After the Long Goodbye

Masaki Yamada provided my entertainment during my business trip to Florida this week with “Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, After the Long Goodbye.” There are only a few titles out there that have had a huge impact and effect in my life and the way I view everything, I add “Ghost in the Shell” to that list, right below “Evangelion.” To be more precise, it has always been on my list, but after reading this, “Ghost in the Shell” has gotten a huge boost.

The short description on the back cover of “After the Long Goodbye” does absolutely no justice whatsoever to revealing the true eloquence and deep philosophies of the actual story. “After the Long Goodbye” is the prequel to the “Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence” film. On the surface of it all, we have Batou searching for his only companion (after "losing" Motoko), his dog Gabriel. But within this seemingly simple surface, lies a world of discovery and uncertainty - the philosophies and dualities of life. The Motifs and themes of the story all relate to innocence, purity, identity, the soul, the self, feelings, love, and memories. In a world of cyborgs and the most advanced technology questions, the make-up of humans is broken down in the most minute details, including how a thought is processed. The areas of uncertainties lie in the soul. As we follow Batou, the meanings of identity and innocence are explored and analyzed. In the end, the journey to identify the existence of a soul could reveal emptiness and render it pointless. Could it be that we all are ghosts in a shell apart from our innocent forms?

This novel is written beautifully and is definitely one of a kind. I recommend this to all fans of GitS. A synopsis that captures the novel in its entirety is almost impossible. The only way to understand is to read it. So that being said, I invite you to pick up “After the Long Goodbye.”


Eva-01 Attack!

An almost 3 meters tall, highly detailed, human scale figure of Evangelion Shogou Ki (Eva Unit-01) has been put on display at the Hobby Shop Kotobukiya at Akihabara this past weekend. After taxes, this Eva comes out to a whopping 1,000,000 Yen!! The scale of it all is simply tremendous. For its initial release, 20 figures will be on sale in anticipation of the first new EVA movie coming this September in Japan.


Message from Anno Hideaki

Posters have been placed in theaters all over Japan this past Saturday with a statement by creator Anno Hideaki on the new Evangelion movies. The poster can be found here. The announcement translates as follows (thanks to the Anime News Network):

Many different desires are motivating us to create the new "Evangelion" film. The desire to portray my sincere feelings on film. The desire to share, with an audience, the embodiment of image, the diversity of expressions, and the detailed portrayal of emotions that animation offers. The desire to connect today's exhausted Japanese animation [industry] to the future.
The desire to fight the continuing trend of stagnation in anime. The desire to support the strength of heart that exists in the world. Finally, the desire to have these wishes be realized.

For these purposes, we used the best methods available to us to make another Evangelion film. Many times we wondered, "It's a title that's more than 10 years old. Why now?" "Eva is too old", we felt. However, over the past 12 years, there has been no anime "newer" than Eva.

Specifically, among the stagnant mood of the present day, it is the portrayal of will - not technology - that is most important. To support the fans that support animation, we felt that a work that would appeal to middle and high school-aged men, who quickly grow away from Anime, was necessary.
When we decided that we wanted to something to support the anime [industry] of today, the determination to return to this title was strong.

As the creator of this project, [I assure you that] a very new-feeling Evangelion world has been constructed. For this purpose, we are not returning to our roots at Gainax. I have set up a production company and studio, and it is in this new setting that we will start again. Without looking back, without admiration for the circumstances, we aim to walk towards the future. Thankfully, we have gathered staff from the old series, new staff, and many other fantastic staff to work on this series. We realize that we are creating something that will be better than the last series.

”Eva" is a story that repeats. It is a story where the main character witnesses many horrors with his own eyes, but still tries to stand up again. It is a story of will; a story of moving forward, if only just a little.
It is a story of fear, where someone who must face indefinite solitude fears reaching out to others, but still wants to try. We hope that you look forward to the 4 new retellings of this story.

