Anime Today #9

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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 Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok. Then Rich is back to talk about the new Fullmetal Alchemist Contest and the Boys Be... website. Next, Shawne joins us to talk about the Kimba, the White Lion Ultra Box Set, and the soon to be released Astro Boy Ultra Box Set. This week RightStuf.com is featuring a Manga Entertainment sale and Shawne’s here to give us the highlights along with his Weekly Specials. Then our Q & A brings the Production Team back to talk about English lyrics in Japanese music. Then Nick returns with his adaptation of an AoD review of the first volume of Case Closed: Case 1. Finally Kris and Judy return in the Anime and Gamer’s Guide to discuss staying hotels and hostels during their travels in Japan.

What's Hot?

The fourth DVD of a huge fan favorite, Princess Tutu will be released on March 21st.  A great value, this DVD comes packed with 5 episodes and tons of extras!  With a wonderful mix of comedy, drama, and even a little action – this DVD really is something you won’t want to miss.

March 21st will also see the release of the fourth DVD of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig.  While on the trail of Kuze, Section 9 tracks down the person who made his one-of-a-kind prosthetic face.  There's only one problem - the designer is dead.  And the person who killed him is Paz, or someone who looks exactly like him!  Meanwhile, Section 9 has some downtime, which they put to good use.  During a friendly poker game, Saito recounts his first encounter with the Major, when they were both looking down the barrel of each other's guns.  But there's still a lot of work left to be done, as everyone tries to unravel the mystery of the Individual Eleven and discover the whereabouts of Kuze.

On March 28th Naruto DVD 1: Enter Naruto will finally be released.  One of the biggest things since Dragon Ball Z, this will surely be a hit with fans, thanks to its fast-paced action and likeable characters.  In another world, ninja are the ultimate power–and in the village of Konohagakure live the stealthiest ninja in the world.  But twelve years ago Konohagakure was attacked by a fearsome threat–a nine-tailed fox demon which claimed the life of the Hokage, the village champion.  Today, peace has returned, and a troublemaking orphan named Uzumaki Naruto is struggling to graduate from the Ninja Academy.  His goal: to become the next Hokage. But unknown to Naruto and his classmates, within him is a terrifying force . . .

Also set for a March 28th release is My-HiME DVD 1.  Before coming to the Fuka Academy, all Mai Tokiha wanted was to live an ordinary high school life, but that's the last thing she's going to get.  It turns out that Mai is a HiME, one of twelve girls with super-natural powers that are gathered at this school to fight the Orphans, demons that dwell around the school.  A secret organization has other plans for the HiME than just demon-busting and Mai and the other HiME will have to risk something precious to protect the ones they love.

And don’t forget that you can get 25% off the retail price everyday at RightStuf.com when you preorder titles more then 10 days before their street date.

Check out the PREORDERS and the Got Anime? Purchasing Club!

Marie's DVD Review: Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok DVD 1

You've seen their take on Christianity in Evangelion. You've watched a new kind of Greek god emerge in Saint Seiya. You've even met a few hundred different versions of Suzaku, the fire bird of the Chinese guardian beasts Ssu Ling. But have you ever wondered what would happen if the Japanese could just get their hands on some really cracked out mythology like, oh, say, the Norse legends?

Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok features Loki, the famous trickster and god of Norse mythology, who has just recently had his powers stripped from him by Allfather Odin and been cast into the human world. Even worse, Odin’s trapped him in the body of a grade-schooler. What’s a god to do?

If you answered “open a detective agency to stamp out evil and pay the occasional bill,” you’d not only be right, but you’ll also probably enjoy the Case Closed review later in today’s episode.

With help from his faithful cook Yamino and mystery-obsessed neighborhood schoolgirl Mayura, Loki spends each episode solving mysteries, looking for a way back home to Asgard, and keeping Mayura from getting herself into too trouble all without letting on to his godly status. Unfortunately for Loki, most of the mysteries he’s called upon to investigate are the direct result of one Norse god or another trying to kill him.  Naturally, what with this being only the first volume, they would-be god killers fail, but each new appearance reveals a bit more about Loki’s past and just what it was he did to make Odin so angry in the first place.

Sound something like a cross between Oh My Goddess and Case Closed? Pretty much. Can a fusion of such disparate shows still create something dramatic, funny, and awesome? You bet.

