Anime Today #46: Anniversaries and Anime Trends With NEWTYPE USA's Gary Steinman and Chris Johnston!

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Episode run down:

Welcome to episode 46 of Anime Today. July 31st marked the 20th anniversary of the date that Right Stuf was founded. We’ve been watching what you’ve been posting in the official Right Stuf forums on AnimeOnDVD, and I want to say that all of us at Right Stuf really appreciate the comments from everyone. If you’d like to find out more about the history of the company, check out the Anime Resources section of RightStuf.com, where you can read the first part of a two part article on the 20 Years of Right Stuf. For this episode’s interview, we’re going to be talking with Gary Steinman, the editor-in-chief, and Chris Johnston, the executive editor, of Newtype USA. They’re celebrating their 5th anniversary this year, and have some exciting things planned for their upcoming issues.

Chad’s going to start us out with his list of “What’s Hot” in the world of anime and manga, followed by a new Uso Deshou mystery plot. This week Shawne’s going to help everyone with the never ending quest for anime savings by kicking off the Media Blaster’s "Kingdom of Savings" sale. Then we’ll be joined by Gary and Chris from Newtype USA for the first half of their interview, and talk about their roles in publishing the magazine, how they ended up in anime journalism, and the changes they made in their recent redesign.

After a short summer break, Kris and Judy return to talk sports in the latest Anime and Gamer’s Guide to Japan. Next, Rich and Nick announce the winners of our latest Gunbuster 2 contest, kick off another quick contest, AND announce the 6 lucky winners of RightStuf.com gift certificates from thethirdanime.com! Lisa Marie reviews the CLAMP manga hit xxxHolic and then Judi-sensei returns with a new Mini-Japanese 101 lesson. In the second half of our interview with Gary and Chris, we hit on how Newtype USA is keeping up with the ever evolving anime fandom and how they stand out from other anime publications. The Q and A segment is back and this time from a listener asking why the same title may vary in the manga verses the anime. Finally, listen to a few more customer reviews from our online.

Gary Steinman and Chris Johnston from Newtype USA!

Gary Steinman and Chris Johnston from Newtype USA!

http://www.newtype-usa.com/

http://www.myspace.com/newtypeusa

What's Hot?

Tohru Honda was an orphan living with her grandfather, when one day fate kicked her out of the house and into close contact with the Sohma family, a clan of beautiful and mysterious people who have an equally mysterious secret: When they hug members of the opposite sex, they each turn into an animal from the Chinese Zodiac! Fruits Basket fans: This is your chance to experience the adventure all over again with story summaries, character profiles, colorful artwork, stickers and more, when the Fruits Basket Fan Book: Neko Cat is released on September 11th.

More than 4,000 years after abandoning Earth, the fate of humanity is now in peril. The crew of the spaceship Woglinde is under attack by a merciless enemy from another dimension. They are now fighting, not only to save their own lives, but also to defend the Zohar, a mysterious monolith with unknown powers. Powers that the evil Gnosis will do anything to obtain. Enter KOS-MOS, a robotic black-box weapon that is as dangerous and misunderstood as she is beautiful. Designed to protect humankind, she could be her creators’ downfall… or she might just be their only hope. The anime based on the hit video game series, Xenosaga DVD 1: Enter the Gnosis streets on September 11th.

When Cadet Shiro Lhadatt signs up with the Royal Space Force, he endures ridicule and apathy from manipulative leaders and a cynical public. But a chance encounter with a devout young woman awakens Shiro to his destiny: to become the first man in space! As military leaders conspire to use the fledgling space program to spark an all-out war, Shiro and a team of aging scientists race against time to complete the first launch. Will he make it? Find out when Wings of Honneamise, the first feature film produced by Gainax – which went on to create Neon Genesis Evangelion and Gurren Lagann -- arrives on September 25th in both DVD/Blueray and DVD/HD-DVD combo versions.

What would you do if you suddenly became a god? When little Yurie, a junior high school student, discovers that she actually is a god, she’s beside herself with indecision and asks her friends for help. From finding stray gods to dealing with Martians, her life is about to become more than ordinary. Will Yurie be able to fulfill all her new responsibilities? Join her as she uncovers the answers when the Kamichu DVD Complete Collection becomes available on September 25th.

In Treasure Town, where the moon smiles and young boys can fly, life is both a gentle and brutal place where true love is lost, and the kindness of the human heart prevails. This is never truer than for our heroes, Black and White, two street urchins who watch over the city and do battle with both old-world Yakuza and alien assassins vying to rule the decaying metropolis. Based on Taiyo Matsumoto’s manga “Black and White,” directed by Michael Arias, and animated by Studio 4 Degrees Celsius, Tekkon Kinkreet makes its DVD debut on September 25th.

