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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Goddamn: Rallying in Kenya for Fun & Sport

Happy Leap Day! Considering how Leap Day, February 29, only comes around once every 4 years I can't miss this opportunity to post a review on such a rare day of extra time... And since Leap Day is all about "time", why not review a sports anime where time is essential? Let's rally!

Kaoru Shintani is easily most well known around anime & manga fandom for his legendary dog-fighting manga Area 88, which was one of the very first manga released in North America back in the mid-80s. But Shintani has also worked on a couple of other notable titles since his big hit, like Cleopatra DC, doing the character designs for mech anime Uchuu Taitei God Sigma, as well as the Sherlock Holmes spin-off manga Christie: High Tension (which Seven Seas will be releasing in a couple of weeks under the title Young Miss Holmes). But Shintani was also the creator of what might be the only manga about rally racing, or rallying for short: Goddamn (named after the main character's habit of saying said phrase). Running from 1988 to 1990 in the pages of Big Comic Superior (home to titles like Azumi, Moonlight Mile, & Team Medical Dragon), Goddamn was adapted into a two-episode OVA in 1990 by Studio Signal, whose only other work I can find is the anime adaptation of Go Nagai's Shuten Doji. Even if the original manga isn't the only rally manga in existence (and I'm sure that there are others out there), I'm pretty sure that Goddamn is the only rally anime in existence, but does that alone make it worth watching?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Devil King: GOD!!

Online manga portal JManga is certainly an interesting company and site. The aim is to let fans of manga be able to read titles digitally in a legal fashion. Teaming with apparently 39 companies, JManga's line-up is filled with all sorts of titles, including some that were previously released by other companies but are now out-of-print, but the stuff that interests me the most from JManga are the titles that are making their English debut, as in they were never released officially in North America nor were they even scanlated (or, at least, they were barely scanlated). Stuff like Gokudo Meshi, where jail inmates share stories about the best food they've eaten in a competition to decide who gets the best dinner on New Year Eve, or Tsumanuda Fight Town, where a weak illustrator gets himself into the sanctioned fights that can occur anyone in the town he lives in, quickly get my interest, but the slightly annoying thing is that JManga can be a bit slow on getting new volumes of some titles (Gokudo Meshi was one of the site's debut titles and still hasn't seen Volume 2 released, for example). Luckily, there is a 4-volume manga available on JManga that is available in full: Takao Saito's Devil King, a 1964 (i.e. pre-Golgo 13) story about science, deception, and gullibility.

On a dark night, a giant figure escapes from a lab, runs through the woods, and falls onto a road, almost being hit by a couple of truckers. In front of the truckers, though, the giant's body starts bulging before simple disintegrating into the sky. The giant was Kimura, one of Dr. Kobayagawa's assistants, who allowed himself to be experimented on with Control-Go, a gas that allows a human's metabolism to continue rising at an amazing rate until he becomes a giant. Kobayagawa & his other assistant Kojo now need a new human test subject to use Control-Go on, and Kojo decides on Masao Fujimoto, a no-name nobody with nothing special about him outside of having great physical condition. Masao cautiously agrees to the test, since it will greatly help his little brother, Akio, get into a good college. Dr. Kobayagawa wishes for humanity to drop their civilization & science, which he feels is killing humanity, and wants them to start embracing nature again, and by turning Masao into a giant "god" the people can worship, his plan might come true... But Akio's existence, due to a botched murder attempt by Kojo, as well as Kobayagawa's twin brother Yotaro, who embraces science and technology, could potentially ruin everything.

Friday, February 17, 2012

B't X Neo: An Epic Ending in the Style of Masami Kurumada

Back on December 22, 2010, I reviewed TMS' 1996 TV anime adaptation of Masami Kurumada's B't X (pronounced "Beat X") manga. Running from 1994 to 2000, B't X debuted in the very first issue of Kadokawa Shoten's Monthly Shonen Ace magazine and was the first time Kurumada ever drew a manga for a company other than Shueisha, which Kurumada left after disagreements regarding how he should do manga (i.e. Silent Knight Sho was the last straw). The B't X anime was very good and is interesting in that it was the first time Toei Animation, Shingo Araki, & Michi Himeno had nothing to do with a Kurumada adaptation. I's 1997 14-episode sequel OVA, B't X Neo, is also interesting in that it's the only Kurumada adaptation to end up diverging from its source material completely and end in its own way... And, boy, does it end with a bang.

[NOTE: It goes without saying, but if you haven't at least seen the B't X TV series then the following synopsis features spoilers!]

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Twelve Anime Licenses That Never Were But Should Have Part 2

I must say, making this list wasn't easy. Unreleased licenses are very uncommon, and it required a fair bit more thinking & research in order to even get "12" entries... I actually only had 10 entries by the time I made Part 1! But I have since found two more entries and here's the second part of this list of anime that were licensed but never released. Since Part 1 started off with a Media Blasters license, I might as well start Part 2 with one as well:

The Unreleased Enoki Films Titles from Media Blasters [Licensed in 2002]
I had mentioned this in short back when I looked at licensing "middleman" Enoki Films USA's catalog, which is filled with interesting and eccentric titles, but now let's get into the nitty-gritty of this whole fiasco. In mid-2001, Media Blasters licensed a few series from Enoki Films USA: Gokudo, Zenki, & Fortune Quest L. One would guess that Gokudo & Zenki were good sellers, especially since MB said that they would only do all of Zenki if it sold well, so at Anime Central 2002 the company licensed a bunch of shorter animes from Enoki, including the likes of Gun Frontier, Babel II: Beyond Infinity, Genma Wars, & Demon Lord Dante. While those previously-mentioned titles did get complete releases (Dante from Geneon in the end), three licenses from this deal never got released: Mars (a.k.a. Shin Seiki Den Mars, which I've reviewed), Wild 7 Another: Bouryaku Unga (based on Mikiya Mochizuki's motorcycle vigilante manga), & Barom One (based on Takao Saito's, of Golgo 13 fame, superhero manga), all from 2002-2003. So why weren't these three titles released? Well, let's just say that very few of these Enoki licenses are well-regarded, especially Genma Wars & Babel II, and John Sirabella felt screwed over to the point where he decided it was better to cut his losses and simply drop the deal with Enoki. Fortune Quest Volume 1 seemed to be the last release from this deal, and therefore it doesn't count as unreleased; just unfinished. Granted, these three shows weren't going to set the anime world on fire, but you never know... At least one of them could have gotten a fanbase over here.

[5/2018 UPDATE: Following Media Blasters' deal, Enoki Films only occasionally dealt with other American companies, but a few years ago entered into a new working relationship with Discotek Media. After re-releasing various titles that had either seen physical release before or at least saw some sort of streaming option, Discotek finally started moving into "first time ever" releases with Cinderella Boy. Now, Discotek is moving into the abandoned Media Blasters mine, as Wild 7 Another will see its first ever DVD release on July 31, 2018!]

Monday, February 6, 2012

Twelve Anime Licenses That Never Were But Should Have Part 1

Part of being a collector is being able to own everything you can of what you collect. In the world of anime that means having the entirety of an anime production. Unfortunately, living in North America means that anime generally have to be licensed in order for them to be released over here. And with that comes the risk of not being able to own all of an anime. Personally, I'd rather have some part of that release than nothing, but no matter what unfinished releases happen... But that's not what I'm going to talk about here. Instead, I'm going to talk about something worse: Anime that got licensed but never actually saw release in North America. It isn't common, but this situation does happen, and it's easily the worst thing that can happen, as fans' hopes get brought up and then they get absolutely nothing. But, admittedly, I feel that part of this blog is to educate people or at least help them be familiar with things that they wouldn't otherwise know, and with that in mind I am going to list twelve (read: more than twelve) anime that were actually licensed for release in North America but never actually happened... Though they should have. Please note that partial licenses aren't being counted here (i.e. no Kodocha, Saint Seiya TV, Yawara!, etc.), since they actually got released in some way, nor am I counting anything very recent (like Nichijou, Turn-A Gundam, & Gosick) since time is still on their side. So let's get started:

Tales of Eternia the Animation [Licensed in 2002]
Namco Bandai's Tales Series is a well-beloved series of RPGs that are known for having generally very memorable stories and gameplay that is always fast-paced and fun. With such popularity anime adaptations are bound to happen, and fans know of them. But the very first one was a 13-episode TV series in 2001 based on the third game in the series, Tales of Eternia, called Tales of Destiny II outside of Japan, but not to be confused with Tales of Destiny 2, the sequel to the original Tales of Destiny...  Confused? Good. Unlike most of the Tales anime adaptations, which are simply adaptations of their respective games, the Eternia anime was actually a side-story that was not in the game, much like how the Tales of Vesperia movie was a prequel to the game. Granted, the Eternia anime isn't anything special, though it still is enjoyable to an extent, but at Anime Expo 2002 Media Blasters announced that they had licensed the very first Tales anime ever produced. Unfortunately, the release never happened, with some guessing that there might have been issues regarding the use of the original title, since "Eternia" might be a trademarked name in North America due to the He-Man franchise. Yeah, it's kind of a silly reason to think of, but you never know... It might have been the reason. I mean, would you have bought "Tales of Destiny II the Animation"?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Combustible Campus Guardress: Big Trouble in Hagiwara-Akahori

Though Bastard!! is the only anime adaptation of a Kazushi Hagiwara manga, mainly because every other Hagiwara manga is either a one-shot or a doujin, it isn't Hagiwara's only anime. In 1994, Shueisha teamed with Production I.G. to create a four-episode OVA, released under the V-Jump Video label, based on an original idea created by an extremely interesting collaboration, that of Kazushi Hagiwara & Satoru Akahori, the man behind titles like the Saber Marionette series, Sorcerer Hunters, Kashimashi ~Girl Meets Girl~, & co-creator of the Sakura Wars series. The result was Bakuen CAMPUS Guardress, which is commonly translated as Combustible Campus Guardress, an OVA that shows that sometimes being a roller coaster ride of comedy & action is all you really need.

Existing parallel to Earth is a dimension called the Dark World, which is inhabited by creatures called Remnants. Back in ancient times the Remnants tried invading Earth but were kept at bay by a group of warriors called Guardians. One of them, Kairen, sacrificed his life to seal the gate to the Dark World, stranding the Remnants who made it to Earth. Now, 30,000 years later, the seal is weakening and the leader of the Remnants, Touta Kijima, is readying his troops in an attempt to open to gate once again. The Guardians who stopped Kijima, though, have reincarnated and are ready to fight him off and seal the gate a second time. Unfortunately, Hazumi Jinno, the amnesiac reincarnation of the woman who stopped Kijima 30,000 years ago, wants nothing but to marry her brother Takumi, who is the reincarnation of Kairen, even though Takumi is needed to seal the gate once again (don't worry, they're not related by blood). Also, Hazumi is known as the "Queen of Friendly Fire" by her fellow Guardians, due to her knack for creating wanton destruction whenever she fights, so there's a fair chance that Kijima and the Remnants might win the fight this time...