Time to fill that anime-podcast-shaped hole in your life by joining us in conversation with fearless leader of Anime Limited, czar of Scotland Loves Anime and all-round top bloke Andrew Partridge. Nakama Britannica XII: Interviewcast! Andrew Partridge Edition iTunes iVailable … Continue reading
Recently recovered from the wilds of darkest Edinburgh, it’s…
In a special bonus episode, we forgo social pleasantries such as research and preparation to bring you the low-down on SLA Edinburgh – a report so fresh, it was partially recorded in the Filmhouse bar! Sadly this lead to me not saying much in the first part, as I was convinced the middle-aged hard-man at the next table was about to tell us to shut up, but never mind. Stagger on.
01.45 Tokyo Marble Chocolate and Phoenix Wright. Contains no actual confectionary, nor objectionable content.
07.55 From Up On Poppy Hill and Mass Effect. Goro rides again, Production I.G. Lose their paragons.
15.35 After School Midnighters. SCIENCE!
23.45 Berserk and Berserk II: Berserk Harder. “I like swords!”
38.20 Nerawareta Gakuen. We attend a world premiere! Sadly, the world is not impressed.
55.40 The Anime Mirai Project. Juju the Weightless Spider Girl Who Pretended Not to See Buuta.
65.06 Wolf Children Ame and Yuki. In which I find out what the word “nadir” actually means.
83.46 Closing – Aria (Susumu Hirasawa)
[This article is my reply to Alex's excellent 'For the anime fan in 2008, is it essential to watch online anime?']
I came across this recent news article at ANN, ‘Dennou Coil Wins Award from Japanese Sci-Fi Writers‘ and more than anything else, it annoyed me. Here’s why.
‘Dennou Coil‘ was amongst the most acclaimed anime TV series of 2007, a beautifully animated, whimsical science fiction story with broad appeal and notable production values, often likened to the adventurous mainstream story-telling of ‘Studio Ghibli’. Naturally, it wasn’t a particularly big hit with the hardcore anime fans, or at least, not on the same level as something like ‘Haruhi’, but it is capable of capturing of the imagination of someone (or some kid) not usually swept away by the conventional tropes of Japanese animation.
I’ll say at the start of this blog that I’m not the most knowledgeable anime fan around. I like what I like, but I don’t have an exhaustive knowledge of series, directors, studios, voice actors, and the industry as a whole. Nor am I the sort of person who has to watch things as soon as they come out – I’m happy to wait a while, and if there’s something I want, I know I’ll get it eventually. The good stuff will always filter through, given time. So this isn’t going to be an in-depth analysis of the anime industry – that’s beyond my knowledge at this stage.
I like buying anime and manga. I like the feeling of ‘owning’ something, of building up a little library of releases, however modest mine may be compared to others. I’m also in the lucky and privileged position of being a reviewer for AUKN, meaning I get review copies of DVDs and manga volumes. Aside from that, I always try to watch anime when it’s on television. I saw Cowboy Bebop for the first time on the ill-fated Anime Central channel. And this winter period, I’m looking forward to Channel 4/Film 4 hopefully showing some Studio Ghibli films, as they often do.
But there’s one medium that’s always escaped me. I have never got into watching anime online. I’ve been thinking about this lately. I think there’s a few reasons why this is.
One of the more poignant news items I’ve read recently is that the London Anime Club (LAC) intends to “close doors” by the end of 2008. The cited reason is plain and simple: low attendances, with the popularity of “the London Expo”, “fansubs” and the accessibility of popular anime and manga in “mainstream shops” all said to be contributing factors in this lack of interest.
According to its official website, the LAC has been hosting regular gatherings for anime fans since Tuesday, 12th of April, 1994; apparently, only 12 people turned up to that first meeting, while 10 years later, in April of 2004, the club achieved its highest ever turn-out of 206 people, and yet, little more than 4 years on from that record, attendances have plummeted. The LAC is one of the longest running anime clubs in the UK, but, for whatever reason, it seems like today’s anime fans are no longer attracted to what an anime club might have to offer.
