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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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Mighty Space Miners (1994) – A tribute to to Umanosuke Iida

I’ll be honest with you, I’m sick of writing about death.

If the recent loss of Satoshi Kon to cancer wasn’t enough, then anime was struck another blow last week with the death of Umanosuke Iida to the dreaded disease at just 49. Despite this relatively young age Iida had an impressively varied career, from working as an animator on such classics as Nausicaa through to directing Mobile Suit Gundam: 08th MS Team and perhaps his most popular show Hellsing. But for me he’ll always be remembered for directing the obscure, and sadly unfinished, 90s science fiction OVA Mighty Space Miners.

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Havana Augmented (2009)

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It’s not even Christmas yet, but for me 2010 has already got off to a good start. January 1st sees the publication of my story Havana Augmented – a tale of globalization, celebrity gamers, augmented reality and non-existent mech battles. If you have an interest in video games, science fiction or anime then hopefully you’ll enjoy it – you can check out a brief extract below.

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UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Is Oshii’s Assault Girls a sequel to Avalon?

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More information on Mamoru Oshii’s upcoming live-action flick Assault Girls have emerged, this time via the film’s official Japanese language website. Finally we have a clue to what is going on in that crazy trailer showing girls-with-guns fighting sand-whales, and it’s pretty damn exciting. Based on Google Translate and my most trusted of Japan based operatives Fernando Ramos it seems that the film is set in the same world as Oshii’s sublime live-action movie Avalon – that is to say it appears to be set around another massively multiplayer, virtual reality video game. In fact, the text seems to be suggesting it’s a new, or different, version of the game from the earlier film, known as ‘Avalon (f)’.

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Oshii’s Assault Girls (2009): teaser trailer

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Last month we had the first details of Mamoru Oshii’s new live-action flick Assault Girls – today we have a teaser trailer, courtesy of Nippon Cinema. The site also has some more details about the plot:
In the aftermath of global thermonuclear war, the Earth’s surface has been turned into a desert battlefield. Three beautiful female hunters: Gray (Meisa Kuroki), Lucifer (Rinko Kikuchi), and Colonel (Hinako Saeki) traverse the barren landscape armed with powerful assault rifles to fight a group of deadly sand-dwelling monsters called “sunakujira” (sand whales). When the the epic battle eventually seems to be coming to an end, the sparkle of muzzle flash dies down and assault ship flies overhead. Suddenly, a gigantic super mutation called “Madara Sunakujira” attacks.

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Assault Girls Links > Anime & Manga movies Musashi: The Dream of the Last Samurai news oshii

Oshii speaks, reveals details of new live action movie

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Regular readers will know about my fanatical love for the animated works of Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, Sky Crawlers), but they might not realize how much I also bug-out for his live action films. His last feature length work Avalon came out in 2001, and became an instant favourite in my household, the film getting played so much by me and my better half that we nearly wore out the DVD. Which is a good thing, considering how much I paid to import it from Japan. Anyway, with that in mind you can imagine how excited I got today when the first details were announced about his latest work, due to hit Japanese cinemas in December.

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Galaxy Express 999 and Ghibli animator dies

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More sad news about a terrible loss to the anime industry – one of it’s true legends and artists Yoshinori Kanada passed away yesterday, after suffering a heart attack at the age of just 57. After making a name for himself in the 1970s working on sci-fi and giant-robo series, he eventually ended up at Studio Ghibli, working closely with Hayao Miyazaki on such monumental works as My Neighbour Totoro, Porco Rosso and Princess Mononoke among many others, and his face will be familiar to anyone that’s sat enthralled watching the extras on Ghibli DVDs. His work was so distinctive and influential that ‘the Kanada style’ became a term commonly used by Japanese animators, and if you want to see just a tiny selection from his massively impressive CV check out the report over at Anime News Network.

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Viva La Revolución

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Well, I’m back. I survived Havana – a bat-shit crazy but fantastic and beautiful city, both run-down and elgant at the same time, and where everyone that walks the street is a hustler. Sure, communism and food rationing has made it hard to find a decent meal, but who cares when the rum and cigars are so cheap. Plus the Museo de la Revolución and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes make it worth the cost of the flight alone. Just don’t try bringing back a load of that cheap rum through Madrid airport security. Long, painful story. Of course, as always, I took a bunch of photos, which you can check out on the Flickr sideshow below – and are certainly worth a look if you have any passing interest in Che Guevara, crumbling but awe inspiring architecture, mojitos and lots (I mean LOTS) of gorgeous 1950s American muscle cars.

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Miyazaki to draw Porco Rosso sequel?

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Images courtesy of the brilliant Ghibli Blog.

You may remember that earlier in the year I reported that animation god Hayao Miyazaki was drawing an aviation based manga Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises) for Japanese magazine Model Graphix. Well, it seems he’s been enjoying returning to his mangaka roots, and is now considering penning a sequel to his classic film Porco Rosso for the magazine. He prototyped the movie in manga form for the mag back in 1990 in the form of Hikōtei Jidai, the French translation of which being the source of these fantastic images. Anime News Network has the lowdown:

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