Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Boston Globe tackles shoujo... 

Great to see more positive exposure for manga and shoujo in particular. While there was one or two wince-moments in it, especially at the beginning, this is a pretty long article that covers a lot of ground. It is nice to see someone taking the time to interview multiple fans, sources, and even opposing view-points (is TP's quality bad or not). Listing local clubs and websites is a nice plus as well. Most of all, I think hearing from several fans and how their interest evolved was pretty interesting. I think Sailor Moon on TV did a lot more than anyone expected...

[thanks to Franklin]

Monday, July 26, 2004

Bittorrent simulator in Java (Processing) 

Wow, this is just a really cool simulation. If you've heard of Bittorrent before, but aren't sure how it works, this will help a lot to visualize what is going on. A "seed" is someone with a complete copy of the file, while a "leech" only has some of it. BT splits the seeds' files into tiny chunks and randomly portions it out to the leeches, who also send to each other at the same time. :)

Update: Also, the language it is made in Processing looks pretty interesting. I'll have to check it out closer once it becomes availible for download.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

A trip to Target... 

So, I finally got around to visiting Target to check out the Marvel Age books. Some pretty fun stuff in there actually. I didn't realize that there was actually two varieties. One is a like a thicker monthly and is about $5. The other is squarebound and more like $14. MA Fantastic 4 is pretty bleh. What's up with our firery friend looking like a certain Captain America villain? Mangaverse seemed like it had some promise but kind of hit-or-miss. Some of the designs looked interesting, but most of the times eyes just looked wrong. The highlight as far as art seemed to be a story in the middle in more of an animated "Dreamwave" style. The most interesting to me in the $5 titles was one where I can't remember the title. It involves a boy who is a fan of the various Marvel characters, done in a sketchy style at times. Looked like it'd be fun, and any book with a cover having a cuuute dog resting on Spidey's head can't be all that bad, right?

For the squarebounds, X-men Evolution seemed pretty good. Seemed similar to the cartoon both in art style and content. There was a reprinting of some older Avengers stories, but out of all three, the one most interesting to me was an Origins book. Basically it contained the first couple of issues of the original stories for several titles, like X-men, Hulk, Avengers, Spider-man, and even one issue of Doctor Strange. If I wasn't so tight on money right now, I think I'd pick that up, as I've never read these original stories before. Also, people aren't kidding when they say those early stories were not uncompressed. Parker gets introduced, bitten by the spider, and learns of his powers within like 2-3 pages. He's already wrestling by at least page 4...

While I was there, took a quick peek at the DVD selection. Was tempted by $10 Office Space deal.. Also, I didn't realize season box sets of Scooby Doo were out! Scooby is one of my guilty pleasures, and I was always really put off by those "best of" collections. I have to grab this one of these days...

David Welsh reviews Fake 

I'm always curious about the opinions of BL manga from people, as it is one of those genres unusual to the comics marketplace, previously just in fanfiction or novels like Anne Rice. David has a good review of Fake up. Obviously I'm not the target audience for this, but I watched the anime and found it pretty fun for what it was. I also find it really amusing for the shoe to be on the other foot. I'm sure most ladies have a time where they are watching a movie or something and get exasperated with some pandering elements. Watching something like Utena and having Touga draped shirtless over a car with his pants half undone helps put things in perspective of just how goofy any kind of fanservice is. ;)  But I can appreciate romance and fun characters, so something like Fake can work on that level...

Also check out Dave's Your And My Secret review if you missed it. Yet another title I need to grab one of these days...

Saturday, July 24, 2004

State of Tokyopop... 

I have to say that the news lately from Tokyopop is interesting to me. This time around, there is a ton of Korean titles (shoujo soccer title sounds cool), and a few from Japan. There's also a german title called Prussian Blue which aparantly ran in a german manga magazine. Pretty interesting that that is coming out over here. Also, the previously mentioned Warcraft title with artwork from Kim Jae-hwan.

Someone in the thread made a comment, and I think it bears some consideration. The point made was that this con season, Tokyopop seems to have a lack of high-profile titles. There was those CLAMP magazines, but that's not manga in and of itself. Fruits Basket was a huge deal. Ai Yori Aoshi is popular and people also mentioned Mahoromatic, DNAngel, and Tokyo Babylon, but even those don't seem all that huge to me.

When you think about what other companies are releasing, you can't help but think that things like Tsubasa and xxxHolic would habe been Tokyopop titles a year or two ago.. Viz is doing really well with a ton of high-profile titles in the Shonen Jump line. ADV is plowing ahead and CMX is on the way. Various other companies are also tackling more BL and Yaoi stuff...

I guess it just seems like TP is focusing more on the "cine-manga" and their own home-grown titles, and licensing a bunch of lesser-known titles, while most of the big names go to other companies. Not that it is necessarily a bad thing (sometimes the lesser-known ones are great), but it is definitely a shift from the past. I'm thinking that the speculations on Tokyopop's TV commercials as a way to stay visible against the competition is not too far off.

Del Rey quality... 

Good but sparse news from Del-Ray. Aparantly they have now commited to not editing titles (and said they were mistaken in their original Negima approach), and will stop with the stickers on Negima. They've also committed to including color pages in all future volumes of all titles.

So that is good, and vague talk of special edition CLAMP stuff, manga based on Del-Ray novels, and translation of Japanese novels all hold some promise. I'm looking forward to those 6 title slots they have open for 2005....

Viz creates Shonen Jump Advanced and Ghibli imprints... 

Aparantly Viz had decided to launch a new imprint for titles a little more edgy than the current Shonen Jump line. The first title will be Ultimate Muscle. It probably doesn't have anything horrible in it, but it DID run in Playboy in Japan originally, so I'm sure there's some off-color humor at times...

They also plan a Studio Ghibli imprint for their various Ghibli-related fumetti titles. The neither confirmed nor denied the actual Porco Rosso manga.. That'd definitely be cool if it happend.

