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Weekly Wrapup 1/Jan - 7/Jan

This week: Doom and gloom, also the live-action Akira film is halted. Plus, a petition to nominate Kyoto as an anime production haven!

Happy new year! Just before 2012 began, Siren Visual Entertainment announced that it will be the first company to release Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kai outside of Japan, with the first disc to be released in Australia in March, 2012. The sequel series to the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni adapts more of the horror visual novel series by Ryukishi07, showing multiple iterations of a summer in a rural Japanese town said to be cursed. Due to the series not being released by a North American distributor, the Siren release will only have English subtitles with no English dub track. Siren will also release horror comedy series Princess Resurrection in March, in a complete 4-disc set.

A Northern Territory magistrate ruled that anime and manga pornography involving underage characters meets the criteria for child abuse, during a bail hearing for a 24-year-old Darwin resident charged with possession of child pornography. 320 of the 466 explicit images of children on the man's computer, which included photos of real children, were described as "Japanese animation" pictures. In the bail hearing, Magistrate John Lowndes ruled that drawings and stories could be construed as illegal because the code prohibits material that "depicts, describes or represents" child abuse. The defendant, who has no prior record and whose lawyer suggests someone with access to his computer downloaded the images, was denied bail and will appear in court again later this month.

Bandai Entertainment, the North American branch of Bandai Namco, has announced it will stop releasing new DVDs, Blu-rays and manga titles after this February. In an interview with ANN, Bandai Entertainment's president and CEO Ken Iyadomi stated the decision was made last October by the parent company's strategic business unit. Bandai has cancelled its new series releases in North America, including GOSICK, Nichijō and Turn A Gundam, but will continue to reprint currently existing titles until their licenses run out. However, its manga series, including Gurren Lagann and Mobile Suit Gundam 00I, will not be finished. Bandai Entertainment is the latest long-standing anime company in North America to close or shut down, following Geneon, Tokyopop and ADV, but will continue operation as a liaison for licensing and merchandising.

Production on Warner Brothers' live-action Akira film has halted due to "casting and budgeting issues". The studio announced that the budget will be reduced from $90 million dollars to $60 million dollars, but studio sources stated that issues with the script and casting rather than budgeting halted production. The movie will be reconsidered after a writer is hired to "polish" on the script within the next two weeks.

Finally, officials from the Japanese city and prefecture of Kyoto are drafting a petition to nominate Kyoto as a 'special content zone'. Such a zone would potentially allow laws overriding nationwide laws to be put in place to aid and promote the production of films, anime and manga in the location. One change suggested by Kyoto representatives is to simplify the visa application process for foreigners working on films, anime and manga in the region. Kyoto is home to several anime, film and video game studios and the Kyoto International Manga Museum, and representatives believe that the 'special content zone' will bolster tourism as well as local industries. The petition will be presented to the Cabinet of Japan in March.


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