With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Friday, December 26, 2008

ACF 197: "The Sky Crawlers" reviewed

All images (c) Stage 6 Films / Production I.G.

The Sky Crawlers / Sukai kurora
Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Japan, 2008, animated, 121 min.

Two weeks ago, on Friday, December 12th, 2008, I had the joy of seeing the New York premiere of The Sky Crawlers, the newest animation from master director Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater. There didn't seem to be an empty seat in this terrific venue for the 7:00 show, which I attended, and there was a big line waiting for the other screening that night. So it seems that two full, or nearly full, houses got to enjoy one helluva terrific film.

Base Commander Suito (l) and pilot Yuichi


The Sky Crawlers is based on a series of five books by MORI Hiroshi, who is well known for his mystery novels. (Here I've written his name as I understand he insists it be done, family name first and all-in-caps.) In an alternate reality, war as we know it has been replaced by corporate-sponsored combat between rival air forces. The pilots are known as Kildren, adolescent youths who never age and who seem to exist only to engage in combat.

I've been interested in aviation since elementary school and have seen a lot of films related to flight and air combat. The aerial scenes and dogfights in this film are terrific, all the more amazing because they're animated.

The story's central character is Yuichi and we meet him as he is assigned to a new base and plane. The base commander is Suito, another Kildren, and a rather strange, intimate relationship develops between the two of them. Yuichi also develops another relationship with a prostitute, a normal human; she and one of her co-workers are kind of fighter pilot groupies.

The attention to detail in the film is incredible, though not surprising since Oshii is directing. As the opening credits are ending, the camera's viewpoint is from under the nose of a plane coming in for a landing. Between the camera and the ground are letters forming the credits for the director.

The credit letters cast shadows on the ground, and the shadows actually become larger as the plane comes closer to the ground, just as they would if they were real objects. And during a dogfight early in the film, bullet casings can be seen coming out of the wing machine guns of a fighter! (See the picture at the top of this post.)

Two of my favorite young Japanese actresses provide character voices for the film. Rinko Kikuchi (Funky Forest: The First Contact and Babel) does that of base commander Suito Kusanagi. Chiaki Kuriyama (Kill Bill: Vol.1 and Exte: Hair Extensions) provides the voice for Mitsuya. (I believe that's the prostitute Yuichi hooks up with, but I'm not positive.)

In The Sky Crawlers, Oshii has created not only another visually stunning animation, but one that poses a number of intriguing questions about youth, memory, and the difficulties in forging connections, whether one is a kildren or a normal human.

ACF rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars. A must-see for anime´fans, and a should-see for everyone else.

Links:
The Sky Crawlers @ YouTube.
Mamoru Oshii @ YouTube.

(I came across these convenient links at JapanSugoi, an interesting website devoted to "Everything Cool about Japan.")

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

ACF 196: VIZ Media & Warner in distribution deal

VIZ Media and Warner Home Video Forge Distribution Alliance

Hit Japanese Animated Properties Include

NARUTO, BLEACH, DEATH NOTE, INUYASHA, POKÉMON And Others

Earlier this month, VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) and Warner Home Video (WHV) announced that they had reached agreement for the home entertainment distribution in the United States and Mexico of new and catalog DVD releases from VIZ Media. The announcement was jointly made by Hidemi Fukuhara, President and CEO of VIZ Media and Jeff Brown, WHV Executive Vice President and General Manager, TV, Family and Animation.

The new arrangement should have a positive impact on the districution and availability of numerous popular titles. Since this is probably of interest to many of you anime´ fans out there, here's the info from the press release:

Effective April 1, 2009, WHV will be the exclusive home entertainment distributor for new and catalog DVD content based on well-known franchises such as NARUTO, BLEACH, DEATH NOTE and INUYASHA as well as the POKÉMON animated television series and catalog features. The first new DVD releases from VIZ Media and WHV are scheduled to be NARUTO Uncut Box Set 13, NARUTO Uncut Box Set 13 Special Edition

VIZ Media is one of the leading purveyors of Japanese animated content (anime) and manga (graphic novel) publishing in North America. VIZ Media is one of the largest U.S. studios in the non-theatrical anime DVD segment and has played a major role in helping anime gain widespread mainstream popularity.

A leader in the video distribution industry, over the years WHV has successfully signed agreements with content owners of some of the world’s most renowned brands including BBC, National Geographic, Peanuts, Dr. Seuss, Popeye, American Girl, Cartoon Network, Leap Frog, Scholastic, The Wiggles, NFL, NBA and NHL.Other perennial animated properties in the Warner Bros. library include Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, Hanna Barbera, Scooby-Doo, Batman, Superman and all of the other DC Comics characters.

Regarding the announcement, Mr. Fukuhara remarked, “We look forward to joining forces with Warner Home Video and are confident that in working with their strength in sales and distribution, we will continue to grow the anime category even more effectively than we have over the last several years. We’re very encouraged by Warner Home Video’s enthusiasm for this category and our properties and look forward to our titles reaching an even wider audience as a result of this relationship.”

Brown added, “The association between Warner Home Video and VIZ Media demonstrates our continued commitment to the growing sector of anime. Adding to our previous success with The Animatrix and Appleseed: Ex Machina, we are looking forward to a successful relationship with VIZ Media, one of the top players in the anime genre and children’s animation.”

Thursday, December 18, 2008

ACF 195: Canadians Get Anime´at the iTunes Store, including free 1st episodes!

News for Canadian fans of anime´!!!

VIZ Media's NARUTO (uncut), BLEACH and DEATH NOTE are now available on the iTunes store in Canada (www.iTunes.ca). English dubbed versions of NARUTO (Uncut Version) Season 1, 2 and 3 (Volumes 1 & 2), three story arcs of BLEACH (The Substitute, The Entry and The Rescue), and all 37 episodes of DEATH NOTE are now available for purchase and download.

In celebration of this launch - iTunes Users in Canada will be able to download the first episode of NARUTO, BLEACH and DEATH NOTE For FREE Until January 6,2009!

Here's further info from VIZ's press relase:

NARUTO, BLEACH and DEATH NOTE have emerged as three of the world's most popular Japanese animated series, each attracting millions of devoted viewers with a blend of stylish animation, multi-faceted characters and riveting story lines.

“We are excited to make NARUTO, BLEACH and DEATH NOTE available on iTunes in Canada," says David Rewalt, Senior Director, Retail Development, VIZ Media. "The flexibility and convenience of iTunes will allow Canadian fans to watch their favorite episodes whenever and wherever they want on their iPod or iPhone. It's very natural for a hip entertainment and pop culture phenomenon like anime to take full advantage of the latest in digital media delivery and we invite fans in Canada to become part of the growing audience enjoying these VIZ Media titles on iTunes.”

NARUTO (Uncut): Rated T+ for Older Teens
NARUTO has become the hottest animated series across North America and is one of VIZ Media’s most successful manga and animated properties in terms of sales. Created by Masashi Kishimoto, the series depicts the adventures of a young boy named Uzumaki Naruto who trains to become a ninja. The boy is cursed with the spirit of a nine-tailed fox demon and is forced to live a bullied life discriminated against by his fellow villagers. Naruto is resilient and undaunted in his quest to become a master ninja and his determination often inspires those around him. Through amazing adventures, the young ninja learns the importance of friendship, teamwork, loyalty, hard work, creativity, ingenuity, and right vs. wrong. Dedicated website at www.naruto.com.

BLEACH: Rated T for Teens
BLEACH, an animated, hyperkinetic, ghost-busting action series is the story of a 15 year-old named Ichigo Kurosaki who was born with the ability to see ghosts. When his family is attacked by a Hollow – a malevolent lost soul – Ichigo encounters a Soul Reaper and absorbs her powers. Now he has dedicates his life to protecting the innocent and helping the tortured souls find peace. Dedicated website at www.bleach.viz.com.

