Anime Today #27: Celebrating One Year Anniversary!

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Episode run down:

Welcome to the second year of Anime Today! This episode features a few new segments, and many old favorites. You’ll also have a chance meet the cast that’s been involved in many of the episodes.

Starting us off on the next year of Anime Today is Chad with his take on What’s Hot in the world of anime and manga. Do you think you’re up on all the latest anime plots? Uso Deshou is up next to challenge you. We have a new take on anime this episode from our new reviewer, Vic Annato. Kris and Judy cover Shichi-Go-San – a children’s holiday in Japan. Nick and Rich return to bring you all the contests running this month. And for those of you that were in the first 600 customers that preordered Super Gals, we have some exciting news. Kris and Judy answer a voicemail left by a listener asking why religion is often portrayed negatively in anime. Addicted to savings? Shawne’s back kicking off the Del Rey Save-a-holic sale. Judy-sensei returns this episode with an all new mini-Japanese 101 lesson about smiling and saying “Cheese!”  Ever wanted to voice your opinion on a DVD? Our store at RightStuf.com let’s you leave customer reviews and in this episode, we will bring you a few of them.  And rounding off this Anniversary show is Marie with her review of His and Her Circumstances – one of her favorites.

Happy Anniversary!

What's Hot?

We’re heading further into the holiday season with more new releases and several series debuts in the early weeks of December!  The month kicks off with some heavy-hitters…

For more than a century, the Hellsing Organization has been secretly protecting the British Empire from zombie-like creatures known as “freaks,” and when Sir Integra Hellsing takes charge of the agency, she also inherits the ultimate weapon against these undead enemies: a rogue vampire named Arucard! HELLSING ULTIMATE reportedly hews closer to Kohta Hirano’s original manga, and the first volume is available on December 5th with a regular DVD version, AND a limited-edition DVD that includes an Arucard Relief Figurine with US-exclusive coloring and special metallic packaging, plus a second DVD full of extras.

As Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura struggle in battle in the Land of Waves, they must come to terms with the often-painful reality of being a ninja. A little bit older, wiser and stronger, the three return to the Hidden Leaf Village only to face their next challenge: the Chunin Exam! Up against the best ninja-trainees from the neighboring villages, is Naruto ready to take the next step in his journey to become the greatest shinobi ever? Find out in the NARUTO UNCUT DVD Box Set 2, available on December 5th as either a regular set or special edition complete with a Sand Village headband and necklace.

Sven is your run-of-the-mill bounty hunter: down on his luck, haunted by the perpetual grumbling of his stomach and looking to make enough cash to get by. Oh, and he can see the future – but only about five minutes into it. When a dirty politician lands a price on his head, Sven jumps at the chance to earn a quick buck. But as he's working to secure the target, his vision reveals an assassination that will cost him the job. Little does he know that he's brushed up against the worst possible luck in BLACK CAT DVD 1, available on December 19th, with or without an artbox.

In the not-too-distant future, mankind fights over O-Parts, relics from an ancient civilization, that each contain incredible powers. A young boy with a tragic past, Jio trusts only one thing in the world: money. Little does he suspect he is one of those with the special ability to use the O-Parts to their full potential! He meets Ruby, a girl who wants to follow in the footsteps of her father, a famous treasure hunter. What dangers will the two face in their quest to discover as many O-Parts as they can? Find out in the manga O-Partsn Hunter, Vol. 1, with story and art by Seishi Kishimoto on December 19th.

Like many other high school students, Yukari’s life revolves around studying for her college entrance exam and trying to please her parents… until the fateful day she meets students from the Yazawa School of Design. They’ve formed a group called Paradise Kiss and want her to model their creations in their school’s annual fashion show. However, that commitment soon gives way to more, and she begins to notice there is more to life than schoolwork. Enter the world Ai Yazawa’s PARADISE KISS, when the first volume of this fashionable anime debuts on December 19th, either with or without an artbox to hold all three volumes of this popular shojo series.

Save 25% on these titles and more by preordeing them from RightStuf.com at least 10 days before their street dates.  Get another 10% off by joining the Got Anime purchasing club for Frequent Buyers.

And DON’T FORGET, there’s only 1 month left to preorder the super second season of SUPER GALS for 25% off the retail price!  Gotta get GALS?  Get on over to RightStuf.com and place your preorder for SUPER GALS! SEASON 2: The Heart Shibuya today! 

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

The Anime and Gamer's Guide with Kris and Judy

Anime and Gamer's Guide to Japan: Shichigosan

Vic Annato's Stuf That Cuts: Gungrave

Konichiwa minasan. This here’s Vic Annato, and welcome to the newest addition of the Anime Today podcast. In this segment, we’ll be looking at some of the most action-packed anime titles on the otaku market today. Casting a close eye on what’s sharp on the line, and dull as a rusty blade. Get ready, because it’s all right here and right now. On the stuf, that cuts.

Here’s how we break it down. After a short overview of the titles’ main story arc, we’ll slice those elements up that make the feature possible. Closely examining the elements of story, production detailing, additional content, and the defining feature we like call the “act factor.”

