Wednesday, August 30

Seikai no Senki I/Battle Banner of the Stars I (2000)


These 13 episodes are continuation of Morioka’s universe established in 1999 anime series, Seikai no Monshou or Crest of the Stars. This time, the war is on between United Mankind and Abh Imperial Empire; the decisive battle will be fought in Planar Gate of Apptiku. The United Mankind sent their best fleet and their best weapon in all or nothing offensive while the Abh Space Force concentrate their fleet to stop off the massive attack. The rest of Imperial empire has yet to mobilize their entire fleet so if the offensive is successful, the United Mankind will penetrate and cause havoc in Imperial domain unchecked.

3 years after the end of first series, love pair Jinto/Ghintec and Lafiel/Lamhirh serving on a assault boat, participating in the Apptiku campaign. She resented that her beloved treated her like a needy person, whereas Jinto/Ghintec was torn between duty and relationship since she is his nominal superior in the assault gunboat. Viewers will be treated 13 episodes of non-stop space combat (yes, 13 episodes non stop) while the bond between 2 principle characters grew as being tested in danger again.

New characters will introduced in this series, mainly the twin brothers who commanded the Abh fleet in the Apptiku campaign.


Well, the art this time has notched up little bit and since there is massive battles, some stock animation was used briefly. However it is not really distracting and majority of art is face shots of characters in dialogue exchanges in the story. The main strength of the anime is again, not art so there is nothing really special here to shout about.

Some CGs was used but not on massive scale like GONZO works.


The series BGM is follow on of the previous series and there is nothing really unique soundtrack pieces in this one compared to the first series. As usual, the Japanese voice acting are very competent in their respective roles, Lafiel/Lamhirh carries the series again with her commanding presence thanks to her stellar VA, Kawasumi Ayako.


Now, some people complained that this series focused too much on the twin brothers who commanded the Abh fleet in the Apptiku campaign. Some dialogue exchanges can be tedious but not overwhelmingly so. The discourse between Bilbos brothers who formed the top command of Abh Space Navy in Apptiku campaign has been characterized by some people as self indulgent. I believe this is to show the peculiarity of their lineage as contrast to Abriel stoic front which worked well. The creator intend to show that Abhs are unique individuals despite being depicted as homogeneous race bent to making other humans in known galaxy same as them.

Battle is epic but however did not show enough 4 dimensional aspect of space combat. Most of the engagement was in traditional form of naval warfare, not really a progression of 4 D space battles which beautifully shown in Starship Operators (2005). That in my opinion is great flaw in technical aspect of the story. This series intend to show the relationship between prinicipal characters become stronger especially after this campaign where there is saying where death brushes tend to brings out the best or worst emotions out of a person.

Seikai no Monshu/Crest of the Stars (1999)

Story & Characters
Here I will review Crest of the Stars also known as Seikai no Monshu to anime fans around the world.

It chronicles the tale of an intergalactic empire known as Abh whom their origins used to be slave workers for early space explorers who rebel and become independent empire on their own as time goes by. Their biological construct uniqueness is an addition of another sensory organ that enabled them to feel their way around in vast space plus their biological life is extended to 200 years to sustain a long journey in harsh space. The hedonistic nature of their creators also implied when the Abhs will never age and all of them is supposedly beautiful humans with blue hair. I will leave to reader's imagination as to what the last purpose for.

The Abhs is not interested to conquer the actual planets itself, but rather they wanted exclusive control of space routes around the planets for space travelling purposes, especially the control of worm gates or called planar gates in this story.

One of the planet colonized by humans, known as Martine is Anglo based culture which recently conquered by the Imperial Abh Empire in the beginning of the story. The leader of the planet was raised into nobility much to the chagrin of the populace and his son is the next on the line, to succeed him as Duke. On the day of him joining the Abh's Star Force, he will meet a person that would forever change his life.

Lafiel, a princess from Abriel clan is a recruit on a frigate who volunteered to pick up heir to Martin dukedom, Jinto from a spaceport. She is proud, strong and can be conceited as sharp contrast to kind, accommodating and patient Jinto. Both of them started on rather interesting place on the fact that Jinto insisted to call her by her personal name which made her very happy as she interprets it as he did not regard her as a royalty to be feared but a common friend that she longs for.

This relationship will bloom further in the background of impending war between the Abh Empire and United Mankind, a group of intergalactic superpowers who is opposed to ways of Abh. The United Mankind, much quite similar to today's United Nations is conglomerate of superpowers who cherish natural human birth and disdained Abh's genetic manipulation, looking for pretext to declare war on Abh.

What make this story remarkable is author's attempt to flesh out the culture of Abh including creation of Baronh, language of the Abhs with complete writing and numerical symbolisms. The background is rich and almost limitless, thanks to adroit writing by Morioka Hiroyuki, novelist of the Seikai series.

The art of the series is quite minimalist, given most of the time is just unfanciful headshots and lots of dialogue between character. However sometimes it has weird angle shots on certain torsos of the Abh, notably Lafiel which I interpret as sexual transistor scenes to relieve the boredom of long talks which occupies the onus of the series.

Background is pretty sufficient for its purpose, battles is good enough to be seen as battles. Every sprite is not wasted on fanciful things, it is just enough and it is there to fulfil the purpose of the story. Character's face is bordering on simplicity especially Lafiel, not too much for my liking but it is enough.

All in all, there is nothing exception on art department


The background music of series hinged heavily on orchestral scores and quiet background as dialogue played a major role in the anime. Some scenes need extra oomph which where this piece of effective music comes in and supplant it as those scene to rely on art alone will be bland and a bit uninspiring. Some scores is bit overused but it is not really a big issue in the 13 episode series.

The opening is evocative of grand epic atmosphere which did real justice to the vastness of space opera story in Seikai no Monshu but unfortunately the ending score is bit off, as it did not really wrap up the series in proper mood.

The OST of the series is not bad but nothing really stands out except for the opening score.

Voice acting in Japanese is very competent as usual and it is quite a joy to see Kawasumi Ayako (Saber from Fate/Stay Night 2006) playing her role as Lafiel/Lamhirh well. She alone carry the show well, complimented by expected skillful voice actings from other actors and actresses.


The fact this anime become one of the most beloved series to many serious anime fans who truly appreciated its sheer complexity despite rather minimalist art and music department, is testimony to it's raw power of good writing, powerful script and convincing characters.

Seikai no Monshu deserves many second viewing as many nuances of story is missed during first time watching it. The story has many layers of complicated character, setting and political implications that fans will be delighted when they have revelation during second viewings.