DEATH NOTE: Rated T+ for Older Teens
DEATH NOTE is based on the manga series of the same name and is currently one of the hottest animated titles in Japan. The series depicts the adventures of Light Yagami, an ace student with great prospects but who is bored out of his mind. All of that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals mysteriously begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to investigate, and he is soon hot on the trail of Light, who must now reevaluate his one noble goal. Dedicated website at www.deathnote.viz.com.

Individual episodes on the iTunes Store in Canada are C$1.99 each. Full seasons also can be purchased. These titles are also available on the iTunes Store in the US.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

ACF 194: "A Romance Papa" at The Korea Society's Classic Movie Night this Thursday

A Romance Papa / 로망스 빠빠
Directed by Shin Sang-ok
Cast: Kim Sung-ho, Shin Sung-il, Choi Eun-hee
South Korea,1960, b&w, 131 minutes

The Korea Society
's Classic Movie Night series continues this Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 6:30PM with a screening of Shin Sang-ok's A Romance Papa.

Kim Seung-ho plays a typical, optimistic Korean father—known as "Romance Papa" to his five children—who has always managed to support his family on his modest salary. When his company lays him off, he can't bear to tell them. His children find out in spite of him, and conspire to support the family without making their father lose face.

Movies will be screened at The Korea Society in midtown Manhattan, 950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, 8th Floor.

Individual ticket price (one film): $5 for members, $10 for nonmembers.

Buy tickets

For more information or to register for the program, contact Heewon Kim at (212) 759-7525, ext. 355

Thursday, December 11, 2008

ACF 193: Supercop coming out January 13th!

I just recieved some P.R. info about Supercop (a.k.a. Police Story 3) coming out early next year in a 2-disc ultimate edition from Dragon Dynasty. This is a fantastic film, easily the best in the outstanding series (outstanding, that is, aside from the much later New Police Story). And the extras on Dragon Dynasty's 2-disc ultimate editions are always terrific.

So I'm passing on the info right away and hope to have my review copy in the near future. Even though it's the holiday season, I'll be getting my review of this up really fast, and may even be able to also put up some thoughts on Police Story 1 and 2.

Also check-out Grady Hendrix's Kaiju Shakedown article about the Supercop release. This was where I first learned that it was coming out, but there wasn't much information about it at that time.

Here's the Press Release info from Dragon Dynasty:

The Dragon Dynasty label releases yet another high-flying action packed adventure, SUPERCOP. One of Jackie Chan’s most beloved films, SUPERCOP flies onto DVD shelves in a two disc ultimate edition on January 13th from The Weinstein Company and Genius Products.

SUPERCOP tells the adrenaline-fueled story of a Hong Kong police officer who teams with a beautiful but “by the book” agent in order to bring down the region’s most notorious and merciless drug cartel. Going undercover as siblings, the unlikely duo must utilize use their explosive kung fu skills and resourcefulness to dissolve the infamous syndicate.

SUPERCOP features the legendary kung fu master, Jackie Chan (The Forbidden Kingdom, Rush Hour) and Michelle Yeoh (The Mummy 3, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon), and co-stars Maggie Cheung (Jet Li’s Hero). Directed by Stanley Tong (Mr. Magoo), this martial arts masterpiece led the way for a new era of kung fu stars in America and is sure to find success once again.

Synopsis:
Kevin Chan (Chan), a Hong Kong Police officer, teams up with beautiful but dangerous Chinese agent Jessica Yang (Yeoh) who poses as his sister as they go undercover to bring down the region’s predominate drug cartel.

Special Features:
· Flying High: An Exclusive Interview With Star Jackie Chan
· Dancing With Death: An Interview With Leading Lady Michelle Yeoh
· The Stuntmaster General: An Exclusive Interview With Director Stanley Tong
· The Fall Guy: An Exclusive Interview With Co-Star And Jackie Chan Bodyguard And Training Partner Ken Lo
· Commentary By Hong Kong Cinema Expert Bey Logan

Basics:
Price: $24.95
Street Date: January 13, 2009
Catalog Number: 81700
Rating: NR
Run Time: 91 minutes
Languages: English Dolby 5.1, English DTS, Cantonese Mono
Subtitles: English and Spanish
Closed Captioned

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

ACF 192: Hwang Jin Yi @ Korea Society


Just a brief reminder that The Korea Society's monthly presentation of select episodes of Korean KBS TV's hit drama Hwang Jin Yi continues tomorrow night, Wednesday, December 10, 2008. Part Two: The Birth of a Kisaeng will be shown 6:30 PM.

Synopsis:

Hwang Jin Yi's mother fears that her young daughter will follow in her footsteps and become a kisaeng: a singer, dancer and hostess who lives a life catering to the whims of the yangban elite. Determined that her daughter should become more than a mere plaything for men, she sends Hwang Jin Yi deep into the forest to be cared for by an old monk. But when Hwang Jin Yi slips away and glimpses the beauty of a kisaeng dance, she is drawn to her destiny.

Special Guest:
Actress Jeon Mi-seon (the mother) will appear from Korea through an exclusive video conference to discuss the making of Hwang Jin Yi and answer audience questions. This series continues through February 2009. Click here for the full schedule and photos from the series.

Buy tickets

The Korea Society
950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022
(map here)

Monday, December 08, 2008

ACF 191: The Sky Crawlers @ The Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center

SONY PICTURES, STAGE 6 FILMS, PRODUCTION I.G,
NEW YORK –TOKYO, AND THE FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER
PRESENT
THE NY PREMIERE OF

The Sky Crawlers

WITH SPECIAL VIDEO INTRO BY DIRECTOR MAMORU OSHII

Japan/2008/122 Min. /color/Japanese with English subtitles

FRIDAY, DEC. 12, 2008 AT 7 & 9:30
WALTER READE THEATER AT LINCOLN CENTER
165 W.65TH ST (UPPER LEVEL, BET.B’WAY & AMSTERDAM AVE)

BUY TICKETS HERE

Somewhere, in a country similar to ours
There are children who do not become adults
They are very similar to us

We are proud to announce the New York Premiere of Director Mamoru Oshii’s latest film, The Sky Crawlers, - an engaging combination of philosophy and science fiction, featuring brilliantly executed aerial combat sequences. Oshii sees this film as a message to the youth of the world. Visually appealing high quality animation was produced by Production I.G. The Sky Crawlers was nominated for the Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

Synopsis

The story takes place in another possible ‘now’ - a world that has eradicated war and finally attained peace. However, this prolonged state of peace created demand for a new kind of war. A conflict happening elsewhere, that could be seen on TV or read in the papers - in order to get a feeling of reality.

Private war contractors enlist fighter pilots to perform their services in an endless “war as entertainment.” They call these pilots Kildren. Innocent-looking teenagers, Kildren never age into adulthood, and live in a state of eternal adolescence until the day they drift gracefully through the endless skies.

One day, pilot Yuichi arrives to his newly assigned airbase. He has only vague memory of his past. The only two things he recalls are that he is a Kildren and how to operate a fighter plane. A woman is keeping an eye on Yuichi. She is Suito, the base commander. A Kildren herself, Suito behaves as if she’s been waiting to meet Yuichi for a long time. Perplexed, Yuichi is nevertheless gradually attracted by her.

All pilots at the base have to confront the most invincible enemy ace, known as Teacher. His trademark is a black jaguar painted on the nose of his plane. It is said that if you run into him up in the sky, you don’t come back to tell your friends. Who really is the Teacher? What does Suito know about Yuichi’s past? What are the secrets behind the Kildren?

About the Director

Born in Tokyo in 1951, Mamoru Oshii is one of the most remarkable personalities in modern Japanese filmmaking. He succeeded in introducing the complexity of fanta-politics and introspective philosophical speculation into the world of animation, influencing Hollywood creators with his visionary style.

Oshii joined the legendary anime studio Tatsunoko Pro. in 1977. After moving to Studio Pierrot, he worked on TV anime series “Urusei Yatsura,” based on Rumiko Takahashi’s bestseller manga, made his feature film debut with “Urusei Yatsura: Only You” in 1983, and created an enthusiastically acclaimed “Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer.” After directing “Angel’s Egg” in 1985, he turned his back on mass entertainment and started making both animated and live action films that expressed his unique worldview.

