ANIME TODAY #107: Discussing MANGA CROSS-STITCH With Writer & Anime Expert Helen McCarthy

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Episode run down:

Helen McCarthy joins us once again for the final portion of her interview from last episode. This time, we'll focus on her new book, Manga Cross-Stitch, and talk about how artists and crafty people alike and draw inspiration from anime and manga into almost any medium imaginable.

Kris and Judy also return with this episode's portion of their Holiday 2009 Buyer's Guide for otaku and gamers. In episode 108, they'll touch more on their gaming wishes but for this time, they'll be talking about anime, gadgets and knick knacks that would be great for the otaku on your list.

Our first featured group takes flight with the track “ryouyoku” off their self-titled CD Ato and then we'll have the ethnotronic sounds of Asha with the track “Stepping with the Snowflakes” off the CD idealize. has an amazing selection of Japanese music and not only can download individual tracks for only 99 cents, but you're also getting legal and DRM-free MP3s.

The latest What’s Hot in the World of Anime and Manga with Chad is up first and then Santa Kleckner buckles into his “Sleigh of Anime Savings” to kick off this year's 12+ Days of Anime! Rich and Nick have a huge stocking full of contest winners this episode and then get out your holiday shopping list for the beginning of this year's otaku-centric Holiday Buyer's Guide. Next up is the final part of Helen’s interview, and then I’ll run down upcoming conventions. Marie’s spotlighting the Nabari no Ou Complete Series DVDs, and then we’ll wrap up this episode a few customer reviews from

What's Hot?

One of the most influential filmmakers of the last century, Akira Kurosawa’s fifty year career spans an almost countless variety of movies - from samurai tales to sweeping Shakespearian adaptations. In celebration of his 100th birthday comes a new collection of twenty-five of his works, including four rare films never before available on DVD.

Revisit, or experience for the first time, the rich worlds of one of the most revered artists when AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa hits shelves on December 8th.

When Dr. Kenzo Tenma chose to save the life a wounded child, little did he know it would change the course of his life. Almost a decade after his fateful surgery, the patient reappears --- at the center of a strange pool of serial murders! The doctor finds himself the prime suspect in the police investigation, and in order to clear his name, Tenma must hunt down his former patient and stop the monster he set loose upon the world.

Watch how the thrilling saga begins when award-winning mangaka Naoki Urasawa’s Monster DVD Box Set 1 is unleashed on December 8th.

Amnesiac Ellis searches for clues to her hazy past with the help of trigger-happy bounty hunter Nadie. As they travel along the open road where ancient spirits meet modern science, their bond grows stronger, but will a looming conspiracy prove too much of a strain? How long must the duo journey in order to find the answers they seek?

From the team behind fan-favorite series Noir and Madlax, El Cazador de la Bruja Season 1 DVD Part 1 and Part 2 street on December 15th.

Yuuki Rito lives a fairly mundane life – complete with high school troubles and an inability to confess his feeling to his dreamgirl, Sairenji Haruna. Things become decidedly more complicated, though, when Lala, thse heir to the throne of a planet called Deviluke, appears out of nowhere - stark naked! Though she’s been called back to her home world in preparation for her marriage to one of the eligible candidates awaiting her return, Lala plans to stay on Earth – by marrying Rito instead!

Get wrapped up in the characters’ crazy antics when To Love Ru DVD Collection 1 arrives on December 15.

Traveling merchant Lawrence always has one goal in mind – profit. But he finds himself journeying down a new path when he discovers a naked girl with wolf ears and a tail sleeping in his cart. Though she appears to be a normal 15–year-old girl – minus the furry ears and tail, of course – Holo turns out to be a harvest goddess in search of a way back to her northern home. Relying on each other’s strengths, the duo travels together, uncovering the light and dark side of humanity along the way.

Join Lawrence and Holo on their journey when Spice and Wolf DVD Complete Season 1 sets out on December 22nd.

Also available: Spice and Wolf Novel 1, the award-winning novel series by Isuna Hasekura, hits shelves on December 31st. While supplies last, customers ordering this novel will receive both the Spice and Wolf novel 1 and a limited-edition dust jacket, which features the original Japanese manga-style artwork!

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

Shawne's Specials and the 12 Days of Anime Sale!

