With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Monday, February 29, 2016

14th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles announces film lineup


Pan Nalin’s ANGRY INDIAN GODDESSES opens the festival making
its U.S. premiere after winning awards at festivals around the globe

Festival to close with Anu Menon’s WAITING,
starring Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin

Festival program features award-winning prestige titles from the
festival circuit and more women filmmakers than ever before

The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) announced today its 2016 lineup of narrative and documentary features, short films, and galas for its 14th annual festival. Opening the festival on April 6th is the U.S. premiere of the ensemble powerhouse ANGRY INDIAN GODDESSES, from filmmaker and four-time IFFLA alum Pan Nalin. Anu Menon’s poignant WAITING, starring Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin, closes the festival with its North American premiere on April 10th. Gala tickets and passes are now available at www.indianfilmfestival.org. Tickets for individual films will go on sale on March 18, 2016.

The festival is widely recognized as the premiere showcase of groundbreaking Indian cinema globally. IFFLA will run April 6-10 at ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles, the festival’s home since its inception.

"India's independent filmmakers are taking bold risks, defying convention, and responding to injustice in each of these visionary films, and the results are breathtaking,” said Mike Dougherty, Director of Programming. “I'm extremely excited for our Los Angeles audience to experience these films, which have garnered raves from around the world, or are making their world premiere with us."

Festival opener ANGRY INDIAN GODDESSES screened in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, and takes a refreshingly uncensored look at the issues facing women in contemporary Indian society while celebrating the uniqueness, talents, and flaws of each of its female characters. This joyful yet powerful dramedy comes from 2014 IFFLA Audience Award winning director Pan Nalin (FAITH CONNECTIONS).

Anu Menon’s WAITING closes the festival with a poignant and stirring story that is as witty as it is heartrending. Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah and the incomparable Kalki Koechlin reunite for the first time since they starred together in THAT GIRL IN YELLOW BOOTS, giving beautiful performances as two strangers who develop a deep connection in the hospital while their spouses lie in comas.

Spice Affair will host the Opening and Closing Night Gala receptions in Beverly Hills.

This year the festival will feature three world premieres, including IFFLA alum Kranti Kanade’s CRD, two North American premieres, and ten U.S. premieres.

More features and shorts from female filmmakers will be presented this year by IFFLA than ever before, including Deepa Mehta’s gangster drama BEEBA BOYS; Leena Yadav’s PARCHED, a piercing examination of India’s patriarchal culture through the stories of four women; Ruchika Oberoi’s genre-bending triptych, ISLAND CITY; and Rinku Kalsy’s documentary FOR THE LOVE OF A MAN, about the fierce devotion shared by South-Indian superstar Rajinikanth’s fans.

IFFLA’s program is also notable this year for the number of award-winning titles it includes. UMRIKA received the Sundance World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award; ISLAND CITY took home the Best Young Director Award of the Venice Days section at the 2015 Venice Film Festival; MASAAN garnered both Cannes’ Un Certain Regard’s prestigious FIPRESCI prize and the Promising Future Award for director Neeraj GhaywanPARCHED won the Stockholm International Film Festival’s first-ever Impact Award; and OTTAAL was just awarded the Crystal Bear in the Generation Kplus section of the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival.

The festival also features two LGBT titles, Hansal Mehta’s politically-charged ALIGARH and the short DAARAVTHA (The Threshold) by Nishant Roy Bombarde, which are bold and compelling statements from filmmakers in a country where homosexuality is a criminal offense under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

Tamil cinema has recently emerged as a force on the world stage, and this is exemplified in the two engrossing Tamil features in the program: VISAARANAI (Interrogation) and KIRUMI (Virus).

Highlights in the shorts program include: the world premiere of MOCHI (THE COBBLER), an impressive directorial debut from Saqib Pandor, produced by Anurag Kashyap; the North American premiere of Anuj Gulati’s THE MANLIEST MAN, a boldly told, absurdist tale that reveals a visionary emerging director; and Payal Sethi’s gripping LEECHES, which tracks a woman’s dangerous journey to save her young sister from being sold as a One-Day Bride.

Attending the festival this year to present their films will be a host of celebrated filmmakers, including Bhaskar Hazarika (KOTHANODI), Kranti Kanade (CRD), Hansal Mehta (ALIGARH), Prashant Nair & Swati Shetty (UMRIKA), Pan Nalin (ANGRY INDIAN GODDESSES), Ruchika Oberoi (ISLAND CITY), Q (BRAHMAN NAMAN) and Leena Yadav (PARCHED).

IFFLA will also host stars from a number of films, including Kalki Koechlin (WAITING) and many of the actors featured in ANGRY INDIAN GODDESSES. Tickets and Passes The 14th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) runs April 6-10 at ArcLight Hollywood located at 6360 W. Sunset Blvd between Vine and Ivar. Gala tickets and passes are now available at www.indianfilmfestival.org. Tickets for individual films will go on sale on March 18, 2016.

For more information about The 14th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, visit www.indianfilmfestival.org.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

First volume of LEGEND OF THE GALACTIC HEROES science fiction series is coming March 8th

Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Vol. 1: DAWN
Cover Illustration © 2007 Yukinobu Hoshino

Opening Volume Of The Bestselling Japanese Space Opera
To Be Published In English For The First Time!!

VIZ Media’s Haikasoru literary imprint announces its first release of 2016 with the North American publication of author Yoshiki Tanaka’s epic space opera/military sci-fi novel, LEGEND OF THE GALACTIC HEROES, on March 8th.

LEGEND OF THE GALACTIC HEROES, VOLUME 1: DAWN is the first in the author’s celebrated series set to be released by Haikasoru, with Volumes 2 and 3 debuting this summer and fall, respectively. LEGEND OF THE GALACTIC HEROES, VOLUME 1: DAWN will debut in print with an MSRP of $15.99 U.S. / $18.99 CAN. An eBook edition will debut on March 8th for the Amazon Kindle, Apple’s iBooks Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Book Store, the Kobo eBooks Store, and the Google Play store. An audiobook version, read by Tim Gerard Reynolds, will debut the same day through Simon & Schuster Audio with an MSRP of $23.99 U.S.

In the thirty-sixth century humanity has conquered the galaxy and colonized countless star systems. The Galactic Empire, modeled along Prussian lines, and the democratic Free Planets Alliance are at war, and the fate of every human being in the universe hangs in the balance. This classic Japanese space opera, adapted into a legendary anime, is finally available in English for the first time.

In the opening novel of the series, “The Golden Brat,” Reinhard von Lohengramm, is a military prodigy and admiral of the Galactic Empire and has ambitions beyond protecting the borders or even defeating the Empire’s enemies. He seeks to overthrow the old order and become a truly absolute – yet benevolent – dictator. His rival, the humble Yang Wen-li of the Free Planets Alliance, wishes to preserve democracy even if he must sacrifice his political ideals to defeat the Empire. Their political and military battles play out over a galactic chessboard in an epic saga fifteen centuries in the making!

“The LEGEND OF THE GALACTIC HEROES series of novels were extremely popular in Japan also spawned popular anime and manga adaptations that have gained fans all over,” says Nick Mamatas, Editor. “We have received many requests from readers over the years asking us to publish LEGEND OF THE GALACTIC HEROES and this English publication is sure to capture a whole new legion of fans for the work of this celebrated author.”

Author Yoshiki Tanaka was born in 1952 and won the Gen’eijo (a Japanese mystery magazine) New Writer Award in 1978 for his debut story, “Midori no Sogen ni…” (On the Green Field…), which launched his career as a science fiction and fantasy writer. LEGEND OF THE GALACTIC HEROES: DAWN translates the European wars of the 19th Century to an interstellar setting and won the prestigious Seiun Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1987. Tanaka’s other works include the fantasy series, The Heroic Legend of Arslan, and numerous other science fiction, fantasy, historical, and mystery novels and stories.