Loki Ragnarok’s greatest and most obvious strength lies with its Japanese voice cast. The most obvious example is Yui Horie, who voices the excitable Mayura. On paper, Mayura is just a danger-magnet whose troubles get the plot moving, but Yui Horie, who also voiced Tohru in Fruits Basket and Naru in Love Hina, has an amazing talent for bringing characters to life and transforming them into people you just can’t help but root for.

Paku Romi shows up voicing Heimdall, who is able to control minds and is out to kill Loki for stealing his right eye. I’m somewhat biased here, since Paku Romi voiced Ed in Fullmetal Alchemist and she is my second favoritest voice actor ever, but I think it’s almost worth watching Loki Ragnarok to hear an evil Paku Romi alone. She squeezes an amazing amount of contempt and hatred into every mention of Loki’s name.

Takehito Koyasu plays Frey, who blames Loki for the disappearance of his beloved sister Freya. Takehito Koyasu walks the fine line between drama and absurdity easily and with such flair it’s easy to see why he’s been in more shows then I can count.

The rest of the voices are equally good, and in recognition of this fact Loki Ragnarok got a surprising set of extras for an R1 release: subtitled interviews with the Japanese cast. This first volume kicks the series off with Takehito Koyasu and Yuriko Fuchizaki, who voices Loki. It’s always fun to see the faces behind the voices, and they obviously had a good time making the show.

Another strength of Loki Ragnarok is in the production team, which includes direction by Hiroshi Watanabe and animation by Studio Deen. Studio Deen, which has worked on shows ranging from the Rurouni Kenshin OVAs to Full Moon, has a great grasp not only of comedic timing but also of just how to wring maximum emotional impact out of each and every dramatic moment in the script. They bring both talents to the forefront in Loki Ragnarok, letting the camera linger here and speedily moving the plot along there. And if that lingering camera shot makes you feel a bit more sympathetic towards the homicidal Heimdall, well, it was supposed to.

Of course, you can’t talk about Loki Ragnarok without mentioning the many Norse mythology references packed into the show. Loki Ragnarok is enjoyable even if you don’t know anything about Norse mythology at all – after all, did it really matter if you knew the mythological background behind Belldandy’s name prior to seeing Oh My Goddess? - but some knowledge definitely adds an extra layer of fun to the show. If you’re the sort who, when you hear that a student’s electrically-charged bokken is named Mjolnir, instantly goes “oooh!” then you really need to run out and get this show right now. For the rest of us, well, Narugami’s not the first anime character with a named weapon, and if you’re really determined to understand every nuance there are worse things in life than looking up “Gullinbursti” on Wikipedia to understand the mythological background behind Frey’s flying mechanical pig.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the only comedy to be found in-between the drama and angst is strictly for people who minored in mythology back in college. Alot of the laughs packed in use universal humor, such as slapstick, irony, and angry chibis. And of course there’s Thor, who’s so poor he works part time at more places than Card Captor Sakura’s brother Touya. True comedy is the Norse god of thunder dressed up as a giant anteater selling balloons at the zoo to pay his rent.

So should you watch Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok? If you think angst and comedy are like peanut butter and chocolate and don’t mind if characterization sometimes takes precedence over moving the plot along, or if you think Paku Romi is a voice acting genius and can’t get over the fact that I actually mentioned Gullinbursti in this review, then the answer is unequivocally yes. And even if not, you can always watch it just to see they how they work in the three Norns, aka Urd, Skuld, and Verdandi. My guess? They’re working the phones at a take out place to pay the bills.

See all Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok DVDs and Graphic Novels

Right Stuf Contests and Updates

Fullmetal Quest for a Contest!
Fullmetal Quest for a Contest!

Boys Be...
Check out the BRAND NEW Boys Be... website!

Ryuichi Arrives!
Ryuichi Arrives!

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!

Right Stuf Productions

Fullmetal Alchemist DVD 8 (Hyb): The Altar of Stone

Shawne's Specials

It’s a new week, and I’m excited to announce our newest studio sale!

From now until March 12th, 2006 - get 40% OFF the Retail price on ALL Manga Entertainment items! These are savings worth fighting for! Here's your chance to pick up great new titles like Street Fighter Alpha: Generations or catch up on the latest volumes of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig!

