episodes, JPY 7,140 tax incl.)

GDH, known for producing novel animation titles using advanced CG technologies, currently releases videograms of its titles on DVD, VHS, and UMD formats. By adding Blu-ray Discs to this line-up, GDH will be accommodating to high-definition formats as well. GDH will be releasing more titles on next-generation high-definition optical discs, which are capable of reproducing the high-quality video images that are one of the hallmarks of GDH titles.

(*1) The Blu-ray Disc is a next-generation optical disc format using a blue-violet laser that enables high density recording of data. This allows Blu-ray Discs to store approximately 50 gigabytes of data, which is about 6 times as much as a dual-layer DVD can store, although the physical size of the discs are the same 12cm in diameter as CDs and DVDs. It also has a maximum data transmission rate of 40Mbps, and is capable of playing back high-definition videos together with high-quality audio tracks. The Blu-ray Disc format is supported as the next-generation video media format possessing various technical advantages, by major electronics companies such as Sony, Panasonic, etc., as well as 7 of the major Hollywood studios (comprising 90% of the US market as of 2005).

[ About Project PAPO ] PAPO is a mysterious robot that also functions as a speaker. People who become mesmerized by PAPO's mystifying music experience various bizarre but unique events. What could the true identity of PAPO be? Project PAPO was distributed through shockwave.com in 2000 as a webisode animation series, attracting one million hits. It is a new-type animation title in which sound and image are combined and rendered in 720p high-resolution video and high-quality 5.1 surround sound. Official home page: www.project-papo.com
http://www.gdh.co.jp/english/news/20060829_01.html

8-29-06 (9:01AM EDT)---- Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha Striker S Update

More info on the 3rd Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha TV Series, "Striker S", to begin broadcast in 2007. Staff includes: Original Concept and Screenplay: Maki Tsuzuki, Direction: Keizou Kusakawa, Character Design: Yasuhiro Okuda, Animation Production: 7Arcs. Cast includes: Kana Ueda as Hayate Yagami, Nana Mizuki as Fate Testarossa and Yukari Tamura as Nanoha Takamachi. 6 years following the events of the original series, the story covders the trio of third graders in the private Sashiyoudai attachment junior high school who are special agents of the space time Administration Bureau. The show will supposedly contain action heavy scenes. Rostorogia is one of the key items in the story this time around. A manga adaptation called "Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha Striker S THE COMICS" by Maki Tsuzuki and Mitsumori Hasegawa will start serializing in Megami Magagen from the next issue.

8-28-06 (6:44PM EDT)---- Oni-Con 2006 In Houston This October

www.oni-con.com
Oni-Con, LLC continues to grow in numbers. Last year's attendance was an astonishing 4,000 people and this year Oni-Con is expecting an even more astonishing 6,000 people. Our immense guest list includes 30+ participants like 12012 (Japanese rock band), Alistair Abell (U-571, Dragon Ball Z, Inuyasha), Yoshitaka Amano (concept artist for Final Fantasy video game), local Houstonian Chris Ayres (Gantz, Speed Grapher), his brother Greg Ayres (Chrono Crusade, Trinity Blood), Tiffany Grant (Hello Kitty, Neon Genesis Evangelion), Taliesin Jaffe (Mr. Mom, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Paranoia Agent), and Xero Reynolds (Gatchaman, Samurai Gun). Oni-Con, LLC will be held October 20-22, 2006 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.

8-28-06 (6:39PM EDT)---- Nankai Candies In Kochikame

Shizuyo Yamasaki and Ryouta Yamasato make up the Japanese comedy duo Nankai Candies. They recently finished recording guest character appearances in the Fuji Television Network anime Kochira Katsushika-ku Kamearikouen-mae Hashutsujo (This is the Police Station in Front of Kameari Park in Katsushika Ward) or Kochikame for short. The broadcast of the special episode will occur on September 24th. They mentioned the vocal work was far more difficult than comic dialogues. Earlier in the year the duo appeared in live action adaption of the shoujo manga Lovely Complex.

