A Post-Hiatus Recap

After making it back to the country in one piece -- traveling over 20 hours completely feverish was anything but pleasant -- I wanted to track back and see what I missed over these past 2 weeks. Rather than re-state what's been reported, I thought I'd jot down some initial reactions on select headlines. But before I start, I had to post this photo I took while I was in India out looking for postcards, I was surprised to find a little Naruto homage hidden within the shelves of a gift shop.

Well first of all, I'm excited to hear that 3 titles by Eiji Otsuka will be continuing in a new magazine this summer: MPD-Psycho, The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, and Yakumo Hyakkai. The title migration was brought on as a result of Comic Charge ending its 2-year run, ending with its March issue.

Zakka Films has released its first DVD entitled "The Roots of Japanese Anime: Until the End of WWII. This english-subtitled DVD is a compilation of 8 cartoons created by various Japanese animators between 1930 and 1942. Their goal of bringing out early and lesser known Japanese films has definitely caught my attention. I can't wait till the DVD arrives at my doorstep. Currently, the DVD is only available for purchase through FilmBaby.com

Another item I'm itching to see is Quentin Tarantino new 7-minute Kill Bill sequence of Chapter 3: The Origin of O-Ren. Seems like Production I.G. has finished producing the new sequence.

I just saw the promotional video for Ichigo Mashimaro Encore (Strawberry Marshmallow), adapted from Barasui's slice of life manga...totemo kawaii!!!

On the figures realm, Moon Toys has released a very beautiful figure from Tome Kei's Skit Scooter title featured in Range Murata's ROBOT anthology. My eye was immediately transfixed on the scooter.

But the figure that definitely caught my attention was via Medicom's latest figure in the RAH series of Evangelion's Shinji Ikari. This figure merits its own blog post, so look out for more details (and photos) soon.

Then there's the ever awesome vintage design robot Chubu 01 by Kazushi Kobayashi (pictured). This no doubt lands extremely high on my aesthetic meter. You can immediately see some anime influences in the design -- like blending the best anime has to offer.

I was going to jump into the video games, but that may take longer than I expected. Right now I've got my eyes set on F.E.A.R 2 and Resistance: Retribution.


Camilla d'Errico at NYC

Camilla d'Errico has quickly become one of my favorite all-time artists. Based in Canada, d'Errico's work is heavily influenced by manga demonstrating her love for comics. Her works have since been expanded to a variety of mediums and industries. You'll find her work on comics (via BURN), clothes, snowboards, apparel and toys. I am especially a huge fan of her black and white prints therefore, instantly fell in love with her limited edition handbags.

New York is the place to be in February for all d'Errico fans and unfortunately I'll be stuck in DC. So it pains (and excites me) to announce the following: d'Errico will be at this year's New York Comic Con, signing at the Arcana Booth. According to her blog, she promises to have BURN #6 issues available, as well as new prints. Her signing times are Friday from 3-4pm, Saturday 2:30-3:30pm and Sunday from noon to 1pm. And since she's already going to be in NYC for Comic Con, she will be attending her Limited Edition Art Print Release Party at the Ad Hoc Art Gallery Thursday, Feb 5th, for one night only.


Sword of the Stranger in Theaters Feb. 5th

When I first posted about "Sword of the Stranger" back in July 2007, never would I have imagined I would be making the following announcement.

CM Fathom and Bandai Entertainment bring the U.S. debut of SWORD OF THE STRANGER, one of the most rousing Samurai epics in recent memory, to select movie theatres nationwide for Only One Night –Thursday, February 5th at 7:30 PM (local). This exclusive event will include a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of SWORD OF THE STRANGER, complete with never-before-seen interviews with the voice actors.

Hunted by the Mings from China, a young boy named Kotaro and his loyal dog Tobimaru meet a nameless samurai (“Nanashi” or “No Name”) who is haunted by his past – a memory so terrible he has vowed to never draw his sword again. Among the Mings is Luo-Lang, a ruthless Western swordsman with the Chinese name who has walked the earth in search of a worthy rival.When both groups clash with a feudal lord and monks torn between faith and survival, the truth behind the Mings’ pursuit of Kotaro tests the bond between the boy and the samurai with no name…

This event will conclude with all new interviews with the English voice actors plus rare footage shot behind the scenes at Studio BONES (Cowboy Bebop) during the making of SWORD OF THE STRANGER. Director Ando and Bones President Minami highlight this unique look behind the making of a modern anime classic.

Tickets are on sale now.


Vampire Hunter D: Volume 11 Parts One and Two - Pale Fallen Angel

Hideyuki Kikuchi continues to outshine the only person that can truly compete with him -- that is, himself. "Pale Fallen Angel" is an epic saga streaming over four parts, with volume 11 containing the first half of the tale. This specific story has everything we love about the world of D, all jam-packed into one neat parcel.

Equally riveting, detailed, and groundbreaking, "Pale Fallen Angel" brings D in a one-of-a-kind situation -- ensuring the safety of a member of the vampire Nobility, Baron Byron Balazs, who is out to take the life of his father, Lord Vlad Balazs. The movement and interactivityof the wicked duo of D and Baron is awe-inspiring. For the first time we see D "aiding" a noble (of course one that is out to kill another noble). This alluring duo is sure to attrack attention as they continually encounter waves of attacks. The enemies in it of themselves are powerful and interesting.

If you've ever doubted the genius that is Kikuchi, prepare to become addicted to Vampire Hunter D. The last half of their journey continues in the next volume.


xxxHOLIC: AnotherHOLIC

NISIOISIN, author of "Death Note: Another Note," gives us his take on a popular CLAMP title with his spin-off novel entitled "xxxHOLIC: Another Holic - Landolt-ing Aerosol." The novel is divided into three parts - outerholic, underholic and afterholic, and though these three stories can be taken as separate entities, NISIOISIN does a nice job tying all three into one underlying theme -- the Eye World Theory.

xxxHOLIC follows a high school student named Kimihiro Watanuki, who has quite a special ability that, well, he isn't too fond of. With eyes that can see spirits, Watanuki has always wished to be rid of this curse/gift, especially since spirits seemed to be attracte to him.

Enter the shop that grants wishes.

Shop owner Yuko Ichihara is a cruel and cunning character. And the main premise to her shop is granting wishes as long as one paid a reasonable price. Watanuki's prices is servitude to Yuko. But rather than concentrate too much on their relationship and what becomes of Watanuki, "Another Holic" delves into the philosophies of the human mind and behavior -- from a woman unable to accept happiness, to the power of self that lies not within ourselves but through others. It's amazing how as you read through the novel (which by the way has a beautiful cover), the clearer and more profound the take-home message becomes. So it seems only befitting that I end with it:
There are a great many strange things in the world.
But no matter how odd...
How incredible something may be...
If a human does not touch it...
If a human does not see it...
If a human is not involved with it...
It is simply a phenomenon.
Simply a matter that will fade with time.
Homo sapiens.
Humans are the most profoundly mysterious living things in the world!


Two-week Hiatus

Just wanted to quickly note that I'll be out of the country starting today, but not to worry, I'll be back in business Monday, January 26th, hopefully not too hungover with all the airtime awaiting me. I may have some new reports for you during that time, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled. Till then, Ja ne!!

To recap last week:
2009 A.D. (Jan 1st)
HearJapan's Visual Kei Week Updates (Jan 2nd)
MAGFest VII Coverage (Jan 5th)
BLOOD's Final Tour (Jan 7th)
JICC Hosts "The World of Anime Fandom" and "Honey Clover" (Jan 8th)
FF XIII and FF Versus XIII Sites Open (Jan 9th)


FF XIII and FF Versus XIII Sites Open

Official websites for both Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII have opened. And while there isn't much there on the information realm, especially for Versus, they are definitely pages to bookmark. The photo gallery featured in the FFXIII page is gorgeous and will leave you wanting more. Very fitting for Square Enix... [Source: Kotaku]


JICC Hosts "The World of Anime Fandom" and "Honey Clover"

There's always something brewing at the Japan Information and Culture Center. Since the first time I discovered them, they have never disappointed with their continuous flow of live action, anime, and inspired exhibits.

To celebrate their one-year anniversary of JICC's monthly anime series offerings, the DC Anime Club will give a presentation on "The World of Anime Fandom," including the cosplay phenomenon. As a special treat, you can win a prize by attending in costume. The event takes place on Friday, January 16th at 6:30 p.m.

JICC will also be screening, in association with DC Anime Club, "Honey and Clover" on January 23rd. Based on the best-selling manga series by Chika Umino, "Honey and Clover" is the touching story of five art school friends struggling to navigate the tricky transition from student to adult. Their ideas of life and love are forever changed when they befriend the talented young Hagumi, whose very presence seems to complicate their quest for personal and professional fulfillment. Honey and Clover received the Kodansha Manga Award in 2003 and is immensely popular in Japan.

These events are free, but requires your RSVP to Jiccrsvpwinter09@embjapan.org. For more information, visit JICC.


BLOOD's Final Tour

BLOOD, the electrifying visual kei band formed back in 2002, have been touring the world and to say the least, making great music. So it comes to some surprise that BLOOD has announced their final tour ever entitled "La Fin de la Journee." The japanese goth rock band will make several stops in the US which will include full concert performances. Special guest appearances by Echostream and others will be in Cambridge, New York, and Philadelphia. BLOOD will also be doing an in-store event at the Cure Shop in Los Angeles, California.

