Posts in Category: blog

Jojo’s Hirohiko Araki Illustrates Cell Cover

An illustration by Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure mangaka Hirohiko Araki dominates the cover of the current issue (Volume 130, Issue 3) of Cell Magazine. The American biweekly scientific journal publication focuses on exceptional research articles in areas including molecular biology, biochemistry, cancer research and cell biology. The issue is publicly available on September 7th. The cover image shows a character like that of an ESP powered member of Stand in Jojo’s stories destroying a harmful protein. From Cell’s own description: On the cover: Presynaptic plasticity is a fundamental, yet poorly understood, a neural phenomenon that is thought to be the basis of learning and memory. In this issue, Yao et al. (pp. 943?957) identify a novel ubiquitin ligase named SCRAPPER, which is responsible for tuning of synaptic vesicle release probability. SCRAPPER ubiquitinates presynaptic active zone protein RIM1, triggering its proteasomal degradation. Neurons from the Scrapper-knockout mice have hyper electrophysiological activity and contained an increased amount of RIM1, and these phenotypes could be rescued by re-expression of SCRAPPER or knockdown of RIM1. The results highlight the importance of protein degradation in the regulation of synaptic activity in vivo. On the cover, the purple SCRAPPER humanoid is putting blue heart-shaped ubiquitins on the red RIM creatures. Japanese manga artist Hirohiko Araki created the cover image with scientific direction from Drs. Setou and Ageta.

Life TV Drama Generates High Controversy

The Fuji TV live-action drama adaptation of Keiko Suenobu’s manga Life has recently been the subject of a viewer row due to its extreme depictions of high school bullying. At the center of the storm are both the sympathetic voices of high school students themselves and the harsh criticisms and protests of older parents regarding the content. Some of the scenes of contention involve a girl student being thrown out a window and another getting spray paint sprayed in her hair. The show which started broadcast in June has drawn around 2,000 criticism inquiries and 13,000 posts to the official BBS as of late August. 55 criticisms and complaints were publicly announced by the “Committee Concerning Broadcasting and Youth” and “Broadcasting Ethics and Program Improvement” on September 3rd. In the USA, the English-language version of the manga, published by Tokyo Pop has seen some changes due to the content of its own, originally having been rated OT (Older Teen; 16+), Volume 6 saw an abrupt and unexplained change of rating to M (Mature; 18+).

Zou No Senaka Manga Adaptation To Be Serialized By 14 Publishers

Author and Producer Yasushi Akimoto has revealed plans that his novel (and soon film to be released October 27th) “Zou no Senaka” (The Back of an Elephant) will get an unprecedented cross-media promotion when it is soon adapted by 14 publishers. Plans are in the works to adapt the story to a picture book, radio, TV, drama, and animation as well. Koji Yakusho (Babel) will star in the movie to be directed by Satoshi Isaka. For the manga adaptations, Akimoto’s words will provide the story and script basis and leave the illustrations to the various publishers. Magazines “Chorus” (Shueisha), “BE-LOVE” (Kodansha) and “Young King” (Shonen Gahosha) have all been confirmed to run the comic. The plot centers on the love story of a 48-year-old white-collar worker diagnosed with lung cancer in the advanced stages who is given 6 months to live. The highly acclaimed text was originally serialized by Sankei Shimbun and published as a book in 2006. Akimoto lost his own father in 2004 and drew from that experience in this fiction.

TAF2007 Exclusive Report: Kenko Zenrakei Suieibu Umisho

  • 28th Jan 2007
  • Blog

By Jonah Morgan

Less than 10 days after it was initially announced in Japan (see our March 11th entry), Marvelous Entertainment stepped out of the shadows at The Tokyo International Anime Fair 2007 for the first time announcing its production involvement in the forthcoming anime adaptation of Mitsuru Hattori’s comedic swimming manga Kenko Zenrakei Suieibu Umisho. Their booth featured the first-ever released art-still from the TV series (the same image you can see on the main page of the official website now), in poster and flyer format. Although Umisho is expected to begin broadcast in Japan in June, MMV spared no time at all getting on with trying to sell the series abroad. It was fully ready to offer overseas distribution rights and was handing out a specially prepared English language press release to prospective buyers. By the time I made it round to their booth on Thursday they already chatted up several interested foreign leads.

