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myOtaku.com: kidotaku

Monday, February 28, 2005

Now playing episode 2. mew T.K.O.
In today episode
*anime news
*video games
*news for next post

about post: hey guys,today we got a look at "Avatar:the last airbender" more anime press releases, and in Vg's we look at some games that are cheap but great! Lets rock
Love Roma, Blame!, Rizelmine, Ultra Maniac and other manga acquired

Del Rey's upcoming release calendar lists Love Roma volume 1 for a August 30th release date.

Meanwhile Amazon.com lists the Blame! manga, Rizelmine and Duan Surk for release from Tokyopop in August.

Amazon.com also lists Ultra Maniac and Tokyo Boys & Girls for release from Viz in July.


Editor's Note: Only Love Roma is a confirmed license at this time.
NY Luvs anime
A report in Ny times about anime:
By Bruce Wallace, Times Staff Writer

Optimistic old guy, that Hayao Miyazaki.

Japan's most famous animator is forever dropping his characters into a world of hurt, a place where potions turn girls into crones and mothers betray their daughters, where war blackens the landscape and cynical adults "forget they ever knew how to cry." Yet by the time he gets to the credits, Miyazaki always finds a way to leave his heroes and his audience caressed by hope.

The 64-year-old director has done it again with "Howl's Moving Castle," which has been pulling in Japanese audiences at a blockbuster pace since its release in late November (an American release is planned for this summer). "Howl's" is Miyazaki's first movie since "Spirited Away," the Academy Award-winning feature that debuted in the U.S. in 2002, and once again he has created a film that offers his antidote to a spiritually ailing world.

It's love, actually. And as usual, precocious children blaze the path to salvation.

"Howl's Moving Castle" presents another installment of Miyazaki's feel-good storytelling, which long ago garnered him comparisons to Walt Disney. Japanese audiences clearly cannot get enough. "Howl's" has been a rocket at the box office, selling 1.1 million tickets in its first two days and 13 million in all through last Sunday.

But Miyazaki's latest success comes at a testing time for Japanese anime, an art form he has done so much to drag from the artistic ghetto into the mainstream. While the rest of the world fetes anime's global cool, some in Japan are wondering if it has peaked creatively.

"Animation studios are surviving, animators are getting better paid, but the quality of new works is not improving," says Mamoru Oshii, a director whose reputation was made on anime's darker side, in chaotic worlds where the apocalypse seems never more than a rogue computer away.

"On the surface, it's thriving," the 53-year-old Oshii said at his Tokyo studio. "But in reality, there's very little new happening." Oshii's anime is edgier more violent, really than Miyazaki's family fare. He happily plays Tarantino to Miyazaki's Disney.

Along with manga artist-turned-anime director Katsuhiro Otomo, they constitute what could be called Japan's animation establishment. All released movies last year each eagerly awaited by devoted fans in what should have been an anime celebration.

Instead, there is muttering among veteran directors and producers that anime has nothing fresh to offer adult Japanese audiences that have grown up watching their movies.

Listen to Oshii on Miyazaki:

"From a directors' viewpoint, we cannot expect anything new from Miyazaki. He is like a very old man, almost retired now." Or to Toshio Suzuki, Miyazaki's longtime collaborator, on Otomo, whose new anime feature, "Steamboy," will be distributed in the U.S. in March: "There is only one theme in all his films: the conflict between adults and children. It's an old Japanese theme: The child fights against society, fights against evil. Otomo's thinking is rather old." (Otomo declined to be interviewed for this article.)

It is hardly Kobe versus Shaq versus Phil. But the criticism from within is evidence of an unsettling sense that, having acquired a global platform for their art, Japan's animators may have nothing terribly profound to say to the world.

"The tragedies of Japanese anime," Suzuki says, "are not too serious."

Where's the blood?

"I think inside his head Miyazaki wants to destroy Japan," explains Oshii, dressed in baggy jeans and sitting in his studios near Tokyo.

"But even though he knows his generation has created a nasty society, he has this hope that children will make a better world. So he makes movies that families and the children can enjoy.

