Anime Today #43: Interviewing Central Park Media's John O'Donnell!

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Episode run down:

Summer’s finally here and I can’t wait to see all the excitement from the upcoming cons. Right Stuf will be at Expo again this year so if you’re lucky enough to be there, keep an eye out for Shawne’s Right Stuf panel and for Lisa Marie roaming the dealer hall. Rumor has it there will be swag-a-plenty!

This episode, Alison, Rich and Nick will be talking with another industry veteran in the US anime market, John O’Donnell. John is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Central Park Media, which was founded in 1990 during the youthful days of the industry. Listen in as he takes us back to a time when the word “anime” was only known by the few yearning for more than just the Thundercats, the Smurfs and Captain N the Game Master.

Up first is Chad’s rundown of what’s hot in the world of anime and manga with the Uso Deshou mystery plot coming up next.  The shelf-busting Bountiful Bargain Remix sale is in it’s final few days and Shawne’s back with some of the latest Geneon bargains added to this incredible deal.  The lively and action-packed soundtrack featured in this episode is included in the Remix sale and Rich will clue you in on which Geneon show it’s from at the end of this episode.

Next, we’ll start the first part of our interview with John O’Donnell, followed by the winners of Right Stuf’s .Hack//Contest, and we’ll be kicking of a new contest for fans of figurines. Kris and Judy then join us for the Anime and Gamer’s Guide to Japan, and cover a few uniquely Japanese drinks. We then return to our conversation with John, talking about their new Below the Radar label, and upcoming releases from CPM. Lisa’s then going to bring us her review of the Vampire Knight graphic novel. And then we’ll wrap up this episode with the final part of our interview with John, and talk about some of his personal favorites.

John O’Donnell, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Central Park Media

John O’Donnell, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Central Park Media

Central Park Media: http://www.centralparkmedia.com/

CPM Press: http://www.centralparkmedia.com/cpmpress/

What's Hot?

Twenty-two year-old, ex-biker Eikichi Onizuka is rude, is foul-mouthed and has a split-second temper. And this somewhat reformed juvenile delinquent wants to be a teacher! But first, he must face down students who behave just as badly as he once did and an administration that doesn’t trust him. Will the brash and unorthodox methods he perfected during his youth help him make the grade? Or just land him in the unemployment line? Based on the hit manga by Tohru Fujisawa, the anime GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka: The First Semester DVD Box Set arrives on August 7th.

Tetsunosuke and Tatsunosuke are the sons of a diplomat who sought to bring peace and prosperity to Japan during the early years of the Meiji Restoration. But when their parents are murdered before their very eyes, Tetsu seeks to join the Shinsengumi, the unofficial police and guardians of the Emperor and the city of Kyoto. He is taken on as a page, but it is not enough. He wants to become a full-fledged member of the organization, and to do this, he must learn to become a "demon." The Nanae Chrono manga that inspired the Peacemaker anime series kicks off when Peacemaker Graphic Novel 1 streets on August 7th.

Yukito is a traveling performer, and he wanders the land with only the clothes on this back, a puppet and a story he learned from his mother – the story of “The Girl in the Sky.” He doesn’t know who or where she is…only that he must find her. As he searches, he meets a girl who dreams she lives in the sky and another girl who has an odd fascination with the sky. Could either of these young women be THE girl? Does she even exist? Find out when the fan-favorite anime Air makes its North American debut on August 14th.

All Tenma wants (desperately) is to confess her feelings to the boy of her dreams, a quiet, fellow classmate. All Kenji wants (desperately) is to confess his recently realized feelings to his crush, Tenma. However, Tenma’s clueless, Kenji’s the school’s most notorious juvenile delinquent, and NOTHING goes quite the way either of them plan! Get ready to rumble on August 21st when the manic anime comedy School Rumble kicks off with DVD 1 and starter set options!

Saiunkoku is a country with eight powerful houses that are governed by one emperor. However, its newest leader, Ryuki Shi, doesn't care for his new role and is rumored to spend his days chasing after noblemen in his court. Enter Shurei Hong, a princess whose family has fallen upon hard times. Since she is a woman, her dreams of becoming a government official are unattainable, but a twist of fate gives her the chance of a lifetime. If she agrees to become the emperor's consort and turn him into a respectable ruler, she will be greatly rewarded... Discover the Story of Saiunkoku when DVD Vol. 1 arrives, in standard and art box editions, on August 28th.

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!

We’re nearing the end of Spring, and my all out Spring assault on your wallets is nearing its end... Or is it?

One thing that is nearing its end is our Geneon Bountiful Bargain Remix Sale!

June 27th at 11:59PM Central Time is your deadline to select from a our huge list of eligible 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!

Just because some of you may be new, I’m going to repeat the rules for this special sale:

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!

Finally, just a reminder we do have great new product specials this week - box sets at 45-60% off in there, so check it out!

As we come toward the end of the month, it’s con season again! If you happen to be at Anime Expo next week, please visit our panel at 2pm on Saturday - or say hi as Lisa Marie or I walk around the convention, with your chance to say hello for the podcast!

Also, we’ll be premiering The Third in full 5.1 at the show on Sunday! See you there!

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

Right Stuf Contests and Updates

.hack//Roots DVD 1 PLUS art box, soundtrack CD and T-shirtCongratulations to the four lucky winners of our .hack contest: David G of Richardson, Texas; Joanna T of Logan, Utah; Angela P of Miramar, Florida; and Guarin F of Eveleth, Minnesota! Each of you will soon be receiving a gift pack 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!