The story features perhaps the strangest high school swimming club on Earth including a talented young green haired girl, Amuro Ninagawa, who likes to swim nude and always (at least in the promo art) has a huge mishchievious toothy grin on her face like she’s doing something naughty under the waters. She regularly substitutes undergarments with swimsuits and also wears her swimsuit to summer festivals. Staff includes Director Sohtome Koichiro (Mushishi, Bokura Ga Ita, Galaxy Angel), Series Composition by Ikeda Mamiko (Sgt. Frog, Ojaru-Maru) and Chara Design + Art Direction by Rie Nishino (Save Me Lollypop), Production by Art land. The short and simple English press release reads as follows: “The original work produced by Mitsuru Hattori is serialized in Shukan Shonen Magazine [debuting in SM No. 33 in 2005], Kodansha. Comics has been published up to 4th volumes (the newest one is coming in the middle of April). The comedy story with slapsticks unfolded by high school students belong to Swimming club in Umineko Commercial High School, some times with the erotic constituent, has been gaining the popularity since the start of the serialization. The animation is being planned with 13 episodes series and the broadcast in Japan is expected to be in June, 2007.

Having a read of some of the manga I think the formula to be found in Umisho is brilliant. It has an appeal similar to what we’ve seen from shows like Tenchi Muyo or Love Hina. In the west these kind of shows are quick to be branded and stereotyped as “harem genre” (and I’ve already seen folks in internet land talking of this one in that way). I’m not a big fan of labels myself and sticking a name on something and shelving it without giving it a chance however. I think Umisho will work extremely well overseas, is one of the hot series to watch for in the 2nd half of ’07 and has an all star staff to boot!

ANS Review – Dragon Ball Z Movie: Cooler’s Revenge

  • 19th Jul 2006
  • Blog

By Gage Lamay

Now uh days I take it not a whole lot of people are fans of Dragon Ball Z around the U.S. though there are still some around. Around other anime websites, there does not seem to be a whole lot of fans who feel the same way but I suppose I could say DBZ was a Classic indefinitely. Ah yes I can remember my first exposure to the Dragon Ball Z anime. Around 1994 or so, I remember buying action figures (unknown to me at the time) and when I got home, I remember seeing that a show on Cartoon Network was airing entitled “Dragon Ball Z” and I remember thinking that that name appeared on the toy boxes. So I went there and the Namekian Saga was in it’s early stages.

From then on DBZ was my favorite show at the time. Heh, my only show I have ever watched that had to do with anime. Hell, I didn’t even know what anime was seems I was so young at the time. Anyway, enough about me babbling’ on about my past and let’s get started with the movie review, shall we? Good!!

Basic Movie Information
– Original release was in 1991 but the new version was released in 2001
– Licensed by FUNimation ProductionsR and was produced by Toei Animation
– Written by Akira Toriyama

The Story – Contains spoilers, my apologies
The whole timeline of this movie occurs during/”between” episodes 83 and 84. During the time after the battle between Goku and Frieza has ended on Planet Namek. Goku, Gohan, Krillin, Oolong, and Icarus go on a camping trip. Unknown at the time, there was evil lurking around. The evils of Frieza’s brother, Cooler.
Cooler is first introduced at the beginning of the movie when there is a flashback of the footage, which is shown in the DBZ feature, Bardock: The Father of Goku, which depicts Bardock, who has the ability to look into the future, and sees Planet Vegeta’s destruction, putting up a revolt against Frieza and his army who are just above the planet.