Just use the following reusable coupon code when you check out through our online store: alpha

Plus, if you're a Got Anime Member, you'll unlock bonus savings with your discount!

If you’re not sure what products are included in the sale, we’ve made it a bit easier for you - just click on the small graphic reading "Manga Items", located on the right-hand side of our main page and you'll be able to browse the eligible items. And remember, this sale ends Sunday March 12.

Every Thursday I post a new batch of exciting product specials for your consideration. There’s great discs, manga, and merchandise for less than $10, plus I always throw in some great values on box sets and specialty items.

Some great items to look at this week include thinpaks of Aquarian Age, Final Fantasy Unlimited, King of Bandit Jing, Kino’s Journey, Mahoromatic, Nuku Nuku TV, Steam Detectives, and Zone of the Enders.

Plus recent releases you might want to consider like discs from Bottle Fairy, Daphne in the Brilliant Blue, DearS, Diamond Daydreams, Sukisho, and more! There are more than 160 items on sale this week, so hit the website to look at the entire list for more savings.

Don’t forget to check our closeout section for wonderful deals on products that have limited availability - there are great deals in there and in our bargain bin, and new items get added all the time!

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: Case Closed: Case 1 DVD 1

Jimmy Kudo is a cocky teenage detective, known far and wide for his crime solving skills.  While working a particularly gruesome case, Kudo is attacked in the darkness by two strange men and force-fed an experimental drug.  The strong poison renders him unconscious and when he awakes… he is horrified to find that he is trapped in his boyhood form.  Obsessed with finding the men responsible, the detective uses his unlikely new identity, Conan Edagawa, to flirt with the fringe of the criminal world.  From the dining car of an explosive-laden train, to the dusty halls of an art museum, danger lurks in the shadows… and Detective Conan is there.

Case Closed: Case 01 Vol.  01: The Investigation Is Afoot, was released by FUNimation earlier this month. The following as an adaptation of a review by Chris Beverage of Anime on DVD dot com.

While it hasn't made a huge dent in fandom here in the U.S. over the years, there has always been a loyal following of the Detective Conan series since it started airing in 1996.   Originally released domestically on DVD in mid 2004, this re-release of Case 01 brings us back to where it all started.   Those who have followed the series through Cases 4 and 5 now have an interesting perspective for looking back on the beginnings of Conan, the pint-sized sluth.   

The English dub version of FUNimation’s Case Closed release has been “reversioned,” which basically means it’s been adapted, or localized, from the original Japanese release.   Part of this “reversioning” involves new character names for a more English friendly dub, though it’s something that hardcore sub fans won’t have to bother with.   Whether or not these changes were necessary to bring this series to a larger audience of English speaking kids is unknown, but which ever way you decide to view it, it’s the quick pace of the day by day mysteries that will keep your attention. 

That out of the way, I do want to mention that Volume 1 includes 2 discs with a total of 9 episodes making it a whooping 225 minutes of crime fighting mystery.   Having seen a number of the three episode volumes so far, the shift to five per disc is fairly significant and it really feels like the discs have some “meat” to them.  The three episode discs can be played in under an hour if you skip the openings and endings.  Watching the second disc with five full episodes in just one sitting really got me into the atmosphere of the show, and even though they were all self contained stories, it was quite enjoyable.

Now for the “meat” of this review:  The first four episodes introduce us to ace teenage detective wiz Jimmy Kudo.  He's the son of a brilliant novelist, whose years of writing mystery novels and acquiring an immense library of reference books has given Jimmy a tremendous background for his crime solving enthusiasm.  Jimmy’s favorite novels are the Sherlock Holmes series, which he obsesses over and relates to everything in his life.  This obsession usually annoys his long time childhood friend Rachel Moore, a very attractive and energetic girl who happens to be a school karate champion.  Of course there's the usual tension of a potential romance and they would make a cute couple if they'd just admit it to one another.

