Anime Today #3

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Episode run down:

This episode, Chad returns with What’s Hot in the World of Anime, plus news of a special Right Stuf box set available at Best Buy. Right Stuf employees bring you reviews of Piano: The Melody of a Young Girl’s Heart, and Ah! My Goddess – both shows featuring the work of Kosuke Fujishima. Shawne will be back with his Weekly Specials, our latest sale, and something fabulous we have coming up for Christmas. Then Kris and Judy continue their adventure in Japan with Anime and Gamer’s guide to Japan. We’ll continue to explore Piano when the production department joins us later on. Anime Today Q&A brings Kris and Judy back to answer a listener’s question. And Nick talks to us about contests and what’s new on RightStuf.com.

What's Hot?

On December 13th, the next volume of the smash hit Samurai 7 will be released.  In this series, based on Akira Kurosawa’s epic film of the same name, samurai clash in a futuristic world for the benefit of the common people.  From famed studio Gonzo, who brought us Chrono Crusade, Hellsing, and Last Exile, this series is wonderfully animated with lots of action and a richly developed story!

Just in time for the New Year comes the first volume of Hikaru no Go.  The game of “go” is a century old Chinese board game that has recently been gaining huge popularity in the anime community because of this show!  With excellent characters and an exciting pace, this series is truly a fan favorite.

Since the holiday season is now upon us, we have four amazing DVD collections that will make perfect holiday gifts!  First up, The Irresponsible Captain Tylor OVA Ultra Edition was recently released in a gorgeous double slip-case art box.  Just like the TV Ultra Edition, the OVA Ultra Edition is packed full of extras including; an exclusive bonus disc with 95 minutes of interviews, the OVA Soundtrack, liner notes, a 48-page booklet, and the second half of the short novella – “Men Have it Tough!”

Next, fans can grab the Trigun Limited Edition Collection!  On top of the exciting new packaging for this series, this set includes all of the different original openings for each episode, a bullet necklace engraved with the Trigun logo, and brand new 5.1 surround sound!

Also, the long awaited Inu Yasha Season 2 DVD Box Set is here!  This set is available in both a standard and limited edition version – an excellent option for both the cash-sensitive fans as well as the lovers of DVD collections.

Finally, The Right Stuf has released the entire collection of Piano: The Melody of a Young Girl’s Heart, in a multipack case available exclusively at Best Buy!  This season, unlock the music within your heart with the release of this heartwarming story of love, friendship and growing up.

DVD Review: Piano: The Melody of a Young Girl's Heart

Visit your local Best Buy to pick up the full Piano Series Box Set!

Last June, Right Stuf released the first of three volume for Piano: The Melody of a Young Girl’s Heart. This story about a teenage girl and the difficulties she faces in her relationships has quickly won the hearts of fans who relate to these challenges of family, friendships, and love.

On a personal note, I can relate to this show because it reminds me of all the singing lessons I took as a kid.  I can remember not feeling like practicing because I didn’t like the song or I was in a bad mood or something and I can also remember how my various teachers throughout the years would try and inspire me to practice.  Sometimes, I’d have no idea why they’d want me to do something with a piece of music but almost always it would spark something that made me really get into that song.  Basically, this show reminds me of how bizarre music teachers may seem at times but overall, most of them are really geniuses when they can break through to a kid and make them truly fall in love with music.

The following is an adaptation of a review by Chris Bevridge of AnimeOnDVD.com.

I end up watching a lot of series, and often many of them at the same time, and when something like Piano comes along, it's a departure from the norms of what makes many other series tick. Piano isn't a breakout show that will change the world, or has something so amazing that you've never seen it before. It is a show that takes the slice of life aspect that many people enjoy, and pulls it off without the additions typically made to them such as aliens, demons, or a wacky cast of friends. It simply is a slice of life. And that is extremely refreshing.