In the Cooler’s Revenge, it shows that a nearby ship is monitoring Frieza’s actions. Who is the monitor you ask? Why, it’s Frieza’s brother and his “Armored Squadron.” Cooler made a big mistake that would one day cost him his life; he let the Sayan space pod fly by him which held baby Goku. Though the order to destroy the pod was issued by the leader of the Squadron, Sauzu, Cooler delayed it saying “he isn’t a threat to us.”

So in a nutshell, years later, Cooler learns of Frieza’s defeat and now targets the person who put a mark of shame on his family. He “plots” a course for Earth where he finds Goku and the gang. Cooler orders his squadron to blast the planet until they find him and kill. Though, Cooler finds Goku in good health and finally fights the good fight he had been waiting for. Now, the story basically included a small retelling of the movie.

The Movie Overall for Me On a scale from 1-10 I give Dragon Ball Z: Cooler’s Revenge a 9. Something that contributes to liking the movie is the music which is featured. Disturbed, Breaking Point, Deftones, and Drowning Pool is featured in the movie and it is pretty good music. It is a good movie and I think you would think so if you watched it. Pay attention to the music! 🙂

ANS Exclusive Interview: Musician Eric Zay

By Jonah Morgan

There is a song in the vast sea of anime music which has secretly been one of my favorites since I first saw it attached to the ED sequence of the Golgo 13 OAV: Queen Bee around 6 years ago. You wont find it listed on a single all time fan favorite songs lists or even downloadable from an online file sharing network, such is it’s obscurity. The song is “Turquoise Blue” with lyrics by Eric Zay, music composed and arranged by Fujimaru Yoshino, vocals performed by Fujimaru Yoshino and Hitomi Ono. With a bit of research I found the musician who drafted the lyrics for “Turqouise Blue”, Eric Zay, who has recently been taking his own career in Japan to new heights. Following is our brief interview:

1. Could you give us a brief intro into your background regarding music? Do you have any influences, particular style or are you more of a maverick and forge your own path?

I was born into a musical environment, having a very well known singer-song writer as a father, music was always in the air. Dad gave me much support in sending me to school at Berklee in Boston. We now run our own label .and Yes, My influence will always be my father.

2. I first became of your work through the release of Golgo 13: Queen Bee around 1998, can you tell us how you got signed onto the project?

I was playing in a band called Shogun at the time when Fujimaru (singer/gtr) asked me to write lyrics for a song he wrote.

3. The song, ‘Turquoise Blue’ called for English lyrics. How did you approach writing the song and were you given any pointers in which direction to go in lyrically speaking.

I don’t remember any of the lyrics or even have a cd to listen to. I was probably given the song and the lyrics were done. I usually try to write what ever comes out pretty and will avoid becoming waste of plastic.

4. Is having the skill of composing song lyrics in English a pretty hotly saught after talent [In Japan] these days?

I don’t really know about how saught after English writers actually are but, I think it’s all a matter who you know and the connections you keep.

5. Have you done much other work in the Animation industry in Japan?

not much. . . opening and ending theme for “Black Jack” by Tezuka Osamu with a band called Orange Vox

6. On to your present music career, what has been going on recently? Anything coming up?

I have a new album coming out in september called Not Afraid, I was touring with a guy named Sugizo from a band called Luna Sea for the past 3 years Presently touring with Monoral and Bloom UnderGround Writing for tv cms’ like KDDI, Coca Cola, Nissan andToyota. . . etc.

7. For those who may be unfamiliar to your music can you reccomend a good “jumping on” point album wise?

please come and visit the homepages for music and more info:

Anime News Service Feature – Does The Yakuza Influence The Anime And Manga Industries?

  • 27th Apr 2004
  • Blog

By Jonah Morgan

3 years ago at a rather large American anime convention, I sat with some industry colleagues after a busy day of networking with company representatives, attending panels, interviewing fans and the usual con fare. We were sharing some drinks and shooting the breeze on the growth of the industry, behind the scenes developments etc… The conversation was all over the place. Then, with a laugh, someone at our table said: “You know…. the Yakuza funds the anime and manga industries in Japan.” At the time, I sort of laughed, and brushed it off…. “Yeah right!” I thought.