Nice Dark Horse news... 

I have to say that I'm pretty excited about the updates on Dark Horse's manga.

Basically, Tim gave us the rundown of how DH will be presenting their manga from now on. Titles will be in right-to-left format, in sizes that reflect the current market, with original SFX intact translated with small subs, and with the original cover art.
There will be some exceptions. Some titles under contract will remain in their current formats, but those are mainly the titles they have with Digital Manga Publishing.
Tim mentioned new releases of Gunsmith Cats, You're Under Arrest and Ah! My Goddess. Yes there will be a title change when that series goes right-to-left. Tim also made note that AMG will soon finish its monthly run, start the GNs from where the monthlies left off while they will start bringing out the first volumes.

That is great news as far as formatting goes. I'm personally a fan of the "leave sfx but subtitle them" method, and I'm guessing these will also be around $10 each or not too much more. I may finally try to pick up some more Goddess volumes.

But that's not all. Aparantly Lone Wolf and Cub is going to be re-released, not just right-to-left, but in a larger "wideban" size. I'm forgetting what exactly that refers to, but I'm thinking somewhat larger than a regular digest, and certainly larger than the current super-small volumes. Samurai Executioner will first come out in left-to-right (so as not to throw off the current readers of Lone Wolf) but will be released right-to-left later on.

They also plan on getting out a bunch of Koike Shoin's titles in the future. And since the rights to Crying Freeman have expired from Viz, the rumor is that DH may release that as well...

Certainly interesting times. I don't think there will be many manga left in the older format in the near future...

Friday, July 23, 2004

Arronofsky to helm Watchmen? 

Wow... this could turn out to be pretty interesting if it all pans out.

Donnie Darko bait... 

So, I was just reading Dave's adventure trying to rent Donnie Darko. We actually had a similar experience lately trying to find Spider-Man at Hollywood Video (there is those nifty coupons for three movies at a time cheap). However, it turned out they only have one copy, and that one was lost, so they didn't have it at all. What a way to capitalize on the new movie, eh?

Luckily we managed to borrow it from a friend and see it that way (I enjoyed it BTW). In a similar vein, if we can manage to hook up one of these days, you're perfectly free to borrow the DVD from me. :) See... now I have bait! ;)

Thursday, July 22, 2004

What a day... 

Wow... I'm sooo tired. Where I work, we've lost some people over the years, especially with the 9/11 financial crunch. Things seem better lately, but we still didn't need all the room we were taking up (two floors). It was decided to move everyone upstairs and then rent out the bottom. It is a pretty prime location, so we plan on moving everything over to an industrial park eventually (hopefully 6 months). However, the process of moving upstairs came first, and that started today......

It ends up that some people that were supposed to come and help with the move didn't show up, so it was up to us. We're all pretty close, so everyone didn't mind pitching in, but yikes it is a lot of work. Even one employee's son was helping out. Almost everyone had to shift around in some way (including most of the people already upstairs). I'd mentioned to one person the other day about my weak back, and he told everyone else, so that ended up well. I still helped out a lot (especially for dissasembling and reassembling computers), others covered the heaviest loads for me.

I'm not in the most amazing shape, so by the end of the day I was really fried and I could feel my back was getting really tired, but I sat down a bunch of times at that point and it helped a lot. We all also got free sandwiches out of it. Got to order what we wanted from a menu of a nice local place. I ended up being experimental and trying a panini (a particular kind of fried bread). The particular one was called Apple of My Eye and had honey shredded turkey with melted cheese, apple slices, and some grey pupon. Was really good! :)

I'm pretty happy with how the programming area turned out. We have a lot less space, but frankly we didn't need as much as we had and a ton of our books and printouts and boxes were way out of date and could go into storage. The best thing was that before we were in "the dungeon", a very dark area with no windows. Now we have a real window and it makes a big difference. I also grabbed a bigger monitor and mouse with a scroll-wheel, so that was good. Now I just need to steal some ram from another computer. 256mb is not really workable anymore! I used to have 768, but it got whittled down on me..heh...

Took a hot bath, and I think I'm in pretty good shape... Anyway, apologies for the boring cliched "let's talk about my day" stuff. :) It was just quite an ordeal...

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Team America 

How did I manage to miss hearing about this? Seems that Trey and Matt (of South Park) have a new movie coming out using real puppets (ala Thunderbirds). Aint-it-cool has the overview here and there are some screenshots here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Three interesting manhwa coming... 

ICv2 mentions these three titles, and I have to say that they all sound pretty interesting.

"President Dad is the story of a gawky adolescent whose father becomes President of Korea. The feisty 15-year-old heroine of Love or Money is not shy at all, she is a budding entrepreneur so obsessed with money that she sets up a loan-sharking operation, while Dabin Choi, the central character in Neck and Neck is an underworld princess, a domineering take-no-prisoners teen who falls for the son whose gangster father is her dad's biggest rival."

Here's to comics that aren't the normal cliches. :)

