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Sep 14

AniWeekly 9/14/2014: Row Row Fight the Idol!


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Someone’s getting in the corner with Padre. On Wednesday, FUNimation’s Lance Heiskell appeared as a guest on TWiT.tv show Padre’s Corner. The two geek out and talk about how the market’s changed since the early days, the anime broadcast and OVA structure in Japan, and how decisions are made behind the scenes among several other topics.

Also, Robotech. And Kill la Kill.

On second thought… let’s return to the TeiGeki! Otaku Review revisits Madhouse’s anime adaptation of Sakura Wars. His verdict is simple: While the characters and story hold up fifteen years later, the rest fails to live up to that initial reaction. Still, if there’s one thing we all can agree on, the opening still rocks to this day!

Lessons from the life of a reviewer. Otaku Journalist’s Lauren published a short article on important things she’s learned from her first few weeks of professional anime reviewing. The lessons are simple, but certainly something all reviewers should keep in mind when writing up their next title.

That familiar stinging feeling. Ever taken it personally when somebody disliked your favorite show? Don’t lie. We’ve all been there at some point. Bobduh from Wrong Every Time posted an insightful piece on the complicated relationship we share with our media, and why it’s hard to escape that stinging feeling when something we enjoy gets taken down a few pegs.

Row Row, Fight the Power… on Blu-Ray! Aniplex announced that they’ll re-release the series on Blu-Ray. This time around, it’ll be offered across five volumes, each priced at $69.98. The first volume hits stores on November 11.

Gurren Lagann Blu Ray Packshot 20140914 300x169 AniWeekly 9/14/2014: Row Row Fight the Idol!

© GAINAX, KAZUKI NAKASHIMA / Aniplex, KDE-J, TV TOKYO, DENTSU

Happy birthday, Kotori! September 12 marked the birthday of popular Love Live idol Minami Kotori. As one can expect, there’s been a bevy of amazing fan art to celebrate!

Love Live Kotori Birthday 001 20140914 150x150 AniWeekly 9/14/2014: Row Row Fight the Idol! Love Live Kotori Birthday 002 20140914 150x150 AniWeekly 9/14/2014: Row Row Fight the Idol! Love Live Kotori Birthday 003 20140914 150x150 AniWeekly 9/14/2014: Row Row Fight the Idol!

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works gets a couple of digital homes. The official site for the show announced that the series will stream on both Hulu and Crunchyroll, starting on October 4.

Titans take home the Harvey! The Attack on Titan manga was awarded a 2014 Harvey Award for Best American Edition of Foreign Material. Congrats to Kodansha Comics and Hajime Isayama for your accomplishment!

So long, AnimeNation, and thanks for all the fish! After 20 years of operation, AnimeNation’s retail store is closing up. They’ll continue the news blog and RentAnime.com, but it certainly feels like the end of an era.

A musical break. Fans of Final Fantasy might want to take a look at Smooth McGroove’s latest a capella mix takes on One Winged Angel. The seven minute performance is simply amazing to behold!

AniWeekly 9/14/2014: Row Row Fight the Idol!
Mike Ferreira


from AniWeekly 9/14/2014: Row Row Fight the Idol!

Aniplex of America Announces Gurren Lagann Blu-Ray Plans


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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 13, 2014

Aniplex of America set to release the Gurren Lagann TV Series on Blu-ray

Gurren Lagann Blu Ray Packshot 20140914 300x169 Aniplex of America Announces Gurren Lagann Blu Ray Plans

© GAINAX, KAZUKI NAKASHIMA / Aniplex, KDE-J, TV TOKYO, DENTSU

SANTA MONICA, CA (September 13, 2014) – At their industry panel at Nan Desu Kan in Denver, Colorado, Aniplex of America Inc. has announced that the Gurren Lagann Television series will be released on Blu-ray. Previously only available as part of the Gurren Lagann BD Set (Import), the TV series will now be available in a domestic Blu-ray release. The Gurren Lagann TV Series will be released on Blu-ray in a total of 5 volumes. The first volume will be released on November 11th followed by Volume 2 on December 9, with other volumes coming out every single month after.Pre-orders begin this Monday, September 15th. Release dates for the other volumes will be announced at a later date on http://ift.tt/1sSuG5c.

Each Gurren Lagann Blu-ray Volume will feature 5 episodes in both the original Japanese and English audios with English subtitles. The bonus features for the first two volumes will include a double sided poster and a 16 page booklet featuring interviews with the creators and an illustration gallery. The first volume blu-ray will also include the textless opening and ending and the OA version of the Episode 5 preview.