In 1988, Oshii joined the talented creators group called Headgear, that gave birth to the project entitled “Mobile Police Patlabor.” Its TV anime series, OVA series and the two feature films added new realism to the robot genre in animation. In 1995, Oshii released “Ghost in the Shell,” an epoch-making movie that hugely influenced Hollywood creators and ranked No. 1 in Billboard Top Video Sales Chart (August 24, 1996). Nine years later, he directed “Ghost in the Shell” ideal sequel, “Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence” the first Japanese animated feature to compete for the Palme d’Or at the Festival de Cannes.

Oshii has also directed a number of live-action features, including “The Red Spectacles” (1986), “Stray Dog” (1991) and “Avalon” (2001). The world of “The Red Spectacles” and “Stray Dog” was further developed in the animated feature “Jin-Roh - The Wolf Brigade” (1999), produced by Production I.G from Oshii’s script. In 2006, he wrote and directed his most challenging visual experiment, “Tachigui: The Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters,” a satirical mockumentary about 50 years of Japanese dietary culture. The film was invited for the official selection at the 63rd Venice Film Festival.

Oshii’s latest new movie, The Sky Crawlers, received its international premiere at the 65th Venice Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Golden Lion. Later, it was greeted with 3 awards at Sitges 08.

Director’s comment on the film: (a part of full comments)

“I am at an age where I am neither too young nor too old to direct a film. Although I still have lots of what I want to experience and accomplish, in societal terms, I could be described as in my “prime years.” I sometimes feel aware of my age especially when I’m surrounded by staff that is much younger than me, or when I’m face to face with my daughter, who is no longer a child.

Consequently I’ve thought about these issues in my role as a filmmaker. I felt urged to give a message to the younger generation

Saturday, December 06, 2008

ACF 190: NARUTO on Yahoo Top 10 List!

Fans of Naruto, either in manga or anime´ form or both, will be pleased to learn that it has been named the 7th most-searched item at Yahoo! in 2008. This also suggests that if you're not familiar with NARUTO, perhaps you should check it out for yourself. Here's the full press release info from VIZ Media, which distributes NARUTO:

NARUTO has been named by Yahoo! as the Number 7 most-searched term in 2008, as reported by the Yahoo! 2008 Year In Review Top 10 Search list. The list, which is available at YearInReview.yahoo.com, provides insights about popular culture and what Yahoo! searchers cared about most throughout 2008. The spunky ninja-in-training NARUTO appears on the list beside future President Barack Obama, fan favorites American Idol and the WWE and celebrities and personalities such as Miley Cyrus, Angelina Jolie and Lindsay Lohan.

The Yahoo! Year in Review Top Search list provides valuable insight into the public’s tastes and interests and reflects how the web presents a new and continually evolving range of exciting possibilities to stay connected and access compelling content.

NARUTO has become an international phenomenon and is one of VIZ Media’s most successful manga (graphic novel) and animated properties in terms of sales. Created by Masashi Kishimoto, NARUTO was first introduced in magazine in Japan in 1999 and quickly became that country’s most popular ninja manga targeting tweens and teens - more than 85 million copies to-date have been printed. The manga series (rated T for Teens) and animated counterpart (rated TV-14) about a young ninja in training captivate millions of fans across North America, Europe and South America. The series depicts the adventures of a young boy named Uzumaki Naruto who trains to become a ninja. Through amazing adventures, the young ninja and his friends learn the importance of friendship, teamwork, loyalty, hard work, creativity, ingenuity, and right vs. wrong. The global popularity of NARUTO has also spawned a wide array of video games, collectable toys, apparel and more.

"NARUTO'S ranking on the Yahoo! Top 10 Searches for 2008 list proves once again the worldwide strength of this popular brand which has entertained countless fans across the globe," says Gonzalo Ferreyra, VIZ Media Vice President of Sales and Product Marketing. "We are honored to be on a list that includes future president Barack Obama, top hot trend American Idol, and pop culture icons such as Miley Cyrus, Angelina Jolie and others. This validates just how mainstream this property and the unique genres of Japanese manga and anime have become in our popular culture."

New volumes of the NARUTO manga have also appeared regularly throughout 2008 on notable literary best-seller lists such as the USA Today Top 150, Bookscan’s list of Top Graphic Novels and others. NARUTO was also recently named the top manga property on ICV2’s recent list of the Top 50 Manga Titles for Summer 2008 and the animation was named the Number 3 anime property on the retail industry watchdog’s roster of the Top 25 Anime Titles for Summer 2008.

The online NARUTO world includes a variety of interactive websites and gaming portals as well as the availability of animated episodes available for streaming and download on innovative outlets like such as Amazon Unbox™, and X-Box.com.

VIZ Media also recently announced an innovative and unprecedented multimedia plan to provide near-simultaneous Japan-U.S. release of the animated series’ newest story arc, NARUTO SHIPPUDEN, for free via the official NARUTO web site at www.naruto.com.

Licensed NARUTO products in publishing, home entertainment, video games, apparel and more have successfully launched around the world and many can be found throughout retail stores across the country.

More information on NARUTO is available at www.Naruto.com.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

ACF 189: Tora-san @ Japan Society

Tora-san Goes Religious?
(Episode 32)
Otoko wa Tsuraiyo: Kuchibue wo foku TorajiroDirected by Yoji Yamada
With Kiyoshi Atsumi, Chieko Baisho and Keiko Takeshita
Japan, 1983, 105 min.

Japan Society's monthly screenings of films selected by director Yamada from the long-running Tora-san series continues tomorrow night Friday, December 5th, 2008 at 7:30 PM. I'm glad to be passing on this info about another great episode from this terrific series. Catch it if you can.

When Tora-san (Kiyoshi Atsumi) stops into the town of Okayama to pay respects to his brother-in-law’s late father’s grave, he is taken in by the temple’s priest. When he falls in love with Tomoko, the priest’s charming daughter, he dons a robe and begins chanting sutras to win over her heart- and realizes he might just be cut out for the pious life despite his family’s doubts.

The Tora-san Goes Religious? page at Japan Society's website, which  includes a YouTube clip, can be accessed by clicking here.

This film is part of the Monthly Classics series, Best of Tora-san.

Tickets $11/$7 Japan Society members, students & seniors

Buy Tickets Online or call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. - Fri. 11 am - 6 pm, Weekends 11 am - 5 pm.

Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues, New York, NY 10017

Sunday, November 30, 2008

ACF 188: "Naruto Shippuden" episodes free online!!!

VIZ Media Announces Multimedia Campaign To Provide Near Simultaneous U.S.-Japan Release Of New
NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Animated Episodes
For Free On
http://www.naruto.com/

Here's some more news from VIZ for you anime - and manga - fans out there:

VIZ Media has announced an innovative and unprecedented multimedia plan to provide near-simultaneous Japan-U.S. release of NARUTO, one of the most popular Japanese animated and manga properties in the world. This campaign is the latest expansion of VIZ Media’s ongoing strategy to utilize the web to its maximum potential to stream a variety of hit animated properties.

Beginning on January 15th the latest episode of the NARUTO SHIPPUDEN (English-subtitled) animated series will be available for free viewing on the official NARUTO website, http://naruto.viz.com/, within days of its original airdate in Japan. A new English-subtitled episode will be added every Thursday thereafter.

On January 2nd, VIZ Media will also debut, for free, 8 uncut, English-subtitled episodes from the beginning of the NARUTO SHIPPUDEN series on www.Naruto.com. Each Friday thereafter there will be an additional 8 uncut, English-subtitled episodes added on Naruto.com until the series eventually catches up to the current third season of the hit program.

Also, coming this week, an exclusive sneak peek of NARUTO SHIPPUDEN (English-subtitled) debuting on Naruto.com.