Interestingly enough, Rachel's father happens to be a detective who’s much better at polishing off a six-pack than polishing off his dwindling case load.  Detective Moore’s lack of business is due to the help that Jimmy freely gives to the local police department and his excellent intuition hasn’t left much need for another local detective.  Obviously Rachel’s father doesn't like him very much and since Jimmy is oblivious to a potential romantic relationship with her, the two detectives don't see a lot of one another.  And that’s probably for the best due to the Jimmy’s arrogance, which grows a little more with every case he solves.  Jimmy’s parents left for America three years prior and he basically lives alone in his family’s mansion except for the slightly cracked scientist, Professor Agasa, who apparently rents out one of the many rooms.

Suddenly, everything changes for Jimmy after solving a murder at an amusement park.  Two suspicious men in black happen to witness the crime and even though the pair is proven innocent, Jimmy follows them.  Unfortunately, these men one up Jimmy and knowing that he could cause problems for them in the future, the mysterious men in black drug him with an untested poison created by their organization.  Left for dead, he painfully fights to regain consciousness while feeling as though his bones are melting away.  When he finally awakens, Jimmy realizes he's now the relative age of a grade schooler but with all of his high schooler memories and basic physical skills, although he definitely can’t kick a soccer ball as hard as he used to.

Frantically, he works with the professor to come up with a new identity, cutely named Conan Edogawa, so as to let “Jimmy Kudo” slip into mystery and use the time to track down the mysterious men in black.  Through amusing events, he ends up living with Rachel and her father and coincidentally forces his way into Detective Moore’s revitalized case load.  With the discreet help of young Conan’s “innocent” remarks at the scene of various crimes, the elder detective is led to what's really going on.  As Conan, he manages to get himself into the same situations he used to when he was taller but now he’s forced to be more creative.

It’s amusing to see how Conan has to play around and come up with creative ways to be heard as the adults don't take him seriously.  Professor Agasa, the crazed scientist, helps him compensate for his miniature status with a number of really cool gadgets.  Almost every episode, we are introduced to a new gizmo made to strengthen his voice, his vision and even his soccer kick.  One thing I’m not too fond of at this point is the Junior Detective League formed around Conan by a few ragtag grade schoolers.  Since it's still early in the series, I'll forgive the general stereotypes of these kids but note that they haven't added much to my interest of the show so far. 

The look and feel of the show adds an interesting flavor to the Case Closed series.  The character designs are fairly minimalist but that’s not totally unexpected in a show that's run this long, especially when it makes it easier on the animators.  There's definitely a unique style and it works very well for the show, from the diminutive stature of Conan to the legginess of Rachel when she does her patented karate kicks.  There’s a sort of ease to the characters’ motions and it reminds me a lot of the Lupin the 3rd TV series where they're just shy of becoming caricatures.  The animation quality itself looks to be fairly consistent with other shows of that time and there’s nothing terribly striking about it, either for or against.  I don't think it'll amaze people but it won't be the definitive factor that will turn anyone away from the rest of the series.

Revisiting these early episodes after having seen most of the later ones, I find that I appreciate the set up a bit more and how it has evolved from the first Case to the fourth and fifth.  I don't think this show is for a lot of hardcore anime fans, mainly because of its more mainstream nature.  Some people, who favor a greater plot arc in a series, will also be turned off by the whole “mystery of the week” aspect.  If viewed with the right mindset, that of how the show was originally broadcast as well as the format of the original manga, Case Closed provides quick chapters of fun mystery and it's very easy to get into and enjoy.  I'm looking forward to filling the gaps of this series as FUNimation releases more of the early episodes before getting us back on track with Case Six.

See all Case Closed DVDs and Manga

Kris and Judy Part 9: Anime and Gamer's Guide to Japan

Where to find places to stay
Lonely Planet: www.lonelyplanet.com
Japan Youth Hostels Inc: www.jyh.or.jp/english/
Japan Backpacker’s Hostel Network: http://j-backpackers-en.seesaa.net   (some of these hostels require you speak Japanese so make sure to read it closely!)

Where to check out reviews of places to stay
www.TripAdvisor.com  
Frommer’s Message Boards on Travel in Japan: http://frommers.com/cgi-bin/WebX?14@@.ee6b2f8

Where to stay If you can speak Japanese
Ryokan Association: www.ryokan.or.jp
JapaneseGuestHouses.com  (some of these are ok with English!)
Accommodations Japan: www.e-stay.jp


Lonely Planet

Anime and Gamer's Guide to Japan

Anime and Gamer's Guide to Japan

 

This episode features music from: