Anime Today #42: Talking Shoujo Manga with SHOJO BEAT's Marc Weidenbaum & Megan Bates!

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Episode run down:

First up this time, is Chad with What’s Hot in the World of Anime and Manga, followed by an Uso Deshou mystery plot. This month, we have a ton of Geneon releases on sale for as little as $4 each, and Shawne’s going to bring you a few of his favorite picks. Shojo Beat is celebrating their second anniversary, and we recently talked to their Editor-in-Chief Marc Weidenbaum, and their Senior Editor Megan Bates, and we’ll be bring you the first part of that interview next.

Rich and Nick will then be back with the seven lucky winners in our Gravitation keychain giveaway plus we’re kicking off a new contest for the newly launched series site for The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye. Judy-sensei joins us for another quick mini Japanese 101 lesson and then listen in as Kris and Judy discuss the English casting process for The Third. Lisa reviews the josei manga hit Nodame Cantabile and then we wrap up our interview with Mark and Megan from Shojo Beat. Finally, we’ve got a few more reviews from RightStuf.com customers.

 

Shojo Beat Editor in Chief, Marc Weidenbaum, and Senior Editor, Megan Bates!

Shojo Beat Editor in Chief, Marc Weidenbaum, and Senior Editor, Megan Bates!

http://www.shojobeat.com

http://www.myspace.com/shojobeat

What's Hot?

Hulking cyborg-counterterrorist Batou doesn't have a family, and his electronic brain never dreams. So why did he dream the other night…and dream that he has a son? At one time, he had a human love for his partner, the legendary Major, before he witnessed her transfiguration into something beyond humanity. Now Batou has only his job and his beloved basset hound. But following a “near-death” experience, he returns home to find his dog has gone missing… perhaps to go looking for her owner's lost soul? Written by Masaki Yamada, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, After the Long Goodbye, the prequel novel to the second Ghost in the Shell film, will be available on July 17th.

They possess the powers of a lost era, serving as the peacekeepers and protectors of the numerous kingdoms on the planet Earl. They are the Otome. And for Arika, the dream of becoming a Meister Otome has brought her through the desert to the prestigious Garderobe Academy. However, gaining admittance won't be as easy as she thinks. Not only will she find herself rescuing the soon-to-be-Queen, fending off a giant mechanized warrior, and discovering her latent powers, she'll also have to win a battle against an established Otome just to be admitted! And even if she makes it in, how is she going to pay those school fees? My-Otome, the sequel to the popular My-HiME series, makes its DVD debut, with regular and special editions, on July 17th.

Meet Lina Inverse, a spunky sorceress with a penchant for fire who enjoys nothing more than “liberating” the unearned from those less deserving. Teamed up with Gourry, a dashing swordsman of unrivaled skill (and stupidity), they must take on the forces of the demon lord in their quest to save the world… and hopefully, gain fame and fortune in the process! The fan-favorite anime Slayers makes its return on July 17th with a DVD box set featuring all 26 episodes of the first season in one package!

Shizuka is an introverted girl dealing with schoolwork, boys, and a medical condition that is beginning to turn her invisible! She finds support in Mamoru, a boy who is falling for her despite her condition, and in Keiko, a fellow sufferer of the same illness who has already become completely invisible. Is it possible for Shizuka to have something resembling a normal life? What will become of her friendship-turned-budding romance? Find out when Translucent, Graphic Novel 1 makes its debut on July 25th.

Neither good nor evil, they are life in its purest form. Vulgar and strange, they have inspired fear in humans since the dawn of time and have, over the ages, come to be known as "mushi." The stories of the Mushi and the people they affect are all linked together by a traveling Mushi-shi, or "Mushi Master.” He is an individual who seeks rare Mushi sightings and uses his shaman-like knowledge to help the affected people. What are the Mushi and what do they want? Start uncovering the mystery when Mushishi DVD 1 streets on July 31st in regular and “starter set” versions.

As a tall girl, Michiko has never fit in... and the only thing that matches her height is her self-consciousness about it. However, while delivering pizzas at a fashion show, she is mistaken for a model and thrust on stage. Afterward, the show's designer challenges her: She can’t walk the catwalk because she doesn't know her true self. From that moment, Michiko is determined to find her place in the world as a model -- and as a young woman. Can she find the inner strength to undergo a spectacular transformation? The josei manga series Walkin’ Butterfly makes its debut on July 31st.

In a devastated world overrun by monstrous bugs and ravaged by outlaws, there's only one person to call when you really need a job done right: Honoka. With a sixth sense for danger, sword skills that are second to none, and a smart-aleck A.I. tank by the name of Bogie, she's ready to tackle any job and solve any problem for her clients. But while crossing the desert one night, she finds a young man alone in the wasteland. It's the first step of a journey that will challenge even Honoka's amazing skills to their very limit! Discover the anime based one of Japan’s long-running novel series when The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye makes its North American debut on July 31st!

