Anime Today #1: Podcast Launch!

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Episode run down:

In this episode, we take a look at what’s new in the world of anime and manga. We review Shingu and the all new Appleseed from Geneon. Shawne will join us to talk about RightStuf.com's weekly specials our new latest sale. Kris and Judy will be bringing us the first part of their ongoing series, an Anime and Gamer’s guide to Japan. The producer and assistant producer from Right Stuf’s production of Shingu talk to us about the casting challenges of this epic show. You’ll also have an opportunity to explore anime and Japanese culture in our Anime Today Q & A, and finally hear about two exciting contests we have running this month.

What's Hot?

Coming out in late December, is AN-Entertainment’s long-awaited, “crazy-comedy” HareGuu! Sparing no expense, HareGuu features a hilarious English dub from the popular dubbing studio Bang Zoom… and is being released not only stand-alone, but with a gorgeous DVD artbox (including an extra pack-in that’s sure to raise some eyebrows!)

Then, for the first time ever, the whole Cardcaptor Sakura series is available in two deluxe boxsets – if you haven’t caught this show yet, now’s the perfect chance! CARDCAPTOR SAKURA is one of CLAMP’s most beloved stories, about a shy grade-schooler who accidentally releases a book full of magical creatures in the shape of cards…  So now, along with Kero (the cards’ adorable – and somewhat lazy – guardian), she must find them all and set things right once again! 

Are you a manga fan looking for something good to read? Be sure to check out Viz’s Full Moon o Sagashite.  With gorgeous art and deep characterization, Full Moon o Sagashite is loaded with gorgeous art and deep characterization in a spellbinding story about a girl striving to achieve her dreams, even in the face of death. It’s one title not to be missed by any shoujo fan.

Shoujo not your thing? Try Naoki Urasawa’s MONSTER. This suspense thriller is Japan’s fastest-selling manga series of all time. It follows the life of Dr. Tenma, a genius surgeon who was framed for murders that he did not commit.  With his world crumbling around him, Tenma must chase down a ruthless serial killer and discover the truth behind all that’s happened.

DVD Review: SHINGU

The first volume of Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars was released by The Right Stuf International on March 29th, 2005. This 26 episode series, spanning 5 DVDs, concludes on November 29th with the release of the fifth and final volume. The following is an adaptation of a review of the first volume by Chris Beveridge of AnimeOnDVD.com.

The first volume is available as a standalone DVD, featuring the first 5 episodes, a 12-page booklet, and production notes for both the original Japanese series and the English version. Also available is a Collector’s Edition artbox that will hold the entire five disc series. The artbox includes the first volume and an exclusive Shingu t-shirt.

What if one day, you discovered that the world wasn’t quite what it seemed?

In the year 2070, life is rather quiet for Hajime Murata, a curious second-year student at Misumaru Middle School. Classes by day, fights with his little sister by night; nothing too exciting ever happens. Even when a strange alien ship appears over Tokyo, no one's really that shocked. After all, the government has been covering up aliens for years, right?

Then, a mysterious new transfer student arrives at Misumaru, wearing an ancient school uniform. Gentle and polite, everyone considers Muryou Subaru to be a pretty nice guy. Everyone that is, except for student council vice president Kyoichi Moriguchi. When Kyoichi challenges Muryou to a fight on the school roof, Hajime rushes over just in time to see the simple schoolyard brawl turn into a startling display of psychic powers!

With all these strange events unraveling around him, Hajime is determined to figure out the truth about the world he thought he already knew. This is his story; a tale of aliens and humans, starships and spies, and friends who are often more than they appear.

While more and more series are licensed every year, there are still those that continually fall through the cracks for whatever reason. Often when it's a series that nobody has seemingly ever heard of, you really don’t know what you're going to get. Those familiar with companies that tend to snag these kinds of shows know that you may get something pretty mediocre or even awful. However, there are times when you'll find an unearthed gem in the mix, a show that people missed, or one that just really appeals to you in a way that few other shows do.

Originally called Record of the School Wars: Muryou, this twenty-six episode series has Tatsuo Sato as the series director and scriptwriter. I've had a bumpy relationship with his works in the past, from enjoying a show like Stellvia, but having problems with his style in the Nadesico series. But I know he has an eye for something slightly different and offbeat since he was a big force behind the Figure 17 series, and anyone involved in that project has to be on my good side.

Though it takes most of the five episodes before things really hit a stride where you think you might get a handle on the plot, it's done very well. The students are able to show their quirks without being forced into episode after episode of fighting against aliens or revealing deep dark secrets. Muryou is such a laid back and happy character that it's a great change of pace from the usual group of angst-ridden and whiny kids.

Shingu was a complete unknown before I put this disc in. The first five episodes are the kind of science fiction that I really like in novel form and don't often see in anime form.

Secret societies from ages ago protecting the Earth. A Galactic Federation that's examining whether the planet is ready for membership. Alien races with their own plans and needs for the Earth when at the core there is a group of kids with some amazing powers who are trying to deal with all of it. These are the kinds of things I really enjoy in a show.

Add in the fact that nobody other than Muryou wears a school uniform since they fell out of favor years ago, and you avoid even more of the typical elements. I think that director Sato has managed to come up with a show that's borrowing from elsewhere, but he has put it together in a unique and creative way. This show has definitely got me interested based on what's here and I'm looking forward to seeing how epic it can get.

