Anime Today #7

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Episode run down:

First is Chad with What’s Hot in the world of anime and manga followed by Marie’s review of the first DVD of Mars Daybreak. Rich is back with RightStuf.com Updates and then the Production Team has a discussion about the differences between dubbing a show in Japan and in the U.S. Next, Shawne brings us highlights of the Bandai sale starting this week and his Weekly Specials. Once again, the Production Team joins us to answer this week’s Q & A and then one of Right Stuf’s employees brings us a review of the first dvd of Fafner. And finally Kris and Judy are back in the Anime and Gamer’s Guide to Japan to talk about their favorite place in Akihabara.

What's Hot?

On February 7th get ready for VIZ Media’s Absolute Boyfriend Graphic Novel 1! Shy high school student Riko Izawa aches for a boyfriend but guys just won't look her way. One day she signs up for a three-day trial of a mysterious "lover figurine," and the next thing she knows, a cute naked guy is delivered to her doorstep - and he wants to be her boyfriend! Has Riko died and gone to heaven? The cute naked guy turns out to be smart, super nice, stylish and a gourmet chef. Plus, he looks like a million bucks... Trouble is, that's about what he's going to cost Riko if she doesn't return him in time!

Also on February 7th, VIZ Media will release the eleventh graphic novel of Bleach! Ichigo successfully defeats Ikkaku of the Eleventh Company and is rewarded with a valuable piece of information - the location of where Rukia is being detained. However, Ganju is having a harder time with his Soul Reaper opponent. Meanwhile, Orihime and Uryu confront the younger brother of a former opponent. It's time for Uryu to prove to everyone (and himself) how much more powerful he has become. Joe is just your average dude. He has two great loves: his girlfriend Silvia and Captain Blue, the action-movie superhero.

On February 7th, catch up with Geneon’s first DVD of Viewtiful Joe. When Silvia is magically captured by a celluloid monster, Joe gets himself swallowed into the screen to save her. Joe then meets Captain Blue just as the superhero is about to retire, exhausted from his lifelong battle against villains known as Jadows. With special superpowers bestowed by Captain Blue, Joe transforms into "Viewtiful Joe" to bash the enemies in Movieland.

On February 21st Funimation releases the first DVD of Case Closed: Case 1. This is where it all began – the story of the teenage master-sleuth who was turned into the pint-sized boy genius Detective Conan! This disc contains the first nine episodes of this beloved series, so now you can see the story unfold from the very beginning!

Finally, on February 28th , Right Stuf releases the highly anticipated first DVD of Boys Be…. Looking for a love story with a twist? Boys Be… has just what you need. It takes traditional tales of love and turns them on their head by revealing the flip side of the story – what’s really going on from the guy’s point of view! Based on the best-selling Boys Be… manga, this series is a little sweet, a little sexy, and a lot of fun!

Marie's DVD Review: Mars Daybreak DVD 1

Mars Daybreak harkens back to a time of old, a time when mecha ruled and space opera was king, and when if you could just somehow work in a fully developed cast of over 20, your anime was golden. I am talking, of course, about the great year of 2001, when Vision of Escaflowne, Gundam Wing, and The Irresponsible Captain Tylor were all being released on DVD at the very same historic time! Today, Mars Daybreak fuses together the very best elements of each of these shows, adds in plenty of new twists and turns of its own, and tops it all off with animation by Studio Bones to create a fresh new modern anime with a classic taste.

Mars Daybreak takes place on a terraformed Mars - a planet now covered in water and ice where humans live in city-ships beneath the waves and the economy revolves almost entirely around the enormous water supply. Unfortunately, that economy is also tanking, and that means work is hard to come by.

Enter Gram, who’s doing his best to scrape together an honest living, but even for an athletic young man like him, jobs are hard to get without resorting to thievery. When Gram’s young neighbor Bon overhears him turn down a job to raid a government warehouse, Bon decides to take on the job himself. Worried about Bon, Gram races to the warehouse to look for him only to find himself embroiled in a three-way fight between the warehouse raiders, the military, and a pirate ship called The Aurora who’s crewed by a lively bunch of Robin Hood-like buccaneers. 

Of course on Mars, real battles are fought with mecha! These are specialized robots called Round Bucklers or RBs for short, which are capable of underwater combat and are controlled either remotely or by a human pilot in the cockpit. Most RB’s are tethered to a larger ship by a cable supplying air and electricity. However, there are some special models which are not - like The Reaper, a model piloted by the fierce pirate Yagami.

In the midst of the battle, Gram locates Bon and tries to escape, but he’s knocked unconscious and falls into the water. Sinking into the depths, the necklace Gram wears around his neck begins to glow and a mysterious RB detaches itself from the ocean floor and catches his unconscious body. Yagami, noticing the mysterious RB with the unconscious Gram inside, hauls it aboard the Aurora. Awakening, Gram finds himself living amongst the pirate crew – after negotiating a fee for his fighting services, of course. Looks like he’s found himself a job after all. But what will he do when his childhood friend Vestemona sees his face on the wanted posters?

