With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Friday, August 30, 2013

ACF 2013: MELANCHOLY OF MECHAGIRL is now available

MELANCHOLY OF MECHAGIRL © 2013 Catherynne M. Valente

Award Winning New York Times Bestselling Author Delivers
An Exciting Collection Of Inventive Short Stories Inspired By Japan

VIZ Media’s Haikasoru literary imprint delivers an exciting collection of stories and poems by New York Times best-selling fantasy and science fiction author, Catherynne M. Valente, as it announces the release of MELANCHOLY OF MECHAGIRL. The new book is available now through all major book retailers, is rated ‘T’ for Teens, and carries an MSRP of $14.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN. An eBook edition is also available for $8.99 (U.S. / CAN) for the Amazon Kindle, Apple’s iBooks Store, and the Barnes & Noble’s Nook Book 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.

A woman who dreams of machines; a paper lantern that falls in love; the most compelling video game that you’ve never played – and that nobody can ever play twice. This collection of Catherynne M. Valente’s stories and poems with Japanese themes includes the celebrated novella, “Silently And Very Fast,” the award-nominated, “13 Ways of Looking at Space/Time,” and “Ghosts of Gunkankima,” which originally appeared in a tiny book smaller than a human palm and was published in a limited edition of only 24.

MELANCHOLY OF MECHAGIRL is Haikasoru’s first release by a non-Japanese author, but Catherynne Valente’s vivid prose and Japanese inspirations make this collection ideally suited to our publishing mission,” says Nick Mamatas, Haikasoru’s editor. “The collection of inventive short stories and poems also features some of Valente’s most admired stories, including the Hugo Award-nominated novella, ‘Silently and Very Fast’ and the Locus Award finalist ‘13 Ways of Looking at Space/Time,’ along with a pair of brand-new stories to anchor the collection: the semi-autobiographical, meta-fictional, and utterly magical, “Ink, Water, Milk,” and the cinematic, demon-haunted, “Story No. 6.”

Catherynne M. Valente has been lauded by many as one of the best writers to emerge in the science fiction/fantasy genre in the last decade. A New York Times bestseller for The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (#8, May 2011), she has also been a Hugo Award nominee in multiple categories, including Best Novel, Best Novella, Short Form Editor, and Best Fan Cast. She has been a Hugo Award winner for Best Fan Cast, a two-time World Fantasy Award nominee, three-time Locus Award winner (in the same year in three categories), and an Andre Norton Award winner.

For more information on MELANCHOLY OF MECHAGIRL and the Haikasoru imprint, visit www.haikasoru.com.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

ACF 2012: Exclusive HELLO KITTY graphic novel coming this November

© 1976, 2013 SANRIO CO., LTD

Pop Culture Icon Hello Kitty® And Her Friends
Debut In A New VIZ Media Offering Featuring A
Special Variant Cover By Artist Victoria Maderna

VIZ Media and Sanrio®, Inc. announce a special single-volume edition of HELLO KITTY®: FASHION MUSIC WONDERLAND, available exclusively through ComicsPRO member stores and featuring an exclusive full color variant cover by artist/illustrator Victoria Maderna.

The special edition of HELLO KITTY®: FASHION MUSIC WONDERLAND will be available to retailers that are ComicsPRO members exclusively through Diamond Comic Distributors. The volume will be released November 5th and will carry an MSRP of $6.99 U.S. / $7.99 CAN. ComicsPRO is the trade organization serving the needs of comic book specialty retailers in North America.

ComicsPRO provides a strong voice on important industry issues, educational and mentoring opportunities to current and future retailers, and works to improve business for all of its members and the comics industry as a whole.

The HELLO KITTY®: FASHION MUSIC WONDERLAND comic will feature art by Victoria Maderna, Ian McGinty and Eisner-nominee Jacob Chabot. A separate Hello Kitty® original graphic novel series is also scheduled to launch October 1st. HELLO KITTY: HERE WE GO!, a collection of comic stories about Hello Kitty’s travels, will feature art by Chabot, Jorge Monlongo and Susie Ghahremani. Both offerings will be rated ‘A’ for All Ages.

HELLO KITTY®: FASHION MUSIC WONDERLAND cover artist Victoria Maderna is a full-time illustrator. She was born and raised in Argentina where she studied Graphic Design, and now lives in Madrid, Spain. She also worked on LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE™: HERE COMES THE SUN! (published by VIZ Media) and Adventure Time #10 (published by BOOM! Studios). Jacob Chabot is a New York City-based cartoonist, illustrator and writer. His comic The Mighty Skullboy Army is published through Dark Horse, and in 2008 was nominated for an Eisner Award for Best Book for Teens. He is also the artist on VOLTRON FORCE Vols. 1 and 6 (published by VIZ Media). The work of Ian McGinty (MFA, Savannah College of Art and Design) can be seen in the UGLYDOLL original graphic novels (published by VIZ Media) and Adventure Time: Candy Capers and Bravest Warriors comics (both published by BOOM! Studios).

MSRP: $6.99 US / $7.99 CAN • 48 pages • Available November 2013
It’s Hello Kitty as you've never seen her, in stories filled with fashion, music and adventure! Special edition features a variant cover by artist/illustrator Victoria Maderna.

MSRP: $7.99 US / $9.99 CAN • 64 pages • Available October 2013
Hello Kitty has places to be and friends to meet! Join her as she explores an underground realm, chases an unsavory cake thief around the world, climbs the Himalayas, travels back in time, and discovers that sometimes, the best place to get away from it all is between the pages of a good book.

