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Friday, April 29, 2011

Saint Seiya: Evil Goddess Eris: Southern... Cross... Christ!

Back at the start of my Fuma no Kojiro: Yasha-hen review I mentioned that I more than likely wouldn't cover Saint Seiya in this blog, mainly because it is well-known around the world. Well, that mainly is because the 114-episode TV series is truly well-known, and the Hades OVAs (Sanctuary, Inferno, and Elysion) are pretty recent and got a lot of talk when each of them were coming out (though it is fun to point out that Hades Sanctuary is getting close to 10 years old now). And, naturally, the Lost Canvas OVAs are the most recent Seiya anime and have a CrunchyRoll simulcast. But there are some Saint Seiya anime that are worth talking about here: The movies.

Theatrical movies, or gekijouban (which translates roughly as "Theatrical Edition"), based on popular manga aren't anything new, and that counts even more for Shonen Jump anime. Naruto and One Piece, for example, have their fair share of movies (One Piece is at 10 as of this writing and I don't even bother to keep count of all the Naruto movies), and Dragon Ball has an insane 17 movies, four from the original series and a whopping 13 from DBZ (and GT has a movie as well, but I don't think it was theatrically-released). So, naturally, Saint Seiya has a series of movies to its name, five to be exact, and most of them have kind of become forgotten as time went on. For those who are unfamiliar with Saint Seiya, the basic idea is that there are warriors called Saints who fight for the sake of Athena, goddess of wisdom, primarily Seiya, the Bronze Pegasus saint, and his friends, who fight to protect Saori Kido, who is the present human reincarnation of Athena.

Saint Seiya (Gekijouban) debuted in July of 1987, and has since become more known as Saint Seiya: Evil Goddess Eris. The TV series was only about one-third of the way through its airing when this movie debuted, and like most movies of this type its canonicity can be debated. In this movie we're introduced to Ellie, a girl who helps out at the orphanage that Seiya and Miho live at (Remember Miho? You know, Seiya's sort-of love interest?). One day she sees a young orphan run into the street and she goes after him, but before they're hit by a car Cygnus Hyoga saves them and the two start to fall for each other. One night the two see a shooting star and Ellie is entranced by an object that broke off of it, which Hyoga doesn't notice. Upon finding it Ellie is possessed by Eris, Goddess of Chaos, who promptly kidnaps Saori/Athena and reveals that she will drain Athena of her powers by using the Golden Apple of Greek Myth. In order to make sure that the Bronze Saints don't stop her, she revives five dead saints with new bodies and calls them her "Ghost Saints": Shield Yan, Sagitta Maya (not be confused with the canonical silver saint Sagitta Ptolemy, who had not debuted in the anime at this point yet), Lyra Orpheus (who would be altered somewhat and re-used in the actual story much later on as Lyra OrpheƩ), Southern Cross Kristos (yes, his name is essentially Christ), and Orion Jager.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One-Pound Gospel: The Underdog of Boxing Anime

Rumiko Takahashi is one of the largest names in the manga industry. In Japan she has consistently had hit manga after hit manga after hit manga with Weekly Shonen Sunday by creating Urusei Yatsura, Ranma 1/2, and InuYasha, the latter two being international hits. Not only that, but she also knows how to do great seinen manga, as indicated by the well-loved title Maison Ikkoku. But there is another manga that she has created that, much like its main character, is kind of the underdog of her titles: One-Pound Gospel.

One-Pound Gospel was a manga that Takahashi made for Weekly Young Sunday. The first chapter was published back in 1987 and new chapters came out irregularly until mid-1992. After that, due to her other manga being very popular, Gospel went on multiple hiatuses with chapters coming out in 1996, 1998, and 2001. The manga wouldn't be truly completed, though, until after InuYasha ended, with Takahashi working on Gospel straight from the end of 2006 until early 2007. Among all of her manga, One-Pound Gospel seems to truly be the underdog since most people might be unfamiliar with it but at the same time it's a very good title in the end, much like its main character.

Kosaku Hatanaka is a 19-year-old professional boxer, the only one to come out of the Mukoda Gym. Coach Mukoda saw great potential in Kosaku and his beginnings looked great, but there's one problem: Weight control. Although Kosaku is an excellent boxer, he also has a love for food that results in him almost failing his weigh-ins, and even when he passes them, a good series of punches to the gut can result in him throwing up in the middle of the ring. One day during some roadwork he passes out in front of a church, where a 21-year-old woman named Sister Angela, a nun who hasn't taken her vows yet, brings him in and feeds him, not knowing about Kosaku previously. Kosaku falls in love with Angela, but at the same time has to try to get over his love of food so that he can continue his love of boxing, especially after getting challenged by Jiro Amakusa, an Olympic gold medalist turned pro boxer.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Legendary Anime Director Osamu Dezaki Has Died

The term "legend" can sometimes just be tossed around at random, but Osamu Dezaki is one of those people who full-heartedly deserved the title. He was a part of the Japanese TV animation industry since the generally agreed upon beginning, which was the original Astro Boy in 1963 (Dezaki did some episode direction for it), and was still working on new titles to this day. It's with such sadness that I have say that this true legend died just a few hours ago of lung cancer. Considering that he was a normal smoker (hell, this well-known picture of him shows him smoking!) this is no surprise, and dying at the age of 67 isn't as shocking as that of Satoshi Kon's passing last year, but it's always a shame to lose such an influential person.

Considering his long resume, I'll just link to ANN's Encyclopedia page for Dezaki and instead I'll list off the titles of his that were licensed and you can actually go and watch/purchase right now:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blazing Transfer Student: The Lost GAINAX OLA

If you are a real anime fan, then you're probably at least familiar with the name GAINAX... I mean, you've heard of Neon Genesis Evangelion, right? Or maybe Gurren Lagann? Or even Gunbuster? Yeah, GAINAX made every single one of those titles, plus a good few others that aren't mecha-related. They are, by far, one of the most identifiable studios in anime, which makes it interesting that I'd be talking about GAINAX on a blog that focuses on obscure anime & manga. Well, there is a title, before Evangelion but after Gunbuster, that some might not even know was made by GAINAX. In fact, GAINAX's own website doesn't even list this title in their "Works" page. But it is actually, in my opinion, one of their best short works. I'm talking about GAINAX's two-episode Blazing Transfer Student OVA... Oh wait, it technically isn't an OVA.

Ignore the subtitling, as I simply forgot to turn to the subs off when taking the picture.

When it comes to over-the-top hot-blooded anime & manga creators, there are some people that are easily named: Go Nagai, Masami Kurumada, and even the legendary Shotaro Ishinomori, among many others. Well, what would you say to a person who took inspiration from these very people; a man who personifies hot-blooded manhood to a ridiculous degree who even names his studio Honou (Blazing) Productions? Well that man exists and his name is Kazuhiko Shimamoto!

It's actually a slight shame that Shimamoto isn't a larger name when it comes to hot-blooded action. In all actuality there are a lot of people who would be familiar with his works to a point: TokyoPop released his 1997 sequel/reboot of Ishinomori's Skull Man manga (which is definitely worth hunting down), anyone who saw Mobile Fighter G Gundam should know that the characters for that show were actually designed by Shimamoto himself before they were adapted for television, and even fans of Lucky Star should be familiar with Anime Tenchou, the hot-blooded manager of the local Animate store. In fact, going back to G Gundam, some might not even know that right a manga reboot of that title is being serialized right now, written by Yasuhiro Imagawa (the director) and drawn by Shimamoto himself! But let's get back to the not-OVA...