In this month’s Anime Update, I am very sad to say that I have been able to find no interesting or classic manga being released into North America through any of my go-to publishers. Seven Seas Entertainment, as well as Viz Media, are both resting on their laurels with the usual serial releases of comics they’ve been distributing for some time now. While Dark Horse and Kodansha Comics’ respective manga divisions are releasing little in the way of noteworthy or new content.
Last month, I picked up an interesting manga title: Osamu Tezuka’s (the God of Manga) classic Dororo in a one-volume, 800-page plus tome from Vertical Comics. The release was handled well and the book served to fill some hours of my week with intense joy. I thought I might be on the verge of discovering a promising new manga distributor in Vertical who I might then be able to recommend here. But alas! Vertical has a very limited back catalog of titles that’s hit or miss (more of the latter tbh) and they have been inactive since April of this year with no real time frame for new releases forthcoming. Bummer…
On the anime home video release front, fortunately, prospects are much better this month. Discotek Media has hitherto been having problems with their warehouse and production situation, but has seemed to clear things up in the months since. As such, August comes with a whole slate of new release included DVD releases of Lupin III: Blood Seal of the Eternal Mermaid and New Cutey Honey Complete Collection, both on the 27th.
Sentai Filmworks is celebrating 2019 by releasing a 20th Anniversary Steelbook Edition of the great Chiaki Konaka mecha anime Big O on Blu-Ray on August 20th.
And if that’s not enough GKIDS has two new releases coming soon. The first is the only TV anime series produced and created by Studio Ghibli: Goro Miyazaki’s 2014 CGI Astrid Lindgren adaptation Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter (August 20th). For Ghibli fans like myself this release is instrumental to getting that complete Ghibli home video collection, so pick it up before they get cannibalized by uber-fans. The second is a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack of Studio 4C’s compilation films Genius Party and Genius Party Beyond. Although the release date for this pack has not been decided upon as of yet, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye open for as it contains great work by directors like Masaaki Yuasa and Shinichiro Watanabe amongst others.
As for theatrically-released anime in North America, Funimation is finally back in the game with a new Pop Idol anime coming to theaters August 5th-8th for the kiddies. However, their stronger fare like the new Eureka Seven film and a new animated Osamu Dazai adaptation entitled Human Lost are still announced, but without tentative dates.
Fathom Events and GKIDS are working together to continue Studio Ghibli Fest 2019 with My Neighbor Totoro on the 25th, 26th, and 28th, as well as Satoshi Kon’s masterwork Millennium Actress on the 13th and 19th of this month.
Finally, there are only a few local anime cons of note this month for my particular region of the US, but they include the following:
Queen City Anime Con in my home city of Charlotte, NC from the 9th-11th. I will be there, so if you will too, please reach out and let me know!
Superstar Anime Con in Virginia Beach from the 17th-18th.
And the massive nerd and anime con Dragon Con in Atlanta, GA from the 29th of August till the 2nd of September.
Ciao for now,
P.S. Last night I saw Kiki’s Delivery Service in theaters for the second time. The film can be compared somewhat unfavorably to Yoshifumi Kondo’s masterpiece Whisper of the Heart . Both films broach the connection between magic/imagination and the artistic process. In Whisper, the narrative seems to say that each of us has an innate worth already there within us that we only have to mine through effort. This effort takes the form of working toward our artistic ambitions on a daily basis no matter how paltry the results at first, as it takes time to develop and hone our skills into their purest shape.
However, Kiki seems to conclude that occasionally our artistic impulse fails us insofar as inspiration goes. During these times it is difficult to work on any project and we find ourselves lethargic. Kiki concludes that in these moments, it is best to take a break, sometimes for weeks, and to wait around for inspiration to come once again. Though inspiration and the magic of creative work really does function in this manner, it is too easy to lose focus in these moments, which can and often do drag on into weeks, months, or even years of lethargy.
Know this, in my creative pursuits, the only thing that can reign in my own lethargy has been discipline, even when I find myself uninspired. Take the advice of Whisper over against that of Kiki and worm a bit each day toward your goals, whether artistic or otherwise. Or else, you may never achieve them at all.
