ANIME TODAY #78: Talking New Media With Anime News Network’s Justin SevakisPosted on: Friday, October 24, 2008
Episode run down:
In this episode, we’re going to be talking with Justin Sevakis, the Director of New Media for Anime News Network. They’ve been rapidly adding new content to the video section of their web site, including over 300 anime trailers and episodes of ANNtv.
The music for this episode is from the akai itazura CD by kunoichipanda courtesy of JapanFiles.com. We’d like to thank JapanFiles.com for letting us feature the 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.
If you haven’t had a chance to check us out over on Twitter yet, browse on over to twitter.com/animetoday. There, you can follow us and find out out about the latest Right Stuf sales, Nozomi announcements (including where to find the latest trailers), and episodes of Anime Today.
You can also be a part of Anime Today by leaving a message at 1-800-338-6727, extension 7424. Leave us a question about anime or manga, our industry, or just let us know how we’re doing. If we use your feedback an episode, you’ll get a $10 gift certificate to RightStuf.com.
Leading off this episode is Chad with What’s Hot in the World of Anime, and then Shawne will tell you how you can Fall Into BIG Savings on DVDs & Books From Viz Media. After that, Nick and Rich will return with the YA Entertainment I Really Really Like You contest winners, and we’ll kick off a new contest for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
Next, Justin from ANN joins us to talk about the new and upcoming video features on AnimeNewNetwork.com and then Lisa Marie checks out FUNimation’s complete series release of Jyo-Oh-Sei. Rich and Nick are back for a short AnimeCons.com update and then we dive back in on our phone call with Justin to discuss some features not to miss in ANN’s video section AND what to keep an eye out for. Taking us out this episode are a few more customer reviews from our online store at RightStuf.com.
In the aftermath of a great earthquake, the ruthless Genom corporation is poised to take over the devastated city of Tokyo with an army of synthetic monsters… and only a small band of female mercenaries dares to stand in its way! Armed with incredible combat suits, the Knight Sabers wage a desperate war in the shadows, combating the monstrous by-products of technology run amuck with courage, sweat and blood! It’s a deadly trial by fire when the Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040 DVD Complete Collection streets on November 25th.
A new and deadly breed of covert agent walks the streets. Known as Contractors, these assassins and spies wield bizarre supernatural powers to carry out the dirty work of others, their loyalties always in question. One among these operatives is more mysterious than the rest: the masked killer BK201, the Black Reaper. His true identity and intentions remain unknown, but as his path weaves through the shadows and alleys of Tokyo, blood is spilled on both sides of the law. It's a new age of confusion, and the rules of engagement have changed as Darker Than Black DVD 1 arrives in regular and box set editions on November 25th.
The Phoenix, in the form of a bird of fire, is said to hold the key to eternal life… and throughout time, mankind has chased after it and the dream of immortality. Great wars are fought in a vain attempt to possess it, and as a result, civilizations rise and fall. Many will perish because of their desires, and they are the lucky ones. True pain comes for those who find immortality and experience the burden of living forever. Discover five animated stories based on the lifework of legendary manga-ka Osamu Tezuka when the Phoenix DVD Collection streets on November 25th.
All things have a name by which they are defined. Among these are the many long-forgotten gods who dwell within the world, brought about by humanity’s prayers, fears and desires. Yuki has wandered through Japan’s countryside for nearly 25 years, posing as a bodyguard and living the life of a gambler and thief, all while denying his own name. But through a chance encounter with one of these other-worldly beings, he is forced to face his own past and rediscover his long-hidden power: the ability to find beings’ true names and use them as weapons to exorcise the beasts plaguing the material world! Ghost Slayers Ayashi, Part 1 materializes on to DVD with regular and special editions on December 2nd.
Spring term brings reunions, fond farewells and new challenges for the members of the Yamayuri Council. Yoko, Eriko and Sei are busy preparing to depart Lillian, while Sachiko, Rei and Shimako do their best to ensure their dear elder sisters receive a memorable commencement. Soon, Lillian will have new leaders in the Council offices of Rosa Chinesis, Foetida and Gigantea, as well as new faces and budding relationships! Return to the Lillian Girls’ School when the Maria Watches Over Us – Season 2 DVD Collection: Printemps arrives on November 25th.
Shawne's Specials and the Fall Into BIG Savings Sale!
Right Stuf Contests and Updates
Congratulations to the winners of our most recent YA Entertainment K-drama contest celebrating the series I Really, Really Like You, which stars the K-pop music superstar Eugene! The following 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: Talitha L of Phoenix, Arizona; Jennefer S of Girard, Ohio; and Eric S of Brookline, Massachusetts.
And each of the following grand-prize 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! Catherine C of Acworth, Georgia; Cheryl V of San Ramon, California; and Alice T of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.
Next up, we’re getting a leap on Bandai Entertainment’s upcoming DVD release of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time with our newest contest! FIVE lucky winners will receive a full-sized theatrical poster featuring artwork from the movie! To enter the contest, visit our Contest page in the “What’s Hot” bar at RightStuf.com – before November 20th. We’ll announce the winner during episode 80 of Anime Today!
And 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!
Justin Sevakis, Director of New Media for Anime News Network
Anime News Network: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com
Marie's Spotlight: Jyu-Oh-Sei
I’m always up for a new anime from Studio Bones, and hearing Jyu Oh Sei aired in Japan during the famous Noitamina programming block only intrigued me further. The goal of the Noitamina block is to promote anime outside of its usual demographics, frequently venturing into josei and the eclectic. So what was, I presumed, a shonen adventure series doing in the same place as Paradise Kiss, Honey & Clover, and Ayakashi? The answer turns out to be nothing, because Jyu Oh Sei is not shonen adventure. Instead, it’s the embodiment of an old-school sci-fi paperback, the sort I used to read voraciously in high school and, I’m willing to bet, a number of the older Japanese viewers the block attracts must have as well.
It’s the future, and humanity has colonized the Balkan star system, terraforming many of the planets. Thor and Rai, 11-year-old twins with striking identical pale features, live on an orbital colony where their father is the Prime Minister. They dream of one day going back to Earth, a destination reserved only for the very elite, but that dream ends when they come home one day to discover their parents murdered. Before they can even react, they themselves are gassed by the intruders and placed unconscious in a shuttle pod bound for a planet kept secret by the government. Officially titled Chimaera, the government has been dropping condemned criminals on the surface for years. But the “locals” have another name for their forced home, Jyu Oh Sei, or literally, the Planet of the Beast King. Upon awakening and stumbling out of the pod, Thor and Rai discover why. Jyu Oh Sei is a harsh planet and the only way to survive is to become like a beast, forgetting the civilization they once knew.
But even the instincts of a wild animal might not be enough, because here, the top of the food chain is reserved for the giant plants that dominate the landscape. Some are carnivorous and some are merely uncaring of whatever gets crushed in their way, but death comes cheaply and most often to the unprepared. The only way off the planet is to win the title of Beast King by controlling all of the conflicting factions that have sprung up in an on-going battle royale for supremacy, at which point the government will grant a full pardon to the “winner.” The stronger of the two twins, Thor is determined to claim the title so he can uncover what happened to their parents and why they were exiled, but first he’s just going to have to stay alive.
Jyu Oh Sei doesn’t borrow the science fiction label in setting only. Like so many of those sci-fi paperbacks I first mentioned, it plays around with social structure, creating a new kind of society fit for an untamed planet where most of the inhabitants are criminals. The gender ratio, for example, is 4:1, and so the women, who must still be just as tough as the men to survive, are also considered a precious resource for preserving the species. The science fiction elements especially come to the fore during the last few episodes, when Thor finally gets his answers. However, while I’m playing up the science fiction side of things, I should mention that Jyu Oh Sei is not hard sci-fi in the manner of Planetes. For one thing, trees probably can’t grow that fast in real life, even under ideal conditions. On the other hand, then it wouldn’t look as cool, so I figure it’s justified.
Since it’s a shorter-than-usual series, Jyu Oh Sei is very tightly woven. With just 11 episodes, there’s no room for filler, but neither does it try to cram in so much that there’s no time to enjoy the details. It’s, if you’ll pardon the cliché, exactly as long as it needs to be, with every episode significantly advancing the plot and asking new questions until it reaches its conclusion where all the mysteries are revealed. Funimation’s released the whole series as a box set, which I really appreciated while marathoning it – if there was an episode that didn’t end on a cliffhanger, I didn’t notice it. However, I admit I’m a little surprised Funimation didn’t release it as two volumes, since there’s a time skip right in the middle as seems to be fashionable again in anime these days, and it would have served as a perfect break. Just as well, however, since I never could stand waiting to find out what happened next.
Animated by Studio Bones, it should come as no surprise that the animation is well done. From the distinctive character designs to the fluid man versus murderous-plant battles, everything is executed with Studio Bones’ usual quality, but most impressive is the scenery. Jyu Oh Sei is a rough, beautiful place, and nature runs rampant, completely untamed. The landscapes vary from humid alien forests to seething volcanoes in a freezing blizzard, each a stark testimony to how different the planet is from Earth. One of my favorite shots came after the violent eruption of a large number of extremely large trees, each so big that ten-foot pools formed on their leaves, the water serenely cascading between them in beautiful waterfalls, as if completely unaware of the number of deaths for those caught in the sudden growth. It reminds me very much of wilds in Eden: It’s an Endless World and Origin: Spirits of the Past, except where those series feature nature reclaiming a planet in Jyu Oh Sei there’s no need: nature already rules.
Categorizing Jyu Oh Sei is surprisingly difficult, as it is a very serious series with a very specific story to tell. While it contains elements of adventure, Thor doesn’t really care about exploring the world beyond what he needs to. And for all the talk from the characters of having children to continue the survival of the species, Jyu Oh Sei’s certainly not a romance, either. The barbarism of Ancient Rome shades any number of scenes, but the violence is never gratuitous. The comedy is relegated to the occasional line explaining Thor’s prowess at taming the plants – he got A’s in gymnastics back home – or when you finally realize why his outfit seems so familiar is because you last saw it on Heero Yuy. You could get away with calling it an action series, as Thor certainly does have to fight his way through any number of foes, but it’s not a focus the way it is in your typical summer blockbuster. There’s some interesting debate about the nature of human versus beast, and character drama certainly comes up, but again, the plot takes precedence. Your best bet is to just call it speculative science fiction; a tale of “what if?” leavened with some loose philosophy, though even that doesn’t really do it justice.
Before I wrap up, I have to give a quick shout out to whoever storyboarded that opening sequence. While I find the pop tune rather incongruous for the images it accompanies, despite or even because Thor’s own voice actor sings it, I’m impressed the animators managed to get just about every major plot point and character into the opening without a single spoiler. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another anime manage that.
I highly recommend Jyu Oh Sei to fans of Eden: It’s an Endless World, Toward the Terra, and the latter half of Trigun, whose twins Thor and Rai can’t help but remind me of, though they have a very different ending. Well animated, quickly moving, and tightly focused, it’s the perfect anime for fans who want to take a break from some of the other sprawling series out there, and if you ever spent a summer rifling through your library’s book stacks looking for anything new with that ubiquitous Saturn sticker on the spine, you’ll love Jyu Oh Sei.
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This episode features music from:
00:00 --- 04. kurakura
02:42 --- 07. togireta sekai
06:33 --- 01. akai itazura
07:41 --- 05. hitori asobi
10:10 --- 02. kanaderu tabi-no tochude
25:59 --- 06. makejo-zu
34:50 --- 08. ryu-sei no yoru
37:04 --- 02. kanaderu tabi-no tochude
47:35 --- 03. arisu no kusuri
50:05 --- 09. tokai shinjo