With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Friday, June 26, 2015

Special Opening Night Event planned for 2015 J-POP SUMMIT and 2015 Japan Film Festival of San Francisco

Actor Tadanobu Asano

Opening Night Event On August 7th Will Screen Electric Dragon 80000V
Starring Actor Tadanobu Asano And Feature A Live Performance
By Techno DJ Legend Ken Ishii

The 2015 J-POP SUMMIT, the Japanese pop culture event held annually in San Francisco, and the 2015 Japan Film Festival of San Francisco (JFFSF), the Bay Area’s first and only fully-dedicated Japanese film celebration, announce a special Opening Night Event on Friday August 7th at The Castro Theatre.

Advance tickets to the 2015 J-POP SUMMIT/JFFSF Opening Night Event at the Castro Theatre are available now for $25.00 each from http://jpop2015.brownpapertickets.com.

The event begins at 8:00pm kicking off both annual festivals and will feature a special 35mm presentation of director Sogo Ishii’s Electric Dragon 80000V, a rollicking comic-book style action film that stars acclaimed Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano, who is widely known for roles in movies such as Ichi the Killer, Zatoichi, Thor, 46 Ronin, and Battleship.

The evening will be highlighted by a personal appearance by actor Tadanobu Asano, who will introduce the film and participate in an audience Q&A, as well as a live DJ set collaboration by one of Japan’s legendary techno DJ and EDM producers, Ken Ishii, along with Japan’s top anime director Koji Morimoto, widely known as a founder of renowned Studio 4℃ and his works such as Animatrix and Genius Party Beyond.

Tadanobu Asano, Ken Ishii, and Koji Morimoto will also attend the special events at 2015 J-POP SUMMIT as official Guests of Honor on Sunday, August 9th at Fort Mason Center. Appearance times and event details will be announced shortly.

The 2015 J-POP SUMMIT takes place Saturday and Sunday August 8th & 9th at the historic Fort Mason Center in San Francisco’s Marina district. Tickets and V.I.P Passes to the 2015 J-POP SUMMIT are available now at: www.J-POP.com. Throughout the weekend, attendees can enjoy a colorful assortment of Japanese pop-influenced culture, fashion, pop art, live music, technology and travel that will be complemented by celebrity Guests of Honor, anime programming, cosplay and pop idol contests, and a wide assortment of vendors and other programming.

The 2015 Japan Film Festival of San Francisco takes place August 7th to 16th at the city’s historic Castro Theatre and also at NEW PEOPLE Cinema, located in Japantown at 1746 Post St. San Francisco, CA 94115 (www.newpeoplecinema.com). This year’s JFFSF will showcase a dazzling array of new and recent Japanese live-action as well as anime film release, many as first-run U.S. premieres. Tickets and film schedules are available at: www.JFFSF.org.

“This Opening Night event will be an unforgettable way to kick off the 2015 J-POP SUMMIT and the Japan Film Festival of San Francisco and we are planning an exciting evening filled with film, music and personal appearances by notable Japanese entertainers,” says Seiji Horibuchi, chairman of the J-POP SUMMIT Festival Committee. “Join us for what promises to be a truly electrifying evening.”

In the film, Electric Dragon 80000V, Dragon Eye Morrison (played by Tadanobu Asano) is a reptile investigator who suffers from an intermittent explosive disorder caused by brain damage he sustained in a childhood accident. He manages to find a way to survive and control his urges to destroy with his love of reptiles and an electric guitar. Meanwhile, Thunderbolt Buddha (played by Masatoshi Nagase), an electric repairman turned vigilante who has acquired powerful electro-conductive powers after sustaining a childhood accident, goes after crime bosses and gangsters that take advantage of electric signals. Holding an obsessive hatred towards Morrison, Thunderbolt Buddha challenges him to a final showdown on the rooftops of Tokyo.

Actor Tadanobu Asano (www.anore.co.jp/artist/actor/asano) is an award winning Japanese actor, who has acted in notable roles in both Japan and the U.S. Most recently, he appeared in the Marvel Studios film, Thor, as well as its sequel Thor: Dark World. His film roles have earned him many awards from international film festivals including his leading role in the Oscar-nominated film, Mongol. He also owns and manages a talent agency called Anore Inc. with his family, and works with many of Japan’s most talented and up-and-coming actors and actresses.

Techno DJ and producer Ken Ishii

Ken Ishii (http://kenishii.com/) is a legendary techno DJ and producer who has composed music for many different media outlets. Rising from the club scene in the 90’s, Ishii’s work first became internationally recognized when his single, “Extra,” won a music video award at the MTV Music Awards in 1996. He is also known for composing the music for the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony as well as various video game soundtracks, He has performed live internationally and enjoys a worldwide fan base in the electronic music scene.

Koji Morimoto (http://kojimorimoto.com/) is widely known as the co-founder of the renowned anime studio, Studio 4°C, and also for his animated works, MAGNETIC ROSE, from the trilogy, MEMORIES, as well as Ken Ishii’s EXTRA (music video), Animatrix, and Genius Party Beyond. In 2011, he received the Cannes Cyber Lions Silver for a French interactive anti-smoking campaign, Attraction. His collaborative work for LEXUS Short Films called, A Better Tomorrow, world-premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. The same year, he also directed the opening segment for the acclaimed animated omnibus, SHORT PEACE by Katsuhiro Otomo (the creator of Akira).

Thursday, June 25, 2015

PORT OF CALL will be Opening Night Film at NYAFF on Friday; second screening Saturday afternoon

Aaron Kwok, center with glasses, stars in Port of Call
 Port of Call
Director: Philip Yung
Cast: Aaron Kwok, Michael Ning, Jessie Li
Hong Kong, 2015, 121 minutes
Language: Cantonese with English Subtitles
North American Premiere

When: Friday, June 26 at 8:30pm & Saturday, June 27 at 3:00pm

Port of Call will be the Opening Night Film at the 14th New York Asian Film Festival on Friday, June 26th. This screening will be preceded by the presentation of the Star Asia Award to actor Aaron Kwok. (This screening has -- not surprisingly -- sold out. However, there will be a standby line should any tickets go unclaimed.) The film will also be shown on Saturday, June 27th when Kwok will participate in an Intro and Q&A.

Jiamei (Jessie Li, in her film debut) is a sixteen year old girl who has moved to Hong Kong with her mother and sister, while her father stayed in Hunan. She dreams of becoming a model, but ends up as a teen-age prostitue who is brutally murdered. Hong Kong Police Officer Chong (Aaron Kwok, whose 53 credits include The Storm Riders and Cold War) is the detective who heads up the investigation into the crime. With glasses and grey hair, Chong is a grizzled veteran who is all but done in by all the violence he has seen. A loving father to his preteen daughter, one senses that what his job has done to him over the years probably has much to do with why he is separated or divorced.

The film is divided into four sections, and although the identity of the murderer is revealed fairly early on, much mystery remains. There are several jumps back and forth in time, but each shift is identified by year. Director Philip Yung has done a deft job of keeping the narrative clear and moving along. The cinematography is fabulous, which is what one would expect from veteran Christopher Doyle, who is probably best known for his work on several films by Wong Kar Wei.

A gripping crime mystery, Port of Call is a perfect film for opening night at this year's NYAFF. There's teen-age sex and prostitution and some harrowing violence, both described and depicted. There's also some explicit nudity. The film must carry a Category III (adults only) rating in Hong Kong. Given it's subject matter and nude scenes, I can't imagine it being released in any form -- even severely edited -- in Mainland China, except, of course, as an illegal bootleg.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; very good indeed.

The two screenings of Port of Call are part of HONG KONG PANORAMA, one of the Special Focus sections of NYAFF, and are presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.

The full schedule for NYAFF 2015 can be found here.