The Gurren Lagann Blu-rays will be available for sale in the U.S. and Canada while supplies last.Gurren Lagann is also available in a complete DVD Box Set and can also be seen on Adult Swim’s TOONAMI™ Saturday line-up at 2:00AM EST.

Gurren Lagann Blu-ray Vol. 1 features:

Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen

Languages: Japanese & English

Subtitles: English

Episodes: Episodes 1-5

Total Run Time: Approx 125 min.

Bonus Contents and Features

Textless Opening and Ending

Episode 5 Preview (OA Version)

16 Page Booklet: Interviews with Creators and Illustration Gallery

2-sided Poster

Product number and UPC bar code

Street Date

SKU #

UPC

SRP

Store price

Nov. 11, 2014

AOA-3303

856137005162

$59.98

$49.98

Gurren Lagann Blu-ray Vol. 2 features:

Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen

Languages: Japanese & English

Subtitles: English

Episodes: Episodes 6-10 (& Episode 6 On-Air Version)

Total Run Time: Approx 150 min.

Bonus Contents and Features

Textless Opening and Ending

16 Page Booklet: Interviews with Creators and Illustration Gallery

2-sided Poster

Product number and UPC bar code

Street Date

SKU #

UPC

SRP

Store price

Dec. 9, 2014

AOA-3304

856137005179

$59.98

$49.98

Both Gurren Lagann Blu-ray Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 can be pre-ordered and purchased at:

Right Stuf: Vol. 1 http://ift.tt/XjzvIr

Vol. 2 http://ift.tt/1sSuH9t

Official Retailers: http://ift.tt/1nRltHh

Pre-orders begin on September 15, 2014.

For complete detailed information on the Gurren Lagann Blu-ray Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 visit:http://ift.tt/1sSuG5cPR%20Gurren%20Lagann%20TV%20Series%20Blu ray%20Announcement%20final3x1 Aniplex of America Announces Gurren Lagann Blu Ray Plans

Story of GURREN LAGANN

This is the story of a man who has yet to realize what destiny holds in store for him….

In the distant future, mankind has lived quietly and restlessly underground for hundreds of years, subject to earthquakes and cave-ins. Living in one such village are 2 young men: one named Simon who is shy and naïve, and the other named Kamina who believes in the existence of a “surface” world above their heads. The destiny of these two starts moving drastically when the ceiling of their village falls in, and a gigantic “Gunmen” and a beautiful girl named Yoko, wielding a superconductive rifle, come from the surface. Together, Kamina, Simon and Yoko ride the mecha “Lagann” that Simon digs out of the ground, and fly up to the surface!

For more details, please visit: http://ift.tt/1jPffIZ

STAFF

Original Story: GAINAX

Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi

Assistant Director: Masahiko Ohtsuka Series Structure: Kazuki Nakashima Character Design: Atsushi Nishigori Mechanical Design: You Yoshinari Design Works: Shigeto Koyama

3D Mecha Design: IMAITOONZ Art Director: Yuka Hirama

Color Setting: Harumi Takahoshi

Director of Photography: Toyonori Yamada Editing: Junichi Uematsu

3DCGI: SANZIGEN

Sound Director: Tohru Nakano Music: Taku Iwasaki

Animation Production: GAINAX

Produced by TV TOKYO, DENTSU, Aniplex

CAST (Japanese / English)

Simon: Tetsuya Kakihara / Yuri Lowenthal

Kamina: Katsuyuki Konishi / Kyle Hebert

Yoko: Marina Inoue / Michelle Ruff

Nia: Yukari Fukui / Bridget Hoffman

Boota: Shizuka Ito/ Julie Ann Taylor

Leeron: Masaya Onosaka / Steve Blum

Dayakka: Daiki Nakamura / Doug Stone

Viral: Nobuyuki Hiyama / Sam Riegel

Kittan: Kisho Taniyama / Christopher Smith

Rossiu: Mitsuki Saiga / Johnny Yong Bosch

Lordgenome: Narushi Ikeda / Jamieson Price

About Aniplex of America Inc.

