I know we mentioned this last week, but it's just too big to only mention once!
So don't forget that if you want to win your very own brand-new 16GB Wi-Fi version iPad with the CR app already installed, all you need to do is become a Fan of the Crunchyroll Facebook Page and be a Crunchyroll Premium Member on the day of March 31st (PST).
For more information check out the rules here.
Discovering anime in my teens, I never really experienced much true manga until my mid 20s when I visited Japan for the first time. I still remember holding the first book in my hand, surprised at how – to be frank – cheap it was. The paper was of the lowest quality, often in a light pastel color, and so flimsy you could easily tear it when turning a page. The drawings were black and white, and an entire book cost just a few dollars. When one compares the complexity and technical prowess of a well-developed anime series, a three dollar book of manga pales in comparison.
The stories are what people buy manga for and the medium is rather incidental. It might seem obvious but this is where manga and anime differ. Manga allows for more imagination, given its simple approach. A character may appear on a blank white panel to emphasize his isolation, for example, or an empty panel might contain just one word or sentence. Words or motion can spill out of a panel. Anime, on the other hand, must be layered, and the more visual stimulation for the eye, the more appeal it has. People watch anime as much for the visual experience as for the story. Emotions are rawer in anime, less is merely suggested and more is explicit. Anime is not known for its subtlety but manga can still hint with a wink and a smile.
While it’s true that one can appreciate a particular manga artist’s drawings, because it often represents one artist (or a handful of artists at best), there is something particularly individual about reading manga. Not only are there countless titles appealing to all kinds of tastes and predilections, but the drawings themselves seemed to represent all age groups, interests, and personalities. More than this, it’s a personal and individual experience to read a book of manga, to carry it around, to hold in your hand. And anime has a certain kind of uniformity to it, both in terms of its graphical representation, but also the way it’s marketed, set up, and distributed. Seeing the anime version of the same manga stories on a big screen only underscored the huge gaps in quality and technical prowess between manga and anime.
On site recently, I discovered the “Motion Magazine” episodes of Black Jack. I was reminded of those first feelings about manga. In Motion Magazine, a video camera pans across pages and pages of printed manga, following the comic panel by panel with added sound effects and, of course, the voices and characters’ words brought to life. This kind of experience that is half anime and half manga represents a form of nostalgia, perhaps, for those who have become hardcore anime fans but long for the days when they were excited by manga.
As fans of anime, we all know that the story can sometimes be sacrificed for visual appeal but this becomes harder in manga and it’s no surprise that the vast majority of anime today start as manga: they are, at their core, simply good stories. What Motion Magazine does is strip anime of its technical crutch and reverts back to what good storytelling should be. Often very short (5-6 minutes), each “episode” reflects a chapter or a segment in a manga series and this is in keeping with the limited visual style of Motion Magazine generally. The cliché “Less is more” could not be more aptly applied to this debate: where anime is technical, manga is clean, etc. For example, in the Black Jack motion magazine version of a nuclear attack, the attack is suggested by a series of panels, shaky camera work, corners of panels to show emphasis, and, of course, sound effects. A nuclear attack in an anime would require thousands of cells and technical precision to get it right. Moreover, the kinds of visual uniformity that is often the hallmark of anime would also require research and testing, involving tens, maybe hundreds of artists, technicians, sound people, editors, directors, etc.
It’s easy to miss the point of Motion Magazine anime and so easy to get distracted by the big budget flashy and technically crafted anime series. But taking a step back closer to where manga has its origins gives one a real appreciation for the purity of the artform. While there is no danger that Motion Magazine will replace well-crafted and action-filled anime, there should be a place reserved for this kind of hybrid between manga and anime.
Recently, America received Tatsunoko vs Capcom on the Nintendo Wii, and it's brought new found interest to the Tatsunoko franchise. Some people may have never even heard of the company Tatsunoko before. However, the animation studio has been particularly influential to the anime industry over the last several decades. For example, The SoulTaker was one interesting anime animated by Tatsunoko Productions. And an even more interesting interpretation of the SoulTaker characters exist in a far more light-hearted short OVA entitled Nurse Witch Komugi. The characters in no way behave like their SoulTaker counterparts, and there's absolutely zero need to see SoulTaker in order to enjoy Nurse Witch Komugi.
The show is a parody of the well-known Magical Girl genre, and features Komugi, a young cosplaying, singing Akihabara idol. Of course, since this is a comedy after all, Komugi is completely inept at everything she does. Not just at being an idol, but at being a magical girl as well. However, despite her flaws, it's up to Komugi to nullify nasty, ridiculous viruses, keeping them from infecting the innocents around her, and thereby saving Japan.
A personal favorite episode of mine is episode three, entitled, "Serious! Komugi Dies Two or Three Times?!" As you can tell from the title, Komugi is hardly receiving any form of good luck in this episode. Initially, she's killed in a terrible traffic accident. After dying, her friends, her talent agency, and even her cute sidekick Mugimaru seem to immediately forget she exists. Not wanting to be forgotten that easily, she chooses to haunt her talent agency. While Komugi remains a ghost, her enemy, Magical Maid Koyori, uses the opportunity to release a new virus, causing the citizens of the town to not only lose sanity, but also causing their vehicles to turn into a parade of monster machines and giant robots.