The story centers around Miu Nomura, a junior high school student who is somewhat shy and a bit of an introvert. She's a decent student who has a good friend in the much more outgoing Yuuki. Miu's after school activity is one she's done since early childhood, playing the piano. She's good at it, but as we can see from her experiences with her teacher Mr. Shirakawa, she's reached a point where she's not necessarily feeling challenged. The material and the piano itself aren't as exciting to her as they used to be. She's living her life, and doing what she has to do, but that spark of inspiration just isn't there.

Something does eventually catch her eye though, and it's an upperclassman named Takahashi who is on the track team with her friend, Yuuki. It's not a huge crush, it's just a little thing that she keeps mostly to herself, but it's something that Yuuki is able to figure out. Yuuki's outgoing enough that she's able to try and apply a little friendly pressure to get the two to at least talk a bit, but as aware as she is of her friend’s crush, she's also rather focused on one of her own.

For Miu, she's able to enjoy hers from afar and believes that nothing will come of it, but it does light something within her. It's something that comes out in her piano playing, when during one lesson after school, her teacher tells her to just play whatever she wants. She begins playing an original creation which surprises him quite a bit, though he doesn't let on in the slightest.

Miu's home life is interesting to watch as well. I find myself more and more interested in this aspect of shows as my own family continues to grow and change, and my own parenting issues become more focused. By watching the family dynamic made up of Miu, her parents, and her older sister, you can tell early on that it is their mother they are all trying to appease the most. The parents are fun to watch in how they dance around each other with the minor problems they're having, problems which have been there since the first day of the relationship. Her father is a journalist and is often out late and rarely comes home on time.

I also really liked watching how each of them treats Miu and which aspects they play up the most. In a way, Miu is becoming more and more of a friend to her mother as she gets older, while maintaining her status as daddy's little girl for her father. She tries to help him out of the doghouse with her mother on several occasions. The two have a cute wink, nod, and smile routine and you can feel the dynamics of a real functioning family. It is simply fun and heart-warming to watch it all be revealed in the show. The simple realities of their lives are fascinating enough without the need of the truly outrageous.

One of the appealing aspects of the show are the character designs done by Kosuke Fujishima, someone whose designs I've liked for a long time now. Over the years his characters have had some unfortunate similarities at times, but he does a good job with the leads in this show, giving us characters that we don't quite think we've seen in every other show at one time or another. The feel of this show, with its real world style, is one that the cast inhabits nicely. The simple but effective designs work out well. It was also nice that over the course of the three episodes we see people in more than just the same outfit or school uniform constantly, and this helps to flesh out their personalities and make them feel more alive.

A small but decent selection of extras made it into the first volume of the series. A special epilogue to the first episode is deceptive because you expect it to be for the show itself. It's actually a ten minute interview talking with the voice actresses from the show about how they got into it, its origins, and so forth. It's fun to watch the two leads play back and forth with each other over how they dressed for the interview segments and other topics. The standard character bio section is included, along with the clean opening sequence, an art gallery, and a section of original character sketches.

This show is a very simple one at best. Even with a relationship potential here, it's not so much about the relationship but rather the people themselves, their lives from day to day, and the simple dreams they have for themselves and others. It's very laid back and relaxing but manages to draw you in nicely and the cast grows on you as it plays out.

This is a nice change of pace from so many other shows that I've been watching recently, and it stands out particularly strong for me since it is so different. These are the kinds of shows that truly attracted me to anime years ago, and I'm excited to see another variant on that material released here.

Shawne's Specials

See all of Shawne's Weekly Specials!

It's that time again -- the naming of this week's product specials. It's 167 various items you simply must have.

First of all I want to talk a bit about this week's studio sale - for those who aren't familiar with our studio sales, what we do is generally pick an anime studio - this time it's Funimation; then we put their ENTIRE LINE on sale - so you can get 40% off the retail price on EVERY FUNIMATION DVD and VHS - great titles like Samurai 7, Full Metal Alchemist, Gunslinger Girl, Dragon Ball Z, and Kodocha. If you're a member of our GotAnime purchasing club, you save even more - an additional 10% off! You don't want to miss out on this sale. You can order as many times as you'd like with coupon code SEVENSAMURAI - more details are posted on our home page!

