Sesho's Anime And Manga Reviews (news)
My main focus is reviewing manga and anime, but I also review Japanese literature, movies, and videogames. Basically, if it has anything to do with Japan, I'll talk about it, along with a dash of Korea and China.

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  • $10 Off Nausicaa Blu-Ray/DVD Coupon

    I was looking on the Disney Rewards site to print out a coupon for the new Bambi blu-ray release coming out this week and was very surprised to also see an offer for Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind as well. So the deal is this: If you own ANY Studio Ghibli film (I assume only those put out by Disney), you can enter the UPC code on the Disney site and get a coupon good for $10 off the March 8 release of the Nausicaa blu-ray/dvd combo.

    You have to register with Disney Rewards, which is free. I bet Disney ends up doing this with all upcoming Miyazaki blu-ray releases since it's called an "upgrade" offer. You can only print out one coupon. The added bonus is that Disney usually gives you a $10 off coupon for almost every new release of their films if you are a member.  

    Here's the link to the offer:

    http://www.disneymovierewards.go.com/promotions/special-offers/nausicaa-upgrade

    Category:News -- posted at: 7:36pm CDT

    Play Magazine Big Anime Giveaway

    Play Magazine, my favorite literary game mag, is having an anime giveaway contest in which 5 entrants will win the following 4 anime dvds and sets:

    Claymore: The Complete Series

    Evangelion 1.0 (You Are Not Alone)

    Blassreiter

    Dragonaut

    Plus a copy of Girls of Gaming 7


    Entries must be received by December 10, 2009. You can submit an entry at:

    http://playmagazine.com/index.php?fuseaction=SiteMain.Contest&conid=39

    Direct download: clay.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 9:31pm CDT

    Making Bento Into Art

    A couple of years ago, Japanese mother Makiko Ogawa's son found kindergarten a traumatic experience. He hated school and every time she took him there he would cry himself silly. In order to comfort him, Makiko started making special "charaben" lunches for him.

    "Bento" is a Japanese term for a boxed lunch, which can be homemade or bought in a store. "Charaben" means character bento. In other words, Ogawa shapes and decorates the food to look like anime characters or cute little animals, etc.

    Ogawa is so good at making charaben that she has fans all over the world. She has even been approached by corporations that want to commission her work. While she is flattered by the attention she still sees her charaben primarily as a show of love for her children. She has a blog in Japanese:

    http://cuteobento.blog43.fc2.com/

    If you just want to see pictures of her bento she also has a Flickr site that has English captions:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/cuteobento/

    I will be adding her Flickr page to my website under "Japanese Sights & Sounds". She says she updates it about every two weeks. She encourages you to leave comments in English.

     

    Direct download: bento.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 9:11pm CDT

    Reunion of WWII Texas Soldiers and Japanese American Combat Team

    Tomorrow at a Houston hotel, members of the 1st Battalion, 141st Regiment, 36th Infantry Division (based out of Texas) will reunite with the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The 442nd was composed almost entirely of 1st generation Japanese American soldiers. The 141st was surrounded by German forces in France in October 1944 and would have either been killed or taken prisoner but the Japanese American 442nd managed to break the lines and rescue them, suffering an almost 50% casualty rate. The 442nd became one of the highest honored units in the war, earning 21 Medals of Honor and 9,486 Purple Hearts. They were even called "The Purple Heart Batallion". Around 50 vets are expected to attend the banquet at the Hyatt Regency Houston. The public can buy tickets to attend at:

    www.njamf.com

    Ok, I consider myself educated and well versed in history and World War II, but I have to admit I didn't even know the 442nd existed. I don't think I've ever seen an American of Asian descent fighting in a World War II movie. I'm so used to seeing the big white guy shaking his tommy gun like John Wayne. Mainly because the movies back then were made by white guys. This story really intrigued me. I also found out that no Japanese Americans were rounded up in Hawaii like they were in the mainland US, mainly because there were just too many of them. Almost half of the Hawaiians were of Japanese descent. I still can't believe we rounded up people like that. It was a big blot of blatant racism.

    The poignant thing of it all is that this might be one of the last times these guys get together, as WWII vets get older and older. I really honor what the 442nd did, fighting for a country that was violating the very rights they were sacrificing their lives for.

     

    Direct download: japamerica.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 7:57pm CDT

    Best Buy Massive Anime Blu-Ray Sale

    I was at Best Buy to buy Scribblenauts for $19.99 and had it in my hand when I started browsing through the Blu-ray section. I saw Ghost in the Shell 2.0 and was surprised to find that it too was only $19.99. After I thought about it for a little bit, I decided to put Scribblenauts back. At checkout, I was pleasantly delighted to find out that GITS was on sale for $13.99. Upon further investigation online, I discovered that Best Buy is having a "Massive Blu-ray Sale". As far as anime, there are 44 Blu-ray titles in the sale (I say 44 but I think that is every anime title currently ou on Blu-ray).  Here is a small sample of the sale:

    For $13.99 each: Afro Samurai Season 1, Blood The Last Vampire (movie), Kitaro (live action)

    Final Fantasy VII Advent Children: $20.99

    One Piece Movie #8: $12.59

    Akira: $24.49

    Dragonball Z (6 different titles): $17.49 each

    Samurai 7 (Complete Series), Tsubasa Season 1: $34.99

    Tekkonkinkreet: $19.59

    Click on the link below to go to the anime title sale page:

    Best Buy Massive Blu-ray Sale

    Direct download: ffviibluray.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 7:28pm CDT

    New York Times Manga Bestsellers: October 9, 2009

    Here are the bestselling manga volumes for last week:

    1) Chibi Vampire 14

    2) Vampire Kisses 3

    3) Naruto 46

    4) Fullmetal Alchemist 20

    5) Naruto 45

    6) Bleach 28

    7) Shugo Chara 7

    8) Yotsuba 6

    9) Negima Neo Magister 3

    10) Vampire Knight 7

    It's nice to see Tokyopop grabbing the two top spots instead of the ever-present Viz. Sadly, for Tokyopop, it's the last volume of Chibi Vampire. I remember buying the first volume of that title a couple of years back, before all the current vampire fad had started. I bet Tokyopop never had a clue that it would become one of their top sellers. I read the first couple of volumes but drifted away from it for whatever reason. I guess now that it's ended, it would be a good time to pick it back up. I also need to check out the Vampire Kisses series. While I'm on the topic of blood suckers, Vampire Knight is another series I need to begin again. There's just so many books out there and so little time.

    I would surmise that because only the sixth volume of Yotsuba has charted, I would then think Yen might have gambled and lost by relying on Yotsuba fans to pick up their re-released editions of volumes 1-5. I know I didn't get any of them, only buying the new volume 6. I have all the old ADV versions and do not have an extra $60 laying around to buy something I already have.

    I'm still waiting for a callback or email from the New York Times. I thought that joining in during the "disrespect for manga" controversy that I could insinuate that I could do a better job writing the little manga blurbs for the books than their current writer. I even told them that I was willing to work for Nike shoe factory wages, but still no response. I know other bloggers have written secret emails lobbying for the job, but I'm straight up about it, so stay out of the way!

    (The subliminal point of the above parody was to state my opinion that some in the manga world wanted to work for the New York Times and that they overreacted simply through a repressed desire to work for the very monster they were getting angry at.)

    "LEAVE YOTSUBA ALOOOONNEEE!"

    (Oh yeah, by the way, I DO want to work for ADV manga too. PLEASE ring me back!)

    Direct download: chibi_14.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 10:04am CDT

    Dark Horse, Give The Eden License Back To Kodansha!

    So I finally got the newest volume of Eden, Volume 12, in the mail today from Amazon. It appears that Dark Horse has the title on a seven month schedule, which to me is totally unacceptable. What the hell, Dark Horse? You've only released FOUR volumes of this series in TWO years! I find it hard to accept that it's not doing well. Volume 11 was on the NYT bestseller list. People lose interest in a series when there's so much time between releases, or they forget what was going on. At least include a recap.

    Better yet, with the fickle Kodansha going into business for themselves, give the license back to them. I'm sure they'll treat it with respect. Just witness how they treated fans of their Tokyopop titles, throwing them into limbo. They're awesome too, just like you. YEAH KODANSHA! Release the titles we really want! Restored copies and overpriced editions of Akira and Ghost in the Shell! YES, bring back the 80s, the 90s! THEY'RE OLD, KODANSHA! Let go! Ghost in the Shell has become the Stargate of manga. How many ultimate uncensored editions do we need? I haven't bought any of 'em.

    I guess what I'm saying, Dark Horse, is that you are rapidly becoming the new ADV manga in my mind. Not only because of Eden, but Reiko the Zombie Shop and Octopus Girl. Yes, I guess it made marketing sense back in the day to try to shortsightedly cash in on The Ring and The Grudge Japanese horror fad (oh, and Dark Water) and all that, but when it was over you cancelled the titles. Don't start what you can't finish. That's all I'm saying.

