DMC and Resident Evil Comics Announced

DC Comic's WildStorm imprint is expanding even more and joining great titles such as World of Warcraft and Gears of War will be two of my favorite Capcom titles - Resident Evil and Devil May Cry! I have been pretty diligent with controlling my comic fix, but can't keep any promises with these newest additions.

Details on the new series, including creative team and launch month, will be announced at a later date. Both titles will be published by DC Comics’ WildStorm imprint.

According to the press release, "to coincide with the Resident Evil comic book is the latest installment in the Resident Evil series, Resident Evil 5, which unveils a world where the biohazard threat has not ended: Just when it seemed the menace of Resident Evil was destroyed, a new terror appears in Resident Evil 5. Resident Evil’s returning hero, Chris Redfield, has followed the path of the evil around the globe, and after joining a new organization, heads to Africa, where the latest threat is transforming people and animals into mindless, bloodthirsty creatures. Joined by a new partner, Sheva Alomar, the duo must work together to unravel the
truth behind the evil menace."

"Devil May Cry 4 immerses gamers in a gothic supernatural world, where a new protagonist clashes with a familiar hero. As the new leading man, Nero, players will unleash incredible attacks and non-stop combos using a unique new gameplay mechanic: the powerful “Devil Bringer” on his right arm."


Sky Crawlers Pinky Street

As I was looking at the newest Pinky:st releases, I had a nostalgic moment and realized that wow, it's been more than 5 years since these incredibly cute figures made an appearance. And even after all this time, they hold more appeal than ever. I think the last pinky:st I bought was the exclusive Makoto Konno from Tokikake. But anyways, moving away from my flashback, Vance Project recently unveiled prototypes of their newest (extremely adorable and nicely varied) P:chara, based on the anime, Sky Crawlers, premiering this August.

The figures are tentatively scheduled for September.


Versailles at Anime USA 2008

Versailles will be returning to America for their Sentiment of Genesis Part II Tour, with the first stop at AnimeUSA! The band will be signing autographs, participating in Q&A sessions with fans, and performing a full concert on Saturday, Oct 11th.

Versailles is composed of Kamijo (vocals), Hizaki (guitar), Teru (guitar), Jasmine You (bass), and Yuki (drums). The group combines their duel guitars and agitated rhythm to embody “The absolute formula of beauty and extremity of aestheticism.” Their DVD single “The Revenant Choir” won No.1 for the most powerful visual kei website, “visunavi” and in January of 2008, Versailles received the J-Rock Award for Best New Artist. Their first full album “NOBLE” will be released in Japan on July 16th and soon after in Europe and the United States. To learn more about this incredible group, visit their website and their MySpace page


First Look at Amano's Shinjuku Illustration

This weekend at San Diego Comic Con, Dark Horse Comics announced "Shinjuku" -- an illustrated novel drawn by internationally-acclaimed artist Yoshitaka Amano. The breathtaking work of Amano last graced an illustrated novel over a decade ago in his book with Neil Gaiman, THE DREAM HUNTERS.

Myspace.com Comic Books present an exclusive first look at this new work by a legendary artist. Be sure to check out all the sketches.

Set in the year 2020, Shinjuku is the story of Daniel Legend an American Special Forces soldier turned licensed private bounty hunter. He is a loner who travels the globe capturing criminals and now must journey to Shinjuku, Tokyo to save his sister. Armed with his wits, metal storm pistol and a mysterious cryptic five year old post card. Simon sets out to save his family and accidentally saves the world. Look for Shinjuku next summer.


New Del Rey Licenses include Sohyruden

The North American publisher Del Rey announced at its Comic-Con International panel that it has acquired licenses for the Negima, Orange Planet, and Yokai Doctor manga. It also licensed the Sohryuden novel inspiration for the Sohryuden - Legend of the Dragon Kings anime, and will release a CLAMP in America retrospective book.

For me personally, I'm extremely excited at the Sohryuden license announcement. It's great to see some old classics resurface and finally come to the U.S. via the anime's original source. After all these years, Sohryuden has held a timeless spot in my all time favorite titles. It's been more than a decade since I saw the anime, and almost 2 decades since the manga and novel was released in Japan. I am hoping Del Rey's release will include illustrations from Yoshitaka Amano.

The story features four divine Dragon representing 4 kingdoms - north, south, east and west. The brothers are reborn in the modern world, complete with supernatural powers and the ability to become the Dragons they descended from. They are content to live ordinary lives until evil creatures come to attack them.

It becomes the mission of the four brothers to defeat the "Four Sisters", four girls from America and the descendants of the "Bulls", before they use their control over technology and the economy to take over the world. However, as this battle begins, the four brothers must also find their place in the world as they flee from the destructive will of the "Bulls".


MGO + Kojima at Comic-Con 08

Konami and Major League Gaming have teamed up to host a Metal Gear Online Tournament at this year's Comic-Con in San Diego. Prizes for the tournament include a PS3 bundle and game bundles as well as some shirts, gift cards and such. Registration is open, but with limited slots, act fast if interested. The tournament itself will kick off Friday at 12:30 p.m. and wrap up Saturday night. And as an added bonus and perhaps more importantly, Hideo Kojima will be around Friday at the booth from 10 a.m. to noon giving autographs. Click here for more information.


Xam'd: Lost Memories Episode 1

As announced at E3 2008, last week marked the launch of the Playstation Store's video download service for the Playstation 3 and PSP consoles. Attention anime fans, this new service may be of interest to you as a nice helping of anime titles are included care of Funimation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and BONES studio. The Playstation Store currently hosts the following titles: Afro Samurai, Basilisk, Burst Angel, Desert Punk, Gunslinger Girl, Kiddy Grade, MoonPhase, Samurai 7, Trinity Blood, Astro Boy, Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, and the feature of this post, Xam'd: Lost Memories.

BONES Animation Studio (Full Metal Alchemist, Eureka Seven) brings us another winning title, that has yet to premiere in Japan, as part of the store's original exclusive content, Xam'd Lost Memories. The store will host the full two season, 26 episode run with a new episode being released each week. Not much I can describe after one episode, but I can say that the first episode is spectcularly done is setting us up nicely for what promises to be an exciting anime series.

Xam'd: Lost Memories is set in a time of wartime conflict between two differing parties: the Northern Government and the Southern Continent Free Zone. And in between them is a neutral zone, Sentan Island. In enters a boy name Akiyuki who is heading to school, along with two friends, when an explosion occurs. By the end of the first episode, in the crossfire from the explosion, Akiyuki is infected with some sort of substance and transforms into the titular creature known as Xam'd.

Already, we see a great deal of behind the scenes look at the different parties at play and the drama about to unfold. Visually, Xam'd: Lost Memories is fluid, very Eureka Seven-esque. And character development is oozing with such potential. With Akiyuki alone, he has to deal with his school, his parent's divorce, his social life, and now his newfound transformation.

You'll definitely want to check out this new series. As can be expected, BONES pulls out all the stops and proves just why it is one of my favorite animation studios in the anime industry.


Cowboy Bebop Live Action

I don't know whether I want to believe this or not, but IFMagazine.com reports that film producer Erwin Stoff (The Matrix, A Scanner Darkly) is developing a live-action adaptation of Sunrise's Cowboy Bebop multi-genre action anime series for Fox. Stoff told the website that the project is "in the really early stages" since the parties "just signed it the other day."

Shinichiro Watanabe's Cowboy Bebop really needs no introduction but the story follows a group of bounty hunters traveling around the solar system in search for their next job and to find some decent food to eat. Stoff promised "a real degree of faithfulness," and added, “When I met with them in Japan, one of the first things that I brought up was the experience that we had on A Scanner Darkly, and how hard we worked to remain faithful to Philip K. Dick, and that was our big concern here.”

According to ANN, the starring cast will include Justin Chatwin as Spike,Carlos Mencia as Jet, Cameron Diaz as Faye, Elisha Dushku as Ed, and features Andy Serkis as Ein, using amazing motion capture technology.

I really really don't know what to say, except that I'd rather it wasn't true. While there may be the off chance that a live action transition would be spectacular, there's too much risk. The degree of coolness and individual story for each character and hell, music alone, are just some factors that fans won't want messed with. I guess only time will tell if it'll turn out to be a la "Evangelion" live action situation or a la "Speed Racer."

As a side note, from Stoff's track record, may I just add...Not Keanu Reeves as Spike, please!


Jyu-Oh-Sei Available in English Subs

FUNIMATION has posted downloads for all 11 English-subtitled episodes of the Jyu-Oh-Sei science-fiction adventure anime series. In this adaptation of Natsumi Itsuki's manga, two twin brothers must fend for themselves when they are deposited on a untamed planet after witnessing their parents' deaths. While Funimation announced its acquisition of this anime at last year's Anime Expo, it has yet to announce DVD plans for it. Each episode costs US$1.99, and the entire series costs US$16.99.

Other English-subtitled series that Funimation's video service offers include Black Blood Brothers, Rumbling Hearts: KimiNozo, Shuffle!, Trinity Blood, and Witchblade. Tokyopop announced its acquisition of the original Jyu Oh Sei manga at last year's Anime Expo also, and it will release the first volume at the beginning of next month. [Source: ANN]


MGS4 Custom Solid Snake Munny Figure

For years I've been meaning to create my own custom Qee or Munny figure. Inspired by Kojima's latest creation, Metal Gear Solid 4, I was compelled to create my own rendition of Old Snake equipped with Young Snake w/ Bandana Face Camo, and sporting his good old cigarette. Not bad for my first attempt, but I'd love to hear what others think. I've actually already gotten requests for me to sell, but wasn't planning on it originally.

Sketching took one day, and 2 nights later, voila. I may make some additional accessories and maybe create other characters from MGS4.

All in all, here's my homage to what could easily be deemed the masterpiece of video games - Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.


Kikuchi to Celebrate B-day with Fans

More New York Anime Festival news are coming your way and you can bet this girl cannot contain her excitement, especially with the newest update. As you may or may not know, this year marks Vampire Hunter D author Hideyuki Kikuchi's 59th birthday - September 25 to be exact. But with all the commotion on NYAF, Kikuchi won't be able to celebrate it until after the convention. In a once-in-a-lifetime turn of events, NYAF has announced that Kikuchi will celebrate his birthday on Sunday, September 28 with a restaurant party with his illustrator Yoshitaka Amano, translator Kevin Leahy, and up to 10 die-hard Vampire Hunter D fans.

10 fans will be able to join the three unprecedented guests in Midtown Manhattan for appetizers, salad, entrée, dessert, birthday cake, and unlimited drinks. The dinner will also include autographs from all three guests. More information can be found on the convention's website.

I am ecstatic and overjoyed to report that I will be one of the 10 fans to join in Kikuchi's birthday celebration. I'll be sure to report every detail -- If you're one of the other 9 attendees, be sure to drop me a line. I was planning on getting my hands on a VIP pass for the convention, but I easily gave that up for this rare opportunity. Every con always seeks to better themselves each year and already NYAF 08 has overtaken NYAF 07 by a landslide.


Rei Tanaka at NYAF 08

Japanese voice actress Rie Tanaka will appear at New York Anime Festival 2008 as a Guest of Honor. This is every Seiyuu fan's dream as Tanaka has worked on so many recognizable characters in over 50 animations. She is most known around the globe for voicing Lacus Clyne in Gundam SEED, Chii in Chobits, and Suigintou in Rozen Maiden, but this is just the tip of her resume. Other works include Simca in Air Gear, Yomi in Azumanga Daioh, Sei in Burst Angel, Hiroko Matsukata in Hataraki Man, Monica Lange in Macross Frontier, Tomoe Marguerite in My-Otome, Saki in Steel Angel Kurumi, and Minna-Dietlinde Wilcke in Strike Witches. In addition, Ms. Tanaka is also the voice behind songs featured in many of the series she's worked on including Azumanga Daioh, Burst Angel, Chobits, and Gundam SEED.

According to the announcement, beyond question-and-answer and autograph sessions, Ms. Tanaka will perform a selection of her songs at the start of NYAF's World Cosplay Summit Masquerade.


E3 2008 FFXIII Details

One of the biggest news to come out of E3 2008 has to be the loss of Sony's exclusivity with a behemoth line-up called Final Fantasy. That's right, FF XIII is coming to Xbox 360 as Square Enix attempts to reach as broad of an audience as possible for its next epic role-playing game, which means bringing it to a Microsoft system in North America and Europe. Japan will not see an Xbox 360 release.

While I not completely surprised at this move, I am still in awe and denial -- this is a great loss only Sony, but I guess on the upside, Versus in still a Sony-exclusive (?). According to IGN's coverage, the team plans on cutting down the time it takes for games to go from Japan to North America to Europe. There also are no plans to have the games be different on Xbox 360 and PS3. Nothing has been decided for sure yet, but the team is looking at ways to compress the audio and pre-rendered cutscenes that take up a lot of data without affecting the quality when bringing the game from a blu-ray format to the DVDs that Xbox 360 reads.

As far as the battle system goes, details are still slim. The system is called "ATB" and is said to be an enhanced version of FFXII. FFX, for those that aren't in the know, did not display the enemies on the battlefield and then teleported the player to a separate screen for the randomly occurring fights. FFXII, meanwhile, had a battle system closer to what you find in a standard MMO where the enemies can be seen in and then engaged on the same screen. Kitase says he "took the best of X and XII and created something entirely new and evolved it... there will be monsters on the field but it's a little bit different from the MMO style that XII had."

Kitase spoke briefly about the audio direction Final Fantasy XIII is taking. The team is in the midst of casting voice actors for the Japanese version right now, so there are no key names that could be given. In terms of the music, the team will start working on putting together the soundtrack after the cutscenes are finished and polished to match them properly. This hasn't happened yet, but they do have an idea on what direction the music should take. For this game, the team would like to incorporate more voices and choral work.


Blade of the Immortal Episode 1

Blade of the Immortal episode 1 is finally here and to say the least, I am happy with the manga to anime transition. While my biggest qualms about the transition laid on the artistic value of the manga and how it would translate to the screen, Bee Train productions and Production I.G. did a fabulous job with a nice blend of color and lack thereof, play with light and shadows, and muted palette.

Episode 1 introduces us to Manji, a violent samurai with a rather special ability -- an inability to die. Cursed with immortality by an 800-and-something-year-old nun Yobikuni as punishment for his ruthless deeds, Manja vows to lift the curse by slaying 1,000 villians. The episode makes a few jumps here and there, which may cause some confusion, but overall, there's enough there to satisfy old fans and entice those new to the series to continue on. I am still on the fence on the soundtrack -- not sure where to lean yet, but I'll leave my final thoughts on the soundtrack after a few more episodes.

Blade of the Immortal is done beautifully presenting dark themes and gore. This is sure to please fans of other samurai-themed anime such as Samurai Champloo, Berserk, and Samurai 7. You can bet I'll be following this series closely.


X JAPAN World Tour Reinstated

After suspending their global tour back about a month ago due to the health of the band's leader Yoshiki Hayashi, X JAPAN has finally rescheduled its concert date in France. The concert will now take place at the Palais Omnisports Paris Bercy sports center on November 22. France will still be the first stop in the band's world tour with plans to continue on to New York and Taiwan, as planned, and Korea as well.


Versailles' "Nobel" Official World Broadcast

Versailles' first full length album, Nobel, is due out in Japan in less than 2 weeks. But for those who simply cannot wait, Tainted Reality, is hosting the official world broadcast debut of Nobel on July 10th. The broadcast will begin at 8pm Eastern, 5pm Pacific. During the broadcast, they will air every single song from the album, and will be airing comments from Jasmine, Teru, Yuki, Hizaki, and Kamijo recorded specifically for Tainted Reality.

To hear the broadcast, go to www.taintedreality.net on July 10th at the aforementioned time and click on the "Listen Now" button at the top. It requires Windows Media Player or VLC to listen.

This is sure to be a great treat filled with symphonic metal riffs and it'll be interesting to see where they pick up from "Lyrical Sympathy." The single "The Revenant Choir" remains to be my favorite piece of the japanese rock.


MGS: Cold Blooded

Graham Cornell, Creative Director over at The multimedia studio TheDuoGroup has created a rather amazing animated Metal Gear Solid short very reminiscent of the official graphic novel animation style. The 5-minute short is impressive in all aspects, the implementation of the MGS story, animation, and use of the MGS soundtrack. "Cold Blooded" is set to a brief encounter in 1972 that Captain Mikhail Tarasov calls "The Margov Incident." It's an interesting take with a different point of view -- a story through the eyes of the enemy. [Source: Kotaku]


JICC Summer 2008 Anime Series

The Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC) in Washington, DC, Embassy of Japan has always strived to screen more anime and live action. In the past, they've hosted the US premiere of Tekkonkinkreet with special appearance by Michael Arias himself, as well as a special screening of Vexille. They continue this trend this summer with several live action movies:

Umizaru 2: Test of Trust
July 16th, 2008, 6:30pm

Umizaru, or Sea Monkey, is the nickname given to Coast Guard Rescue Divers. The 2004 film Umizaru followed Daisuke Senzaki (Hideaki Ito) as he struggled through the training to become a diver, and his relationship with Kanna Izawa (Ai Kato). The story of Daisuke and Kanna was continued in a serialized drama series on Japanese television in 2005. 2006 saw Umizaru return to the big screen for Umizaru 2: Test of Trust, where Daisuke has become a star diver and leader for his outfit. Umizaru 2: Test of Trust has the second-highest total box office receipts ever in Japan. The films and television series are based on a popular run of comic books.

Shinobi: Heart Under Blade
Friday, July 25th, 6:30pm

A live-action ninja movie featuring two rising stars of Japanese cinema- Joe Odagiri and Yukie Nakama. Shinobi is about two rival ninja clans, the Koga and the Iga, who have honed their skills to super human levels.

Death Note
Friday, August 29th, 6:30pm

A live action film based on the extremely popular manga, starring Tatsuya Fujiwara from the Battle Royale films. The Death Note is a notebook of the gods of death. Anyone whose name is written in it will die.


Kiku-chan to Okami

The Shin-Ei Douga anime production studio has announced that its seventh annual “Sensou Douwa” (War Fable) television movie, entitled "Kiku-chan to Okami" (Kiku-chan and the Wolf), will air this August. "Kiku-chan to Okami" is an adaptation of "Grave of the Fireflies" author Akiyuki Nosaka’s short story "Toshi-Oi Mesu-Okami to Onna no Ko no Hanashi" (The Story of the Old Mother Wolf and the Girl), which follows a girl and the wolf in the fields of WWII Manchuria who watches over her like a mother.


EVA: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project

Dark Horse Comics has announced that it has acquired "Shin Seiki Evangelion: Ikari Shinji Ikusei Keikaku (Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project), Osamu Takahashi's manga based on an EVA game spinoff, at their recent Anime Expo panel. The game has the player "raising" Shinji Ikari and determining what path his life will take. The manga version adapts the game storyline, particularly its school sequences. The manga has been running in Kadokawa Shoten's Monthly Shonen Ace magazine — the same magazine that serializes Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's main EVA manga — since June of 2005, and five compiled volumes have been published in Japan. Dark Horse will start the manga in late spring or early summer of 2009. [Source: ANN]


E3 2008 Countdown

With E3 2008 just around the corner, the anticipation of what will be shown and announced is growing. Checking out IGN's confirmed list of games (which doesn't include Square Enix), there are definitely some titles of interest. Jumping off the page for me are:

Project Origin (PC, PS3, X360)
SOCOM: Confrontation (PS3)
Resistance 2 (PS3)
LittleBigPlanet (PS3)
Killzone 2 (PS3)
Soul Caliber IV (PS3, X360)
Dead Space (PC, PS3, X360)

Other anticipated games include FF XIII, God of War 3, Gran Turismo 5, and Versus. Whether this is wishful thinking for at least 1 or 2 of these titles, I guess only time will tell; and Square Enix does tend to be secretive. But in the meantime, I'll be on the look out.


Trinity Blood: Silent Noise Vol. 2

The "Trinity Blood" line-up includes an anime, manga, and in this case, a series of light novels, which have always been of excellent quality. I am a great fan of all the current light novels and manga available, but am most particularly impressed with the second volume of Trinity Blood's "Rage Against the Moon" light novel tier: Silent Noise. While the other novels were great in their own respects, I felt that the plot development and turn of events were a bit formulaic and hence, borderline predictable, even down to the side-character level. However, "Silent Noise" is anything but formulaic. While still maintaining the essence of "Trinity Blood," this volume brings more suspense, riveting highs that keeps you hooked, and even more sinister and daunting villains.

The story centers around a sort of doomsday device, a mysterious weapon holding the titular label Silent Noise. This unusual weapon has the ability to annihilate entire cities leaving only rubble in its wake, without any sort of warning and no evidence of the source responsible for the desecration. This adventure is one that takes Crusnik Abel Nightroad at his limits, unearthing his past and apprehensions, as he is faced with an enemy not like any other he's met before. If you were only able to watch/read one "Trinity Blood" piece that represented the entire franchise, "Silent Noise" would be it. This volume alone revitalized my steady interest in "Trinity Blood."


Firmware 2.40

The update that everyone has been talking about, even while other system updates were being released, is about to be making its debut appearance shortly. And as that time draws closer and closer and more details are revealed, my excitement seems to be dwindling.

The biggest hype around Firmware 2.40 is, of course, the in-game XMB capability. With a simple tap on the PS button, the full XMB pops up, however a fair number of features will ask you to quit the game to use time (i.e. the Playstation Store, web browser, display settings and most importantly, voice and video chat!!). Sure it'll take you automatically to where you want to go, rather than having to quit the game, then scroll over to select it, but excuse me if I'm asking for too much, but I'd rather chat while playing, then text while playing. The biggest feature I was waiting for turns out to be non-existent. Much like the Rock Band's in-game XMB, your friends list is fully accessible with a simple touch of the PS button. You are also able to change accessory settings while in-game, so you won't need to quit to turn on your headset, for example. And while we're on that topic, check out Sony's official bluetooth headset to be released separately and with SOCOM Confrontation.

But moving along, as all reports are stating, the in-game XMB is not the only thing included in this update. You can customize your in-game soundtrack to play your own music you have stored on your PS3 hard drive. While this feature will probably give me some moments of entertainment (imagining playing LocoRoco to the MGS4 soundtrack), it's not enough to get me un-bummed about the lack of voice chat. And just to note however, Sony did add a nice little compact music control panel. Trophies is next on the list and is pretty self-explanatory. But it's important to note that rewards won't be given out retroactively -- you'll have to go back and play through each game again. Makes sense since you could easily trick the system by copying a completed game save.

Nevertheless, the short comings do leave room for potential updates in the future. Perhaps this is just the beginning. Firmware v2.40 will become available for download on July 2nd.

UPDATE 7/2/2008: I come home from work today expecting to update my PS3 firmware and was surprised when I received a message that said I already have the latest update. The release of Firmware v2.40 apparently seemed to have caused some issues to those who were able to update to the new release. But it appears, as my PS3 showed me this evening, that Sony has since pulled the update and has reverted back to version 2.36. Reports have stated that players who did update to 2.40 were just prompted to download version 2.36. Seems more tweaking is necessary.