» January, 2009

Daphne in the Brilliant Blue Volume 3

Features - by - January 31, 2009 - 13:05 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

As brilliant as ever?

Daphne in the Brilliant Blue Volume 3

Reviews - by - January 31, 2009 - 13:02 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

Daphne in the Brilliant Blue is set long into the future of Earth’s history when the world has suffered incredibly. Global Warming has caused the entire planet to be covered in the melted polar icecaps. The remaining people left on Earth live on floating cities and the rich live on the very peaks of the mountains that are tall enough to exist above the sea.

Even though there is little land left, and people live in strange new worlds the basic staples of humanity still exist, compassion, relationships and crime. Fortunately for the girls at Nereids, this means that they won’t be going out of business any time soon. However, to make sure that they are all fit for service all Nereid’s staff have to go through an annual health check. This is where Volume 3 of Daphne in the Brilliant Blue starts, and as always there is a misunderstanding that leads Gloria to believe she’s got a limited time left on this earth. As she believes she’s due to die, Gloria’s character becomes a lot more human and she opens up to Mia about her desires and wishes in life. The team try and fulfil some of these desires, but it ends up with a girl in drag on a date with Gloria.

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This misunderstanding is the start of a Volume that opens up a lot of new background to Mia’s life and divulges a lot of the backstory that has previously been left unanswered. With the misunderstanding around Gloria, the team manage to secure tickets to Siberia City – where the majority of this volume takes place. Siberia City is as the name suggests where Siberia currently exists; however, as the world suffers from Global Warming the city is a tropical get-away.

In Siberia City the team all go their separate ways to enjoy themselves the best way that they know how. Mia isn’t confident on her own, so she goes on Shizuka’s dream holiday: eating local cuisine. As the pair are often in restaurants some locals approach them for a date; however, Shizuka’s drink is spiked and she is kidnapped. Date rape is usually a very serious subject in most countries and in media that deals with this, there’s normally a very solemn tone taken to it. Daphne is a not a serious anime, and this is dealt with in the standard fare.

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Although during this, Mia discovers she knows her way around Siberia City very well, and she just doesn’t know why. She then unveils to the Nereid’s team that she has amnesia and has done for many years. Whilst the team try to help her, they are also celebrating the anniversary of the world they currently know. It’s been 100 years since the cities formed under the open sky and the story is given a lot of depth during this volume.

Previously Daphne in the Brilliant Blue has been easy watching. With characters who are just different enough not to be cookie-cutter standard and with fair animation quality, the series was nothing but enjoyable. With Volume 3, all of these elements remain but a possibly serious world has started to develop. Dealing with amnesia, death and the creation of worlds the characters take everything so lightly that until one stops to think about the show it’s easy to dismiss all of these crucial plot thickening and character developing occurrences.

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Throughout Volume 3 the majority of the only two characters that really develop at all are Gloria and Mia. A lot of history is opened up about their lives and their attitudes to life are slightly altered after each revelation is made – this is clear by the way they start to deal with other people in the show. Unfortunately Shizuka still seems to be nothing more than a method to appease the otaku male audience, as she’s still a geeky, food-loving girl with no opinion on anything.

As has always been the case, the animation quality is a fair standard and it’s still the backdrops that really make the show stand out. With glimmering oceans and interesting foreign lands the show is really made distinct by its locations. The actors are also starting to sound more confident in their work. There’s a lot less forced voice work, and this goes for both the Japanese and the English cast.

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One annoyance is the lack of translation of the majority of the writing on the show. There’s some hardsubbed subtitles in Siberia City in Japanese and there’s no attempt to show this in the English version of the show. The other to some fans may be the lack of any extras on this DVD at all. Not even the standard trailer fare.

TokyoPop Confirm ReCon Speculation

News - by - January 30, 2009 - 07:56 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

tokyopop_logoDuring the current time of economic downturn, the world has been torn apart. With huge companies posting even larger losses, factories shutting down for months at a time and people being made redundant from just about every sector in the employment there have been plenty of rumours around the future of the much loved ReCon from TOKYOPOP.

