There’s been a lot of bad news and vibes around the US anime industry recently – with some rather major players taking a hit – but for once here in the UK things seem to be ticking over quite happily. Sure we might be a few months behind our American cousins, but judging by the amount of screeners and press releases that have been jamming up my mailbox over the last month it looks like the UK distributor’s schedules show no easing up at the moment. It’s certainly more than I can review in detail before they hit shops, so in the first of what will be a regular feature here’s a run down of stuff that’s due to drop next month – keep an eye on the site over the next few weeks for more in-depth analysis of the pick of the crop.
Ghost in the Shell 2.0
UK release date: 26th October
The big one next month – the UK finally gets it’s hands on the controversial visually over-hauled version of Oshii’s 1995 cyberpunk classic. The DVD screener I was sent had no extras on it, so I’ll hold off until I get my Bluray copy before commenting on the UK release any further – but I will say that the transfer looked great, though I’m still not sure it is enough to dispel my reservations about the changes I raised when reviewing the Japanese Bluray back in January. Stay tuned though, as well as for my imminent look at the Innocence Bluray release. Now, where’s Sky Crawlers?
X The Series – Volume 1
UK release date: 5th October
The other big UK release this October, and long-overdue, is the 2001 TV series based on CLAMP’s legendary demographic defying manga X. It’s been years since I watched the 1996 anime movie based on the same franchise, but i might have to go and grab the DVD of the shelf again, as from first glance the series seems to outstrip that production in terms of visual brilliance – a rare and unusual achievement for a TV show. It certainly captures the manga’s unique (at the time, at least) blend of ornate shōjo visuals and seinen violence, and as such will be one I’ll be examining in much more detail over the coming weeks when I’ve had time to sit down and spend some quality time with it.
Devil May Cry – Complete Series
UK release date: 19th October
My only previous encounter with the Devil May Cry franchise was the first game on the PlayStation 2 several years ago – the stylish, violent, gothic brawler now spawning an anime series that seems to be…erm, a stylish, violent, gothic brawler. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – at first glance Madhouse seem to have hit the nail on the head when it comes to catching the spirit of the game – this is over-stylised, action-packed slightly emo looking exploitation anime at it’s most colourful. I’m interested in how it’ll look on Bluray, and hopefully I’ll it will be fun for the same reasons I enjoyed the game – just minus the occasionally tedious jumping puzzles. Check back next week for a full review.
Claymore – Volumes 5 & 6
UK release date: 12th October
I have to admit, Claymore is one of those shows I probably should have seen but never got round to it. Another Madhouse production, like Devil May Cry it’s yet more stylised violence and demon slaying, but clearly with a little more going on under the hood plot-wise. Certainly coming in at Volume 5 made it a bit hard to follow, but that’s probably a good sign, and the frenetic, over the top sword fights seem like fun. I particularly enjoyed the deep, washed out palette and the soundtrack that seemed to mix up metal riffs, drum and bass breaks and, erm, free-form jazz drumming. Yeah, really.
Bleach – Series 4, Part 1
Naruto Unleashed – Series 7, Part 2
UK release date: 26th October
Ahh, Bleach and Naruto, with your hyperactive but angst-ridden, teen samurai’s and bratty ninjas, will your stories never end? Will your protagonists ever finally come-of age? I’m no fan of either colossal franchise, but then I’m hardly the target demographic – and if you are a fan, then you’ve probably got both these new collections marked in your school planner already. So enjoy. Who the hell am I – some miserable old geezer – telling you what you should be watching anyway? Yeah, like, whatever.