Despite the academic tone of this articles title, and my rhetoric (which is usually inevitable), I have noticed that the majority of the articles on our blog recently have taken to the same format, so I’ll be staying away from quotation marks or overly critical statements for the duration of this latest monologue.
One thing that struck me when I was younger, and started hunting down what I thought were fairly obscure titles (the original Disgaea, when the epiphany was born), was the question of whether such things were mainstream or not, and whether this benefited them. We’d all like anime to be mainstream for the continued success and productivity of the companies behind our favourite pieces of entertainment, and I’m always happy when I hear of an individual or business made rich, or wealthy, by producing the forms of entertainment that draw on Japanese culture in a positive way (whether they’re videogames, anime, music, or anything of the like). Most recently I find myself hoping Tomonobu Itagaki of Team Ninja will win his lawsuit against Tecmo – along with the rest of the crew who followed him – and garner their personal victories over the corporations that are so insensitive.
Well it’s that time of year again. 2007 is drawing to a close… and what a year it has been. Following on from Martins post last week, I figured I would toss my opinion into the ring. In the last 5 years I have personally never seen anything quite like this year. We’ve had the ups, the downs and there are quite a few laughs to be had along the way.
If I had one word to describe this year it would be turbulent. Let’s take a little look at some of the major events of the last 12 months.
January was quite a quiet month for the
But Anime on UKTV was about to take a somewhat considerable blow. In March digital channel Rapture TV cancelled its plans to run magazine-style show Anime Nation. And it looked like watching these shows on television was slowly slipping away.
May seen the return of anime music legend Yoko Kanno returning to play her first live gig to adoring fans in over 5 years. Sci-Fi
To be fair the first six months was nothing out of the blue. A few anime screenings here and there but nothing that will make you giggle with joy and go “Wow!”
But fear not my fellow fans. This is only half the story. It’s from July onwards where things get interesting.
One of my favourite news pieces in July was from The British Museum and their new anime seasons aimed at all the family and those fellow otakus. This brings the total of anime screenings around the U.K to around 7(not including the local ones) and this is a really great sign for two reasons. 1. people are organising these events and 2. people are actually paying to go see them. Fantastic.
In August Amecon rolled around and every fans prayers were answered. It was announced by the industry that a brand spanking new channel was to be born. It’s focus. Anime, nothing but sweet, sweet anime. Anime Central (sky channel 199) starting from September 10th fans all over the UK with a sky subscription will be able to tune into great shows such as Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell, Gundam. The list goes on. Anime Network also announced they will be extending from their two slots at the weekend to a full 7 days. Fans were literally spoiled with choice.
After many years of speculation DBZ fans finally got what they wanted. 20th Century Fox announced the production of a live-action Dragon Ball Z film coming in at a nice round $100million. Over the next few months cast details have been released and work is well under way.
And it was all going so well, well for a few months anyway. Everybody already knows what’ coming, the demise of Geneon
As recently as the 23rd of December there are lingering rumours of the fate of Anime Network on Propeller TV. As of writing they are not listed on their viewing schedule and it looks as of the 31st of December, Anime Network is no more.
But with all the doom and gloom surrounding Geneon there was some good news. A new distributor opened up shop in the
Continuing with the good news I was delighted to read that Japanese Foreign Minister Tarō Asō announced the creation of an “International Manga Award” for manga artists and creators from outside
Where are all the shows released in
- - Ergo Proxy
- - Beck
- - Mushishi
- - Afro Samurai
- - Tenchi Muyo Ryo-Ohki!
- - Tenchi Muyo Movie Set
- - Suzuka
- - Love Hina Box Set
- - Berserk
- - Paprika
- - Tekkon Kinkreet
These are all quality shows that have finally become available here. Go buy them all, now!
One of the funniest stories of the year originates in
2007 has really made being an anime fan exciting again, who knows what surprises we will come across in 2008. I am hoping and praying that this trend continues. What we need is more anime on TV, more in the cinemas and more awareness for this lovely art form. Personally I think we are back to the stage of the late 90’s early 00’s. Anime is growing again and I just want the industry to get things right. They really have a good launch pad to do something with the market.