    What got in my craw to get me to write this? Two simple words on the back of Eden 12. "Eden returns...". ADV tried this inane tactic back in the day too. "Gunslinger Girl. Back in Action!" or "Yotsuba's Back!". What pisses me off about blurbs like this is that the companies publishing them make it seem like the series had been lost in a monastery fire back in the Middle Ages and that the books have just now been recovered. "Eden Returns...". Uh, it's been out of circulation because you weren't printing it. You should be printing an apology to its fans instead of playing coy. "We're sorry for taking such a long time to print the 12th volume, but..." and give a reason why it's taking so long between each installment. Or at least a letter from the editor inside about it.

    I happen to think that Eden is the greatest manga work I have ever read. You should treat the title and its fans with a little more respect. Look at Vertical or Viz Signature and learn. Or for that matter, Udon's Silent Mobius Complete Edition. This should be a prestige title, not an afterthought.

     

    Category:News -- posted at: 4:46pm CDT

    Wicked City Novel Published

    I was at Border's tonight and picked up Zoo by Otsuichi. Now the only Haikasoru title I haven't bought is Usurper of the Sun. I haven't read any of the titles yet, but when I do, I'll be doing podcast reviews for sure.

    I knew about the Haikasoru books, but the real surprise tonight was finding a copy of Wicked City: Black Guard, a novel by Hideyuki Kikuchi, in the manga section. Kikuchi, of course is the author of the best-selling Vampire Hunter D series. It's being published by Seven Seas and goes for the nice price of $9.99. I didn't even know it was coming out. I'm walking into the franchise naked, having never seen the anime or the live action movie. But I like that. I'd rather read the novel first instead of seeing the usual crappy Japanese special effects in the live action version, or old school anime style.  I'd much rather use my imagination to see Kikuchi's world.

    Direct download: wickedcity_vol1_full.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 9:51pm CDT

    New Inuyasha Anime to be Simulcast in US

    Inuyasha: The Final Act, the new anime series which will be adapting the final volumes of Rumiko Takahashi's Inuyasha manga will be simulcast on Hulu.com and ShonenSunday.com/anime beginning October 3, 2009.

    I watched the entire Inuyasha anime on DVD except for the last volume and am still currently reading the manga (I think I'm on like volume 27). I guess now would be a good time to watch the final volume. I hope this really brings back Inuyasha as a franchise in a big way. At times he seems a forgotten entity even though it was Inuyasha, along with Cowboy Bebop that really busted the US market open in the late 90s and early 2000s.

    If you've never watched the show please give it a try. It has great characters, adventure, action, comedy, and romance. You can watch the entire run of the original series at www.hulu.com. Watch the first episode below:

    Direct download: inuyasha.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 12:10pm CDT

    Fate Stay Night Game for PSP Releases 9/2

    A new Japanese fighter game based on the Fate Stay Night franchise is coming to the Playstation Network on 9/2 from Capcom under the moniker Fate/Unlimited Codes (What a boring title). Originally starting out as a Type Moon PC game, the franchise soon moved on to forays in anime, manga, arcade, and the PS2. As Sony is moving to a non-UMD format for its PSP game system, this is a downloadable-only port of the Japanese PS2 and arcade titles, with some modifications. From what I've seen it's more of Soul Calibur/BlazBlue type game rather than Street Fighter, using the Fate Stay Night characters. It seems to be flying under the radar. I wouldn't even have known about it except for seeing a review of it in the October issue of Game Pro that I got in the mail today (They didn't even mention the anime or manga facets of it).  No word on how much it's gonna cost.

    I guess I really should get back to the anime. I watched through volume 4 but never finished the series. Now I have the box set so there's no excuse anymore.

    You can view the trailer of the Japanese PS2 version below:

    Direct download: fate_unlimited.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 3:01am CDT

    Strokes Lead Singer to Premiere Solo Album in Shibuya on 8/31

    Julian Casablancas, lead singer of The Strokes, is putting out a solo album, entitled "Phrazes for the Young" on 9/29/09. If you're in Tokyo on Monday you're in for a special treat as Julian will be performing his new songs at the Shibuya Duo Music Exchange on 8/31/09. He will be backed by a 6 piece band (it would be funny if it ended up being The Strokes). Not to worry, The Strokes have not broken up. They are currently working on songs for a new album. Oh yeah, the concert in Shibuya is sold out. You can get more info at:

    www.juliancasablancas.com

    Here's a preview video of the Phrazes album. Unfortunately, it doesn't feature any vocals, just instrumental music, but it sounds pretty cool and the visuals match the retro futuristic vibe:

    Direct download: julian.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 2:41am CDT

    Notable Anime DVD Releases for 8/25/09

    Notable Anime DVD releases this Tuesday:

    Genshiken 2 Volume 1

    Naruto Uncut Box 15

    Mushi-Shi: The Movie (Live Action)

    One Piece Season 2, Second Voyage

    Pumpkin Scissors Box

    Welcome to the NHK Box

    When They Cry Box

    Direct download: genshiken_2.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 3:13pm CDT

    Upcoming Anime Blu-Ray Releases & Devil May Cry Deal

    Amazon currently has the Devil May Cry: Complete Series anime Blu-Ray edition on sale for $33.99. Weirdly enough, this is $6 cheaper than the regular dvd release, which is going for $39.99!

    I also saw some other upcoming Blu-Ray anime releases as I was browsing the site so I thought I'd share:

    Oct. 20 -- Escaflowne: The Movie

    Nov. 3-- Witchblade: The Complete Series

    Dec. 1-- Gunslinger Girl: The Complete Series

    Dec. 15-- Basilisk: The Complete Series

    Direct download: devil_may_cry.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 3:06pm CDT

    Viz Commits Ultimate Goof With Naruto Shippuden DVD Releases

    Usually Viz has its head screwed on bright and tight but they are on the verge of doing something dumb that flies in the face of recent anime dvd history. I was looking on Amazon and saw that the Naruto Shippuden anime series is going to be released in individual volumes instead of box sets. It looks like they will be releasing a dvd containing 4 episodes each month costing $25. So it will take them about a year to put out the first season on approximately 12 volumes. That's a bilking of about $300 for the first season!

    Are they insane? No, just greedy.  But it's nothing new in the context of Viz's recent behavior. Witness their encroaching higher manga prices that were never justified except by stating that everybody else was charging more, so Viz was just joining the club.   

    It appears that Viz is blatantly trying to take money from its customers by milking these dvd releases with 4 episodes apiece. I know, this is Naruto, and Viz's behavior will be reinforced with strong sales. But you know what, Viz? I'm not playing this game. I refuse to buy these volumes. If you were going to release box sets, I would have pre-ordered it today. Please don't try to rip me off. You'll be lucky if I even buy the inevitable box sets now. I can do fine with just the manga.

    My ideal would be for Shippuden to be released like the uncut Naruto sets with 13 episodes on each. Down the individual volume path lies madness.

    Direct download: naruto_shipp.gif
    Category:News -- posted at: 2:35pm CDT

    Tokidoki Avatar Store Opens On Xbox Live Marketplace

    Somebody told me there was some new cool stuff for your Xbox Avatars today and when I looked on the Marketplace I discovered that Tokidoki had opened a storefront on the Xbox Marketplace. Tokidoki is a Japanese inspired brand created by Italian artist Simone Legno that produces a variety of products such as clothes, watches, handbags, toys, and even stylized memory sticks. The art depicted on them ranges from ultra cute to stylish and sexy. Tokidoki even has original characters that get depicted on their merchandise.

    I am part of the new Xbox Live preview so users not participating in it will not be able to access the Marketplace for Avatars until August 11. The Tokidoki store features shirts, caps, watches, and even two cool looking skateboards that your avatar interacts with. The clothes run around 80 microsoft points while the skateboards are 240. There is also a "Steampunk" store whose prices run about the same.

    I've been meaning to put up some links on my blog for Japanese and Japanese influenced merchandise retailers. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow.

    Check out the Tokidoki website (The human one). It's pretty cool:

    http://www.tokidoki.it/

    Direct download: tokidoki_sexy.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 10:48pm CDT

    Yotsuba Volumes 1-6 To Be Released Next Month!

    What's up ADV Manga? I used to buy your books back in the day. Oh, the good old days when you were gonna release 1000 manga volumes. You released Volume 1 of Yotsuba by Kiyohiko Azuma, creator of Azumanga Daioh, in June 2005, Volume 2 in August and Volume 3 in October of that same year. Then things started to hit a snag. Yotsuba, along with other titles like Gunslinger Girl, Aria, and Cromartie High School, disappeared from shelves. Yes, the great disaster of ADV manga had begun.

    Volume 4 of Yotsuba didn't come out till July 2007! By that time I was very leery of buying ADV titles because you never knew when the next volume would come out. At first I boycotted Gunslinger Girl because it had been so long since the last volume that I had to go back to the first volume and reread the series. But I couldn't resist picking up the then new Yotsuba volumes. It ends up that I was hesitant for good reason. After printing Volume 5 in October 2007, ADV manga apparently died and Yotsuba was locked up in their basement, along with the other titles I mentioned up above. So far, only Yotsuba and a few others like Aria and Peacemaker have been able to find a way to escape from their dungeon of manga death. 

    You would think Gunslinger and Cromartie would have been picked up by now. I think Cromartie would be a good fit for Dark Horse. Gunslinger? I think Seven Seas.

    But anyways, back to my main point. Yen is putting out a new edition of Yotsuba with new translations.  And get this, they are releasing the first 6 volumes next month! Volume 7 is set for December 2009 with Volume 8 set for April 2010.

    Yen currently has the covers for volumes 1-6 up at:

    http://yenpress.us/?page_id=636

    I don't really like the fact that they are clumping 6 volumes in one month. They should have spaced it out. If they had, like one volume per month, I would have bought each book as it came out. Since so many are coming out together, what I plan to do is just buy the first and sixth volumes. I already own 1-5 of the ADV editions, so I just want to compare the translations and printing quality of the first books to see how they differ and if it's worth buying the other four that I already have.

    If you are a One Piece AND Yotsuba fan, prepare to die of starvation, or hopefully, your parents are rich. Or you have a really good job. Or if you aren't living with your parents, maybe move in until this plague of riches passes over!

    Oh yeah, if you can answer this, you win a Sesho No-Prize!:

    "Who is Javier Lopez?"

    Think and discuss amongst yourselves.

    Direct download: yotsuba_1.gif
    Category:News -- posted at: 10:51am CDT

    Why I'm Thinking About Dumping Otaku USA

    You know, I was sitting here reading the August issue of Otaku USA, and as I was reading it, I found myself skipping lots of pages, including the anime and manga reviews. Ironically, this was the section I used to read with the greatest interest. And I began to wonder if Otaku USA is even worth buying anymore. For a while now, I have become less and less enthused with the magazine, even though I have bought every issue since it began. Maybe I'm just bored with it? But why?

    One of the problems with the magazine is that there seems to be very little reporting going on. It's just reviews and opinions with very little data about the anime or manga they're doing an article on. I like the Protoculture Addicts style more, where they give a summary of the show and then all kinds of breakdowns and graphics on the main chracters and episode guides. For example, say you're doing a feature on Fullmetal Alchemist, show pictures of all the main players with captions about them. Even Anime Insider did stuff like this. It's sad but I'm even beginning to miss the visual overload of Newtype. So, I mean, keep the opinions, but also have just as much emphasis on actual information about the show as well.

    Another thing that bothers me about Otaku USA is the fact that it seems like a "dubbed" magazine, in that most of the writers are writing their features from a second-hand point of view. There are very few interviews with the original manga creators or anime staff so again you're writing in circles and just having the viewer or reader's side represented in the magazine. It's kinda like when I used to watch an ADV anime dvd and they would have a commentary track with the dub actors. What could the English voice actors possibly know about the original intentions of the Japanese actors, directors, and staff? So it ends up being an interpretation within an interpretation and I'm not interested in that.

    If you look at the cover of the August issue of Otaku USA you will find that none of the shows it lists are unreleased. Newtype would have had this cover on their magazine probably in January of this year instead of August. It's completely out of date. I used to read the anime magazines to look AHEAD, instead of reading articles about what is already out. I remember looking at pictures and reading about shows in Newtype that were sometimes years away from being released here. Now, as more and more anime and manga companies are going straight to the internet, sometimes days after their release in Japan, Otaku USA is going to have to figure out a way to get ahead of the curve with looks at shows that haven't already been released for months by the time the next issue comes out.

    And where is the reporting? I have yet to see the definitive breakdown of what the hell happened at ADV and Geneon. It probably has to do with the fact that there are no "professional" anime or manga reporters. We're all just amateurs really. But you know if I had connections in the anime world, I'd want to find out the truth of what happened to the anime market, like a Bob Woodward. How did the anime company that truly originated the US market completely collapse? And you know what, I'd make it the cover story of an issue of Otaku USA.

    And can you believe there is no mention at all of the media blitz put on by Viz last month with Shonen Sunday, Ikki, and their Haikasoru sci-fi line? Not one line. Silence on what could be one of the most important developments of the past couple of years. I would also like to hear the story of how Funimation singlehandedly saved the US market for anime fans. They truly did. And no opinions or mention of the coming One Piece locust manga infestation.

    Anime News Network seems to be the true source of what is going on in the anime and manga world. I find out more about what's going on there in one day than in all of the issues of Otaku USA put together.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that the mag is falling behind the curve and I'm thinking about not picking up the next issue. Trust me, I'm probably not the only one. I'm all for opinion, but I don't expect people to pay for mine.  If this magazine doesn't change, I don't see it surviving.

    And PLEASE take the word CHEAP off your cover. It's got all sorts of unseemly connotations.

     

    Direct download: otaku_usa.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 2:42pm CDT

    Is Shojo Beat Cleaning Up Its Covers?

    I bought a couple of manga today at Barnes and Noble, including two Shojo Beat titles, the first volumes of Kimi Ni Todoke and Black Bird. It just struck me that they looked different than the usual Shojo Beat books. Neither of them had those giant ugly volume numbers in the bottom right hand corner nor the boring author font with "Story and Art by" stamp on the left bottom corner and border on the bottom edge. I've never been a fan of the generic design of any of Viz's "line" manga, like Beat and the Shonen Jump titles. To me, they make the books look boring and take away from the beauty of the covers. But I guess they do make them instantly recognizable as belonging to a certain genre. But the Shojo Beat titles in particular suffer. A machine just stamps every cover with no regard as for how it's going to affect the art. If you're lucky Viz tries to change the color of the volume number or the author info to blend in better with the colors in the cover art...if you're lucky.

    But with these two titles, Beat seems to be de-emphasizing the Shojo Beat brand, especially with Kimi Ni Todoke. "Shojo Beat" is nowhere to be found on its front cover. Instead of the humungoid volume number on the right there is a stylized 1 at center bottom. Even the author's name is given a more personalized font that fits the feel and style of the manga. You do have the Shojo Beat website and UPC code on the back bottom just like usual but no huge banner at the top.

    Blackbird has a more traditional Viz design but again does not crowd its cover with Shojo Beat insignia, borders, and unsightly font. Instead it has ethereal, airy blacks and reds with a smaller author credit and warmer volume number that fits in with the cover. On the back you do have the Shojo Beat banner at the top but the web address has been left off, hopefully to not cut across and cover up the art.

    I hope Viz starts treating all their Shojo Beat title cover designs like these two titles. You need to bring attention to the ART, not to the volume numbers and product line. The original artists designed the art on the covers for a reason, to catch the eyes of browsing readers, not to be distorted or even erased. It makes the Beat titles look much more attractive. It's fine to keep generic looking spines, but show the covers more love.  

    Direct download: kimi_ni_todoke.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 6:59pm CDT

    Japanese Develop Baseball Playing Robots

    Japanese researchers are working on baseball playing robots. Don't let your imagination run wild. The robots are basically just arms. One throws a ball and another swings at pitches with a crude looking rod. But who knows, will we someday have fully articulated running humanoid robots running bases? My question is, who would want to watch something like that? My other question is, why develop baseball playing robots in the first place? It's a typical Japanese otaku quest. To pursue technologies and products that will have no real world interest or market. Beyond that of marketing, actually. I can already see a Japanese bat or glove making company (do they exist?) buying a baseball robot, "Ball-chan", or something, and using it as a mascot. Maybe different baseball clubs could each have a robot and they could battle to the death at the end of the season, gladiator style! Here's the link to the video of the robots:

    http://gmy.news.yahoo.com/vid/14828813/

    Direct download: baseball_robots.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 9:57am CDT

    First Look At Iron Man and Wolverine Anime Trailers

    Last year, it was reported that Marvel and Madhouse would be teaming up to make 4 different anime series based on Marvel characters. The first two that will air are Wolverine and Iron Man. Two trailers have been created to start up buzz about the shows that will air in Japan spring 2010. Both Wolverine and Iron Man will have twelve 30-minute episodes each. Warren Ellis, a writer at Marvel says that the Wolverine anime will be loosely based on the very first Wolverine mini-series published back in the early 1980s. It was written by Chris Claremont (X-men) and drawn by Frank Miller (Sin City, 300, Daredevil, Batman). The Wolverine teaser was directed by Rintaro (X movie, Metropolis). It is to be stressed that these trailers are test footage just to show viewers the "style" of the two anime series. So what you see might be not necessarily reflect the actual plot or characters that will be involved. But I would think at least the character designs would be pretty close to the end product. Or else, why even show them? Is that an anime version of War Machine?

