Eva Movie OP

Just announced, Utaka Hikaru is set to sing the theme song, "Beautiful World" for the new "Evangelion" movie coming out this September. Also featured in her single will be a new Utada remix of the infamous "Fly Me to the Moon." Utada's other recognizable works include the opening theme song for the newly released "Freedom" and of course, one of my favorite songs, Hikaru, from PS2's "Kingdom Hearts."



Last night, the Japan Information and Culture Center hosted the DC premiere of "Tekkon Kinkreet", an anime film based on the manga, "Black and White." Animated by Studio 4C, "Tekkon Kinkreet" follows two street kids named Kuro (Black) and Shiro (White) that run the city Takara Machi (or Treasure Town) under the gang name "Cat." A new enemy known as "Rat" threatens to take over Treasure Town to destroy the old in order to build anew. Kuro and Shiro are faced with their toughest enemies yet as they try to defend their town and prevent annihilation.

Far within the surface of this plot, deep and hidden intracacies are revealed as the movie delves in the inner sanctions of both Black and White. This surprising twist is one of the many elements that set "Tekkon Kinkreet" apart from other titles. Black must save the city and White must save Black from the "screws" hidden within himself. Do you choose the purity of darkness or the truth that lies in fire?

The town's construction and backdrop are rare, dynamic, and colorful -- kind of a mixture of Hayao Miyazaki, Satoshi Kon, and a "Je ne sais quoi" (you'll get the pun if you've seen the movie). I wouldn't recommend the movie for younger children as it is based on a seinen manga, and the atmosphere definitely matched that. "Tekkon Kinkreet" is not for everyone. The full house consisted of mainly 20 to 40 year olds and many Japanese-speaking individuals. The screening was followed by discussions from director Michael Arias ("Animatrix") and screenwriter Anthony Weinl.

I was particularly impressed with the camera views employed in the animation, but was disappointed with the lack of a soundtrack to match the genius of the movie. However, the hybrid of 3D CGI and traditional animation was flawless, as expected. In fact, the word "hybrid" couldn't be more perfect to describe the movie - a mixture of corruption, violence, tragedy, and even comedy, "Tekkon Kinkreet" is sure to please hardcore fans.

On a side note, I was able to check out JICC's current exhibition, "Tokyo Girls" before the actual screening. Each artwork, by Naondo Masuda, interacts with every other piece "to form a cohesive portrait of Tokyo through the faces of its young women." If you are in the area, I'd recommend stopping by. This exhibit is running from now until July 31st (closed on July 4th). Overall, it was a great night indeed.


Eva Handy Magi System

According to Anime! Anime!, a device based on the Magi computer system from "Evangelion" will be developed by Sega Toys. This "Handy Magi System" acts as a sort of magic 8 ball by answering questions you ask with a positive or negative response. The Magi System also features voices of Misato Katsuragi and Dr. Ritsuko Akagi. This device will be released October 6 for a little over 1,000 yen (about 9 bucks). Note: As of today, there doesn't seem to be preorders available yet from Japan importers.


Freedom Vol. 1

Anime has found a new home in high definition. "Freedom," the first and thus far only anime title available in high-def in the US, makes up a group of a small handful of titles later to get the high-def treatment. Though some Blu-ray titles are available (in Japan) including "Innocence" and "Paprika."

A six-part series from the legend who brought us the critically famed "Akira" and "Steamboy," "Freedom" brings us into the future in an animation style that only Katsuhiro Otomo can do. Nissin's collaboration will be evident when you notice the Nissin Cup Noodles scattered throughout the series.

The story begins in the 23rd century where the people of Earth have been forced to emigrate to the moon, later becoming the foundation of the Lunar Republic of Eden. In Eden, a council provides everything lunar citizens need to ensure a peaceful existence, that is, except freedom. Takeru, an ambitious 15-year old has just finished the required education program all children must complete in Eden. Children are granted freedom for 6 months until the council later chooses what their assignment and social status will be. Revolved around the story is Takeru's love for machines and racing. And with that comes a great opportunity to show off Otomo's great animation skills. A mixture of CG animation with anime and manga superimposed on one another, you can definitely "feel' the creator's style.

The series will be released in 6 separate DVDs and since only Freedom 1 has been released, there isn't much else to review on. But this first volume has definitely got me hooked. No word yet on the release date for Freedom 2.


Dungeon Maker: Hunting Ground

It is extremely safe to assume that we've all at one point in our lives, played RPG-based video games at least once, nay, at least a dozen times, easily. Traversing through dungeons and batling monsters we encounter along the way is something we are all accustomed to. But what if, with all our gaming experience, we were able to design and make our own dungeons? What if we were then able to interact with our own creation? The possibilities would be endless and gameplay potentially infinite. "Dungeon Maker: Hunting Ground" for the PSP seeks to do exactly just that.

