The Month in Review - June 2002

Jul 13th 2002

Interesting June Releases



June was a good month for anime and manga releases with several titles fans have been clambering for, and manga releases across all genres.

Central Park Media released the corrected edition of The Slayers - DVD Collection Special Edition (Episodes 1-26) . Central Park Media Manga released The Slayers Super Explosive Demon Story Vol 1 Tp. The replacement also had audio problems that were subsequently fixed. See Central Park Media's site for more information.

AnimEigo's; DVD release of Kimagure Orange Road has caused concerns among customers due to the decisions to remove the opening credit animation from the individual episodes. The closing credits are present at the end of each episode. The opening credits have been placed in the credit section of the discs. Volumes 1,4,7 & 10 carry one opening credit sequence, volumes 2, 5, 8, & 11 carry the second, and volumes 3, 6, 9, & 12 hold the 3rd sequence.

During their work on Macross AnimEigo wanted to give the viewer an option to turn the credits off & on. This turned out to be very difficult to implement reliably on different DVD players. To avoid the same difficulties with the KOR discs, and to increase the play back reliability on certain DVD players, they decided not to "push the envelope." Many purchasers resented not being informed of the decision.

AnimEigo is re-evaluating how to present credits on future DVD releases. The set will be remastered, and an exchange will be offered. See AnimEigo's; web site for more information.


Upcoming Releases



Due to a video glitch in the master tape Synch-point; has delayed the first volume of Production I.G. and Gainax's odd-ball sci-fi to August 13th. The DVD, covering the 1st 2 of this 6 episode OVA series, will feature a commentary track by director Kazuya Tsurumaki, a 20 page booklet with liner notes, background information and manga.

CPM's upcoming DVD re-release of the Record of Lodoss War OAV series will include a new, exclusive mini-comic.

The DVD re-release of Project A-Ko will include a 40 minute long "making of" documentary and a re-issue of the soundtrack CD, and will be pan & scan, not widescreen. However, the Project A-Ko animation was originally created in full-screen and was later cropped for Japanese theatrical release after its original Japanese debut on home video in full screen format.

The upcoming 2 disc special edition DVD re-release of Graveyard of Fireflies will include new interviews with director Isao Takahata and film critic Roger Ebert, an acknowledged fan of the film, and extensive liner notes explaining the history and elements of Japanese culture presented in the film.

A press release on Super Techno Arts reports "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure The first volume of "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" DVD will be released in Fall/Winter of 2002. 13 episodes will be available on total of 6 volumes, with sound and music upgraded to 5.1 surround system for the original 6 episodes. Character design and animation director by Junichi Hayama, music composed and arranged by Marco D'Ambrosio of MarcoCo., and sound design by Tom Myers of Skywalker Sound.



- Street Date: Fall/Winter 2002 (date TBA)

- Episode count: 1st Volume 3 Episodes x 30 minutes each

- Format: Region 1 DVD

- Animation Production: A.P.P.P.

- Executive Producer: Kazufumi Nomura - Distribution by: Super Techno Arts Inc.



This 13-episode anime is based on the long-running manga by BAOH creator Hirohiko Araki. The series follows 17-year-old Jotaro "JoJo" Kujo and his grandfather Josef Joestar as they battle the immortal vampire Dio, who holds Jotaro's mother prisoner in a nightmare-filled coma. Joining them in this effort are four warriors who, like Jotaro and his grandfather, each posses mystical powers called a "Stand," derived from the names and meanings of certain Tarot cards. These powers are manifested in giant spectral warriors that emerge from the bodies of the group. But Dio has gathered Stand warriors as well, and he possesses a secret and incredibly powerful Stand of his own."


ADV will be releasing Nadia the movie on August 27th. Super Atragon, and Burn Up! Express volume 1 will be released on August 20th.

Super Atragon is a two episode series combining Jules Verne style science fiction with a generational war story. Aliens who from a sunken Pacific island give people the people of Earth a taste of their advanced technology. The American and Japanese use this technology to build super-submarines which destroy each other in the wake of the Hiroshima bombing. Years later the alien race begins maneuvering towards earth's poles, where the restored Japanese sub must stop them.

