Posts in Category: blog


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 Nausicaa.net 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!


Anime News Service-Review: .Hack//Sign Vol 1. Login

By: Jay

.hack//Sign Vol 1. Login

Content: B+
Video: A
Audio: A-
Presentation: B+
Overall: A-
Company: Bandai
Length: 125 min

Games and anime have always been tied together, each spawning the other in a regular succession of capitalistic glee. Usually this incestuous relationship between the two mediums breeds misshapen offspring, the games regularly being unplayable and the anime being unwatchable. Usually the original creation is far better than the marketing scheme that follows.

Enter .hack (pronounced .dot hack), a multi-media blitzkrieg, crossing pretty much every platform: anime, games, and manga. The difference is that .hack was created as such a creature; each aspect is supposed to carry its own weight and depth, while interacting with the others to create a complete world. This is not the first time such a feat has been attempted (Blood – The Last Vampire is a good example), this is the first time that America is receiving all of the products. Bandai is releasing the four games for the Playstation 2 (including the OAV series .hack//Liminality), while TokyoPop has recently announced the release of the manga, .hack//Legend of the Twilight (.hack//tasogare no udewa densetsu, in Japan).

With all of that background, we come to Bandai’s release of the TV series, .hack//Sign. The story focuses on interactions in The World – an online role-playing game with 20 million users. In the first scene, a character named Tsukasa wakes up to find that he has lost some of his short-term memory and that he can no longer log out of The World. Soon after awakening he is met by Mimiru, a female player character who attempts to become his friend. The viewer is introduced to other characters, including a group of players called the Crimson Knights who purport to uphold honor and morality in the game.

The viewer always has to remember that these are characters being played by someone else inside of the game. Periodically, there are glimpses into the real world, but they are fuzzy and indistinct. As well, there are some non-player characters that, in the game, appear just as real as anyone else. As different characters become awake of Tsukasa’s situation, each responds differently, as you would expect real people to that are playing a game. Some take it seriously, some just view it as another part of the game. In any case, .hack//sign is very much about the mysteries the characters try to unravel.

The video is amazingly sharp and clean for having five episodes on the disc. Colors are bright and clear with little or no bleeding. Action scenes remain crisp with no pixellation or macroblocking. The animation is good, but hardly groundbreaking in its execution. While the picture is something you might want to show off to friends, they would hardly be impressed by how the show is animated. Then again, you wouldn’t be embarrassed by it, either. The character designs are also nice, if somewhat generic (other than the main characters). The menus are animated and accessed quickly, and, while they are thematically nice, they are not the most exotic in the world.

The sound is quite good, solid across the board, although there seemed to be a drop-out during the beginning of the first episode on the English language track. It was noticeable, but may have had more to do with the player. In any case, it cleared up quickly. There are a few instances where the music seemed either too loud or too soft for the particular scene. It was difficult to tell whether this was intended or not, but the situation would not be distracting unless it was something a viewer was focusing on.

Then again, the music is so amazing, it is hard for one to not focus on it. Those who have not heard the work of composer Yuki Kajiura are in for a treat. A current fan favorite, she has composed the soundtracks for shows such as Noir and Aquarian Age and performs in the J-pop group See-Saw. She has unique stylings, yet consistently comes up with new sounds for her projects. Interestingly enough, a large number of the songs in .hack//sign are in English. The music stands on its own well enough for an enjoyable listening experience, but it so wraps itself into the show itself, the music is almost like a character itself. And, it’s an excellent character, at that.

Fortunately, if you can find it, the limited edition version of vol. 1 comes with the first soundtrack to the series, something well worth the investment. However, you also get a T-shirt, a plush grunty (an animal player characters can raise in the show/game), postcards, and a game demo. The extras on the disc are pretty Spartan, including a textless opening and closing, a character gallery, and the PS2 game trailer. However, this is fine, since the room on the DVD was obviously well used to keep up the video quality.

