With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Friday, July 31, 2009

ACF 355: THIRST opens today in three cities

Kim Ok-vin left and behind Song Kang-ho

Just a quick reminder that THIRST opens today, Friday, July 31st, 2009 in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. See the link below for the subsequent theater times and locations in other cities.

THIRST is another fantastic film from Korean director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) and should not be missed. It just may be the best vampire film ever made, at least that's what I've been thinking ever since I saw it at a pre-release screening. (For my earlier full review, click here.)

THIRST OPENING DAY SCHEDULE:
New York
Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema (143 East Houston Street, near 2nd Avenue)

Los Angeles
Laemmle’s Sunset 5 (8000 Sunset Boulevard, at Crescent Heights)

San Francisco
Landmark’s Bridge Theatre (3010 Geary Boulevard, near Blake Street)

Additional theater times and locations for THIRST.

New THIRST clip: Shoes.

The THIRST official site is www.thirstmovie.com.

For a podcast interview of Director Park by The Korea Society, click here.

THIRST is a Focus Features release.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

ACF 354: VIZ's New SHONEN SUNDAY Imprint To Publish 3 Manga Series - Free Previews Online

VIZ MEDIA PREVIEWS THREE EXCITING MANGA SERIES

TO BE PUBLISHED UNDER THE NEW
SHONEN SUNDAY IMPRINT

New Manga Chapters From Each Series Will Be Previewed
For Free On The Official SHONEN SUNDAY Website
With Print Versions Scheduled To Be Published In 2010

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) previewed three upcoming manga titles to be published under the company’s newest imprint – SHONEN SUNDAY – for a packed audience at its Anime & Manga panel discussion at the recent 2009 Comic-Con International show in San Diego, CA.

The new manga series will debut in 2010 and will include ARATA: THE LEGEND by renowned manga creator Yuu Watase, MAOH: JUVENILE REMIX based on the original story by Kotaro Isaka with story and art by Megumi Osuga, and HYDE & CLOSER by Haro Aso. Every month, the official SHONEN SUNDAY website at http://www.shonensunday.com/ will present a new chapter from each of the three new titles online for free, as well as post a new chapter from the ongoing action/fantasy adventure KEKKAISHI by Yellow Tanabe (rated ‘T’ for Teens; published domestically by VIZ Media).

The new manga line-up will complement the current online serialization of another SHONEN SUNDAY series, RIN-NE, which is now available at http://www.therumicworld.com/, the official North American website for all Rumiko Takahashi news. RIN-NE is the first SHONEN SUNDAY manga series to be published simultaneously in Japan and North America, and the graphic novels will go on sale nationwide on October 20, 2009.

“The expansion of our new SHONEN SUNDAY imprint and website with these new titles give manga fans a lot to be excited about,” says Shie Lundberg, Sr. Director, Strategy and Business Development. “The official SHONEN SUNDAY website is a comprehensive destination for new manga chapters, featured previews, trailers, downloadable wallpapers, news, creator interviews and more. We invite fans to visit the site regularly for free updates and keep and eye out for the debut of these acclaimed new series in 2010.”

ARATA: THE LEGEND · Rated ‘T’ for Teens ·
MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN · Available: March 2010

In a mythical world where humans and gods co-exist, a ceremony marking the new governing princess is about to occur for the first time in 60 years. Only a girl from the Hime Clan may take this position, but the lack of females born to this family means that a boy called Arata must pose for the role. Meanwhile in modern-day Japan, a boy named Arata Hinohara is starting his new life in high school. He wants to put memories of his difficult past behind him, but things aren't going to be simple when he discovers a mysterious connection to the first Arata...

VIZ Media has also publishes the following works by Yuu Watase:
ABSOLUTE BOYFRIEND
ALICE 19TH
CERES: CELESTIAL LEGEND
FUSHIGI YÛGI
FUSHIGI YÛGI: GENBU KAIDEN
IMADOKI!

MAOH: JUVENILE REMIX · Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens·
MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN · Available: May 2010

“As crazy as your ideas might be, as long as you believe in yourself and tackle the issue head-on, you can even change the world.”
Ando is a high school student who has the power to make others say out loud what he’s thinking. Inukai is the mysterious leader of a vigilante group called Grasshopper, which is at odds with the city’s redevelopment plan. In this chaotic city, these two will come together to weave a story of courage, determination and confrontation.

MAOH: Juvenile Remix is based on the original novel MAOH by Kotaro Isaka.

HYDE & CLOSER · Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens ·
MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN · Available: July 2010

Shunpei Closer is your average…well, slightly below average kid in junior high who finds himself in the middle of a great battle of dark sorcery. With cursed dolls coming after him one after another, Shunpei Closer’s life is in danger! If that weren’t enough, Hyde, the teddy bear given to him by his grandfather, suddenly comes alive to rescue him. With Hyde’s help, can Shunpei save himself and live to see another day?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

ACF 353: VIZ announces six docs on prominent Japanese modern artists

VIZ PICTURES LICENSES A DIVERSE COLLECTION OF INSIGHTFUL NEW DOCUMENTARIES PROFILING PROMINENT JAPANESE MODERN ARTISTS WITH

THE NEW PEOPLE ARTIST SERIES

Six Films Show The Passion And Inspirations Of Acclaimed Visual Artists Pushing The Boundaries Of Modern Art
Theatrical And DVD Releases Planned

VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media, LLC that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, has licensed a series of six new documentaries –The NEW PEOPLE Artist Series which will profile several prominent Japanese modern artists who tap their unique imaginations and pop-inspired visual styles to create captivating works of art.

The NEW PEOPLE Artist Series documentaries include Traveling with Yoshitomo Nara, Yayoi Kusama: I Love ME, Daido Moriyama: Stray Dog of Tokyo, Hisashi Tenmyouya: Samurai Nouveau, Makoto Aida: Cynic in the Playground and Katsura Funakoshi: Whispering Gaze. The films will be screened at the new VIZ Cinema in San Francisco as part of the fall program titled LIFE ≈ ART (For more details, please visit http://www.vizcinema.com/).

The films are scheduled to be released on DVD and will be distributed by VIZ Media beginning late 2009 and continuing into 2010. For more information, please visit http://www.newpeopleworld.com/.

“We are very proud to announce these insightful documentaries which highlight some of the most important Japanese modern artists working today,” says Seiji Horibuchi, President and CEO of VIZ Pictures and the founder of NEW PEOPLE. “From the manga-inspired graphic pop art of Yoshitomo Nara, to the outlaw persona of Hisashi Temyouya, who blends graffiti and street style graphics with fine art, these visionaries are all icons of the Japanese contemporary art scene. The films show the passion, pain and ultimate creative vision that allow these individuals to push the boundaries of artistic convention and we look forward to presenting them to a U.S. audience.”

Traveling with Yoshitomo Nara captures a journey that the artist Yoshitomo Nara took during the creation of his exhibit, AtoZ, in his hometown of Hirosaki, Japan. The film was directed by Koji Sakabe and narrated by actress Aoi Miyazaki, who also starred in the hit film NANA. (Scheduled DVD Release: Fall 2009)

Yayoi Kusama: I Love ME documents the creative process of avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama as she works to complete her new series of 50 large monochrome drawings. Directed by Takako Matsumoto (Scheduled DVD Release: Winter 2009).

Daido Moriyama: Stray Dog of Tokyo features the charismatic photographer, Daido Moriyama, who is known for his stark and contrasting black and white images that are symbiotic to his fervent lifestyle. (Scheduled DVD Release: 2010)

Hisashi Tenmyouya: Samurai Nouveau introduces Hisashi Tenmouya, a contemporary painter and former graphic designer, acclaimed for his neo-traditional Japanese painting style that presents modern, urban street subjects rendered in a traditional Japanese style. Directed by Go Ishizaki (Scheduled DVD Release: 2010).

Makoto Aida: Cynic in the Playground tells the story of Makoto Aida, and artist known for his diverse and controversial manga, paintings, and video installations. Directed by Yusuke Tamari (Scheduled DVD Release: 2010).

Katsura Funakoshi: Whispering Gaze features Katura Funakoshi, a visionary sculptor, known for his camphor wood carvings of human and human-like figures that feature his characteristic philosophical marble eyes gazing into the distance. Directed by Kenjiro Fujii (Scheduled DVD Release: 2010).

VIZ Cinema will be exclusively devoted to Japanese films and located in NEW PEOPLE, a dynamic entertainment destination, opening in San Francisco’s Japantown on August 15th. NEW PEOPLE will bring the latest examples of Japanese popular culture to North America through film, art, fashion, and a variety of specialty boutiques.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ACF 352: VIZ announces hit shojo anime series on HULU in U.S.

VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES THE LAUNCH OF THE LATEST
IN SHOJO ANIME ON HULU IN THE US

Innovative Online Video Streaming Services To Now Carry
Favorite Girls anime series – NANA and HONEY AND CLOVER

VIZ Media, LLC., has announced that the latest in great shojo anime from VIZ Media – NANA and HONEY & CLOVER are now available on Hulu in the US. Hulu is an online video services that offers hit TV shows, movies and clips at Hulu.com and other online destination sites, anytime in the U.S. The first 11 episodes of NANA and the first 12 episodes of HONEY & CLOVER will be included in the Hulu debut.

Hulu provides convenient 24/7 accessibility and offers users the freedom to legally share full-length episodes or clips via e-mail or embed them on other web sites, blogs and social networking pages. The launch of these exciting new anime episodes is the latest expansion of VIZ Media’s ongoing plan to make available a variety of hit animated series through some of the most innovative web-based, video streaming outlets.

Based on the popular manga by Chica Umino, HONEY AND CLOVER is a romantic comedy about a group of art school students who try to find their way. But when an innocent and talented 19-year-old girl enters their lives, things get a lot more complicated as love triangles result. For more information on HONEY AND CLOVER please visit dedicated website at HoneyandClover.viz.com.

The NANA anime is based on the popular manga by Ai Yazawa, which has sold over 43 million copies in Japan, and is published in North America by VIZ Media under its SHOJO BEAT imprint. It is considered an all-time best selling shojo title from Japanese publishing giant Shueisha, and was the recipient of the Shogakukan Manga Award in the Girls' category. Its tremendous success further inspired two live-action feature films which are available on DVD in North America from VIZ Pictures.

NANA follows the adventures of two girls, both named Nana. While they share the same name, they couldn't be more different. Nana "Hachi" Komatsu follows her boyfriend to Tokyo in the hopes of making a new start, while Nana Osaki, who arrives in the city at the same time, is a punk rock beauty who has the ambition of making it big in the world of rock and roll. Although these two young women come from different backgrounds, they quickly become best friends while chasing their happiness and dreams. For more information on NANA please visit the dedicated website at Nana.viz.com.

To view NANA (anime is rated ‘M’ for mature) and HONEY AND CLOVER (anime is rated ‘T+’ for older teens) episodes, please visit Hulu.com.

For more information on NANA please visit Nana.viz.com. For more information on HONEY AND CLOVER please visit Honeyandclover.viz.com. For general information on all VIZ Media properties please visit http://www.viz.com/.

Monday, July 27, 2009

ACF 351: THIRST to open in NY, LA & SF on August 31, 2009 with more cities to follow

Plan to do three things with regard to Park Chan-wook's THIRST:

1. See it
2. Savor it
3. Spread the word

I got to see it a few nights ago at a pre-release screening in New York, and really cannot say enough good things about the film. It's the story of Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho) a priest who volunteers for a medical experiment seeking a cure for a virus. The only survivor out of 500 volunteers, his efforts do not lead to a cure, but instead turn him into a vampire. He finds himself irresistibly drawn to sensual pleasures, particularly those offered by the delectable flesh of Tae-ju (Kim Ok-vin) the wife of one of his childhood friends. And, of course, he has a powerful thirst for human blood.

Entertaining, with wonderful comic moments, it's not at all pandering or low-brow. Thoughtful and intelligent, neither is it pretentious. Thirst is quite simply a perfect synthesis, simultaneously both a genre and an art-house film, but one that transcends the faults that often mar both.

There are no traditional vampire teeth and no transformations into bats to be found here. On the other hand there are, in addition to the great comic relief moments I've already alluded to, scenes of magnificent sensuality as well as others that are truly terrifying. And the special effects are perfect, somewhat low-key so they're really effective.

Kim Ok-vin (left) & Shin Ha-kyun (right)

Both leads actors are outstanding, but Ms. Kim is particularly impressive, probably because her role calls for greater range and transformation than . The supporting cast also is stellar. Kim Hae-sook plays Madame Ra, Tae-ju's mother-in law, who has a tendency to overindulge in alcohol. Shin Ha-kyun is Kang-woo, her son and Tae-ju's poor excuse for a husband. Oh Dai-soo (who starred in Park's Oldboy) is a member of the mahjong group that includes the other characters.

Director Park Chan-wook

Park Chan-wook has done it again: Thirst is nothing less than a transcendant masterwork. I predict that this film will be very successful in the U.S. and that it'll find a broader audience than one might normally expect. It most definitely deserves both. (It wasn't for nothing that the film won the Jury Prize award at the 2009 Cannes International Film Festival.)

After opening in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, it will go into wider release in many other cities. Check your local listings, or use the link to the film's official website provided below to find out when and where it'll be playing near you.

DO NOT MISS THIS FILM!!!!!

OPENING DAY SCHEDULE: Friday, July 31st, 2009

New York

Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema (143 East Houston Street, near 2nd Avenue)

Los Angeles

Laemmle’s Sunset 5 (8000 Sunset Boulevard, at Crescent Heights)

San Francisco

Landmark’s Bridge Theatre (3010 Geary Boulevard, near Blake Street)


THIRST Official Site

THIRST Clip: “VAMPIRES ARE CUTER THAN I THOUGHT”

THIRST Clip: “I’M NOT CATHOLIC”

THIRST Stills

THIRST Production Notes

THIRST Facebook Page

Thirst is A Focus Features Release

Sunday, July 26, 2009

ACF 350: NARUTO SHIPPUDEN now on iTunes - 1st episode free!

VIZ MEDIA BRINGS THE LATEST
NARUTO SHIPPUDEN STORY ARC TO iTUNES FOR DIGITAL DOWNLOAD

FIRST EPISODE NOW AVAILABLE FOR FREE

Company Announces Availability Of New Episodes Featuring
The World’s Most Popular Ninja At The 2009 Comic-Con International

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), announced at 2009 Comic-Con International the exclusive download-to-own debut of NARUTO Shippuden on the iTunes Store (www.iTunes.com) in the US and the iTunes Store in Canada (www.iTunes.ca)

The series launches with the first 4 episodes (English dubbed) of the hit series, and the first episode will be available for download for free beginning now through August 31st. Four new NARUTO Shippuden episodes will follow beginning in October.

Created by Masashi Kishimoto, NARUTO was first introduced in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in Japan in 1999 and quickly became that country’s most popular ninja manga targeting tweens and teens and has sold more than 85 million copies to-date. The manga series (rated ‘T’ for Teens) and animated counterpart (NARUTO rated ‘T’ for teens, and NARUTO Shippuden rated ‘T+’ for older teens) is one of VIZ Media’s most successful properties and has captivated millions of fans across North America, Europe and South America. NARUTO is a co-production of TV TOKYO, VIZ Media parent company Shueisha Inc., and Pierrot Co., Ltd.

“We’re very excited to bring the latest NARUTO Shippuden story arc to iTunes,” says Ken Sasaki, Vice President of Strategy & Business Development, VIZ Media. “NARUTO Shippuden is the latest addition to the more than 150 earlier NARUTO episodes and several feature films that are offered on the iTunes Store. These new Shippuden episodes are being made available well in advance of the eventual DVD release and offer fans the flexibility, 24/7 accessibility and convenience of digital download. As the world’s most popular ninja continues to capture the imaginations of millions, we look forward to continue to offer episodes on iTunes and deliver the most exciting anime properties to fans around the world.”