    I'm pretty excited about these trailers. Why? Because all the Marvel and DC characters are so old and tired at this point. How old is Iron Man? Almost 50? And Wolverine is only a litte bit younger. In his mid 30s? I've pretty much given up on the Marvel and DC comic books, even though I try to get back into them from time to time. They've just been sucked up into these yearly "EVENTS" and it seems like they only consider an idea "original" if it involves killing a character. And then they end up bringing them back (see Captain America) anyway, so who cares? I grew up on Marvel and DC as a kid, but that wide eyed enjoyment I used to get from them has completely migrated to Japanese manga and anime. I'm willing to give any fresh take on Marvel and DC characters a chance. Even if they fail miserably.

    Here are the two trailers:

    Category:News -- posted at: 11:10pm CDT

    Halo Legends is an anthology anime series of short films focusing on the world of the videogame Halo much like The Animatrix or last year's Batman: Gotham Knight. Microsoft is tapping some of the best anime companies in business today. The studios involved are:

    1. Bones (Fullmetal Alchemist, Eureka Seven, Cowbody Bebop: The Movie)
    2. Casio (Dai Nipponjin)
    3. Production I.G. (Ghost in the Shell, Blood)
    4. Studio 4c (Tekkokinkreet, Batman: Gotham Knight)
    5. Toei (Dragon Ball, One Piece)

    Some of the directors that will be handling episodes include Mamoru Oshii (Sky Crawlers, Ghost in the Shell 1&2) and Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed 1&2).

    The short films will first appear on Xbox Live this fall. Microsoft is developing a Halo hub on Xbox Live called "Halo Waypoint" that will be the Mecca of Halo fans. It will be a one-stop destination of Halo news, trailers, podcasts, player rankings and other halo info.

    I'm not a big Halo fan. In fact, I only started playing the first Halo game about a year ago and still have not finished it. I never had an Xbox so I missed out on the whole Halo phenomenon when it came out. I was a PS2 man. Of course, I've always been aware of the franchise. How could you not? Both the Animatrix and the Batman anime shorts were uneven and entertaining only in spurts and I suspect it will be the same with Halo Legends. But I think the whole guys running around in mech-like Guyver-esque armor will play more to Japanese strengths than the other two series. Just like the case with the Twilight graphic novel and manga, I think the Halo Legends project is a win-win scenario for anime and the Halo gameworld. The Batman dvd was a huge success when it came out in the US, taking the #1 ranking in sales the week it came out. I'm sure when this comes out on DVD it will have the same sort of sales, if not greater.  

    Category:News -- posted at: 3:37pm CDT

    Well, www.shonensunday.com has launched and is up for business. By business, I mean supplying rabid manga fans with titles that have not been published in America yet. Well, that is, except for Kekkaishi, which is already being published by Viz. I always hear good things about it. I even bought the first volume when it first came out....about 5 years ago:) I just never have gotten around to reading it. Now that it's stuck up in my grill with this website, I'm gonna make up for lost time. And I know Rin-ne is online as well, but do we have to get technical? Along with news, a blog, and the manga themselves, there is also a link for downloads (wallpapers of the series). I might need an oxygen mask, I'm so giddy about the whole thing. (But would that make it worse?:) Either click on the web address above or the banner beneath the manga title listings below. RUN, do not walk to ShonenSunday.com!:)

    Right now, there are five titles up. Each title only has Chapter one so far, except for Rin-ne, which has chapters 1-13. So here are the titles:

    Rin-ne by Rumiko Takahashi (Inuyasha, Ranma 1/2, Maison Ikkoku)

    Kekkaishi by Yellow Tanabe

    Arata the Legend by Yuu Watase (Ceres, Absolute Boyfriend, Fushigi Yugi)

    Hyde & Closer by Haro Aso

    Maoh: Juvenile Remix by Kotaro Isaka & Megumi Osuga

    Category:News -- posted at: 3:29pm CDT

    New Pictures From Twilight: The Graphic Novel by Young Kim Here are three more illustrations and sketches from Entertainment Weekly by Young Kim for the upcoming Twilight: The Graphic Novel, based on Stephanie Meyer's novel, due to be published by Yen Press.
    Direct download: twilight_manga_resize.JPG
    Category:News -- posted at: 2:47pm CDT

    Well, Borders lives to be in debt for another year it seems. They borrowed $42.5 million from their biggest shareholder, Pershing Square, which was due on April 15 of this year. They asked for another year to pay it off. So now the loan is due on April 1, 2010. This is the THIRD time Borders has asked for a repayment extension. They're gonna try to get their stores in order but the CEO of Borders says he won't be surprised if sales continue to go down.

    I will be very surprised if Borders is able to pay off this loan in the next 9 months. Maybe they should ask for a government bailout. The bookstore chain has been going down the tubes for a while now.

    Category:News -- posted at: 2:39pm CDT

    Twilight Is Good For Yen, Good For Manga

    The manga community has been abuzz the past couple of days over the confirmation that Yen Press is going to be publishing a manhwa adaptation of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight novels. Ok, what should we really classify this book as first? Is it manhwa simply because it is being drawn by Young Kim, a Korean artist? Is it manga? Is it OEL manga? Is it simply a graphic novel series? I'd be curious as to what label Yen is going to stamp it with. I keep on hearing about a Japanese manga adaptation already in existence. Will Yen also get the rights to it? Will they publish it some time in the future as well? As for the Kim version, supposedly Meyer is deeply involved with the project, "reviewing every panel". No word yet on whether Twilight will be directly published in tankoban form or start its run in the Yen Plus anthology magazine. You can find 3 more pictures in the newest issue of Entertainment Weekly.

    There are a lot of manga fans out there that are bitching about the whole IDEA of Twilight being published by Yen. Simply because they hate the series, (they think it's overrated, poorly written, etc.). I think these people are really dumb. Just think about the exposure and publicity Yen is going to get and thereby manhwa and manga! You're going to have people going into the manga section of the bookstores that might never have visited it. And I'm not talking just about teenage girls. I know plenty of ADULTS that are rabid fans of Twilight. Take in this figure: 

    IN THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2009, BOOKS BY STEPHANIE MEYER ACCOUNTED FOR 16% OF ALL BOOK SALES!

    What this means is that for every seven books that were bought during that quarter, on average, ONE was by Meyer. She sold 29.7 million books in 2008!

    I am not a fan of the series at all. I have read none of the books and have not seen the Twilight movie. If anything, I am predisposed to have a negative reaction to the franchise. But I'm always hostile to really popular stuff. I just like to wait for all the hype and popularity to decrease around a series like Twilight before I try them. I didn't start reading or watching the Harry Potter books and movies till last year! But I can see the positive ramifications that the Twilight adaptation will have for Yen Press and all the books they will be able to publish care of Twilight profits. They're really doing well right now with the Maximum Ride series and the coup of landing the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise. I'm practically in love with the company these days. I really respect them for starting up Yen Plus as well. I think Twilight should be published in Yen Plus first, so they can get a solid following for the magazine that will draw in readers that might not know the first thing about their Korean and Japanese titles. As I'm looking at the future, I can only see the Twilight publication as a win-win for everyone involved, both publisher and reader.

    My next question is when is Harry Potter gonna follow suit?

    For more info on Stephanie Meyer and her work check out:

    www.StephenieMeyer.com

     

    Direct download: twilight-manga_l11.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 12:43pm CDT

    I read an interesting article on Kotaku.com this morning, a videogame news and review site. While the article was about videogame bloggers, the story is about a troubling issue that could threaten any blogger that reviews any type of media, whether it is a game, a dvd, or a book.

    It seems the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is making a new "Truth-In-Advertising Guide". The FTC is looking into whether bloggers mostly give positive reviews to products they review simply because they get the bribe of a free review copy. The example given in the article is about a hypothetical videogame reviewer, but in reality, the FTC is talking about ALL bloggers.

    There is also a mention of a New York Times article that states that most bloggers are simply made up identities concocted by a company's marketing department, or even if independent, are beholden to companies for the "gifts" they get and therefore do not give honest reviews.

    So what the FTC is saying is that so-called "professional journalists" have no bias. Do you really think the book reviewers at the New York Times Book Review actually BUY any of the books they review? Come on! Do you think Roger Ebert or Gene Siskel ever paid their own money to see a movie? Or any of the various electronics magazines...Do their reviewers actually buy the equipment they review? I guess if you write for a newspaper or magazine, that makes you above reproach?

    It sounds like a witch hunt to me. I think the newspapers and magazines would love to take down bloggers, because they can't control them. In fact, bloggers and online news sites are destroying physical print news and reviews outlets. Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are quite happy to only have "Official" mags out there so they can strangle any real power that says some of their games suck. One of the problems that gaming magazines find in getting advertising is that sometimes game developers get pissed at them for negative reviews and refuse to work with them.