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Lady Snowblood Kills Bill 

First, a preface... I've only seen the first Kill Bill movie, and I think I'd like to see it again (it is hard to feel 100% comfortable watching a movie like that with your Mom, even if isn't offended..heh). Still, I think that it is safe to say that I was surprised by the extent that Kill Bill Vol. 1 was based on Snowblood, and I have to say I enjoyed Snowblood more as a movie. I'll try not to get into too many big spoilers, especially for Snowblood. No Promises on Kill Bill...
I had heard that the set for the snow battle at the end of Kill Bill was a direct copy of one in Lady Snowblood, but it is much more than that. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not out to crucify Tarantino. He's generally pretty clear on influences, and a lot of his mashes of various things are very fun. Still, I think it is safe to say that the movie would not exist in any measure the way that it does without Lady Snowblood. Everyone should go out and see this movie (Animeigo has it on DVD) and see what the fuss is about. :)
I think part of my issue with Kill Bill is that it seems so stylized that you can't help be removed from the characters and situation a bit. For me, I think my favorite Tarantino movie is Jackie Brown. That is a movie with a lot of influences and style, but it has a pretty strong emotional core, and  most of the things in the movie make sense as part of the setting. Interestingly enough, the more I think of Snowblood, the more that I think that it is exactly in that vein itself. It has a pop art sensibility and seems to have hommages to things that came before it (I'll have to read up more on this, since I haven't seen a ton of very old Japanese swordplay films). Perhaps that explains why Kill Bill seems so out there, if it is a pop art hommage to a pop art hommage... :)
It is a bit hard to talk about Snowblood without giving elements away, since it jumps back and forth through time, but here's a couple of items. The story is broken into chapters, which are named on screen. Interestingly enough, you find out why this is later on. In flashbacks to the 4 villians' crimes, it does a freeze frame on each one with their full name shown on screen. There are gushers of blood, almost always shown on white (there's a reason for white).
As an example of a possible hommage... She has her sword hidden in one of those umbrella/camisole that were in old Japan. There was a battle scene where she hold the sword "upsidedown", aka the tip of the blade toward the ground. I was thinking in my head at the time "Between her and Zatoichi, never fight someone who holds a sword like that". But then when I was in bed, it suddenly struck me. Zatoichi concealed his sword in a walking cane. There's even a scene with her gambling (for a particular reason), which Zatoichi did a lot. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that is where those scenes are coing from... Who knows what other things I might be missing.
The actress Meiko Kaji does a great job, and I like her take on the revenge character versus the unnamed one by Uma Thurman. Uma's character feels more like a caged animal feel. In comparison, Snowblood is ice cold, like the name suggests. But not in a dead sense, in the sense of fire simmering right below the surface. A couple of characters (like the head gambler) don't mess with her, and there's good reason why. She has this look in her eyes...  Also some of the things she does is more disturbing because of the emotional core to the film, and you also get a sense of exactly why she is the way she is because of scenes from her childhood...
There's all kinds of other touches in it as well. I was just seeing a review and it pointed out the death of one character between two flags, which is appropriate since the influence of the West on old Japan is very aparant in this movie, and probably a comment on the times the movie was made (mid 70s).
I don't want to say too much more, but this movie comes highly recommended. See it if you can..

Looking back on Your Manga Minute... 

I was clicking around and somehow stumbled on Troy Brownfield's original installment of Your Manga Minute. It is interesting because it was only 5 months ago or so, but it already feels like it is a world away...

Check out all the strong reactions from everyone. That sort of discussion still happens, but overall manga seems more ubiquitous than it was then in terms of review sites and message boards.

It is interesting to think what has happened since then. I'm pretty sure it was before Del Ray started, and certainly before DC's CMX announcement. There's also been a lot more US companies releasing digests...

BTW, it doesn't apply quite so much in this case, but have you ever experienced looking at an old thread and not remembering most of it? You start reading the posts and think about how you'd respond, and then you suddenly see a post from yourself! It is such an odd feeling coming across your own writings by accident and then trying to compare it to the thoughts you were having moments before...

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Tokyopop Luvs Halloween 

So, you've probably heard by now that Tokyopop is publishing I Luv Halloween, a three-volume series by Mark Paniccia Benjamin Roman and Keith Giffen. The artwork looks nice, and though the only real description of the story is "It's about the misadventures of a gang of particularly troublesome kids as they trick-or-treat the Halloween night away" I get the feeling this won't be a big plot-driven story... Whether it is good or bad will likely depend on the chemistry and situations of the various crazy characters.

I do think it is good that Tokyopop is continuing to branch out to American creators, but I do have some reservations. It could very well be true that Mark Benjamin wasn't comfortable expanding on his couple of pages of artwork into a full story, but many manga fans seem to want Keith's head on a platter at the moment due to playing loose with manga "adaptations". Hopefully it'll fare better on a title he's mostly writing from scratch. Also, I feel a twinge of nervousness that his reaction until viewing the artwork was that he'd be too busy for another project. It is nice that he feel in love with this enough to do it after all, but does that mean another title somewhere is getting the shaft?

Lastly, I know Tokyopop has a tendancy to hype themselves and manga up a bit, but this has to take the cake:

"I Luv Halloween represents an absolute commitment to put cool stuff into readers’ hands. And there’s so much more coming. This project shows how powerful the manga movement really is. I get pitches all the time from people who have something in their heads that they need to get out. They’re not restricted by an established character’s canon or continuity. Manga allows the creator - no matter how new or established - to do something straight from their hearts."

Someone has been reading a bit too much Yu-Gi-Oh. "My manga can conquer the world! I believe, because of the love Grandpa put into it. The heart of manga..." Of course Yu-Gi-Oh is published by Viz and this new series isn't technically manga, but whatever... :) 
Edit: Thanks Alex... I must have been half-asleep.. :)

Purchases of the day... 

Well, I stopped by Modern Myths while in Northampton today, and picked up two goodies. Finally managed to pick up the translation of the original Battle Royale novel. It is pretty hefty, so I think I'll be busy for a while. I've only seen the movie so far, so this should be good.
The other thing I grabbed was the second volume of Model. I really liked the first volume of this Korean title. I like the concept, and the designs have some real flair to them at times. If you like Anne Rice, Model might be worth a look. :)

I, Robot = Care Bears 

Yikes.. what's up with this latest trailer on TV? We get Will + Robots in Matrix hand to hand combat. We have Will giving a big "I told you so" speech. I might be able to excuse some of that, but what in the world is up with the color on their chests? They have this I-Mac glow from inside the chest thing, which looks fine.. but... Is it just me or does the "evil" robot have a red light while the "good" robot has a blue one? What is this, Care Bear robots???
Let's hope none of the "robots building robots" decide to start selling mod kits for the wealthier evil robots to hide their bad feelings...

