Archive for manga

Industry News from New York ComicCon / New York Anime Festival 2010

Today was a rather exciting day for us anime fans, as Bandai Entertainment and FUNimation Entertainment had some exciting news to share with us! Here is a round-up of my favorite news of the day!

Bandai Entertainment

Bandai introduced us to their new online store, chock-full of exclusive titles such as Gundam Unicorn DVD 2 (November 12th), A box set of The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya and Nyoro~n Churuya-san, Crunchyroll’s first DVD release 5 Centimeters Per Second, and much more!

They also announced a re-release of Mobile Suit Gundam with an English language track for their Anime Legends collection, as well as a bi-lingual K-ON!! release for Spring 2011. Also hitting around that time will be a release of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. What excited me most however was a blu-ray release of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time!

At the Q&A, a few interesting tidbits came up:

  • The music in K-ON!! will not be redone in English. Ever.
  • The Lucky Star manga did indeed have a printing delay for the sixth volume, but it is ready to ship and volume seven is right on schedule.
  • The Girl Who Leapt Through Space is due for a 2011 release

FUNimation Entertainment

FUNi announced a beta version of their new website that you can go and sign up for right now and will be starting soon! They described it as “a social networking site for all your anime needs.”. There will also be an Elite membership that will involve early access to English dubs, commercial-free online anime episodes, and more! The price for this service has not yet been determined.

Kaleido Star is slated for release November 23rd, and the classic anime remake Birdy the Mighty: Decode will be out October 26th. Also, the complete series boxset of Sengoku Basara will be out October 12th! Coming out a week later on October 19th is the Eden of the East complete series boxset.

Another exciting piece of news is that a new complete series box of Trigun is on its way, and for a price that is MUCH lower than the original gigantic box, $49.98! This will be out October 26th. Another juicy bit is that Neon Genesis Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance will be out in 2011 with a possible theatrical release!

But by far the most amazing news for me was the announcement of the acquisition and English dub cast for Summer Wars! It’s slated for Spring 2011, but in late 2010 they will be having a theatrical release of it that will span from New York to Los Angeles! I will definitely be seeing it!

So there you go! Keep tuned in to the blog for more NYAF / NYCC 2010 coverage!

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Censorship: The Blame Game

Censorship has once again become a hot topic in the anime world as of late when FUNimation announced that they had acquired the license to Dance in the Vampire Bund. People rejoiced, until FUNi subsequently released a statement saying that they were cutting out scenes which are not relevant to the plot that ‘may possibly’ offend ‘some’ people. Worse than that, they are making these cuts on the TV aired versions AND on the official DVD and Blu-Ray releases. This came as a shock, especially when they also announced they were still releasing Strike Witches uncensored.

Clearly, this did not sit well with the fans. Many people declared they were boycotting FUNi, some promised to simply boycott Bund and all other future FUNi releases that will be censored, and some even openly admitted they agreed with FUNi’s decision to censor this show, which I find to be just insane.

I will point you to my blog on the anime industry where I discussed this issue previously. I explained there how censorship really turns fans off and makes them reluctant to buy official releases. FUNimation handled censorship the right way previously with Yu Yu Hakusho. They censored it on television, and then released both censored and uncensored DVDs of the show so that the viewers could choose which to buy. While companies don’t have the money to release anime this way nowadays, that choice still makes it very clear that FUNimation is aware of how censoring negatively impacts their sales. While I am not surprised that yet another anime is going to be censored, the fact that they are doing this on the DVD and Blu-Ray releases as well is something I find downright shocking. Why in the world would they do such a thing?

Well, many people have blamed it on the Handley case. For those that don’t know, Handley is a man that was recently convicted in court for crossing state lines with pornographic material in the form of loli manga. Many people have theorizied that because of this high-profile case, FUNi is being extra careful to not release anything that may be deemed illegal or inappropriate by authorities or parents. This pisses me off.

Why? Because once again this falls into one of the most insanely frustrating things in this world: Parents and officials blaming outside content for the actions of a person. If a kid watches a violent movie and then goes out and shoots up his school, it has nothing to do with the movie, it’s the kid that’s the problem. Rather than try and mask anything that could be twisted into something negative, we should be working on getting help for those people who would take those ideas and use them in wrong and hurtful ways.