Shawne's Specials and the 12 Days of Anime Sale!

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

Right Stuf Contests and Updates

Congratulations to our Otaku Week #35 winners: Eva D of Cedar Creek, Texas and Emily A of Wausau, Wisconsin, who each will soon receive a sleek water bottle from Viz Media.

The next Otaku Weekly contest is a special one: One lucky fan will win a limited edition, 16" by 20" Afro Samurai lithograph autographed by Samuel L. Jackson!

To enter this week’s contest – and see a picture of the prize – visit for more information and get your entry to us by the end of the day on December 10th. We’ll announce the winner on the next episode of Anime Today!

Enter the "Weekly Prize Blitz" Contest!
Enter the "Weekly Prize Blitz" Contest!

Boys Over Flowers, Part 1 Congratulations to the winners of our contest with YA Entertainment to kick off their release of Boys Over Flowers, the Korean live-action adaptation of Yoko Kamio’s classic Hana Yori Dango shoujo manga!

The following fans will each receive a gift pack featuring a Boys Over Flowers preview disc and poster! Toney Y of Saint Louis, Missouri; Meredith R of San Diego, California; R. V of Laramie, Wyoming; Alexis D of Lakeville, Minnesota; and Ash B of Stafford, Texas.

And our Grand Prize winner, Joshua Z of Franklin, Tennessee, will soon receive both a poster, plus a copy of the first Boys Over Flowers box set, which includes the first 12 episodes of the series and a 34-page, full-color photo book!

Rental Magica posters lso, congratulations to the winners of our first contest celebrating Nozomi Entertainment’s release of Rental Magica, Part 1 on DVD! Each of the following 10 fans will soon be receiving a Rental Magica posters from Japan!

1. Sean M of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 2. Christopher P of Phoenix, Arizona; 3. Christoper J of San Diego, California; 4. Vanessa B of Lawton, Oklahoma; 5. Catharine B of Springfield, Massachusetts; 6. Aaron B of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; 7. Raymond G of Passaic, New Jersey; 8. Moises C of San Bernardino, California; 9. Christopher L of Detroit, Michigan; and 10. Robert T of Winston-Salem, North Carolina!

Be sure to visit to see trailers and find out more about the series!

And finally, to celebrate the holiday season, Right Stuf and Nozomi Entertainment are excited to offer fans the chance to test-drive some of our recent releases! Five lucky fans will each receive gift packs that feature two sampler discs of their choice from Nozomi Entertainment series including Emma: A Victorian Romance, ARIA The ANIMATION, Maria Watches Over Us, The Irresponsible Captain Tylor TV Series, Gakuen Alice AND our most recent release, Rental Magica!

Visit the contest section at to find links to each of the series’ sites and get in your entry before the end of the day on December 17th. We’ll announce the winners during the next episode of Anime Today!


Kris and Judy – Holiday 2009 Buyer's Guide Part 1

Kris and Judy – Holiday 2009 Buyer's Guide Part 1

Bleach Box Set Deals in Weekly Specials!
"12 Days" Emma and One Piece Season 1 Bundles!
Dragon Ball Z DVD Dragon Box Z Set 1 for Judy
Baccano! DVD Complete Series for Kris
Gernade S&P Shakers:
Gernade Ornaments:
Cat Play Houses:
Villian Chair:
Colour Changing Umbrella:
"health" and "mana" Mugs:
Panasonic GF1:
Olympus E-P1:

D.Gray-man Season 2 DVD Part 2

Helen McCarthy

Helen McCarthy
[ Photo by Steve Kyte ]

Listen to the parts 1 and 2 of this interview on Ep. 106!

Listen to Ms. McCarthy's previous appearance on Ep. 84!

Ms. McCarthy's site:

A Face Made for Radio: Helen McCarthy's Blog:

Manga Cross-Stitch Fan Page on Facebook:


Marie's Spotlight

When you think of ninjas, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? A dark figure skulking across a roof? An assassination attempt in the middle of the night? Or maybe even an irrepressible blonde in a bright orange jumpsuit? Whatever you thought of, I’m willing to bet it didn’t involve a live webcast being used to communicate a successful mission to clan members scattered across a modern corporate landscape. But in Nabari no Ou, familiar ninja tactics get a contemporary twist, resulting in a fresh and intriguing new series.

