Archive for the ‘anime’ Category

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*Naruto Back on Netflix

September 23, 2008

I know this has been a major concern of those who’ve been wanting to watch Naruto and use their favorite movie rental program to do it.

Well, good news.

Naruto is back on Netflix with 32 discs available to rent.  If they’re sticking to 4 episodes a disc, then up to episode 128 is available.  I think these are still the English only dubs (Japanese is always better) but when comparing both there could be a worse dub as far as voices go.  I think the only problem with this dub is some lines which work all right in Japanese sound pretty much stupid in English.

So if the show is putting you off in English, get on the net and find yourself a Japanese version and see if that isn’t vast improvement for you.  If you like the show in English, Netflix can accomodate.  Hooray to having Naruto back, nonetheless!

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*Ajikan! One Reason to Love J-Rock

September 2, 2008

For most of us in the English-speaking world, our first introduction to J-Rock/Pop is via anime opening and closing songs. Occasionally you might stumble across a few artists other ways (found Shiina Ringo and Gackt via youtube, and Ellegarden and Bump of Chicken thanks to a Pillows tribute album), but I’m not ashamed, nor should we be, to say we found an artist because of anime. (I think FLCL is enough said).

I plan to review my other favorite J-Rock/Pop artists in the future–some being mentioned above–but lately I’ve had nothing short of a rabbid infatuation with Asian Kung-Fu Generation (Ajikan or AFKG for short, depending on which language you speak). My first introduction to Ajikan was with Naruto and Haruka Kanata, the second opening song. I had it in my anime list on my iPod and liked the song, but thought nothing much more of the band. At the time I was more obsessed with the Pillows and Bump of Chicken (well, still am).

After hearing the full version of Haruka Kanata some time later, I fell in love with the style and vocals and needed more Ajikan. (I was also looking for more Orange Range at the time, Ajikan won out–not that I don’t still love Orange Range). Ajikan is a bit well-known in the anime world, currently for After Dark, the seventh opening for Bleach. Ajikan’s music can also be found on other anime, such as Fullmetal Alchemist, the fourth opening Rewrite, the theme song for Tekkon Kinkreet Aru Machi no Gunjou, and of course as mentioned Naruto.

But don’t think anime is all they’re good for.

The albums I’ve been listening to currently (as I like to take a few at a time) are:
Feedback File
Kimi Tsunagi Five M
Sol-Fa

Feedback File (2006) is probably my favorite of the list. It’s a mix of studio and live–the live portions being what really sold me on this album–though a great album overall. My favorite song on this album and current Ajikan favorite overall has to be Re:Re: I’ve heard it live and studio, and I have to say, get it live, it’s loads better. Sometimes you’ll get artists who sound good studio, but terrible live, this is definitely not the case with Ajikan. Often you’ll find they’re better live.

From Kimi Tsunagi Five M (2003) and Sol-Fa (2004) I’m loving the songs No Name and Yoru no Mukou. But it’s not like those are the only good ones. Ajikan just makes your listening time fun (and the commute by car or train less annoying).

Something else I admire about Ajikan is the fabulous album art. They recently did the Nano-Mugen festival album compilation art (and you can easily tell it was their art). And by the way, if you’re in Japan, you may want to check out the Nano-Mugen festivals in the future if you haven’t been going. This year (July) they had Third Eye Blind, Stereophonics, our boys Ajikan, Ellegarden, Phantom Planet and Art-School to name a few. This year it was held at Yokohama Arena.

So Ajikan comes highly, highly recommended. If I were going to name American bands to compare, I’d have to say Weezer meets Jimmy Eat World meets Stone Temple Pilots with a little bit of A Perfect Circle thrown in. I’d probably put it one or two notches above the Pillows in a “hard rock” scale, so not head banging, but not super light either.

And if anyone knows where you can get some sweet Ajikan shirts, bags, etc., please post a comment and leave a trail. I’m frequenting ebay, but none too successful as of late.