As I’ve come to expect from Studio Bones, every character and location is given its own sense of style with plenty of attention to detail. The pirates are especially colorful, and contrast well with the bleaker colors given to the poverty-stricken workers in the city ships. The eyes, however, do take a little getting used to. The bright round pupils are pretty, but have a tendency to make certain characters look glassy eyed and unable to focus.

One of Mars Daybreak’s best features is the feeling of completeness it gives to its futuristic world. From bandit-run city-ships, to sparkling ice flows, and even a preserved section of the original Martian landscape, everything feels as if it could actually exist on the planet next door. The battles are cleanly choreographed and executed, and the underwater aspect leaves room for innovative designs in technology, like floatation devices that deploy when an RB has been off its tether for too long.

There’s also plenty to explore in terms of Mars’ politics, economy, and inhabitants. Amongst the crew on the Aurora are a talking cat and a whale in an inverted diving suit; both of whom are played not for laughs but entirely seriously – well, almost entirely. Mars is clearly a place of equal opportunity. Animals aside, both women and men pilot RBs, captain ships, run governments, and even sport realistically sized thighs.

The menus are also worth noting. The screen zooms about the crags of underwater Mars while waiting for you to make your selection. It’s a pretty neat effect, and adds to the show’s overall tone of adventure. The menus are laid out with a very clean and intuitive interface which makes it easy to navigate around.

Mars Daybreak is a fresh new take on some older concepts, and not coincidentally creates a show that’s perfect for new and old fans alike. Show this one at your local anime club when you’re tired of debating between showing episode 123 of Inu Yasha or one more marathon of Evangelion. During the snack break, you can have a contest to see who can best imitate Vestamona’s double-cone hairstyle; bring your own industrial strength hair spray and duct tape. 

See all Mars Daybreak DVDs and CDs

Right Stuf Contests and Updates

Enter the Right Stuf Jump for Joy Contest

Like what you hear, give us a shout out! If you use iTunes or browse Yahoo! Podcasts, take a few moments to write a quick review and tell others what you think the show!

Boys Be...
Full Boys Be... Site COMING SOON!

In case you haven't checked these sites out yet:

Shingu: Secret of the Stellar WarsThe Irresponsible Captain TylorPiano: The Melody of a Young Girl's HeartGravitation

Desert Punk DVD 1 (Hyb)

Shawne's Specials

We’re starting February off with a blast by having a Bandai Entertainment Studio Sale! This week, Bandai DVDs, UMDs, CDs, and Manga are all on sale in our big "Savings in the Pocket" sale! (Perhaps we should have called it, lighten the load in your wallet, heh..)

You can pick up some catalog favorites like Wolf’s Rain, Please Teacher, and more, as well as exciting upcoming titles like Fantastic Children, Eureka Seven, and Gundam Seed Destiny!

From now until Feburary 12, you can get 40% off the retail price on all Bandai DVD and UMD products, and 33% off on their CD and Manga titles!

To receive your discount, simply put the Bandai items you wish to purchase in your cart, and during checkout put the code POCKET (spell out) in the coupon field. This coupon is reusable, so order as often as you like. For a quick list of the items included in this sale, check out the "Bandai Items" link in the upper right corner of our webpage.

Remember, if you’re a member of our Got Anime purchasing club, you can stack your discount and achieve a whopping 46% OFF on Bandai DVDs! Not a member? Check out the link within each item detail for more information.

And remember - economy shipping is free at $49 for domestic customers!

Now, let’s take a quick look at this week’s product specials!

This is the last week on our 50% off on certain calendars, so grab these while you still can!

There are some great box sets on sale this week - Berserk, Blue Seed, Ceres, DNA Squared, El Hazard, Fruits Basket, Gatchaman, Gokudo, Happy Lesson, His & Her Circumstances, Kino’s Journey,Mahoromatic, Maison Ikkoku Set 4, Niea Under 7, Patlabor TV Set 2, Ranma ½ Set 6, Rurouni Kenshin Set 1, Saber Marionette J Ultimate, Slayers Movie Thinpak, Trigun Collector’s Edition Set 1, and more. As I’ve said before, it’s never been a better time to be an anime fan, with these low prices on complete shows that would have been unheard of not that long ago.

Also, I’m going to quickly remind you about the great DVD/CD combo packs that we have on sale for only $9.99 - Akira, Ai Yori Aoshi, Last Exile, and Texhnolyze - this is the first DVD of the series plus the CD soundtrack - you can’t even usually buy just the CD at this price!

A couple of other DVDs also to mention - great prices this week on recent releases like Divergence Eve: Misaki Chronicles DVD 1, Full Metal Panic FUMOFFU DVD 4, the Gravitation OVA release, and Portrait de Petitie Cossette.

Some major additions to the bargain bin this week - we’re blowing out some great anime titles at amazingly low prices. New titles are added to this section almost daily, so you might want to check frequently, as there could be something pop up in there that you’ve been looking for.

