With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Friday, August 31, 2012

ACF 1608: LOVE, ELECTIONS & CHOCOLATE licensed by Sentai Filmworks

Sentai Filmworks’ latest acquisition is Love, Elections & Chocolate.  With series composition by Katsuhiko Takayama (ef ~ a tale of memories., And Yet the Town Moves), this series is sure to have the right recipe to win at the polls; and to complete the ticket, music by Elements Garden (Bodacious Space Pirates) and character designs by Hiroaki Gohda (Amagami SS, Please Teacher!) add the icing that tops it all off.

Love, Elections & Chocolate will soon be available through select digital outlets.

Synopsis: In Japan, participation in extra-curricular activities is as fundamental a part of an education as chalk and gym shorts.  However, not all students are overachievers, and for those like Yuki Ojima, groups like the Food Research Club are welcome havens in which to slack-off.  But what’s a slacker to do when the radical new candidate for Student Council president announces her intent to get rid of clubs like the FRC?

Well, getting the help of the current Student Council president is a good start, but HIS suggestion is so counter-intuitive that it’s crazy: Yuki should run for the Student Council himself?  And yet, it’s SO crazy that it just might work!  Especially when Chisato, the chocolate-adverse president of the FRC (and Yuki’s best childhood friend,) and members of other targeted school clubs start to join the swelling FRC army.  But can this army of goofs and goof-offs coast all the way to political victory?  Or will someone have to step up to the plate and take one for the term?

They may savor victory, they may taste defeat, but you’re certain to eat up LOVE, ELECTIONS & CHOCOLATE!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

ACF 1607: VIZ and Tout bringing social media to Neon Alley


VIZ Media And Tout Invite Neon Alley Fans To Create
And Share Real-Time Video Segments About
The 24-Hour Game Console-Based Anime Channel This Fall

VIZ Media has teamed with Tout Industries, Inc. (www.tout.com), a prominent social media technology company, to utilize its platform to enable Neon Alley members to share real-time video status updates. Tout is the latest partner to be announced for Neon Alley, the 24/7 anime channel VIZ Media will debut this Fall.

Tout is an innovative social media tool that gives Neon Alley fans a fun way to communicate and interact with the channel and each other. By downloading the Tout application (available free for iPhone and Android smartphones) and via Webcam, users can easily shoot and share 15-second video status updates. Tout posts are published automatically and in real-time to Tout.com, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, as well as SMS and email contacts. Through Tout's reply feature, users can also engage in Tout video conversations.  Tout also offers a free Tout Widget, which can be customized in minutes, and placed on any Neon Alley fan Website or blog.

Anime fans don't have to wait until Neon Alley launches this fall to start sharing touts! With Tout, Neon Alley fans will be able to let their voices be heard on what they’re most excited about in the new channel as they await its launch. When the channel debuts, fans can tout their favorite shows of the week, the best moments from the new daily episodes, show off best cosplay outfits, and more. The Neon Alley team will also feature cool touts on the channel! Visit Tout.com and sign up for a free account and download the app to a mobile device or simply use a PC webcam to send touts to @neonalley and #NAforAnime. 

“Tout adds an entirely new layer to the Neon Alley experience by allowing fans a way to easily share video responses in real-time, as well as see what their fellow members think,” says Brian Ige, VIZ Media Vice President, Animation. “In addition to showcasing highlighted fan touts on the channel, Neon Alley will tout as well, delivering announcements from events, behind-the-scenes action from voiceover studios, and more! Join the Neon Alley conversation on Tout today!”

“Our partnership with VIZ Media leverages the creativity of anime fans to give them a fun and easy to use social tool to engage in two-way video communication with other fans and the Neon Alley channel,” says Tout CEO, Michael Downing. “Touts bring Neon Alley viewers together and we look forward to helping Neon Alley grow its social community."

Neon Alley features the world’s best anime titles all dubbed and uncut in English and presented in HD (when available). Programming will include weekly exclusive premieres of hit titles fans love, alongside a mix of new, cutting edge titles they didn’t know they missed, including blockbusters NARUTO SHIPPUDEN, BLUE EXORCIST, ONE PIECE, BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC, TIGER & BUNNY and more. Neon Alley is the first platform designed to be studio agnostic, with a diverse array of titles from other leading anime and content distributors, such as Aniplex, FUNimation, Anime News Network and Taiseng. The service will be subscription-based, subsidized with limited commercial advertising to keep the launch price to consumers at a low $6.99 per month.

For more information on Neon Alley and to register for news and updates on the service’s launch, please visit www.NeonAlley.com.

About Tout Industries, Inc.:
Headquartered in San Francisco, Tout is a social media technology company whose smartphone and Web applications enable real-time video status updates that can be shared instantly with friends, family or the whole world through Facebook, Twitter, or even published to your own site via the Tout Widget and API. Tout enables users to capture and share 15-second videos with 2-clicks from the Web, iPhone, iPad or Android smartphones. Tout is a technology spin-out of SRI (Stanford Research Institute), responsible for such innovations as intelligent personal assistant technology SIRI acquired by Apple. Since launch, Tout has had over 30 million visitors to its application, making it one of the fastest growing social media services. Visit www.tout.com or follow us on Facebook and on Twitter @Tout.