Aniplex of America Inc. (Santa Monica, California) is a subsidiary of Aniplex Inc. (headquartered in Tokyo, Japan), a group of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. and a leading provider of anime content and music production and distribution in Japan. Aniplex of America has launched fan-favoriteBlu-ray and DVD releases such as Sword Art OnlineKILL la KILLBakemonogatariDurarara!!,Fate/zeroPuella Magi Madoka Magicathe Garden of sinners, Blue Exorcist, Anohana: The Movie, Silver Spoon, OREIMO 2, Blast of Tempest, Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Oreshura, and Vividred Operation. The company’s ever-growing line-up of shows includes our most recent titles Sword Art Online IIALDNOAH.ZERO, Persona4 the Golden ANIMANTION, MEKAKUCITY ACTORS, The irregular at magic high schoolMushi-Shi Next Passage, Nanana’s Buried Treasure, NISEKOIWorld Conquest Zvezda PlotMagi: The Kingdom of Magic, and Samurai Flamenco

www.AniplexUSA.com http://ift.tt/1f5sYno http://ift.tt/1ng6tCFwww.AniplexUSA.com http://ift.tt/1f5sYno http://ift.tt/1ng6tCF

###

Aniplex of America Announces Gurren Lagann Blu-Ray Plans
Mike Ferreira


from Aniplex of America Announces Gurren Lagann Blu-Ray Plans

Traci Hines’s Carry On Music Video Is An Amazing Tribute to Sailor Moon


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Anime Herald - We’ll talk nerdy to you.

Let’s face it: being a magical girl is tough. Fighting countless evildoers in the name of justice is a generally thankless job, that could well wind up costing one’s own life. Get beaten, battered, and roughed up on a regular basis is part of the job description, and there’s a tangible risk of losing everything, and everyone important in the line of duty. It’s enough to drive someone to despair.

And yet, there’s something more to it.

There’s a value to be had in the little things that the life brings. Beyond the amazing powers, there’s a certain security to be had in the camaraderie between friends and allies. There’s great comfort in the knowledge that, with the right support, the impossible becomes possible, and even the most dangerous beastie can be defeated.

Cosplayer Traci J Hines channels these conflicting feelings in Carry On (Sailor Moon), a soulful cover of the song from Dic’s adaptation of the series. With a slow piano backing and a pleading tone, Hines transforms this energetic battle anthem into a ballad of sadness and hope. The accompanying video, in which Hines performs in Queen Serenity’s full regalia, is simply incredible.

Note: For those who wish to compare, we’ve provided the original song below.

Traci Hines’s Carry On Music Video Is An Amazing Tribute to Sailor Moon
Mike Ferreira


from Traci Hines’s Carry On Music Video Is An Amazing Tribute to Sailor Moon

Sep 13

Aniplex Details Otorimonogatari Blu-Ray Set


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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 13, 2014

Aniplex of America Announces OTORIMONOGATARI Blu-ray Set Details

Otorimonogatari BluRay Packshot 20140913 300x265 Aniplex Details Otorimonogatari Blu Ray Set

© NISIOISIN/KODANSHA, ANIPLEX, SHAFT

SANTA MONICA, CA (September 13, 2014) – At their industry panel at Nan Desu Kan in Denver, Colorado, Aniplex of America Inc. has announced the details of their release of, OTORIMONOGATARI, the third arc to the Monogatari Series Second Season. Following their release ofKABUKIMONOGATARI on August 26th, the OTORIMONOGATARI arc will be released in a Limited Edition Blu-ray Set on October 28th. Pre-orders for this product will begin on Monday September 15thon the official homepage (http://ift.tt/1uH7tCx).

The OTORIMONOGATARI Limited Edition Blu-ray Set will feature all 4 episodes on 2 Blu-ray discs with the original Japanese audio and English subtitles. The set includes numerous bonus contents that many Monogatari Series fans can enjoy such as the “Omnibus 3” video, textless opening and ending sequences, PV & CM collections, a deluxe booklet, and a set of pinup postcards, all encased in an exclusive soft box featuring the artwork of character designer Akio Watanabe.

The OTORIMONGATARI Limited Edition Blu-ray Set will be distributed in limited quantities and will be sold only while supplies last.

OTORIMONOGATARI Limited Edition Blu-ray Set features:

Languages: Japanese

Subtitles: English

Total Run Time: Approx 102 min.

Rating: 16 UP

Bonus Contents and Features

“Omnibus 3” Video (Approx. 25 min.)

Textless Opening & Ending

PV & CM Collections

Deluxe Booklet

Pinup Postcard Set

Package Illustrated by AKIO WATANABE (Character Design)

Product number and UPC bar code

Street Date

SKU #

UPC

SRP

Store price

Oct. 28, 2014

AOA-4003

850527003622

$64.98

$49.98

OTORIMONOGATARI Limited Edition Blu-ray Set can be pre-ordered and purchased at:

Right Stuf: http://ift.tt/1qxTGPJ

Official Retailers: http://ift.tt/1nRltHh

Pre-orders begin on September 15, 2014.

