2005 News Archive
News Report - February 7
Greetings to all of you checking in after the unofficial American holiday otherwise known as the Super Bowl. This week, I finally get to comment on one of the most interesting series I've watched in a long time, Witch Hunter Robin. At first, I wasn't sure if I'd like it, but the longer you watch, the deeper it goes. Although not a perfect program, this is definitely one of the most thoughtful and enjoyable anime TV series I've had the pleasure of watching.
Meanwhile, in news you can use...if you are in North America, then you should be paying attention to the Anime Network. Yes, it has some problems -- it's primarily a venture by ADV Films and is only playing their stuff, and they are showing almost exclusively dubs. But have you seriously taken a look at their listings? As a dedicated anime channel, they are showing just an unbelievable amount of programming. It's more than I can fathom. As they expand to include shows from other distributors and grow their subtitled blocks, this will be an absolutely stunning network. As of a few days ago, their site started up forums, and you can go there to request that your cable/satellite provider pick them up. Although I rarely use this space to advertise, I can say that this is an amazing start, and I wish them much success in getting onto more major cable and satellite networks.
News Report - February 14
Happy Valentine's Day, everybody! To celebrate the holiday, we have a review of the most romantic (and tragic) section of the Rurouni Kenshin saga...the concluding OVA series called Reflection. I've gotten a chance to see the new director's cut, which moves some material around and adds some new footage that didn't appear in the original OVA release. It's not a happy-go-lucky Tom Hanks date movie, but the real romantic types out there will love it.
Meanwhile, in anime news...Hayao Miyazaki will be receiving the Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival in honor of his lifetime achievements. Although many will undoubtedly wonder why this means a great deal in the age of Sundance, Golden Globes, and Cannes, the Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival still in existence. It is unique in that it is truly an international festival, honoring filmmakers throughout the world, only occasionally in its history picking American films. Congratulations are in order for this legend of anime.
News Report - February 21
Today we conclude an ongoing series of reviews with the final episode of Shootfighter Tekken. In ROUND THREE, we finally get a payoff to the storyline that's been building during the previous two releases. It's turned out that Shootfighter Tekken is possibly the best "fighting" genre anime I've seen. It's still not a show everyone will enjoy, but those who are into the whole wrestling/boxing/martial arts scene will probably find it immensely entertaining.
Meanwhile, in anime news...besides the release of the second wave of Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli DVDs in America on Tuesday(which I encourage everyone to buy), more news came this week from the licensing front. Cartoon Network has announced several anime it has picked up for broadcast, including the popular shows ONE PIECE and NARUTO. Meanwhile, according to Anime News Network, Media Blasters also announced several titles, which features the new television series of Oh My Goddess! Although dates are not firm for these releases per se, it is clear that fan favored titles are taking less and less time to make it to the US than ever before.
News Report - February 28
We close out this short month with a review of the classic anime film Barefoot Gen. Though there are better Japanese films about the children caught in World War II, this is certainly a notable motion picture. A portrayal of life in Hiroshima at the time of the atomic bombing based on one man's true story, Barefoot Gen is not for the weak of heart. Nevertheless, if you can handle its realistic portrayal, it is worth at least a rental.
News Report - March 7
As spring just starts to peek its head out for the first time, we have a fantastic new show for you to check out. Cromartie High School Vol. 1 is full of amazing anime comedy goodness. In the span of 12-minute episodes, Cromartie manages to be one of the funniest anime I've seen in years. It's one of those shows where I've already gotten the next DVD in my Netflix queue so I can get ahold of it as soon as it comes out.
Meanwhile, in news you can use...well, it's a pretty slow week. However, one story of interest is that Cartoon Network is splitting off Adult Swim...at least for Nielsen ratings. As Adult Swim, home of all sorts of anime from Fullmetal Alchemist to Cowboy Bebop, is doing amazingly well for its time slots among 18-35 year olds, Nielsen is ranking it separately. This means that those of us who watch the channel to catch up on some of the latest shows might actually see some real advertising rather than marketing ploys that make the old Ron Popeil commericals look good. (And if you're too young to remember Mr. Popeil...well, never mind.) It also hopefully means that Adult Swim will get more advertising revenue to air more anime overall.
News Report - March 14
Welcome back as we groove into a show that is all style...Wandaba Style...but very little substance. A retro sci-fi pop music collision, Wandaba Style is an exercise in repetition, fan service, and repetition. (Did I say repetition? Or am I repeating myself?) Though the idea is clever, it's not much of a show.
Meanwhile, in news you can use...for those of us without the cash to buy the recently released Mobile Suit ZETA Gundam box set for $200, there is a forthcoming compilation movie premiering May 28 in Japan called A New TRANSLATION: HAIL TO THE STARS. Hopefully it will help the poor among us figure out a little more of the story between the original series and Char's Counterattack without spending the money or time on the whole of ZETA Gundam. As news of its almost inevitable US release is available, we'll update you on it. (And thanks to Anime News Network for the info!)
News Report - March 21
Today, we've got a show from out of the middle of nowhere called Time Bokan. This recent Central Park Media release is a two-part OVA based on a show popular in the 70s in Japan, which is all well and good. Too bad this revival is the pits. It's goofy without being really any fun. But for those who need more info, feel free to read our in-depth review where we pull it apart at its seams.
Meanwhile, in news you can use...it seems that confusion is reigning among fans who are seeing Steamboy coming to their local theatres in the US. Some cinemas are getting the full-length subtitled version, whereas most are getting a shortened dub version. Although the edits were officially approved by Katsuhiro Otomo, many first reports are saying that the longer version gives much needed character development. Either way, the early reviews are reporting it as pure Otomo Akira-style: absolutely gorgeous, lots of action, and a plot that somebody should have stuck a fork into to make certain it wasn't half-baked. That being said, I love Akira and its crazy plot, so I'll get up a review of Steamboy as soon as I can see the full-length version.
News Report - March 28
Welcome back after a glorious Easter...today, we've got a different sort of tale concerning saviours and paradise. Wolf's Rain is a stunningly beautiful, if woefully melancholy, story about a future world where four wolves believe that they can open the gateway to paradise. It's an easy show to admire, but a bit harder to love; read our review and see if it might be for you.
Meanwhile, in news of a different sort of animation...the first DVD of Star Wars: Clone Wars hit the streets on Tuesday. A fine show in and of itself, the DVD is notable to anime fans for Lucas' comments in a "making of" mini-documentary about how he sees Clone Wars as a middle ground between traditional American animation and anime. Lucas admits that he's an anime fan, but how far that goes is uncertain. Although Clone Wars with its strongly angular characters looks little like anime, the kind of storytelling it does is much along the same lines. (Some would probably argue that the first two movies should have been more like this series!) At any rate, if you're a Star Wars fan, it's worth checking out...even if it's not really anime.
News Report - April 4
It seems we never grow tired of stories from our childhood...just last night, my wife and I watched the wonderful film FINDING NEVERLAND about the creation of the Peter Pan mythos. A Tree Of Palme takes a different tack, trying to bring new life to the Pinocchio story. It's beautiful to watch, but pretty much a bust in terms of story...read on for the details about the film that could have been.
Meanwhile, in news you can use...Sony Pictures has just released a 5-disc set of the recent remake of Astro Boy. They were kind enough to send me a set, and though it will be a while until I can watch all 52 episodes for my review, I wanted to mention it while you can get it at a great price. With some online retailers offering the package for less than $38, it's one of the cheapest anime bargains you can find, and of a series that is a visual extravaganza. Unfortunately, it doesn't include the original Japanese soundtrack, which is a disappointemnt. Nevertheless, at a cost like this, it's an easy way to check out the modern retelling of the story that essentially launched the anime and manga wave in Japan we're still riding today. For more specifics, check out Sony's Astro Boy webpage. As always, we don't profit from sales of this or any other DVD we mention at The Anime Review...we just thought you'd want to know about the bargain.
News Report - April 11
I don't know if April showers bring May flowers, but April brings lots of papers to the graduate student...nevertheless, we've got a review of Gantz VOL. 2 this week. Some of you read my negative review of the first installment a couple of months ago. Has it gotten any better? Read on and find out. (And if you haven't read the article on volume 1, it's a good place to start, since it covers some issues the series has in more depth.)
Meanwhile, in news you can use...well, frankly, there's not much of great interest in US anime news. Viz has officially become Viz Media due to corporate mergers and such, but it won't affect their actual output whatsoever. At recent anime conventions, many of the major distributors have mentioned that there is casual interest in getting anime product out to the PSP, but nobody's actually stating they have definitive plans to get into that market. Otherwise, it's pretty slow until the convention circuit picks up within the next month, and we'll keep you posted as to what we hear!
News Report - April 18
Greetings...today we get to take a look at an oldie but goodie, Galaxy Express 999. Although I doubt we'll see a US release on DVD any time soon due to its age, this is still a strong motion picture worth tracking down. (And since the VHS is available at many used stores dirt cheap, it's not that hard.)