Sanrio® is the global company behind classic iconic characters Hello Kitty®, Little Twin Stars®, My Melody®, and many more. Sanrio® was founded in the 1960's in Japan by Shintaro Tsuji, whose simple dream of bringing smiles to people's faces grew into the brand's "small gift, big smile" philosophy. This philosophy has served as the inspiration for the broad spectrum of products bearing the likeness of endearing characters that have helped to skyrocket the brand into a $5 billion-a-year business. Sanrio® recently acquired the classic Mr. Men Little Miss™ brand which also has graphic novels published by VIZ Media.

“The HELLO KITTY: FASHION MUSIC WONDERLAND ComicsPRO Edition is the first exclusive product ever offered by VIZ Media to ComicsPRO members, and we are very excited to partner with Sanrio to develop this new line of original comics for the iconic Hello Kitty brand,” says Beth Kawasaki, VIZ Media Senior Editorial Director. “We invite retailers that are ComicsPRO members to stock this fun new title that is sure to delight legions of Hello Kitty fans of all ages across North America.”

“ComicsPRO’s Board of Directors is pleased to be working with VIZ Media on this member-exclusive release of HELLO KITTY: FASHION MUSIC WONDERLAND. A strong and marketable product like HELLO KITTY belongs in the industry’s most progressive retail outlets,” said ComicsPRO President Thomas Gaul, owner of CornerStoreComics LLC in Anaheim CA. “Our goal is that this will encourage consumers to seek out ComicsPRO member stores for HELLO KITTY graphic novels while also inspiring more direct market retailers to join ComicsPRO.”

For more information on VIZ Kids graphic novels and manga, visit VIZKids.com.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

ACF 2011: A COMPANY MAN - Region 1 Blu-ray Reviewed

Well Go USA Entertainment
A Company Man / Hoi-sa-won
Written and directed by LIM Sang-yun
South Korea, 2012, 96 minutes

A Company Man is the remarkable debut film from director LIM Sang-yun, who also wrote the screenplay. This terrific Korean actioner streets todayon Blu-ray, DVD and Digital (video-on-demand, electronic sell-through, and streaming).

JI Hyeong-do (left) and Chairman JEON

The film's protagonist is JI Hyeong-do (SO Ji-sub), the handsome, smartly-dressed sales director of a metal fabrication company. He is very highly regarded by company chairman JEON (played by JEON Guk-hwan). But this is not a regular corporation and his job duties are not exactly regular white collar. He is actually an assassin working for a Contract Killing Company that uses metal fabrication as a front.

JI uses a young "temp" named Hun (newcomer KIM Dong-jun) on a job that involves killing someone under police protection. Hun, as KIM describes his character in one of the Blu-ray's extras, is "fearless and daring." He takes out his target, as well as several cops, but is injured after the fact.

YU Mi-yeon and JI at a movie theater

Feeling responsible for Hun's injury, JI takes money to Hun's mother, YU Mi-yeon (LEE Mi-yeon). She had achieved fame as a singer when in her teens, but left that life to care for her two children, Hun and his younger, seventeen year old sister. Now YU works as a seamstress.

JI was a big fan of YU's and begins to have strong feelings for her. He decides to leave his job as a hit man, which produces predictable results. The company is not about to let him go, setting up a conflict that can only lead to massive mayhem between JI and his former bosses & coworkers.

The basic storyline is a rather familiar one: think of the various Nikita movies (the original La Femme Nikita, Hollywood's Point of No Return, and the Hong Kong version, Black Cat) and TV shows, as well as the television show Alias. It's always hard to stop being an assassin or contract killer for a big organization. But writer/director LIM gives this iteration great style and class, and adds interesting new twists to the genre. This is a most noteworthy achievement, especially considering that this is LIM's first film. This guy would seem to have a great future ahead of him.

JI (left) and a co-worker in a fight-to-the-death

Special mention also should be made of the equally outstanding work of SHIN Jae-min, the action coordinator. There's gun-play, knife fights, and combat both of the bare-handed and improvised weapon variety. In an extra, actor SO Ji-sub talks about how the hardest thing he had to do was to let his body just remember the moves because they were so fast that, if he thought about them, his timing would immediately be off.

There are two extras on the Blu-ray disc. One is a "making of" featurette that, at approximately four-and-a-half minutes is perhaps more properly described as a mini-featurette. Even so, it's insightful and worth watching. The other extra is a trailer for the film. Three previews of other Well Go USA offerings are available as a separate choice on the main menu.

A Company Man is a most auspicious debut, a simple but polished action film that most definitely deserves your attention.

ACF Rating: 3 out of 4 stars, a really solid, very good film.

Monday, August 26, 2013

ACF 2010: World premiere of Hitoshi Matsumoto's R100 set for Toronto International Film Festival

Directed byHitoshi Matsumoto
Japan, 2013, DCP, color, 100 min.
When: Thursday, Sept 12, 2013 at midnight
(technically at 11:59 Thursday night)
Part of TIFF's Midnight Madness series
Where: Toronto International Film Festival 
(Festival info here)

"R-100 is a wild and hilarious trip into personal sexual fantasy. It will lead the viewer into a world that is unlike anything they have ever experienced."
- Midnight Madness programmer Colin Geddes.

Following earlier TIFF premieres of his previous films BIG MAN JAPAN (2007) and SYMBOL (2009), Japan's most absurdest auteur Hitoshi Matsumoto returns to Toronto with R100. One of the country's leading comedians, Matsumoto brings an anarchic flavor and deadpan humor to film, playing with local genres such as kaiju (big monster) in BIG MAN JAPAN and the wandering samurai in SCABBARD SAMURAI. With the fetish-driven R100, he tackles Japan's pink films. Whatever the subject, Matsumoto knows absolutely no boundaries, defying any filmmaking conventions. Each of his films is a planet of its own - or sometimes even several parallel planets - which would leave Michel Gondry gasping for air if he were to land on one.