    I don't really have this bias problem. I very rarely get free review copies. Seven Seas has sent me a couple of books (4?), in most cases after I had already bought them on my own. I have never gotten a free review copy of an anime dvd. But I've never really tried very hard to get review copies either. I know that when I did receive those books, it made me very uncomfortable because I didn't know whether it would influence me, even in a subconscious way.  Luckily, I don't have to worry when I review something, I really mean what I say. When I really hate something, whether it's an anime or manga, I rip it to shreds (figuratively:). Or when I really love something, it's completely honest. Because it's my hard earned money that has gone up in smoke when I read or watch a piece of trash.

    I know some reviewers get BOXES of free material to watch and read. Does it bias them in their reviews? I'm sure that it does influence some of them, but not others. I doubt that will ever happen to me, because I speak out when I see myself getting ripped off or see dumb moves by manga publishers. So I doubt any of them are lining up to send me free stuff. For example, when Tokyopop raises prices but lowers their paper quality, or Viz vomits on shelves with One Piece, or raises their prices for no good reason. It pisses me off. But probably if I had UPS trucks dropping off hundreds of dollars of manga or anime, I would probably mute my criticism or at least make it more "civilized" because I wouldn't be losing anything. I didn't pay for it, right? So who cares. I probably wouldn't say their paper sucks or that they are greedy or that they are choking off shelf space for smaller titles and publishers. And that maybe doing that choking is what they want.

    So, in the end it's left up to the conscience of each reviewer to decide whether they can be truly independent if they receive free review items. I just think it's completely hypocritical of the FTC to say there's no problem if "professional journalists" get them, but with bloggers, there is. That it's ok for one type of reviewer to receive review copies but not the other. I also think it's wrong to say that MOST, if not ALL are dishonest and merely patsies for corporations. To me, this smacks of lobbyists in Washington pressuring the government to curb in and discredit bloggers that give negative reviews to their products. I'll put up the links to the Kotaku article and the New York Times article as well.

    Kotaku: http://kotaku.com/5313176/

    New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/13/technology/internet/13blog.html?_r=1&hpw

    Category:News -- posted at: 8:28pm CDT

    Borders Moves Manga to the Kiddy Section

    I went to Borders tonight with a coupon for 25% off my purchase, not expecting to find much. After all, I hadn't found anything the week before when I had a similar coupon. Borders is definitely in decline. Whatever section you go into, they have tons of books facing outward to cover up the fact that they do not have a lot of selection. I've seen them try to conceal this in different ways at different stores. One got shorter bookcases and arranged them in U shapes instead of straight rows to give the illusion of taking up more space. It's just so sad. Until the past year or so, Borders had a better selection of books that Barnes&Noble. I would hardly ever go to Barnes. But lately, the situation has reversed. It's really apparent in the manga section. You might see a couple of rows on each shelf with almost all the books facing outward instead of just showing the spine. To me, if they went out of business, it wouldn't make much difference.

    So when I go to the manga section tonight, there's a cart there filled with manga, and I'm thinking "Cool, they must be new titles", but then I see that almost all of the manga on the shelves are gone, and that there are more carts of manga sitting there as well. I ask this older dude "What's up with the manga?" He tells me they're moving it upstairs. "To the kids section?" I ask. He almost seems ashamed of it, because he's a manga fan and he thinks it's kinda degrading the genre. A younger employee that's helping him move the manga feels the same way (He's cool. He actually gave me a discount before on some manga I was buying just because I had on a Ghost in the Shell shirt!). He too seems to feel bad about putting them in the kids section.

    I thought it was at least cool that the manager of the store got manga fans to be the pallbearers of the banishment. The manga are now gonna be right next to the "Independent Readers". So how is Gantz or MPD Psycho gonna mix with Old Yeller and Harry Potter? I think it could be a problem if some soccer mom picks up one of them. "Yes, dear, you can get this little comic...oh my! He got his head cut off! Oh, and that dog is licking her ****....Manager! Manager!" (soccer mom passes out and collapses in a senseless heap as young boy salivates over alien murder in Gantz).  Or are they even gonna carry mature titles anymore? I don't really know how I feel about it. I think in a way it knocks down the medium in respectibility. The older guy acted like it was just a reality that kids are the ones buying it. It was kinda funny because even after I had walked away I could hear him speaking to other customers...."Don't worry, we're not getting rid of the manga, we're just moving it upstairs....Ha ha, surrounded by manga!"

    In the end, what cosmic shift does this move represent? It means I'll have to walk up the stairs to look at manga. Since they never have anything anyway, I might not even go up there.

    Direct download: borders_better.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 10:53pm CDT

    Amazon Anime Sale & Japanese Peanuts TV Spots

    Just wanted to tell you about another sale. This time Amazon.com is having a markdown sale on anime dvds. Select titles are being discounted up to 50%. It seems to be almost their entire stock except for maybe the very newest releases like Genshiken 2. Just click on the link below:

    Amazon Anime DVD Sale

    Also wanted to include an interesting video. It's a Japanese TV commercial for Hot Pepper, a free coupon magazine in Japan. The interesting part of it is when the Peanuts characters enter the picture to scratch turntables. Snoopy is even using a spoon and his dog bowl to keep time! The singer in the video is Kaela Kimura a popular Japanese pop singer. I'll also include a video for one of her songs, called "You":

    Direct download: anime-sale-50_tcg__V221896733_.png
    Category:News -- posted at: 10:49pm CDT

    Viz Store 75% Blowout Sale

    Viz is having a clearance sale of anime/manga related items, mainly from these franchises: Death Note, Naruto, Bleach, Mar, Inuyasha, Pokemon, and Blue Dragon. They say they are going to add new products so some of the tabs come up empty. There are some great bargains to be had, some even below $1. You can get a Naruto backpack for $6.25, even Naruto and Kakashi cosplay costumes for around $6! Death Note keychains for $1.05. Bleach thermal tees and action figures. You'll just have to look for yourself. Please buy something in memorial of my current poverty! It's not exactly thousands of items and even though it says "storewide sale" I didn't see any manga on sale. I would check back though over the next week. Even though the sale banner says "up to 75% off" I did see some even deeper discounts, more like 85%. The sale lasts through 7/14/09.

    Here's the link to the sale:

    http://store.viz.com/

    Direct download: deathnotemisatote.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 5:10pm CDT

    Tokyopop, The New Paper Sucks!

    Ok, it appears that maybe this has been an issue for months, and other people have already made some comments about it, but the new paper that Tokyopop is using for their manga books sucks!  I just noticed it for the first time when I read Future Diary Volume 1. Are they getting it from a toilet paper company? And the nerve they have to raise the price of their books by a dollar??!! Decrease quality and increase price? At least keep the paper the same. This mess about how they have to buy it from a certain mill is just mess. Felt like I was reading the newspaper.

    Viz. What can I say. I love the company. But they want to raise prices too. Want? They ARE raising prices. Why? 

    “VIZ Media made the decision to stay consistent with the pricing in the marketplace for this industry, which in some cases might be a slight increase from previous years."

    So what they are saying is that they are raising prices simply because they CAN. Not because they NEED to. Greed. That's what this is about.

    I guess we should thank Del Rey for starting all this about 5 years ago when they were the first to start selling their books for $10.95. They started us down this road. But I have to admit that they operate on a higher level than the other publishers in terms of presentation so I really can't complain. I cannot picture them using this sorry paper. They are too high class for that.

    Hopefully, the rest of the industry will stay away from the Tokyopop model of costcutting even though it has been reported that other graphic novel publishers are thinking about using this paper as well. I bet it's CMX. The other companies are probably waiting to see the fan reaction before they convert over. Please let Tokyopop know if you're upset about this issue.

    There's a good article over at Sporadic Sequential about the issue:

    http://sporadicsequential.blogspot.com/2009/06/gee-thanks-for-more-expensive-lower.html

    Direct download: charmin.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 9:59pm CDT

    X-men Go Shojo in X-men: Misfits

    Del Rey is releasing Volume 1 of X-Men: Misfits on July 28. A cross between X-men and Fruits Basket is what they're calling it. Wolverine is not going to be in it. I guess Del Rey doesn't want to crowd its other Wolverine title. The scary thing is the writers they have tapped for the project. First, there's Dave Roman, editor of Nickelodeon Magazine. Helping him is Raina Telgemeier, the artist behind The Babysitter's Club series. My question is, what do these people know about the characters in the X-men? It just seems like Marvel would have wanted some highly qualified writers to take over the reins of one their most important franchises. Also, with the recruitment of these writers, it seems like maybe they are focusing on a demographic that is too young to be reading shojo manga. When I think Babysitter's club, I'm definitely thinking elementary school. Hopefully, the series will be good. I really liked the reboot of Wolverine: Prodigal Son. But I don't have very good expectations.