In closing, it is also our job to provide a service to our customers. Although it seems obvious, we aim to create a form of entertainment that anyone can look forward to; one that people who have never seen Evangelion can easily adjust to, one that can engage audiences as a movie for theatres, and one that produces a new understanding of the world. This fall, we hope you can join us.

Creator/General Director, Anno Hideaki


Con Report - Katuscon 13

It's been 3 straight days of anime, manga, video game galore at Katsucon 13 held this past weekend at the Omni Shoreham in Washington, DC, and my body has only now succumbed with extreme exhaustion and satisfaction. There is no doubt that I'm glad that today is a holiday...I need time to recuperate. There's just so much to report (so get ready for a looong entry) and I'm sure to miss some highlights from Katsu 13 - both the good and the bad. This year, I spent less time with the live programming and concentrated more on the merchant's room and on the video programming. There were only a handful of live events that caught my interests. So with that all said, let's hop to it!


Cosplay this year seemed dry and ordinary. In addition, I felt that the number of cosplayers have been decreasing for the past 2 years. I was unable to get a costume ready in time for this con, unfortunately. But anyways, there's only so much Sailor Moon, Naruto, Full Metal Alchemist, and Bleach I can stand...give it up already!! Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts is always a popular theme for cosplay. They made their appearance once again, but at least the frequency of FF cosplayers were subdued. I was happy to see less Inu Yasha cosplaying (thank you!!!) but there was enough there to start to tick me off. Silent Hill also made an appearance, as well as The Sims. There weren't any costumes that blew my mind comparing to other years...I still remember the Jin-Roh and FF: Spirits Within cosplayers about 3 or 4 years ago.


The usual events graced its presence at Katsu 13 - dance, iron artist, artist alley, and cosplay to name a few. Peelander Z, the j-pop/rock band gave 2 hyperactive concerts (Friday and Sunday) -- they're hilarious if anything. Some events worth mentioning includes the Art of Speed Grapher. It was great to see others who enjoy the series and hear from the Associate Art Director of Funimation, Antimere Robinson. I also enjoyed the WOW TCG Demo.

Hayato and Val of Duel Jewel had an autograph and photo session and showed their exclusive live concert from their recent performance in Japan. It was a great and life-stopping moment when I came across Hayato and Val in the Merchant's room, they definitely took me by surprise.


If there were any improvements at Katsu this year, it was with its live programming. I was able to catch a good range of anime and live action series.

Let's start with live action, most of which I'm happy to report were in its original language. "Great Yokai War" is a remake of the 1968 film and has a nice plot and a nice amount of comedic elements. A young boy is chosen as the "Kirin Rider" and is given the responsibility of leading Japan's ancient Yokai spirits in their war against the evil monsters empowered by the "things thrown away by humans." I'm not very versed in history, but if you've seen enough anime like me, you can recognize some Yokai spirits. For example, if you've seen Azumanga Daioh, the second year culture fest episode includes references to the wall and paper umbrella spirits.

From good old samurai movies to old-school anime to street gang movies, "The Hidden Blade," "Tetsujin," and "Time and Tide" brought more veteran anime fans together. "Time and Tide" was a pleasant surprise.

Moving on to anime. Looking for nonsense laughter, I was able to sit down and catch "Kamichu," Ninja Nonsense," and "Super Gals" Season 2. Another pleasant suprise was "Paradise Kiss." The animation is flawless and the plot is nice and light. A stressed-out 3rd year high school student runs into some design students preparing for their annual school fashion show. Though "Paradise Kiss" may seem like your ordinary romantic comedy, I think that both guys and girls will enjoy it. Other series include "Coyote Ragtime Show," "Disgaea," and "Gakuen Heaven."