On the manga (graphic novel) side, VIZ Media has unveiled an accelerated publishing schedule for upcoming editions of the best-selling NARUTO manga series, making them available to North American audiences sooner than ever before offered by VIZ Media. Beginning in February 2009, 11 new volumes of NARUTO will be released over 3 months, moving the series from Volume 34 (February 2009) to Volume 44 (April 2009) before returning to a quarterly release schedule beginning with Volume 45 (July 2009). First print-run editions of the volumes released in March and April will include a special promotional item – bookmark or sticker.

“This kind of accelerated and coordinated broadcast and publishing schedule is a first for VIZ Media and we are very excited to bring new episodes of NARUTO SHIPPUDEN to millions of eager domestic fans for free with this special campaign,” says Alvin Lu, Vice President of Production, VIZ Media. “The adventures of Naruto and his friends are underscored with themes of friendship, loyalty, responsibility, as well as failure and redemption, and have turned this unique series into a tremendous international hit. New and old fans alike won’t want to miss this special opportunity to watch online the latest episodes featuring the world’s favorite ninja mere days after their original air dates in Japan.”

NARUTO has become one of the hottest series from Japan and is one of VIZ Media’s most successful manga and animated properties. Created by Masashi Kishimoto, NARUTO was first introduced in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in Japan in 1999 and quickly became that country’s most popular ninja manga targeting tweens and teens and has sold more than 80 million copies to-date. The manga series (rated T for Teens) and animated counterpart (rated TV-14) about a young ninja in training, captivates millions of fans across North America, Europe and South America.

In the NARUTO manga and animated series Naruto Uzumaki wants to be the best ninja in the land. He's done well so far, but Naruto knows he must train harder than ever and leaves his village for intense exercises that will push him to his limits.

NARUTO SHIPPUDEN begins two and a half years later, when Naruto returns to find that everyone has been promoted up the ninja ranks—except him. Sakura’s a medic ninja, Gaara’s advanced to Kazekage, and Kakashi…well, he’s the same. But pride isn’t becoming of a ninja, especially when Naruto realizes that Sasuke never returned from his search for Orochimaru. Plus, the mysterious Akatsuki organization is still an ever-present danger. As Naruto finds out more about the Akatsuki’s goals, he realizes that nothing in his universe is as it seems. Naruto is finding that he’s older, but will he prove wiser or stronger?

Earlier NARUTO episodes are also currently available for free through a variety of web-based, video streaming outlets that have partnered with VIZ Media, including HULU and JOOST.

More information on NARUTO is available at http://naruto.com/.

Friday, November 28, 2008

ACF 187: "Hwang jin Yi" TV Drama @ Korea Society on December 10th, 2008


The monthly screening of selected episodes of this blockbuster TV drama from Korea continues on Wednesday, December 10th, 2008 at 6:30 PM at The Korea Society.

In an age when women were treated as if they were invisible, Hwang Jin Yi, the celebrated Korean courtesan-singer-poet of the 16th century, was larger than life. Her beauty, wit and intellect propelled her from obscurity into the company of Korea’s most powerful aristocrats. The defining romance of her life broke across Korea’s rigid class lines and was in turn shattered by tragedy. A symbol of art and individuality, the subject of countless novels, movies and operas, Hwang Jin Yi remains a powerful feminist figure in Korea to this day.

Directed by Kim Cheol-gyu (More Beautiful Than Flowers) and written by Yoon Sun-Joo (The Immortal Lee Soon Shin), the acclaimed KBS TV drama series Hwang Jin Yi retells the tumultuous life story of Korea’s most famous kisaeng (courtesan). Top actress Ha Ji-won’s portrayal of Hwang Jin Yi made the series an instant television event when the series first aired in Korea in 2006, causing a nationwide rediscovery of the role kisaeng played in Korean history.

Part Two: The Birth of a Kisaeng
Hwang Jin Yi's mother fears that her young daughter will follow in her footsteps and become a kisaeng: a singer, dancer and hostess who lives a life catering to the whims of the yangban elite. Determined that her daughter should become more than a mere plaything for men, she sends Hwang Jin Yi deep into the forest to be cared for by an old monk. But when Hwang Jin Yi slips away and glimpses the beauty of a kisaeng dance, she is drawn to her destiny.

Special Guest:
Actress Jeon Mi-seon (the mother) will appear from Korea through an exclusive video conference to discuss the making of Hwang Jin Yi and answer audience questions.

This series continues with screenings on the second Wednesday of the month through February 2009. For the complete schedule and to view photos from the series, click here.

All screenings presented in Korean with English subtitles.

Tickets: $5 for members, $10 for non-members

Order tickets online or call The Korea Society at (212) 759-7525, ext. 323.

The series is co-sponsored by KBS (Korean Broadcasting System)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

ACF 186: Kim Ki-Duk's "The Bow" @ The Ruben Museum of Art

The Bow / Hwai
Directed by Kim Ki-Duk
South Korea, 2005, 90 min.
Cast: Jeon Sung-Hwan, Han Yeo-Reum, Seo Ji-Seok


Noted South Korean director Kim Ki-Duk's The Bow will be shown at the Rubin Museum of Art tomorrow night, Friday, November 28, 2008 at 9:30 PM as part of its Cabaret Cinema Series. Kim's other films include The Isle, Samaria, and Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring, each well worth seeing if you haven't already.

Storyline:
With a bow and arrow, a sixty-year old man protects the young girl he plans to marry when she turns seventeen. She’s content with their life on a fishing boat until a young man arrives and changes everything.

The Bow illustrates the Bhutanese proverb: “The arrow of divine beings with absolute wisdom: it cannot be seen when shot, but can be seen when it hits.”

Tickets available by calling the Box Office of the Rubin Museum of Art @ 212.620.5000 x344, from 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday to Friday. Tickets may also be purchased at the admissions desk or museum shop.

Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th Street
New York, NY 10011

Co-presented with The Korea Society

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

ACF 185: BLEACH Posterzine will be available Dec 2nd, 2008

Here's some information about another release from VIZ. I'm passing it along because, although it pertains to print media, BLEACH is both a manga and an animated series.

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) has announced the upcoming release of a special BLEACH Posterzine, which features 11 massive full-color posters inspired by the smash hit manga and animated series (rated 'T' for Teens) created by Tite Kubo.

Available exclusively through participating newsstands nationwide beginning December 2nd, the Posterzine carries an MSRP of $9.99 and includes two original creations made especially for this unique release. Each poster in the collection folds out to 16” x 22” and depicts the heroic Soul Reaper Ichigo and his friends as well as villains rendered in beautiful detail. This special publication will also include 2 free BLEACH sticker sheets and an iTunes gift card valid for a free download of episode 59 of the popular BLEACH animated series and access to an interview with the creator of BLEACH Tite Kubo (iTunes gift card valid in the United States only).

BLEACH follows the story of Ichigo Kurosaki, a fifteen-year old student with the ability to see ghosts. His fate takes an extraordinary turn when he meets Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper who shows up at Ichigo's house on the trail of a Hollow, a malevolent lost soul. Drawn to Ichigo's high level of spiritual energy, the Hollow attacks Ichigo and his family, and Rukia steps in to help but is injured and unable to fight. As a last resort, Rukia decides to transfer part of her Soul Reaper powers to Ichigo. Ichigo, now a full-fledged Soul Reaper, and Rukia join together to face the challenges that lie ahead.

Christopher Boily, VIZ Media Sr. Director, Magazine Sales, Brand & Product Marketing, says of the release, “Building upon the incredible momentum and excitement which surrounded the first ever North American appearance of creator Tite Kubo at San Diego Comic-Con, we’re ecstatic to release this special collectable BLEACH Posterzine, which features two amazing images created exclusively for this publication by Studio Pierrot, which animates and produces the massively popular animated series. We look forward to fans visiting their local newsstand to pick up this special release!”

BLEACH is a tremendously successful multimedia property internationally. The manga has been licensed to more than a dozen countries, and over 50 million copies have been printed in Japan alone. In North America it is among the most popular titles in SHONEN JUMP magazine reaching close to 2 million fans each month, the manga graphic novels have been a sales hit and the popular animated series is viewed weekly by millions in the United States and Canada. This success has further spawned an array of related video games, apparel, action figures, trading cards and other merchandise.

More information on BLEACH is available at www.bleach.viz.com.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ACF 184: Seven New Manga Series from VIZ

VIZ Media has announced several new manga series scheduled for release throughout the Fourth Quarter of 2008. Here's info and cover images:

Seven new series are set to debut, beginning this month, and feature a variety of captivating stories designed to appeal to Teen and Older Teen readers. The new series include BLANK SLATE, NORA: The Last Chronicle of Devildom, SOLANIN, CAPTIVE HEARTS, GABA KAWA, WE WERE THERE and St. ♥ Dragon Girl.

“We are looking forward to bringing a diverse range of titles in Q4 which will range from slice-of-life stories to romance and more!” says Evelyn Dubocq, Sr. Director of Public Relations, VIZ Media. “As the 2008 holiday season approaches, manga fans will have multiple strong VIZ Media releases to choose from in every genre.”

SOLANIN · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · MSRP: $17.99 US / $21.00 CAN Available Now

College graduates struggle to cope with the real world and music offers refuge in this modern manga with an American indie comic attitude. Meiko Inoue is a recent college grad working in a job that she hates and having issues with her freeloading boyfriend. Straddling the line between her years as a student and the rest of her life, Meiko struggles with the feeling that she's just not cut out to be a part of the real world.

SOLANIN was written and illustrated by award-winning creator Inio Asano and was originally published as a two-volume series but will be released by VIZ Media in a striking omnibus edition that includes six color pages. This touchingly realistic story was brought to life through Inio Asano’s distinctive art style and excellent writing. SOLANIN is part of VIZ Media’s Signature line, an imprint featuring manga for the experienced comic reader who seeks sophisticated stories with exceptional art.

NORA: The Last Chronicle of Devildom Rated “T+” for Older Teens MSRP: $7.99 US / $9.50 CAN Available Now

Nora, an unruly demon, has defied his Dark Liege one too many times. For the sake of his "education," Nora is sent to live among mortals and enters a bond of servitude with cool-as-ice star student Kazuma Makkari. But this relationship is destined to become a match made in Hell. Kazuma now must learn the ways of the underworld while Nora discovers more about the "real world" than he ever thought possible. When the seal for Nora's form is released he becomes Cerberus, the vicious dog of disaster. But Nora can only use magic when Kazuma grants him permission, and he doesn't grant it easily. The Dark Liege wants the pair to team up and crack down on renegade demon factions in the human world, but first they must find a way to get along. NORA: The Last Chronicle of Devildom is Kazunari Kakei's first manga series and originally debuted in Japan’s Monthly Shonen Jump magazine. Blending the conceptual appeal of supernatural cliffhangers like DEATH NOTE with the aesthetic design elements of manga series like FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST, the series will appeal to fans of character-based, supernatural genre franchises like Hellblazer and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In Japan, the popularity of NORA: The Last Chronicle of Devildom eventually spawned a second series called SUREBREC: NORA the 2nd, which also premiered in Monthly Shonen Jump.

BLANK SLATE Rated “T+” for Older Teens MSRP: $8.99 US / $10.50 CAN Available Now

BLANK SLATE is an edgy new shojo manga series by Aya Kanno that heightens the level of drama with plenty of social and political intrigue. Zen's memory has been wiped, and he can't remember if he's a killer or hero, and a lot of people want to keep it that way. Zen's unearthly charm attracts a veritable rogues' gallery of mysterious and shady characters, each with their own agenda. A bounty hunter becomes obsessed enough to become Zen’s new partner, while the daughter of a prominent General treats him like some sort of guru. But when Zen meets a mysterious doctor who may know him from the past, he learns that the real secret of his lost memory is definitely more sinister than saintly. Creator Aya Kanno first came to the attention of North American fans with her manga, SOUL RESCUE, and her latest series, OTOMEN, is currently serialized in Japan's popular BetsuHana magazine and is set to be published by VIZ Media in early 2009.

WE WERE THERE Rated “T+” for Older Teens MSRP: $8.99 US / $10.50 CAN Available Now

WE WERE THERE is a best-selling shojo manga by Yuki Obata that depicts the life of a high school freshman named Nanami Takahashi as she falls for Motoharu Yano, the most popular, carefree boy in class. For Nanami, it's first love, but Yano is still grieving the death of his girlfriend who died tragically the year before. Nanami begins high school with big hopes of making new friends. But as her crush on Yano intensifies, she soon learns that he may have too many secrets for her to handle. WE WERE THERE was a smash hit in Japan, with volume one being reprinted an amazing 22 times in only three years, and the manga was also developed into a popular animated series. Creator Yuki Obata won the Shogakukan Shinjin Comics Taisho Kasaku Award in 1998 for her debut, RAINDROPS, and she went on to win the prestigious 50th Shogakukan Manga Award for WE WERE THERE.

CAPTIVE HEARTS Rated “T” for Teens MSRP: $8.99 US / $10.50 CAN Available Now

CAPTIVE HEARTS is one of the major manga releases by Matsuri Hino that first established her as one of the top creators in the shojo genre. Carefree Megumi Kuroishi was living a life of luxury until the day a girl named Suzuka Kogami walked into his life. All of a sudden, Megumi finds himself kneeling at Suzuka's feet and prostrating himself like a servant! What Megumi doesn't initially know is that his family is cursed to follow the orders of the Kogami family. Can anything be done about Megumi's captive state or is he doomed to see Suzuka as his master forever? Matsuri Hino burst onto the manga scene with her first title WHEN THIS DREAM IS OVER, which was published in Japan’s monthly shojo manga magazine LaLa DX. She has gone on to gain international acclaim for her subsequent works like MERU PURI and the gothic-tinged VAMPIRE KNIGHT (both published domestically) and her ornate and eye-catching visual style has greatly impacted the manga scene both in Japan and North America as more fans discover her unique stories.

St. Dragon Girl Rated “T” for Teens MSRP: $8.99 US / $10.50 CAN Available December 2

Momoka Sendou, nicknamed "Dragon Girl,” and Ryuga Kou are childhood friends. Momoka is a skilled martial artist while Ryuga is a Chinese magic master who banishes demons. The action heightens when a demon serpent king that appears only once every hundred years to select a bride abducts Momoka's friend, Shunran. Will Momoka and Ryuga be able to defeat this powerful entity before Shunran is lost forever? In order to increase his power, Ryuga calls on the spirit of a dragon to possess him, but the spirit enters Momoka instead. Now the two must unite forces and fight the demon together in this exciting fantasy shojo adventure from Natsumi Matsumoto. St. Dragon Girl was a popular hit in Japan that also spawned a sequel, St. Dragon Girl Miracle.

GABA KAWA Rated “T” for Teens MSRP: $8.99 US / $10.50 CAN December 2

Gaba Kawa is a new supernatural shojo story from Rie Takada, who also created the popular Happy Hustle High and Punch! (both available from VIZ Media). GABA KAWA introduces readers to Rara, a young and spunky female demon who is only supposed to cause mischief in the mortal world and draw humans to the dark path. She's not supposed to help mortals and definitely not supposed to fall in love with them! But that's just what happens when Rara enters high school, where a hot guy named Retsu Aku calls her "Gaba Kawa,” referring to someone who is so persistent, it’s cute. But while demons gain power by causing mischief, the opposite is also true – if Rara uses any of her powers to help mortals, she'll immediately lose that very power. And if she loses enough power, she'll disappear! What's a "Gaba Kawa" demon to do? Readers will delight in the funny and romantic answer.

Creator Rie Takada has captivated millions with her innovative shojo series PUNCH! and HAPPY HUSTLE HIGH, which have sold more than 80K copies in North America combined. Her whimsical artistic style, called chibi (meaning short person" or "small child"), is an exaggerated style of manga illustration that’s currently the rage in Japan and is characterized by hyper-cute and often very petite characters bursting with bubbly personalities. The style also lends to a fun degree of comedy and zaniness that further typifies the chibi genre. GABA KAWA was also serialized in VIZ Media’s SHOJO BEAT magazine.

Monday, November 24, 2008

ACF 183: 'The Fish Fall in Love' @ Asia Society, NY

Touka (Golshifteh Farahani) and Atieh (Roya Nonahali)
Photo courtesy of Global Fim Initiative

The Fish Fall in Love / Mahiha Ashegh Mishavand
Directed by Ali Mishavand
Persian, 2006, 96 min.
In Persian with English Subtitles

Asia Society and Global Film Initiative will be co-presenting a screening of The Fish Fall in Love on Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008 at 7:00 PM. The film will be shown at Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street, New York City.

Atieh’s singular passion is food, and her small but popular restaurant on the sleepy Caspian coast is her pride and joy. But when Aziz, her former fiancé, appears after a twenty-year absence, the women believe he has intentions of closing the restaurant, so Atieh prepares his favorite dishes, one after the other, in a desperate effort to convince him otherwise.

Loosely based on the Persian fable of Shahrazad and the Thousand Myths, director Ali Raffi uses the language of food to paint a richly textured portrait of life and love on the northern coast of Iran.

A post-screening discussion with food critic Mimi Sheraton and international correspondent Katayoun Beglari-Scarlet will be followed by a reception featuring Persian food.

Registration:
- $7 Asia Society and Iranian American Society of New York members, Students with ID, and Seniors
- $11 Nonmembers
- Free for Asia Circle Members

For tickets, call the Asia Society box office at (212) 517-ASIA or visit https://tickets.asiasociety.org/

No cancellations, exchanges or refunds.

(This screening is also cosponsored by The Iranian American Society of New York.)



Saturday, November 22, 2008

ACF 182: "BLEACH" & "DEATH NOTE" Download-To-Own on Xbox LIVE

Here's some more anime news from VIZ specifically geared to owners, or future owners, of the Xbox 360 video game system:

VIZ Media has announced the availability of the hit animated action series BLEACH and DEATH NOTE (both Uncut and English dubbed) on the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment console from Microsoft. Fans in the U.S. will now have the ability to watch these episodes on a Download-To-Own (DTO) basis through Xbox LIVE for 160 Microsoft Points per episode.



BLEACH features episodes 1-41 dubbed in English with more to be added, and DEATH NOTE features the full 37-episode series dubbed in English. The two series join NARUTO Uncut, which has been offered on Xbox LIVE since November 2007 and currently features episodes 1- 52 dubbed in English as well as episodes 1 – 24 subbed (with English subtitles), with more to be added. Episodes and more information are available at: www.xbox.com/live.

“The anime genre enjoys a huge following among millions of avid Xbox 360 owners and the addition of the BLEACH and DEATH NOTE series to the Xbox LIVE library will be a big attraction,” says Scott Nocas, group product manager for Xbox LIVE.

Xbox LIVE provides viewers with easy access to hundreds of full-length TV shows for Download-To-Own and the latest feature films for Download-To-Rent. Xbox 360 is also the first gaming console to offer Standard and High Definition TV shows and movies via digital distribution. Xbox LIVE currently includes a worldwide social entertainment network reaching more than 14 million members and offering 24/7 online access to gaming, movies, music, TV shows and more.

“We are very excited to team with Xbox LIVE to feature episodes of BLEACH and DEATH NOTE,” says Ken Sasaki, Vice President, Strategy & Business Development, VIZ Media. “The combination of the hottest television and movie programming, video gaming and social networking interaction makes Xbox LIVE a compelling platform to present these smash hit animated dramas. As the convergence of digital technology presents an innovative new way to access and download a wide array of content, we look forward to fans across the United States turning to Xbox LIVE for the latest in online animated programming from VIZ Media.”


DEATH NOTE (Uncut): Rated TV-14
DEATH NOTE
is based on the manga series of the same name and is currently one of the hottest animated titles in Japan. The series depicts the adventures of Light Yagami, an ace student with great prospects but who is bored out of his mind. All of that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals mysteriously begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to investigate, and he is soon hot on the trail of Light, who must now reevaluate his one noble goal. Dedicated website at www.deathnote.viz.com.

BLEACH (Uncut): Rated TV-14
BLEACH follows the story of Ichigo Kurosaki, a fifteen-year old student with the ability to see ghosts. His fate takes an extraordinary turn when he meets Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper who shows up at Ichigo's house on the trail of a Hollow, a malevolent lost soul. Drawn to Ichigo's high level of spiritual energy, the Hollow attacks Ichigo and his family, and Rukia steps in to help but is injured and unable to fight. As a last resort, Rukia decides to transfer part of her Soul Reaper powers to Ichigo. Ichigo, now a full-fledged Soul Reaper, and Rukia join together to face the challenges that lie ahead. Dedicated website at www.bleach.viz.com.

Friday, November 21, 2008

ACF 181: Animated DVD Releases from VIZ Media

VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES DIVERSE ARRAY OF EXCITING ANIMATED DVD RELEASES FOR
FOURTH QUARTER 2008

VIZ Media has announced a dynamic array of new animated titles scheduled for release throughout the Fourth Quarter. I'm sure that many anime lovers will be happy about at least some of these releases, especially as the holiday season approaches.

The new releases include the launch of a new series – HUNTER X HUNTER – as well as a variety of DVD Box Sets, Special Editions and single disc editions of popular series including BLEACH, NARUTO, DEATH NOTE, BUSO RENKIN, BLUE DRAGON and much-loved classics like INUYASHA.

Here's the info I received:

Hunter X Hunter Box Set 1:
(C) POT (Yoshihiro Togashi) 1998 - 2008
(C) NIPPON ANIMATION / SHUEISHA

New Series Debut:

HUNTER X HUNTER DVD Box Set Volume 1 · Rated “T+” for Teens · MSRP: $49.98 US / $64.99 CAN · Available December 9

Based on the popular HUNTER X HUNTER manga series by Yoshihiro Togashi (also published by VIZ Media), this new fantasy action series introduces audiences to Hunters, a special breed of adventurers dedicated to tracking down treasure, magical beasts, and even humans. But such pursuit requires a license, and less than one in a hundred thousand can pass the grueling qualification exam. Gon might be a country boy, but he has high aspirations.

Despite his aunt's protest, Gon decides to follow in his father's footsteps and become a legendary Hunter. The journey begins on the long, arduous road to the Exam Hall, where he meets Leorio and Kurapika, two applicants with the same determination. Gon and his two companions must now prove their worth and earn the right to call themselves Hunters! The HUNTER X HUNTER DVD Box Set Volume 1 contains the series’ first 15 episodes on 3 discs.

Buso Renkin Box Set 2:
(C) Nobuhiro Watsuki / SHUEISHA, Busorenkin Project
SHONEN JUMP™ and BUSORENKIN™ are trademarks of Shueisha, Inc. in the United States and other countries


BUSO RENKIN Releases Include:

BUSO RENKIN DVD Box Set Volume 2 · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · MSRP: $49.98 US / $64.99 CAN · Available Now!

BUSO RENKIN is based on a popular 10-volume fantasy adventure manga series by Nobuhiro Watsuki (also published by VIZ Media). The Alchemist Warriors Kazuki and Tokiko continue their war against the evil homunculi. But the awakening of Victor, the "King" of all homunculi, triggers the dark force lurking within Kazuki. Cursed with the black kakugane, he becomes a marked man.

Hunted by their former allies, Kazuki and Tokiko find help from the most unlikely source, and as the showdown in this century-long battle nears its conclusion, the future rests in the hands of one young man. Kazuki must make a final decision that no one, not even Tokiko, could have predicted! The BUSO RENKIN DVD Box Set Volume 2 features episodes 14-26 on 3 discs as well as bonus material including special behind the scenes footage and a full-color collectable booklet.