    Click this link for an interview with Roman and Telgemeier:

    http://www.shojobeat.com/features/48/010.php

    Direct download: xmen_misfits.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 9:29pm CDT

    Paul "OtaKing" Johnson of Sheffield, UK is currently working on a Dr. Who short as filtered through his love of Japanese anime of the 1980s. He envisions it as a parody of what Dr. Who would have looked like as an anime if it had aired in mid-80s Japan. Right now he just has screen shots up at:

    http://mightyotaking.deviantart.com/

    Or you can simply click on the picture below to take you to his gallery. He currently has about 40 or so images up. Here's a sample:


    Doc Who anime scene 20 by ~MightyOtaking on deviantART
    Category:News -- posted at: 7:50pm CDT

    Queen Gets Gold Plated Wii

    Gaming company THQ, after hearing that Queen Elizabeth of England was a big fan of the Nintendo Wii, has made her a gift of gold plated Wii. Some sources are reporting that it's a promotional stunt for THQ's new game, Big Family Games. I would be curious as to how she responds to the present. Maybe the Queen should become a videogame reviewer? Here's the link to the article:

    http://videogames.yahoo.com/events/plugged-in/the-royal-wii/1316670

    Direct download: golden_wii.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 12:27pm CDT

    Japan's Scariest Toilet Paper!

    I came across this article in The Houston Chronicle today and thought it was hilarious:

    TOKYO — In a country where ghosts are traditionally believed to hide in the loo, a Japanese company is advertising a new literary experience — a horror story printed on toilet paper.

    Each roll carries several copies of a new nine-chapter novella written by Koji Suzuki, the Japanese author of the horror story "Ring," which has been made into movies in both Japan and Hollywood.

    "Drop," set in a public restroom, takes up about three feet (90 centimeters) of a roll and can be read in just a few minutes, according to the manufacturer, Hayashi Paper.

    The company promotes the toilet paper, which will sell for 210 yen ($2.20) a roll, as "a horror experience in the toilet."

    Toilets in Japan were traditionally tucked away in a dark corner of the house due to religious beliefs. Parents would tease children that a hairy hand might pull them down into the dark pool below.

    (Article written by Associated Press)

    I'm sure this will be a big seller in Japan. I could go with all kinds of scatalogical comments about this story, but you know what?, I'm above that sort of thing! I'll leave that to you. But what if you really like the story? Do you call up your friends and say "Hey, I was wiping my butt the other day and I came across this really cool story....", or "Hey, I read a really cool story on the toilet the other day, and I saved it for you. Don't worry about the smell." Like I said, I'm above making tasteless comments like that. It seems like I've heard a news story like this before. There's probably already been manga printed on toilet paper. It's just not something I scour the internet for.

    Here's the link to the original article:

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/world/6439259.html

     

    Direct download: suzuki.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 5:03pm CDT

    R.I.P Shojo Beat Magazine

    Well, it's official, Shojo Beat is dead as far as the anthology magazine side of it goes. The manga imprint is going to carry on though. It has been reported that the July 2009 issue will be its last.

    I was kinda taken aback. I thought the magazine was doing well. I always saw it right next to Shonen Jump and saw them as the perfect couple. I was first introduced to the mag when Animerica was cancelled halfway through my subscription and they offered to replace it with Shojo Beat. I said "what the hell" and received the first six issues. I couldn't really get into any of the titles. I wasn't very openminded about shojo series back then, and also, I don't take to anthologies very well. They make me think of literature textbooks that I had to read in college. But I really like Yen+.

    Speaking of, I wonder how that magazine is doing for Yen? It must be doing allright or they wouldn't have released the first volumes of some of the manga series that are serialized in it. I'm way behind on it. I've bought every issue as it came out all the way to the present (but I've only read the first two issues!)

    Magazines seem to be a dying breed. First, Animerica, Newtype, PIQ, Electronic Gaming Monthly, and now Shojo Beat. It's been about half a year or so since I saw an issue of Protoculture Addicts at my local book or comic store. What about Otaku USA? I remember a couple of months ago, they were going to go monthly, but scrapped those plans without a word. Anime Insider? Even though it sucked, a sucky anime/manga magazine is better than NO magazine at all.

    Direct download: shojo_beat.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 9:29pm CDT

    Spike Spiegel is Wolverine

    Ok, probably a lot of you are looking at the title of this post and asking "What the hell!?" I don't know if everybody is aware of this but Steve Blum, the voice of Spike Spiegel in the English dub of Cowboy Bebop, has taken on a new starring role, this time in the realm of American animation. Blum now has the lead role as Wolverine in the Nicktoons show "Wolverine and the X-men", and the first three episodes have just been released on dvd. He actually played him in the direct-video release of "Hulk VS." as well. I know anime voice actors do American cartoon work as well, but at least to me, it was unusual for one to land such a coveted role, what with the popularity of the franchise among comic fans and the oncoming blitz of the Wolverine movie (if you haven't already seen it on the Internet). This dvd release has the first three episodes of the TV series, and is worthy of a rent (I would wait for the first season set to buy) even if you're not a comic book fan. You can also watch the first eight episodes for free at the Nicktoons link I'll put at the end of the post. It had a very anime-like feel in that all the episodes feed into an overarching storyline instead of being stand alone episodes. It also deals with the characters on a very personal level instead of them just donning their costumes and beating people up. If you at least saw the live action movies you should have no trouble enjoying the show. I haven't really kept up with the X-men comic in over 20 years and I still liked this animated version.  Here's the official site where you can check out the first eight episodes:

    http://nicktoonsnetwork.nick.com/shows/wolverine-and-the-x-men/commonRoom/index.jhtml

    Direct download: wolverine.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 11:32am CDT

    Dragonball Evolution Tanking at Box Office Wow, have you seen the numbers for Dragonball Evolution? It has only made about 8 million dollars in two weeks! Ok, anything beyond a million isn't chicken scratch, especially to an impoverished soul like me, but in movie money, that is akin to nothing. On top of that, attendence at screenings of the movie dropped by almost 70% in one week. I haven't seen it. In fact, I'm so out of touch I didn't even realize it had been released. I have never read any of the manga or watched any of the various anime incarnations. What these numbers tell me is that either the franchise doesn't have that many fans (which I know is not true)....or the movie just flat out sucks. I still think I might go see it, just to burn the anime/manga flame. I hope the Ghost in the Shell, Akira, Old Boy remake, or the Cowboy Bebop (Is Keanu Reeves an android?) movies are better. It looks like Dragonball is going in the same trash heap as Speed Racer (Hey, I actually liked that movie, even if I had to put on a welding mask because of the gaudy colors).
    Direct download: dragonball_evolution.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 9:05pm CDT

    I just added Jessica Chobot's blog to my side panel. She's a cool and beautiful young lady who, in addition to loving games and writing and doing videos for IGN (which you can view on XBOX Live), is an avid manga and anime fan. Some of her most recent blog entries are about her visit to the recent Sakura Festival in Japan. She has plenty of pictures and entertaining blog entries, so be sure to visit her site. Here is her Modlife blog which is very visual and flashy (just click on the picture):

    You can also check out her more traditional style blog at IGN:

    http://blogs.ign.com/Jess-IGN/

    Category:News -- posted at: 7:50pm CDT

    Tickets are on sale for Sword of the Stranger, a new anime movie from Bandai and the animation studio BONES.

    What is the movie about you might ask? Here's the synopsis from the website:

    SWORD OF THE STRANGER STORY SYNOPSIS:
    Hunted by the Mings from China, a young boy named Kotaro and his loyal dog Tobimaru meet a nameless samurai (“Nanashi” or “No Name”) who is haunted by his past – a memory so terrible he has vowed to never draw his sword again.
     
    Among the Mings is Luo-Lang, a ruthless Western swordsman with the Chinese name who has walked the earth in search of a worthy rival. When both groups clash with a feudal lord and monks torn between faith and survival, the truth behind the Mings’ pursuit of Kotaro tests the bond between the boy and the samurai with no name…

    The catch is that it is only showing on one night, February 5, at 7:30 PM across the nation. It is also set to feature a behind the scenes short along with some voice actor interviews. Unfortunately for me, it sounds like it is going to be an English dub. I hate dubs. Except for Bebop. But I'm willing to try to deal with it and keep an open mind. It's not often we in America get to see an anime on the big screen. I've only seen two, Howl's Moving Castle, and the second Ghost in the Shell movie. I bought two tickets tonight for $12.50 each. Here's the link to the official site:

    http://stranger.bandai-ent.com/index.php

    And here is the trailer for the movie:

    Category:News -- posted at: 8:42pm CDT

    Well, let the awesome news begin. The first eight episodes of Naruto Shippuden are up at three different sites, www.vizmedia.com, www.hulu.com, and www.crunchyroll.com. It's completely free and legal to watch them. I have to admit, I'm not fully caught up on the anime (I'm only just now finishing the fourth uncut box set), but I am guilty of reading up to volume 41 or 42 of the manga, the only time I've ever sought out scans on the internet. So, suffice it to say, I am fully aware of what is going on in the story without having watched all the anime episodes and I am really excited. I just watched the first episode at Viz, and just to where you know, I think you can only watch subtitled episodes at this point. And the Viz feed is coming from Hulu.com. You can watch the episodes in better resolution at Hulu (480p), but I experienced a bit of lag with my DSL, so I had to go to standard resolution and the problem was solved. I have never watched anything on Crunchyroll so I can't comment on their quality at the moment. 8 new episodes will be posted each Friday until they catch up with the Japanese run.