While The World is a fantasy role-playing game, viewers should not expect Lodoss War. These characters are actually players from the real world. So, while there is some great in-game action, most of the movement through these first five episodes comes from character interaction and dialogue. Whole scenes will often consist of characters in a picturesque environment talking about the mysteries before them and trying to decide what to do. If you are a big fan of mysteries that unfold slowly and plots that hold importance over action, you’ll definitely enjoy .hack//sign. Much like Boogiepop Phantom was to the horror genre, .hack//sign is to the fantasy/cyberpunk realm. It is a thoughtful exploration into folklore and how it envelops people, while being punctuated by moments of action. So far .hack is not as deep or mind-bending as Boogiepop, but it is enjoyable. If you are looking for an action-oriented show or something that does not require thought, stay away.

If there is a downside to the online RPG portrayal is that sometimes it is difficult to realize that these characters actually have lives outside the game. The World actually seems like their


Anime News Service-Exclusive Interview: Luci Christian


By: Jay Levy

An Interview with Voice Actress Luci Christian

I had an opportunity to sit down and chat with four American voice actors from some of the most popular anime out there while at Metrocon in Tampa, FL, on July 20. Their answers are virtually unedited and hopefully give a little insight into their personalities and their work. To get to know them better, skip to the bottom and check out their speed round answers. Now, onto the interview:

Luci Christian pulled her legs up into her chair and wrapped her hands around her coffee mug as she took a sip. She was obviously a bit worn out after three days helming panels, signing autographs, and judging cosplayers at her first anime convention ever. Christian’s background that did not exactly prepare her for events with cosplayers prowling the hallways and otaku arguing about the viability of a battle between a Gundam and a Valkyrie.

Christian, who currently lives in Houston, has her Master in Fine Arts in acting from Louisiana State University and is a card carrying member of the actors union (with an agent to boot). Yet, exhausted and sitting here in the green room of Metrocon, she seems exhilarated by and thankful for where her career as an actor has taken her. While at ADV, she has done roles in Those Who Hunt Elves, Neoranga, and Gamera 2 & 3, but her first starring role is as Kaname Chidori in the current release Full Metal Panic. She is currently working on parts in Orphen Revenge as Lycoris, and Ran Kotobuki in Super GALS.

What was it about acting that pulled you into it?

I think it kind of chose me. My mother put me on stage when I was 3 to sing in a talent show, and I did beauty pageants in Texas from when I was 3 until I was 9, with big hair and big dresses and little pageant shoes. After that I got into high school and it turned out I wasn’t so good in sports, but I was really good at theater. Didn’t think about it going anywhere until I got a full scholarship going to college. They said if I’d change my major from journalism to theater they’d pay my way, and I went, ok! And, so I went and ended up going to grad school. And, again, things just fell into place. So, things continued being put in my path. And when I went to Houston I didn’t know anyone; my aunt lived there. The Alley Theater was there and I was like, “Oh, I want to work there.” Didn’t have any idea about anything, then within a year I started getting hooked into things again, so I think it found me.

Of the parts you’ve played, which is the most difficult and why?

Actually, Full Metal Panic is the hardest for me. [At this point, a hearty “Amen” echoed through the room from Chris Patton who was lounging on a recliner and who plays Souseke in Full Metal Panic] I don’t know if it was because it was the first lead I had or what. I think Don [Rush, director on Full Metal Panic] will tell you this, he really knows what he wants. It’s a different experience when somebody has a very definite idea and they want you to sound they way they want you to sound. It’s not quite as organic as some [acting situations]. That was kind of a trip, and knowing that it was a title that everyone was anticipating and being a relative unknown [She laughs] It was daunting and scary and you end up going, “Are they going to hate me?” And we had … Don, for episodes six through eight had a conflict, and someone else took over those episodes. So, having a different director in sort of the middle of the project was different, too, in terms of continuity.

