With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

ACF 1793: VIZ Media launches original Max Steel graphic novels

MAX STEEL © 2012 Mattel, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Teenager “Max” Teams With Alien Sidekick “Steel” To Protect Earth
From Evil Villains—All While Finishing His Homework!

VIZ Media has announced its newest forthcoming original graphic novel series with the launch of MAX STEEL. Scheduled to debut in the Fall of 2013, MAX STEEL will be published under the VIZ Kids imprint, is rated ‘A’ for All Ages, and will carry an MSRP of $7.99 U.S. / $9.99 CAN.

Developed by Mattel, MAX STEEL is a global boy’s entertainment franchise spanning toys, publishing and consumer products. In addition, a new MAX STEEL CGI animated series co-produced with FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) will premiere in the U.S. on the Disney XD channel on March 25, 2013. 

Max Steel is the ultimate aspirational teen hero with a secret! The story revolves around the trials and tribulations of a teenaged boy named Maxwell McGrath™ and his out-of-this world alien companion, Steel. Both have super strengths and powers, Max with Turbo energy and Steel with alien intellect. Steel gives Maxwell the ability to harness his power while merging his own to create one unified super force, Max Steel. When they combine forces to create Max Steel, the ultimate superhero is unleashed- unlocking their inner heroes. 

“MAX STEEL is a fun and action-packed adventure that we look forward to launching this year,” says Beth Kawasaki, Senior Editorial Director, VIZ Kids. “Max and his sidekick, Steel, embark on all sorts of adventures as they battle evil forces and monstrous villains while balancing school, first dates and homework. Our latest original graphic novel property will add an exciting new dimension to the MAX STEEL franchise. Max and Steel will soon discover that facing challenges together is always better than facing them alone and the power of two is always greater than the power of one!”

The new original graphic novel series from VIZ Media and the forthcoming animated series launches the MAX STEEL storyline with exciting characters, villains and a superhero for today’s tech forward kid. For more information on MAX STEEL or other VIZ Kids titles, please visit http://www.vizkids.com.

ACF 1792: Sentai Filmworks acquires K-ON! THE MOVIE

It’s time for road trip with Sentai Filmworks’ newest acquisition: K-ON! The Movie. This theatrical follow-up to the ultra-popular TV series features work from K-ON! veterans Naoko Yamada (Director), Reiko Yoshida (Screenplay), Yukiko Horiguchi (Character Designs) and Hajime Hyakkoku (Music).

K-ON! The Movie will be available soon through select digital outlets and on bilingual DVD & BD featuring an English dub from Bangzoom! Entertainment and extensive extras.

Synopsis: Graduation time is finally here, but the girls of the Sakuragaoka Girl's High Light Music Club aren’t going to let the end of high school be the end of all they’ve built together. First, though, they have to keep a promise to take a trip together, and like everything else they do, they’re not doing it halfway. So it’s time to hop on the bus - the double-decker bus that is - and go around the world as the band heads for the birthplace of the British Invasion: the United Kingdom!

And on the way they’re going to have to solve that one last big puzzle that’s been vexing them: what to get for their underclassman rhythm guitarist Azusa, who will be taking over the club once they don their caps and gowns and leave Sakuragaoka for the last time. Get ready for a Magical Musical Tour as the whole gang takes in the sights and sounds of London and prepares for one last amazing encore in the climatic finale of K-ON! The Movie.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

ACF 1791: 1DollarScan brings Japanese bookscanning trend of "Jisui" to U.S. readers

The World’s Most Affordable And Advanced Book And Document
Scanning Company Exhibits High Quality Scalable Technology Solutions
At The VISIT JAPAN EVENT In San Francisco February 9th And 10th

1DollarScan, an innovative service offering the world’s most affordable and advanced book scanning technology, has begun to bring a widespread Japanese phenomenon called “Jisui” to customers in North America. Jisui, which literally means, "cooking one's own meals," gained widespread popularity in Japan as book readers would often cut and scan their own books to make them adaptable to eReaders. The term has become the official Japanese buzzword for book scanning. 1DollarScan, which is based Silicon Valley, CA, seeks to bring this trend to the United States and has turned ‘Jisui’ into an American service suitable for all books. 

More information on 1DollarScan’s services is available at: http://1dollarscan.com/works.php.

1DollarScan will exhibit at the 2013 Visit Japan Event in Union Square, San Francisco on Saturday and Sunday, February 9th and 10th to represent its cutting edge scanning technology. The Visit Japan Event is presented by the Consulate-General of Japan in San Francisco and the Japan Tourism Agency and showcases a variety of Japanese food and beverages, fashion, culture, cutting edge technology and more. More information on the Visit Japan Event is available at: www.japantravelinfo.com/sfofes.

1DollarScan has become a popular scalable solution for readers that cannot find particular titles in a digital format. Many books are often out-of-print or not yet available to read digitally. 1DollarScan already enjoys a sizable contingent of Japanese customers in the U.S., where they scan an array of Japanese books and manga comics for non-English customers. Many Japanese readers that were familiar with Jisui when they lived in Japan have found 1DollarScan to be the only company offering a Jisui service in the U.S.

1DollarScan also looks to widen its customer base to include mainstream English readers and has become the first company in the U.S. to offer a monthly membership program for book and document scanning with a variety of free features with no long-term commitments to the customer. The company is also seeking partnerships with a wide range of literary and trade publishers looking to establish or augment their digital presence. 

