With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Friday, May 29, 2009

ACF 311: Detroit Motor City

VIZ UNLEASHES THE WILDEST, SHOCKINGLY FUNNY MANGA FOR THE NOT SO FAINT OF HEART, DETROIT METAL CITY

Johannes Krauser II Is The Outrageous Demonic Front Man
Of The Heaviest Death Metal Band In Japan
But Off Stage He’s A Pop Music-Listening Wimp –
Can He Ever Reconcile His Two Personas?

Rock & Roll and manga fans nationwide should be delighted with the debut of DETROIT METAL CITY on June 9th from VIZ. The new manga series is rated ‘M’ for Mature Audiences and carries an MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $15.00 CAN. The first print run of volume one also contains limited edition tattoos. Read on for more info from VIZ.

Prepare to have your mortal soul devoured by the demonic Johannes Krauser II, front man for Detroit Metal City, the most outrageous death metal band on the Japanese indie rock scene! Soichi Negishi dreamed of moving to Tokyo and starting a bubblegum pop band, but now he’s fronting the most scandalous and demented death metal band in Japanese rock! Deep down, Soichi still dreams of acoustic guitars and trips to Paris, but when the makeup comes on and he transforms into his alter ego, Krauser II, not even the denizens of hell are safe from his soul-devouring death metal sound. Can Soichi reconcile his sensitive inner yearnings with his wild on-stage persona – the vilest hard rocker in Japanese (and possibly world) history?

DETROIT METAL CITY takes the zany rock antics inspired by films like Spinal Tap to hilarious new extremes in this witty series created by Kiminori Wakasugi. First appearing in the pages of Japan’s Young Animal manga magazine, the manga quickly became a national sensation. The series has already sold more than 2 million copies in Japan. The DETROIT METAL CITY animated counterpart has also gained a major following across North America. A live action version of the film was recently released in Japan featuring cameos by Gene Simmons (KISS) and Marty Friedman (Megadeth).

“The hilarious on- and off-stage antics of Soichi Negishi and his swaggering alter ego Johannes Krauser II promises to make DETROIT METAL CITY the most over-the-top, profane, and funniest hard rock manga satire to ever hit North American shores.” says Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President Sales & Marketing for VIZ Media. “We look forward to it resonating not only with manga readers but also with music fans who will relish this eccentric heavy metal adventure.”

Thursday, May 28, 2009

ACF 310: Oscar winner 'Departures' opens at 3 NY theaters and elsewhere tomorrow

Departures / Okuribito
Directed by Yojiro Takita
Starring Masaniro Motoki, Ryoko Hirosue,
and Tsutomu Yamazaki
Japan, 2007, 130 min.

This film surprised many when it won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at this year's Oscars. With its theatrical release tomorrow, May 29th, 2009 in New York and other cities, general audiences will have the chance to see it and understand why it deserved this and the numerous other awards it has won.

The story is about Daigo Kobayashi (Masamiro Motoki), who loses his job as a cellist when his orchestra is dissolved. His wife Mika (Ryoko Hirosue) agrees to moving from Tokyo back to Yamagata, his home town, where they can live in a building his deceased mother left to him.

Daigo answers an employment ad that he thinks pertains to a job in the travel industry because it features the word "departures." He's shocked to find out from his would-be employer Mr. Sasaki (Tsumotomu Yamazaki) that the ad had a misprint and that the job is learning how to assist in "encoffination" of deceased persons. This is the ritualistic preparation of the body for cremation.

Director Takita has done a marvelous job of injecting enough humor in the story to keep it from being morbid even though death is such a prominent element in the narrative. At the same time, the humor is sufficiently restrained so that the film does not devolve into farce.

And the entire cast is marvelous.

For some reason I neglected to include a rating in my initial review on May 5th, but have no doubt about it, Departures gets 4 out of 4 stars and my highest recommendation. It's beautiful, warm and touching, an outstanding example of great world cinema.

Check local listings for locations or visit the film's website at www.departures-themovie.com for the release schdule and other info.

Read Mike Hale's recent NY Times article about Director Takita-san here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

ACF 309: Four more films announced for 8th annual NY Asian Film Festival!!!

The 8th annual New York Asian Film Festival will be upon us in just over three weeks!!!

And those wonderful, hard-workin' folks at Subway Cinema have just announced the addition of four more titles.

For the skinny on them , click here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

ACF 308: 'The Flower Girl' At The Korea Society Thursday, May 28th, 2009

The Flower Girl
Directed by Choi Ik–kyu and Pak Hak
Starring Hong Yong–hee, Pak Hwa-son, Kim Ryong-rin and Ryu Hu-nam
North Korea, 1972, 120 minutes

The Korea Society's second Films from the North series concludes this Thursday, May 28th, 2009 at 6: 30 PM with this film adapted from an anti-imperialist opera from the 1930s.

The Flower Girl is a tragic story of a family cruelly exploited by the Japanese colonial authorities and a clarion call for the Korean people to fight for the socialist revolution. The film was so popular when it was released domestically that Hong Yong–hee's picture was printed on North Korean currency.

The film will be shown at The Korea Society, 950 Third Avenue, Eighth Floor, New York City. The building entrance is on the southwest corner of 57th Street and Third Avenue.

More info or purchasing tickets online available here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

ACF 307: 'The Sky Crawlers' DVDs from Sony due out this Tuesday, May 26, 2009

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

The Sky Crawlers, from master director Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell), is scheduled to be released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on both Blu-ray High-Def and DVD this Tuesday.

Since I wrote fairly extensively about the film in my original review, I'll just provide a brief synopsis here and focus more on the DVD package.

Yuichi Kannami arrives at his new assignment

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.

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 Fooco, a prostitute and a normal human. She and one of her co-workers are kind of fighter pilot groupies.

Base Commander Suito (l) and pilot Yuichi

There are a number of mysteries played out over the course of the film. What happened to Jinroh Kurita, the pilot whose plane Yuichi is assigned? And why is there so often a sense of deja vu while at the same time actual memories tend to be very limited? These make the film quite intriguing.

Fooco and Yuichi

But for me the biggest draw of the film are the aerial scenes, particularly the dogfights. The animation is a combination of 2-D (the characters and backgrounds) and 3-D (the airplanes). So the non-flight scenes are largely standard animation, while the flight scenes are nearly photo-realistic.

And let me tell you, the aerial scenes are totally awesome! I felt like I was watching actual combat footage. A truly incredible achievement by Oshii and his team.

There are two special features on the discs of both formats and an extra one on the Blu-ray version. (See disc info below for specifics.) Not having a Blu-ray player yet, my screener was the standard DVD. The research featurette is devoted to location scouting, primarily in Europe including a Polish airfield. Though it did not really drag, I personally felt that it could've been trimmed a little bit.

The other featurette is concerned mainly with sound effects, music and the dubbing of the Japanese language version of the film. (The disc also has a very good English language version that adds to the replay value of an already great film.)

The only real fault I found with the extras was that people are not identified. I'd never seen Oshii before, and it was easy to quickly figure out who he was. I also recognized Rinko Kikuchi (Babel), who provides the voice for Commander Suito Kusanagi and Chiaki Kuriyama (Kill Bill, Vol. 1 and Exte: Hair Extensions), who voiced another character. For me, it would've been nice if all the principal individuals had been ID'd. On the other hand, I will acknowledge that since both featurettes are subtitled, doing so might've run the risk of visual overload.

The bottom line is that The Sky Crawlers is a fantastic film that will delight devoted fans of anime and newcomers alike. The transfer, even on standard DVD, is first-rate and drop-dead gorgeous. I've seen the film three times: last fall in a theater and recently twice on DVD (both the Japanese and English language versions). It totally holds up for repeat viewings.