FOR THE EMPEROR coming to home video on July 7th from Well Go USA

Well Go USA
For the Emperor
Directed by PARK Sang-jun
South Korea,  , 105 minutes

LEE Min-ki & PARK Sung-woong Star in the Action-Packed
South Korean Crime Thriller from Director PARK Sang-jun

A disgraced baseball player gets mixed up with gangsters and loan sharking in the action-packed crime thriller For the Emperor, debuting on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD July 7th from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The stylish neo-noir drama from Director PARK Sang-jun (Bank Attack) stars LEE Min-ki (Shoot Me in the Heart, Haeundae), PARK Sung-woong (Shadowless Sword, New World), LEE Tae-im (S.I.U.), newcomer HAN Jae-young, and LEE Jae-won (The Man From Nowhere).

Synopsis: A disgraced pro baseball player goes to work for a mob-connected loan shark, rising through the ranks of money and power. But when his love interest disappears, he finds himself in a deadly battle of wits against his bloodthirsty mentor.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A FOOL to open New York Asian Film Festival this Friday, June 26th

A Fool / Yi ge shao zi
Director: Chen Jianbin
Cast: Chen Jianbin, Wang Xuebing, Jin Shijia
China, 2014, 105 minutes 
Language: Mandarin with English subtitles
North American Premiere

When: Friday, June 26th at 6:00 pm

In this, his directorial debut, actor Chen Jianbin plays Latiaozi, an honest goat farmer. One day, in a simple act of kindness and compassion, he gives a young homeless man some food. The youth, who is filthy, apparently mentally retarded and who wears a large broken red visor on his head, follows Latiaozi home. Fearful that the idiot will freeze to death, Latiaozi and his wife reluctantly agree that he should be allowed to sleep in the hut with the sheep.

This development further complicates the life of Latiaozi and his wife, whose son is in jail. They have already given $50,000 dollars (most certainly a subtitle error, as there's no way they could have amassed that amount in U.S. currency) to an intermediary to get the son's sentence reduced. Thus far they have nothing to show for the money they've spent.

The couple's efforts to find the young man's family ultimately bring them in contact with a parade of individuals, each of whom claim that the boy is their relative. Latiaozi's best intentions turn against him as he and his wife are beset with numerous financial claims from these greedy individuals.

A Fool, part drama, part black comedy, raises the question of who, in a world of greed and grifters, is it a kind, honest person who's actually the fool.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3 out of 4 stars; a good film, well-made and thought-provoking

A Fool will be the first film shown at this year's New York Asian Film Festival. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York, Friday's screening is part of HONG KONG PANORAMA, a special focus portion of NYAFF.

The full schedule for NYAFF 2015 can be found here.

VIZ Media at 2015 Anime Expo


A Wide Variety Of Special Guest Appearances, Panel Discussions,
Autograph Sessions And Exclusive And Pre-Street Items Highlight
VIZ Media’s Presence At The Nation’s Largest Anime Convention

VIZ Media prepares for the nation’s largest dedicated anime convention, Anime Expo, with an exciting array of special guest appearances, panel discussions, autograph sessions, promotional giveaways and a variety of exclusive and pre-street items that will be available for purchase.

The 2015 Anime Expo takes place July 2nd–5th at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles. Tickets and full details are available at: www.anime-expo.org. VIZ Media will be located on the main convention floor in Booth #811.

VIZ Media is honored to welcome manga creator Julietta Suzuki as a special Guest of Honor. Suzuki is the creator of the acclaimed shojo manga series, KAMISAMA KISS. During Anime Expo, she will be among the artists to have original manga artwork prominently displayed in the VIZ Media booth to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the company’s Shojo Beat imprint. She also will participate in an informative panel discussion and appear for a pair of autograph sessions. Copies of KAMISAMA KISS (Vols. 1, 18) also will be available for purchase in the VIZ Media booth.

Shojo fans will not want to miss a visit to the VIZ Media booth to enjoy a special exhibit of original manga artwork from more than 40 top titles and creators that are published under the Shojo Beat imprint such as Arina Tanemura (IDOL DREAMS), Yuki Midorikawa (NATSUME’S BOOK OF FRIENDS), Yun Kouga (CROWN OF THORNS), Miko Mitsuki (HONEY BLOOD), Go Ikeyamada (SO CUTE IT HURTS!), Tomu Ohmi (SPELL OF DESIRE) and many more!

Join VIZ Media and the guardians of love and justice to celebrate the legendary action fantasy anime series with SAILOR MOON Day on Friday, July 3rd. Meet the voice cast at an exclusive autograph session in the Anime Expo autograph area and for a photo opportunity at the VIZ Media booth. Also catch all the latest SAILOR MOON news in the official panel discussion set for Friday morning, official fan/cosplay gathering, and the World Dub Premiere of the first 2 episodes of SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL later that afternoon.

Don’t forget to check the Anime Expo screening schedule for a variety of VIZ Media anime titles including showings of BLEACH, NARUTO SHIPPUDEN, NARUTO THE MOVIE: ROAD TO NINJA, TIGER & BUNNY Feature Films (THE BEGINNING and THE RISING), RANMA ½ and SAILOR MOON and SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL.

For more information on VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

LOST FOR WORDS becomes available today on DVD and VOD

Green Apple Entertainment
Lost for Words
Directed by Stanley J. Orzel
Hong Kong, 2013, 107 minutes

Lost for Words is a romantic drama directed Stanley J. Orzel (4 Assassins, a.k.a. Far Away Eyes) and co-written by him and Joseph Bendy. The film becomes available on DVD and VOD today, June 23rd.

The movie begins in a jail cell in China where Michael Vance (Sean Faris, Pretty Little Liars, The King of Fighters, Never Back Down) is being held for hitting someone who was hurting a woman named Anna. Informed that he's about to be deported, he asks about seeing Anna and is told that she's under house arrest and that seeing her is out of the question.

The bulk of the film is about how this unfortunate pair came to meet and ended up in these circumstances.

Michael is an ex-marine who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan. His fiancee Jessica has -- not without some justification -- called off their marriage. Michael is still in love with her; he uses pictures of her as a screensaver on his portable computer. He has come to Hong Kong to work as an IT specialist at a multinational corporation.

Lost for Words, a Studio Strada Production

Through a number of chance encounters, the first occurring at the airport when they both arrive, he meets Anna Zhou (Grace Hung, The Man with the Iron Fists, Infini). She's a ballerina who has come to Hong Kong from Beijing to dance with the Star East Dance Company. Accompanying her is Mei Mei Weng (Joman Chiang), a friend and fellow ballerina who is more worldly-wise and materialistic than Anna.

Michael and Anna come upon one another while jogging (their third encounter) and finally begin actually talking to one another. They agree to trade language lessons; Michael will help Anna with her English, and she will help him with Chinese. From this simple beginning, their relationship slowly evolves, eventually turning into a burgeoning romance. When he goes with her to her home village in mainland China, a situation arises that puts Michael in jail, Anna under house arrest and threatens to separate them forever.

While Lost for Words has a promising story line, it doesn't quite succeed as a really engrossing drama. The dialogue tends to be rather flat, sometimes bordering on the trite. And neither of the two lead characters seem to have any real depth.

Thirty-one year old Faris looks a lot like Ethan Hawke and occasionally exhibits a faint hint of the charm of Tom Cruise. But he's not quite believable as an ex-marine (too scrawny), and as an IT specialist, all he keeps saying is that he's got to write a lot of code. His character Michael is also incredibly bereft of any degree of imagination.

Similarly, Grace Huang is not given much opportunity to display whatever acting chops she may possess. Anna is so sweet and inexperienced that she borders on being completely bland. And it's clear that Huang is no ballerina by the way the "dance" scenes are shot.

The film also suffers from far too many "scenic" shots of Hong Kong, especially ones taken looking straight down from a helicopter. Publicity materials describe the film as being set against "the sweeping cityscape of cosmopolitan Hong Kong," but it sometimes starts to feel like a travelogue.