In the NARUTO manga and animated series, Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja in training, wants to be the best ninja in the land. He's done well so far, but Naruto knows he must train harder than ever and leaves his village for intense exercises that will push him to his limits. NARUTO Shippuden begins two and a half years later, when Naruto returns to find that everyone has been promoted up the ninja ranks—except him. Sakura’s a medic ninja, Gaara’s advanced to Kazekage, and Kakashi… well, he remains the same. But pride isn’t necessarily about becoming a ninja, especially when Naruto realizes that Sasuke never returned from his search for Orochimaru. Plus, the mysterious Akatsuki organization is still an ever-present danger. As Naruto finds out more about the Akatsuki’s goals, he realizes that nothing in his universe is as it seems. Naruto is finding that he’s older, but will he also prove wiser and stronger?

More information on NARUTO is available at www.Naruto.com. NARUTO Shippuden episodes are available on iTunes at www.itunes.com/tv/narutoshippuden.

ACF 349: Inuyusha available on iTunes - 1st episode free through August 31st, 2009

VIZ MEDIA’S INUYASHA ANIME EPISODES
NOW AVAILABLE ON THE ITUNES STORE
FIRST EPISODE NOW AVAILABLE FOR FREE

More news about Inuyasha from Viz:

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), has announced the exclusive availability of its popular INUYASHA animated series on the iTunes Store (www.iTunes.com) in the US and the iTunes Store (www.itunes.ca) in Canada. iTunes is launching with episodes 1-13 for $1.99 per episode or $22.99 for one full season. More episodes will be added at future dates. Find out more at www.itunes.com/tv/inuyasha.

As a special promotion, the first episode of INUYASHA will be exclusively available on iTunes as a free download beginning through August 31, 2009.

INUYASHA is a hit TV anime series based on the manga by famed creator Rumiko Takahashi, who won the prestigious Shogakukan Manga Award for INUYASHA in 2002. Many of the Takahashi titles have been adapted into other media such as anime, live-action TV series, and film. Takahashi’s manga, as well as the other formats her work has been adapted into, have continued to delight generations of fans around the world.

Distinguished by her wonderfully endearing characters, Takahashi’s work adeptly incorporates a wide variety of elements such as comedy, romance, fantasy, and martial arts. Rumiko Takahashi is an artist who truly represents the very best from the world of manga. Please visit the new official North American web site for all Rumiko Takahashi-related news and information located at www.TheRumicWorld.com.

“We are thrilled to launch INUYASHA on iTunes, adding this mega popular anime to the many other titles now available on iTunes”, says Ken Sasaki, Vice President, Strategy & Business Development, VIZ Media. “The ease of downloading these episodes from iTunes will excite die-hard INUYASHA fans as well as entice new ones’.”

INUYASHA storyline: Pulled back in time to Japan's ancient past, Japanese high school girl Kagome finds her destiny linked to a dog-like half-demon named Inuyasha, who remembers Kagome's previous incarnation as the woman who killed him - and to the Shikon Jewel, or "Jewel of Four Souls," which can fulfill the greatest dreams of any man or monster. Now Kagome and Inuyasha must work together to search for the scattered shards of the jewel before everyone's nightmares are given the power they need to come true.

VIZ Media publishes many titles by Rumiko Takahashi including the INUYASHA manga and THE ART OF INUYASHA. For more information on the INUYASHA anime please visit Inuyasha.viz.com. For more information on VIZ Media please visit www.viz.com.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

ACF 348: VIZ announces Inuyasha available on HULU.com

VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES INUYASHA EPISODES
NOW AVAILABLE ON HULU IN THE US

VIZ Media, LLC., has announced the availability of the INUYSAHA anime episodes (English subtitled) on Hulu.com beginning today. Hulu is an online video service that offers hit TV shows, movies and video clips at Hulu.com and other online destination sites, anytime in the U.S. The first 32 episodes of INUYASHA will launch today, with new episodes launching every week. To view INUYASHA please visit Hulu.com.

The launch of the INUYASHA episodes on Hulu is the latest expansion of VIZ Media’s ongoing plan to make available a variety of hit animated series through some of the most innovative web-based video streaming outlets. Hulu provides convenient 24/7 accessibility and offer users the freedom to legally share full-length episodes or clips via e-mail or embed them on other web sites, blogs and social networking pages.

About INUYASHA: Pulled back in time to Japan's ancient past, Japanese high school girl Kagome finds her destiny linked to a dog-like half-demon named Inuyasha, who remembers Kagome's previous incarnation as the woman who killed him - and to the Shikon Jewel, or "Jewel of Four Souls," which can fulfill the greatest dreams of any man or monster. Now Kagome and Inuyasha must work together to search for the scattered shards of the jewel before everyone's nightmares are given the power they need to come true.

“We’re very excited to launch INUYASHA, which has been a well loved series for many years, on Hulu,” says Ken Sasaki, Vice President, Strategy & Business Development, VIZ Media. “The availability of these episodes will undoubtedly help continue to grow the online audience for INUYASHA as well as attract many new viewers. INUYASHA joins the many other popular anime series now available on Hulu. We invite fans to visit each week for a new exciting adventure of INUYASHA!”

INUYASHA a hit TV anime series based on the manga is by famed creator Rumiko Takahashi, who won the prestigious Shogakukan Manga Award for INUYASHA in 2002. Many of the Takahashi titles have been adapted into other media such as anime, live-action TV series, and film. Takahashi’s manga, as well as the other formats her work has been adapted into, have continued to delight generations of fans around the world. Distinguished by her wonderfully endearing characters, Takahashi’s work adeptly incorporates a wide variety of elements such as comedy, romance, fantasy, and martial arts. Rumiko Takahashi is an artist who truly represents the very best from the world of manga. Please visit the new official North American web site for all Rumiko Takahashi-related news and information is located at http://www.therumicworld.com/.

VIZ Media publishes many titles by Rumiko Takahashi including the INUYASHA manga (rated ‘T+’ for older teens), ani-manga (rated ‘T+’ for older teens) and THE ART OF INUYASHA. For more information on the INUYASHA anime (rated ‘T’ for teens) please visit Inuyasha.viz.com.

For more information on VIZ Media please visit http://www.viz.com/.

Friday, July 24, 2009

ACF 347: VIZ to publish series of new releases based on Miyazaki's Ponyo

VIZ MEDIA WILL DAZZLE READERS WITH A TRIO OF NEW RELEASES BASED ON CELEBRATED NEW HAYAO MIYAZAKI FILM PONYO

New VIZ Media Titles Include 4-Volume
Official Film Comic, Picture Book And Art Book

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) has announced that it will publish a series of new releases based on Ponyo, the new animated film from Studio Ghibli and Academy Award®-winning director and world-renowned Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki.

To support the release, VIZ Media will offer the official 4-volume full-color PONYO Film Comic, a PONYO Picture Book, and THE ART OF PONYO, which presents a comprehensive collection of original art, sketches, character designs and storyboards from the film. Walt Disney Studios will release PONYO throughout North America on August 14, 2009.

PONYO is a wondrously imaginative retelling of the timeless Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Little Mermaid,” and offers the adventures of little fish-girl named Ponyo, whose father happens to be a great sorcerer of the seas. Trapped in a jar during one of her escapades, she washes ashore where five-year-old Sosuke releases her and renames her Ponyo. In an effort to stay close to her new friend, Ponyo tries to transform herself into a human, causing a great imbalance between their two worlds. A subtle message of the unfathomable threads that connect all forms of life is woven artfully throughout this enchanting film.

PONYO FILM COMIC, Vols. 1-2 · Rated ‘A’ for All Ages · MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $11.50 CAN · Available August 4 · Vols. 3-4 · Available August 11, 2009

From the Academy Award®-winning director and world-renowned Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki comes PONYO, a story inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale “The Little Mermaid.” Already a box-office success in Japan, the story of a young and overeager goldfish named Ponyo (voiced by NOAH CYRUS) and her quest to become human features an outstanding roster of voice talent including CATE BLANCHETT, MATT DAMON, TINA FEY, CLORIS LEACHMAN, LIAM NEESON, LILY TOMLIN, BETTY WHITE and FRANKIE JONAS as Sosuke, a young boy who befriends Ponyo. The official 4-volume film comic of PONYO re-tells the film’s story with vivid full-color frames.

PONYO PICTURE BOOK · Rated ‘A’ for All Ages · MSRP: $19.99 U.S. / $23.50 CAN · Available August 4

The colorful and easy-to-read PONYO on the Cliff by the Sea Picture Book is a fabulous hardcover edition that will appeal especially to younger readers. The book uses the vividly colored animation cel art from the feature film combined with simplified text to retell the story of Ponyo and her adventures in the human world.

The Art of PONYO · Rated ‘A’ for All Ages · MSRP: $34.99 U.S. / $39.99 CAN · Available August 11

A comprehensive soft cover edition that features striking watercolor and pastel concept sketches and layout pages from the film, as well as interviews with production principals and the complete screenplay to give an inside look at the entire creative process behind PONYO.

“Hayao Miyazaki is without question Japan’s most celebrated animation director, and we are privileged and extremely excited to announce the release of this new collection of titles in support of his newest film, PONYO,” says Gozalo Ferreyra, Vice President Sales & Marketing, VIZ Media. “The film garnered rave reviews and grossed more than $165 million during its initial theatrical run in Japan, making it that country’s highest grossing movie for 2008. In an age of computer graphics, Miyazaki made a very bold choice to animate this film by hand. As domestic audiences have come to know and love this creative visionary, we look forward to them discovering PONYO and this new collection of impressive releases from VIZ Media!”

Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan's most beloved animation directors. In September 2005 he was awarded the Venice International Film Festival's prestigious Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement and his animation company, Studio Ghibli, also received the Festival's Osella Award for overall achievement in 2004. Miyazaki's films include SPIRITED AWAY, winner of the 2002 Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature Film, as well as PRINCESS MONONOKE, MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO and HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE, all of which have received tremendous international acclaim. Miyazaki's other achievements include the highly regarded manga series NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND, which is also published in English by VIZ Media.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

ACF 346: "Starting Point: 1979 ~ 1996" - writings and manga from Hayao Miyazaki

STARTING POINT: 1979-1996
TRACES THE FIRST HALF OF THE CAREER OF FAMED
ANIMATION DIRECTOR HAYAO MIYAZAKI

Comprehensive Edition Will Debut As Miyazaki’s Latest Animated Film
Hits Theatres In North America This Summer

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) has announced the publication of the first of a new collection of essays, interviews, memoirs and manga from legendary animation director, Hayao Miyazaki, titled STARTING POINT: 1979-1996. STARTING POINT: 1979-1996 has an estimated street date of August 4th and will carry an MSRP of $29.99 US and $34.99 Canada.

The book will cover the first-half of Miyazaki’s legendary career, during which he rose from humble beginnings to create some of the most seminal animated features ever made, including Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind, Castle In The Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Porco Rosso, as well as his launch of Studio Ghibli. A fitting introduction is offered by John Lasseter, the Chief Creative Officer at Pixar and Walt Disney. Ponyo is Miyazaki’s newest feature film and will be released by Walt Disney in North America this August.

Hayao Miyazaki is one of the world’s most beloved animation directors. In September 2005 he was awarded the Venice International Film Festival's Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement, and his Studio Ghibli received the Festival's Osella Award for overall achievement in 2004. His notable films include Spirited Away, winner of the 2002 Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature Film, as well as Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle, all of which have received tremendous acclaim in the U.S.

Miyazaki’s other achievements include the highly regarded manga series NAUSICAä OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND, which is also published domestically by VIZ Media (rated ‘T’ for Teens). VIZ Media also publishes many other Hayo Miyazaki books including the for CASTLE IN THE SKY, HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE, SPIRITED AWAY, PRINCESS MONONOKE and more. VIZ Media also publishes many of Hayo Miyazaki’s beautiful and engaging Art Books and Picture Books.

“Hayao Miyazaki is known and loved around the world for his imaginative films that continue to delight children and adults,” says Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President, Sales & Marketing for VIZ Media. “STARTING POINT presents, in Miyazaki’s own words, his philosophies towards life, his work, the animation industry both in Japan and abroad, and his creative inspirations and motivations. He also offers lots of stories, many of them quite humorous, which show the extent of his complete dedication to animated film and the people with whom he works. We invite fans to enjoy this chronicle of the life of a man whose own dreams have come true.”

In the first two decades of his career, filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki laid the groundwork for his legendary movies. STARTING POINT is a collection of essays, interviews, and memoirs that go back to the roots of Miyazaki's childhood, the formulation of his theories of animation, and the founding of Studio Ghibli.

Before directing such acclaimed films as Spirited Away, Miyazaki was just another salaried animator, but with a vision of his own. Follow him as he takes his first steps on the road to success, experience his frustrations with the manga and animation industries that often suffocate creativity, and realize the importance of bringing the childhood dreams of the world to life.

VIZ Media will also be releasing the PONYO PICTURE BOOK and THE ART OF PONYO, both due to release on August 4, 2009. Volumes 1 and 2 of THE PONYO FILM COMIC will be released on August 11th, with other volumes to follow.

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

ACF 345: VIZ September 2009 DVD releases

VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES
NEW DVD RELEASES FOR SEPTEMBER 2009

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) has announced their list of DVD titles scheduled for release in September 2009. These include the first Box Set volumes for HONEY AND CLOVER and NANA as well as the first episodic volume of NARUTO Shippuden September DVD releases also include the latest episodic releases of the popular BLEACH and POKÉMON series, BLEACH THE MOVIE 2: THE DIAMONDDUST REBELLION and the latest NARUTO Uncut Box Set edition. VIZ Media DVD titles are distributed (in English) in the U.S and Mexico by Warner Home Video and in Canada by Allegro.

New Shojo anime releases include:

HONEY AND CLOVER Box Set Volume 1 · Rated 'T+' for Older Teens ·

MSRP: $59.90 US / $85.99 CAN · Available September 22

What do you get when you cross creativity with self-discovery and unrequited love? Art school!

Yuta Takemoto has no idea what's in store for his life when he enrolls at a Tokyo art college, but he finds out right away it'll never be dull! Love triangles form as fast as friendships when both Takemoto and senior classmate Shinobu Morita fall hard for shy artistic prodigy Hagumi Hanamoto. And while architecture student Takumi Mayama has his heart set on an older woman, dazzling ceramicist Ayu Yamada pines for him! Confused yet? Welcome to the bittersweet world of HONEY AND CLOVER...

(Episodes 1 – 13)

NANA Box Set Volume 1 · Rated 'M' for Mature Audiences·

MSRP: $59.90 US / $85.99 CAN · Available September 8

Two girls with the same name leave their old lives behind and come to Tokyo to start fresh--what adventures await these two hopeful young women under the bright lights of the big city? Nana Osaki wants nothing more than to make it big as the singer of a rock 'n' roll band, while Nana Komatsu wants to put her life in motion and get her new relationship off to a good start. When the two Nanas fall in love with the same apartment, they become roommates and then best friends, and the party has just begun!

(Episodes 1 – 11.5)

Includes a guitar pick (limited supply).

New NARUTO releases include:

NARUTO Shippuden Volume 1· Rated 'T+' for Older Teens ·

MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN · Available September 29

Naruto Uzumaki is back! After a long training journey with the legendary ninja Jiraiya, Naruto has returned older, a little bit wiser, and a lot stronger! Sakura's been studying under another of the Three Great Shinobi, Tsunade, and is now an accomplished medic ninja with a few new battle skills of her own. To show off their new skills, Naruto and Sakura team up to take on their old master, Kakashi. While the three battle it out, the Sand Village is infiltrated by the Akatsuki, who are after Naruto's old rival and the newest Kazekage of the Sand--Gaara!

NARUTO UNCUT DVD Box Set Volume 16 Special Edition · Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens · MSRP: $69.97 US / $99.99 CAN · Available September 22

Naruto and his teammates return to the Leaf Village with the injured Kurenai and Yakumo, only to find the village in ruins! Has the Village Hidden in the Leaves really been destroyed? Then the Leaf ninja must face a band of rogue shinobi known as the Ninja Dropouts, and later, Naruto once again joins with the Sand ninja to protect Gaara from capture by a mysterious group known as the Four Celestials. But when Gaara's sand is sealed, does he have any defenses left at all? Naruto's life may be full of danger and excitement, but when the legendary Jiraiya returns to the village, he finds that his adventures have only just begun!

