Battle Royale Report

Battle Royale Report

Ever since I heard about the controversy and saw the trailer, I had to
see Battle Royale
for myself. The commercial made me think I’d get plenty of campy,
action-packed goodness. So when
a friend told me it’d be screening at a film theater in my area(The Egyptian
on Hollywood), I
hurried and got myself a ticket. And I was fortunate to have gotten mine in
advance, because they
were sold out on the same day the movie was showing. And what a day it was.
Knowing the awful
parking I’d have to deal with, I showed up about 45 minutes early; and there
was a HUGE line of
people waiting to get in. (It almost extended to the block.) As for the
typed of people there,
they were generally men and women in their 20’s and 30’s. (with some in
their 40’s)
Apparently, the director(Kinji Fukasaku) was the big highlight of the
show. He was getting
photographed by many people. (I think there might’ve been someone who was
recording the event
for Japanese tv.) And the audience went wild when he was there to introduce
Battle Royale. As
for me, I was kind of shocked that he was older than I expected him to be. I
was thinking maybe
he’d be some young avant-garde filmmaker who didn’t take abuse from anyone.
(I even confused
his son for him.)
[For those interested, this was Fukasaku’s 60th film. (He’d been in the
industry since the
60’s.) He’s most famous for yakuza(Japanese gangster) movies, with his 1973
“Battles Without
Honor And Humanity” being voted one of the 20 Best Japanese Movies of all
times by Japanese
critics.]
I also was surprised about how good-humored he was. [The whole
atmosphere strangely seemed
that way, what with the music of female j-pop singers playing before the
show started. And one
woman brought her CHILDREN to see the film.] He was joking about the whole
controversy, saying
that the film was given a rating of “R-15”; and then he attacked the rating
by stating it should
have been rated R-50. (“People who are 50 aren’t allowed to see it.” [I’m
paraphrasing, by the way.])
And sadly, I did not get an interview with him, because I had to leave as
soon as the movie ended.
But one of the presenters there mentioned that Fukasaku’s touring his films
across the country-
through major cities like New York, Cleveland, and Toronto-so hopefully
fellow ANS readers will
have the opportunity to see Battle Royale as well. (And for those interested
in importing the dvd
-whenever it comes out-Toei distributed this film.)
Now on to the movie. Basically, the plot is about Japan going through an
economic crisis,
and kids getting out of control.[In one early scene, a kid stabs his
teacher.] So a government
policy is instituted. Known as the Battle Royale Project,
students(particularly middle school
students) are randomly picked, and dragged onto an island.In a twisted
version of Survivor,
they’re forced to kill each other-in an alloted time-until one student
survives. Otherwise,
the collars the kids are wearing will explode, when the time is up.
In typical high-school movie fashion, the students all play stereotypical
roles. There’s the
slut, the popular girl, the loner, the gang-member(maybe a jock), and the
loser who’s really
the winner. But to keep up with current times, there’s even (for the
computer age) a hacker and
a Goth. Yes, you heard me: a Goth! I was almost about to ask the director if
he wrote this as a
satire about the furor over Columbine. And surveying these students’ carnage
was their fascist
teacher, by the name of Kitano. (Played by famous Japanese actor Takeshi
Kitano. I’ll get to him
later.)
I wasn’t expecting any humor in a film like this, but some of the
unexpected jokes were over
the top. I mean how would you react to a cheerful “how-to” video, in which
the female instructor
gleefully shows students the proper rules to kill your fellow peers? I think
there was also a
small pun on Romeo and Juliet in one scene. (I won’t say how, cus then that
would be a spoiler.)
How they managed to fit in a small love triangle in this movie also astounds
me. And the climax
of the film-with Kitano-was so unbelievable, (and yet hilarious) that the
audience had to applaud
it.
And the music! They actually use cheerful tunes, such as one of the middle
compositions in
2001, as well as a traditional wedding song. I don’t know if they were
trying to add comic relief,
or whether they were trying to be morbid, but one can’t help laugh about how
inappropriate those
themes are in the film.
As for the violence, it IS shocking. With weapons such as axes, scythes,
machine guns, hand-
guns, bombs, tazers, and even grenades being used, you can tell the action
will end up being
hectic. Even though Japanese youths as young as 15 were allowed to see it in
their native
country, I wouldn’t be surprised if the MPAA gave this movie an NC-17.
Audience members were
gasping at some scenes. So anyone considering seeing this movie should be
warned, if they have
a weak stomach.
As for the actors, there were only 3 that really impressed me: the one who
played the gang-
member[I didn’t have time to get his name, but he was known as “Kawada” in
the movie.], the
actor who played the Goth [Don’t remember his name either.], and Kitano
himself.
While the focus is on the loser-turned-hero,he doesn’t leave enough of an
impression to be
remembered. They try to make his past as tragic as possible, but the
audience tended to chuckle
more often than feel for him. The gang-member is the real attraction in the
film, with his
easy-going attitude, his quick reactions, and his overall togetherness. All
I can say is that
he’s got the potential to be in major roles for future films. The Goth is
basically this