Meanwhile, in other news...those who've enjoyed Initial D like I have can look forward to a live-action movie of the same. Will it be any good? I'm not fond of Japanese live-action simply because of the production values, but occasionally a good one slips through. Anyway, you can see the trailer and judge for yourself by stopping by their website. And thanks to Anime News Network for the tip!
News Report - April 25
Sometimes, an old title comes out from the woodwork and turns out to be a fun little find...that was the case for me on My Dear Marie. A mid-90s OVA series that found its way onto DVD recently, it's quite a bit of fun despite its pedigree in the overused "unexpected magical lovers" genre. It's worth a rental, at least.
Meanwhile, in news you can use...Disney has gotten together the website for Miyazaki's latest film, Howl's Moving Castle. The site features a nice English language trailer that gives us just enough of the plot without too many spoilers. Although the trailer seems to indicate a limited release in June, here's hoping that Disney is wise enough to go wide with this one.
News Report - May 2
As a new month hits, we reach the finale of the BlackJack OVA series with CPM's release of Biohazard. I'm going to miss the genius surgeon, at least until the TV series rolls around...read on to find out more about the latest of his adventures.
Meanwhile, in news you can use...at Anime Boston, ADV Films confirmed they have rights to both the theatrical release and DVD release of The Place Promised In Our Early Days. This is the latest from Makoto Shinkai, the director who made waves with his incredible Voices of a Distant Star. Although ADV Films had previously announced their rights to the theatrical release, the DVD release was just confirmed. I can't praise Voices enough, and I'm stoked to see this new piece ASAP.
News Report - May 9
This week, we review one of the latest releases from ADV Films...E's Otherwise Vol. 1. If you're under 16, don't know what an esper is, and haven't watched Akira half a dozen times, it may be worth your time. For those of us who have been around for a while and seen a lot of psychic children in anime, though, not so much.
Meanwhile, in news you can use...Anime News Network is reporting that two Isao Takahata films under Studio Ghibli, Pom Poko and My Neighbors The Yamadas, will be released in the US on August 16 by Disney. Their release is a good sign for American anime fans, considering that both films are more enculturated with Japanese customs and folklore than his Ghibli partner Hayao Miyazaki. This also gives hope that there will eventually be a release of Omoide Poroporo and Whisper of the Heart, which also feature quite a bit of Japanese culture.
News Report - May 16
Talk about a surprise...though I wasn't a big fan of the Ghost in the Shell franchise based on the films, I am now. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is an intelligent, action-packed whiz-bang of a show so good that I moved up its review a week. The show starts rerunning during the week on Adult Swim starting very soon; go read the review to see why you should make a point of taping it.
Meanwhile, in news you can use...we've got another Adult Swim callout for you. Besides their broadcast of the film Metropolis (which earned a rare A+ from me), the new show Samurai Champloo debuts this weekend. I have to say that I have been most impressed with Cartoon Network's commitment to anime...so get the Tivo ready!
News Report - May 22
Though everybody's been talking about a turn to the Dark Side this weekend, we've got a review of a different kind of dark side -- the Gothic horror kind -- in Petit Cossette. If you can handle slow and somewhat nebulous horror stories with great visual panache, then Petit Cossette may be your thing. Though I wished there was more story to this thing, the look and vibe of the show is really impressive...read on for more details.
Meanwhile, in news you can use...Central Park Media has informed us about two related exhibits of interest at the NYC Museum of Modern Art. One exhibition on Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata is running from June 3-30, and another exhibition called "Anime!!" will run from July 10 through September 12. If you're in the NYC area this summer, it looks like they will be worth checking out, especially since they show the continued growth and acceptance of anime in the West.
News Report - May 30
If you are in the US, I want to wish you a happy Memorial Day...and to our international readers, even if it's not an officially holiday, best wishes! I kicked off the three-day weekend with a showing of Steamboy, playing at the beautiful Kentucky Theatre in downtown Lexington, KY. The movie was beautiful, too, but was it worth a 10-year effort by Katsuhiro Otomo? Read on to find out.
News Report - June 5
Having enjoyed the entertaining Galaxy Express 999 a couple of months back, I thought I'd investigate its sequel, Adieu Galaxy Express 999, before too much time passed. Sad to say, though the animation is superb for its time, its plot seems a quick knockoff of other popular films of its time in order to cash in on the original's popularity. It's too bad that the film's best use probably came from being incorporated into a Dragon's Lair videogame clone in the mid-80s.
Meanwhile, in news you can use...Viz Media is announcing that they will be starting an anime-based line of novels. The first volumes are connected to Fullmetal Alchemist, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, and Steamboy...some are retellings, whereas others provide background information or even serve as prequels to the shows in question. I am cautiously optimistic about these, seeing as I really happen to enjoy novelizations, but the fact that their authors are not mentioned in Viz's press release makes me pause. Will these be worthwhile additions to their series or hack jobs? Good question.