You arrive at a new town after having just bought the rubble of rocks right outside the town's entrance. Your mission is to turn this rubble into a complex and elaborate dungeon enough to attract monsters and the like to rid the town of these pests. Day by day, you continue to add on, attract, and kill monsters, in the hopes of finally attracting the monster of all monsters and to ultimately destroy it. The townsfolk provide some materials and hints to help you along your way.

"Dungeon Maker" makes a rather bold attempt to create an innovative action RPG, but falls horribly short in all aspects, making it a barely passable game. Instead of being a game that has it all, important elements are sacrificed in order to achieve dungeon making. The music score is mediocre and noticeably repetitive, and the quality of the graphics isn't all that great. The town is which we commute to everyday has no interoperability or interactivity, to the point where gamers are just left with stills and voice-overs. The only movement your character does is in the dungeon. Since the main element of the game is in the dungeon, I turned my focus that way. The dungeon maker at best represents the raw ability of the most basic "Sims" game.

Great concept and idea...horrendous execution.


5cm Per Second

From the art and mind who brought us "The Voices of a Distant Star" and its followup, "The Place Promised in Our Early Days," comes a new epic movie. Makota Shinkai's "5cm Per Second: A Chain of Short Stories About Their Distance" debut in Japan on March 3, 2007 brought many hardcore anime fans together. Shinkai's newest work is composed of 3 separate chronicles -- A Tale of Cherry Blossoms, Cosmonaut, and 5cm Per Second. According to IcV2 News , ADV has made plans to release the movie theatrically before its DVD release this December.

Shinkai is well known for his one-man work on "Voices" and his distinctive and unique style with themes that center on isolation and loneliness.


Pinky:st "Un-SD-fied"

Pictured in the official Pinky:st website, "Babysue," 2 projects seem to be in the works. These "un-SD-fied" pinky street figures aren't your ordinary pinkys. Features reminiscent of the original figures are prominent and the twist of increased likeness is sure to get fans going.

No word yet on actual release information, but I'm liking the direction that this line of figures is heading. More information will be posted as they come in.


Trinity Blood PVC

Abel Nightroad has never looked more fierce. This "Trinity Blood" PVC figure is a force to be reckoned with. Coming out this August, Abel boasts a huge scythe of blood. The detailing on this bad-ass vampire is incredible. Eight inches tall with a window box, this one of a kind figure has a retail price of about 180 bucks. You can bet I already preordered my figure, and if you want a chance to grab a hold of him, I suggest you do the same NOW!


5 New Pinky:st Figures

I have been itching to watch the anime movie "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time" for the longest time now, and have been waiting patiently for any word on its release. It seems the hype on the movie has resurfaced, this time, in Pinky:st style. Due out this October, the figure will come in 2 versions.

Equally exciting is the future releases of PK 16, 17, and 18. Moving away from the standard school uniform format, these new pinky:st figures are proof that the craze still has a good heap of steam behind it.


GiTS: Solid State Society

Monday night marked the grand opening of Ani-Monday, Sci-Fi channel's brand new and only anime programming block. Starting off with a bang, Ani-Monday brought us the U.S. premiere of "Ghost in the Shell: SAC: Solid State Society."

With the miniscule prospects of a subbed showing of SSS, I was, as expected, let down in the end. I decided to go ahead and wait a couple more weeks until my copy of SSS arrives so I can watch it properly in its original format. Therefore, my review will have to be put on hold until that day comes. But in the meantime, I will leave you with a brief synopsis of the movie courtesy of Production I.G.

A.D. 2034. It has been two years since Motoko Kusanagi left Section 9. Togusa is now the new leader of the team, that has considerably increased its appointed personnel. The expanded new Section 9 confronts a rash of complicated incidents, and investigations reveal that an ultra-wizard hacker named the Puppeteer is behind the entire series of events.


Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm

"Atelier Iris 3: Grant Phantasm" for the PS2 is a little different from its predecessors. In this quest-based RPG, you play as Edge Vanhite traveling back and forth between your home town and other worlds. The battle system is easy to use and efficient, but it doesn't bring much new to the table. It is by far not revolutionary and is a mediocre RPG at best. The opening sequence -- animation and music -- is one of my favorites, hinting at an awesome game. I may just not be used to this commodity, but you can toggle between playing the game in japanese (yay!) or english. This luxury has become increasingly available with newer releases and I sure hope this trend continues.

In the end, though it didn't quite reach my high expectations, "Atelier Iris 3" provides some nice gameplay. If you're not a fan of quest RPGs, you may want to steer clear from this game. But if you're not emphatically against quest RPGs, "Atlelier Iris 3" might be worth renting.


Guslinger Girl Sequel

Sources indicate that the 13-episode anime series, "Gunslinger Girl" will continue! The manga is currently still going on in Japan, with 8 volumes already out. There is no information on where the anime will pick up from, but this is extremely great news for "Gunslinger Girl" fans.

"Gunslinger Girl" follows a group of young girls specifically trained (and altered) to become the most dynamic and skillfull killing machines ever. Packed with lots of actions, developed storyline and characters, this series has it all. Think of it as "Elfen Lied" but with so much more than anyone could imagine. The philosophical nature of "Gunslinger Girl" makes this series one of my favorites, as it examines the emotional and psychological effects of their current situation, within the chaos that is life.


Darker than Black

Ten years ago, a mysterious and impenetrable field known as "Hell's Gate" appeared in Tokyo. This spawned the manifestation of psychics, some bound by contracts and others, simply dolls or even in between. Each "Contractor" has unique powers and is just as mysterious as the gate itself. With the appearance of Hell's Gate and these Contractors, all the stars faded and were replaced by stars that represent each Contractor. When a star is born, a Contractor appears.

Hei, the main character of "Darker than Black," is one of the most powerful Contractors, and like several others, works to uncover the mysteries that occurred 10 years ago. "Darker than Black" is vivid and has great potential. Like "Speed Grapher" and "Solty Rei," for example, this series could be something big, lest it doesn't fall short half way through the series. I am six episodes in, and it could still go either way, but so far, I'm liking what I see. Any BONES production is worth your time and "Darker than Black" is no exception.



Twenty years ago, Final Fantasy emerged in Japan only to become one of the greatest role-playing games to this day.To celebrate it's 20th birthday, Square Enix is remastering the original game for the PSP. The game has been revamped to give us exceptional detail and presentation. Remarkably enough and quite thankfully, players can immediately switch between Japanese and English at any point of the game, that includes the original kanji!!! As a huge fan of Yoshitaka Amano (especially known for his illustrations of "Vampire Hunter D", I was happy to learn that an art gallery will be included. There are handful of other changes, including an enhanced Uematsu soundtrack.

It's time to get back to basics. FF is due out on June 26th.


X Japan Revival

Yoshiki has been one busy guy. After the announcements of the super group SKIN to perform at Anime Expo and the appearance of Yoshiki himself at Japan Expo, big news has arisen revolving around the infamous band, X Japan. The one that literally started it all and the only group that we can say with confidence is THE J-Rock God, world-wide, is reforming. Disbanded in 1997, hopes of the reformation of X were dwindling and after one decade, X is back.

Their sound and aura still remains unique and untouched after all these years. What's more, X Japan will have a live concert in December 2007 in none other than Los Angeles. The West Coast seems to have all the fun. Looks like I probably just need to relocate and ditch the East Coast. The final live was one hell of a concert and you can bet the comeback will be just as wild.


Emily the Strange Statue

Hollywood...the world of glitz and glamour and all that good stuff. The world that houses the great actors and musicians and the like. But beyond Hollywood Blvd., beyond the beaches and palm trees, and beyond the fashion district, lies a few scattered treasures for the avid anime and video game fan.

There's Little Tokyo and Anime Jungle and Munky King, just to name a few. But a surprising find laid rest on the Universal City Walk -- the awesome "Things from Another World" (Dark Horse Comics) store. Definitely my kind of store.

I was able to get my hands on a limited edition Emily the Strange Maquette, of which only 1,300 were made all over the world. Emily is being her usual self and totally reminiscent of the first Emily comic book. Chilling as the "Chairman of the Bored" on the infamous red sofa chair adorned with her 4 black cats, Emily is alluring and you just can't help but bask in her presence and glory.


J-rock Revolution Festival

The 2-night J-Rock Revolution Festival this past Memorial Day weekend blew the roof off the Wiltern Theatre. Nothing could have prepared LA for what they were about to encounter. Before anyone knew it, the streets were filled with J-rock fans dressed representing the visual kei culture, gothic lolita, and the occasional (annoying) posers. Each night, the line went on for at least 10 blocks and continued to grow and wrap around buildings even after the doors were opened at 6:00 p.m. As we were in line on night 1, people were already lining up on the other side of the theater for night 2!

You could feel the excitement in the air and as hours passed by and the sun continued to shine down on us, the frivolity and pure anticipation still persisted. Things got even more electrifying when a red convertible drove past the moving line driven by none other than Miyavi himself!!! Days have passed already, but the adrenaline rush still hasn't subsided for me. This was truly a once in a lifetime event that has a stamp of lasting impression.

As Yoshiki pointed out, this event brought many fans together from far and wide. I'm sure we weren't the only ones that traveled from one coast to another for this epic event.