Large and small companies alike have to find way of reducing their overheads so that they are able to keep as many of their workforce employed during these difficult times. The companies in partnership and sponsorship of TOKOYPOP’s ReCons such as Nintendo, VIZ and Stabilo have had to discontinue their support of ReCons at this time owing to their profits being affected by the current economic downturn.

TOKYOPOP is a successful company, and has been doing well for many years; however, without the support of larger companies the budget is simply not big enough to sustain the level of ReCons as have occurred over the past two years. Therefore there has to be a reduction in the number of ReCons that will take place. It has also been confirmed that Nick, the full time host has been made redundant as a direct result of the lack of funding.

However, rather than completely stopping all future ReCons it has been decided that there will be one or two a month wherever possible. Andrew at TOKYOPOP has stated:

Have already got Waterstones Torquay in April and Scunthorpe Library in May booked and will add ones to the diary over next few months.

The main part of the ReCon will stay the same quiz, cosplay, art competitions, prize draw, freebies and new titles presentations. I will however try new elements where I can such as Karaoke etc.

It’s unfortunate that this has had to happen, but during our current times it was likely to be the first even to suffer from the cut in sponsorship major companies have had to do to keep people employed. Andrew has also stated:

When and if the budget, partners etc are back in place I can look at ramping the number back up to 2007/8 levels…

So not all hope is lost for now.

As always, as soon as we know exact dates of ReCons we will let you know so that you’ll be able to come out in force to support the manga industry in this country.

Source: TOKYOPOP

Sweatdrop Studios Celebrate New Year in Style

News - by - January 28, 2009 - 19:35 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

sweatdrop-6th-birthdayThe UK based independent manga publisher: Sweatdrop Studios have announced today that a number of their authors will be celebrating the Chinese New Year in style by heading on down to the Tokyotoys Trocadero store on the 1st February.

Whilst in the store authors such as Faye, Joanna and Sonia will be drawing manga portraits of guests in conjunction with this year’s calender – the Ox.

Currently there are no timeframe in place, but TokyoToys store is open on Sunday from 1200 to 1800 and directions to the store are below:

TokyoToys.com Trocadero
Trocadero, Coventry Street
London
W1D 7DH

Travel Guide:

By Train: Get off at Charing Cross Station. The it’s less than 10mins walk via Leicester Square.

By Tube: Get off at Piccadilly Circus Underground. Then follow walkway leading directly inside the Trocadero Center. Once inside ride on escalators up to our shop, look out for the many signs pointing to us.

Source: Sweatdrop Studios

Spiral Box Set Delayed

News - by - January 27, 2009 - 18:13 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

spiralIt has been announced today that the Funimation classic show: Spiral, distributed by Revalation Films has been delayed for a short period of time. Originally penned for a February release, it has now been announced that it will be delayed until March.

Currently the revised release date is the 9th March, 2009.

No reasons have been cited for this slight delay – however, the individual volumes have already been released to the UK market. So for you eager fans who can’t wait any longer, the individual releases are still available.

Source: UKAnime.net

DVD Releases This Week

News - by - January 26, 2009 - 09:00 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

After the lonely release of only a single anime last week, this week is looking much more promising with four titles available for you all to purchase and enjoy. Those four titles are:

  1. Area 88 Complete Collection
  2. Baldr Force EXE
  3. Get Backers Complete Collection Part 1
  4. Hellsing Ultimate Volume 3

As always, you can buy these titles through all good reputable retailers and more often than not the distributer direct as well.

FLCL Collection

Features - by - January 25, 2009 - 15:55 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

Not an anime, an experience.

FLCL Collection

Reviews - by - January 25, 2009 - 15:54 Europe/London - 2 Comments

“It’s FLIctonic KLIpple Waver Syndrome. An adolescent psychological skin-hardening syndrome. A common affliction where children grow horns from trying too hard. Okay, I lied.”

FLCL is set in a simple Japanese town where nothing interesting happens, and nothing remarkable ever occurs. However, it does have a Scientific Laboratory in the shape of an Iron looming over the entire town, the Laboratory lets of a gush of steam once a day at the same time. Aside from this, the inhabitants of the small, unnamed town are bored of the town they live in.