It is not surprise that many mainstream anime fans give it a wide berth as there is no cool action or fox ninjas in the series but seasoned veteran anime fans will like it as it did not insult viewer's intelligence while presenting the material. Many things is implied and left to interpretation of viewers instead of being spoon fed in entirety. The dialogues is good and carries a big weight so much so that it is the sole difference of it from the rest of forgettable anime series in the market right now.

The stellar cast also did not disappoint as not only the voices suits the character in play, they also interesting by themselves. Seldom there is anime where side characters have received as much attention as the main characters as this one. Illuminating interactions between Admiral Spoor and Lafiel, despite it is being short and simple did illustrate many things in context of Abh culture if viewer willing to take it beyond the surface level of conversation.

This series is worthy introduction into Morioka Hiroyuki's work and it will sit on my DVD shelf as proud as the Abh themselves. Daiselle!

Emerging from dad’s shadow

For the son of a world-famous animator who has faced opposition from even his father, Goro Miyazaki has been remarkably cool about tackling a major project of Studio Ghibli, the animated fantasy feature Gedo Senki – his film debut, writes TOKIKO OBA

Sunday August 20, 2006

GORO Miyazaki has some good reasons to feel under pressure. He’s director of Gedo Senki (Tales from Earthsea), the latest feature from Studio Ghibli, one of the world’s most important animation studios, despite being a complete novice: The movie, based on a best-selling book by Ursula K. Le Guin, marks his film production and directorial debuts. If that isn’t pressure enough, he also has the towering reputation of his father and Ghibli head, Hayao Miyazaki, hanging over him.

To make matters tougher still, the 65-year-old Miyazaki senior initially voiced strong opposition to his son’s involvement in the project. So how has he been dealing with the pressure?

Full article is available here.

It is difficult to have a brillant dad moreso in the same field that you trying to make a living. I have yet to watch Gedo Senki, but so I heard it is pretty faithful to the material.....however no conclusions can be make since the movie is not seen by me so far.

Will comment more on this if I got to watch it.

Tuesday, August 29

Japan's secret epidemic

By Julian Ryall in Tokyo

Monday 31 May 2004, 0:33 Makka Time, 21:33 GMT

"Hikikomori" is not a word that crops up too often in polite society in Japan.

It is a problem that someone else has to deal with; a situation that families think - hope - will not affect them.

The bad news is that an affliction that translates as "social withdrawal", which has only really begun to be recognised in the last decade, is now reaching epidemic proportions.

According to Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, as many as 1.2 million people have fallen victim to an illness that few people, if any, know how to handle.

The outward manifestation that a family is suffering, however, fits a pattern.

Al Jazeera article on hikkimori

Interesting article on hikkimori from one of world most dynamic news group.

Monday, August 28

Anime conquers the world

A book by Philip Brophy taps the peculiar charm of Japanese animation, writes Cefn Ridout

August 16, 2006

ANIME (animated films) and manga comics have long displaced tea ceremonies and Zen as Japan's foremost cultural exports. In 2003, anime accounted for 60 per cent of all broadcast animation worldwide and the industry is projected to become a global entertainment behemoth worth more than 10 trillion yen ($115 billion).

Not bad for what was, barely 15 years ago, primarily a direct-to-video niche market.
What went right? Breakthrough successes such as the television series Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh and feature films such as Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira and Hayao Miyazaki's Oscar-winning Spirited Away tell only part of the story.

Full Article is here

American fiction franchises adopt manga influences

By Wilma Jandoc

It seems like everything's going for that Japanese look these days.

Three well-known series of American fiction get this treatment with Harlequin Romance's Ginger Blossom manga line; graphic novels drawn in Japanese-manga style that bring to life teen detective Nancy Drew, celebrating 75 years of the 18-year-old's exploits; and a "Star Trek" series by various artists and writers that follows the crew of the original USS Enterprise.

All three translate well into manga form, though not without a few flaws.

Full Article is here

I have to admit, Star Trek manga idea did not jive very well with me. It is just strange to combine these 2 concepts together. Really, really strange.

Anime and manga fans get no respect, writes Jen Gerson

Aug. 27, 2006. 01:00 AM

Say what you will about Stephen Harper, Canada will be spared the indignity of an anime-loving head of state.

The people of Taiwan were not so lucky. In 2004, former president Lee Teng-hui dressed up as the stubborn kendo master Heihachi Edajima from a popular Japanese comic book series Sakigake!! Otokojuku. With flowing martial arts robes, bamboo sword and sidekicks in tow, Lee strutted his stuff for publicity pictures.

At this year's Fan Expo Canada lovers of anime and manga, Japanese cartoons and comics respectively, will be out in force. And they'll be eliciting groans from the more established echelons of sci-fi and fantasy geekdom.

"To a lot of people, (anime fans) are on the lower rungs of the nerd ladder," says Dave Alexander, from Rue Morgue, a magazine that showcases the horrific and macabre and also hosts the Expo's Festival of Fear wing. "Closed quarters do not make a good arena for giant props ... when you're walking around in a crowded convention centre and you see a guy with a sword made out of papier-mâché twice the size of his body, it can be pretty annoying."

Full article is here.

Even in Malaysia, anime fans were tend to be viewed with derision and laughter from general public. You can say it is geek discrimination.

Saturday, August 26

Bob Leddy: Japanese culture for Americans

01:00 AM EDT on Saturday, August 19, 2006

Economic power is self-explanatory. So-called soft power applies to a nation's cultural influence beyond its borders. Japan has the world's second-largest economy, behind the United States; its products are part of Americans' daily lives. But its soft power is another matter. Except in some academic circles, Japanese literature, music, and theater (kabuki) are little known in this country.

Apart from karaoke, Japanese cinema has the strongest foothold here. Indeed, Japanese animation (anime) enjoys a near-exalted status in American pop culture. It's been thus since the 1970s, when Astro Boy appeared on our Saturday-morning televisions. The anime director Hayao Miyazaki (sometimes called the Japanese Walt Disney) is a U.S. household name; his 2001 film, Spirited Away, won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Full article is here.

New Straits Time coverage on anime in Malaysia

See: In anime heaven
25 Aug 2006

Finally! Malaysians hankering for Japanese animation now have a whole channel going for them 24/7. But wait, there’s more. DEBRA CHONG gets the lowdown on what’s new on Animax from vice-president Betty Tsui.

GOOD things come to those who wait. But two years is still asking a lot when one’s neighbours keep flaunting it in one’s face.