    Here is the trailer (which is dubbed):

    And here is the first episode. Just hit the play button. You can also make it fullscreen with the button in the top right corner. Don't worry if it's a little disconcerting at first. You didn't miss any episodes. It starts out with Naruto and Sakura encountering Sasuke but then flashbacks to how they got to this point:

    Category:News -- posted at: 7:31pm CDT

    Just a funny story I picked up in the Houston Chronicle the past couple of days: Apparently, a Japanese man named Hiroshi Nohara had been living in a Mexico City airport terminal since September 2! That's 3 months! Why, you might ask? Nobody knows! It seems he was invited to stay at a local woman's house named Oyuki whose husband works in Japan on December 28th. Nohara says he doesn't intend to return to the airport. Should be interesting to see what the story is behind this.  

    Hey, whatever happened to the woman who lived for a year in somebody's closet in Japan without the resident ever knowing?

    Here's the link to the Nohara story:

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/world/6188794.html

    Category:News -- posted at: 12:50pm CDT

    Just wanted to mention the fact that if you look on the right column beneath my reviews index, I've added a category called "Free to View Anime" where I've included links to sites where you can watch anime episodes for free and it's all legal. So check em out! Funimation has stared its BETA version of its own video channel, similar to Hulu. Since they publish practically everything now, this is good news for anime fans, especially since it's hard to make a $40 investment in these box sets they're putting out now without ever seeing an episode.
    Category:News -- posted at: 9:49pm CDT

    Otaku USA Lowers Price, Gets Rid of DVD...Sorta

    I was at Barnes and Noble this morning and was looking through the magazines when I spied the newest issue of Otaku USA. I instanty noticed that it wasn't in plastic so I knew something was up. I hesitated on buying it because money isn't exactly falling off trees these days, but when I picked it up I was pleasantly surprised to see that the price had been lowered to $5.99 instead of the usual $9.99. It even has a little blurb by the price heralding "New CHEAP Price!". I thought it was kinda funny that "CHEAP" is in all Caps. I really enjoy the magazine even though the writers sometimes engage in excessive tips of the hat to each other, as though they are writing the articles to give a wink to their clique instead of to anime and manga fans. And the fact that it can't go an issue without comparing at least one anime to a role playing board game gets quite old. Aside from these minor complaints, it blows away the insipid Anime Insider, with its imaginary battles of Naruto versus Ichigo and "Dream" live action movie castings of anime shows with actors about 20 years too old to play the roles.

    So anyway, to get the price down, Otaku USA got rid of the DVD that came with each issue. Apparently, you can still watch the cyber DVD at the Otaku USA website with a code inside the magazine. Of course, that means you can access the content without buying the magazine, but I imagine a lot of people find the content for free on the internet on their own anyway. I have never watched any of the Otaku USA dvds. They're just sitting in a stack collecting dust. When I accumulate enough, I give them to a kid I know that likes anime. So losing the DVD is no loss to me. It's a smart move to cut costs what with the crappy economy we have right now. I wouldn't even have bought this issue if the price had been the usual $9.99. But I wonder if the price point has anything to do with the fact that they're not selling enough magazines? 

    Sorry for not updating my site lately. I've been exhausted with work. But now I'm off for two weeks for Christmas and I look forward to posting some reviews, both text and podcast.  

    Category:News -- posted at: 3:14pm CDT

    Funimation Needs Comments on Sgt. Frog Episode 1

    Funimation needs your comments about its working print of Sgt. Frog Episode 1. They have the first episode up on Youtube.com. Here's the link (the click here picture to the right doesn't work):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQ5mQPVQmZ8

    I don't like dubs so I didn't even watch it. I simply posted the comment that they should also put up the subtitled version as well. It seems like this show has been languishing in the dark and disgusting depths of ADV for years now.

    Direct download: sgt._frog.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 11:36am CDT

    If you haven't seen the most recent episode of my podcast on Itunes, episode 140, in which I reviewed the first volume of Inukami, there is a good reason. The feed for my show goes through Feedburner.com because it tells you how many people subscribe to your show. Starting this week, I stopped getting those stats, and also how many downloads I get from Libsyn. Upon further investigation, I found out that Google bought Feedburner and that they are forcing Feedburner users to sign up with Google accounts and change URL's and stuff. They seem to think this is a minor footnote as evidenced by hardly a mention on the Feedburner website. So I've decided to take them out of the loop. So there might be a delay in Itunes updates while it redirects, but there might not. My feed is:

    http://sesho.libsyn.com/rss

    I'm basically computer illiterate so that is what really pisses me off. Everything that I do on here is through hard work and lots of scratching my head, so when a greedy company devouring entity like Google, or Gobble, throws a wrench into my fragile thread, it gets my goat.

    Category:News -- posted at: 8:54am CDT

    Death Note Anime Box Set 50% Off!

    Retail Sesho to the rescue! If you're a fan of the Death Note anime, you should get over to Amazon.com quickly! They are selling the Death Note Box Set, which contains 5 dvds with the first 20 episodes of the series for $34.99. That's 50% off the list price. That's the best price I'm seeing. Plus, you don't have to pay shipping or tax. So put in your pre-order now. Here's the link:

    http://www.amazon.com/Death-Note-Box-Set-1/dp/B001CZJP0S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1226889503&sr=1-1

    I have actually only watched the first volume of the anime but have read the entire manga series. I just never got around to watching the rest of the anime, but now I can. I didn't really have a lot of mony left this week to blow but this was too good a deal to pass up.

    Direct download: death_note_box.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 8:37pm CDT

    Good news for anime fans, both subbed and dubbed. Two online video services have announced free streaming anime episodes, completely legal and on the up and up.

    First there is www.hulu.com which is featuring the following series:

    1) Naruto Episodes 1-20 (English subtitled)

    2) Death Note Episodes 1-37 (English subtitled)

    3) Mushi-Shi Episodes 1-12 (English dubbed)

    In addition they have episodes of Speed Racer and Astro Boy. They promise that they will be adding more series in the near future. Here is the direct link to their anime page:

    http://www.hulu.com/channels/Animation-and-Cartoons/Anime

     

    The other site launching free anime today is Joost.com which is featuring the same Naruto, Death Note, and Astro Boy episodes as Hulu, plus these other series:

    1)Blue Dragon, Zatch Bell, and Mar (all dubbed)

    2)Cosmo Warrior Zero

    3)Gun Frontier

    4) Ikki Tousen

    Here is the link to their anime page:

    http://www.joost.com/epg/shows/animation/anime/o/1/

    Of the two sites, Hulu seems to be much more user friendly and is very easy to find shows and does not require registration unless you want to share it with a friend. From what I see so far of Joost, the site does not have a very good index and makes you waste time browsing to find shows. But who cares, these shows are free to watch and fully authorized by their publishers, so enjoy!

     

    Category:News -- posted at: 1:14pm CDT

    Hey, everybody! I hope everybody is enjoying their summer. Mine ended this week. I had to go back to work on Monday, but I hope to keep on writing and recording reviews. It seems that right when I get into a groove, summer ends. But, anyway, what I wanted to say is that I'm fixing to begin making some sort of index system on the site for all the different anime and manga titles I've reviewed. The little search box on the right side that Libsyn has up pretty much sucks. So I'm gonna try to put a category over there that says something like "Index of My Reviews" or something so you can look them up by title. I won't be able to do it in a day, so I'll probably start with the most recent reviews and work backwards.

    I'm computer incompetent and illiterate so I basically have to figure out things as I go. I had no idea how to write HTML code until I started working with my blog and podcasting. Libsyn is pretty cool and cheap but they only give you the barest bones on how to set up your site. I've been meaning to change up my colors on the page for a decade now. They only give you about 3 templates or so and they aren't very good. So you basically have to teach yourself how to make a webpage if you want to do anything unique, which I guess is good and bad at the same time.

    Category:News -- posted at: 12:17pm CDT

    Japanese Women Have #1 Lifespan in the World

    You probably hear all the time about how Japan has one of the longest living populations in the world, but maybe you didn't believe it. Japan's Health Ministry conducted a study in which it concluded that Japanese girls born in 2007 would live to an average age of 86 years old. That makes them #1 in the world. Japanese boys born in 2007 are projected to live an average of 79.2 years, placing them third behind Iceland and Hong Kong. Ironically, even though the Japanese are living longer, they have one of the world's lowest birth rates, and it is projected that around 40% of the population will be 65 or older by the year 2050 if current trends continue.

