Aachi And Ssipak – Toki Wo Kakeru Shoujo / Hollywood Screening Report

By Daniel Zelter

I got to the Egyptian Theatre just in time to see a young lanky guy in a t-shirt and jeans being interviewed by paparazzi. I wasn’t sure who he was, until he went up on stage to present the award-winning Korean cartoon Aachi and Ssipak. It was then I realized he was the director of the work, Jo Beom-jin. What made it interesting was how he suggested that the audience view the “R-rated”[At least according to the accompanying flier… IMDB says it was rated 18 in S. Korea…] feature through the lens of childhood, since it’s clearly not for children, or at least children who never saw movies before the invention of the PG-13 rating. Due to the quick pace of the film, I’m still a little confused about its premise, but it basically revolves around a semi-post-apocalyptic future where the only “renewable” resource is human excrement. As a result, dung has become a commodity. And those who have access to the most digestion bars are the most successful. A black market for the bars emerges, and is run by mutants who were former humans exploited by the government. For some reason, their skin is blue from too many trips to the bathroom…

Anyway, Aachi and Ssipak are regular bounty hunters out to stop the gang, but they become targets when they run off with an aspiring “actress” whom the gang was trying to manipulate into producing the “brown gold” for their own empire. Turf wars result, and the cops and a cyborg are brought in to stop the thugs. Obviously, this film wasn’t meant to be taken seriously, which is why it baffles me how it won awards, and was even chosen by the local Korean Culture Center to represent it. It’s lowbrow, it clearly swipes scenes from Hollywood blockbusters, and in terms of character design, it’s rough around the edges.

Still, compared to the likes of Dead Leaves, A+S’s crude humour doesn’t feel forced into the plot. Jo “seamlessly” incoroporates the scatalogical and sexual situations into the story. In addition, despite the sets essentially being an homage to films as varied as Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom and even Akira(as the director acknowledged to me after the show), it’s impressive, that, with a budget which is a fraction of those films, Jo was able to re-create the same angles, same speeds, and even the same lighting and textures of said films in animated form. Also, despite looking slightly freakish, there’s obviously a lot of detail put into the clothes and hair of the characters(for example, piercings and afro puffs) when the director could have easily just tried to make them as generic as possible. As Jo’s translator confided to me, Aachi was meant to mainly appeal to animation buffs, and in those instances, it succeeds. At the end of the show, it seemed to garner a fair amount of applause, too, so I guess it wasn’t as niche a production as I presumed from watching it. Though it didn’t draw out the same number of people as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. (Of course, the planners intentionally limited the seating for the former film for obvious reasons.)

Moving on to The Girl Who Leapt Thrugh Time, I was actually surprised that the Cinematheque would host an exclusive screening, since, lately, they’ve been lacking in fresh content after they bought the Aero. In fact, the east coast seems to be where all the anime guests are headed nowadays. But there were still a number of eager fans who wanted to see Tokikake-enough for a packed house. And that’s actually impressive, since, even though American otaku would be familiar with One Piece and Digimon-some who even recognize his specific contributions to those shows-I wasn’t aware that Hosoda might be a household name here like Miyazaki or CLAMP. Even Satoshi Kon and Takahata never got this sort of reception, and their work’s been on dvd for years. The group which showed up for Aachi consisted mostly of middle-aged individuals, while young adults, teens and even children showed up for Tokikake. Hosoda himself also drew a larger crowd of photographers than Jo, possibly due to his sharp business suit and tinted glasses. Unfortunately, that also made him less accessible, which made it nigh impossible to get an interview out of him. I had to settle for an autograph and the screening, which, considering I didn’t pay anything, was still a good deal on both counts. In fact, I enjoyed the casual atmosphere so much that I’d pay to be there. Nonetheless, I really wanted to know things like his intended vision for Howl’s Moving Castle, which given the possible animosity between him and Miyazaki, might not have been discussed anyway.

Getting to the point, the anime film is about a semi-clumsy, yet enthusiastic, girl named Makoto Konno who avoids a fatal accident by “time-leaping” a few seconds earlier, thus snatching herself from the jaws of death. She finds out through her aunt that it’s actually a “normal” ability; and soon she exploits that new power to grant her more success at school and at home. For example, she’s able to study in advance for a test she was previously unprepared for; and she gets to eat her pudding before her sister gets to it first. While it might seem like a blissful fantasy on the surface, as her aunt warns Konno, when she benefits, other people lose. So, for example, when her classmate takes the fall for an overheated tempura bowl which nearly causes a fire, he gets bullied to the point that he becomes aggressive and violent. And Konno’s academic success has a downside, too. Her close male friends are either turned off or attracted to her, and that changes the dynamics of their relationship. Tensions flare, rifts are created, and people get emotionally and physically hurt in the process. Makoto eventually realizes the error of her selfishness, and tries

TAF2007 Exclusive Report: EX MACHINA (APPLESEED II)

By Jonah Morgan

Micott & Basara were hyping the John Woo produced anime / CGI sequel to 1994’s Appleseed as part of their presence at The Tokyo International Anime Fair 2007 this year. Similar to how Ghost In The Shell II: Innocence was simply titled “Innocence” in the Japanese market, the film follow up based on Masmune Shirow’s worldwide bestselling manga has dropped the “Appleseed” moniker this time around, in favor of being titled just: “EX MACHINA“. Besides spying the usual decorative fare at their booth, I was among only several foreigners to catch a glimpse of the first publicly screened video footage from the movie, more on that later. M&B were gracious enough to give me a promotional flyer containing more or less the company’s entire international business strategy for the rollout of EX MACHINA. There’s a never before released image and a veritable gold mine of new information on the production to be found in there and I’ll be committing alot of it to English text, to be read for the for the first time anywhere, in this article.Still in production (said to be in an extremely advanced stage), this is expected to wrap in July and sometime closely following that, the world premiere screening will be held. The Japanese public theatrical opening (in 130-150 theaters) is currently scheduled to occur in October. The producer, is of course, internationally acclaimed action maestro, John Woo (Hard Boiled, Mission Impossible 2). The director is Shinji Aramaki, Scenario by Kyoto Takeuchi (Sengoku1549), Project and Production courtesy Micott & Basara, Production by Digital Frontier, Executive Producer Yasuhiko Kinoshita & Sumiji Miyake, Producers Hidenori Ueki & Naoko Watanabe, Based on APPLESEED SEISHINSHA, Distribution by Toei. Other partners include: Sega, Tomy Takara, TYO and Toei Video. Newcomer Axis Entertainment will handle the distribution of the works in North America while mediating various ideas, concepts, staff, and the contents donors in the worldwide market.

Although it uses all new models and updated cell shading and motion capture techniques, the universe setting, character facets and trappings are true to the original. The storyline centers on ESWAT members Deunan and Briareos in 2135, Bri lost most of his body in the great war and was converted into a cyborg. He and Deunan remain in love through the transition. Besides the above summary, newly released promo art shows Bri in his human form prior to becoming a Bioroid, lending credence to the idea that at least some portion of the story will cover these events, before and after.

The big picture Appleseed II 2007 rollout looks like this: In January Sega’s official website went live. The Playstation 2 videogame Appleseed EX released in Japan on February 15th. The storyline therein is expected to connect both films. Sometime in April the EX MACHINA production blog will be added as a feature to the official movie website. Radio and Magazine ad spots start running in Japan in May. In June we enter the 4 heaviest months for activity related to the film. The official website will see a significant content fleshing out then. A global promotional campaign begins at Annecy in France on June 13th, followed by the USA’s Anime Expo on June 29th, San Diego’s Comic-con International in July and wrapping in October at MIPCOM. A campaign on the soundtrack side will kickoff in June with the release of theme song clip, the full CD will follow July or August and special music events will be held in September-October. TV and movie theater promo clips begin in June, and teaser posters appear in cinemas. July-September will see heavy web promotion via portal sites such as Yahoo, OCN and so-net. Merchandising, additional media coverage, features and mass interviews begin being granted in Japan in August.

