ANIME TODAY #52: Interview With Astro Boy Director Fred Ladd!

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Episode run down:

We have an extremely special guest that will be joining us for this episode, and who will also be helping us kick off our third year, Mr. Fred Ladd. Mr. Ladd was responsible for the english adaptations of a number of early shows in our industry, including Astro Boy, Gigantor, and Kimba the White Lion. In this episode, he’s going to talk with us about how he ended up in the radio and television industry, his involvement in bringing foreign animation from Europe to the US, and how the animation industry in Japan was discovered by the west. Astro Boy is often referred to as the first anime produced, and we’ll find out how he received his English name, and a number of other stories about the challenges of bring him to the US.

Chad’s up first with What’s Hot in the World of Anime and Manga, followed by another Uso Deshou mystery plot. We’re kicking off our Spooky and Spectacular Savings sale this week, for Funimation DVDs, and Shawne’s going to bring you the details of the sale. If you’re looking for a way to scare money out of your friends this Halloween, why not dress up as the Dark Lord himself, and enter Shawne’s contest. We’re continuing our Viz Pictures contest this week, and we’re kicking off our brand new contest in conjunction with the New York Anime Festival - be sure and listen to our contest segment and find out how you can win a weekend pass to the show.

Youmacon kicks off next week in Detroit and later in the show, Alison, Rich and Nick will be talking with con chair Morgan Kollin about the games, guests and events planned for its exciting third year. Lisa Marie’s excited about one of FUNimation’s new series, School Rumble and then tune back in to the second part of our in-depth interview with anime veteran Fred Ladd. Finally, hear some recent customer reviews from our online store and now here’s Chad with what’s hot!

What's Hot?

Take one totally cute (and naive) ninja-girl trainee, add a ninja horde under the tutelage of a perverse headmaster -- a strange, yellow, spherical, pudgy... creature... named Onsokumaru -- and you get the kind of "super-explosive ninja insanity" that can only be found in what Anime News Network called "the runaway nuclear reactor" of anime comedies! The Ninja Nonsense Complete DVD Collection Limited Edition contains the complete series and includes an art box and all of the original video extras and booklets, PLUS a mini-manga by series creator Ryoichi Koga, an Onsokumaru squeeze toy and Shinobu’s ninja-trainee headband! This holiday limited-edition set will be available on December 4th.

Haruo Yoshikawa was your run-of-the-mill middle school student: Great attendance record, no real plans for the future, and three adorable, loving sisters. Normal, right? Wrong. Haruo and his sisters are, by blood, magic-users, but his sisters have kept it a secret from him in the hope that he could live a normal life. And they’ve succeeded… until now! In the blink of an eye, Haruo's “normal” life does a 180-degree turn toward the insane with the appearance of another witch, who for some reason is very interested in turning him into a “real man”…as well as awakening his dormant powers! There’s a new witch in town when the series Magikano makes its DVD debut on December 4th.

Sachie Wakamura had just lost her mother when her estranged grandfather came back into her life to take care of her. The problem: Grandpa is the head of a yakuza gang! She is too scared to join her new family, so Sachie tries to continue living her normal life. She can't run far though, since Rakuto, one of the most popular guys in school, is part of her grandfather's gang and her new protector. No one at school knows about Rakuto's hidden life, and soon Sachie finds herself falling for her bodyguard. But since she’s the boss’ granddaughter, Rakuto can never show his feelings for her. Can Sachie find a way to fit into her new family and grab her chance at love? Find out when the shoujo manga Wild Ones makes its debut on December 4th.

Lina Inverse is a spunky sorceress with a penchant for fire, and she enjoys nothing more than “liberating” the unearned from those less deserving. Teamed up with Gourry, a strapping – yet strapped for brains – swordsman, her ambitious young protégé, Amelia, and the ever-stoic Zelgadis, this ragtag group takes off on a search for the legendary Clair Bible! But the road is about to get rocky when they meet Xellos, a mysterious priest who has more than a casual familiarity with the artifact! Check out the second, remastered season of this favorite swords and sorcery comedy-adventure, when the Slayers Next DVD Box Set arrives on December 11th.