Sam Kieth's Ojo 

Wow, I really like the look of this. The concept itself is pretty interesting:

Annie has terrible luck with pets. For a hamster, getting Annie as an owner is like a death sentence. But when Annie finds a little beastie in a drain pipe named Ojo, has her karma really changed or is she destined for more disappointment.

and Kieth has always been one of my favorite artists. The preview looks really nice, looks good in B&W, and I think his style lends well to having a kid as a protagonist. And is the cover nice or what? I'd love to have that as a t-shirt...

That reminds me.. I gotta get the new Maxx TPBs at some point..

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Some AX2004 Cosplay 

Speaking of Chris, he has a page of
cosplay from Anime Expo 2004 up. Isn't a huge gallery, but some fun stuff in there. The coolest thing right off the bat is a big crew of Aqua Teen Hunger Force! Not only the main three, but Carl and the Mooninites! (The moon rulez!). A spandex superhero gets snuck in, in the form of Pepsiman. I didn't expect to see a Midori no Hibi costume, but that is a good idea. Relatively staight-forward to make.

One thing was interesting. I remember how there used to always be a bazillion Sailor Moon outfits everywhere, but I don't remember seeing many actual DBZ costumes. A good idea to do the "battle scarred" look, and really well done overall, especially Piccolo.

One thing I find interesting is how anime gives a pretty good range of costumes for the ladies. Not that many guys would/should attempt the spandex look, but I'd certainly be self-concious if I was a lady trying to wear almost any superhero costume. In the gallery you get a range of totally covered (Witch Hunter Robin), relatively normal clothes (Onizuka lady.. the sign was a great idea!), and almost naked (whoever the lady with blue hair is supposed to be... from a game?).

Lastly we are left with the great mysteries of why Vash and (Sano?) are beating up the Kingdom Hearts guy... and most of all... why a male Yuna??

Update: Can't help to link to this fairy costume. You don't often see people dressed up like fairies anywhere, and this one is especially well done.

NewType expanding manga coverage... 

At the end of this thread on expanding the manga industry (an interesting read in itself for various people's opinions), was the following from Chris Johnston of NewType USA (in response to people asking for more manga coverage in magazines):

I can't speak for the others, but at Newtype USA we've been expanding our manga section every month for this exact same reason -- we as editors love manga, and we wanted to see it covered right. When/if you pick up the August issue, you'll see eight pages dedicated to manga reviews; that's just one page less than that of our US anime DVD reviews. And you may also notice a preview spread for a manga title that will make its world premiere in Newtype USA later this fall.

So... we're trying! ^_^

Sounds good to me. I still wouldn't mind seeing a magazine devoted to manga (or a comic magazine with more even coverage), but it is a start to be sure...

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Scholastic adds Chynna and Raina to roster... 

So, everyone already knows about Bone coming in manga-size and colored (only $10 each!). While others were alluded to as being approached, I don't think I've seen anyone specifically mention other titles coming down the line. But I just saw this thread on STart, where Raina gives an update from Publisher's Weekly:

Next summer, Graphix will publish Queen Bee, a manga-influenced look at middle school girls and their social scene, starring a set of sisters with super powers, by Chynna Clubstone-Major[sic], creator of the popular series Blue Monday and Scooter Girl for comics publisher Oni Press. And coming in the fall of 2005 is a graphic novel adaptation of Ann M. Martin's bestselling Baby-Sitters Club series by Raina Telgemeier, creator of own self-published mini-comics series Take-Out.

Sounds good to me! :)

Batman: TAS Box 1 is out! 

Yikes, I'm really going to have to pick this up soon. 28 episodes from Batman: TAS for only $35? That seems like a great deal to me, and it even has some extras on it. I really hope this kind of thing can become a trend, instead of those goofy "theme" DVDs. I really liked that show, and it the definitive thing that comes into my mind when I think about "Batman".

It'll still probably be a while until I actually buy it (Worlds is draining the funds), and I also really want to grab the first season of Invader Zim. Not to mention Sealab 2021, any additional volumes of ATHF, lots of anime, the rest of Prisoner, and who knows what else I'm forgetting about. ;)

Anyway, I'm glad some of our classic animation are finally getting some respect in terms of good releases. It is a sad state of affairs when we release great sets of anime on a regular basis while our own classics languish in back-catalogues...

Boys Be stays Boys Be... 

Thank goodness! Tokyopop has decided not to use their idiodic "Guy's Guide to Girls" title for Boys Be. It should be kept in mind that this is still the sequel series (originally called "Boys Be... second season"), but since it is an anthology of vignettes, that shouldn't matter too much as far as readability goes...

Monday, July 12, 2004

Xandros Open Circulation Edition 

I've been following Linux for quite a while now, and while I don't have it currently installed, I'll probably do a dual-boot pretty soon. One thing that is really striking is just how far some of the distributions have come lately in terms of out-of-the-box usability.

I stumbled across this review of Xandros: OCE today, and color me impressed. I wouldn't install it myself right now, since it seems too proprietary for my tastes, but it sounds quite well-done. I think it's only a matter of time before all that functionality becomes totally open source as well...

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Even more afraid of I, Robot... 

Bah, more depressing news. While I haven't read the original novel, when I'd heard a ton was changed, that didn't make me hopeful. Then I heard it was being done by Alex Proyas, whose Crow and Dark City I really enjoyed. But this latest news (if true) makes it sound like Alex didn't even have total control of the movie and isn't happy with it. Considering he hated the original trailer so much he made his own and put it on his site, it doesn't seem far-fetched that there was interference in the movie itself...

Sad state of radio... 

You know, I haven't listend to much radio for quite a while now, and two articles from Wired aren't exactly encouraging me to do so:

First up, aparantly most station now have a time delay all the time, even on gardening shows. Of course that puts even more of a pinch than usual on the smaller stations.

More disturbing to me is the trend for non-local discjockeys pretending to be local. Geeze, at this rate it'll all be outsourced from out of the country like tech support...

Friday, July 09, 2004

Manga news... 