Check it out for yourself by watching the Blu-ray & DVD trailer here. And keep your eyes peeled for the quote from my original review of the film. It appears roughly 1/3rd of the way through the trailer.

The Sky Crawlers
Rated: PG-13 for material involving violence, some sexual content and smoking
DVD Catalog #: 30748
DVD UPC Code: 043396307483
DVD SLP: $27.96
Blu-ray Catalog #: 30752
Blu-ray UPC Code: 043396307520
Blu-ray SLP: $39.95
Running Time: 121

BLU-RAY DISC & DVD SPECIAL FEATURES
· "Animation Research for The Sky Crawlers" Featurette
· "The Sound Design and Animation of The Sky Crawlers" Featurette
BLU-RAY DISC EXCLUSIVE
· "Sky's the Limit: An Interview with Director Mamoru Oshii" Featurette

Saturday, May 23, 2009

ACF 306: VIZ announces beta launch of IKKI - a new online manga magazine


VIZ has launched a web-only English version of the manga magazine IKKI.

Here's the info provided by VIZ:

VIZ Media invites you to visit http://www.sigikki.com/ and test out the beta launch of a brand new collaboration to bring comics the likes of which American audiences have never seen to these shores.

IKKI is a monthly magazine published in Japan that has established itself as the home of some of the most innovative, bold, and compelling series in the world of contemporary manga. Since its launch in 2003 IKKI has built a catalog of titles notable for its diversity. From action to comedy to drama, from slice-of-life stories to surrealist fantasies, the one common thing these works share is an uncommon emphasis on creative quality and on pushing the boundaries of the norm.

In partnership with VIZ Media and its “VIZ Signature” line of graphic novels, IKKI is bringing the works of some of its top creators to the English-language audience via a groundbreaking online monthly manga magazine.

The first series featured in this launch is CHILDREN OF THE SEA by Daisuke Igarashi. Each month, new chapters will be offered online in their entirety, for free. After the completion of the online serialization of the first volume, CHILDREN OF THE SEA volume one will become available as a VIZ Signature graphic novel.

The list of future series to be serialized includes:
BOKURANO: OURS, by Mohiro Kitoh
HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES, by Natsume Ono
DOROHEDORO, by Q Hayashida
I'LL GIVE IT MY ALL...TOMORROW, by Shunju Aono

Also, each month, new content—such as creator interviews, feature articles, news, and giveaways—will be posted on the site.

About CHILDREN OF THE SEA by Daisuke Igarashi:
When Ruka was younger, she saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium where her dad works. Now she feels drawn toward the aquarium and the two mysterious boys she meets there, Umi and Sora. They were raised by dugongs and hear the same strange calls from the sea as she does.

Ruka's dad and the other adults who work at the aquarium are only distantly aware of what the children are experiencing as they get caught up in the mystery of the worldwide disappearance of the oceans' fish.

Daisuke Igarashi is an award-winning manga creator who began his career in 1993. His series Majo received the Excellence Prize at the 2004 Japan Media Arts Festival and was nominated for the Fauve d’Or Best Comic Book Prize at the 2007 Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d'Angoulême. Little Forest was nominated for the 2006 Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize. His current series Children of the Sea is the winner of the 38th Japan Cartoonist Award and runs in IKKI magazine.

Here's the link again: www.sigikki.com . GO CHECK IT OUT NOW!!!

Same Hat! Same Hat! recently ran a related posting that includes links to a Publishers Weekly article and an interview with Daisuke Igarashi.

Friday, May 22, 2009

ACF 305: NYAFF 2009 approaches!!!

Subway Cinema's New York Asian Film Festival 2009 festival will start in just five weeks and will run from June 19th thru July 5th. Here's a look at one of the many fine films that will be screened.

CRUSH AND BLUSH
Directed by Lee Kyeong-Mi
South Korea, 2008
New York Premiere

This hysteria-fueled comedy from Korea has already acquired a cult following and it’s easy to see why.

Produced by Park Chan-Wook (OLDBOY, and he also has a cameo – as does HOST director Bong Joon-Ho) it’s from first time female director Lee Kyeong-Mi and stars actress Kong Hyo-Jin as a high school Russian teacher demoted to teaching English, a language she barely understands. Her solution? All-out war with the teacher she views as the source of her misery.

The kind of movie that’s very, very funny until it goes too far and starts making the audience very, very uncomfortable.

For more info about the festival, check out Subway Cinema's website.

LATEST NEWS ABOUT NYAFF 2009 WORLD PREMIERES @ Subway Cinema News.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

ACF 304: "The Century of the Black Ships" non-fiction book available from VIZ

Book Examines How Japanese Popular Literature Shaped Public
Opinion And Helped Move The Country Into The Modern Era

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) has announced the publication of this notable nonfiction book that presents an unconventional view of Japanese-U.S. relations. The Century of the Black Ships is available now and was written by one of Japan’s most preeminent academics, Naoki Inose, who is also current Vice Governor of Tokyo. The Century of the Black Ships carries an MSRP of $32.00 CAN.

Meticulously researched, the new book offers insights from a variety of Japanese writers that gave voice to the anxieties of a nation headed towards war. Not just any war, but one that would eventually be fought against the United States. Beginning when U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew C. Perry first sailed into Tokyo Bay with his fleet of so-called “Black Ships” in 1853 and demanded Japan open itself to the West, Japanese novelists and military analysts, along with select foreign counterparts, wrote extensively of the coming conflict, creating a massive body of popular works through which Japan would debate its own passage, however violently, into the modern, globalized era. Many of these opinions have rarely been read outside Japan until now.

"Naoki Inose is one of Japan’s most acclaimed nonfiction writers and we look forward to those interested in the Second World War, Japan-U.S. relations, and Asian geo-politics discovering this insightful new edition that presents a new view of the events that led to the greatest military conflict in modern history,” says Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President Sales & Marketing, VIZ Media.

Inose was awarded the prestigious Ōya Prize for nonfiction in 1987 for his book about the Emperor’s image, The Mikado’s Portrait. Writing on a wide range of topics ranging from literature to the economy, Inose’s meticulously researched works have explored a variety of themes related to Japan’s quest to enter the modern age. In 1996, he won the Bungei Shunju Reader’s Prize for his book, A Study of Japan, a richly documented examination of Japan’s public corporations that urged the need for structural reforms.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

ACF 303: Tora-san, My Uncle

Tora-san, My Uncle
Episode 42 - Otoko wa Tsuraiyo: Boku no Ojisan
Directed by Yoji Yamada
With Kiyoshi Atsumi, Chieko Baisho and Kumiko Goto
Japan, 1989, 108 min, 35 mm, color

The final film in Japan Society's Monthly Classics series The Best of Tora-san will be shown Friday, May 22, 2009 at 7:30 PM at Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street (between 1st & 2nd Avenues), New York, NY 10017.

Secretly in love with Izumi, Mitsuo, Tora-san’s restless nephew, embarks on a motorcycle journey to find her in Saga and runs into his uncle on the way. Tora-san tries helping Mitsuo capture Izumi’s heart, despite the disapproval of her uncle. Kumiko Goto stars as Izumi, who plays the “Madonna” for four consecutive Tora-san films as Mitsuo’s love interest.

Order tickets online for Tora-san, My Uncle, or call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. - Fri. 11 am - 6 pm, Weekends 11 am - 5 pm.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

ACF 302: 12 films confirmed so far for JAPAN CUTS 2009

Image © 2008 "Crime or Punishment?!?" Production Committee

JAPAN CUTS Festival of New Japanese Film
Japan Society Confirms 12 of Nearly 20 Films for 3rd Annual Summer Festival
June 30-July 12, 2009

The one-two punch of Subway Cinema's New York Asian Film Festival and Japan Society's JAPAN CUTS film series will again soon be upon us lovers of Asian films in and around The Big Apple. As has been the case the past couple of years, JAPAN CUTS will dove-tail with the NYAFF, co-presenting several films, then going it solo for the remainder. Here's the latest news about the films confirmed for JAPAN CUTS to date:

New York, NY -- Japan Society announces its third annual JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Films, the only large-scale annual film festival in North America celebrating the latest films from Japan.

With the full schedule to be announced Tuesday, May 26, the Society's Film Program has confirmed 12 of nearly 20 titles, including the final installment of Takeshi Kitano’s trilogy about an artist’s dilemma, Achilles and the Tortoise; the much-anticipated 4-hour hentai (pervert) epic Love Exposure (dir. Sion Sono); the controversial cop-crime-action flick Confessions of a Dog (dir. Gen Takahashi); Halfway (dir. Eriko Kitagawa), produced by coming-of-age film master Shunji Iwai; and the sci-fi, time travel love story Cyborg She (dir. Kwak Jae-Young).

JAPAN CUTS presents films ranging from blockbusters and art-house hits to cutting-edge independents and innovative animations, with exclusive filmmaker Q&A's, parties and other special events. Made by both established and emerging directors and starring today’s hottest actors and festival winners, all JAPAN CUTS films are world, U.S., or New York premieres. As in previous years, JAPAN CUTS launches at the tail end of the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), with Japan Society and NYAFF co-presenting several of the major Japanese titles featured in both festivals. Confirmed films for 2009 include:

*20th Century Boys (dir. Yukihiko Tsutsumi)

*20th Century Boys: Chapter Two – The Last Hope (dir. Yukihiko Tsutsumi)

Achilles and the Tortoise (dir.Takeshi Kitano)

*All Around Us (dir. Ryosuke Hashiguchi)

Buy a Suit (dir. Jun Ichikawa)

Confessions of a Dog (dir. Gen Takahashi), with special appearance by Takahashi

Crime or Punishment?!? (dir. Keralino Sandorovich)

Cyborg She (dir. Kwak Jae-Young)

Halfway (dir. Eriko Kitagawa, produced by Shunji Iwai)

*Love Exposure (dir. Sion Sono), with special appearance by Sono

*The Magic Hour (dir. Koki Mitani)

Non-ko (dir. Kazuyoshi Kumakiri)

* co-presented with NYAFF

This year JAPAN CUTS spotlights UrumaDelvi, the artistic duo behind the hugely popular animated music video Bottom Biting Bug. UrumaDelvi Collected Shorts presents dozens of the duos' short animations, including world premiere English versions of Bottom Biting Bug and Sumiko. In addition, UrumaDelvi will create the JAPAN CUTS 2009 festival trailer.

Japanese cinema today is reaching new heights of critical and popular success, in one of the most dynamic and thriving film industries outside of Hollywood. Since 2006 over 400 Japanese films have been released theatrically in Japan every year (as reported by The Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan), with domestic films taking in 50% of Japan's box office revenues. JAPAN CUTS promises U.S. audiences their first taste of the most talked about Japanese films from 2008 and 2009.

Launched in Summer 2007 to celebrate Japan Society's centennial, the first annual JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film was one of the most successful single events in Japan Society's 2007-08 centennial celebration. Noted for its "rich and varied selection of recent Japanese films” (David Kehr, The New York Times), the festival grew to attract nearly 6,000 audience members in 2008. In previous years, films premiered at JAPAN CUTS that have gone on to international acclaim have included The Mourning Forest, Yasukuni, Sukiyaki Western Django, United Red Army, Sway, Death Note, and Kamome Diner. Past festivals have included appearances by directors Shusuke Kaneko, Naomi Kawase, Miwa Nishikawa, Naoko Ogigami, Sion Sono, and Koji Wakamatsu.

The New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), North America's leading festival of popular Asian films, runs June 19-July 5, 2009. Films are co-presented with Japan Society's JAPAN CUTS from July 1-5, during the opening weekend of JAPAN CUTS. To learn more, visit www.subwaycinema.com. Contact Grady Hendrix at 917-405-7477 or grady@subwaycinema.com for further details about the NYAFF.

The Japan Society Film Program offers a diverse selection of Japanese films, from classics to contemporary independent productions. Its aim is to entertain, educate and support activities in the Society's arts & culture programs. The Film Program has included retrospectives of great directors, thematic series and many U.S. premieres. Some original film series curated by the Japan Society have traveled to other U.S. venues in tours organized by the Film Program.

Established in 1907, Japan Society has evolved into North America's major producer of high-quality content on Japan for an English-speaking audience. Presenting over 100 events annually through well established Corporate, Education, Film, Gallery, Language, Lectures, Performing Arts and Innovators Network programs, the Society is an internationally recognized nonprofit, nonpolitical organization that provides access to information on Japan, offers opportunities to experience Japanese culture, and fosters sustained and open dialogue on issues important to the U.S., Japan, and East Asia.

Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 and 7 subway at Grand Central or the E and V subway at Lexington Avenue). For more information, call 212-832-1155 or visit www.japansociety.org.

JAPAN CUTS is supported by the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Endowment Fund, The Japan Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency. Additional support is provided by Sapporo. Transportation assistance is provided by Japan Airlines.

Monday, May 18, 2009

ACF 301: Wolmi Island

Wŏlmi Island
Directed by Cho Kyong-sun
Starring Cho Kyong–sun, Choe Chang–su, Choe Tae–hyon and Yun Su–gyong
North Korea, 1982, 92 minutes

The Korea Society's second series of films from North Korea continues this Thursday, May 21st at 6:30 PM with Wŏlmi Island.

In this gripping and imaginative war movie a small troop of North Korean soldiers, armed with just four guns between them, defeats General Douglas MacArthur and 50,000 American soldiers at Inch'on.

Sounds like it should be interesting to say the least!

The film will be shown at The Korea Society, 950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, Eighth Floor, NY, NY. The building is on the SW corner and the entrance is on 57th Street.

Further info and tickets online here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

ACF 300: Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit

(copyright:IKIGAMI (C) Motoro MASE/Shogakukan Inc.)

IKIGAMI: THE ULTIMATE LIMIT
WILL BRING ABOUT QUESTIONS OF JUSTICE, SOCIETY AND
THE BEST WAY TO REALLY APPRECIATE LIFE

“Depending on how a person lives their last day, the ikigami can be a death sentence, or an invitation to really live.”

Manga readers can expect a chill down their spines this month with the North American debut of Motoro Mase’s harrowing and suspenseful manga series IKIGAMI: THE ULTIMATE LIMIT, which is available now! IKIGAMI: THE ULTIMATE LIMIT is rated ‘M’ for Mature Audiences and carries an MSRP of $12.99 US / $15.00 CAN.

In a futuristic dystopian Japan there is new slant on crime deterrence with a sinister policy with an ironic twist. Each day a randomly-selected person is put to death to remind the population of the very value of life. Those who are condemned to die receive an official government notice the day before, called an ikigami, alerting them of impending doom in 24 hours.

“Dear Citizen: You’ve no doubt noticed that the world is a troubled place. People are apathetic, lazy, unmotivated. You’ve probably asked yourself: Why isn’t anything being done to stop this systematic decline? Well, you’ll be happy to know that measures have been taken. We, your government, have decided society needs a wake-up call. So beginning today, we will randomly select a different citizen who will be killed within 24 hours of notification. We believe this will help remind all people how precious life is, and how important it is to be productive, active members of society… CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE BEEN RANDOMLY SELECTED BY THE GOVERNMENT…TO DIE IN 24 HOURS!”

