ANIME TODAY #60: Interviewing Anna Morrow, the Voice of “Honoka” in THE THIRD

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Episode run down:

In this episode, we’re going to be talking with Anna Morrow, the voice actress who provided the voices of “Rio” and “Okada” in Right Stuf’s release of To Heart and can currently be heard as “Honoka,” the heroine and lead character of The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye.

The music for this episode is from the CD Swinging Popsicle: Go on. We’d like to thank JapanFiles.com for letting us feature music from their CDs, a full list with the times each song was played will be posted at the bottom of this episode’s show notes at AnimeToday.com.

Starting out this episode is Chad 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. We’re continuing our Sensational Savings from Manga Entertainment for a few more days, and Shawne will join us with a recap of it. Next up is Kris and Judy with the Anime and Gamer's Guide to Japan, and they’ll talk briefly about Valentine’s Day and White Day, and some unusual chocolate to use as gifts.

Next up, join Alison, Rich and Nick for the first half of out interview with Anna where we talk about how she recently got her start voicing characters for anime and about her first big role as Honoka, the Sword Dancer in The Third: Girl With the Blue Eye. Rich and Nick have the latest Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles Contest winners and then Marie checks out the shojo fantasy manga, Shugo Chara. Judy-sensei gets sentimental in the latest Mini-Japanese 101 lesson and then catch up on some of the latest conventions happening soon in North America. We then return to the second half of Anna’s interview where we talk more about her performance in The Third and her connection with her character Honoka. Marie fields an all new Anime Today listener question about manga for younger teen readers and taking us out this episode are some featured customer reviews from our online store at RightStuf.com.

What's Hot?

Experience the illogical, the weird, and the downright funny as Katsuhito Ishii, creator of the Kill Bill anime-short and cult favorite director, assaults audiences with 21 short films featuring dance-battling daydreamers, bizarre science-fiction parodies, and awful guitarists. Every short is loosely tied together by three brothers and their quest to meet women, but their relatively normal journeys change to the offbeat, off-kilter and eventually out-of-this world when Funky Forest: The First Contact touches down on DVD on March 18th.

Life is great for successful paranormal photographer Kouhei, until the day he unwittingly frees a vampire girl named Hazuki from her spiritual prison, and she moves in with his family. Adjusting to living with a petulant, socially inept vampire is bad enough, but when the creatures who imprisoned her are trying to get her back, it creates a whole mess of trouble! Sink your teeth into Moon Phase when the complete DVD Box Set is let loose on March 18th.

Whispered rumors of a female killer have begun to circulate around the city: The “Angel of Death” always eliminates her targets with grace and precision and then vanishes without a trace into the darkness. By day, she wears a different face: that of the kind and compassionate high school girl Monaka. But which face is real? Is it the icy visage of the cold-blooded assassin, or the kind smile of the friendly student? Find out when Kite: Liberator, the sequel to the controversial cult classic anime, Kite, hits the street March 25th.

Guarding the planet on high from their shining city of Hyperius, The Third may seem perfect, but even they have dark secrets they'd rather remained buried. When Honoka heads off for a rendezvous about a new job, the jack-of-all-trades discovers that her client is a particularly high-ranking Third named Fila Marique. But just as their meeting begins, Fila's auto-enforcers turn on their master and attempt to kill her! It seems The Third's past has come back to haunt them, and Honoka is stuck right in the middle! Get caught up in the crossfire when The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye DVD 5: Shadows of the Past arrives on March 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 Sensational Savings!

Shawne's Specials and Sensational Savings

Gear up for Sensational Savings on DVDs and UMDs from Manga Entertainment – from reissued anime classics such as Blood: The Last Vampire and Appleseed to hot, newer titles including Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society, Highlander and Tactics!

Through Sunday, February 17th, take 50% OFF the retail price of DVDs and UMDs from Manga Entertainment, including upcoming pre-order releases!

Just use the reusable coupon code sensational when you check out through RightStuf.com!

Another great reason to join our Got Anime purchasing club is that you can stack your discount on top of the sale price for even more savings! This means you have the potential to save up to 55% OFF on DVDs and UMDs from Manga! Check out www.gotanime.com for more details on how you can become a member today!

If you’re not sure which products are included in the sale,just click on the "Sensational Savings" graphic on the front page of RightStuf.com -- it will take you to a list of all of the Manga Entertainment items we carry!

It’s colder than ever here in the midwest, and temps in northern Minnesota hit -40 (before the wind chill) this week! We’re all waiting for spring to come, but the pesky groundhog says another 6 weeks of winter.

