Anime Today #45: Talking ASTRO BOY & Tezuka With Writer & Manga Historian Frederik L. Schodt!

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Episode run down:

Right Stuf shot into the domestic anime market with our release of the seminal Japanese anime Astro Boy. Can you believe that was 20 years ago? To help us reflect on this amazing series, and the genius behind it, we were lucky enough to talk with Frederik Schodt, whose most recent book, The Astro Boy Essays, will be available this September. To hear this interview and much more, keep listening to episode 45 of Anime Today!

Chad’s back with his list of “What’s Hot” in the world of anime and manga followed by a new Uso Deshou mystery plot. Shawne’s kicking of his latest Manga Entertainment sale with a vengeance and then Alison, Shawne and Nick begin the first of three parts of our Astro Boy discussion with Mr. Schodt.

Nick and Rich return with the winner of the Full Metal Panic! Figure Contest and kick off a new contest courtesy of Bandai Visual. Lisa Marie’s back in the studio with her review of the shonen hit Kekkaishi, and then listen in on the second part of Mr. Schodt’s interview. Judy-sensei is also back in the studio with her lastest Mini-Japanese lesson followed by a few customer reviews from our online store. Wrapping up this episode is the third part of Mr. Schodt’s interview.

 

Frederik Schodt

Frederik Schodt
Photo © Fiammetta Hsu, 2007

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederik_Schodt

Mr. Schodt’s web site: http://www.jai2.com/

What's Hot?

Naruto and his team are sent on a mission to guard Yukie Fujikaze, an A list actress starring in the soon-to-be hit movie, “The Adventures of Princess Gale.” To shoot the last scenes, they will have to trudge their way to the Land of Snow, but there are complications ahead: Yukie refuses to go and escapes from the set. Plus, unbeknownst to them, there are three rogue Snow Ninja preparing to strike at the Leaf Village team. The Snow Ninja will force Yukie to make a crucial decision and face her past….Will she return to the set of her film? Will Naruto be able to defeat the Ninja and bring Yukie back to safety? Find out when Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow premieres on September 4th.

Although SOS Brigade is supposed to be taking a time out during exam season, the club continues to meet, but this time they have a purpose: The computer club’s president is missing, and his girlfriend has asked for their help finding him! Plus, the Brigade members will finally receive an overdue break when Haruhi drags them to an island villa owned by Itsuki’s relatives. They soon find themselves trapped in the middle of a freak storm with a murderer on the loose. Could this all be Haruhi’s wish? She wouldn’t want anyone to die… right? Find out when The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya DVD 3 is released on September 4th in both a regular edition and a special edition packed with swag and a bonus DVD that features the next set of episodes in broadcast order!

As children, Edward and Alphonse used the clandestine science of alchemy to attempt the unthinkable – the resurrection of their deceased mother. They failed, and in the process, unleashed an alchemic reaction that ripped their bodies apart. Four years later, they embark on a search for a stone that is rumored to amplify alchemic power. It appears they may have found it in a strangely prosperous desert village, but is what they discover truly as miraculous as it first seems? Join the Elric brothers on their quest when Fullmetal Alchemist DVD Box Set 1 is released on September 18th.

In a world where terror grips the land and innocents have zero solace from violence and brutality, one girl walks the line between life and death to deliver her own special brand of…Ramen? Miki works at her parent’s ramen shop, making deliveries, waiting tables, and attracting customers with cute, girlish charm. But things aren’t as easy for her as you might expect: She can’t manage to complete even the simplest tasks without unleashing the relentless destruction of her bone-crunching martial arts moves. Can she get through the day without messing up and angering her Mom, who makes her look like a gentle kitten by comparison? Prepare for a super-sized serving of mayhem when Ramen Fighter Miki DVD 1 debuts on September 18th.

Three women. Three terrifying additions to the Ring universe that inspired hit movies on both sides of the Pacific! Sadako, an aspiring actress, is the object of every man’s affection, including her director, but there is only one actor who holds her interest… Thirty years after the events of the Ring, Mai visits the home of her deceased lover’s family only to find the missing pages of his soon-to-be published article, along with a curious videotape and a horrific fate. And Reiko, despondent over the disappearance of her unborn child’s father searches for answers and is led to the Loop project. Is this where she will discover the final truths of the Ring Virus? Find out in when Koji Suzuki’s novel Birthday streets on September 4th.