For detailed information, please visit: http://ift.tt/Xf0c19

About OTORIMONOGATARI

The Third Arc of the Monogatari Series Second Season!

Nadeko encounters a giant snake who claims to be a deity named Kuchinawa. Kuchinawa promises Nadeko that he would grant her wish if she aids him in the search of his object of worship. Little does Nadeko know that obtaining the object of worship will cost her more than what she expected. Koyomi tries to convince Nadeko to let go of the object of worship. But it’s too late, Nadeko swallows the object and becomes a snake apparition! To make things worse, now Nadeko wants to kill Koyomi and Shinobu Oshino.

About Aniplex of America Inc.

Aniplex of America Inc. (Santa Monica, California) is a subsidiary of Aniplex Inc. (headquartered in Tokyo, Japan), a group of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. and a leading provider of anime content and music production and distribution in Japan. Aniplex of America has launched fan-favoriteBlu-ray and DVD releases such as Sword Art OnlineKILL la KILLBakemonogatariDurarara!!,Fate/zeroPuella Magi Madoka Magicathe Garden of sinners, Blue Exorcist, Anohana: The Movie,

Silver Spoon, OREIMO 2, Blast of Tempest, Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Oreshura, and Vividred Operation. The company’s ever-growing line-up of shows includes our most recent titles Sword Art Online IIALDNOAH.ZERO, Persona4 the Golden ANIMANTION, MEKAKUCITY ACTORS, The irregular at magic high schoolMushi-Shi Next Passage, Nanana’s Buried Treasure, NISEKOIWorld Conquest Zvezda PlotMagi: The Kingdom of Magic, and Samurai Flamenco

www.AniplexUSA.com http://ift.tt/1f5sYno http://ift.tt/1ng6tCFwww.AniplexUSA.com http://ift.tt/1f5sYno http://ift.tt/1ng6tCF

###

Aniplex Details Otorimonogatari Blu-Ray Set
Mike Ferreira


from Aniplex Details Otorimonogatari Blu-Ray Set

Aniplex of America Adds “Your Lie In April”


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Anime Herald - We’ll talk nerdy to you.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 13, 2014

Aniplex of America Acquires Your lie in April for this Fall Season

Your Lie In April Logo 20140913 300x178 Aniplex of America Adds Your Lie In April

Your Lie In April Key Art 001 20140913 212x300 Aniplex of America Adds Your Lie In April

© Naoshi Arakawa,Kodansha/Your lie in April Committee

The Award-winning Story’s Anime Adaptation to begin Streaming this October!

SANTA MONICA, CA (September 13, 2014) –Aniplex of America, Inc. recently announced at their industry panel at Nan Desu Kan (Denver, CO.) that they have acquired Your lie in April, one of this Fall season’s most highly anticipated anime series. This romantic drama series will begin its simulcast schedule this October and will be available for fans to stream on the free,ad-supported Hulu and Hulu Plus subscription service (www.hulu.com) and Crunchyroll (www.crunchyroll.com). The start date and time of the streaming schedule will be announced at a later date. Aniplex of America, Inc. had also announced that their official English homepage for Your lie in April will launch today at: http://ift.tt/1BCiVmpwhere fans can enjoy details on this upcoming series including detailed character descriptions and an English subtitled trailer.

Your lie in April is an anime adaptation of the original manga series created by the author Naoshi Arakawa and is currently serialized in Monthly Shonen Magazine since 2011. The series has won the 37th Annual Kodansha Manga Award in the Best Manga for Young Male category in 2013.

A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online, Blue Exorcist, Magi: the Kingdom of Magic) will be responsible for the animation production.

About Your lie in April

“The spring of my 14th year—you changed my world…”

A boy, who felt empty each day, meets a girl.

Her free and heartfelt musical performance restores the color back into the boy’s life.

On his 11th winter, Kousei Arima, a piano prodigy suffered from the trauma of losing his beloved mother. He was unable to hear the sounds he was playing. Since then, the boy began to distance himself from the piano. With his mother and the piano both gone from his life, the boy’s days became dull and monotonous.

One day, Kousei’s childhood friend Tsubaki Sawabe introduces him to her classmate. Her name was Kaori Miyazono. Kaori was a violinist who often performed at competitions. But her performance was nothing Kousei had imagined. Free, powerful, and passionate—Kaori’smusic did not follow the regulations of the competition at all. Kousei was immediately enthralled by Kaori’s bold performance. The boy began seeing color being restored to his life.

“I had a horrible first impression of her, she had a violently short-temper and terrible personality…but…she is…absolutely beautiful.”