1DollarScan’s regular price is $1.00 for 100 pages (which constitutes “one set”). A newly launched Platinum Lite Membership costs only $14.99 a month and includes basic scanning plus many extra options such as free OCR (Optical Character Recognition), enabling users to search their book digitally after it is scanned, a Book Title Option, a Magazine Option (allowing magazines to be scanned), and a free Express Service for 10 scan sets (a $62.00 value). The Platinum Membership is designed for larger orders includes the same benefits as the Platinum Lite Service and runs $99.99 a month for 100 scan sets (a $620.00 value). Membership orders are generally completed and delivered to customers in 5 to 10 business days.

1DollarScan completely respects the copyrights of publishers and offers its scanning services for the private use and enjoyment of its users. 1DollarScan customers must adhere to the company’s Terms and Conditions that are based on the right of Fair Use.

About 1DollarScan:
1DollarScan is the most affordable and efficient digital scanning service in the world. The company’s mission is to help consumers and small businesses quickly digitize, preserve, archive, search, and view their existing printed content on any mobile device or laptop. With cutting-edge operations and scanning software technologies, 1DollarScan is able to deliver the most affordable, highest quality solution on the market today. 1DollarScan is operated by zLibro Inc., its headquarters is based in San Jose, CA.  For more information, please visit http://www.1DollarScan.com.

ACF 1790: Sentai Filmworks announces acquisition of COLORFUL ~ THE MOTION PICTURE

Sentai Filmworks’ has announced their newest acquisition: Colorful ~ The Motion Picture. This award winning movie about death and rebirth was directed by Keiichi Hara (Summer Days with Coo) and features a screenplay by Miho Maruo (The Dog of Flanders) with character designs by Atsushi Yamagata, sound direction by Akira Ookuma (Spirit of Wonder) and music by Ko Otani (Hakuoki).

Colorful ~ The Motion Picture will be available soon on bilingual DVD & BD and through select digital outlets.

Sybopsis: There is a train station on the other side of death, yet not all who arrive on the platform will be judged ready for passage onwards. For one unready soul, there will be both a test and a second chance. Rather than be reborn, this soul will awake in the body of 14-year-old suicide Makoto Kobayashi where it must not only find a way to fit into Makoto’s existence, but also unravel two mysteries. What is the secret of the great sin it committed in its own previous life and what were the reasons that led to Makoto’s suicide?

While some may believe the truth to be as plain to see as black and white, “Makoto” soon finds that the real world is overlaid with so many shades of grey and rainbows of colors that even the most obvious of “facts” are not what they seem. With the soul’s time in Makoto’s body quickly running out, the answers to all life’s mysteries await discovery in the acclaimed animation masterpiece that won the 34th Japanese Academy Prize for Excellence in Animation: Colorful ~ The Motion Picture.

ACF 1789: The Korea Society celebrates the Lunar New Year

The Korea Society NY will celebrate the Lunar New Year on Thursday, January 31, 2013, with makgeolli (known in English as "Korean rice wine"), mandu (filled dumplings), and more. The festivities will run from 6 to 8 PM at The Korea Society, 950 Third Avenue (SW corner @ 57th Street), 8th Floor, NYC.

Members: FREE, including one guest per memeber
Non-Members: $20

RSVP online at www.koreasociety.org.

Friday, January 25, 2013

ACF 1788: Sentai Filmworks has acquired OKAMIKAKUSHI ~ MASQUE OF THE WOLF

When the Masque of the Wolf is called, the dance of predator and prey begins in Sentai Filmworks newest acquisition: Okamikakushi ~ Masque of the Wolf. Based on the Konami game of the same name by Ryukishi07 (Higurashi: When They Cry), this 12 episode series is directed by Nobuhiro Takamoto (07-Ghost) and features series composition by Touko Machida (AMNESIA), character designs by Atsuko Watanabe (Place to Place), sound direction by Shoji Hata (You’re Under Arrest: Full Throttle) and music by Takumi Ozawa.

Okamikakushi ~ Masque of the Wolf will be available later this year on subtitled DVD and through digital outlets.

Synopsis: From the moment Hiroshi and his family arrive in Jōga, he senses something odd about the isolated village. It’s not that the people are cold and aloof. Except for his beautiful class president, Nemuru, most welcome him quite warmly. But some also simply disappear. Students transfer out of his school without any notice, and Hiroshi’s next door neighbor Isuzu, who seems quite infatuated with him, warns him to stay away from the old part of town. The upcoming Haasaku Festival, which celebrates the town’s unique oranges, seems to be generating an unusual level of concern, and groups of masked people roam the streets by night, hunting… something.

Could the legends of man-sized wolves roaming the mountains surrounding Jōga be real? Who is the girl with the scythe? What is the real purpose of the festival? And how does this all revolve around something called a Temptation? Hiroshi and his new circle of friends have little time to solve these riddles before the answers will become far more dangerous and personal than he could ever imagine! Beneath the mask of society and the skin of humanity, something ancient awaits in Okamikakushi ~ Masque of the Wolf.

ACF 1787: Maiden Japan acquires LOVE ♥ LOVE?

