Archive for Features

Predictions for 2010 (and 2009 Recap)

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

So last year I wrote a little “Predictions” section in my year-in-review post, and I just had a blast writing about it. So this time around, I’m giving this feature its own post with even crazier predictions for the anime and manga market in the year to come.

But first, let’s take a look at all the things I predicted for 2009 and what actually happened.

2009 in Review

Prediction: If [Bandai] can finally work out the licensing issues with their Japanese overlords and bring new content to the internet ASAP, then they could potentially change everything. However, if they continue to shy away from the ‘net, then I predict that BEI will be gone within a few months into 2009.

Result: 2009 was not a good year for Bandai. On January 21st, the company laid off a good part of their 19-member staff. It has been downhill from there, as they were forced to cancel dubbing on shows like Hayate the Combat Butler and delayed the release of almost all of their titles in the 2nd half of the year.

But Bandai did show some creativity this year and FINALLY started embracing the internet. They pulled off the first simultaneous dubbing of a show when Kurokami aired on Japanese, Korean, and American TV with in hours of each other and in that country’s native language. Eighteen weeks in, the simulcast began streaming on YouTube and Crunchyroll. And then they did that crazy Kannagi thing Otakon weekend.


Top Ten Posts of 2009

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

It’s December, and you know what that means… Time for the “Best of 2009″ lists! (^_^)

Every Wednesday this month, I will be posting a new list recapping the best anime, manga, and companies of the year, plus I’ll come out with a new set of industry predictions for 2010. This week, I’ll kick it off with my ten favorite articles posted this year.

Interviewing artist Uruma of UrumaDelvi.

The Anime Almanac went through a major change this year. When my “industry going digital” editorials began losing the impact they once had in 2008, I started feeling a serious case of writer’s block and went weeks without posting anything. At that point, I had gained a substantial following on Twitter, including some PR reps from some major anime and manga companies. They asked if I was interested in reviewing their new releases on my blog, and I gladly accepted their offer.

So half way through the year, I switched over to writing mostly reviews of new anime and manga releases. I increased my posting frequency from once a week to around 2-3 times per week. The blog gained a larger readership with the change, but I had to cut back on my editorial content because of it.

So while I had a much smaller list of posts to chose from this year as opposed to last year, there are still some good ones in this mix. I began interviewing more artists and industry folks at conventions, and dived a lot deeper into the Japanese music scene.

So here are my favorite editorials, interviews, and features from the past year with the background of why they mean so much to me.


An Exclusive Look at “Oblivion Island”

Friday, November 6th, 2009

What ever happened to all those old toys and doodads you had when you were a kid? Doesn’t it feel like they have just simply vanished off of the face of the Earth?

That is the premise behind the latest anime movie from Production I.G., Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror. As a child, Haruka heard an old Japanese fable of how all the items that have gone unnoticed and forgotten by people eventually get picked up and taken away by nature’s most sneaky creatures, foxes.

Now your typical rebellious teenager, Haruka wonders what ever happened to a mirror given to her by her late mother. She happens upon a Shinto shrine and makes an offering to the gods to return the mirror to her. There she encounters a tiny fox-looking creature named Teo carrying an abandoned toy plane.

While following him, she is suddenly swept away to Oblivion Island, a secret world inhabited by Teo’s people and built entirely out of the objects that humans have long forgotten about. So now she teams up with Teo to explore the island and find her long lost mirror.

The movie was only released in Japanese theaters a few months ago, but Fuji Television was generous enough to invite me to an exclusive screening in New York City last week. What I saw was an absolutely delightful children’s film filled with more imagination, heart, and wonderment than the last two Miyazaki films combined.


Interview: How Vertical Owned the NYAF

Friday, October 16th, 2009

In an effort of oversimplifying everything I do, I tend to find one anime or manga company to point out in a blog post and declare my clear “winner” of every major convention I go to. Past winners have included Yen Press at the New York Comic Con in 2008, Bandai Entertainment in Otakon 08 and again in ’09, and FUNimation at the New York Anime Festival last year.

But my winner of the NYAF this year came completely out of left field. Vertical Publishing has never been a particularly exciting company to watch at these cons. Their focus on classical manga and non-manga Japanese publishing seemed to be disconnected with the convention audience, and I honestly did not consider them part of the same industry as Del Rey or Yen Press.

And then a few months ago, they hired manga expert Ed Chavez as their new marketing director, and immediately things started changing for the small publisher. At the NYAF, we finally got to see what the future of Vertical was going to look like with Chavez on board. They announced four new manga acquisitions, including the experimental Peepo Choo and the highly anticipated Chi’s Sweet Home. This was arguably the most exciting news to come out of that weekend.

To learn more about how Vertical managed to make such an amazing appearance at NYAF this year, I spent some time interviewing the man himself, Ed Chavez:

AKB48 – Cute Girls in the City

Friday, October 9th, 2009

In the top floor area of the historical Webster Hall venue in downtown New York City, a sold out house of anime and music fans wait patiently for a show to begin. It is the weekend of the New York Anime Festival, and on this Sunday evening, the fans are showing fatigue from days worth of events. Upon entry to the venue, they were given a pink glow stick and a red handkerchief for reasons yet unknown.

The house lights dim, the stage lights go on, and an announcer blasts, “Are you ready?” to the crowd’s enthusiastic applause.

Then suddenly sixteen girls, with ages ranged from 14 to 21, step onto the stage and begin performing a synchronized song and dance. It is quite a sight to see so many pretty girls occupy one single stage like this. Their opening song, an upbeat number called “Aitaikatta”, greets the crowd with Japanese lyrics that translate to,”We’ve missed you all, we’ve missed you all, we’ve missed you all, yes!”

(c)  ASK

Sure, the pitch perfect vocals going through the speakers were all prerecorded, but that did not seem to matter to the predominately male audience. Their bouncy choreography got the crowd hyped up and waving their glow sticks to the sugar coated beat of their music. And for extra fan service, their catholic school girl outfits were specially weighted so that their skimpy skirts would flare up with every turn, innocently exposing their black undergarments.

Cute, sexy, cheerful, and pure, the girls of AKB48 are to these nerdish men what the Jonas Brothers are to American teenage girls. But the j-idol phenomena is rarely seen outside of Japan, so for most of these native New York otaku, this was their first time seeing a show like this in person.

And what better idol show to see for your first time than the most popular group in Japan these days?