For more information on LEGEND OF THE GALACTIC HEROES, other releases from the Haikasoru imprint, visit www.haikasoru.com.

For more information on other titles available from VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Complete DEATH NOTE anime series coming March 1st from VIZ; two Blu-ray editions will be available

©Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata/Shueisha
©DNDP, VAP, Shueisha, Madhouse

Supernatural Crime Thriller Debuts On Blu-ray Uncut In A Special
Limited “Omega” Edition That Includes Both DEATH NOTE Anime
Feature Films, And Also As A Standard Edition Release

VIZ Media has announced a new release of one of the anime genre’s greatest series with the debut of DEATH NOTE COMPLETE SERIES on Blu-ray on March 1st.

The edgy supernatural crime thriller is based in the groundbreaking DEATH NOTE manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata (and published by VIZ Media; rated ‘T’ for Teens). VIZ Media’s DEATH NOTE Blu-ray home media releases will be available as a Standard Edition and also as an “Omega” Limited Edition, a definitive collection containing the complete 37-episode series along with 2 DEATH NOTE anime feature films. The Standard Edition and Omega Limited Edition each contain three hours of additional bonus content including interviews with the DEATH NOTE manga creators and behind-the-scenes footage of the English and Japanese voice cast.

In DEATH NOTE, Light Yagami is a genius high school student who is about to learn about life through a book of death. When a bored shinigami, a god of death, named Ryuk drops a black notebook called a Death Note, Light receives power over life and death with the stroke of a pen. Determined to use this dark gift for the best, Light sets out to rid the world of evil - namely the people he believes to be evil. Should anyone own such power? The consequences of Light's actions will set the world ablaze.

Rated TV-14 • MSRP: $69.99 U.S. / $81.99 CAN
DEATH NOTE, Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata's suspenseful tale of power, corruption and morality, returns for the first time on Blu-ray! This limited edition 6-disc collector's set includes the complete 37-episode series with five language options along with two feature films (available in three languages) and hours of additional extras! This definitive set also comes with a 64-page booklet, which features the original manga pilot story that inspired the series packaged inside an exclusive chipboard box. Three hours of additional extra content includes interviews with the Japanese creators, behind-the-scenes footage of the English and Japanese voice cast, production art, audio commentary and much more!

Rated TV-14 • MSRP: $54.97 U.S. / $63.99 CAN
Standard Edition release features the complete series on 5 discs, with episodes presented in crisp 1080p resolution with 16:9 video aspect ratio. Episodes are available in 5 languages (Japanese, English, Spanish, Portuguese and French 2.0 audio and subtitle selections). Also catch three hours of bonus content, including interviews with the Japanese creators, behind-the-scenes footage with the English and Japanese voice casts, production art, audio commentary and much more!

For additional information on DEATH NOTE or other anime and manga titles distributed by VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Remembering Hideo Gosha

Hideo Gosha on the set of Three Outlaw Samurai

Japanese director Hideo Gosha was born on February 26, 1929 in Akasake, Tokyo, Japan. He died on August 30, 1992 at age 63. From 1964 until his death he directed 24 feature films.

His first, Three Outlaw Samurai (1964), is an almost nihilistic view of the code of the samurai, rampant with failures of loyalty and betrayals. It recently came out in the U.S. in a Criterion Collection release. The transfer is, as one would expect, gorgeous. However, the only extra is a trailer, which is interesting to watch because several shots in it were replaced by others in the released film.

His second film, Sword of the Beast (a.k.a. Samurai Gold Seekers, 1965), is also available from Criterion. It's another tale in which betrayal plays a prominent role, leading to the protagonist fleeing his clan to live in the wilds like a beast. It, too, does not come with any significant extras.

Both films are must sees for anyone interested in samurai films in particular or Japanese cinema in general. Perhaps more of Gosha's films will become available in the coming years. Meanwhile, these will have to suffice to keep his memory alive on our flat screen televisions.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Section23 Films has announced its May 2016 slate of releases

Home video distributor Section23 Films has announced its May slate of releases, including Sentai Filmworks’ highly anticipated second collection of Akame ga Kill. Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Limited Edition Premium Box Set.

Product details follow, in order of release.

Published by: Sentai Selects
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 650 min.
Street Date: 5/3/2016
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: For the members of Miss Yukari's English Class, a typical day may be just a little unusual. Part of that's due to Miss Yukari herself, whose teaching style (and personal ethics) tend to be odd, improvisational and spontaneous, but her students are just as unconventional: There's 10-year-old Chiyo, still at the top of her class after skipping five grades, and her opposite Ayumu "Osaka" Kasuga, whose poor grades are surpassed only by her horrific skill at sports. Then there's Tomo, a competitive slacker who puts excessive energy into doing very little, and Koyomi, whose surprising maturity is compromised by a malevolent sense of humor. Tall, statuesque Sakaki's athletic exterior hides both unexpected shyness and a most unfortunate obsession with cats, while tiny Kaori's heart is mainly obsessed with Sakaki. They may all seem like perfectly normal girls on the outside, but even their most mundane activities magically become the most extraordinary adventures as they learn all about life, the universe and affairs of the heart in AZUMANGA DAIOH!

Published by: Sentai Selects
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 650 min.
Street Date: 5/3/2016
Format: DVD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $39.98

SYNOPSIS: When young Saga offers a waffle to a small hungry creature in a fluffy outfit, she has no idea that the "creature" is Sugar, an apprentice fairy sent to Earth to find a "twinkle" as part of her test to become a full-fledged season fairy! Unfortunately, neither Sugar nor her two companion fairies, Salt and Pepper, have any idea what a "twinkle" is, but that doesn't stop them from moving in with the unusual girl who can somehow see them! And since none of Saga's friends can see fairies, they all think that Saga is acting really strange. As more and more season fairies keep arriving, Saga's bemusement turns into desperation. Can she find out what a twinkle is and help the fairies find one before she's drowning in fairy dust? The answers will surprise you in the hilariously sweet adventure LITTLE SNOW FAIRY SUGAR!

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 5/10/2016
Format: DVD, BD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98, $59.98

SYNOPSIS: Yuji Kazami thought that all he wanted was to attend school like a normal teenager, but Mihama Academy is nothing like the places of education he's dreamed of. And it's not just that Mihama seems eerily like a prison. There are also only five other students, and all five of these girls seem to have special reasons for having been placed in this institution. Sachi Komine, who always wears a maid outfit and seems to be compelled to carry out any order given her. The unsettling Makina Irisu, whose parents are tied to Japan's shady underworld. Michiru Matsushima, a combative girl afflicted with dual personalities. Car and motorcycle obsessed Amane Suou. And Yumiko Sakaki, whose "welcome greeting" to Yuji involves the deadly use of a box cutter. Of course, Yuji himself has his own dark secrets, as one of his new fellow students may be the next deadly target on his own hit list in FRUIT OF GRISAIA!

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 5/10/2016
Format: DVD, BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98, $59.98

SYNOPSIS: Nobue Itou may be attending college, but her real lessons come from dealing with her 12-year-old sister Chika and her equally adorable friends. There's Miu Matsuoka, the troublemaking girl next door who's never found a diabolical plan that she wasn't willing to hatch. Then there's the perplexing Ana Coppola, who was born in England but has lived in Japan for so long that she's forgotten most of her English and is unsuccessfully attempting to re-learn her British heritage based on some rather erroneous assumptions. After those two handfuls, shy, sensitive Matsuri Sakuragi should be a welcome dose of normality, but unfortunately Matsuri is also incredibly gullible. And then there's Chika herself, who's actually the most mature and sensible person in the Itou household… which comes in handy when her older sister attempts to raid Chika's savings in order to buy cigarettes! Get ready for a cute overload so intense that it can be used as a deadly weapon when slices of everyday life get whipped to frothy perfection in STRAWBERRY MARSHMALLOW!

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 5/17/2016
Format: DVD, BD, COMBO
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98, $69.98, $129.98

SYNOPSIS: The convoluted path that has reunited Tatsumi and Esdeath takes another twist as they find themselves transported to a remote island where their strength will be tested as never before. Dr. Stylish may be dead, but Danger Beasts still remain, and that's only the first challenge the two enemies now face. If the bonds of love weren't enough to bring their fates together, could the fire of combat forge a new form of alliance? Meanwhile, the embers of rebellion are being stoked into open insurrection by the pacifist organization Path of Peace. Drawn into the impending inferno, Night Raid and the Revolutionary Army prepare for a major assault on the Capital. But while their Imperial Arms may be indestructible, their wielders are merely flesh and blood. On the anvil of battle, only human courage and the willingness to give their lives for a cause will lead to the ultimate triumph or failure in AKAME GA KILL! - COLLECTION TWO!

Published by: Maiden Japan
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 95 min.
Street Date: 5/17/2016
Format: DVD, BD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $29.98, $39.98

SYNOPSIS: There are monsters between the stars, alien nightmares determined to destroy the human race. Noriko Takaya was only a child when her father sacrificed his life to temporarily stop the alien's advance. Now she's training to pilot a giant robot. She's not very good, however. Not until her coach suggests modeling herself after the schools best pilot, Kazumi Amano. Mastering the skills to reach the top transforms Noriko into both a rival and partner for Kazumi, who secretly loves their Coach, and a third fiery female joins the rivalry in the form of Soviet pilot Jung Freud. But their real adversary is time, as the faster-than-light travel required steals years on Earth for hours spent in flight. And that means that, even if they survive, the loved ones that Noriko, Kazumi, and Jung travel into space to defend may already have died before they return. Get ready for a major landmark in the history of animation as Studio Gainax, character designer Haruhiko Mikimoto (MACROSS), and director Hideaki Anno (EVANGELION) unleash the feature film version of GUNBUSTER!

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 5/24/2016
Format: DVD, BD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98, $59.98

SYNOPSIS: It's official. Musashino Animation's next production is "Third Aerial Girls' Squad!" In a surprising turn of events, Aoi finds herself assigned as the production manager for the project, but from the very beginning it looks like she may be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the project. Of course, her old friend Ema is already aboard as one of the animators, while Midori makes an enormous contribution by taking on many of the program's important research duties. And when Misa's new company contracts to produce CG for the series, all but one of the members of the old animation club are working on the same production! Left out again, Shizuka auditions for a role, but, as a relatively new voice actor the odds of her being cast in a major part seem highly unlikely. That doesn't break the bonds of their friendship, however, and there are tons of surprises ahead as TAGS's journey to broadcast draws to the finish in the second collection of SHIROBAKO!

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 5/31/2016
Format: DVD, BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98, $69.98

SYNOPSIS: It's been six months since the event that trapped thousands of players in the online game world of Elder Tales and the situation is far from secure. The People of the Land are engaged in open warfare against the Goblin armies of Zantleaf. Minami spies are infiltrating the populace. And even with the support and guidance of the Round Table Alliance, the cost of sustaining the city of Akihabara is causing the entire infrastructure to teeter on the brink of collapse. With winter coming, Shiroe and his companions are forced to consider their options. Should they stay in Akihabara and attempt to weather the oncoming storm? Or should they gamble on missions to other portions of the world in search of new sources of valuable treasure? The launch of another series of raids will test old alliances while new ones are forged, as the adventure continues in the second season of LOG HORIZON!

Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 600 min.
Street Date: 5/31/2016
Format: DVD, BD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98, $89.98

SYNOPSIS: The first wave of madness that consumed the town of Hinamizawa in 1983 may be finished, but the nightmare is far from over as the time loops that have ensnared the populace continue to wreak carnage and mayhem. As the survivors struggle to cope with the lethal aftermath, the annual cycle of betrayal and murder continues, and only Rena-ironically spared as she was safe in jail after her arrest for her part in the bombing and massacre-may hold the keys to unlocking the mystery. Get ready for a grim post-mortem as Mamoru Akasaka and Officer Oishi dig into the past to solve the hidden secrets of the Great Hinamizawa Disaster, while Keiichi, Rika, Satoko and the others fight to stay alive as the nightmarish Curse continues in WHEN THEY CRY - SEASON 2!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Sentai Filmworks announces acquisition of SOFTENNI!

Sentai Filmworks has announced its acquisition of the 2011 soft tennis comedy Softenni! Based on the original 2008 manga series written and illustrated by Ryo Azuchi, Softenni! follows the exploits of Asuna Harukaze, a girl with an almost obsessive love for soft tennis, a popular form of tennis developed in Japan using softer, rubber tennis balls. Together with her equally quirky (and sometimes overly enthusiastic) teammates, Asuna does her best to return the challenges that school life and tennis training launch at her!

The anime series was produced by anime studio Xebec (Argevollen, Motto To Love Ru, Negima!) and directed by Ryouki Kamitsubo.

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

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Sentai Filmworks acquires "Hakuoki ~ Demon of the Floating Blossom: Wild Dance of Kyoto"

Sentai Filmworks has announced its latest acquisition, Hakuoki ~ Demon of the Floating Blossom: Wild Dance of Kyoto. In this theatrical feature based on the popular game and anime series, Chizuru Yukimura heads to Kyoto in search of her father, a doctor who has disappeared. However, she soon discovers that the city hides deadly creatures within its shadows, and that a fearsome group of swordsmen, the famed Shinsengumi, help maintain a tenuous peace. As both parties attempt to find the missing doctor, Chizuru and the men of the Shinsengumi will discover things about themselves that they would rather have left a mystery.

The film was directed and scripted by Osamu Yamasaki (Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East). Atsuko Nakajima (Get Backers, Ranma ½) handled animation direction and character design, with original character designs provided by Yone Kazuki (Kamigami no Asobi, Nobunaga the Fool).

Hakuoki ~ Demon of the Floating Blossom: Wild Dance of Kyoto will be available through select digital outlets, with a home video release to follow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Matsuri Hino's new manga series SHURIKEN AND PLEATS coming March 1st from VIZ Media

Shuriken to Pleats © Matsuri Hino 2015/HAKUSENSHA, Inc.

Dive Into A Tale Of Intrigue And Modern-Day Ninjas In The Latest
Shojo Manga Series By The Creator Of VAMPIRE KNIGHT

VIZ Media announces the launch of famed creator Matsuri Hino’s new manga (graphic novel) series, SHURIKEN AND PLEATS, on March 1st.

SHURIKEN AND PLEATS, the story of a schoolgirl who’s also a ninja in modern-day Japan, is the latest title from Hino, who created the pivotal shojo series, VAMPIRE KNIGHT (also published by VIZ Media; rated ‘T+’ for Teens).

SHURIKEN AND PLEATS is rated ‘T’ for Teens and will be published in print under the Shojo Beat imprint with an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. The series also launches digitally on March 1st via VIZManga.com and the VIZ Manga App (iOS and Android), as well as from the Nook, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, comiXology, and GooglePlay stores. New volumes of the series, which is ongoing in Japan, will be released twice a year.

When the master she has sworn to protect is killed, Mikage Kirio, a skilled ninja, travels to Japan to start a new, peaceful life for herself. But as soon as she arrives, she finds herself fighting to protect the life of Mahito Wakashimatsu, a man who is under attack by a band of ninja. From that time on, Mikage is drawn deeper into the machinations of his powerful family.

“Matsuri Hino returns with SHURIKEN AND PLEATS, a story about a skilled female ninja who is striving to find a new life for herself,” says Nancy Thistlethwaite, Senior Editor. “We invite readers to savor all the action and intrigue in this beautifully illustrated new manga series.”

Matsuri Hino burst onto the manga scene with her debut title, Kono Yume ga Sametara (When This Dream Is Over), which was published in Japan in LaLa DX magazine. Already possessing strong artistic talent, Hino became a manga artist a mere nine months after she decided to pursue it as a professional career. With the success of her popular series, CAPTIVE HEARTS and MERUPURI (both also published by VIZ Media), Hino has established herself as a major player in the world of shojo manga.

For additional information on SHURIKEN AND PLEATS or other manga titles distributed by VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Monday, February 15, 2016

SWEET BEAN opens Friday, March 18th in NYC; national roll out to follow

A Kino Lorber Release
Kyara Uchida (left), Kirin Kiki (center), and Masatoshi Nagase
Sweet Bean / An
Written and Directed by Naomi Kawase
Starring Kirin Kiki, Masatoshi Nagase and Kyara Uchida 
Japan, 2015, 113 minutes

Official Selection: 2015 Cannes Film Festival, Un Certain Regard
Official Selection: 2015 Toronto International Film Festival

Sweet Bean, a food-themed drama from writer-director Naomi Kawase, is scheduled to open in New York on Friday, March 18 at Lincoln Plaza Cinema followed by national roll out.

In Ms. Kawase’s graceful tale adapted from the novel by Durian Sukegawa, introverted loner Sentaro (Masatoshi Nagase, Mystery Train) runs a tiny “dorayaki” (pancakes filled with an, a sweet red bean paste) stand in the suburbs of Tokyo. When 76-year-old Tokue (veteran actress Kirin Kiki, Still Walking, Chronicle of My Mother), persistently asks Sentaro to work in the shop’s kitchen, he reluctantly accepts. It soon turns out that in addition to having uncanny culinary skills (her an is much more delicious than Sentaro’s) and a mysterious communion with nature, Tokue has the ability to transform those around her, including Wakana (newcomer Kyara Uchida, real-life granddaughter of Kirin Kiki), a shy teenage schoolgirl who’s a regular at the shop. Thanks to Tokue’s sweet bean recipe, the little business soon flourishes, and with time, Sentaro and Tokue open their hearts to reveal old wounds and painful secrets.

Sweet Bean writer-director Naomi Kawase

Born and raised in Nara, Japan, writer-director Naomi Kawase has been a fixture at the Cannes Film Festival since 1997 when she became the youngest director to win the Camera d’Or (Best First Film Award) for her debut feature Suzaku. With her fourth feature, The Mourning Forest, she received the 2007 Cannes Grand Prix, and became, in 2013, the first Japanese director to serve on the Cannes competition jury. Known for her introspective and poetic fiction works focusing on family and the characters’ connection to nature, she also directed two autobiographical documentaries, Embracing and Sky, Wind, Fire, Water, Earth, in which she examined the loss of being abandoned by her parents as a child.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

EASY EATS: A BEE AND PUPPYCAT COOKBOOK coming from VIZ Media and Frederator Networks

© 2016 Frederator Networks, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

Hardcover Cookbook Inspired By The Smash Hit
Cartoon Hangover Series Features Fun Recipes
And New Ways To Make Food Magical

VIZ Media and Frederator Networks give readers of all ages a fun and tasty way to create unique dishes and out-of-this-world recipes with the release of a forthcoming cookbook inspired by the hit animated web series, Bee and PuppyCat.

EASY EATS: A BEE AND PUPPYCAT COOKBOOK is a hardcover edition set to debut this summer through VIZ Media’s Perfect Square imprint. EASY EATS will feature new and fan-favorite illustrations from series creator, Natasha Allegri. Recipes included in the cookbook stem from the imaginations of Bee and PuppyCat staff along with fans of the series, and are tested by esteemed chefs to ensure each dish is a crowd pleaser. EASY EATS: A BEE AND PUPPYCAT COOKBOOK makes a perfect kitchen complement and will carry an MSRP of $16.95 U.S. / $19.95 CAN.

Created by American cartoonist and writer Natasha Allegri, Bee and PuppyCat depicts the intergalactic, temp-job escapades of twenty-something, chronically-unemployed Bee and her supernatural companion, PuppyCat. The series was produced by Federator Studios and is widely seen on the Federator Network's Cartoon Hangover web channel.

Food! Bee and PuppyCat from the popular YouTube series love to eat, well, almost everything. Their never-ending quest for their next meal or snack leads them on intergalactic adventures through space and time. With EASY EATS: A BEE AND PUPPYCAT COOKBOOK, fans and home chefs can create dishes inspired by the show and learn how to make food magical. This beautifully illustrated book has delectable recipes, cooking tips and tricks, and a pinch of inspiration for beginner and experienced cooks, including…

• Main dishes: For breakfast, lunch, dinner or anytime you’re really hungry
• Snacks: To share with friends or nibble with your favorite pet
• Sweets: Pastries, pies and ice cream sundae smiles
• And much more!

“With this new cookbook, fans can tap their inner chefs to create dozens of dishes inspired by the show that are both tasty and easy to prepare,” says Beth Kawasaki, Senior Editorial Director for Perfect Square. “The Bee and PuppyCat animated series has delighted millions of fans of all ages, and we look forward to giving them a whole new way to join this dynamic pair for delicious adventures in the kitchen.”

For more information on BEE AND PUPPYCAT or other titles published and distributed by VIZ Media and the Perfect Square imprint, visit www.VIZ.com.

Friday, February 12, 2016

SuBlime offering Valentine's Day manga promo through February 17th

AWKWARD SILENCE © 2006 Hinako Takanaga

Celebrate Love Yaoi-Style With Special Pricing Available
For A Limited Time On The Entire SuBLime Manga Catalog

SuBLime, the leading global English-language yaoi manga (graphic novel) publisher, invites readers to accent Valentine’s Day with the launch of a special promotion offering 40% off its entire print catalog featured on leading anime/manga web retailer, The Right Stuf.

The Valentine’s Day promotion starts today, February 12th, and runs through the 17th. It covers more than 60 popular SuBLime volumes by some of Japan’s most revered yaoi manga creators. Visit www.rightstufanime.com/publisher/SUBLIME for more details and to browse the entire roster of available series.

Notable SuBLime series offered for Valentine’s Day include:

LOVE STAGE!! Volume 1 ©Eiki EIKI 2011 ©Taishi ZAOU 2011

LOVE STAGE!! • Rated ‘M’ for Mature Readers • Vols. 1-4 Available Now
Though his family is packed with famous celebrities, Izumi Sena is just your average guy. Currently a college student, he is a huge otaku with aspirations of becoming a manga creator. But one day he gets roped into filming a TV commercial and meets hot young actor Ryoma Ichijo. Could this be the same boy he starred in a commercial with over ten years ago?!

THE WORLD’S GREATEST FIRST LOVE • Rated ‘M’ for Mature Readers
• Vols. 1-3 Available Now
In this series by Shungiku Nakamura, when Ritsu Onodera changes jobs, looking for a fresh start, he's not exactly thrilled when his new boss turns out to be his old flame. Ritsu's determined to leave all that in the past—but how can he when his boss is just as determined that they have a future?

AWKWARD SILENCE • Rated ‘M’ for Mature Readers
• Volumes 1-5 Available Now
Satoru Tono is too shy to speak to classmate Keigo Tamiya. Instead he fills his sketchbook with drawings of the boy he likes. But perhaps Keigo has noticed him too...?

For up-to-date news and release information, please visit the SuBLime website at www.SuBLimeManga.com, or follow SuBLime on Twitter at @SuBLimeManga, on Facebook at facebook.com/SuBLimeManga, and on Tumblr at sublimemanga.tumblr.com/.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


©Tite Kubo/Shueisha, TV TOKYO, dentsu, Pierrot  ©BMP 2008
©Tite Kubo/Shueisha, TV TOKYO, dentsu, Pierrot  ©BMP 2010

Catch The Intense Supernatural Anime Feature Film Action
In A Special New Double DVD Set

VIZ Media offers a special treat to anime aficionados and BLEACH fans as it announces the release of the BLEACH MOVIES: THE UNFORGIVEN DOUBLE FEATURE, a special home media edition.

Set for retail release on February 16th, this new DVD set contain BLEACH THE MOVIE: FADE TO BLACK as well as BLEACH THE MOVIE: HELL VERSE. The 2-disc set will carry an MSRP of $14.98 U.S. / $21.99 CAN and will feature dubbed English as well as subtitled audio tracks for both movies. Bonus features will include a production art gallery and movie trailers.

In BLEACH THE MOVIE: FADE TO BLACK, a strange disturbance in the World of the Living sends Ichigo and Kon to the Soul Society, where the Seireitei has been devastated by an explosion of reishi and Rukia is missing. Stranger still, none of the Soul Reapers remember Ichigo, and they think he's the one responsible for the destruction. Now on the run, Ichigo is forced into a lonely battle in order to find Rukia and stop the real culprits!

Hell – a place where beings that have committed mortal sins during their lifetime are sent. It is a realm where even Soul Reapers are forbidden to interfere. In BLEACH THE MOVIE: HELL VERSE, a group of vicious Sinners plots to escape from this eternal prison, they discover that Substitute Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki is the key to their freedom. The Sinners launch an attack and in the process kidnap Ichigo’s younger sister Yuzu and take her to Hell. With the help of a mysterious man named Kokuto, Ichigo and his friends must now travel into the depths of Hell to stop the Sinners and save Yuzu, unaware that their actions could bring Hell to the World of the Living.

The BLEACH animated films and TV series (distributed in North America by VIZ Media, rated ‘TV-14’) are based on a smash hit manga series created by Tite Kubo (also published in North America by VIZ Media, rated ‘T’ for Teens) that follows the adventures of Ichigo, a 15-year old student with the ability to see ghosts. When his family is attacked by a Hollow – a malevolent lost soul – Ichigo encounters Rukia, a Soul Reaper, and inadvertently absorbs her powers. Now, he’s dedicating his life to protecting the innocent and helping tortured souls find peace.

For more information on BLEACH manga and anime titles published by VIZ Media, visit www.viz.com.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Celebrate The Year of the Monkey with THE MONKEY KING 2 in 3D

China Lion
The Monkey King 2 in 3D
Directed by Cheang Pou-Soi 
China/Hong Kong, 2016, 119 minutes

The Asian Lunar New Year has arrived and China Lion is presenting a most fitting way to celebrate The Year of the Monkey. The Monkey King 2 in 3D opened in select U.S. theaters last Friday. It is the sequel to The Monkey King, the 2014 film that was also directed by Cheang Pou-soi and filmed in 3D. The original film starred Donnie Yen, who also served as the film's action director, as the titular protagonist. In The Monkey King 2, Aaron Kwok plays Sun Wukong, a.k.a. the Monkey King. The legendary Sammo Hung assumed duties as action director. The cast also includes Gong Li as White Bone Spirit, a demon, and Kelly Chen as The Mercy Goddess, the Bodhisattva Guanyin (sometimes spelled Kuan-yin).

The tale is based on The Journey to the West, a major classic of Chinese literature consisting of one hundred chapters. It tells the tale of a Chinese monk named Xuanzang who is selected to undertake an arduous and dangerous journey to the West (i.e., to India) to get holy scriptures from the Buddha. He is accompanied and protected by the Monkey King, who is really the main character, and two others. For years I have owned the first volume of the four volume set translated and edited by Anthony C. Yu. By an interesting coincidence, I just got around to reading it recently. The Money King 2 is concerned with portions of the latter part of that twenty-five chapter volume.

I have not seen the original film, but it apparently ended with the mischievous Monkey King, who has achieved mystical powers and wrecked havoc in Heaven, being imprisoned within a mountain for five hundred years. He has been selected by The Mercy Goddess to travel with the monk, who frees him from the mountain. Subsequently they are joined by Baijie, a pig-man who can transform into a handsome youth and a wild boar, and Bro Sha, a mighty blue-skinned warrior. The main protagonist is White Bone Spirit, also called Lady White. She wants to devour the monk so she can become an immortal demon.

I only saw a 2D online screener of the film, but was quite impressed with it. The make-up and special effects were quite good. Ric Meyers, my "big brother" in the days when we were both columnists at Asian Cult Cinema magazine, has seen the 3D version and reports liking it.

So my plan is to make the one hour round-trip to mid-town New York and actually pay to see a film that I could have seen for free at a pre-release screening that I foolishly passed on. It seems that it's really worth seeing in 3D on a big screen with a great sound system.

So, if The Monkey King in 3D is playing near you, I strongly suggest you give it a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny to premiere Feb 26th

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny
Directed byYuen Wo-Ping
Starring: Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen

Premiering on Netflix on Friday, February 26, 2016
and also available in IMAX

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny tells an epic story of lost love, young love, a legendary sword and one last opportunity at redemption, set against breathtaking action in an epic martial arts battle between good and evil that will decide the fate of the Martial World.

Directed by the renowned martial arts choreographer (The Matrix Trilogy and Kill Bill 1& 2) and director (Tai Chi Master) Yuen Wo-Ping, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny stars Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Lady) as Yu Shu-Lien and Donnie Yen (Ip Man 1&2, Monkey King 3D) as Silent Wolf.

Based on the acclaimed novel, Iron Knight, Silver Vase, by Wang Dulu (book 5 in the Crane-Iron Pentalogy) and written by John Fusco (Marco Polo) the new film is produced by Harvey Weinstein (Academy Award winner - The King’s Speech, The Artist) and Peter Berg (Emmy Award winner - Friday Night Lights; Lone Survivor, Hancock) and Sarah Aubrey (Friday Night Lights; Lone Survivor, Hancock) and executive produced by Morten Tyldum (Headhunters, The Imitation Game), Ralph Winter (X-Men franchise), Anthony Wong and Bey Logan (The Medallion).

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny also stars Harry Shum Jr (Glee, Revenge of the Green Dragons), Jason Scott Lee (Seventh Son, Hawaii Five-O), Roger Yuan (Bulletproof Monk), Eugenia Yuan (Revenge of the Green Dragons) and newcomer Natasha Liu Bordizzo.

Sunday, February 07, 2016


Well Go USA
The Beauty Inside / Byuti insaideu
Directed by BAEK Jong-Yeol
South Korea, 2015, 127 minutes

The Beauty Inside debuted on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD last Tuesday, February 2nd from Well Go USA Entertainment. This review is based on my having watched the Blu-ray version.

Most of us have at one time or another felt not quite like ourselves. But twenty-nine year old KIM Wo-jin experiences that feeling at its most extreme every day after he wakes up. Since his eighteenth birthday he has awoken to find himself a different person than he was when he went to sleep the night before, at least in terms of his physical appearance. His age, gender, even his nationality is subject to transformation without rhyme or reason. Only his memories, his consciousness, remains consistent from day to day.

Only two other people are aware of Wo-jin's unique circumstance. One is his mother, to whom he turned when he first awoke transformed and who, we  learn, has an insight into his condition. The other is Sang-beck, his friend from childhood and who helps him run ALX, Wo-jin's upscale furniture company. Wo-jin does the design and construction, while Sang-beck handles relations with clients and customers, something that the different-every-day Wo-jin could not possibly do.

Wo-jin's life changes when he falls for HONG E-soo (HAN Hyo-yoo, seen in C'est Ci Bon and Masquerade). She's a lovely and knowledgeable saleswoman at Mamastudio, a furniture store that sells high end items like those Wo-jin makes. He hits upon a way to see her and, using a trick, prevent himself from transforming into a different looking person. But this only works for a very limited time and then he must decide whether to reveal his secret to E-soo. If he does, what will be her reaction to having a relationship with someone who looks different each day?

The film is described as a romantic comedy in its publicity materials and that's not really wrong. It's certainly a film about romance and has many comic touches. But it's more of a romantic drama than comedy, dealing at great length with serious issues such as just what, or who, is it that we "fall in love" with and can love for a person's inner beauty overcome considerable obstacles.

There are by my count and the cast list at IMDb, twenty-two people who play Wo-jin. And while some have no lines and only brief screen time, director BAEK has done a remarkable job of making them all seem to be various manifestations of the same person, despite all the variations in age, sex and nationality. One of the Wo-jins is KO Ah-sung, the marvelous young actress seen in The Host (2006), Snowpiercer (2013), and more recently, Office (2015). She does have considerable screen time, consistent with her great talent. High praise must also be given to HAN Hy-yoo, who gives a spectacular and touching performance as E-soo.

Disc Specs:
-- Audio
  -- Korean DTS 5.1 HDMA
  -- Korean 2.0 stereo
-- Subtitles
  -- English
  -- Off
-- Additional Features
  -- Trailer
  -- Previews of other Well Go USA releases
    -- Lost in Hong Kong
    -- Very Good Girls
    -- And While We Were Here 

AsianCineFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; very highly recommended. A most original and well-executed romantic drama with quite a fair amount of humor.

One last comment: be sure to stick around through the credits so you don't miss a very nice coda.

LOST IN HONG KONG coming to home video on March 1st

Well Go USA
Lost in Hong Kong / Gang jiong
Directed by Xu Zheng
Hong Kong/China, 2015, 114 minutes

The Sequel to Lost in Thailand from Director Xu Zheng
Arrives on Blu-ray™, DVD & Digital HD March 1

From the producers of Lost in Thailand and No Man’s Land comes the road trip comedy LOST IN HONG KONG, debuting on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD March 1 from Well Go USA Entertainment. Xu Lai had a dream once; to be an artist and marry the girl of his dreams. 15 years later, he’s sick of designing bras, humoring his baby-crazy wife and catering to his loopy in-laws. Now on a family vacation that includes his DVD-pirating, aspiring-documentarian brother-in-law, he has a hidden agenda: a chance meetup with his old flame. But ditching his clan for a clandestine hookup might be the least of his worries. There’s been a murder and the cops want a word with him. Lost in Hong Kong is directed by and stars Xu Zheng (Lost in Thailand, Breakup Buddies), with Zhao Wei (Red Cliff, Shaolin Soccer) and Bao Ber’er (Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal, The Four) rounding out the cast.

In the mid-1990s, university art majors Xu Lai (Xu Zheng) and Yang Yi (Du Juan) fell in love, but then Yang was transferred to the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Xu hasn’t seen her since. Almost twenty years later, Xu has long forgotten his dreams of becoming an artist, but he can never forget Yang even though he enjoys a comfortable life with his loving wife Cai Bo (Zhao Wei), the only major problem between them being the repeated failure of conceiving a child. During a vacation in Hong Kong with Cai’s overbearing family, Xu plans to secretly visit Yang, but Cai Bo’s goofy young brother Cai Lala (Bao Bei’er) — always carrying a video camera in hand for his documentary project — tags along like his unwelcome shadow to spoil the rendezvous. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Wong Jing is filming another riotous gangster movie, while two police officers (Sam Lee and Eric Kot) investigate a murder.

Bonus Features Include:
-- Making of Featurette
-- Blooper Reel

Saturday, February 06, 2016

VIZ brings all 10 Naruto titles to the Steam multimedia delivery platform


Leading Content Platform - Steam – Offers The Intense Ninja
Action Of All 10 Movies From The NARUTO And
NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Universes For Digital Purchase

VIZ Media brings the action and excitement of NARUTO to Steam, a leading interactive content delivery platform by software company, Valve Corporation.

All 10 full-length feature films from the NARUTO and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN story arcs are available (English dubbed) for purchase and rental on Steam in the U.S. and Canada, including:



For a limited time only, a special promotional price will be available on the movies. Please visit http://store.steampowered.com/ to access these films.

“With its kinetic on-screen action and iconic characters, NARUTO has captivated millions of dedicated gamers and anime fans, and the movies are a wonderful complement to the content Steam offers its substantial user community,” says Brian Ige, Vice President, Animation. “We look forward to the future of this partnership.”

Steam is a leading content platform with thousands of titles and millions of members. Through Steam, fans can easily buy, play, share, modify, and build communities around Valve products as well as titles from other independent studios. Steam is available in 237 countries and 21 different languages. Since March 2015, Steam has also added more than 100 film titles, with more coming soon.

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 remains the same. But pride isn’t necessarily 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 also prove wiser and stronger?

VIZ Media is the North American master licensor for NARUTO and distributes the NARUTO and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN anime series and feature films as well as publishes the bestselling NARUTO manga series in print and digitally.

Additional information on NARUTO and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN is available at www.Naruto.com.

For more information on anime titles available from VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Friday, February 05, 2016

VIZ announces its digital manga update for February 2016

GAKKYU HOTEI © 2014 by Nobuaki Enoki, Takeshi Obata/SHUEISHA Inc.

Anniversary Promotion And Updates To 17 Other Series

VIZ Media starts February with a new digital manga update that features a wide array of series debuts and new additions to scores of other continuing titles.

New manga series launches for the month include BEHIND THE SCENES!!, the latest romantic shojo comedy by the acclaimed creator of OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB. Also debuting in February will be NARUTO: SHIKAMARU’S STORY, the latest release in the series of NARUTO original prose novels. SCHOOL JUDGMENT: GAKKYU HOTEI is the tense new student courtroom drama by the artist behind the bestselling DEATH NOTE manga, while JUDAS rounds out February’s new series launches with its edgy supernatural action saga.

This month, VIZ Media’s WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP marks the 4th anniversary of the magazine’s move to a digital publication. A promotion is underway now and runs until February 8th offering a chance for new & renewing subscribers to win a variety of Shonen Jump products, including jackets, t-shirts and other unique items. Visit http://shonenjump.viz.com/ for more information!

Readers are also invited to browse February’s selection of Digital Manga Bundles that offer the opportunity to dive into multiple collected volumes from a wide selection of acclaimed series at special savings over buying the volumes individually. Bundles are available to readers for a limited time exclusively from VIZManga.com and comiXology.

Urakata!! © Bisco Hatori 2015/HAKUSENSHA, Inc.

BEHIND THE SCENES!!, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens •
DIGITAL MSRP: $6.99 (U.S. / CAN) • Available Now!
It’s two months into Ranmaru’s college career, and if he’s learned one thing, it’s that he’s really uncomfortable around other people. But when he stumbles into a zombie mob attack, he’s totally forced out of his comfort zone! Of course it’s just a movie shoot, but when he wakes up from his ignoble faint, he’s been whisked away behind the scenes with the Art Squad! Could this group of weirdos be what Ranmaru’s been looking for all his life?!

NARUTO: SHIKAMARU’S STORY • Rated ‘T’ for Teens •
DIGITAL MSRP: $10.99 (U.S. / CAN) • Available Now!
This newest release in the series of NARUTO original prose novels continues the focus on key characters from the bestselling manga series and is complemented by cover art by Masashi Kishimoto. Two years after the Great Ninja War, Shikamaru spends his days racing around, hands full as one of Konoha’s key protectors. Then, large numbers of ninja from every region are reported missing. Even Sai disappears. And the place where the missing shinobi end up is the mysterious empire, the Land of Silence. As a ninja, as an adult, to protect all that he is responsible for, Shikamaru must do battle with the shadow of a new generation.

SCHOOL JUDGMENT: GAKKYU HOTEI, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens •
DIGITAL MSRP: $6.99 (U.S. / CAN) • Available Now!
At Tenbin Elementary, there is only one way to settle a dispute—in a court of law! All quarrels bypass the teachers and are settled by some of the best lawyers in the country…who also happen to be elementary school students. SCHOOL JUDGMENT is a new series that features story by Nobuaki Enoki, with artwork by Takeshi Obata, the famed artist behind the smash hit manga series DEATH NOTE as well as the hugely successful manga BAKUMAN。and ALL YOU NEED IS KILL (all of which are also published by VIZ Media).

JUDAS, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens •
DIGITAL MSRP: $4.99 (U.S. / CAN) • Available February 23rd
Judas, cursed for his sins, is the spirit of Death – he is without form, and has enslaved young Eve to carry out the most heinous of acts. Together in spirit and body, they must slay 666 people so that Judas can regain his humanity. Using Eve as his vessel of destruction, Judas' dark, blood-soaked journey will leave a trail of sin, death, and – hopefully for Judas – redemption.

February Digital Manga Bundle Promos (Available All Month):

DEMON LOVE SPELL (Entire Series) • $23.99
• Vols. 1-6

HIKARU NO GO Bundle I • $39.99
• Vols. 1-10

HIKARU NO GO Bundle II • $52.99
• Vols. 1-15 HIKARU NO GO Bundle III (Entire Series) • $68.99
• Vols. 1-23 JIU JIU (Entire Series) • $15.99
• Vols. 1-5 KAZE HIKARU Bundle I • $41.99
• Vols. 1-12 KAZE HIKARU Bundle II (Entire Series) • $69.99
• Vols. 1-23

Additional digital manga updates for February also includes new volumes for 17 other continuing VIZ Media series. Notable releases include not-to-be-missed volumes for ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM (Vol. 8), FOOD WARS! (Vol. 10), MY HERO ACADEMIA (Vol. 3), ONE PIECE (Vol. 77), and ULTRAMAN (Vol. 3) as well as shojo manga additions including MAID-SAMA 2-in-1 omnibus (Vol. 3), QQ SWEEPER (Vol. 2), and SO CUTE IT HURTS (Vol. 5). Also don’t miss the exciting series finales of CHEEKY ANGEL (Vols. 19 & 20), CROWN OF THORNS (Vol. 2), DEADMAN WONDERLAND (Vol. 13) and KANNAZUKI NO MIKO (Vol. 2).

The free VIZ Manga App continues to be the top application for reading digital manga and features a massive library of the most popular series in the world. Through the innovative VIZ Manga digital platform registered users are able to use one account to view their purchased manga across more devices than ever. New series and volumes are added every Tuesday. Fans can also find these titles and more for the NOOK, Kindle Fire, and Kobo eReaders, as well as in the ComiXology, iBooks and Google Play Stores.

Most manga volumes are available for purchase and download in the U.S. and Canada within the VIZ Manga application starting from only $4.99 (U.S. / CAN) each. Readers can also explore free Chapter 1 previews of every series. For more information, visit VIZManga.com or www.VIZ.com/apps.

To learn more about VIZ Manga, visit www.vizmanga.com.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

VIZ announces digital anime update for February 2016


Don’t Miss Brand New Action And Adventure With Fresh
And SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL; Also Catch The Exclusive

VIZ Media moves into February and continues to heat up the winter season for fans with the latest monthly digital anime content update.

This month, audiences will be treated to the latest NARUTO SHIPPUDEN episodes straight from Japan in (subtitled) weekly simulcasts every Thursday. Also dive into the exclusive U.S. premiere of SAILOR MOON SAILOR STARS (Season 5). This is the first time this final climactic season of the original SAILOR MOON anime series has been officially available in the U.S. Enjoy 2 exciting subtitled episodes every week!

The interstellar SAILOR MOON action continues throughout February with all-new, English dubbed streamed episodes of SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL every week. New dubbed content for the month is complemented by not-to-be-missed episodes for additional hit VIZ Media anime series such as HUNTER X HUNTER and RANMA ½.

New anime content for February includes:

• The supernatural action adventure of HUNTER X HUNTER Season 1 continues in February with Episodes 27-39 available to stream in their entirety featuring brand new subtitles that are true to VIZ Media’s original translations of the manga series by Yoshihiro Togashi.

• The pulse-racing ninja action of NARUTO SHIPPUDEN continues all month with simulcasts every Thursday of the latest episodes straight from Japan.
• Don’t miss the simulcasts of Episode 447 on February 4th, Episode 448 on February 11th, followed by Episode 449 on February 18th, and Episode 450 on February 25th.

• The hilarious hijinks of the classic anime martial arts adventure, RANMA ½, continues during February with the addition of Season 6, Episodes 116-138, available to stream now in their entirety with dubbed English dialogue!

• Catch the streaming premiere of SAILOR MOON SAILOR STARS (Season 5) with 2 subtitled episodes every Monday.
• Episodes 175 & 176 are available now, followed by Episodes 177 & 178 on February 8th, Episodes 179 & 180 on February 15th and Episodes 181 & 182 on February 22nd.

• Enjoy the all-new English dubbed streams of SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL throughout February with a brand new episode every Friday.
• SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL Season 1 action continues with Episode 13 FINAL BATTLE - REINCARNATION available to stream beginning February 5th, followed by the beginning of the Black Moon Arc on February 12th!

VIZ Media’s consolidated online destination for FREE streaming anime content in the U.S. has over 4,200 subtitled and English dubbed episodes and movies from more than 37 series! VIZ Media’s streaming content also reaches an expansive on-demand U.S.-based audience on Hulu, which enables viewers to watch shows anytime, anywhere across devices including Xbox One, PlayStation®4, Roku, Roku TV, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and mobile devices. A full list of Hulu -enabled devices can be found at http://www.hulu.com/plus/devices.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Seijun Suzuki retrospective in L.A. from February 5th to March 13th

Branded to Kill (1967)

UCLA Film & Television Archive; the Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution; Japan Foundation; and UCLA Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies present Action, Anarchy, and Audacity: A Seijun Suzuki Retrospective, which will screen Friday, February 5 – Sunday, March 13 at the Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood Village.

This upcoming series provides a rare opportunity to experience the innovative and audacious work of Japanese director Seijun Suzuki onscreen. Devotees of Suzuki’s free-wheeling approach include directors Jim Jarmusch and Quentin Tarantino and influential titles featured in the series will include: Branded to Kill (1967), Tokyo Drifter (1966) and Gate of Flesh (1964).

Full program details can be found at the UCLA Film & Television Archive website.

The series is curated by Tom Vick, the curator of film at the Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian Institution, and co-organized with the Japan Foundation. Mr. Vick will appear in person on February 21st and 22nd.

This series previously ran in New York at the Film Society of Lincoln Center from November 6-17, 2015.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

South Korean rom-com THE BEAUTY INSIDE debuts today on home video

Well Go USA
The Beauty Inside / Byuti insaideu
Directed by Jong-Yeol Baek
South Korea, 2015, 127 minutes

A body-hopping romantic comedy that asks the question “where does love begin?”, The Beauty Inside debuts on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD today, Tuesday, February 2nd from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The surprise sleeper hit of Cannes, the film depicts Woo-jin, who, every morning, wakes up in a different body. His age, gender, and nationality may change, but the one constant in his life is Yi-soo - the woman he loves. She knows his secret, and loves him anyway.

With every transformation, Woo-jin has to figure out how to return to his own body and reunite with Yi-soo. First time feature film director Jong-Yeol Baek assembled an all-star cast of talent, including Han Hyo-joo (Masquerade), Park Seo-jun (Chronicles of Evil), Juri Ueno (The Girl in the Sun), Lee Jin-uk (The Target), Kim Joo-hyuck (In Love and War) and Yu Yeon-seok (A Werewolf Boy).

Monday, February 01, 2016

Section23 Films has announced its March 2016 slate of releases

Home video distributor Section23 Films has announced its March slate of releases; including Sentai Filmworks’ latest acquisition, the romantic comedy series Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun. Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Limited Edition Premium Box Set.