The title of R100 is a word play on the Japanese ratings system, suggesting that the viewer should be at least 100 years old to see the film. Mr. Matsumoto thought of the title while doing publicity for his previous film SCABBARD SAMURAI. With R100, he wants to challenge the concept of rating, or any kind of judgment, of films--which he explores in a tongue-in-cheek subplot about the filmmaking process.

The universe that Mr. Matsumoto created for R100 is decidedly kinky. He dives headlong into the world of sexual fantasies, bypassing the usual fetish clichés. In a hilarious performance as a dead-pan, no-nonsense police officer, Matsumoto gets to ask the pivotal question: "What happens if you get what you asked for?"

A very ordinary man (Nao Omori) who takes care of his son while his wife lies in a coma, enters a very ordinary building. Following a seductive ride on a merry-go-round, he signs up with an exclusive club. Membership is one year only and cannot be cancelled under any circumstances.

Happily he endures dominatrix intrusions in his daily life, until they get a little too close to his unsuspecting family. With a courage not displayed in his professional life as a bed salesman, he tries to cancel his membership, evoking the wrath of the American CEO, who descends upon Tokyo to teach him a lesson...

The all-star cast includes Nao Omori of VIBRATOR (2003) and ICHI THE KILLER (2001), Mao Daichi, a renowned stage actress, Shinobu Terajima of CATERPILLAR (2010), Hairi Katagiri of KAMOME DINER (2006), Ai Tominaga, a Japanese supermodel, Eriko Sato of FUNUKE SHOW SOME LOVE YOU LOSERS! (2007), and Hitoshi Matsumoto himself. Warner Bros Pictures releases the film in Japan on October 5.

In addition to the world premiere screening at midnight on September 12th, R100 will also be shown on Friday, September 13th and Saturday September 14th. For showtimes and further information about R100 at TIFF, click here.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) will run from September 5 to 15, 2013.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

ACF 2009: MY LUCKY STAR set for September 20th release

China Lion has acquired and will release the film My Lucky Star on September 20th in North America, day-and-date with Mainland China. The film stars Ziyi Zhang and Wang Leehom and follows the continuing comedic adventures of Sophie (Zhang) as she finds herself caught up in an international diamond heist that draws her towards a sexy spy (Wang) trying to save the world. The film serves as a standalone production with a contained storyline rather than a sequel to the film Sophie’s Revenge, the hilarious 2009 comedy that was shown at the 2010 New York Asian Film Festival. (My review of Sophie's Revenge can be found here.)

Directed by American helmer Dennie Gordon and produced by Ming Beaver Kwei, Second Chan, William Cheng, Ling Lucas and Zhang, the film is set for a limited release across the U.S. and Canada in major metro areas, including Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, and the Washington, D.C., area, with specific locations to be announced.

Ziyi Zhang is the star of the Wong Kar Wai’s action, drama The Grandmaster and known for her performance in the Academy Award winning films, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Memoirs of a Geisha.

Wang Leehom, who starred in Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, is currently filming Michael Mann’s untitled cyberthriller with Chris Hemsworth and Viola Davis. Leehom has also signed to play the title role in Magic Storm Entertainment’s The Annihilator, based on the Stan-Lee created character.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

ACF 2008: Free screening of DURESORI: THE VOICE OF THE EAST on Tuesday, August 27th

Korean Cultural Service New York
Korean Movie Night 2013
Series Four: The K-Pop Explosion!
Directed by Cho Jung-rae
South Korea, 2012, 108 minutes
When: Tuesday, August 27, 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
North American Premiere!
Admission: FREE!!!

Based on a true story, Duresori: The Voice of the East is shot in documentary style and tells the story of high school seniors Seul-ki and Ah-reum. Like other teenagers, they’re stressing over upcoming college entrance exams – and even more so when they’re forced to join the school choir in order to fill a remaining requirement. There, their unorthodox instructor blends the principles of classic Western music and traditional Korean song. Though at first they are reluctant to learn, they soon find a love for this exciting blend of music… and are forced to band together when the school cancels their annual summer concert. Will their music survive?

The film will be shown in Korean with English subtitles.

Friday, August 23, 2013

ACF 2007: Shojo Manga MIDNIGHT SECRETARY coming September 3rd


New Series From The Shojo Beat Imprint Follows A Dedicated Office
Worker And Her Mysterious Boss, Who Turns Out To Be A Vampire!

VIZ Media debuts the sexy supernatural office romance of MIDNIGHT SECRETARY as the manga (graphic novel) series launches on September 3rd. MIDNIGHT SECRETARY was created by Tomu Ohmi and will be published under the Shojo Beat imprint, is rated ‘M’ for Mature Readers, and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

Kaya Satozuka prides herself on being an excellent secretary and a consummate professional, so she doesn’t even bat an eye when she’s reassigned to the office of her company’s difficult director, Kyohei Tohma. He’s as prickly – and hot – as rumors paint him, but Kaya is unfazed… until she discovers that he’s a vampire!!

“Despite uncovering his secret bloodthirsty identity, Kaya dedicates herself to serving the wicked Director Tohma to the best of her ability, even if it means lots of late nights at the office,” says Pancha Diaz, Editor. “This highly requested shojo series should become a favorite with mature readers who will delight as Kaya slowly breaks down her boss’s tough and demanding exterior. But the plot quickly thickens as the pair slowly develops feelings for each other. Each will have difficult choices to face in order to reconcile the feelings of the heart with the vastly different lives they lead.”

Manga creator Tomu Ohmi debuted in 2000 with the romantic supernatural series, Kindan no Koi wo Shiyou (Let’s Make Forbidden Love). Her series, MIDNIGHT SECRETARY, also ran in the popular Japanese shojo magazine, Petit Comic.