Parents would rather blame these kinds of things for their children’s actions than admit that something is wrong with their child, or that they perhaps didn’t parent correctly. Officials would rather point at a manga and say that it is the reason that a person may sexually assault a young girl than try to get said person some help and try to figure out why he would ever have such tendencies in the first place (I am NOT saying that this was Handley’s intention, I am using it as an example). It’s all about putting the blame on someone else, and it instills fear into our country and causes us to be overly-sensitive about what we expose ourselves to entertainment-wise.

So what am I doing about it? Well first off I am not boycotting FUNimation. I think that is just silly and will only serve to drive yet another anime company out of business. However, I will most certainly not be buying Dance in the Vampire Bund from FUNi. I am not really a fan of the show, but even if I was, I would not be purchasing it because I am adamant about my opinion that censorship is wrong. It infringes upon our right to say what we think, it stifles creativity, and it keeps those who wish to view the censored content from getting the full range of what said content has to offer.

An Addition
I was just about to post this when a friend of mine tweeted to me about a 3 year old girl who died when she accidentally shot herself with a handgun. Her father said that they owned a Wii remote shaped like a gun and she mixed the two up. Rather than question why the hell her father had a handgun within a 3 year old’s reach, the media is now pointing at the video game industry. It is this exact kind of thing that I am talking about here. It seems as if the media will do anything to not have to look at the grim reality of faulty parents in this world.

Feel free to comment if you wish with your own opinions!

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The Pains of Being a Female GAR Fan

One of the first things you’ll notice about me as an anime fan is that I prefer GAR and shounen shows over just about anything else. I get a lot of interesting comments and accusations about this, and quite frankly some of them really get me angry, while others just make me laugh. So, I decided to write an editorial on why I love manly anime. Considering the responses I normally get in reference to this, I think many of you will be surprised.

What is GAR?
I suppose it would make sense to first share with you all my interpretation of what GAR is. Just like moe gives you that feeling of love and adoration, GAR in my opinion gives you that feeling of strength and general badassery. When you see a person or action that is GAR (normally it involves badass fights or conversations), you just want to jump up and scream ‘HELL YEAH!’ and high-five the person closest to you. It’s powerful, its awesome, and its downright hardcore. I think of all of these things when I think of GAR.

The Double-Standard
While 4chan isn’t really an accurate way to gauge anything, I posted in their Anime & Manga board one day about Samurai Deeper Kyo, one of my favorite manga. I wanted to see if anyone else had read it and see what they thought of it. Instead, I got a post completely bashing my thread, after which the poster specifically said they were doing so because I was a girl. Out of curiosity, I asked the poster about what made him think I was a girl since I had posted anonymously. His response was that the manga, while shounen and made for guys, had good-looking men in it, and that meant nobody else but a bishounen-loving girl would ever like it.

This angered me greatly. First of all, Samurai Deeper Kyo was suggested to me by a male friend of mine. Secondly, while the good-looking men were a nice bonus, they most certainly are not why I love the manga. I love it because of its incredible fight scenes, character backgrounds, and the way the plot was woven. Thirdly, there are plenty of anime like Gurren Lagann that have good-looking men in it and have plenty of fans that love it specifically for said good-looking men, yet is still considered GAR and hardcore by its male fans.

So clearly the stigma is out there that because I’m a girl, I have to love shounen and GAR anime only because of the hot guys. Honestly, this sentiment is one of the most ignorant things I’ve ever seen come out of the anime fandom. To set the record straight, I would never start watching a show completely based off of how sexy the characters look. While good art style is always a plus, there is far more to a show than how hot the guys are. If I see a show with a lot of good looking guys, I might feel compelled to look into it and see what its about (admittedly that is how I got into Saint Seiya, but is NOT what kept me watching), but if I don’t like what I see, I won’t watch it.

Also, why does having hot men seem to exempt shows from their rightful GAR status? A title that I find gets this treatment a lot is Saiyuki. The men in the show are very nice to look at, and it has a lot of female fans, and most people I know consider it a girl’s anime. Yet, its a shounen title and the male fans of it that I know most certainly consider it GAR. Would you ever watch Higurashi and consider it a girly show just because it has cute young girls in it? Some people would, yet if you watched the show you’d know that its actually a horrific, terrifying anime with plenty of GAR moments of its own.

