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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bastard!!: D.S. is too M***** F****** Awesome...

When it comes to fantasy anime & manga for adult audiences, specifically ones with a large amount of violence & gore, there are only two titles that I can full-heartedly recommend: Berserk & Bastard!!. Naturally, Berserk is a world-renowned name and is even getting those new movies soon (which I hope can deliver), so I'm going to talk about the latter here... And I better do so before Dark Schneider finds out and kills me for not putting his title in front of Berserk's.

Kazushi Hagiwara's Bastard!! Ankoku no Hakaishin/Dark God of Destruction debuted in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump back in 1988 (roughly a year before Berserk's debut). It's crazy action, fanservice, violence, gore, continual breaking of the fourth wall (usually by Dark Schneider himself), and downright raunchiness was extremely popular & something that Shonen Jump had not really seen before... And it wasn't long until Bastard!! went from weekly serialization to being a seasonal special for the magazine due to it's content to running irregularly & then finally being moved to the seinen-oriented Ultra Jump magazine in 2001, where it still runs irregularly to this day. Honestly, Hagiwara is one of those rare mangaka in the industry who is allowed to effectively publish his manga whenever he feels like it, which means that new Bastard!! chapters do not appear in every issue of Ultra Jump, and considering that Ultra Jump is a monthly magazine fans sometimes have to wait a while for the story to continue. At the same time, though, whenever a new volume comes out, which still carries the Shonen Jump label, it's an immediate best-seller... And, damn, does the art look beautiful ever since the move to Ultra Jump. But let's backtrack a little to when Bastard!! was still in Shonen Jump's pages, as from 1992 to 1993 an OVA series based on the manga's first story arc was created by AIC. Does this OVA maintain the "Heavy Metal Dark Fantasy", as Viz puts it, styling of the manga?

In the near future the apocalypse occurs; in only seven days Ansla-Sax, God of Destruction, brought human civilization down to nothing before finally being sealed away. It has since been roughly 400 years since then and the Earth has become a world based more on medieval times, but with a change: Magic and mythical monsters have become commonplace, with a multitude of kingdoms living in peace... That is, until a powerful wizard known only as Dark Schneider (D.S. for short) decided to start destroying the kingdoms for seemingly no reason other than destruction. During his adventures he gathered his Four Lords of Havoc, Ninja Master Gara, Thunder Empress Arshes Nei, the ice wizard Kall-Su, and the dark priest Abigail, and together they were close to their goal, until D.S. was killed by Great Priest Geo Nort Soto of Meta-Rikana. Fifteen years have since passed, and the Four Lords of Havoc are now at their closest to fulfilling their goal of creating a Sorcerer's Kingdom. All that remains are the four kingdoms that hold the four seals to Ansla-Sax, and with the kingdom of Judas destroyed Meta-Rikana is next on the list. With no choice left, Geo decides to unleash his trump card by having his daughter, Tia Nort Yoko, perform a virgin kiss to her childhood friend Rushe Ren Ren, so that she can unleash Dark Schneider, who was never killed but instead sealed inside Rushe. The only problem is whether or not D.S. is willing to help, though.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo Gets a New DVD Release Scheduled? Could Illumitoon be Making a Comeback?

[2017 ADDENDUM: This wound up becoming a dual-audio release from S'more Entertainment, which was founded from some of the founders of Rhino Entertainment. Unfortuantely, S'more had no idea how to release anime, resulting in uncut episodes in both Japanese & English audio, but without any English subtitles, with the lazy excuse of, "We put PDF files of the script on the last DVD!". Admittedly, this whole ordeal has made me less enthused about doing "news" pieces on the blog, because I got excited for a lazy release that was not properly advertised.]

I still wasn't sure if I was going to do a review today, but imagine my surprise to go online this morning, go to The Fandom Post's forums, and see this topic on the North American DVD/BD Industry board, plus a cover art to go with it:

Yeah, it says what you think it says: "Shonen Jump's Bobobo-bo Bo-Bobo The Complete Series, Part 1". Someone is releasing Bobobo's TV series on DVD again, four years since Illumitoon's attempted DVD singles release bombed. If you go back to my first August 2011 post I talk all about Illumitoon Entertainment's poorly-done attempt at entering the North American anime industry, which started and ended in 2007 in terms of DVD releases. But there is now one question that remains: What is this release? On The Fandom Post forum topic I have linked above, forum poster WTK has done great work in linking to the online shops that list this collection release, so here's the info we can gather:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Joe vs. Joe: A "Joe" By Any Other Name is Still Not Joe Yabuki

Though he welcomed in the New Year on January 1, Hisao Maki unfortunately died the next day due to undisclosed causes. Maki was the younger brother to the late Ikki Kajiwara (creator of sports manga Ashita no Joe, Tiger Mask, & Star of the Giants), but that's not to say that the littler brother didn't have a fair resume of his own. His main mark in Japan was as the writer of the hard-boiled action manga WARU, which spawned a multitude of live-action movies, two of which were directed by Takashi Miike, and he was also helping produce the upcoming live-action movie based on Tiger Mask... Which, to go on a tangent, seems to not truly understand what Tiger Mask is actually about, turning a man who donned a mask and wrestled for the orphanage that he lived at into a man who wears a "power suit" and becomes a masked superhero. Hell, the movie was green-lit due to a string of donations orphanages in Japan received during the 2010/2011 holidays and actually had a revival during this holiday, yet the movie doesn't seem to understand what Tiger Mask really stands for. But, to get back on topic, Hisao Maki was also the creator of a boxing story inspired by Ashita no Joe, which in 2003 was adapted into a 6-episode OVA... Which in 2008 was then released in North America by a hentai distributor! I give you Joe vs. Joe.

Joe vs. Joe, originally called Futari no Joe/The Two Joes in Japan, was a story Hisao Maki co-created with Koichi Kimura. Though ANN does credit it as being an Ashita no Joe spin-off, I feel that it's an incorrect description and rather the story is simply influenced by Kajiwara's legendary boxing drama. It focuses on two main characters who become rivals and the story climaxes with the eventual battle between the two, much like how Joe Yabuki and rival Tohru Rikiishi meet up, become rivals, and then finally battle in the ring. Unfortunately, that minor connection to Ashita no Joe leads to a comparison that really shows off how inferior Joe vs. Joe is to the "original" Joe, but on it's own this OVA is still a neat enough boxing story.

Joe Yuuki is the son to a rich family who looks down on anyone he considers below him, which is just about everyone, and is also one of Shibuya's top DJs. Joe Akamine is a delivery boy from a regular family who is also training to become a professional boxer. In order to raise a little extra money one day, as well train a little more, Akamine decides to offer a challenge to anyone in the park to beat him. Yuuki sees this and becomes infuriated that someone can be that cocky, but when he fights Akamine he is soundly defeated. Upon hearing that Akamine is looking to become a pro boxer, Yuuki decides to take up boxing as well. At the same time Maki Takakura, a professional model, meets Yuuki by chance and becomes interested in his goal... Especially when they find out that Akamine is being trained by George Takizawa, a former world-champion boxer as well as Setsuko's father who she has had a falling out with.