It goes without saying that the producers of EX MACHINA are aiming at overseas success. According to new figures in the flyer, over 150,000 copies of the original on DVD were sold in Japan and over 420,000 copies have been sold in the USA since the release there in May, 2005. They also mention Geneon Entertainment’s “20 day blitz” statement that “home video sales of Appleseed have exceeded expectations with over 85,000 units sold to-date since the title’s DVD debut May 10, setting a new standard for anime titles released in North America “.

The short trailer footage I saw looked nothing less than Anime Woo, M&B snuck it in right behind their presentation for BLAME rather unexpectedly; the animation quality improvements are very noticeable over Appleseed, the action was over the top, the detail in the guns make me think the artists shoot, disassemble and clean the real things daily, Deunan is as sexy as ever and definitely has that Woo bad girl thing going on now. There even looks to be a hint of a greater love story. This animation has the chance to appeal over so many demographics, the formula is nothing short of brilliance, the original is exceeded many times over.

There still remains a large amount of data to come out on this project, a planned accompanying 26 episode TV series is scheduled to follow the new movie as well.

Anime News Service – January 25-30 Anime News

1-30-07 (3:42PM EST)—- Evangelion Postage Stamps In Japan

Japan Post announced on December 22nd that they will put postage stamps bearing the illustrations of the Evangelion animation on the market as part the 5th series of their “Animation Hero And Heroines” line from February 23rd. One sheet of 10 stamps will be 80 Yen. Source: Nikkan Sports

1-30-07 (3:10PM EST)—- Is Les Miserables Anime Moe?

Asahi poses the question of the 52 episode “World Masterpiece Theater” revival TV series. Running between 69 and 97, the series was discontinued 10 years ago due to languishing ratings. Compared to past “classy” series in the line, the new work seems to be a surefire anime with an ox-eyed, fluffy haired bishoujo lead heroine. Asahi put the question to Director Sakurai Hiroaki (DiGi Charat): “That is also one of the views. While appearing as bishoujo animation, its makes one a captive of a tale….. it may be one of the strategies.

1-30-07 (3:08PM EST)—- Temp Agency / Hataraki Man Cross Promotion

The Television animation “Hataraki Man” started broadcasting in the wee hours on Fuji TV in October 2006; the final episode aired on December 21, 2006. Working people in their twenties and thirties empathize with the hard working protagonist, Matsukata Hiroko, and the show scored high television audience ratings. Furthermore, a television commercial for the temporary employment agency “DIP” which uses the image of Matsukata Hiroko has attracted attention. The project to choose a new promotional campaign for agency began around June 2006, and information on the Hataraki Man animation was obtained while conferring with advertising agencies, etc. Having read the original Hataraki Man manga by Anno Moyoco thoroughly, marketing director Aihara/Aibara Hidenobu felt, “The manga readership and the viewers that the anime aims at, to say nothing of the theme, are the same.” Source: Mantan

1-30-07 (12:17PM EST)—- Cheapest / Most Widely Available DVD Player Yet?

Through Wal-Mart stores, Yasui / Asda have a released a DVD player that’s selling for only 9 quid ($20) in the UK.

1-30-07 (12:12PM EST)—- NANA Glamorizes Underage Smoking?

Ai Yazawa’s manga, NANA has sold over 36.5 million copies in Japan, the live action movie version has brought in box-office profits in excess of four billion Yen. A sequel film is now in the works. The TV anime is broadcast by Nippon Television Network. The mix media franchise has excelled to heights of popularity. Recently, accusations have been levied that the series, which features excessive smoking in all its forms, possibly glamorizes the unhealthy habit, especially among minors. Manabu Sakuta, professor of Kyorin University’s Department of Medicine and president of the Japanese Society Of Tobacco Control recently made some comments on the issue to the Gendai Weekly: “ Scenes are being broadcast in which minors are seen smoking in a dignified manner.” He added in that in some of the illustrations of the TV anime the brands, cigarette brands could even be made out. “Such TV animation is unprecedented.” The society posted an official letter of protest to both Nippon Television Network Corporation and JT (Japan Tobacco) on January 18. NTV made the following comments to Weekly Gendai regarding their coverage: “Though it has been decided not to handle the situations in a was as to beautify smoking, the descriptions concerning smoking in the work are essential to the story.” The same society listed above supposedly sent a sent a similar letter to Yazawa last June.

1-30-07 (10:44AM EST)—- Your Face On A Maid Doll

Akihabara based Don Quijote will take your picture and plaster your face on a Maid Doll in 3 minutes for 850 Yen.

1-30-07 (10:27AM EST)—- 450MM Yen Boxoffice Start For Dororo

Movie Walker reports the live action movie adaptation of Osamu Tezuka’s Dororo became the #1 film in Japan this past weekend. Opening in 296 theaters nationwide, 337,000 people paid to see it on the big screen to the tune of a 450 million Yen boxoffice take. Movie industry analysts there agree its a very good start. Actor Kou Shibasaki and Actress Shibasa Hao star and Akihiko Shioda is the director, most of the filming was done in New Zealand.

1-30-07 (10:15AM EST)—- 20 Million+ Registered Hangame Users

On the 29th NHN announced their Mega MMORPG hub site Hangame now has over 20 million registered users.

1-30-07 (10:12AM EST)—- Mixi Has 8 Million Registered Users

On the 29th Japanese SNS Mixi announced their number of registered users had exceeded eight million.

1-30-07 (8:39AM EST)—- Anime HD-DVD Release Changes

Japan’s HD-DVD Promotion Group updated a list of pending releases on the medium on January 29th. Wings Of The Honneamise and Patlabor Movie 1 were added and confirmed for release in the Japanese market. On January 9th Bandai Visual Co., Ltd., Memory-Tech Corporation and Microsoft Co., Ltd. agreed to release the following 4 HD DVD titles during 2007: “Freedom”, a brand new digital OVA series, and feature-length anime movies “Royal Space Force-The Wings of Honneamise”, “Patlabor The Movie”, and “Patlabor 2 The Movie”. The region for the releases were unspecified at that time. Release dates remain undecided. In another twist 2 anime mentioned in this list on January 11th for a North American HD-DVD rollout, Cowboy Bebop and Ghost In The Shell, were removed.

1-30-07 (8:10AM EST)—- Real Life Lupin III Car And Bike Used In Promotion

For the upcoming release of the latest Lupin III PS2 videogame publisher Banpresto has wheeled out real life replicas of the 1929 type 38/250 model SSK Mercedes-Benz car and Harley Davidson motorcycle from the series for promotions. According to Yukan Fuji, a beautiful Japanese model xosplaying as Fujiko drove the Mercedes right up to their newsroom for a photo session. Fans can answer a quiz on both machines and win special prizes related to game release.

1-30-07 (7:32AM EST)—- Gedo Senki Japan’s #1 Film In 2006

The Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan announced their annual national movie statistsics On Tuesday. The box office revenue of domestically produced and released Japanese films

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!