Includes playing cards 46-54 and the 4th Hokage collectible Mininja figurine (6 of 6).

NARUTO UNCUT DVD Box Set Volume 16 Standard Edition · Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens · MSRP: $49.95 US / $71.99 CAN · Available September 22

Standard Edition set features the same episodes as Special Edition but no collectible Mininja is included.

New BLEACH releases include:

BLEACH THE MOVIE 2: THE DIAMONDDUST REBELLION · Rated 'T' for Teens · MSRP: $29.92 US / $42.99 CAN · Available September 8

After the treasured Ouin is stolen, Toshiro Hitsugaya disappears and becomes suspected of treason. When the Soul Society calls for his capture and execution, Substitute Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki vows to prove Hitsugaya's innocence. Will the secret of the Ouin and Captain Hitsugaya's motives be revealed before his honor, his life, and the Soul Society are destroyed?

BLEACH Volume 20 · Rated ‘T’ for Teens · MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN · Available September 15

After their huge but unfinished battle with the Bounts, Uryû and the group rest and prepare their strategy for the next round. At Ichigo's house, the mod souls try to be useful by setting traps for the Bounts. But their good intentions backfire with unexpected and hilarious results. With allies like these, who needs enemies?!

New POKÉMON Releases Include:

POKÉMON: ELEMENTS Volume 3: Water · Rated 'A' for All Ages · MSRP: $9.98 each US / $14.99 each CAN · Available September 29

POKÉMON: ELEMENTS Volume 4: Electric . Rated 'A' for All Ages · MSRP: $9.98 each US / $14.99 each CAN · Available September 29

Following the POKÉMON All Star series set, the POKÉMON: ELEMENTS collection consists of the most important episodes commemorating the different types of Pokémon characters. Each disc showcases a Pokémon type with three all-time favorite episodes. Collect them all!

Volume 3 Includes 3 Water-type episodes:

1. The Misty Mermaid

2. For Crying Out Loud

3. Go Go Ludicolo

Volume 4 Includes 3 Electric-type episodes:

1. As Clear As Crystal

2. The Apple Corp!

3. A Different Kind of Misty!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

ACF 344: Oishinbo: Fish, Sushi & Sashami is due out today from VIZ!

OISHINBO A LA CARTE (C) Tetsu KARIYA, Akira HANASAKI/Shogakukan Inc

The latest volume of Oishinbo a la Carte is due out today from VIZ, and it focuses on fish, sushi and sashimi. Like previous volumes, it's a highlight compilation from the original 100+ volume series. The story is by Tetsu Kariya and art by Akira Hanasaki. The MSRP is $12.99 U.S. and $15.00 Canadian.

In this installment, journalist Yamaoka Shiro continues his quest to develop the "Ultimate Menu" as part of the 100th anniversary of the Tozai News, the paper for which he works. His partner is the lovely and sweet Kurita Yuko, and his nemesis remains Kaibara Yuzan, a prominent artist and gourmand who happens to be Shiro's father.

The story line remains interesting, and the 250+ page volume is chock full of fascinating information about food and its preparation. The first volume of Oishinbo (which means "The Gourmet") was - and it remains - one of my favorite manga books. This is the second volume I've had a chance to read in advance of it going on sale, and I'm even more enthusiastic about the series than before. I just wish I could fly off to Japan and indulge myself in all the fantastic dishes that are so lovingly described in words and beautifully depicted in images.

One of the nice touches in the series as published by VIZ is the inclusion of several pages of notes on the text at the end of the book. These notes explicate points that would not be recognized by non-Japanese - and perhaps some Japanese as well! - and also keep the reader informed about important developments that took place in material not included in this edited version. In this volume, for example, one of the end notes explains an important event that has taken place in the relationship between Shiro and Yuko.

If you love food, Japanese culture, or just terrific manga, the Oishinbo series is a must have. I give Oishinbo: Fish, Sushi & Sasimi an ACF rating of 4 out of 4 stars - highest recommendation. My mouth is already drooling in anticipation of the next volume, which focuses on vegetables and is scheduled to be available in September, 2009. Yum!

Monday, July 20, 2009

ACF 343: VIZ announces launch of SIGIKKI.com website

VIZ MEDIA PARTNERS WITH JAPAN’S IKKI MAGAZINE TO LAUNCH SIGIKKI.COM, AN ONLINE MANGA WEBSITE TO PRESENT A DIVERSE COLLECTION OF TITLES ACCLAIMED FOR CREATIVE QUALITY

Innovative Online Destination Pushes Boundaries Of Manga
With New Content Available Each Month For Free

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) has announced the full launch of its new SIGIKKI website, which represents a bold new partnership between the company’s VIZ SIGNATURE imprint and IKKI, a monthly magazine published in Japan since 2003 that has established itself as the home of some of the most innovative, bold, and compelling titles in the world of contemporary manga.

Located at www.sigikki.com, this groundbreaking online manga destination will present a broad range of seinen manga to audiences in North America. From action to comedy to drama, slice-of-life stories to surrealist fantasies, the uniting themes these works share are an uncommon emphasis on creative quality and on pushing the boundaries of the manga norm.

Earlier in May, the SIGIKKI site posted the first chapter of CHILDREN OF THE SEA by Daisuke Igarashi, with Volume 2 currently being serialized on the site. Starting this month, new chapters from half a dozen manga series will be offered for viewing online in their entirety – FOR FREE. After a particular volume completes its online serialization, that edition will be published as a VIZ Signature graphic novel (subject to reader demand). Additional content such as creator interviews, feature articles, news, and free downloads will also be posted on the website each month.

“We are very excited to formally launch our new SIGIKKI website in partnership with IKKI magazine,” says Shie Lundberg, Sr. Director, Strategy & Business Development, VIZ Media. “The convenience of web accessibility combined with some of the most compelling and diverse content manga will allow fans to sample a range of acclaimed new titles each month, for free. As these series begin to develop their own domestic following, audiences can then look forward to the eventual publication of these titles with the high quality VIZ SIGNATURE presentation befitting manga of this caliber.”

On July 23rd the SIGIKKI site will debut Bokurano: OURS, by Mohiro Kitoh; Dorohedoro, by Q Hayashida; Saturn Apartments, by Hisae Iwaoka; and I'll Give It My All...Tomorrow, by Shunju Aono. These titles will be quickly followed on July 30th with the opening chapters of Kingyo Used Books, by Seimu Yoshizaki; House of Five Leaves, by Natsume Ono; Afterschool Charisma, by Kumiko Suekane; and Tokyo Flow Chart, by Eiji Miruno.

Manga Summaries:

CHILDREN OF THE SEA By Daisuke Igarashi
(Rated ‘T+’ for older teens)

The sea has a story to tell, one you’ve never heard before…
When Ruka was younger, she saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium where her dad works. Now she feels drawn toward the aquarium and the two mysterious boys she meets there, Umi and Sora. They were raised by dugongs and hear the same strange calls from the sea as she does. Ruka's dad and the other adults who work at the aquarium are only distantly aware of what the children are experiencing as they get caught up in the mystery of the worldwide disappearance of the oceans' fish. Volume 1 now also available in print!

Bokurano: OURS By Mohiro Kitoh
(Rated ‘T+’ for older teens)

Saving the world is hard. Saving yourself is even harder.

One summer, fifteen kids innocently wander into a nearby seaside cave. There they meet a strange man who invites them to play an exciting new video game. This game, he explains, pits one lone giant robot against a horde of alien invaders. To play the game, all they have to do is sign a simple contract. The game stops being fun when the kids find out the true purpose of their pact.

Dorohedoro By Q Hayashida
(Rated ‘M’ mature)

A blood-spattered battle between diabolical sorcerers and the monsters they created.

