Anime Today #28: Talking to Sean Schemmel About Onsokumaru and Other Nonsense!

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Episode run down:

We hope everyone’s recovered from a wonderful Thanksgiving feast and is ready to partake in the traditional after Thanksgiving shopping frenzy. Our music is courtesy of Geneon; try to guess which show it’s from. Chad quickly starts this exciting episode with What’s Hot in anime and manga, followed by the mysterious Uso Deshou. With the final volume of Ninja Nonsense being released next week, we’re thrilled to bring you an exciting interview with Sean Schemmel, winner of the September 2006 Best Actor ADR Award for his role as Onsokomaru. Marie switches things up a bit this episode and reviews the CD-ROM game Yo-Jin-Bo.

Are you ready to make a pilgrimage to find some amazing anime deals? After hearing about Shawne’s latest ADV sale, you’ll want to head over to RightStuf.com to kick off your holiday shopping. Is your inbox flooded by videos from friends? Kris and Judy attempt to describe the wonder that is Zuiikin’ English. Rich, Marie and Nick are back with the latest contests and web site updates and then Judy-sensei teaches us some important beginning and end of meal phrases. Listen to a few of our RightStuf.com customer reviews and finally get ready for the latest action-packed Stuf that Cuts.

Interview with Sean Schemmel!

Interview with Sean Schemmel!

Sean Schemmel on Wikipedia

Sean Schemmel on IMDB

Sean Schemmel on ANN

What's Hot?

Haruka, Takayuki, Mitsuki, and Shinji. Four high-school friends with bright futures in front of them… until an accident leaves Haruka in a coma; her boyfriend, Takayuki, reeling; and Mitsuki dedicating her life to a relationship with him, founded on and floundering in guilt. When Haruka awakens three years later, can everyone really pretend no time has passed? Find out when the drama of fan-favorite “Kimi ga Nozomu Eien” makes its North American DVD debut on December 19, under the title Rumbling Hearts, with or without a collectible artbox.

World War Three may be over, but for nomad soldier Deunan Knute and her cyborg partner, Briareos, the post-war battlefields found on the streets of the new “utopia” may be even more challenging. Never before collected in America, the Appleseed Hypernotes Graphic Novel wil be available on December 27th. Features a new 80-plus-page Appleseed tale, this release includes reams of the incredibly detailed information and illustrations fans have come to expect, from legendary Ghost in the Shell creator Shirow Masamune.

The King of the Netherworld has died, and various demons are now building their own empires in an effort to take control. However, the late King's son has arrived and is out to reclaim his rightful place as ruler of the Netherworld with the help of his vassal, Etna, and the angel-in-training/would-be assassin, Flonne. Will these three intrepid -- and somewhat eccentric – heroes succeed in their quest to conquer the Netherworld, Heaven and Earth? The first volume of the Disgaea anime, Vol. 1: Netherworld Prince, is available on January 9th.

Yuki Cross has no memory of her past, prior to the moment she was saved from a vampire and soon-after adopted by the headmaster of Cross Academy. Now, 10 years later, she works to guard the school's secret and protect its “day class” from its “night class” of vampires! Yuki believes that vampires and humans can coexist peacefully, but her classmate and partner, Zero, has different ideas... Currently running in Japan’s monthly LaLa magazine and serialized stateside in SHOJO BEAT, Vampire Knight, Vol. 1 is available on January 9th.

Save 25% on these titles and more by preordering 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 that’s what’s hot in the world of anime and manga!

( Pssst! ) Wait, there’s one more thing: Word has it that there may be some early holiday surprises this year – but you didn’t hear it from me…

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

Shawne's Specials and ADV Sale Highlights

Get Your Fill  Sale!

This is THE weekend that kicks it all off: A season for family, friends, get-togethers, gift giving, frenzied shoppers and mall parking lots - er, scratch that. At Right Stuf, we are *more* than happy to help you avoid the perils of the most (in)famous shopping week of the year!

Get your fill of anime and manga goodness, all without leaving your house - or your easy chair, if you're *really* smart about it.

Get at least 40% OFF the retail price on *all* current and upcoming ADV Films DVDs and at least 33% OFF *all* ADV-published books from now until December 3rd!

Just use the coupon code GETYOURFILL when you check out through our on-line store.

Not sure which products are included in the sale? Just click on the "Get Your Fill" graphic on the upper right hand corner of our main page, and it will take you to a thorough rundown of the savings to gobble up.

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. If you're not a member, you can add a membership to an order by itself with no shipping cost, or add it to your next order and start saving immediately - just put a membership into your cart, and enter "newmember" in the member number field when you check out!

As we head into the holiday season, the dark lord has much in store for you - so keep an eye on your e-mail for all kinds of great deals as we get closer and closer to the end of the year. You'll be happy - although your wallet might not be.