Be a social commentator for a moment, what are some aspects of anime you would praise:

This is actually easy and I only have the answer because I came here [to Metrocon]. I’ve seen a lot of people here that are at a very formative time in their life, and, through this medium, they get to become somebody else with very positive qualities – brave people, courageous people, fun people, magical people, people with all kinds of magic around them. I think it’s very romantic. I really do. I think it’s romantic. I think people look to escape adolescence or whatever. And the thing is, when you grow older, you still retain the fandom of whatever it is you’re a fan of. That allows you that kind of escapism or role-play like when you were younger.

Nothing’s perfect, though. What aspects of anime deserve some criticism?

That’s interesting. I’m not sure. I think it is interesting how everything has in-house debate. Like the debate between the sub people and the dub people. And this kind of thing, voice actors come to things like this [Metrocon] and there are people who are angry. [She laughs] And you know, I guess that’s all just in-house stuff that happens with every medium … that’s certainly not just this genre. I guess it’s just hard, this is not the sort of medium the majority of people know much about. You know, when I said I was doing it [anime voice acting], people automatically jumped to maybe I’m doing the porn stuff, and I’m like “No no no no no!” you know?

Anime fans notoriously separate into camps, one of the most vocal being the sub vs. dub debate. If you could say something to the purists to get them to give dubbed shows a chance, what would you say?

Well, we respect the Japanese; we don’t think we’re better than the Japanese. We’re happy to have work [she laughs]. I don’t know how they do it in Japan, I really don’t. But, here the people I know at ADV who


ANS Pop Japan Tour Guide – The Yamanote Line

  • 21st Mar 2003
  • Blog

By Jonah Morgan

To the totally clueless gaijin who’s just landed in Tokyo and gets into the city, lost in a sea of meaningless Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana, having no idea where they may be or how to get somewhere else there is a saviour in a train that you cannot get lost on. Take a look at a map of the city’s maze of many train lines (never mind labyrinthine subway routes) and a light green circle sticks out, a coherent shape amongst a sea of weaving lines, imagine that, a train that goes in a perfect circle around Tokyo’s center.

Well, the idea is a circle but seen from above the actual line’s shape is somewhat that of a misconstrued oval, two ovals actually, one going in a clockwise and counter clockwise direction, both are about 6 kilometers horizontal and 12 km vertical, lengthing out to form a 34.5 kilometer long track. 29 stations/stops are on the Yamanote Line and one can reach all of the metropolitan area’s hotspots from this train, litteraly every stop represents another unique urban curiosity of the city. Hop on board and you will completely loop back to the point where you stepped on in 64 minutes (Japanese trains are notriously famous for being on time, make it to the platform late, just a little late in some cases and you might get left behind!). One loop around the city is 130 Yen minimum or the savy traveler can acquire a stylishy decorated Io Pass for 1000, 3000 or 5000 Yen respectively. These passes are made of a material unfamilar to most Americans, a kind of flimsy plastic, before passing into the gate, you’ll slide the card in to a reader, sometimes it takes more than one time to get a positive read.

Being the most useful access point for Tokyo the train line has been the subject of many “tour Tokyo from the Yamaote” books, countless picture perfect video game titles can be found in Akihabara stores where you can pilot the train. Yamanote oddities abound. Manga fans anxious to get that latest phone book of serials might just find it stashed in the bin above the benches, that’s where it often goes once one person is done with their copy. Same goes for newspapers or books even. One evening I saw a student finishing off the Battle Royale novel and prominently chunking it up towards the rack.