Blue Dragon V. 2:
(C) BLUE DRAGON PROJECT/TV TOKYO
Microsoft, Blue Dragon, Xbox 360 and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies.
Based on the Xbox 360 game "BLUE DRAGON" published by Microsoft


BLUE DRAGON Releases Include:

BLUE DRAGON Volume 2 · Rated “A” for All Ages · 4 Episodes · MSRP: $14.98 US / $19.99 CAN · Available Now!

BLUE DRAGON is an exciting animated adventure inspired by the popular Microsoft Xbox 360 Role Playing Game. The game and animated series also feature memorable characters designed by Akira Toriyama, the creator of the best-selling DRAGON BALL series of manga (published in North America by VIZ Media and featured in SHONEN JUMP Magazine).

In BLUE DRAGON volume 2, Shu and his fellow shadow wielders are determined to seek help at Jibral Castle. When they are finally granted an audience with the king, Zola requests permission to view the all-important Book of the Beginning. But during an attack by Grankingdom, seven key pages of the book are stolen, and the group decides to set off on a dangerous journey to Grankingdom itself!

BLEACH Releases Include:

BLEACH THE MOVIE: MEMORIES OF NOBODY · Rated “T” for Teens · MSRP: $29.98 US / $39.99 CAN · Available Now!

Adapted from the wildly popular animated series and a best-selling manga series (both distributed and published in North America by VIZ Media) by acclaimed Japanese artist Tite Kubo, BLEACH THE MOVIE: MEMORIES OF NOBODY begins as unidentified beings known as “Blanks” start popping up. They are soon followed by a Soul Reaper named Senna who makes them disappear.

Puzzled by these unknown beings and the even more mysterious girl, Ichigo and Rukia set out to learn more, but uncover an evil plot when a menacing clan tries to kidnap Senna. Banished from the Soul Society long ago, the clan’s leader has sent the World of the Living and the Soul Society on a collision course, and Senna seems to be the key to his diabolical plot for revenge. Can Ichigo and his fellow Soul Reapers save the two worlds from annihilation?

BLEACH Volume 13 · Rated “T” for Teens · 4 Episodes · MSRP: $24.98 US / $34.99 CAN · Available Now!

Television luminary Don Kan'onji brings back Yuzu, Jinta, and Ururu as his Karakura Superheroes to revive his flagging show--with Kon serving as mascot! In the Soul Society, Rukia's execution is imminent. Luckily for Ichigo and his comrades, some of the Soul Reapers have taken their side and help break Chad, Ganju, and Uryu out of their prison cell.

While Ichigo struggles to complete his bankai training, Renji emerges to rescue Rukia, but finds himself face to face with none other than Rukia's brother, Byakuya Kuchiki. Will Renji's bankai prove strong enough to defeat his own captain? BLEACH Volume 13 features 4 action-filled episodes as well as exclusive collectable stickers.

DEATH NOTE Releases Include:

DEATH NOTE Volume 7 With Limited Edition Collector’s Figure · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · 4 Episodes · MSRP: $39.98 US / $49.99 CAN ·
Available Now!

With his memory recovered and Higuchi of the Yotsuba Group out of the way, Light can put his master plan into motion and march humanity closer to his perfect world. Then a new investigative force steps forward to challenge Kira – the SPK, headed by a boy genius named Near. Near's first plan of action is to get his hands on a Death Note, and when Light's sister Sayu is kidnapped it just might get him closer to his goal! Production art, audio commentary and interviews with the voice cast are also featured. The special Collector’s Edition includes a limited edition figurine of Mello.

DEATH NOTE Volume 7 Standard Edition · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · 4 Episodes · MSRP: $24.98 US / $34.99 CAN · Available Now!

Disc-only edition features the same content as the Collector’s Edition but without collectable figure.

DEATH NOTE DVD Box Set Volume 1 · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · MSRP: $69.98 US / $89.99 CAN · Available Now!

Volume 1 box set features episodes 1-20 of the animated supernatural mystery series based on the hit manga by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata (also published by VIZ Media). Meet Light Yagami, a brilliant but bored high school student whose life is changed when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami, or god of death, named Ryuk. When Light discovers that any human whose name is written in the book dies, he vows to use its power to rid the world of evil. But every action has its consequences, and Light soon finds himself in a life or death battle of wits with the mysterious genius detective called L. Humanity itself becomes the battleground to determine what form of justice will prevail! Bonus features of this set include audio commentary, behind the scenes interviews with the voice cast and a production art gallery.

DEATH NOTE Volume 8 With Limited Edition Collector’s Figure · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · 4 Episodes · MSRP: $39.98 US / $49.99 CAN ·
Available December 30

When Mello realizes that he may be Kira's next target, he bursts into the SPK headquarters to retrieve a picture of himself – and gives Near a piece of information that may prove to be an invaluable advantage: some of the Death Note rules are fake. With this information in hand, Near's suspicions of the task force, and Light in particular, become certainties. Now that he's in the spotlight once more, Light decides it's time to recruit some new disciples. Bonus features of this set include audio commentary, behind the scenes interviews with the voice cast and a production art gallery. The special Collector’s Edition also features a limited edition figurine of Shidoh.

DEATH NOTE Volume 8 Standard Edition · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · 4 Episodes · MSRP: $24.98 US / $34.99 CAN · Available December 30

Disc-only edition features the same content as the Collector’s Edition but without collectable figure.

NARUTO Releases Include:

NARUTO THE MOVIE 3: GUARDIANS OF THE CRESCENT MOON KINGDON · Rated “T” for Teens · MSRP: $29.98 US / $39.99 CAN
· Available Now!

Naruto, Sakura and Kakashi team up with Rock Lee to protect Prince Michiru and his son Hikaru on their return home to the Crescent Moon Kingdom in this latest full-length NARUTO feature. The mission initially seems easy enough, until the royal family becomes a royal pain! Prince Michiru can't help indulging his son, even buying him a circus along the way! Naruto has a tough time putting up with both the spoiled Hikaru and a saber-toothed tiger, but the real adventure begins when they reach the Land of the Moon and find themselves facing a villainous uprising. Does Naruto have what it takes to save an entire kingdom? The special 2-disc set also offers several bonus features including “The Story of Naruto: Growing Up a Ninja” as well as “Teamwork: The Art of Group Recording” which gives insights into the film’s voice cast. An interview with the NARUTO THE MOVIE 3 producers and the original Japanese movie trailers are also included.

NARUTO UNCUT DVD Box Set Volume 10 Special Edition · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · MSRP: $69.98 US / $89.99 CAN · Available Now!

Naruto's pursuit of Sasuke is halted by the most fearsome of the Sound ninja--Kimimaro, a ninja with an uncompromising loyalty to Orochimaru and a hair-raising Kekkei Genkai! But the Leaf Village has sent another able-bodied ninja to assist in the fight, the newly recovered Rock Lee! While the Leaf genin continue their battles against the Sound, Naruto finally catches up to Sasuke at the Final Valley, the legendary site at the border of the Land of Fire. There, Sasuke and Naruto must face each other in their most devastating battle yet, and Sasuke must make a terrible choice in his quest for power that could decide both their destinies! The NARUTO UNCUT Box Set Volume 10 features 15 episodes (121-135) on 3 discs as well as an exclusive Katsuyu (6 of 6) Summoning Creature collectable figurine.

NARUTO UNCUT DVD Box Set Volume 10 Standard Edition· Rated “T+” for Older Teens · MSRP: $49.98 US / $64.99 CAN · Available Now!

Disc-only edition features the same content as the Special Edition but without collectable figure.

NARUTO Volume 29 · Rated “T” for Teens · MSRP: $19.98 US / $24.99 CAN · Available Now!

While Neji unleashes his Byakugan on the spider-like Kidomaru, the others continue their pursuit of the Sound ninja and the coffin containing Sasuke. Shikamaru plans a successful ambush, but the victory is short-lived when the most fearsome Sound ninja yet arrives to bring Sasuke to the impatient Orochimaru. Leaving Shikamaru and Kiba to battle the last two of the Sound Four, Naruto chases down their new challenger Kimimaro on his own – but does he have what it takes to win against this formidable foe? Single disc edition features 5 episodes.

NARUTO Volume 30 · Rated “T” for Teens · MSRP: $19.98 US / $24.99 CAN · Available November 25!

Kiba and Akamaru together try to outwit the dual ninja Sakon and Ukon while Shikamaru faces Tayuya and her mysterious flute. But Naruto is up against perhaps the most intimidating challenger of all--Kimimaro! With an undying loyalty to Orochimaru and a gruesome Kekkei Genkai, Kimimaro may be Naruto's undoing--until help arrives in a most unexpected form! Naruto's now free to follow Sasuke, who has emerged from the coffin and is racing toward his destiny at Orochimaru's hands. Single disc edition features 5 episodes.

NARUTO UNCUT DVD Box Set Volume 11 Special Edition · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · MSRP: $69.98 US / $89.99 CAN · Available December 16

Sasuke has gone to Orochimaru, and Sakura and Naruto are determined to get him back! Jiraiya, concerned they'll act recklessly, persuades Tsunade to send them on an official mission to the Land of Rice Paddies, hoping to discover Orochimaru's hideout. With Jiraiya at their side, can they fail to bring Sasuke back? Then, an escape from a maximum security prison brings Naruto a blast from the past! Mizuki, the teacher who long ago betrayed the Leaf, is on the loose, and Iruka once again joins Naruto in pursuit of the renegade ninja! The NARUTO UNCUT Box Set Volume 11 features 14 episodes (136-149) on 3 discs as well as an exclusive Naruto Mininja (1 of 6) collectable figurine.

NARUTO UNCUT DVD Box Set Volume 11 Standard Edition · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · MSRP: $49.98 US / $64.99 CAN · Available December 16

Disc-only edition features the same content as the Special Edition but without collectable figure.

INUYASHA Releases Include:

INUYASHA SEASON 6 DVD Box Set Deluxe Edition · Rated “T” for Teens · MSRP: $119.98 US / $149.99 CAN · Available December 2

As if battling demons and searching for the Sacred Jewel shards weren't tough enough, Kagome also faces the battles of a very modern-day student, like preparing for a school festival and a love scene in the class play! But demons wait for no one, and soon enough Kagome is back in the past, encountering demon women that test the bond between Miroku and Sango, a woman who's mysteriously in love with Inuyasha's brother Sesshomaru, and an ancestor of the boy with a crush on Kagome in the present day! The INUYASHA SEASON 6 Special Deluxe Edition features 20 episodes (127-146) on 4 discs and also includes an Inuyasha Collector’s Watch.

INUYASHA SEASON 6 DVD Standard Edition · Rated “T” for Teens · MSRP: $99.98 US / $129.99 CAN · Available December 2

Disc-only edition features the same content as the Deluxe Edition but without collectable watch.

For additional information on these and all VIZ Media titles please visit http://www.viz.com/.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

ACF 180: ANA presents 2 free screenings of "Happy Flight" @ Japan Society

©2008 Fuji Television Network, Altamira Pictures, Toho, Dentsu

Happy Flight / Happi furaito
Directed by Shinobu Yaguchi
Starring Seiichi Tanabe and Haruka Ayase
Japan, 2008, 103 min.

ANA (All Nippon Airways) is presenting the East Coast Premiere of Happy Flight as "Nippon Eiga" Series: Part 15. The film premiered in Japan on November 15th, so we're getting to see it soon after it's release. ANA's two free screenings will be held at Japan Society on Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008.

Director Shinobu Yaguchi brought feelings of laughter, tears, and exhilaration to audiences with his films about boys’ synchronized swimming (Waterboys) and girls’ high school big band jazz (Swing Girls). The theme of his latest film, Happy Flight, is airplanes!

Yaguchi’s intent was to create a realistic, completely new film that oversees all corners of the aviation industry. Having ANA (All Nippon Airways) lend their Boeing 747 for filming and 500 staff members’ involvement, he created a wonderfully entertaining film chock-full of his love and fascination of airplanes.

The setting of the film takes place at an airport and on an airplane. A great variety of “aviation professionals” such as pilots, flight attendants, the ground crew, mechanics, dispatchers, controllers, and the bird patrol crew all support a single flight. They have only one mission: to secure the safety of the passengers.

Today was supposed to be any other day on the job, departing on schedule and heading safely to Honolulu, but…

Mark your calendars for December 3rd at the Japan Society. For both screenings, Director Yaguchi, leading actor Seiichi Tanabe (Memories of Tomorrow, Honey and Clover) and leading actress Haruka Ayase (Cyborg She, The Magic Hour) will make special appearances.

Admission is free, but you have to RSVP.

Japan Society
333 East 47th Street between 1st & 2nd Avenues
New York, NY
Doors will open at 1:15 for the 2:00 PM screening and at 6:00 for the 6:45 screening

Happy Flight was produced by Altamira Pictures (Shall We Dance).

ACF 179: Best of Tora-san series continues at Japan Society on Fri., Nov. 21, 2008

Tora-san Meets the Songstress Again
Episode 15 - Otoko wa Tsuraiyo: Torajiro aiaigasa
Directed by Yoji Yamada
With Kiyoshi Atsumi, Chieko Baisho and Ruriko Asaoka
Japan, 1975, 90 min.

Japan Society's current Monthly Classics series Best of Tora-san continues this Friday, November 21st, 2008 with Episode 15 of the long-running series. Like all eight episodes being showcased, it was personally selected by director Yoji Yamada, who helmed 46 of the 48 films in the series.

Storyline:
Disgruntled with his life in Tokyo as an established business man with a family, Hyodo escapes to Hokkaido to look for his high school love, with Tora-san (Kiyoshi Atsumi) in tow. On the way, Tora-san runs into the beautiful singer, Lily, who has divorced her husband since she last saw Tora-san. Can Tora-san hold onto her this time? Ruriko Asaoka stars as Lily, who played the “Madonna” in five of the Tora-san films- the most of any other Madonna in the series.

Screening & Ticket Info:
Tora-san Meets the Songstress Again will be shown at Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues, NY10017. Showtime Friday night is 7:30 PM.

Tickets$11/$7 Japan Society members, students & seniors

Buy Tickets Online or call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. - Fri. 11 am - 6 pm, Weekends 11 am - 5 pm.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ACF 178: "Dam Street" @ Asia Society, NY

Xiao Yun (actress Liu Yi)

Dam Street
Directed by Li Yu
China/France, 2005, 93 min.
In Mandarin with English Subtitles

ASIA SOCIETY and GLOBAL FILM INITIATIVE are co-presenting Dam Street this Friday, November 21, 2008 at 7:00 P.M. The screening will be at Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue at 70 th Street, New York City.

The Story:
In the early–1980s, Xiao Yun—a sixteen year–old girl living in small riverside town — discovers she is pregnant. The local community is stunned, her family loses face and she and her boyfriend are expelled from school. In the aftermath, she gives birth and is forced to put her child up for adoption.

Ten years later, her relationship with her family strained and ostracized by residents of the town, Xiao Yun is reduced to working as a singer in a song and dance troupe. Her only real companion is Xiao Yong, a fiercely affectionate boy who protects her from the critical eyes of the community until a marriage proposal discovers the limits of their friendship.

What Others Have Said About It:
"Beautiful cinematography and outstanding performances! Dam Street is an immensely touching and captivating story of love and marginalization created with Li’s skilled, caring directorial hand. MASTERFUL!" - Toronto International Film Festival

“Reminiscent of Zhang Yimou.” - Eye for Eye (UK)

Festival Record:
WINNER! GRAND PRIZE - BEST FILM, Deauville Asian Film Festival
WINNER! BEST DIRECTOR, Ghent Int’l Film Festival
WINNER! JURY PRIZE, Venice Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION- Toronto • Berlin • Edinburgh Film Festivals

Registration:
Free for Asia Society Members; $7 Students with ID/Seniors; $11 Nonmembers

For tickets, call the Asia Society box office at (212) 517-ASIA
or visit https://tickets.asiasociety.org

No cancellations, exchanges or refunds.