Anime Today #39: interviewing Mr. Tatsunori Konno, Bandai Visual USA's President!

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Episode run down:

Last episode, we mentioned our exclusive interview with Mr. Tatsunori Konno, the president of Bandai Visual USA. This episode, we’ll be presenting the full half hour interview in three parts giving Mr. Konno an opportunity to discuss in depth their current marketing strategy.

And if you haven’t guessed yet, we let the legendary Ran Kotobuki pick the music for this episode. When she’s not shopping in Shibuya, everyone’s favorite SuperGAL loves to Para Para. Keep listening and you may just hear one of your favorite anime themes remixed and ready to dance to in Geneon’s CD release of Para Para Max US Mix 2.

First up is Chad with What’s Hot in the world of anime and manga with a new Uso Deshou mystery plot testing your anime knowledge coming up next. Our “Set Your Sights on Savings” ADV sale will be wrapping up soon and Shawne’s back with a few last minute suggestions. Then listen to part one of our exclusive interview where Mr. Konno tells Alison, Rich and Nick about Bandai Visual USA and their current marketing strategy.

We’re launching our Fukubukuro Fun! contest this episode, and Nick and Rich will be giving you all the details, along with the winners of our Shingu contest. Kris and Judy will be talking to us about the rainy season in Japan, and some new high tech options for umbrellas in the Anime and Gamers Guide. Mr. Konno returns for the second part of our interview, where we talk about who their target audience is, how they receive feedback from the fans, and how they will distinguish their releases from others in the US. Marie’s bringing us her review of Apothecarius Argentum in this episode, and then Judy-sensei will return with Japanese for a rainy day. In the final part of Mr. Konno’s interview, we’ll be talking about next generation video formats, if they’ll be including existing dubs on their releases, and if there will be feature-only versions of their titles. And finally, we’ll bring you an assortment of reviews that our customers have posted to RightStuf.com.

Mr. Tatsunori Konno, president of Bandai Visual USA

Mr. Tatsunori Konno, president of Bandai Visual USA

Bandai Visual USA: http://www.bandaivisual.us/
Contact Bandai Visual USA: https://www.bandaivisual.co.jp/usa/
Message from President: http://www.bandaivisual.us/president.html

What's Hot?

Forty years ago, Paradigm’s residents mysteriously lost their memories, but humanity continues to survive. Roger Smith is a master Negotiator, hired to solve disputes between parties, but he has an ace up his sleeve… a rather big ace: a giant robot called the Big O, a wondrous piece of technology from before the age of amnesia. As fragments of memories begin to appear, they are often accompanied by trouble. Big O comes in handy for subduing such dangers, but does it serve some greater purpose? Delve into the mysteries of Paradigm City with Roger, the unusual Dorothy R. Wayneright and Norman, his loyal butler, when the Anime Legends’ Big O Complete DVD Collection, with all 13 episodes of the series’ first season, streets on June 5th.

The stench of gunpowder fills the halls as the Gekko State’s crew attempts to fend off the assault of skilled mercenaries who are determined to capture Eureka (El-recka). The truth about Eureka and Holland’s shared past is revealed. And Dominic pays a visit to Renton’s hometown in a covert mission to collect intelligence about the pilot of the Type Zero LFO! The second half of Eureka Seven literally kicks off with a bang on June 5th when DVD Volume 7 is released in both a regular edition and a special edition with artbox, T-shirt, soundtrack and manga!

Hibiki needs a job! And to avoid being shot by his landlady, he starts teaching at a local high school, but there’s a hitch: This particular high school only accepts female teachers! Sometimes the best woman for the job is… a man?! Find out how far he’ll go to achieve his goal and (secretly) buck the school’s strict traditions when the fan favorite I Me My Strawberry Eggs is released in a Complete Collection set on June 5th!

An unusual new breed of vampire terrorizes England: The attacks are increasing at an alarming rate, and moreover, they seem to be organized, which makes the situation more ominous and more difficult than ever to conceal from the public. While Sir Integra reports her findings to the members of the Round Table, the Hellsing mansion gets blitzed by an army of ghouls led by the Valentine bothers, a vicious duo who claim to possess the vampiric powers of Alucard… and then some! Find out what happens next when Hellsing Ultimate DVD 2 is released on June 12th in a regular edition and a limited edition with a SteelBook case, an extras disc and a North American-exclusive art book!

Yamato moved to Tokyo expecting a new school and a new start. He didn’t expect to fall in love at first sight… Suzuka, the object of his affection, is both a star athlete and the most popular girl at his new school. Emotions run high and the competition for her attention is fierce when the anime based on Kouji Seo’s manga Suzuka makes its North American debut on June 12th, in both regular and “starter set” editions!