Check out the tour dates and be sure to take part in this momentous event. [Source: Official BLOOD Myspace]



The Music and Gaming Festival or MAGFest celebrates its seventh anniversary and returns to the Hilton Mark Center in Alexandria, VA from January 1st through Sunday, January 4th. MAGFest VII was bigger than ever, yet still retained what makes MAGFest unique and exhilarating - a focus on the classics and the fans themselves. You won't find the basic and ridiculously long lines or crowded halls or demos or even a formal environment for that matter. The laid back atmosphere was packed with lots of goodies.

Discussions and panels were a plenty. "Name that Tune" was extremely fun especially trying to remember just which Mega Man series did the track come from. Lots of favorites came up especially songs from several Metal Gear Solid games, and whole section for Final Fantasy, Gears of Wars, Super Mario, and even some Silent Hill. And classic video game music was definitely on the forefront with a spectacular series of concerts. Just check out the guest list -- X-Strike Studios, the Angry Video Game Nerd, Armadillo Tank, Armcannon, Metroid Metal, Year 200X, Tommy Tallarico, Overclocked Remix, Robert Aldrich, Benheck, and more...lots more. It was hard not to spend my entire weekend in the 24-hour game room.

But when I did venture out, I checked out the Katsucon table, bought some Anime DVDs and an adorable sculpture from Fizz Man Industries. My time "out" of course also gave me vast opportunities to stroll down memory lane and try out all the arcade games. My weekend at MAGFest VII was unforgettable and I can't wait for next year!!!


HearJapan's Visual Kei Week Updates

HearJapan kicks off the new year with some new visual kei debuts. The first is their coverage on X Japan's first show in a live house in 2 decades. Dubbed as a "Return to X Japan's Roots," the countdown event took place on December 31st, 2008 at Akasaka Blitz. Check out their entire detailed report here.

On the download front, the first album of 2009 to be sold on HearJapan is an exclusive visual kei release from an up and coming band, XodiacK. You can download their demo single, "Kuroi Taiyou" for free on their site. From the press release: "XodiacK describe themselves as galaxy metal. They came from a parallel universe sharing one soul and they have two existential beings. The concept behind these divine beings revolves around the destructive power of a massive awe inspiring universe-like force." Click here for more info.

For those of you who went to Otakon this past year, you should be familiar with MarBell. The band is led by female lead singer, Mar, and guitarist Takanori Tsunoda. "MarBell differ from most other visual bands, not because the lead singer is feminine, but because she is actually a female. While the band is supported by the fashion brand H.Naoto and place a high premium on their visuals, the music has numerous pop influences making it great on first listen. Their first album "Sister " is about an imaginary sister the singer Mar would turn to during tough times, especially when her brother died during the production of the album." You can purchase the album which comes with 9 extra pictures at HearJapan.com.


2009 A.D.

A brand new year is among us and it's amazing how one little date can exude so much rejuvenating motivation. Always tagging along with this revived spirit is a genuine look at the major milestones of the past year. Life proves again that in any attempt at defining it, "a rollercoaster ride" full of ups and downs, is always an accurate part of that description.

Quickly glancing at my 2008 posts provides a tiny snapshot of this past year. The economy has been anything but kind to us, but we are hanging in there. The biggest highlights of my year were all thanks to a slew of events, where I made wonderful friends. Early in the year, there was the JAPAN! Culture + Hyperculture event at the Kennedy Center, where I was privledged to be part of the "Genius Party" premiere and where I got to meet the one and only Shinichiro Watanabe (and Maywa Denki). Not to mention my good friend and contributor, Reza's fateful meeting with Hideo Kojima. And I certaintly can't forget seeing Yoshitaka Amano and Hideyuki Kikuchi at the New York Anime Festival, let alone celebrating Kikuchi's b-day with him, Kevin Leahy, and a handful of lucky Vampire Hunter D fans. Also scheduled to be present, Amano unfortunately couldn't make it to the dinner, but sent us all a sketch which I will always treasure. I got to see an incredible performance by Versailles Philharmonic at Anime USA.

Plenty of great anime and video game titles, too many to list, graced 2008. These include Vampire Knight, True Tears, Shigofumi, Kuroshitsuji, and more in the anime realm and Resistance 2, Rock Band 2, Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core, God of War Chains of Olympus, Prince of Persia, Silent Hill Homecoming, LittleBigPlanet, and more in the video games realm. And of course, what I, like many would have to dub the 2008 Game of the Year, Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.

On that note, it's time for me to end this post as I am off to start a new year the right way, at MAGFest VII, a video games convention. I'd like to thank all my readers and look forward to a new year with you.