October-December ’98 Anime News

12-26-98—- New Anime Series In The Next Year

-From Kaicho’s Anime Page-

Oja-Majo Doremi (Feb.7)

Doremi and her two friends aim at full-fledged witches. They have to buy “Maho-Dama (Magic Ball)” to imporve their magic power. So they made a magic item shop named “Maho-Do”. This is their business story (?).Microman the Small Giant [Chiisana Kyojin Microman] (Jan.4)5 heroes have come to the earth from the planet “Microearth”, and they are only 8centimeters tall. A boy, Kohei Kuji came to to know them, and he provided his desk as a Microman Base.Himiko-den (Jan.6)Kutani and Himiko wandered into an old kingdom, Yamataikoku, and they have to help a new queen to throne.Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne (Feb)Jeanne steals art objects in which devils lurk, and she seals devils into chessmen.Mito’s Great Adventure [Mito no Daibouken] (Jan.4)Mito seems a small child, but she is a visitor from outer space, and a space pirate listed in police-wanted list level special A. She can disguise herself everything, so even Aoi (her son, earthling) didn’t know her true character.The Emblem of Star World [Seikai no Monshou] (Jan.2)An SF story. The original work got the Galaxy Prize (This prize is given to the best Japanese SF novel in the year. “The Legend of Galactic Heroes” got this prize, too).Dual! Paralle-Lun-Lun-Monogatari (Apr)Pioneer’s another “Another World” story.Super Bida-Man (Jan.4)This is not concerned with Bomber-man (^_^; A game of Bidama (marble) is played in old days, but I don’t know it’s wheather this anime will treat such an old game or not.Betterman (Unknown)An odd phenomenon struck the future world, and Keita tries to solve the cause and the mystery of Betterman.The Soul of the best guy in Japan [Nippon-ichi no Otoko no Tamashii] (Jan.4)It’s aired after the final episode of “If I could see you in a dream…”.

12-12- 98—-CG BeastWars Movie/ Bandai America ’99 Releases

*CG Transformers Beast Wars movie is due out in Japan in Jan. ’99.
*Bandai America is releasing Cowboy Bebop, Haunted Junction, Outlaw Star, Eat Man and the Blue # 6 between now and early summer ’99.

12-8-98—- TokyoPop/ Steamboy Production Halted

*As many of you already know Michael Kiley (Creator of the UCI Online Anime store) decided to leave that operation recently to run an E-commerce Anime site called TokyoPop, where you can find Anime related products and information.
* Production on Katsuhiro Otomo’s new motion picture, ‘Staem Boy’ has been put on hold indefinetly, no reason as yet on why.

12-7-98—- Pokemon Card Game/ Ghibli News Bytes

* Wizards Of The Coast is producing a Pokemon cardgame.
*The new Studio Ghibli film, Isaho Takahato’s Tonari No Yamada-Kun is to be entirely computer animated.
*Studio Ghibli had a major role in the production of the new PSX RPG Tamamayu Monogatari.

