ANIME TODAY #117: Previewing Fall 2010 Releases With FUNimation Brand Manager Amber Barnes

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Episode run down:

Nick, Alison and Rich had an opportunity this past week to speak with Amber Barnes, one of FUNimation's brand managers. We've going to talk with her about a number of recently released, and soon to released shows including Casshern Sins, the Viridian release of Spice and Wolf, as well as the new seasons of Slayers coming out on Blu-ray.

Also in this episode, we're taking a look back at the authors and scholars we've interviewed on Anime Today. Nick and Rich will introduce each of them before playing a brief clip from their full interviews. Links will also be posted at AnimeToday.com in the full show notes for this episode.

The music you'll be listening to is from Geneon Music's Texhnoliyze CD Soundtracks 1 and 2. We'll also be playing three handpicked tracks from the huge digital library at JapanFiles.com. If you like what you hear, please support these artists and download your own digital copies for only 99 cents a piece.

We're going to be kicking off this episode with Chad and What's Hot in the World of Anime and Manga, and then I'll be back with a rundown of of some Heavenly Deals on DVDs, books and other merchandise from Media Blasters. "Hotarubi" from Aoi Kidokoro's CD Yume Maboroshi No Shiro is next, followed by our interview with Amber. Rich announces the winners of our recent You're Beautiful and There's Something About Sunyool contests with YA Entertainment and NETCOMICS. Then Nick kicks off a new contest with FUNimation and also reminds you to enter the current TAKAO SAITO Japanese Stamp contest and the Otaku Prize Blitz. We'll then check out some Japanese Rhythm and Blues for Roma Tanaka while wandering our way into Maria's latest spotlight pointed at the Bunny Drop manga from YEN PRESS. Speaking of books, we're embracing the "back to school" season by highlighting six authors and scholars we've been lucky enough to have on the show over the past five years. Next, we'll dance our way in the evening of this episode with KEYTALK's "Blue Moon Light" followed by the latest customer reviews from our online store.

What's Hot?

Sporting designer clothes, designer make-up, and designer nails, Ran Kotobuki is the very picture of a trendy Shibuya girl, but don't let her outer appearance fool you. This girl comes from a family of cops, and she's ready to lay you out flat if you even think about causing trouble in her town! ...At least, she will when she's not distracted by karaoke, shopping, and dodging her homework. Join Ran and her friends as they defend the streets of Shibuya and attempt to shop their way into the history books as the most famous Gals ever!

The Super Gals Complete Seasons 1 and 2 DVD Collection bursts in on October 5th.

Armed with devastating attacks that carve away opposing forces, feudal Japan's rival warlords' evenly matched skills leave them constantly at odds and bent on one another's defeat. But when a vicious Demon Lord threatens the land, the one-time foes band together to form a supreme force of warriors set on the destruction of their joint enemy.

Step up to the front lines when Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings Complete Series marches ahead on DVD and Blu-ray October 12th.

In a future world, the development of biochemical weapons sparks a change no one could have foreseen. Now, an unlucky few possess supremely heightened senses - colors have scent, sounds possess images. Life is full of danger, and nothing is ever exactly what it seems.

Experience the new world when Canaan Complete Collection arrives on DVD and Blu-ray this October 26th.

Against the backdrop of baseball, a boy named Ko learns to balance friendship, young love, and responsibility. As in any life, the good things are sometimes mirrored by the bad and Ko struggles to earnestly face both the wins and loses that inevitably cross his path.

Catch Cross Game Graphic Novel 1 as it takes the field on October 12th.

Avalon F is a barren wasteland inhabited by giant monsters called sand whales. Three beautiful, battle-tested women are brought to the desert-like world and ordered to hunt for the creatures as part of a never-ending game. But when new, unexpected enemies begin to play, the battle to survive becomes even more complex.

Make way for Assault Girls on DVD and Blu-ray October 19th.

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

Shawne's Specials and the Heavenly Deals Sale!

Shawne's Specials and the Heavenly Deals Sale!

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

Amber Barnes from FUNimation

Amber Barnes from FUNimation

Right Stuf Contests and Updates

  • Congratulations to our Otaku Blitz #63 and #64 winners! Nicole L of Willow Spring, North Carolina; Michelle P of Oxford, Michigan; Samantha A of Altoona, Pennsylvania; Carol F of St. Charles, Illinois; Sean G of Lake Mary, Florida; and Annette M of Freeport, Michigan will each receive an Otaku Grab Bag filled with goodies.
  • For our current Otaku Prize Blitz contest, we're giving anime fans a chance to win 1 of 5 Maria Watches Over Us screener discs.

    To enter, visit otaku.rightstuf.com for more information, and get your entry to us by the end of the day on September 29th. We’ll announce the winners on the next episode of Anime Today!

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

You’re Beautiful

Congratulations go out to Ruth B of Owatonna, Minnesota, the Grand Prize winner of our most recent joint contest with YA Entertainment. She will receive the complete 16-episode  You're Beautiful box set. Runners up William H of Greensburg, Indiana; Lenore F of Montgomery, Alabama; Robert A of Ridgeview, West Virginia; Joshua S of Chula Vista, California; Gary V of Schaumburg, Illinois; and Amity J of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania will each receive a You're Beautiful screener disc and poster.

There's Something About Sunyool


Congratulations also go out to Solomon B of Sarasota, Florida; Alexis B of Waggaman, Louisiana; Hannah W of Florence, South Carolina; Jessica G of Cherokee Village, Arizona; and Gary K of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, winners of our  There's Something About Sunyool contest! They will all be receiving volume 1 of the manhwa.