The protagonist, a young boy named Naota is a withdrawn, frustrated junior-high student who has a strong relationship with his older brother’s ex-girlfriend Mamimi who’s not only flirty but somewhat vacant as well. Along with Naota’s friend, the world they inhabit couldn’t be any less interesting. That is until rumours of the Vesper start circulating at school, and Naota falls fowl of this rumour. Haruhara Haruko appears from nowhere on her yellow vesper and literally hits Naota with a bass guitar.

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This causes Naota to have an unusual bump to his head; it’s as big and in the shape of a horn. Yet, it will go away when pressure is applied. With this in mind Naota goes to get it checked at the hospital, before he knows it Haruhara is attacking him and she is employed as the family housekeeper. Not forgetting the family robot that escapes from the horn on Naota’s head.

If not strange enough, they are the bits that are easily explained. Defining FLCL is next to impossible, it spits on genres and ignores all staple conventions of anime, takes itself very seriously and not seriously at all. Flicks between being an anime and being a manga and at all points defies logic. By the end of the first episode Naota has grown an robot from his head, fended of his brother’s ex, been attacked by a guitar wielding alien on a vesper and dealt with his zine loving father. Not forgetting his adolescent thoughts and problems.

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FLCL is incredibly fast paced, and holds back no punches when it comes to divulging plotlines. However, whilst it moves incredibly fast, it can sometimes feel very slow. In a similar way that Serial Experiments Lain feels very slow per episode, an incredible amount of information is discovered. Unlike Lain, FLCL is a 6 episode series and the slow parts feel slow, but more information is uncovered throughout those periods than during any of the action packed parts of the show. This is due to the very nature of Haruhara Haruko, who reveals no information about herself or her mission, but simply speaks her mind, but actually says very little.

For those who like closure, FLCL is certainly not a show for them. It’s far too punk rock and rebellious to give closure to the lead characters. It doesn’t even reveal much about anything, it just happens and that’s accepted by the characters and he viewers.

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One recurrent theme throughout all episodes is the transition that the main cast are going through in their lives. These junior-high schoolers are all adolescent and trying to comprehend and understand new feelings. This isn’t just restricted to discovering sexuality – which is a huge theme; but also in trying to become an adult whilst remaining a child. Characters who fail to understand this will end up becoming more confused by the situation and Haruhara only attempts to further confuse the situation.

Music plays a huge part in FLCL, as it does in many people’s lives. Throughout there are cultural references to Paul McCartney, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Rage Against the Machine, Filler, Van Halen, Anna Nichole Smith, Evils, Jimi Hendrix, and plenty of references to Japanese music. Throughout the soundtrack is performed by The Pillows, whose logo appears on the vesper that Haruhara drives. There are also plenty of cultural references to Hamtaro, Tom & Jerry and in the English version of the show MTV.

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To understand some of the puns, a basic knowledge of the Japanese language is useful. Throughout the term mouth to mouth is applied for kissing amongst other things, in Japanese the “th” sound doesn’t exist, so it would sound like mouse to mouse. This is used in a few episodes where mouse outfits will be seen.

The translation from the Japanese show has been fairly faithful but some elements have been changed for localisation purposes. This has been widely discussed in the past and for better or worse it’s in this version of the show. Due to the pace of the show, unless a real fan of the Japanese show is watching, this localisation doesn’t detract from the quality at all.

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The animation quality is brilliant as well. Considering this show isn’t far from hitting its tenth birthday, the show hasn’t aged much at all. The characters are all well designed, distinct and it’s impossible to confuse the characters on appearance, as they all look so different – even the supporting cast. The backgrounds are well drawn and brilliantly presented and the transition between the town and the mecha robots is smooth and natural. At no point is it obvious that the animation style has entirely changed – which it does. The CG robots look like they are in the same style as the rest of the show, which is unusual these days.

The extras are plentiful, with audio commentary, textless opening and endings, trailers, and interviews just to name a few. It’s well worth the £30 price tag.

