Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Animerica Extra cancelled, but new shoujo anthology may take its place 

So, word is out that the long-running manga anthology Animerica Extra has been cancelled. While I never subscribed to it myself, this offshoot of Animerica magazine has been going for quite a few years and recently re-made itself to be an all-shoujo anthology.

At first glance, its cancellation would seem like very bad news, but it seems like there is a lot of signs pointing in the direction of Viz having some sort of new shoujo anthology in the works. Personally, I thought keeping the thing called Animerica Extra wasn't a good idea when it switched to all-shoujo. I mean it had a reputation, but not necessarily for shoujo and frankly anyone seeing it for the first time on a shelf wasn't going to think shoujo or even manga from the name. Plus, it was also a bit on the thin side, especially compared to Shonen Jump. I'm not sure if they could pull off a shoujo anthology at the same size as Shonen, but something inbetween the two I think would have good possibilities.

But between a recent Viz poll on having a new shoujo anthology, "this isn't really the end, keep your eyes open" on the farewell page of Extra, and a radio snipped that said "Shonen Jump is Stage One.", I'd say things are looking pretty promising for the future. I'd certainly consider subscribing to a shoujo anthology that was more like Shounen Jump (minus the editing controversies of late).

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Tokyopop's unethical handling of American creators? 

I thought I should liberate these comments from a post on the Beat.

From stacy:
Tokyopop's unethical way of handling new creators will be big news in 2005 too if they don't change their policies. They force noobs to sign a schedule before they sign a contract, then try to stick them with a contract with a $50,000 payment cap if their story ever becomes a movie. The contract gives them no say in development deals. Tokyopop pays the lowest advance ($15,000) with an unachievable $2,000 incentive to finish faster than humanly possible (typically 4 months for a 176 page book). That advance is per book, not per creator. Your contract typically states that you will be making a "150 page book plus extras" and those extras that you make for free are usually the rest of the entire 176 page book. The royalty is 10 to 15 % net with ambiguous wording over whether or not advertising cost will count against the royalty, and they divide up the payment of the advance over $1,000 mile-stones that each take over a month to get paid on. There's your news story. Tokyopop is just mining cheap labor for made-for-TV movies and cheap cartoons. And that's the creator-owned stuff. Their work-for-hire contracts make political prisoners giggle.

Then Manga Widow:

Insert applause. :)

Only thing I'd add is that they actually try to wrestle that "generous" advance as low as $10,000, and/or try to set royalty percentages sometimes even lower than that 10-15% you mentioned. :/

Not to mention that those paychecks, delayed by a month, are not paid monthly...in some cases the pay period itself is significantly longer than a month.

I've been glad to see Tokyopop giving opportunities to upcoming creators, but if they're using their position to take advantage, that curbs my enthusiasm quite a bit. Anyone else have any experiences they might want to share, additional comments, or any other discussions that might be going on in other locations online?

Babylon 5 movie might be recast? 

Hmm.. bad news here. No concrete information as of yet, but it sounds like WB doesn't want to distribute a movie unless it has "big-name" actors. Geeze, all these actors were great and had all that time during the series to work with each other become a cohesive team. It isn't like B5 ran 15 years ago and they can't get the same actors. I mean what if when they made the Star Trek motion pictures, they decided that Shatner, Nimoy and everyone else weren't big enough actors and recast them all? That would make about as much sense as this does. Let's hope it somehow doesn't come to pass...

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Wearable robots and Roujin Z 

When I saw this article on wearable robots and exoskelatons in Japan, I couldn't help but think of the anime Roujin Z.

Something they talk about in the article is that these devices would primarily be used by the elderly and that those people would be the most resistant to the new technology. In Roujin Z, a elderly man is used as a guinea pig for a new technology-laden bed. I really enjoyed the movie when I saw it on Sci-Fi Channel ages ago. As this review says, it is a nice mix of social commentary and quirky humor. Something to check out if you're looking for anime a bit off the beaten path.

[Via Shane]

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Japanese parents worried over sexy shoujo... 

While one always has to look at WaiWai with a critical eye (this section of the Mainichi newspaper is like a mini-tabloid that always plays up any puriel angle it can find), this article is pretty interesting.

Obviously manga for women can have all kinds of content in it, yaoi or otherwise. And shonen titles will be forever trying to push the envelope on what level of fanservice they can fit in (and seemingly have been slapped down a bit before in the past). However, according to this article, raunchy content is also on the rise in magazines for girls. It is pretty interesting looking at this and comparing it to our own industry:

From a Mom:
"I started shaking in terror from the moment I turned the page. I never dreamed my daughter was reading such a shocking manga," the 40-year-old mom tells
"They're selling in ordinary bookstores and my daughter buys them with her pocket money," Yoshimi says. "I liked manga, too, when I was a kid and I wasn't worried at all when my daughter first started reading them."