The trains shutdown between midnight and 1 AM, miss the last one and you’re screwed. Haha, well not really but you will definetly get a taste of what makes Tokyo one of the most expensive cities on Earth. One night scooped out in an Ikebukuro arcade trying to get that ever elussive UFO Catcher Domo-kun plush and 500 Yen/per shot Neo Geo Pocket I messed up and lost track of time, realizing this, I made a fast dash for the Train station, upon reaching the gate the JR worker just shook his head, I had missed the last one. My ryokan was in Ueno and now I was gonna have to charge it to tha game and get there via Taxi. First of all the taxi line wasn’t hard to find, it was right outside the train station. There were about 30 club / bar hoppers in various types of attire waited in vartying states of sobriety. Likewise taxis were lined up in queue for the passengers. When it came my turn I informed my driver of where I needed to go in the worst broken engrish/nihongo he’d ever heard. The inn was in Ueno and I don’t believe he knew the exact dropoff spot. Just great, 2 AM in the morning and I barely knew what the neighborhood around my place looked like beyond the walking distance to the subway. At anyrate he told me he’d try his best and we were off. On went the meter and I watched the digital numerals materialize and dematerilaze faster than any I’d ever seen on any gas pump in my life. “I’m about to pay out the ass” I thought, ” so this is the real Tokyo!” And I couldn’t be happier, I clutched a soft $10 domo-kun I spent $35 en-route to catching.

Turned out Ueno isn’t so far from Ikebukuro but who could tell that? My taxi fare was $47 US dollars. Compare that to a 2 dollar train ride on the Yamanote, you gotta pay to play late in Tokyo, if there were any previous doubts, this lesson was learned.

 

 

 

 

Wanna ride the Yamanote yourself? You can as part of the upcoming Pop Japan Travel tour coming up in April, go to the link to find out more! Be sure to mention ANS when signing up!

Yamnote Image (C) JR


Anime News Service-Review: St. Tail: The Enchanted Collection

  • 15th Feb 2003
  • Blog

By: Jay

Saint Tail: The Enchanted Collection

Content: B+ Video: B Audio: B Presentation: B+ Overall: A- Company: TokyoPop Length: 480 min

After nearly a year’s wait, the final Saint Tail collection has been released by TokyoPop collecting the final 21 episodes into a 3-disc set. Saint Tail is a fantastically cute series that is oddly greater than the sum of its parts. The premise of the show is typical magical-girl stuff, except that Saint Tail tends to use skill over the typical magical girl charms. The typical Saint Tail episode consists of Meimi (Saint Tail) finding out about a stolen item from her friend (and nun-in-training – go figure), Seira. Meimi then notifies her crush and official Saint Tail detective, Asuka Jr., about the heist. Chaos ensues, and happiness and cuteness prevails.

This happens every episode. Every single episode. All 43 episodes are exactly alike. Hopefully, you get my point. The question then arises, is this not monotonous? The answer is, it can be, except for the developing relationships in the background. For once, we see a relationship develop over a couple years. Asuka starts off only thinking of Saint Tail, and sometimes, if she moves in just the right way, Meimi. Will remind him of Saint Tail. Slowly, almost so you don’t recongnize it, Asuka begins to see Saint Tail and think of Meimi, as his thoughts and affections turn toward the real personality.

As well, while there are engaging characters, there is absolutely nothing objectionable in this series whatsoever! Not only that, we have the rare opportunity to see parents in anime that are actually in love and relatively normal! They show affection, show concern for their daughter, but don’t overly try to control her life. You see a happy, well-adjusted family.

The video on this set is surprisingly clean since 7 episodes are smashed onto every disc. TokyoPop has done a wonderful job mastering them to lessen the macroblocking and bleeding one would expect. However, one layer on the final disc does seem to have more clarity issues than the other, probably because of the extras on the disc. It is not overly distracting since Saint Tail is very much in the old school of hand-drawn anime, so crystal clarity was probably never there. The sound is equally clean. However, as with all the later episodes of the series, there is no dub track, to those who prefer to avoid subtitles.

There are limited extras. You get the textless openings and closings from the second season that were, for some reason, never used in the TokyoPop release. This was either to save space or money. The bumpers where commericals are inserted were changed, as well. So, purists take note that these episodes are not exactly as created.