After their last devastating encounter with Blue Breaker, Honoka and the others try to pick up the pieces, but there's not much time to recover. The cold blue enforcer is closing in fast, and this time, there's nothing left to hold him back. She may be outmatched and outgunned, but Honoka isn't about to give up without a fight! Plus, something dangerous has begun to stir out in the desert. It's got the Third worried…and when the Third are worried, others should be terrified! What new dangers are lurking? Find out when The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye DVD 2: Tending Wounds streets on September 25th.

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 A Kingdom of Savings Sale!

Shawne's Specials and A Kingdom of Savings Sale!

On a never-ending quest for anime bargains? Discover a kingdom of savings on DVDs, books and more from Media Blasters, Tokyo Shock and Kitty Media! With a genre-spanning catalog that includes everything from sci-fi and samurai to fantasy, comedy and romance, you'll find both long-time and new favorites like Voltron, Twelve Kingdoms, Girl’s High, Gao-Gai-Gar, Gakuen Heaven, Kashimashi, Phoenix and much more!

From now until August 12, you can take 40% OFF the retail price of DVDs and 33% OFF the retail price of books and other merchandise from Media Blasters, plus its Tokyo Shock and Kitty labels! (This includes pre-orders!)

Just use the reusable coupon code kingdom when you check out through RightStuf.com:

Save even more when you join our GotAnime Purchasing Club. Check out the details at www.gotanime.com.

If you’re not sure which products are included in the sale, you can just click on the "Kingdom of Savings" banner on our main webpage - it will take you to a list of all eligible items! And, as always, any weekly specials, bargain bin and closeout items are excluded from the coupon, but don’t let that stop you from grabbing them anyway - they’re really great deals!

With all of our great deals, I’m sure some of you are on a never-ending quest to recharge and replenish your empty wallets, but don’t dispair - great anime at super low prices means happy customers!

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

The Anime and Gamer's Guide with Kris and Judy

The Anime and Gamer's Guide with Kris and Judy

Koshien Stadium

The Anime and Gamer's Guide with Kris and Judy

Ichiro's 5th homerun of the year.

The Anime and Gamer's Guide with Kris and Judy

Ichiro Suzuki in an ad at the Tokyo Dome in 2007

Right Stuf Contests and Updates

Freedom DVD 1 We have a new contest from Bandai Visual that will give two lucky winners the chance to experience Freedom DVD 1, the first anime HD-DVD/DVD disc released in North America!

This contest is another quick one. (It only lasts two weeks!) Be sure to check out our Contests page, under “What’s Hot” at RightStuf.com and get your entry in before August 16th! We’ll be announcing the winners on the NEXT episode of Anime Today!


Gunbuster 2 DVD 2 (S) Congratulations to Anthony H of Thayer, Missouri and Ruth H of Miami, Florida! Each of you will soon receive a copy of Gunbuster 2, DVD 1 and have the chance to follow Nono’s adventures as she pursues her dream of becoming a space pilot and discovers a surprising talent for fighting aliens!


The first volume of The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye, from Right Stuf’s Nozomi Entertainment and Kadokawa Pictures USA, officially streeted this past week, and to celebrate we’re pleased to announce the winners of our first contest for The Third!

Congratulations to the following winners: Jon M, Albuquerque of New Mexico; Chad K of Gilroy, California; Terri A of Costa Mesa, California; and Lizeth M of Anaheim, California! Each of you just won a $10 gift certificate to RightStuf.com! And we’re also pleased to announce that Alex P of Kyle, Texas and Natalie M of Flint, Michigan will each be receiving a $25 certificate to RightStuf.com!
This contest may be over, but be sure to still visit thethirdanime.com: There will be more contests in the near future, and in the meantime, you’ll find lots of audio and video clips and downloads to keep you busy, as well as ways to preview Vol. 1 and gear up for the September release of Vol. 2!


School Rumble DVD 1 (Hyb) + Artbox

Marie's Manga Review: xxxHolic

I’m still on my manga kick, and this week I’m reviewing a series I’ve been following anxiously almost since it began publication: CLAMP’s xxxHolic. And before you ask, that silent triple x in front doesn’t mean that the book ought to be released in the adults-only section. It’s a place holder, as in alco-holic or choco-holic, or even, perhaps, CLAMP-o-holic. It’s hard not to be that last one when they keep churning out stories like this.

High school student Kimihiro Watanuki is an excellent cook who is inclined towards bouts of hyperactive glee and depression. Ever since he was born, he’s been able to see all manner of ghosts, spirits, and other supernatural beings. While many of them are entirely benign, others aren’t so easy going, and Watanuki frequently finds himself trying to escape from the more dangerous ones by dodging through the streets on his way to and from school.