News Report - June 13
If I were honest, I would have to say that science fiction is probably my favorite entertainment genre. But start mixing in fan service and squadrons of giggly girls, and my interest just falls through the floor. This is pretty much what happened with the first disc of Divergence Eve, a show I'd hoped would be better. Though it has a few good elements, you can read on to see why I can't recommend it.
Meanwhile, various sources are reporting that work has begun on a fourth installment of Megazone 23. Supposedly, Hiruhiko Mikomoto is returning as character designer and the plot will return to the central figures of the first two episodes. Now I'm not a big fan of either parts 2 or 3, but the original OVA was one of my draws into anime. I'll keep you informed when we know more about this production.
News Report - June 20
Today, we've got a review of the magnificently beautiful Howl's Moving Castle, easily the most memorable anime release of 2005 to date. Ever since viewing it Friday, I've been impressed with its vision. Amazingly, it's also probably the least of Hayao Miyazaki's films. Why? Because it's the first of his films to have more holes in its plot than a block of Swiss cheese. I'll probably watch it more often than some of his other films, but I understand it less...so viewer enjoy but beware.
Meanwhile, there's finally starting to be a real appreciation for the guy in the press as of late. The New York Times has an article about the man and his works, and Newsweek features an actual interview, which is unusual even in the Japanese press. Although Miyazaki isn't my absolute favorite anime director -- that spot is reserved for the brilliant Satoshi Kon -- this sort of mainstream press for anime is great to see.
News Report - June 27
Hope the summer heat where you live isn't baking you alive...speaking of which, I've got a review of the first volume of the hot new title Elfen Lied. This thing is caked in gore and awash in fan service, and despite my aversion to both, this is a darn good beginning to the series. Read on to find out why I praise what I normally condemn on these pages. (If I understand it myself, that is.)
Meanwhile, in news you can use...if you missed out on AnimEigo's release of Macross, never fear. Harmony Gold, the owners of the American rights to Macross and all things associated with 1985's Robotech, has started releasing AnimEigo's discs under their own label. Right now, it's not at a great cost savings, and you get the discs pretty inexpensively over at Right Stuf. Nevertheless, I have to say I'm glad that, at least for the time being, this seminal series is staying in print.
News Report - July 4
To those in the US, hope you have a happy end to the three day weekend! One of the big hits on the DVD scene recently is Appleseed (2004), based on Shirow Masamune's seminal manga series. The first attempt, an OVA back in 1988, was pretty darn lousy...does the film version with tons of 3D effects do better? Yes...though if you loved the manga, you're likely to find it lacking.
Meanwhile, Central Park Media sent me their press release on a new feature-length documentary they've acquired called Otaku Unite! It's about the rise of anime fandom in the US, and it is the first major film of its kind (to my knowledge). More information will be following later in July, but it's already got my antenna up as a movie to see. I'm definitely curious to see how Eric Bresler, the film's director, handles the early stages of fandom to its state now. Anyway, I'll keep you posted as I hear more.
Also of note...I finally finished up watching The Big O this last week, after trudging through it for a couple of months. My review will follow next week...stay tuned!
News Report - July 11
This week, we've got two new reviews for you. Shadow Star Narutaru Vol. 1 showed up on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago, and I'd never heard a thing about it. This title from US Manga Corps is under the radar, and likely because it's got some animation flaws that keep it from being an A list title. But get past the silly intro and the first episode and you find yourself immersed in a slow but engaging story that gets darker by the minute.
Meanwhile, I also completed my trek through The Big O (including all 26 episodes, which encompasses what is sometimes referred to as The Big O 2). It's a series that's received a lot of buzz, but I for one found it a chore and a mess. It's rare that I have to take down a popular show (one that did really well for Adult Swim, my current anime channel of choice). But in this case, I got more frustrated as the show went on.
In other news, Anime Expo news continues to pour into various news sites such as Anime on DVD and Anime News Network. Although there are many individual stories of merit, the discussion seems to center around how few new titles were announced this year. Considering that Anime Expo is where the "big" titles are often announced, this has caused a bit of concern as different outlets keep reporting on the small (but significant) decline in anime sales this year. I plan to have an article outlining my take on the current state of US anime affairs within the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.
News Report - July 18
I'm glad you stopped by today, because this week I got to see one of the best anime I've had the priviledge of watching. The Place Promised In Our Early Days is fantastic, simply put. I'll let you read the review to find out what other superlatives I can use in describing how great it is.