Burn-Up Express is show about a squad of police women, with as much T&A as a TV show can must, but a bit more characterization that other incarnation of the Burn Up! franchise.

ADV says Zone of Enders OVA is set for this fall, TV series will follow afterwards. You're Under Arrest is set for 2003, the specials will probably precede the movie. Gensōmaden Saiyuki will be called Saiyuki, instead of Paradise Raiders title originally announced. Mahou Senshi Riui will be titled Rune Soldier (singular) which is pretty close to the English title we see in the opening anyway. And the main character's name will be Louie.


Viz will begin releasing Yukito Kishiro's Battle Angel Alita: Last Order this September with the 48 page Part 1, #1.

The long-awaited continuation of the 9-volume best-selling series, Battle Angel Alita: Last Order updates Alita's continuous struggle to discover her mysterious past and unveils the series' original ending intended ending. Last Order has been running in Japan's monthly manga magazine Ultra Jump since December 2000.


Comic Book Resources has posted an interview with creator of the Road to Peridition comic, Max Collins, here;. Collins, who describes Road to Perdition as a thematic cousin of father and son assasin manga Lone Wolf and Cub, expresses his interest in anime, and manga, particularly Cowboy Bebop. ' My biggest comics-type enthusiasm of late is the anime 'Cowboy Bebop' -- remarkable stuff, absolutely great. The mangas of that are weak, though; I'd love to do 'Cowboy Bebop' comics...There's a dream project!"'

"I'm in the middle of a Batman project called 'Child of Dreams," reveals Collins. "It's a massive graphic novel by Kia Asamiya of 'Silent Möbius' fame; I've been given a rough translation and carte blanche to do the American version.


From the web site of translator Studio Proteus: Ghost in the Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface is officially scheduled for release in October, 2002. Regarding the status of the "standard" and "adult" versions of the books, Shirow has not decided on that yet--or, to be more accurate, he waffling now. He modified the pages from the limited hardcover release for the mass-market paperback in Japan, and at first he seemed amenable to letting us do a version with the original images, but now he's not sure. He seems to feel he may have gone a bit too far in the hardcover. At this point all we can do is wait and see what he decides. You'll be able to purchase the issues via mail order or at your friendly local comic book store.


The sold-out subtitled only re-mastered Superdimensional Fortress Macross DVD boxed set will be released to mainstream retailers beginning at the end of June. The series will be broken up for release as a series of 3 disc mini-boxed sets retailing for "just under $90" per set.

AnimEigo will not be releasing the You're Under Arrest OAV series to DVD. Very slightly altered versions of the OAVs were used as the first 4 episodes of the first YUA television series, so these episodes instead will be included with AnimEigo's release of the entire first You're Under Arrest TV series on DVD.

The contract for Arcadia of My Youth, which had been nearing expiration, has been re-signed and the DVD is a "top priority release" after the current batch of projects are completed.

According to Anime on DVD, Bandai will release the first domestic DVD volume of Chikyu Shoujo Arjuna, "Earth Maiden Arjuna," on October 8th, under the simplified title "Arjuna".

Earth Girl Arjuna was one of the biggest hits in Japanese animation last year. The ecologically themed series was directed by Shoji Kawamori (Macross, Escaflowne). The series takes a look at human mismanagement and materialism through the eyes of Arjuna, a girl who sees the future after dieing in a motorbike accident.

Acquisitions



Pioneer has obtained the theatrical, video and tv broadcasting rights to all 228 TV-episodes of the three Lupin III TV-series, as well as the four television specials, and one movie not licensed by FUNimation.

Anime on DVD reports that Bandai accidentally announced at the A-Kon convention that they have acquired the rights to Battleflag of the Stars, the next chapter in the cultural sci-fi Crest of the Stars series.

Image Entertainment has licensed Hyper Police. The first four episodes will be released on 8/23. Hyper Police is a post apocalyptic action where the human population has been augmented by beast-men, demons, and other fantasy staples who live side by side with the humans. It focuses on the police partnership of a young cat-girl, and her eight tale fox-woman partner who must eat her to gain her ninth tail.