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

The Anime and Gamer's Guide with Kris and Judy

Anime and Gamer's Guide to Japan: Zuiikin' English

The Japanese site for ZUIIKIN' ENGLISH:
http://www.fujitv.co.jp/cs/program/7395_014.html

Black Cat DVD 1 + Artbox

Marie's Game Review: Yo-Jin-Bo CDROM Game

Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books from back in fourth grade? The ones where the story would branch off depending on whether or not you opened the door on the right and turned to page 32 or went down the stairs on the left to page 57? And where, inevitably, you’d find yourself trying to hold five different places with your fingers at once in case you died a horrible death and needed to backtrack? Now imagine if one of those books had a much more intricate plot, was illustrated with pretty backgrounds and a host of anime-style characters, and was actually a video game with save slots instead of fingers. Congratulations; you’ve just envisioned an entire genre of Japanese entertainment that, while kind of silly sounding, can be a whole lot of fun.

Called “visual novels,” these games encompass a wide spectrum of stories, ranging from adventure epic to pure dating sims, and exist for pretty much every single gaming platform available in Japan. Quite a few of the most popular games have even made their way to American shores, including the focus of today’s review, Yo-Jin-Bo.

In Yo-Jin-Bo, you take on the role of Sayori, an average high-school student girl visiting an archeological dig with her friends in the History Club. Stumbling across a pendant in the mud, you take it home that night only to be visited by the ghost of a murdered princess who begs for your help in saving her life. Her name is Hatsuhime, and she lived 150 years ago in Edo-period Japan: the time of the samurai and the ninja. After agreeing to help, you suddenly find yourself transported back to Hatsuhime’s time… transplanted into her body… and you’ve got just hours left before her murder! Knowing what is to come, can you stop the princess’s death and escape an entire clan of ninja assassins? Well, it would really help if you had five or six handsome wandering samurai serving as your bodyguards…

Part adventure and part romance, Yo-Jin-Bo, (which is literally Japanese for bodyguard), has two main objectives. One: don’t die. Two: get the samurai of your choice to fall in love with you and make sure he doesn’t die either. Admittedly, the second objective is optional, but it’s a lot of fun to try for. :) And, if you like a set goal or were the sort of kid who completely disregarded the warning to not read your Choose Your Own Adventure front-to-back, you can try to unlock every graphic illustration and song in the game by taking all the different possible paths. There’s a photo album accessible from the main page that keeps track of your progress as you hunt for that last illusive image. Maybe if you don’t pick up the pendant this time…?

Now, having played a few visual novels before, I had a general idea of what to expect from Yo-Jin-Bo in terms of graphics and characters, and for the first opening chapter or so, nothing really surprised me. Average girl in not-so-average situation? Check. Best friends who speak but never appear on the screen? Check. Samurai who quote Back to the Future and Einstein? Wait, what?

As soon as you travel back in time and start meeting your main dating prospects – er, characters - things start to get interesting. And by interesting, I mean the plot starts to resemble Fushigi Yuugi as portrayed by the cast of Kodocha. Breathless chases through the woods, near-death experiences at every turn, and characters who think it’s always time for a good joke, no matter how many ninjas may be on their tail.

Yo-Jin-Bo knows it’s a game (heck, the characters openly debate which of them have ending scenarios), and it’s determined to show you a good time. Which it does. I haven’t laughed so hard and continuously at a game since the first Monkey Island came out. When the characters aren’t referencing Julie Andrews, Pokemon, and the Death Star in the course of a single conversation while hiding from evil ninjas, they’re comparing each other to Mr. T or complaining that even if women say they want a comfortable man, what they really want are psychopaths wearing eyeglasses. I’d disagree with that last statement, except that by the end of the game I was feeling kind of guilty for running off with the cool and steady Bo and leaving behind crazy and nearsighted Ittosai.

But even the best jokes will fall flat without good delivery, and since Yo-Jin-Bo is presented in its original Japanese audio with English text, that’s two very different mediums that both need to sound fluid in order to make everything work. Fortunately, neither disappoints. On the audio side, the game features a voice cast full of well-known anime veterans, including Masakazu Morita, aka Ichigo of Bleach, Hideo Ishikawa, who played Naruto’s Itachi, and Hiroki Takahashi, who voiced Shoji in Nana, and all of them know their way around a punchline. As for the text, the English translation flows as naturally as if the game had been originally written in English while still remaining highly faithful to the original Japanese script. While I did catch a few untranslatable puns switched out for English equivalents, the pop-culture references are all really taken directly from the source. When I said that the samurai were quoting Back to the Future, that wasn’t a Hirameki invention – they’re actually throwing around the names of Marty and Doc in the Japanese audio.

In terms of the gameplay itself, as previously mentioned, Yo-Jin-Bo is a visual novel, so most of the game is not spent actually playing, but listening to and reading the illustrated story while the assorted characters make happy, sad, and exasperated faces according to their dialogue. Periodically, you must make a decision, such as whether to make a run for the hills or stand and fight, and then the game will display a menu of options for you to choose from.