Ah, the merchant's room, where every fan can find that perfect item or items for their collection. There was a really great selection of stores this year, probably the best for Katsucon. I was happy to see that the FF potions were available for purchase and the pinky street finally makes an appearance. It seems that more and more people are jumping into the pinky:st craze. The Tohru and Henrietta pinkys, 2 of the rarest pinkys, was also available for about 100 dollars. My wallet was definitely impacted, but it was worth it. Some items I took home include a Last Exile Figure and some artbooks including Range Murata's Form Code 3rd edition - stunning beauty to say the least. I had always seen screen shots for the Cloud and Sephiroth figure, but never got to see it up close. If I could have gotten anything during Katsu 13, it would have been this magnificent piece of art belonging in a museum. Sadly, it'll have to stay on my wish list. The picture does absolutely no justice to the figure. Just seeing it is breathtaking.

So, what was my whole take on Katsucon 13 (16 Feb-18 Feb 2007)? Overall, I thought Katuscon 13 provided some nice entertainment and a bountiful stash of anime goodies. There was a great number of younger kids on Saturday, but luckily most did not stay for the entire con. I was able to "be with my own kind" and share my appreciation and passion of the industry. I still haven't found the spark I felt in Katsucon in the past years. They really slipped up last year, but made a vast improvement this time around, though not in all respects. Their lack of Japanese guests was trifling. The guests are one of the most important aspects of cons for me. This is also for the first year the photo areas were implemented. While I understand the need and feel that it did make a difference, I felt that some potential photo ops were discarded simply because of the unwillingness to stop what you were doing and walk to the nearest photo area. Be that as it may, hopefully this marks the beginning of recuperation. Based on the experience, I hope to go to Katsucon 14 next year.
Live Programming = C+/B-
Video Programming = B/B+
Merchants Room = B-/A
Cosplay = C+/B-
Organization = B
Guests = D/F
Overall = C+/C (Average)


Evangelion Drinks

Yes, you heard me. Evangelion Drinks! Gainax and Animate has just announced the release of Evangelion drinks. Oh why must you torture me so? You can buy the individual cans. But I've got my eyes set on the case. I feel ecstatic just as I'm writing this, I've gotta catch my breath. Okay, the case will have 6 cans (2 cans of Black Coffee with the words "Don't Drink This"; 3 cans of LCL Orange Juice; and a coin bank for those who buy the case) at 945 Yen.

The case is awesome in it of itself. On it lies the perfect parody, straight from the first episode - Gendo says: "If you're going to drink, hurry up. Otherwise, go home!" Shinji responds: "I don't even know what's in it! There's no way I'm drinking this."
The Evangelion drinks will be on sale at the Gainax Eva Store and Animate stores on April 12, 2007. I've already emailed all my import stores about it. In some cases, they first hear about some products from me, then it's available for purchase! This was the case for the Final Fantasy Potions Energy Drink. I just wish I had a guarantee of getting some of these cases. I'll take any help I can get!



During my spare time in Atlanta, Georgia last week, I was able to fit in some touristing in the midst of working. One of my stops was the World of Coca-Cola. There I tasted some of the world's sodas (there were some pretty nasty ones, and of course, the japanese one was my favorite). I also had a fateful encounter with "Trexi." The first time I came across the Trexi figures was while I was shopping at ningyoushi.com some years ago. I tried to avoid them, knowning my obsession, nay, passion for figurines. And what should I encounter at the World of Coca-Cola? Exclusive Trexi figures.

I was able to find five "We all speak Football" Trexi figures I was searching for. I'm still looking for the "Archangel" (pictured here) but have not had any luck locating one. For those of you not fully versed in "Trexi," be sure to check out www.trexi.com.sg. But be warned, if you're as crazy as me, it might be better if you avoid clicking on the link.


The Attack of Live Action Movies

It seems that all I've been writing about is the upcoming releases of anime/manga turned Live Action. Is it just me, or has the volume of live action movies increased over the years? I've expressed my feelings on this several times, so I won't bore you with the details. But overall, while I love the idea of Live Action movies, especially for my favorite anime and video game titles, it instills in me great fear and uncertainty. I don't want anything, such as bad casting, screenplay, lack of production resources, etc. ruining the integrity of the original piece. The increase of live action titles must reflect the growing popularity of some titles, but in the end, unless you can produce live action movies with uncompromising quality, don't do it at all.