The boy and the girl are brought together by music. Can the heartfelt sounds of the girl’s violin lead the boy to play the piano again?

About Aniplex of America Inc.

Aniplex of America Inc. (Santa Monica, California) is a subsidiary of Aniplex Inc. (headquartered in Tokyo, Japan), a group of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. and a leading provider of anime content and music production and distribution in Japan. Aniplex of America has launched fan-favorite Blu-ray and DVD releases such as Sword Art OnlineKILL la KILLBakemonogatariDurarara!!Fate/zeroPuella Magi Madoka Magicathe Garden of sinners, Blue Exorcist, Anohana: The Movie, Silver Spoon, OREIMO 2, Blast of Tempest, Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Oreshuraand Vividred Operation. The company’s ever-growing line-up of shows includes our most recent titles Sword Art Online IIALDNOAH.ZERO, Persona4 the Golden ANIMANTIONMEKAKUCITY ACTORS, The irregular at magic high schoolMushi-Shi Next Passage, Nanana’s Buried Treasure, NISEKOIWorld Conquest Zvezda PlotMagi: The Kingdom of Magic, and Samurai Flamenco.

www.AniplexUSA.com

http://ift.tt/1f5sYno

http://ift.tt/1ng6tCF

###

Aniplex of America Adds “Your Lie In April”
Mike Ferreira


from Aniplex of America Adds “Your Lie In April”

The End of an Era: AnimeNation Calls It Quits


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Anime Herald - We’ll talk nerdy to you.

Anime Nation Logo 20140913 The End of an Era: AnimeNation Calls It Quits
Yesterday, AnimeNation posted a notice on their front page indicating that their retail division was shutting down. The notice read as follows:

After 20 years, we’ve decided to get out of the retail game. A heartfelt thanks to all our great customers over the years, and all of the terrific employees that made AnimeNation a fun & dynamic place to work. At times it’s been a dream come true. We’ve been doing this a long time though, and it’s just time to move on to new and different challenges.

If you have an existing order with us, you will receive an email with details specific to your order. If not, you can still contact sales@animenation.com with questions about cancellations, refunds, shipment tracking, etc.

If you’re shopping for anime, head over to Rightstuf.com. They’re the largest anime store online today, we’ve worked with them in the past, they’re very professional, reliable, and have great prices and selection. We have no reservations about recommending them to you. Tell them we sent you!

Not everything is closing. RentAnime.com will get more focus now, and our forums, news blog and FB Page are still live. Links are below, stop and say hi!

To all in the anime community who have supported us over the years, again, thank you.

Gene Field / AnimeNation.com / 9/12/2014

For many, this may have little meaning overall. AnimeNation, in today’s market, was far from the biggest anime source for most people. Rather, they were just a name, a small niche shop standing against the likes of Right Stuf, Amazon, and the like. Their prices weren’t always the greatest, and their back-end systems weren’t as advanced as their competitors. That said, though, they had a devoted customer-base, who stayed with them through the good times and the bad.

Miami Guns Boxart 20140913 208x300 The End of an Era: AnimeNation Calls It QuitsTo a lot of older fans, though, AnimeNation was an institution. In their early days, they were a rare establishment that had pretty much everything the market could offer, with fair prices and a generous commitment to quality service. They were one of the first major anime sales presences online, and were vital in the real growth of anime in the United States. They were a household name in their heyday, with a fantastic word of mouth reputation, and a staff that seemed to genuinely care about the products they offered. We all knew their forums and news blog, and the Ask John column which was one of the rare publications that drew viewers from all corners of the fandom.

At the peak of the anime boom, the company was large enough that they could actually transcend their role as a retailer, and cross to the other side of the curtain. In 2003, AnimeNation announced that they’d form AN Entertainment. AN Entertainment would be a production arm that would license and translate anime directly, with ADV Films handling distribution. The division would go on to translate three titles in all: Omishi Magical Theater Risky Safety, Miami Guns, and Hare + Guu. While the three were apparently not commercially successful, I can’t help but be thankful that the group took the risk on these shows, which were all charming and unique at a time when the market was busy hunting for the next big thing.

AnimeNation’s exit from the market signals an end of an era. While the company is far from the entity it was before, they were a sign of stability and regularity in the industry. They were a rock, slowly but surely traveling ahead, rolling with the changes in the anime world at large. It’s sad to see them go, but it’s certainly for the best, if the division wasn’t profitable.

It certainly isn’t the end for AnimeNation, who will be shifting and evolving to encompass all things RentAnime. As a company, they will continue to change and fit into the roles that are demanded of a niche hobby. Whether it’s sustainable or not for them remains to be seen. However, it will be interesting to see how things turn out for the group in the next few years.

In the case that AnimeNation’s main page goes offline, we’ve provided the full announcement in image form below.

AnimeNation Closing Notice 20140913 300x268 The End of an Era: AnimeNation Calls It Quits

The End of an Era: AnimeNation Calls It Quits
Mike Ferreira


from The End of an Era: AnimeNation Calls It Quits

VIz Shows Off Its Upcoming Sailor Moon Set With Two Trailers


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Yesterday, Viz Media posted a pair of short Sailor Moon promos to their YouTube channel. The two videos, which are aimed at hyping up the company’s upcoming Sailor Moon DVD & Blu-Ray release, showcase different highlights of the upcoming set.

The first is a general trailer, which highlights the release. The new dub and better video quality are shown off, as well as the various special features on the disc. The set will include the following goodies in its release:

The second, which is a bit less flashy, shows off the packaging for the release.

With Sailor Moon hitting stores in November, the hype machine is in full swing. We’ll undoubtedly see more trailers and promotions pop up to drive excitement for the release. Just what will pop up next, though, remains to be seen.

VIz Shows Off Its Upcoming Sailor Moon Set With Two Trailers
Mike Ferreira


from VIz Shows Off Its Upcoming Sailor Moon Set With Two Trailers

Sep 12

Your Bad Anime Night Needs: Labyrinth of Flames


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What Is It?

Labyrinth of Flames Boxart 20140912 207x300 Your Bad Anime Night Needs: Labyrinth of FlamesLabyrinth of Flames is a two-episode OVA from Studio Fantasia and Bandai Visual. The feature was directed by Katsuhiko Nishijima (Agent Aika, Najica Blitz Tactics, Project A-Ko), and features character designs by Noriyasu Yamauchi (Agent Aika, Najica Blitz Tactics) and Yoko Kikuchi (El Cazador de la Bruja, Noir). In the west, the title was released by Central Park Media under their U.S. Manga Corps Label.

You know, because U.S. Manga Corps hasn’t found enough ways to make anime fans cry yet.

That said, Labyrinth of Flames is a series set in Russia modern-day. Ah, mother Russia! Where everyone dresses in kimono and samurai garb, and tatami mats are the norm! Good old motherland, where traditional Japanese buildings are everywhere and all citizens are well versed in the arts of Kendo! That Russia.

Seriously, Putin would be pissed at this.

Anyway, in this mystical land of “Russia”, which is really just Japan with a different name, Galan makes a meager living at his local university. He’s a bit of a spaz and somewhat single-minded in his day-to-day life. He’s a Japanophile who fantasizes about getting a sword and living the samurai lifestyle. He’d give his right kidney to make that dream of flashy battles and bushido honor come true!

Thankfully for him (and unfortunately for us), Galan doesn’t need to mutilate himself to buy into the samurai life. His girlfriend Natsu is a Japanese princess living in Russia. One day, she arrives at the university, shortly after a failed solo LARPing session by Galan mind you, bearing a gift of an intricate katana which, since Galan is a simple-minded boob, is eagerly accepted by her mentally deficient boyfriend.

It turns out that the sword is actually a form of engagement gift in Natsu’s family. With the acceptance of the sword, Galan also unknowingly agreed a centuries-old pact to marry the princess before him. Only he doesn’t know Natsu’s a princess. Soon, the three find themselves literally dropping into Natsu’s home, where they have to deal with a nosey yankee reporter, a gaggle of crazy assassins, and Natsu’s overprotective father. It’s almost too much for a doofy college kid to handle!

No, really. What the hell is it?

Labyrinth of Flames is a comedy OVA from Katsuhiko Nishijima, who has jokingly been called the “father of the panty shot.” His brilliance helped to bring the world Project A-Ko, whose charming characters and goofy, yet clever plot appealed to fans and non-fans alike.

Unfortunately, this isn’t even remotely like Project A-Ko.

If I were to really make a comparison to Nishijima’s other work, Labyrinth of Flames is best described as a half-assed attempt at an “Aika Lite”. So, basically, it’s gaggles of panties paired with some corny slapstick and a bullshit plot that nobody’s really going to pay attention to anyway.

