Tag Archives: anime

Was It Inevitable?

Wizard has announced that it’s ending the publication of its Anime magazine, Anime Insider.  This neither surprises me nor bothers me.  I didn’t care for Anime Insider.  The articles read like one info-mercial after another, a problem not just for this publication, but all of Wizards magazines (except maybe Toyfare).  I remember back in 2005-06, there was a lot of chatter on the interwebs about it.  And let’s face it, Wizard hasn’t been doing real well in the last few years.  Conventions cancelled, and this is the second of their pubs to be cancelled, Inquest, their gaming mag to go first.  It was only a matter of time, before a niche mag like this would see the chopping block.

Of course, this isn’t just a trend in anime/manga, as some have suggested.  Yes, advertising for anime and now manga has been going down in the last few years.  And anime and manga mags have been biting the dust (Animerica, Newtype/PIQ, etc.).  But let’s face it.  This is a trend in publishing in general.  Printing and distributions costs have gone up a lot, with daily/weekly publications taking the biggest hits.  Newspapers are either shutting down or searching desparately to keep their heads above water.  Monthly mags may survive this better, if their content is good enough, and let’s face it, Anime Insider just didn’t have it.

And it’s not like I didn’t give it a chance.  I got Anime Insider back when it was quarterly mag Anime Invasion.  I thought it had potential back then.  I was looking for a mag to subscribe to.  It was between Anime Invasion/Insider, Animerica, Protoculture Addicts, and later Otaku USA.  But Anime Insider just never made the muster.  It was too much like Wizard, Wizard’s comics mag, which I didn’t like the format of, and it’s articles gave no real information.  I could find everything the reported on, online, and done better.

What the demise of Anime Insider inevitable?  I sure think so.  There are just so many “Who would win?” fights between anime characters you can do before it becomes tiring.  And in this economy, the market can support only so many niche mags.  Only those that put out the best content will still be around.  Anime Insider never had a chance.

By Choice or Necessity?

We knew it was coming.  The writing was on the wall for a while now.  Cartoon Network has officially killed Toonami, and has effectively killed any chance for Adult Swim anime (who’s going to stay up/get up at 5am to watch Code Geass or Guardian of the Spirit, on a Sunday?!).  So, anime companies have had to find new outlets to show their anime.  They know no one is going to buy it without seeing it first.  Sci-Fi seems to be doing fairly well with their Ani-Mondays, and Funimation is expanding their shows on their channel (for those of us lucky enough to have Verizon FiOS. hehe).  But the wave of the future, and we all know it’s coming, is internet broadcasting.  And anime companies seem to be embracing it now, while it’s still early.

Continue reading By Choice or Necessity?

Manga Drama

This past year, anime companies have been claiming that fansubs are killing the anime industry as we know it in the US.  The people involved with dubs are especially vocal about this, the producers, directors and actors, since it is their side of production that is most affected.  Here’s a thought for these people; instead of crying doom and gloom for the anime industry, why don’t they try an area that fansubs CAN’T compete with them on?   Audio Dramas based on manga.

Continue reading Manga Drama

They're At It Again

In case you missed it the first time around, Bookcloseouts.com has another sale on Tokyopop books. They range in 50%-75% off, but most of the books I’ve looked at are 60% off. That’s still only $3.99 a book. It’s a steal if there are some older titles that you’ve been thinking about getting.

My suggestions:

  • Pet Shop of Horrors
  • Genju no Seiza
  • Dragon Voice
  • Dragon Knights
  • Vampire Game
  • Crescent Moon
  • Planetes
  • RG Veda – For Clamp Fans
  • Clamp no Kisenki – For Clamp Fans
  • Comic Party

That should be a good start. Some of those series are only the first couple of volumes. For others, you can get a near complete run! The books are in good shape with maybe just a black mark on the bottom of the books to mark them for closeout. I couldn’t find an expiration date for this sale, but the last one was for a month, so I’m gonna guess the same for this one.

On an unrelated note, but I wanted to point out that Walmart and Amazon.com has the One Piece Season One Uncut Collection for only $22.00. That’s half off the regular price! It’s only for half a season (13 episodes), but at that price it’s a good deal! One Piece really is a great series, and if you’ve been following the manga, it’s really worth it to check out the anime, done properly.

Revisiting My Otaku Roots

otaku-usa-3.gifThe latest issue of Otaku USA has a couple of features on the anime classic series Space Battleship Yamato. While reading these features and the writers talking about their first times seeing the series, it got me thinking about how I was introduced to it.

Like most other people my age, my first exposure to Japanese animation was through the cartoons that were brought over and re-written for a US audience. Kimba the White Lion, Speed Racer, and Battle of the Planets (Gatchaman) were all shows I remember watching and liking, but they never differentiated them from the other cartoons I watched. That honor goes to another show; Star Blazers.