The 9 bands all gave breathtaking performances and no one disappointed. Duel Jewel, the first j-rock band to ever play at a US anime convention, totally rocked it out. Miyavi and Kagrra, get the award for one of the coolest opening acts. But in truth, all 9 were there for reason -- they truly represent the epitome and origins of the revolution of J-rock. Since there are a growing number of live reports showing up on the web as I write, I will just touch upon the major highlights.

Surprises were definitely not a minor commodity. The one and only Sugizo made an appearance, picked up a guitar and joined Miyavi on stage. This appearance led into Yoshiki's first big announcement. The super group SKIN, making up the J-rock gods Gackt, Yoshiki, Miyavi, and Sugizo, will be performing at the Anime Expo in Long Beach, CA this year. I was totally unprepared for this news...I gave up going to Anime Expo this year to go to the J-rock Revolution Festival!!! And the news didn't stop there. On night 2, Yoshiki announced his appearance at this year's Japan Expo in Paris, France. And believe it or not, I've got con tickets, but alas, am missing my plane ticket.

Nevertheless, the J-rock Revolution Festival was beyond belief and anyone can only do so much to explain it. Sadly, you had to be there to grasp the awe of this event. Based on the response, a second concert most definitely wouldn't be a bad idea. I mean, just look at that line-up of this 2007 concert. There were just a few bands I thought should have been there -- had Gackt and L'arc~en~Ciel, and maybe Nightmare had been there, it would have made it all a bittersweet treat to the next level.

NIGHT 1 - MAY 25, 2007

1. Kotodama
2. Arishi Hi no Bishou
3. Nue no naku koro
4. Yousai
5. Utakata
6. Urei

Duel Jewel
1. Hanauta
2. Kamisori
3. Reincarnation Flow
4. Mxxder Marble
5. Tales

1. Selfish Love
3. Kabuki Boyz
4. Neo Visualizm (Sakihokoru hana no yoni)
5. Are you ready to rock?

1. nevaeH
2. Sangakoronda
3. Tomei nakago
4. Chocoripeyes
5. Ningyo

alice nine
1. Velvet
2. Red Carpet Going On
3. Yamini chiru sakura
5. Haikara-naru-rondo
6. Shun ka shu toh
7. Blue Planet

NIGHT 2 - MAY 26, 2007

1. Rojiura elegy
2. Omohide sunsegt
3. Saihate no Parade
4. Dekiai no suiso
5. Meisai no shinshi
6. Japanese Modernist
7. Oriental BL Circus
8. rendezvous

1. Volcano
2. Shadan
3. Owari to mirai
4. Fukai no yami
5. Omaeni sasageru minikui koe
6. Take a Look Around
7. Deceived Mad Pain

1. Damned
2. Angeldust
4. Closer to Ideal
6. Kogoeru yoruni saita hana
7. Sixty-Nine

1. Gokusai
2. Rojiura boku to kimie
3. Saishu ressha
4. D.O.G.
5. Nijyu-goji no yuutsu
6. Libra
7. Utsuro no heya
8. Ryu sei


Vampire Hunter D Vol. 7

After an electrifying weekend, I was thrown back into the mayhem called work. It's been a gruesome long-short week and I haven't had a chance to blog since I left for Cali for the wonderful J-rock Revolution Festival (report coming soon!).

This trip entailed quite a bit of waiting (7 hours back and forth spent in airports and planes, and 5 hours waiting in line on both nights of the concert -- in short, 24 hours of having to wait patiently). Having to endure these long hours of waiting would've been quite pain-stakingly nerve wracking, but thankfully Kikuchi was able to relieve most of the pressure with the seventh and newest installment of the "Vampire Hunter D" novels.

Kikuchi is back and better than ever and unlike my past 2 novel reviews, volume 7, "Mysterious Journey to the North Sea: Part One," screams perfection. After a downward spiral away from his true caliber, I must say, it is good to have him back.

The elusive Vampire Hunter D finds himself face to face with a girl on her death bed and one special dying request -- to return a strange and priceless gem back to her sister in another town. Only problem is, ofcourse, everyone seems to want it in their own possession. D is later hired by the dead girl's sister to protect the gem and cut off its many pursuers. Just what is the mystery behind the gem and what is it's connection with the Nobles? As the mystery starts to unravel, a battle is put on hold, only to be continued in volume 8, tentatively to be released August 8, 2007. Trust me on this, if you've had the misfortune of never reading or seeing any "Vampire Hunter D" novel or movie, you'll want to pick it up now.

"Journey to the North Sea" is dynamic, flawless, and detailed in a way only Kikuchi is capable. The story is so well developed and definitely inticing that it comes to no surprise that an anime movie based on the 2-part novel may be in the works. But the hype doesn't stop there. "Vampire Hunter D" is also getting the manga treatment. Now if only Yoshitaka Amano would illustrate it, everything would be just right. But I do realize that's asking for a bit much. Volume 8 comes out later this year.