Meanwhile, ADV Films has decided to start testing Bit Torrent as a way to distribute anime files. They have made a torrent available showing a preview of Madlax, which can be downloaded here. It's 23 Mb, but that's pretty small on a good connection with Bit Torrent. I know many of you have found the wonder of Bit Torrent helpful when trying to find rare anime out there on the web. I suggest giving this torrent a try to see if we can't get the major studios interesting in distributing more legitimate anime this way.
News Report - July 25
Greetings! This week, we're looking at the start of a popular franchise - Patlabor: The Original Series. Seven OVAs released in the late '80s, the show's visuals are not aging gracefully. Thankfully, director Mamoru Oshii goes a long way to making the show worthy without looking the best.
Meanwhile, in news you can use...if you want proof that anime and manga are going mainstream, look no further than the LA Times, which just printed a manga review, which among other things praises Fullmetal Alchemist. You can read the full article here...and thanks to Anime News Network for the tip to the article.
News Report - August 1
This week, I'm able to review a show that has long disappeared from the talk of the anime world. A rare piece directed by no less than Rin Taro, Take The X Train is a jazzy riff that combines humor, horror, and sci-fi. It's not a classic, but considering Rin Taro's stature, I'm surprised more people haven't seen it.
Meanwhile, in news you can use...since there is not a lot of news to relate that is extremely exciting right now, I do want to address an important topic briefly. I've had several readers recently offer to submit materials for publication on The Anime Review. Though I am very appreciative of these offers, The Anime Review has no plans to publish any material on the website outside of the current reviews I write. This is mainly so that readers can rely on the "voice" The Anime Review has established in the anime community over the last six years. Readers may disagree with me, but if they read enough of my reviews, they should at least understand my views.
To those seeking to become anime reviewers on a respected, established website, I strongly recommend you check out THEM Anime Reviews. The staff there appreciates reader feedback and reviews, and the very best reviewers who submit material on their forums are often published on the main website. I cannot think of a better place to receive mentoring and guidance when working to become an anime reviewer, and I am good friends with their staff. If you are looking to work out the kinks in your reviews and want to find a good home for your reviews, please give THEM a visit.
I've added a second review to the lineup for next week, so make sure to stay tuned.
News Report - August 8
This week, we're checking back into a couple of series whose beginnings we'd previously reviewed. We've got two reviews covering three discs -- Shadow Star Narutaru Vol. 2 and Gantz Vol. 3 & 4. Both shows are frankly wack jobs, but vastly different. Narutaru is the one that's the most surprising, seeing as it gets more and more vicious as it goes, a far cry from its first episode. Gantz, meanwhile, has settled down from its initial 'shock and awe' campaign in the first two volumes. It's still a violent, disturbing show, but it's slowly getting better. But if you're in the mood for something light and refreshing, may I recommend you skip these reviews and check in next week for our review of The Cat Returns instead?
Meanwhile, in news you can use...one of the most intriguing concepts in recent memory can be found over at Mechademia. They are currently soliciting for academic papers on anime to be published in a journal format on serious topics concerning anime and its relationship to other disciplines. Although there's not much on the website yet, for those of us who are interested in the "studious" side of anime, this is fascinating. And knowing that my readers tend to be on the bright side, I thought it might interest you as well...let us know if you submit anything for publication!
News Report - August 15
It's rare that I find a truly family-friendly film to review on The Anime Review, but The Cat Returns is a great example. A product of the legendary Studio Ghibli, it's not quite as polished as Hayao Miyazaki's films or as moving as Isao Takahata's works. Nevertheless, it's a strong debut from new director Hiroyuki Morita. If you are looking for something that you'll want to watch with your kids, this is it.
Meanwhile, in news you can use...JETRO, the Japan External Trade Organization, has released a report on the state of the anime industry in late 2004/early 2005. It's actually quite fascinating, and you can read it here. If you want to understand a bit more of the industry from an insider's perspective, it's a great read. (And thanks to Anime News Network for the tip!)
News Report - August 22
This week's review marks the return of one of my favorite properties in the form of Area 88 TV Vol. 1. The story of Shin Kazama and his tortured journey as a mercenary fighter pilot has always fascinated me, and I'm glad to see the title revived after almost twenty years. The first volume of the TV program shows promise, and if you've never experienced any of Area 88, this is a worthwhile one to see.
Meanwhile, in anime news...Japan Today has an article about new anime films discussing World War II. Although the topic isn't anything new, one of the films released on July 2 called Tomorrow Will Be A Brighter Day is a follow-up to the deeply moving Who's Left Behind?. Although it's unclear how the two movies will be interrelated, Who's Left Behind? is one of the best WWII pictures I've seen, and it is possibly the best anime still virtually unknown in the US. I'm excited to see if Tomorrow winds up being as impressive as its earlier forerunner.