Hello again! Its time for another edition of Anime Update, this time detailing the cool anime-related stuff coming to North American shores for the month of July. I hope you’ll check out some of the sites discussed herein and consider buying in the otakudom through the unique merchandise and/or experiences on offer this month.
My usual go-to manga distributors for the North American market are Viz Media and Seven Seas Entertainment as they release large numbers of manga each week. Unfortunately, there is little of note coming through their stores this month. Regardless, I recommend you put their names on a list somewhere and keep them in mind for the future.
On June 1st, Kodansha Comics is releasing a new 4-volume omnibus edition of the original Sailor Moon manga entitled Sailor Moon Eternal Edition. These four volumes are each around 300 pages and of a larger size than your typical manga. So pick ’em up if you ever felt the desire to read the source manga in its entirety. On the 16th of July, Kodansha is releasing a new Ghost in the Shell graphic novel entitled Global Neural Network. Although not a new work by GITS originator Masamune Shirow, it contains four new stories by younger manga-ka inspired by Shirow’s cerebral subtexts and kitschy iconography.
Dark Horse Comics’ manga division is releasing many interesting omnibus editions of some of the most gritty manga on the market. But their coolest new release, set to hit shelves on the 31st, is Start Blazers 2199 Omnibus Vol. 1. Again, this new story is not the work of Star Blazers’ (Space Battleship Yamato) creator Leiji Matsumoto, but instead it is comprised of new stories by younger manga writers and artists inspired by Matsumoto’s monumental influence.
The boutique anime home video release company, Discotek Media, has been experiencing some major technical difficulties as of late regarding their releases. They moved warehouses earlier this year and have been having trouble getting back into the swing of things. This is very apparent during this month when a new Cutey Honey release and a new Lupin III acquisition have both been scheduled for release and subsequently shelved until late August. Bummer…
Luckily, there’s always Sentai Filmworks as an alternative for the best in home video anime releases of classic and cult anime. On the 23rd, they are releasing the Cutie Honey Universe: Complete Collection on Blu-Ray. And exactly one week later, they are releasing a definitive steelbook edition of Elfen Lied: The Complete Series on Blu-Ray complete with tons of extra features and an artbook.
Where theatrical anime is concerned, Funimation Films is really slacking off. They typically show a film in the U.S. once every two months. However, they currently have a number of films slated for release with no tentative date attached. Since February, Funimation has been touting the release of Eureka Seven: Anemone , and is no closer to releasing it now than all those months ago. In April, they announced the acquisition of a Cyberpunk anime adaptation of an Osamu Dazai story called Human Lost that seems currently lost in the fray of planned releases. And now, they’ve released information regarding the premiere of a pop idol film called Love Live! Sunshine!! The School Idol Movie: Over the Rainbow. The former two of these prospects are at least vaguely interesting to the common otaku, but the latter seems so asinine as to turn away any but the youngest, greenest audiences from the theater. If they ever get around to releasing any of the films theatrically that is…
But thank Ohirume-no-muchi-no-kami that we have GKIDS! Together with Fathom Events, GKIDS is screening Studio Ghibli classics’ Whisper of the Heart on July 2nd and Kiki’s Delivery Service on July 28th and 29th nationwide. Also on July 2nd, GKIDS is releasing Ghibli alum Kitaro Kosaka’s new film Okko’s Inn on a DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack. On the 16th, they will be releasing a new French animation (from the studio that brought us Ernest and Celestine) called The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales. Finally, as of July 1st, GKIDS has announced its acquisition of Masaki Yuasa and Studio Science Saru’s new film Ride Your Wave set for theatrical and home video release in 2020.
Although I’ve already mentioned Fathom Event’s work with GKIDS on the Studio Ghibli Fest showings above, there are two other notable anime films being release through their cinema circuit this month. The first, playing on the 11th and 15th, is Sound! Euphonium: The Movie. The film is a sequel to a popular series by Kyoto Animation and is helmed by some of the same artists in the studio who produced great films like A Silent Voice and Liz and the Blue Bird. The second film, set for release on the 23rd only, is Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: Arrow of the Orion. Unlike Sound!, this second film is more kid-fare than anything else and probably not up the alley of anyone who has made it thus far into this review.