Casshern Sins DVD Part 1 (Hyb)1 of 2 awesome Casshern Sins prize packs, including  Casshern Sins, Part 1 on DVD and a signed metal poster featuring dramatic series artwork.

To participate, visit rightstuf.com's contest page before the end of the day on October 6th.


TAKAO SAITO StampsFans of Takao Saito, mangaka of Golgo 13, are in for a treat! 1 lucky contestant will win a collection of Japanese stamps featuring artwork from a number of his series. The collection is contained in a hardcover case and includes 1 sheet of 10 stamps and 5 postcards with additional art.

To enter, just visit the contest section at rightstuf.com, and get in your entry before the end of the day on October 6th. We'll announce the winners for this and other contests during the next episode of Anime Today!


Trigun DVD Complete Series

Marie's Spotlight: Bunny Drop

If you’re familiar with Japanese manga, you’ll know that series are marketed to very specific demographics, and the lines between shojo, shonen, josei, and seinen are strong. Many titles still have a large amount of crossover appeal, and I read from both sides of the aisle regularly, but it’s still very rare that I come across a series I genuinely can’t tell the original intended demographic for. Bunny Drop, if you couldn’t tell where this was going, is one of those titles. In fact, I had trouble mentally cataloging it in any of the familiar categories. It’s too dramatic to be slice of life, too practical to be an angst-ridden soap, there’s an even mix of girls and boys of assorted attractiveness so it obviously can’t be harem, and no robots or magic at all. What it is instead, is a heartwarming story about very real people dealing with an unusual situation to the best of their abilities, full of light humor and realistic drama. Yeah, I was pretty surprised to discover it had been licensed too, but no less pleased for the surprise.

But let me back up to that “unusual situation.” When 30-year-old Daikichi shows up for his grandfather’s funeral, he’s greeted by an unfamiliar and silent little girl in the garden. He and the rest of the family are shocked to learn that she’s the love child of the 79-year-old Gramps and an unknown woman who’s nowhere to be found. Rin is five, and the family has no idea what to do with her, not any interest at all in taking care of her. Amidst the bickering at a hastily called family meeting, Daikichi finally decides he’s sick of listening to everyone’s excuses and declares he’ll be taking Rin in himself. But that’s just the beginning, as Daikichi suddenly learns there’s a lot more to raising a child than he’s ever thought about. Not to mention, Rin’s mother is still out there somewhere…

It almost goes without saying that Bunny Drop is incredibly heartwarming, but what makes it so good is that the emotion is all very real, and never saccharine. There’s no laugh track or silly freeze frame at the end of the chapters, and things don’t always work out smoothly for Daikichi and Rin. For example, he learns there’s just no way he can keep his regular working hours and care for Rin at the same time, so something has to give, and not everyone at his company is happy about the change Daikichi comes up with. Rin herself is extremely engaging despite her quiet nature, and I always like to see children written as children and not miniature adults or cookie-powered trouble monsters.

Bunny Drop is also really quite dramatic. First, there’s the mystery of just who Rin’s mother is, and why she’s absent, complete with a little detective work on Daikichi’s part. Then there’s the family drama, but with no cold-hearted villains, it makes their initial actions both more understandable and more awful at the same time, because if you’re human how can you turn away from such a sweet little girl? Then there’s all the drama from being a single parent - kindergarten registration and morning commutes have never seemed so complex the story goes on, we meet other parents and children at Rin’s school and their problems as well.

The art is clean and distinctive. Somehow, manga-ka Yumi Unita manages to use the same linework to make Rin look delicate and girly as to make Daikichi look as if he’s always just woken up. This dual nature of the art is where my confusion about the intended demographic first came up, since the chapters from Daikichi’s point of view all feel very masculine, especially when he’s confronted with mystifying puzzles like clothes shopping for a five year old or is trying to somehow reconcile the life of a salaryman with that of a single parent. Meanwhile, the women in the series are all individually characterized and react to any news about Rin’s everyday activities with exactly the interested – and often lecturing – tone as my mother or grandmother might. When I cheated and looked up the magazine Bunny Drop was serialized in, I found out it is indeed josei, but it’s wonderful to discover a series that makes its characters so human, and absent of the usual fanservice, that it becomes difficult to tell.

If you aren’t already familiar with the country, be prepared to learn a lot about Japan as you read. I already knew some of the ins and outs of Japanese kindergarten courtesy of With The Light, but Bunny Drop still had many aspects that were completely new to me, and others that were just similar enough to my own experience while still being “off” to remind me that, hey, Japan has a completely different culture from one I’m used to! So while I imagine in Japan readers were nodding along as Daikichi reads through Rin’s mother-child health record book, something completely mundane, for me it’s a interesting glimpse into a different world. It’s akin to the way my brothers were fascinated by the idea of prefects and owl-levels in Harry Potter, all borrowed from the British school system but alien in the US.

In comparing Bunny Drop to other series, it’s easy to bring up Yotsuba&! or Aishiteruze Baby, both of which also deal with characters who suddenly find themselves raising young children, but neither one is really that similar. Yotsuba, while hilariously precocious, is too out of this world to fit in with the realism of Bunny Drop, and Aishiteruze Baby skews towards a much younger (and firmly shojo) audience with its focus on high school drama. Instead, I would simply consider whether or not the idea of a bachelor walking hand in hand with a little girl away from the stunned faces of the relatives he’s just righteously smacked down is enough to make you smile. If the answer’s yes, have I got a book for you.

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Featured Tracks from JapanFiles.com

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Featured Tracks from JapanFiles.com

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