It’s as he’s trying to evade a particularly large group of spirits that he stumbles upon a mysterious shop which the spirits can’t seem to enter. Inside is Yuko, the space-time witch and a woman with a dazzling figure and wardrobe. She promises to keep the ghosts and spirits at bay in exchange for Watanuki’s help at her shop. “Help” in this case ranges from cooking and cleaning to helping out with customers – and of course these are no ordinary customers. Yuko is in the business of granting wishes, and any wish at all can be fulfilled in return for the proper payment. But as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for because you might just get it.

Like most CLAMP stories, xxxHolic starts out innocuously enough, occasional customer death aside. Watanuki tries keep his sanity even as he encounters murderous plants, unintentionally murderous ghosts, greedy giant spiders, and a nice old fox who runs an oden cart. Okay, except for the fox, I take back the innocuous part. xxxHolic actually starts out like some of the better episodes from The Twilight Zone. Despite the strange goings on, Watanuki still does his best to maintain some sense of normalcy at school. He sighs over Himawari, the girl of his dreams, and rages at Domeki, his classmate and eternal rival in everything. But fighting against the spirit world’s pull is a losing battle, and Himawari and Domeki are soon almost as involved in the shop as he is.

Then, once the characters and setting are all firmly established, the plot kicks in with a vengeance. The wishes of the customers become more serious and spaced out as the mysteries surrounding Yuko, Watanuki, and the others take the primary focus. That’s when the dramatic content goes from high to towering.

One of the things that really makes xxxHolic stand out is its atmosphere. The series is positively marinated in Japanese culture and folklore, diving deep into creepy legends and charming myths. From the well-known stories about cherry blossoms to the more obscure (at least for Americans) legends about kitsune and rhyming games, it’s a fascinating – and often chilling - new world for anyone who grew up on a steady diet of Brother’s Grimm and Disney. Don’t worry if you’re not totally familiar with the original tales; Del Rey has included extensive notes in the back of each volume on the different legends and superstitions that pop up.

The art only adds to exotic tone, making xxxHolic feel like one of the fairy tales it borrows from. CLAMP’s always beautiful illustrations are even more stylized then usual, with long, angular limbs dominating the character designs and swirling patterns of smoke and flowers filling in the settings and clothes. The backgrounds and atmosphere are similar to CLAMP’s Shirahime-Syo, which was an anthology likewise dedicated to darker and often tragic folklore. Don’t expect a lot of Cardcaptor Sakura-style rainbows or Chobits’ cheery expeditions to show off how cute Chi is. Instead, the weight of centuries of magical tales haunts these pages.

With so much atmosphere, it takes a strong set of characters not to get brushed aside. Fortunately, that’s exactly what xxxHolic has, especially when it comes to the space-time witch herself, Yuko. Whether lounging about her shop or striding through the streets, Yuko is one of the most commanding and blatantly sensual women I’ve seen in a manga. Without catering to unrealistic fanservice, she utterly owns a scene whenever she wants to – aka, most of the time. Watanuki pulls double duty, not only connecting everything together but also serving as the audience’s guide as well. Someone has to be utterly shocked when a wall opens another plane of existence, and it’s sure not going to be Yuko. Of Watanuki’s two friends, Domeki’s actually my favorite character in the series. Completely unflappable by all the supernatural things unfolding around him, he serves as a steadfast rock for Watanuki to rely on. Of course, it only infuriates the very flappable Watanuki and often results in a comedic one-man shouting match. I’d say more about Himawari, but her nature is one best left to the plot to reveal…

If you read the summary on the back of volume 1, you’ll notice it mentions a cross-over with volume 1 of Tsubasa. So the question inevitably arises: am I going to miss too much of the story if I haven’t read any of CLAMP’s other works? The answer depends on how familiar you are with Cardcaptor Sakura and Tsubasa. If you’ve never read either of these, you probably won’t even notice that you’re missing anything unless someone points it out. On the other hand, if you know either one, you’ll realize the obvious connection behind those Sakura and Syaoran characters who turn up every now and then. You won’t be missing anything from xxxHolic’s plot, but you will wonder if there’s something more going on. There is a Mokona, a talking creature that looks sort of like a large bean bun with eyes, ears, and feet from CLAMP’s Magic Knight Rayearth, but it’s explained as simply one more strange and magical thing surrounding Yuko. And just like many of xxxHolic’s strange and magical things, it spends most of its time either drinking or teasing Watanuki. There are references to other series as well, but they’re more along the lines of in-jokes than anything requiring crucial understanding.

There’s a very good reason why the members of CLAMP enjoy the reputation that they do, and xxxHolic’s combination of gorgeous art and style mixed with compelling characters and drama is a great example. Check this one out if you enjoyed Pet Shop of Horrors, Kino’s Journey, or, naturally, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. Just remember the fans’ unofficial motto for CLAMP: it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Then the drama gets even better.

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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