Originally, Animax was to have launched here in 2004, same as in Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. Unfortunately, said Betty Tsui, the satellite broadcast provider in Malaysia lacked the capacity to support the Japanese animation network back then.

Tsui is the vice-president in charge of programming and production at SPE Networks Asia, a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment and the regional branch handling cable networks Animax and AXN.

No matter, on the stroke of midnight ushering in Merdeka (Aug 31), Astro will begin the long-awaited transmission over Channel 75 at no extra charge, at least until next year.

The delay has worked to Animax’s benefit, and perhaps ours as well. In the two-year interim, the general perception towards J-animation (anime for short) has undergone a significant and positive change.

Full article is here

Ah, finally in my home country something like this is more available than usual.

Friday, August 25

Neon Genesis Evangelion long discussion

"Neon Genesis Evangelion"

Television animation work. Broadcast by 5 networks associated with TV Tokyo Corp. Wednesday 6:30 p.m. October 6,1995 - March 27, 1996. Altogether 26 episodes. Draft, Scenario, Direction, by ANNO Hideaki Produced by GAINAX Ltd.

Basically this is the absurd story of a meaningless battle that takes place while riding on a puzzling machine against an equally puzzling enemy. The scene is the near future of 2015 in the 3rd City of Tokyo which is located at the foot of Mt. Fuji. The beings called "Angel" who were each crowned as Old Testament angels, relentlessly go on the offensive against the 3rd City of Tokyo. The purpose of the offensive and the true identity of the angels are totally unknown; sometimes the angels are giant creatures, sometimes they are big floating pyramids, and sometimes they are computer viruses, and at other times they are circular rings that emit light. "Evangelions" (nicknamed Eva) giant-shaped living weapons, often drive like maniacs, and because they transcend human technology like the Angels, are the only ones known who can oppose the Angels offensive. There are 3 bodies of Eva, and 14 year old children (Shinji, Rei, Asuka) were chosen as exclusive pilots for each Eva. The story develops centered around 4 people; in addition to the 3 kids there is a 29 year old woman named Misato who appears. Each of them has a trauma and not being adept at communicating with others humans, rather than humanity, etc. they consider internal existential questions such as "Why do we do battle with the Angels?, why do we ride Eva?" more imporant. Therefore the production mainly focuses on character psychology.

Full article available here.

I have to say this, if not for this anime hallmark, we won't have modern anime as we know today. Hideaki Anno's vision is disturbing yet compelling.

Anime misconceptions don’t stop its popularity

By Aaron Burkhart - The Northern Light

August 23, 2006

Japanese culture has a large impact on the entertainment industry. Anime sales in the U.S. are over $5 billion annually, according to a 2005 BusinessWeek article, and video game sales are estimated around $7 billion in 2005. Anime and video games are closer to mainstream than ever. As the first generation to grow up with video games and anime, today’s young adults and their children are likely to be much more accepting of these entertainment forms than older ones.

Hollywood is starting to catch on too; movies based on video games (“Silent Hill,” “Doom”) are increasingly common, while big names like James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson all have different anime- or manga-related projects in the works (manga are essentially Japanese graphic novels, which many anime are based on).

While most people are familiar with at least the concept of video games, many don’t know exactly what anime is.

Full article is here

Another discussion on anime impact on arguably most sophisticated consumer market in the world, USA. Misconceptions or not, I suspected that it maybe part of author's bias. Maybe.

Wednesday, August 23

News: Anime fansubbers warned by Bandai

Bandai Entertainment is taking action against illegal fansubs and issued a statement saying that it would be now carefully monitoring the market for creation and distribution of illegal fansubs or other pirated Bandai titles, with emphasis on Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society.

In its statement, Bandai cites that fansubbing licensed anime constitutes as copyright infringement and said that it will “take all measures available to stop the illegal distribution of titles” which include taking people into court and fining charges for the loss of sales if suitable.

“Fansubs, even those not sold for profit, are harmful to our properties and industry overall and we will be watching closely to make sure our rights regarding SSS are not infringed,” said Ken Iyadomi, President of Bandai Entertainment Inc. “We are prepared to take legal action against fansubbers and illegal download and other distribution sites if this notice is ignored,” he added.

This is the first time an anime company has publicly announced a warning and stated that it would take legal action. Bandai Entertainment wants big success from its Ghost in the Shell series, and its not going to let fansubbers cut sales. Be prepared, because whether you like it or not, a time is coming where people will have to start buying their own anime.


Sunday, August 20

Anime and the Acceptance of Robotics

James Matthews

Apocalypse Now

Japan’s fascination with the apocalypse can be seen in many cyber-punk anime —from the nuclear blast in the opening sequence of Akira, the massive alien attacks in Neon Genesis Evangelion, or the apocalyptic, world-destroying war sequences in Final Fantasy. The medium of animation is perfectly suited to the apocalyptic genre, since it has no need for special effects or a large budget to effectively wow the audiences with scenes of mass destruction. Yet, why are the Japanese so intrigued by this concept?

Many believe the answer lies in the fact Japan is the only nation to witness an apocalyptic event between man and technology; namely the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.Interestingly though, the Eastern ideas of the apocalypse are radically different to the wholesale and exaggerated destruction of the world prevalent in Western religious texts. While Christian views of the apocalypse depict the final struggle between good and evil, punishment for the wicked and ascent to heaven for the good, neither traditional Buddhism nor Shintoism share these or any analogous beliefs.

Full article can be seen here.

Anime: A New Art Form, Not a Childish Hobby

What it Is, What it Isn't

By Trevor Stevens
Aug 18 2006 04:38PM

Anime lovers are called Otaku, which is western for ‘freak’ or Japanese for ‘fan.’ Those that enjoy anime are shoved into that category for no reason aside from the fact that they like cartoon stories. They are seen as childish, immature, and having no real life. This simply isn’t true. There are many reasons that anime is a legitimate art form and “otaku” should be viewed as no different from people who love action movies or love stories..


Saturday, August 19

Anime draws a crowd, flocking to a land of make believe

Deborah Cameron, Tokyo
August 17, 2006

BY THE tens of thousands they queued, ascended to an Everest in lifts, and arrived, panting, at a pinnacle of popular culture.

It is Comiket, the world's largest market and expo for comics and cartoons, held on the roof of a Tokyo convention centre. Here a grand passion of the Japanese male stands bared.

Comiket goes beyond comics, or anime, as cartoons are called in Japan. It is the most important pilgrimage of the year to the men who descend on the event to buy limited-edition DVDs, collect new games, buy plastic miniature figures, or collect an autograph from a voice actor.