So many great bargains this week! Where do I start?

You can get DVD complete collections of Banner of the Stars, Big O II, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, Demon Lord Dante, and Hand Maid May for $29.99! Who would have believed even last year that you could pick up a whole anime series for this kind of money? And what about the classics - full sets of Mospeada and Southern Cross for only $24.99! Simply amazing.

Super values this week on Assemble Insert, Cromartie High School, Dark Cat, G-Gundam, Once Upon a Time, Sugar, Virtua Fighter, Voogie's Angel, and Yugo - we're talking at least 50% off this week!

Looking for something to listen to on your drive home for the holidays? Check out CDs this week on special including soundtracks for .Hack/Legend, Excel Saga, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Hellsing, Macross II, and Noir -- plus you can check out Jpop like Indigo, Para Para, and L'Arc en Ciel.

Speaking of the holidays - all I'm going to say at the moment is you're going to want to be on our weekly e-mail mailing list. Sign up today - go to the homepage at www.rightstuf.com and click on the "Free Newsletter" link on the upper left. Don't be surprised if something special arrives .. er.. say around December 13. I hope I'm not giving anything away here. I don't want to ruin the surprise. OK, fine, just sign up, will you? You'll be glad you did.

Well, until next time, this is Shawne Kleckner, dark lord of anime savings, signing off. Back to the lair to cook up something.. I only have a few days until the 13th.

Kris and Judy Part 3: Anime and Gamer's Guide to Japan

Kris and Judy Part 3: Anime and Gamer's Guide to Japan

Kris and Judy Part 3: Anime and Gamer's Guide to Japan

DVD Review: Ah! My Goddess TV DVD 1: Always and Forever

See all Ah! My Goddess DVDs and Cds

Kosuke Fujishima's classic story of a hapless college boy and his one true goddess comes to life.  Keiichi Morisato is an engineering student and the top driver of the campus racing club.  While calling for take out, a wrong number puts him in contact with the Goddess Hotline.  One misplaced wish later, Keiichi finds himself blessed with Belldandy, the perfect girlfriend and a bonafide goddess.  Unfortunately, she doesn't have any idea of how act in the human world, and her presence quickly gets Keiichi kicked out of the dorms.  Keiichi's troubles have just begun.

The first of six volumes of Ah! My Goddess was released by Media Blasters in September.  The following is an adaptation of a review of the first volume by Chris Beveridge of AnimeOnDVD.com.

Twelve years after a popular OVA series and seven years after a super deformed comedy show came out, Ah! My Goddess returns and in the format it always belonged.

Ah! My Goddess is one of those properties that worked out to be popular both in the US and abroad.  In Japan, the manga still runs and continues to be popular.  New figures, statues and other items continue to be released and most things related to it sell very well.  The OVA series has been well received and the manga continues to be released.  However, since the original OVAs, there's been hope for more of this show than just a movie.  Thankfully, 2005 saw the arrival of what's apparently a fairly open-ended TV series and it's been said that as long as it gets the ratings, they'll keep making it.  With seventeen years worth of manga to draw from, they've got plenty of material.

Due to how the manga was released in the US, it's hard to say how closely this follows it or the OVA for that matter.  However, if you've seen the OVA, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the basic story even though it's told in quite a different way.  Almost the entire first episode is dedicated to introducing the male lead, Keiichi.  He's a freshman at Nekomi Technical Institute and is looking forward to exploring some new freedoms and finally living his life.  He's the embodiment of the nice guy who finishes last but is still happy about finishing at all.  Due to his finances, he lives in the same dorm as the motor club and is awash in heavy male camaraderie as no women are allowed to reside there. 