Why Do I Love It?
Let me count the ways!

First of all I find that, for me, shounen and GAR shows tend to generally have deeper and more pleasing plots than other anime. Now don’t get me wrong, I love all different kinds of anime that have great plots, but my favorite animes are almost always either shounen/GAR shows or softer shows that have intensely deep and emotional plots and characters. As a writer, the most important things to me in anime is the plot, the characters, and how they effect you, pull you in, and make you emotionally invested in the show. I simply find that, for me, shounen shows do this far more often than any other kind of anime or manga.

I also happen to think that fighting and martial arts is awesome. I love seeing different kinds of weapons, moves, and battle tactics. It’s also a lot of fun to see characters change and grow even in the midst of a battle. To add to this, my love of the horror genre also gives me an affinity for blood, gore, and violence in my entertainment. As I always say about horror movies ‘the more sick and depraved it is, the better!’, and this applies to my love of anime and manga as well.

In addition, I love seeing logic and strategy in stories. I love seeing people trying to outsmart one another, to try and get each other killed or generally screw each other over, or even just play mind games with each other. While these things do play into other genres of anime, I find it most abundant in GAR and shounen stories, because often these things go with a lot of GAR-related things like fighting.

The Bottom Line
In the end, its just plain wrong to assume that a person would like anything just because of one shallow aspect of said thing, although this can be true in some cases. I for one am sick and tired of the assumption that I love my GAR and shounen titles just because they have hot men in them. I certainly appreciate the eye candy, but as long as the story, characters, and emotions are well in place, I really couldn’t care less what the characters looked like, and in my opinion that’s the way it should be.

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“Plotkai!” ~ A Bleach Editorial

WARNING: THIS EDITORIAL CONTAINS SPOILERS ABOUT THE MOST RECENT CHAPTERS OF BLEACH. IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED, DO NOT READ AHEAD! Also, remember this is an editorial and as such it contains many of my personal opinions. Finally, Bleach is a large, expansive series, so if I get any of my facts wrong, feel free to call me on it.

Ah, Bleach. It’s one of the ‘Big 3’ shounen anime out in Japan right now, and like the other two members of this little club, it gets a lot of flack. If you’ve read my blog on my top 10 anime of the decade, you know that I am quite the fan of Bleach despite this. However, I do agree with a lot of the criticism it gets, especially when it comes to the fact that Bleach‘s creator, Tite Kubo, loves to seemingly troll his fans by pulling some things that can (mildly) be described as ‘out of left field’.

Some Bleach fans refuse to admit that there is anything wrong with this show, however one of the great things you learn as an anime fan is the ability to be able to make fun of a show that you love. I can fully recognize that there are both good and bad things about Bleach, and although I do rant from time-to-time about Kubo’s trolling, I actually find the fan reactions hilarious and think that the trolling adds to the entertainment value of being a Bleach fan. So here I am, celebrating my favorite things that I hate about Bleach. Wow, that looks a lot crazier on the computer screen than it sounded in my head.

Here we go!

Sousuke Aizen, a.k.a. CAPTAIN GOD

LOLUMAD?

Ah, Aizen. This man started out as possibly one of the most brilliant villains I have ever seen in an anime. However, as time went on his moments of brilliance turned more into moments of plot convenience, and the more I thought about Aizen and his entire plan the more I realized it really doesn’t make sense in a lot of ways. However, there is one way to rationalize it: The Gotei 13 are just plain stupid. How so? Well, let’s look at the evolution of Aizen and his great plan step-by-step shall we?

The earliest point in the story that we have ever seen Aizen is during the Turn Back the Pendulum Arc, where we see him as Shinji’s lieutenant in the 5th Division. He seems like the nice, cheery guy we saw him as in the beginning of the series, however we are looking back on this with the knowledge that even this long ago (I believe it was about 110 years) Aizen was planning to betray Soul Society. When he first announced that he had been planning to do this for so long, I thought it was just incredibly epic that he pulled it off. However, as more of the story is revealed, it seems that Aizen was more lucky and less talented than he originally seemed.