Tens of thousands flock to Comiket

Manga lovers flocked in their tens of thousands over the weekend to Tokyo's Big Sight arena in Minato-ku's Odaiba for Comic Market 70.

While the upper hall at "Comiket" played host to the professional artists, merchandising and game companies' booths, the larger market was held in the two giant exhibition halls. Here, hundreds of amateur manga artists displayed their works to the public.

"I was shocked at how huge it is," said Jamal Rorie, a first-time visitor to Comiket from the United States. "I've been to a few conventions at home, but it easily dwarfs anything we have in the U.S."

Many also braved the sweltering heat to visit the Cosplay Plaza on the upper terraces, where photographers queued up to shout requests for poses at the mostly-female cosplayers.

The event finished with an unexpected bang on Sunday as fireworks lit up Tokyo Bay. They had been previously scheduled for Saturday night, but were postponed due to thunderstorms. (By Roger Hutchings)

August 15, 2006


Thursday, August 17

Wired On Doujinshi, The Yaoi Kind

By Jennifer Granick
02:00 AM Aug, 16, 2006

Last weekend saw me squeezing through the crowded aisles of the Mandarake comic store in Tokyo's Higashi-Ikebukuro neighborhood on a quest for a Star Wars comic. Specifically, I was looking for fan-created manga revealing the untold love story between C-3P0 and R2-D2.

I didn't find the 'droid porn I was looking for (though I'm sure it exists), but I did find a romance between Harry Potter and Malfoy, and several shelves of steamy Aragorn x Boromir action.

This is the world of doujinshi, or self-published fan fiction -- a part of a healthy Japanese visual arts scene based on the appropriation and reuse of commercial characters. The booming sub-genre of yaoi (appropriately pronounced "yowie!"), features stories about the homoerotic relationships between two popular male characters in anime, manga and even Western films. The yaoi genre is both commercially and fan-produced.

That it not only exists but thrives is a testament to Japan's relaxed attitudes on copyright, which have facilitated a flowering of both creative and commercial activity. American media companies, take note.

Higashi-Ikebukoro is one of Tokyo's outermost neighborhoods, but it's become a destination for female manga fans because the major manga store branches there specially stock works written by and for women. These specialty shops are six-, seven- and eight-story buildings filled from top to bottom with commercial and doujinshi manga, and tie-in products like figurines, trading cards and stationery. This area has become known as "Otome Road," the female answer to Tokyo's geek-centric Akihabara district.


Wednesday, August 16

The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi (2006)

Now let's talk about another event anime of the year, The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. This anime first serialized in novels by Nagaru Tanigawa then very popular anime in middle of 2006 took the world of anime fandom by storm. Why and how it become so instantly appealing to viewers is matter of academic conjecture but it can summarize that few popular anime memes that used by it is very effective. First high proportion of female characters with stereotypes which is instantly recognizable to anime fans. Haruhi is a tsundere stock character, Yuki is silent, Rei Ayanami (Evangelion) type of mold and Mikuru the busty doormat girl. Second, typical sailor school uniform with high cut skirt then followed by various costumes from bunny girl suit to maid. Third, the anime even caters to fangirls and yaoi in shape of Itsuki the ever smiling male student. Four, the implied romantic between all principle players in the story, even Itsuki-Kyon angle. With all these popular stock characters in play, it is a good start for successful anime hook for audience. Then the story throws in most often used genre in this setting, from time traveler to alien-human interaction having a discourse with things like for example a space battle scenario ( a nod to Legend of Galactic Heroes), murder mystery (another tribute to Detective Conan or Case Closed) and sports anime. On top of that, a brilliant (or retarded, depending on your view) scrambled order of episodes to catch viewer's attention to find out more and more about the anime. It is a clever gimmick and admittedly it adds a strange charm to the otherwise already well planned anime. But what gives the anime strongest charm is inclusion of the very normal and down-to-earth Kyon who is doing fourth wall narration and voice of reason while reacting to various antics of the characters around him especially Haruhi.

This anime is about a normal student which only known as Kyon to audiences ( so audiences can insert their own name I suspected) encounter with 4 really strange people in his school. 3 very beautiful girls with different personalities and 1 handsome pleasant boy entered his life with a force of tidal wave and take Kyon to unwitting places. Haruhi is center of his roller coaster ride, an impetuous and bored female classmate. She is claimed by other 3 people that she is holding key to human singularity as she has ability to create reality as she pleased. When you have impetuous plus bored plus godlike ability, something funky will definitely happen. Which it did. For 14 episodes, viewers are subjected to Kyon's often exasperation of her antics and his discussion what is reality or not with out-of-the-world factors weighing on his mind in the process. Story wise the anime is fairly mundane but what makes it noticeable is scrambled ordering of episodes and no holes barred narration from Kyon which gives this anime an unique flavour.

Rating 8


Now I only will comment on one scene of the anime which clinched my attention very well. The concert. Yes, the scene where Haruhi has to stand in for absent members of band in school festival is a highlight for me. If viewers look carefully, Haruhi hair become progressively wet from sweat of singing and her mouth movement is accurate to the lyrics of the song. Not to mention the guitar play is largely in sync with the song. This is a very impressive set piece scene by itself and deserve many viewing for sheer details of the art mastery. Bravo Kyoto Animation.

Other than that, the anime art is sufficient to convey what it needs to convey.

Rating 8


Haruhi insert songs used in concert scene are very catchy with “God Knows” and “Lost My Music” by Hiyano Aya the voice actress of Haruhi. The OP is standard whereas the ED “Hare Hare Yukai” is enhanced by infectious dance choreography by characters of the anime. The BGM of the anime is sufficient to accompany the mood of the show, not overwhelming it or underwhelm by it. The highlight of anime sound department is the insert songs by Hiyano Aya which quite talented and unique.

The Japanese voice acting of the series are excellent, each characters represented by voice actors and actresses who suitable for the role. Especially Aya Hirano who has a commanding presence in this aspect, her characterization of Haruhi is spot on and voice of Kyon also complimented her audacious aspect in the anime.

Rating 7


This anime ability to be different from other animes of the season due to unsual setting and technical mastery of the Kyoto Animation. The anime also make sure of its success by using all popular character stock to catch anime fans attention and popular memes like bunny girl costume to make anime fans happy. However, the anime decided to be episodic madness and did not really try to address the impasse between Haruhi and Kyon can frustating to some viewers. Someone complained that anime resolution is a pathetic ponytail hair which really did not push the story anywhere at all. As I mentioned in my comment, the anime appeal is Haruhi's impasse and inability to solve her issues then she decided to make her environment responsible for her dissatisfaction of her life. Perhaps some people who complained in this manner miss the point of the anime. Haruhi never meant to have any conclusion and her constant rampage with her issues is crux of the anime.