"And it won't change until he makes the movies he really wants to make: bloody works; lots of bloodshed." Oshii knows blood. When Quentin Tarantino needed a Japanese animator to create a 10-minute anime interlude for "Kill Bill Vol. 1," he turned to Oshii, who produced a gore-fest of butchered bodies.

"I think I am a model citizen in real life, but in my brain, that's different," Oshii says with a big smile. "Everybody has a fantasy of doing something bad. Sometimes I want to launch missiles into every building in Tokyo, so I create a movie like that. I am making films about what I am thinking about: missiles hitting buildings.

"But Miyazaki is hiding. He has a passion to destroy Japan, but he's not making what he really wants to make."

Oshii is the godfather of a futuristic anime style called cyberpunk, and the synapses of anime fans are still quivering from his "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence," released last year to great fanfare in Japan and a more cautious critical endorsement in the U.S.

The film resumes the plot of his 1995 cult hit "Ghost in the Shell," praised by the Wachowski brothers as their inspiration for "The Matrix." The sequel trails Batou, a Descartes-spouting lug of an anti-terrorist cop as he wends through the morally weary world of 2032. He is trying to find out why gynoids, robots custom-built in female form for sexual company, have gone on a murderous rampage. But Batou is a human spirit living in a mechanized body. And he lives in a time when the bad guys can hack into your brain and download phony ideas and memories just to mess with you.

Along the way, Oshii indulges in his artistic fetish for sex and violence spiced with philosophical riffs on the dire state of mankind. It is a creepy vision: a bleak world where distinctions between robots and humans have been all but erased and humans are not much worse off for it. "Humans are hopeless," Oshii says. "We have to admit it."

Oshii is the anti-Miyazaki. The directors make movies with as much in common thematically as "The Wizard of Oz" and "Blade Runner." And that may explain Miyazaki's better acceptance on the U.S. side of the Pacific, where he has forged an alliance with Disney (naturally), while Oshii's films have enjoyed critical praise but smaller audiences.

"Miyazaki always says animation is for children, so it should have a happy ending," says Suzuki, the director's creative partner, who handles almost all of Miyazaki's media interviews. "Other Japanese creators, especially film directors, manga and authors, are all writing about the apocalypse.

"Miyazaki stands out because he makes films that are more amicable, films about love."

Yes, if you want to take the kids to the pictures you're going to pick "Howl's Moving Castle" over "Innocence." Adapted from a children's book by British fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones, the "Howl's" tale of teenage Sophie and the Pan-like wizard of her affections has elements well suited to Miyazaki.

A lonely teenage girl with a dead father and a dead-end life. A sorceress who turns her into a bent old woman. And the charming but decadent Howl, living in a clanging bucket of a moving castle that is propelled by a fire demon.

Unlike Hollywood animation, in which computers have conquered all, Miyazaki's work still relies on his animator's pencil to give the film its look. The result is a gorgeous if sometimes confusing dance of imagination.

In Japan, the release of "Howl's Moving Castle" has been a cinematic event. The film was the country's top-grossing film in 2004, though it was not released until Nov. 20, a juggernaut that few critics are prepared to throw stones at as it passes.

"People don't criticize Miyazaki openly," says Yoshio Shirai, the former editor in chief of the leading Japanese film magazine Kinema-Junpo. "They practice self-censorship because they are afraid of losing their position." Shirai argues that Japanese critics fear being cut off by Miyazaki's studio, and thus fail to point out such flaws as hard-to-follow plots that befuddle children.

Indeed "Howl's" story line is not always coherent, nor relentlessly upbeat. There is a contorted Good-versus-Evil struggle for the wizard's soul, and a state of war is the bass line in the background that occasionally bursts onto the screen in full crescendo. Miyazaki draws frightening airships that blast and scorch his beloved landscapes.

But it all turns out in the end.

The resolution comes with a rare (for Miyazaki) screen kiss that frees Sophie and Howl to soar in each other's arms against the wind.

Studios also contrast

If there is any common ground between Oshii and Miyazaki it lies with Suzuki, one of Japanese anime's wise men. His influence on the Japanese industry is pervasive: Suzuki produced both Oshii's "Innocence" and Miyazaki's "Howl's." He calls both men friends.