About VIZ Media, LLC:
Headquartered in San Francisco, California, VIZ Media distributes, markets and licenses the best anime and manga titles direct from Japan.  Owned by three of Japan's largest manga and animation companies, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media has the most extensive library of anime and manga for English speaking audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa. With its popular digital manga anthology WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA and blockbuster properties like NARUTO, BLEACH and INUYASHA, VIZ Media offers cutting-edge action, romance and family friendly properties for anime, manga, science fiction and fantasy fans of all ages.  VIZ Media properties are available as graphic novels, DVDs, animated television series, feature films, downloadable and streaming video and a variety of consumer products.  Learn more about VIZ Media, anime and manga at www.VIZ.com.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

ACF 1606: Remembering Japanese actor Raizo Ichikawa

Ichikawa as Nemuri Kyoshiro in the Sleepy Eyes of Death series

Raizo Ichikawa was born eighty-one years ago on August 29th, 1931 in Kyoto, Japan. He died on July 17, 1969, just shy of his 38th birthday, in Tokyo. His filmography at IMDb consists of a total of 104 titles. Possessed of almost unworldly good looks, he appeared mainly in jidaigeki (period) dramas, usually as a lone swordsman.

In Scar Yosaburo

He is best known in the West for the Shinobi no mono (a.k.a. Ninja, a Band of Assassins) and the Sleepy Eyes of Death (a.k.a. Nemuri Kyoshiro) film series. Among his other notable films are Samurai Vendetta (1959, with Shintaro Katsu), Scar Yosaburo (1960) and Destiny's Son (1962).


On Monday night I went to see the 8:00 PM free pre-release screening of Tsui Hark's Flying Swords of Dragon Gate in IMAX 3D. The film will be opening August 31st, 2012 in New York, Los Angeles and other major cities exclusively in IMAX 3D. I got a great seat in the reserved press section, mid-way up the height of the screen and just slightly off center. Was wowed, like many others, by the IMAX promo clip that preceded the film. Then the film started.

I'd love to give a full review of the film, but unfortunately I walked out  after about 30 minutes! Of a free screening of a Tsui Hark film starring Jet Li in IMAX 3D! Why? Well three reasons.

First, the English subtitles were pure white letters with no dark edging. I consider this to be a totally unforgivable no-no in this day and age. Why? Because any time the lower part of the screen where the subtitles appeared was light, it was difficult if not impossible to read them. (Some other attendees seemed to groan after a few seconds of these subtitles.)

Second, I didn't find the 3D effect all that great. The film is being shown exclusively in IMAX 3D, but I'd bet heavy that it wasn't shot that way. For the most part the 3D of Flying Swords looked like converted 2D. There were distinct planes in the frame (foreground objects in one, mid-distance objects in another, and distant objects in the third); no gradations of depth whatsoever. It was like watching a motion picture on the View-Master I had as a kid during the '50s, only on a really big scale.

According to a press release I received "experts in the field of 3D photography were brought in - including many of the visual effects wizards behind James Cameron’s Avatar" - to retrain Hark’s camera team" in using new 3D technology. Well, I saw and loved Avatar; Flying Swords doesn't approach the look of Cameron's film.

Third, the combination of 3D on a huge IMAX screen and Tsui's trademark quick cuts in the frenetic action scenes hurt my eyes and gave me a bit of a headache. I'm not a big fan of Tsui's rapid fire cutting in action sequences, one of the reasons I wasn't awed as others are by his 1995 film The Blade.

Don't get me wrong. I have the greatest admiration for Tsui, whom I interviewed at the New York Asian Film Festival in 2011, and I truly enjoy many of the films he's directed. As for the physical impact of Flying Swords on me, I fortunately was pretty much back to normal by the time I got home, about an hour after walking out. And I have to point out that I had no problem watching Avatar in regular 3D.

There may have been one other walkout before me, but I can't be sure. And of course I have no idea if there were any after I left. Probably few, if any. But that was my experience, just FYI.

As for the story, it's a fantasy swordplay film that builds on the original Dragon Inn (1967), directed by King Hu, and Raymond Lee's 1992 version, on which Tsui Hark and Ching Siu-Tung were uncredited co-directors. The film begins with an extended traveling aerial shot over a vast Chinese shipyard. It's nicely done, but an immediate giveaway that the viewer is entering a world in which CGI will most definitely be present, not to mention obvious. (The early action sequences similarly indicated that extensive wire-work would be used in this gravity-defying wuxia film.)

There are two evil factions of imperial eunuchs, some righteous fighters for justice who are led by Jet Li's character, and a fleeing maid who is pregnant with the Emperor's child. The maid is caught, but is soon rescued by a swordsman (actually a swordswoman) who is impersonating Jet Li's character. At the point when I walked out, the super-evil eunuch who heads the West Chamber has decided to intercept the maid at Dragon Gate.

Grady Hendrix, one of the founding members of Subway Cinema and the annual New York Asian Film Festival, was sitting two rows in front of me. On Facebook he wrote: "Just saw Tsui Hark's 3-D IMAX FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON GATE. Four badass fighting females, three colliding plotlines, two killer sandstorms, and one fight inside a tornado later it feels like it's Hong Kong in 1993 again!" For his subsequent full review, click here.