TOKYOPOP debuted the race anime Initial D, and the newly announced children's title Stray Sheep at Licensing 2002 International Convention. Stray Sheep is a hyper cute/mascot/merchandise based title. They hope to release bring both titles to television.

From the press release:


INITIAL D tells the story of 17-year-old Tak, a tofu delivery boy who suddenly finds himself caught up in the heart-stopping world of street racing. When chance puts him up against street racing's most notorious driver and he actually wins, the lure is too much - he's hooked. Watch the INITIAL D trailer at www.TOKYOPOP.com.

Created by Japan's renowned TV commercial and film director Tatsutoshi Nomura, STRAY SHEEP is a fresh alternative to the current selection of children's entertainment titles. Nomura created STRAY SHEEP for Fuji TV after studying graphic design and taking inspiration from Russian animator Yuri Norshteyn. With warm and friendly characters, STRAY SHEEP has become a tremendously successful franchise in its native Japan, expanding outside the core children's market into high school and college-aged consumers.

STRAY SHEEP is based on the tales of Poe, a naïve, independent and curious ram who finds himself sleepwalking into the most unpredictable situations on his path to reuniting with his herd and finding the "ewe" of his dreams.


Anime on DVD's license cataloger has learned Viz had licensed Great Dangaioh.

Rumored Acquisitions (and subsequent confirmations)



From Anime News Service

There are rumors that despite reports of destroyed or lost masters DNA^s has been licensed for American distribution. Based on the romantic comedy manga by Video Girl Ai's Masakazu Katsura the anime is the story of a time traveling agent Karin from Japan's future who must find the "Mega-Playboy" responsible for an overpopulation issue. After arriving in 1990's Japan, Karin soon finds her presence has only added to the very problem she has sought out to stop.

(July's AX 2002 revealed DNA^2 was acquired by CPM)

The 4-part Sci-Fi / Comedy OVA series Alien 9 has been acquired for eventual release in America by a party who will make themselves known in the near future. J.C. Staff (Utena) produced the anime based on the manga by Hitoshi Tomizawa, Yasuhiro Irie (Cowboy Bebop, Vision of Escaflowne) supervises, Yuri Fujimoto directs. Story by Hitoshi Tomizawa and Sadayuki Murai (Perfect Blue and Boogiepop Phantom). In Japan, Alien 9 played as the centerpiece of many fan events and is heavily supported by seiyuu fans. The series boasts a wide range of top voice star talent including Aya Hisakawa (Skuld - Ah! Megami Sama) who plays centerpiece character Kumi Kawamura. In Alien 9, a sixth grade female student, Yuri Otani is elected to post of Alien Countermeasure Team in her class. In that role she must defend her school from Alien Invaders.


RahXephon has been licensed by an unnamed licensor for release in America. This information has yet to be officially confirmed by any North American Licensor or the Japanese producers of the series.

The popular new series, based on manga by Takeaki Momose and Yutaka Izubuchi (mecha-designer for Gasaraki, Aura Battler Dunbine, Patlabor, Gundam: Char´S Counterattack Etc.) features the talents of composer Yoko Yano, singer/seiyuu(voice actor)Maaya Sakamoto, Director / RahXephon Designer Yutaka Izubuchi (Mechanical Designs: Patlabor OVA), Chara Designer Akihiro Yamada (Illustrator: Lodoss War), and Mecha Designer Michiaki Sato (Producer: Earth Girl Arjuna).

(July's AX 2002 revealed RahXephon was acquired by ADV)



Anime on American TV



The Action Channel's July relaunch will include new anime titles CLAMP's apocalyptic confrontation X, the restored Akira, Tezuka's sci-fi masterpiece Metropolis, and the supernatural action 3x3 Eyes. The films will be part of "Animidnight" which will feature Anime titles every Friday at midnight.


Anime News Service is reporting that a deal may be underway for Cartoon Network to product an anime pilot in a Japanese and American animation collaboration.

Cartoon Network's debut of G-Gundam was delayed from July 1st to August at the earliest. G-Gundam is an alternative universe Gundam, meaning, it does fit in the time line that was inaugurated with Mobile Suit Gundam's One Year War. Instead, the series looks at a time when state disputes are settle in arena battle between giant robots (design to match the state's stereotypical ethnic character).

