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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Two New Anime Licenses in Just As Many Days: Ray & Lupin the 3rd Season 1!

Anime Expo is over with and Otakon will be coming in a couple of days; for those interested, I will be at Otakon by the way. Anyway, the con season doesn't mean that anime licensing companies can't still go around and announce new licenses, especially if they don't go to cons normally.

First, this past Monday Maiden Japan, a "label" of Section23's (of which Sentai Filmworks is a label of as well), announced that they will be releasing Ray the Animation on DVD. This 13-episode anime adaptation of Akihito Yoshitomi's medical drama manga of the same name aired in Japan in 2006 from April to June. Akihito Yoshitomi is one of my all-time favorite mangaka, with Eat-Man being his absolute greatest work. ADV did release the first three volumes of the manga, and I can say that I certainly enjoyed them. More than likely this will be revealed as an October release, since when David Williams announced Sentai's October line-up at AX it was only made up of two titles. Section23 generally releases something every week, which means the unmentioned October slots are titles that aren't Sentai-related.

For those who are interested in Ray's premise, the basic story is that Ray is a girl who was originally raised to be used solely for harvesting her organs that would be sold on the black market. She escapes, but loses her eyes in the process. Luckily, a freelance surgeon named "B.J.", who is hinted at being Osamu Tezuka's legendary Black Jack, saves Ray by giving her new eyes... One that come with X-Ray vision! Now, years later, Ray is likewise a freelance surgeon and performs operations that normal doctors wouldn't be able to do, while also trying to shut down the farm she escaped from. Yoshitomi is a giant Black Jack fan, having also worked on official anthologies for the character, and when the anime was announced Tezuka Productions became involved, allowing B.J. to actually be Black Jack, right down to his actual seiyuu, Akio Ohtsuka, voicing the character. Having never seen the anime I am really looking forward to this release. Also, considering how Sentai licensed the Blue Drop anime, which was the sole anime portion of Yoshitomi's yuri-themed manga anthology, and now Maiden Japan has Ray, all Section23 has to do now is license rescue the two Eat-Man anime and all of the anime adaptations of Yoshitomi's works will be under one banner here in North America... Here's hoping for the best, as I did feature Eat-Man and Eat-Man '98 in my first list of deserved license rescues.

Second, just yesterday Discotek announced on Facebook that they will be releasing the original Lupin the 3rd anime TV series on DVD in "Spring 2012". Not to be confused with the 155-episode TV series that ran from 1977 to 1980, which Geneon aired partially on [adult swim] and released somewhat more of on DVD (though there are apparently episodes that were dubbed but never released), this is the original 23-episode TV series that ran from October of 1971 to March of 1972. This original series is also known as the "Green Jacket" series, due to the color of jacket Lupin wears during it, while the second series is known as the "Red Jacket" series; this became especially important in the 2008 OVA Lupin the 3rd: Green vs. Red, where Red Jacket-wearing Lupin meets up with an impostor who wears the Green Jacket. There's also a third TV series, which is known as the "Pink Jacket" series, but that's probably the most obscure of the series.

This first TV series is especially known for the fact that a young Hayao Miyazaki actually worked on the show, directing 14 of the 23 episodes... Expect Discotek to play up that connection as much as possible. Reed Nelson, operator of and generally considered North America's biggest Lupin fan, has revealed that he will be working on some extra features for this release, much like how he did commentary tracks for Discotek's last two Lupin releases, the 1987 Fuma Conspiracy movie and the 2002 Episode 0: First Contact TV special. The most I'm expecting from Nelson will simply be commentary tracks for some of his personal favorite episodes. If you are new to Lupin I heartily recommend buying First Contact, as it's a really great origin story of how Lupin and his gang meet up and is an excellent introduction to the series for newcomers, like I was when I first watched it. Considering how Lupin is generally a tough sell over here I'm hoping for the best for Discotek with this release. They are considering a Blu-Ray release down the road if the DVD release sells well enough, but it's best not to think about that right now.

Here's hoping that Otakon can can live up to these two awesome license announcements!

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