Anime News Service – January 19-24 Anime News

1-24-07 (11:45PM EST)—- Princess Resurection Anime Staff

The just released March, 2007 edition of Shonen Sirius confirmed rumors (see our January 7th entry) attaching Director Sakoi Masayuki (Strawberry Panic) to the forthcoming anime TV series adaptation of Yasunori Mitsunaga’s Kaibutsu Oujo (Princess Resurrection) manga. Other staff inlude: Character Designs: Kazuya Kuroda (Sakura Taisen), Color Scheme: Shuji Uemura, Art Director: Yuka Okamoto, Sound Supervision: Takakuwa Ichi, Music Production: Jinnan Studio, Animation Production: Madhouse. Princess will be voiced by Ayako Kawasumi, Hiro Hiyorimi will be voiced by Oura Fuyuka. Broadcast start on TBS in April, 2007.

1-24-07 (11:17PM EST)—- Correction: Seiyuu Ami Koshimizu Married

On January 13th voice actresses Shinrou Sanpei (Not Yuko Sanpei) and Ami Koshimizu (Tenma Tsukamoto – School Rumble) were married. Their wedding was broadcast on the radio program AniSuper. The 2 knew each other since they were 12 years old time because of belonging to the same theatrical company Wakakusa. Kaori Nazuka who voiced Eureka and worked with Koshimizu gave a word at the ceremony. You can view pics of the on air ceremony here. ANS apologizes for our error.

1-24-07 (10:04PM EST)—- USA Premiere Of Mamoru Oshii’s Tachigui

Mamoru Oshii’s “Tachigui: The Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters” (original title: Tachiguishi Retsuden) will receive its USA premiere at Film Comment Selects 2007, the film series organized by the Film Society of Lincoln Center from February 14 to 27, 2007 in New York City. Screening schedule:
Date: February 23, 2007 (Fri) Time: 08:30 pm Place: The Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, Upper level
Date: February 25, 2007 (Sun) Time: 01:00 pm Place: The Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, Upper level (Screening dates may changes. Please refer to Film Comment Selects 2007 official website: www.filmlinc.com) ”

1-24-07 (9:11PM EST)—- Plagiarized Image In Switch?

Japanese comic fans online have raised concerns that portions of Rin Yoshii’s manga serial SWITCH may contain imagery copied from elsewhere. According to the claims, a photograph from the Nivember, 2006 issue of the fashion magazine SWEET was copied for a serial of SWITCH appearing in Shuisha’s January, 2007 edition of Cookie. You can see side by side comparisons here and here.

1-24-07 (8:40PM EST)—- Real Life Skullsuit

In an interesting move to promote the upcoming Skull Man TV anime, a series of photographs have been released to the media depiciting (what we thought were total CG at first) a mocked up real-world Skullman costume. Based on the original 1970 / 1998-2001 Media Factory manga by Shotaro Ishinomori and Kazuhiko Shimamoto, the staff was recently announced: Director: Takeshi Mori, Series Composition: Yutaka Izubuchi, Script: Hiroshi Ohnogi, Seishi Minakami, Music: Shiro Sagisu, Character Designs: Jun Shibata, Animation Director: Jun Shibata, Mechanical Designs: Yoshinori Sayama, Director of Photography: Susumu Fukushi, Conceptual Designs: Yutaka Izubuchi, Design Work: Shingo Takeba, Editing: Kengo Shigemura, Set Design: Masanori Kikuchi, Takuhito Kusanagi, VFX Director: Yasushi Muraki, Production: Skull Man Production Committee (BONES, Geneon Entertainment, Inc., Ishimori Entertainment Inc., Toyokasei Co. Ltd.), Animation Production: BONES. Broadcast is expected in the spring. Tokyopop has the USA manga license has released 7 English language volumes to market.

1-24-07 (7:52PM EST)—- J.C. STAFF On Concerto Gate Animation Sequences

Square Enix and NHN Japan held a massive press conference In Roppongi on the 24th for their new MMORPG Concerto Gate. Beta testing is expected to wrap in April. It was announced J.C. STAFF (Utena) will create animation sequences for the game. Kenji Ito is producing the soundtrack and played the theme on stage on piano. It was also hinted that this work would form the corner stone of a big project with all the elements (anime? manga?) not yet revealed. Square is looking at a domestic release in spring / summer followed by an international rollout.

1-24-07 (7:25PM EST)—- Alcohol Manga Boom In Korea

In recent months South Korea has seen a small popularity explosion relating to Japanese manga that tackle the subjects of wine, cocktails, mixed drinks and bartending practices. The wine focused Kami no Shizuku (Teardrops of God), written by Agi Tadashi and drawn by Okimoto Agi is among the most popular, selling 550,000 copies in Korea (and 950,000 copies in Japan across 9 volumes). The creators are in South Korea this week, doing research for an upcoming series of serials to take place in the country. A production company there is said to have recently bought the rights to create a TV drama based on the work. Cocktail manga is Bartender written by Joh Araki and drawn by Nagamoto Kenji is also said to be extremely popular on the peninsula.

1-24-07 (6:53PM EST)—- Comic Dolphin Cancelled?

Bishoujo / ero manga magazine Comic Dolphin will suspend publication from the March edition to go on sale in Japan on January 22nd. Several magazine mangaka diaries announced the news although it has not been officially confirmed by the publisher Tsukasa Shobo.

1-24-07 (6:45PM EST)—- Death Note’s Matsuyama In New Manga Based Drama

Japanese actor Kenichi Matsuyama (L In Death Note Movies) has signed on to the starring role of a NTV drama based on the Sexy Voice And Robo manga. The serial drama will start running at 22:00 on Tuesdays in April. Matsuyama will play the role of a young robot loving otaku with a collection of 15,000 action figures. He dreams to become a spy. In 2002 the original manga by Io Kuroda won the Japan Media Arts Festival Awards Grand Prize. It serialized in Shogakukan’s Ikki Magazine but the story was never completed. 2 collected volumes exist on the market. Viz holds the USA license and released the English translation a few years back.

1-24-07 (6:29PM EST)—- Anime To Appear In Hollywood Film Smokin Aces

Adult Source Media has announced several of their best selling adult titles will be prominently featured in the new American major motion picture, Smokin Aces. The dark action comedy, starring Entourage star Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck, Ray Liotta, Jason Bateman & Andy Garcia is the latest thriller from Narc director Joe Carnahan. “We are absolutely thrilled that a major mainstream

Anime News Service – January 11-18 Anime News

1-18-07 (9:18PM EST)—- Chiaki Kuriyama Digs Otaku Culture

In a Goo Movie article dated January 19th Japanese actress Chiaki Kuriyama (GoGo Yubari In Kill Bill) confessed commuting in Akihabara. The admission was made in front of 400 students at a commemoration talk show event for her latest movie held at Rikkyo St. Paul’s University in Tokyo on the 18th. When Kuriyama was asked by an otaku schoolboy, “Do you like manga?” she replied that she loved anime and manga and going to Akihabara manga cafes.

1-18-07 (6:47PM EST)—- Manga Author Ken Ishikawa Dead

Getta Robo creator and longtime Go Nagai student / collaborator Ken Ishikawa died of heart failure at 22:00 on Wednesday, November 15th. He was 58 years old. His current manga Comic Ran Twins had just appeared on the market on 11/13. In a November 16th internet diary entry, his friend and fellow mangaka Takachiho Haruka (Dirty Pair, Crusher Joe) says he first learned of Ishikawa’s death around 6 pm that day when he got an email from someone who asked if had heard the news. He of course hadn’t and phoned Go Nagai at 20:00 and got his answering machine. Nagai returned the call at 21:00 confirming the news and saying Ishikawa collapsed at his seat at a dinner banquet, after playing several rounds of golf. He was immediately given first aid, an ambulence was called and rushed him to the hospital but not in time to save his life. Examiners were hard pressed to explain his rather sudden death after looking at his body which did exhibit the traditional traits of heart disease, he had no prior warning signs or symptoms. Takachiho Haruka himself mentions having sat down to begin writing after the conversation but his head didn’t work at all and he was shaking considerably in light of the news. The creator’s wake was held the following Monday and his funeral, on Tuesday.

