ANIME TODAY #111: Talking ULTIMO With VIZ Media Senior Editor Joel Enos

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Episode run down:

Joel Enos, our guest today, is a Senior Editor at VIZ Media and is currently working on Ultimo, the latest manga creation from Stan Lee and Hiroyuki Takei. This joint effort by these two amazing storytellers combines Western comics and Eastern manga, which has added heftily to Ultimo's popularity. In Joel's own words, he states “Here you have two amazing creators, all this action, robots, and the universal theme of pure good vs. pure evil, all the while staying in high school youth culture and the drama and depth of everyday kids.” Find more about Ultimo and more later in this episode as Alison, Rich and Nick give Joel a call in San Francisco.

The music we'll be listening to during this episode is from the amazing Yoko Kanno and her soundtrack to the Arjuna, Earth Maiden anime. We'll also be checking out two upbeat tracks from JapanFiles.com, “yes” from astrid and “Bubbles” from SAWA. Get your own copy of these tracks at much higher quality and DRM-free for only 99 cents a piece. JapanFiles.com has a magnificent and ever-expanding catalog of legal MP3s for easy download and immediate download.

We're also excited to introduce a new segment to the podcast! I've racked my brain to come up with the most creative segment name possible so coming up shortly, get ready to “Watch Stuf with Christy and Nick!” For this first one, Christy and I get behind the mics to chat about Hayao Miyazaki's recently released Ponyo. Ok, maybe “Watch Stuf” isn't that creative of a segment name, but hey, it certainly does the job.

Now for the full episode rundown: Chad's back with What’s Hot in the World of Anime and Manga, followed by our latest Breakin' Bargains on titles from Geneon. Then get ready for all sorts of bubble with the J-rock band SAWA. Next up is Christy and Nick with Watch Stuf, and then we’ll return with the winners of our contests - including the Right Stuf and VIZ contest for a 20th Century Boys gift pack. Joel Enos then joins us to talk about Ultimo, followed by Marie’s spotlight on the Slayers Season 4 DVD Set, Slayers Revolution. Then, from JapanFiles.com, we have “yes” from astrid’s self-titled CD. Then, we’ll wrap up this episode with some customer reviews from RightStuf.com.

What's Hot?

A priceless treasure, a failed assassination attempt, a rival’s sweetheart, and a mysterious sword – these seemingly unconnected things all twist and turn together to bring about the very first meeting of Lupin, Jigen, Fujiko and many other familiar faces.

Steal a peek at how these complete strangers become acquainted when Lupin The 3rd Episode 0: The First Contact sneaks in on March 30th.

Meet the 501st Joint Fighter Wing. Better known as the Strike Witches, these girls make up an elite aerial attack force with deadly fighting skills and killer legs. While the average flyboy falters in the face of alien attacks, this fighting team fearlessly heads off into the wild blue yonder to blast enemies to bits – all without a hair out of place.

Join the battle when the Strike Witches Complete Series attacks on March 30th.

Using his best friend’s sudden death as a catalyst for living life to the fullest, Yosuke swears to take more chances and starts by pursing the heart of Eri, his dream girl. Unfortunately, Yosuke’s earnest romantic pursuit is seriously hampered by a nightly war Eri battles against a mysterious, chainsaw-wielding giant who haunts the streets. Between the buzz of blades and kung-fu fights, will Yosuke live to go on a date with his beloved?

Based on the novel by Tatsuhiko Takimoto, author of fan-favorite Welcome to the NHK, Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge lands on March 30th.

If there’s one thing you can expect when it comes to Yuno and the sunny world of Hidamari Sketch, it’s the unexpected. Continue exploring Yuno’s art school saga on both sides, around and in-between in an ever-expanding collage of stories that will be sure to uncover plenty of surprises.

Get drawn into the Hidamari Sketch x 365 Complete Collection on April 6th.

Itsuki is resolved to leading Astral, but his growing reliance on his Glam Sight has caused him a great deal of pain and placed all of Astral in danger on countless occasions. The coming trials will require him to grow stronger and more resourceful if he's to be an asset to the team.

Meanwhile, Honami continues to search for a way to cure Itsuki's eye. With the appearance of an old acquaintance, Fin Cruda, her hopes are renewed. Fin shares much in common with Itsuki and may know of a way to cure Itsuki's eye, but at what cost?

Discover if there’s still hope for Itsuki when Rental Magica DVD Collection 2 hits shelves on April 6th.

Karada Iokawa learns the true meaning of the phrase “be careful what you wish for” when her wish to be older is suddenly granted by a magical stone. Instead of simply aging Karada, however, the stone seems to steal the extra years from Shoko Nogami – Karada’s older bother’s ex-girlfriend. Complicated? Definitely. But things only continue to grow more complex and bizarre as the two try to handle their “new” ages all while dealing with their existing romantic interests.

Will things ever get back to normal?! Find out when the Living for the Day After Tomorrow (Asatte no Houkou) Complete Collection streets on April 13th.

With Takumi and Nana K.’s announcement piling the stress on top of BLAST’s debut, everyone is struggling to keep it together – especially Nana O. and Reira. When she can’t take it anymore, Reira turns to Shin, while Nana takes comfort in Yasu’s calm presence. But where does that leave Nana O.’s relationship with Ren? And though Nana K. seems to be happily nesting in her new home, the estrangement from Nana O. still weighs down her heart.

Can the complex bonds between friends and lovers withstand more? Find out when the final installment, Nana Box Set 4, sings its last song on April 13th.

Kingyo Used Books is more than your average bookstore. It’s a shop with a thousand tales to tell and where readers discover their own stories in addition to those on the page – from an uninspired art student, to a lonely homemaker and others.

Prepare to read between the lines when Kingyo Used Books Graphic Novel 1 hits shelves on April 20th.

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

Shawne's Specials and the Breakin' Bargains Sale!

Shawne's Specials and the Breakin' Bargains Sale!

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

 

Right Stuf Contests and Updates

  • Congratulations to our Otaku Week #44 winners: Melina R of Yuma, Arizona; Jenny H of Port Allen, Louisiana; Pauline M of Midvale, Utah; Jason N of Elko, Minnesota; and Daniel M of Weymouth, Massachusetts who will each soon receive a screener disc and poster for K-drama series The King & I.
  • Also, congratulations to our Otaku Week #45 winner! John S of San Antonio, Texas will soon receive volumes 1 and 2 of Ukyou Takao’s To Heart manga.
  • Congrats also go out to our Otaku Week #46 winner, Liz S of Baltimore, Maryland. Liz won a 31" x 43" Dragon Ball Z wall scroll.
  • And lastly, congratulations to Otaku Week #47 winners: Jenn M of Loveland, Colorado; Richard D of Indianapolis, Indiana; Doug W of Tempe, Arizona; David G of Smithboro, New York; and Jenna E of Jacksonville, Florida who will each receive a screener disc of the popular contemporary K-drama I Really, Really Like You.

For our new Otaku Weekly contest, we want to give those who haven't yet dipped their toes into Neo-Venezian waters a chance to meet everyone's favorite undines. We're giving lucky anime fans a chance to win one of five ARIA The ANIMATION screener discs.

To enter, visit otaku.rightstuf.com for more information, and get your entry to us by the end of the day on March 24th. We’ll announce the winner on the next episode of Anime Today!

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

Aria the Natural Lithograph: Those Nightshine Chimes Limited Edition Congratulations to Igor A. of North Highlands, California, the winner of our ARIA The NATURAL lithograph contest. He will soon receive an ARIA The NATURAL, Those Nightshine Chimes Limited Edition Lithograph. Each print is numbered and includes a certificate of authenticity.


20th Century Boys 2Congratulations our Right Stuf and Viz 20th Century Boys 2 contest winners: Pamela W of Marysville, Washington; Ryan B of Baltimore, Maryland; Christy G of Fort Meade, Maryland; Ashley M of Nicholasville, Kentucky; Megan C of Yucaipa, California; Charles M of Glen Carbon, Illinois; Jennifer K of New Smyrna Beach, Florida; Dale M of Bloomington, Alabama; Melanie D of Cordova, Tennessee; Diane H of Harrisville, Rhode Island. They'll soon receive a gift pack including a 20th Century Boys: The Last Hope poster and a button.


Rental Magica Collection 1This month, contestants have the chance to win one of five prizes. One grand prize winner will receive Rental Magica Collection 1 plus a poster straight from Japan. Four runners-up will be selected to each receive a Rental Magica screener and poster.


Just visit the contest section at rightstuf.com and get in your entry before the end of the day on April 14th. We’ll announce the winner during the next episode of Anime Today!

Watch Stuf with Christy and Nick: PONYO

Joel Enos

Joel Enos

ULTIMO: KARAKURI DOJI ULTIMO © 2008 by Stan Lee–POW! Entertainment/Dream Ranch, Hiroyuki Takei/SHUEISHA Inc.