And the wacky adventures of the Angel Brigade continue, as they spread mayhem and mischief across the galaxy… all while protecting the Lost Technology! Milfeulle, Forte, Ranpha, Mint and Vanilla are back for Galaxy Angel AA, Vol. 1 on June 19th. As a special treat – while supplies last – customers pre-ordering Galaxy Angel AA, DVD 1 through RightStuf.com will also receive a free copy of the Galaxy Angel DVD 1 “What’s Cooking” limited edition!

Save 25% or more on these titles 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.

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

Shawne's Specials and Set Your Sights on Savings Sale!

Shawne's Specials and Set Your Sights on Savings Sale!

My onslaught of savings continues, as all this week we’ve been having a great sale. If you haven’t heard about it, I’ll tell you about it now!

At RightStuf.com you can always set your sights on great savings, and through Sunday you'll find deals on DVDs, CDs and books from ADV Films! From fan faves like Full Metal Panic! and Nerima Daikon Brothers to the newest series such as Coyote Ragtime Show, Guyver, Kurau: Phantom Memory, Le Chevalier D'Eon and Utawarerumono.

Through April 29, take 40% OFF the retail price of DVDs and 33% OFF the retail price of CDs and books from ADV Films. (This includes pre-orders!) Just use the reusable coupon code sights when you check out through RightStuf.com. As always, if you're a Got Anime member, you can stack your discounts for even more savings! (This means you have the potential to save up to 46% OFF on DVDs and up to 40% on CDs and books! Check out www.gotanime.com for details.)

Click on the "ADV Savings" graphic on the upper right hand corner of our main page to see all ADV items! (Please note, however, that Bargain bin, weekly special and closeout items are not eligible for the coupon because they're already awesome deals.)

And, in the specials this week, we still have our amazing Urusei Yatsura deal! 5 DVD bundles of this entire classic series for only $99.99 each. Plus, bundles of the Movies and OVAs, too! And returning bundles of You’re Under Arrest TV and Read or Die TV. Several great box set deals, and a cool Fullmetal Alchemist pocket watch. Check the specials out today at www.rightstuf.com/specials!

This weekend should be a busy one for me, as I continue to prep my massive attack against wallets everywhere. Monday starts a new week - will it be a sneak attack, or just a flanking manueuver, as I prepare for the next wave? You’ll have to check the site out on April 30 to see!

Now, you might also want to check out the weekly specials - there are some great deals in there, includng some bundles I wanted to mention that you might want to grab!

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

Right Stuf Contests and Updates

Gravitation If you’ve been looking for a fun way to tote around your gear – and you’re a fan of Gravitation -- you may be in luck: We’re giving away three Gravitation bags featuring “Suitcase Shuichi”! Stop by gravitation.rightstuf.com and click on the contest link for your chance to win. Just be sure to get your entry in soon. The winners will be announced on the next Anime Today podcast.

This past week, the thinpak for Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars landed at RightStuf.com – and retailers nears you – and we’re excited to announce the winners of the contest celebrating both the series’ re-release and the re-launch of the series site at shingu.rightstuf.com! A stellar congratulations goes out to Edward S. of Austin Texas! You just won the entire Shingu saga on DVD, along with the exclusive first-run artbox and t-shirt! Also, congrats go out to our contest runners-up, who each will also receive a Shingu t-shirt: Sapphira W. of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, Jon M. of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Matthew R. of St. Clair, Michigan, Cory W. of San Diego, California, and Steven J. of St. Louis, Missouri.

This contest may be over, but be sure to stop by official Shingu forum on AnimeOnDVD.com: Tell us why you like and recommend Shingu, and you may be eligible for a Shingu-inspired treat!

Fukubukuro Fun Contest

Get ready for “Fukubukuro Fun!” Remember a few episodes back when Kris and Judy talked about the grab bags of random goodies? Well, for this new contest, we’re putting together our own grab bags of anime swag:
- Four runners up will receive the Mahoromatic Summer Special CD/DVD set.
- Four more runners up will get the Paranoia Agent Original Soundtrack CD.
- And 3 “grand prize” winners will receive the Mahoromatic Summer Special CD/DVD set, plus Samurai 7 storyboards AND the Tenjho Tenge Soundtrack CD!

To enter, check out our Contests page , under “What’s Hot” at RightStuf.com and get your entry in before May 24th! We’ll be announcing the winners on our May 25th episode of Anime Today!

