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Monday, August 13, 2018

Otakon 25 in 2018: Remaining Steadfast Against Great Odds

Back in 2013, Otakon went all out for the 20th iteration of the "Convention of Otaku Generation", but I wonder how many people actually realized that this year was the 25th (read: not the 25th anniversary, which will be next year). To match that, some have argued that the roster of guests this year was a bit lacking, even though icons like voice actor Nobutoshi Canna & Macross creator Shoji Kawamori came over for the weekend; sure, Mr. CreepyPasta was an odd choice, but I won't complain. Still, the panels themselves were mostly outstanding, or at least the ones I went to, the Washington DC area is starting to feel more & more familiar, & the convention center still felt really open & uncrowded, even with this year being the fifth-most attended Otakon ever; don't be surprised if they go past 30,000 once again next year.

Sure, there are still some problems, like the autographs always feeling like a work-in-progress after 25 years of experience to figure out what to do(!), but Otakon has proven that the move to DC is truly for the best, and the fans came to the city in such a large number that a white supremacist rally planned for Sunday wound up being absolutely innocuous, partially because there wasn't enough space in the hotels for them! Anyway, as always, allow me to go over what I personally held at Otakon, because I was more than pleased with the results.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Ages of Jump Redux Part 2: The Iron-Forged Future is in "Our" (read: Japan's) Hands

So in the two(-ish ) years since the original Ages of Jump, a lot of things have happened related to the mangaka & titles I brought up back then. Play Ball received a currently-running sequel, 2017's Play Ball 2 by Yuji Moritaka, & I've heard it's very faithful to the style of the late Akio Chiba. Kochikame surprised everyone by ending in late 2016, after 40 years & 200 volumes, and a new anime TV special was made to celebrate. Captain Tsubasa finally saw a new anime adaptation by David Production, which is still airing right now & about to make its English debut on Primo TV. Speaking of David Pro, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 5: Golden Wind's anime adaptation will be debuting this October, after having its first episode premiere at Anime Expo. Dragon Ball Super ended not long ago, for the time being, & a new movie is in production. City Hunter is getting a new anime film by Sunrise that's set to debut on February 8, 2019, featuring the original cast & director. Goku!! Otokojuku ended, & has since been followed up with Shin/True!! Otokojuku. Saint Seiya is getting a full-CG remake series that will air on Netflix in 2019, under the Knights of the Zodiac name, and spin-off manga Saintia Sho is getting a Toei-produced TV anime that same year.

Yes, this is nothing but re-purposing already existing artwork... But it still looks awesome.

The Hana no Keiji spin-off manga franchise will be coming to an end later this year. Yu Yu Hakusho is getting its first new anime production, an OVA, in over 20 years. Hoshin Engi finally received a new TV anime adaptation, almost 10 years after Shomei TV's alleged attempt at gauging interest. Hiroyuki Takei left Shueisha & moved to Kodansha, taking all of the Shaman King rights with him... Oops. Bleach finally came to an end in 2017, totaling 74 volumes. Muhyo & Roji's Bureau of Supernatural Investigation finally received an anime adaptation that just debuted last week! Toriko ended in 2016, totaling 43 volumes. To-Love-Ru Darkness ended in early 2017 after 18 volumes, giving that whole franchise a total of 36 volumes. Saiki Kusuo no Ψ-nan received not one, but two seasons of TV anime; you might know it better now as The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.. World Trigger has been on an unfortunate indefinite hiatus, due to Daisuke Ashihara's health, ever since the end of 2016. Hinomaru Zumo is set to debut a TV anime adaptation this October. Finally, My Hero Academia has truly become Jump's new smash hit, all around the world, both in manga & anime form.

Oh... And Nobuhiro Watsuki was revealed to be in possession of a ton of child pornography, yet was given nothing more than a slap on the wrist & allowed to return to his Rurouni Kenshin: Hokkaido Arc manga after only a few weeks. Compare that to Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro, who had his manga Takeshi! outright cancelled, was pretty much exiled from Shonen Jump for six years following his "incident", & needed the good word of Eiichiro Oda just to be given a second chance to prove that he had changed. Hey, they can't all be good news, unfortunately. Anyway, let's see what noteworthy manga I let fall between the cracks from the Silver Age of Jump, shall we?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Ages of Jump Redux Part 1: We Can Be Heroes, Just For One Week

Back in 2016, I did something absurd & ridiculous by giving a giant, two-month overview of the history of Weekly Shonen Jump. I did so by covering the 123 most notable manga to ever run in the history of the magazine as of that moment (plus mentions to a bunch of other, smaller series), covering up through the end of Naruto, which I deemed the end of "The Silver Age of Jump". At the end of that year, when I included the entire "Ages of Jump" in my favorite posts of the year list, I finished up with this quote:
"Still, at least I completed this foolish journey, and that means that I'll never have to do it ever again, so there."