Alcon 2009 Dates Announced

News - by - January 25, 2009 - 12:43 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

alcon-09Today it was announced that Alcon 09 has officially been dated for the 4-6 September 2009 at the De Monfort University in Leicester. As with most anime conventions, Alcon is a place for like-minded fans to enjoy themselves without the stigma of the usual world – along with the fun and wacky things that occur at all conventions.

The event will include plenty of anime screenings, an artist ally, roleplaying, card games, videogaming, cosplay café, DDring, events, plenty of panels and a little more for to keep everyone entertained.

An exclusive this year is that Little Kuriboh will be hosting one of the panels about the hit internet series: Yu Gi Oh Abridged and Akemi Solloway will be back to enlighten all about the Japanese culture – so there’s plenty of time to get learning in advance.

Entry to the event costs just £25 for all three days and accommodation is £21 per person per night. This is an early booking offer, as after the 30th April prices will change. There is also a 500 person limit, so make sure you sign up early if you are interested.

You can register at Alcon’s site, by clicking here.

Source: Alcon 09

Baldr Force EXE

Features - by - January 24, 2009 - 17:47 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

Named from a Norse God, but is it as hard hitting?

Baldr Force EXE

Reviews - by - January 24, 2009 - 17:44 Europe/London - 1 Comment

In Norse mythology Baldr is a god associated with light and beauty, who’s death is a great tragedy to Æsir and a harbringer of Ragnarok. The very story of Baldr in mythology is that of grief and death and is argued to be the beginning of the chain of events that will ultimately lead to the destruction of the gods at Ragnarock. When Baldr passes, he will be reborn anew according to Völuspá the seeress.  So it’s a fitting title for an anime that has exploding heads just minutes into the first episode.

Baldr Force EXE is set in a futuristic world where the Internet has become so over developed that rather than connecting to the Wired through a computer, it’s directly connected into the brain. This means that people are able to live out fantasy lives in real time, actually feeling and eating whilst in the Wired. However, this connectivity to the Wired means that when things go wrong in the Wired, they go wrong for the body.

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Within minutes of watching the opening show the consequences of being in the Wired when things start to falter becomes apparent. A server has been compromised and an unknown virus has wiped out the entire population of the server. A futuristic anti-terrorist squad block the server from access and try to assess the situation. Within minutes the officers are dead, this is due to the virus actually attacking them and their bodies each react in a different way. Some may go into cardiac arrest, some may just shutdown from the inside and others, well, their heads explode sending blood and scattered pieces of skull across the room. Unfortunately, the user has to opt to logout from the Wired, as a forced disconnect will kill the user as well.

Of course, like any cyber-punk anime, the real world is always raining, is gloomy and is just a place people want to be away from. Whereas the Wired is an entirely adaptable place, where people with knowledge can create their own worlds, and where normal people are able to escape the realities of life for a limited period of time per day. Unfortunately the virus that killed the anti-terrorist squad keeps on spreading and rumours of a Wired Ghost scare those in the know.

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As the premise for Baldr Force EXE is derived from a Dreamcast game, some of the elements are a little tired now. Fortunately most of this is recovered by the dramatic irony throughout, as the first episode itself is riddled with spoilers for the keen eyed viewer. This foreshadowing is an effective method of drawing the viewer in and creating the tension required to make this show effective.  The lead protagonist’s personal quest for revenge against a fallen comrade of an old hacking group is an effective subplot that is entwined with the main plot of the show brilliantly.

Without Souma’s grief of his dead friend the rest of the show would not have been possible, and the climax to the show certainly would have been impossible without the amount of personal sacrifice and grief he has gone through. He’s very much the anti-hero, with just enough attitude and hate to want to see him in danger, but with enough human compassion and backstory to want to find out more about his character and history.

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The character design is fairly well done. They are certainly not breathtaking, but neither are they completely average and uninteresting. The characters are all clear and distinct, with some great CG work when the battles are occurring. This is let down by the standard 2D work of when the characters are visiting institutions and are outside of the Wired as the world is dull. Fortunately the fan-service doesn’t last longer than a few seconds and does not detract from the actual quality of the show.