These episodes do complete the series, bringing it to an appropriate conclusion. While many episodes are totally stand alone, the last 4 or 5 begin a totally connected story-arc that leads to the conclusion. One has to wonder why the creators didn’t do this more often as that arc and another two-parter were some of the best of the series. Several of the stand-alone episodes were excellent as well, improving greatly upon the mediocrity of the middle of the series.

Pretty much everything in the series (except for perhaps the excellent voice acting and some of the nice character character designs) deserves a pretty solid “B” rating. So, how can it get a higher overall grade? The series is just fun and happy. Sometimes, that is enough. All the parts work well enough that they lift the totality of the show. Having a proper conclusion does a lot for a series, as well. I can, with good conscience, recommend this show to anyone who likes cute things or innocent romances, with a few really good heist capers thrown in for good measure.

Major praise has to go out to TokyoPop for finishing the series after a disastrous launch (edited openings/closings, horrible menus, terrible video quality, only 3 episodes, etc). That launch probably hurt the series more than it deserved, but the second disc fixed every single issue with the first. It is a shame more people did not give Saint Tail another chance. With this final collection, hopefully some anime fans will give the series another chance – as it really is a fantastic value.

A note about reviews: Reviews are graded on a scale from A to F, including +’s and –‘s. A typical good anime score would rank a B. Content refers to the plot, characterization, etc. Video refers to the picture quality as well as the animation. Audio refers to sound quality and music. Presentation includes the case, menus, and extras. Overall is a ranking of the worthiness of owning this DVD. Unless otherwise noted, all DVDs are bought out of pocket by the reviewer. Full disclosure will be made of any reviewables received by companies. Contact me at jayntampa@yahoo.com.

 


Anime News Service-Review: Blame! Web Animation

By Matt Anderson (DVD Vision Japan)

BLAME! WEB MOVIE REVIEW! (http://www.blamenet.com/movies.html)

In a strange cyber dungeon, adventure seeker Killy travels the miles and miles of tunnels, trying to get out. He also tries to avoid the flesh eating cyborgs, suspicious citizens, and trained killers. Unfortunately, as he completes each level, he finds another with nastier traps and worse monsters.

In Log 01: Megastructure, we are introduced to Killy’s world. It is full of twisted steel, holograms, and strange creatures. A computer readout full of ones and zeros flashes across the screen. Down on the lower levels, Killy waits for his next adventure. He is a battle hardened man, who says nothing.

BLAME! Log 01: Megastructure is only 5 minutes long, and about a minute of it is composed of credits. There is no dialogue, no action either. It merely sets up the world that Killy lives in. At first starting at some sort of hive, it moves first to what looks like the surface world, and then back down the bottom of the underground, where Killy is sitting. He looks up at the camera, and that is it. Oh, there is some sort of hologram fish flying around. Weird. Cool, but weird.

The animation style is just like the manga. Looking like the occasional color pages, it truly is a manga come to life.

The overall video and audio quality is pretty good. There are very little pixels or garbage. The animation is fantastic with plenty of detail. The sound is pretty awesome, for a net movie. I hope that they release it on DVD one day.

As far as the technical side, the first episode is a download, not a streaming feed. Unfortunately, you will have to download and install the GET MEDIA player. It will not play unless you have it. Also, the registration and installation is all in Japanese. If anyone wants instructions on how to download the program, the video file, and how to install it, please email me at dvdvisionjapan@yahoo.com. I will send a response as soon as possible.

While the Blame! fan will salivate at this video, the new fan may be a little disappointed. Keep watching it, because as the story unfolds, you will get some awesome action.


