Monday, April 30, 2012

The Land of Obscusion Will Be Live at AnimeNEXT 2012!

For those wondering when my reviews will be returning, May should be filled with nothing but reviews, most of which will follow a simple theme: Obscure Entries in Popular Anime. But, to end off an April filled with stuff that aren't reviews, let's talk about conventions. Living in central New Jersey I'm happy to have a fairly local con that happens every early summer: AnimeNEXT. I've been going to AnimeNEXT for the past two or three years now, but this year I thought about doing something new, something I've attended but have never done myself: Host a panel.

So in early March I sent in an application to host a panel at this year's AnimeNEXT, and just last night I got the word that my panel has been approved for the con! This is going to be something new for me, since this is going to be live, in person, & I can't go back and fix any errors I make. With all of that in mind I decided to make this panel about something I feel I am somewhat knowledgeable about to an extent, and I came up with this title:

25 Years of Burning Blood: Masami Kurumada Animes

That's right, for one hour-long panel AnimeNEXT is going to be hot-blooded in a way that only Masami Kurumada can bring it. Saint Seiya (TV series, movies, & the Hades OVAs), Fuma no Kojirou, B't X, & Ring ni Kakero 1 (TV series, Manga DVD, & the Pilot Film) will be covered, with even Seiya spin-offs The Lost Canvas & Omega getting brought up to an extent. I've already got the basic PowerPoint slides down, though I'll likely be checking them over more and more as the con approaches, and I hope to also be able to show video clips from each series. I've only got one hour, so hopefully I can get everything I want in there. I'm both excited and a little nervous, but hopefully it will be a fun time when the panel happens.

So if you'll be at AnimeNEXT this June 8-10, be sure to check out my panel if you have the time and don't have anything else better to do. I don't know right now when it will happen right now, but that's why cons give you those things called guidebooks, right?

Monday, April 16, 2012

"12 More (+1)" Anime I Would License: Package Deals, Dead Ahead! Part 2

What timing I have here with Part 2, where I talk about Toei Animation's catalog... Because Discotek Media is continuing their licensing train of awesomeness by recently having licensed the 1998 movie Galaxy Express 999: Eternal Fantasy!  

But wait, there's more! Just announced tonight, Discotek will be releasing the first four Saint Seiya movies across two DVDs! And if you want my opinion on these movies, I've reviewed them all, and enjoyed all of them to an extent, some more than others. Anyway, it's hard to beat something like those licenses, but if I was able to license a package deal from Toei Animation, and I was able to pick the licenses, here's what I'd go after.

Kinnikuman II-Sei/Ultimate Muscle
Back about ten years ago, 4Kids aired their English adaptation of Toei's 51-episode Kinnikuman II-Sei/Nisei on FoxKids under the name Ultimate Muscle. It was wacky, silly, and had great fun in taking professional wrestling to an over-the-top style that fans of the sport like myself couldn't help but love. Combine that with the fact that 4Kids' version was actually one of their best works, right down to including so much innuendo that you almost can't believe it's a 4Kids dub, and I think that there might be enough nostalgia to make it worth releasing on DVD, likely on three sets, two for the first 51-episodes, followed by a set containing all 26 episodes that 4Kids commissioned Toei to make after getting great ratings in North Amerca. But with all of the edits, a proper dual-audio release is impossible, so I'd go the Voltron or Samurai Pizza Cats route and not only release Ultimate Muscle in dub-only sets but also releasing Kinnikuman II-Sei uncut in it's original Japanese, for the first time ever in North America, across likely the same number of sets. Even though 4Kids commissioned those 26 episodes, Toei did still have them dubbed in Japanese and aired as two separate 13-episode TV series in Japan, so it's possible.

[12/2022 UPDATE: While the original Kinnikuman II-Sei anime is currently not confirmed for release yet, Discotek has announced that it will be releasing all of Ultimate Muscle in early 2023.]

Friday, April 13, 2012

"12 More (+1)" Anime I Would License: Package Deals, Dead Ahead! Part 1

At the end of last year I did an interesting "Twelve Anime" list, where I brought up anime I would license if I had my own anime licensing company. I also called it a 'Twelve-Step Program' on how to kill an anime licensee, but let's remain hypothetical and say that my company survived the onslaught of licenses like the Kochikame movies, Akagi, Ring ni Kakero 1, & RAINBOW... What would I go after next? Well, one aspect of licensing is that the company you are licensing from (i.e. the licensor) will occasionally try to throw an additional title in with what the company (i.e. the licensee) wants to license; this can be called a "package deal", and usually happens because one title might be less likely to be licensed on its own, so by putting it with another, more likely, license this less-likely show can get licensed. From what I can tell it seems like these package deals are usually decided by the licensors and not by the licensing company, but what if I could choose for myself? What companies would I package from and what titles would I choose? Well, I've chosen two companies and from each company I've chosen six(-ish) titles, so let's get started!