This week, we’re setting our sights on Geneon’s GUNGRAVE anime series. Now then, here’s the cut-up.

Based off the hard-hitting video game(s) of the same name, Yasuhiro Nightow’s epic tale of a resurrected gunslinger from beyond the grave arrives with a bang. With his cerebruses’ smoking hot, Grave: the assassin resurrected from a point beyond death returns to the earthly realm in an all-or-nothing final stand against the biologically engineered undead, sent forth by his former family of mafia-clad crime lords.

Despite the odds - Grave does it in style with two huge handguns known as the cerebruses (named after the three-headed guardian of hell), and a giant mechanically automated assault coffin that he lugs around amidst his dusty and tattered threads. It could almost be called an image straight out of the old west, but fully reloaded and updated for the modern times.

Overall, the Gungrave anime series packs a solid punch. Smooth animation and crisp character designs round out the package nicely. For the first few minutes of this show, you’ll see Grave doing what he does best, but after the initial blood-rush – it might be best to settle in for an long haul about this death-dealing dark horse.

A great deal of the content from the title, focuses on an elaborate back story that made Grave become the walking reaper of death he is today. Through multiple flashbacks and current day transposing, the series has a great flow going for it as it explains Grave (then known as Brandon Heat) and his best friend’s (Harry) rise to power from everyday street thugs to the elite Mafioso.

Through wealth, friendship, business, deceit, and betrayl, the Gungrave anime series is a great look into how the franchise came to be. Taking place largely just before the first game, fans can look forward to a unique prospective at what made Grave the unstoppably stylish killer, he is today.

Be advised though, the Gungrave anime series is a major commitment. Spanning across 7 separate DVD volumes, the aforementioned historical story arc, spans a sizable amount of the series. The heart-racing action elements arise only occasionally when the plot structure periodically brings them about.

If you’re looking for extras, the series includes a nice look at various character art designs, and enhanced audio tracks. However, that’s about as much additional content as this series contains.

In our “Act factor”, the series packs a great shootout-styled ending in the final volume of the set. It would have been great to hear a bit more dialogue from the main character of Grave/Brandon Heat (since most of his associates tend to do the talking for him) however most of the events in the series tend to revolve around him.

Overall, this is a great series for die-hard fans of the games and the serious collectors. However casual fans may want to rent the series first, or stick to the PS2 games for a more continually frenetic pace.

Gungrave, volumes one through seven are available for purchase from rightstuf.com currently for $9.99 per volume.

And on the hilt of our blade, that’s a look at the stuf-that-cuts.

Shawne's Specials

Save-a-holic’s Sale!

The dark lord senses a disturbance in the force that must be fought, and to tempt your wallet to the dark side this week, we’ve got a new sale!

If you're addicted to manga, as many of us are here are, you'll definitely want to check out our Save-a-holic’s Sale! Take 33% OFF the normal retail price on all manga and books published by Del Rey! From your favorites by CLAMP, like Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE and xxxHOLiC, to titles that inspired – or were inspired by – some of today’s hottest anime releases, there are hundreds of great titles to choose from!

Just use the reusable coupon code HOLIC when you check out through our online store! This sale expires November 19, 2006 at 11:59pm central time.

And don't forget - if you're a Got Anime member, you can stack your discounts for even more savings! In fact, your membership can pay for itself in just a few purchases. Check out www.gotanime.com for details. You too can join the minions here in the quest for anime savings and dominance of the anime universe.

If you’re not sure which products are included in the sale, you can click on the "Save-a-holic’s Sale" graphic on the upper right hand corner of our main page, and it will take you to a thorough listing of what's fair game.

As we head into the winter season here, today it appears that we will have to stoke the furnaces as we receive our first snow of the season. What a better way to warm up your place than to sit back and enjoy some great anime - and reminice how much you saved when you purchased it! Check out some of our great bargain anime deals! In the specials, Assemble Insert is on sale for only $2.99 - a hilarious parody by the creator of Patlabor. You can start your Kanji learning session with the 2 Kanji starter packs we have for sale this week for only $5.99 each!

There’s also lots of hot "after dark" hentai savings to be had in the specials too.

Finally - don’t forget to check out the bargain bin - where I’ll likely be adding even more items next week!

Well, a busy season ahead, and I need to get back to work to bring everything together. There’s lots more to come - the only question remaining is - when oh when can I go on vacation?

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

Negima DVD 4 (Hyb): Magic 401: Magical Enchantments

Marie's DVD Review: His and Her Circumstances

In honor of Anime Today’s first year anniversary, I thought I’d be selfish today and review one of my absolute favorite in-house titles, His and Her Circumstances. I loved His and Her long before I began working at Right Stuf, and there’s nothing like hearing about all of the effort that went on behind the scenes to increase your appreciation for a title – and trust me, there was a lot behind these scenes.