Here's a couple of news items that have been going around lately:

Tokyopop loses Ribon titles?

First is rumorville! It might be possible that Tokyopop has lost the rights to Kodocha and Marmalade Boy. Fans recently discovered that all traces of these two titles have disappeared, something that hasn't happened even for other out-of-print titles. You might assume it was a glitch, but these are also their only two titles from Ribon Comics. Aparantly there seems to be low stock at some various retailers as well.

Interestingly enough, none of the other companies have any Ribon titles at all, except for the newly announced CMX label (with titles like Gals). Of course these two were also fairly early titles for TP, so that might have something to do with it as well (but why be removed entirely from the site?). It may turn out to be nothing, but if you've been waiting to buy these, you should probably consider putting them at a higher priority.

Jump jumps over Yu-Gi-Oh arcs

Aparantly after the latest arcs finish, Shonen Jump will be skipping a bunch of Yu-Gi-Oh and go straight into the latest Pharoah's Memories story. The volumes in-between will go straight to GN at an accelerated rate. It seems like the anime covered a lot of these intermediary arcs, so going to the last one will get them straight into material that no one has read about yet. It'll be a bit disconcerting for those of us not buying the GNs and who haven't seen the anime, but I believe I've heard very good things about this latest arc, so we'll see how it goes. I'm sure they'll have a description to get people up to speed.

Also mentioned in that thread by one of the Viz staff was the possibility of Jump itself moving to bi-weekly eventually. This is very very preliminary and he said it'd only even become an option when Jump's circulation reaches 500k a month, but it'd be pretty cool if it did happen. I could certainly afford to pay $60 a year instead of $30, would be getting the material twice as fast, and it'd speed up the GN releases as well...

Kenshin's god-like speed

With all this talk of speed, it should also be mentioned that Kenshin is now monthly, as opposed to the previous bi-monthly schedule. Good news for all he red-headed rurouni fans. :)

Digital Manga with unusual offerings

This is a little late, but Digital Manga just released information on some new series. There is Edu-Manga, featuring illustrated biographies of historial figures (narrated classic characters like Astro Boy).

This actually reminds me of some books I had as a kid (a hard-cover subscription thing). Each one was on a different figure, was illustrated, and usually had a talking animal which helped explain things. Then the last page had a real photo and a dense text bio for additional information. It'll be interesting to see if a manga variety will work out in the US.

Also in the non-fiction department, they have a series coming over called Project X, based on a TV series about a real-life entrepreneurs.

Most interesting to me personally is a series called BAMBi by Kaneko Atsushi. It seems like Atsushi is a semi-underground pop-art type artist, also doing a lot of work for things like album covers. BAMBi seems to be compared a bit to Tank Girl, with an insane protagonist on a road trip. Andrew Cunningham linked to the first cover. Some additional pics here and a description of it here. According to that page, there are six regular volumes and an additional BAMBi Alternative volume. For those looking for something different from the norm, this seems like it could be something to check out.

I wasn't last place! 

The results from NER are finally up, and I wasn't last place! I guess 13 out of 15 isn't so bad, but I could have sworn the two under me did a better job... I guess I'll need to see footage of the freestyles. Jack at A2Z says he's making a tape which might have my whole freestyle on it. I am somewhat afraid!

But I have to ask Brett (who compiled the results), where are the stats?! I want the points breakdowns for compuslories and freestyles! :)

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Alichino coming from Tokyopop... 

On one of the threads about TP's new licenses, a link to this review of Alichino was given. I have to say that I'm a sucker for gothic shoujo stuff, so this looks pretty interesting.

Also interesting is the very end, where the reviewer talks about how you'll probalby have difficulty finding it even in Japan. The times are really changing...

[via Yukino Miyazawa]

Paranoia Agent 

Well, finally we see a review of Satoshi Kon's new TV series: Paranoia Agent. Satoshi has previously done anime movies, such as Perfect Blue, Millenium Actress, and Tokyo Godfathers. I haven't seen the latter two yet, but I really want to, and now this series is added to my To Buy list. I'm a big fan of SE: Lain and headtrip shows, so this sounds right up my alley. :)

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Shaolin Popey 2: Messy Temple 

The next movie was quite a change of pace! Also a comedy, but this time more of a crazy kungfu temple parody with lots of low-brow humor. In the end, this one was fun, but a bit harder for me to get into. The problem with parodies is that it doesn't work as well if you haven't seen what it is parodying. As time goes on, I've started seeing more HK films, but my knowledge is still pretty limited compared to Japanese movies, especially considering HK's rich heritage of movies.

Some highlights were Man-Tat Ng, who I previously saw as the coach in Shaolin Soccer, and one of my favorite characters from that movie. The guy playing the master of the temple was funny as well. There was also a quick appearance by Michelle Yeoh.

Seemed a bit plodding in the beginning, with one of the kids falling in and out of love very quickly, but again I'm sure I'm missing tons of references. Things started to get more surreal later on, and Ng's character becoming a movie stuntman to raise money was hilarious.

Also, there was a parody of the original Drunken Master movie near the end, which I've actually seen, so that was funny, especially since it was a kid that was drunk and Ng calling out his different techniques like the master in the original movie. They even had the exact same music and one of the bad guys had a mustache just like Thunder Foot (the villian of Drunken Master).

There was also an action-packed battle with a crazy undead character which reminded me of something out of the Executioners (sequel to the Heroic Trio).

All in all a very oddball movie that I'll need to revisit after I get the chance to see more of the classics. I'm thinking this is also a movie that might work well on repeated viewings with a bunch of friends. Like the thing with the lobster (which I won't describe here) was just so odd that I wasn't laughing at the time, but I have to say I'm kind of cracking up while shaking my head now that I think back...

My Tutor Friend 

My friend Dandan gave me several asian movies (and the GTO live-action drama) to check out. The first movie I watched was the Korean film My Tutor Friend (Donggabnaegi gwawoehagi), and frankly I love it. :) I just looked on IMDB and a bunch of people weren't into it, but it really clicked for me.