Geneon Universal Entertainment
It seems that the merger between Geneon Entertainment & Universal Pictures Japan has finally gone through its initial "merger pains" (you think of another way to put it!), as FUNimation has finally said within the past few months that they are finally getting materials for shows like Shakugan no Shana, Hellsing Ultimate, and the To Aru series (Majutsu no Index & Kagaku no Railgun), and companies like Sentai have been licensing more titles from the company lately. With a catalog that covers the days of Pioneer LDC, Geneon Entertainment, & Universal Pictures Japan, plus more-recent titles that are only under the merged brand, this company looks like a great place to get a package deal from. Going off of my first license selections, I've already "dealt" with this company via the hilarious Kamen no Maid Guy, so let's see what else Geneon Universal has in their vault.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Zaizen Jotaro TV vs. DVD Part 2: Can Anything Make Episode 1 Better?

It's Part 2 of the comparison between the Zaizen Jotaro anime's original TV airing & its improved animation for the DVD release. Last time we looked mostly at Episode 3, with a quick look at a fix from Episode 9, but the episode that has the most changes is obviously Episode 1.

I want one of these...  Right now!

Being the first episode it likely suffered from the weakest animation in the entire show & needed the most fixing, & the inclusion of the "TV O.A." version of Episode 1 in the set, where it gets an entire disc all to itself, is meant to show the differences between the two. Honestly, though, the changes are focused around two specific scenes: The ridiculous truck escape scene (read my Zaizen Jotaro review for an explanation of said scene) and the final scene where Zaizen meets up with the government official he had been hunting down. So let's get straight to the truck scene:

The scene starts with Zaizen buying a brand-new car, and the most-obvious change is that the car has gone from being animated to being all CG. Also, shadows have been added to the car as well as the car in the top-left corner, not to mention some softer lighting to indicate a setting sun, which we'll get to later.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Zaizen Jotaro TV vs. DVD Part 1: Exactly How Improved is the Animation?

I just talked about the Zaizen Jotaro manga in my second "JManga 13" post, but let's take a small detour and go back to the anime. When I reviewed the anime back in October I mentioned that the show did receive a DVD release in Japan called the "Special Box", and one of the big bonuses of that DVD release was that the animation had been improved. They even included a "Bonus Disc" that was made up of nothing but the original TV "O.A./On-Air" version of Episode 1, so that you could see how improved the animation was. I really wanted this boxset due to how much I enjoyed the show and how astronomically unlikely it is this show will ever see a North American release, but the price tag of 25,000 Yen (or close to $300 USD) kept me far away... Until now.

I didn't know about this until recently, but Japanese online storefront Rakuten has opened up an international site, the Rakuten Global Market, which is literally Rakuten but with an English translation. It can be a rough translation, though, but if you search using the original Japanese kanji, hiragana, & katakana you should be fine. Anyway, to finish up the boring part of this post, I accidentally came across a seller who was selling a brand-new, shrink-wrapped copy of the Zaizen Jotaro Special Box for roughly $80-$85, and with EMS shipping it all came to $105... Anyway you look at it, I got a deal. So, what's up with the DVD release? Is the animation truly improved?

For this comparison, we'll be looking at screenshots from Episodes 1, 3, & 9, though Episode 1 will be saved for Part 2, since the original version was included on the DVDs, and that can only mean more fixes than usual. The other episodes' TV versions will be coming from the fansubs/raws I watched, so ignore the image quality for the most part. Remember, this is about what we see, not how it looks, per se. For each pair of screenshots, the TV version will be on top, and the DVD version will be on bottom, so let's get started with Episode 3!

Monday, April 2, 2012

The JManga 13: The Publishers & Potential Manga Part 2

[2017 ADDENDUM: As with Part 1, since this list's creation, JManga had died out, making this list effectively pointless. Still, it shall stay here for posterity's sake, as well as for the sake of the manga I mentioned.]

Seven down, another six to go... And this list is where we get to the "heavy-hitters" of the manga industry. So let's not waste time and here's Part 2!

Shinchosha [Naikaku Kenryoku Hanzai Kyousei Torishimarikan Zaizen Jotaro]
Shinchosha isn't exactly a big name in the industry as a whole, but they have their place in the seinen manga industry, as they were the company that teamed with Coamix for the now-defunct Comic Bunch magazine. Titles like Fist of the Blue Sky (the Fist of the North Star prequel), Angel Heart (the alternate-universe City Hunter sequel), and whole slew of titles aimed at older audiences, especially those who loved the 80s era of manly manga. I've reviewed the Zaizen Jotaro anime, which I still feel is a highly-underrated title due to its horrible first episode, and I would love to be able to read the original 17-volume manga the anime adapted from; I've since found out that the story the anime adapts is the second story arc in the manga. Who knows what kind of other cases Zaizen tackles... I really want to know! And since JManga loves doing quirky manga about very nontraditional topics, Zaizen Jotaro would be a perfect fit for them.