On the other hand, there are some very beautiful and striking visuals. The opening sequence in the jail has a look similar to German expressionism, with stark diagonals set off by high contrast. And there is one absolutely stunning scene that takes place in an aerial gondola.

ACF Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars; a fair film, certainly flawed but not without some redeeming features and moments.

CROSS available today on DVD and Digital HD from Well Go USA

Well Go USA
 Cross / Tian ma xing xiong
Directed by Daniel Chan Yee-Heng
Hong Kong, 2012, 86 minutes

Cross is a psychological crime thriller about an ultra-religious serial killer. It debuts on DVD and Digital HD in North America today, June 23rd from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Veteran Hong Kong actor Simon Yam (Dr. Lamb, Naked Killer, SPL, and 200 other credits that are listed on his home page at IMDb) stars as Lee Leung, an optician. The film begins with him going to a police station where he confesses to having killed several people and provides evidence of his actions. He explains that his wife had leukemia and that after she committed suicide, he was convinced that she wouldn't go to heaven because such an act is a most serious sin.

To save others who were inclined to kill themselves from eternal damnation -- and to possibly redeem his wife's sin -- he began to frequent an online forum for those contemplating suicide. There he communicated with some individuals and arranged to dispatch them so that they would not be damned. Thus he thought of himself as not a murderer, but as God's agent, saving individuals from the sin of committing suicide. He absolutely believed that their deaths had to be with "serenity and joy." A death that turned out to be not peaceful was the reason for him coming to the police.

As two individuals investigate the crimes, it begins to appear that things may not be as straightforward as they seem. More and more, the evidence starts to suggest that Lee has actually not been acting on his own, but rather has been manipulated by someone to unknowingly do their murderous bidding.

The premise is a fine one: a religious fanatic who believes he's doing God's will, but instead may be little more than a puppet for someone with a totally unholy agenda. It could also serve as a cautionary tale about relying on information found on the Internet.

Unfortunately the film is a total mess. Maybe it's a problem with the subtitles, but the two individuals who investigate the murders are never precisely identified. In any case, one of them goes to Lee's home, where he puts on Lee's clothes and acts as if he were Lee, presumably to "get into" Lee's head. Just how the conclusion is reached that Lee has been manipulated isn't at all clear, not even remotely. The situation is not helped either by one significant character, for no apparent reason, being played by two different actors, one in the present, the other in flashbacks, of which there are many.

I was so amazed by how bad the film was that I wondered if I had just missed everything that would make it something better. Unable to find it at IMDb, I went to the film's Wikepedia entry. There I found a link to the film's IMDB page (where it is listed as Tian ma xing xion and has a deservedly dismal rating of 4.4 out of 10 from 45 users) as well as links to a few other reviews.

According to several sources I consulted (including the Hong Kong Movie Database, Love Hong Kong Film, and Asian Film Strike), a total of four directors (who also served as scriptwriters) worked on the film over the course of well over a year, a very long time for such a short final product. (Besides Daniel Chan, the only director listed at IMDb, the other directors/scriptwriters were Steve Woo, Lau Kin-Ping and Hui Shu-Ning.) Each of the reviewers had pretty much the same negative opinion of the final work as I did. So the fault seems to be with the film, not with my reaction to it.

AsianCineFest Rating: 1 out of 4 stars, i.e., "poor." Overall a waste of time and talent, most particularly Simon Yam's.

[Note: a slightly different version of this review was cross-posted at the VCinema website.]

Monday, June 22, 2015

Shojo manga artist Julietta Suzuki to be special guest at 2015 ANIME EXPO

Kamisama Hajimemashita © Julietta Suzuki 2008/

Creator Of KAMISAMA KISS Makes First-Ever International Appearance
At North America’s Biggest Anime Convention And Helps
Celebrate The Shojo Beat Imprint’s 10th Anniversary

VIZ Media proudly partners with the 2015 Anime Expo to present manga creator Julietta Suzuki for her first-ever professional appearance outside Japan.

The 2015 Anime Expo is the largest dedicated anime convention held in North America and will take place July 2nd–5th at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles. Tickets and full details are available at: www.anime-expo.org. VIZ Media will be located on the main convention floor in Booth #811.

Julietta Suzuki is the creator of the acclaimed shojo manga (graphic novel) series, KAMISAMA KISS. During Anime Expo, she will participate in an informative panel discussion and appear for a pair of autograph sessions. She also will be among the artists to have original manga artwork prominently displayed in the VIZ Media booth to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the company’s Shojo Beat imprint. Copies of KAMISAMA KISS (Vols. 1 & 18) will be available for purchase in the VIZ Media booth as well.

VIZ Media booth visitors also are invited to spin the Shojo Beat Prize Wheel for a chance to win KAMISAMA KISS collectables from Japan!

Julietta Suzuki VIZ Media/Anime Expo Panels & Special Events Include:

Friday, July 3rd

4:30PM Autograph Session (Anime Expo Autograph Area)
Meet manga artist Julietta Suzuki and get a special FREE signed art card (shikishi). Tickets will be distributed at 8AM in the morning from the Anime Expo Autograph Ticket Booth in West Hall.

Saturday, July 4th

11:10AM Autograph Session (Anime Expo Autograph Area)
Meet manga artist Julietta Suzuki and get a special FREE personally signed art card (shikishi). Tickets will be distributed at 8AM in the morning from the Anime Expo Autograph Ticket Booth in West Hall.

2:00pm – 3:00pm Julietta Suzuki Panel Discussion (Petree Hall / LP2)
Anime Expo attendees are invited to join VIZ Media for a special conversation with Julietta Suzuki and learn more about her beginnings as an manga artist and creator, her creative process and her experience publishing with VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint. Five lucky attendees will also get a chance to attend a tea party with Suzuki immediately after the panel!

“KAMISAMA KISS is the divine comedy that has captivated legions of shojo manga fans in North America, and we are honored to welcome Julietta Suzuki for a very special series of appearances at Anime Expo,” says Pancha Diaz, Editor. “This will be an extraordinary opportunity to learn more about her career, interests and influences and also meet the artist in a special signing session. Her appearance also provides a wonderful complement to mark an important milestone for our Shojo Beat imprint, and manga fans are invited to join us for what promises to be a truly memorable Anime Expo!”

Julietta Suzuki's debut manga Hoshi ni Naru Hi (The Day One Becomes a Star) appeared in 2004 in the shojo manga magazine, Hana to Yume Plus. Her other notable releases include Akuma to Dolce (The Devil and Sweets), Karakuri Odette, and KAMISAMA KISS (Kamisama Hajimemashita), which is published by VIZ Media.

In KAMISAMA KISS (rated ‘T’ for Teens), Nanami Momozono is alone and homeless after her dad skips town to evade his gambling debts and the debt collectors kick her out of her apartment. So when a man she's just saved from a dog offers her his home, she jumps at the opportunity. But it turns out that his place is a shrine, and Nanami has unwittingly taken over his job as a local deity! Nanami has all kinds of new responsibilities she doesn't understand, dangers she's unaware of, and a cranky ex-familiar who's...actually pretty hot. What's a new-fledged godling to do? The bestselling series is continuing in Japan, and Volume 18 debuts in print and digitally this month through VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint.

For more information on Julietta Suzuki and other shojo manga titles published by VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

New BLEACH and NARUTO manga box sets coming July 7th

BLEACH © 2001 by Tite Kubo/SHUEISHA Inc.

Latest Box Sets For Seminal Manga Properties Set For Release In July; Each
Set Contains 20+ Manga Volumes Along With Exclusive Bonus Premiums!

VIZ Media prepares to thrill ardent fans of the BLEACH and NARUTO manga (graphic novel) series as it announces the forthcoming release of the latest box set editions for both titles.