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 Geneon Bountiful Remix Sale!

Shawne's Specials and Geneon Bountiful Remix Sale!

The Dark Lord wants you to have lots of Anime Goodness - and at a great price to beat! So, we're mixing in some new stuff along with the old and bringing you the bountiful savings!

From now until June 27th, from a select list of Geneon DVDs, CDs and UMDs, you can get 10 for $50 OR 25 for $100!

Choose the deal that's best for you:

Get 10 Geneon titles for $50 ( Use coupon code remix10 ); OR
Get 25 Geneon titles for $100 ( Use coupon code remix25 )

Be sure to act fast, and check back frequently: Most of the items are "while supplies last," so pay particular attention to the counters you'll find on the item pages. (When they're gone, they might stay gone. Please note that some inventory may be in transit, so as long as you get your order in with the counter, you should be okay!)

Remember: BOTH offers will net you FREE economy shipping to U.S. and Canadian destinations!

In addition to our standard restrictions, this special event has a couple other rules to note:

You cannot have duplicate items or multiple quantities of any single item in your cart. (This way no one customer can load up on all of the available inventory of a specific item. Fair for all and more savings to go around!)

To use these coupons, you cannot have any other items in your cart aside from items that qualify for the sale, PLUS you must have the exact number of items for the coupon you plan to use. (In other words: If you're looking to purchase some other regularly priced or preorder items in addition to your "Bountiful" coupon selections, you'll need to place a separate order. However, here is a hint for bargain shoppers - the system will ignore anything on the order for coupon calculations that has "not eligible for additional discounts" listed - like weekly special items and bargain bin items. So you can add these items to your bountiful order and save on shipping if you'd like!)

If you're not sure which products are included in the sale, just click on the "Bountiful REMIX" graphic on the upper right hand corner of our main page: It will take you to a thorough rundown of what's fair game! Also, we've made things simpler in the ordering process this time. From the search results, you can place items directly into your cart - and from the cart, you can return directly to the search results, letting you more quickly assemble your order!

Of course, we also have some great items in our weekly specials. Great box set deals on Azumanga Daioh, Burn Up Excess, Dragon Ball Z, Eden’s Bowy, El Hazard, Excel Saga, Gantz, Kodocha, Lupin the 3rd, Maison Ikkoku, Naruto, Ninja Scroll, Noir, Otogi Zoshi, Rurouni Kenshin, Zone of the Enders and much much more!

I received a really nice e-mail the other day from a customer letting me know that they were able to build quite an anime selection for themselves and their friends over the last year due to deals we made available on the site. There’s nothing I like better than happy customers - well, except for maybe empty wallets - and the year isn’t even half over yet, so it’s time to return to the lair to plan out what the summer might bring.

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

.hack//Roots DVD 1 PLUS art box, soundtrack CD and T-shirt Get ready to discover the virtual adventure of “The World” with our next big contest: Four lucky winners will each receive a gift package that includes .hack//Roots DVD 1 PLUS art box, soundtrack CD and T-shirt AND the .hack//GU, Vol. 2: Reminisce PlayStation 2 Video game, courtesy of Bandai Entertainment!

To enter, check out our Contests page , under “What’s Hot” at RightStuf.com and get your entry in before June 21! We’ll be announcing the winners on our June 22nd episode of Anime Today!


Gravitation Congratulations to the seven lucky winners of Gravitation Bad Luck keychain giveaway: Autumn N of Walla Walla, Washington; Jean B of Racine, Wisconsin; Tracey C of Lebanon, Illinois; Jeanine P of Las Vegas, Nevada; Debbie W of Verden, OK; Karen R of Lancaster, California; and Andrew G of Reminderville, Ohio.
Our next Gravitation giveaway is a contest that will bestow randomly selected Gravitation goodies upon 10 lucky fans! What’s up for grabs? Just in time to help you accessorize for summer, we have 6 “Suitcase Shuichi patches, 2 sets of pins featuring “Suitcase Shuichi” and “Kumagoro,” and 2 “Shuichiwristbands! This is one case where a little Bad Luck is a good thing: Get on over to gravitation.rightstuf.com and click on the contest link for your chance to win before July 5th!


The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye And finally, to kick of the launch of our official site for The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye, we’re giving away (2) $25 gift certificates to RightStuf.com and (4) $10 gift certificates to RightStuf.com! Go to thethirdanime.com to enter, and while you’re there, be sure to check out the trailer, downloads, audio and video clips and more!


Mini Japanese 101 with Judy-sensei!

Beck DVD 1 (Hyb) + Artbox

Nozomi Entertainment

The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye

Check out the newly launched website for The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye! www.thethirdanime.com

Marie's DVD Review: Nodame Cantabile

While yaoi is grabbing the headlines and Shonen Jump properties are eating up the sales charts, there’re still several genres in Japan that haven’t made in into the US in large numbers yet. One that’s just starting to make a dent – and that I hope to soon see more of – is josei, manga aimed at women college age and up. Written for people who’ve learned that, sadly, life isn’t always full of magical girls and bishounen, the genre focuses on more realistic looks at love and life. And if you can fit in a spicy scene or a lowbrow joke or two on top, well, that’s all the better. This is manga for the big girls.