In a city so dismal it’s known only as “the Hole,” a clan of sorcerers have been plucking people off the streets to use as guinea pigs for atrocious “experiments” in the black arts. In a dark alley, Nikaido found Caiman, a man with a reptile head and a bad case of amnesia. To undo the spell, they’re hunting and killing the sorcerers of the Hole, hoping that eventually they’ll kill the right one. But when En, the head sorcerer, gets word of a lizard-man slaughtering his people, he sends a crew of “cleaners” into the Hole, igniting a war between two worlds.

Saturn Apartments By Hisae Iwaoka
(Rated ‘T’ for teens)

A touching, character-rich vision of an intriguing new world.

Far in the future, humankind has evacuated the Earth in order to preserve it. Humans now reside in a gigantic structure that forms a ring around the Earth, thirty-five kilometers up in the sky. The society of the ring is highly stratified: the higher the floor, the greater the status. Mitsu, the lowly son of a window washer, has just graduated junior high. When his father disappears and is assumed dead, Mitsu must take on his father’s occupation. As he struggles with the transition to working life, Mitsu’s job treats him to an outsider’s view into the various living-room dioramas of the Saturn Apartments.

I’ll Give it My All…Tomorrow By Shunju Aono
(Rated ‘T+’ for older teens)

Life begins at forty…even for pathetic losers.

This is the story of a forty-year-old salary man who quits his job to pursue his dream of becoming a manga artist—and the family that has to put up with him. While not terribly unhappy, Shizuo Oguro can't fight the feeling that something in his life just isn't right, so he walks away from his stable (yet boring) day job to embark on a journey of self-discovery. Unfortunately for his family, this journey also involves playing video games all day while his teenage daughter and elderly father support him. Will Shizuo succeed in creating a true manga masterpiece or will he be just another drop-out living a life of slack?

Afterschool Charisma By Kumiko Suekane
(Rated ‘T+’ for older teens)

History repeats itself... Or does it?
St. Kleio Academy is a very exclusive school: all of the students are clones of famous historical figures such as Beethoven, Queen Elizabeth I, Napoleon, Mozart, and Freud. All of them, that is, except for Shiro Kamiya. As Shiro struggles to adapt to this unusual campus, St. Kleio’s first graduate, a clone of John F. Kennedy, is killed. Are the clones doomed to repeat the fate of their genetic progenitors, or can they create their own destinies? And how does a normal boy like Shiro fit in?

Kingyo Used Books By Seimu Yoshizaki
(Rated ‘T+’ for older teens)

This manga bookstore has a thousand stories to tell.

A businessman discovers how his childhood memories can brighten his day. An art student finds inspiration. An archer hits a surprising bull’s eye. A housewife rediscovers romance. A teenager discovers his true self in the p
ages of a manga magazine. Welcome to Kingyo Used Books, a place where people find their dreams in manga…

HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES By Natsume Ono
(Rated ‘T+’ for older teens)

A many-sided tale of faith and betrayal, drama and intrigue, set in the world of old Edo.

Masterless samurai Akitsu Masanosuke is a skilled and loyal swordsman, but his naïve, diffident nature has time and again caused him to be let go by the lord whom he has worked for. Hungry and desperate, he becomes a bodyguard for Yaichi, the charismatic leader of a gang called “Five Leaves.” Although disturbed by the gang’s sinister activities, Masa begins to suspect that Yaichi’s motivations are not what they seem. And despite his misgivings, the deeper he’s drawn into the world of the Five Leaves, the more he finds himself fascinated by these devious, mysterious outlaws.


Tokyo Flow Chart
By Eiji Miruno
(Rated ‘T+’ for older teens)

This manga will f(low) with your brain!
Have you ever wished that somebody else would just DO SOMETHING about the chaos in your life? Then this is the perfect manga for a slacker like you! Tokyo Flow Chart is (probably) the world’s first four-frame comic strip in flow chart format. It breaks down the complexities of life and aids in the mastery of brain skills such as flow-chart-manga comprehension or mental bullet-dodging. As Confusious say: “let your brain flow with the chart!”

Sunday, July 19, 2009

ACF 342: Stan Lee & Hiroyuki Takei to guest at 2009 Comic-Con International

VIZ MEDIA WELCOMES ULTIMO CREATORS STAN LEE
AND HIROYUKI TAKEI FOR RARE PERSONAL APPEARANCES
AT 2009 COMIC-CON INTERNATIONAL

Legendary Manga And Comic Book Creators To Participate In SHONEN JUMP Panel Discussion And A Special In-Booth Signing Session

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) is proud to welcome comic book and manga legends Stan Lee and Hiroyuki Takei for a very special series of appearances at the 2009 Comic-Con International, taking place July 23-26 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, CA.

The pair will appear at the nation’s largest comic book and science fiction convention to celebrate their historic creative collaboration for the ULTIMO manga series (KARAKURIDÔJI ULTIMO), which debuted in the July 2009 issue of VIZ Media’s SHONEN JUMP magazine.

Stan Lee and Hiroyuki Takei will be welcomed as special guests at the SHONEN JUMP panel, scheduled for Friday, July 24th from 10:30-11:30 a.m. in Room 10. Lee and Takei will also appear together in VIZ Media’s Booth #2813 on the main show floor for an exclusive autograph session on Friday July 24th from 2:15-3:15 p.m. The first 40 fans to purchase the July issue of SHONEN JUMP magazine featuring ULTIMO from the VIZ Media retail area each day from Wednesday through Friday will receive a ticket to have their issue personally autographed by Lee and Takei.

ULTIMO represents an innovative and historic collaboration between comics legend Stan Lee, co-creator of many iconic superheroes including Spider-Man™, the Fantastic Four™, and the X-Men™, and Hiroyuki Takei, the creator of the popular SHAMAN KING manga series, published in Japan by Shueisha and in North America by VIZ Media.

The ULTIMO back-story: High above Farmless City, citizens are stunned by the sudden appearance of two floating figures. Are they human boys, monolithic robots, or something much more strange? As the battle ensues between them, destruction and devastation falls on the hapless city. One figure is Vice, and seems to be as evil as his name implies. The other is Ultimo, intent on trying to stop Vice from wreaking more havoc. But who are Vice and Ultimo really? Where did they come from? Find out in the first chapter of ULTIMO!

For over half a century, Stan Lee has been synonymous with superhero comics. In addition to co-creating countless memorable series and characters, including Spider-Man™, the Incredible Hulk™, and Daredevil™, he served as the former president and chairman of Marvel Comics. Lee remains a hugely respected and dynamic figure in the entertainment industry and continues to develop a variety of film, television and video game properties.

Unconventional author/artist Hiroyuki Takei began his career by winning the coveted Hop Step Award (for new manga artists) and the Osamu Tezuka Award. After working as an assistant to famed artist Nobuhiro Watsuki (RUROUNI KENSHIN), Takei debuted in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1997 with Butsu Zone, an action series based on Buddhist mythology. His multicultural adventure manga series SHAMAN KING debuted in Japan in 1998 and has been adapted into a popular animated television series. The SHAMAN KING manga series is published in North America by VIZ Media and has sold more than 400,000 copies in the U.S. to-date; for many years it was also serialized in English in VIZ Media’s SHONEN JUMP magazine.

“We are extremely honored to host two creative luminaries as huge as Stan Lee and Hiroyuki Takei to Comic-Con this year,” says Grant Lowery, SHONEN JUMP Editor-In-Chief. “Their groundbreaking new collaboration, ULTIMO, is an exciting, action-packed story that blends the best attributes of the Western and Eastern comic book and manga traditions. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we look forward to welcoming visitors to this year’s Comic-Con which promises to be the most exciting one yet!”

Lee’s own company, POW! Entertainment (Pinksheets: POWN.PK), worked with VIZ Media parent company Shueisha, and with JEA and Dream Ranch to facilitate the development of ULTIMO.

For more information on ULTIMO, SHONEN JUMP and VIZ Media please visit www.shonenjump.com or www.viz.com and on TWITTER: VIZ-Media

Saturday, July 18, 2009

ACF 341: VIZ Pictures licenses live-action combat flick "Battle League Horumo"


VIZ PICTURES LICENSES THE COMBAT ACTION COMEDY FILM
BATTLE LEAGUE HORUMO

Zany Action Film Based On Best-Selling Fantasy Novel Features
Special EffectsBy Renowned Animation Studio GONZO And
Will Screen At Several North American Film Festivals This Summer

VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media, LLC that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, has licensed the combat action-comedy film BATTLE LEAGUE HORUMO.

Based on the best-selling fantasy novel Kamogawa HORUMO written by Manabu Makime, the live-action BATTLE LEAGUE HORUMO takes audiences on a wild adventure that blends the breathtaking backdrop of Kyoto with the bizarre legend of “Horumo.” After failing the entrance exam and enduring two years of cram school, Akira Abe (Takayuki Yamada) finally gets accepted to the prestigious Kyoto University.

One day while on his way home with a friend, Akira meets a senior who invites them to a welcome party hosted by his club called the Azure Dragon. With nothing to lose, they decide to go for the free food, but while there Akira meets Kyoko Sawara, a beautiful girl with a perfect nose, and he falls head over heels for her. Now smitten, Akira goes in to persuade his friend to join the club with him in the hope that he can get closer to the girl of his dreams.

At first, the club appears to be an ordinary social group, but the new members soon discover the mysterious 1000 year-old tradition of the “Horumo” battle upheld by the four universities of Kyoto. The battle is fought between 10 players from each team who each manipulate an army of 100 spirits (referred to as Oni) to fight their opponents. The members each go through rigorous training to achieve fluency in the Oni language as well as learn the indefinable gestures that are required to complement it. Let the battles begin!

BATTLE LEAGUE HORUMO features stunning visual effects that vividly bring the Oni spirits to life and were created by the renowned GONZO animation studio, which also produced animated features like Afro Samurai, Brave Story, and Basilisk.

BATTLE LEAGUE HORUMO was directed by Katsuhide Motoki (Kitaro And The Millennium Curse, 10 Promises To My Dog). The film stars Takayuki Yamada, who is well-known for his role as the awkward bumbling Otaku young man in Train Man: Densha Otoko (also available from VIZ Pictures), along with actress Chiaki Kuriyama, who appeared in the Japanese horror film Ju-on and made her Hollywood debut in director Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Volume 1.

BATTLE LEAGUE HORUMO will receive a special screening at the 2009 Fantasia Festival in Montreal, Canada, one of North America’s largest film festivals happening July 9-27. The film will also screen at the 2009 Fantastic Fest, taking place in Austin, TX, September 24 - October 1, and finally at the 2009 Hawaii International Film Festival which takes place October 15-25.

For more details, visit www.viz-pictures.com.

“VIZ Pictures is very proud to announce the licensing of BATTLE LEAGUE HORUMO,” says Seiji Horibuchi, President and CEO of VIZ Pictures. “The fast-paced action combined with some elements of comedy and a hint of romance will make BATTLE LEAGUE HORUMO a fun film experience for a variety of fans. We look forward to announcing more information about the DVD release of the film shortly, but invite audiences to enjoy the movie at several notable film festivals happening throughout North America this summer!”

Friday, July 17, 2009

ACF 340: Shonen Sunday to be simultaneously published in Japan and North America


VIZ MEDIA’S NEWEST IMPRINT, SHONEN SUNDAY,
WILL RELEASE THE FIRST MANGA TO EVER BE PUBLISHED SIMULTANEOUSLY IN JAPAN AND NORTH AMERICA
A New Imprint and Web Site Launch

Rumiko Takahashi’s Newest Series RIN-NE Gets Its First Volume

Here's still more news from VIZ:

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) has announced the launch of a brand new imprint, SHONEN SUNDAY. Featuring the works of some of the top shonen manga creators in the world today, the Shonen Sunday magazine in Japan provides the content for this imprint. The magazine recently celebrated its 50th anniversary since its first issue arrived on newsstands in March of 1959.

The first series to launch from the first volume under this new imprint will be RIN-NE by Rumiko Takahashi, the first manga novel ever to be published simultaneously in Japan and North America, which will arrive on store shelves on October 20, 2009. Chapters of RIN-NE have been serialized online for free at www.TheRumicWorld.com on the same weekly schedule as it appeared in Japan’s Shonen Sunday magazine since May of this year. The Rumic World web site is the official North American destination for all Rumiko Takahashi-related news.

VIZ Media will be announcing new Shonen Sunday series for 2010 at its Manga and Anime panel at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International on Friday, July 24th from 3:00-4:30 in Room 32AB. Other VIZ Media series that will move under the Shonen Sunday banner include INUYASHA, KEKKAISHI, CASE CLOSED, HAYATE THE COMBAT BUTLER, and YAKITATE!! JAPAN. Going forward, DVD products from the select series will also feature the Shonen Sunday imprint.

The imprint’s web site (www.ShonenSunday.com) will be updated regularly with exclusive content such as previews, trailers, news, and interviews and will go live on July 22, 2009.

RIN-NE by Rumiko Takahashi · VOL. 1 · October 20, 2009 · Rated T+ (For Older Teens) · $9.99 US/$12.99 CAN

As a child Sakura Mamiya mysteriously disappeared in the woods behind her grandma’s home. She returned whole and healthy, but since then she has had the power to see ghosts. Now a teenager, she just wishes the ghosts would leave her alone! At school, the desk next to Sakura’s has been empty since the start of the school year, then one day her always-absent classmate shows up, and he’s far more than what he seems!

RIN-NE is the first new manga from Takahashi since her epic INUYASHA (published domestically by VIZ Media) ended in 2008 in Japan. Shogakukan’s popular WEEKLY SHONEN SUNDAY manga magazine has featured Takahashi’s work since the early 1980’s. With over 170 million copies sold in Japan alone, Takahashi’s substantial catalog of work continues to be loved by legions of devoted readers.

The spotlight on Rumiko Takahashi's career began in 1978 when she won an honorable mention in Shogakukan’s annual New Comic Artist Contest for Those Selfish Aliens. Later that same year, her boy-meets-alien comedy series, Urusei Yatsura, was serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday. This phenomenally successful manga series was adapted into anime format and spawned a TV series and half a dozen theatrical-release movies, all incredibly popular in their own right. Takahashi followed up the success of her debut series with one blockbuster hit after another—Maison Ikkoku ran from 1980 to 1987, Ranma ½ from 1987 to 1996, and Inuyasha from 1996 to 2008.

Other notable works include Mermaid Saga, Rumic Theater, and One-Pound Gospel. Takahashi won the prestigious Shogakukan Manga Award twice in her career, once for Urusei Yatsura in 1981 and the second time for Inuyasha in 2002. A majority of the Takahashi canon has been adapted into other media such as anime, live-action TV series, and film. Takahashi’s manga, as well as the other formats her work has been adapted into, have continued to delight generations of fans around the world. Distinguished by her wonderfully endearing characters, Takahashi’s work adeptly incorporates a wide variety of elements such as comedy, romance, fantasy, and martial arts. While her series are difficult to pin down into one simple genre, the signature style she has created has come to be known as the “Rumic World.” Rumiko Takahashi is an artist who truly represents the very best from the world of manga.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

ACF 339: VIZ announces pirate manga One Piece to debut in 2010

VIZ MEDIA DELIGHTS FANS WITH ANNOUNCEMENT OF ACCELERATED PUBLISHING SCHEDULE FOR HIT PIRATE MANGA SERIES ONE PIECE

Company Rolls Out Most Aggressive Manga Publishing Schedule Yet With 5 New Volumes Of High Seas Action/Adventure Saga To Debut Each Month Throughout The First Half Of 2010

As first detailed at Anime Expo® 2009, VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) announced a significantly increased publication schedule for the hit pirate manga series – ONE PIECE – delighting fans everywhere. Beginning in January 2010 and continuing through June 2010, five new ONE PIECE manga volumes will be published each month, for a total of 30 new volumes. The new schedule will launch with volumes 24-28.

To further complement these releases, VIZ Media has launched a brand new, dedicated ONE PIECE web site at OnePiece.VIZ.com that will be updated regularly with plot and character information, and will also provide special free manga chapters.

