ANIME TODAY #58: Looking Forward to 2008 With Zac Bertschy of Anime News Network and Protoculture Addicts

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Episode run down:

In this episode, we’re going to be continuing our look at back 2007, and at what’s coming up in 2008. In our last episode, we were joined by Chris Beveridge of, and this time, we’re going to talk with Zac Bertschy, the executive editor for Anime News Network. Alison, Nick and Rich will be talking with him about topics that include the big successes and surprises of 2007, the issues facing the industry as a whole as delivery methods to our customers continue to evolve, both the successful and less popular experiments the industry has attempted over the past year, and the trends in what’s popular among the US and Japanese fans.

Chad’s going to be up first with What’s Hot in the World of Anime and then we’ll have another Uso Deshou mystery plot that’ll test your anime knowledge. Our Take Note: Savings That Rule sale on VIZ Media Books & DVDs is still running, and Shawne’s going to join us with a recap of it. Then, we have the first portion of our interview with Zac Bertschy.

Judy sensei returns with more weather related phrases in the latest Mini Japanese 101 lesson and then join Marie as she spotlights With the Light, one of the first books released last fall from new manga publisher Yen Press. Rich and Nick return with the latest contests and updates and then pick back up with the rest of our interview with AnimeNewsNetwork’s very own Answerman, Zac Bertschy. And seeing as we already had the Answerman on the phone, we decided to dip into the voicemail box of our Anime Today Hotline and get his take on a recent listener question. Following the latest Q and A segment, catch up with a few customer reviews from our online store.


What's Hot?

In modern day Okinawa, Japan, one girl stands between vicious vampires and the rest of humanity. Saya’s forgotten past is exposed after she and her brother are attacked by a monster called a Chiropteran. With the help of her adopted family and a faithful servant, Saya rediscovers her role in the unending war between the bloodsucking hordes and humankind in Blood+. Experience the action, the drama, and the suspense of this contemporary vampire thriller and Adult Swim fan favorite when the Blood+ DVD Set Part 1 crawls out of the dark on March 4th.

For hundreds of years, the white-haired “Children of Befort” have searched for something or someone. Always narrowly missing their goal, the children are haunted by the image of a crescent moon behind a mountain before their 11-year life spans expire.

Fast forward to the year 2012, when young boy Tohma meets Helga, an artistic girl escaping from an orphanage. Helga, too, is haunted by something: her paintings of a crescent moon and a mountain. Could Helga be the one the Children are trying to find? Follow Tohma and Helga on their race to unravel her past and the mystery of the Children of Belfort, in the Fantastic Children DVD Complete Collection, arriving March 4th.

Acclaimed Japanese director Makoto Shinkai, the visionary creator of Voices of a Distant Star and The Place Promised in Our Early Days, weaves another tale of love and separation. From their first childhood meeting, a young girl and boy were inseparable friends, but as they become adults, fate pulls them apart, and they grow more distant. Will they ever be able to find their way back to each other? Find out when Shinkai’s highly anticipated film Five Centimeters Per Second streets on March 4th.

Momo Adachi is the brunt of her classmate’s jokes. Her bleach blond hair and tan skin lead her classmates to think she’s a promiscuous party girl, but the truth is she’s shy and modest. Follow Momo as she struggles to survive the pitfalls of a high school where her best friend is her worst enemy, her lifelong crush doesn’t even know she exists, and the class playboy won’t leave her alone. Welcome to the life of Peach Girl, available in a DVD Box Set on March 4th.

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 Take Note: Savings that Rule Sale!

Shawne's Specials and Take Note: Savings that Rule Sale!

We’re kicking off the year with savings that demand your attention! Take note and take advantage of savings that rule on your favorite DVDs, books and graphic novels from Viz Media – including hits like Death Note, Bleach, Nana, Naruto, plus many more fan favorites!

From now through January 20th, take 40% OFF the retail prices of all DVDs and 33% OFF the retail prices of all books from VIZ. (This includes pre-orders!)

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

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!

If you’re not sure which products are included in the sale, just click on the "Take Note" graphic on It will take you to a list of all of the Viz Media items we carry!

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.

It’s frigid cold here again in Iowa, but at least the politicians have left the state. Maybe that’s why it’s so cold, the hot air has gone somewhere else.

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

Zac Bertschy of, 2007 Year in Review

Zac Bertschy of, 2007 Year in Review
Hey, Answerman!:

Fruits Basket Limited Edition Lithograph (Autographed)

Mini Japanese 101 with Judy-sensei!

