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The Elephant in the Room

Right, I’ll try and keep this as brief as possible.

Last night, inspired by the latest ‘foreign pirates are killing anime’ outburst from the Japanese industry, I fell into one of my usual rants on Twitter:

“The anime industry avoiding the same elephant in the room as music industry did 10 yrs ago: consumers know worthless product when they see it.

And who wants to pay for worthless, disposable product when you can get it for free?

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art books fiction Japan Natsuhiko Kyogoku reviews

The Summer of the Ubume – Natsuhiko Kyogoku (2009)

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The name Natsuhiko Kyogoku is probably unfamiliar to most anime fans, but the novelist has already had one of his works adapted – Madhouse’s 2008 series Mōryō no Hako – with a second, Loups-Garous, being adapted into a movie by Production IG and due for release in 2010. An expert in Japanese folklore tales and yōkai, the supernatural creatures that inhabit them, Kyogoku-san is best known in Japan for his award winning mystery novels. Unfamiliar with his work myself until now, I was intrigued when US publisher Vertical Inc sent me a review copy of his debut novel – and the first to be translated into English – The Summer of The Ubume.

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Japan Links > Anime & Manga Madhouse oshii Production IG reviews UK releases

UK Anime Releases – October 2009

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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.

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books Japan Mariko Koike novels reviews

The Cat in the Coffin – Mariko Koike (2009): Review

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Mariko Koike is one of Japan’s best known women writers, having built a reputation on the popularity of her romance and detective novels, short stories and essays. While winning critical and commercial acclaim in Japan, along with a string of award, she has of yet failed to gain popularity outside her home country, mainly due to the obvious language barriers. Which is way I was particularly interested when publishers Vertical Inc sent me a copy of her first novel to be translated into English, The Cat in the Coffin.

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first episodes Japan Links > Anime & Manga reviews TV

First episodes round up: K-On!, Saki, Ristorante Paradiso, Valkyria Chronicles

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The Spring 2009 anime season marches on, and as always time is my enemy. Trying to keep up with the shows I am interested in is hard enough, let alone taking time out to sample the season’s other offerings. But sample I have, and here I present my findings on the first episodes of four shows that, while I may not follow them, you may want to check out.

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basquash! Japan Kawaii Links > Anime & Manga mecha reviews Satellite Studios TV

Basquash! 1 – 5 (2009): Review

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With the anime industry facing recession and accused of creative stagnation, a common recent tactic has been to take two well established genres and weld them together, often with questionable results. Satellite StudiosBasquash! pulls the same move, merging sports drama and mecha action to depict a futuristic world where basketball is played with giant robots.

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First episodes round up: Kurogane no Linebarrels, Kurokami, Kuroshitsuji, White Album

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It’s the same old story: too much anime, not enough time. The new spring season kicks off in Japan this week, and here I am still trying to catch up with last season’s offerings. Well at least I can save myself – and maybe you – some time; this month’s first episodes round up features two shows I might watch more of and two I’ll shortly be dragging to the trash can. Still, that’s not to say you might not enjoy them.

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Star Fleet/X-Bomber X (1980): DVD boxset

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I’m not usually someone that indulges too much in nostalgia, especially for the 1980s. But I cannot deny the mounting excitement I’ve been feeling over the last couple of months, knowing that the original Star Fleet/X-Bomber Xボンバ TV series was to be finally given an official DVD launch in the UK. One of the reasons I usually avoid nostalgia is the almost inevitable feelings of disappointment that are associated with it – anyone that’s gone back and played a retro video game from around that time only to realise that their rose-tinted spectacles are broken will understand exactly what I mean. The question is does Star Fleet suffer the same fate nearly 30 years later?

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Japan Michael Arias movies news

Live-action debut from Tekkon Kinkreet director opens

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…in Japan of course. Although director Michael Arias was born in the US, he’s been living in Tokyo for over 15 years, and Heaven’s Door is again shot completely in Japanese. I was impressed with Arias’ intelligence and attitude after watching the extras on the Tekkon Kinkreet Blu-ray, so look forward to seeing this at some point in the future. The Daily Yomiuri has the details:

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Bones Japan Links > Anime & Manga Masahiro Ando movies reviews Samurai

Sword of the Stranger (2007): Review

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As you have probably already guessed from the title, Sword of the Stranger is a Samurai action (or chanbara チャンバラ) movie, and the feature film debut of Masahiro Ando, who’s previous directorial work includes the TV series Canaan as well as being a key animator on projects such as Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in The Shell and Planetes. It’s an impressive CV, no doubt about it, and one that means expectations from both the industry and fans are high.

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