There have been contradicting rumors on TV Tome is listing that the swords and sorcery comedy Slayer will be appearing on ABC Family on July 6 or 7th, but ABC Family's summer line-up as shown on commercials is not listing it. Slayers was supposedly going to appear on Fox Kid's last year.

Kid's anime has continues to prove a success on American TV. Merchandise based titles continue to do well on standard networks, and action on cable.

Cartoon Network's debut of the cute children's anime Hamtaro has been labeled a ratings success. The 7:00am show's first week performance scored across-the-board delivery and ratings gains for all target demographics. Similarly, tweens 9-14 and even teens 12-17 provided double-digit delivery and ratings increases for the 4 p.m. telecast, which now serves as the lead-off series for Toonami, the network's signature weekday action-adventure franchise (4-7 p.m.). It continued to do well throughout the month.

Hamtaro, and Scooby-Doo have bolstered Cartoon Network's ratings with its highest ever weekly tweens 9-14 (379,000, up 25 percent from last year) and household total day deliveries (1.1 million, up 15 percent). In primetime, Cartoon Network was first in its delivery of kids 6-11 (723,000) and kids 2-11 (1.31 million).

Kids WB is leading the Saturday morning competition, including a #1 position among Boys 6-11 (4.5/20), with Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Powerpuff Girls take tops spots in most children's catagories.

Cartoon Network's weekday anime Toonami block also fared well in the May sweeps rating. According to Toonzone's news message board block improved the network's overall total day tweens 9-14 delivery (253,000, up 32%) and ratings (1.4, up 27%) to new May records. Within the action franchise itself, all key demographics posted double-digit delivery and ratings increases, including best-ever May performances for tweens 9-14 delivery (438,000, up 36%) and rating (2.3, up 21%), and boys 9-14 delivery (375,000, up 48%) and rating (3.9, up 39%). Toonami delivered an average 845,000 kids 2-11 (+31%) and 538,000 kids 6-11 (+38%). Ratings for kids 2-11 (2.8) grew 22%, while ratings for kids 6-11 (2.9) increased 26%. The block expands Monday, June 3, additional an additional hour beginning at 4:00 PM.

The popularity of anime in the US has become noticeable to Japanese industry observers.Fan's View's A-Kon convention coverage reports Nobuyuki Takahashi, President of Studio Hard stated, while admitting that not all of the "Dragon Ball and Pokémon generation" will stay with fandom, Takahashi believes that there is enough drive in the North American Fanbase at the moment to support the industry for at least the next five years.

Another respected source within one of the larger anime licensing firms in America comes another estimate as to the video media market size. According to their estimate the 2001 numbers were closer to $200 million all told in the USA including children's anime programming.


Upcoming English Periodicals



Perhaps one of the best sign of the faith in anime's popularity is the influx of new entries into the difficult periodical market.

Viz has announced that they will distribute an American edition of manga anthology Shonen Jump.

The English edition will debut in American newsstands this November. The $4.95 magazine will be published here in the States by Viz Communications, which has a licensing deal with Tokyo-based Shueisha, Inc. The company is aiming to debut at 100,000 copies a month with a circulation goal of 1 million in three years.

The new monthly magazine, to be launched in November 2002, will be patterned after Shueisha's Shonen Jump and will feature the manga from which many of the world's most popular anime properties such as Dragon Ball Z and Yu-Gi-Oh! were derived.

While the Japanese edition of Shonen Jump has run at 500 pages a week since 1968, the American edition will be released on a monthly basis with approximately 250 pages per issue. The lead titles of the American edition will be Dragon Ball Z and Yu-Gi-Oh!, supported by titles with aimed at similar demographics (presumably young males).

The according to a New York Post article "Negotiations are under way to develop more of the stories in conjunction with the Cartoon Network."

Graphic novel editions later collect the material released in the anthology.

Viz is keeping the including titles under wraps. A sample of the diverse offerings of the Japanese version include:

Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball, and his later works such as his short Dragon Ball parody Nekomajin Ga Iru, Sand Land where the prince of devils helps to free the last source of water, and Kajika, boy cursed by a fox to save 1,000 lives.