Maiden Japan has announced its acquisition of Love ♥ Love? In this romantic comedy the writer isn’t just flirting with danger, he’s being written into a corner!. This 13 episode series is directed by Takeo Takahashi (Rozen Maiden) and features character design by Miwa Oshima (Koihime Muso) and music by Toshihiko Sahashi (Steel Angel Kurumi).

Love ♥ Love? is the 3rd and final story in a trilogy of series, the first of which is Cosmopolitan Prayers (Cosplayers), and the second part is Smash Hits. These were initially on the air in Japan the first half of 2004 and called the "Metamorphosis Trilogy".

Maiden Japan will be distributing Love ♥ Love? in conjunction with home video distributor Section 23 (Clannad, High School of the Dead, Appleseed) with the entire series to be released on subtitled DVD and in digital formats.

Synopsis: It’s said that Heaven and Hell can be the same place, depending upon your situation, and Naoto Ooizumi is learning that lesson the hard way. At only 17 years old, he’s working on the set of Cosmopolitan Prayers (CosPrayers for short,) one of the hottest TV soaps on the air, and the girl of his dreams, Natsumi Magami, is playing the lead. The problem: as much as he wants to start a relationship with her, he keeps getting romantically intercepted by the OTHER cute girls in the show. It’s not like they’re just trying to stop a Naoto/Natsumi hook up. They seem to be actively “interested” in the cute young man who’s running the behind the scenes production camera!

But that’s not the biggest twist, because unknown to anyone except the show’s producer, Ooizumi ISN’T just a camera operator, he’s also the show’s WRITER! So what do you do when you’re able to put any words you want in the mouth of the girl you love, but you’re contractually obligated to put similar things between the lips of the girls that love you? The pros and cons abound as romance goes wildly off script in Love ♥ Love?!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

ACF 1786: Sentai Filmworks acquires KÄMPFER ~ FÜR DIE LIEBE

Sentai Filmworks has announced its newest acquisition: Kӓmpfer ~ Für die Liebe. Yasuhiro Kuroda (Modern Magic Made Simple) returns to direct this two episode follow up to the popular TV series. Featuring series composition by Kazuyuki Fudeyasu, character designs by Mariko Fujita (Rosario + Vampire), sound direction by Yasunori Ebina (BTOOOM!) and music by Tatsuya Katou (Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere).

Kӓmpfer ~ Für die Liebe will be available later this year on subtitled DVD and through digital outlets.

Synopsis: Natsuru used to dream of being a lady killer. Instead, he got turned into a Kämpfer - a lady who’s supposed to fight and kill other girls in mortal combat! Now, he’s stuck splitting his/her days between being a typically average Japanese boy and a very untypical Japanese girl. And to make matters even more complex, Natsuru’s allowed him/herself to be convinced to move in with three other gorgeous Kämpfers, who are definitely all woman all of the time, for their “mutual defense.”

Of course, the fact that more than one of them may have less than honorable designs upon one or the other of his/her two alternate sexualities couldn’t possibly be a problem, could it?

Of course it could, and things really get hopping when Natsuru has to take a job at the Bunnygirl Café and ends up in the hot box! Getting in touch with your feminine side’s a full-contact, no-holds-barred, Amazon action-fest as feelings are bared and titans clash in Kämpfer für die Liebe.

ACF 1785: Free screening of PADAK

Korean Cultural Service New York
Korean Movie Night
2013 Series One
Drawn Into Film: Korean Animation! 
Padak / Pa-dak pa-dak
Directed by LEE Dae-hee
South Korea, 2012, 78 minutes
When: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 @ 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

In Korea’s surprisingly powerful take on Pixar’s Finding Nemo, a mackerel from the sea named Flappy ends up caught in a net and dumped carelessly into a restaurant tank. A pessimistic old flatfish, who has somehow avoided death for ages inside the tank, becomes her confidant and mentor...even if his means for survival border on cowardice.

Very quickly, Flappy refuses her fate and becomes determined to make it out of the tank and back to the ocean – even if that means going against the old flatfish and shattering the hierarchy of the tank. A feel-good adventure for the whole family, Padak  combines computer animation with traditional hand-drawn art, delivering a funny, lovable film that’s also packed with social drama and subtext.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

ACF 1784: Sentai Filmworks has acquired AKB0048

Get ready to rock in the New Year with Sentai Filmworks’ newest acquisition: AKB0048. This epic 26 episode series is directed by Yoshimasa Hiraike (Kaleido Star, Amagami SS) and features series composition by Mari Okada (Vampire Knight, Canaan), character designs by Risa Ebata (Macross Frontier), sound director by Jin Aketagawa (Samurai Girls, Canaan) and music by Hiroshi Takaki (Tytania).

AKB0048 will be available soon on select digital outlets and later this year on home video.

Synopsis: The year is 0048, and in the wake of the great wars, all forms of entertainment have been banned by the dystopian and iron-gloved rule of the anti-music DES.  To combat this threat to intergalactic harmony, a group of bold young women have resurrected the legendary J-Pop band AKB48 and formed an all new Band of Sisters – AKB0048!  But these rocking rebels aren’t simply singers!  Trained in combat as well as choreography, these striking strike team members are equally at home in concert halls and in the trenches.  Under the leadership of the mysterious Sensei Sensei, they’re ready to lay down their lives in order to make the universe a safe place for getting your groove on!

And as a fresh new team of singer-soldiers join the cause and enter basic training, the batons and battle gear are about to be passed to a new generation of daring divas!  Get ready to polish your dancing boots and dive into danger with the latest hard hitting hits as the new recruits take the staging ground and the veterans provide the musical soundtrack to their own action epic in AKB0048.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ACF 1783: TAI CHI ZERO North American Blu-ray reviewed

Well Go USA
Jayden Yuan as Yang Luchan, a.k.a. "The Freak"

North American aficionados of comic kung fu will be able to satisfy their jones starting today, Tuesday, January 22nd, when Well Go USA debuts Stephen Fung’s TAI CHI ZERO on Blu-ray (upon which this review is based), DVD and digital. It’s a fanciful and lighthearted imagining about the founder of Yang style Tai Chi Ch’uan, Yang Luchan, here played by Jayden Yuan (a.k.a. Yuan Xiaochao, who reportedly took his English first name from Will Smith’s son Jayden, who co-starred with Jackie Chan in the remake of THE KARATE KID).

Luchan is also known as “The Freak” because he has a horn-like growth, known as “Three Blossoms on the Crown,” on his right forehead. When the bump is struck, he turns into a formidable fighter. Unfortunately this also depletes his ch’i (internal energy). Luchan’s birth and early youth play as a silent movie with intertitles. When he’s about eight years old, his mother (Shu Qi) dies. (Although she's old enough for such a role, for some reason I still can't wrap my head around Shu Qi being a mother.) Master Zhao, a leader of the rebels against the Qing (Manchu) emperor, takes in Luchan, but teaches him only about using brute force. Master Dong (1970s kung fu superstar Leung Siu-lung), a healer in Zhao’s camp, advises Luchan that in order to stay alive he must go to Chen village and learn the internal martial art of Tai Chi, developed and taught by the Chen family.

Tony Leung Chiu Wai as "Uncle Laborer" of the Chen family

Unfortunately, the Chens don’t teach their Tai Chi to outsiders. Luchan’s efforts to learn this internal martial art are in vain until he receives advice from “Uncle Laborer” (Tony Leung Ka Fai, of DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME, sometimes referred to as “the other Tony Leung” to distinguish him from the better known Tony Leung Chiu Wai, who starred in HERO, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, etc.). Luchan’s learning Chen style Tai Chi is fortunate because the Chen village soon becomes threatened by the construction of the Zhi Li Railway and needs a hero such as Luchan to help save it from both the railroad and the Qing troops that support it.

T.R.O.Y. No.1, a steam-powered monster that lays railroad track

The railroad introduces a steampunk element into the comic martial arts mix, which you have to be willing at least to accept. To be frank, this film won’t appeal to all. Hard-core, hard-style kung fu devotees probably won’t find much to like, although they may enjoy the fight choreography by Sammo Hung. Similarly, anyone looking for true Tai Chi Ch’uan may be disappointed, although some postures (such as Parting the Horse’s Mane, and Shoulder Strike) will be recognized.

For my part, I have been a practitioner of a Yang-style Tai Chi form for almost twenty-two years and had no problem enjoying the film. It brought to mind KUNG FU HUSTLE, another comic martial arts film by another “Stephen,” namely Stephen Chow. All the major characters in TAI CHI ZERO are introduced with written Chinese characters and English subtitles (“Angelababy as Yu Niang!”), a device seen in such Hong Kong films as Chang Cheh’s FIVE ELEMENT NINJAS, although those films didn’t employ exclamation points. TAI CHI ZERO also sometimes utilizes x-ray depictions of impact, not dissimilar to those that were seen in ROMEO MUST DIE.

Single-monikered actress Angelababy as Yu Niang

The Blu-ray version has a behind the scenes featurette, a music video and a trailer. For some reason, possibly to seem “hip,” these extras generally use a boldfaced “z” in place of an “s,” as in “Behind the Zenes.”

So, if you’re in the mood for some soft-style, internal martial arts steampunked and comically hustled, grab yourself some TAI CHI ZERO. Just be aware that it’s the first of a series of films, as the end credits make clear. The sequel, TAI CHI HERO, came out in Asia in the fall of 2012, and a third and final entry is to follow sometime in the future.

A.C.F. rating for Tai Chi Zero: 3.5 out of 4 stars; highly recommended. It's a helluva lotta fun!

[Note: This review first appeared in slightly different form at 24Framespersecond.]

ACF 1782: Sentai Filmworks has acquired HAKKENDEN: EIGHT DOGS OF THE EAST

Sentai Filmworks has announced the acquisition of Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East. Overseen by Chief Director Osamu Yamasaki (Hakuoki: Dawn of the Shinsengumi) and directed by Mitsue Yamasaki, this series features character designs by Hiromi Kato (Needless), sound direction by Hozumi Goda (Vampire Knight) and music by Hitomi Kuroishi (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion).

Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East will be available soon through select digital outlets with a home video release later this year.

Synopsis: When their village was wiped out five years ago, only Shino Inuzuka, Sosuke Inukawa and the girl Hamaji, who was raised as if she were their sister, survived. And both men inexplicably have the same peony-shaped birthmark. Genpachi Inukai and Kobungo Inuta were raised hundreds of miles away as foster brothers, but they too share the same birthmark. When they went north as part of the army three years ago, they went to confront demons and came back forever transformed.