8-28-06 (6:23PM EDT)---- Anime Tunerz

In Tokyo where space is at a premium, for many a personal automobile can be considered a luxury. Highly efficient and inexpensive mass transportation in the densely packed metros can make such a thing unthkinable and uneccesary. Hard to imagine for many Americans..... But those anime and manga fans who do own personal transportation can be quite liberal with the customization of their vehicles. Japanese Senakablog bypassed the quick route to the local train and took a camera into the auto parking lots at Comike 70 (click above) and Comic Treasure 8 and gives a rare look at how fans are accenting their cars, trucks, vans and even motorcycles to show off their otaku passion.

8-28-06 (6:09PM EDT)---- Opening Credits Change For Castle Of Cagliostro DVD Release

DVD Talk reviews Manga Entertainment's USA release of Lupin III: Castle Of Cagliostro. An aside to the rather glowing review of the film's remastered elements:

Since posting my review, an eagle-eyed reader pointed out to me that my faulty memory had skipped over the fact that the opening credits sequence has been altered for this DVD release. On the 2000 DVD, the sequence is intact, fully animated, with Japanese credits. Manga/Anchor Bay, at the request of the Japanese studio, have taken the same sequence and translated the credits into English, but instead of showing the animation in full, they have chosen one frame from each segment of the montage and frozen it, running the credits over static images. This is too bad, as it's a nice, moody intro to the movie, showing Lupin and Jigen on the road. While it won't hurt your viewing of the film overall, it is bad form to alter a movie in such a way and I'm tempted to knock my ranking down a notch. Be aware of this before you go and unload your older DVD.

8-28-06 (11:52AM EDT)---- Kimi ga Nozomu Eien: Haruka Route To Be Animated

A promotional image has surfaced online which indicates Age Soft's Kimi ga Nozomu Eien: Haruka Route will be adapted to animation. Details such as format are not mentioned. There's a bit of an unusual story behind the "announcement". The image (seen right) apparantly appeared on Age Tech's site between 16:00 and 19:00 on August 28th but was later pulled. There is currently no mention of the project all on Age Tech's site. The image was however, saved by some fans and has been reposted on a host of Japanese blog sites.

8-28-06 (8:25AM EDT)---- New MAR Season Announced

At Marfest 2006 this past weekend in Ikebukuro, the latest season of the TV anime was announnced. MAR: Chapter of Cravea starts in November. The series airs weekly at 10:00 on Sundays on TV Tokyo.

8-28-06 (7:50AM EDT)---- Battle Of Wits To Hit Japan In 2007

Based on Hideki Mori and Kenichi Sakemi's Chinese waring states era manga series, BOKKO, a live action Asian film adaption has been announced to release in Japan in 2007. Shochiku and Tokyu will handle distribution there. The production cost of the movie is estimated at around two billion yen. An aggressive promotion campaign was carried out at the Cannes Film Festival held in May of this year. The World premiere is scheduled to be held in Beijing this autumn. Afterwards, a large-scale theatrical opening to the public is planned centering on east Asia. Staff include Director and screenplay writer Jacob Cheung Chi Leung and soundtrack composer Kenji Kawai. Starring are Andy Lau, Ahn Sung-ki, Wang Zhi Wen, Fan Bing Bing, Choi Si-Won and Nicholas Wu. In 370 B.C, China was separated as seven nations and several other small tribes, one of these being the city state of Liang. The nation of Zhao is led by the terrifying prime commander Xiang Yangzhong who orders his troops to launch an attack on Liang in a bid to conquer the small city. Leaping to the defence of the cowed people of Liang is a warrior who goes by the name of 'Ge Li' from the Mo-Tsu tribe, renowned for its defensive skills. He is their last hope as the terrors of Yangzhong's troops are unleashed. The future of Liang now hangs in the balance, with all their hopes pinned on the mysterious Mo-Tsu warrior Ge Li. www.bokkou.jp

8-28-06 (7:27AM EDT)---- Pokemon Movie Franchise Draws 40 Billion Yen

Distributor Toho has announced their 2006 Pocket Monster Advanced Generation Movie: "Pokemon Ranger and the Prince of the Sea", which was released into Japanese theaters on August 23rd, has made over 3 billion Yen in it's opening weekend at the boxoffice. The earnings of the 9th animated film have brought the gross of the entire franchise (which stretches back to 1998) to 40 billion Yen+. Quite an accomplishement for any single Japanese film series in a space less than 10 years, let alone animation. Plans for the 10th Pocket Monster movie (which will comemorate the 10th anniversary of the series) were also revealed.