Scheduled for release on July 7th, the BLEACH Manga Box Set 2 and NARUTO Manga Box Set 2 each contain over twenty individual manga volumes at a substantial savings over buying them individually. Exclusive bonus premiums, such as special mini-comics and full-color posters, are also included in each set.

BLEACH Manga Box Set 2 • Rated “T” for Teens •
MSRP: $214.99 U.S. / CAN • Available July 7th
The latest BLEACH Manga Box Set contains Volumes 22-48 and includes an exclusive mini-comic containing the pilot story of the bestselling series along with a full-color, double-sided poster. In creator Tite Kubo’s manga series, BLEACH, Ichigo Kurosaki never asked for the ability to see ghosts – he was born with the gift. When his family is attacked by a Hollow--a malevolent lost soul – Ichigo becomes a Soul Reaper, dedicating his life to protecting the innocent and helping the tortured spirits themselves find peace. In the latest Box Set volumes, after finally rescuing their friend Rukia, Ichigo and friends return to their quiet lives in the world of the living. However, the peace is short-lived as new enemies arrive from the world of the Hollows. Aizen is back, and Ichigo may be the only one who can stop him for good!

Additional information on BLEACH is available at: http://www.viz.com/bleach.

NARUTO © 1999 by Masashi Kishimoto/SHUEISHA Inc.

NARUTO MANGA BOX SET 2 • Rated “T” for Teens •
MSRP: $174.99 U.S. / CAN • Available July 7th
Naruto is a young shinobi with an incorrigible knack for mischief. He's got a wild sense of humor, but Naruto is completely serious about his mission to be the world's greatest ninja! In the second NARUTO Manga Box Set, featuring Volumes 28-48, it's been more than two years since Naruto left to train with Jiraiya. Much has happened while he has been away, and new threats to the ninja world have emerged. Can Naruto prove his worth and rescue his friend Sasuke? The new box set also will feature an exclusive mini-comic containing the NARUTO pilot story and a full-color, double-sided poster.

Additional information on NARUTO is available at: http://www.viz.com/naruto.

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

Saturday, June 20, 2015

2015 J-POP SUMMIT to feature interactive POP TRAVEL AREA

The kimono cosplay duo YANAKIKU will serve as the cultural ambassadors of the Ryokan Pavilion.

S.F.’s Annual Japanese Pop Festival Teams With Global Daily
To Present Life-Sized Display Of Renowned Ryokan Traditional Inns
And Japanese Travel Possibilities Recreated In Amazing Detail

The 2015 J-POP SUMMIT, the Japanese pop culture event held annually in San Francisco, offers a fun and interactive experience of what it’s like to travel to Japan as it announces the POP TRAVEL AREA. The 2015 J-POP SUMMIT takes places Saturday and Sunday August 8th & 9th at the historic Fort Mason Center in San Francisco’s Marina district.

Throughout the weekend, J-POP SUMMIT attendees to Fort Mason can enjoy a colorful assortment of Japanese pop-influenced culture, fashion, pop art, live music, technology, and travel that will be complemented by celebrity Guests of Honor, anime programming, cosplay and J-pop idol contests, and a wide assortment of vendors and other programming. Tickets and V.I.P Passes are available now at: www.J-POP.com.

The POP TRAVEL AREA builds on ongoing interest to spotlight new and interesting sides of Japanese travel that often overlooked by Western travelers. It was developed in cooperation with the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) and features a “Ryokan Pavilion,” presented by 2015 J-POP SUMMIT sponsor, Global Daily, showcasing the unique experience “Ryokan” traditional Japanese inns offer visitors.

The kimono cosplay duo, YANAKIKU, which was a festival favorite from last year’s J-POP SUMMIT, return to serve as the cultural ambassadors of the Ryokan Pavilion. With their cute, pop-inspired look and sound, mixed with Japanese traditional accents, YANAKIKU is a wonderful complement to the travel-themed attractions. Inside this pavilion, J-POP SUMMIT attendees can get detailed information about a variety of Japanese tours and activities and also make reservations to visit a Ryokan.

Ryokans are traditional inns found widely across Japan and have been a central part of Japanese culture for centuries. In the West they are comparable to a bed & breakfast, but Ryokans usually also offer dinner (and breakfast) and are located near “onsen” hot springs and other sightseeing spots and are popular getaway locations for tourists throughout the year. Ryokans are also patterned on classical Japanese houses and often contain “tatami” woven mat flooring accented by “shoji” screens (sliding paper doors), “zabuton” (sitting cushions), and floor sleeping on “futon” (sleeping quilts).

Rendition of The Ryokan Pavilion

The Ryokan Pavilion will feature interactive mini-theater displays about several award winning Japanese Ryokans that each display the warm spirit of “omotenashi,” or hospitality, in a distinct way. These establishments preserve the essence of Japanese tradition in their architecture, food, guest appointments, and local attractions.

Attendees are invited to don “yakuta” (traditional Japanese robes) and “geta” (Japanese wooden sandals) that will be provided to enhance the Ryokan experience. Several “mini-theatres’ will recreate Ryokan stays at a selection of award winning establishments through a combination of HD video projection and life-sized scale model rooms. Visitors can immerse themselves with the smell of incense and stunning virtual tours actual Ryokan inns, local hot springs, and the breathtaking seasonal scenery of Japan.

Friday, June 19, 2015

TWIN STAR EXORCISTS manga is set to debut on July 7th

SOUSEI NO ONMYOJI © 2013 by Yoshiaki Sukeno /SHUEISHA Inc.

Series About A Pair Of Mystical Warriors With Intertwined
Destinies Launches In Print And Digital In July!

VIZ Media unleashes the supernatural action manga (graphic novel) series – TWIN STAR EXORCISTS – on July 7th.

Created by Yoshiaki Sukeno, TWIN STAR EXORCISTS is rated ‘T’ for Teens and will be published in print with an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. The series also launches digitally on July 7th via VIZManga.com and the VIZ Manga App, as well as from the Nook, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, comiXology, and GooglePlay stores. Future volumes of the series, which is ongoing in Japan, will be published domestically twice a year under VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump imprint.

In TWIN STAR EXORCISTS, Rokuro is from a family of exorcists who exorcise the evil Kegare, but he’d rather be a singer, a soccer player or anything but! He’s forced to own up to his own incredible potential when new arrival Benio stirs his competitive spirit—and is in need of rescue. But their rivalry gets a twist when they learn they are the “Twin Star Exorcists” – two supreme fighters fated to marry and birth the prophesied child who will eliminate all the Kegare in the world. Too bad they can barely stand each other!

“TWIN STAR EXORCISTS is an electrifying and hilarious new manga series about a pair of unlikely mystical partners and their intertwined destinies that drew significant acclaim from fans and readers during its initial serialization in Japan in Jump Square magazine,” says Annette Roman, Editor. “Will these rivals fall in love? English readers now have the opportunity to dive into the action as the fate of two worlds hangs in the balance!”

Manga creator Yoshiaki Sukeno was born in 1981 in Wakayama, Japan and graduated from Kyoto Seika University’s School of Manga. In 2006, he was selected for a Tezuka Newcomer Award. In 2008, he began the supernatural manga comedy Binbougami ga!, which was later adapted into the anime series Good Luck Girl in 2012.

For more information on TWIN STAR EXORCISTS or other manga titles published by VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

2015 J-POP SUMMIT to present San Francisco's first SAKE SUMMIT


Enjoy A Variety Of Japanese Libations From Leading Sake Brands, Brewers
And Distributors At Unique Event In August In S.F.’s Union Square Park
Accented By Live Music, Food Vendors And Other Exhibitors

The 2015 J-POP SUMMIT, the Japanese pop culture event held annually in San Francisco, is proud to announce the city’s very first SAKE SUMMIT, a festival to celebrate Japan’s national spirit taking place in the city’s downtown Union Square Park on the weekend of August 8th and 9th.