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
[ Source: http://www.komatuya-h.jp/pitem/74090290 ]<

The Anime and Gamer's Guide with Kris and Judy
[ Source: http://www.komatuya-h.jp/pitem/80215790 ]<

>The Anime and Gamer's Guide with Kris and Judy
[ Source: http://www.kookisushi.com/gift/washi.htm ]

Komatsuya Honten:
http://www.komatuya-h.jp

KOO-KI SUSHI:
http://www.kookisushi.com/

Anna Morrow

Rio and Okada from To Heart, and Honoka from The Third

The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye

Black Cat DVD Box Set (Hyb)

Right Stuf Contests and Updates

New Contest!In celebration of Right Stuf becoming the online home for the New York Anime Festival’s official store, Anime Today is giving you the chance to snag a Manhattan-sized prize package including: a NYAF limited edition commemorative sake set, a 2008 cosplay calendar and a plushie version of the NYAF mascot!

To enter, and have a sneak peek the prize package, check out our Contests page, in the “What’s Hot” bar at RightStuf.com, and get your entry in before February 28th! We’ll be announcing the winners on our February 29th episode of Anime Today!

Cowabunga… and congratulations! The following five listeners will soon receive a copy of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Video Game for the Wii: Kari C of Canton, Georgia; Diane A of Ballston Spa, New York; Jessica G of Bridgewater, New Jersey; Jerry S of Ottumwa, Alabama; and Teresa O of West Monrow, Louisiana!

Remember: Even though this contest is over, you can still tune in to the new season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – starring one our favorite anime voice actors, Sam Regal, as the voice of Donatello – as part of the 4Kids TV Saturday morning block, on most FOX affiliates! (AND pick up past seasons on DVD here at RightStuf.com)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Contest!

Marie's Spotlight: Shugo Chara

When I heard manga duo Peach Pit had a new title out called Shugo Chara, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Between DearS, Rozen Maiden, and Zombie Loan, there’s not a whole lot of overlap; in fact, Peach Pit seems determined to eventually cover just as many genres as the prolific CLAMP. Still, discovering that Shugo Chara is in fact a fantastic magical girl show along the lines of Cardcaptor Sakura was a bit of a nice surprise.

Hinamori Amu is the coolest girl in the fifth grade. She’s renowned for her tough attitude and stylish clothes, and her classmates unanimously idolize her. The problem is, Amu would much rather they’d just be her friends instead. What her classmates take for coolness is really just her difficulty in making small talk, and her mother picks out all of her clothes, not Amu. Deep down, she’s actually totally shy and insecure. One night, Amu wishes she were another sort of person entirely. The very morning, she finds three colorful eggs lying in her bed.

No, the Easter bunny isn’t moonlighting in Japan. In the world of Shugo Chara, all children have an “egg” deep in their hearts, containing the person they want to be when they grow up. In very rare cases, the egg hatches early, revealing a guardian character – or, in Amu’s case, her three eggs reveal three guardian characters. What’s a “guardian character” you ask? Essentially, it’s a six-inch tall guardian angel, and they come in all sorts of forms, representing the child’s dreams of being good at things like sports, dancing, art, world domination, etc. They can induce temporary “Character Changes,” giving the child they guard a sudden burst of unusual personality or ability, such as transforming a very mild-mannered girl to a tower of fiery rage, kind of like Gummi Berry Juice.

 But that’s not all. With Amu’s three guardian characters at her side, she’s introduced to her school’s Guardians, a group of students masquerading as a student council, but in reality devoted to watching over their classmates’ heart eggs. You see, when a child stops believing in their dreams, sometimes their egg goes bad – literally. It’s then the job of the school’s Guardians along with their guardian characters to track it down and keep it from causing too much damage. Not helping matters is a mysterious organization called Easter that’s dead-set on finding one special egg that can grant wishes. They’ll do anything to find it - even if it means rifling through children’s hopes and dreams like so many sock drawers.

One of the things I liked best about Shugo Chara is its central concept of “Character Change.” At the start of the series, Amu feels like she’s been locked into looking and acting a certain way because that’s what her classmates expect of her. It’s a universal feeling, and one I can’t imagine anyone would have trouble identifying with. However, most of us don’t have a chibi guardian character to push us beyond our self-imposed boundaries. Amu does, and it quickly becomes clear that despite her misgivings, even if Amu acts “out of character,” it’s still in character, because it’s still her. Not only that, but her sudden outbursts, such as when one of her character changes accidentally causes her to confess to her crush in front of the whole school, even help her make friends as the other students realize how much they have in common.

That’s not to say the whole series is secretly some kind of Aesop’s fable for children with a moral at the end. For one, there’s still plenty of action, humor, and drama, so it’s not like you can’t enjoy the series strictly on the merits of good story. On the other hand, if you need an excuse as to why you’re reading fifth-grader shojo, there’s a wealth of interesting subtopics to mine. Shugo Chara frequently brings up questions like why we often fear the things we want, whether change is always necessary, and why anyone should bother dreaming if, statistically speaking, very few people ever grow up to achieve their dreams. Sure, it’s usually in the context of tracking down a rogue heart’s egg that fears moving to America and learning English or a dejected fan at a pop concert, but that just makes it more fun.