See all SHINGU DVDs or visit the Official SHINGU: Secret of the Stellar Wars website!
Be sure to play the SHINGU Match Game to reveal the REUSABLE $6 OFF COUPON CODE for ANY SHINGU DVD only at rightstuf.com! (Coupon code expires Nov. 29, 2005)

Shawne's Specials

Kris and Judy: Anime and Gamer's Guide to Japan

Kris and Judy's trip photo 1

DVD Review: Appleseed

Appleseed was released by Geneon Entertainment on May 10th, 2005. The following is an adaptation of a review by Chris Beveridge from AnimeOnDVD.com.

Earth's last city, Olympus, rose from the ashes of a global war on the backs of Bioroids, artificial clones who make up half the city's population. Under the strict guidance of a supercomputer, humanity's last survivors enjoy an idyllic peace, but only on the surface! Human terrorists within the military seek a return to power and clash with the government's ESWAT forces led by the legendary soldier, Deunan Knute, and her boyfriend who is 75% machine. Retrieving the Appleseed will end the conflict, and Deunan alone holds its secret.

For the feature-only release, the big extra is the commentary track recorded in Tokyo back in late 2004 by director Aramaki and producer Sori. They go into a lot of detail about the entire project. We skimmed this for the moment but it definitely piqued our interest in a lot of areas and sounds like it's worth checking out. A small series of staff profiles are included with the release, and there's a commercial from Tofu for their release of the soundtrack. The music gets another big nod in the extras, as you can jump to particular scenes where the touted bands start playing.

With the special edition double disc set, everything talked about previously is included, while the second disc provides more extras exploring the technical information behind this film. The Design Archives are of particular interest. They take you through some of what each of the creative teams contributed to the film. You see the conceptual drawings transformed to CG video and then into the final product. It's great seeing how all three designs evolved.

A music video is included for the Boom Boom Satellites song, "Dive For You,” and we get a couple of promotional trailers for the film. The big extra included in the set is an expansion on some of the teases from the Japanese website showing how the live action 3D anime film was made. This really piqued my curiosity when I first view the small clips they had on the site.

Director Shinji Aramaki has directed shows of this nature for most of his professional career. From the original works of Megazone 23, design work on numerous 90's cyberpunk OVAs, up through his involvement in Bubblegum Crisis 2040, Wolf's Rain and Witch Hunter Robin, he's got the right eye for this kind of story and I think he did a fantastic job with this movie.

As soon as it was over I wanted to see it again. When it comes to theatrical anime, I think we've unfortunately moved into the realm of expectations where every movie must be a big work of certain proportions. Appleseed does not fit into the same mold or style as Millennium Actress, Spirited Away or Ghost in the Shell 2.

Instead, Appleseed tells an adapted tale of the manga series. It does an excellent job of bringing in many elements from the manga series, and while some of it could be better explained within the movie, they did a great job. I'm glad I can watch it anytime I want now in the comfort of my own home.

Appleseed DVD - Feature Only
Appleseed DVD - Special Edition [Steel Case]

Right Stuf Productions

See all SHINGU DVDs or visit the Official SHINGU: Secret of the Stellar Wars website!

Right Stuf Contests

Right Stuf is currently running 2 contests.  The first contest called Jump for Joy, can be found @ www.rightstuf.com under the What’s Hot section on the left side of the page. 

Jump for joy manga fangirls and fanboys, because we’re running a special contest for the next few months! In conjunction with America’s top manga anthologies, Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat, we’re throwing a contest in which you can win some fantastic new fashion for fall and some wonderful beach-wear for a mid-winter, tropical getaway!

All you have to do to enter is take some time to fill out the form and be sure to choose either the Shonen Jump or Shojo Beat Prize.

A new issue of Shonen Jump is published every month and contains new chapters of popular manga series such as Naruto, One Piece, and Hikaru no Go – while Shonen Jump Advanced (made for a slightly older audience) features titles like Death Note, Eyeshield 21, and Hunter X Hunter.

Shojo Beat is Shonen Jump’s “sister-publication,” containing not only shojo manga, but also information on the latest in Tokyo fashion, trends, pop-culture, and music! With a number of great titles, including: Absolute Boyfriend, Full Moon O Sagashite, and Nana – it’s a magazine that’s popular with both boys and girls alike!
This contest started November 1, and one winner for each prize will be randomly selected at the end of the each month.

Up next is the Gravitation Contest for all you gravi fans out there.  To enter, go to gravitation.rightstuf.com, click on extras, then games.  After playing our version of Quiz and Pop! Just fill out the form for your chance to win a set of four gravitation t-shirts!  A new winner will be randomly selcted every four weeks for the duration of this contest.

After playing Quiz and Pop!, be sure to pick up your very own Kumagoro or a the brand new Ryuichi Plush! Enter the Right Stuf Jump for Joy Contest!

Visit the official GRAVITATION website and play Quiz & Pop to enter the GRAVITATION Contest!

Anime Today Q & A

Listeners also have an opportunity to call in with their own questions on anime and Japanese culture to Anime Today Q & A (1-800-338-6827, x7424).

To ask us a question on anime or Japanese culture call:
1.800.338.6827 ext. 7424

Outro

Thank you for downloading our podcast. Please check out rightstuf.com for anime news, specials, and future podcasts. For more information on the products and places mentioned in this podcast show notes are available at rightstuf.com.

Special thanks to AnimeOnDVD.com for providing the reviews used in this program. The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Right Stuf International. This podcast is copyright 2005 by The Right Stuf International, Inc.