Finally, in the last section of my monthly anime update, I like to take a few sentences to introduce the anime conventions coming up this month in my region: the South-Eastern United States.
Cosplay America, July 5-7th, Cary, NC
Anime Blues Con, July 12-14th, Memphis, TN
Blerdcon (a classic), 12-14th, Arlington, VA
Banzaicon, 19th-21st, Columbia, SC. I’m a regular at this one.
GalaxyCon, 25-28th, Raleigh, NC
& Otakon, 26-28th, Washington D.C. One of the largest anime conventions in the country.
Ciao for now
Normally, in this monthly anime update I discuss all notable or classic manga and home video anime releases coming to the North American market for the month. However, after an extensive search of about a dozen manga distributors and half a dozen home video anime distributors, I have come up short with suggestions for this month.
At this point I’ve seemingly become jaded and bored with much of the light novel adaptations, slice of life, kitsch, and low-brow productions offered up. My critical apparatus is somewhat dull by virtue of spending so much time away from the cinema as of late, and yet my taste remains true and my standards remarkably high. If you don’t believe me, go check out my go-tos for suggestions in this regard: Seven Seas Entertainment, Viz Media, Kodansha Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Discotek Media, Sentai Filmworks, and GKID’s. None of these companies is coming out with a new manga series of note in this particular month or releasing any classic anime either.
But I digress… for the time being. Theatrical anime is still a good prospect for the month of May. To begin, Funimation Films is releasing Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;urrection (not a typo btw) to select theaters on May 5th, 7th, and 8th. So if you’re a fan of that somewhat kiddy fair ten years after it was popular with a whole host of, shall we say, less than effete minds, then by all means go check it out.
GKID’s and Fathom Events are still partnering to present North American audiences with Studio Ghibli Fest 2019. And for the month of May, they are delivering the goods with what is quite possibly the greatest animated feature ever made: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. This film (released in 1984) was famously the impetus for the creation of Studio Ghibli (founded 1985) as Miyazaki and Takahata worked together to fund and create it along with Studio Topcraft (who they would later acquire after the bankruptcy of Topcraft’s No.1 commisioner Rankin/Bass), which established the core of Ghibli. The film will show nationwide on May 20th and 21st, and as this is the film’s 35th anniversary, expect some extra features.
GKID’s is also releasing an interesting new Ghibli home video product on May 14th: a Princess Mononoke Collector’s Edition Set with a ton of extra features that more than make up for the $50 price tag. This release will be the definitive home video release of the film, potentially for decades, so I advise you to check that out here.
Fathom Events, like the champs they are, are also delivering more theatrical anime to your veritable doorstop this month. In 2017, a light novel about a Japanese Salaryman who dies and is reincarnated into an alternate reality world where World War I meets II with magic was adapted into a 12-episode anime. In 2019, the direct sequel of this beloved series was adapted into an animated feature. And now, it comes to American theatrical audiences through Fathom Events for one day only: May 16th. The series is called The Saga of Tanya the Evil, and is looks pretty phenomenal.
Finally, the convention schedule, like everything else this month, is pretty slim for the South-Eastern United States. As far as I can tell, there are only four cons going down within 12 hours of Charlotte, NC (my city). They are as follows: Carolina Anime Day in Charlotte on the 4th; Animazement (NC’s biggest anime convention) in Raleigh from the 23rd till the 26th. MomoCon (one of GA’s largest cons) in Atlanta from the 24th-26th. And GalaxyCon in Richmond, VA from the 31st until the 2nd of June.
With that, I’ll be signing off for the time being. So…
Ciao for now,
It’s about that time, in fact a few days past that time, when I review all the cool things going on in the world of anime, manga, theatrical anime, and the monthly convention schedule for the Southeast U.S.
For starters, I searched through the monthly manga releases by Viz and Seven Seas Entertainment and found no new series being released that really piqued my interest in any way this month. However, I am open to suggestions for other North American manga re-publishing houses to cover in the future (this also holds true for home video anime release companies I may not mention and groups who release theatrical anime on a nationwide scale).