For more information on MIDNIGHT SECRETARY, or other popular shojo manga titles from VIZ Media, visit www.shojobeat.com.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

ACF 2006: Shojo manga HAPPY MARRIAGE?! now available from VIZ


Will Two Strangers Living In Matrimony Find Their
Way To A Happy Marriage?! A New Romantic
Comedy From Manga Creator Maki Enjoji

VIZ Media presents a new take on domestic bliss as releases Maki Enjoji’s shojo manga (graphic novel) series, HAPPY MARRIAGE?! The first volume is available now from the Shojo Beat imprint, is rated ‘M’ for Mature Readers, and carries an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

HAPPY MARRIAGE?! is also available digitally for $4.99 (U.S / CAN) from VIZManga.com and for digital download through the VIZ MANGA App for the Apple iPad®, iPhone® and iPod® touch, Android-powered smart phones, and also for NOOK tablets and devices.

In order to help her father, Chiwa Takanashi agrees to an arranged marriage with the company president, Hokuto Mamiya – a man she doesn’t know – at the request of Hokuto’s grandfather. Chiwa believes the arrangement isn’t binding, but her new partner seems to think otherwise.

HAPPY MARRIAGE has been eagerly anticipated by many of our readers,” says Nancy Thistlethwaite, Editor. “This series is our next offering in manga for adult women, following Yuki Yoshihara’s BUTTERFLIES, FLOWERS, which was serialized in the same Japanese magazine, Petit Comics. Fans of modern romance will find HAPPY MARRIAGE?! delightful and endearing.

Maki Enjo made her debut with the manga series Fu•Junai (Wicked Pure Love). She is currently published with Petit Comics magazine. HAPPY MARRIAGE?! is her fourth series.

For more information on HAPPY MARRIAGE?!, or other popular shojo manga titles from VIZ Media, visit http://www.viz.com/manga/print/shojo-beat.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

ACF 2005: WEDDING PALACE's theatrical opening September 27th confirmed at six theaters to date

Jean Yoon, Kang Hye-Jung, Brian Tee, and Stephen Park

Here's the latest news about WEDDING PALACE, the romantic/comedy Hallyu-Hollywood film directed by Christine Yoo, that will be opening on September 27, 2013. The six confirmed theaters as of August 21st are listed below. AsianCineFest will continue to keep readers advised as more venues are added.

Southern California
Irvine - Edward's University Town Center 6, by UC Irvine
Pasadena - Laemmle's Playhouse 7
Ktown - CGV (1 week engagement at this location)

New York
Times Square - AMC Empire 25

Regal Dole Cannery 18
Consolidated Pearl Ridge 16

Starring in WEDDING PALACE are: Brian Tee, Kang Hye Jung, Jean Yoon, Stephen Park, Bobby Lee, Charles Kim, Nancy J. Lee, June Kyoto Lu, Steve Park, Kelvin Han Yee, Simon Rhee & Joy Osmanski.

Wedding Palace tells the tale of Korean American Jason Kim (played by Brian Tee of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) doomed by an ancient family curse to die if he does not wed by his fast-approaching 30th birthday. Left at the altar by his fiancée (played by Joy Osmanski), Jason must contend with a family frantically scrambling to find him a new wife, and thus save his life. But Jason chooses to tempt fate by holding out for true love, which he finds during a business trip to Korea, embarking on a long-distance, online relationship with the enchanting Na Young Song (played by Korean starlet, Kang Hye-Jung, the ingénue in the critically acclaimed classic, Oldboy, in her first English-speaking role). But when the family finally meets Na Young, some aren’t convinced she’s the right one to break the curse.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

ACF 2004: FLOATING CITY - Region 1 Blu-ray review

Floating City
Directed by Yim Ho
Hong Kong, 2012, 105 minutes

Floating City, director Yim Ho's 2012 Hong Kong drama about a businessman who rises from the most humble of roots, becomes available today, Tuesday, August 20th, 2013, from Well Go USA Entertainment. Formats include Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital (video-on-demand, electronic sell-through, and/or streaming).

Bo Wah Chun, second from right, with his son, wife, mother, and daughter

Set initially in the early 1990s, the story is narrated by Bo Wah Chun (played by Aaron Kwok as an adult). He is married to Tai (Charlie Young) with whom he fell in love as a young man, and they have two children (a daughter and a younger son). Mr. Bo has just risen to the top leadership of the Imperial East India Company. He recounts his life (depicted in various flashbacks) which began in extreme poverty. As an infant he was sold to a woman (Josie Ho as the young Mrs. Bo; Nina Paw plays her as an older character) who had had a miscarriage while out on her family's boat in a storm. Mrs. Bo was afraid that she might not be able to get pregnant again, though that turned out not to be the case.

Chun and Tai as a young couple

But the child she buys turns out to be unusual: he has decidedly non-Chinese blue eyes. (Later, when it grows in, his hair will be reddish-brown, and as an adult he will take to dying it black.) The infant also comes with one of his birth-mother's earrings, which will come to play in an extremely touching scene near the end of the film.

Fion Wong assists Mr. Bo in choosing his attire

Because of his looks he is called "mixed" by some Chinese, and "half breed" by Mr. Callahan, a racist British manager/executive at Imperial East, where Chun, as he is more properly called, is able to obtain an entry level position as an office/errand boy. Bright and highly motivated, his talents eventually are recognized by Greg McCordle, the head of the company, who promotes him. He is also mentored by Ms. Fion Wong (Annie Liu), a smart, gorgeous, and worldly-wise young woman who teaches him how to dress like a successful businessman, as well as other social skills.

One might best describe Floating City, which is said to be based on a true story, as a Hong Kong version of the Horatio Alger myth. In over 100 novels written in the 19th century, Horatio Alger, Jr. depicted the rise "from rags to riches" (or at least solid middle-class respectability) of his male protagonists. The formula is usually described as a combination of luck, pluck and virtue, all of which Bo Wah Chun possesses.