So which titles are in this genre? Josei includes titles like Nana, Honey and Clover, and the subject of today’s review, the popular Nodame Cantabile. As the title implies, Nodame is josei with a musical bent. Manga-ka Tomoko Ninomiya has mined deep into heart of the musical world and returned with treasure troves of drama, comedy, and character. If you’ve ever played an instrument, you’ll find a startling amount of realism and maybe even a few memories.

The story focuses on Shinichi Chiaki, the arrogant piano student and star pupil at the Momogaoka Music Univeristy. But despite his ability, he’s not happy, and it’s showing in his playing. The reason? What he really wants to do is conduct. Unfortunately for him, Chiaki’s dream is to study under the famous German conductor Sebastino Viera, whom he met as a child while living in Germany. Why unfortunately? Because ever since an emergency landing on the flight back to Japan, Chiaki has been deathly afraid of flying or even being on a boat. Leaving the island country is completely out of the question. Worse, another student at Momogaoka has been chosen to study conducting in Europe while Chiaki’s still battling things out with his piano instructor, and to cap his day off, his ex-girlfriend shows up to tell him he’s a loser.

In response, Chiaki hits the bar and gets himself dead drunk and slowly makes his way home, only to pass out before quite making it there. The only upside to his day is when fellow student Megumi Noda finds him outside her apartment door and lets him in to sleep it off. The next morning, Chiaki awakens to the sound of a beautiful sonata, and he learns two things: one, that Noda – “Nodame” to her friends – is an amazing piano player, if one with difficulties reading musical scores, and two, that she’s such a slob that even her piano and bed have disappeared under mounds of trash.

Disgusted by the garbage dump serving as an apartment, Chiaki storms out - only to discover that she’s his next-door neighbor, and once Nodame decides she likes someone, they don’t escape. Try as he might to lose her, she keeps insisting on doing things like hanging on his arm on campus or inviting herself over for dinner. Unable to shake her off - and unable to stand the stench emaninating from her apartment - Chiaki finds himself cleaning her place, cooking her meals, and vainly trying to teach her how read music. He complains all the while, but he’s also slowly becoming more and more fond of this strange girl who’s invaded his life. And just maybe, Nodame herself can help Chiaki achieve his dream of conducting… If she doesn’t accidentally kill him first.

For a manga all about high-strung musicians in a competitive environment, its no surprise drama crops up in every arc. It may not be true of all artists, but in my experience, there’s nothing creative people like more than drama; and the more melodramatic, the better. I’m pleased to report that Tomoko Ninomiya has faithfully reproduced this part of the artistic world in spectacular page-turning fashion.

But what is a wonder is that Nodame Cantabile isn’t drama just for the sake of drama. With few exceptions, the drama comes from within the characters and their interactions, not random plot contrivances. A clash between the messy Nodame and the orderly Chiaki doesn’t need outside help to stand on its own, and Chiaki is perfectly capable of building up simmering anger towards his instructors and fellow classmates on his own without a helping external tragedy. In case you couldn’t tell, character drama is my favorite kind of drama because there’s no need to see wonder how everyone will react to the latest story bomb dropped; they are the story bomb.

Speaking of the characters, it’s actually hard to talk about them in the abstract. They feel just like people I met back in band and college, so I keep getting distracted trying to match up which of my friends is the flamboyant timpani player and who’s the terrible-but-cute violinist. No matter how over the top any given character might get, they’re always amazingly organic. Another note I feel Tomoko Ninomiya hits just right is the camaraderie between musicians who play together, whether in a band or just a pick-up group, and the rivalries between groups and sections. It doesn’t matter who you are and whether or not you can stand the guy playing trumpet next to you; when you’re playing, it’s you guys and the music. Afterwards, of course, you can still get into as many fights as you like about who was flat and who was behind the beat.

Getting back to the josei categorization, you’ll see its target demographic reflected in Nodame’s treatment of sex, alcohol, and any other “adult” category you can name. Nodame’s characters can and will sleep with romantic partners they have no intention of marrying, they deliberately get drunk, and they worry about the bills. They’re not perfect characters nor idealistic ones, but they’re definitely easy to relate to.

Nodame Cantabile is a refreshing reminder of the sheer variety that manga has to offer, and a heck of a good read besides. Much as I love my copies of Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura, it’s nice to find a romance story written with a bit more grown-up audience in mind, and the musical themes are a nice change of pace from the usual manga and anime plot lines. Del Ray has done its usual excellent translation job, complete with notes, and if drama’s your thing, you’ve got no excuse not to check out the series.

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