ANIME TODAY #57: Looking at the Year in Anime With Chris Beveridge of AnimeOnDVD.comPosted on: Friday, January 4, 2008
Episode run down:
Happy New Year anime fans! This past year was definitely an interesting one for the industry and this episode, we’re happy to welcome Chris Beveridge of AnimeOnDVD.com to help us briefly reflect on the anime market of 2007. We’re also pleased to have Dustin Phillips, the convention chair of Ohayocon, to talk with us about how this mid-western convention is helping anime fans to dive into 2008 with a phenomenal weekend of events. All this and more as Anime Today episode 57 continues with your hosts Nick and Rich.
Chad’s got a new set of hot upcoming anime with his latest What’s Hot segment followed by a new Uso Deshou mystery anime plot. Shawne’s back to remind you of the final days of Right Stuf’s Big New Year’s Clearance sale and then Chris Beveridge joins Alison, Rich and Nick to recap 2007.
Nick and Rich will then return with the winners of the Geneon Entertainment Contest; and they’ll also be launching a new contest with Viz Pictures. If you’re like many people out there, you may have overindulged just a bit over the holidays. Nintendo has a new product coming up for the Wii that just may help you get back in shape and carry through on some of your New Years’ resolutions. Kris and Judy will be talking about it in the Anime and Gamer’s Guide to Japan. Starting today, January 4th, Ohyocon kicks off in Columbus, Ohio, and Dustin Philips will be joining us for a few minutes to talk about the highlights of the show. Then we’ll bring you a few customer reviews from our web site, and Marie links into Hell Girl with her spotlight. We’ll be wrapping up this episode with Judy-sensei and Japanese 101 where she’ll be bring you some new words for the New Year.
From the sweeping CLAMP universe, two journeys run parallel yet intersect. As a young archaeologist and his princess seek the mystery of truth, worlds collide where Yuko, the Dimensional Witch waits. There is no coincidence, only the inevitable… when the two-disc CLAMP Double Feature, with the Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle and xxxHolic movies, arrives on February 19th.
In the near future, the world’s energy supplies are depleting, and the people of Earth must look to the skies for a solution. When Helium 3 is discovered beneath the surface of the moon, the International Space Agency is formed in an effort to exploit it. Two of the Earth’s greatest adventurers, Saruwatari Gorou and “Lostman” Jack F. Woodbridge join up, but challenges lie along the way – and secrets begin to emerge – as they begin their quest to harness the world’s next energy source. Suit up for the series debut of the sci-fi adventure Moonlight Mile on February 19th.
Next, in the distant future, evil Beastmen and their deadly Gunman mecha have forced human civilization underground, where they must burrow deeper and deeper toward the Earth’s core to find safety. Kamina and Simon are just normal-ish teens living in an underground village, until Simon discovers a giant metal face staring back at this drill. His discovery pays off when the mysterious machine springs to life just as a squadron of Gunmen threatens to destroy their home. Will he and his friends be able to use this powerful new weapon to reclaim the surface world for mankind? Find out when Gurren Lagann makes its much-anticipated DVD debut on February 26th.
Meet three normal high school guys with just one thing on their minds: girls. Quiet Kyoichi has been friends with Chiharu ever since they were young, but lately, his feelings have begun to change. Lecherous Makoto, a self-proclaimed master of the rules of romance, is ready to sweep the ladies off their feet. And Yoshihiko, a handsome sports nut, is unfortunately a bit clueless in matters of the heart. Join this hapless trio for a year of romantic misadventures that will change their lives forever! There are two sides to every love story, and now it’s time to find out what’s really going on – from the guy’s point of view – when the Boys Be… DVD Thinpak Collection arrives on February 26th.
Shawne's Specials and RightStuf's Big New Year's Clearance!
2008 is here, and that means 366 days of anime goodness coming your way! To start things off right now that all of the gifts have been unwrapped, you can treat yourself or your friends to anime and manga favorites - at very festive prices!
From now until January 6, 2008, take an additional 20% OFF our regular sale prices on ALL IN-STOCK items! That’s right - take the "Sale Price" on the site and take 20% off! Plus, new items are received every day, so more stuff is on sale as the sale goes on!
Just use the reusable coupon code newyear2008 when you check out through RightStuf.com!
And, as always, if you’re a Got Anime member, you can stack your membership discount on top for even more savings! Start the new year off with a membership, it will probably pay for itself before you know it!
To find items in stock quickly, try out our Advanced Search! Place a check mark by "Product Availability," make sure "is equal to" and "In Stock and Available" are showing in that same row’s drop-down menus, and hit the "Search Items" button!
Please remember, bargain bin and weekly special items are not eligible for the coupon - but are discounted even more anyway, so don’t let that stop you from picking them up.
The Dark Lord has been battling a cold the last week or so, which means loading up on all kinds of medicine that makes me loopy. Since I’m setting up sales for the next few months, this may work to everyone’s benefit. Only time will tell...
Chris Beveridge of AnimeOnDVD.com, 2007 Year in Review
Right Stuf Contests and Updates
Next up, we’re starting the New Year with a new contest, courtesy of our friends over at Viz Pictures! This time, one lucky winner will receive a Love-Com gift pack featuring the first volume of the super-popular manga by Aya Nakahara, an issue of Shojo Beat featuring the series and a copy of the Love-Com live-action movie before its North American DVD release!