It involves Si-wan, a 21-year-old college student who is making ends meet by making deliveries for her Mom's fried chicken shop and doing tutoring for high-schoolers. She's spunky really getting fed up with trying to deal with tutoring various misfits. He last attempt ends up being Ji-hoon..

He is also 21, but has been held back 3 years, so is still in high-school. His family is rich and he's pretty spoiled, and has been through dozens of tutors already. But his father is determined for his son not to be a failure. Despite his trouble at school, Ji-hoon is an amazing fighter (and played Sang-woo Kwon from Volcano High) and is always ending up in fights.

Thus starts off this very fun romance/fighting/comedy movie. I like the two main characters and how their personalities clash (in ways both funny and more biting than you might expect at times). The fights are well-choreographed and much more down to earth than the wire-work energy battles of Volcano High. They were also nicely spread out (not one every five mins). The way the finale ends is one also one of the greatest things I've seen. :) I thought the romance aspects were well done and while it hits some familiar marks, I liked the chemistry and how some developments defy or subvert cliches. Despite all the craziness going on, their relationship felt more real to me than some other more sappy movies I've seen...

I saw one person that said they felt like it was a mish-mash of different toned vignettes, but personally the switching between action, humor, and romance worked for me and kept you off-balance just enough to keep things interesting. Of course I also have somewhat eclectic tastes and I like movies where different themes mesh together in odd ways (like Happiness of the Katakuris).

I enjoyed Volcano High more than some others have (I think some people take it more seriously than it was intended), but still I remember a bunch of instances where humor was going over my head... and frankly, there isn't much to it as far as plot goes. It is just big fights with crazy colorful characters. In the end, I liked My Tutor Friend a lot more because of the real character moments, and the humor hit me full-force. I was laughing out loud in a bunch of places.

This was a Korean DVD, and had chinese and english subs. English subs were pretty well done, actually. A couple of instances of bad usage, but pretty minor and not enough to be distracting. Highly recommended.. thanks Dandan. :)

Moore and Lion's Gate ok with F9/11 downloads... 

Hmm.. interesting news in this article. I'd much rather this was an official Creative Commons type of deal, but I found it interesting that Lion's Gate would agree. Hmm... I've been quite curious about this movie, so guess what I'll be downloading this week...

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Some AnimeExpo announcements... 

Already there is too much stuff for me to list, so I'll list a couple of the things that I'm most happy at seeing. First up is anime stuff:

First up is Jungle wa Itsumo Hale nochi Gu (shortened as Halé+Guu) by AN Entertainment. Everyone must check this out, as it is one of the funniest shows I've ever seen. Don't let that nice image fool you. Guu will occationally put on that happy smile for show, but usually she's as unemotional as Daria... and well, she has a tendancy for eating people. Of course there's also a world in her body, but that's another story. Poor Hale live in a jungle and is saddled with a Mom (who has a tendancy to be drunk half the time) and now Guu. All kinds of bizzare hijinx ensue, not to mention the chief's amazing chest hair. It is hard to describe just how odd and fun this series is. :) Aparantly they have the 26-episode series, 6 OVAs, and hope to Guu Final licensed eventually. No details on pricing, episode count, etc. yet.

Media Blasters has Midori no Hibi, which I mentioned a while back. I haven't actually watched an episode yet, but this looks like a fun deranged show with a boy who ends up getting a girl for a hand.

They also have a series called Otogizoushi from Production I.G. I hadn't seen anything about it before, but click around on this page. It looks to be a gorgeously animated period drama with pretty realistic character designs.

Geneon has Earth Defence Family (they're calling it The Daichies). I haven't seen this, but I know it is supposed to be very funny.

It sounds like someone has the Planetes anime (was mentioned at a Bang Zoom panel, which is a dubbing studio) is coming, along with Scrapped Princess.

Full Metal Alchemist starts on Cartoon Network on November 6th. I'm curious about this one. Maybe they'll stick it on CN's new on-demand section.

CPM has the animated Ici prequel Ichi the Killer: Episode Zero. Kind of curious on this, as the movie was pretty interesting (in a disturbing way).

In the paper world:

Everyone is going crazy because Tokyopop has aparantly licensed a series of limited CLAMP magazines called CLAMP no Kiseki. Each covers a different series with various info., but each also has three chess pieces. If you buy all 12, you get a complete set. Aparantly the Japanese release also has a way to get a board, but that isn't finalized yet for the US release. I'm a big fan of chess (and collecting chess sets), so I have to say this is a bit tempting for me...

Big news from CPM is a bunch of titles from Korean author Hyunse Lee: Hardboiled Angel, Armadgeddon, Mythology of the Heavens, and Nambul: War Stories.

There was also confimation that all the titles from the Be Beautiful line will be $15.99 and shrinkwrapped. I guess porn is a premium...

That's all for now.. check here for more stuff.

Updates:Whoah, ADV has a ton of stuff. Looks like they have some classics with Marine Boy and Legend of Moby Dick. I know the Gantz manga (by the creator of Hen) is supposed to be pretty crazy, about some people who die and get stuck in a room with a black sphere, then forced to do things. Haven't heard how the anime compares to it. I think Detective Loki Ragnorak has a godo reputation too. Always good to have more mysteries. Aparantly they also have the movie Tree of Palme, which looked really interesting from the trailer.

Right Stuf has Boys Be! I bought this from Singapore (legit release) a while back, and while I didn't finish watching it yet, it was a pretty good show. Basically school romance vignettes that somewhat tie together, mostly from a guy's point of view. Some fanservice, but not too bad actually (probably less than Sgt. Frog actually). This is the sort of thing that'd be hard to find as a native US show, as romance stores are always hedged into "chick flick". I think the manga was re-titled by one company as "A Guy's Guide to Girls" which is very misleading. This isn't a guide to anything, just some normal slice-of-life relationship stories.