Marie's Spotlight: With the Light

You frequently hear that manga in Japan covers just about every topic imaginable. There’s manga for boys, girls, men, and women; manga about cooking and fighting and being a pop star; even manga created to try and help catch criminals. Very rarely, however, does anything outside of the usual genre fiction make its way outside of Japan. An unusual exception has been With the Light, a manga designed to educate its readers about autism and, by extension, mental disabilities in general. Not only does it succeed on an informative level, but it’s a fascinating read in its own right as well.

With the Light is about Sachiko, a young mother who has just learned that her baby boy, Hikaru, has autism. As you might imagine, it’s not a possibility she had ever really prepared for. Difficulties continually crop up, from a husband who’s irate she can’t get Hikaru to stop crying to being unable to place Hikaru in a regular preschool, and even to learning a whole new way to communicate. Throughout the story, Sachiko meets a number of people who are either apathetic or actively against Hikaru, especially when it comes to his difficulties socializing. Fortunately, Sachiko is eventually able to find the help she needs for her son, one small step at a time.

While With the Light is obviously intended as an educational series, manga-ka Keiko Tobe has included plenty of old-school shojo drama as well. Social stigmas, relationship troubles, sabotaging enemies – it’s all here. The art even reminds me of Sailor Moon and Marmalade Boy. The only difference is that instead of taking on the usual mean girls in high school, Sachiko is up against catty mothers and ignorant school officials.

 While I was expecting to learn about autism and maybe some other syndromes on the autistic spectrum, what I wasn’t expecting was the book’s insight into Japanese culture. Because Keiko Tobe wanted to present situations as close to what real parents with autistic children experience, her portrayal of Japan is naturally very realistic as well. I can guarantee that no matter how many manga or anime you’ve read or seen, you’ll learn something new about Japanese culture from With the Light. I was especially intrigued, for example, by the assorted social services offices, which work very differently from those in the US. On the other hand, concerns about school placement seemed very similar to what my own family has gone through with my little brother.

With the Light was one of the first books released last fall from new manga publisher Yen Press and they’ve done an exceptional job translating the series into English. Not only does it read smoothly, but they’ve translated the sound effects directly on each page instead of using an index in the back, which I think was a smart choice considering their likely audience. Notes abound about the facts and statistics quoted in the manga, and there’s even an afterword with additional information; although since the series started in 2000, some of its information is now slightly out of date. However, Yen Press has gone out of their way to note wherever this occurs.

Yen Press also decided to combine the first three Japanese volumes of the series into a single omnibus volume, and will continue to release the series in the combined format. I don’t know why for sure, unless they were trying to make the book look weightier or didn’t think With the Light would lend itself well to serialization in the States, but whatever the reason, you certainly get a lot of manga for your dollar.

On a purely personal level, the absolute greatest thing about the series is that it is to date the only manga my mother has ever read. This is no small feat. She is not used to reading backwards, being confronted with Japanese honorifics, or properly interpreting big shojo eyes in close-ups. She’s definitely not accustomed to reading books that assume you know all about the vagaries of modern-day Japanese life. But despite all that, she not only read all 528 pages, but liked it so much she had me pre-order the second volume. If you know anyone in your life who might be interested in autism or disabilities who you also happen to want to introduce to manga, With the Light is one heck of a golden opportunity.

With the Light is definitely not going to be for everyone. It’s primary target is, as I said, people who are interested in autism and its spectrum disorders, such as Asperger’s, or special education in general. On the other hand, if you’re tired of the same-old same-old in your manga and want to try a taste of the full variety that Japan has to offer in a carefully crafted and sourced package, I’d highly recommend With the Light.

Right Stuf Contests and Updates

New Contest!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, and get your entry in before January 31st! We’ll be announcing the winners on the February 1st episode of Anime Today of 2008!

Cowabunga, dude! Next up, we have a new contest celebrating the new season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – starring one our favorite anime voice actors, Sam Regal, as the voice of Donatello – and five lucky winners will receive a copy of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Video Game for the Wii!

Visit our Contests Page and be sure to get your entry in before February 14th. You can check out the newest episodes, as part of the 4Kids TV Saturday morning block, on most FOX affiliates. (And remember, you can pick up past seasons on DVD here at!)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Contest!Click the banner to enter!

Dragon Ball Z Bardok/Trunks Double Feature DVD (Hyb)

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