Scene set in the anti-British riots of 1967

The script was co-written by director Yim and by Marco Pong. To their credit they have created a rich and balanced film about a turbulent time in Hong Kong's history. There were anti-British riots in 1967 and a great deal of anxiety and concern as colonial rule ended and the territory was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. Far too often, Hong Kong and mainland Chinese films have simply vilified the British.

While I make no apologies for the myriad wrongs inflicted on Hong Kong (and other colonies) by the British (and other imperial powers), I appreciated their being depicted as having various characters, not all being simply villainous cardboard cutouts. Similarly, it's nice to have the negative views of some Chinese addressed. Remember, Bo is called "mixed" by some Chinese and "half breed" by some Britishers, and that he is mentored both by McCordle, who is British, and by Ms. Wong, who is Chinese.

Director Yim Ho, who was born in Hong Kong in 1952, was one of the pioneering auteurs of the Hong Kong New Wave. Two of the previous films for which he is known are Homecoming / Chi sui lau nin (1984) and Red Dust (1991). Floating City is his first film since A West Lake Moment was released eight years earlier in 2004, and it's a most welcome return. He deftly handles material that could easily have been overly melodramatic and saccharine.

ACF rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; highly recommended.

ACF 2003: HATSUNE MIKU concert film theatre locations announced


World’s Most Popular Virtual Pop Singer Celebrates Her Birthday
With A Thrilling Live Concert From Yokohama Japan Presented In Special
Theatrical Premieres In New York City And Los Angeles On August 31st

Live Viewing Japan, a distribution company focused on bringing Japanese entertainment media to an international audience, has announced the New York City and Los Angeles theatre locations that will screen the East and West Coast premieres of the Hatsune Miku MAGICAL MIRAI 2013 Concert on August 31st.

This special film celebrates the 6th birthday of the world’s renowned virtual idol, Hatsune Miku, by capturing a special commemorative live concert scheduled to take place on Saturday, August 30th at the Yokohama Area in Yokohama, Japan. The film will presented to U.S. fans and J-Pop lovers the next day in this special delayed broadcast film premiere.

New York City
Anthology Film Archives
32 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 505-5181
Date: August 31st, 2013
Time: 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Tickets: $20
Available at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/440667

Los Angeles
The Downtown Independent
251 S. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 617-1033
Date: August 31st, 2013
Time: 11:00AM - 1:00PM
Tickets: $20
Available at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/440640

Hatsune Miku, whose name means, “first sound of the future,” is based on an innovative singing synthesizer software character and is the most popular of the Character Vocal Series software originally created by Crypton Future Media, Inc. using Yamaha’s technology.

In Japan, Hatsune Miku is a major phenomenon that grew out of fan-created songs. She has appeared in numerous popular video games and music videos. She’s also played several enthusiastic “concerts,” where she performs on with a live band.

Miku played her very first live concert in the U.S. called, “MIKUNOPOLIS in LOS ANGELES,” at the Nokia Theatre for the 2011 Anime Expo in Los Angeles, CA. The show sold out in only 4 hours, further underscoring the growing substantial popularity she enjoys in North America. To-date, over 100,000 original songs have been written for Hatsune Miku by both fans and professional musicians and composers. The pop diva will also be team up with design house Louis Vuitton for an upcoming 3D Hatsune Miku opera, titled, The End, that will feature no human singers and is scheduled to take place at the Theatre du Chatelet Opera House in Paris on November 13th and 15th, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013



Lone Mercenary Guts Rethinks His Future As The Band Of The Hawk
Faces An Army Of 30,000 In The Vicious And Kinetic Second

VIZ Media beckons anime fans to join the battle-hardened mercenary, Guts, for a new action-packed anime feature film epic as it announces the debut of BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC II- THE BATTLE FOR DOLDREY on DVD and Blu-ray. The new release, available now, is rated ‘M’ for Mature Audiences and carries a DVD MSRP of $19.98 U.S. / $24.98 CAN and a Blu-ray MSRP of $24.98 U.S. / $27.50 CAN.

Bonus features include a production art gallery, theatrical trailers, an "Aria" Live Concert conducted by BERSERK score composer Susumu Hirasawa, and an interview with BERSERK voice actors Aki Toyosaki and Minako Kotobuki.

“A friend should never rely on another’s dream…he must have a reason for living that goes beyond me… For me to call a man ‘my friend,’ he must be my equal in every aspect.” Three years after joining the Band of the Hawk, Guts is shocked to hear Griffith’s words. He believed that his mission was to pursue Griffith’s dream together with him through all the fierce battles and struggles. In order to become an equal to Griffith, Guts decides to leave the Band of the Hawk. Around the same time, the Hundred Years War between the Midland Kingdom and the Empire of Chuder enters its final stage. Midland’s elite force, the White Tigers, attempts to take the impenetrable Fortress of Doldrey but is confronted and annihilated by the Holy Purple Rhino Knights led by Chuder’s strongest general, Boscogn. Seeing this as a perfect opportunity for his Band of the Hawk to advance, Griffith proposes to the king of Midland to send only his Hawks into the battle to capture the infamous fortress. Guts decides to make this battle his last with Griffith and leave the Band of the Hawk.

“The Band of the Hawk faces an army 30,000 strong in the exciting second chapter of the BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC trilogy and a bloody battle to capture the impenetrable Fortress of Doldrey from the Empire of Chuder is about to begin,” says Charlene Ingram, Senior Marketing Manager, Animation. “The on-screen action is vicious and kinetic, and anime fans aren’t going to want to miss even a second of the stunning clash of arms and armor in this in this sweeping epic.”

The BERSERK manga series, by Kentarou Miura, debuted in Japan in 1989 and quickly drew a devoted following, going on to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide. The series, still ongoing in Japan, has been published in North America and the UK, as well as in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, and Latin America. The BERSERK manga has also inspired a popular anime television series and has spawned a variety of related video games, collectable figures and toys, and music soundtracks, as well as the current BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC film trilogy.