As the old saying goes, the ball is now in their court. So now I shall bid farewell to 2007 and look forward to next year. I hope everyone has enjoyed the last year as much as I have and hope you all have a great new year.
As anime and manga slowly but surely become more and more of an integral part of the UK’s popular culture, it’s fair to say that we as fans have never had it so good. Whether you share this view or not, there have been some important events in the past twelve months that have, for better or for worse, had a profound impact. As 2007 draws to a close I’ve concluded that it has, as Tori Amos said, been a Pretty Good Year.
New to DVD
My own personal highlights were the arrival of rock ‘n’ roll drama Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad and Eureka Seven. The former arrived after numerous delays and speculation, complete with a fantastic limited edition collector’s box; the latter, the mecha thriller born from the creative minds of Studio Bones and Macross creator Shoji Kawamori, features great characterisation, vibrant giant mecha action scenes (complete with airborne scenes in which the combat is fought surfing on particles of pure light!) and an overwhelming sense of youthful ‘cool’. I daresay these are among the best shows of their respective types in recent years.
I’d all but given up on a UK release of the medieval fantasy adventure Berserk; after hearing so many good things I was all set to resort to importing…until MVM delivered the goods with the Region 2 edition last autumn. Similarly, AD Vision demonstrated that they hadn’t forgotten about us Brits either, kicking off their release of the sci-fi piece Kurau: Phantom Memory. Speaking of sci-fi, the first feature-length addition to the Stand-alone Complex branch of the Ghost in the Shell franchise, Solid State Society, also hit the shelves this year, as did the atmospheric cyberpunk series Ergo Proxy.
Fans of box sets and special editions shouldn’t be disappointed this year either with the likes of Satoshi Kon’s Paranoia Agent, .//Hack: Sign, Haibane Renmei and Planetes being among those getting the box set treatment.
From a collector’s point of view, it’s been a great time to start collecting more of your favourite movies and series but from the industry perspective it’s not been without its problems. A high-profile collapse of a potentially lucrative deal between old stalwarts ADV and Geneon threatened the distribution and availability of some popular Geneon titles, with potential repercussions for the European markets; especially when our own MVM relies on Geneon for many of its own current roster. On the plus side, a new contender for UK distributor in the form of Revelation films picked up some dropped MVM titles and one or two of its own.
The questionable state of the anime market in general, both in Japan and the West, was thrown into the forefront more recently with a series of press releases and statements from various corporate representatives, relating to the age-old debate regarding the effects of fansub downloading and distribution on the financing of studios and new releases. Whatever your opinion on the subject, it’s an issue that shows no sign of going away any time soon; studios, distributors and fans all had to come to terms with some harsh realities in between the circular arguments, finger-pointing and fears of industry collapse. My own view is that things probably aren’t quite as bad as the pessimists made out but in an age of digital file sharing, the increasing influence of the internet and the rising global popularity of anime, there are some important lessons to be learned and the way in which things are done will have to adapt with the changing times.
Anime on UK TV…at last
After being treated to little more than heavily edited Shonen Jump shows on kids’ channels and the occasional movie in the small hours of the morning every few months, we’ve had anime broadcast on national TV for the first time since the ‘good old days’ of Evangelion and Nadesico on the Sci-fi Channel. This year, we saw the first defintive evidence that all this could change. A number of fan favourites, including GitS: SAC, Cowboy Bebop, Azu Manga Daioh, Wolf’s Rain and Full Metal Alchemist were given regular slots on the channels Anime Network UK and Anime Central. It goes without saying that the combined efforts of these two is a pretty big step in the right direction for UK viewers!
Coming up in 2008
This is all well and good, but what’s to come next year? The announcement of a second season of Gunslinger Girl, a new Mamoru Oshii production in the form of Sky Crawlers and even a 25th anniversary addition to the Macross franchise, Macross Frontier, featuring a soundtrack penned by Yoko Kanno, all promise good things for the months ahead. With ADV picking up the licence and arranging a preview screening in Edinburgh for Makoto Shinkai’s latest feature, Byousoku 5cm (5cm per Second), a DVD release can’t be far behind either.