Hi, I'm George J. Horvath... I'm a dumbass.

Hey, Shueisha finally acknowledged a manga that predates Kochikame!

Of course, with this year being the 50th Anniversary of Jump's very existence, how could I NOT come back to what will likely be my most successful series of posts? Seriously, while none of them have entered most-read of all time territory yet, the "Most Read of the Week" sidebar almost always features at least one part of The Ages of Jump in it, and to this very year I still get the occasional response to it. So, to follow this year's theme of "Unfinished Business", let's celebrate Weekly Shonen Jump's Golden Anniversary (yes, I know that the literal 50th Anniversary was on July 11... I was busy that month) by giving credit to the other notable manga that I neglected to properly include in the original 2016 overview... And how about we just split this up across two parts, just to keep things consistent?

So, for Part 1, let's do the time warp again & see what I "forgot" from the Bronze & Golden Ages!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Nekojiru Gekijou - Jirujiru Original: Cats May Have Nine Lives, but They Give Zero ****s...

Back in September of 2012, I watched & reviewed the short 2001 OVA Cat Soup, which was known for its surrealistic visuals & it's bleak worldview. The former was due to the OVA being the first time Masaaki Yuasa would be allowed to go all out, by director Tatsuo Sato, while the latter was due to the fact that the OVA was based on the works of the late Chiyomi Hashiguchi, better known by her pen name, Nekojiru/Cat Soup; in fact, the OVA's Japanese name was Nekojiru-sou/Cat Soup Grass. In that review, though, I had mentioned that the OVA was not the first adaptation of Nekojiru's work. Instead, the tales of her two cat siblings Nyako & Nyatta were first brought to animation back in mid-1999, as part of TV Asahi's Bakushou Mondai Boss Chara Ou/Bakusho Mondai's King Boss Character program. Said anime was Nekojiru Gekijou/Cat Soup Theater - Jirujiru Original, a series of shorts that ran for 27 episodes that were adapted from stories that were compiled in the books Nekojiru Senbei, Dango, & Donburi; Nekojiru always named her collections after snacks & the like. Of course, nearly six years ago, I said that "since that show was fansubbed years ago I might review that at a later date"... Promises like that are why I made this a year of "Unfinished Business".

Nekojiru Gekijou has no overarching story by any means, to no surprise. It's simply a collection of stories that range somewhere between one or two minutes each, though a couple go slightly longer, and every single one of them features a pretty cynical view of everything. Nekojiru became known for her bleak, blunt, & very cruel outlook when it came to her manga, and she admitted that her ideas often came from her dreams. Unfortunately, it's possible that this very extreme cynicism led her to eventually commit suicide on May 10, 1998, and that could potentially affect how you react to the stuff that happens in this anime series. I bring this up, because Nekojiru Gekijou can be dark... Really, shockingly dark, and possibly even vile at times, but all in an amusing way, nonetheless.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A Matchless Beat is on the Horizon: An Interview with Anime Midstream's Jimmy Taylor

Back in August of 2016, Anime Midstream announced at that year's AnimeFest that it had license rescued B't X, the 1996 anime adaptation of Masami Kurumada's manga of the same name; previously, Illumitoon Entertainment gave the anime a (poorly done) try back in 2007. For those unfamiliar with Anime Midstream, which is understandable, the company first broke onto the scene back in 2008, when it licensed early-90s mech anime Matchless Raijin-Oh. From 2009 to 2014, the company released the first half across five dual-audio DVD singles, once per year, followed by a sub-only boxset for the second half. Over the next two years, Anime Midstream went silent until about a month before AnimeFest, & almost nothing has came out in terms of information regarding B't X's release since the con, except for a teaser image in March of 2017 saying that "Season 1" would be "Coming Soon...", and what looked to be an indication of dub work being done a month before that.

Huh, now there's a Shueisha credit in the copyright, instead of Kadokawa Shoten...
Haven't seen that happen with an anime before.

Now that we're coming up on two years since the original licensing announcement, I decided to see if I could get some answers from Anime Midstream regarding not just B't X, but also about Raijin-Oh, the change in the anime industry since 2008, and other topics. Thankfully, Midstream's founder Jimmy Taylor was able to find some time during the hectic, final weeks leading up to release, he plans to make an announcement by the end of this month, to answer my questions via e-mail.