Organized by the J-POP SUMMIT Festival Committee and presented in partnership with a variety of leading Japanese and U.S. sake brands, brewers, distributors, and retailers, the 2015 SAKE SUMMIT UNION SQUARE will feature multiple sake tasting booths at Union Square Park. Attendees can try a wide range of premium Japanese sake and learn how to enjoy them with food-pairings. In addition to tasting, attendees can purchase select brands of sake on-site. There also will be live Japanese traditional music entertainment, Japanese food vendors, and Japanese Matcha (green tea) exhibitors. Additional information is available at: www.sakesummit.com.

Early bird tickets are on-sale now (until 6/30) for $25.00 each at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1431523; advance tickets (until 8/7) will be $30.00 each; tickets purchased on-site the day of SAKE SUMMIT will be $35.00 each.

The 2015 SAKE SUMMIT UNION SQUARE takes place at San Francisco’s Union Square on Saturday, August 8th and Sunday, August 9th, from 11:00am to 6:00pm each day. Sake tasting participants must be at least 21 years old (IDs will be checked). Each tasting session lasts 2 hours and 3 sake tasting sessions are scheduled each day. Tastings will take place at: 11:00 to 1:00pm / 1:30pm to 3:30pm / 4:00pm to 6:00pm.

The 2015 J-POP SUMMIT takes places Saturday and Sunday August 8th & 9th at the historic Fort Mason Center in San Francisco’s Marina district. A special panel discussion, “American Entrepreneurs on Sake, Matcha & Sushi,” will take place on Saturday August 8th at the Fort Mason Main Stage. The panel features prominent Japanese food and cuisine entrepreneurs that will share their experience; working with Japanese foods and serving Bay Area food lovers, what were their hurdles and triumphs along the way, and finally, what does authenticity mean to them? For more information on J-POP SUMIT Fort Mason food attractions, visit: http://www.j-pop.com/events/share-food.

Tickets and V.I.P Passes to the 2015 J-POP SUMMIT are available now at: www.J-POP.com. Throughout the weekend, J-POP SUMMIT attendees to Fort Mason can enjoy a colorful assortment of Japanese pop-influenced culture, fashion, pop art, live music, technology and travel that will be complemented by celebrity Guests of Honor, anime programming, cosplay and pop idol contests, and a wide assortment of vendors and other programming.

“The sake tasting events at our previous J-POP SUMMITs have been extremely popular and we are very excited to expand it with even more participating brewers and distributors from both Japan and around the Bay Area,” says Seiji Horibuchi, chairman of the J-POP SUMMIT Festival Committee. “SAKE SUMMIT at Union Square will be one of the key attractions of J-POP SUMMIT festivities this year, and we hope everyone join us to celebrate the launch of this unique event.”

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Print debut of superhero manga ONE-PUNCH MAN set for September

ONE-PUNCH MAN © 2012 by ONE, Yusuke Murata/SHUEISHA Inc.

Debut Of First Two Print Volumes Of The Manga Series About A Superhero
Who Just Needs A Villain Strong Enough To Take Him On;
Special Digital Preview Of Opening Chapters Available

VIZ Media delivers a knock-out blow, manga style, with the exciting print debut later this summer of the acclaimed superhero series, ONE-PUNCH MAN. Volumes 1 and 2 of the wildly popular action-comedy manga (graphic novel) series created by writer ONE and artist Yusuke Murata are both set for release in September 2015. ONE-PUNCH MAN is rated ‘T’ for Teens and print volumes will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN each. Future print editions of the series, which is also ongoing in Japan, will be published in English on a bimonthly basis under VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump imprint.

In anticipation of the forthcoming print launch, VIZ Media invites readers to enjoy the first 3 chapters of ONE-PUNCH MAN in a special FREE digital preview available now for a limited time on VIZManga.com and the VIZ MANGA App. Please check select partner sites for similar availability.

For digital manga readers, ONE-PUNCH MAN Vols. 1-7 are also now available from VIZManga.com and the VIZ MANGA App for the iPad®, iPhone® and iPod® touch, Android-powered smart phones and tablets. The volumes also may be purchased through the Nook, Kindle, Kobo, comiXology, iBooks and GooglePlay stores.

In ONE-PUNCH MAN, nothing about Saitama passes the eyeball test when it comes to superheroes, from his lifeless expression to his bald head to his unimpressive physique. However, this average-looking guy has a not-so-average problem – he just can’t seem to find an opponent strong enough to take on! Every time a promising villain appears, he beats the snot out of ’em with one punch! Can Saitama finally find an opponent who can go toe-to-toe with him and give his life some meaning? Or is he doomed to a life of super-powered boredom?

“Prepare for a one-two knockout combo of superhero-inspired action meets comedy in ONE-PUNCH MAN,” says Andy Nakatani, Editor in Chief, WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP. “Many fans have already become captivated by the series through its digital serialization in WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP magazine. Now, beginning with the release of the first two volumes in September, print readers have the opportunity to enjoy the dynamic illustrations and kinetic fight scenes of the manga series that put a unique twist on the classic superhero story. Also, don’t miss the special digital preview that offers the opening chapters of this hilarious series for a limited time!”

Manga creator ONE began ONE-PUNCH MAN as a web comic, which quickly went viral and garnered over 10 million hits. Japanese manga publisher (and VIZ Media parent company) Shueisha eventually secured the publishing rights to the series. In addition to ONE-PUNCH MAN, ONE writes and draws the series Mob Psycho 100 and Makai no Ossan.

Yusuke Murata is a highly acclaimed and skilled manga artist best known for his work on the football series, EYESHIELD 21 (also published in North America by VIZ Media). In 1995, Murata won the prestigious 122nd Hop Step Award for his series, Partner, and placed second in 1998 in the semi-annual Akatsuka Awards for Samui Hanashi.

For more information on ONE-PUNCH MAN and manga titles from VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Illustrator YUSUKE NAKAMURA coming to 2015 J-POP SUMMIT


Renowned Contemporary Pop Artist That Designed Album Covers
For ASIAN KUNG FU GENERATION Celebrates Seminal Works
At Annual Japanese Pop Culture Festival In San Francisco

The 2015 J-POP SUMMIT, the Japanese pop culture event held annually in San Francisco, proudly teams with Kinokuniya Book Stores of America to welcome contemporary illustrator Yusuke Nakamura as an official Guest of Honor for this year’s event.

The 2015 J-POP SUMMIT takes place on Saturday and Sunday August 8th and 9th at the historic Fort Mason Center in San Francisco’s Marina district. Tickets, V.I.P Passes and additional information are available now at: www.J-POP.com.

Yusuke Nakamura is one of Japan’s foremost illustrators and graphic artists and is renowned for bold, colorful designs that combine a provocative mix of Japanese pop culture and traditional influences and themes.

During J-POP SUMMIT, Nakamura will appear at Kinokuniya’s booth located inside the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion both on Saturday, August 8th and Sunday August 9th to meet fans and attendees and to autograph purchased copies of his illustration books, which will be offered for sale throughout the weekend. Autograph times will be posted on the J-POP SUMMIT website in coming days.

“Yusuke Nakamura is an artist of tremendous acclaim across Japan where his vibrant and instantly recognizable work has been featured on top selling album covers and novels and even in music and high school textbooks,” says Takeshi Yoshida, Executive Producer of the J-POP SUMMIT. “Showcasing some of the most popular and creative visual artists and illustrators from Japan has always been a favorite with J-POP SUMMIT attendees and we invite fans to get ready for a fresh new sampling of fun Japanese pop culture at this year’s festival!”