A new manga imprint is always cause for rejoicing and the promise of ‘Unfiltered manga for the unfettered mind’ was enough to make this self-confessed mangahead sit up and take notice. Yen Press have launched their list in the UK this autumn with an exciting and varied list of titles, including the first volumes of five manga series. Four of the five are competitively priced tankoubons at £5.99 per volume and while the fifth is more expensive at £10.99 but for a good reason: it’s not just the stand-out title of the first batch, it’s 527 pages long.
With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child Volume 1: Keiko Tobe
This series brings something rare to us in the UK: a ‘josei’ or women’s manga that is not only a heart-warming and moving ‘slice-of-life’ story based on a real-life situation but also contains much helpful and informative material about autistic spectrum disorders. It’s a well-paced and affecting read, telling the tale of Sachiko and Masato Azuma, an ordinary couple looking forward to the birth of their first child. At first all goes well but soon Sachiko suspects that something is not well with little Hikaru. “He doesn’t answer me and he hates being held and throws tantrums.” Criticized by her mother-in-law for being a ‘bad’ mother, and worn down by Hikaru’s puzzling and exhausting behaviour, she feels very isolated. The reader is soon drawn into Sachiko’s long and often frustrating journey from expert to expert in her aim to understand and help her son. Yet this is not a depressing read; Sachiko’s determination to do the best for her son in spite of the many obstacles she encounters is inspiring. Different – and highly recommended.
Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning by Kyo Shirodaira; art by Eita Mizuno (Teen)
Any reader who’s enjoyed ‘Case Closed’ will appreciate another series whose main interest lies in the uncanny ability of its central character to solve mysteries. Ayumu is the younger brother of world-class detective Kiyotaka Narumi. Growing up in his brilliant brother’s shadow, Ayumu suddenly finds himself in the spotlight when his brother disappears and he becomes the prime suspect in a murder at his school. Aided by Madoka, Kiyotaka’s wife and fellow detective, and the bubbly Hiyono Yuizaki, the female president of the school newspaper, Ayumu sets out to clear his name. Called upon to use his own exceptional powers of reasoning, he soon finds himself involved in the sinister mystery of the ‘Blade Children’, the very case his brother was investigating when he disappeared.
I had great hopes for the anime TV series of ‘Spiral’ which, in spite, of the intriguing premise, proved to be frustratingly slow. So I was interested to see if the manga on which it was based would prove any better. It’s early days yet as much of this first volume is concerned with setting up what is to follow. But Ayumu and the irrepressible Hiyono make a likeable pair of investigators, and although this first volume is not earth-shatteringly exciting, the word on the street is that this series is well worth staying with as it improves not only on the art front but also ups the stakes in excitement and plot development.
Zombie-Loan by Peach-Pit (Older Teen)
Orphan Michiru Kita is one of those anxious-to-please high school girls who end up being put-upon and bossed around by their so-called friends. Two good-looking classmates, Chika and Shito, come to her rescue. The boys are the sole survivors of a horrible accident. Or are they? For Michiru notices that they have strange dark rings around their necks. She knows to her cost that they are warnings of impending death; she saw rings just like these on the necks of her own parents before they died. Timid Michiru resolves to try to help the boys, only to find herself in far more trouble than she could ever have imagined. Yes, there are zombies out there – and Michiru, with her special gift, is just the one to help her bickering class-mates who, in exchange for an extra lease of life, are working for a most unusual agency to pay off their debt.
The two mangaka team Peach-Pit are probably best known for their gothloli shojo fantasy series ‘Rozen Maiden’ (Tokyopop) and their charming fantasy for younger readers ‘Shugo Chara’ (Del Rey). So the dark comedy of ‘Zombie Loan’, with its 16+ label comes as quite a contrast to these other works. Well drawn with a good sprinkling of dryly ironic humour, there’s surprises and fights in plenty as well as a heroine with strong moe appeal.