1-18-07 (5:45PM EST)—- Sahaquiel XX Figure Release

Hobby firm Wave has been continuing their unusual Apostles alternatives Shito XX Evangelion figure series with No.2 A-10 Sahaquiel XX. The the figure’s appearance is supposed to be shaped by how Ayamani Rei would have looked in her childhood. The PVC figure is 14-centimeters tall. The Prototype was crafted by Creation Group OWL and GAINAX. The concept image was created by Yoshizaki Minesya. Strett release date is the end of January.

1-18-07 (5:30PM EST)—- Evangelion Noh

On December 23rd, 2006, Gainax released a clip on their website of “Nou Mai Evangelion” combining their highly popular anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Japanese Noh theater. The main character was mixture of a traditional dancer and Eva Unito 01. The only performance occured at the noh music temple in saitama prefecture in Koshigayashi on December 17th. The theatrical event was part a series art projects commisioned by GAINAX called “EVA AT WORK“. The studio entrusted artists in various fields to make EVA a theme. The list includes Japanese style painters and tattoo artists. Additionally you can view the Noh clip at You Tube here and other Eva At Work examples here.

1-18-07 (5:09PM EST)—- Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro To Be Animated

Yusei Matsui’s Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro (Private Evil-Eye Nougami Neuro) will be animated in the form of a TV series. The supernatural detective story serializes in Weekly Shonen Jump. Beginning its run in February, 2005 8 collected volumes now exist on the market. A Drama CD was released on November 6, 2006 starring Takehito Koyasu as Neuro and Kana Ueda as Yako. Possibly seiyuu carryovers and other details are not available at this time. uragi. Yako Katsuragi’s father was murdered in a locked room. The mystery plunges Yako’s life into chaos until she meets a man named Neuro Nougami.

1-18-07 (4:43PM EST)—- Mr. FullSwing To Be Animated

Shinya Suzuki’s baseball themed manga Mr. FullSwing will be adapted to an animated TV series at some point in the near future. The manga is published by Shueisha. The news comes via TV spots airing in Japan.

1-18-07 (12:11PM EST)—- Winter TV Anime Season 2007 Class Picture

You can view a photographic collage, collecting screen grabs from 27 of the 28 anime and sentai related programs to begin running on Japanese television between January and March 2007 at this link.

1-18-07 (11:13AM EST)—- Kei Toume Art Exhibition

Mangka Kei Toume (Kurogane) will have her 3rd “Fuyu E Ten” (Picture in Winter) original art exhibiton hosted by Aoyama’s GOFA (Gallery Of Fantastic Art) from Saturday, February 24, 2007 – Sunday, March 11. 11:00-18:00. Admission fee is 500 Yen.

1-18-07 (11:13AM EST)—- Naoki Urasawa Defines Professionalism

For NHK’s Professional spotlight, 20th Century Boys, Monster mangka Naoki Urasawa gave his definition of a professional: “There must be a deadline. Isn’t it a person who can make their best effort by a deadline?”

1-18-07 (11:06AM EST)—- Mini Tezuka Manga

Sega Toys will make a limited release of their “Minikomi Tezuka Osamu Manga Zenshuu”. The miniature manga volumes 4.45×3.65 centimeters in size. A 200 volume series set (including Kimba, Ribbon Knight, etc.) will be sold in Japan for 73,500 yen on January 27th. 400 volumes in total are planned.

1-18-07 (10:39AM EST)—- Goshou Aoyama Manga Factory Opens In March

The Goshou Aoyama Manga Factory or Aoyama Tsuyoshi Akira Furusato Kan showcasing the works of the popular Great Detective Conan author opens in Tottori Prefecture, Kitasakae-cho on March 18th. The move is part of a construction initiative to make various landmarks in “Conan’s Hometown”. A number of tourism related efforts have also been efforts have also been carried out. The new facility will be divided into 6 zones including a cafeteria, show room of cartoon, anime and manga museum and shop. The city wants to bring 130,000 people into the pavillion in the fist year.

1-18-07 (10:00AM EST)—- Sylvanian Families 3DCG Japanese Animation

Nippon Columbia, ITOCHU Corporation, Epoch and Shogakukan will participate in the “Sylvanian Families” 3DCG animation production committee. The toy series has reached

Anime News Service – January 3-10 Anime News

1-10-07 (11:02PM EST)—- Economic Impact Of Winny On Anime / Manga Estimated

Both the ACCS and JASRAC wrapped up an investigation of illegal file-swapping via the infamous Japanese Winny software. Winny and the game, the business software, and the image software and are the dissemination linguas as a result. The investigation was carried out by scanning network activity for six hours on October 10th, 2006 from 18:00-24:00. Over that period at least 210,000 users were observed and the money estimate of files being swapped was 10 billion Yen. The group found 180,000 anime files being traded, equating 1.72 million Yen and 1.59 million manga files being traded equating 700 million Yen.

1-10-07 (10:43PM EST)—- Tokyo Anime Fair Exhibition Space Sells Out Early

On November 28th The Tokyo Anime Fair executive committee stopped accepting exhibition applications for both the trade fair and Animation Bazaar. The event will be held March 22-25th, 2007. The original deadline for applicants was December 13th but all space had been allocated by late November.

1-10-07 (9:48PM EST)—- Hyakki Yakou Shou Becomes TV Drama

Mangaka Ichiko Ima’s shojo horror manga Hyakki Yakou Shou, will be adapted into a TV drama to broadcast via Nippon Television Network in February 2007. The original comic has been serialized since 1995 in Asahi Sonorama’s Nemurenu Yoru no Kimyou na Hanashi. Cast and other details are undecided.

1-10-07 (9:37PM EST)—- Taiwan Anime Pirate Goods Conviction

Japanese overseas contents watchdog organization CODA have reported a conviction in taiwan related to a trader in counterfeit toy goods. The trader was prosecuted and B-Legend ~Battle Bidaman pirate goods confiscated in shops located in Taipei and Kaohsiung City in April this year. Conviction came in October, 2006 and the offender was sentenced to three months prison and a 2 year suspended sentence. According to CODA 467 prosecutions in related to pirated Japanese goods were recorded in Taiwan by November, last year. Around 230,000 pirate edition DVD and CD’s were confiscated and 550 people were arrested.

1-10-07 (9:06PM EST)—- Pizza Hut Japan Launches Code Geass Campaign

Pizza Hut Japan has kicked off a new promotional campaign with the BIGLOBE / Sunrise TV series anime Code Geass – Lelouch of the Rebellion. Running between January 11th and February 21st, visitors to the above link can obtain a special wallpaper, likewise, every week Pizza Hut Club subscription customers can obtain new presents related to the series.

1-10-07 (8:54PM EST)—- Tohoku Shinsya Loses Sankyo Suit Over Yamato Rights

Legal wranglings surrounding the Space Battleship Yamato franchise continue in Japan. Tohoku-shinsha Film Corporation recently lost a litigation case concerning alleged piracy of Yamato collectors cards, PS2 videogames, pachislot machines and animation videos being sold by Sankyo Corporation. TFC was demanding a cease and dessist on equipment, software production and sales related to ‘Dai Yamato’ and compensation for damages equalling around 500 million Yen. At the heart of the issue was Sankyo’s use of characters from original creator Leiji Matsumoto’s recent series Dai Yamato and their resemblence to the original SBY characters, the copyright to which is held by TFC. The judgement came down that ex Yamato producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki who entered into a copyright agreement with TFC for the series did not actually posess the legal rights to the copyright. The decision could further adversely affect TFC and Nishizaki’s plans to produce a new Yamato anime film which ANS first reported on in a October 2nd, 2006 news entry.