News Report - August 29
Although many Korean studios help with animated projects from Japan, it's still pretty rare to see animated films from this part of the world (at least in the US). One brought to the West by ADV Films is My Beautiful Girl Mari, a beautiful and surrealistic romp through a young man's last days of innocence. It isn't always the most easily understood story, but it's uniquely impressive.
As I looked for news stories this week, I came across this one from Fox News about the rise of manga and anime. It's always entertaining to see what big media has to say about the hobby, usually for the number of errors they make (and this article is no exception). However, even with the mistakes, I'm always glad to see that anime is making inroads.
News Report - September 5
This week, we've got a review of the strange and wonderful world of Leiji Matsumoto as rave opera in Interstella 5555. What you think of the group Daft Punk may affect what you think of this 70-minute musical extravaganza, and its first few minutes are pretty darn dull, but there's plenty of good to go with the bad.
Meanwhile, anime is making more mainstream news with this article from Wired. It has some very interesting statistics, such as the fact that 7% of the DVDs on sale now in the US are anime. That's honkin' amazing. It's a very good article, much less error filled than last week's Fox News brief, and it also has some interesting forward looks at the future of the form.
On a non-anime note, we continue to pray for those affected by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. I encourage all of our readers to support the International Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and other relief efforts as this continues to be a crisis. With contacts from both The Anime Review and seminary in that area, we are still looking to hear from some folks who planned to weather the storm. Our thoughts, hopes, and prayers are with you all.
News Report - September 12
As loyal readers know, it's pretty rare around The Anime Review for me to continue reviewing shows past the first volume unless I'm discussing the whole series. However, some shows are worth the effort...and when I do review additional volumes, I try to do at least two at a time. So for this week, we've got the continuation of two mind-bender series, Shadow Star Narutaru Vol. 3 and Elfen Lied Vol. 2. Neither one is quite as good as their preceding volumes, but both are still good shows that I'm enjoying.
Meanwhile, in news you can use...this one's a little different from what we normally carry, but it's definitely important to the anime community. Several anime news sites have recently picked up reports about Fred Patten, a gentleman well known for his articles tracing the history of anime and expounding upon the joys of the art form. His book Watching Anime, Reading Manga is one that's on my bookshelf and is a must for intelligent otaku; he is also one of the earliest and foremost American authorities on the subject. Mr. Patten suffered a stroke in March and is currently in a convalescent home. Though he wants to continue working with the anime community, his abilities and funds have become greatly limited. If you are familiar with Mr. Patten and his work, I encourage you to check out this site where you can help him by purchasing his works or making a donation. Thanks for your help.
News Report - September 19
This week, we finally get a look at My Neighbors The Yamadas, a Isao Takahata film released under Disney's agreement with Studio Ghibli. It's a good film, though not quite in the league of most other Ghibli films. Watched in half-hour bits, it might be perfect, but it overstays its welcome. Nevertheless, it's still an entertaining work worth your attention.
Also, a point to note...though I will still be bringing you a review every week (just as we have for the last six years), I've decided to retire the weekly news story at The Anime Review. Although I love to make sure good newsworthy stories come to your attention (even if you don't stop by the major anime news sites), I'm finding it very hard to find a good one every single week. Also, my semester's work at seminary has already proven in its first two weeks to be a real challenge, and so I'd rather dedicate my time to providing regular review updates rather than casing the Web for a news bite. I've also only received one email about a news story I've covered since I started the feature...so if you really like it, write to me now! If I see something I think is of major importance, you'll see it here still...but not necessarily on a weekly basis. Thanks for your understanding, and keep checking back for more reviews!
Weekly Update - September 26
I've got two reviews for you this week, one a stand-alone OVA and one a continuation of a previously reviewed series. Unfortunately, neither one's spectacular. Gestalt is a lame attempt at an RPG adaptation that features lots of bishonen pretty boys and a few cliche fantasy elements but nothing fresh and exciting whatsoever, and it's one to skip. Now Gantz Volumes 5 & 6 continue the story that I'm currently in a love/hate relationship with, and they're better than Gestalt...but a step down from the last two discs. It's odd, but the action-based episodes of Gantz are turning out to be a bit of a snooze. I'm just hoping Volume 7 gives us more time with the characters outside the bizarro game.
Weekly Update - October 3
It's not every day that you find an anime striving for realism, but that's what we find in the first volume of Yugo the Negotiator, our review for this week. The story of a man trying to negotiate the release of a hostage in Pakistan, it's got some problems in its details, but it's a pretty worthwhile rental. If only they didn't stereotype the Muslims.