As winter moves slowly to its end, I’m hoping to heat things up at our online store, and I’m looking for your ideas and thoughts on what you would like to see at Rightstuf.com. Email any ideas or thoughts or things you like or dislike to me at darklord@rightstuf.com.

See all of Shawne's Weekly Specials!
Check out the Bargain Bin!

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!

DVD Review: Fafner DVD 1

Their paradise was a deception...  The youth of Tatsumiya Island believed that they led ordinary lives - that is, they did until the advent of the Festum, extraterrestrial intelligent life forms intent on assimilating all humans. 

Abruptly, their once peaceful island transforms into a high-tech military fortress to counter-attack the hostile aliens.  Their shock intensifies when they learn that only they can pilot the Fafner, a class of humanoid-type robots that represent the final - and only - weapon against the Festums and their divine powers.

Fafner DVD 1: Arcadian Project was released by Geneon Entertainment in July.  The following as an adaptation of a review by Chris Beverage of Anime on DVD dot com.

Fafner begins by introducing us to Soshi, recently returned from a trip to Tokyo and who already has that world weary feel to him in spite of his youth.  Then there’s Kazuki, the son of the town potter and a rough and tumble kid who’s fiercely independent and not afraid of a fight.  We also meet a kind-hearted girl named Maya who looks after her friend Shoko, another young woman whose physical condition keeps her relatively bedridden.

No sooner have we met these kids when their lives are suddenly interrupted as every computer monitor and TV in town turns red and displays one word - Alvis.  Everyone is hastily evacuated to shelters, but only the adults know exactly what is going on.  The teachers and various other adults soon show up in a high-tech command center under the island to track the arrival of an alien they only call Festum. 

When we first see the alien appear on the control room screen, the Festum is identified as a “Sphinx Type.”  It’s shining gold surface and humanoid appearance is reminiscent of a Baroque sculpture with rays of light flaring behind.  When one of the controllers first sees the alien on the screen, she exclaims “it’s beautiful,” which immediately prompts the Commander to say “beauty isn’t necessarily mankind’s ally.”

The Festum is heading straight for the island, working its way through the shield defenses and reflective camouflage cover.  Its weapons are small but powerful energy spheres that behave like micro black holes which appear all over the island destroying anything and anyone surrounded by them.  The only truly powerful weapon that the islanders have is a giant combat robot called Fafner.  The name Fafner comes from the legendary giant who turned into a dragon to protect the treasures of the gods.  As powerful as Fafner is, the only trained pilot has already been killed in the first wave of the attack. 

The adults are forced to bring in their next pilot candidate, Kazuki, who doesn’t have any idea what’s going on.  He soon finds out he’s been bred for this very purpose and his genetic code is the closest match to what's required to properly pilot Fafner.  Kazuki is quickly taken to Fafner’s hanger where he receives a crash course from his friend Soshi, who apparently has long known the island’s secrets without telling Kazuki.

Unsurprisingly, after the initial attack the decision is made to train a number of potential pilots, willing or not, to avoid a similar crisis in the future.  Along with new cadets, we discover there are secrets underground and the island’s true purpose is covered in mystery.  As the cadets train to work with Fafner, we see how keeping so many secrets has effected the lives and relationships of everyone on this island. 

Fafner starts off with an interesting, yet rather ambiguous premise and quickly presses forward leaving behind a myriad of questions brought up by the recent revelations.  The first four episodes certainly have a lot of action but are greatly clouded with speculations as to why the children have been left in the dark about Tatsumiya Island for so long.  It also makes you wonder why the adults react so nonchalantly to the children’s sudden realizations and why they waited so long to recruit new cadets.

The characters naturally aren't deeply developed yet by the end of volume 1, but it’s easy to see their potential and it’s not hard to get attached to several of them already.  Their designs, however, actually gave the show some notoriety before it even came out.  Gundam SEED’s Hisashi Hirai did the character designs for both series, and parts of Fafner in fact look a bit like an alternate reality version of Gundam SEED if you ignore the dialogue.  Even if Hirai’s coasting a bit with the sizable cast he created for SEED, I hope this illusion wears off soon as we get to know each character a bit better in up-coming episodes.

In terms of presentation, the show’s colors are bold and vivid with clean line work, and the audio is clear with a good sense of depth, creating a great looking and sounding series.  The animation of the ocean and the more photorealistic style for the buildings and exterior settings come through strong and create a great looking island environment.

Fafner mixes giant robot action sequences with plenty of mystery for good measure.  It’s interesting to see how the youth of the island begin to realize the depths of their mysterious island and to see how the adults deal with the curious youth.  Adults are known for keeping secrets but when children of Tatsumiya Island could possibly be the key to all survival, maybe these secrets were kept for a bit too long.  

See all Fafner DVDs and CDs

Kris and Judy Part 7: Anime and Gamer's Guide to Japan

Kris and Judy's favorite place in Akihabara: Real Vana'Diel

Kris and Judy Part 7: Anime and Gamer's Guide to Japan