The topic did not expand beyond that point but the profound, albeit, off handed and unsupported statement continued to stick in my head. A few days after returning from the convention, I tried to research this specific information via search engines on the internet to zero success. It seemed Yakuza influence could be traced to backing enough high profit industries in Japan and abroad through the media reports and links I was able generate but nothing official on anime and manga industry connections. For the uninitiated, the Yakuza is of course, Japanese mafia or organized crime. The topic is quite popular and glamorized In fictional Japanese comic books and animation such as Ryoichi Ikegami’s Sanctuary and the films of director Takashi Miike and Takeshi “Beat” Kitano. Japanese gangsters have been a plot fixture which has been visited on occasion in Hollywood in larger release films such as 1989’s Black Rain starring Michael Douglas and directed by Ridley Scott and the humerus Showdown In Little Tokyo starring Brandon Lee and Dolph Lundgren.

In the real world, however, information on the Yakuza is scarce and rather Taboo in the American media. To see the mention on commercial television news in the USA is almost unheard of. Indeed, most of the mass consciousness surrounding the subject in this country seems to be shaped more by fiction than factual data. Along these lines, I drew an interesting parallel after just viewing the film “Black Rain” about a year ago when I sat down to examine the news of the day. A new report had just been released in Japan stating the country had made 4.36 billion dollars worth of animation product exports to the United States in 2002. This represented 3.2 times more than Japanese steel exports to that country. In the film Black Rain, one of the key scenes has the Michael Douglas detective character, Nick, following the Yakuza counterfeiters in Japan back to a steel foundry which was being used as a back-office operation and totally conspicuous meeting place for the gangsters. Now there is a real world precedent for Japanese organized crime being associated with steel holdings…….. and, if Japanese steel exports to the USA has been exceeded by animation related exports……. could the possibility of Yakuza investment in these industries truly be ruled out?

Further research that anyone with access to the internet can do will uncover mentions to Yakuza links in the Entertainment Industry in Japan dating back 60 years. The Patrick Macias book TokyoScope mentions Yakuza influences had ingrained themselves behind the scenes at various film companies after the second world war. Daiei’s top producer and president, Masaichi Nagata, boasted of a past as a former street punk. Toei’s many artisans and contract workers with traditional master-apprentice style relationships were said to be inseparable from the Yakuza of the period.

To what degree organized crime elements may influence the current animation and manga industries in Japan is information that will most likely not be forthcoming in any total or definitive capacity in the mainstream press. The actual involvement of those elements in such a profitable industry though is almost certainly assured it would seem.

Exclusive: Dreamworks GITS: Innocence – PS2 Demo Details At San Diego Comic Con

Dream Works has informed ANS that Go Fish Pictures and Bandai America will be presenting two of a slate of upcoming projects based on Shirow Masamune’s popular manga GHOST IN THE SHELL at this year’s Comic-Con International, being held from July 22-25 in San Diego, CA. Attendees will be able to catch an exclusive look at the upcoming movie “Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence” at the DreamWorks booth (#4321). Free posters and postcards from the anticipated sequel to Mamoru Oshii’s cult animé film “Ghost in the Shell” will also be distributed to visitors stopping by the DreamWorks booth.

“Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence,” which was the first animé film ever to screen in competition at the Cannes Film Festival this year, is the story of a solitary cyborg who desperately wants to hold on to what’s left of his humanity in a world where the worth of the human soul is fading almost into obscurity. “Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence” will be released in U.S. theaters on September 17, 2004 under the Go Fish Pictures banner, a division of DreamWorks Pictures. Produced by Production I.G, the team behind the animé segments in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill: Volume 1,” this is the second animé film to be distributed by Go Fish Pictures, following the September 2003 release of Satoshi Kon’s “Millennium Actress.”