Anime News Service – Riki-Oh West Coast Theatrical Premiere Report

A Night Out With Ricky

By Daniel Zelter

Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky is based on an incredibly obscure manga and anime. I didn’t even know about the live-action film until I read about it in one of my HK movie guides. It looked campy, but my peers were calling it “the best kung fu movie ever”. (Whether they were being sarcastic is something I still am not sure about to this day.) So I decided-through my connections-to get myself a bootleg. Now at the time, Media Blasters didn’t own the movie, and the import dvd was already out of stock. (Even if it was in stock, Media Asia-the original distributor-is infamous for putting out inferior transfers.) When I first saw the movie, I was a little shocked and very disgusted. You see, Riki-Oh is disgustingly and absurdly violent. If you’re looking for another romantic martial arts movie like Crouching Tiger, this is NOT it! If you’re looking for a big-budget movie with decent special effects like Spiderman(which sucked by the way), this is NOT it! However, if you’re looking for a movie where the protagonist is so powerful, he literally punches holes in his enemies, washes glass shards away from his eyes, and sews his own wound with his veins, then Riki Oh is the movie for you!

So if I was obviously disgusted the first time, why did I see it again? Because my friend with whom I shared the bootleg would occasionally reference it, so I wanted to give it a second chance, and gradually its cheesiness eventually grew on me. So much so that I eventually got the dvd. (Available at Amazon for those interested.)

Basically, The Story of Ricky is about a powerful martial artist who gets arrested, because he killed a drug lord who kidnapped his girlfriend. In prison, the Assistant Warden(who has a claw for a left hand and a plastic eye for his left socket) sends his Gang of Four to exploit the inmates for labor and for torture. The Gang of Four include a guy with a dragon tattoo and a machete, an androgynous guy with some weird martial arts, a bearded behemoth, and a guy with blonde highlights who uses ropes and needles as weapons. For some reason, Ricky tends to be pacifistic, rather than defend his fellow in-mates and attack the guards. But when his life is threatened, he fights to the death.

If the blood being splattered like tomato ketchup wasn’t enough, the campiness is further extended when you see Ricky’s flashbacks with his girlfriend and uncle who trained him, not to mention Ricky’s closeness with his friends. The male relationships seem so blatantly homoerotic; and yet I doubt even the most hardcore yaoi fans would want to depict any of these muscled brutes together. And the violence is laughable at times, because they use damaged rubber dolls for close-ups.

Also, despite the name changes, the dub is the only way to see this movie! It just adds even more hilarity and unbelievability to the film. That’s why I decided to go-well that, and to mock what was on the screen.

The Nuart is primarily known for screening the Rocky Horror Picture Show, a film where you shout obscene and funny comments at the screen. When I actually got to the Nuart, a line was already forming, gradually becoming long enough to have to be pushed back into the alley. Obviously, the majority of the audience consisted of men (including one of my friends who works at Broccoli and the webmaster of www.arrogancy.net); but there were a few women who came along for the ride, including a girl who was making out with a guy in line in front of me. One of the guys in line was a true Riki Oh fan, because he had a t-shirt. We had to wait a little bit past the show’s starting time, because the audience for the first movie hadn’t left.

But once we got to our seats, the excitement began. People were coming up with quick lines. My favorites include the scene where Ricky is meditating to heal from his last battle, and some guy in the audience shouts, “Damn Mexican food!” when he winces in pain. I also liked the part where Ricky is blowing his flute, when all of a sudden, a guard tells him to be quiet, and someone in the audience exclaimed, “You jerk!” Of course, people were also laughing at the dubbed voices, cheering everytime Ricky exerted his power, or expressing their disgust when people died in brutally violent ways. But by the end, everyone was really into the movie.

In the end, I still go by my warning that this movie isn’t for everyone. (It’s unrated for a reason!) But if you happen to find the movie playing near you, and you’re genuinely interested, go for it.


Anime News Service – Rockman Zero Site And Updates

Mailing List Contributor Michael sends along news on the Japanese Capcom website for Rockman Zero Gameboy Advance version. At This link one can check out the TV Commercial ad for the game which features some very nicely produced animation. This year marks the 15th anniversary of Rockman and a special section set up in commemoration can be viewed here.