Unlike his dark anime visions, Oshii is cheerful and easygoing in person, while "Miyazaki's personality, on the other hand, is very pessimistic," says Suzuki. "Miyazaki has to put a brake on his thinking" when making a movie to get those happy endings.

The directors' stylistic differences are evident in their studios, both situated in gray suburbs outside Tokyo. Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli, a place of polished wood floors and state-of-the-art production rooms, operates at a corporate hum. But Oshii's young Production IG animators work in quarters that resemble a chaotic college dorm.

Dozens of anime TV and film production houses clog the area, feeding a passion for the genre that helped the animation industry claim six of last year's 10 top-rated Japanese TV shows. That high volume is swamping the U.S. market, where observers say the lack of coherent mainstream marketing and the absence of powerful lead titles is hurting anime.

Outside of Miyazaki's movies, which Disney is marketing to a wide audience, anime sales are being damaged by the high number of titles competing for cult buyers in an expensive retail DVD market, says Trulee Karahashi, of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation in Anaheim.

As a result, while manga (comic book) sales are booming in the U.S., anime has hit a wall in the American market, though Karahashi says establishment directors like Miyazaki and Oshii are the anime equivalents of Spielberg and Lucas.Oshii sees himself as the rebel of the pair, but the rebellion remains mostly in his head. He may have been a leftist radical in the 1970s, "closer to the terrorists than the people chasing them," he says. But then, his current anime hero is a cop in the anti-terrorist squad.

Oshii too balks at making concessions to predictability in his storytelling it takes good concentration to keep up with Batou's philosophical tripping.

"I'm very good at creating pictures, but I don't like over-edited films," Oshii says. "There's a belief we have to amuse the audience. But if 'Innocence' is hard to understand, it's because I want the audience to step up and think about certain themes." No wonder his script perplexed Hollywood executives. With Oshii in tow, Production IG head Mitsuhisa Ishikawa made the rounds at Warner, Fox and finally DreamWorks. "Nobody could understand it," Ishikawa says, recalling the story pitches.

At DreamWorks, Jeffrey Katzenberg didn't like the script either. But he liked the look of a two-minute trailer Oshii had put together and offered to provide a screenwriter while "taking Oshii's suggestions on board," says Ishikawa.

"That was an important moment," the producer says. "They were telling us: 'We know what sells in the U.S.' And I was torn. Should I take Oshii's side? Or take the money?" In the end, Oshii's script remained, and Katzenberg made a deal to distribute the film.

"Look," Ishikawa continues. " 'Innocence' is even difficult for me to understand. But I trust Oshii's talent. And if you dilute it for an American audience, it wouldn't be cyberpunk anymore."

Growing pains

Perhaps the obsession with having neat plots and tidy endings is the West's problem. The Japanese seem far less perturbed by Miyazaki's confusing plots or Oshii's surrealism.

"Western interviewers always ask me: 'What is the ghost?' " Oshii says with a laugh. "Japanese people understand there is a ghost in everything in your PC or your car. What Japanese interviewers want to know is why Batou has a dog." This crisis of confidence, then, may be simply the growing pains of an art form that has come out of the East and is not prepared to file down its edges to meet Western expectations. The look may seem internationalized, with Miyazaki's Sophie running through Middle Europe's town squares. But postwar Japan has always imported Western elements and internalized them. Miyazaki and Oshii are making Japanese films, with Japanese themes. And they are drawn primarily for an audience coping with the stresses of 21st century Japan.

"Japan now has no hope in general," Suzuki says. "It's the reason Miyazaki's films are so popular here: His films give the audience the energy to live.

"Miyazaki is saying that no matter what era you live in, beauty exists. And though the audience expects to see some kind of destruction in the film, in the end, they know he will give them hope."
Avatar:the last airbender reviwe
yes Avatar, I nick "anime" that is above tekken, and rion but below other anime. This suckfest has even the kiddies crying. First Fagatar, why should we call you an anime, action is like 10 secs. long. I seen more action in spongbob.
[Man] Hi-o!*claps*
plus the story is shit. "ohh i am a water bender! ha! i am a fire bender, DIEEEEE!" <---- why cant that be in story, it would get a seven. one word dull
a 3.5 out of ten
[flame djude] i will chach da Avatar.
[kidotaku] i will catch some thing better on tv.
thats all folks

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