Hikaru no Go, a young boy with the spirit of an ancient master of the strategy game go.

Houshin Engi, a retalling of a classic Chinese legend about a wizard who needs to seal away evil spirits.

I"S by a romantic comedy by Katsura Masakazu (Shadow Lady, Video Girl Ai).

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, a generational story about a family's battle with a vampire that shifts genres as it follows the family.

One Piece, an odd-ball pirate adventure starting the stretchable would-be pirate king Monkey D. Luffy, and his strange crew.

Rurouni Kenshin, the samurai story of a former assassin who takes up a reversed edge sword and gives up killing.

Shaman King, a tournament fight series with a subversive edge.

Yu-Gi-Oh! the story of a young boy who wants to become a top game/puzzle player, connected to a Pokémon style merchandise phenomenon.

Popular Shonen Jump basket ball manga series Slam Dunk will be appearing in upcoming weekly manga anthology Raijin rather than the namesake of its Japanese originator. Gutsoon! Entertainment, Inc. plans to launch a new product line, Raijin Comics, a weekly manga comic book anthology based on Japanese stories and characters, translated for the North American market. Retail sales will begin in November 2002.


Raijin Comics
Unique to the North American Issue of Raijin Comics will be Fujin, a special supplement included in the weekly issues, will provide readers up to the minute details on anime, videogames and trends in Japanese culture.

Gutsoon! Entertainment's anticipates initial circulation for Raijin Comics to be 15,000 copies per week. Following the lead from it's Japanese counterpart, Gutsoon! plans to introduce an expanded character line in the weekly anthology, which will initially feature leading manga artists Hojo's City Hunter, Hara's Fist of the Blue Sky, Inoue's Slam Dunk, and Niwano's Bomber Girl . The key demographic for the company's product remains 15 to 34 year old males, however, the increase in story lines with strong female characters has generated equal interest among female readers.

In related Japanese news, Tsukas Hojo (City Hunter, Angel Heart) and Tetsuo Hara (Hokuto no Ken, Hana no Keiji) have split from Shueisha to create the new company, Coamix. A shakeup in the foreign translation rights seems to be occuring at this time with new rights not being granted. As existing rights expire, they may not being renewed. Animeland mentions in France the fallout includes licensor Tonkam withdrawing Rash and volumes 6-10 of Cat's Eye in late June with future withdrawls expected. City Hunter and "Ken le survivant" appear to be unaffected in their respective French releases. Coamix is involced in Gutsoon! Media's Raijin; weekly manga anthology project slated for release in America this fall.


A representative of A.D. Vision has confirmed for AnimeNation; that the premier issue of the long delayed English language version of Newtype Magazine will debut at next month's Anime Expo convention in Long Beach California. A.D. Vision will be the official American distributor of the new monthly magazine, and will have a limited edition of 20,000 copies of a special premier issue available for sale only at Anime Expo. The first regular monthly issue will be available through normal retail channels tentatively in August.

Details are still slim, but A.D. Vision has confirmed that the American version of Newtype will cover both Japanese and American anime fandom and will be printed in the same "back-to-front" Japanese format as the veteran Japanese version of the monthly anime magazine.


News From Japan



Anime News Service reports a final legal decision has been reach in the long running rights dispute between mangaka Yumiko Igarashi and original story writer Kyoko Mizuki deemed the "Candy Candy Trial" after the popular shoujo (girl's) title in dispute. The 25 year old story by Kyoko Mizuki was adapted into a manga (comic) series by Yumiko Igarashi, which later spawned an animated series and merchandise. A working partnership existed between the two until several years ago when Ms. Igarashi allegedly declared an exclusive copyright and began producing merchandise based on the work outside of the co-approval of Mizuki, Toei Animation (who produced the anime) and herself.

The Tokyo District Court awarded 29,500,000 yen compensation to Mizuki Kyoko against Igarashi Yumiko and 5 companies for breach of copyright in the production and sale of Candy Candy related goods. Presiding Judge Mimura Ryoichi followed the decision of the Supreme Court in October 2001 in which that court accepted that Mizuki held the copyright. Damages were fixed at 3% of total sales by the enterprise.