Shinji right-out says to Aizen that he kept him at arms length because he knew Aizen was suspicious and he didn’t want Aizen to get to know Shinji too well or find out anything too sensitive about the inner-workings of Soul Society. Despite this, he seems to have never once thought it might be a good idea to do something like oh, I don’t know, maybe clue Yamamoto in that Aizen was suspicious? Just a thought.

Isane, the lieutenant of the 4th Division, says at one point that Aizen’s zanpakuto is water-based.This gives us the impression that Soul Society had no idea that Aizen’s true powers were that of general illusions. Even so, how could Soul Society not know what the powers of their lieutenants and captains are? We have very little indication that Shinji knew what Aizen’s powers were (and in fact Aizen says that keeping a distance from him allowed him to keep those powers from Shinji), but when Aizen became a captain, wouldn’t they have looked further into it? You would think that such an important and strict organization would make sure they knew clearly and for a fact what their higher-up’s powers were.

Now, to play devil’s advocate with myself, he could have just as easily used illusions to make them think that his zanpakuto did something else, but we have no proof that he did this other than the fact that it would make sense for Aizen to do such a thing. Then again, Kubo goes against a lot of things that make sense, so who knows? Either way, I digress.

So then the Vizards have been created thanks to Aizen, Urahara is framed for it, and Yoruichi goes with Urahara to the living world. Throughout several points in the series, we have seen Soul Society put quite a bit of trust in both Urahara and Yoruichi, so why didn’t either of them try to contact Yamamoto and tell him that they knew it was Aizen’s fault? I can understand them feeling that it wouldn’t do any good at first, but after so many years you’d think either Urahara, Yoruichi, or even one of the Vizards might have attempted to clue Soul Society in on their impending doom, especially since they all seemed rather aware that they were going to get pulled into the battle at some point.

Barring that, however, I can see how the rest of his plan went as well as it did. He eventually reveals that his real goal is to get the execution blade used on the Shinigami, which is why he kept posing as the Central 46 (whom he quietly killed off) and pushing Rukia’s execution forward. However, when Ichigo interferes, he reveals himself as a traitor and reveals that his real REAL goal is to get the hogyoku, a powerful item that Urahara had stored inside Rukia for safe-keeping so that he can get into the King’s Realm. He gets it and retreats to Hueco Mundo.

This is all well and good, but then things start to get even shakier. He keeps duping everyone into believing his goal is one thing when it’s really another, which is fine, but it gets to the point where even Gin looks more trustworthy than Aizen. It turns into a back-and-fourth game between him and Soul Society of ‘Well my real plan is this!’ ‘Well we knew that so we planned this!’ ‘Well I knew you would know so I planned this!’ Then when Aizen actually starts fighting, every fighting blow and strike made against him turns out to be an illusion, allowing him to take down some of the most powerful fighters Soul Society has in a matter of seconds.

It completely ruins any semblance of power balance between characters (although Kubo is guilty of this just about all the time in Bleach). He no longer comes off as a skilled, brilliant man and is now more like someone who is just damned lucky and is spamming his special abilities to try and cheese everyone else into their deaths. A good move for a villain, but I find myself nowadays rolling my eyes and going ‘sure, like that actually happened, it’s all just an illusion’.

To make the intelligence of Soul Society even more questionable, the captains and lieutenants keep throwing themselves at Aizen even though every other one of their comrades has fallen to the same mistake right in front of their eyes. Most of them don’t even try to use their bankai or any of their other personal skills or talents. It takes all of the awe at Aizen’s abilities out and just makes it seem like Kubo is favoring him by dumbing down everyone else.

However, the actions of Aizen are the cornerstone of Kubo’s trolling, and it never ceases to bring hilarious reactions out of the fans. It’s so bad, it’s almost good!

LOLNOBACKGROUNDS

Yep, and we’re going to do it while FLYING!

This one needs little explanation. There is nothing funnier than watching the fanboys flip out when Kubo draws another fighting scene of the Arrancars and Shinigami floating/flying in the air with no background to be seen. I have no idea why he does it, he may do it just to have less to draw so he can get the chapters out faster, but either way it produces great results.

Topsy-Turvy Shinji

You think that’s backwards? Wait until you see the rest of this series!

When Shinji finally reveals his bankai, it turns out his ability is to fool his opponent’s senses into thinking that everything is upside down and backwards. The fans were confused and thought it was a ridiculous power that was too close to Aizen’s powers.