8-27-06 (8:39AM EDT)---- New Items / Scenes Turning Up On Haruhi Suzumiya DVD's

A Japanese blogger got his hands on the 2nd Japanese limited editon DVD volume of the Haruhi Suzumiya TV anime and has posted a few image outtakes of the content. The DVD includes several new scenes including a new sequence featuring Nagato. What's more, existing scenes shown during the TV run have had new props and items edited into them. Some of the add ins can apparantly only be spotted in frame by frame observation and show an extreme attention to detail on the part of Kyoto Animation. You can see comparison shots of what wasn't and now is extant in these frames at the above link. Vol. 2 was relesed in Japan on R2 August 25th.

8-27-06 (6:46AM EDT)---- Accident Removes Hiroshi Kamiya From Black Blood Brothers Cast

Japanese voice actor Hiroshi Kamiya has been injured in a traffic accident and hospitalized in recent days. The seiyuu was to play the lead role of Shirou Mochizuki in the upcoming Black Blood Brothers TV animation. Takahiro Sakurai who was originally scheduled to play Hui will take over the role. Kyousei Tsukui, who will also appear as the voice of Johan Tsang will take over the Hui role. Supposedly the first recording has already taken place and the radio drama cast has been amended as well. No word as to the present condition of Hiroshi Kamiya who has a lengthy roster of anime credits to his name.

8-27-06 (6:25AM EDT)---- Black Lagoon Season 2 Storylines

'BLACK LAGOON The Second Barrage' is set to begin broadcast this fall. The plot of the sequel TV series will cover the "Bloodsports Fairytale", "Greenback Jane" and "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise" story arcs originally appearing in the manga. More info is expected in the October issue of Monthly Sunday GX on sale September 19th. the official website will shortly be renewed.

8-26-06 (9:42AM EDT)---- Doraemon Tool Design Contest

A new contest will allow Doraemon fans to imagine and design unique tools that will actually be incorporated into the popular TV anime. The "Doraemon Magic Project", as it's being called will involve Television Asahi, Shogakukan and Yahoo is siad to be one of the biggest ever for the franchise.

8-26-06 (7:33AM EDT)---- Bandai Still Neutral On HD Disc Formats

In the same IT Media piece referenced below the interiewers got to ask Bandai Visual repressntatives if the company was anxious about releasing material onto next generation HD-DVD and Blu-Ray video disc formats. Apparantly they still aren't at this time and have equal interest at examining both Blu-Ray and HD DVD formats further. To this end sample work has been lent out for image quality assessment to both camps.

8-26-06 (7:33AM EDT)---- Highest Visual Quality Yet In Gundam Head DVD BOX?

If you can't swing the recently announced 350,000 Yen 1/12 Scale Gundam Model, you're probably not alone. No worry, Bandai Visual has basically taken the 1/12 polystyrene head from that person sized figure, combined it with a ABS plastic DVD BOX, added a remote control and visual / sound effects and plans to sell it in limited edition for 99,800 Yen. Japan's IT Media recently caught up with Bandai reps Takaaki Konishi and Masayuki Fujikawa at the ongoing Gampla Expo and found that despite all the aesthetic hype of the head, one of the most stand out features of the set maybe on the discs inside the box. To contain the entire original Mobile Suit Gundam TV series (over 2 sets), the image video quality is said to be "premium". How good is that? Well according to Bandai, for the past remaster the original 35mm frames were scanned only once. For this version, each frame will be scanned 6 times total. Additionally, RGB (red, green, and blue) colors will be scanned separately for the highest possible quality in high and low light frequencies. The result is an extremely high quality 1080p HD master, from which the DVD's will be encoded. Both through the amount of time and money this process takes, the end result is far from a standard remaster. And due to the limitations of DVD, the HD master could be used for some future television broadcast. Director Yoshiyuki Tomino supervised the project. You can order the box through net mail-order exclusively. Reservations will be taken from September 1st - 11th. In the event of demand exceeding production, orders will be selected via random drawing.