The voice acting is average in both the Japanese and the English soundtracks. No one character stands out as bad, but in contrast no character stands out as great either. This is first noticeable in the Japanese cast, and then in the English cast as well. This would indicate the casting process was spot on to the original. The opening and ending credits are catchy and these are textless as part of the meagre bonus features on the DVD.

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The most endearing part of Baldr Force EXE is that it’s fast. This four episode series is lightening fast and this keeps the viewer interested. This show would easily fail if it were a 13 part series as there’s simply not enough life in it to draw it out that far. Fortunately the speed of the show leaves a few questions left to be answered, and that’s what will keep viewers coming back to the show. Especially fans of the game.

NanimeW’s Latest Meeting

News - by - January 24, 2009 - 14:08 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

The premier North West Anime site, NanimeW have announced that their next Japanese cinema and music night will take place at the Greenroom in Manchester on the 4th February. The Greenroom is the upstair café on Whitworth Street, Manchester which is just beneath Oxford Road train station.

The programme for the 4th is as follows:

7:30pm : music : DJ Happosai
8:00pm : anime film : Cat Soup (Nekojiru-so)
8:30pm : anime film : Negadon: The Monster From Mars (Wakusei Daikaiju Negadon)
9:00pm : music : DJ: GLPL
9:40pm : live-action film : The Rug Cop (Zura Deka)
11:00pm : music : DJ Happosai
11:30pm : finish

It’s been formally announced that the anime will be subtitled with the original Japanese soundtrack.

Entry is free, but you need to be over 18 to attend.

Source: NanimeW

Yen Press Announce New Titles

News - by - January 23, 2009 - 13:48 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

Recently Yen Press, the UK manga distributor announced that their schedule for 2009. As you can see, some of these dates have now passed, but the future dates are looking very promising and with Higurashi already out it’s good looking start to the year.

6th January
Croquis Pop: Vol 3
Cynical Orange: Vol. 6
Spiral: Vol 6
You’re So Cool: Vol 3

7th January
Kaze No Hana: Vol 3
Legend: Vol. 4
One Thousand and One Nights, vol. 6
The Antique Gift Shop, Vol. 6

15th January
B. Ichi: Vol 1
Chocolat: Vol 7
Comic: Vol 4
Higurashi When They Cry: Vol 1

22nd January
The World of Quest

February
Black God: Vol 5
Moon Boy: Vol. 6
Zombie-Loan: Vol 5
Angel Diary: Vol 8
B. Ichi: Vol 2
Sundome: Vol 4

17th February
Goong: Vol 4 So

Tanoshimi To Halt Manga Distribution

News - by - January 23, 2009 - 13:39 Europe/London - Be first to Comment!

It has recently been announced that the manga distributor Tanoshimi will cease distributing any new titles with immediate affect. This will mean that fans of the following titles will need to wait to see if any other companies pick up Tanoshimi’s existing licenses and the last releases are:

Negima 16
Tsubasa 14
School Rumble 9
XXXHolic 9

It’s been cited that:

“Due to challenging market conditions we have made the difficult decision not to acquire any further titles for the Tanoshimi list. We remain committed to the manga titles that we have already published and will continue to reprint them.”

Source UKAnime.net

Monkey Magic

News - by - January 21, 2009 - 19:56 Europe/London - 1 Comment

It’s been announced that the loved Japanese 70s sitcom Monkey has been remade for the 21st Century and will have a UK release on the 23rd February, 2009. Although strictly not an anime, Monkey Magic takes much of what fans love about anime and puts it into a live action situation. Not to mention that this inantely Japanese show is the basis for many series that are popular today.

The official description of the show is:

On their quest from China to India to collect a set of ancient holy scrolls, the Buddhist monk Tripitaka and his three protective disciples, Monkey, Pigsy, and Sandy, come to the help of a young princess, Reimi, who’s homeland The Tiger Kingdom has been taken over by two demon warlords, the cruel King Gold Horn and his equally tyrannical brother, Silver Horn. Having plundered the kingdom’s palace and transformed Reimi’s parents into turtles, they now plan to plunge the entire world into eternal darkness, and so our band of heroes sets out to find a magical orb to set things right.

You can see a trailer of the show below:

Remember, out on the 21st February.