With that said, in addition to some of the ones I've already mentioned like "Death Note" and "Ghost in the Shell", and many others not discussed, live actions are definitely surfacing at a much greater pace. A "Metal Gear Solid" movie is in the works (thanks for the info. Gendo77) with Hollywood production associations -- scary. And the filming of "Blood: The Last Vampire" live action movie (with French production associations) has already commenced. That movie is tentatively set to be released in the U.S. by Spring 2008. There are many others that have been in the beginning stages for quite some time. One such title is the coveted "Evangelion." I really hope those "thoughts" don't surmont to anything but just that -- thoughts.

Only time will tell. Let us hope that these titles are in good hands and that these creators/artists think before they leap.


Solty Rei

Three pasts, two hearts, one end.

It's been 12 years since a mysterious even known as "Blast Fall" took numerous victims and left many more injured. The survivors are now equipped with "Resemble," mechanistic parts that provide superior performance -- arms, legs, human organs, whatever was damaged during the incident. This is where we find Roy Revant, a bounty hunter with a broken past. During a fight, he meets a "Resemble" that is 100% machine! After some altercations, Roy becomes "guardian" of Solty.

Solty Rei delivers entertainment, but is somewhat lacking that enticement we normally encounter in Gonzo works (or maybe I was just spoiled after Speed Grapher). The soundtrack is mediocre, but some pieces are rightly befitting. The animation is beautiful as 3D CG visuals and background gracefully intertwine with the non-CG animation.

At the beginning, the whole bounty hunter aspect reminded me of Cowboy Bebop, but that thought was wiped away almost immediately. The series has its moments, but the overall plot is not concrete. If anything, character development got me hooked. Roy, a cold and distant, multi-layered being, is matched up with an optimistic and innocent girl. The 2 extremes of the Roy and Solty relationship and the changes they both make balances any of the otherwise "less perfect" elements. Roy makes my list of favorite characters possibly because he reminds me of me in some ways -- this could be true for Solty as well (as with several other anime characters). But all in all, I wouldn't pass up this series. There's enough originality and flavor to make Solty Rei very entertaining.


Speed Grapher Vol. 5

Speed Grapher, Volume 5, picks up the slow pace it had last volume. Suitengu's past is revealed and desperate attempts at resolution is out of reach as a blockade of lies and deception steer our heroes on the wrong path. The meanings behind justice and freedom continue to be tested as the true nature of humans lies closely to power and corruption. Volume 5 ends at a critical point, leaving the viewer anxiously waiting to pick up the final volume, to be released in the U.S. on March 6th.


Le Chevalier D'Eon

Le Chevalier D'Eon, Volume 1 is undoubtedly bewildering and absolutely breathtaking. The story is set in France in the time of Louis XV - the story's historic references are plentiful and double meanings are scattered throughout the story and its characters.

D'eon de Beaumont discovers the body of his sister, Lia, in a coffin with only the word "psalms" on the cover. Set to uncover the mystery behind her death, D'eon joins the secret police to the king. They come across other victims that have received similar fates as his sister. As the story and mystery unravels, the search for the truth gets even more sinister and intricate as connections with some dark occult organization, Le Secret de Roi, and D'eon's sister, Lia, as well as other prominent members of royalty are revealed. Metamorphesis seems to be one of the overlying themes as the conceptes between vengeance and happiness are intertwined.

Volume 1 starts out very strong and maintains that edge till the very end leaving you exasperating for more. It is nicely paced and perfectly balanced with all the elements we love best -- the animation, plot, and character development are all stunning. The musical score definitely plays a huge role in the total ambience of the story. The prospects of this series are extremely high as I have yet to find any "weak spots."

I've only said this to one other anime title (Tonari no Totoro), but the english dubbed version actually does some justice. I am still squirmy about the actual voice characters, but I think the translation is superior as poetry and verses are significant in the series. I'd recommend Le Chevalier d'Eon to all anime fans. I'm sure the levels of appreciation of the minute elements, etc. will vary, but the level of entertainment is sure to be high for all.