Sergeant Keroro is the Captain of the Space Invasion Forces Special Advance Team of the 58th Planet of the Gamma Storm Cloud System, and he was sent to the Earth to collect intelligence for his planet's invasion force. He's also a frog. After his ship crashes on Earth, he takes shelter in the Hinata household, but the two kids find him and take away his alien weapons. When his people discover that the Earthlings are aware of him, Keroro is abandoned – left to fend for himself in this hostile world. Rediscover the manga that inspired the hit anime series when the Sgt. Frog Graphic Novel Collection, containing manga volumes one through three, lands on December 11th.

Save 25% or more on these titles by preordering them from 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 Spooky, Spectacular Savings!

Shawne's Specials and Spooky, Spectacular Savings!

The leaves are changing, and the Halloween mood is continuing with spooky, spectacular savings on DVDs from FUNimation and AN Entertainment! It’s a great time to treat yourself to new and upcoming releases like Hell Girl, Mushishi, Witchblade or School Rumble or catch up on favorites like Fullmetal Alchemist, Trinity Blood, Slayers or Hare + Guu.

From now until November 4th, take 40% OFF the retail prices of all DVDs from FUNimation and AN Entertainment. - everything that’s available now, plus upcoming releases!

Just use the reusable coupon code spooky when you check out through

If you’re not sure which products are included in the sale, you can start your shopping spree by clicking on the "Spooky & Spectacular" banner on the homepage, It will take you to a list of all of the FUNimation & AN Entertainment items we carry! Please remember, that items that are in the bargain bin are not eligible for the sale - but they’re already discounted even more than the sale coupon, so you save even more!

Our Got Anime purchasing club members will save another 10% off on top of the sale price! You can become a member today, check out for details!

Just a brief reminder on my Holloween contest -- If you think that you have what it takes to be a dark lord - send your holloween picture of your attempt to emulate the dark lord of anime savings to, and I’ll be picking the best one for a special prize.

We have truckloads of merchandise beginning to be delivered just in time for the big holiday season! Remember, order early and order often, the dark lord’s got bills to pay.

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

Marie's Manga Review: School Rumble

I’m not sure how long it took me to realize that School Rumble is insane. I mean, it seems almost laidback in comparison to frenetic comedy titles like Excel Saga and Hare Guu. That is a lie. School Rumble takes full advantage of its animated cast to cheerfully break each and every rule of reality, but it plays everything so straight that it takes a moment for you to realize what just happened doesn’t make any logical sense – longer if you’re laughing, which is usually the case. As a fan of absurdist humor, I heartily approve.

The plot starts out innocuously enough. Harima Kenji, the school’s biggest and best delinquent, has fallen hard for a girl – and not just any girl, but the school’s biggest ditz, Tsukamoto Tenma. He’ll do anything – even actually attend school – just to be with her. Tenma, however, is completely oblivious to Harima’s feelings and has her own mad crush on Kurasuma Oji, the school’s biggest, um, enigmatic nice guy? As for Kurasuma, he likes… curry. The food. And he may or may not know that Tenma likes him, and may or may not like her back. In fact, about the only thing we know about him for sure is that he doesn’t talk much and is hell on wheels with a bicycle.

You can see where this is going. (Well, except for maybe the part about the bicycle.) It’s a classic love triangle, and Harima and Tenma go through plan after crazy plan to confess their love to their crushes. Of course, unless they move to Utah, only one of them can eventually succeed, but you’ll still be rooting for both anyway. In case the main love triangle of doom wasn’t enough, School Rumble is also populated with a large supporting cast, including Tenma’s three girl friends and her younger sister, most of whom also have hopeless crushes of their own. Feel free to start making comparisons to Ranma ½’s love polygons anytime. Harima even owns a pig, though it has a much better sense of direction than Ryoga.