12-6-98—-Media Blasters Aquires Magic Knights Rayearth

That’s right! Media Blasters officially annouced they own US rights to both seasons: All 49 eps. of Magic Knights Rayearth, earlier this week. This is definetly exciting news, as Rayearth is already a VERY popular series amongst American otaku. According to the press release the series should be availible around 9/99, the series is being translated possibby to be aired on TV (I certainly hope the content will stay as in tact as to the original version as possible!) I’ll be sure to post any other news that comes my way!

11-18-98—- Gainax Tax Evasion? ::UPDATE::

The following came from the Daily Yomiuri Online, © Yomiuri Shimbun:

:: Animation company accused of tax evasion

The Gainax animation production company, creator of the popular “Neon Genesis Evangelion,” and the firm’s president have been accused of allegedly concealing 1.5 billion yen in profits and evading 560 million yen in corporate taxes, sources said Thursday. Gainax has admitted evading taxes evasion and said it intended to submit a revised tax return, the sources said. The Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau, which filed a complaint against Gainax with the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, inspected the Musashino, Tokyo-based company on Thursday. A Gainax public relations official refused to comment on the inspection. Gainax produces television programs and films, as well as developing software for personal computer games. The television program “Evangelion” won great popularity when it was broadcast for six months from autumn 1995. The company’s sales boomed following the 1997 release of a movie version of “Evangelion”, which was followed by the release of a compact disc and other spin-off goods. The sources said Gainax chalked up profits of more than 2 billion yen from August 1995 to July 1997, but padded its production costs to declare an income of only 500 million yen to 600 million yen. The company concealed part of the untaxed money in a safety deposit box. “Evangelion” is the story of a 14-year-old boy who fights mysterious enemies in Tokyo in 2015 with a flying robot named Eva. Its handling of such topics as religion, life, egotism and fights between parents and children won the film widespread acclaim, as well as numerous awards. The program ended without revealing the robot’s real identity–an ending that generated controversy among fans. A book about the robot also sold well.


July ’98 Anime News

Anime News Service – July 1998 Anime News

7-8-98—- Slayers NEXT, Fushigi Yuugi On The Way To America

Software Sculptors (CPM) annouced plans that it will continue the Slayers TV series, releasing Slayers NEXT, after the Slayers series has finished it’s release. Pioneer also announced it had aquired the TV series rights for Fushigi Yuugi.

7-6-98—- Animage Grand Prix Results: Favorite Male Character Of The Year

Here’s the top 10 from this years Animage Grand Prix poll for “Favorite Male Character Of 1998”:

Favorite Male Character: 1998

1. Shinji Ikari (End Of Eva)
2. Slayers TRY (Xerros)
3. Ashitaka (Mononoke Hime)
4. Himura Kenshin (Ruroni Kenshin)
5. ? (Let’s & Go)
6 Kaworu Nagisa (End Of EVA)
7. Gourry (Slayers TRY)
8. Guy (Gaogaiger)
9. Akito (Nadesico)
10. Conan (Detective Conan)

Favorite Theme Song Of the Year: Shojo Kakumei Utena OP (Masami Okui)

7-5-98—- A.D.V Announces Nadia

This weekend at AX (Anime Expo) ADV announced that it had acquired the rights to Nadia: Secret Of Blue Water.

7-4-98—- Animage Grand Prix Results: Favorite Female Character Of The Year

Here’s the top 10 from this years Animage Grand Prix poll for “Favorite Female Character Of 1998”:

Favorite Female Character: 1998

1. Lina Inverse (Slayers)
2. Ruri Hashino (Nadesico)
3. Utena Tenjoh (Shojo Kakumei Utena)
4. Akari (Battle Athletes)
5. Rei Ayanami (End Of EVA)
6 Asuka Langly (End Of EVA)
7. San (Mononoke Hime)
8. Yurika Misumaru (Nadesico)
9. ? (Yat main character)
10. Miyuki (You’re Under Arrest)

7-3-98—- Bandai To distribute Gundam, Escaflowne And Others In America

The following is an official press release put out today by the recently established American “BEI” regarding plans to distribute some highly anticipated Anime titles in North America!

Press Release 07/03/98

Bandai Entertainment, Inc. (“BEI”) announces the creation of AnimeVillage.com, a virtual community on the World Wide Web for the exclusive distribution of anime (Japanese animation) directly to fans and consumers in North America. Fans and visitors can now log on, learn more about the village, register and be immediately entered into a sweepstakes for valuable prizes. The full launch of the community is scheduled for September 1, 1998.