Distraught from her inability to become the Nurse Witch any longer, the goddess of Vaccine World, Maya, raises Komugi from the dead, allowing her to once again fight off the viruses caused and spread by Koyori. Unfortunately, in the heat of battle, she manages to die several more times. However, through the power of... well... sheer accident, Koyori accidentally self-destructs her robot army, and Komugi heals the town of it's insane viruses, living to fight again another day.
What I love about this episode is the sheer amount of Tatsunoko character references thrown in for audience pleasure. Not only are there hidden references to such popular non-Tatsunoko franchises as Initial D, Fist of the North Star, The Ring, and Ultraman, but the Tatsunoko list includes appearances from Speed Racer, Gatchaman, Casshern, and Yatterman (most of which make an appearence in Tatsunoko vs Capcom). Look closely enough, and you may even catch some more nifty references, if you're a super-otaku! In fact, the entire series is filled with ridiculously wonderful and awesome cameos such as these, so please don't leave it solely at episode three.
I'd recommend Nurse Witch Komugi to anyone out there, but especially to those who really consider themselves to be anime otaku. Episode three is a blast, but the whole series is short enough that you'll easily be able to handle the overdose of crazy viruses. Don't worry, that's what Komugi-chan is here for!
Crunchyroll has recently released its iPhone App v1.02. While the App is still in its Alpha release, users can still watch their favorite shows and simulcasts on it. Premium members can log in and watch their favorite simulcasts whenever and wherever they want. It also supports watching non-premium videos (basically anything after 1 week broadcast), logging in, accessing guestbook/profile and writing on other's guestbook.For now, it is WiFi only., and FREE to anyone using iPhone or iPod Touch with the OS 3.0 or greater.
For more information regarding the application itself, you can go directly to the iTunes store here.
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Senzu beans away! Refreshed Dragonball Z series to return to American TV
In a recent revelation, the Dragonball Z franchise has been given a new lease of life in America, after it had been announced that Nickelodeon would be screening it in May this year. According to suite101.com, the refreshed version of the show (DBZ: Kai) will be broadcast at the start of May on the network's Nicktoons channel. This will also be in conjunction with a DVD and Blu-ray release for the series by FUNimation Entertainment on May 18th. This comes as a blow to Cartoon Network, who has been host to the entire Dragonball series (from the original 1984 release to GT) until now.
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DVDs down in Japan...Blu-rays Up
Animeanime.biz has stated that total revenue from video sales in Japan decreased by over 4% in the past 12 months. Findings from the Japan Video Software Association listed that total sales made up just under 274 billion yen, down 4.2% from last year and 27% from 2004 (which peaked at 375 billion yen). Despite this downturn in home sales as a whole, the Blu-ray market rose considerably to make up nearly a quarter of total retail sales. Just over half of the 24 billion yen that Blu-ray sales generated came from anime releases. This jump softened the dip in total DVD sales, which dropped 9.6%.
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Ueda to launch newlywed comedy manga
According to ANN, the creator of Peach Girl Miwa Ueda has published her latest creation. The series titled Pure-Mari ('Pre-Marriage') was printed in the April edition of Bessatsu Friend on Saturday. Pure-Mari marks Ueda's first new manga since her previous creation Papillon – Hana to Chou ended its run in November 2009 in the same magazine. The tome envisages a boarding school populated by brides-to-be where girls learn how to become the perfect bride by rehearsing the ceremony and the whole process of getting married. Speculation remains whether the reception afterwards is reconstructed!
Did you know that American audiences have probably seen Gatchaman before, but it came under several different names. From 1978 to 1985, it was called Battle of the Planets. In 1986 and again in 1995, it was called G-Force: Guardians of Space. In 1996, it was called Eagle Riders. It wouldn't be until 2006 that audiences would be able to see the uncut version of Gatchaman thanks to ADV.
スイーツ（笑） (pronounced: soo-wee-tsu) - a term to ridicule the Japanese trend of using unfamiliar English words. Many magazines targetted to younger women featured articles about "sweets", thus making the word a popular alternative for more conventional "dessert" and "okashi". By adding (笑 = warai), it mocks this trend.
Hotaru, under the control of Shiranami’s jutsu, uses the Forbidden Jutsu against Naruto and Utakata. Shiranami trembles with joy, having witnessed the power of the Forbidden Jutsu, while Hotaru is consumed by deep despair.
Rio had been depressed somehow ever since she opened a certain page in the military almanac. What was it she should do, what was it she could do? Kanata worried about her, but she couldn't put her thoughts into words. With each of them begin the winter this way, they meet an old woman. The way she lived her life would have a huge effect on Rio.
With the cultural festival approaching, Kiyono gets a job as an catalogue model for her mother's underwear maker. However, the vain Kiyono requests bras one size too large, and none of the bras prepared on the day of the photo shoot fit. Nayu advises the distraught Kiyono to wear the junior bras instead. Kiyono rejects Nayu's suggestion, refusing to wear underwear that will not appeal to men, prompting Nayu to redesign the underwear.