While it might not come out well in my summary, Amu is a fantastic lead. She’s fun, she’s got an excess of style, and she has just the right balance of self-confidence and doubt to make her easy to identify with. The other characters, such as Nadeshiko and Ikuto, are pretty great, too, and the character changes allow for some neat dual personalities. For example, Tadase, the leader of the school’s Guardians, is considered a gentlemanly prince by those at the school, but he secretly wishes he could be more like a king and take over the world. Thanks to his guardian character, he actually can, or at least temporarily act like it. Don’t worry; he’s got good intentions. …Probably.

The guardian characters themselves are adorable, and I say that as someone who usually can’t stand mascot-type characters. There’s quite a variety of them, with a king, a baby, a stewardess, a catboy, a soccer player, and so on. They remind me of Angelic Layer, where half the fun in meeting a new character was in meeting their Angel, too. Of course, the guardian characters not only battle, but they also run around and cause mischief on their own.

As one would expect from Peach Pit, the art is great, and does a terrific job of blending cute and cool into a remarkably modern style. It’s like Nana for fifth-graders. The character designs and costumes – and there are a number of costumes due to all of the character changes – are each well designed and full of personality. The school itself seems to be a sort of modern-day castle-school hybrid. It’s not particularly educational like, but it’s definitely pretty, and it adds a sense of uniqueness to what would otherwise be just another school setting.

Great characters, great design, an engaging plot – yes, the egg puns are rampant, but what can you do? As I said earlier, if you liked Cardcaptor Sakura, Angelic Layer, or even Tokyo Mew Mew, you’ll definitely want to give Shugo Chara a spin. There are very few books that easily span age demographics enough to be enjoyed on multiple levels, but Shugo Chara is definitely one of them.

Mini Japanese 101 with Judy-sensei!

Animecons.com

Anime Today Q & A

Hi Sarah,

To be honest, my first reaction to your question was “Of course, there’s plenty of good manga for younger teens!” But now that you’ve mentioned it, you’re right. Outside of Fruits Basket, many of the better known shojo manga do tend towards on end of the scale or the other. This is especially true if you’ve been reading Shojo Beat, which runs series like Absolute Boyfriend, Nana, and Vampire Knight, which all contribute to the anthology’s 16+ rating, and Baby & Me, which… doesn’t.

Really, though, I’d say the skew is just a problem with demographics. A lot of reviewers, bloggers, and the other people who are likely to talk about new manga titles are either much older than the young teen demographic, so they tend to favor books that cater to adult sensibilities, or else they’re looking for books that work across demographics, and those are frequently aimed somewhat younger, like today’s review for Shugo Chara. I know a lot of teens are anxious to put anything childish behind them, but once you hit 20 and you’re still watching cartoons and reading comics, the difference between books rated all and 13+ is almost zero.

You can also “blame” the publishers for some of the skew, who are selling to an older crowd here than they are in Japan. While manga is making huge inroads in a lot of different age groups, most readers are still likely to fall in the 16-24 age range, and they’re going to be buying manga mostly for themselves and for their young children. Publishers naturally gravitate to titles they think will sell to the largest available audience. Distributors also come into play: for example, if you can sell your book to Scholastic, that’s a huge number of advance copies right there, and Scholastic skews young.

But! That’s not to say there aren’t any great shojo titles out there for younger teens. They simply take a little more digging to find. Just off the top of my head, there’s the aforementioned Fruits Basket, Tsubasa, Gentlemen’s Alliance +, Love*Com, My Heavenly Hockey Club, Fall in Love Like a Comic, and almost half of CMX’s entire publishing history, what with their volumes of Super Gals, Land of the Blindfolded, Recipe for Gertrude, and more. Heck, even Yuu Watase, who writes some of the more “scandalous” teen shojo manga, has Imadoki available here in the States. And if you don’t mind trying something a little more homegrown, DC Comics’ Minx line is written exactly for young teen girls with titles like Plain Janes and Re-Gifters.

When in doubt, just check your ratings. If it says 13+ on the back, you’re probably good to go, at least as far watching out for the older titles. Younger can be a little harder to weed out, and I will admit this is the first time I’ve ever heard Kodocha, which is also rated 13+, called kiddy. Those you may have to read a volume or two of first, but between the local library and free online chapters from Tokyopop and other publishers, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a towering stack of books to suit you.

 

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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This episode featured music from:

  • Swinging Popsicle CD: Go On

    Swinging Popsicle CD: Go On

    00:00 --- 1. rainbounds

    02:38 --- 8. Zanzou to noise

    05:40 --- 4. Kanashii Shirabe

    07:55 --- 6. Chocolate Soul Music

    13:52 --- 7. Nothings gonna change my world

    24:57 --- 3. Stay by my side

    26:27 --- 5. Friends Again

    33:33 --- 6. Chocolate Soul Music

    35:17 --- 10. Ameoto I wish you were here

    38:38 --- 7. Nothings gonna change my world

    49:15 --- 2. Clash

    53:14 --- 9. I will My will

    55:07 --- 11. Go on