One thing I was worried about before starting the series was what kind of comedy I was in for. I’m not much of a fan of shows so heavily laden with cultural in-jokes that I’d have to move to Japan to understand them or series where five-minute stretches of nothing are supposed to be hilarious. Thankfully, School Rumble takes a more reviewer-friendly route. While parodies and sly references abound, they almost all work on multiple levels, making the show anime-newbie friendly. On the other hand, if you’re familiar with anime and Japan, you’ll probably catch quite a lot of said in-jokes. And I’ll certainly admit that watching an insane bike chase cross paths with Initial D’s famous 86 has a bit more cachet when you know why there’s a cheesily rendered race car and faux Eurobeat in the scene. And not all of the in-jokes are exclusively Japanese in origin: particularly priceless is Harima hoping that the love triangle will resolve itself Return of the Jedi-style. I also found the increasingly oddball ways of requesting that you watch School Rumble in a brightly lit room pretty amusing.

The cast is just as well handled as the humor, and the animators of School Rumble have put an amazing amount of individuality into the characters. Seemingly simple things like differing facial expressions, walking styles, and even Tenma’s ponytail hair flips, are all carefully animated and combine to bring each personality to life - and help you keep straight who’s who. My own favorite is Kurasuma, who somehow manages to keep a blithely bland expression on his face even while displaying impressive feats of endurance and agility. That individuality also expands into a surprising amount of depth for many of the side characters, especially for those who realize that their love is sadly one-sided. I did have difficulty at first telling apart Tenma’s sister and one of her friends due to their similar hairstyles, but as soon as they appeared on screen together, they were just as easy to distinguish as everyone else.

On a completely different topic, I really liked the music, which is almost always reflective of the show’s bouncy and energetic nature. Especially fitting is the eminently hummable opening song, “Scramble,” which describes the various love triangles and is destined to leave you singing “guru guru mawaru” the next day.

Funimation’s put extra effort into the packaging for School Rumble. The art box is a miniature metal locker, and each individual volume comes with magnets that you can apply to the sides. By the way, the magnets won’t damage your DVDs, but make sure not to leave them in the case if you pile your anime next to your computer like I do. The discs themselves include subtitled interviews with some of the Japanese voice actors - a neat extra that sadly doesn’t appear very often in Region 1 anime. The series also sports a great dub cast, which seems to be becoming more and more of a standard these days, not that I’m about to complain.

School Rumble is just the sort of relatively episodic, high-energy crowd pleaser that’s perfect for kick-starting an anime club meeting or popping in when some friends drop by. With the occasional fanservice and all, it’s definitely shonen, but it’s also remarkably girl friendly, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it added to the list of shows that guys think are shoujo like Chobits and Ah! My Goddess. There’re gags included for every kind of fan, and the series frequently side-trips into all sorts of anime sub-genres. Cross-over appeal, meet School Rumble.

Fred Ladd!

Fred Ladd!





Trinity Blood DVD Box Set (Hyb)

Right Stuf Contests and Updates

New Contest!Viz Pictures has been screening live-action Japanese films in art house theaters across the U.S., but if you haven’t had a chance to catch their flicks on the big screen, we’ve got you covered with our newest contest! We have two prize packages featuring two of their latest films – which just now became available on DVD!

The first prize pack celebrates Katsuhito Ishii’s surrealist tour de force The Taste of Tea and includes a copy of the DVD, a flip book and a figurine.

The second prize package gives you a chance to win their upcoming release Hula Girls, a heart-warming comedy that also was a big winner at the 2007 Japan Academy Awards! In addition to a copy of the DVD, you’ll also find:

  • a photo file and CD EP featuring Jake Shimabukuro, who is known as the “Jimi Hendrix of ukulele” and whose music is featured throughout the film
  • a lei
  • a CD wallet
  • Hawaiian coffee and mints and
  • a Hula Girls theatrical poster and postcards!

To enter, and have a sneak peek the prize packages, check out our Contests page, under “What’s Hot” at, and get your entry in before November 8th! We’ll be announcing the winners on the November 9th episode of Anime Today!

Also, we have a brand-new contest in conjunction with the New York Anime Festival, which is coming up on December 7th through 9th at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City! What’s up for grabs? Five lucky winners will each receive a weekend pass to the big show! (This is admission to the show itself. You would still be responsible for your own travel and hotel arrangements.) Get your entry in before November 20th because we’ll be announcing the winners during our Thanksgiving week episode of Anime Today!

New York Anime Festival Contest!Click the banner to enter!

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