Yusuke Nakamura was born in 1978 and drew acclaim for his designs for the CD design of the Japanese alternative rock band, ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, and also for book covers for bestselling novels including author Tokuya Higashigawa’s Solve the Mystery after the Dinner and Tomihiko Morimi’s The Tatami Galaxy and Yoru ha Mijikashi Arukeyo Otome. Nakamura’s first illustration book, Blue, was published in Japan in 2009 and has sold nearly 100,000 copies. In 2014 he published two additional illustration books, Kirara-chan and NOW. Yusuke Nakamura is also a musician and member of the band, SAILS, and he is also a published essayist. Additional information isavailable on the artist's official website http://www.yusukenakamura.net and his official Facebook page, www.facebook.com/yusukenakamura.jp.

Passes for 2015 J-POP SUMMIT are available at:

ONE DAY J-POP SUMMIT PASS: FORT MASON: Includes One-Day access to J-POP SUMMIT at Fort Mason Center either on Saturday, 8/8 or Sunday, 8/9.
Early Bird: $20.00 Advance: $25.00 At The Door $30.00
(Early bird pricing is available until 6/30)

WEEKEND J-POP SUMMIT PASS: FORT MASON: Includes full Two-Day access to J-POP SUMMIT at Fort Mason Center on both Saturday, 8/8 and Sunday, 8/9.
Early Bird: $35.00 Advance: $40.00 At The Door $45.00
(Early bird pricing is available until 6/30)

KIDS WEEKEND PASS: FORT MASON: Includes Full Two-day access to J-POP SUMMIT at Fort Mason Center on both Saturday, 8/8 and Sunday, 8/9.
Ages 6-12: $15.00 Ages 0-5: FREE *No One-day Pass for kids.

V.I.P. J-POP SUMMIT PASS: FORT MASON: Includes Full Two-day access to J-POP SUMMIT at Fort Mason Center on both on Saturday, 8/8 and Sunday, 8/9.
Early Bird: $90.00 Advance: $100.00
(Early bird pricing is available until 6/30)

J-POP SUMMIT V.I.P Passes include: A ticket to the Opening Special Premiere Event at The Castro Theatre on Friday, 8/7; a Weekend Pass to Fort Mason Center for Saturday, 8/8 & Sunday 8/9; Access to Priority Line to the film screenings at the Japan Film Festival of San Francisco at NEW PEOPLE Cinema from Sat. 8/8 to Sun. 8/16 (NOTE: Film tickets are NOT included, sold separately); Access to Priority Line to SAKE SUMMIT at UNION SQUARE on Sat. 8/8 and Sun. 8/9. (NOTE: Admission to SAKE SUMMIT is NOT included, sold separately); Access to VIP Check-In at The Castro Theatre and Fort Mason Center; Access to premium viewing areas at the Fort Mason Center Stage; Exclusive J-POP SUMMIT Gift Bag.

Monday, June 15, 2015

TOKYO GHOUL launches tomorrow

TOKYO GHOUL © 2011 by Sui Ishida/SHUEISHA Inc.

Sui Ishida’s Horror Action Manga Series About A High School
Boy Who Becomes A Reluctant Flesh Eater Launches In Print

VIZ Media takes readers on an incredible journey into the dark world of the flesh-eating undead that live in secret all around us with the launch of Sui Ishida’s acclaimed manga (graphic novel) series – TOKYO GHOUL – tomorrow, June 16th.

TOKYO GHOUL is rated ‘T+’ and individual volumes will carry a MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $14.99 CAN each. Future print editions of the 14-volume series will be published on a bi-monthly basis. The series is also underway digitally on VIZManga.com and the VIZ Manga App and is available worldwide from the Nook, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, comiXology, and GooglePlay stores.

Ghouls live among us, the same as normal people in every way – except for their craving for human flesh. Shy Ken Kaneki is thrilled to go on a date with the beautiful Rize. But it turns out that she’s only interested in his body – eating it, that is. When a morally questionable rescue transforms him into the first half-human half-Ghoul hybrid, Ken is drawn into the dark and violent world of Ghouls, which exists alongside our own. Trapped between two worlds, he must survive Ghoul turf wars, learn more about Ghoul society and master his new powers.

“In Japan, TOKYO GHOUL has already sold more than 6 million copies. English readers have been clamoring for it for a while so we’re excited they’ll finally get to tear into the official VIZ Signature release,” says Joel Enos, Editor. “Sui Ishida’s alternate reality is an action-oriented take on zombies but with a harrowing dose of teen angst. Ken is turned by the girl he’s in love with and she just wants to eat him! Now Ken’s got to navigate this fragile, torn and bloody line between the worlds of the living and the dead.”

Manga creator Sui Ishida was born in Fukuoka, Japan. TOKYO GHOUL won him the Young Jump 113th Grand Prix award in 2010 and was debuted as a series in Japan in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in 2011. The popular manga also was adapted into a widely watched anime series in 2014.

For additional information on TOKYO GHOUL and other manga and anime titles published by VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Junji Ito’s FRAGMENTS OF HORROR set to debut on June 16th

Fragments of Horror © Junji Ito 2014/Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc

The Celebrated Creator Of GYO And UZUMAKI Returns With
A Brand New, Frightening Manga Short Story Collection

VIZ Media sends chills down the spines of readers as it debuts Junji Ito’s FRAGMENTS OF HORROR on June 16th.

Set to be published under the VIZ Signature imprint, the new manga (graphic novel) release is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens and will be offered in a deluxe, hardcover print edition that will carry an MSRP of $17.99 U.S. / $21.00 CAN.

FRAGMENTS OF HORROR contains a unique collection of delightfully macabre tales from the master of horror manga. An old wooden mansion that turns on its inhabitants. A dissection class with a most unusual subject. A funeral where the dead are definitely not laid to rest. Ranging from the terrifying to the comedic, from the erotic to the loathsome, these stories showcase Junji Ito’s long-awaited return to the world of horror.

“FRAGMENTS OF HORROR is a fantastically creepy collection that marks the renowned creator’s return to the horror manga genre after an 8-year sabbatical,” says Masumi Washington, Editor. “Readers craving something sinister and delightfully strange will relish these unsettling vignettes, and Junji Ito’s striking artwork and eerie tales will haunt the minds of fans long after reading.”

Manga creator Junji Ito made his professional debut in 1987 and has gone on to be recognized as one of the greatest contemporary artists working in the horror genre. His critically acclaimed titles include TOMIE and UZUMAKI, which were adapted into critically praised live-action films, as well as GYO, which was adapted into an animated feature film. The UZUMAKI and GYO manga editions are both published in English by VIZ Media in deluxe hardcover editions available under the VIZ Signature imprint. Ito’s influences include classic horror manga artists Kazuo Umezu and Hideshi Hino, as well as authors such as Yasutaka Tsutsui and H.P. Lovecraft.

For more information on FRAGMENTS OF HORROR and other Junji Ito manga titles published by VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

New York Asian Film Festival teaser trailer + schedule & ticket info

The 14th New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) will run from June 26 - July 8 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater and from July 8 - 11 at the SVA's Beatrice and Silas Theatres.

Tickets are now on sale for Film Society Members. General Public and SVA tickets go on sale June 11th.

Schedule information, including details of individual films, and links for ordering tickets can be found at the Film Society of Lincoln Center NYAFF homepage. Additional schedule information can be found at Subway Cinema.

VIZ Media announces its latest digital manga update

SAINT SEIYA © 1985 by Masami Kurumada/SHUEISHA Inc.

June Sees The Launch Of 4 New Series Along With A Selection Of New
Multi-Volume Manga Bundles Available At Significant Savings

VIZ Media heats up June with the announcement of a wide selection of brand new digital manga titles as part of its latest monthly update. Notable content of keen interest to fans and readers includes the launch of 4 new series as well as updates to scores of additional continuing VIZ Media digital manga titles.

June will see the debut of the new shojo gender-bending comedy, SO CUTE IT HURTS!!, along with the zany otaku conspiracy drama WELCOME TO THE N.H.K., the paranormal body-swapping romantic comedy METAMO KISS, and even more intense supernatural action in AION.