Now the Imperial Church has come for Shino and Sosuke and they must find eight mystical gems and their owners or face a fate worse than death at the hands of the Church. One of Japan’s greatest works of literature is born again in Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East.

Monday, January 21, 2013

ACF 1781: All-New Weekly Shonen Jump Digital Manga Magazine


The Bold Digital Transition Of North America’s Most Popular Weekly Manga
Anthology Now Releases Manga Chapters The Same Day As Japan

VIZ Media ushers in 2013 with the dawn of a whole new era of manga with today’s first issue of the new WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP digital manga magazine. The weekly serial anthology features the synchronized latest chapters of various manga debuting on the same day as the Japanese Weekly Shonen Jump magazine counterpart, including flagship series NARUTO, BLEACH, ONE PIECE and more.

Formerly known as WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA, the next phase in the evolution of VIZ Media’s popular digital manga magazine will now simply be known as WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP. The publication features a brand new look and logo, along with a completely redesigned website at ShonenJump.com.

“The ‘ALPHA’ phase of WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP marked our bold transition to an entirely new digitally-based format and attracted thousands of new readers in the process,” says Andy Nakatani, Editor-in-Chief. “With that transition now complete, WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP will be even closer aligned with our Japanese counterpart, and domestic readers finally will be able to enjoy the latest chapters of their favorite manga series on the same day as Japanese fans. This is the beginning of an exciting new era in international digital manga publishing!” 

Also launching in today’s issue of WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP is the brand new superhero comedy series ONE-PUNCH MAN (rated ‘T’ for Teens) from writer ONE with artwork by Yusuke Murata (also the artist for EYESHIELD 21, published by VIZ Media). In this new action-comedy, everything about a young man named Saitama screams "AVERAGE,” from his lifeless expression, to his bald head, to his unimpressive physique. However, this average-looking fellow doesn't have your average problem... He's actually a superhero that's looking for tough opponents! The problem is, every time he finds a promising candidate he beats the snot out of them in one punch. Can Saitama finally find an evil villain strong enough to challenge him? Follow Saitama through his hilarious romps as he searches for new bad guys to challenge! 

WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP is available exclusively on the VIZ Manga digital platform, and features the latest installments of BLEACH, CROSS MANAGE, NARUTO, NISEKOI, ONE PIECE, and TORIKO on the same day as their general release in Japan. Monthly series such as BLUE EXORCIST, RUROUNI KENSHIN: RESTORATION and YU-GI-OH! ZEXAL will debut on the closest Monday after the Japanese release.

Every digital edition of WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP treats manga fans across North America to the latest chapters of some of the world’s most popular manga titles. Annual membership is available through the VIZ Manga digital platform for just $25.99 (USD/CAD), and provides readers with permanent access to 48 weekly issues each year. Members can also look forward to exclusive YU-GI-OH! promotional trading cards throughout the year (the first card will be Number 88: Gimmick Puppet of Leo), and access to additional magazine content, including creator interviews and insightful promotional videos.

For more information on WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP and exclusive subscriber offers, visit www.ShonenJump.com.

To learn more about ONE-PUNCH MAN, and to read a free preview, visit ShonenJump.com/node/1394.

To learn more about VIZ Manga and to download the VIZ Manga App, visit VIZManga.com and www.viz.com/apps.

ACF 1780: Sentai Filmworks licenses CUTICLE DETECTIVE INABA

It’s not the wolf at the door that you have to watch out for in Sentai Filmworks’ newest acquisition: Cuticle Detective Inaba. Based on the manga by Mochi, this 12 episode series is directed by Susumu Mitsunaka and features series composition by Makoto Nakamura, character designs by Satoshi Koike and sound direction by Hideo Takahashi.

Cuticle Detective Inaba will be available soon through select digital outlets with a home video release later this year.

Synopsis: In a world where half-human, half-animal chimeras live and work alongside normal people, there are sure to be a few bad apples in the bunch. Unfortunately, half-human criminals means non-human clues that often leave the police stumped. That’s where lone wolf detectives like Hiroshi Inaba come in. He’s literally part wolf and has the amazing ability to extract critical information just by examining or tasting a sample of someone’s hair! Of course, that ability has also resulted in Inaba having a little bit of a hair fetish, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem for his two assistants. (Well, at least the cross-dressing one isn’t complaining much.)

And it’s nothing compared to the strange tastes of Inaba’s nemesis, the omnivorous (and half goat) crime boss Don Valentino, who has an appetite for green legal tender instead of tender young greens! Inaba’s sworn to cut Valentino out of the criminal flock before the Don can wolf down more ill-gotten dough, but he’s going to have to chew his way through a lot of evidence to get his goat. Can sheer dogged detective work put the baaaaad guys behind bars? Find out in Cuticle Detective Inaba.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

ACF 1779: Happy Birthday wishes to Korean actor SONG Kang-ho

SONG Kang-ho in Hindsight (2011)

SONG Kang-ho, one of Korea's most popular actors and one widely known here in the States, was born on January 17, 1967 in Kyung Nam, South Korea. One of his first roles was in LEE Chang-dong's first film, Green Fish (1997). He went on to prominent roles in the hit films Shiri (1999) and J.S.A.: Joint Security Area (2000). SONG had the title role in PARK Chan-wook's Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) and also appeared in PARK's Lady Vengeance (2005).