That said, there are a few anime home video releases to keep an eye out for this month. The first is the classic sci-fi stop motion series Star Fleet, which is being released in full along with the complete X-Bomber series by Discotek Media on March 26th on SDBD, or Standard Definition Blu-Ray disc.
Sentai Filmworks is also releasing an important series in complete collection form this month. That series is the Armored Trooper VOTOMS TV Collection on SD DVD. So check that out and the rest of Sentai’s upcoming release schedule HERE.
This past month, the GKID’s licensed Studio Chizu film Mirai of the Future was honored at the Academy Awards by becoming the first non-Ghibli anime film to ever compete for the Best Animated Feature Film category. To celebrate, GKID’s decided to re-run the film a second time in theaters. So if you haven’t seen Mamoru Hosoda’s fifth film on the big screen yet and thought you had missed your chance, use the opportunity asap while its still a possibility. And also keep updated on fellow Ghibli alum Kitaro Kosaka’s new film Okko’s Inn, set for release in April, at the GKID’s site.
As always, Funimation is an important name to keep in mind regarding monthly theatrical anime. And this month, they came through in a minor way. Funimation will be releasing the first two episodes of the new Fruits Basket anime theatrically on March 26th and 27th in select theaters nationwide. So keep that feather in your cap and stay updated on their projected release of the new Eureka Seven film later this year HERE.
Finally, I would be extremely remiss if I didn’t mention the best distributor of theatrical anime in the nation, Fathom Events. These cats were the ones who got me into watching anime in theaters in the first place and on every given month, they will have multiple titles coming to major theater chains near you like the AMC in my hometown, for example. This month you can catch Fate/Stay Night [Heaven’s Feel] II. Lost Butterfly in theaters on the 14th; as well as an edited theatrical version of the Made in Abyss series on the 20th and 25th in support of the projected second season set for release later this year.
Moreover, Fathom finally announced its 2019 Studio Ghibli Fest on Valentine’s Day last month and we’ll start off in a big way with Howl’s Moving Castle in early April. And as always, don’t fret if (like myself) you have already seen every Miyazaki film on the big screen. There will a variety of great Ghibli classics playing throughout the year like Yoshifumi Kondo’s classic Whisper of the Heart, Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s The Secret of Arrietty, and Isao Takahata’s final film The Tale of Princess Kaguya. Check all of that out and more (like boxing events, classic film series, and operas) HERE.
Finally the con schedule for my region this month is as follows:
Agama Con from 2nd-3rd in Aiken, South Carolina.
Murfreesboro Anime and Comic Kon from 2nd-3rd in Murfreesboro, Georgia; Savannah Animazing Con from the 30th-31st in Savannah, Georgia.
Madicon from the 8th-10th in Harrisburg, Virginia; KigaCon from the 15-17th in Newport News, Virginia.
MidSouthCon from the 15th-17th in Memphis, Tennessee.
And finally, Triad Anime Con from the 15th-17th in Winston-Salem, of my home state North Carolina. At this convention I will hosting a panel on the ‘Other Studio Directors’ beyond the Studio’s founders Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. So, if you know anyone in the area, alert them to that and if you yourself are planning to attend, hit me up!
Ciao for now,
Anime still may not be mainstream in America, but with its presence on practically every streaming platform, tons of TV channels, in large theatre chains, most large retail stores, and with multiple anime-themed conventions for just about any weekend in the year, we’ve got a good thing going, eh?
Personally, I’ve been attending anime conventions since 2011, and have been watching anime as long as I can remember. I have also been running this blog with a mostly anime theme for about two full years thus far with over 400 unique articles on my favorite anime series and films. So, while I may be no real expert in the field, I am a pretty hardcore fan well in the know.
Over the years, I’ve drawn up a long list of groups releasing the best anime and manga in the states and would like to present that information here on a month-to-month basis in order to keep my followers on WordPress, and my friends at home, updated and inundated with reminders about anime so they won’t miss out on all the cool stuff I brag incessantly about seeing on the reg.
First off, the anime film every one was talking about at Ichibancon 10 this month: Dragon Ball Super: Broly. This new Dragon Ball film has been out since last Thursday (compliments of Funimation), but as far as I can currently tell, will continue screening in theaters nationwide until this Thursday. So if you can’t get enough of the classic Shonen Series, but don’t want to watch the interminably long Super TV series, check this out ASAP!
Second theatrical film to mention is the theatrical re-release of the critically-acclaimed and widely popular commercial success that was 2016’s A Silent Voice. The film will be in theaters for two days only on Monday 28th and Thursday 31st, compliments of Fathom Events. If you’re not familiar Fathom, definitely check these guys out. For the past few years, they have released high-quality anime to theaters nationwide including the North American release of Mirai of the Future last December and Studio Ponoc’s Modest Heroes just a few weeks ago. Fathom Events has also hosted a 9-month, 9-film Ghibli Fest for the past two years, which focuses on presenting Western audiences with both beloved and obscure works (and has allowed me to see all ten of Miyazaki’s feature films on the big screen). No details for Ghibli Fest 2019 have been released yet (the event has started in March in years past), but Kotaku reports that a new lineup of films is in the works.
As for anime home video releases, my favorite indie company in the field, Discotek Media, has a few releases up its sleeve, all slated for a January 29th release. The three that most piqued my interest were Tetsujin 28: Morning Moon of Midday on a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack, Shin Tetsujin 28 Complete Series Blu-Ray, and a Lupin the 3rd: Series 2 Boxset 3 (Episodes 80-117) on DVD. If you’re a fan of classic anime series and films, you will find old Madhouse, Lupin III, and pre-Ghibli Takahata and Miyazaki works in spades amongst their modest catalog.
Second up for anime home video release is GKIDS release of Masaaki Yuasa’s 2017 masterpiece The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl. If you think you recognize that name, it’s because Yuasa is the director of top-tier contender for 2018’s G.O.A.T. (G.O.A.Y.?) anime Devilman Crybaby. Also available at GKIDS is Yuasa’s 2004 film Mind Game, and in early February I discuss GKIDS’ third slated Yuasa release.
This time around I couldn’t find any manga set for release in January that has not already been released by this time in the month, but suffice it to say that I’ll be checking into Viz and Seven Seas Entertainment to bring classic manga, or anything by Junji Ito, to your awareness. And for those who live in Southeast like myself, I’ll be keeping everyone updated on good regional anime conventions to keep an eye out for as well as passing along any information about panels I may or may not be delivering at said conventions.
Well, that’s all for now. As always thanks for checking out this blogspace. Likes, comments, and especially shares would be most appreciated from anyone who found this guide to the remainder of January and Anime in America useful.
Ciao for now,
[Postscript: I am not endorsed by any of the brands or media companies listed above. However, I wouldn’t complain if any of them offered their support :1. Or if Kotaku needs another staff writer? Hey, I did live in Japan for three months not too long ago after all…]
About a week and a half ago, I took a few days out of my self-imposed home renovation isolation to make the drive into Charlotte from my home out in the sticks. The destination was an AMC theater where they regularly show Fathom Events films (including the immensely popular Studio Ghibli Fest 2017 and 2018 through which I have managed to view every Miyazaki film, and most Ghibli films in general). The goal this time was to check out Studio Shaft’s newest Sci-fi Anime Fireworks. And this despite the trailer looking a bit basic and overtly anime (as opposed to closer to the tradition of fine art embodied by those anime creators like Miyazaki who feel better calling their works animation, or Satoshi Kon whose works more comfortably fall within the canon of arthouse films).
I’m never one to merely trust my gut reaction to a film trailer even though on most occasions that gut reaction proves correct. And because I was starving for new anime films to check out, I also disregarded the 43% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and instead went with the commercial numbers. The film, released in 2017 in Japan, became the sixth highest grossing animated film of the year in the country, as well as the highest grossing of Shaft’s history. For some reason, I took this as proof positive that the film might have potential as an interesting product even though I’ve visited Japan, know Japanese kids, and should have put two and two together that, just as in America, box office numbers do not accurately reflect the quality of a picture. In fact, quite the opposite is often true, and the great arthouse work like Get Out or The Shape of Water that manages to make a ton of money in the process is an anomaly.