IKIGAMI: THE ULTIMATE LIMIT presents a stark vision of the future echoed in George Orwell’s 1984 and in films such as The Matrix and Soylent Green. It asks tough questions about the real value of life, crime and deterrence and what’s best for the majority,” says Joel Enos, Senior Editor, VIZ Media. “Readers will undoubtedly reflect upon their own lives and what they hold dear as they witness how each of the persons that receive an ikigami react to their sentence. Is there an urge to retaliate and become angry or simply accept one’s fate for the betterment of larger society? Readers will surely ponder their own answers in this intense new series.”

IKIGAMI: THE ULTIMATE LIMIT originally debuted in Young Sunday and the manga has sold more than one million copies in Japan. Its popularity further inspired a live-action film that was released in 2008 in Japan starring the popular young actor, Shota Matsuda. Acclaimed artist and manga creator, Motoro Mase was also nominated for Shogakukan’s 43rd Grand Prize for best comic by a new artist.

Friday, May 15, 2009

ACF 299: Missionary Photography in Korea

"Soongsil Christian Academy's Football Team"
P'yongyang, 1925
The Moffett Korea Collection
Special Collections of the Princeton Theological Seminary


The arrival of the first Western missionaries in Korea at the end of the 19th century coincided with the advent of photography. Pictures taken by the missionaries captured a country in the process of profound transformation.

The Korea Society will be hosting the photo exhibition Missionary Photography In Korea: Encountering The West Through Christianity from May 19 through August 14, 2009.

An Opening Reception will be held Tuesday, May 19, 2009, from 6:00-8:30 PM. It is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to Heewon Kim at 212.759.7525, ext. 355 or heewon.ny@koreasociety.org.

The Korea Society is located at 950 Third Avenue @ 57th Street, Eighth Floo, NY, NY. The building is on the SW corner and the entrance is on 57th Street.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

ACF 298: The Tale of Chun Hyang

Thursday, May 14, 6:30 PM
The Tale of Chun Hyang (1980)
Directed by Yu Won–jun, Yun Ryong-gyu
Starring Choe Sun–gyu, Kim son-yong, Ko Jong-hwan and Kim Yong–suk
148 minutes

The Korea Society's second installment in its Films from the North series continues Thursday evening with this screening of The Tale of Chun Hyang. It's a socialist retelling of Chunhyangjŏn, a Korean folktale about the romance and intrigue that blossom between a kisaeng's daughter and a magistrate's son. While retaining the story's original Confucian ethic, The Tale of Chun Hyang transforms the story's heroine from a cultured court entertainer to a tough, working–class woman.

Further info and tickets online here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ACF 297: Grand Opening Celebration of NEW PEOPLE in S.F. scheduled for August


VIZ PICTURES PRESENTS THE FIRST ADVENTURE OF THE
J-POP CENTER PROJECT WITH THE GRAND OPENING OF
NEW PEOPLE IN SAN FRANCISCO THIS SUMMER

UNIQUE DESTINATION IN HISTORIC JAPANTOWN BRINGS THE LATEST JAPANESE POP CULTURE, FILM, ANIME, FASHION AND ART TO NORTH AMERICA; OPENING CELEBRATIONS COMMENCE IN AUGUST 2009

VIZ Pictures, a Japanese live-action film distributor and producer of the J-Pop Center Project, adds a captivating new dimension to the city of San Francisco with the opening of a vivid new attraction – NEW PEOPLE – in the heart of the city’s historic Japantown.

This unique entertainment destination will epitomize the latest examples Japanese popular culture expressed though film, art, fashion, and a variety of specialty boutiques and ongoing monthly events. The project, three and a half years in the making, celebrates its Grand Opening this summer with an all day outdoor music and performance event and gala to be held this August. Specific details will be announced shortly.

A dedicated NEW PEOPLE web site is also now available at: http://www.newpeopleworld.com/

NEW PEOPLE is a 20,000 square foot contemporary building located at 1746 Post Street in the city’s Japantown (one of only three remaining in the country), an area steeped in more than a century of history. The structure features a striking 3-floor transparent glass façade that invokes a fun and exotic new environment to engage the imagination for the 21st Century.

With three stories above and a basement cinema below, NEW PEOPLE will offer the latest films, art, and retail brands from Japan. The spacious 143-seat underground cinema space is equipped with cutting edge High Definition digital projection and THX®-certified sound and is the soul of the NEW PEOPLE experience.

Its core focus will be on some of the latest and hottest films from Japan, as well as an incredible legacy of classics, documentaries and anime – making it the only cinema of its type in the United States. These film genres are some of the most recognizable examples of Japanese pop culture and have captured the world’s attention.

Film lineup and details will be announced closer to the Grand Opening date.
NEW PEOPLE will also feature an entire floor devoted to several distinctive, trend-setting clothing labels from Japan including Baby, The Stars Shine Bright (Tokyo), Black Peace Now (Tokyo), 6% DOKIDOKI (Tokyo), and a short-term rotating storefront to showcase a new brand every two to three months

These shops will all mark their retail debut in United States at NEW PEOPLE. Baby, Black Peace Now, and 6% are pioneers of Harajuku street fashion, which has turned this vibrant district of Tokyo into an internationally-respected fashion Mecca of renowned for its unique designers.

NEW PEOPLE will also tout a café featuring organic roast Blue Bottle Coffee and Japanese delicatessen Delica rf-1, an inventive NEW PEOPLE retail store, and a 2,000 square foot art gallery providing an important showcase for a new generation of artists inspired by Japanese pop culture. The opening exhibit is expected to draw worldwide interest not only from anime fans but also serious collectors of Japanese pop art.

Details on the opening art exhibit will be announced in coming weeks.

“NEW PEOPLE is a truly unique space devoted to creativity and self expression, and will become a cultural destination unlike any other in the United States,” says Seiji Horibuchi, the founder and CEO of VIZ Pictures and the founder of VIZ Media as well as the J-pop Center Project.

“NEW PEOPLE will help nurture Japanese pop culture and also connect the public with its diverse creators. As North America continues to embrace a variety of hip trends from Japan, we look forward to expanding the vision of NEW PEOPLE globally through film, art and other multimedia and forging innovative cross-cultural creative partnerships.”

Sunday, May 10, 2009

ACF 296: Live Action HAPPILY EVER AFTER available on DVD May 12th

Happily Ever After / Jigyaku no uta
Directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi
Japan, 2007, 115 min

The live action film Happily Ever After will become available on DVD this coming Tuesday, May 12th, 2009 from VIZ Pictures. It will carry MSRPs of $24.92 US and $35.99 CAN.

HAPPILY EVER AFTER is based on a best-selling manga series by Yoshiie Gouda and was a hit upon its theatrical release in Japan. This bittersweet romantic comedy combines visually striking cinematography with a heartwarming story about the nature of love and friendship presented by a cast of Japan’s top acting talents.

Housewife Yukie Morita (Miki Nakatani) works hard to make ends meet while her husband Isao (Hiroshi Abe) hangs around all day gambling away their savings and getting into trouble. Isao’s uncontrollable temper often results in the dinner table being overturned and their evening meal on the floor. Everyone advises Yukie to leave Isao, but their unconditional love keeps them together through happiness and hard times.

Director Tsutsumi previously directed Memories of Tomorrow, a film about a successful businesman (the always great Ken Watanabe) who begins to exhibit early signs of Alzheimer's Disease. That film was overshadowed in the U.S. by Away from Her, another film about the effects of Alzheimers that, like Memories, was also released in 2006.

Friday, May 08, 2009

ACF 295: Latest on NYAFF 2009


The folks at Subway Cinema have put out some more news about the gonna-be-incredible-and-ya-better-not-miss-it New York Asian Film Festival 2009. The festival will start in just six weeks, running from June 19th thru July 5th. More titles and guest appearances have just been announced and you can read about it all here.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

ACF 294: VIZ announces Anime DVD releases for 2nd quarter 2009

VIZ Media has announced a diverse collection of new animated and live-action titles scheduled for release throughout the Second Quarter of 2009.

The new releases include DEATH NOTE RELIGHT: VISIONS OF A GOD, which retells the groundbreaking DEATH NOTE psychological crime drama from an entirely new perspective. Also set for release is the concluding DVD Box Set of the DEATH NOTE animated series. New BLEACH episodic and NARUTO box set editions are also scheduled for release, along with the next Box Set compilation of HUNTER X HUNTER. INUYASHA fans will delight in the debut of the final Season 7 Box Set edition containing the series’ cliffhanger finale, while younger fans can look forward to four new POKÉMON DVDS that highlight their favorite characters.

Many of these releases are also available as Special Editions featuring collectible figurines. In the Live Action realm, VIZ Pictures will debut the live-action comedy/drama HAPPILY EVER AFTER. VIZ Media DVD titles are distributed (in English) in U.S and Mexico by Warner Home Video and in Canada by Allegro.

New DEATH NOTE Releases Include:

DEATH NOTE RELIGHT: VISIONS OF A GOD • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available June 23
Light and L have battled to the bitter end over the Death Note — but what does the DEATH NOTE saga look like from Ryuk’s point of view? When rogue shinigami Ryuk deliberately drops his Death Note in the human world out of boredom, he has no idea how far the human who picks it up will take his newfound power. With the Death Note in hand, brilliant high school student Light Yagami vows to rid the world of evil, and when criminals begin dropping dead one by one, genius detective L steps in to track down the elusive killer known as Kira. An epic battle of wits pitting one brilliant mind against another unfolds — with the very future of humanity at stake! Ryuk’s not bored anymore!

DEATH NOTE DVD Box Set Volume 2 • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens • MSRP: $69.97 US / $99.99 CAN • Available Now!
In the concluding DVD Box Set of this edgy crime thriller, Light Yagami is close to creating a world in which he holds ultimate authority over right and wrong through the power of the Death Note. But many obstacles remain, including a second Death Note user who has his own nefarious goals, and the two brilliant protégés of L, the genius detective who once vowed to expose the identity of the Death Note’s owner. Light is confident that he can prevail, but as the surviving players in the game converge for a final showdown, whose name will be the last one written in the Death Note? This is the final installment in the series, covering the last 17 episodes. A special bonus disc also includes 90 minutes of extra content.

New NARUTO Releases Include:

NARUTO UNCUT DVD Box Set Volume 13 Special Edition • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens • MSRP: $69.97 US / $99.99 CAN • Available Now!
Naruto summons a couple of old amphibious pals – Gamakichi and Gamatatsu – to help him solve a mystery surrounding a mysterious Cursed Warrior. Back at home, there's nothing more motivating for Choji and Naruto than a bowl of steaming hot Ichiraku ramen, and they're really going to have to sing for their supper when the owner's daughter is kidnapped! Can they get her back and save the restaurant's secret recipes in time for dinner? Then, Anko must face the darkness in her past when she's called to lead a mission to a place she once visited with her former sensei, Orochimaru! Will facing the truth save the mission – or break her forever? Special Edition Box Set features 14 episodes on 3 discs and includes a collectible Mininja figurine of Kakashi.

NARUTO UNCUT DVD Box Set Volume 13 Standard Edition • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens • MSRP: $49.95 US / $71.99 CAN • Available Now!
Standard Edition set features the same episodes as Special Edition but no collectible Kakashi Mininja is included.

NARUTO UNCUT DVD Box Set Volume 14 Special Edition • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens • MSRP: $69.97 US / $99.99 CAN • Available May 26
The ninja of the Hidden Leaf Village are summoned on a new mission to the Land of Stars, where a meteorite with incredible powers has been stolen! Naruto and the others begin to suspect it was an inside job when they learn that the ninja who stole the star used a special ninjutsu known only to the Star Village. Then, Choji, Hinata and Naruto set out for the Land of Greens to protect a group of merchants, one of whom turns out to be a princess! When Hinata is threatened by an evil ninja to reveal the princess's whereabouts or Naruto will be hurt, will she choose to save a princess or the boy she loves? Special Edition Box Set features 14 episodes on 3 discs and includes a collectible Mininja figurine of Neji.

NARUTO UNCUT DVD Box Set Volume 14 Standard Edition • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens • MSRP: $49.95 US / $71.99 CAN • Available May 26
Standard Edition set features the same episodes as Special Edition but no collectible Neji Mininja is included.

New BLEACH Releases Include:

BLEACH Volume 16 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available May 12
The latest BLEACH edition sees Ichigo and friends finally resuming their regular lives at home and school after their adventures in the Soul Society. But strange disappearances keep occurring and no culprit is in sight. Something strange has followed them home and it will put their faith and trust in each other to the test. Single Disc Edition features 4 original uncut episodes.

BLEACH Volume 17 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available June 16
A powerful new enemy has appeared in Karakura Town. Known as Bounts, these creatures literally suck the souls from humans. Rukia, Yoruichi and Soi Fon are sent from the Soul Society to investigate, and Urahara enlists the help of three mod souls to assist Ichigo and friends in preventing the deadly attacks. Single Disc Edition features 4 original and uncut episodes.

New HUNTER X HUNTER Releases Include:

HUNTER X HUNTER Box Set Volume 2 • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens • MSRP: $49.95 US / $71.99 CAN • Available Now!
The second of four DVD box sets of the HUNTER X HUNTER action/adventure fantasy series from Yoshihiro Togashi the creator of YUYU HAKUSHO. Gon and his friends have passed the first two stages of the Hunter Exam, but they still have three more grueling phases to complete. In the latest episodes, the hopeful candidates must escape the maze-like Trick Tower and survive a free-for-all on an isolated island before they can battle it out in the final tournament. As the wild adventures with treasure hunting, magical beasts, and bounty hunters continue, will Gon and his friends prove their worth and earn the right to call themselves Hunters? Find out in this new Box Set that features 15 episodes on 3 discs.

New INUYASHA Releases Include:

INUYASHA Season 7 DVD Box Set Special Edition • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • MSRP: $119.89 US / $169.99 CAN • Available Now!
This set is the final installment of the legendary INUYASHA series inspired by Rumiko Takahashi’s smash-hit manga series. The story of the priestess Kikyo and half-demon Inuyasha ended in tragedy. As the series reaches its exciting finale, will Inuyasha and Kagome's story have a happier ending? Each battle draws the group closer to their ultimate goal – the border of the afterlife and the final shard of the sacred Shikon Jewel. But the last stage of the journey is the most difficult of all. In their final battle with Naraku, will the bond between Kagome and Inuyasha prove strong enough to vanquish him at last? The Box Set features 21 episodes on 4 discs. Special Edition also includes a collectible figure of Inuyasha wielding his powerful Tetsusaiga sword.

INUYASHA Season 7 DVD Box Set Standard Edition • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • MSRP: $99.94 US / $142.99 CAN • Available Now!
Standard Edition set features the same episodes as Special Edition but no collectible Inuyasha figure is included.

New POKÉMON Releases Include:

POKÉMON ALL STARS Volume 19 Torchic • Rated ‘A’ for All Ages • MSRP: $9.98 US / $14.99 CAN • Available Now!

POKÉMON ALL STARS Volume 20 Onix • Rated ‘A’ for All Ages • MSRP: $9.98 US / $14.99 CAN • Available Now!
Following the Pokémon 10th Anniversary celebration set, the Pokémon All Stars series consist of DVD releases commemorating top Pokémon characters. Each disc showcases a single character with three all-time favorite episodes featuring their adventures. Collect them all!

Volume 19 Includes 3 Torchic episodes:
1. In The Knicker Of Time
2. Having A Wailord Of A Time
3. A Shroomish Skirmish

Volume 20 Includes 3 Onix episodes:
1. Showdown In Pewter City
2. To Master The Onixpected
3. Hooked On Onix

POKÉMON: DIAMOND AND PEARL BATTLE DIMENSION Box Set 1 • Rated ‘A’ for All Ages • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available June 23
Ash, Dawn, and Brock continue their journey through the Sinnoh region, with Ash working on his next two Gym badges and Dawn striving to break her recent string of defeats. Some new Pokémon have joined the team–including Paul’s traumatized Chimchar–challenging the depths of our heroes’ Pokémon knowledge. Luckily, they’ll be attending Professor Rowan’s Pokémon Summer Academy and meeting a lot of Pokémon experts! But will they learn enough to deal with the devious threats posed by Pokémon Hunter J and Team Galactic? Find out in this special 2-disc box set.

POKÉMON DIAMOND AND PEARL BATTLE DIMENSION Volume 1-2 • Rated ‘A’ for All Ages • MSRP: $14.98 US / $21.99 CAN • Available June 23
The episodes of POKÉMON: DIAMOND & PEARL BATTLE DIMENSION split into two standard single disc editions
New VIZ Pictures Releases Include:

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

ACF 293: "Wings of Defeat" tonight on PBS

Writing about Wings of Defeat back in ACF 088 (March 17, 2008) I wrote:

Director [Risa] Morimoto has made a very special and touching film. It deserves to be seen by a large audience. Hopefully screenings such as the one tomorrow night at Japan Society will ultimately result in it having some sort of decent theatrical release and perhaps eventually being broadcast on Public Television.

Well it turns out that I was rather prophetic. Wings of Defeat will be shown tonight on New York's PBS Channel 13 at 10:30 PM. Check your local listings to see if your PBS station is also broadcasting this interesting and edifying documentary, which is absolutely well worth watching.

ACF 292: Departures

Departures / Okuribito
Directed by Yojiro Takita
Starring Masaniro Motoki, Ryoko Hirosue,
and Tsutomu Yamazaki
Japan, 2007, 130 min.

Last Friday night I was part of a large, fortunate audience at a special pre-release screening of this wonderful film. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at this year's Oscars, and deservedly so.

Daigo Kobayashi (Masamiro Motoki) loses his job as a cellist when his orchestra is dissolved. His wife Mika (Ryoko Hirosue) agrees to moving from Tokyo back to Yamagata, his home town, where they can live in a building his deceased mother left to him.

Daigo and his boss, Ikuei Sasaki, show their respect for the dead

Daigo answers an employment ad that he thinks pertains to a job in the travel industry because it features the word "departures." He's shocked to find out from his would-be employer Mr. Sasaki (Tsumotomu Yamazaki) that the ad had a misprint and that the job is learning how to assist in "encoffination" of deceased persons. This is the ritualistic preparation of the body for cremation.

Boss Sasaki, receptionist Yuriko Kamimura(Kimiko Yo)
and Daigo enjoy a holiday meal together

Fortunately this film, while nominally about death, is anything but morbid. Touching, yes. And funny at times as well. But morbid? No.

Director Takita and lead actor Motoki were present to answer some questions after the screening Friday night. I'll have more to say about the film and their responses in the next few weeks prior to the movie's theatrical release in the U.S. at the end of this month. For now, let me just reiterate that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences got it right this year in giving the Oscar to Departures.

Daigo makes a special offering to Mika

Departures will be opening May 29th at three theaters in New York City, and at other locations. Check local listings for online tickets or visit the film's website at www.departures-themovie.com.

Monday, May 04, 2009

ACF 291: VIZ announces Shonen Jump "Naruto Shippuden Collector"

VIZ MEDIA DELIGHTS NARUTO FANS WITH THE NEW
SHONEN JUMP NARUTO SHIPPUDEN COLLECTOR

New Comprehensive Release For Summer 2009
Is The Ultimate Guide For Naruto Shippuden
Manga, Anime, Video Games, Trading Cards And More

San Francisco, CA, MAY 4, 2009 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, has announced that SHONEN JUMP is releasing Naruto Shippuden Collector for Summer 2009 on May 5th. The volume is rated ‘T’ for Teens and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

This exciting edition covers everything about the exotic world of Naruto, from the first-ever in-depth look at the new Shippuden anime story arc to an 11-volume manga guide. It also examines the latest Naruto Shippuden video games, card game and merchandise releases, and is loaded with puzzles, activities and a bonus 17-page manga preview. Also included are two double-sided full-color pinups, a Might Guy promo card, a 100+ Shippuden episode guide, and breakdowns on Series 12 and 13 of the Naruto Trading Card Game.

“The Naruto phenomenon is dominating many manga and literary best-seller lists across the US,” says Grant Lowery, Editor-In-Chief, SHONEN JUMP Magazine. ”This special Naruto Shippuden Collector is the ultimate guide for both casual and die-hard fans. New fans will love the informative introduction to the world of Naruto Shippuden while experts will be engrossed with the detailed insider coverage of the manga and anime series, as well as video games, trading card games, and merchandise. This is the ultimate must-own collection for any Naruto fan!”

More than 4.4 million copies of Naruto manga have been sold in North America alone and the property recently held the top 7 spots on The New York Times Manga Best Seller List (April 24, 2009).

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 85 million copies to-date. The manga series (rated ‘T’ for Teens) and animated counterpart (Naruto rated ‘T’ for teens, and Naruto Shippuden rated ‘T+’ for older teens), is one of VIZ Media’s most successful properties and has captivated millions of fans across North America, Europe and South America. Naruto is a co-production of TV TOKYO, VIZ Media parent company Shueisha Inc., and Pierrot Co., Ltd.

Naruto Shippuden episodes are currently available for free at http://www.nnaruto.com/ and through a variety of other web-based, video streaming outlets that have partnered with VIZ Media, including Joost and Hulu.

For more information on Naruto please visit the official Naruto website at http://www.naruto.com/.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

ACF 290: Films From North Korea

Films from the North: Part II
May 7—28, 2009
Every Thursday in May

In a follow-up on its first presentation of North Korean cinema in 2008, The Korea Society is presenting the second installment in its Films from the North series. The four films—Traces of Life, The Tale of Chun Hyang, Wŏlmi Island and The Flower Girl—convey a view of the world that epitomizes the ideological underpinnings of the North Korean state. Within this context, the tales—of duty, self–sacrifice, imperialist cruelty and heroism in battle—are told with genuine feeling and artistry.

Screening every Thursday evening in May (May 7—28), all films will be shown at The Korea Society (950 Third Avenue, Eighth Floor, New York City; building entrance on the southwest corner of 57th Street and Third Avenue).

For more information, please email yuni.ny@koreasociety.org or call 212-759-7525, ext.323.

Special Feature Series Schedule:

Thursday, May 7
Traces of Life

6:00 PM Series' Opening Reception
Introduction by Suk–Young Kim, professor of theatre, UC Santa Barbara

6:40 PM Traces of Life (1989)
- Directed by Jo Kyong-sun
- Starring O Mi–ran, Paek Yong–hui and Ri Won–bok
128 minutes

This is the story of a hardworking farmer who transmutes her grief over the death of her husband into a love of country and raises her collective farm's rice production to unprecedented levels. It exemplifies the North Korean "hidden heroes" genre: a type of film made mostly during the 1980s and '90s, which feature simple country people bringing life to barren land.

Thursday, May 14, 6:30 PM
The Tale of Chun Hyang (1980)
Directed by Yu Won–jun, Yun Ryong-gyu
Starring Choe Sun–gyu, Kim son-yong, Ko Jong-hwan and Kim Yong–suk
148 minutes

The Tale of Chun Hyang is a socialist retelling of Chunhyangjŏn, a Korean folktale about the romance and intrigue that blossom between a kisaeng's daughter and a magistrate's son. While retaining the story's original Confucian ethic, The Tale of Chun Hyang transforms the story's heroine from a cultured court entertainer to a tough, working–class woman.

Thursday, May 21, 6:30 PM
Wŏlmi Island (1982)
Directed by Cho Kyong-sun
Starring Cho Kyong–sun, Choe Chang–su, Choe Tae–hyon and Yun Su–gyong
92 minutes

In this gripping and imaginative war movie a small troop of North Korean soldiers, armed with just four guns between them, defeats General Douglas MacArthur and 50,000 American soldiers at Inch'on.

Thursday, May 28, 6:30 PM
The Flower Girl (1972)
Directed by Choi Ik–kyu and Pak Hak
Starring Hong Yong–hee, Pak Hwa-son, Kim Ryong-rin and Ryu Hu-nam
120 minutes

Adapted from an anti-imperialist opera from the 1930s, The Flower Girl is a tragic story of a family cruelly exploited by the Japanese colonial authorities and a clarion call for the Korean people to fight for the socialist revolution. The film was so popular when it was released domestically that Hong Yong–hee's picture was printed on North Korean currency.

About the presenter:

Suk-Young Kim is Assistant Professor of Theatre at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Her research has been acknowledged by the International Federation for Theatre Research New Scholar’s Prize (2004), the American Society for Theater Research Fellowship (2006), and the Library of Congress Kluge Fellowship (2006-7), and her work has appeared in Theatre Research International, Theatre Journal and The Drama Review. She is currently working on a book project titled Illusive Utopia: Theater and Film in North Korea, which explores how the state produced propaganda performances, intersect with everyday life practice in North Korea.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

ACF 289: Ten New Manga Series From VIZ

VIZ MEDIA DELIVERS SCI-FI, ROMANCE, NINJA,

DINOSAURS AND HEAVY METAL
IN THE SECOND QUARTER OF 2009

Ten New Manga Series – Something For Everyone

VIZ Media has announced ten new manga series set to debut throughout the Second Quarter of 2009.

Science fiction, fantasy action/adventure, romance, feudal Japan, dinosaurs and even rock and roll provide an array of story backdrops and themes for an exciting Q2 filled with new manga series. Mature readers will be riveted to the page with the new gritty action series DOGS, while IKIGAMI: THE ULTIMATE LIMIT offers an alternate take on the future of crime deterrence and DETROIT METAL CITY screams tongue-in-cheek heavy metal fun. GESTALT takes readers on an amazing fantasy quest, while shojo fans will delight in the romantic debuts of HONEY HUNT, RASETSU, and a special Tail of the Moon Prequel: The Other Hanzo(u). Younger manga readers also have plenty of new titles to enjoy with the debuts of DINOSAUR HOUR and LEAVE IT TO PET! by the popular VIZKIDS imprint, as well as a special second edition of PokÉmon Adventures.

New VIZ Media Manga Titiles for Q2 Include:

DOGS PRELUDE, Volume 0 · Rated ‘M’ for Mature Audiences · MSRP: $12.99 US / $15.00 CAN · Available Now!

Boasting furious action, switchback plotting, magnetic characters and dazzling art, DOGS is a series created by Shirow Miwa that tells the story of four individuals struggling to survive a bleak dystopian urban future with a mix of gun, sword, courage and luck.

Heine, the “Stray Dog,” is a cipher of a young man with a mysterious metal collar bolted to his neck and a disturbing talent for mayhem. Badou is a hired gun for petty jobs, both legal and not, whose reckless facade hides a serious intent. Naoto, a preternaturally skilled swordswoman, is searching for the assassin who cut down her family and mentor. And Mihai, a middle-aged former hit man, has been trying to live a quiet life but is continually haunted by the deaths of his lover and protégé. Driven by their ghosts, both dead and alive, and a desire for truth, all of them are inexorably drawn to the “Underground,” the dark and dangerous sector below the city that holds all the secrets--ones that can only be had for a price. DOGS, originally published in Ultra Jump magazine in Japan, weaves a dramatic tale of an alternate future reminiscent of great thrillers like Blade Runner and Battle Royale.

IKIGAMI: THE ULTIMATE LIMIT, Vol. 1 · Rated ‘M’ for Mature Audiences · MSRP: $12.99 US / $15.00 CAN · Available May 12

Congratulations! You have been randomly selected by the government…to DIE in 24 hours! Please enjoy your final day and take pride in the fact that your death will inspire others to live life to the fullest!

Welcome to the world of Ikigami, the Death Notice, where to keep citizens on the straight and narrow path of productivity and prosperity, citizens are randomly selected by the government for termination!

IKIGAMI was created by Motoro Mase and originally debuted in Young Sunday. The manga presents a wicked slant on crime deterrence as readers see the last 24 hours through the eyes of the very people slated to die for their country with no hope of reprieve. What happens when people have no hope of survival will shock readers to the core in this new frighteningly dark series! IKIGAMI has sold more than a million copies and recently debuted in Japan as a live-action film. An acclaimed artist and manga creator, Mase was also nominated for Shogakukan’s 43rd Grand Prize for best comic by a new artist.

DETROIT METAL CITY (C) Kiminori Wakasugi 2006 / HAKUSENSHA, Inc.

DETROIT METAL CITY, Vol. 1 · Rated ‘M’ for Mature Audiences ·

MSRP: $12.99 US / $15.00 CAN · Available June 9

Prepare to have your mortal soul devoured by the demonic Johannes Krauser II, front man for Detroit Metal City, the most outrageous death metal band on the Japanese indie rock scene! Soichi Negishi dreamed of moving to Tokyo and starting a bubblegum pop band, but now he’s fronting the most scandalous and demented metal band in Japanese rock! Deep down, Soichi still dreams of acoustic guitars and trips to Paris, but when the makeup comes on and he transforms into his alter ego, Krauser II, not even the denizens of hell are safe from his soul-devouring death metal sound. Can Soichi reconcile his sensitive inner yearnings with his wild on-stage persona – the vilest hard rocker in Japanese (and possibly world) history?

DETROIT METAL CITY takes the zany rock antics inspired by films like Spinal Tap to hilarious new extremes in this witty series created by Kiminori Wakasugi. A live action version of the film was recently released in Japan featuring cameos by Gene Simmons (KISS) and Marty Friedman (Megadeth). The DETROIT METAL CITY animated counterpart has also gained a major following across North America and the debut of the manga promises to be the most outrageous, profane, and funny rock and roll adventure ever!

GESTALT, Vol. 1 · Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens · MSRP: $8.99 US / $10.50 CAN · Available June 16

In the legendary past the gods battled for supremacy and cast out a demon whose name cannot be spoken. Banished to earth, the demon found refuge on the mysterious and dangerous island known only as “G.” After experiencing a crisis of faith, Father Olivier of the Valaria Order decides to go there and find out the truth behind the legends. But Olivier’s journey is unsanctioned and the head of the Order engages the dark elf Suzu to stop him at any cost. As he begins his quest, Olivier encounters Ouri, a young girl from the south who cannot speak. When Suzu catches up to them, Ouri reveals herself as a powerful sorceress and quickly disposes of Suzu, at least for the moment. The pair continues their journey south, dodging the agents of Olivier’s order, the considerable native dangers of the island of G, and Ouri’s secret past.

GESTALT was created by Yun Kouga, one of the biggest names in manga, and incorporates many visual facets from computer and tabletop role-playing games to give the series a video game-like ambiance.

New SHOJO BEAT Manga Include:

HONEY HUNT, Vol. 1 · Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens · MSRP: $8.99 US / $10.50 CAN · Available Now!

Life's not easy when you're living in the shadow of your famous parents. Can shy Yura, the daughter of an award-winning composer and a world-renowned actress, find the courage to step out on her own when her super-celebrity parents get divorced? Already accustomed to the daily pressures of being the child of celebrities, Yura's frustration explodes in a rant against her parents – and to make things worse her emotional tirade is broadcast live on national TV! But when a powerful talent scout hears her impassioned declaration, he actually offers to represent her. The doors to showbiz are suddenly flung open for this timid wallflower. Will Yura step from out from the shadows to assume her place in the spotlight? Find out in this fascinating look at the crazy side of Japanese show business.

HONEY HUNT was created by Miki Aihara, one of the most popular shojo manga artists in Japan. Her popular series HOT GIMMICK and TOKYO BOYS AND GIRLS (both published domestically by VIZ Media) have gained her a significant following in North America.

RASETSU, Vol. 1 · Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens · MSRP: $8.99 US / $10.50 CAN · Available June 2

A fantastic supernatural spin-off to the hit shojo manga series YURARA (also published by VIZ Media), RASETSU is about a girl named Rasetsu Hyuga who works for an exorcist agency where she uses her special powers to banish evil spirits. But there's a story behind the mysterious red flower mark on her chest. It's a memento left by a powerful spirit that vowed to claim her on her 20th birthday. Unless Rasetsu can find true love by then, she’s fated to become his. Yako Hoshino, a young man with spiritual powers and a past of his own, comes to the agency one day seeking help with a possessed book. He's seen a lot of strange phenomena in his day, but the last thing he expects to see is Rasetsu bearing a striking resemblance to his old love Yurara! Fans of Chika Shiomi’s popular shojo series YURARA won’t want to miss this exciting debut.

TAIL OF THE MOON PREQUEL: THE OTHER HANZO(U) · Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens · MSRP: $8.99 US / $10.50 CAN · Available June 2

This is the one-shot prequel to the critically acclaimed romantic melodrama TAIL OF THE MOON and also serves as an addition to the popular shojo series created by Rinko Ueda. Set in feudal Japan, a young woman is found with a huge scar on her back and has no memory of who she is. She’s given the name "Kaguya" and taken in by a local brothel where she's put in charge of babysitting and housekeeping duties. Hanzou Hattori, the head guard of the nearby castle, starts to pursue her romantically. He eventually realizes that they’ve met before in the past...under very surprising circumstances! Later, a case of mistaken identity leads Kaguya to the village of Iga where she meets the high-ranking ninja leader Hanzo Hattori. Things get complicated when she figures out she’s gotten her Hanzo(u)s mixed up!

New VIZKIDS Manga Include:

KYORYU NO JIKAN (C) Hitoshi Shioya / POPLAR Publishing Co., Ltd.

DINOSAUR HOUR!, Vol. 1 · Rated ‘A’ for All Ages · MSRP: $7.99 US / $9.50 CAN · Available April 7

Journey back in time to an age when dinosaurs ruled the earth, fierce – and funny! In this world, dinosaurs are just regular dudes who may try to eat each other, but still have social foibles like the rest of us. With some of their antics, its no wonder dinosaurs went extinct. In each installment, DINOSAUR HOUR! introduces younger readers to exciting dinosaur species through fun and easy-to-read educational factoids mixed with wacky humor. Kids will also delight in dinosaur puppet cut-outs in the back of the book that readers can use to create fun dino-ramas. Educational and captivatingly illustrated, the humorous vignettes in DINOUSAUR HOUR! create the universal appeal of these creatures to make a captivating choice for even the most reluctant young reader.

LEAVE IT TO PET!, Vol. 1 · Rated ‘A’ for All Ages · MSRP: $7.99 US / $9.50 CAN · Available May 5

One day, nine-year-old Noboru does the responsible thing and recycles a plastic water bottle, but little does he know that the bottle will come back to him as PET, a robot with a mission to pay Noboru back for recycling him! The only problem is that PET’s sense of "helping" isn't quite in touch with reality. LEAVE IT TO PET! combines the visual appeal of manga with episodic comedy, adorable characters, and a few gentle lessons about protecting the environment. The manga also features color pages and related activities and cut-outs, giving it strong all-ages appeal. This series an excellent candidate for book clubs and fairs, schools and libraries.

Pokémon Adventures, Vol. 1 (2nd Edition) · Rated ‘A’ for All Ages · MSRP: $7.99 US / $9.50 CAN · Available June 2

Go back to where the adventures of Ash and Pikachu all began in this new edition of the very first POKÉMON saga!

Friday, May 01, 2009

ACF 288: Free Manga Sampler From Viz Available For Free Comic Book Day

VIZ MEDIA TO DAZZLE MANGA AND SUPERHERO FANS WITH A SPECIAL SHONEN JUMP MANGA SAMPLER FEATURING ULTIMO FOR
2009 FREE COMIC BOOK DAY

32-Page Sampler Of Best Selling Monthly Manga Anthology Features Groundbreaking Adventure
Created By Stan Lee And Hiroyuki Takei

VIZ Media will participate in the annual 2009 Free Comic Book Day – tomorrow, Saturday, May 2nd – with a special 32-page SHONEN JUMP sampler (rated ‘T’ for Teens) featuring a chapter of Ultimo, one of the newest serialized manga adventures in the best-selling monthly manga anthology. Free Comic Book Day is held annually on the first Saturday in May when thousands of comic book stores, publishers and retailers give away select comic titles for free. The event is designed to reach out to those not yet familiar with comics and manga and also to preview exciting new titles to existing fans.

Ultimo is the historic collaboration between comic book legend Stan Lee, creator of many iconic superheroes, including Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men, and Hiroyuki Takei, the creator of the popular Shaman King manga series. The new series, which is serialized in SHONEN JUMP, represents a unique East-meets-West partnership between a creative titan of the manga genre with the man who is synonymous with superhero comics. Also included in the Sampler is a special look at every single SHONEN JUMP manga series, an Ultimo pinup (of a character that may look familiar to Stan Lee fans), and an insightful interview with both Stan Lee and Hiroyuki Takei.

“We’re very pleased to announce SHONEN JUMP's participation in Free Comic Book Day,” says Grant Lowery, Editor-In-Chief, SHONEN JUMP Magazine. “SHONEN JUMP is the nation’s top selling manga anthology combining chapters from some of the most popular action manga in the world with informative game, entertainment and cultural editorial, creating a unique destination for readers looking to broaden their shonen experience. Our special Sampler for the 2009 Free Comic Book Day will interest both superhero fans and readers of Western comics as well as manga fans and also those brand new to the comic book genre. We invite everyone to visit their local participating comic book shop or retailer on Saturday to pick up this special copy!”

For more information on SHONEN JUMP please visit www.shonenjump.com.