ANIME TODAY #73: Interviewing Actor & Podcaster Kyle HebertPosted on: Friday, August 15, 2008
Episode run down:
Alison, Rich and Nick will soon be heading off to Anime Iowa. The Right Stuf and Nozomi Entertainment panel is at 10:30 a.m.on Saturday in Programming 1 so if you’re close by, we hope you can drop in and see us at the Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. We’ll also be wandering the convention in Anime Today shirts and occasionally Twittering so join us at twitter.com/animetoday to track us throughout the day.
Throughout this episode, you’ll be listening to the CD Mushimonogatari by Poplar. Thanks to JapanFiles.com for letting us feature music from this CD. 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.
This episode, we will be chatting with actor and fellow podcaster Kyle Hebert. You may recognize him from the English dubs of Gurren Lagann, Naruto and Bleach or from his “Big Bald Broadcast.” Find out more about his adventures in voice acting and podcasting in his two part interview coming up shortly but first get ready for What’s Hot in the World of Anime and Manga with Chad. Uso Deshou is up next and then Shawne’s got some quick “Dino-mite” Deals on manga and more from DC Comics. And then get ready for the first part of Kyle’s interview.
We’ve drawn the winner of our YA Entertainment Palace contest, our Emma Season 1 contest is continuing, and we’ll have a new K-drama contest kicking off later in this episode. Lisa Marie is going to be shining her spotlight on Story of Saiunkoku. Nick and Rich will then bring you September’s convention highlights, followed by the second part of our interview with Kyle Hebert. In this part, we’ll talk about fan reaction to his characters, how he reaches out to the anime community, his podcast, “Big Bald Broadcast,” and what projects and appearances he has coming up. And finally, we’ll wrap up this episode with customer reviews from the RightStuf.com store.
Created by the late Osamu Tezuka – the revered animator and cartoonist who is widely considered the Walt Disney of Japan – Astro Boy was the first manga series to be adapted to animation and, as a result, became a worldwide phenomenon and household name. Astro Boy is the “Mickey Mouse” of anime - a jet-powered, super-strong, evil-robot-bashing, alien-invasion-smashing Mickey Mouse, that is! Now you can read the first two volumes of Dr. Tezuka’s beloved creation, featuring over 400 pages of action, humor, and heart in one collection, when Astro Boy Graphic Novel 1 & 2 arrives on September 10th.
Light Yagami is an ace student who finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies. But when Light uses his newfound power to rid the world of evil, the authorities send the legendary detective “L” to investigate the mysterious deaths. Both Light and L believe themselves to be on the side of justice, and the two match wits as they attempt to prove which one of them is "good" and which one of them is "evil." See the live-action adaptation of the smash-hit anime and manga when Death Note Movie One arrives on DVD on September 16th.
This is the story of one young boy who couldn't get along with his classmates and decided to drop out and never return... This is the story of an exquisite doll who wished to one day become a normal human girl... This is the story of an unlikely partnership between one young boy and an exquisite doll as they strive to help each other overcome their fears, and the very real dangers of the life and death game that they must compete in. But first, they have to overcome their distrust of each other. Experience a journey of magic, danger, and self-discovery, when the Rozen Maiden DVD Box Set comes to life on September 16th.
Not even the bright and talented minds of the CLAMP School can keep the campus free of crimes and mysteries. Or can they? Join the three most idolized students of the elementary school division – Nokuru, Suoh and Akira, the school’s very own resident detectives – as they save the day and even the odd damsel in distress! An early work from the creators of X, Tsubasa and xxxHolic, the CLAMP School Detectives make their bilingual DVD debut when the complete series arrives on September 16th.
Shawne's Specials and “Dino-Mite” Deals on Manga & More From DC Comics!
Right Stuf Contests and Updates
Congratulations to Amy S. of Chesterfield, Virginia! She is the winner of our most recent contest with YA Entertainment and will soon be receiving a K-drama goodie bag that contains the box set of Palace – a live-action TV series based on the Princess Hours / Goong manwha – and a copy of Korean Drama Classics, Vol. 1!