1-10-07 (7:44PM EST)—- 19 Trillion Yen Japanese Contents Industry By 2015

On December 24th the Japanese government Cabinet Council approved their 2007 contents business promotion budget at 4.8 billion Yen. This represents a 9% budget increase previous year. Additionally a projection was made that the total Japanese contents industry will be a 19 trillion Yen marketplace by 2015. Likewise 3 goals were agreed to: 1. Strengthening of industrial structure by structural reform of contents industry. 2. Start-up in new markets overseas market and broaden exisitng ones. 3. Nurture creative talent.

1-10-07 (6:35PM EST)—- Toki Wo Kakeru Shoujo DVD Announced

Perhaps Japan’s most popular anime film in 2006, Toki Wo Kakeru Shoujo has been announced to arrive on R2 DVD for the first time in Japan on April 20th. The regular version will retail at 4,935 Yen and a special limited edition will sale for 10,500 Yen. The sales agency is Kadokawa Shoten Publishing and the distributor is Kadokawa Entertainment. Product specifications other than release date and price are undecided and unannounced at this time. The film was animated by Madhouse, Directed by Mamoru Hosoda (One Piece, Digimon), features character designs by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (Evangelion) and Art Direction by Nizo Yamamoto (Princess Mononoke). Although starting theatrical life in July, 2006 by screening in only a single theater in Tokyo, word of mouth regarding the high quality of the anime film rapidly spread via word of mouth across the internet and quickly gave the work the dynamic of an underground / cult / grassroots supported breakout hit.

1-10-07 (6:03PM EST)—- HD Cartoon Network Leak

IGN reports on a DirecTV announcement made Monday at CES 2007 that it plans to launch 100 new HD-dedicated channels in the coming year. The news has gained momementum as folks have realized that it prematurely leaked the plans of several networks who had not yet formally announced their own HD networks. Cartoon Network was on the list.

1-10-07 (5:59PM EST)—- Shaylaman On Live Action Avatar: The Last Airbender

The Chicago Sun Times reports on Director M. Night Shyamalan’s plans to adapt the Nickelodeon’s anime inspired Avatar: The Last Airbender to live action in USA.

1-10-07 (5:49PM EST)—- Gatchaman Gets Director

IGN reports Kevin Munroe, director of the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated feature, has said that he is working on a big-screen adaptation of the anime series Gatchaman next. “We’re in the middle of the script right now, and we’re doing pre-production — some early [story] boards,” Munroe said. Producer Tom Gray added that the forthcoming film will be more adult than TMNT: “It’s going to be PG-13, in CGI. This is the one where we’re going

Anime News Service – December 5 – January 2 Anime News

12-16-06 (5:41AM EST)—- Production I.G. USA Sends Season’s Greetings

We found the following warm message featuring a new pic I.G.’s forthcoming REIDEEN in our inbox Friday evening and would like to share it with all of you:

12-15-06 (3:10AM EST)—- Busou Renkin PS2 Website Live

Marvelous Interactive has launched an official presite for the forthcoming PS2 game based on the Nobuhiro Watsuki manga Busou Renkin.

12-14-06 (12:20AM EST)—- Neko Ramen To Be Animated

According to Mag Garden, Sonishi Kenji’s Neko Ramen manga will be adapted to TV animation. Look for expanded details in the Comic Blade Masamune Winter which goes on sale in Japan on December 15th.

12-11-06 (11:15PM EST)—- Tohan: Gin Tamashii Is 2006’s Top Selling Novel

Japanese publishing industry watcher Tohan has declared the best-selling new novel in Japan for the period between December, 2005 and November, 2006) as “Gin Tamashii 3 Nen Z Gumi Gin Hachi Sensei”. Transcribed by Oosaki Tomohito, the novel is an adaptation of the popular Sorachi Eiaki / Shueisha manga. In third place is the Katsura Hoshino manga based D Greyman: Reverse (2) novel written by Kizaki Kaya.

12-11-06 (10:52PM EST)—- One Piece Movie 8 Site Opens

On Sunday in Japan the official web presence for the 8th One Piece anime movie, One Piece: Episode of Alabasta (Episodo obu Arabasuta Sabaku no Oujo to Kaizoku-tachi), went live at www.onepiece-movie.com. The plot is said to take place during the Alabasta arc of the TV series and manga. According to Toei Animation, viewers may leave the theater in tears. Original story by Eiichiro Oda, Director: Takahiro Imamura. Production by the 2007 One Piece Production Committee composed of Toei Animation, Shueisha, Fuji Television, and Bandai. Theatrical release is set for March 3, 2007.

12-11-06 (9:50PM EST)—- Winter Anime TV Season Dialed In

Excluding one shot specials and movies, 27 new anime series are set to debut on Japanese television between January and March 2007. This period is unofficially known as the winter anime TV season. Oddly enough, the figure is lower than this year’s winter or summer manifests. A big push seems to be gearing up for the springtime however, with a possible 70+ (or more) new series in the works.

12-10-06 (1:52AM EST)—- Paprika Music Could Be Up For Oscar

On Friday the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science announced 56 songs are eligible for consideration in the Original Song Oscar category for this year’s 79th Academy Awards. Among them was an entry from Satoshi Kon / Sony / Madhouse’s anime film Paprika. The ending theme “The girl in Byakkoya – White Tiger Field” will be screened and judged along with the 55 others on January 16th,2007. Academy members will the vote on 3-5 final nominees. Nominations will be announced on January 23rd. The awards themselves will be presented on February 25th.

12-10-06 (1:10AM EST)—- Mayumi Kurata’s Company Withholds Income

According to the Tokyo Tax Administration Bureau, it has been uncovered that Mangaka Mayumi Kurata’s production company (Yuu) Tamakura has withheld accounting for about 18 million Yen worth of income over a period of 3 years. There also seems to be some question on how many actual people have worked for the company although 60 employees are listed for the period. A heavy penalty tax of about six million Yen has been applied and will have to be payed back to the bureau. Kurata is best known for her work Damen’s Walker which features a series of stories based on women’s real and varried relationship experiences with men. The manga was recently made into a TV drama starring Norika Fujiwara.

12-8-06 (4:25PM EST)—- Masako Nozawa Quote On Modern Seiyuu

70 year old Japanese voice actress veteran Masako Nozawa recently gave an interview to the Yomiuri Shimbun. She’s known for a wide range of roles including Kitaro in Gegege no Kitaro and Tetsuro in Galaxy Express 999. Among her quotes in the piece is this one:”(Voice actors these days) Young people today are aiming at animation from the beginning unlike me who originally wanted to do dramatic performances on the stage. I think there seems to be a lack of depth expressed [by up and coming seiyuu], could it stem from either a lack of interest in reading the script or not studying it beforehand?

12-8-06 (3:39PM EST)—- North Korea Major Animation Industry Player?

Radio free Asia takes look at the region’s almost unknown quality in the article: North Korea Quietly Emerges as Major Player in Animation Industry.