For more information on the BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC film trilogy, please visit the official Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/BerserkFilm.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN © Hiroshi Shiibashi/SHUEISHA, Nurari Project

A Middle School Student With A Secret Life Faces Down
The 88 Demons Of ShikokuIn The Latest Story Arc Of
The Smash Hit Supernatural Action Adventure

VIZ Media, delivers the latest supernatural action and adventure of NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN as it announces the release of Set 2 of the popular anime series on DVD and Blu-ray next Tuesday, August 20th.

NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN Set 2 is rated ‘TV-14’ and will carry a DVD MSRP of $44.82 U.S. / $43.24 CAN and a Blu-ray MSRP of $54.97 / $66.15 CAN. The 2-disc set features Episodes 14-26 as well as bonus material including production art and an official trailer.

Rikuo Nura is an average middle school student by day and yokai (a supernatural demon) by night. He’s not just any yokai – he is the grandson of Nurarihyon, the Supreme Commander of the Nura clan! Rikuo wants to live a normal life. However, his grandfather wants him to succeed as the rightful heir. When an inter-clan conflict threatens the stability within their organization, Rikuo must decide whether he will live his life as a human or accept his yokai heritage.

In NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN Set 2, the Nura Clan faces a menacing new threat: the 88 Demons of Shikoku, led by Inugamigyobu-Tanuki Tamazuki! Tamazuki sets his plan in motion to weaken the Nura Clan by targeting their key source of power – the local deities of Ukiyoe Town. In the absence of Supreme Commander Nurarihyon, Rikuo’s resolve to become the Third Heir is put to the test, as he must unite the clan to face Tamazuki and his malicious weapon the Devil’s Blade!

NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN is based on the bestselling NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN manga series created by Hiroshi Shiibashi (rated ‘T’ for Teens; also published by VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump imprint). Hiroshi Shiibashi debuted in Japan in Business Jump magazine with the series, Aratama. NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN is his breakout hit.

More information on NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN is available at http://www.viz.com/anime/dvd/nura-rise-of-the-yokai-clan-video.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

ACF 2000: WEDDING PALACE to open on September 27th, 2013!


I first became aware of WEDDING PALACE when I attended an event featuring director Christine Yoo and actor Stephen Park in May 2012 at The Korea Society. (Read my post about it here.) Subsequently I was able to watch a press screener online and really enjoyed the movie.

Well, it's taken a bit longer for the film to get it's theatrical release, but all good things are worth waiting for, and while it's taken me a few days to get this post up, here's the great news from Christine Yoo, the director of WEDDING PALACE, as it ran on Facebook on August 11th:

"FANS AND FRIENDS! It's finally happening! We have 55 days now to tell all our family, friends, co-workers and colleagues about it! Today we are releasing the updated official trailer with the release date on it and new commercials will be released every week. We'll be counting on your to share and email the info and lead the way to a successful opening weekend! Time for fun!"

In the meanwhile, you can join the WEDDING PALACE FAN CLUB at Facebook and watch the official trailer below.

Friday, August 16, 2013

ACF 1999: Fantasy Adventure Manga MAGI: THE LABYRINTH OF MAGIC Now Available From VIZ


Deadly Dungeons Filled With Traps And Hidden Treasures Await Young Adventurer Aladdin In This Exciting Reimagining Of The Arabian Nights

VIZ Media offers a captivating new reimagining of the classic story One Thousand and One Nights (also known as the Arabian Nights) with the debut of MAGI: THE LABYRINTH OF MAGIC, now available. The new series, by Shinobu Ohtaka, is rated ‘T’ for Teens, is published under the Shonen Sunday imprint, and carries an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

MAGI: THE LABYRINTH OF MAGIC is also available digitally for $4.99 (U.S / CAN) from VIZManga.com and for digital download through the VIZ MANGA App for the Apple iPad®, iPhone® and iPod® touch, Android-powered smart phones, and also for NOOK tablets and devices.

Deep within the desert lie the mysterious Dungeons, vast stores of riches there for the taking by anyone lucky enough to find them and brave enough to venture into the depths from where few have ever returned. Plucky young adventurer Aladdin means to find the Dungeons and their riches, but Aladdin may be just as mysterious as the treasures he seeks.

“MAGI: THE LABYRINTH OF MAGIC is a enchanting mix of comedy, fantasy, and adventure, with dungeons full of treasures and deadly traps that hide mysterious magical beings,” says Mike Montesa, Editor. “Aladdin and his trusty magical sidekick Ugo are in for the adventure of a lifetime as they journey across deadly deserts and exotic locales in search of fame, fortune, and destiny!”

Manga artist Shinobu Ohtaka is widely known for the creation of the manga series, Sumomomo Momomo. Her series, MAGI: THE LABYRINTH OF MAGIC, originally appeared in Japanese publisher Shogakukan's Shonen Sunday and continues to be featured in the magazine. The manga also inspired a popular anime series.

For more information on MAGI: THE LABYRINTH OF MAGIC, or other popular manga titles from VIZ Media’s Shonen Sunday imprint, visit: http://www.viz.com/shonen-sunday.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

ACF 1998: TIGER & BUNNY 2-in-1 Anthology Now Available From VIZ


First Of A 2-Volume Homage To The Superhero Smash Hit Anime
Series Features A Humorous Collection Of Inspired Shorts

VIZ Media delivers an entirely new take on the superhero manga action of TIGER & BUNNY with the release of the TIGER & BUNNY: COMIC ANTHOLOGY 2-IN-1. The new release is now available, and is rated ‘T’ for Teens, carrying an MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $14.99 CAN.