From a "manga expert":

"You've got to think that theses comics are being read by girls who perhaps a year earlier hadn't even begun budding breasts and they're now reading stuff like, in one manga for instance, finding a young boy to 'train' and turn into a sex toy. It even made me feel sick."

Of course kids aren't worried:

"Of course I'm interested in sexy stuff and it's a bit exciting to read it," a sixth grader from Tokyo tells Sunday Mainichi. "But I know there's a difference between manga and reality and I don't pay much attention to what I read."

Besides mentions of sex-laden spam and other live-action stuff on the internet being worse, a student also has this to say:

"Cool girls are already out with their boyfriends having sex and couldn't give a damn about manga," a third-year junior high schoolgirl from Kanagawa Prefecture says. "Just sitting there reading a manga is proof that the girl is not cool, which naturally means she hasn't got a boyfriend and isn't having sex. Rather than being worried (by shojo manga), parents should feel at ease."

You didn't think stereotypes like this only happened in the US did you? I recommend checking the whole article out...

[Via AoDVD]

Dr. Slump manga coming! 

Megan from AoDVD mentions this Time article which lists five titles coming in 2005 from the major comic publishers. For Viza lot of people are most likely looking forward to Full Metal Alchemist or Hunter X Hunter, but for me it is definitely Dr. Slump. What a lot of people don't realize is that Dragon Ball wasn't Akira Toriyama's first hit. Before DB was Dr. Slump, about the misadventures of a girl robot. I haven't had a chance to read this yet myself, but I hear it is akin to something like Crayon Shinchan, with a young protagonist who is always getting into trouble. Should be fun... :)

Also interesting in this particular article is that all of Tokyopop's titles have english names listed. It seems like they are really wanting to push their american-made releases lately...

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Evangelion Box Set for $40?!! 

Wow! I just noticed on AoDVD's shop page that Rightstuf is having some special deals up until Christmas. One deal revealed per day, but the coupon working on any of them until the 24th (Code: 12days). The first one revealed was the Evangelion Set for just $40!

There are remastered Evangelion discs coming out right now, so they probably want to get rid of old stock, but this set's retail price was $170. I'd gotten a big deal on it when I bought it, for something like $80. Eight discs at $40 just $5 a disc....

So, if you've been curious what the hype is about, this is certainly the time to give it a shot. Even if you hate it, you could probably make it back on Ebay even with the new releases coming out.. Man, this is quite the time to be into anime...

Monday, December 06, 2004

Graphic novel reviews... The Library's Big Score 

So, while I was in the library today, I decided to check out the graphic novel selection, something I hadn't done in a while. At the time, I'd read most of what I wanted to read, but they've gotten quite a lot of new stuff in lately. Just going through the teen section, there was plenty of stuff that looked interesting. Everything from various Catwoman novels and Moore's Supreme to Bone. Then I looked at the adult section and boy did that nearly give me a heart attack. When you go to a shelf and see Blankets, From Hell, and the Palomar hardcover staring at you, that's enough GN to hold anyone over for a good while! Not to mention The Metamorphosis, Quimby the Mouse, In the Shadow of No Towers, Persepolis, Luis Riel, etc. I opted for From Hell for now, since I enjoyed the movie...

Anyway, out of the 10+ GNs I ended up borrowing, I actually read three of them tonight. First up was The Complete Geisha. I have to say that this was a really enjoyable book. Something about androids lend themselves to daily life stories, I guess the possibilities normalcy with just enough of a twist. Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (Yokohama Shopping Trip Log or Quiet Country Cafe) is one of my my favorite comics of all time, involving Alpha who runs a small cafe in the countryside. Geisha is like the urban version of this concept, with Jomi just wanting to paint for a living, but having to deal with the prejudices of being an android. She's a character who is hard not to like, with some definite spunk when necessary. I also can't help having flashbacks to Edna from the Incredibles when her freind Boychick appears. :)

Watson's style on this is great as well. Great flowing lines and design sense that all works very well in black and white. The small bits of Japanese culture are fun as well, done in (mostly) subtle ways like a cat named Neko. The art reflects some manga invluence as well, but the style is just as much old style western comic (Jack Hamm) and western animation as anything from the east. Stuff like this is what makes me know that fears of generic manga style overtaking everything are unfounded. We have way too much culture mishmash for anthing to stay one way for long.

Anyway, cheers to Watson for doing a great job on this, and I certainly wouldn't mind more short stories involving Jomi or other unrelated stories from the same world...

Next up was Bone I: Out from Boneville. I wanted to take a look at this before I plunked down for the giant single-volume bone book. After reading the first one, I think I'm definitely a go for getting it. Great artwork and the storyline and characters are a lot of fun so far. The Bones have a feel of something like the Ducks (Donald, Scrooge, etc), with a bit of an edge (though I'd guess some of the Duck comics have an edge to them at times themselves). The character designs themselves are great, with a quality similar to that in the original Grinch cartoon, with the heavy lids and mischevous grins. It seems like the setup for a normal fantasy quest type of thing, but it has enough imagination in it that who knows what exactly will happen next...