It was 1978, I’m almost certain. KTLA, channel 5, a local television station in the Los Angeles area. It had a show on the weekends that showed movies for kids; The Family Film Festival. It ran in the afternoons, after the morning cartoons were over, and there was only sports on the local channels (there was no cable at the time). So, the Family Film Festival was the best thing on. It was hosted by Tom Hatten, a well-known local personality. He sat in a director’s chair, a clipboard in his lap, next to a movie reel projector. He would introduce the movie to be shown and would give facts and trivia about tn_starsha_argo_jpg.jpgthe movie in before and after commercial breaks. It was here that on one Saturday, a new movie was shown Space Cruiser Yamato. That was the title as I remember it. It was the dub of the compilation movie of the series Space Battleship Yamato, and it was the coolest thing I had ever seen! The music was awesome, the plot was great and the characters were interesting. It was unlike any cartoon I’d seen before, and I’d seen quite a bit on the Film Festival. They had shown animated movies from all over the world. But Yamato had no talking animals or slapstick. It was real-looking people, with real problems, facing real peril. You saw people die! I liked it so much that I watched it again on the Sunday morning replay! Both my older brother and I fell for this movie. I was confused by one thing though. The movie was call Space Cruiser Yamato, but the ship was called the Argo. For the first part of the movie, I was wondering where they got this Argo, and where was the Yamato? I didn’t dwell on it long though. Such things aren’t of great concern when you’re 9-10 years old.

The next summer, I spent searching through the TV Guide to see if the Yamato movie would be on again. I don’t think it was shown again, on KTLA, but for the fall, we got a star-blazers-logo.jpgbetter surprise; the TV series would be coming! It was called Star Blazers now, and it was on a different independent station, KCOP, channel 13. But there was no mistaking the 1/3 page ad in the TV Guide, or the familiar chords of the opening. The voices were the same as from the movie, as were the names. We didn’t get it in the afternoons like everyone else it seems. Star Blazers was shown in the morning, at like 7 or 7:30 AM. I remember my brother would set up an audio tape recorder next to this old black and white 13″ TV and record the audio. There wouldn’t be a VCR in our house for another 5 years at least. We would play back the tapes and just listen to the episodes we couldn’t watch. So now, everytime I watch an episode of Star Blazers, after the opening credits, in my head I hear the narration for the episode of the Argo preparing to leave the solar system…

Star Blazers was a big deal for my generation. It was the first time we saw animation do something so different. After a steady diet of Looney Toons and Hana-Barbera shows, it was a breath of fresh air to get something without talking animals or the zany sound effects. Instead, we got orchestra music with that marching band-sounding opening. Characters that looked and felt real; that got hurt, sacrificed themselves, and even died. There was no reset button with everyone back in the next episode.

We only got 1 3/4 of the Star Blazer series shown in the LA area. The show got moved right at the end of the second season with the Comet Empire. But I have a lasting memory from that as well, and it’s the one that set me up to becoming an anime/manga fan. Near the end, Desslock and Wildstar are dueling on Desslock’s damaged battle ship. During the fight, Wildstar is wounded, and Nova runs to his side. She’s prepared to sacrifice herself to stay with Wildstar. Desslock stares at them together, and lowers his gun and walks away. Nova’s love for Wildstar reached his heart, and rather than break up the lovers, he gives up on his revenge against Wildstar and the Star Force. And it was, with that moment, that I would become an anime fan. Never in American animation did you see the villain have a change of heart, or that you might think that the villain wasn’t just pure evil incarnate. With that great ambiguity, I was, and still am, hooked.

For more information than you ever wanted to know about Star Blazers, check out the official site, Star Blazers.com or Issue 4 of Otaku USA, and read about others introductions to the series.

Reading (Subtitles) is Fundamental

As many parents with school age children know, getting your child to read can sometimes be a real hassle. This is especially true if your child is struggling in school. In this post-“No Child Left Behind”-world, this can mean pressure from teachers and schools to get your child to improve. I was having this problem with my youngest daughter.

Now, I’ve always believed the way to get someone interested in reading, was to give them a book about something they were interested in or enjoyed. So with my youngest, we tried finding books that she would like, and let her choose the books she wanted to read, but she still struggled with her reading, and never wanted to do it. We were at a loss of what to do, until we found a breakthrough in the form of an anime.

As well as reading manga, I enjoy watching anime based on manga. One series I got interested in was Sgt. Frog from Tokyopop. When I found some fansubs online, I downloaded them to check the anime out. So, I’m out in the living room, watching the shows, and both my daughters come out to see what I was doing. Since these are fansubs, in order to understand what was going on, you had to read the subtitles. Now this isn’t the first time I’ve watched fansubs, or other anime with subtitles. It’s how I prefer to watch my anime. But, this was the first time the girls, especially my youngest, really showed an interest sitting down and actually watching it.