Also, I wanted to give quick pocket reviews of two shows that have been featured as "In Progress" on our main sidebar for a while. Roughly at the halfway point of both Samurai Champloo and Fullmetal Alchemist, I can safely say that both of them are shows that, if they don't mess up horribly, will receive A grades. Samurai Champloo is a funky epic that combines hip-hop, swordsmanship, and the attitude of Cowboy Bebop in a retro reworking of 1800s Japan. It's good fun, though perhaps a little too knowing of how hip it is. But for animation nuts, this thing's absolutely beautiful, one of the best looking TV anime I've ever seen.
Fullmetal Alchemist is an action/drama about two brothers in a world where alchemy holds true; they are on a quest after an experiment gone horribly and awry nearly kills them both. There's plenty of press on this title, so you can find the details everywhere. What you won't necessarily pick up, though, is that it has perfect amounts of comedy, drama, action, and pathos. It's one of the few TV shows to do almost everything well, and in its first 25 episodes, it never got old. So until I see both shows in their entirety and I write complete reviews, my recommendation is for both.
By the way, we've also recently gotten in a disc called Kakurenbo: Hide and Seek, a short horror film just in time for Halloween from Central Park Media. We've added it to the upcoming list -- expect to see its review on October 17, along with the first volume of Piano.
Weekly Update - October 10
This week is a swing and a miss with the first volume of a new series called Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok. It looks pretty great, but the opening just didn't do it for me. I think it might actually work for a younger audience that doesn't really care about the mythology Loki is supposedly based upon. But it left me pretty cold...but read the review and find out why. But even if you're disappointed in Loki, make sure to come back for next week's reviews...from what I've seen so far of the two shows, you might want to start planning some additions to your DVD library.
Weekly Update - October 17
Welcome back...this week, we've got a couple of programs in the lineup, and what do you know! They're both strong titles, and both are slightly out of left field (at least for me). The first is Kakurenbo, a short film that's perfect for the season. A creepy reinterpretation of ancient Japanese folk tales, Kakurenbo is a visual treat you'll want to see even if horror isn't your gig, especially since it is essentially the brainchild of just two guys with hardly any production crew. And for those who get Cartoon Network, reports have it that Kakurenbo will be showing on October 30. If you haven't seen it by then, make a point to watch it (and then pick up the DVD to see a bit more of how they did it).
Piano, on the other hand, is unique in how it portrays the life of a young girl without pretense or the requirements of an overarching plot. Although I can hear the fanboys in the audience groaning and shouting "Boring!", it is sweet and cheerful, and if you need a break from the glut of retread anime stories out there, this might be your ticket. For me, its gentle spirit won me over quickly, and it might do the same for you.
Weekly Update - October 24
There's nothing that gets fans all riled up more than a little dubbing controversy, which is what we've got with this week's review of the first volume of Ghost Stories. A little show that no one would likely give much attention to if the dub wasn't a wacky rework rather than a faithful adaptation, Ghost Stories takes the shotgun approach to humor -- fire broadly enough, and you're bound to hit something. That means it works as often as it doesn't...which is fine, except that those expecting the next great comedy are bound to be disappointed. But it's still worth a viewing, I think, so read the review and decide if it might be part of your Halloween lineup.
Weekly Update - October 31
This week's review is of a hidden gem from 1993 called The Cockpit. A 3-part OVA based on stories by Leiji Matsumoto about WWII, it's a fascinating (if romanticized) look at the war through Japanese eyes. It's pretty rare to get the Japanese point of view of combatants in the conflict, and I think it's a show too many people have passed up.
Meanwhile, if you haven't noticed, Neon Genesis Evangelion is finally airing on Adult Swim. I have the DVDs and will be working on a full review probably over the Christmas holidays (the one time I have a break from the massive workload of seminary). But if you haven't seen it, even if you find it's overrated (as it very well might be), it's too much of an anime milestone to miss when it appears on what amounts to basic cable and satellite service for most folks.
Weekly Update - November 7
Welcome! This week, we close out one series and start another. We've finally reached the conclusion of Shadow Star Narutaru with the fourth volume, and it's a doozy. It's by far the most disturbing segment of what's already a very creepy show, and the three episodes found here all make for one good story arc. But closure? You want closure? Nah! And dangling plot threads galore? We've got those too! In other words, the concluding story is good, but virtually nothing from the previous ten episodes is resolved whatsoever, which is a real shame. It's wound up being a decent series that I wish was better than what it is.