Perhaps not.

This anime deserve a viewing for standalone comedies and subtle brain teaser but any expectation of it have any conclusion should be cautioned as it did not really go in that direction. As for me, this anime has a fascinating discussion on human ascendancy and singularity; a rather humorous debate on order versus chaos, nature of man's nothingness and alienation, the absurdity of humanity and why are we here type of dilemma posed by Haruhi herself. It is decidedly non-serious in look but actually the topic discussed here is very pertinent and personal indeed.

The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi is unusual anime but a ride worth to enjoy at least once.

Rating 7

Monday, August 14

Why Haruhi is so popular?

Haruhi main strength is her impasse and many fans love to see her on this constant state of impasse. Once she resolved or move forward in her life, it will not be "Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi". Her total obliviousness to human emotions also adds to the appeal too for most people.

That is why some people disliked the anime despite the appeal, it did not really progressed in terms of character development. You can say most of anime fans are self indulgent and Haruhi hits on that spot so it becomes the hottest anime around. The self indulgence flag is proudly hoisted by Haruhi and SOS Brigade like the Marines in Iwojima Mount Suribachi.

That is how I see it.

The review on this anime soon.

Saturday, August 12

Hikikomori/Otaku: Japans Latest Out-Group

Creating Social outcasts to construct a national self-identity

Ron Adams


Hikikomori and otaku are today’s most prominent social problems.

Hikikomori refers to the recent state of middle and high school students who drop out of school, and withdraw completely from society. Otaku are the deeply obsessed fans of a particular subject who commit their free time (and sometimes lives) to the complete memorization of their obsession.

In both cases these groups are extreme exaggerations of common Japanese social tendencies. The media in Japan is currently attacking these groups as harbingers of social chaos, and portrays them as a new group of outcasts who will destroy society (at least kill many people). This portrayal is not only accepted by the media, but by the society as well. History has shown the Japanese social tendency to create outcast groups, isolate them, and then blame current social problems on that group. These groups are then used as examples of “the other”, a group that is in opposition to the main Japanese society. This “other” is used to create a national and cultural identity by comparing it in opposition to the norm.

What defines a person as Japanese? If you asked a Japanese person today that same question, they would have an easy time answering that question with a quick “A Japanese person is a person from Japan.” This is a good answer, but what about people of foreign heritage born in Japan, such as Koreans, or children born from American migrant workers. If you want to be Japanese, you must look, speak, act, and most importantly be by-blood,

“In short, while it is possible-though not particularly easy-for a foreigner to acquire Japanese citizenship,it is not possible for an immigrant or the children of immigrants to “become Japanese” the way such people can “become American.” The way you get to be Japanese is the same way you get to be Zulu or Shona in Africa: you have to be born into the tribe. For that is what the people of Japan-or at least more than 97 percent of them-really are: members of a single great tribe united not just by common citizenship or common language but by common bloodlines, common racial memory and common tribal codes, so of which stretch back into prehistory.” (Christopher, Robert C., 51)

Japanese society distinguishes itself from other cultures based on in-groups and out-groups. The groups that are not Japanese, not local, and different are considered the out-groups. Local groups, family groups, and traditional groups are considered Japanese. To define oneself as Japanese you must simply define yourself as a member of the in-group, and others as members of the out-group. This phenomenon has created an unconscious system of creating out-groups with each generation in order to achieve national self-identity.

This very good read available in this link. A sobering read on subculture of anime fandom.

Friday, August 11

Some interesting tidbits.


Animax Expands Reach in Hong Kong

HONG KONG, August 10: Sony Pictures Television International’s anime channel Animax has moved to the basic tier on Hong Kong Cable TV after having been an a la carte offering on the platform.

Animax on Cable TV’s basic tier will continue to provide a customized feed, offering both Cantonese dubbing and the original Japanese language for selected programs. Upcoming highlights include Paradise Kiss, Blood+ and Girl From Hell.


Anime Magic

David Jenkins reaches beyond the Adults Only aisle to delve into the world of Japanese Animation.

David Jenkins | Aug 10 2006

Walk into any record shop in London and you’ll find: the rack holding the Japanese animation DVDs (or 'anime' to those in the know) – more often than not be located opposite or adjacent to the Adults Only section. Ask managers why this is and they'll give you a 'beats me?' shrug while swiftly alerting the store detectives to your presence. So how has anime acquired a reputation which places it on a par with a porn? To redress the balance, the NFT are putting on a season of screenings in order to place the genre in a higher-brow light.

The rest of article is here.

Wednesday, August 9

Old article on word of otaku.

Anime Otaku:
Japanese Animation Fans Outside Japan

Annalee Newitz

Bad Subjects, Issue # 13, April 1994

In Japan, the term otaku is a kind of insult; it refers to a person who is so involved with a particular type of fan subculture that he or she becomes obsessed, even insane. One way otaku gets translated into English is with the somewhat derogatory term 'fanboy.'

In America, fans of Japanese animation often call themselves otaku with pride, although they are quick to point out that the term is, in fact, insulting.Otaku gets
appended to any number of fan subculture categories to indicate one's allegiance to them. For example, a motorcycle fan would be 'motorcycle otaku,' and fans of Japanese animation -- known as anime -- would refer to themselves as 'anime otaku.'

This form of self-identification among (largely American) fans of Japanese animation tells us something about what it means to consume anime outside Japan: in order to affiliate themselves with anime fan culture, American fans are calling themselves by a name the Japanese use as an insult.

The entire aticle can be seen here.

On the Edge of Spaces: Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell , and Hong Kong's Cityscape


Sf films such as Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell take a deep interest in the Hong Kong urbanscape at the turn of the century. With its history of dislocation, migration, and marginality in its colonial days, Hong Kong emerges as a model city for the sf genre of "future noir"; its overcrowded, disjunctive cityscape provides a perfect setting for multiculturalism in a postmodern context. This article takes readers on a guided tour of a unique shopping mall at the hub of Hong Kong urbanscape, Times Square, as an illustration of how we can read out of it an "urban secret located at the intersection" of sf and the postmodern.

The whole article can be read here

Warchowski Bros On Speed Racer, Live action adaptation

The Wachowski siblings proposed live-action adaptation of Japanese anime classic "Speed Racer" is now on the starting line awaiting the greenlight at Warner Bros. reports Production Weekly.