In an unusual feature for a game like this, though, there’s a timer ticking away while you make your choice. If you can’t make up your mind in under a minute, it will randomly select one for you. So instead of carefully weighing which samurai is the cutest, you tend to react instinctively and pick whatever comes to mind first. Not only does the timer add to the drama, it keeps the game moving at a good clip, and you might find yourself making choices and taking paths you wouldn’t normally choose. On the other hand, you might also find yourself facing certain death, so make sure to save often. Of course, even if you forget and find yourself facing the dreaded “game over” screen, there’s a handy “skip” button for fast-forwarding any dialogue that you’ve already seen before. After all, Yo-Jin-Bo is about having fun, and it’s not going to punish you for being wishy-washy about choosing between the fiery redhead and the ferocious blond.

With the relatively small amount of traditional interaction and the heavy emphasis on romance, this definitely isn’t a game that will appeal to everyone, but if you fall into its target demographic of romantics with a sense of humor and broad knowledge of pop culture, you owe it to yourself to try for at least one of the twenty-plus endings. Besides, it also doubles as absolutely great slumber-party fodder. Just decide how you’ll choose between samurai before the popcorn gets knocked over.

Yo-Jin-Bo CDROM Game (Mac/Windows)

Yo-Jin-Bo CDROM Game (Mac/Windows)

See all CD-ROM and DVD-ROM games.

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!


His And Her Circumstance To celebrate the release of our His and Her Circumstances thinpak collection at the end of this month, we've just launched a brand-new His and Her Circumstances site! Be sure to click the "contest" link and fill out the entry form before Friday, December 8 for your chance to win one of two prize packages featuring the His and Her Circumstances CD Soundtracks, Acts 1.0 and 2.0!

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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Vic Annato's Stuf That Cuts: Voltron

Konichiwa minasan. Back on the tracks, and on the attack. You’ve got it tuned to Anime Today’s most action-packed, anime review segment. I’m your host Vic, and this is: The Stuf That Cuts.

For this episode, we’re opening up the vault to check-out a timeless classic. Fully reborn, digitally re-mastered, and comprehensively restored, Voltron – Defender of the Universe – Volume 1: Blue Lion, opens up the cut-up this time around.

It’s the most legendary battle of good and evil for anyone who grew-up in the 80’s. The evil king Zarkon and his army of “Robeasts” threaten to take over the universe, and the officials back on Earth at (Galaxy Garrison) decide to step up. Recruiting a daring and adventurous group of five space explorers, the team journeys into deep space in search of a legendary team of robot lions that when combined together from the ultimate fighting robot: Voltron. Loved by good, and feared by evil – such is that story of this timeless mecha giant.

Originally, the American-dubbed version “Voltron” was actually derived from an earlier Japanese series entitled “Hayakuju o Go Lion”. At the time, the production of the show (Voltron) was assembled of various segments of the “go-lion” episodes. This was decided in order to create a more widely accepted story for American audiences.

During the originally syndicated 1984 run, many (if not all) of the Japanese elements from the show were removed, including: text bubbles, elements of death, and changes in plot design. This decision was made to accommodate broadcast standards of the time, and the DVD extra staff commentary goes on to explain this in clearer detail.

The Voltron series still became an instant success though, thanks to excellent direction and design on behalf of the producers, strong performances from the actors, and an action-packed original soundtrack completely re-written for the American production. This was a winner from day-one, and still remains so.

As for the DVD itself, the audio transfer has been meticulously cared for, and comes through with every action-packed moment. Today’s digital transfer brings a much sharper and cleaner mix of the original 2.1 as well as the theatrical-quality 5.1 surround. Even with both mixes, the presentation comes through crisp and clear with dynamic sound and every last laser blast striking their targets with an appropriate ping and bang.

As for extras, fans and casual viewers alike will find the content very pleasing. In addition to already preserving the commercial transition segments, in the episodes themselves (the part of where the announcer says “Voltron will be right back after these messages” and “now, back to Voltron – Defender of the Universe), collectors of this set are presented with a special look at the original series pilot run (2 separate versions - in fact), staff and producer interviews, a special look at the digital re-mastering of the DVD’s, and the Robot Chicken spoof “You Got Robo-Served”. All in all, it’s an excellent arrangement to bring the series on to DVD.

In our “act factor”, Volume 1 – Blue Lion starts the super-robot off with an energetic jolt. It’s been beautifully preserved, painstakingly restored, and attractively packaged in a limited run – embossed metal tin. Old-skool or new, this is one for every generation. There’s just so much content here and on so many levels, that no matter what your interest in the series – you’ll be left craving for more.

Form blazing sword space-explorers and swing this one up today. On the hilt of our blade, that’s a look at the Stuf That Cuts.

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.

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