Full Metal Panic Figure: Kaname & Theresa (6 in.)In our new contest, one lucky anime fan will win two of the “whispered”… A Kaiyodo figure two-pack, imported from Japan and featuring the heroines of Full Metal Panic!, Kaname Chidori and Tessa Testarossa as they could only be sculpted by Mon-sieur Bome!

To enter, and take a sneak peek at the prize, check out our Contests page , under “What’s Hot” at RightStuf.com and get your entry in before July 19th! We’ll be announcing the winners on our July 20th episode of Anime Today!


Gravitation Our current Gravitation giveaway 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 EyeAnd the contest celebrating 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!


The Anime and Gamer's Guide with Kris and Judy

Kids Beer! Kids Beer!
From Sangaria
From Sangaria

Kids Beer!
From Sangaria

Kids Beer!
From Sangaria

The Kurozu Bar at Shinbashi Station (PANA)
The Kurozu Bar at Shinbashi Station (PANA)

From Trends in Japan

Vinegar and soy milk, vinegar and blood orange juice, and a blueberry vinegar shake (Nippon Restaurant Enterprise Co.,Ltd.)
Vinegar and soy milk, vinegar and blood orange juice, and a blueberry vinegar shake


From Trends in Japan

 

Pocari Sweat!
From Otsuka

 

Sangaria Beverage
From Sangaria

Pepsi-Ice-Cucumber Soft Drink!
From Suntory

Final Fantasy Potion!
From Suntory

Drink

Diet Water
From Kao Corporation


From Gokkun

Marie's Manga Review: Vampire Knight

It’s no secret that vampires are big in both Japan and America, but between Alucard, Miyu, Karin, and any number of others, is it really still possible to tell a fresh, thrilling tale with these creatures of the night? You bet it is, as evinced by Matsuri Hino’s latest manga title, Vampire Knight. After working on her love comedy Merupuri, the mangaka wanted to try taking her work in a darker romantic direction, and she’s succeeded.

The plot: Much as its headmaster Cross would like you to think otherwise, private school Cross Academy is no ordinary school. Its student body is divided into two groups: the day class, filled with plenty of your usual human students, and the night class, comprised of – you guessed it – vampires. The headmaster believes that, with a little understanding, vampires and humans can come to co-exist peacefully together, and founded the academy towards that goal. Of course, there’s only so much understanding you can reasonably expect between a natural predator and its prey. Just to make sure no one tempts fate, students Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu serve as the school’s guardians, patrolling the grounds at night and keeping the day class as separate from the night class as possible.

Yuki and Zero were both roped into their guardian positions by dint of being adopted members of Headmaster Cross’ family. Yuki was saved at age five from a vicious vampire attack by another vampire, Kaname Kuran. When the young Kaname realized Yuki had lost her memory due to the attack, he took her to Cross and she became his adopted daughter. Devoted to her savior, Yuki believes in pacifism between the species. In contrast, Zero thinks the only good vampire is a dead one, and for good reason. Four years ago, his family was murdered by the blood suckers and as the only survivor, he too was taken in by Cross. Now all three are in high school, with Yuki and Zero in Cross Academy’s day class and Kaname in the night. Zero and Kaname have come to an uneasy truce, but both harbor unspoken affections for Yuki and it’s not long before the love triangle finds itself complicated by vampire politics, dark secrets, and even bloodlust.

What strikes me most about Vampire Knight is just how professional the whole production feels, and it’s definitely a carefully crafted and polished work of genre fiction; the sort where if you like the genre, you’ll eat it right up, and if you don’t, you’ll simply move on to the next book on the shelf. Genre fiction’s my thing, so I, of course, loved it. From the plot to the school design to the character development, everything is thought out. There’s something inherently impressive about an author who knows her craft so well that she can grab you from page one and never let go. On the way, she introduces characters that are at once new and interesting, but still just familiar enough to what’s gone before that you can easily grasp the story and character relationships. That’s not to say it’s all predictable by any means, but the reader won’t get lost in a maze of confusing subplots. Think of Vampire Knight as brain candy. Sweet, delicious brain candy.

As a seasoned pro, one of Matsuri Hino’s best strengths is her ability to pace. Even in just the first volume, which is often reserved for introductions and maybe a first battle or kiss in other manga, she throws down startling reveals, plot twists, and tons of development on characters. If anyone who didn’t know what they were doing tried this, the result pretty but nonsensical without outside knowledge. That’s definitely not the case here.

The art is beautiful, drawn in sort of a darkly languid style that mimics the vampires themselves: cool and calm power hiding a tightly wound ball of bloodlust just waiting to strike during the next plot reveal. But the author doesn’t forget her comedy roots, and in-between the dark chapters are bits of chibi filler sketches, usually just in time to give the audience a bit of a break after an intense arc has wound down. And yes, the characters are pretty much all bishounen and bishojo, but hey, they’re also mostly vampires. Seductive appearances are a time-honored tradition in this sort of story, not to mention appropriate. When not part of a crazed feeding intended to drain the victim dry, sucking blood often been synonymous with a forbidden expression of lust and love, and Matsuri Hino certainly hasn’t neglected that interpretation.

I can say without hesitation Vampire Knight is one of the best new shojo series I’ve read this year. Between the plot, characters, and art, not to mention an excellent translation from Viz, there’s almost nothing to complain about unless you happen to not really like vampires, dark romance, and gothic settings. Along with the regular manga volumes, you can find Vampire Knight currently running in Shojo Beat, perfect for your summer reading pile.

Mushishi DVD 1 (Hyb) + Artbox

This episode features music from: