ANIME TODAY #77: Previewing MORIBITO with Media Blasters’ Merideth Mulroney

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Episode run down:

The jams for this episode are from Ketchup Mania’s F.L.A.G. CD courtesy of JapanFiles.com. We’d like to thank JapanFiles.com for letting us feature the feisty tracks 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.

Media Blasters’ latest release, Moribito, is full of beauty and intrigue and will be hitting stores on November 4th. For an in-depth look at what this series entails, we’ve invited Art Director Merideth Mulroney to talk about her role in bringing this gorgeous show to American anime fans.

Chad’s up first with What’s Hot in the world of anime and then Shawne invites all of you to a Banquet of Bargains on titles from Tokyopop. Our latest contests could win you some drama either in the kitchen or at an all-girl’s high school so be sure to listen and get your entries in soon!

Next up is our interview with Merideth and then Lisa Marie then joins us and points her spotlight at Code Geass. In our Q and A segment, we’re going to answer a question about high definition video formats that was sent in by Trent. Following that, we’ll have a rundown of upcoming conventions. And finally, we’ll wrap up the episode with some customer reviews from RightStuf.com.

What's Hot?

In a fantastic land, where two moons shine in the night sky, one young student in the magic school has acquired the nickname of "Zero." Why? Because Louise has "zero" talent! With a near-perfect failure rate for her spells, the shock that Louise's summoning spell works is equaled by the surprise of her new familiar, a human boy from Japan! And when the boy begins exhibiting some unexpected abilities, why do the teachers get so nervous? Find out when The Familiar of Zero DVD Box Set arrives on November 4th.

At a time when the balance of nature still held the civilizations of mankind in thrall, a single drought could spell the end of a society. Prince Chagum has been imbued with the power to stave off the drought and bring new life to his empire. However, his Court’s advisors don’t see this as a blessing and sentence him to death by his own father’s hand. Balsa, a spear woman atoning for her own past, may be the prince’s salvation, but can she fend off an entire empire? Based on the best-selling novel series, the Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit anime makes its DVD debut on November 4th.

At first glance, Miyagami Private Academy seems like a typical all-girls' school. But beneath its placid surface is a highly-disciplined student council engaged in an unceasing struggle to keep Miyagami Private Academy safe from the outside (adult) world! Complete with covert and assault divisions, all student council members have their own special abilities. So, how did cute little transfer student Rando Rino make the cut? School’s in session when the Best Student Council DVD Collection streets on November 11th.

Something strange has happened to Makoto Konno. Time has suddenly stopped and moved her backwards! With her newfound ability to literally leap backwards in time, Makoto finds that tests become a piece of cake, embarrassing situations are corrected, and she can have her favorite food anytime she wants. Unfortunately, with every successful leap, she also alters the fates of those around her. (This wasn't supposed to happen!) Join Makoto as she races back in time to fix everything when the acclaimed film The Girl Who Leapt Through Time leaps onto DVD with both regular and limited editions on November 18th.

In the future, mankind's seemingly utopian society is strictly controlled by the government, and anything that threatens to disrupt the status quo is ruthlessly suppressed. When 14-year-old Jomy begins to question the way society is run, he suddenly becomes a target for both the government and the Mu, an outcast race with extra-sensory abilities who have been fighting against the government for generations. Now, each is determined to hunt him down - one to kill him and the other to save him. Based on Keiko Takemiya’s groundbreaking sci-fi manga, the Toward the Terra Movie arrives on North American DVD for the first time complete with remastered video footage on November 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 A Banquet of Bargains Sale!

Shawne's Specials and A Banquet of Bargains Sale!

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

Check out the PREORDERS and the Got Anime? Purchasing Club!

Right Stuf Contests and Updates

Congratulations to Michelle K of New York, New York and to Donald R of Houston, Texas! They just won tickets to theatrical screenings of Viz Pictures’ live-action Death Note 2 movie on October 15 and 16!

I Really, Really Like YouRight Stuf and YA Entertainment kicking off a new, month-long contest centered around the newly released series I Really, Really Like You, which stars the K-pop music superstar Eugene! THREE lucky winners will receive a copy of I Really, Really Like You, Vol. 1 – a DVD box set that contains the first 18 episodes of the series! PLUS, three runners up will each receive an “I Love K-Drama Bag” with that includes the first three episodes of I Really, Really Like You and sample episodes from My Lovely Sam-Soon, Stairway to Heaven and Damo: The Undercover Lady Detective!

To enter – and find out more about these titles – check out our Contest page in the “What’s Hot” bar at RightStuf.com – before October 23rd. We’ll announce the winners during episode 78 of Anime Today!

Maria Watches Over Us Season 1 Disc 1And finally, Right Stuf’s very own Nozomi Entertainment is happy to gear up for the release of Maria Watches Over Us – Season 2 with a contest that gives FIVE of you the chance to check out the first few episodes of Season 1!

To find our more about the series, visit mariasama.rightstuf.com, and to enter the contest, check out our Contest page in the “What’s Hot” bar at RightStuf.com – before November 6th. We’ll announce the winners during episode 79 of Anime Today!

Vexille BluRay (Hyb) Special Edition

 

Merideth Mulroney, Art Director at Media Blasters

Merideth Mulroney

http://www.media-blasters.com/

Wiki pages:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moribito
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guardian_of_the_Spirit

ANN page:
http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=6634

Marie's Spotlight: Code Geass

There are some anime which, just by watching the first episode, you know are going to be one of this year’s Big Deals. Fullmetal Alchemist is perhaps the prime example, and now Code Geass easily slips into the role for 2008. Between the faster-than-a-speeding-train plot, relentless manipulation of the viewers’ emotions, and well-publicized involvement of CLAMP, Code Geass is a spectacle of all that an anime can be. So forgive me if the plot description runs a little overlong this week; Code Geass is nothing if not complicated in the best possible way.

In 2010, The Holy Empire of Britannia, already in control of a large fraction of the world, made its move on the country Japan. While the Japanese put up a stiff defense, they were no match for Britannia’s new weapon: oversized robot suits called Knightmare Frames. Japan conquered, Britannia took over the region and renamed it Area 11. The Japanese people who survived the war became second-class citizens called Elevens, living in ghettos while the ruling Britannians live in luxury and without worries in the cleaned-up sections of town.

As you might imagine, some resentment for the Britannians has built up, and resistance fighters still terrorize the country – or defend it, depending on where your sympathies lie. But perhaps most surprisingly, hatred for the Britannian Empire burns in the heart of Lelouch, a seemingly ordinary Britannian citizen and high school student who is in fact one of the Britannian emperor’s many children, exiled to Japan with his sister before the start of the war. He became good friends with the Japanese minister’s son, Suzaku, and when Suzaku’s father was assassinated and the war ripped through the countryside, Lelouch vowed revenge. And now, through a series of extenuating circumstances, he’s been handed his weapon on a silver platter by a mysterious girl: a power called a geass, or the ability to make anyone do anything with simply one look into their eyes. It only works once per person, but that’s all he needs.

Code Geass is like an unholy combination of Gundam, Death Note, and X, and by that I mean it borrows the very best themes of each and then combines them in such a cohesive way that I haven’t really seen since Escaflowne. The biggest parallel comes from the numerous sympathetic players on both sides of the fence, and, like in the aforementioned series, those sympathies only make the inevitable conflicts and deaths that much more heart-wrenching. A number of other motifs are familiar as well. The giant robot Knightmares can’t help but call up memories of gundams; the supernatural power and crazy scheming are reminiscent of Death Note, though Lelouch’s plans very rarely go exactly the way he would like; the CLAMP character designs make the similarities of Suzaku and Lelouch’s friendship only that much more similar to Fuma and Kamui’s fated opposition; and of course, the secret identities that lead to enemies becoming good friends and vice versa are again a hallmark of all three shows.

As you might imagine, all that in one place leads to a ton of emotions running rampant in every episode. The first few episodes are starkly depressing and angering, especially during the brutal massacre of the Japanese right after we’ve seen them do their best to maintain what little dignity they have left. But to keep the series from becoming too heavy, it’s been leavened with unexpected amounts of comedy – especially during the episode in which Lelouch discovers his every plan is at risk because of a simple cat and ends up trying to catch it in what is definitely not his most dignified moment. It’s a breather episode that was desperately needed, much in the style of Fullmetal Alchemist’s infamous military short stories episode. Then there’s the excitement that accompanies so many of the big scenes like when Lelouch first discovers his power or when his masked persona, Zero, makes his dramatic appearance. And, like the best classics, it can even make you uncomfortable at times when the themes cut a little too close too home; in my case, when the narration mentions an unheard-of weapon that subdued Japan and didn’t give them a chance to fight back.

I’ve focused on Lelouch so far and, while he’s certainly the driving force, he isn’t the only person in Code Geass by a long shot. Suzaku has also survived the war and even become an “honorary Britannian,” fighting in their military. A group of freedom fighters end up following Lelouch, and engage in a number of missions and showdowns with the Britannian forces. In case you get too depressed, there’s Lelouch’s schoolmates, who live primarily cheerful lives, completely unaware of the number of deep games and secret identities lurking around them, and I’m still not describing a dozen other subplots and characters. By all rights, keeping track of everything ought to be difficult, especially for the first-time watcher, but the only thing you might miss on the first pass are a few names, and those will be shouted out often enough later.

A lot of the credit for that goes to Director Goro Taniguchi and the team of writers, who carefully pace the introductions so that we grasp each character’s motivations and political affiliations before moving on. But, some of that credit should also go to CLAMP, whose striking character designs not only look good, but effortlessly reflect the personalities wearing them. Perhaps that’s not unusual, since CLAMP had additional unspecified input on the series beyond design, and I’d be willing to bet they had quite a bit to say about how the characters act. In particular, Suzaku strikes me as Tsubasa’s Syaoran if he had ended up on the “wrong” side. As an occasional cosplayer, I also have to say I loved the huge variety of outfits and uniforms on display. They’re so detailed that they can’t have been easy to animate, which conveniently brings me to my next point.

The animation is beautiful. I’m certain that the robots and explosions, at the very least, had to have been done in CG to flow that smoothly, but the mixing is so well done that there’s not a sign that you’re watching anything but pure hand-drawn animation. Heavy city traffic, huge crowds, flowing hair and costumes - it’s all wonderfully integrated. I’d love to know what the budget was for each episode.

Bandai’s included several extras on the discs, and even more if you went for the collectors’ edition, which contains enough merchandise in one box to start your own Code Geass shrine. But while sound dramas and Japanese commentaries are, indeed, pretty awesome, my favorites are the picture book dramas. Included on even the regular discs along with the commentaries, these are short little interludes containing scenes and background information that they couldn’t cram into the already packed episodes. They’re not fully animated, so watching them is a little like the story portion of Reading Rainbow, but the voice actors do reprise their roles.

I whole-heartedly recommend Code Geass for nearly everyone. The exceptions would be small children, those who have no patience for intricate plotting, and anyone uncomfortable with shades of grey instead of black and white good and evil. Everybody else, strap in for one crazy ride. I’m especially glad this is one of the series Bandai decided to release two volumes at a time, because very few of the episodes do not end on huge cliffhangers. Don’t say I didn’t warn 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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