Comiket 74 Cosplay

Comiket, otherwise known as Comic Market (CM), is the world's largest comic convention, held twice a year in a place in Tokyo, Japan that all anime fans should be familar - the instantly recognizable Tokyo Big Sight Convention Center in Odaiba. Unfortunately, I wasn't lucky enough to attend (one day...one day), but with Comiket 74 at an end, in comes the onslaught on cosplay pics. And from what I've seen, it looks like Comiket 74 had a fierce collection of cosplayers.

Check out these select galleries (there are plenty more out there), all for your viewing pleasure:

Japanator - Part 1
Japanator - Part 2
Japan Forum
Otaku2 - Part 1
Otaku2 - Part 2


Kojima Reflects on MGS4 and Future

It's been over 2 months since the release of the genius work by the video game God known as Hideo Kojima. By now, you've beaten "Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots" several times, know every crook and cranny, received the coveted Big Boss Emblem (or are working on it at least), marvelled at the beautiful cutscenes, unravelled the story bit by bit, had multiple beauty photoshoots, and have switched to an all-egg diet while humming a familar tune.

Hideo Kojima recently sat down in an interview with Kikizo to discuss everything from his age to Killzone 2 to his possible involvement in the next Metal Gear Solid title. Kikizo notes that the influential developer has stated he wants to stop working on the MGS series after the completion of every game since MGS2. Kojima insists that he still feels that way, even currently, but because of "political, business or technology reasons, there is always a time when I have to return ... when we look ten years into the future, maybe yes, I may well end up spending more time on the Metal Gear series!"

When questioned about his trademark long cutscenes, Kojima had this to say: "In MGS4, yes, I put everything in the cut sequences, which I kind of regret to some extent, because maybe there is a new approach which I should think about." He feels games like Halo and Bioshock, while brilliant in their own ways, "lack a kind of deeper storyline or the expression of the feelings of the characters." He thinks the key is to somehow offer both the freedom of an interactive story and the emotions brought on by FMVs. It looks like we'll definitely be hearing more from the famed video game designer, whether it is another MGS title or something entirely new. For more, the full interview can be read here.

On a related note, Kojima has once again, for the millionth time, confirmed that MGS4 will NOT be released on the Xbox 360, so quit asking already! "I've been doing a lot of interviews and stage shows," said Kojima to Eurogamer. "And half the questions are like: Will MGS4 be coming out on 360 or other formats?" Kojima reiterated to the publication that MGS4 will remain a PS3 exclusive because 1) he believed that MGS's success entwined with PlayStation and 2) MGS4 was optimized for the PS3 and wouldn't be possible with other hardware. There you have it, spread the facts.


Iron Chef Morimoto at NYAF

NYAF reminds us in a colossal way this year that the festival is more than your average anime convention. Rather, it's a celebration of the entirety of Japanese pop culture. While anime may be at the epicenter of the festival, NYAF Guests of Honors show the wide range of Japanese culture. We've got illustrator Yoshitaka Amano, author Hideyuki Kikuchi, voice actress Rie Tanaka, and fashion designer Baby, The Stars Shine Bright. And to add to the mix, NYAF has just announced that Chef Masaharu Morimoto -- star of Iron Chef and Iron Chef America -- will attend NYAF 2008 as a Guest of Honor.

Chef Morimoto will hold a question-and-answer session and a book signing. Festival attendees are also invited to visit Chef Morimoto's eponymous restaurant -- Morimoto -- from 7 to 9 PM on the last day of the New York Anime Festival for NYAF's Official After Party. Morimoto Restaurant is located at 88 10th Avenue in Manhattan. The New York Anime Festival's After Party will take place in Morimoto's downstairs bar and is open to all NYAF attendees, exhibitors, professionals, and press.


Mamoru Oshii Directs "Assault Girl 2" Live-Action Short

"Ghost in the Shell" and the recent "Sky Crawlers" director Mamoru Oshii is overseeing one short in a live-action anthology film and two episodes in a separate live-action television series. The "Assault Girl 2" short will be one of four segments in December 6's Kiru ~ KILL, an anthology where each part is the final scene of a hypothetical full-length action movie. In addition to directing his short, Oshii will also supervise the entire project, and Kenta Fukasaku, who wrote the screenplay for the first Battle Royale movie and directed its sequel, has been confirmed as one of the other three directors who will be contributing. [Source: ANN]


M.O.E. Collection Plus 1/7 Kaguya Nanbu PVC

Based on the Nintendo DS game, Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier, Volks Model of Entertainment Collection (M.O.E.) will be accepting preorders for the Moe Collect Plus 06 Nanbu Kaguya 1/6 PVC figure. The Volk exclusive figure is retailed at about 7,800 yen and will be released this winter. The figure is beautifully made and video game character to PVC figure transition is flawless. What strikes me the most is Kaguya's intricate sword and the overall color palette, simple yet extremely bold.


Odin's Sphere Gwendolyn PVC Figure

If you follow all the goodness that is the Wonder Festivals, you'll remember the fierce figure from "Odin's Sphere" at Summer Wonder Festival. Alter has recently updated their official site showcasing their December 2008 release schedule, which gleefully enough includes our RPG protagonist Gwendolyn. Gwendolyn, 1/8 scale, is scheduled for release at 8,190 yen retail. You'll want to pre-order yours early if you're interested.


GHIII Dragonforce Track Pack

Dragonforce's "Through the Fire and the Flames" is easily the fan-favorite track of Guitar Hero III. Mention GHIII, and you immediately think of the awesomely fast-paced guitar riffs at insane speeds. Well Dragonforce is making yet another appearance at GHIII with three new tracks hitting Xbox Live Marketsplace and the Playstation Store tomorrow. The Dragonforce Track Pack will contains the songs "Heroes of Our Time," "Operation Ground and Pound," and "Revolution Deathsquad." You can bet that this track pack will be just as blitzy as "Through the Fire and the Flames." Better get those fingers rested...


New Fullmetal Alchemist Anime Confirmed

Listen up "Fullmetal Alchemist" fans, you heard the rumors then the denials, but here's reconfirmation according to the wraparound jacket band on the 20th volume of Hiromu Arakawa's "Fullmetal Alchemist" manga, which confirms that a new TV anime series is in the works.



COSMODE is a magazine released quarterly in Japan which includes images a plenty of cosplayers from conventions and other anime related events all over Japan. And in the likes of Newtype, COSMODE is now getting its own American equivalent -- COSMODE USA, care of Broccoli International. The first issue of COSMODE USA, "The Glamour Issue" is a sort of back chronicle that gets you up to speed with the purpose of COSMODE.

Almost 180 colored pages composed of a massive cosplay photo gallery, including a US exclusive section with American cosplayers. Lots of commentaries and how-to's are immersed within the hoards of cosplay pics. There's no doubt that the Japan to US transition was done with careful consideration and thought. For beginners to advanced cosplayers, and for those who are just curious, COSMODE USA is worth picking up. The second issue is due out this September.


NYAF Exclusive - Vampire Hunter D: The Wanderer's Ship

NYAF is quickly becoming the dream convention for "Vampire Hunter D" fans all over the world. If having Hideyuki Kikuchi, Yoshitaka Amano, and Kevin Leahy as special NYAF guests wasn't enough, and being one of the 10 fans able to celebrate Kikuchi's birthday with dinner with the trio didn't have you falling head over heels, then how about an exclusive VHD short story to add on to the mix. The New York Anime Festival has just announced that "Vampire Hunter D: The Wanderer's Ship" by Hideyuki Kikuchi will be published inside NYAF's Official Guide Book. Vampire Hunter D: The Wanderer's Ship has never been printed before in any language anywhere in the world.

Vampire Hunter D: The Wanderer's Ship, a story of D and his encounter with a blood-red battleship, dates back to one of the author's "Talk Live" events. Each year, Mr. Kikichi hosts several "Talk Live" gathering in the Kabukicho section of Shinjuku. At these events, he introduces a younger generation of fans to a wide variety of horror and sci-fi films and brings them face-to-face with guests from the worlds of publishing, animation, and film. The events conclude with drawings that give the audience chances to win signed books, artwork, and other exclusive prizes. The very best is saved for last -- short stories handwritten by Mr. Kikuchi with exclusive publication rights.

To date, three tales set in the Vampire Hunter D universe have come into the possession of lucky fans. Only the first has been published. The third -- Vampire Hunter D: The Wanderer's Ship -- was won by Ms. Hitomi Yasue, a longtime fan of Mr. Kikuchi and a regular attendee of his events. As someone who knew D from the novels before ever seeing the anime, she was surprised to hear the opposite was true overseas. Ms. Yasue has graciously agreed to share this short story with fans at the New York Anime Festival in the hopes of exposing more people to the literary incarnation of her favorite Vampire Hunter. Vampire Hunter D: The Wanderer's Ship has been translated for the New York Anime Festival by Mr. Kikuchi's friend and the translator of his Vampire Hunter D novel series, Mr. Kevin Leahy

The New York Anime Festival Guide Book will be available in the Jacob Javits Center lobby from September 26-28, 2008.


iTunes Hosts ABe's Pochiyama at the Pharmacy

Yoshitoshi ABe's dojinshi manga, "Pochiyama at the Pharmacy," is now available on iTunes App Store in 20 countries, including the U.S. and Canada. ABe is best known for his work on "Serial Experiments Lain," "Haibane Renmei" and his contribution to "Robot" the manga compilation of most esteemed artists including Range Murata.

ABe's 53-page manga, which sells for US$4.99 or 600 yen, uses Ubiquitous Entertainment's multilingual comic viewer software for the Apple iPhone and iPod touch devices. The software allows faithful reproduction of original art and has the ability to toggle the dialogue between multiple languages. ABe's "Pochiyama at the Pharmacy" manga includes both Japanese and English dialogue in one edition; the software will display the manga in the language that the user has configured for his or her iPhone or iPod Touch. [Note: The iTunes manga application will only play on iPhone and iPod Touch].

Kodansha, Sonoran Blue, and Bbmf are adding about two dozen manga titles to Apple's App Store in Japan, but "Pochiyama at the Pharmacy" is the first manga to be released in 20 different countries. It is also the first to ship in one edition with two different languages.


Dir en Grey 2008 North America Tour

To celebrate the release of their latest album, the Japanese metal/visual kei band Dir en grey will once again tour the United States and Canada by playing in 22 cities between November 5 and December 5.

Dir en Grey will release its new album, "Uroboros," on November 12. The album will be released in three editions; a standard edition, a limited edition (which includes a bonus disc) and a deluxe edition (which includes two CDs, one DVD and two LPs, and will be available for pre-ordering only until August 17th.

"The album will be stuffed with themes of 'guilt and reincarnation' as well as 'the past, present and future of DIR EN GREY,'" guitarist Kaoru explained back in May. "This will be heavier and darker than previous albums, with a sort of oriental and religious mood and connotations. We're experimenting with different sounds — we'd like to introduce a multitude of different instruments on this album."

Check out the tour schedule below:

Nov. 05 - Revolution - Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Nov. 07 - The Club @ Firestone - Orlando, FL
Nov. 08 - Center Stage - Atlanta, GA
Nov. 10 - Rams Head Live - Baltimore, MD
Nov. 11 - The Theatre of Living Arts - Philadelphia, PA
Nov. 12 - Wilbur Theatre - Boston, MA
Nov. 14 - Terminal 5 - New York, NY
Nov. 15 - Le Medley - Montreal, QC
Nov. 16 - Kool Haus - Toronto, ON
Nov. 18 - Clutch Cargo's - Pontiac, MI
Nov. 19 - House of Blues - Chicago, IL
Nov. 20 - First Avenue - Minneapolis, MN
Nov. 22 - The Eagles Club - Milwaukee, WI
Nov. 23 - Pop's - Sauget, IL
Nov. 25 - House of Blues - Houston, TX
Nov. 26 - Palladium Ballroom - Dallas, TX
Nov. 28 - Marquee Theatre - Tempe, AZ
Nov. 29 - The Wiltern LG - Los Angeles, CA
Nov. 30 - Warfield Theatre - San Francisco, CA
Dec. 02 - Hawthorne Theatre - Portland, OR
Dec. 03 - The Showbox - Seattle, WA
Dec. 05 - Gothic Theatre - Englewood, CO


Blood: The Last Vampire Live Action

Sources report that Universal Studios is planning to release Chris Nahon's live-action film adaptation of "Blood: The Last Vampire" anime film on 2,000 screens in North America March 2009. France's Pathe and Hong Kong's EDKO Film plan to distribute the film in other countries around the world simultaneously.

The live action film's setting is shifted slightly from the anime to 1948 at a United States Army camp in Tokyo, shortly after the conclusion of World War II during the American occupation of Japan. Saya will be a 400-year-old half human-half vampire who hunts vampires which are also her only source for food. Normally a loner, Saya forms a friendship with a young girl while preparing to battle Onigen, the highest ranking of the vampires.


Limited Edition Black Jack Manga Reprint

Exclusive limited edition hardcovers of the first three volumes of Osamu Tezuka’s "Black Jack" manga is set to be released on September 23rd. The hardcover editions will include stories that aren't available in the paperback editions. The first exclusive hardcover volume will include a story entitled "The Two Janns," which is about renegade surgeon Black Jack's attempt to separate Siamese Twins. [Source: ICv2].


Someday Dreamers: Natsu no Sora

Third installment in the Someday Dreamers universe, Mahou Tsukai no Taisetsu na Koto: Natsu no Sora (Someday Dreamers: Summer Sky), follows your basic "Someday Dreamers" plot. After reaching a specific age, one of magic descent leaves home to train via the Bureau of Magic, and live in-house with mentor and full-fledged mage learning the ropes and fulfilling individual client requests. In "Natsu no Sora," Suzuki Sora, a just turned 16-year-old country girl from Hokkaido sets to leave for Tokyo for her mage training. There she meets several other hopefuls along with Midorikawa Gouta, a young boy who just recently found out he's of mage descent. "Natsu no Sora" triumphs where its predecessors faltered a bit - and that is with story telling and, more importantly in this case, in its visuals.

When talking about "Natsu no Sora" or even when watching it for the first time, I guarantee the first aspect of the series to be brought up is its visuals. It achieves in high respects with its absolutely realistic and stunning background visuals that have you questioning what's real and what's rendered. I can only guess the backgrounds are made of a mixture of real use of photography and CG rendered work. The backdrops remind me of the work we normally see from Makoto Shinkai including "5 centimeters per second" and "A Day Promised in our Early Days," and in the ranks of "Denno Coil." The actual animation (non-background elements), on the other hand, is very simplistic and clean. That fact alone has brought in some differing views - like HAL Film production spent much of its focus on the background and skimped out on the actual animation. But I have to say that the simplistic animation kind of counter-balances the real-life background. It had a old-school kind of feel, sort of Studio Ghibli-esque a la "Only Yesterday" and "Whisper of the Heart." It makes for a nice artistic aesthetic in my opinion.

VA work is on point and OP/ED as well as other music tracks dispersed throughout the series are appropriately melodic and lyrical. "Natsu no Sora" has got me curious and has made it on my watch list. Now if only I didn't have to wait for the next episode to air.


World Destruction

In a world where humans serve as livestock for the ruling beastman, and where sand fills the roles of water and fire. Kyrie is recruited by the "World Destruction Committee" to assist in putting an end to their world. Kyrie alone holds the power needed to do it.

Now I'll have to say I wasn't quite sure what to expect, so I basically was going into this raw. RPG-turned-anime titles sometimes turn out great and equally as such can turn out to be a big flop. Coming in only equipped with a vague story description and a grand-standing production company - Production I.G. - behind it, I was ready to meet "World Destruction." The most interesting aspect of the story is its focus. Rather than your run of the mill "save the world" mantra, the main goal is the destruction of the world.

When I saw the term "otherkin," I wasn't expecting to see cutesy bears and cats that appeared in episode 1. The first episode immediately gives you an idea of what to expect and if you like what you see, you'll probably want to continue. Anything but serious undertones, mixed quality of voice acting (always a big fan of Maaya Sakamoto), a slew of different characters, and an animation style to be expected by Production I.G., "World Destruction" has a fighting chance and the intrigue of rooting for destruction is still present. We'll see how things unfold.


Koihime Musou

When Kanu was young, her family and their village fell victim to bandit attacks. Now 16 years old, Kanu's world must still succumb to a life a war and bandits. She sets on a journey to find a path that will change the world, and along the way, she becomes well known for hunting down bandits like the ones who killed her family.

In episode 1, Kanu meets and ends up adopting Rin-Rin, a young girl with a similar past. Together, along with several other companions, these warriors seek to change the world.

Watching "Koihime Musou" reminded me of other fantasy anime titles bordering the lines of "Slayers," "Rayearth," and "Fushigi Yugi." A whimsical blend of light-hearted action, comedy, and plenty of female characters, I think if you are already a fan of "Koihime" via the PC game and/or manga, you will probably enjoy and appreciate the anime. If not, "Koihime" may seem a bit predictable to say the least, and can be considered a "casual" title. I'm not itching the watch the next episode, but at the same time, I wouldn't necessarily look away if it was playing in the background.


LittleBigPlanet Pre-Order Goodness

"LittleBigPlanet" is probably on everyone's must-buy list and for good reason. Luckily, the wait is almost over, but while we wait till October, the Playstation Blog has a few LBP goodies to announce. If this pre-order campaign doesn't get you even more excited for the LBP release, I don't know what will. The master list includes: (1) The Official "LittleBigPlanet Creator" MiniGuide by Brady Games; (2) LittleBigStickerBook; (3) LittleBigPouch; (4) Exclusive downloadable Nariko SackGirl costume from "Heavenly Sword;" (5) and Exclusive downloadable Kratos SackBoy costume from "God of War." More LittleBigNews and details are coming soon...

Update (9/03/2008): The five pre-order goodies have now been finalized. Narito Sackgirl goes to Best Buy, Kratos Sackboy to Gamestop, the LBP sticker book goes to Circuit City, the canvas pouch to Gamecrazy, and a digital game guide will be available through Amazon. Now for those of your outside of the U.S., plans are still being hatched. But thus far, Canada will be getting Kratos (via EB Games/Gamestop) and Nariko (location still to be determined). Europeans can nab Nariko from Play.


Antique Bakery

Meet four unlikely men running a small yet elegant cafe/cake shop known as "Antique." Tachibana is the grandson of a rich businessman, with a past that lead him to open and manage his own cake shop. Then there's Ono Yuusuke, famous pastry chef with an even more infamous title, "devilish homosexual." Next, you've got Kanda Eiji, a young boxer forced to take an early retirement who, after boxing, is very passionate about pastries. And finally, Kobayakawa Chikage, servant friend of Tachibana, who is rather clumsy yet serious and stoic to a fault (most of the time). The odd combo seems to be the perfect recipe for clashing lifestyles and one hell of a comedy. Though no matter how different they may seem, there is one common thread they all share, and that is cake.

Before you jump to conclusions, avoiding preconceptions, "Antique Bakery" is actually not a yaoi anime title, rather it is best to classify this series under the shoujo and slice of life/comedy categories. A hilarious anime with some serious depth. I've been surprisingly hooked ever since the first episode and five episodes in, I am definitely intrigued. Character development and interaction for that matter keeps growing and the storyline is forming at a nice pace. The nice splash of comedy here and there make it hard not to laugh out loud yourself. If you're looking for entertainment from an unsuspecting source, I would recommend giving "Antique Bakery" a try. I first wanted to loosely group "Antique Bakery" with the likes of "Azumanga Daioh," "Yotsubato" (Yotsuba!) or maybe "Hidamari Sketch" and a mix of "Welcome to the NHK," but ended up a bit reluctant. If anything, if any of the aforementioned titles are your cup of tea, "Antique Bakery" may be the perfect title to start.


MGS4 X FIGUMATE = Sweet Snake Figures

Konami's Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots teams up with Figumate to create a set of moe Sweet Snake figures. Our favorite MGS4 characters have been chibi-fied and cross-dressed to give us Ocelot, Solid Snake, Raiden, and Otacon. These delightful set of figures will set you back about 3,000 yen and are due to be released December 11, 2008. Only drawback is it's a Konami Style online store exclusive.


Soulcalibur IV

Soulcalibur is back in its fourth installment bringing back the goodness we all love and that means the return of one of my favorite SC characters -- Nightmare. The obvious -- Soulcalibur IV is visually beautiful, that was apparently almost immediately, and gameplay is more than satisfactory and thankfully enough even with the many changes, including online gameplay capability, it still retains the original essence of Soulcalibur.

The roster is huge and not without some familiar faces, and with customization abilities, the roster has even bigger potential. And if you're anything like me, you'll be spending lots of time creating your own characters -- the system makes it feasible to create potentially any character you envision. Actual gameplay screams an ease that both novices and veterans can enjoy. There are several modes but in the end, you'll probably enjoy Tower of Souls mode better. I haven't had a chance to play online for too long, but from what I can see, Soulcalibur IV definitely impresses me in this realm. No lag is a plus but lack of team battles is a negative. But in the end, we're talking Soulcalibur here, and you won't regret picking this title up.