They also aparantly have the live-action Boogiepop show, which I'm a bit curious about actually. I think I heard it was decent...

My FCBD Adventures... 

Well, I really wasn't quite sure what to expect today. I'd never done a FCBD before, and had heard wildly different stories on the internet. That some shops would limit you to 2-3 different comics, and there was a lost of stuff I was interested in.

I decided to go into cautious mode and plan ahead a bit. Got up early (for a saturday..heh) at about 9am and did two print-outs. One was the FCBD readout of local shops. It listed 6 shops between 0 and 17 miles. Most were in Mass, but one was in Enfield, CT. I'm guessing there was also another in Hadley that wasn't listed (a sister store). I also printed out Dorian's list of FCBD stuff. I figured I could use that as a checklist, and wrote some notes on the back of one sheet about Johanna's opinions as well. We planned a route, I grabbed some energy tea drink stuff, and we were off!

First was the two closest shops in Springfield. The first one was actually closed for the holidays and had a sign on the door saying they'd done the FCBD stuff on wed/fri! I guess the holiday weekend was at fault, but that couldn't have been good for bringing new people in. The second shop was open, but it turns out they weren't doing FCBD. I had thought they were on the list, but I double-checked and I had been wrong. I'd just assumed... His thing was that it was too expensive for them to do, except in people's pull boxed. They'd just moved, so maybe that factored in as well. However, while we were there a big latino family came in (father and three kids.. one of which was a girl) asking about it and seemed pretty disappointed...

At that point we were a little nervous, as we were batting 0 for 2. However, things would get better from here on out. We went to the Card & Comic Co. next (that makes three shops in Springfield!), and they had a nice display on a table right out front. They had about a dozen comics, mostly of superhero or kid stuff. At first I was only going to get stuff that I was pretty sure I'd like, but hey it is free, right? Could take one of each, so that was cool, and after perusing the regular selection, we were off to home to drop off, and then continue our quest.

On the way, I had the unfortunate experience of taking a sip from my bottle (which was half-empty meaning it was about horizontal) when my put her foot on the gas. Luckily it dried without staining..heh... Dried pretty quickly, too, since it was so hot out! I was all set by the time we got to Dragon's Layer in West Springfield. I hadn't been there for many years, so it was fun to go there. It is very much a gaming store at this point with a few comics, but oh well. FCBD stuff was a bit hidden, but they had a good selection and some stuff that the last one didn't have. Also had some neat older GNs (Elric!) off on a lower shelf. I think they've been there a while judging by the dust.. ;) Lots of loud gamers there, but I had the great fun of watching Mom read some Seaguy and be very perplexed. :)

A this point we were going a bit more of a distance, up the highway to Northampton. We stopped off at Bob's first, which was open. They had a good selection, and also some TMNT stuff that wasn't made for FCBD. They actually had some back issues of Tick, which is what Mom is always looking for (but I like it too!). Didn't grab those because we need to make a list of what issues we already have, but now we finally know where it is. A pretty neat little basement area that is less dark and cramped than the other Bob's location. They also had a CD-ROM

At this point the plan was to go to Modern Myths, which I figured would have a more indy selection. Then we'd go a little further north were Mom would get some food at Bread & Circus and we could stop at the other C&CC in Hadley Mall. If we were still missing something, we could always go down to Enfield. That plan would go slightly awry, but in a generally good way.

OK, Jim Crocker is officially one of the coolest guys in comics. :) The first thing I noticed before going in was that he added something to the window (which was previously undecorated besides a posted schedule). Was it a spider-man or witchblade poster? Nonono. This was actually behind the window and was a big cardboard Tokyopop display with a nice variety on it. Everything from a Sneaks to shonen to shoujo etc. What a great idea, and it just fits in with his general marketing savy.

But I was not prepared for what was inside. I figured we'd go to almost everywhere else first so as not to deplete the coolest store, and I wasn't sure if he'd have the various superhero stuff. All of that was wiped aside as I beheld an amazing site. At the back of the store (but in perfect view) was Jim surrounded by a circle of tables, stacked with tons and tons of comics. He just standing there in the middle giving out FCBD bags and cards to people. I wish I had my camera with me, because it was just crazy. He even had left-over stuff from last year out, as well as some stuff that didn't seem printed just for FCBD. He even had little free Hulk heroclix in baggies.

We filled up two bags of that stuff, and you couldn't help feeling guilty by just how big of a selection it was! We ended up having to put them in the car before looking for normal comics to buy, because it was just so heavy. I just counted and we got a full 50 comics just from Modern Myths! And we didn't get any duplicates of what we got from the previous three stores (except the IDW one because Mom liked the CSI cover)! He said it wasn't too busy, since Northampton is dead on holidays. The holiday strikes again, but it seems he uses extras for convention giveaways (another good idea), and for the next year. Another interesting tidbit was that aparantly the Tokyopop offering was less expensive than most of hte other FCBD offerings...

I felt a personal responsibility to buy some stuff (even with money a bit short), because seriously.. 50 comics! I saw the new NewType, and grabbed that. I almost got Planetes 3 and was looking at the Battle Royale novel, but decided to wait. No #2s for Buddha or Hellsing. Some interesting stuff I saw was the new Mermaid Scar digest from Rumiko Takahashi and the Phoenix digests. I have the second Phoenix back when it was a large size, but haven't read it yet. Perhaps I'll grab Dawn some time and get them both together. Anyway, I decided today was a day to experiment and try some new stuff. Me and My Secret wasn't there, so I ended up going for the first Basara (which Mom thought looked good) and Model. I've seen a little of the Basara anime and enjoyed it, so this will be good. Model is just crazily stylish and is my first Korean volume. :) I hadn't seen the lady at the register before, but she was really cool. Even a fan of juggling. :) I grabed a different TP Sneaks volume that I didn't have (wasn't with the free stuff, but they didn't charge for it), and we were off.