They not only liked watching it, they hijacked the series from me! My youngest starting sgt-frog-dvd.jpgtaking the episodes and watching them in her room. She also started searching Youtube to find videos and more episodes. After doing this for a few weeks, I noticed her reading was starting to improve. She didn’t mind sitting down and reading. She didn’t keep asking if it had been 20 minutes yet (as dictated for homework every night). She was reading whole books (about 60 pages, early chapter books)! Nothing else had changed in that time period. The only thing I could think of that could have spurred this change, was her watching and having to read subtitles.

So, while TV is still a wasteland, it can still have it’s uses. I’m not going to say that this will work for everyone. I think it worked for us, because the girls were already used to the idea of subtitles. It wasn’t until she found something she was really liked and couldn’t see in english, that my youngest finally put an effort into improving her reading skills. But, if you have child prefers TV to books, and they enjoy anime, maybe encouraging them to check out the japanese tracks with subtitles might yield some results.

Can't Say I'll Miss It…

According to ANN, ADV is discontinuing Newtype USA. No reason why, just that a “new, unnamed” magazine will take it’s place. To be honest, I’m not going to miss Newtype USA. Of all the anime/manga magazines out there, this one had the greatest potential that was completely wasted by ADV. But then, that’s no surprise either. I remember the excitement at the news that Newtype would be coming to the US in an english form. Newtype was the bible to anime back in the day (and I mean the 80’s when I say that). Getting a version here was awesome news to the anime fan. And then…ADV got a hold of it. It became a big, glossy ad for ADV advertisers, and not the premiere magazine on anime that it should have been.

Up until this year, there was no anime/manga magazine that I thought was worth my time. Anime Insider, from Wizard, it just another Wizard magazine cosplaying. There aren’t any real reviews and nothing bad is said about the advertisers products. Protoculture Addicts…it was a nice fanzine, but really lost it when it became a published magazine. I just don’t feel I can trust what’s said in it, with all the mistakes, that could/should be caught by simple editing. (By the way, Ichigo’s dad in Bleach runs a hospital, not funeral home). No, the only magazine that I’ll read now is Otaku USA.

I was skeptical of the magazine at first. When I heard the publishing company that does Sci-Fi magazine was also going to be doing this, I had nothing but sad, ugly visions in my head. But, I got the first issue anyway, and I loved it! It’s a magazine written by fans, for fans. The reviewers and staff really know their stuff. And they are people you’ve heard of: Patrick Macias, Anime World Order Podcast crew, Ed Chavez of Mangacast, and Jason Thompson of Manga: the Complete Guide. They cover every genre, give good reviews of manga and anime, and have a preview of a new manga in every issue. I’ve enjoyed all my issues of Otaku USA, and I haven’t even looked at the complimentary disks that come with it yet!

If you want to get an anime magazine with good, reliable information, then just go get a copy of Otaku USA. It’s cheaper than Newtype USA anyway.

(No, I wasn’t paid to write this)

Golgo 13 in To Love-Ru – Trouble -?

ANN has reported that two new anime series’ for the spring have been announced that are based on manga; Golgo 13 by Takao Saito and To Love-Ru -Trouble- by Saki Hasemi and Kentaro Yabuki.

golgo-13.jpgManly men can rejoice that one of their idols is finally getting his own series. Golgo 13 is about an amoral assassin that takes on assignments from all over the globe. This series started in the 1960’s, and is still published today. It’s 147th volume was published on December 5 in Japan. Duke Togo, code name Golgo 13, is a crack shot and a magnet for the ladies. He can pop off a target in one panel and then score with a beautiful woman in the next. Few men are more manly than Golgo 13. But for all his manliness, Golgo 13 has never had his own series. He’s only had a live action movie and 2 animated movies. Finally, he gets to come into his own. Viz Media has published 12 volumes of Golgo 13’s adventures under their Viz Signature line.

to-love-ru.jpgTo Love-Ru -Trouble- is a sci-fi romance comedy drawn by Kentaro Yabuki, best known here for his Black Cat series, also being published by Viz. It just started publication last year, shortly after the Black Cat series ended and has 5 volumes out. It is about Rito, who can’t get up the nerve to tell Haruna he loves her. So, while he’s in the bath, an alien named Lala appears before him, so begins the classic love triangle of boy, girl he loves, and alien who loves him. This series is slightly risque, so if it were to be licensed by Viz (after Black Cat is complete) it would probably be in their Shonen Jump Advanced line. With an anime coming out for it now, I wouldn’t doubt if Viz started to take a series look at licensing this manga. And being a fan of Urusei Yatsura, I would definitely take a look at this series.

PR: Viz ups Digital Downloads with Naruto

Viz takes another step into the digital domain by offering one of it’s biggest sellers online. Naruto joins Bleach and Death Note on Direct2Drive , IGN Entertainment’s digital retail store, at the reasonable price of $1.99 an episode. It’s for windows users only right now, as it uses Mediaplayer’s DRM, but intel macs with windows emulators can run them too. Apparantly all the shows are also dub only, so if you like the watch your anime in the original japanese with subtitles, you’re going to have to stay with DVDs.

Continue reading PR: Viz ups Digital Downloads with Naruto