The Anime and Gamer's Guide with Kris and Judy

Pileus: The Internet Umbrella
http://www.pileus.net/

Pileus: The Internet Umbrella
http://ubicomp.org/ubicomp2006/conference_program/demos/
(#11 under demos)

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Pileus: The Internet Umbrella

Demonstration at San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery. (04/20/07 - 06/16/07) Pileus is now demonstrated in the "Breakthrough" exhibition at San Francisco Arts Commissions Gallery. A Prototype (Flickr-only version) is set at the exhibition. See San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery's website for more detail.
http://www.sfacgallery.org/

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Dragon Ball Z: Season 2 Uncut DVD Set

Marie's DVD Review: Apothecarius Argentum

It seems like every time I turn around CMX is putting out another book I’ve never heard of but the summary on the back makes me pick it up anyway. Of course, upon reading it, the series quickly becomes another one of my favorites and I can’t understand why more people aren’t talking about it. That’s why today’s review focuses on CMX’s latest entry in this category of obscure-but-excellent, the shojo drama Apothecarius Argentum.

Once upon a time, there was a young child princess named Primula who had a great number of enemies, some of whom went so far as to try poisoning as a means of getting rid her. In response, her father personally bought a young slave named Argent to be her food taster. Keeping the innocent princess ignorant of his dark background, Argent was introduced to Primula simply as her new dinner companion, and she was happy to finally have someone her own age to talk to. At least, she was happy until Argent fell ill from a poison intended for her. Shocked to discover his true purpose and status, Primula secretly helped him escape from the castle.

In his absence, Primula refused to have another food taster and vowed to become strong enough not to need a constant bodygaurd. While there wasn’t much she could do about future potential poisoning attempts, she could work on other defenses, such as dedicating herself to her fencing lessons. The years pass, and it’s not until she falls mysteriously ill that she once again sees Argent, who is now working as a healer and apothecary on the outskirts of town. After he discovers the cause of her illness and heals her, Primula suddenly demands that he be made the Royal Apothecary – which comes as complete shock to a) her royal advisors, b) the entire town, and c) Argent, himself.

Unfortunately for the objectors, the only one who can countermand the order is the king, and he already seems to have a use in mind for the former slave. It turns out that when he initially bought him, the king was informed of Argent’s other major talent: assassination. Born and bred to be a killer, not only is Argent deadly with any weapon you can name, but his blood was turned to poison from deliberate and constant exposure to toxins. And after years of experimenting with chemicals in search of medical cures, the poisons have increased to the point that even his lightest touch has become a deadly venom. The king figures this will come in handy when assassinating rival rulers and, as a bonus, it will put a damper on any relationship blooming between Argent and Primula. Not that the latter will work, naturally.

Based entirely on the cover and the back of the book, I picked up Apothecarius Argentum expecting a pleasantly fluffy story about a princess and her suitor, and it delivered – for about ten pages. From then on, I was surprised to discover that basic romantic story overlaid with a gripping tale full of intrigue and daring escapades, with a touch of medical drama on the side and plenty of angst lying just below the surface.

In fact, while Apothecarius Argentum is undeniably shojo due to its primary romantic relationship and focus on character, when it comes to the actual plot, the series more closely resembles titles like Fullmetal Alchemist and Scrapped Princess rather than Sailor Moon. The story twists and turns as assassination attempts are made, sinister character motivations are revealed, and Argent destroys walls with his own blood. It’s all pretty cool, really.

But for all the explosions and political intrigue, manga-ka Tomomi Yamashita never lets the action obscure the character development. She deftly weaves her multiple plot threads together and colors each one with its own emotional stripe. Angst permeates the scenes when Argent contemplates his illicit affections for the princess. Idealistic beliefs clash with growing horror as Primula uncovers the dark secrets of her childhood friend. A sense or foreboding accompanies every action of the calculating king. Each emotionally charged atmosphere clashes with the others, and it’s a contest to see which feeling will win out, or who will change most as the story continues down its path of potential woe.

Not that the whole manga is gloomy, mind you. Everything is illustrated with Tomomi Yamashita’s light touch, bringing a sense that nothing bad could ever happen to the characters – until, of course, it does. And she doesn’t forget to mix a bit of comedy in either – there’s nothing like a good misunderstanding or a well-placed cheeky insult to keep everything from getting too intense. Even her romance, with its lovers forbidden to touch, somehow avoids the eternal strife, of, say, X-Men’s Rouge and Gambit. Rather than despair over their troubles, Argent and Primula are much more likely to actually do something about them.

Apothecarius Argentum isn’t quite the full something-for-everyone package – it’s missing a moe character and a robot, for one – but it’s about as close as you can get and still stay within a single genre. I highly recommend it to all shojo fans, and it’s definitely worth a look for fans of action and adventure as well. It’s rare that I see a title that so well balances the complications of even non-poisonous relationships with intrigue and action, but Apothecarius Argentum not only pulls it off, but makes it look effortless in the process.

Mini Japanese 101 with Judy-sensei!

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