Gedo Senki

Goro Miyazaki's first movie, Gedo Senki (or Tales from Earthsea/Les Contes de Terremer - see blog entry 06/07/06), was released in Japan last year. There have been mixed reviews that cover both ends of the spectrum -- from horrible to wonderful. We've also known that his father, the renowned Hayao Miyazaki, was against the thought of Goro directing the movie. Nevertheless, the main point to get is that Goro is trying to step out of his father's shadow (a difficult feat at best) and create his own style. I can't help but feel a little biased since Hayao is my number one director, but I'm sure that many fans went to watch Gedo Senki because of Hayao's past works.

Gedo Senki will be open in French theaters earlier than scheduled -- April 4, 2007. Unfortunately, licensing problems still remain in the U.S., so it looks like it won't get released there earlier than 2009! While I can only go on conjecture, it seems that your take on the movie will depend on what you expect from it before watching it. Hopefully, I won't have to wait too long to watch it.


Alvis & Henrietta

I'm a sucker when it comes to absolutely stunning figurines that are simply oozing with beauty and perfection. I don't know if I can resist the temptation, but the Alvis E. Hamilton (Last Exile) and Henrietta (Gunslinger Girl) figures just has to be in my possession. I don't see how that's going to happen, as I have placed a spending restriction on myself, that is, with the exception of Katsucon of course. The Last Exile figure came out a while ago, but has recently been restocked.

Every figure is unique in its own way. There's no way I can pinpoint what certain allure some figures have for me. I don't want to over-generalize, but anything with wings, super-details, any Range Murata work, any Evangelion, any Five Star Stories, and definitely any Final Fantasy figures are sure to catch my attention...ah, evil temptress, what is this hold you have over me?

I hope I can hold out till February and I hope I'll find both Alvis and Henrietta in Katsucon at a reasonable price.


Pinky:st x Choro-Q = ?

Pinky Street teams up with Choro-Q once again. This red car is tentatively set to be released at the end of July this year. I imagine a re-paint will be released subsequently. Pla-Japan (http://www.plajapan.com) is now taking preorders.


No Oscar for "Paprika"

Complete and utter dismay filled my entire body when I learned of the Oscar nominations for Best Animation this year. Please tell me why "Paprika" does not merit an Oscar nomination and why "Happy Feet," "Cars," and "Monster House" deserve it? Forums reflect pages and pages of disdain and confusion.

I find it simply amazing that works of higher caliber are not even mentioned. Look at "Advent Children" or even "Appleseed" and tell me those weren't incredible CG movies. This just goes to show you the extent of US's knowledge. Though I wasn't totally surprised at the turn of events, I'm just simply saddened at the current state of affairs. The notion that animation is just for kids seems to be living true and bold in America even today -- no adults allowed. To have a world that appreciates true art seems to be out of reach. I guess so long as fans continue to appreciate the art of animation and manga, that acknowledgement will just have to do. My props to Miyazaki for landing some awards, but Kon definitely deserves it for "Paprika."


Resistance: Fall of Man

There are plenty of reviews out there for PS3's "Resistance: Fall of Man," part of the opening lineup of games, and almost all of them say the same thing: "Resistance" is hot, hot, hot! At first glance, "Resistance" looks to be a regular first-person shooter simply with better graphics. You could even compare it to "Call of Duty" or "Socom." But underneath the surface of it all, lies a world that's totally different. I won't go into much detail since there's a ton of info. out there. In my attempts to avoid too much redundancy, here's the gist:

It's 1951 and Europe has been run over by an alien life form, Chimera. As Sergeant Nathan Hale, we join the British in battle. The storyline is probably the only thing that's lacking, only because all the other aspects are simply beyond belief.

One of the greatest facets of the game is its multiplayer online capabilities. It is absolutely incredible. The ease of joining a game with 8, 14 or even 40 people with no lag time, definitely gives "Resistance" an edge of its own. Your game stats are recorded as you gain rank, ribbons, EXP, etc. A game on its own, I find myself playing online for hours on end almost everyday.

I try to avoid games such as these, because they are extremely addictive..that's why I stay away from "Warcraft." But "Resistance" is in layman's terms, simply hard to resist. I have no regrets for picking this up, and you won't either.


Katsucon 13 Preview

Now, you've got the basics: hall costume contest, cosplay, masquerade, dance, art show, video gaming room and the all-important merchant's room. Then you've got the guests -- probably the one element that differentiates one con from another. You're always bound to get the regulars -- english voice actors, doujinshi artists, etc. Hence, the ones you can assume will be there unless they have recording or another event that day. International guests, by no surprise, are announced closer to opening day. But over the years, Katsu has turned up great artists -- I've had the priviledge of meeting Range Murata (I even got to play Rock-Paper-Scissors with him and about a dozen others), Satoshi Shiki, and Tsukasa Kotobuki, for example. It's not a new concept, but more and more cons have j-pop/rock concerts as the main event. I've gotta say, this has made Katsu even more enjoyable these past couple of years. We've had Duel Jewel, Psycho le Cemu, Jack Takuro, Salia, and Funny Stones.

But the picture looks grim this year. Less than a month remains till Katsu 2007 and other than the appearance of 2 members from Duel Jewel, the line-up looks dry. You've got the basic VAs, blah blah blah. Still no Japanese artists. Peelander-Z, another con regular, has a concert -- not a group I'm aching to see...We're in the same hotel as last year, and in response to the photo dilemnas, photo areas have been designated all around the hotel. I just hope that it works out okay, I'd hate to miss out on a good photo simply because people didn't want to walk over to the right place to take a pic.

The con as it stands now, still has some allure - the merchant's room is at the top of my list and it would be interesting to see what the popular series of the year will be in cosplay-world. Hopefully, we'll have some good panels (the schedule is not up yet) as well and the anime rooms will have a good selection of subtitled works.

I don't mean to be long-winded and pessimistic, and I understand the logistics of scheduling guests and events, but my expectations were pretty high, since last year's con was pushing the envelope just a bit. I don't know if I'll have to find another con to attend from now on. There's still time till the con, but if things don't turn up, I'm sure that it'll prove to be enjoyable regardless.


Paprika U.S. Site Open

The critically acclaimed "Paprika" opens May 25, 2007 in the U.S. The official website is now up and running. Click here to check it out. The site has a nice gallery of 55 pics. Seeing it brings back great memories. Take my word for it, or better yet, take it from everyone who has already seen it. I guarantee that they will all agree when I say that this is a movie that truly cannot be missed.


Ghost in the Shell Live Action

Production I.G. has received permissions from Kodansha to produce a Live Action "Ghost in the Shell." Negotiations with the U.S. have commenced, but I can't help but feel torned. "Ghost in the Shell" is, in its own genre and beyond, perfect. Producing a live action is great in theory but leaves open the chance of degrading the true essence and allure that is "Ghost in the Shell." However, based on the huge fan-base in America, I still have hope that this will turn out to be a great theatrical experience, especially with the response that SAC has received from U.S. fans. I guess only time will tell if justice will have been done.


MGS Portable Ops Tournament

GameSpot is holding a $1000 PSP Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops "Snake Wars" Tournament. 48 players will compete in death-match mode. "Every match will pit six players against each other and only the top three will advance to the next round." Registration has been open since yesterday. Those 48 spots are bound to go fast, so if you're interested, click here to sign up now.

Also, be sure to catch the finals on Friday, January 26th at 4PM, which will be broadcast on LIVE on GameSpot Tournament TV with commentary, in-depth gameplay analysis, and interviews.


Anime/Gaming Downloads Resource

I've been asked countless of times for any good websites to download anime/video game trailers, episodes, and music. Yesterday was no different. Rather than spewing the same answer every time, I've decided to list some of these resources here.

Central Park Media (www.centralparkmedia.com/ipod) has a nice collection of full anime episode downloads and trailers for free. It's format-friendly for iPods and PSPs.

Google Video (http://video.google.com) uses the power of the Google search engine to search for videos on the web. The save feature makes it easy to download to your computer, iPod, PSP, Blogger, MySpace, and more.

Galbadia Hotel (http://gh.ffshrine.org) is your one-stop source for soundtracks galore. Their collection of video game and anime OSTs continues to grow almost daily. You're sure to find what you've been looking for and it doesn't hurt that it's all free!

Keiichi Anime Forever (www.keiichianimeforever.com) is another one of those all-in-one anime resources. You can watch full anime episodes and movies in dubs (english, spanish, french, portuguese, etc.) and subtitles (japanese). Online manga and a collection of anime MP3s are also available.

Blue Laguna (http://bluelaguna.net/pages/selectmp3.php) can't be forgotten -- a great collection of video game OSTs.

YouTube (www.youtube.com) and other streaming video sites carry a lot of anime and video game clips and episodes. There are some software available that allows you to save these clips to upload on your iPod, for example.

iTunes - U.S. (www.itunes.com) is beginning to broaden its anime section. Trailers and related podcasts are available. A decent collection of the Final Fantasy series OSTs are available to buy as well.

This list is by far not expansive, but should point you in the right direction. There are more sites popping up every time, it's just a matter of finding it. If you know any good sites worth visiting, let me know.


Lament of the Lamb

The "Lament of the Lamb" (Hitsuji no Uta) manga ended back in 1997 and the anime version was developed in 2003. A live action is rumored to be in the works as of 2006. Although the manga is being distributed in the US, it doesn't look like the anime is available in the states. It's a pity though for those who only buy mainstream titles, especially true for dub-fans (I just shudder at the thought). There are a plethora of titles worth picking up that many in the US never get exposed to. "Lament of the Lamb" is one such title.

Something has been troubling Kizuna, the story's main character, for the past month. Kizuna learns more about his past and of a sister he never knew existed. The beginnings of high school romance are stopped abruptly as an onset of an apparently hereditary disease strikes Kizuna, giving him a sensational thirst for blood.

"Lament of the Lamb" is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill vampire story. Instead, the word "vampire" is used only as the best analogy available to describe this "Takashiro curse." The rest of the story follows Kizuna and Chizuna (his sister) as they struggle to defend against the curse. Dark and gloomy throughout the whole series, this anime is not for someone looking to get or stay in a cheery mood. The absolutely stunning animation complements the story perfectly.

In some ways, similar to "Fruits Basket" or "Evangelion," there is deep distraught in these characters between the lines of body and mind, where affectionate love can never be acheived. To sit here and try to explain the unattainable love in "Evangelion", for example, would be extremely exhaustive. That discussion will have to be saved for another day. Nevertheless, despite the fact that both Chizuna and Kizuna have someone that love them, the family curse is simply too strong to overcome the inevitable. The transition to love can never be for these characters. [Note: Though hints of incestual "romance" begin to transpire, I don't know if it actually surmonts to anything, as I have yet to pick up the manga.] Suicide may, in fact, be their only release.


Vampire Hunter D Vol. 6

Avid readers of the novel series, "Vampire Hunter D," will notice a great change of pace in Vol. 6 Pilgrimage of the Sacred and the Profane. Hideyuki Kikuchi spends the expanse of the book with character development. This does not come without sacrifice. The overall read of the book seems extremely slow and it lacked the suspense and drive I felt in all the past volumes. Lies, deception, and secrecy are all great themes for stories, but this volume takes it to an extreme. The "end" took forever to get here and when it arrived, it felt short and abrupt and unsatisfying.

As always, Kikuchi writes beautifully. He especially has a keen sense of specifics and individuality and knows how to deliver suspense. This volume does not portray the true genius of Kikuchi. For Vol. 1 through 5, I found myself ecstatic to turn each page and the time between each volume's release seemed like an eternity.

On a higher note, The preview of the next volume, Demon Journey to the North Sea, Part One seems very promising. Due this May, I have a feeling that it will deliver. This is the first 2-part volume of "Vampire Hunter D," and it should prove to represent the true caliber of Kikuchi, as did Volumes 1 through 5.


New EVA Pinky:st Figures

WonderFest 2007 is just around the corner, and with it comes figurines that take your breath away. The Pinky:st has had a strong reputation at revealing the most beautiful figures and this year is no exception. Pinky:st has a new version of the Asuka and Rei (from "Evangelion") p:cos series. The chances of landing these school uniformed-Asuka/Rei duo this February are pretty slim. But my hopes aren't completely shattered, as there is word for a regular release of the new Eva figures, sometime this June or July. If anyone has any concrete information, please let me know.


Duel Jewel at Katsu 13

2 members from one of my favorite j-rock bands, Duel Jewel, will be coming to Katuscon 13 this February 2007. They will also be at Megacon. You might remember that they gave an electrifying concert at Katsucon back in 2004. Hayato, the lead vocalist, has been confirmed to appear at Katsu 13, while the other member accompanying him is still unknown.

They will have a autograph/photo session at the J-rock Ent. table in the merchants room. Auctions for dinner with Hayato and the mystery member will be open soon. For more information, check out


Speed Grapher Vol. 4

"Speed Grapher" Volume 4 drastically turns down the momentum it had in Volume 3, but still holds its credibility and its elements of lust, greed, and betrayal to the very end. The secrets behind the actual chemistry of Kagura's state and the world of Euphorians continue to unravel. Episode 16 marks the series' first, if not only, recap episode. "Speed Grapher" smartly uses an annual report of expenses as a means of recapping all the events that have occured thus far. The end of the volume also seems to hint at more flashbacks as the end of the series inches closer.

To avoid too many spoilers, I will only ask this: "Could Saiga and Suitengu's first encounter with each other actually be before their meeting during the botched ceremony at the club?" I'm sure some questions will be answered in Volume 5 which is set to be released Janunary 16, 2007.


2007 A.D.

2006 has gone and another year awaits. Old New Year's resolutions reemerge once again as we try to fill the empty voids in our lives. 2006 has been full of deep searching and momentary highs and 2007 brings in renewed hope, whether real or false. Whatever state we are all in, or think we're at, one thing always remains true. No matter how secluded we actually are in any respects, there is something that connects us. This vague "thing" may be hard to define now, but nevertheless exists. And so we continue to move forward hoping that strength, courage, and bravery will aid us in whatever mission we seek to accomplish...2007 could very well be that year.

On another note, many great anime and manga titles, video games and consoles, and movies, for example, have graced its presence in 2006. The releases of the Nintendo Wii and Playstation 3 marks the end of 2006 and the beginning of the new era in video gaming. New anime titles continue to be released and its accessibility in the U.S. continues to grow as well. It would be hard to list all the new series of 2006. So rather than do so, I invite you all the take a moment to reminisce and appreciate how the anime and gaming world truly shapes our lives. Thanks to all animators, writers, creators, etc. for giving me a world I can call home. Happy 2007!!!