12-8-06 (5:47AM EST)—- New TMS Studio Nears Completion

TMS Entertainment, the company behind the Lupin III anime, is building a new 396 square meter, 600 million Yen animation studio in Nakano, Tokyo with a planned completion date of February, 2007. Anime-wise, in 2005 TMS produced 11 television series works, 3 TV special works, and 5 theaterical works. The company headquarters is located in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Although TMS stands for Tokyo Movie Shinsa, the company only this year moved its corporate headquarters from Nagoya to Japan’s largest city.

12-8-06 (5:09AM EST)—- Gundam Pocky On Store Shelves Next Week

Bandai and Glico have teamed up to offer 3 different “Pocky Gunpla Packs” combining the popular plastic model and bestselling snack brands of both companies in one box. Sale begins in Japan December 11th. Bandai has sold Gundam models for 26 years and Glico has sold Pocky for 41 years. Interestingly, men in ones 20’s-30’s are chief buyers of gunpla and women are the top buyers of the chocolate covered pretzel sticks. Bandai slips out in its release that gunpla has sold 380 million units worldwide as of September, 2006. A special box and corresponding 1/144 model will be sold with a different variety of Pocky. The thinnest type “extra fine Pocky” will be combined in a package with the traditional RX-78 Gundam, “Men’s Pocky” will be sold with the Zaku MS and “Pocky Chocolate” will be matched up with Char’s custom Zaku. Each model can grip the Pocky sticks in their hands and exclusive stickers will be included in each set.

12-8-06 (4:59AM EST)—- Battle Of Wits Opens In Hong Kong At #1

Battle Of Wits

Special Report: Tokyo Project Gathering In-Depth: Be Rockin’

DOWNLOAD: Be Rockin’ English Windows Media Video Trailer

By Jonah Morgan

ANON PICTURES’ production plan for Be Rockin’ represented one of 3 surefire anime projects shown off at Tokyo Project Gathering 2006. The showings were held on Oct 22nd from 14:00 at the Auditorium in Roppongi Hills Mori Tower on the 49th Floor. In order, it was the 5th shown. ANON was seeking possible investment and distribution partners at the event. The fully digital musical animation will be produced in TV series format with a planned 26 30 minute episode run. Projected budget is 2.5 million US Dollars. Sales Point: “We know a faint remaining scent of 1960’s. – That is called the golden age of rock – , though we were not born yet. The age had neither information nor things from now, but a piece of music which came from the sea made our mind rich. Be Rockin’ puts something that is forgotten in our daily life ; such as wonderful magic, passion, love and peace on the spirit of rock, and it shouts to us. Will you regain not empty not empty realism but “rich visions” – “to believe from your heart” – once again? If you do it, you are sure to find a way to ‘tomorrow’ that we long for.” Director: To Be Announced, Producer: Tadashi Matsuyama, Original Story: Tadashi Matsuyama, Screenplay: Masayuki Oiwa.

Story Summary is as follows: He was happy whenever he had a guitar. Shun was an ordinary guitarist, the type who was likely to be found anywhere. He worked for a business company when he was 27 years old, but he still couldn’t give up his dream to be a musician. One day he came across a mysterious woman, Kyoko, who proposed to form a new band and get him out of his current situation. Behind her back there was an expert guitarist, Terada, whom Shun respected. He admired Shun’s undeveloped and hidden talent. Shun’s mind was wavering between Kyoko with the great talent which he could not resist and his girlfriend Kaori who felt uneasy. All 3’s feelings and relationships soon got complicated and fell at the mercy of the huge vibration of rock. Is Rock Alive Or Dead?

As with all the presentations, attendees were treated to a short trailer first off. Deep themes of a pure rock & roll story make themselves evident from the start. The 40 years between 2007 and 1967’s Haight-Ashbury district / Francisco “Summer Of Love” pilgrimage is drawn in the opening statement. The animation is immediately recognizable as fully digital: 3D polygons cell shaded and colored in a way as to make them look similar to traditional 2D anime. The music itself seems integral to the overall plot, a wide variety of sounds from the different acts and elements of a love triangle are evident. Shun’s struggle from amateur guitarist to actually finding his own unique “sound” are made known to viewers. The trailer ends with a bizarre cliffhanger. Kyoko makes a reference to wanting to start over and then collapses on stage (as the background transforms to a wash of psychedelic colors) to the shock of onlookers.

The lights went up, like with most of the presentations I couldn’t gauge much of a crowd reaction to this project, everyone there seemed pretty stoney faced, indifferent and business oriented. Producer Tadashi Matsuyama took the podium and gave a short statement in Japanese. I arranged a private meeting with him on Wednesday, October 25th at TIFFCOM. We hit it off pretty well from the start, he asked if I was a musician because of the long hair. Indeed, long hair can tell you a lot about a person’s lifestyle and help you establish a rapport with likeminded individuals (regardless of nationality) pretty quickly, and as it turned out, we both had long hair and shared a very special place in our heart for music. Tadashi made his passion and enthusiasm for music very clear to me, he’s a guitarist himself today and supposedly one of the most knowledgeable music experts working in the Japan’s budding CG industry.

The musical elements in Be Rockin’ are obviously sourced by the eye a true rock and roller. The series subtitle reads “Dedicated To Woman Tone”. Woman Tone is a term known to any experienced rock & roll guitarist, used to refer a distinct sound pioneered in the mid-late 1960’s by Eric Clapton. I asked about the extreme detail in the guitars the characters used. Matsuyama told me they are based on real models created by Japan’s #1 guitar manufacturer Tokai. For the series, ANON acquired the actual rights to use the likenesses of some of the maker’s models. Shun, the male lead appears to play a NLS70F VF. Some of Japan’s top up and coming rock talent will participate in the soundtrack including Aisa, the rise 4 surprise, Dr. K and Fuzzy Control. The trailer also shows the sillouette of a mystery “Japanese Famous Charismatic Guitarist” who has accepted to participate. We’ll end the mystery and tell you who he is: legendary Japanese Rock guitarist Hisato “Char” Takenaka. For a possible American release I was told the Japanese musicians may be substituted with well known US bands. I mentioned the growing popularity of Japanese music among American fans and told him they should consider keeping the Japanese acts in and giving it a shot.

Moving on to the animation’s technical side, only 10 people will make up the total staff on the Be Rockin’ project. This is in comparison to the 40 or 50 people you’d commonly find on an average contemporary anime TV series. This can be done in part because of the full 3DCG digital nature of the production. The plot will be a fairly mature one featuring older characters (in their late / mid 20’s) than your typical anime. In closing,

Anime News Service – November 10 – December 4 Anime News

12-4-06 (10:13PM EST)—- A-I-R Animation Team Tackles Short

Shirogumi who worked on the movie version of A-I-R has created a 3 part short work, “Poppura” for USEN and TLIP’s 3DCG and VFX focused “Original Short Animation Theater” which went up in November.

12-4-06 (2:47PM EST)—- Wachowski / Silver Dream Team Helm Speed Racer

According to the Hollywood Reporter: After years of idling, the big-screen, live-action version of “Speed Racer” is ready to zoom, this time with Larry and Andy Wachowski behind the wheel. The Wachowski brothers are writing and will direct the movie, which will be produced by Joel Silver. The movie will be the duo’s first directorial outing since completing the Silver-produced “Matrix” series in 2003. They are reuniting with several of the creative behind-the-scenes talent from the “Matrix” films, including executive producer Grant Hill and visual effects supervisor John Gaeta, who won an Oscar for his work on “The Matrix.” Based on the classic 1960s series created by anime pioneer Tatsuo Yoshida that later was retooled for North The plan is for the Wachowskis to shoot in summer 2007 for a summer 2008 release. Courtenay Valenti is overseeing for the studio. “Speed” will be a Warner Bros. Pictures presentation, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, of a Silver Pictures production.