Black God: story by Dall-Young Lim; art by Sung-Woo Park (Older Teen)
Everything goes wrong for games programmer Keita Ibuki when he stops by a noodle stand late one night for a bowl of ramen and ends up giving his meal to a cute – and starving – girl. This drunken act of generosity lands him in the middle of a full-scale battle between Mototsumitama, beings with superhuman powers, during which his arm is sliced off. Coming to in his own apartment, he finds that his arm has been reattached. Or has it? Kuro, the cute girl, explains that she has replaced his arm with her own – but he must stay close to her while it ‘fuses’ or it will rot away. And she’s been raiding his fridge as she’s still starving. Keita
‘Black God’ is a fast-paced, exciting action series, with plenty of fights and an interesting (though at first a little confusing) premise. (Even though the artist and author are Korean, ‘Black God’ is a manga, not a manhwa, set in Japan and reads right to left.)
Alice on Deadlines: Shiro Ihara (Older Teen)Shinigamis (Japanese gods of death or grim reapers) are big in manga and anime at present (look no further than ‘Death Note’ or ‘Bleach’). Lapan is a good-looking but lazy, skirt-chasing shinigami who messes up his next soul-reaping assignment on earth with disastrous consequences. Sent to the Human Realm to retrieve a eandering spirit, Lapan ends up inhabiting the curvaceous body of high school girl Alice, whilst poor, virtuous
Alice is displaced into Lapan’s skeletal form (a punishment imposed on him by his boss for his idle attitude). What’s more, Lapan obviously enjoys being a curvaceous sixteen-year-old so much that he’s in no hurry to swap back, especially when there are so many of Alice’s girlfriends (all oblivious at first to the swap) to hug and squeeze. ’Alice on Deadlines’ is, in some ways, another variation on that well-known theme, the teenage boy’s wish-fulfilment fantasy manga, although there is a frenetic comedic quality to the manga that recalls other off-the-wall fantasies like ‘Excel Saga’. ‘Pervy’ would be the best way to describe the humour with plenty of titillating shots to please the fanboys.
The Yen Press approach to translating sound effects alongside the original Japanese ‘in situ’ has been criticized elsewhere for holding up the action and making for a bumpy read. For example, when a door opens, we get the original Japanese lettering, plus ‘Gacha’ and (Creak) the translation in brackets; after a while this becomes rather intrusive. The advance publicity states that ‘Our goal…is to give you a reading experience as close to the original as possible…We’ll fret over every little sound effect…so that you can “hear” the cadence being evoked.’ A laudable goal, but I’m not wholly convinced that it succeeds.
Overall, these titles make up a really promising start to an interesting and varied list, with plenty of good things to follow in 2008, including global manga ‘Y Square’ from Judith Park and vampire series ‘Nightschool’ from Svetlana Chmakova (already well-known for ‘Dramacon’). A link up with manhwa publishers Ice Kunion will bring ‘Angel Diary’ and ‘Moon Boy’. Out in January 2008 is ‘Sundome’ by Kazuto Okada, the first with an ‘M’ rating. New Japanese supernatural series ‘Kieli’ is promised for April 2008 and, rather pleasingly, three yaoi titles from Lily
Hoshino, starting with ‘Love Quest’ in October 2008.
Yen Press (www.yenpress.com) have brought out a strong and varied selection of titles, all of which are well worth investigating. I’m looking forward to checking out their new titles as well as following up on these five series in 2008. But I’d be interested to know what other readers think. I confess that I’m not a fan of global manga but both Judith Park and Svetlana Chmakova have already garnered many good reviews. Are Yen Press trying to cover too many different types of manga or are they right in diversifying?
Over the past two years the Anime industry has gone from strength to strength. Almost every area of the DVD market has undergone some sort of change or development in the last 24 months. I’m trying to think of anything that hasn’t been tinkered with but I’m firing blanks [sic].