By this time Mom was really tired, so we decided to just head home. With a little over 20 comics from the other shops, we made out with somewhere around 70 comics total. I have quite a lot of reading to do!

The total (minus that other TP Sneaks vol)

Just Modern Myths!

In the end, I could have just beelined straight to Modern Myths and forgot about everything else, but I'm still glad we did it the way we did. I got to visit several stores I'd never been to before, and it was just a beautiful day in general to be out and about. Lots and lots of little puffy white clouds in the sky. A couple looked like flying superheroes, but I guess that says more about my state of mind at the time than anything else. Lots of Miyazaki-ish flying ships as well. As far as real flying things go, even got a blimp which ended up skirting behind a mountain. A good day overall. :)

Friday, July 02, 2004

Johanna and Dorian review the FCBD books... 

I think I sould point out that Johanna is doing a great job systematically going through all of the FCBD offerings. This is really informative, since I'm not familiar with most of the companies involved. Obviously, it is best to flip through everything yourself, but I don't know how busy it'll be and how fast these will be flying out of the stores. It is nice to be able to go straight to the stuff that sounds the most interesting...

Update: Dorian also has great reviews of the offerings here. I printed that one out to use as a check-off list, but more on that a little later.

Denise's Japan Journal 

Well, I stumbled on Denise's blog today, which documents her experiences as an english teacher (JET) in Japan.

I've only read a couple of entries so far, and there is already lots of fun tidbits involving tabletop dishwashers, scented nylons, and ambulance paramedics a little too concerned about your floor.

This is one I'm going to have to remember to read on a regular basis. :)

Passion Fruit & Hyper Rune 

To mine the AoD forums just a little bit more today, these two titles are pretty interesting for different reasons. First up is >Passion Fruit, which is actually an anthology of short stories from four different creators. This looks to be aimed at somewhat older ladies, so if you like Erica Sakurazawa or Hot Gimmick, this might be one to check out.

The plot on Hyper Rune sounds pretty ho-hum, but it is interesting to note that Tamayo Akiyama was originally the lead artist in CLAMP before heading out on her own. You can definitely see some resemblance of style.

[via KORfan]

Infinity Studios and Manhwa 

I'd like to point out this interview with Jay Chung of Infinity Studios, a newer publisher of Korean comics (manhwa), though I guess ComicsOne is involved right now in printing/distribution?

Lots of stuff is covered in there, from a series they are bringing over called Peigenz (described as an asian X-men), and a lot of information on the similarities and differences of the Korean and Japanese industries. Pretty interesting stuff...

[via DataDogEin]

Your and My Secret by Ai Morishige 

Martialstax has a mini-review up of Your and My Secret, which I think is a title I'm going to start buying very soon. I flipped through it in the bookstore a week or so ago and thought it was a great concept. This review only confirms my thoughts...

To give a very quick overview, it involves a fairly effeminate guy and a girl who is just the opposite (and who he has a crush on) who end up switching bodies. She ends up loving the freedom that a guy's body provides her, but he isn't into being a girl quite so much.

Sounds like an interesting mix of fun and sexuality and relationships as the hormones of the new bodies kick in and a lot of mixed feelings start working in.

Hmm... yet another thing to spend $$$ on. :)

Edit: Omoikitte also has a review up on Broken Frontier. :)

Los Angeles Times tackles "boys love" manga 

It looks like the LA Times just did a big article on the shonen ai / yaoi phenomenon. I guess you have to pay to read it even online, but people are talking about it
here. It sounds like it was done pretty well except for a couple of funny mistakes like referring to Cardcaptor Sakura as yaoi! :)

Update: Omoikitte seems to have already written a column on everything I'm posting today. ;) Go look here.

Anime Expo is about to hit... 

I think it is safe to say that the community is taking Anime Expo seriously. AoD has set up three forums entirely devoted to news from AX. If you're at all interested in what manga titles will be licensed next, this forum is the place to keep checking over the course of the weekend.

Between AX and FCBD, this is certainly a weekend of fandom for me, and a long weekend at that. I'll even get the chance to watch a bunch of asian dramas and movies that I'm borrowing from a friend at work. I wish I could see AX personally, but it'll still be fun to watch the news as it rolls in.

Skelaton crew at work... 

Geeze, I knew today would be light with so may people on vacation, but it turns out that I'm one of three people in the building. I'm alone downstairs and one person is upstairs with her son. If there was ever a day that zombies would attack... ;)

Free Comic Book Day is tomorrow! 

Hey, for anyone who reads my blog and isn't huge into the comics scene (or just has a bad memory), tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day. Basically, various publishers have put together samples to be given away for free at comic shops. This a great way to check out what's out there! Remember, it isn't just superheros anymore..

If you'd like to find a shop in your area that is doing this, go here and enter your zip code. BTW, Canada is also participating, though I'm not sure if stores there are covered in the above list.

Some of the samplers that will be given away are listed here. Everything from a western fairy tale to manga to underground stuff to web comics to Dorkin's subversive Bill & Tedd comic.

This should be fun, and I'll get a chance to go to a couple of shops that I haven't visited in a while...

The Pulse is back as a blog.. 

Woo, nice to see the Pulse return and in blog form no less (though what really constitutes a blog is blurring severly as of late..heh).

Good stuff in there.. now where's an Atom/XML/RSS feed? :)

[via Kevin]

Thursday, July 01, 2004


Just a random thought:
GSO - Great Santa Onizuka

Discuss amonst yourselves.. :)

A lot of hobby rockets have been grounded... 

I have to say that I find this news kind of depressing. With all the great stuff going on lately with space travel outside of NASA, it is a shame that new regulations are bogging down the hobby of rockets, causing many people to just drop out.

Note to government: this is exactly the kind of thing you should be encouraging instead of discouraging...

Oooooh... E-mail! 

Ok, I finally got around to putting my e-mail on the blog (lookie to the right column). It has always been in the various haloscan comments, but that can be easy to miss. Sorry to make it an image, but with the way spam is these days.....

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