Essentially, Keiichi's a happy guy but he doesn't have everything he wants.  One of these things is a date with Sayoko, the ultra attractive and well off young woman who is considered the Queen of the school.  She of course rejects him flat out, which isn’t much of a surprise.  Keiichi deals with it and moves on until one day his life suddenly changes when he's stuck cleaning the dorms.  Through the connections of “the fates,” which are explained in amusing detail at the beginning of the series, Keiichi's bad luck spawns one moment of good luck and he finds himself on the phone with the Goddess Help Line.  Thus through the mirror comes Belldandy, the goddess who has been assigned to help him. 

Considered one of the most beautiful characters ever, Belldandy is certainly a sight to Keiichi and he's almost overwhelmed by her presence.  After a bit of convincing that this is really happening, Keiichi realizes that he's also been granted one wish and all he has to do is ask for it.  Since he’s not exactly sure what he wants, he casually wishes that she'd stay with him always.  Before he realizes what he's said, the wish is granted by the powers above.  Even this comes as a shock to Belldandy but it is what is and she now finds herself paired with him.

Unlike a lot of other shows that have tried to duplicate this formula, what makes this work with such broad appeal is that Belldandy doesn't look for a way out of it, doesn't get mean about it at any time and doesn't get upset about her new situation by holding anything against Keiichi.  She simply accepts the will from above and goes forward to do what needs to be done.  Since this was a result of a wish, something called the System Force comes into effect if the wish is threatened.  So if the two are to be separated against their will, the System Force kicks in and does what it can to fix the situation.  For example, the dorm is male only so instead of just tossing Belldandy out, they toss both of them out so that they stay together.  The system shows up several more times in the first few episodes to amusing effect but there are also a few situations where things could get really bad.

Ah! My Goddess is something that I've long hoped for and has come at the right time.  This is a great looking show that utilizes the existing material well for this reboot and is just every bit as enjoyable and heartwarming as the original OVA was.  The animation here is beautiful and the character designs are spot on.  It was great to get the original Japanese leads back and the new English crew pulled it off wonderfully.  This is the latest gem in the Media Blasters crown of top tier titles and one that I hope they're able to put out for a long time to come.

Right Stuf Contests and Updates

First off, I want to mention that Right Stuf has now made their trailers easily available for viewing on the new video iPods!  Much like this podcast, the new video feed can be subscribed to via iTunes or individual trailers can be downloaded from the iPod Trailers page under the What’s Hot section at rightstuf.com.  Still rockin' an older monochromatic iPod or an iPod Photo?  No big deal because these high quality videos are easily viewable on any MAC or PC computer with iTunes the free QuickTime player.  For more information, check out the iPod Trailers link or the Podcast FAQ link in the Anime Today sidebar.

Next, warm congratulations go out to Sheldon L. of Brooklyn, NY for being the first winner of the Shonen Jump prize in our Jump for Joy contest... and to Ronald A. of Little Rock, AR for being the first winner of the Shojo Beat prize! Thanks to all who entered last month but don't worry, there are more opportunities for you to win!  We'll be drawing another 2 winners at the end of this month.  For your chance to win, just head to the Contests link under the What’s Hot section at rightstuf.com.  Also, remember that you can enter once per day to increase your chances!

The other hot contest this month is for all you Gravitation Fans ready to test your Gravitation trivia knowledge!  We’ve joined up with TOKYOPOP to give you the chance to win an entire set of the Gravitation Manga just by playing Quiz and Pop!  To enter, go to gravitation.rightstuf.com, click on extras, then games.  And after playing our version of Quiz and Pop, just fill out the entry form for your chance to win.  There’s only a few more weeks to go before the lucky winner is randomly selected!

And finally, looking to learn Japanese, but don't know where to start? Rightstuf.com has just added a new Learning Japanese section of our online catalog!  It's filled with dozens of different books that'll teach you everything from kanji to kana, from survival phrases to street slang. There are even some that use actual Japanese manga as learning tools! So what are you waiting for? Nihongo o benkyou shimashou!

Anime Today Q & A

If you have a question for us, call 1-800-338-6827, extension 7424. Also, you may send us e-mail at animetoday@rightstuf.com. If your question is selected, you will receive a $10 gift certificate to Right Stuf’s online store!

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.