The official Blame! Movie website is up at www.blamenet.com;. A six 5 minute episode series of a web anime are scheduled for distribution commencing 7 June 2002.

Blame takes place in a bizarre, completely artificial world known as "Cyber Dungeon", described as "combination of Aeon Flux, a Fantasy-Style Dungeon, Clive Barker's Hell (as per Hellraiser), and a collection of H.R. Geiger's art.". The hero, Killy is traveling upwards through this world looking for a cure a genetic disease

There is a good Blame! manga site here;.


The Lupin III TV Special: "Lupin the Third Episode 0, First Contact", the 14th yearly TV special, will air July 26th in Japan on TV. The special details the first meets with the thief Lupin III, his somber gunman partner Jigen, his feme fatale associate Fujiko, his police officer antagonist Zenigata, and the stoic samurai Goemon.

See the Official Lupin page and Nihon Terebi's Friday Road Show web page

On June 23rd Anime Theater X channel of satellite broadcasting station Skyperfect TV officially announced why the new 13 episode Captain Harlock series, Endless Odyssey had been cancelled. According to the Daily Manichi (Japanese) the broadcast was cancelled because Leiji Matsumoto, original creator of space pirate Harlock, claimed the new series contains of the use of the Star of David, the symbol associated with the Jewish religion, as the weapon for the alien race which provided the story's source of evil

"Matsumoto said, 'My blood was frozen when I found the Star of David symbol appeared. I believe you cannot debase any religion or religious soul. I bear that in mind whenever I make stories. I cannot allow my characters ro appear in any Anime that tramples on my philosophy.'"

The Star of David is commonly used in anime a source of mysticism, especially by the series director Rin Taro.



Familiar Faces on News Series



According to Anime News Service Japanese anime magazine Newtype reports since more and more anime projects are starting to use non-Japanese talent for their series (Syd Mead in Turn A Gundam and Peter Chung in Alexander--or Reign if you use the TOKYOPOP title) The July issue of New Type has a brief article about a new anime created in part with Gerry Anderson, creator of Thunderbirds, Space 1999, Stingray, and many others. The series will be called Gerry Anderson's Firestorm.

Firestorm takes place in the year 2014, where the world is threatened by Black Okoto. A team of specialists from around the world called Storm Force is created. The best of the best is Storm Force 9, a six member team led by Sam Scott. Equipped with advance vehicles and weapons, their code name is Firestorm. Gerry Anderson handles the Mechanical Designs, while the character designs and CG animation will be handled by the Japanese company. No word on when it will be release, or if it is an OVA or TV series.


The latest SFX carries news that Gerry Anderson, in-between working on revamping Captain Scarlet for the actual 21st Century, currently has two CGI/cel-animation animated series in early production with Japanese studios - Stormforce and Eternity. Not too many details yet, but Stormforce has the premise of an alien-backed terrorist organization on Earth (to be fair, Mr. Anderson states that he can't say more than that for fear of giving too much away), while Eternity will, interestingly, be a CGI series, CGI film - and live action film.



Departures



The web site for domestic anime company AnimEigo Reports producer Shin Kurokawa has left the company to pursue other opportunities.

Voice actress Jessica Calvello, the voice of Excel in ADV's recently released Excel Saga reports that she must leave the role.

When she accepted the demanding, fast talking role last October, she was told she would receive vocal rest between volumes for vocally heal. She agreed to the new schedule, but during the recording of the fourth volume the strain began to effect her vocal cord. Her doctor informed her she would heal, and no permanent damage would be done, but ADV could not delay the product. They role will be recast for the fourth, fifth, and sixth volumes.



Misc



AnimeNation; reports Big West, the company recently officially, legally recognized as the sole owner of the Macross copyright, has chosen Japanese distributor Sunwards, Ltd. as the official international distributor of Macross Valkyrie toys and merchandise outside of Japan. This official announcement directly contradicts American company Harmony Gold's self-proclaimed status of sole American licensor of Macross merchandising rights. The result of this announcement should be two-fold. American fans should begin to see wider distribution and easier availability of imported Macross toys beginning late this summer, and American importers should see less harassment and fewer threats of legal action over market infringement from Harmony Gold.

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