12-4-06 (2:11PM EST)—- Tokikake Gets Nominated For Japan SF Grand Prize

The annual Japan SF Grand Prize (Nihon SF Taisho) has seleceted Mamaoru Hosoda and Madhouse’s theatrical animation Toki Wo Kakeru Shoujo as one of five grand prize candidate works for the 2006 selection. Tokikake is the only animation nominated. Founded in 1980 this marks the 27th year for the awards. Original author Yasutaka Tsutsui took the 13th prize in 1992 with his work “Gaspar In The Morning”.

12-4-06 (1:44PM EST)—- Mokke TV Series

Takatoshi Kumakura’s Mokke manga will become an animated TV series to broadcast on Tokyo MX in 2007. Look for details in the next issue of Afternoon which serializes the manga.

12-4-06 (1:20PM EST)—- USA Howl’s Moving Castle Box Office Final

According to JETRO Howl’s Moving Castle earned 4.21 million dollars during its 2005 theatrical run in the United States.

12-4-06 (11:52AM EST)—- Kid Suspends Business / Declares Bankruptcy

Kid, developers of such fan favorite video game software as Ever 17 and Memories Off has suspended business on November 30 and declared voluntary bankruptcy in Tokyo District Court on December 1st. Liabilities are estimated at around 530 million Yen. Kid Game was established in 1988 and cranked out new titles at a frequency of one per month in 2006. Games on the table with uncertain futures include the highly anticipated 12RIVEN.

11-28-06 (2:37AM EST)—- Ikkitousen: Dragon Destiny To Be Animated

One page adverts making the rounds in Japanese magazines have spilled the beans on a new Ikkitousen: Dragon Destiny TV animation. Broadcast is set through AT-X from the end of February, 2007. Terrestrial broadcast will follow in the spring. An official website has launched concurrent with the start of the publishing campaign: www.ikkitousen.com. Confirmed staff on the anime include: Original Story by Yuji Shiozaki, Direction by Koichi Ohata, Screenplay by Takao Yoshioka and Character Designs / Chief Animation Direction by Rin Shin. Animation Production by Arms, Production by Genco and Ikkitousen DD Partners. Confirmed cast include: Masumi Asano – Hakufu Sonsaku, Eri Kitamura – Myousai Kakuen, Hajime Iijima – Gakushuu, Hitomi Nabatame – Unchou Kan’u, Kei Shindou – Gentoku Ryuubi, Kenta Miyake – Narrator, Kikuko Inoue – Goei, Kouji Yusa – Genpou Saji, Mai Kadowaki – Koumei Shokatsuryou, Minori Chihara – Ekitoku Chouhi, Satoshi Hino – Koukin Shuuyu, Shiho Kawaragi – Bunwa Kaku, Shuuhei Sakaguchi – Genjou Kakouton, Susumu Akagi – Moutoku Sousou, Takayuki Fujimoto – Houkou Kakuka, Yuko Kaida – Shimei Ryomou, Yuu Asakawa – Shiryuu Chouun.

11-28-06 (2:23AM EST)—- New Pretty Cure TV Series Broadcast Decision

Toei Animation’s “Yes! Precure 5” anime TV series will debut via Asahi Broadcasting Corporation in the spring of 2007. 2 official wesbsites are now open: www.toei-anim.co.jp/tv/yes_precure5/ | asahi.co.jp/precure/

11-23-06 (4:41AM EST)—- Death Note Movie 2 Grosses 26 Million Dollars

Leading the Japanese Boxoffice for 3 weeks on the trot, Death Note 2: The Last Name has grossed $26,166,109 in theaters as of November 19th. Source: Box Office Mojo

11-21-06 (11:23PM EST)—- Big Names On New 2007 Toei Animation Works

Among Toei Animation’s upcoming projects for 2007 are Tori No Uta (Bird’s Song), A day of a girl @TYO and Eko Eko Azaraku. For Tori No Uta Yoshitaka Amano will create the script, storyboards as well as direct. Eko Eko Azaraku is of course based on the seminal horror manga by Shinichi Koga. The story was adapted to live action film in 1995. Koga will return to draft a scrip and storyboards for this new version, Directing will be Nagae Toshikazu (Ghost System). Look for the above 2 works in January. Due in March A day of a girl @TYO will be based on the original story by Hayashi Seiichi. Mikimoto Haruhiko (Macross) will do storyboards and character designs. Toei has partnered with ga-anime to produce these works with a new animation style in mind.

11-21-06 (9:23PM EST)—- Ichigo Marshmallow OVA Staff

Staff details for Ichigo Marshmallow have been released: Direction and Composition by Takuya Sato, Character Design by Sakai Kyuta, Scenario by Takuya Sato, Music by Watanabe Gou, Music Production by Music Brains, Animation Production by Doumu, Production by Ichigo Marshmallow OVA Partners.

11-21-06 (7:29PM EST)—- New Saiunkoku Monogatari Series Coming

Headed for NHK broadcast in Japan in April, 2007, Saiunkoku Monogatari will get a second series. The anime is based on the light novel by Sai Yukino and Kairi Yura published under the shoujo/josei light novel label Beans Bunko. The story is set in a nation similar to feudal China. The original aired in the 9:00 slot on NHK-BS2 on Saturday’s weekly. www3.nhk.or.jp/anime/saiunkoku/

11-21-06 (6:19PM EST)—- School Days Animation Still On Track

Based on the 2005 hentai videogame by 0verflow, School Days is headed to an anime TV series adaptation in 2007. Confirmed staff on the project includes: Director: Aoki Ei,

Exclusive Screening Report: Ten Nights Of Dream (Yume Juya) At TIFF 2006

By Jonah Morgan

After being the first English Language media to report (see our October 25th entry) Souseki Natsume’s novel Ten Nights Of Dream (Yume Juya) (www.yume-juya.jp) would be adapted to film back in 2005, catching the world premiere screening while attending the 19th Tokyo International Film Festival in October, 2006 was very high on my list of priorities.
This movie had simply not gotten 1/10th the attention I thought it deserved in the mainstream international entertainment press or even our own circle of anime and manga media. On the whole this has held true until this very writing 3 months later. In the interim, the theatrical opening in Japan has been planned for January, 27th, 2007. Its my hope that after it actually gets out into theaters where masses can see it, its notoriety will quickly grow. Ten Nights’ emergence should be highly significant to followers of Japanese Popular Culture, you need look no further than the panoply of eclectic crossmedia talent which has been assembled to be involved in the project.

Directors include: Jissoji Akio (Doomed Megalopolis, Ultraman), Ichikawa Kon (Harp Of Burma, The Maki Sisters, Dora-Heita), Shimizu Takashi (Juon, Grudge), Shimizu Atsushi (Snake Woman), Toyoshima Keisuke (Shin Mimi-Bukuro), Matsuo Suzuki (Otaku’s In Love), Amano Yoshitaka (Vampire Hunter D, Final Fantasy), Kawahara Shimmei (Andoromedia VFX Creator), Yamashita Nobuhiro (Linda, Linda, Linda, Ramblers), Nishikawa Miwa (Sway, Wild Berried), Yamaguchi Yudai (Battlefield Stadium). Actors and actresses include: Kyoko Koizumi (Choushojo Reiko, Onmyouji), Koji Yamamoto, UJIKI Tsuyoshi, ICHIKAWA Mikako, ABE Sadao, FUJIOKA Hiroshi, OGAWA Tamaki, Pierre TAKI, ISHIZAKA Koji, Kenichi Matsuyama (Death Note), Matsuo Suzuki (Night Head, Gensou Midnight, Koisuru Youchuu).