Throughout the entire month, VIZ Media also continues its Digital Manga Bundle Promotion offering manga readers specially curated selections each containing multiple full volumes from critically acclaimed and legacy titles such as RED RIVER, DEMON LOVE SPELL, and KNIGHTS OF THE ZODIAC (SAINT SEIYA) at substantial savings over the regular individual digital MSRPs. These latest manga bundle selections are available to readers for a limited time throughout June exclusively from VIZManga.com and through the comiXology platform.

Additional noteworthy updates for June include new digital volumes for 27 other continuing VIZ Media series. Included in the June update are not-to-be-missed volumes for shojo series such as SPELL OF DESIRE (Vol. 3), VOICE OVER!: SEIYU ACADEMY (Vol. 11), KIMI NO TODOKE (Vol. 21) and NATSUME’S BOOK OF FRIENDS (Vol. 18). Other additions include new volumes for continuing action titles such as ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM (Vol. 4), FOOD WARS! (Vol. 6), DEADMAN WONDERLAND (Vol. 9) and JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE: PART 2 – BATTLE TENDENCY (Vol. 2) along with a host of VIZ Select titles including GRENADIER (Vol. 3), EUREKA SEVEN (Vol. 2), RATMAN (Vol. 4), SGT. FROG (Vols. 11 & 12) and many more!

New June 2015 Digital Manga Series Debuts:


SO CUTE IT HURTS!!, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens •
DIGITAL MSRP: $6.99 (U.S. / CAN) • Available Now
The Kobayashi twins, Mego and Mitsuru, were named after historical figures, but only Mego has grown up with a taste for history. So when Mitsuru is in danger of losing his weekends to extra history classes, he convinces his sister to swap clothes with him and ace his tests! After all, how hard can it be for them to play each other? But Mego can’t rely on just her book smarts in Mitsuru’s all-boys, delinquents’ paradise of a high school. And Mitsuru finds life as a high school girl to be much more complicated than he expected!

WELCOME TO THE NHK, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘M’ for Mature Readers •
DIGITAL MSRP: $4.99 (U.S. / CAN) • Available June 16th
Twenty-something-year-old Satou, a college dropout and aficionado of anime porn, knows a secret – or at least he thinks he does! Believe it or not, he has stumbled upon an incredible conspiracy created by the Japanese Broadcasting Company NHK. But despite fighting the good fight, Satou has become an unemployed Hikikomori – a shut-in who as withdrawn from the world... One day, he meets Misaki, a mysterious young girl who invites him to join her special "project.” Slowly Satou comes out of his shell and his hilarious journey begins: filled with mistaken identity; panty shots; Lolita complexes--and an ultimate quest to create the greatest hentai game ever!

METAMO KISS, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens •
DIGITAL MSRP: $4.99 (U.S. / CAN) • Available June 23rd
Kohamaru comes from a peculiar family – each member can switch bodies with his or her soul mate! His parents can switch bodies, and his aunt, oddly enough, can switch with her cat! Now, it's Kohamaru's turn... When Kohamaru literally runs into Nanao, the girl of his dreams, they switch bodies. True love, right? Well, unfortunately, she's in love with someone else. And if that weren't bad enough, the "someone else" turns out to be Kohamaru's twin brother Konatsu...who can reverse their transformation with his own kiss!

AION, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens •
DIGITAL MSRP: $4.99 (U.S. / CAN) • Available June 30th
In this series from Yuna Kagesaki (CHIBI VAMPIRE), mermaids and mind-controlling parasites wage war of supernaturally epic proportions in this highly anticipated series! Tatsuya Tsugawa has just lost both of his parents in a car accident. While trying to live up to his father's dying wish of becoming an upstanding man, Tatsuya rushes to help Seine – his bizarre classmate – from bullies. Little does he know he is about to find himself in the middle of a supernatural war between the immortal Seine and sea creatures that can control humans. So much for being Mr. Nice Guy!

The Following Digital Bundles Are Available From June 2nd-30th Only

RED RIVER Bundle • Promo MSRP $42.00
Bundle includes:
• RED RIVER Vols. 1-14

Bundles include:

TEGAMI BACHI Bundle • Promo MSRP $36.00
Bundle includes:
• TEGAMI BACHI Vols. 1-9

Readers can enjoy all of these new manga titles that are available on VIZManga.com and the VIZ MANGA App for the iPad®, iPhone® and iPod® touch, Android-powered smart phones and tablets. The titles also may be purchased through the Nook, Kindle, Kobo, comiXology, iBooks and GooglePlay stores. These dynamic digital platforms offer fans the opportunity to explore and enjoy a massive catalog of new and classic manga titles that spans over 2,600 volumes across more than 230 different series.

The free VIZ Manga App continues to be the top application for reading digital manga and features a massive library of the most popular series in the world. Through the innovative VIZ Manga digital platform registered users are able to use one account to view their purchased manga across more devices than ever. New series and volumes are added every Tuesday. Fans can also find these titles and more for the NOOK, Kindle Fire, and Kobo eReaders, as well as in the comiXology, iBooks and Google Play Stores. Most manga volumes are available for purchase and download in the U.S. and Canada within the VIZ Manga application starting from only $4.99 (U.S. / CAN) each. Readers can also explore free Chapter 1 previews of every series.

For more information, please visit VIZManga.com or www.VIZ.com/apps.

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

Monday, June 08, 2015

JAPAN CUTS 2015 tickets go on sale to the general public today!

Haruko’s Paranormal Laboratory © 2015 “HARUKO’S PARANORMAL LABORATORY” FILM PARTNERS.
JAPAN CUTS Festival of New Japanese Film
When: July 9–19, 2015
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC

Tickets for JAPAN CUTS, North America’s largest festival of Japanese cinema, go on sale to the general public today, Monday, June 8th.

JAPAN CUTS presents the A to Z of new film made in and around Japan for its exciting and expanded ninth edition. Premiering a thrilling slate of blockbusters and independent features never before seen in NYC, JAPAN CUTS redefines itself with fresh sections on documentary, new classics, avant-garde and more special guest stars and auteurs than ever, with a focus on the rebellious edge of contemporary Japan.

For the full schedule, including information about individual films, and to order tickets, click here.

Sentai Filmworks acquires master merchandise rights for PARASYTE -THE MAXIM-

Sentai Filmworks announced its acquisition of the master merchandising rights for Parasyte -the maxim-, the anime series produced by MADHOUSE and adapted from the groundbreaking sci-fi/horror manga created by Hitoshi Iwaaki, through a license agreement with Nippon TV.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the innovative Parasyte –the maxim– franchise,” said John Ledford, President, Sentai Filmworks. “The series is filled with a rich array of imagery and its iconic, other-worldly characters are well-suited for a variety of edgy, youth-focused products and collectibles.”

As part of the agreement, Sentai Filmworks will extend merchandising opportunities to licensees in multiple countries throughout North America, Central and South America, as well as the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

VIZ announces digital anime update for Neon Alley


Catch The Launch Of MEGA MAN STAR FORCE Action Series Along With
Brand New NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Simulcasts And More!

VIZ Media is preparing for the beginning of summer with a brand new digital anime update for Neon Alley.

Shoot like a rocket to the cosmos with the streaming premiere of MEGA MAN STAR FORCE. Based on the hit Nintendo DS video game, the anime sci-fi series is available now to stream (English dubbed) from the very beginning for the first time. Catch all the action of Season 1, Episodes 1-13, as Geo Stelar and his extraterrestrial partner, Omega-Xis, defend the Earth against alien invasion.