8-26-06 (7:33AM EDT)---- Solid State Society Hits Theaters

After screening intitially on PPV via Perfect Choice 160 SKYPerfecTV, the first theatrical screening for Production I.G.'s Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society has been announced for September 9 at the Shinjuku Theater. Same-day purchase tickets are 2,500 Yen. The announcement comes as something of a surprise for Japanese fans as plans were to have a TV broadcast followed by DVD release on November 24th. Doors open at 23:30, the show starts at 24:00. Other rules include a max of 2 tickets can be purchased by 1 person and those 18 and under cannot be admitted due to the late night screening. because screening at all nights. The film to be shown uses the HD master version accompanied by a 5.1 channel soundtrack. In addition, a number if S.A.C. related interviews will be screened featuring those involved such as OST composer Yoko Kanno. 6 episodes from the 1st and second SAC TV series will also screen. In addition, the talk show that invites the guest is held, too. On top of all this a talk event where staff such as Takayuki Goto and Director Kenji Kamiyama will also be held in the theater.

8-26-06 (6:54AM EDT)---- Microsoft To Challenge iPOD

Microsoft Corp. confirmed Friday that Toshiba Corp. will manufacture its upcoming "Zune" portable media player, in an attempt to compete with market-leading Apple's iPod. Microsoft has vowed to release a "Zune" MP3 player and matching online music and video store in time for the yearend holiday shopping season. "Toshiba 1089" has been uncovered as a codename of the new player and specs have been released via the FCC that say the device will have a 3-inch display, 30 GB hard drive, 802.11b/g radio, FM tuner, USB 2.0 connection. The wireless ability will allow users to share media. There's supposedly a bundle of social networking features including a DJ mode that lets one pod stream to several others.

8-26-06 (5:55AM EDT)---- Monkey Punch Not Coming To Anime Fest

Anime Fest says that Monkey Punch wil not be attending their event. However, Yoshitoshi ABe has been added to the GOH list. Thanks To Daniel Zelter For The News.

8-26-06 (5:07AM EDT)---- Busou Shinki Figure Set 2

Konami has unveiled it's second line of 14cm tall Busou Shinki action figures based on the PS2 game of the same name. The figures use the MMS articulation body design template created by Mr. Maki Asai which has been used in past Konami toys. Versions include Busou Shinki MaoChao cat-type, Busou Shinki Hawrin dog-type (to be sold together in a dog vs cat set for 3675 Yen) and Busou Shinki EX Weapon Set (1575 Yen). Japanese release is September 28, 2006. Mangaka, BLADE has taken charge of figure design while mangaka Kasahara Tetsuro has specially designed the EX Weapon set. You can view images at eg.

8-26-06 (3:32AM EDT)---- Perfect Piece Tachikoma

The Tachikoma is well known as a mobile AI tank from Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex. At 10,290 Yen Megahouse has announced what they are calling, the definitive edition Tachicoma model. Production I.G. head Mitsuhisa Ishikawa was even spotted in pictures at a demo for the 130mm size toy last weekend at CharaHobby 2006. Constructed of all ABS plastic, special features include ratchet action moveable leg joints, fully articulate mechanical arm, 7.62mm chain gun, camera eye solid operation, fully operational rear personnel door, 50mm Grenade launcher and 12.7mm Gattling gun. Japanese release is February, 2007.

8-26-06 (2:34AM EDT)---- Koge Donbo Interviewed

Tokyopop interviews Koge- Donbo, the creator behind Di Gi Charat, Pita-Ten and Kamichama Karin. Di Gi Charat has been brought to the US by Broccoli Books, while Pita-ten and Kamichama have been published in the US by TOKYOPOP. She attended Anime Expo this year, promoting anime based on her works, but did give a press conference that covered a wide array of topics and this article is based on notes of that press conference. She is a very private person, and asked that no audio recordings be made of the press conference. Thanks To Daniel Zelter For The Link.

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