SONG featured in a poster for The Host (2006)

With his hair dyed, he portrayed PARK Gang-doo in BONG Joon-ho's hit monster movie The Host (2006). He again worked with LEE Chang-dong in 2007, co-starring in Secret Sunshine. Other notable roles among the twenty-four films in which he's appeared include YOON Tae-goo, "The Weird" in KIM Jee-woon's The Good the Bad, the Weird (2008); Priest Sang-hyeon in Thirst (2009, again for PARK Chan-wook); South Korean agent LEE Han-kyu in JANG Hun's spy thriller Secret Reunion (2010); and retired gangster Doo-hyeon in  LEE Hyun-seung's Hindsight (2011).

So best wishes for a Happy Birthday to you, SONG Kang-ho. We're looking forward to many, many more great performances from you in the years to come.

ACF 1778: Sentai Filmworks announces acquisition of AMNESIA

Sentai Filmworks has announced their newest acquisition: AMNESIA. Based on the PSP game by Otomate (Hakuoki), this 12 episode series is directed by Yoshimitsu Ohashi (Witchblade, Galaxy Angel) and features series composition by Touko Machida (Allison & Lilla, Tears to Tiara), character designs by Maho Yoshikawa, sound direction by Satoki Iida (Persona 4 The Animation, Angel Beats!) and music by Yoshiaki Dewa.

AMNESIA will be available soon through select digital outlets with a home video release later this year.

Synopsis: This story takes place in a fictional town, in a fictional country, in a fictional world. One morning, a young lady awakens to find that she has lost all her memories prior to that morning. Her life, her relationships, her very name – all gone. All that’s left is a cell phone with numbers and names she doesn’t recognize and Orion, a young boy that only she appears to be able to see.

With Olion’s guidance, she struggles to make sense of herself, a boyfriend she doesn’t know and the thousand and one little things that make up a daily life. But with no memories left, the only alternative is to forge new ones, even if that means leaving old loves behind.

ACF 1777: NEW PEOPLE Travel Issue features interview with Katsuhito Ishii


Online Travelogue Magazine Features New Interview With Director
Of Redline, The Taste Of Tea, Funky Forest, And Smuggler

NEW PEOPLE opens 2013 with a brand new update to its NEW PEOPLE Travel web magazine, a free online travelogue that introduces colorful new sides of Japan depicted through the eyes of an eclectic collection of artists and creative visionaries that are recognized around the world.

The latest NEW PEOPLE Travel issue features an exclusive interview with Katsuhito Ishii, the famed creator of the anime racing film, Redline, the live-action movies, The Taste Of Tea and Funky Forest (both available from NEW PEOPLE Entertainment), and the anime portion of Kill Bill. His article is posted now for readers at www.newpeople.jp/travel/eng/ishii.html.

Katsuhito Ishii thrilled North American filmgoers with his first feature film, Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl, which inspired Quentin Terantino to appoint Ishii to direct a vivid anime short depicting the brutal past of assassin O-Ren for his 2003 action film, Kill Bill. As a film director, Ishii delivered surrealistic off-beat tales in The Taste of Tea (2004) and Funky Forest (2005) and later went on to create a cruel yet beautiful hell-like world in the 2011 film, Smuggler.

Katsuhito Ishii's Redline

For the 2010 anime feature, Redline, he teamed up with anime director Takeshi Koike at Mad House studios and broke the boundaries of speed with an imaginative galactic car racing adventure.

“Katsuhito Ishii talks about his life and career and offers rare insights into his creative process in his interview and we are honored to feature this acclaimed director as the latest J-Pop culture luminary on the NEW PEOPLE Travel web site,” says Seiji Horibuchi, the founder of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. “We invite readers to visit this unique free web magazine and take a closer look at the source of Ishii’s fury and creative passion.”
Katsuhito Ishii was born on December 31st, 1966 in Niigata prefecture. After graduating from Musashino Art University in 1992, he began his career as a commercial director at Tohokushinsha Film Corporation. He debuted as a film director in 1995 with a short film called The Promise of August and continued to release renowned films such as Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl (1999), Party 7 (2000), The Taste of Tea (2004), My Darling of the Mountains (2008), and Smuggler (2011). In 2003, he took on the animation production for Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. His latest film, Hello! Junichi, was made in 2012 in collaboration with children and young directors who are past attendees from creative workshops he has held.

The NEW PEOPLE Travel article archive features past stories by an array of intriguing Japanese artists and notable filmmakers including Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Sky Crawlers), Dice Tsutsumi (Art Director at Pixar, Toy Story 3), and Yoshitaka Amano (Artist, Final Fantasy, Gatchaman, Vampire Hunter D) among others.

NEW PEOPLE Travel is available at: www.newpeople.jp (select ENGLISH from the menu bar), or at: www.newpeople.jp/travel/eng/index.html. The site is updated every Monday. NEW PEOPLE Travel welcomes reader’s requests regarding future stories to be featured on the site. Send requests to info@newpeopleworld.com.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

ACF 1776: Sentai Filmworks acquires LITTLE BUSTERS!