Producer Nikkatsu’s official writeup summary for the TIFF program book describes the film in the following way:“A hundred years ago Soseki Natsume challenged us all by saying “I am an ambitious man who wants the people of 100 years hence to solve my riddle” (Quoted from a letter to Sohei Morita on 22nd October 1906.) The resulting omnibus film “YUMEJUYA” brings forth an amazing labyrinth of entertainment brought to life by a selection of Japan’s greatest living directors of film. Their bold interpretations imaginative presentation and fantastic visuals actually solve Soseki’s century old riddle and present their audience with a beautiful world of immortal fantasy as so keenly depicted in Soseki’s masterpiece “Ten Nights of Dream.”

What really drew my attention going in was the fact that some of the 110 minute film’s 10 segments would use different techniques including silent film, black and white color and 2d+3DCG animation. Yoshitaka Amano and Simmei Kawahara jointly produced the most powerful of these in an utterly mind blowing example surrealistic animation. The version of Ten Nights screened at TIFF was qualified as the TIFF Special Version, this was because there were only 9 segments presented. The 3rd Night segment directed by Takashi Shimizu (Juon) was still in production at the time and would make it into the final cut. A number of the featurettes had been shot the year before in 2005.

The screening was held in the smaller Toho Roppongi Hills theater 7, to a capacity crowd. I actually noticed a few gaijin had strayed in to see this one. TIFF listed this movie as being in its Special Screenings section. Before the start though, an official stage greeting took place. 7 men and a woman filed onto the platform in front of the large movie screen. Sadly, Nobuhiro Yamashita, Akio Jissoji, Kon Ichikawa and Yoshitaka Amano were the only directors of the 11 who worked on the project not to appear here. 90 year old Ichikawa’s reason was because he was handling something at the festival related to his remade Murder Of The Inugami Clan (which also was showing there). Sadly, Jissoji’s reason was because of health and he ended up dying about a month later on November 26th, 2006 of stomach cancer.

The moderator welcomed everyone and even made a comment about the large number of tickets sold for the showing. He added the riddle posed by the original author 100 years ago would be answered tonight. Each director was asked to give comments on their respective segment and the original author’s fiction. Takashi Shimizu of Grudge fame said he had read the book along time ago and personally wanted to do an adaptation the 3rd night story. Simmei Kawahara who co-directed the 7th night story with Yoshitaka Amano said the original plot was able to transferred fairly easy to animation.

The movie itself is wonderful, and a truly powerful assembly of so many different types of Japanese storytelling. An underground sleeper… cult classic in the making…. although mostly live action, manga and anime fans around the world will really get into this one when given the chance. You can view the original trailer in Windows Media format here and the second more revealing trailer at Internet TVMovie Guide here.

Exclusive Report: GR-Giant Robo At TIFFCOM 2006

By Jonah Morgan

After publishing (see our October 10th, 2006 entry) details Soft Garage was going to hold their major production announcement event for the new GR-Giant Robo TV Animation during TIFFCOM at the 19th Tokyo International Film Festival, the company’s booth was one of the first on my list to visit. The visual entertainment tradeshow opened its doors on Monday, October 23rd, 2006, occuring on the 49th floor of the Mori Tower in Roppogi.SG’s cubicle was richly decorated with various art, exclusively dedicated to the new GR release. An LCD video monitor tied to a DVD player was looping the first episode which I was told, had recently just been completed. High quality canvas prints, posters, alloy figures, papercraft busts and other merchandise examples were on display. I was greeted by international representative, Mr. Tatsuro Saito and project executive director, Mr. Ren Usami who had previously been the executive producer on Initial D: 4th Stage. Being invited to sit down, I took a seat at a small table inside the booth.
Usami-san explained his deep desire to have the new series positively received in countries around the world. It was with this goal in mind that the idea of international distribution and consumption was built into the promotional activities from the conception. This extended to their unusually rare all English web presence (posted before even the official announcement) and a beautifully illustrated all English pamphlet being handed out (to mostly licensing agents from around the world) at the show. Breaking further with traditional Japanese animation TV series rollout plans, SG would tease viewers with a freely available first episode in January, followed by a more traditional Pay Per View satellite broadcast via Animax in February. (Since October, the sat-broadcaster has changed to SKYPerfecTV! Ch.160 Perfect Choice, broadcast start is slated for Friday, February 9, 2007.) Advertisements for the R2 DVD would follow in April.
Another important factor of the production is that on the occasion of the 40th anniversary, preserving Mr. Yokoyama Mitsuteru’s 1967 original manga vision while presenting it in a package facilitated by modern animation production techniques and storytelling methods. Yokoyama first said that he wanted to see a new Giant Robo anime 8 years ago and began laying the foundation for this start-up project at that time. He unfortunately died on April 15th, 2004. “How does a person’s mind change when the ultimate power of GR is obtained?” is a main theme. I reassured them that the existing fanbase for Giant Robo in the English speaking world would more than adequate to facilitate financial success there where the series is widely regarded as an anime classic. Saito-san added the initial number of episodes planned in the first series are 13. A second season of 13 episodes is already being planned and scheduled for a 2008 broadcast. A third season may be produced as well. I was handed a numbered oversized postcard-like invitation for their production symposium to be held the following day.
Because of the Tekkon Kinkreet screening, the next day I was about 40 minutes late for the event which was being held in a small presentation room in the Mori Tower. The sheer number of greeters (more than 10) male and female, all wearing 3 piece suits posted up along both sides of the hall leading up to the door was unreal. I proceeded through a human tunnel of Japanese verbal greetings and deep bows. A shock to me, I was told the event had not even started yet. Handing in my numbered invitation, rather shamefully I was forced to wonder a) if this because they were specifically waiting for all invitations (ie: ME since I ended up handing in the last one) to start or b) if, similar to the film screenings, they usually would wait 30 minutes to begin something like this.
Taking a look around the presentation room, it was filled to overcapacity, there were about 100 people here seated and lining both walls leading up to a central stage and projection screen. Glancing about I realized something else too, I was the only non-Japanese person here. Not more than 5 minutes after taking a seat a file of people took the stage. Among them were Soft Garage Representative Takumi Ogawa, Director Masahiko Murata, Opening Theme “Answer” performer Rockwell, Ending Theme (entirely in English) “it was yesterday” performer Youna, and several members of the voice cast: Daisuke Namikawa and Romi Paku.

Mr. Ogawa took the stage saying “This project is single-mindedly focused on preserving Mr. Yokoyama’s Original Story. The staff is united behind the goal of making this series a success.” Masahiko Murata followed by saying: “Everyone in the staff is a fan of the original manga.” About halfway into the presentation 2 well known members of the American anime industry bumbled their way into the room, indicating possible licensing interests.
After a few more statements and posing for press pictures, the first episode was screened in its entirety. The story opens with alot of action. GR-2 is being barraged on air and land by military forces. The focus switches to the Japanese island of Yonaguni near Okinawa. Main characters Daisaku Kusama and Alex Mckenzie are established. Their relationship reminds me of Shinji and Misato’s in Evangelion. Daisaku goes diving at some of the supposed manmade ruins off Yonaguni and finds his way into a chamber containing Giant Robo (aka: GR-1). The episode ends with a lot drama as Giant Robo reveals himself to the outside world and UNISOM forces. 3DCG and SFX integration is quite good, as is the musical soundtrack. Definitely a series I will be highly anticipating to see more of!