His and Her Circumstances, not surprisingly, tells the story of a boy and girl who meet in high school. The girl is Yukino Miyazawa, the most beautiful, smart, and talented student in school. She’s been at the top of her class forever, and you’d think she’d have a list of enemies a mile long hoping to dethrone her, but because she’s also incredibly kind and polite to her fellow classmates and teachers, she’s extremely popular as well. She is, in short, perfect.

Perfect, that is, except for the fact that it’s all an act that she puts on to win praise and admiration. The real Yukino is a slob who enjoys sleeping in and devising ways to make money. She keeps her image up by secretly studying late into the night and practicing poses in front of a mirror to make sure she always shows to her best advantage. It’s a lot of effort, but it’s worth it to be on top – that is, until Souichiro Arima transfers to her high school and grabs first place right out from under her.

Arima actually is everything Yukino seems to be, and he’s doing it better to boot. Furious at losing her place, Yukino immediately begins to scheme his downfall, going to extreme lengths to plot her revenge all the while maintaining her perfect façade. Unfortunately, everything falls apart when Arima catches on to her “perfect” act and begins to blackmail her. And then, of course, they fall in love, but that’s a few more episodes in. :)

His and Her Circumstances is romantic comedy at its best, and its success can be squarely laid at the feet of its original manga-ka, Masami Tsuda, and its director, Hideaki Anno, aka that guy who made Neon Genesis Evangelion.

It’s not hard to see Anno’s fingerprints all over the show. True, the plots of Eva and His and Her are no where near similar (Yukino’s parents, for example, are both alive and well and do not force her to pilot a giant robot), but the crazy humor and complete understanding of the animation medium make his style shine through. You’ll also catch his fondness for delving deep into what makes his characters tick.

But while Anno’s animated touches give the show much of its life, it’s Masami Tsuda’s original plot and dialogue that give His and Her its romantic and personal feel and keeps the plot firmly rooted in the reality of 20th century Japan. It’s her ability to make her characters grow that adds much of the show’s depth. In combination, Anno and Tsuda have made one of the funniest and simultaneously romantic anime I’ve ever seen.

But it’s not just the show which is amazing. The discs themselves are actually a genuine technical achievement. Between the show itself, the large number of extras, and the huuuge amounts of on-screen text and dialogue, the first disc alone contains 347,006 lines of code. For comparison, most DVDs contain somewhere between 10 and 30,000 lines. What took so much code? While the chapter stops, menu buttons, and audio all took up their fair share, the main culprits were the subtitle tracks.

Right Stuf went to the extra effort to match each on-screen text subtitle to the font and color of the text it’s captioning, resulting in a much smoother reading flow. But while matching a rainbow of colors is easy in hard subtitles, where the captions are embedded into the video, the technical knowledge involved in creating the same effect for soft subtitles, those which can be turned off and on, is incredibly intricate. And to top it off, the discs contain not only English subtitles done in this manner, but Spanish as well. Right Stuf stated at the time of release that they thought these might be the most complex DVDs of all time, and now, four years later, I don’t think anyone’s changed their minds.

About the only downside to His and Her Circumstances is the ending. The show just simply stops in the middle of preparations for the school festival. While it is, technically, somewhat slice of life, and you can make the argument that life rarely has neat endings, it’s also true that you’re going to want to know what the heck happens next. Fear not! The manga picks up directly where the anime left off, and the 21st and final volume of the series is due out this January. Not only do I hear that this volume neatly ties off those loose ends and provides closure, but I can personally attest that volumes 1-20 were pretty good in and of themselves. The only downside to the manga is finding more empty space on my bookshelves in order to fit them all in.

My boss describes His and Her Circumstances as the perfect date movie: that is, something you’re both going to enjoy a heck of a lot, and semantic complaints about the word “movie” aside, she’s absolutely right. As I keep emphasizing because it’s true, His and Her is very funny, very romantic, and very awesome. And for a title so firmly rooted in shojo, it’s worth noting that the show debuted before the anime female demographics in America began skyrocketing, and yet it was still incredibly popular. Unless you absolutely have to have dueling giant robots in all of your anime, you’ll definitely want to give His and Her Circumstances a whirl – of course, the giant robot fans will probably get a kick out of episode 19, anyway.

See all His and Her Circumstances products

Right Stuf Contests and Updates

Enter this episode's Net Comics CONTEST!
Enter this episode's NETCOMICS contest!

Ninja Nonsense
Enter the latest CONTEST on the official Ninja Nonsense website! You could be 1 of 5 random winners of a Ninja Nonsense figurine!

Immortal Grand Prix Giveaway!
And as one contest ends, another begins! This month, 5 (FIVE) lucky winners each will get some major league gear, including the Toonami edition of the IGPX Season 1 (Toonami Version) box set, a hat, a T-shirt, a lanyard and ID holder, a shami, “post-its” and a backpack to hold it all!
See the Contests page for more details. Good luck and fasten your seat belt!

GRAVITATION

Hang out with Bad Luck on the Gravitation site and enter the LATEST CONTEST!

Like what you hear? Give us a shout out! If you use iTunes, take a few moments to write a quick review and tell others what you think the show.

Mini Japanese 101 with Judy-sensei!

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!

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