 

Ultimo at Shonen Jump's Site: http://shonenjump.viz.com/ultimo/

Pumpkin Scissors DVD Complete Series

Marie's Spotlight

In this era of DVDs and thinpaks, there’s no excuse for any anime series short of Dragonball Z to take up more than a foot of shelf space. And yet, I still can’t bring myself to get rid of my complete set of The Slayers on VHS – 24 tapes just for the TV series – though I’ve tried to rationalize my sentimentality by claiming the tapes belong to my younger brothers now. There’s just something about Slayers’ signature brand of slapstick and adventure that stays my hand every time, even with the shiny new box sets sitting not three feet away. So you can guess how excited I was to hear there would be an entire new series coming out, divided into two seasons. The first of these seasons, Slayers Revolution, arrived just two weeks ago, and I was eager to see how the new show would stack up against ten years of nostalgia. The answer? Impressively well.

After the events of Slayers Try, the feared and diminutive sorceress Lina and her dimwitted swordsman sidekick Gourry have run out of local bandit gangs to rob – err, bring to justice – and have taken to the high seas to pursue new prey in the form of pirates. But their ocean-going days aren’t for long, as a government inspector named Wizer is determined to arrest Lina for the extreme crime of – being Lina Inverse. Worse, she’s being set up by Pokota, a bright green furball more than capable of competing head to head with Lina when it comes to most destruction caused in a single episode. Good thing idealistic Princess Amelia and the irritable chimera Zelgadis are back to help out, but even they can’t dispute the charges. And couldn’t this all just be a distraction from the real menace lurking in the shadows…?

The very first question anyone asks about Slayers Revolution is: what’s it like compared to the original? After all, it’s been more than ten years, and there’s this fuzzy green guy that looks like a pokemon on the cover. Surely something’s changed? Believe it or not, the answer is no, or at least no in all the ways that count. Zany humor and wanton destruction? Check. Awesome opening song by Megumi Hayashibara? Check. A reunited voice cast, for both the Japanese and English voice actors? Believe it or not, check. If it weren’t for the shiny new production values, you’d never guess there’d been an eleven-year gap between seasons three and four. While Slayers was never bad looking, the cast has been fully brought into the 21st century and everything is brighter and crisper.

What’s new? The plot and quite a number of characters, most obviously Pokota. Has Slayers gone the route of the cute talking animal? Hardly. Pokota may be cute, but he’s sure not happy about it, and his bad temper is responsible for some spectacular battles with Lina. His appearance in the Slayers world seems jarring at first – Lina even comments on it – but as Pokota’s backstory comes to light the explanations start rolling in, and he soon fits right in with the rest of the cast. Wizer, meanwhile, is a foil for Lina of the kind she’s never had before: one who’s got the law on his side and the resources and tenacity to almost make himself a credible threat, and he gets some of the best lines early on. On top of that, this is Slayers, so you can anticipate plenty of twists when it comes down to just who is doing what and why as the true villain of the piece carefully bides their time. And while many characters are new, you’ll also find a number of familiar faces, most notably the put-upon Sylphiel and everyone’s favorite mazoku menace, Xellos. What’s he up to? It’s a secret, of course.

One other thing that hasn’t changed is Slayers is still a crowd pleaser with a deft touch for pacing. It reels in the audience with humor, then starts teasing at the plot, and soon the cliffhangers have you glad you’ve got the whole season to watch at once, even if things end with plot hooks for season five, Slayers Evolution-R, firmly in place. Plot mingles with slapstick, and hilarious yet seemingly inconsequential encounters quickly build upon each other until hidden history and villainy come to light. The heart is still there too, much as three-fifths of the main cast might like to deny it, and Lina’s character growth continues, slowly but surely.

It’s hard to find other shows to compare Slayers to, because it was never “if you liked X, then you’ll also like Slayers” but “if you liked Slayers, then you’ll also like X.” If you’ve ever thought what Dungeons and Dragons needed was a really good anime parody or that Record of Lodoss War would have been a lot better with a few dozen explosions, Slayers is the show for you. However, while Revolution can and does stand on its own, I highly suggest watching seasons one to three first, if only because some truly dramatic plot twists in Slayers Try are by necessity spoiled in the opening episode of Revolution. Slayers was the cream of the anime comedy crop in the ‘90s, and its edge is still finely honed. They just don’t make shows like Slayers anymore – except for Slayers Revolution, which is, as I’ve said, just as good as the original. Funny how that works.

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