Also, Right Stuf and Nozomi Entertainment are excited to offer fans a chance to check out Emma: A Victorian Romance – Season 1 with our new contest! Five lucky winners will receive a preview disc that features the first three episodes of the historical romance’s first season! To find our more about the series, visit emma.rightstuf.com, and to enter the contest, check out our Contest page in the “What’s Hot” bar at RightStuf.com – before August 28th. We’ll announce the winners during episode 74 of Anime Today!
For our next K-drama contest, Right Stuf and YA Entertainment are teaming up for a Delicious Proposal! One lucky winner will receive a K-drama goodie bag that includes the box set of Delicious Proposal – an acclaimed, modern classic with an all-star cast – plus a copy of the Korean Drama Classics, Vol. 1 sampler!
To enter – and find out more about Delicious Proposal – check out our Contest page in the “What’s Hot” bar at RightStuf.com – before August 28th. We’ll announce the winners during the next episode of Anime Today!
Marie's Spotlight: The Story of Saiunkoku
One of the series I was most disappointed not to see completed due to Geneon’s restructuring was The Story of Saiunkoku. Fortunately, Funimation has just announced that the third volume will finally be released in Region 1 this October. Why was I originally so disappointed? Because Saiunkoku is one of the most refreshing and interesting josei series I’ve ever seen.
Shurei Hong is the daughter of a noble but impoverished family in Saiunkoku, a country much like Imperial China but prettier. Money, as you might guess, is a high priority for her. So when two court officials come by with the outlandish proposition that Shurei act as the Emperor’s consort for six months in exchange for a hefty chunk of change, she agrees. But playing consort is just a cover for what the officials really want her to accomplish. The Emperor, Ryuki, is lazy and unwilling to govern, and it’s going to be Shurei’s task to get him ready for leadership. Shurei has long dreamed of being a government official despite the prohibition of women in politics, and this seems like her only chance to do some good for the country. However, when she gets there, things seem to be even worse than she imagined: Ryuki is a total playboy, and he’s not even chasing after the right gender! Shurei takes him around town to meet his subjects (with Ryuki in disguise, of course) and Ryuki quickly develops a fondness for his new consort. It seems obvious where all this is going, right? Wrong! Saiunkoku has one of the most deceptive first episodes since Haruhi debuted.
By episode two, Ryuki realizes perhaps he should start governing and stop playing stupid – so he does. Shurei, now that she’s got her foot in the door, slowly begins to work her way deeper and deeper into the political machinations of the palace. Ryuki recognizes this and begins the complicated legislative process of enabling women to take the imperial exam and thus become officers. It’s a proposition that’s going to take careful handling to overcome the objections of the Court. Working with, and against them, are a genuinely huge cast of supporting characters, each offering their own stamp on the politics and worries swirling within the Court. And it doesn’t hurt that each one happens to be remarkably good looking for a politician either. Saiunkoku: Come for the romantic comedy, stay for the politics and pretty people.
The very first thing that won me over about Saiunkoku was Shurei. She’s an absolutely wonderful character, with a quick temper, sharp wit, and self-assured grace. It’s a rare series where my favorite character is the female lead, since they’re not often as well written or developed as the guys tend to be. I was a little concerned when she quickly gained a large number of friends, followers and zealous protectors, which is usually the first sign we’ve dipped into dangerous wish fulfillment territory. However, it’s portrayed as the natural consequence of her charisma and leadership skills, both highly important for the job she wishes to take on, and not everybody loves her. She has any number of enemies as well, most of them concerned that she has far too much influence over the Emperor than she should. Fortunately, while Shurei’s still a novice at the complicated game of bureaucratic chess, she’s proving herself a very quick learner.