The production has set up shop on the Burbank lot, taking over the offices that were home to Bryan Singer's now defunct "Logan's Run" remake. The move comes two years after the film was first proposed by actor Vince Vaughn who confirmed last month he still remains committed to the project.

The film would see Vaughn play Racer X, the long-lost but protective brother of the title character who is a young driver that travels from race to race with his family.


Sunday, August 6

China, Japan youth key to conflict or conciliation

By Linda Sieg | July 29, 2006

BEIJING (Reuters) - When Jia Xiaopeng was born, the Sino-Japanese war had been over for nearly 40 years.Still, the Chinese youth thinks it's too soon for painful memories of Japan's 1937-1945 invasion and occupation of parts of his homeland to fade.

"We cannot easily resolve issues relating to the war," said Jia, 23, a recent graduate of Tsinghua University in Beijing who is an avid fan of Japanese "manga" comics and has studied the Japanese language for four years.

"History is something that we cannot forget."

Japanese student Akimitsu Shioya sees things differently.

"Japan gave aid to China after the war, so the problem ought to be settled," said the 20-year-old freshman, who has just begun studying Chinese at Hosei University near Tokyo.

Such differing views -- and the mutual antipathy that often accompanies them -- are fueling concerns that the current chill in relations between China and Japan will worsen as the younger generations in the two neighboring Asian nations grow up.

"Among Japanese youth, many don't have good feelings toward China. And it's the same in China," said Akihiro Oshima, an ethnic Chinese who has taken the unusual step of acquiring Japanese citizenship and who does business in both countries.

"The question for the future is, how can the younger generation get along?" Oshima said in an interview at his computer graphics company's office in Beijing.

Ties between the two countries, never easy, grew frigid after Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi took office in 2001 and began visiting Toyko's Yasukuni Shrine, where Japanese World War Two leaders convicted as war criminals are honored along with war dead.The tensions erupted in April 2005, when tens of thousands of Chinese protested against Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council and approval of a Japanese school history text that critics say whitewashes Tokyo's wartime atrocities.Those sometimes violent protests, like Chinese fans' harsh booing and violence after Japan beat host China to win the Asian Cup soccer tournament in 2004, shocked many Japanese.

"At that time, I really didn't like the Chinese," Shioya said of his feelings after the soccer tournament.

"It wasn't sportsmanlike and I had a very bad image."

Like many of his fellow Japanese, Shioya blames China for fostering anti-Japanese sentiment through its "patriotic education" to help legitimize the Communist Party's rule.

"I think anti-Japanese education has a big impact," he said.

The rest of article can be seen here.

Saturday, August 5

Speech by Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Aso in Hollywood Digital University

28 April 2006

On the Entry into Force of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

I've thought for some time that I would like to come to Digital Hollywood University. I plan to touch on a number of topics concerning the new cultural diplomacy that Japan is now pursuing, and for that I have to say that I couldn't have found a better place to present my thoughts. I want to extend my thanks to all the people here at the school who have made great efforts to provide such a setting and welcome me today.
In the area of cultural diplomacy, we've had one very good thing happen recently. A new international convention has just entered into force, one which Japan has taken the lead in promoting over the years.

The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was adopted in 2003 at the urging of UNESCO. Recently the number of signatories reached the required 30-nation mark, bringing about its entry into force on April 20.
As you can imagine from the name, this Convention promotes at a global level safeguards very similar to a framework already existing in Japan, through which our intangible cultural heritage and our living national treasures have been protected.
For decades since the end of World War II, Japan has been protecting the intangibles of skills, techniques, and master craftsmen themselves, which must exist before any tangibles can be created. In this way it has protected heritage such as Joruri puppet theater and Bizen ware. And now, the goal is to get those same protections in place around the globe.
Much of the intangible cultural heritage in need of safeguarding, such as traditional performing arts and other such skills, can be found in Asia or in developing nations. We can say that in looking to preserve those valuable assets, this new Convention found some significant points of inspiration from Japan's ideas on this issue.
Japan has been, for this to happen, an active partner of UNESCO since 1993, and there have been numerous areas in which Japan has taken the lead to produce positive results, such as in creating a map of the languages of the world which are in danger of dying out.
Now we have protections in the form of a convention, with these safeguards existing in the form of formal rules governing international society. This particular form of Japan's cultural diplomacy may indeed be “intangible,” but it represents a tremendous contribution to the world, in my opinion.

The rest of speech is here. Interesting read about Japanese Minister thinks of cultural imports of Japan and how it can promote Japan to the world.

Friday, August 4

Manga could mean difference between life and death for notorious curry poisoner

One of Japan's most heinous crimes is making headlines again, years later, as doubt is cast on the woman convicted of committing it, according to Shukan Asahi (8/4).

Eight years ago, insurance saleswoman Masumi Hayashi shocked Japan when she poured arsenic into a large pot of curry being served to those attending a neighborhood festival in Wakayama.

Of those who ate the deadly dish, eight died and another 63 fell violently ill, earning Hayashi a trip to Death Row, where she fights an appeal with the Supreme Court to overturn her conviction as she awaits her turn for the gallows.

But "Go Kinjo Zankoku Jikenbo (Cruel Neighborhood Crime Files)," a manga that went on sale earlier this year, has given the convicted murderess unexpected hope of cheating the hangman.

Its account of the killings is told from the eyes of a woman who was a schoolgirl at the time of the incident. The schoolgirl says she saw Hayashi pour a cup of poison into the curry. But, at a memorial for victims held last year, the now-grown woman admits that she made up her statement, deciding to speak out to gain attention.

Being a manga, people would normally treat its claims with a grain of salt. But Hayashi's death sentence -- handed down by the Wakayama District Court and upheld by the Osaka High Court -- came after crucial testimony was given by, you guessed it, a schoolgirl who claimed to have seen Hayashi acting suspiciously around the curry that turned out to be poisoned.

"The manga also has really detailed pictures of people from the area who were never shown on TV," a resident of the Wakayama neighborhood where the killings occurred tells Shukan Asahi. "And there was plenty of new information (in the manga) that hasn't been reported before."

These doubts have raised thoughts about something most would regard as unthinkable.

"If what's being said in the manga is true," one resident says, "then Masumi might be innocent."

Takeshobo, publishers of "Cruel Neighborhood Crime Files," vehemently reject any suggestions that the manga may influence Hayashi's case.

"It's basically fiction," a Takeshobo spokesman tells Shukan Asahi. "There are all sorts of explanations about what really happened back then and the author has done nothing more than pick up on one of them."