Jindai High School was a relatively ordinary place…right up until a new student transferred there. Sousuke seems to be a total nut, constantly wreaking havoc on the student body and getting into a world of trouble with the teachers. But there’s more to him than meets the eye: Sousuke is not just a hell-raiser but a member of an elite military unit, and his undercover mission is to protect his classmate, Kaname Chidori, from the KGB. Will Sousuke blow his cover? Or will high school -- and Kaname’s temper -- prove to be this mercenary’s undoing? Discover the novel series by Shouji Gatou that inspired THREE hit anime series and TWO hit manga when Full Metal Panic! Novel 1 debuts on September 11th.

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 Savings With a Vengeance Sale!

Shawne's Specials and Savings With a Vengeance Sale!

20 years. Can you believe that as of July 31, The Right Stuf will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary? The Dark Lord is starting to worry about male pattern baldness and signs of grey, but that shouldn’t keep you from saving big on Anime. It’s never been a better time to be an anime fan, and this week’s sale is another great chance to scoop up some savings on new and classic anime at big savings for you!

Are you looking for sci-fi, action and thrills that are sure to get your blood pumping and heart racing? Forget the theater -- get ready for "savings with a vengeance" on hot titles from Manga Entertainment!

From now until July 29, take 50% OFF the retail price of DVDs and UMDs from Manga Entertainment, including all preorders!

If you’re a member of our awesome Got Anime Purchasing Club, you can stack your discounts for even more savings! Check out GotAnime.com for details.

If you’re not sure which items are "Manga Entertainment Items" - you can click on the "Savings With a Vengeance" banner on our main page - this will take you to a quick list of all of Manga’s items that are eligible for this sale!

Bargain bin, weekly special and closeout items are not eligible for the coupon because they’re already awesome deals – and this will be noted on the individual product pages for these items!)

Just another brief mention that for those of you who missed out on our Remix savings, I've stocked the Bargain Bin with some of the leftover inventory at very reasonable prices. If you weren't able to come up with 10 or 25, but just wanted a couple of titles, this is a great way to grab some great anime without too much wallet damage.

Well.. I’m back to the lair now to put together the rest of my 2007 wallet draining campaign.. There is much planning to do to maximize the savings.. You don’t think this stuff just creates itself do you?

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

Right Stuf Contests and Updates

Gunbuster 2 DVD 2 (S) Interested in taking a Buster for a test drive? Well, with this new contest, you may just get that chance! This time, two lucky winners will each receive a copy of Gunbuster 2, DVD 1 -- the new release from Bandai Visual that follows the adventures of Nono, who travels to the big city to pursue her dream of becoming a space pilot and discovers she has a talent for fighting aliens!This contest is a quick one. (It’s only lasting two weeks!) So check out our Contests page, under “What’s Hot” at RightStuf.com and get your entry in before August 3rd! We’ll be announcing the winners on the NEXT episode of Anime Today!


The Third: The Girl With the Blue EyeAnd the contest celebrating our release of The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye is still in full swing! 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! (And be sure to check out the first volume when its released on July 31st!)


Full Metal Panic Figure: Kaname & Theresa (6 in.) Congratulations to Jared W of San Antonio, Texas! He will soon be receiving a Kaiyodo figure two-pack, imported from Japan and featuring Kaname and Tessa, the heroines of Full Metal Panic! as they could only be sculpted by Mon-sieur Bome!


Beck DVD 2 (Hyb)

Marie's Manga Review: Kekkaishi

I have to admit, most of the shonen manga I read should really be filed under the category “guilty pleasures.” Between the character stereotypes and the battle-train-battle plotlines, they’re not quite the epitome of literature. So when a title comes along that transcends the clichés of the genre I get a little excited. Right now, the title causing that excitement is Kekkaishi.

Kekkaishi takes place at Karasumori, a school in modern day Japan. Serving both middle and high school students, the school is about as ordinary as it gets – with one key exception. No student is allowed on the grounds after the sun has set. Why? Because night is when the demons come out to play and the kekkaishi come to fight them!