Sentai Filmworks has announced its acquisition of Little Busters! Based on the visual novel by Key (Clannad, Kanon), this 26 episode series is directed by Yoshiki Yamakawa (Kill Me Baby, Hatsukoi Limited) and features series composition by Michiru Shimada (Nanatsuiro Drops, Shugo Chara!) and character designs by Haruko Iizuka (Inu X Boku SS, Sisters of Wellber).

Little Busters! will be available soon through select digital outlets with a home video release later this year.

Synopsis: When tragedy struck Riki Naoe as a child, he was rescued from grief over his parent’s deaths when four other kids “recruited” him for their group - the “Little Busters.” Now in high school, Riki and the other Busters are still fast friends, and though their vision of being heroes for justice may have faded, they’d still do anything for each other. Which is why Riki is now on TWO special missions. The not so secret one: recruiting new members so the Busters can form a baseball team. Preferably FEMALE recruits, as the current dude/babe ratio is an inconvenient 4 to 1.

The OTHER mission, though… That’s the strange one. Because Riki and Rin, the group’s singular girl, are receiving odd messages, delivered by cats, concerning the existence of a “secret world” and assigning them tasks they have to complete. Were their youthful dreams of being crusaders not so fanciful after all? Or is there something even more vital at stake? Between steeling his courage to talk to girls, dealing with his own narcolepsy and facing his feelings concerning Rin, Riki may just need the strength of a superhero to solve the ultimate mystery of the Little Busters!

ACF 1775: Maiden Japan announces acquisition of PATLABOR

Maiden Japan has announced its acquisition of the classic police action-comedy PATLABOR. The original 7 episode OVA series is directed by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) with scripts by Kazunori Ito (Dirty Pair), character designs by Akemi Takada (Kimagure Orange Road), mechanical designs by Yutaka Izubuchi (Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack) and music by Kenji Kawai (Vampire Princess Miyu).

Maiden Japan will be distributing PATLABOR in conjunction with home video distributor Section 23 (Clannad, High School of the Dead, Appleseed,) with the original OVA series to be released in bilingual English DVD, BD and digital formats.

Synopsis: Drunk drivers are bad, but put a drunk driver in a giant robot called a Labor and you’ve got a disaster waiting to happen. And when REAL criminals get their hands on those same giant robots, the cops need giant robots of their own just to maintain the status quo, right? Well, in any case, that’s the logic behind the development of the Patlabor program and special Labor Crime units like Japan’s Section 2. But what logic fails to take into account is where to find police officers who’re equally conversant with both robots and the regulations? And THAT’s where the motley crew of Section 2, Division 2 comes in!

With ridiculously perky tomboy Noa Izumi and gun-happy madman Isao Ohta as primary Labor pilots and the impossibly laid back Captain Goto in what passes for command, SV2 is ready to hit the streets with their twenty ton feet! But will they be taking a byte out of crime or have they bitten off more than they can chew? The law of the land and the laws of robotics are about to collide in MOBILE POLICE PATLABOR.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

ACF 1774: Sentai Filmworks acquires PLACE TO PLACE

Join Sentai Filmworks on a journey from friends to something much more in their newest acquisition: Place to Place (Acchi Kocchi). Based on the manga of the same name by Ishiki, this 13 episode series chronicles the birth of a romance and beyond. Directed by Fumitoshi Oizaki (Romeo X Juliet) with series composition by Nobuhiko Amagawa, character designs by Atsuko Watanabe (Okamikakushi), sound direction by Yoshikazu Iwanami (Another) and music by Masaru Yokoyama (Kimikiss: Pure Rouge).

Place to Place will be available later this year on subtitled DVD and through digital outlets.

Synopsis: Everyone has a circle of friends they hang out with. But even within a small group there are smaller groups of friends, best friends and, here’s where it gets complicated, boyfriends and girlfriends. Sometimes relationships just develop in a way where you’re not exactly sure what you are to the other person. Which is the problem Tsukimi has when it comes to Io. Io’s as tall and easygoing as Tsukimi is short in both temper and stature, but he also seems to be totally clueless about how she’s starting to feel.

Yet, at times, he’s almost too affectionate. It’s just confusing and irritating. And their prankster friends Mayoi and Sakai aren’t much help. Especially Mayoi, as it gives her one more thing to tease Tsukimi over. Hime, the fifth member of their usual gang of five isn’t much better, because she’s not really well connected to reality anyway. Which leaves Tsukimi stuck in a quandary. Are she and Io just best friends? And is it worth risking that for what Tsukimi wants? It’s a puzzle she’ll have to solve as they live from one moment to the next in Place to Place.

ACF 1773: Upcoming celebration of the life of Daniel Craft on January 20th

Daniel Craft (right) with Donnie Yen at the 2012 NYAFF

Daniel Craft was a member Subway Cinema, the organization that presents the annual New York Asian Film Festival, since 2004. He passed away on January 4th at the all-too-early age of 41 after a battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife Paige Barr, his mother and brother.

I knew Daniel from NYAFF, not as well as many others, but well enough to know that he was a really nice guy and that he is sorely missed by those who knew and loved him. (You can read my earlier post about him here.)