This is particularly painful, given that the show’s cast could have been salvaged to make something halfway decent. There are a number of characters that could have been hilarious in a different role, like the perennially sickly Kasumi. She’s a well-meaning boob who is two steps from death’s door, and therefore connected to some IV or drip or another through the series. Handled properly, she could have been what Hyatt is to Excel Saga. The same goes for Datenoshin, who is a smooth operator by nature that doesn’t seem to grasp the idea of actually being smooth when he wants to. His attempts to kill Galan are genuinely funny, as he tromps out in a mockery of the Tuxedo Mask costume, with poofy pants and a frilled collar. Even Carrie White, the stereotypical yankee reporter plays her role of the clueless foreigner well, with just the right mix of clueless and quirky to work.

And yet, the show screws them up horribly. Kasumi’s a creepy and overbearing servant, Datenoshin is just a boob with a pretty face, and Carrie is reduced to a pair of jugs for the viewer to ogle.

From the outset, it’s made abundantly clear that the series revolves around two things: Galan’s single-minded idiocy and Natsu’s father being the king of all perverts. Every plot point, every bit of dialogue is used to support these two topics, rather than build a compelling (or even likeable) cast of characters.

And then there’s the sleaze.

I’m not talking about that John Waters-ish, “there’s a reason for this” sleaze. I’m talking about skeevy, creepy, cringe-worthy sleaze that will turn many viewers away. It’s the type of seediness that’s just plain painful to watch and outright cruel to the “lesser” characters, who get put through hell and humiliation to make the viewer laugh.

It’s not as if Labyrinth of Flames tries to hide this. Rather, the show embraces its role from the outset. After the first episode’s opening credits, the scene opens on Natsu, princess in disguise and university coed on her way to see Galan. Every step of her journey is dogged by her faithful, sickly servant Kasumi, who will go above and beyond to keep Natsu safe. When Kasumi spies a puddle of water, she literally leaps over Natsu and lands directly on her face, which means that the viewer sees blood pooling around her head followed by rivers of blood trailing down the poor girl’s face. And then, as if nothing is wrong, the girl pushes her exposed butt into the air and tells Natsu to grace her by walking on her back.

And, like Natsu in that scene, most people will be cringing and backing off as quickly as possible.

This doesn’t begin to cover the countless other unsettling segments, which include, but aren’t limited to Natsu’s father sexually harrassing his own daughter, and Galan popping literal comedy boners at a moment’s notice.

There are a few bright spots that bear mentioning, though. When the humor works, it’s legitimately funny. There are a few truly inspired visual gags and slapstick bits that will elicit a giggle or two. The animation is generally well done, especially in the full “dance” segments that are interspersed through the two episodes. These are simply gorgeous, and the choreography is delightfully elaborate.

On top of this, the OVA’s dub is surprisingly good for its time of release. The cast, which includes Eric Stuart (Pokémon, The Slayers) and Jessica Calvello (Attack on Titan, Dirty Pair), really seem to have fun in their roles, and breathe a surprising amount of life into the project. While Sonney Dey’s Carrie and Elisa Wain’s (Maze: the Mega-Burst Space) are a bit overbearing, the overall performance is surprisingly strong.

And you want me to watch this WHY?

Labyrinth of Flames is a title that is perfect for a Bad Anime Night. The show’s terrible content and championing of its sleazier elements will have viewers cringing and groaning with each forced panty shot and failed innuendo. At the same time, though, there’s enough genuinely entertaining, surprisingly funny content that most viewers will likely hold out hope for some improvement by the time the credits roll.

The English dub is decent, though Eric Stuart’s trademark voice will certainly invite a number of comments and wisecracks from the typical audience.

When and how long should I screen this for?

Labyrinth of Flames is the type of show that works in nearly any situation. At the beginning of the night, it can be an effective warning to abandon all hope. Midway through the night, it’s a valuable reminder that things can always get worse, especially when you are the presenter.

That said, though, it’s a rare title where, depending on the audience, both episodes can be shown without viewers growing agitated or bored. At worst, show the first episode and gauge reactions from the room. If they’re entertained, definitely keep the show rolling. However, I would advice having a backup, in the case that your audience does react negatively from the outset.

Gallery

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Your Bad Anime Night Needs: Labyrinth of Flames
Mike Ferreira


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Sentai Filmworks Acquires Love Stage!!


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Sentai Filmworks Logo Sentai Filmworks Acquires Love Stage!!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SENTAI FILMWORKS LICENSES LOVE STAGE!!

HOUSTON, September 12, 2014 – All the world’s a stage, and for two boys the spotlight will shine brightly upon their stars in Sentai Filmworks’ latest acquisition, Love Stage!! This romantic comedy series is directed by Kenichi Kasai (Honey and Clover, Bakuman) with series composition by Michiko Yokote (Kobato, Princess Tutu), art direction by Hirotsugu Kakoi (Hatsukoi Limited, Kyousogiga) and animation production by J.C. Staff (Dream Eater Merry, The Familiar of Zero).