Attendees at the Comic-Con International will also have the opportunity to stop by the Bandai booth (#3629) and be among the first to play the upcoming PlayStation 2 “Ghost in the Shell” third-person action game. Scheduled for release in November, Bandai America’s “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex” videogame is based on the TV show of the same name. The PS2 game allows users to play as one of three characters from the series: “Major” Motoko Kusanagi, Batou, and Tachikoma. It also features a single-player mode and multiplayer play for up to four players with such modes as team deathmatch and battle royal. The single-player game has about 12 different levels, in which players will be able to make use of about 15 different weapons and have access to various additional abilities like hacking into computers and having mind control over your enemies. The game’s multiplayer mode will make additional characters, costumes, and weapons available, along with an additional multiplayer-only level.

Anime News Service-Review: Initial D Fourth Stage: Project D Episodes 1-2

  • 12th Jan 2004
  • Blog

By Jonah Morgan

The latest season of Initial D started off 2 weeks ago in Japan, a friend of mine in Tokyo has been sending these. The car animation is now all cel shaded like this PS2 game that came out about a year ago. The first 2 episodes story arc deal with Takumi Fujiwara (AE86) and the younger Takahashi brother (Efini FD3S) racing an MX-5 and R32 GTR in Tochigi. They said in the show the Miata had 1.6 bored to 1.8 I think with some internal work. The touge course they are on has these deep uncovered gutters that run on both sides of the road that are really deep, like so deep that if Takumi tried to get a tire down in one and ride it like a rail it would spin him out. But unless he get his car to turn over this space he wont be able to pass the MX5, how he does it is pretty amazing as usual. Drift Legend Keichi Tsuchiya returns to oversee the racing physics and provide real world motorsports input. The end of the second episode has the latest competitor sitting on the hood of a Type R Civic. The new format for broadcast is 2 epsiodes at once on pay per view basis. Episodes 3 and 4 are expected to broadcast June 19th. OP and ED songs come via the cybertrance group Move who did the 1st 2 TV series themes.


Anime News Service- Event Report: Hollywood Takahata Screenings

By Daniel Zelter

When I heard through about screenings for Isao Takahata’s films, I instantly RSVP’ed for the event(s). So the first day, I was on Hollywood again, except that I ended up in a theater which was so dilapidated, they had to take the gate apart in segments so you could enter the building. While waiting in line, I noticed a few otaku with anime-themed backpacks and t-shirts, but an overall smaller crowd than the one which showed up for the Miyazaki-hosted Spirited Away event a few years earlier, and even smaller than the number of people at the Director and producer-hosted screening of the Cat Returns the year before. And I guess I could say that there were a lot more teens and college students here than there were at the former screenings, where the gathering for Spirited Away mostly consisted of parents and young adults, and the crowd for Cat Returns was mostly made up of children. I almost felt sorry for Takahata that he wouldn’t be getting as lavish a reception as Miyazaki, but when I later met him, he seemed like the kind of guy who’d prefer a more rustic welcome.

(Still, the people behind the Japanese cultural studies course at USC who co-sponsored the event were very polite, pleasant, and organized, which I appreciate, given the location they were assigned. Unfortunately, either they didn’t know how to run the projector, or they got the prints were too big for the screen, as the films would occasionally shift upwards, cutting off the top, or shift downwards, cutting off the subs. Nonetheless, it still worked out better than the BAAF screening of Tokyo Godfathers, during which the projectionist would frequently shut down the film.)