Shurei’s not the only smart character either, which presents a very unusual complication: Sai Yukino, the author of the original novels, had to make her plots just as clever as her characters, since dragging things out via the usual misunderstandings and willful stupidity would have derailed the entire atmosphere of the series. Just when you’ve noticed someone’s secret identity and are certain it will be a major plot point for at least another ten episodes, the other characters put two and two together for themselves! The “typical” relationship conflicts caused by rude thoughtlessness are also avoided by the sheer amount of politeness the characters usually show to each other – when they’re not villains trying to kill someone, anyway. No, Saiunkoku uses real problems to fuel its plot, like power grabs and the economy.
While Saiunkoku is determined to play just about everything straight, it’s still a fantasy series, and every now and then the hints of the supernatural that have been lurking in the background become full-blown plot points to remind us of that fact. Ghosts in jars doubling as political consultants is the least of it. Shurei opens the series by telling of the legend of the eight celestial beings, each representing a different color, who founded the land of Saiunkoku, and you better believe that legend pops up again in surprising capacities. Saiunkoku isn’t devoid of humor, either, and the comedy plays certain character traits to the hilt a la Ranma ½. For example, there’s Koyu, a court officer who possesses Ryoga’s sense of direction – or utter lack thereof – and the Head of Finance’s reason for always wearing a mask, which it would be a shame to spoil. The Emperor himself gets into more than his fair share of comical misunderstandings, usually in regards to whether he is or is not sleeping with Shurei – which he’s not, much to his dismay.
As you might have guessed from the cover art, Saiunkoku is pretty. The music is pretty, the animation is pretty, the DVD art is pretty, the characters are pretty - you get the idea. A neat thing about those pretty characters, though, is that they come in a remarkably wide variety of types and ages – if you ever wondered what a bishonen might look like at age 30, 50, or even 95, here’s your chance to find out the meaning of “aging gracefully.” The women of the show are no slouches either, especially the ones working in the red light district. When I started watching the series, my first instinct was to compare it to Ouran for all of the flowers and other attractive shojo trappings. That was before I got into the plot, of course. But even after the plot kicks in, you can still admire the wonderful Chinese costumes.
Before the series was put on hold, there was one small controversy circulating about the Saiunkoku translation. In the Japanese dialog, you’ll notice Shurei’s last name is pronounced “Kou.” However, in the subtitles and the English dialog, her name is “Hong.” No, this wasn’t a random name change to frustrate fans. The kanji that makes up Shurei’s last name is “red,” as she is from the Red clan. It is pronounced “Hong” in Chinese and “Kou” in Japanese. However, the kanji for “yellow” is also pronounced “Kou” in Japanese, so to avoid confusion later on with the Yellow clan, Shurei’s name was switched to Hong.
Saiunkoku fascinates me on multiple levels. With its odd combination of josei, politics, and feminism, it’s really outside of any other anime I’ve ever seen. Every time I think I’ve finally got the series pegged as going in a certain direction, it does something completely different, but still somehow completely logical. Due to its setting, it’s easiest to compare Saiunkoku to Fushigi Yugi and The Twelve Kingdoms, but I actually find more similarities with the musical 1776, assuming John Adams were a pretty young girl and Thomas Jefferson a bishonen. While it’s not going to be for everyone, for those of you looking for a genuinely smart series that just happens to have plenty of eye candy – and guys, let me reiterate that that eye candy is equal opportunity – you’ll find The Story of Saiunkoku a welcome breath of fresh air.
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This episode features music from:
0:00:00 --- 03. Ayatsuri
0:02:36 --- 11. Glass Prayer
0:05:38 --- 08. Spaceship The Earth
0:07:43 --- 02. Asuka Matsuri
0:22:42 --- 04. Kyorei
0:24:34 --- 07. Yadorigi
0:33:27 --- 05. Fly Free
0:36:22 --- 02. Asuka Matsuri
0:59:08 --- 13. Island to Island
1:01:54 --- 06. Blue
1:03:28 --- 01. Mushimonogatari