Daydreamer Izumi Sena is the black sheep of his family. With a model for a mother, a singer for a father, and a brother who fronts one of the most popular bands around, you’d think Izumi would be destined for stardom. Despite being born into a family of stars, Izumi has no desire to be in the spotlight, and his only dream is to become a world-class manga artist. But in an unexpected turn of events, Izumi finds himself not only pulled onto the set of a commercial, but forced to dress as a girl! In case the situation wasn’t awkward enough, Izumi stumbles into his costar, the handsome Ryoma Ichijo, and it’s love at first sight. Or, at least it is for Ryoma, who is so convinced by Izumi’s costume, that when the shoot is over, he makes it his life mission to track down the “actress” that sets his heart aflutter. But when Ryoma discovers Izumi’s secret, will it be sparks that fly or fists? And will Izumi be able to avoid his destiny as a superstar, or will he be sucked into the same fame-filled life as the rest of his family?

Love Stage!! will be available soon through select digital outlets with a home video release to follow.

About Sentai Filmworks

Sentai Filmworks is one of the fastest-growing anime companies in North America, producing hit series like Persona 4, Girls und Panzer, Devil Survivor 2, Bodacious Space Pirates, Majestic Prince and High School of the Dead as well as high profile theatrical films such as Grave of the Fireflies, K-ON! and Appleseed. Sentai Filmworks’ programs are distributed through Super D, Diamond Comic Distributors, Section23Films and Waxworks through retailers Amazon, Best Buy, Fry’s, FYE, Hastings, Suncoast, The Right Stuf, Wal-Mart and other good and fine stores.  Digital product offerings may be found at Amazon, Anime Network, Crunchyroll, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, PlayStation Network, Rovi, Samsung, Vudu, XBOX Marketplace and YouTube.

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Sentai Filmworks Acquires Love Stage!!
Mike Ferreira


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Shigeru Miyamoto Helming Pikmin Short Film


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Pikmin Short Movie 002 20140912 Shigeru Miyamoto Helming Pikmin Short FilmThe man who gave the world Mario, Donkey Kong, and Zelda is trying his hand in anime.

Shigeru Miyamoto will direct a short film titled Pikmin Short Movie. The title, which will be a CG-animated work, will screen at next the Tokyo International Film Festival next month. In addition, Pikmin Short Movie will be shown free of charge at Toho Cinemas Nihonbashi to winners of a raffle.

The film will be split into three episodes: “Midnight Juice,” “the Treasure Inside the Bottle,” and “One Tough Day.” According to Cinra, the films will allow Miyamoto to explore things that he was unable to tackle in the Pikmin video games.

To be honest, I’m interested in seeing just how the film turns out. In the video game world, Shigeru Miyamoto is a legend. Through his career, he helped to revolutionize the games industry time and time again, with daring concepts, charming characters, and a general sense of whimsy that others strive to emulate. His games have defined genres, and inspired countless designers over the years.

To be honest, I don’t expect that out of this film.

Pikmon Short Movie will be, for all intents and purposes, a video game anime title. Like many titles before it, including Tekken, Chrono Trigger: Nuumamonjya, and Bayonetta: Bloody Fate, Pikmin will be a title that’s based on the lore of an existing video game franchise, with a heavy reliance on knowing the characters beforehand.

Outside of visual novels, game adaptations tend to suffer because of their baggage. Their need to adhere to a story that’s either nonsensical or nonexistent leads to a generally aimless feature that’s lacking in substance. On the flip side, titles that adapt overly wordy plots may come across as rushed, or under-developed as creators struggle to fit every major character and reference into the show. Titles given a lower budget due to licensing power will be (rightfully) seen as cheap or inferior in the eyes of fans.

And so on.

Over the years, Nintendo has proven that they can do a fantastic job of translating their game properties to anime. Pokémon has been a perennial favorite since its 1997 début, and F-Zero: GP Legend received a decent reception during its run.

Miyamoto’s taking the helm on the project is a powerful positive signal. It shows that there is at least some potential that this will be a title that side-steps the pitfalls of the regular adaptation. Hopefully, his input and ideas will ensure that Pikmin Short Movie will be an experience that stands on its own, and proves to be enjoyable to long-time fans and outsiders alike.

At this point, it’s difficult to really make a prediction on the matter. However, the buzz around the project shows that there is hope that this could be one of the few truly great video game adaptations to make it to market.

Shigeru Miyamoto Helming Pikmin Short Film
Mike Ferreira


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