    Here's the link to the full article:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080806/lf_nm_life/japan_longevity_dc

    Direct download: japan_girl.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 2:03pm CDT

    Tropical Storm, Code Geass Manga Inspires, and Best Buy Deals

    Ok, so I live right outside of Houston, Texas and if you didn't know we had a tropical storm pass through here today, by the name of Edouard. Of course the local media tried their very best to make it seem like the Four Horsemen were coming to town. I woke up this morning around 10am and had to call someone to find out if it had upgraded to a hurricane or not. There really wasn't a lot of wind or anything. Just rain. But light enough to where there wasn't any widespread flooding. So I decided to hunker down with a manga. I started reading the Code Geass manga and I just loved it. So much that I had to drop it and go to Best Buy to buy the anime. This was after it had stopped raining. It was closed! Barnes and Noble was open and I would say over half of the businesses I saw were as well. Best Buy did end up opening around 4pm and I was there like a flash.

    So here's the funny thing about the Code Geass dvd release. You can buy the slip cover version for $24.99, which contains volume 1 and 2 of the series...or you can buy volume 1 & 2 seperately for the extremely cheaper price of....$19.99 each! So I'm wondering who in their right mind would buy them seperately? I mean, even if you're just trying the show like I am sight unseen, if you're going to spend $20 on it, why not $5 more for an entire extra volume? It just seems a total waste of space on the retail shelves. There's also a limited edition that I THINK was going for around $40 (I don't buy the boxes or special edition of any show so I didn't really pay attention).

    Two other releases caught my eye. The Gokusen TV Collection, a repackaging of an earlier show from Anime Works was only $14.99. This is a really funny show and well worth this extremely low price for all 13 episodes.

    I don't know if this is going to be a steal or not but I also picked up Teknoman: The Complete Collection for $13.99. So get this, for that price you got 6 dvds, 43 Episodes, 1075 minutes of anime! It just sounded like a great deal. I've never seen the show, but I've heard about it. I can't remember if what I have heard is good though. But for that price, what did I have to lose?

    I think at a $20 price point, people are reluctant to try out shows. But lower that just a bit to $15, and I think you're going to sell a lot more units. Anime Works dvds are usually around that price. I also applaud Bandai Entertainment (not the bloated warthog Visual (are they even a company anymore?)) for releasing a dubless version of their show. I mean, when I started thinking about it, I am subsidizing a anime dvd feature I don't even use. I never watch the dubs (Cowboy Bebop is the exception), so why should I have to pay for the dub? And the hardcore fans like me get to see the show early instead of waiting for the dub as well. So, thank you Bandai Entertainment. But can the seperate volumes. It's a waste of shelf space. Put them out in the 2 volume slipcases only. Thanks for Toward the Terra as well. It seems like only Bandai is trying something different to please their customers.

    Check out the official Code Geass Site:

    http://code-geass.bandai-ent.com/

    Direct download: code_geass.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 10:01pm CDT

    Boogiepop Arrives at Borders

    Just browsing the Borders manga section today, not looking for anything in particular, and was nicely surprised to see a new Boogiepop novel from Seven Seas. This one is entitled Boogiepop at Dawn and supposedly tells Boogiepop's origin. The company had not put out any Boogiepop works since the end of 2006. I love this title in all its incarnations of anime, manga, and the novels and hope that Seven Seas is back on the ball with the franchise. You can read free previews of most of the books at the official Boogiepop webpage at:

    http://www.gomanga.com/manga/boogiepop.php

    The best resource on that page is where it says "Read Boogiepop: The Ultimate guide" which is a four part article about the chronology and story arcs of the entire Boogiepop Universe.

    If you have no experience with this title, I would suggest reading the novels first, then the manga, the movie, and lastly the anime. I say the anime last because it does not adapt the first book and was made for fans already familiar with the novels. You can get the thinpack collection of the anime and live action movie for around $40 at most retailers online like Amazon or Right Stuff, and probably even cheaper on Ebay. The music soundtracks are relatively easy to find as well.

    Boogiepop at Dawn goes for $7.95 and is bound in the small light novel format that Seven Seas seems to prefer. They give real weight to the term "pocketbook". Seriously, you can actually put these light novels in your back pocket, which is actually pretty cool when you're on the go.

    Direct download: boogiepopatdawn_vol1_full.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 6:53pm CDT

    Obama and McCain Become Comic Book Stars

    Well, here we go, it seems John McCain and Barack Obama are going to be the subject of comic book biographies in early October. IDW, the comic book publisher, says that they are going to stick to the facts (Yeah, right). I wonder if any of the crew from Air Gear are gonna be in it? They also say that comic books are a more effective teaching tool than other media. I guess what they mean is any dummy can look at pictures, even if you can't read, and get some idea of a message. The article also says that the comics can already be preordered and will also be available for cell phone download. Here's the link to the full article:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080730/ap_en_ot/presidential_comic_books

     

    Direct download: Presidents.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 10:00pm CDT

    Batman, Geneon, and Barack Obama in Air Gear!

    Batman: Gotham Knight is out on DVD and Blu-Ray today featuring the animation of such popular Japanese studios as Production IG, 4c, and Madhouse. I haven't had a chance to see it yet. I looked at Hollywood Video today but for some dumb reason they did not receive any copies. Amazon.com has a pretty good price for the Blu-Ray version: $21.95 which I will probably order tomorrow. I'm pretty excited about the new movie. The official site link is:

    http://www.warnervideo.com/batmangothamknight/


    Funimation has listed some of the release dates of series it picked up from Geneon:

    August 19: Black Lagoon season 1, Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage volume 1, Elemental Gelade volume 1

    September 2: Karin volumes 1-4, Kyo kara Maoh! season 2's volume 1-7

    September 9: Shakugan no Shana series box

    September 16: Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage volume 2, Fate/stay night
    series box, Hellsing Ultimate volumes 1-4, Rozen Maiden series box

    September 23: Kamichu! series box, Paradise Kiss series box

    September 30: When They Cry - Higurashi volumes 1-4
    (source: ANN)

    I definitely will pick up the Fate/Stay Night and Kamichu sets. These are both great shows. From what I understand the prices for the box sets will be in line with Funimation, not Geneon. So I would expect them to run around $50. Rozen Maiden would be a borderline purchase for me.


    Lastly, on Madeleine Rosca's Live Journal, she posted a picture of a new character that was introduced in the Japanese manga Air Gear in chapter 206 who is purported to be a takeoff of presidential candidate Barack Obama. The character is named John Omaha. I can't vouch for the translation but one of the comments on her blog says the panel translates his dialogue as "Why is it on this night when I'm meeting such a lovely person, I have failed to bring my tuxedo" and the side panel reads "the candidate for the next president of the United States". Now if he would just put on some ATs! Of course, Rosca is the artist and writer of the exquisite Hollow Fields from Seven Seas, with two volumes out now. She makes me believe that OEL has a future and can be better than Japanese manga in some cases. You can click on my link to her Live Journal underneath blogs on my webpage.

    Direct download: obama.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 9:03pm CDT

    Well, never fear if you cowering in your boots about the demise of Geneon and consequently, the fate of your favorite anime series. According to ANN, Funimation has picked up the rights to

    "manufacture, sell, and distribute "select" DVD titles in North America. Those titles include Ergo Proxy, Hellsing Ultimate, Black Lagoon, Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage, Karin, Kyo kara Maoh! Season 2, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Elemental Gelade, Fate/stay night, Kamichu, the live-action Ninja Vixens work, Paradise Kiss, Rozen Maiden, Rozen Maiden - Träumend, Shana, Shonen Onmyouji, The Familiar of Zero, The Story of Saiunkoku, When They Cry - Higurashi, and The Law of Ueki." 

    Hot on the heels of this news is the fact that Funimation has also picked up the rights to the following ADV series:

    (ANN)

    So, while this seems to be good news, to me it's also kind of ominous. If ADV or Geneon couldn't make enough profit off these titles, will Funimation be able to? It seems to invite a charge of hubris, at least to me. Maybe Funi has bitten off more than it can chew. Could this be a case of a company walking into a candystore and filling up their pockets with licenses and then realizing they only have one mouth to stuff it all in? And also, how are they going to handle the releases? I would suspect as boxsets.

    I really felt bad for Geneon when they went down. They had good titles and almost always did quality work on their shows. They are sorely missed. ADV, on the other hand, has come to define everything wrong with the anime and manga business. They do crappy dubs with the same core group that they've had for almost the whole time I've been watching anime. And don't even get me started on their manga division. Where is Gunslinger Girl? Yotsuba? Cromartie? They don't respect their customers. In some figurative respects, they spit on them as well. I don't think that a lot of these companies know how to compete or market very well. At this point, they are becoming more and more irrelevant. Tokyopop comes to mind as well. But they still have time to change their fate.

    So I guess I'll give a cautious hooray to Funimation for the time being but reserve judgement over whether this is the Second Coming until I see what they do with the product.

    Category:News -- posted at: 4:13pm CDT