Inspired by the hit anime series from Sunrise Studio, Ltd., TIGER & BUNNY (also licensed in North America by VIZ Media), the TIGER & BUNNY: COMIC ANTHOLOGY features a collection of humorous shorts by an all-star manga artist line-up. The volume also includes 4 full-color bonus pages featuring key character artwork from the anime series.

The heroes of Stern Bild City are larger than life when they appear on Hero TV, but when they take off their costumes their lives are just like anyone else’s! Or are they?! What do you do when you’re a hero and invited to a Halloween costume party? See how our heroes stay in shape (and keep their hair from getting messed up). And exactly what is Saito saying under his breath? Over two-dozen stories take you deep into the world of Tiger & Bunny!

“The TIGER & BUNNY: COMIC ANTHOLOGY 2-In-1 is the first of a unique, 2-volume homage to the bestselling anime/manga series about a future where corporate-sponsored superheroes battle evil, and often each other, for reality TV ratings,” says Mike Montesa, Editor. “This new release features 18 of Japan’s top doujinshi, self-published, amateur manga artists, who present a collection of distinctive and often hilarious shorts that imagine a whole new ‘off-duty’ side to Wild Tiger, Barnaby Brooks Jr. and other memorable characters from the hit series. Don’t miss this fun new addition to the TIGER & BUNNY universe!”

The TIGER & BUNNY manga series features artwork by Mizuki Sakakibara and is based on the smash hit animated series by the famed anime studio Sunrise that has also thrilled legions of fans across North America on VIZ Media’s Neon Alley 24/7 anime channel.

For more information on the Tiger & Bunny, visit: www.facebook.com/TigerAndBunny and VIZAnime.com/tiger-and-bunny/.

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

Monday, August 12, 2013

ACF 1996: Multiple Shonen Jump Digital Manga Titles From VIZ Now Available At U.K. Nook Store

NARUTO © 1999 by Masashi Kishimoto/SHUEISHA Inc.

8 Most-Loved Shonen Jump Manga Series Including BLUE EXORCIST,
The U.K. On Barnes & Noble’s NOOK® HD and NOOK® HD+ Tablets!

VIZ Media continues to expand its digital publishing presence in the U.K. with the launch of several of its bestselling manga (graphic novel) titles in the Barnes & Noble U.K. NOOK Store. VIZ Media will debut all currently available volumes for eight popular series from its Shonen Jump imprint, which will be available starting today to U.K. NOOK customers with the award-winning NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ tablets, as well through the Free NOOK Reading Apps™ for iOS and Android. Pricing for these digital volumes will be £4.99 each.

The following manga titles are now available:
BLEACH Vols. 1-57 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens
BLUE EXORICIST Vols. 1-10 • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens
DRAGON BALL Vols. 1-16 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens
NISEKOI: FALSE LOVE Vols. 1-4 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens
NARUTO Vols. 1-62 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens
ONE PIECE Vols. 1-67 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens
TORIKO Vols. 1-17 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens

“This is the first time these series will be available digitally anywhere outside of North America and we're extremely excited to work with NOOK on this groundbreaking partnership to bring some of our best-loved Shonen Jump manga titles to avid manga readers across the United Kingdom,” says Gagan Singh, Executive Vice President and CTO. “Moving forward, all new volumes for these series will also debut digitally in the U.K. NOOK Store on the same day that they come out in print in North America!”

“NOOK is committed to offering customers the very best in digital reading from across all genres, and we are pleased to be the first platform to bring digital Viz Media manga titles to the UK,” said Jim Hilt, Managing Director, Barnes & Noble S.à r.l. “More and more readers are looking to access the best in manga and digital graphic novels, and through strong relationships with publishers like Viz Media, NOOK is well positioned to continue to deliver the leading selection of this unique and popular content.”

Viewing manga on NOOK is an authentic experience thanks to NOOK’s innovative technology that formats manga in its original right-to-left reading order. Manga fans can access their favorite graphic novels on the award-winning NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ tablets, which feature stunning HD displays that enable customers to fully enjoy the artwork and compelling storytelling that brings this genre to life. Viz Media manga titles will also be available on the Free NOOK Reading Apps for iOS and Android devices, available for download at http://uk.nook.com/nook-mobile-apps.

For more information on VIZ Media manga titles, please visit www.VIZ.com.

For more information on NOOK U.K., please visit http://uk.nook.com.

ACF 1995: THE GUILLOTINES - Region 1 Blu-ray review

The Guillotines
Directed by Andrew Lau
China/Hong Kong, 2012, 113 minutes

The Guillotines is set for release tomorrow, Tuesday, August 13th on Blu-ray and DVD from Well Go USA Entertainment. The title is the name of an elite group that is tasked with handling the "dirty jobs" for the Manchurian emperors of the Qing Dynasty. Their weapon of choice is the flying guillotine, which can be thrown a great distance and then decapitates its intended victim.

Flying guillotines go back to Hong Kong films at least as early as the 1970s, the Shaw Brothers' The Flying Guillotine (1975) being one of the best known. I believe I first saw one used by Anthony Wong's character Kau in The Heroic Trio (1993). Traditionally the device lands on the victim's head, a mesh screen then drops all around it, and an internal system of blades is activated, separating the head from the neck.

Here, the device has been given a steam punk update. It's a metallic frisbee-like ring that spins like an electro-magnet on the inner edge of a curved blade, giving off all sorts of visually stimulating sparks. Then it's thrown by the sword similar to the way the ball is hurled by the hand-held cesta "basket" in jai alai. It encircles the target's neck, and then an intricate system of gears (shown in CGI) activates the decapitation mechanism.