Karasumori was actually built on top of powerful and ancient tract of land soaked in power. At night, any demons in the school’s vicinity can absorb that power, sometimes going from minor menaces to destructive diablos in a matter of minutes. Since ultra-powerful demons running amuck in the city destroying things would be bad, two families, the Sumimuras and the Yukimuras, have guarded Karasumori’s grounds throughout the centuries. In each family, one member holds the position of kekkaishi, or demon hunter, and is charged with the responsibility of patrolling the school every night. Together the two kekkaishi keep a close watch and destroy any demon that enters the grounds. But during the long years, a deep rivalry has grown between the families and living next door to each other has only fanned the flames. Not a day goes by without an insult lobbed over the fence or a stray stream of hose water soaking someone in the other’s backyard.

The current kekkaishi, junior-high student Yoshimori Sumimura and high-school student Tokine Yukimura, both attend Karasumori during the day. Yoshimori doesn’t exactly share his family’s sentiment towards the Yukimuras. He’d much rather just be friends – and maybe even something more – with Tokine and just forget the whole demon hunting business altogether, but he won’t abandon his duty to protect the school and everyone around it. Unfortunately, it seems someone is plotting to take control the grounds for themselves and Yoshimori and Tokine may soon be in over their heads if the demons continue to get stronger…

What keeps Kekkaishi from being your typical “spiky-haired-kid-on-an-adventure” story are its refreshingly original characters and darker edge. Manga-ka Yellow Tanabe achieves this by taking the usual character archetypes and subverting them, bit by bit, until only their most superficial features resemble their shonen origins.

For example, Yoshimori ought to be your typical shonen hero – he has lots of power he doesn’t quite know how to use, he’s the one chosen to inherit a powerful family position even though his older brother might have made a better choice, and other characters are constantly amazed at his feats of raw determination. He’s even something of a doofus in school and, yes, he has spiky hair. How could he not be an archetype?

Well, for one, Yoshimori adamantly refuses to compete with his theoretical rival Tokine. The families might try to keep score of the nightly demon destruction, but Yoshimori has just one thing on his mind: keeping those he cares about safe, regardless of whether or not it nets him any glory. In fact, his ultimate goal isn’t to become stronger or to be the best: it’s to make sure that the kekkaishi are never needed again. Instead of constantly focusing on powering up, Yoshimori’s hobby of choice is baking castles made of cake. To him, being a kekkaishi is a job; not the definition of who he is.

Correspondingly, Tokine is just about everything I could want in a female character from a shonen manga. Most importantly, she doesn’t pale in comparison to her male counterparts. I honestly can’t think of any other popular shonen series where this is true. And while she is Yoshimori’s primary love interest, she’s also his main rival. Heck, she’s even older and taller than he is. I love the genre, but I wish more of them included girls like Tokine instead of the stereotypical “damsels in distress.”

Of course, as I keep harping on, this is shonen, and just like Bleach, One Piece, and Naruto, as the story continues the cast grows almost exponentially. Expect the other characters to be just as different and well-rounded as the leads. I especially like how the Sumimura and Yukimura families are fleshed out as the series goes on.

I mentioned a darker edge earlier, and that’s not just because most of the action takes place at night. Simply by nature of its plot, Kekkaishi deals with a lot of heavy concepts about violence and responsibility at the expense of personal happiness. Instead of playing the punches off for laughs or using the fights simply to show off how badass the next opponent is, the characters take them seriously, and by extension, so does the audience. True, there’s a lot of light-hearted humor and it’s made me laugh out loud more than once, but there’s always an underlying current of sacrifice.

Viz has done its usual excellent job translating the dialog and sound effects, including the author’s notes at the end of the volumes. Yellow Tanabe isn’t just good at writing about demons – he also turns manga publishing into an entertaining side story as he shares insights as to how Kekkaishi came to be in Japan and the tribulations of dealing with an editor.

Kekkaishi won the Japanese Shogakukan Manga Award last March for best serialized boys’ manga, and it’s not hard to see why. It has everything I look for in a shonen manga: unique, likable characters, a balanced plot, and an engaging and original style. Look into this one if you enjoyed the Fullmetal Alchemist manga or the more plot heavy episodes of Inu Yasha. You won’t be disappointed.

Mini Japanese 101 with Judy-sensei!

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