Thursday, July 21, 2011

Yoiko: Fuuka Likes to Keep Clean

Remember the 1996 American film Jack, starring Robin Williams? For those who don't, here's the basic premise: Williams played Jack, a boy who ages four times as fast as everyone else, so that when he joins public school for fifth grade at age 10 he looks like a 40-year-old man. It was an okay movie, but the premise was certainly interesting. Well, in 1998 mangaka Yugo Ishikawa created his first truly successful series, called Yoiko (which is one way of saying "Children" in Japanese), which is also about someone who ages faster than the usual human. It ran in Big Comic Spirits magazine and ended in 2001, lasting 15 volumes. It was apparently so popular that in November of 1998, not even a year after it debuted, Studio Pierrot and Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS for short) created a 20-episode TV anime series that ran until March of 1999. Though the basic premise of Yoiko is similar to that of Jack, it naturally delivers is a very different, and hilariously amusing, way.

Fifth grade student Fuuka Esumi is going through a change: Her mother is going away on a business trip for an unknown amount of time, so she is sent to Dotonbori, Osaka to live with her Aunt, Uncle, and cousin Jiro. Naturally, Fuuka has to transfer to Dotonbori Elementary and continue fifth grade over there. Like most children her age she just wants to live a happy life with her extended family and gain new friends with the move to Tonbori. There's just one "big" thing about Fuuka: Though she's only about 10 years old she has the body of a university student, and a fairly sexy woman, at that.

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.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy: 4Kids' Anime This Ain't!

The original Kinnikuman manga ran in Weekly Shonen Jump from 1979-1987. Created but the manga duo of Yoshinori Nakai and Takashi Shimada, who go under the pen-name of Yudetamago ("Boiled Egg" in Japanese), Kinnikuman started off as a parody of tokusatsu heroes like Ultraman but quickly changed into a splastick, superhuman-wrestling action story. It became a gigantic hit in the history of Shonen Jump, but Yudetamago weren't able to create a similar hit... Until 1998. Eleven years after ending their debut manga, the duo returned to the Kinnikuman world and introduced Japan to the "New Generation" of superhumans with Kinikuman II-Sei, with "Nisei" translating as "Second Generation", which was released in North America under the name Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy. The anime, brought over by 4Kids Entertainment, became a fairly big hit with 4Kids commissioning Toei to continue making episodes after the show was canceled in Japan. The manga, released by Viz Media, never really seemed to be anywhere near as popular, even though it tells the same story and was fully released, with the volume having literally come out a couple of days ago. Why is that? And is this manga worth tracking down?

Twenty-eight years have passed since the end of Kinnikuman, which had Suguru Kinniku, a.k.a. Kinnikuman, taking his place as the new king of Planet Muscle alongside his new wife Bibinba. The Earth had no villains left to threaten it, and the other remaining superhumans stayed vigilant. Unfortunately, even superhumans get old and now the evil superhumans, banding under the name of the dMp (Demon Manufacturing Plant), have returned to Earth and the legends realize they have to train a new generation of warriors at the Hercules Factory. Among them is Suguru's own son, Mantaro Kinniku, who has already received special introductory training from the legendary warrior Ramenman. Unfortunately, Mantaro is still a wimp at heart and easily poops his pants, literally, before fights. Still, Mantaro, a.k.a. Kid Muscle, might just be the Earth's best chance at surviving... We're screwed, aren't we?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hunter X Hunter 1998 JSAT Pilot: Familiar, Yet Different

Hunter X Hunter (you don't pronounce the "X" in the middle) is probably the longest-running-but-not-really-running manga in history. Debuting in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine back in March of 1998 this was the third title from Yoshihiro Togashi, who hit it big back in December 1990 with Yu Yu Hakusho and spent a couple of years between these two titles with Level E (which had an anime adaptation just this past winter). The basic story is about a boy named Gon Freecs, who finds out that his father Jing, who is very rarely home, is actually a hunter; in the HxH world, "hunters" are people who are pretty much freelance professionals. They can be well-versed in almost anything, from actual "hunting" to food research. Gon decides to become a hunter himself so that he can find his father.

Anyway, this manga became very popular and Togashi has very special treatment with the brass at Shueisha. Unofficially called "Togashi-ism", the man is allowed to take year-long+ breaks without actually doing anything, followed by doing the manga for a few months and then going back on break. But let's get back to the actual review. Pilot films aren't exactly common in anime, but they do happen often enough. Hell, the Dororo anime from the late-60s had a pilot film first, and it was even in color whereas the TV series was done in black & white (which was apparently a cost-cutting decision). Anyway, before Shuiesha now has festivals at the end of each year called Jump Festa, and often pilots are made for anime that haven't been given actual anime yet; Toriko, Eyeshield 21, and Gintama all have gotten this treatment. But before Jump Festa there was JSAT, or the Jump Super Anime Tour. In 1998 three Jump manga received pilots: One Piece (which needs no explanation), Seikimatsu Leader-den Takeshi (which was from the then-future-creator of Toriko), and Hunter X Hunter. The biggest trick with pilots are that info on them can be scarce, but let's take a look at the Hunter X Hunter 1998 JSAT Pilot.