But on the other hand, I've also taken a look at a title that hasn't sold well but has a small base of rabid fans. The first volume of Princess Tutu is well worth watching, even with a few annoyances, because it's possibly the best magical girl show I've seen. It's the kind of show that I wouldn't normally take the time to watch, but its storytelling elements go a long ways towards breaking through some of the stereotypes of the genre.
Weekly Update - November 14
Ah...fall has finally arrived in this part of the world, and the leaves on the trees are changing colors beautifully. Hope your part of the globe gets this pretty...and speaking of pretty, we've got some pretty boys for you this week with the review of Gravitation: Lyrics of Love. A recent OVA release from Right Stuf, the show features more J-Pop, wacky characters, and effeminate skinny guys than you can shake an IPod at. It's got some problems, but it's also a funny ride -- almost funny enough to forget the show's holes, but not quite. Take a read and see if this one is for you (presuming the whole thing about pretty boys hasn't made you tune out already).
Weekly Update - November 21
As those in the US prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I can also give thanks for a good movie to review, namely, Escaflowne. Though there are some nay-sayers out there about this film, I thoroughly enjoyed it and think it might make a fine substitute for those of us who aren't all that interested in watching football after eating way too much turkey. If you like your fantasy with a little bit of mecha and some dark angst mixed in, I think this might be your ticket!
Weekly Update - November 28
Anime reviewers aren't immune to reading the general consensus about given titles. Sometimes, we'll avoid specific titles if they've been dinged in the anime community. Most of the time, I'm grateful for being spared the agony of certain awful titles. But on certain occasions, the consensus is wrong...and it was wrong about Tenchi The Movie 3: Tenchi Forever! Although I've seen quite a bit of the Tenchi Muyo saga, I've never been a big fan. But Tenchi Forever! is by far the best story in the Tenchi canon by far, even though it drops the comedy in favor of a serious plotline. If you've never seen any Tenchi stories, this isn't the place to start, but someone who's watched enough Tenchi to know what's going on should really appreciate this film.
Weekly Update - December 5
As we enter the heart of the Christmas advent season, I found myself watching an unexpected early gift called Wonderful Days. Known as Sky Blue by its American distributor, this is a 2D/3D film that is among the most visually impressive works I've seen. Although some might object to calling it anime (seeing as it is a Korean production), it is hugely worthwhile. Although the plot is really a simplistic excuse to show us loads of pretty eye candy, it's far more rewarding than some other similar ventures. Although not yet out on Region 1 DVD, I'll be certain to pick it up when it is.
Weekly Update - December 12
Ah, remember the good old days when whale oil was in great supply and PETA was nary a thought on an activist's mind? Well, you might if you've ever read Herman Melville's original story about Captain Ahab and his nemesis, but Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick takes that story and sets it in the far future where whales are spaceships instead. In fact, it changes the story in a lot of different ways, but it winds up being a retro adventure into the unknown worth investigating. Although the first disc moves too slowly, it sets up the background for what could turn into a really great show...take a read and find out if this journey is worth harpooning into your living room or not.
Weekly Update - December 19
Welcome all! Hope your holiday shopping is almost done...this week's review would probably only be a great present if you were still into '70s psychedelica, but Space Adventure Cobra has it in spades. I can see where it might have played well in 1982 when it came out, but now it's a campy cheesefest. However, I've seen worse.
Unfortunately, you're much more likely to get the next item under the tree, which is the new book called The Science of Anime. A new release by Lois H. Gresh and Robert Weinberg, it had the potential to be a really great entry into the small but growing library of English books on anime. However, it's one of the worst...read on to find out the damage.
Finally, with the help and emails of some loyal readers and personal testing, we've removed our stat meter. A few weeks ago, apparently our stat provider decided to start using popup ads which showed up if you had a certain cookie on your computer. We're very sorry about that and hope you'll forgive us, especially since we didn't make a cent off the ads that were popping up and weren't advised that they would appear. If you know of a good free stat service that doesn't involve popups, please email us so that we can investigate the possibilities.
Thanks again, and may your holidays be filled with the joys of family, friends, and loved ones celebrating the best thing that ever happened to this world a little over 2000 years ago...Merry Christmas!
Weekly Update - December 26
Sorry we're running a little late again...'tis the season to be doing other things than anime reviews! Nevertheless, I'm glad to be able to present an update on what has turned out to be one of the best releases of 2005 with the second and third volumes of Area 88 TV. The first volume was quite good, but I think I compared it a little too much to the old OVAs. Now that I've gotten past that, I've come to really enjoy the next two DVDs. And for dogfighting fans, there's no better anime on the market.