For a different take than Grady's, see Ric Meyers' review of Flying Swords of Dragon Gate in his April 16, 2012 post. Note that it appears to be a review of the DVD, not the IMAX 3D, film.

Perhaps I'll enjoy Flying Swords of Dragon Gate if I ever get to see it on a regular DVD, but the IMAX 3D combo obviously didn't work for me. Major disappointment for me personally, but most likely I'm the exception, or one of the relatively few.

Monday, August 27, 2012



The Amazing Life Story Of The Host Of
Debuts As A New Manga App For iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch And Android Devices

FreeHand Inc. (http://www.f-hand.co.jp/), a leading Tokyo-based comic/manga production company that specializes in comics planning, production and advertising, has released Samurai Spirit: The Story of Rome Kanda, a new biographical digital manga series about the life of Japanese actor/comedian Rome Kanda. The digital bio launched and the comedian appeared at the 4th annual J-POP Summit Festival in San Francisco this past weekend.

Samurai Spirit: The Story of Rome Kanda is available NOW for Android-enabled devices (Download here.) The first chapter will be available for free download and the following chapters are available for only $1.25 each. Additional chapters will debut in coming weeks. An iTunes version will also debut imminently.

“I’m very honored by the U.S. release of my new digital manga biography, Samurai Spirit,” says Rome Kanda. “The digital manga format is a compelling way to tell my life story and experiences working in both the U.S. and Japanese entertainment industries on hit international shows like MAJIDE!?: I Survived a Japanese Game Show and Unbeatable Banzuke. I hope readers will enjoy my insights and have some laughs at the many funny experiences I’ve had.”

Rome Kanda started in show business as an actor and went on to appear in numerous films and T.V. shows in Japan before eventually moving to the United States. He gained further notoriety after he began doing comedy routines at venues like LA’s iconic Comedy Store. Kanda was later cast as the MC for the reality series, I Survived a Japanese Game Show, which ran in the United States in 2008 on ABC and followed a group of American contestants as they tried their luck on a quirky Japanese TV game show. The show ran for two seasons and was awarded The Rose d’Or (Golden Rose) at The Global Entertainment Television Festival, which is one of the most important international events for entertainment television. (Dr. G comments: "I watched I Survived a Japanese Game Show and loved it! It was very funny and quite entertaining. Wish it would've continued.")

Kanda was also known as the manic host of the hit G4 television series, Unbeatable Banzuke, and he has appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Saturday Night Live and was featured in films including Takeshi Kitano’s Sonatine and The Informant, which was directed by Steven Soderbergh and starred Matt Damon.

Kanda’s amazing life experiences are depicted in Samurai Spirit: The Story of Rome Kanda. The series features artwork by Sho Wakasa and is produced by Ryo Kurashina, who is well-known in the Japanese manga industry for bestselling series such as Jo-Tei (Empress), Ya-Oh (King of Night) and Jo-Oh (Queen of Queens).

About FreeHand, Inc.:
Based in Tokyo, Japan, FreeHand Inc. (http://www.f-hand.co.jp/) is one of the leading comic/manga production companies
that specializes in comics planning, production and advertisement. The company is owned by Ryo Kurashina, a creator and producer of bestselling manga series such as Jo-Tei (Empress), Ya-Oh (King of Night) and Jo-Oh (Queen of Queens). Samurai Spirit: The Story of Rome Kanda is FreeHand’s first manga title to be released in English for the worldwide market.

The J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL is an annual Japanese Pop Culture celebration that features live bands and artists from Japan, pop culture panel discussions, film premieres, fashion and DJ dance events, and celebrity appearances. The Festival is hosted by NEW PEOPLE in cooperation with the Japantown Merchants Association. In 2011, the two-day event attracted 55,000 attendees. More information about the J-Pop Summit Festival is available at J-Pop.com.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

ACF 1603: ONE PIECE coming to Neon Alley anime channel this fall


ONE PIECE Licensor Toei Animation Will Be Content Partner For New Console-Based
24-Hour Anime Channel Launching On PS3 And Playstation Network

VIZ Media continues the digital anime convergence as it announces that Toei Animation, with FUNimation Entertainment acting as the agent, has licensed the celebrated pirate anime action/adventure series, ONE PIECE, for broadcast on Neon Alley, the new 24-hour anime channel VIZ Media launching this Fall exclusively to the Playstation Network and the PS3 game console. Episodes to air on Neon Alley will be presented uncut and with dubbed English dialogue.

Neon Alley, featuring the world’s best anime titles all dubbed and uncut in English and presented in HD (when available), is the first platform designed to be studio agnostic, with a diverse array of titles from other leading anime producers and distributors. Programming will include weekly exclusive premieres of hit titles fans love, alongside a mix of new, cutting edge titles they didn’t know they were missing. Neon Alley will be a subscription-based service, subsidized with limited commercial advertising to keep the launch price to consumers at a low $6.99 per month.

“We’re excited to partner with Toei and FUNimation to bring the smash hit ONE PIECE to fans across North America on Neon Alley,” says Brian Ige, Vice President, Animation. “Fans should stay tuned for the Neon Alley launch date and programming details, and prepare to set sail with Luffy and the rest of the Straw Hat pirates this Fall!”

ONE PIECE is based on a massively popular manga (graphic novel) series created by Eiichiro Oda, that is also published in North America by VIZ Media (rated ‘T’ for Teens). In the venerable anime adventure, Monkey D. Luffy refuses to let anyone or anything stand in the way of his quest to become king of all pirates. With a course charted for the treacherous waters of the Grand Line, this is one captain who'll never drop anchor until he's claimed the greatest treasure on Earth – the Legendary One Piece!

For more information on Neon Alley: www.NeonAlley.com.

For more information on Toei Animation: www.Toei-Anime.com

For more information on FUNimation: www.funimation.com

For more information on VIZ Media:

About Toei Animation Inc.L
TOEI ANIMATION has been distributing its popular Japanese Animation films and derivative character licensing through local partners all over American regions for over 13 years. TOEI ANIMATION INCORPORATED (TAI) established in Los Angeles in March 2004, looks forward to spreading the world-renowned Japanese animation studio’s extensive library and pursuing co-production projects in North and Latin America and other English-speaking territories worldwide. The main business operations of TAI include film licensing in all media and emerging platforms, merchandise licensing and co-productions with local establishments. Visit www.toei-anim.com.

About FUNimation Entertainment:
FUNimation Entertainment is the leading anime company in North America. FUNimation has a proven formula for launching and advancing brands. They manage a full spectrum of rights for most of their brands including broadcasting, licensing, production, internet, and home video sales and distribution. For more information about FUNimation Entertainment and its brands, visit www.funimation.com.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

ACF 1602: New, free EVANGELION San Francisco Voice Tour Guide app


New EvaNavi San Francisco Voice Tour Guide Is
A Fun Free Personal Tour Guide To 60 Must-See
Pop Culture Attractions In The City

NEW PEOPLE has announced the debut of a new iPhone app that will launch to North American users, supported by the 2012 J-POP Summit Festival in association with festival partners NAVIelite and KAYAC, Inc. The EvaNavi San Francisco Voice Tour Guide is a fun English audio application designed for the iPhone that incorporates aspects from the hit Evangelion 2.0 sci-fi anime property to guide users to 60 notable attractions around San Francisco.

The EvaNavi SF application is available for FREE download from the iPhone/iTunes AppStore at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id549431695?mt=8.

Anime fans, tourists, and even local residents can get to know the City by the Bay in an entirely new way with a unique audio guide powered by the voice of Mari Makinami Illustrious (voiced in English by actress Trina Nishimura) of the famed Evangelion:2.0: You Can (Not) Advance. anime film. The EvaNavi SF application was specially produced for North American fans and made possible by official support and approval from the creators of Evangelion 2.0 in association with NAVIelite (dribrain.com) and developed and designed by the Japanese IT creative company and web/mobile app developer KAYAC, Inc. (http://www.kayac.com/en).

San Francisco is world-renowned for an array of unique restaurants, stores, landmarks and other points of interest. EvaNavi SF features many unique locations ranging from the Japanese pop culture entertainment complex of NEW PEOPLE and the J-Pop inspired Hotel Tomo, to must-visit stops for anime fans and gamers such as the Cartoon Art Museum, the Super 7 collectables store, and Gamescape, as well as scrumptious Japanese eateries and live music venues such as Kiss Seafood, Juban Yakiniku House, Blowfish Sushi to Die For and Yoshi's San Francisco. The app also highlights many of the Bay Area’s non-J-Pop attractions such as Citylights Bookstore, Radio Habana Social Club, Chronicle Books and many more “Must” local attractions.

EvaNavi SF Tour Guide sample screen

The EvaNavi SF Voice Tour Guide launches in “EvaNavi Map” mode and shows 60 “must see” pop culture-inspired locations all over the city. Users can easily find the attractions nearest to them by turning on the app’s geo-locator and tapping the arrow to locate themselves by GPS. An easy-to-use “Spot List” mode quickly finds locations sorted by distance as well as in alphabetical order. Other features include one-tap playing and easy audio controls as well as on/off options for spot notifications. The application is compatible with iOS 4.0 and up and requires iPhone (3GS and up) with internet or cellular data connection.

“This is a very useful application and we’re very excited to launch it to North American users thanks to the support from our festival partners, NAVIelite and KAYAC,” says Seiji Horibuchi, the founder of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. and co-chairman of J-POP SUMMIT Festival. “Users will have fun with our new EvaNavi SF Voice Tour Guide application accompanied by Mari’s very informative voice! It’s like checking out all the fun places with her as your personal guide!  Even you are not familiar with Evangelion or anime, this will be a fun way to tour our beautiful city of San Francisco.”

The J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL is an annual Japanese Pop Culture celebration that features live bands and artists from Japan, pop culture panel discussions, film premieres, fashion and DJ dance events, and celebrity appearances. The Festival is hosted by NEW PEOPLE in cooperation with the Japantown Merchants Association. In 2011, the two-day event attracted 55,000 attendees. More information about the J-Pop Summit Festival is available at J-Pop.com.

About NEW PEOPLE, Inc.:
Based in San Francisco, California, NEW PEOPLE, Inc. (www.newpeopleworld.com) offers the latest films, art, fashion and retail brands from Japan through its unique entertainment destination as well as through licensing and distribution of selective Japanese films. NEW PEOPLE Entertainment (www.newpeopleent.com), a film division of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. strives to offer the most entertaining motion pictures straight from the "Kingdom of Pop" for audiences of all ages, especially the manga and anime generation, in North America. Some titles include DEATH NOTE, GANTZ, KAMIKAZE GIRLS, and THE TASTE OF TEA.

Friday, August 24, 2012

ACF 1601: Japanese all-girl power trio The Akabane Vulgars On Strong Bypass announces multi-city U.S. tour


Bluesy-Punk Rock Power Trio Was A Hit At 2012 SXSW
And Embarks On “Return Of The King Zero” National Tour
Ahead Of Forthcoming U.S. Record Release

The bluesy, Japanese all-girl power trio, The Akabane Vulgars On Strong Bypass, returns to take the U.S.A. by storm as they announce a new multi-city national tour kicking off today! Catch their songs and image at www.akabane-vulgars.com.

The Akabane Vulgars On Strong Bypass 2012 U.S. Tour, “Return of the King Zero,” will take the band to 20 cities and formally kicks off on Saturday, August 25th with a performance at the 2012 J-Pop Summit Festival in San Francisco, following a warm-up gig the day before in Guala, CA at the Bones Roadhouse.

Date                                        City                             Venue
AUG 24, 2012             Gualala, CA                             Bones Roadhouse
AUG 25, 2012             San Francisco, CA                  J-POP Summit Festival
AUG 26, 2012             San Francisco, CA                  Red Devil Lounge
AUG 27, 2012             Sacramento, CA                      Blue Lamp
AUG 29, 2012             Los Osos, CA                         Sweet Springs Saloon
AUG 30, 2012             Santa Barbara, CA                  Whiskey Richards
AUG 31, 2012             Los Angeles, CA                     The Redwood
SEP 02, 2012               San Diego, CA                         The Ruby Room
SEP 04, 2012               Las Vegas, NV                       The Beauty Bar
SEP 05, 2012               Reno, NV                                 Jub Jub’s Thirst Parlor
SEP 08, 2012               Portland, OR                            Slabtown
SEP 15, 2012               Seattle, WA                             Slim’s Last Chance
SEP 18, 2012               Denver, CO                             Lion’s Lair
SEP 19, 2012               Lincoln, NE                              Zoo Bar
SEP 22, 2012               St. Paul, MN                             Wild Times
SEP 23, 2012               Chicago, IL                              (Private Party)
SEP 24, 2012               Chicago, IL                              Double Door
SEP 27, 2012               Detroit, MI                                Corktown Tavern
SEP 29, 2012               New York, NY                         Lit Lounge
OCT 01, 2012              Brooklyn, NY                           Trash Bar

The Akabane Vulgars On Strong Bypass formed in 2005 and is composed of sisters Yumi Uchizono on guitar and vocals and Miki Uchizono on bass, along with drummer Kei Sofue. The band formed while the members were still in high school but the trio has gone on to enjoy a wide following in Japan with a unique brand of bluesy-rock vocals and soulful lyrics. The Akabane Vulgars is heavily influenced by Green Day, Joan Jett, The Beatles, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Japanese groups such as Blankey Jet City and Thee Michelle Gun Elephant.

The Akabane Vulgars On Strong Bypass have released a self-produced CD, “The Rumps Smolder at the Gloom” as well as a 3-song EP, “We Need The Riot, Our Riot, Your Riot.” The band is preparing to record and release their full length debut on a U.S.-based record label later this year.

“We’re super excited to come back to America for this tour,” says singer Yumi Uchizono. “Each of us in the band has grown up steeped in American music and rock and roll, and it’s going to be so much fun to play for new audiences in these cities. We look forward to making as many new fans as we can!”

In 2011, The Akabane Vulgars On Strong Bypass was a stand-out during the Tokyo Boot Up, a three-day, multi-venue music event that bills itself as Tokyo’s answer to SXSW or MIDEM. The band next made their way across the Pacific to take the stage at SXSW 2012 as a highlight of the Japan Nite Showcase in Austin. Returning home to Japan, The Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass quickly were invited back to the Tokyo Boot Up the following month. Now, with unfinished business in the United States, The Akabane Vulgars return to the U.S. for their most extensive tour yet. More information on the band and free web streams of select songs are available at: www.akabane-vulgars.com

ACF 1600: Happy Birthday Wishes to Japanese Film Director Takashi Miike!

Prolific Japanese film director Takashi Miike was born in the town of Yao near Osaka, Japan on August 24th, 1960. His filmography at IMDb lists 88 movies from 1991 to the present. Many of his early films were made for the direct-to-video market, which is, or at least was, respectable in Japan, unlike here in the U.S. where its reputation has always been rather  disreputable.

The first film directed by Miike that I saw (years and year ago on a VHS tape from Tokyo Shock!) was Fudoh: The New Generation (1996), but I didn't really note his name until I saw Ichi the Killer (2001) when it screened at the Focus on New Japanese Cinema film series at the Walter Reade Theater of the Society of Lincoln Center early in 2002. Ichi totally blew me away, as I wrote in my review in Asian Cult Cinema magazine, Issue 35 (2nd Quarter 2002).

Since then I've seen many other films by Miike. Among my favorites are Audition and Dead or Alive (both 1999). While initially known for hard-hitting adult fare, Miike has recently branched out, producing such child-friendly films as Zebraman (2004) and Ninja Kids!!! (2011).

Most impressively, he's done terrific new versions of two classic Japanese films: 13 Assassins (2010), based on Eiichi Kudo's The Thirteen Assassins (1963), and Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (2011), based on Masaki Kobayashi's Harakiri (1962).

So happy 52nd birthday, director Miike. Keep 'em comin'!

ACF 1599: Free screening of Korean courtroom thriller UNBOWED next Tuesday in New York City

Korean Cultural Service
Korean Movie Night 
Series 5: A Few Wild Men:
Courtrooms in Action!
Directed by CHUNG Ji-young
South Korea, 2011, 100 minutes
When: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 @ 7:00 PM
Doors open: 6:30 PM
Where: Tribeca Cinemas
54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street, NYC
Near the A, C, E @ #1 Canal Street subway stops
Admission: FREE!!!
All seating is first-come, first served
East Coast Premiere
When it opened in late 2011, Unbowed’s uninhabited take on a highly-publicized true story caused such a stir that Korea’s Ministry of Justice and Supreme Court even chimed in, noting its wild inaccuracies. It turns out that sensationalizing the story of university professor who accosts a judge with a crossbow doesn’t go over well with governmental bodies… but thankfully, film fans love it, as this courtroom thriller – buffeted by the media uproar – became one of last year’s biggest Korean hits.

AHN Sung-Ke, one of his country’s most respected international actors, delivers a bravado performance as the bow-slinging everyman while R-Point’s PARK Won-Sang delivers a one-in-a-lifetime role as the struggling lawyer pushed to save him.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

ACF 1598: Happy 49th Birthday to Korean director Park Chan-wook!

South Korean writer/director PARK Chan-wook was born on August 23rd, 1963 in South Korea. Perhaps you've seen some of his films, which include:

J.S.A.: Joint Security Area (2000)
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002)
Oldboy (2003)
Lady Vengeance (2005)
I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK (2006)
Thirst (2009)

Alright, more than likely you've seen most if not all of the above. If you haven't seen them all, you should. Every on is terrific.

So, Happy 49th Birthday to you, Director Park! Thanks for the films you've given us so far, and here's hoping you keep them coming for a long time in the future.

ACF 1597: Sci-Fi novel GENOCIDAL ORGAN now available


Story By Celebrated Science Fiction Author Project Itoh Takes Readers
On A Dystopian Journey To Find The True Heart Of Darkness

VIZ Media’s Haikasoru literary imprint recently released celebrated Japanese author Project Itoh’s geopolitical action thriller, GENOCIDAL ORGAN. The new novel will carries an MSRP of $14.99 U.S. / $17.99 CAN. An eBook edition will also be available for the Amazon Kindle, Apple’s iBooks Store, the Barnes & Noble’s Nook Books Store, and the Sony Reader Store.

Haikasoru publishes some of the most compelling contemporary Japanese science fiction and fantasy stories for English-speaking audiences, and is the first imprint based in the U.S. dedicated to Japanese science fiction and fantasy in translation.
Who can win in a war of all against all? The war on terror exploded, literally, the day Sarajevo was destroyed by a homemade nuclear device. The leading democracies have transformed into total surveillance states, and the developing world has drowned under a wave of genocides. The mysterious American John Paul seems to be behind the collapse of the world system, and it’s up to intelligence agent Clavis Shepherd to track John Paul across the wreckage of civilizations, and to find the true heart of darkness – a genocidal organ.

GENOCIDAL ORGAN was Project Itoh’s first novel and it helped to establish him as a major force in Japanese science fiction,” says Nick Mamatas, Haikasoru’s editor. “The novel, which takes place in the same setting depicted in Itoh’s acclaimed book, HARMONY, presents a stark dystopian future that integrates several literary themes relevant to our times such as the war on terror and the power of the media and propaganda. GENOCIDAL ORGAN was widely praised and won First Prize in the ‘Best SF of 2007’ in Japan’s notable SF Magazine. Though Itoh’s life was cut short by cancer and he only wrote three novels, his work continues to be a celebrated part of modern Japanese science fiction. We invite readers to dive into this visceral new release from Haikasoru."

Keikaku (Project) Itoh was born in Tokyo in 1974 and graduated from Musashino Art University. In 2007, he debuted with GENOCIDAL ORGAN and took first prize in the “Best SF of 2007″ in Japan’s SF Magazine. Itoh is also the author of METAL GEAR SOLID: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS (published in the U.S. by Haikasoru), a sci-fi action novel inspired by the popular video game series. After a long battle with cancer, Itoh passed away in March 2009. He wrote his final novel, HARMONY (also published by Haikasoru), while in the hospital receiving treatment for the disease.
For more information on GENOCIDAL ORGAN and the Haikasoru imprint, visit the dedicated website at www.haikasoru.com.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

ACF 1596: 4th annual J-POP Summit Festival is coming to San Francisco this coming weekend


Thousands Expected To Visit Japantown For 4th
Annual Weekend-Long Event Celebrating Japanese Fashion,
Film, Music, Anime, Technology And Pop Culture

The colorful sights, styles, sounds and flavors of Japanese pop culture returns to the Bay Area as the 2012 J-POP Summit Festival commences next weekend – Saturday and Sunday, August 25th and 26th. The annual Festival, now in its fourth year, is organized by NEW PEOPLE, San Francisco’s dynamic Japanese pop culture entertainment venue, and presented in association with the Japantown Merchant Association. Complete details on participants and a comprehensive schedule of events at the 2012 J-POP Summit are available at: www.J-Pop.com.

The theme for 2012 is “Cyberpop Overload!,” and the all-day, weekend-long celebration will offer many unique attractions that have made the J-POP Summit Festival a fun yearly gathering for the Bay Area’s pop culture savvy. In addition to two full days of music, film, fashion and other events, a contingent of 8 of the city’s premiere gourmet food trucks will offer delectable treats to complement approximately 100 local vendors and merchants.

Adult attendees over 21 may also enjoy a new Tokyo-Style sparkling sho-chu cocktail as J-POP Summit sponsor, Takara Sake USA, will offer its Takara Can Chu-Hi JPOP, a refreshing carbonated alcohol beverage available in white peach and grapefruit. Valid ID is required. Takara Can Chu-Hi is a popular brand of summertime sparkling sho-chu cocktail in Japan.

Attendees are also invited to stop by J-POP Summit Main Sponsor UNIQLO and its photo shooting booth, UNIQLOOKS, located in the heart of Japantown Peace Plaza. UNIQLOOKS (http://uniqlooks.uniqlo.com) is a fun social and global fashion community to share fashion style featuring UNIQLO clothing worn by individuals around the world. Attendees can show up in their best J-POP outfit and UNICLOOK’s professional styling team will take a great picture in coordination with UNICLO clothing on site.

More fashion events are also scheduled including a Shibuya Girls Fashion Contest by Liz Lisa, GRAMM & FRILL fashion show by h.NAOTO, and a Lolita fashion contest by BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT. Details can be found at www.J-POP.com.

At the festival’s main outdoor stage in Peace Plaza, join the 2012 J-POP Summit Festival’s lively MC Steve C, as he leads off this year’s extensive roster of events! A veteran San Francisco talk radio personality, Steve C is also a popular health and fitness radio show talk host with RadioSlot.com.

Celebrating the Festival’s theme of “Cyberpop Overload,” will be a dynamic array of video game-inspired artists and DJs that will produce mesmerizing and danceable sets from Random Encounters, The Glowing Stars, SpacEKrafT, DJ Amaya, DJ REViSE and Vex Mode. Live rock and pop sets will also take place on the main stage of Japantown’s spacious Peace Plaza with FREE live sets for “J-Pop Lovers” by Kylee (Sony Music), The Akabane Vulgars, All Ages, Capital, and the Bay Area Girls. Band information and scheduled set times are available at www.J-Pop.com.

Anime fans can celebrate Evangelion, one of Japan’s most successful and revered sci-fi properties, throughout the 2012 J-POP Summit with several attractions and events inspired by the venerable property. The Festival is proud to present the U.S. premiere of the EVANGELION POP-UP MUSEUM, a very special, time-limited exhibit, to be staged inside the venue’s 3rd Floor SUPERFROG Gallery for the duration of the Festival. General admission to The EVANGELION POP-UP MUSEUM is $5 with re-entry stamp. The EVANGELION POP-UP MUSEUM will offer an extensive collection of original concept and production art, character drawings and other key artifacts from the famed Evangelion:1.0 You Are (Not) Alone. and Evangelion:2.0 You Can (Not) Advance. film series. Both of these feature films will be also screened in the NEW PEOPLE Cinema on Sunday, August 25th Evangelion: 1.11 will play at 5:15pm; Evangelion: 2.22 will screen at 7:30pm.

The Evangelion-themed activities continue with “Real Escape Game x Evangelion: Escape from an Angel,” which takes a variety of cues and imagery from the smash hit sci-fi anime series. “The Real Escape Game,” is an inventive puzzle solving interactive game event, originally created in Japan, which requires players to cooperate and use their intuition and detective skills to solve multiple mysteries within a limited time. Multiple game sessions will be held throughout the weekend. Advance tickets are $25 if purchased 6 hours before event; Tickets at the door (subject to availability) are $30. Each game session lasts about 90 minutes. Advance tickets and complete game details and game times are available at: http://realescapegame.com/.

The technology-inspired dance and music events continue as Vocalekt Visions presents a special Vocaloid holographic live event, featuring virtual pop star Hatsune Miku. Vocalekt Visions is a unique concert troupe, which composes music using Vocaloid software and presents it as a “concert” using a unique HD projection system and special screen to give a smooth, lifelike holographic appearance to Vocaloid singers, as they would normally appear on stage. Also complementing the Vocalekt Visions concert with a live on-stage performance will be distinguished Vocaloid dancers from the Bay Area. Two shows will be held, inside the NEW PEOPLE Cinema on Saturday, August 25th at 7:30pm and at 9:00pm; tickets are $15.00. Advance tickets and more information are available at: www.j-pop.com/2012/vocalekt-visions.

The J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL is an annual Japanese Pop Culture celebration that features live bands and artists from Japan, pop culture panel discussions, film premieres, fashion and DJ dance events, and celebrity appearances. >The Festival is hosted by NEW PEOPLE in cooperation with the Japantown Merchants Association. In 2011, the two-day event attracted 55,000 attendees. More information about the J-Pop Summit Festival is available at J-Pop.com.

About NEW PEOPLE, Inc.:
Based in San Francisco, California, NEW PEOPLE, Inc. (www.newpeopleworld.com) offers the latest films, art, fashion and retail brands from Japan through its unique entertainment destination as well as through licensing and distribution of selective Japanese films. NEW PEOPLE Entertainment (www.newpeopleent.com), a film division of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. strives to offer the most entertaining motion pictures straight from the "Kingdom of Pop" for audiences of all ages, especially the manga and anime generation, in North America. Some titles include DEATH NOTE, GANTZ, KAMIKAZE GIRLS, and THE TASTE OF TEA.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love © 2008 Yaya SAKURAGI

Bold English-Language Yaoi Publisher Will Delight Fans
With Both Debuts Available Now In Print And STARTING WITH A KISS 
Also Available Digitally From SuBLimeManga.com  

SuBLime, the global yaoi manga (graphic novel) publisher, delivers more hot summer romance with the debut of Yaya Sakuragi’s BOND OF DREAMS, BOND OF LOVE, and Youka Nitta’s STARTING WITH A KISS. Both new series are now available, are rated ‘M’ for Mature Readers, and carry a print-version MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $14.99 CAN.

STARTING WITH A KISS is also available as a digital edition worldwide from www.SuBLimeManga.com for $5.99 (USD), and is downloadable as a PDF for viewing on any enabled eReader device or computer, as well as accessible via the online manga viewer found on the SuBLime web site.

BOND OF DREAMS, BOND OF LOVE Vol. 1, by Yaya Sakuragi ·
Rated ‘M’ for Mature Readers · MSRP: $12.99 U.S. / $14.99 CAN

High school student Ao has been dreaming about his longtime neighbor Ryomei, a priest at the local Shinto shrine. A little freaked out—and a lot excited—at the prospect of having a relationship with Ryomei, Ao gathers up his courage, confesses his feelings...and gets turned down flat. Luckily, Ao's not the kind to give up easily. Thanks to some creative persistence (and Ryomei's weakening resolve), he finally gets a kiss. But one single kiss won't satisfy him for long!

Yaya Sakuragi’s previous English-language releases include Tea For Two, Hey, Sensei? and Stay Close to Me. She is also a prolific novel illustrator.

Starting with a Kiss © 2011 Youka Nitta

STARTING WITH A KISS Vol. 1, by Youka Nitta · Rated ‘M’ for Mature Readers · MSRP: $12.99 U.S. / $14.99 CAN ·  $5.99 Digital From SuBLimeManga.com

Tohru, the son of a yakuza boss, is sent into exile on a deserted island for his own protection during a gang feud. Fiery and impetuous, he isn't thrilled to be sidelined when he'd rather be in the fight, and is even less thrilled that Mutsumi, son of the gang's second in command, is going with him. The serious, studious Mutsumi is Tohru’s opposite in every way, and it doesn't take long before the sparks between them begin to fly! 

Youka Nitta made her publishing debut with GROUPIE in 1995, and since then has become
one of the most prolific and popular yaoi creators worldwide. Her most well-known series,  Embracing Love, has been adapted into both a drama CD as well as an anime series. More information about Youka Nitta is available on her English-language website at: http://nittayouka.com.

“Hot yaoi romances continue to sizzle this month for fans worldwide with the print release of >BOND OF DREAMS, BOND OF LOVE and the print and digital release of Starting with a kiss,” says Jennifer LeBlanc, Editor, SuBLime. “Yaya Sakuragi shows how a not-so-innocent kiss, mixed with plenty of determination, can lead to so much more, while Youka Nitta demonstrates her prowess as one of the genre’s greatest creators with a sultrytropical gangster love story. We also invite readers to visit SuBLimeManga.com and heat up the rest of their summer season with a variety of other sexy yaoi titles available now!”

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

About SuBLime:
SuBLime is a global yaoi manga publisher, and is a partnership between VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest distributor and licensor of anime and manga in North America, and Japan’s Animate, Ltd. (Animate). This bold, global publishing initiative will present English-speaking fans everywhere with a broad selection of high quality titles. SuBLime will offer titles digitally worldwide available at www.SuBLimeManga.com, with many available in Download-to-Own format, and selections in print also available in English-language editions worldwide.