Product details, in order of release:

Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         300 min.
Street Date:      3/1/2016
Format:             DVD, BD
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $59.98, $69.98

SYNOPSIS:  When the laws of magic are broken, it's the duty of the Police Department's deadly Section 1 to enforce them.  But, since even craven maven mages and nefarious necromancers have the right to a fair trial, the job of defending them belongs to the Benmashi, the Wizard Barristers!  It's a tricky profession, requiring both arcane ability and a judicious sense of jurisprudence, and at just seventeen, Cecil Sudo is the youngest Benmashi that Butterfly Law has ever employed.  That means a lot of late nights burning the midnight brimstone, summoning up summaries, parsing phrases with paranormal paralegals and cutting deals with opposing counsels from hell.  And when a young Benmashi starts to discover that her own charm may be more magically-based than she realized, there'll be a hex-tra incentive to work wonders outside the courtroom as well!  Every trial is a witch trial as the most enchantingly Adept Attorney ever becomes a Master of the Art of Defensive Spells in WIZARD BARRISTERS!

Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         300 min.
Street Date:      3/8/2016
Format:             DVD, BD
Language:         Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $49.98, $59.98

SYNOPSISEveryone knows that lies can come back to bite you, but when Erika makes up a fake boyfriend to impress her new classmates, the results may literally end up hounding her forever!   Yes, it was dumb, but what were the odds that the random guy whose picture she used would turn out to be a student at her own school?  Or that said faux-boyfriend's silence would come with such a horrible price?   Now Erika doesn't just have to run and fetch at Kyoya Sata's command, she has to bark too!  Because he's literally treating her like a dog, and she just has to roll over and take it, or he'll tell everyone the truth!  But that's not the worst part, because even though this wolf in hunk's clothing has Erika collared, she may be starting to have REAL feelings for him anyway!  Is she barking up the wrong tree, or could true love be unleashed in WOLF GIRL & BLACK PRINCE? 

Published by:    Sentai Selects
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         600 min.
Street Date:      3/15/2016
Format:             DVD
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $39.98

SYNOPSISTales of traveling to alternate dimensions are fun to watch in the movies, but when you get stuck in one yourself, it's not quite as much fun.  So when strongman Junpei, actress Airi, and teenage gun fanatic Ritsuko find themselves transported to a world populated by elves and other mystical beings, all they want to do is go home.  Unfortunately, after putting their trust in the scatterbrained sorceress Celcia, the spell to send them back to Earth ends up getting scattered to the winds, with different parts attaching themselves to the bodies of Elves all across the planet.  Now the only way to put it back together is to travel around the world, convincing elves to take off all their clothes for a "spell check"!  Fortunately, the team also has access to a T-74 tank, so it's time for the weirdest road trip ever.  Warning!  There are naked elves ahead as the ultimate fanboy fantasy is launched in THOSE WHO HUNT ELVES!

Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         325 min.
Street Date:      3/15/2016
Format:             BD
Language:         Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $59.98

SYNOPSIS:  When a group of friends decide to make a movie over a long summer holiday, they end up learning a little about filmmaking and a lot more about each other and themselves.  What begins as a simple way to avoid the summer doldrums quickly turns into something much more complex, intimate, and downright revealing.  As the summer heats up, so do the maturing relationships between the young cast members, taking some new, and sometimes unexpected, turns.  Get ready for a whole new look at summer romance as hidden emotions get captured and secrets meant to be kept hidden inside young hearts instead spill off the screen for your viewing pleasure in WAITING IN THE SUMMER!  

Title:                 WHEN THEY CRY SEASON 1
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         650 min.
Street Date:      3/15/2016
Format:             DVD, BD
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $49.98, $69.98

SYNOPSIS:  Moving to the picturesque town of Hinamizawa is going to be a big adjustment for Keiichi.  For all its beauty, it's also tiny… so small that there's only one school, one where most of the students have known each other all their lives.  Fortunately, he soon meets four girls… Rena, Mion, Satoko, and Rika, who're willing to let the new guy in town join their afterschool club.  And for a while, things seem wonderful.  Until Keiichi starts discovering strange things, like the project manager for a controversial dam project being found dismembered five years ago.  As he digs deeper, there are whispers and rumors of other murders and disappearances, stories of a town curse, and mysterious rituals.  And then people he knows start to die.  What secrets have the people of Hinamizawa kept hidden from the rest of the world?  And could his new friends somehow be involved?  The shocking answers will be revealed WHEN THEY CRY!

Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         325 min.
Street Date:      3/22/2016
Format:             DVD, BD
Language:         Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $49.98, $59.98

SYNOPSIS:  It's been seven years since Nonoka Komiya last lived in Lake Kiriya City.  However, while she knew that there would be changes in the town, she's still unprepared for what she finds upon her return:  A giant saucer hovers over the entire city, as it has since shortly after she and her family left.  Stranger yet, a girl she doesn't know, Noel, is waiting for her, claiming that they have met before.  Confused, Nonaka tries to focus on reconnecting with her old friends, but odd memories, suppressed in the wake of her mother's death, begin to float to the top of her consciousness.  Can it be that she has met Noel before?  And how does this connect with the appearance of the saucer itself?  To solve the riddle, Nonoka must join with her friends and rediscover the events that occurred before she left Lake Kiriya.  Because there's more than a mystery that must be solved: there's a promise that has to be kept in CELESTIAL METHOD. 

Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         300 min.
Street Date:      3/29/2016
Format:             DVD, BD, COMBO
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $59.98, $69.98, $129.98

SYNOPSISYou know how the story goes:  girl crushes on guy, girl confesses feelings to guy, guy mistakes confession for a job application.  Okay, maybe that's not how it usually goes, but that's what happens when Chiyo Sakura finally gets up the nerve to tell her classroom crush Nozaki how she feels.  Since she doesn't know that he's secretly a manga artist who publishes under a female pen name, and he doesn't know that she doesn't know, he misunderstands and offers her a chance to work as his assistant instead of a date!  But while it's not flowers and dancing, it is a chance to get closer to him, so Chiyo gamely accepts.  And when Nozaki realizes how useful Chiyo can be in figuring out what girls find romantic, he'll be spending even more time with her "researching" while remaining completely clueless.  Could Chiyo's romantic frustration possibly get any more drawn out of proportion?  The answer will be profusely illustrated in MONTHLY GIRLS' NOZAKI-KUN!

Title:                 UTAWARERUMONO OVA
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         85 min.
Street Date:      3/29/2016
Format:             DVD, BD
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $29.98, $39.98

SYNOPSISYou may have thought the saga of the mysterious masked warrior Hakuoro was over, but the fight for justice and honor never ends.  Even in a world filled with sorcery and epic battles, there's always time for a few adventures on the side!  Journey back to the world of UTAWARERUMONO and discover three amazing new stories:  Can the priestess Urutori find a way to solve the problem of an abandoned infant, or will she end up raising the child herself?  Can healer Eluluu resolve a situation that involves youth potions, some unusually well-intentioned kidnappers, and a very unorthodox romance?  And finally, learn just how much trouble a couple of girls can get into on a simple afternoon fishing trip.  (Because when it involves magic fish, and two of the girls are Touka and Aruruu, the answer is… plenty!)  The tales may be a little shorter, but the fantasy is every bit as fantastic as all the characters you love return in UTAWARERUMONO - THE OVA COLLECTION!

Published by:    Maiden Japan
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Run Time:         650 min.
Street Date:      3/29/2016
Format:             DVD
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP:                $49.98

SYNOPSISShe may use the name Miyu Yamano when dealing with mortals, but the truth is that not even Miyu knows who she really is.  What is certain is that she was born of Vampire and Human; the human half granting her the ability to walk by day, while her craving for the blood of the living brands her forever as a creature of the night.  Now, together with her sole companion, the Shinma known as Larva, she exists in the twilight realm where the worlds of light and shadow overlap, trapped in the body of a teenager forever.  Her task:  to serve as Mankind's last defense against the forces of Darkness.  To hunt down those who would seek to harm the human race, and to cast them back into the depths from which they came.  Prepare to stalk the night as the death-dance of undead predator and prey begins in the anime classic VAMPIRE PRINCESS MIYU - THE SERIES!