Miharu Rokujo may just be the world’s most indifferent middle-schooler, and would really rather everyone left him alone. Naturally, when fellow classmate Kouichi won’t stop pestering him about joining a some weird new club, he’s got no interest. The club? Specializing in all kinds of martial arts, it’s the Nindo club; current members: Kouichi and teacher advisor Kumohira, all that’s left of the former Banten ninjas. Why they seem so intent on getting Miharu to join is a mystery – until a sudden attack by modern-day ninjas unveils an immense power hidden inside of Miharu. An all-powerful technique called the Shinra Banshou, the entire ninja world is after it and, now, Miharu as well. Looks like he’ll have to join that club after all.

Within just days, Miharu finds himself going from the life of an indifferent student to one full of forbidden techniques, dark missions, and tenuous alliances with uncertain friends and even one uncertain enemy. This is the underground world of the ninja, aka the Nabari, made up of five clans and their splinter groups from the ninja’s glory days in the feudal era. Some clans are more influential than others, but it’s whoever can master the Shinra Banshou who can claim the title of Nabari no Ou, or King of Nabari. Unfortunately for Miharu, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be him – assuming he cares enough to try and control the technique in the first place.

Though you’d expect a ninja anime to be focused on action, Nabari no Ou does best when it shines the spotlight on its characters, most particularly Miharu. Miharu is simultaneously one of the most amusing and complicated shonen heroes I’ve come across in ages. While his outward appearance is indifference, he’s shamelessly manipulative, using quick tricks to get his way or to escape a boring conversation. But once he’s alone, the façade drops and we see he’s really just a lonely and very confused kid, traumatized by memories he can’t quite grasp and a power that he doesn’t want or understand. On the other end of the scale, the antagonists of the series prove to be intriguingly fleshed out, portrayed not as heartless monsters but rather ruthless businessmen with an eye towards a greater goal. They also sport some of the most intriguing character designs of the series, and the contrast between their characters and the protagonists makes for compelling drama.

Taking place in the current day, everything in Nabari no Ou is a mix of modern and old. Rather than seeming anachronistic, however, the mix is played up as a logical extension of time and progress’s effects on Japanese culture. In addition, not all of the clans have adapted the same way. For example, tiny Banten has been reduced to a school club, but the Fuuma clan still makes its home in a traditional village hidden in mist, and its members wear clothes straight out of the feudal era. The Grey Wolves, on the other hand, embrace corporate culture, dressing in suits and making use of cell phones and secure webcasts to communicate.

The art echoes this mix in a way that really surprised me. The backgrounds are done entirely in watercolors, creating a nostalgic feel to the pretty panning scenery shots and harking back to the warring period that was the ninja’s heyday. The character designs, however, are thoroughly modern, even for those wearing period clothing. To picture them, think of the body types and hair from Code Geass and layer them with the clothes and color schemes of Bleach, and you’ve got a rough idea of what Nabari’s ninjas look like.

But while the characters are great and the setting intriguing, where Nabari no Ou really shines is in its depth. It starts off slowly – if you can call a ninja attack slow – with only a few characters to keep track of as it lays out the basics of the plot, then quickly starts adding layers as new characters are introduced and the web of connections littering the underground world becomes clearer. Kumohira states early on that everything has a surface and an underside, and that becomes something of a theme for the rest of the series. Morality proves to be a big key - what really distinguishes our protagonists from the enemies if they’re all after the same thing and are willing to kill for it? – and head games abound, most often at the expense of Miharu’s tenuous understanding. Though it may be all about ninjas, in Nabari no Ou, the real action is in the connections and politics.

It’s difficult to properly categorize Nabari no Ou using the standard anime genres, since despite being shonen it’s not a straight-up action series but instead a more reflective piece. In the US, however, categorization is a snap: it’d be a “dramedy,” airing at 9pm, and probably on Fox or the CW. Between the talk of loneliness, revenge, and the way Miharu forms very… odd… friendships, I’m most reminded of Loveless, and if you’ve seen that other popular ninja show it won’t be hard to find parallels to Naruto and his crew as well, since they share the same basic mythology. Recommended to those who prefer their anime on the thoughtful side with hearty doses of action and character development.

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