HOW TO LISTEN:
Pandora has one album. iTunes has got none. Amazon and ebay are probably your best bets album-wise, and there are a few of the songs around the net available to preview streaming. Friends from/in Japan are helpful as well, but however you do it, give this band a go. It will be worth it.

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*Death Note does Anti-Hero right

August 12, 2008

Mac of Visual Crack was the first to introduce me to Death Note, but really only in manga form. I read the first volume in English and decided the anime series was worth a look. Netflix sent me the first disc and I was hooked.

Death Note is the story of a kid stumbling upon a strange Death Note (as the Japanese word for notebook is noto or “note” basically. So when you hear the word “note” just substitute “notebook” in your mind). The notebook has the power to kill simply by writing the name of the victim in the book while picturing him/her. Believing the world is too corrupt, the kid takes it upon himself to rid the world of criminals–and anyone who gets in his way.

THE CHARACTERS:

Light Yagami
A 17 yr old, attractive, things come to me too easily, high school student who soon goes to college to study law and basically become a cop like his father. He stumbles upon the Death Note and becomes the owner and the anti-hero protagonist of the story. He is also referred to as “Kira” (a japanese version of the word killer) by the police.

L
A world famous detective no one has ever seen before the “Kira” case. L is odd, smart, and a sweet-aholic. (And no, he isn’t sucking his thumb, he’s pressing it against his bottom lip, a habit when he’s thinking hard). L’s my favorite character of the series. I think the chibi version of him in plushies and what not are chou kawaii!

Shinigami: Ryuk and Rem
A shinigami is like a grim reaper, literally translated as “death god.” I’ve also seen it translated as “soul reaper” (see Bleach). In the series they are the owners of the death notes, and Ryuk in particular likes leaving them lying around for unsuspecting humans to pick up. Ryuk probably comes second in my favorite character of the series. I like his “whatevs” attitude.

Misa Amane
Hey, what’s anime without an annoying character? Very much typical teenage Japanese girl–well, that and a pop star–Misa has a super mega crush on Light and wants to help him in anyway she can. One of those self-sacrificing girls, but in a pathetic way. She’s probably my least favorite, but she makes for some interesting moments between the three of them (L, Light and Misa).

Mello, Near, etc.
There are quite a few other players that impact the story significantly, mostly being Mello and Near, but also Light’s dad and members of the police team to catch Kira. I can’t say I really cared for Mello or Near, though Near I like more, since he’s kind of like a little brother version of L. (If you think an L obsession is weird, watch the series and tell me if you feel differently! I dare you!)

ANIME SERIES & EPISODE GUIDE:

Well, this is really more of a warning. It’s interesting how like the villain the movie Seven, you almost find yourself agreeing with Light. It’s also kind of disorienting to have the main character really be the bad guy in a sense (I’m trying not to spoil too much here).

Since the show isn’t hardly as long as Naruto, nor Bleach, this guide will be short. Without posting spoilers, once again, you should know you’ll likely be addicted to the show like crack until about episode 25. Some major plot changes are implemented, and in my opinion, the anime becomes less good–at least I didn’t care. In fact, I was affected so much by the change I had zero motivation to keep going with the anime and it took me a couple of weeks to get myself to finish it off.

Episodes 26 and on (up to 37) do contain interesting plot points and are worthwhile if you’ve enjoyed the series thusfar. There is also a bittersweet ending to the series, in a Shakespearian way, so the end was worthwhile for me, but it’s ANIME, 9 times out of 10 it isn’t going to end the way you’d want. 😉

So is it worth it? Yes. You’ll love it, well, if anime is your thing.

Anime series: A

LIVE-ACTION MOVIES:

Sometimes you wonder how a live-action movie will translate from manga, but if it works for Nodame Cantabile it’s gotta work for others, right? (*wink*) In this case I think it added to the Death Note universe. A warning to the animation fans… They will deviate from the manga and the series, but I think a lot of the deviations work.