But Hayashi's lawyers are frantically trying to save their client and look like they're clutching at any straw that comes their way.

"We're looking closely at (the manga)," one of the lawyers tells Shukan Asahi. "It may help with our appeal against the sentence." (By Ryann Connell)

August 1, 2006


Zeon Attack!

By Brad Stone
Updated: 1:09 p.m. ET July 26, 2006

Japan's game arcades are far more extravagant and addictive than those in America. Is that a good thing for a country with a youth employment problem?

July 25, 2006 - On a rainy night last week in a Tokyo arcade, a twentysomething teacher who wishes to be known as Momo saved the world from the evil forces of the Principality of Zeon. He was playing a videogame called Mobile Space 0079. It's based on the enduringly popular Japanese anime television series, in which young soldiers wage space combat in giant robot suits. You may have seen "Gundam Wing" during a failed run a few years ago on the Cartoon Network. In Japan, it practically passes for religion, with conventions, extensive toy lines and libraries of manga comic books. Now it's spawned a popular, networked, multiplayer arcade game.

As the Zeon forces gather, Momo arranges a handful of trading cards (specially purchased for the game) on the flat, magnetic surface of his machine. He physically manipulates the cards to control his robot and weapons on the screen. Firing a few missiles, he deftly defeats the Zeon threat, and adds yet another win to a remarkable history of 585 victories. At about $2 a game, Momo estimates he's spent $2,000 in the last six months. But it's worth it. "The more you win, the more experience and credibility you gain among other Gundam fans for being an old hand," he says.

Welcome to the arcades of Tokyo. In Asia and particularly Japan, video game rooms not only live, but thrive. There are 9,500 arcades in the country with more than 445,000 game machines made by Japanese companies like Namco and Capcom, says Masumi Akagi, publisher of Japan's Game Publisher magazine. In the U.S. of course, the story is much different—arcades are a rapidly dying breed with only about 3,000 in operation down from 10,000 a decade ago. Though the popularity of home video systems like the PlayStation contributed to the decline, Akagi says that execs at U.S. companies like Midway and Atari simply couldn't see the future in arcades and "abandoned the coin-operated business."

Hopping from arcade to arcade in the neon-lit Shibuya district was something of a homecoming for me. I grew up on Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Centipede. Though I can't grasp the Japanese way of counting, I still remember the precise way to defeat Bald Bull in the old boxing game Punch Out. Those old-school games are nowhere to be seen in Japan today. The modern arcade is an exotic, sensory-overload, nearly impenetrable to foreigners. It is not just a palace of entertainment, but a collection of obsessive subcultures.

The rest of article is here

GONZO/Animax Deal

GONZO/Animax Deal
July 13th, 2006 1:37 PM by Aaron H. Bynum

Anime Expansion

In recent anime news, digital animation production group GONZO Studios has partnered with cable and satellite television channel Animax Asia as a source of distributing their titles to a broader, fresher demographic. GONZO, known for their fancy rendering and at times surprisingly dynamic characters; and Animax, owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, known as the first twenty-four seven Japanese animation only channel, will be granting select anime fans throughout Asia even more of a privilege. Animax reaches some 25 million households throughout Asia.

Recent domestic releases of GONZO Studios productions include the outstanding character drama The Count of Monte Cristo, the picturesque sci-fi epic Blue Submarine No. 6, as well as the highly recommended adventure Last Exile. The long-term deal to roll out animated productions by the company shortly after their initial release in Japan will offer the production group exposure on what may be a much more satisfying venue than ever before. Rolling out the output deal is the vampire anime Trinity Blood (scheduled for release later this year in the US from FUNimation Ent.), which premiered first and exclusively in Hong Kong on June 1st 2006. Trinity Blood, is broadcast on Animax every Thursday at 10:00 pm.

Arthur Smith, president of GDH K.K. International, which owns GONZO, commented, "Viewers in Asia will see a lot more of GONZO. GONZO hopes to become a really well-known brand among anime fans and the mainstream audience. We believe that working with a great partner like Animax will help us achieve this."

About Animax Asia: Launched on January 1st, 2004, Animax Asia is the first 24-hour cable and satellite TV channel exclusively dedicated to Japanese animation (anime) programming, featuring the most engaging and cutting edge programs from top animation studios and producers in Japan. Animax Asia is broadcast region-wide from Singapore via five dedicated, highly customized services for Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Philippines. Animax Asia is a Sony Pictures Ent. company. More information about Animax Asia and its program lineup can be found at,,, and


FUNimation Picks Up Robotech Movie

Navarre Corp.’s FUNimation Ent. has acquired home video, broadcast and theatrical rights to the feature film Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles from Harmony Gold. The new flick is a continuation of the popular 1980s series, which left fans with a cliffhanger nore than 20 years ago.

“Robotech is the series that introduced an entire generation to anime," says Gen Fukunaga, president and CEO of FUNimation. "FUNimation is very excited to be part of the team that will bring expectant fans the ending they have been waiting for in Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles."

Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles is directed by Tommy Yune, who worked on visual effects for the original TV series and produced the video games Robotech: Battlecry, Robotech: The Macross Saga and Robotech: Invasion. In the film, Scott Bernard, Vince Grant and a host of other characters from the series fight to end a decades-long struggle against an enigmatic alien race known as the Invid. However, the mysterious disappearance of the legendary Admiral Hunter will unfold in a treacherous mystery that could tear apart our young heroes and threaten their very survival. Mark Hamill (Star Wars, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm) and Chase Masterson (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Manticore) lend their voices to the production.

According to FUNimation, Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles will give the franchise an updated the look by incorporating CG graphics with the classic anime style. FUNimation plans to release the movie on DVD on Nov. 21.


Wednesday, August 2

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 1st Gig Review

Story & Characters

This is my 3rd review on the franchise, namely Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, animated TV series started in 2002 and end its run in 2003.

Set in not too far dsytopian future of Japan, as outlined in politically heavy manga series by famous artist Masamune Shirow where technology has reach the stage where full replacement of human body is made possible by cyborg technology and more remarkably, the ability to retain human mind and consciousness in artificial brain which also can be hooked to cyberspace, directly via a port at back of the neck.

This anime occurs in parallel story within the universe, this series assumed Major Kusanagi is still around as separate and unique person working for Public Security no 9, an organization which is para-military and specializes within legal definition of permissible law, all in interest of national security of Japan. Led by bureaucrat master and stern moralist Aramaki, it is a micro organization which is meant to be backhand option for Japan leadership to get results semi legally or below that.