Lastly was one of the Catwoman GNs: Selina's Big Score. I have to say that this was a really enjoyable tale, and for someone like me who has very little real in-depth knowledge of superhero universes, this worked well since it was very self-contained. In fact, it was so self-contained and worked so well that way, that I couldn't help but actually be put off by the super-hero elements in it. It wasn't as jarring as it was in something like Books of Magic (Batman and Catwoman have no actual powers after all, so it fit with the down to earth tone), but it also seemed entirely unnecessary for anything but sales figures. I mean all the characters specific to this book were quickly realized without relying on any kind of continuity, and Selena's past and in fact all connections to the DC universe could probably be modified to be self-contained with something like 10 panels and a couple of paragraphs changing.

In any case, the art and writing were very good, and fit the tone of the story. This is just a good straight-forward noir heist tale, and is recommended to fans of the same. While I personally found the occational batman/catwoman more distracting than clever (in this case, I'd rather imagine Selena's full backstory and future myself, rather than the baggage of the DC universe), but it is really very much in the background, so don't let that put you off from giving it a try.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Local Cinema: Evil Dead II and Carol's Journey... 

One nice thing about the area has been a seeming upsurge in local movie showings of late, or at least me being aware that they exist. :) As always, many thanks to Marty for getting me the info.

First up was seeing Evil Dead II for the second time. I'd first seen it a good while back, after having first seen Evil Dead. While I'm sure that I mostly enjoyed it, I was also confused during a large part of the beginning. I hadn't realized about this being more of a remake than a sequel, so there was a lot of "Why doesn't he know about the book?!" at first. Things went a lot more smoothly this time, and I could just concentrate on the ensuing comedy and mayhem. If you've never seen any of these movies, the first one is mostly a normal budget horror movie. Scares, some titilation, etc. Of course made a name for itself for being over the top (the infamous hentai-ish evil tree), but still played it relatively straight.

Evil Dead II, however, throws this out the window. There's still a lot of gore, but titilation is thrown out in favor of humor. Also, the gore is now just so over the top and unrealistic that it is intensionally laughable most of the time. Even the more uptight people in the audience who would never have been caught dead renting something like this on their own were laughing in spite of themselves a lot of the time. Not only the humor is great, but the real sense of energy. There's no way you can mistake this for some stodgy Hollywood by-the-numbers picture.

And something Marty mentioned during the showing was that while Bruce Campbell's acting is obviously totally over the top, that there is sincerity to it. This is something I have to agree with. It is hard to explain, but is almost like the "iconic" concept that Scott McCloud talks about for comics, that of a simplified design getting to the heart of something. Bruce's performance in the movie is not subtle by any stretch, but it also manages to rise above simple bad acting. He just puts so much into the role that it makes you get into the performance as well. There's also great physical performance by him, and some interesting set design (the bridge!) and overall comedic timing. In some ways, this is almost like an old silent movie taken into modern times. This may be something to check out, even if you're not usually into horror or cult classic film. Did I mention that Ash is pretty much a superhero by the end of the movie? Of course that gets continued in Army of Darkness...

One last note, with all the talk of decompression in comics, this movie is actually compressed, like the original spider-man issue. What happens in less than five minutes in this movie would take something like a half hour or maybe even half the runtime in another movie. You certainly won't have a chance to get bored..heh

Now, that happened in the back of a Goodwill shop near my house in Springfield, run by the people attempted to rennovate an old theater on my street (the Bing). At that showing would be a member of the Central Library, who it would turn out is also showing movies lately. Aparantly a company called Film Movement is releasing DVDs of award-winning indie and foreign films, as well as getting them into libraries.

So, today's showing was of a DVD containing a movie from Spain called Carol's Journey, as well as a short film (each of their DVDs contains a short). I'm sorry to say that the short was pretty disappointing, a semi-animated talk about a girl who waits at the window of a tower each day for a by-plane pilot to fly by. It was 3D with live-action actors. I'm sure the creator was wanting the 3d to seem stylistic, but it came off more as out-dated instead. That with the very simplistic plot and shiny people made it come off more like something from the 80s. The general effect on the audience was more laughable than heartwarming...

Luckily, the main feature was much better. Carol's Journey involves a 12-year-old Spanish-American girl from New York, who moves to her Mother's village in Spain during Spain's Civil War. This is a relatively standard tale of growing up, first love, etc, but it is well done, especially the child actors. Carol is innocent, but also a pretty tough tomboy and the boy Tomiche she meets has a vunerability to expressions. I have to say that it had a lot of the same feel as the Ghibli movies to me, like Whispers of the Heart or Laputa. The strong child characters who mix innocence and enthusiasm with a strone sense of personal morality and strength, with the real world trying to drag them down. It was a nice way to spend two hours...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com