SAILOR MOON continues to captivate viewers on Neon Alley and fans can join their favorite Guardians as Season 3 – SAILOR MOON S – continues throughout the month with two new subtitled episodes added every Monday. Catch Episodes 110 and 111 on June 1st. SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL also draws closer to its climactic series finale with a pair of new first-run subtitled episode simulcasts this month. Don’t miss SAILOR MOON CRYSTAL Act 23: “Covert Maneuvers - Wiseman” on June 6th followed by Act 24: “ATTACK – BLACK LADY” on June 20th. Only 2 episodes remain!

The new June 2015 Neon Alley update is highlighted by several top-rated VIZ Media anime properties including:

• MEGA MAN STAR FORCE follows the adventures of Geo Stelar and his extraterrestrial partner Omega-Xis. The duo is capable of merging through "Electromagnetic Wave Change" to become the hero, Mega Man. Through this partnership, they defend the Earth against various alien beings, including the invading Planet FM forces! In Episode 1, scientist Dr. Kevin Stelar attempts to contact intelligent life in outer space when the experiment goes wrong and the space station he is on explodes. Back on Earth, Geo Stelar, Kelvin’s son, believes his father is still alive and vows to one day venture into space to find him. Meanwhile, Geo’s fate is about to collide with that of a fugitive extraterrestrial named Omega-Xis who has escaped his home planet with the mysterious Andromeda Key and is headed straight for Earth.
• Season 1, Episodes 1-13 are available to stream in their entirety with dubbed English dialogue now!

• The action of Season 3 of the original NARUTO anime series complements the Neon Alley line-up with Episodes 144-156 available to stream with dubbed English dialogue now!

• Brand new shinobi adventures are in-store throughout June with simulcasts of the latest English subtitled NARUTO SHIPPUDEN episodes. Catch Episode 414 on June 4th. Simulcasts of the next 3 NARUTO SHIPPUDEN episodes are scheduled to take place every subsequent Thursday.
• Also don’t miss the premiere of a new English dubbed episode of NARUTO SHIPPUDEN every Saturday throughout June beginning with Season 7, Episode 297 on June 6th.

• The martial arts mayhem of RANMA ½ continues in June with Season 2 (Episodes 22-46) available to stream with dubbed English dialogue.

Neon Alley is VIZ Media’s consolidated online destination for FREE streaming anime content in the U.S. with over 3,700 subtitled and English dubbed episodes and movies from more than 32 series! Neon Alley also reaches an expansive on-demand U.S.-based audience on Hulu, which enables viewers to watch shows anytime, anywhere across devices including Xbox One, PlayStation®4 (PS4™), Roku, Roku TV, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and mobile devices. A full list of Hulu -enabled devices can be found at http://www.hulu.com/plus/devices.

Additional information on Neon Alley is available at: www.NeonAlley.com and http://blog.neonalley.com.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Mystery thriller GENE MAPPER coming June 16th from Haikasoru


A Deadly Mutation Threatens The World’s Food Supply
And Leads A Geneticist On A Quest To Determine
Whether The Cause Is Nature Or Human Sabotage

VIZ Media’s Haikasoru literary imprint has announced the release of its newest title, the futuristic bio-thriller – GENE MAPPER – on June 16th.

The novel about a deadly genetic threat to the world’s food supply was written by author Taiyo Fujii. It will be available for the first time in English in a print edition for $14.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN. An eBook version also will debut on June 16th for $8.99 (U.S. / CAN) for the Amazon Kindle, Apple’s iBooks Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Book Store, the Kobo eBooks Store, and the Google Play store.

In a future where reality has been augmented and biology itself has been hacked, the world’s food supply is genetically modified, superior, and vulnerable. When gene mapper Hayashida discovers that his custom rice plant has experienced a dysgenic collapse, he suspects sabotage. Hayashida travels Asia to find himself in Ho Chi Minh City with hired-gun hacker Yogodo at his side – and in mortal danger – as he pushes ever nearer to the heart of the mystery.

“Taiyo Fujii, winner of a 2014 Nihon SF Taisho Award by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Japan, is a fast rising star of the Japanese science fiction scene, and we’re thrilled to release his bio-thriller GENE MAPPER,” says Nick Mamatas, Haikasoru Editor. “Fujii explores the darker side bio-engineering in his bestselling first novel, where extraordinary advances being made in the fields of biotechnology and genetics have made the advent of genetically modified organisms a controversial reality. Readers will not want to miss this engrossing & thought provoking thriller!”

Author Taiyo Fujii was born in Amami Oshima Island, Japan, and worked for stage design, desktop publishing, exhibition graphic design, and software development before becoming an author. In 2012, Fujii self-published GENE MAPPER serially in a digital format of his own design, and it became Amazon Japan’s #1 Bestseller of that year for the Kindle device. The novel was revised and republished in both print and digitally as Gene Mapper -full build- by Hayakawa Publishing in 2013 and was nominated for the Nihon SF Taisho Award and the Seiun Award. His second novel, Orbital Cloud, won 2014 Nihon SF Taisho Award and took first prize in the “Best SF of 2014” in SF Magazine. His recent works include Underground Market and Bigdata Connect.

For more information on GENE MAPPER and the Haikasoru imprint, visit the dedicated website at www.haikasoru.com.

Friday, June 05, 2015

New York Japan CineFest: Program 2 at Asia Society this evening

Asia Society NY
Mar Creation, Inc.
21-year-old Scion Sasaki the subject of "Monk by Blood" directed by Ema Ryan Yamazaki
   New York Japan CineFest 2015
Program 2
When: Friday, June 5, 2015 at 6:30 pm
Where: Asia Society and Museum
725 Park Avenue (just above East 70th Street)

New York Japan CineFest is an annual two day mini-festival that highlights short films by emerging, talented Japanese and Japanese American filmmakers. This year's iteration concludes this evening at Asia Society with a program of four short films by female directors. Program 2 will be followed by a Q&A with directors Ema Ryan Yamazaki (Monk by Blood) and Hazuki Aikawa (Reflection).

Last night I attended Program 1. Each of the four films were very good. I was especially taken with Confession Ranking of Girlfriend, directed by Shinichiro Ueda and by A Warm Spell, which was directed by Toshimichi Saito.

Ueda''s film is a hilarious comedy about a young woman making 17 confessions to the man who has proposed marriage and vowed that he would love her no matter what. It ends with a revelation even wilder than some of the bizarre confessions that have been made.

A Warm Spell is about the death of the mother of two sons. The elder brother, a doctor, cared for her during her final illness and has brought her back to her home village, where the younger son previously had come to be with her. At times, the film is quite comical, at others, it is very touching. I understand that the 40 minute film, developed from director Toshimichi Saito’s NYU thesis short film, is currently being expanded by him to a full length feature. Quite frankly, my feeling is that as a feature, A Warm Spell has the possibility of becoming another Departures, Yôjirô Takita's 2008 film that went on to represent Japan at the 2009 Oscar's and win the Best Foreign Language Film of the Year award.

Of the films being shown tonight, I have only had the time to watch Monk by Blood in advance. It's a very interesting documentary about 21-year-old Scion Sasaki, who as the eldest son, is expected to take over his family’s Buddhist temple in Kyoto, a temple that is 800 years old and has been managed by 23 generations of his family. The film follows Scion, who was born in California and is currently a college student in Vancouver, as he returns for a brief visit to Japan. His duty to his family and the temple's congregation is juxtaposed against his personal interests in becoming a cook and working as a DJ in clubs.

Program 2: Friday, June 5, 2015, 6:30 pm
Tickets: $8 members; $10 students/seniors; $12 nonmembers.

Monk By Blood
Dir. Ema Ryan Yamazaki. 2013. Japan. 25 min.

Dir. Hazuki Aikawa. 2014. Japan. 23 min.

Dir. Mitsuyo Miyazaki. 2011. Japan. 25 min.

Oh Lucy!
Dir. Atsuko Hirayanagi. 2014. Japan. 21 min.

Note: the films may not necessarily be shown in the above order.

Click here for more information and to buy tickets.

Part of Citi series on Asian Arts and Culture.