Add to this, that Studio Shaft is not, like Gainax or Trigger or Ghibli or Sunrise or Bones or Gonzo or Madhouse, a studio with which I am familiar and that is known for releasing the types of cerebrally challenging or artistic anime I like, and I had to have been bordering on totally mental to pop into AMC on this day. But I did.
Fireworks is the tale of a middle school boy named Norimichi and the classmate he has crush on named Nazuna. The two like each other but have been unable to connect throughout the semester, and now Nazuna’s mother has met the man she wishes to become her third husband and is whisking away her daughter to a different city, away from her classmates, and away from Norimichi before the two have ever been able to have so much as a conversation. Nazuna is an extremely attractive girl for her age and is thereby ignored by her fellow female classmates who are jealous of her appearance and of the attention she diverts from them in the eyes of doting male classmates. Her male classmates, who all seemingly have crushes on Nazuna, are at an awkward stage in life where they are going through puberty and have not developed the requisite self-confidence to approach a girl they like. As such, Nazuna has remained, throughout the year, socially isolated and with no real friends.
As Nazuna reflects on her misfortune and her desire to remain behind and somehow tell Norimichi of her love for him (god this film is sappy), she finds a small glass marble on the beach. The colors reflected within are vibrant and compelling, and she pockets the gem before heading back to school and reclining by the side of the swim team’s pool. There, Norimichi and his best friend Yusuke find Nazuna reclining by the poolside to be one hell of an erotic scene, and resolve themselves to speak to her. She challenges the two to a swimming competition and decides to herself to ask the one who wins to accompany her to the fireworks show later that night, all the while, hoping that Norimichi will be the winner. But as he turns at the other end of the pool during the race, he catches a glimpse of Nazuna in the water beside him, and dumbstruck by her beauty, he hits his leg on the edge of the pool and comes to a screeching halt, loses the race, and his friend Yusuke is instead, made the lucky kid.
Later that day, Norimichi, Yusuke, and their apparently mentally handicapped friends discuss whether it is better to watch fireworks from the side or from below, which should be a no brainer as the amount of debris falling on one’s head from below would make the experience less than enjoyable. They also discuss the shape of fireworks after exploding and somehow one contingent decides that they do not explode outwards in a generally spherical shape, but ‘flat’, as in a big circle in two dimensions… in a three dimensional world. What? This dumb question becomes central to the entire premise of the film, and paired with jokes about excrement (Yusuke apparently feeling the call of nature whenever he is aroused by Nazuna’s looks?!?!), and absolutely horrendous RWBY-like CGI whenever a character moves downrange in a frame, the film becomes an absolute shit show (pun very much intended).
After Yusuke decides to ditch Nazuna in deference to hanging out with his friends and trying to sneak out to see the fireworks from below, she is distraught and goes into a tantrum, which Norimichi witnesses. Nazuna runs off and accidentally drops her marble on the ground, which Norimichi picks up and throws at his friend Yusuke after viciously beating him up for his insensitivity in standing up Nazuna. But when the marble reaches a specific velocity, time begins to revert and the world is subtly shifted into one in which the swim raced has not yet begun and fireworks now appear flat. Norimichi takes this opportunity to make sure he wins the race, and as the world spins out of control, he continually uses this ploy with the marble to make things work out and ultimately escape from the mundane reality he and Nazuna were born into, and move toward a reality of magic where reality conforms to their desires.
The sci-fi subplot is never fully explained, but the nature of its construction is about pure desire fulfillment and only serves to further entrench NEETS and bed-ridden Otaku that they can remain the child-god Dionysus, Peter Pans, or Puer Aeternis and that one day their desires will come to fruition through some alchemical pseudo-scientific process. I’m all for fantasy, but as a maxim art has a moral duty to not lie to its consumers. Good fantasy and sci-fi is ennobling and talks of honor, of self-actualization, of political or social action, or of any other such path toward the growth of one’s self or one’s world. Not toward mere self-gratification. And director Akiyuki Shinbo could stand to learn a thing or two from the hack filmmaker Makoto Shinkai, who has yet to make a true masterpiece of animation, but is always poignantly pointing towards the need for individuals to better themselves and to realize that fantasy is dangerous if unqualified by realism.