However, looking back into the story shows that when Shinji transferred into Ichigo’s class at school, he wrote his name backwards on the chalkboard. When the teacher chided him for it, he said he was good at doing lots of stuff backwards. This scene was written years before Shinji revealed his zanpakuto’s ability.

Whether this was planned or whether Kubo just flipped through his old Shinji material to try and find inspiration for his zanpakuto is still a mystery.

When the White Moon Meets the Black Sun

And then CRAZY FANGIRLS rained down upon ENTIRE FANDOM.

At one point Kubo used a poem about a White Moon and a Black Sun on some Bleach data books, heavily alluding that Rukia was perhaps the ‘White Moon’ (her zanpakuto is white and her powers are all ice-based) and Ichigo was the ‘Black Sun’ (his zanpakuto is all black and his powers involve black energy blasts and the like). In case you can’t read the picture above, it says:

The Rain drags Black Sun down.
But the Rain dried by White Moon.

The moment that the Ichigo/Rukia fangirls read this, they went on a tirade, convinced that this whole poem was Kubo’s way of saying that he intended for Ichigo and Rukia to be hopelessly in love with each other. Fans of other pairings countered that the symbolism could be in just the sense of friendship and not necessarily romantic. Either way, it spawned a pairing war that is still going on to this very day.

THE HEART

More like ‘I RAN OUT OF IDEAS’, amirite?

One of Kubo’s most notorious trolls was a chapter title page that consisted of a white background that simply had the words ‘THE HEART’ in black in the middle of it. Since this was published, fans have been trying to use ‘THE HEART’ as symbolism for many different things in Bleach.

Kubo doesn’t seem to be unaware of this. In the 2-page full-color spread revealing the results of the newest character poll (which was revealed around Valentine’s Day), the top winners are pictured together holding heart-shaped chocolates. This instance probably isn’t a Kubo troll, but the true meaning of ‘THE HEART’ is still keeping people guessing.

From Powerful Secret Weapon to Kitchen Safety Staple

No kitchen is safe without one!

Ever since Aizen talked about the most powerful kind of Arrancar called Vasto Lorde, fans have been theorizing over who could possibly be or could become one. When we were shown the creation of Wonderweiss, many people who knew Kubo’s trolling all too well began to suggest that the seemingly witless Wonderweiss was probably the Vasto Lorde. We have been waiting with baited breath to see what Wonderweiss can do, and the one time he actually jumped into a battle, he did some serious damage, which only made this theory seem stronger.

However, when Aizen finally faced off with Yamamoto, he revealed that he created Wonderweiss simply to negate Yamamoto’s fire powers. Basically, what we thought was going to be Aizen’s powerful trump card basically turned out to be a fire extinguisher.

In fact, this is not the only instance that Kubo has built up drama about a character and then let us down. Halibel, the one female Espada whom everyone was waiting to see throw some punches, had a barely touched-upon battle with Hitsugaya before Aizen came in and took her out in a single stroke.

Now these trolls are all well in fun, but Kubo has told us that there is plenty more Bleach to come. So this poses the questions, what trolls could Kubo come up with in the future? Well, I put my thoughts together along with some of my friends and we came up with a few fun ideas!

  • Everything was just a nightmare Hanatarou was having
  • At the end of the story, Orihime will undo everything and the story will go back to how it was in the beginning
  • Orihime brings Ulquiorra back to life and they stay together as lovers
  • Grimmjow is actually dead
  • Aizen was the King all along and just locked himself out of his own realm
  • Aizen was actually and Illusion. the real mastermind is Hinamori!

Feel free to leave comments with your own troll theories!

Thanks to Greg from the anime blog Reisen Goes to School by Bus for the idea for the name of this editorial!

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A Brand New Gig!

I am elated to announce that in addition to my work here at Chu*Blog I will now be writing manga reviews for my good friend Jon Ingoglia over at JanaiBlog!

Jon has been blogging for a while now and has been on several podcasts and is a strong force in the Twitter circle of anibloggers (follow him @JanaiBlog). I am honored and thrilled to have this opportunity!

Everyone should go check out Jon’s blog if you haven’t done so already. A link to his blog will be provided in the ~Quick Navigation~ page so that you can all enjoy my manga reviews.

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