Ryuk and Light argue over the philosophical issues of the Death Note. ;)

Ryuk and Light argue over the philosophical issues of the Death Note.

When we join Light in the first movie he’s already discovered the Death Note and is off-handedly discussing it with his girlfriend (aka he’s talking about Kira and his opinion of Kira without actually connecting the dots). And yeah, GIRLFRIEND. For the movies (since let’s be honest with ourselves. There is no, no, no, no way you can put EVERYTHING everybody wants, let alone yourself into a two-hour movie, especially with a series with enough material to make 37 episodes. 1/2 hr x 37 = 18.5 hours of material which equals at least 9 movies worth of time. Keep this in mind when you’re hating on Harry Potters or Twilight or other book adaptations.) …as I was saying, for the movies, his having a girlfriend worked. There just wasn’t enough time to develop the characters as well as the series did, even with two, and the girlfriend factor helped Light arc quickly.

L reveals he's the real brains behind the Truman Show.

L reveals he's the real brains behind the Truman Show.

But don’t get the movies wrong, for the most part they stick to the plot. My only qualm with the movies was the seemingly lack of time spent on developing L and a non-existent friendship between L and Light we got to see in the series. (I’m an L fan, ya know). However, the actor who plays L (Ken’ichi Matsuyama) I thought did a fabulous job. He had a lot of the mannerisms down and I thought was a little more interesting than Light.

The actor who played Light (Tatsuya Fujiwara), did a good job, but there was just something lacking. I think I prefer the voice acting job (Miyano Mamoru) did as opposed to Tatsuya’s performance, but it works for the movie.

L refuses the DoCoMo promotion.

L refuses the DoCoMo promotion.

I prefer the ending of the story in the movies to the anime series, simply because I kept expecting something like what happened in the movies to happen in the anime series. But if we’re talking overall Death Note, then I’d like a mix of the movies and the series. It’s interesting the trend even Hollywood is taking to making anime into live-action. (I just am opposed to Keanu playing Spike Spiegel is all).

Obviously it works, since Death Note was wildly successful in Japan ($28 mil for the first movie $53 mil for the second–tix sales) and will make some good money for Viz here.

Movie: A- (mostly for lack of development for L)

HOW TO SEE DEATH NOTE:

The anime series you can catch it in English (*puke*) on Adult Swim (Cartoon Network for the uniformed) in the early morning hours. It’s posted on the net with good fansubs. Or you can do it the Netflix way (which is the way I started) with your choice of English or subs–they have 6 discs available. I did Netflix + the internet.

The movies they recently screened at select theaters back in May across America, and you’ll be able to pick up the first movie on September 16th at Amazon or the like. I got both on ebay, Hong Kong versions. I’ve heard the dub is no good, so stick with subs.

There’s also a new spin-off movie called L: Change the World which came out in February which I have yet to see, but if it’s got L I’m all about it. Once I see it I’ll let you know.

MANGA:

I think the full series is available in English. It’s good, but yeah, it’s basically the book version of the anime. Still, I’ve been reading it in my spare time and find it worthwhile.

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*Cowboy Bebop Live Action Movie

July 31, 2008

This is happening, according to Firstshowing.net, which could be fun and cool depending on the writers and director, but this news burst my bubble:

Just last week we discovered that Fox is developing a live-action Cowboy Bebop movie based on the popular anime series. Remarkably, the project still isn’t officially announced and Fox is still keeping it under wraps. However, a good friend inside the industry who is a very reliable source wrote in to tell me that the film is being fast tracked inside the studio and will most likely be out by 2010. He also revealed that Keanu Reeves has been attached as the lead character Spike for over eight months now and is still set for the role. Unfortunately there isn’t a writer or director attached yet, but with some new forward momentum coming from last week’s announcement, I don’t think it will take too long.

Are you kidding me? Let’s get a 45 yr old (this year) to play a 27 yr old character? Can we say it’s time to update the acting pool to draw from? I think I would have preferred a new face, or at least someone 10 yrs younger. *sigh* Well, maybe the director will say, not Keanu or he’ll get a different offer. I don’t think I’ll hold my breath for Keanu to do it right. He might surprise us, but I think the only surprise will be why he got casted in the first place. Read the rest of the article here.