To enter, and have a sneak peek the prize packages, check out our Contests page, in the “What’s Hot” section at RightStuf.com, and get your entry in before January 31st! We’ll be announcing the winners on the February 1st episode of Anime Today of 2008!
Congratulations to the winners of our Geneon Entertainment “Volume Ones” contest: Cody W of Elkland, Pennsylvania; Monique R of Puyallup, Washington; Susan L of Mandeville, Louisiana; and Ruth H of Miami, Florida! Each of you will soon receive a package that includes the first volumes of Elemental Gelade, Bottle Fairy and Kamichu!, plus a full set of Sakura Wars pencil boards featuring art from the series.
The Anime and Gamer's Guide with Kris and Judy
Wii Fit © 2007 Nintendo
Dustin Phillips, Ohayocon 2008 Convention Chair
Image © Robert DeJesus
Marie's Spotlight: Hell Girl
The New Year is often a time to clean house and start afresh, but it can be hard to do that when you’re nursing a serious grudge against an enemy. The solution? How does sending their soul off to Hell sound to you? Not sure? Perhaps watching a little Hell Girl, an anime which posits exactly that question, will help you make up your mind.
A rumor’s been going around that if you access a website called Hell Link at exactly midnight, you can type in the name of your tormenter and their soul will be promptly carried off to Hell. Of course, there’s a price to be paid… After you’ve achieved you’re revenge, Ai Enma, the Hell Girl, will eventually come to claim your own soul as well, and you too will suffer an eternity in the agony of Hell. But, as Ai explains, that’s only after you die, which means you could potentially have an entire lifetime of peace in the meantime. Your enemy will not be so lucky as Ai and her helpers will be sure to show them the error of their ways before finally rowing them in her somber boat to the Underworld.
If the repeated references to death and hell didn’t tip you off, Hell Girl is one dark, macabre anime. Some of those condemned to hell obviously deserve it, but others fall into decidedly greyer areas. Sure, bullying may be bad, but is it really something to kill over? Ai’s soulless large red eyes offer neither solace nor condemnation, leaving it up to the viewer to decide. The visuals don’t slouch in the eerie department, either. When it comes time for the condemned to learn their lessons, Ai’s helpers pull out all the stops, creating disturbing hallucinations of guilt to drive their target mad. Possibly darkest of all, at the end of each episode you’re always reminded that escape is only temporary. Even if you’ve had your revenge, you’re left with the burden of your eventual shared fate in hell.
At the heart of Hell Girl is a series of interesting ethical dilemmas, some of which are easier to answer than others. What would it take to make you not only set Ai on someone, but agree to suffer in hell to pay for it? Does it still count as murder if the Hell Girl does it for you? Is Ai offering a welcome service or running an elaborate soul-collecting scam? And for Pete’s sake, does no one trust the Japanese authorities? Oh, wait, they answered that last one when someone actually tried talking to the police in episode two – you can assume it, errr… didn’t go well.
Speaking of episode two, that’s about when you’ll notice Hell Girl tends to follow a basic episodic formula, and sticks to it for the rest of volume one. However, in volume two, the writers begin to tinker with the structure of the show. For instance, for the first few episodes, Ai initially feels mostly like a plot device, but over the course of the series she and her helpers slowly have their mysterious back stories filled in, adding a depth previously lacking. Recurring characters pop up, specifically in the form of a journalist and his daughter who’ve started to wonder about Hell Link and the mysterious disappearances, bringing with them continuity and cliffhangers. The plot, does, in fact, thicken, but never loses sight of its main theme: revenge and its consequences.
Oh, and one other neat thing: like Mushishi, you’ll hear vocal cameos all over the place since each episode introduces a new villain, victim, and frequently their friends and family. Suddenly hearing Takehito Koyasu playing an evil veterinarian resulted in a double-take on my part, and a triple-take when I flipped to the English track and was suddenly listening to Vic Mignogna in the same role.
If you’ve seen any of the packaging for Hell Girl, you’ve already discovered the artwork is really pretty. However, that’s not actually what most of the animation looks like. Hell Girl really uses three primary artistic styles. The first is brightly colored and your typical anime style with school girls and baseball players running around. It’s perfect for portraying a false sense of security. The second, is a very muted tone used when everything naturally goes south, and it feels like the world has been painted over with a desaturated grey. This particular style is also used for the final descent to Hell in Ai’s boat. The third is the most striking and the one that you see on the covers: exotic patterns, reds and oranges everywhere and an otherworldly sort of feel. Reserved exclusively for Ai, her minions, and her home, the style gives the feeling of being in another dimension completely removed from the dreary lives of those seeking revenge. In fact, it might be another dimension; who knows? It’s also used to great effect in the opening and ending credits. The three styles mesh drive home the descent from innocence into madness, and the contrast makes for a visual treat.
Complex, haunting, and gorgeous, Hell Girl has a lot to recommend it. If you liked the dark, morally ambiguous Death Note, Mushishi’s gift for supernatural tales, Boogiepop Phantom’s twisted brain-bending, or simply have a penchant for wishing you could condemn someone to fiery pits of flame, you’ll find Hell Girl right up your alley. Coincidentally, that’s probably where you’ll meet the Hell Girl upon engaging her services. You might want to think long and hard before telling her yes…