There will be a celebration of Dan's life on January 20th in the Community Room at 125 West 109th Street,  Manhattan, NY, from 2pm to 6pm. Remarks will start around 2:30. Please no flowers, just come with stories. Instead please consider a donation in Dan's name to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

ACF 1772: Sentai Filmworks acquires PSYCHIC DETECTIVE YAKUMO

Sentai Filmworks has announced its acquisition of Psychic Detective Yakumo. Get ready for 13 episodes of mystery and death, based on the novel of the same name by Manabu Kaminaga,. Directed by Tomoyuki Kurokawa (Murder Princess), with series composition by Hiroyuki Kawasaki (Blade of the Immortal), sound direction by Takeshi Takadera (Kamisama Dolls) and music by R●O●N (Kurenai).

Psychic Detective Yakumo will be available later this year on subtitled DVD and through digital outlets.

Synopsis: Haruka Ozawa’s sophomore year is getting seriously scary. One of her friends is possessed, another has committed suicide and Haruka could be the next one to flunk the still-breathing test. Her only way out of this potentially lethal dead end? Yakumo Saito, an enigmatic student born with a mysterious red eye that allows him to see and communicate with the dead. But the deceased don’t always desist and some killers are more than ready to kill again to keep dead men from telling any more tales.

That doesn’t stop Haruka’s knack for digging up buried secrets, and there’s even more evidence of bodies being exhumed by both Yakumo’s police contact and an investigative journalist with a newly made corpse in her closet! Can this pair of anything but normal paranormal detectives solve the ultimate dead case files or will they end up in cold storage themselves? If the spirits are willing, they may just have a few ghosts of a chance in PSYCHIC DETECTIVE YAKUMO!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

ACF 1771: Free screening of THE KING OF PIGS on January 15th

Korean Cultural Service New York
Korean Movie Night
2013 Series One
Drawn Into Film: Korean Animation! 
The King of Pigs / Dwae-ji-ul wang
Directed by YEON Sang-ho
South Korea, 2011, 96 minutes
When: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 @ 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

The first animated Korean film to screen at Cannes, the award-winning The King of Pigs is near-perfect cinema visualized through jaw-dropping animation.

Kyung-Min’s business is failing and he’s just murdered his wife. On top of that, he can’t stop thinking about his middle school days, back when he was one of the lowly, bullied “pigs.” His old school friend, Jong-Suk, agrees to meet, and each man tells the other polite lies about their wrecked lives. But both of them have one thing on their minds: their old class comrade Chul-Yi, the quiet, deadly boy in the hoodie who fought back against their aggressors and became, for one blazing moment in time, The King of Pigs.

An intensely brutal, not-to-be-missed masterpiece, The King of Pigs was named as one of the top Asian films of 2012  at Wildgrounds. Click here to read about it and their picks of the other top (and flop) films of the year.

ACF 1770: Sentai Filmworks acquires SASAMI-SAN@GANBARANAI

Sentai Filmworks has announced their acquisition of Sasami-san@Ganbaranai. Based on the light novels by Akira, this 12 episode series is directed by Akiyuki Shinbo (Hidamari Sketch, Maria Holic) and features series composition by Katsuhiko Takayama (ef: a tale of memories, And Yet the Town Moves), character designs by Hiroki Harada (Romeo X Juliet), sound direction by Yota Tsuruoka (Clannad, Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere) and music by Yukari Hashimoto (Mayo Chiki!, Toradora!).

Sasami-san@Ganbaranai will be available soon through select digital outlets with a home video release later this year.

Synopsis: The Japanese call them hikikomori - people who’ve become so withdrawn socially that they refuse to leave their homes for weeks and even months at a time. For Sasami Tsukuyomi, who’s attempting to pass her first year of high school despite being a shut in, it’s more than just a word. Fortunately though, she lives with her older brother Kamiomi, who just happens to be a teacher at the school Sasami is supposed to attend. Not to mention, her “Brother Surveillance Tool” which lets her view the outside world via her computer and will, theoretically, allow her to readjust to interfacing with people again.

What it mainly does, however, is let her view her brother’s interactions with the three very odd Yagami sisters, who inexplicably seem to have had their ages reversed and have various types of “interest” in Kamiomi. And then things start to get really weird… Magical powers? Everything turning into chocolate? Is life via the web warping Sasami’s brain, or is it the universe that’s going crazy? It looks Sasami will have to take off her pajamas and go out into the “real” world to set things straight in Sasami-san@Ganabaranai.

Friday, January 11, 2013

ACF 1769: SLEEPLESS NIGHT at MoMI on Sunday, January 13th

 The Korea Society and the
Museum of the Moving Image present
  Sleepless Night / Jam-mot deun-eun bam
Directed by Jang Kun-jae
Starring: Kim Soo-hyun and Kim Joo-ryeong
South Korea, 2012, 65 min.
When: Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 5:00 pm
Where: The Museum of the Moving Image
35th Avenue at 37th Street, Astoria
Map and Directions
Film free with museum admission

The winner of both the Audience and Best Korean Film prizes at the Jeonju International Film Festival, this second feature from young director Jang (Eighteen) is an intimate portrait of a working-middle-class married couple in their early thirties struggling through daily trials and facing the decision of whether to start a family. Finely directed with deceptively simple performances, this short feature is an intense pleasure to experience.

Sleepless Night will be preceded by As the Flames Rose, a short directed by João Rui Guerra da Mata, (Portugal, 2012, 26 min.). On the phone in his dark bedroom, a man relives the end of a turbulent affair, while across town, the city burns.