So today I’m going to take a look at something every fan knows and loves, Box sets. And as the title of this article says, looking at whether or not the quality of the fable box set is on the up or on the down.
One thing I have to say right off the bat is that I have no idea how the UK distributors work with box sets. I am only going to be making educated guesses about the things they choose and the reasons behind them. Quality is also a subjective value. One person might say the box set for series X is a shoddy piece of money grabbing crap, others might say it’s the second coming of Christ. This varies from show to show as the certain otaku groups wage war over the internet. I’m sure you all have your own opinions.
Box sets of days gone by.
It’s funny because on the surface of what seems to be a fairly simple and straightforward thing this question has taken me quite a bit longer than I expected. After all this preamble is nigh 250 words long. To make things easier in this article I’m going to look at three things. The quality of box sets over the years, the content and the price.
Now as I said before the quality of any box set varies from show to show. But the general consensus is that compared to the US and Japanese market we [The U.K] have been getting the short end of the proverbial stick. Over the last few years however we have seen more and more of these box sets creeping into the market, many at the end of a products life cycle in a ditch to boost sales and get some extra cash from the hardcore fans. Easiest and quickest example I can think off is the Akira and Macross Plus box sets. The single DVD’s have been around for years but now you have the option of a nice cardboard box and two more DVD’s.
Handbag, Box and DVD. The new Revilation Films Autumn collection.
Even then if you look at other series some don’t get a second sniff. Everyone’s in this for profit and if the companies can see an old series getting some extra cash before the next big thing comes along then they’ll be damned if they don’t do it. Prime examples are the new Tenchi collections the late Geneon brought out. The show is nearly 15 years old but there is still that market out there that warrants a new box set. And no, I’m not even going to touch DBZ. There is a new box set every god damned month from that show.
It’s not only the amount of box sets the other markets get that overwhelms us, the actual content of them boggles the mind and many offer good value for money. I know that Haruhi isn’t released in the UK just yet but I bought the US box set the day it came out and when it arrived at my door I was greeted with a nice sturdy box, two DVDs, a CD, a Haruhi armband, a hair band and a pencil board. All of that for some £20 odd quid. Then you look at some of the things we get offered for our precious pennies, it doesn’t look good.
Will the UK release get all these goodies?
What would you say is a fair price for a box set of your beloved series? £5 more than usual? £10? £20? As I said earlier it’s all subjective, one mans treasure is another mans junk and finding that sweet spot that tempts both hardcore fans and that shopper in HMV is one hell of a task. Box sets can offer some amazing value for money, depending on where you go, and if you were going to buy the series anyway spending a few more quid and getting a nice box to put on display is a bonus. Courtesy of the Box sets little brother, the m-lock, you can get both for a fantastic price.
So looking back it’s been a fairly negative article, we’ve been getting shafted for quite a while either by price, not enough in the box set itself or hell, no box sets at all. But like anything over the past two years things have been changing, slowly but surely. Over the past two months we’ve had some quality box sets being released. Beck comes to mind along with a few others, there’s one in particular I’m going to go over.
Now regardless if you like the show or not the UK directors cut was released on October the 15th. And in a nice email from Anime-on-line.com I was given a taster of what could be had. In this box set there are 6 DVD extras ranging from unedited dialogue, character profiles right up to the official launch at Comicon US 2006. You also get a 20 page booklet “pitch bible” used by GDH to get TV companies interested, 5 art cards and some flip DVD covers. We also can’t forget the box itself.
Lots of goodies to be had here.
Now taking a look at volumes released in the UK the average price is what? £13.99? £14.99? this Afro Samurai costs just £17.24 and you get all of those extras. That’s a bargain if I’ve ever seen one.
Granted that is one drop in the Anime Ocean but, dare I say it, the industry is finally waking up and giving us some quality items we can be happy about buying. Whether they are just carbon copies of the stuff the Americans get doesn’t really matter. What matters is finally the UK market is getting the recognition it deserves in terms of box sets.
There is only one other question I have yet to figure out the answer to. Why the bloody hell did it take so long?