AnimeVillage.com will bring to North America some of the most intensely sought-after and famous titles in anime. Celebrating twenty years of continuing storyline and art, the entire historic saga of Gundam (Sunrise, Inc.) will finally be translated and brought to eagerly waiting fans. To be released at launch (all sub-titled in English) will be the first three Gundam movies as well as the series Gundam 0080 and Gundam 0083. Also of significant importance are the long-awaited translations and releases of the complete episodes of Escaflowne, The Clamp School and Saber Marionette J, all featuring stunning art and stories. The titles are amongst the most requested anime titles on the internet and in the marketplace.

These and other titles to be announced in the future will be available only through AnimeVillage.com; there is no scheduled traditional retail distribution planned. AnimeVillage.com officials believe that by going straight to the consumers and fans, they can offer benefits and features not economically feasible or otherwise possible.

“AnimeVillage.com is intended and will be more than just another commercial, advertising site,” says Marlon Schulman, BEI vice president – Home Video. “AnimeVillage.com is a community designed for and by fans; it will be a place which will constantly evolve and grow – through the contributions and attention paid to it by fans and visitors. Like any other village, it will be a place to share, to chat, to learn, to play; in general, to interact. Fans and causal visitors will be able to get information directly from source(s) in Japan previously unavailable in any form or language in North America. And, because of its pedigree, AnimeVillage.com will have the distinction of being the only place that one can go to browse and buy exclusive titles and merchandise such as the historic and continuing saga of Gundam.”

AnimeVillage.com will feature live chats and appearances by anime directors, writers and artists. The community will house and host bulletin boards and facilitate the trading of anime merchandise and original art by and between fans. Auctions of long sought-after memorabilia such as original cells, scripts and storyboards from exclusive anime titles will be featured.

“AnimeVillage.com offers possibilities you couldn’t find anywhere else,” continues Mr. Schulman. “Fans will be encouraged to contribute to the community themselves. Featured will be specially selected fan sites and art. We hope to soon offer the Fan Art Gallery – a place where artists can register, display (and sell!) their original art.”

Direct relationships with colleges, universities and anime clubs throughout North America, will enable AnimeVillage.com to offer special discounts and features directly to the fans of this highly stylized art.

Contests, sweepstakes and games – created by fans for fans will be featured as will magazines brought and translated by AnimeVillage.com from Japan with all the latest anime news being presented. Features and columns from other magazines (not only anime-related) will also be published.

The economic benefits of pure, direct sales will flow to the quality of purchases from AnimeVillage.com.

More episodes will be included on the tapes (at no extra charge) than from any other company and, after release, there will be continuing availability of all episodes due to “virtually unlimited shelfspace”. Specially selected art will be displayed on all special “collector clamshells” and sleeves.

“All of us at AnimeVillage.com, as well as Bandai Entertainment, Inc., Sunrise, Inc., Bandai Visual Co., Ltd., Bandai Digital Engine (a division of Bandai Co., Ltd.) and others, recognize the significant importance of the release of these titles as well as those to be released in the coming months. We have created AnimeVillage.com as the significantly different, superior virtual company not only for the distribution of the titles but towards the recognition and acceptance of the art form as well.”

7-3-98—- Animage Grand Prix Results: Favorite All Time Anime

Here’s the top 10 from this years Animage Grand Prix poll for “Favorite All Time Anime”:

Favorite All Time Anime: 1998

1. Evangelion (TV)
2. Nausicaa (Movie)
3. Nadia (TV)
4. Yu Yu Hakusho (TV)
5. Slayers NEXT (TV)
6 Gundam W (TV)
7. Ah! Megami-sama (OAV)
8. Magic Knights Rayearth (TV)
9. Laputa (Movie)
10. Zeta Gundam (TV)

7-2-98—- 1998 Animage Grand Prix Results: Favorite Anime Of The Year

Annually, Animage magazine polls Japanese fans on many subjects related to Anime, from they’re favorite shows and movies of the year