The focus here is on seemingly unconnected issue of corruption in highest echelon of government and civil disobedience campaign by a super hacker known as Laughing Man because he uses a smiley as disguise while conveying his message, remote hacking brains of high level officials in order to do so. All episodes are meant to be unified into single encompassing story but yet able to stand on its own hence the secondary title Stand Alone Complex. Unlike the lonely Puppet Master 2501 or mercenary Kim, Laughing Man is driven by justice and he is morally outraged by public complicity regarding a disease caused by high technology usage called the Murai Syndrome.

Section 9 got a whiff of him and at first decided to hunt him down but as their investigation gets deeper, they come close to gnawing corruption within the government. As the time runs out for the hacker, the government and even seemingly invincible Section 9, will justice prevails? Or condemned to be buried in official secrecy with Section 9 and Laughing Man as collateral?

Characters is basically the same from the movie adaptation, bisexually headstrong Major, smug but bitter Bateau or Batou, steadfast, idealistic Togusa and fatherly Aramaki plus host of minor characters like the mysterious sniper and a wise hacker. Not forgetting too, as clutch of comic relief comes in 9 AI mini tanks known collectively as Tachikoma. Their insatiable and childlike curiousity serves as amusement but has some very thought provoking dialogues to reflect their growing development of acquiring sense of self. However their development can cause them to be liability as primary weapon system as outlined in one of the important episode later on. Perhaps this is a way the creators of this series trying to insert humor since the humanoids in the narrative is too grim and cynical to be genuinely funny in nature.

10 (excellent)

Visually not as stunning and poetic as the 2 movies but nevertheless considering for TV series it is on high production value. Shown bi monthly for purposes of retaining consistent quality, the art is smooth, pleasing yet dark enough to induce the mood suitable for the story in progress. However for those who preferred the movie art established by first Ghost in the Shell movie in 1995, they might find the character design is too toned down and not strong enough to convey sense of artificiality as they are androids. Background is well done and there is little or no looping animation which reflects the high quality production.

Machinery is detailed enough, which highlighted by the AI tanks and tilt rotor primary dropship used by Section 9. Computer animation is used liberally but not to the point of overwhelming the traditional cell art like common issue with series from GONZO studio.

But in all fairness, the art in the series is better than most anime TV series out there and it is certainly not too shabby even compared to its movie cousin vis- a -vis.

8 (good)

The soundtrack of the series fits the mood of the narrative power. Opening song, Inner Universe is very unique as it is sang in Russian which I felt appropriate as Russian language is very melodious and beautiful plus it is an entirely foreign tongue, reinforces the alienation of self from other which is the series underlying concept.

The OST is subtle, not too intrusive on the story progress. However, some scenes can benefit from stronger presence of background music for transitional from one scene to another scene. The ending theme is not bad, but there is nothing to shout about it.

Voice acting in Japanese is very professional, generally reflected the character well. Something about the voice acting of Japanese separates them from US or any other country is their level of training and dedication to make the character sound right. In this series, it is even more so since it is a serious series to begin with. A normal cutesy voice has no place in this series for humans but Tachikoma relish with cutesy voice somehow did not look out of place since they are not humans. Interesting dichotomy yes?

7 (above average)

Originally meant to be 26 episode anime series, the ratings is strong enough for investors to plunk in more money for second series, namely Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Second Gig which just recently concluded its run in Japanese TV. This speaks volume about popularity of the franchise and this series did not disappoint at all. Delightfully deep and serious for discerning viewer, it has enough multilayered symbolisms to chew on and digest. Sophisticated and generally impatient for those who did not grasp it, the anime rushes into story while beguiling more intelligent viewer with well spun tale.

The story drew heavily from real life examples of Japanese symbiotic political economy corruption tie in like Recruit Scandal and Toshiba illegal technology transfer. Political activist like Laughing Man and bureaucrat incognito force like Section 9 is foil to this malaise that is affecting the Japanese society where corruption is so deep rooted that sometimes it looks impossible to be taken down. The story explored this theme and tries bravely to answer in acceptable manner. Sometimes the morality is blurred between pragmatic necessity and social justice. Perhaps this is real intention of the series in the first place.

Some episodes introducing characters in play and some episodes are in continuity, leading to the ultimate story arc, which is resolution of Laughing Man mystery. As mentioned earlier, each episode meant to be single story on its own except for the last few. The humor factor is an exclusive domain of the Tachikomas AI tanks with some penetrating insight into things with quotes like "I think God is zero!"

The pacing is much more fluid and quicker than the movies which are criticized as being too plodding and too infused with personal philosophy which alienated the audience. As secondary title suggested, it is meant to be concluded in one episode as much as possible thus, expanding more on the universe. For example we now knew that 2 World Wars has erupted and USA is a democratic imperialist like ancient Athens, which helps to shape as to why the political decision is as it is. Shirow's original vision is decidedly political and the series paid homage to it in spades.

All in all, this is one exceptional series of the great franchise and I will not hesitate to acquire the DVDs of it.

9 (very good)

Popularity of classes in cartooning and anime reflect a national interest in the genre

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Courier-Post Staff

In a Merchantville studio off Maple Avenue, half a dozen young students huddle over stick figures they hope to bring to life.

"In time, you add shapes of the character," said Mike Gorostiza, an instructor of the cartooning and anime class at Parsons Center for the Arts. "You articulate, and add eyes and nose and sometimes you put in expressions."

Students sketch circles, where hands, feet, joints and muscles will eventually go. Sharp lines form trapezoids, an upper one for the torso, a lower one for the trunk. It's a blueprint.

"Remember, don't make these stick figures too dark," advised Gorostiza, who lives in Delran. "They're eventually going to be erased. They're a template for the character."

In just a few days, students will create pictures and stories, two-frame cartoons showing a moment in time: a man falling, plop!, in the water, a couple under an umbrella hit by lightning -- and then warmed by a burst of sunlight.

Local interest in cartooning reflects a national trend -- comics as a hot property.

Like a ravenous superhero, cartoons, comic books and animation have taken a bite out of the cultural landscape.

Children grow up tuned into The Cartoon Network, watching Spider-man and Superman at the multiplex and playing video games starring animated figures.

Recently, USA Today reported on a new DVD, The Transformers: The Movie 20th Anniversary Special Edition. Also new is Who Wants To Be A Superhero, a SciFi reality show in which participants dress up in costumes and try to exhibit superhero character traits, like courage. The winner gets to be featured in a Stan Lee comic book.

The article can be seen here.