In the beginning, I learned that Takahata wasn’t going to show up until after the last show, which was fine by me, because up until then, I only had seen Grave of the Fireflies, and couldn’t judge his work across the board enough to ask him any questions. Speaking of Grave of the Fireflies, that was the first show of the day, which I guess, in retrospect, seemed appropriate, since I don’t think audience would want to end the evening on a downer. For those who still haven’t seen it, Grave of the Fireflies revolves around two Japanese orphans living during World War II, and trying to survive American air raids. It’s a touching and tragic film, which apparently was close to Takahata’s heart, as he was the only animator at Ghibli he knew of who survived a bombing. (Of course, if you actually enjoyed Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor, then Grave of the Fireflies may not be for you.)The crowd I was with seemed affected by it, and I might have even heard a few sniffles. As for myself, I probably would’ve appreciated it more if they hadn’t used a print which lacked accurate subtitles. (In certain places, lines were attributed to the wrong people.) Still, I will admit that Fireflies comes off more gripping in a theatrical setting-possibly because of the lights being off-than on home video. It also obviously seemed to garner the most questions later at the Q+A.

The next film to be shown was My Neighbors the Yamadas, which I’d been wanting to see for a while. Apparently, it’s based on a quirky family comic strip similar to the Family Circus, but with more believable characters. I guess the closest visual style I can think of is Crayon Shin Chan, but with better animation, including cel-shading, and obviously more taste. Based on the daily lives of the Yamada family, a grandmother, two parents, and two kids, the film consists of a series of interconnecting shorts where you learn more about members of the family. While amusing and cute, I didn’t find it hilarious, but that could be something I don’t “get”, as two Japanese girls in front of me seemed to be really enjoying it, and were laughing harder than me. Still, it’s a whimsical time-waster that doesn’t wear out its welcome.

The final film of the day was Pom Poko, which is about two warring groups of tanuki who settle their differences to deal with human encroachment. They eventually split again, when they can’t decide on the appropriate methods. Some tanuki settle their problems with violence, some believe in blending in as humans, and some just want to move out and look for another forest dwelling. I guess you could describe Pom Poko as a modern-day Princess Mononoke, but with more comedy and complexity. Plus the cultural elements in Pom Poko are less dumbed down than they were in Mononoke, particularly with a climactic parade scene which eclipses the one in Innocence with its variety of colors and images. The audience apparently seeemed to agree, as Pom Poko got the most applause of the three.

So when Takahata finally showed up, he obviously seemed worn out from his trip. (If I recall, he’d just gotten in L.A. the same day.) The Q+A started off light with me inquiring what samurai films influenced the way the tanuki in Pon Poko dressed, to which he replied that he was poking fun at Nemuri Kyoshiro.

I do know that, as I said earlier, Grave of the Fireflies got the most inquiries. But the only thing I(barely) remember is that he seemed to be indicating an anti-war stance, and that he accepted the fact that Japan was the aggressor, when it invaded China, which in today’s climate where certain manga is revised for politically correct reasons, is commendable for someone from his generation. After that comment, I had to settle for a question in which I inquired if he was trying to make a social statement, by having the children of prominent soldiers living in a shanty-town. He replied that he was just depicting the awful living conditions across the board. I wish I could remember everything else which was asked and answered there, but it’s

Anime News Service – Part 1 – Project AE86: Diamond In The Rough

By Jonah Morgan

And so it begins. What originally had it’s roots as a personal project has turned into something I think I will share with the site. As part of an ongoing feature here on ANS we’re going to build a car and bring everyone along for the journey step by step for the duration of the restoration and modification period. What better choice than a car anime fans will probably be intimately familiar with by the fall of 2003 than the Toyota Trueno AE86 “Hachiroku” (sold in the USA as the Toyota Corolla GTS). This car holds a special place in the hearts of many, it is of course the star of the Initial D anime and manga not to mention the car du choice of togue and drift freaks the world over. Our example was found with litteraly a forest growing up all around where it has apprantly sat for some time. Closer inspection revealed a good condition intact interior, and solid exterior shell with few dings and a few spots of rust. In Alabama where American Muscle dominates the hearts of car enthusiasts, such a car is very rarely appreciated, and thusly the asking price: $200, what a steal if you are familiar with the market. Popping the hood we discovered there was no battery, no radiator and half an engine. The head was blown and then removed to be replaced or reworked, aparently that never took place. No big deal as the plan is to replace 80% of what’s to be found under the bonnet anyways.

Next: Refresh!