The Guillotines attack Wolf

The Guilltines begin with a night scene in which their target is Wolf (Huang Xiaoming). He is the leader of the Herders, a rebel group of the ethnic majority Han Chinese who are oppressed by their Manchu overlords. The few followers that were with him are killed, but Wolf is captured and taken to be executed. Other followers rescue him and in making their escape, they take Mu (Li Yuchun), the one female member of The Guillotines, captive.

Sent to re-capture Wolf, The Guillotines find themselves between a rock and a hard place. See, Qian Long, the young emperor, has decided to adopt Western ways and modernize China with guns and cannons, rendering The Guillotines obsolete. Considered a stain on the Emperor's historical record, they are destined for annihilation regardless of whether or not they succeed in re-capturing Wolf. All, that is, except for Leng (Ethan Juan), a Han Chinese who, as a child, was chosen to serve Qian Long by his father, the emperor at the time.

I first saw The Guillotines at a press screening early this past June, prior to its theatrical opening in the U.S. I wasn't impressed by it then, but thought I might feel differently watching it a second time. Unfortunately, that was not the case. There are just too many problems and weakness in the story and its structure.

Leng in a poster. Although released in 3D in China, the film was not shot in native 3D
While early in the film each member of The Guillotines is identified by name and assignment within the unit, we only learn much about two of them, Leng and, to a much lesser extent, Mu. So it's hard to care much about the others as they're hunted down by the Emperor's forces, especially since they do such nasty things to people, including innocent Han civilians.

The reviews of the film's theatrical release by Christopher Bourne and at Eastern Kicks were largely negative and mentioned the difficulties it had being made. These include a total of six screenwriters, usually not a good sign. Whatever the case, the dialogue sometimes is quite baffling. Early on Wolf states that The Guillotines operate only at night. In practically the next scene, when Wolf is being saved by his followers, The Guillotines are out in broad daylight doing their thing. WTF? Seems like someone lost track of what had been said. Also Wolf and his Han followers are overall portrayed as the sweetest, kindest people to have ever graced the earth. Yet they really put the hurt on Mu, a helpless female captive. Inconsistent and confusing, no?

The film as a whole also suffers from being highly derivative. Wolf is clearly a Christ-like messianic figure, and Leng has much in common with Judas, although he does not actually "betray" Wolf. The rescue of Wolf as he's on his way to be executed is straight out of The Adventures of Robin Hood, and the bombardment of the Herders' encampment by the Emperor's cannons is like a replay of similar scenes in Shaolin (2011) or Tai Chi Hero (2012). I have nothing against such "borrowings" per se, but here there's no new twist, nothing inventive or witty, nothing that grabbed, let alone held, my attention.

In terms of action, the film is also a let down. Their are really only two scenes in which the flying guillotines are used, and they both occur relatively early in the movie. The rest of the action, if you can call it that, is uninspired. Ho, hum.

The bottom line is that the talents involved are capable of making, and should have made, a much better film than this.

As for the Blu-ray disc version, the transfer is beautiful. Bonus features include a "making of" featurette and interviews with some members of the cast and crew.

ACF rating: 2 out of 4 stars; fair, nothing to particularly commend it beyond a couple of action set pieces.

However, in fairness I must refer readers to Patrick Galloway's review, which is quite positive. I know Patrick and respect him greatly. The Guillotines is just one of those films that we have differing opinions about.

ACF 1994: Hatsune Miku Magical Mirai 2013 J-POP Concert Film to premiere in L.A. & N.Y.C.

Illustration by CHRIS © Crypton Future Media, Inc

The World’s Most Popular Virtual Pop Singer Commemorates Her Birthday
With A Thrilling Live Concert From Yokohama Japan To Be Presented
In Special Theatrical Premieres In Los Angeles And New York City!!!

Live Viewing Japan, a distribution company focused on bringing Japanese entertainment media to an international audience, celebrates the 6th birthday of the world’s renowned virtual idol, Hatsune Miku, with just-announced bi-coastal theatrical premieres in Los Angeles and New York City on August 31st of the Hatsune Miku MAGICAL MIRAI 2013 Concert.

A special commemorative live concert scheduled to take place on Saturday, August 30th at the Yokohama Area in Yokohama, Japan and will presented to U.S. fans and J-Pop lovers the next day in a special delayed broadcast film premiere. Additional details and the specific L.A. and New York City theatre locations will be announced shortly.

Advance tickets are $20.00 each and go on sale soon. New details forthcoming!!

The Hatsune Miku MAGICAL MIRAI 2013 Concert is organized by TOKYO MX and Crypton Future Media, Inc. and sponsored by SEGA Corp. / Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. / Sony Music Records Inc. / Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. / Sony Music Direct (Japan) Inc. / and NicoNico.

Hatsune Miku, whose name means, “first sound of the future,” is based on an innovative singing synthesizer software character and is the most popular of the Character Vocal Series software originally created by Crypton Future Media, Inc. using Yamaha’s technology.

In Japan, Hatsune Miku is a major phenomenon that grew out of fan-created songs. She has appeared in numerous popular video games and music videos. She’s also played several enthusiastic “concerts,” where she performs on with a live band.

Miku played her very first live concert in the U.S. called, “MIKUNOPOLIS in LOS ANGELES,” at the Nokia Theatre for the 2011 Anime Expo in Los Angeles, CA. The show sold out in only 4 hours, further underscoring the growing substantial popularity she enjoys in North America. To-date, over 100,000 original songs have been written for Hatsune Miku by both fans and professional musicians and composers. The pop diva will also be team up with design house Louis Vuitton for an upcoming 3D Hatsune Miku opera, titled, The End, that will feature no human singers and is scheduled to take place at the Theatre du Chatelet Opera House in Paris on November 13th and 15th, 2013

About Live Viewing Japan:
Live Viewing Japan is a Japanese-based media distribution company focused on bringing a variety of entertainment properties to a global theatre-going audience. More information on the company and its projects is available at www.liveviewing.jp.