They tried making a Batman/Superman movie and it got canned because of fans. Maybe if we all come together and send (foxmovies@fox.com)e-mails to Fox saying why Keanu is a poor choice they’ll reconsider? If not, look for Keanu Reeves as Spike in theaters 2010.

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Comic-Con 2008 upcoming

July 28, 2008

You’ve got to love the sore feet, sore shoulders and sleepy feeling of a good ol’ fashioned Comic-Con weekend. It was a blast and it wasn’t at the same time. To be quite honest, now that it’s become trendy to go to the Con, the crowding has become super annoying.

I’m not one to care about whether or not something is trendy, no, what I mean to say is that because it’s trendy it’s crowded and that makes it less enjoyable. How so? Well, picture trying to get in for the Heroes forum and realizing that not only did coming an hour and a half early to get in line availed you nothing, but in looking for the end of the line you realized you’ve done a lap around the building–THE ENTIRE OUTSIDE OF THE SAN DIEGO CONVENTION CENTER.

Still, despite that annoying part, it was in no way a loss going. I got lots of swag, got to go to a fair few of the forums I wanted to go to, saw upcoming previews and found new things to be interested in. (And yes, I made it in to the Avatar panel, that’ll be a story for the sharing).

I had to catch up at work for being gone so long, but I plan to have at least the first day posted for you.

And for the record, I’m seriously considering going to WonderCon instead, simply to be able to get into the forums I came out to the Con in the first place to see. Anyways, time will tell. See you soon.

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Ponyo Trailer Actual

July 22, 2008

Here’s the real deal, unfortunately no translations that I could find for this specific trailer. However, if you love the theme song and feel like doing a bit of karaoke, sing along with the Ponyo Theme. Enjoy!

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EI Players and Sozin’s Comet

July 22, 2008

What a ride! I love this show. I’m glad we’ve come to the end so Nick can’t drag us fans around anymore, but I will miss it. My friend calls it Undying Lands Syndrome: when it’s painful to say goodbye to characters you’ve grown to love. So, yeah, I’ve definitely got the ULS–especially in worry of what M. Night might do to these films in live-action. Hopefully it’ll be all right…. Anyways…

The Ember Island Players was brilliant. I’m sure those familiar with anime empathize with me when I say catch up clip shows (or here’s what’s happened to get you up to speed for the next episode when something will actually happen) are annoying. That’s what I loved about the EIP episode. It was a clip show catch up, but done in a new and fun way. (Anyone ever seen Cirque de Soleil’s KA? I swear they were stealing at least half of their material from that). It does also cause one to wonder about how accurate “history” is. 😉

I love that Sokka went back stage to give his Sokka some joke tips and that Toph loved that she was played by a buff n’ stuff man. My favorite quote from this episode:

Zuko: Wait, did Jet just die?
Sokka: You know, it was really unclear.

And then of course Sozin’s Comet. I thought, I’ll just watch a couple parts and then finish the rest later after the BBQ (that I had planned to attend). Yeah, I went to the BBQ late. It was intense and one of the best animated fights (between Ozai and Aang) I’ve seen in a while. I have to admit I got a little teary-eyed when Zuko and Iroh met again (hey, I’m a Zuko fan, what can I say).

And it was a great Aang ending doing things the way Aang preferred to do them (hopefully not spoiling too much if you haven’t seen it). I like that despite what everyone else advised him to do, he still went with what he felt was right and it worked out in the end.

Favorite Quote:

Suki: So wait. How do you all know each other?
Bumi: All old people know each other. Don’t you know that?

Anyways, I guess we can look toward the live-action movies in the future and supposedly some shorter animated movies on Nick just before the M. Night one’s? (I’ve heard this, but can find it to confirm it, so if you know, please post and link it in.)