ONE PIECE Rated ‘T’ for Teens takes readers to a world populated by pirates and filled with adventure. As a child, Monkey D. Luffy dreamed of becoming the King of the Pirates. But his life changed when he accidentally gained the power to stretch like rubber…at the cost of never being able to swim again! Now Luffy, with the help of a motley collection of pirate wannabes, is setting off in search of the "One Piece," said to be the greatest treasure in the world.

The manga ONE PIECE was created by Eichiro Oda, a comic creator and artist, and debuted in Japan’s Weekly Shonen Jump in 1997. One of the most popular comic artists in Japan today, Oda started out by winning the Hop Step Award (a monthly award given by Shonen Jump for amateur artists) as well as the esteemed Tezuka Award. His art style is reminiscent of Akira Toriyama, Sergio Aragones, and the movie Yellow Submarine.

“This will be our most ambitious accelerated manga publishing schedule for any property thus far, and we are confident it will be a huge success, as ONE PIECE is an exciting series that enjoys a large and very dedicated following in North America,” says Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President Sales & Marketing for VIZ Media. “Pirate stories are known and loved the world over and ONE PIECE, with its zany cast of characters and high seas action, enjoys more than 177 million copies in-print in Japan alone. We look forward to new and old fans alike exploring these fun adventures as each month Luffy and his cohorts search for the elusive One Piece treasure.”

For more information please visit the dedicated website at http://www.onepiece.viz.com/.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

ACF 338: VIZ acquires distribution rights to live-action 20th Century Boys trilogy

VIZ PICTURES LICENSES THEATRICAL AND DVD RIGHTS TO
20th CENTURY BOYS
TRILOGY OF LIVE ACTION FILMS FROM JAPAN

Critically Acclaimed Movies Based On Smash Hit Manga Series Created By
Naoki Urasawa To Open New VIZ Cinema In August

VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media, LLC that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, has announced that it has licensed from Nippon Television (NTV) the North American theatrical and DVD distribution rights to the live-action 20th CENTURY BOYS feature film trilogy from Japan. The films are based on the critically acclaimed 20th CENTURY BOYS manga series created by Naoki Urasawa, which is a national phenomenon in Japan, selling over 20 million copies to date.

VIZ Pictures is scheduled to release the first and second chapters of 20th CENTURY BOYS films on DVD later this year, with the remaining film scheduled for release in 2010. VIZ Media publishes the 20th CENTURY BOYS manga series (rated ‘T+’ for older teens) in North America and will also distribute the DVDs. For more information about these DVD releases, please stay tuned at http://www.viz-pictures.com/.

On August 15th, VIZ Cinema will celebrate its grand opening at NEW PEOPLE, located at 1746 Post Street in San Francisco, with a very special screening of the first chapter of the 20th CENTURY BOYS live-action trilogy, presented in partnership with Nippon Television. Advance tickets go on-sale on Friday, July 31st and more information is available at http://www.vizcinema.com/.

The first 20th CENTURY BOYS film will continue playing at VIZ Cinema for the next week, followed by a week-long showing of the second chapter of the trilogy. As an unprecedented event in the Japanese film world, VIZ Cinema will host the world premiere of the third and final chapter of 20th CENTURY BOYS on August 28th, presented simultaneously with the national release in Japan.

The 20th CENTURY BOYS saga was directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi (HAPPILY EVER AFTER, also available from VIZ Pictures) and begins in 1969 when a young boy named Kenji and his friends write “The Book of Prophecy.” In their book, they write about a future where they fight against an evil organization trying to take over the world and bring about Doomsday.

Years later in 1997, a mysterious cult being lead by a man only known as “Friend” has emerged and gained strong influence over society. A series of catastrophic events begin to occur, mirroring the prophecies made up by the young Kenji. The greatest fear is that the climax of The Book of Prophecy will become a reality: on December 31st, 2000, a terrifying giant virus-spreading robot will attack the entire city of Tokyo, leading to the end of mankind. The only people who know about The Book are Kenji and his childhood friends. Who is Friend? Will Kenji and his friends are able to save mankind and live to see the 21st Century?

“We are truly honored to announce the license for 20th CENTURY BOYS features and look forward to premiering the films at our new VIZ Cinema later this summer,” says Seiji Horibuchi, President and CEO of VIZ Pictures. “20th CENTURY BOYS was one of the biggest productions ever attempted in the Japanese movie industry and was created in-part to celebrate Nippon Television’s 55th Anniversary. Anticipation has risen steadily in Japan in the wake of the success of the first two films and since the upcoming release of the final film of the series was announced. We’re very excited to premiere the third and final film to U.S. audiences at VIZ Cinema the same day it debuts in Japan.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

ACF 337: VIZ announces screenings of Bleach the Movie on two nights in August

VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES THE
U.S. PREMIERE OF BLEACH THE MOVIE 2:
THE DIAMONDDUST REBELLION
AT VIZ CINEMA IN SAN FRANCISCO
FOR TWO NIGHTS ONLY

Newly Launched VIZ Cinema To Debut Feature Film
Based On Smash Hit Anime Series

As announced earlier this month at the Anime Expo® 2009, VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) will celebrate the theatrical engagement and U.S. premiere of BLEACH THE MOVIE 2: THE DIAMONDDUST REBELLION, for two nights only. Two showings each day, on August 18th and 19th 2009. The special screenings will be held at the brand new VIZ Cinema, located inside NEW PEOPLE – San Francisco’s newest entertainment destination.

Tickets for BLEACH THE MOVIE 2: THE DIAMONDDUST REBELLION (rated ‘T’ for teens) go on sale Friday, July 31, 2009 at http://www.vizcinema.com/. NEW PEOPLE and the VIZ Cinema are located at 1746 Post Street in San Francisco’s Japantown and will open officially on August 15th.

Adapted from the wildly popular animated series and best-selling BLEACH manga series by acclaimed Japanese creator Tite Kubo (both distributed and published in North America by VIZ Media), BLEACH THE MOVIE 2 continues the action-packed adventures of Soul Reaper, Ichigo Kurosaki. In the newest feature film, after the treasured Ouin is stolen, Toshiro Hitsugaya disappears and becomes suspected of treason. When the Soul Society calls for his capture and execution, Substitute Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki vows to prove Hitsugaya's innocence. Will the secret of the Ouin and Captain Hitsugaya's motives be revealed before his honor, his life, and the Soul Society are destroyed?

VIZ Media is scheduled to release the DVD of BLEACH THE MOVIE 2: THE DIAMONDDUST REBELLION (rated ‘T’ for teens) on September 8th.

“This two day event will be very exciting as it marks the U.S. theatrical debut of BLEACH THE MOVIE 2: THE DIAMONDDUST REBELLION and also the opening week of the brand new VIZ Cinema,” says Brian Ige, VIZ Media Director, Home Entertainment. “BLEACH is one of the most popular and successful manga and animated properties in the world and we encourage fans to go online and get their tickets early as this event will likely sell-out!”

BLEACH is a tremendously successful multimedia property internationally. The manga series has been licensed to more than a dozen countries, and has sold over 52 million copies in Japan alone. In North America the manga has been a sales hit and the popular animated series is viewed weekly by millions in the United States and Canada. This success has further spawned an array of related video games, apparel, action figures, trading cards and other merchandise. For more information on BLEACH and BLEACH THE MOVIE 2: THE DIAMONDDUST REBELLION, please visit the official BLEACH website at bleach.viz.com or http://www.viz.com/. BLEACH episodes can also be viewed on the SONY PlayStation VIZ Media channel, online at hulu.com and also on iTunes.

VIZ Cinema is a 143-seat underground cinema located inside NEW PEOPLE in San Francisco, part of the J-Pop Center Project produced by VIZ Pictures. Equipped with cutting-edge HD digital projection and a THX®-certified sound system, VIZ Cinema is the soul of the NEW PEOPLE experience. Its programming focuses on the latest and hottest films from Japan, as well as an incredible legacy of classics, favorites, documentaries and anime – making it the only venue of its kind in the United States. For more details on the cinema and its programs, visit http://www.vizcinema.com/.

Monday, July 13, 2009

ACF 336: First episode of "Honey and Clover" is free download at iTunes store

VIZ MEDIA’S HONEY AND CLOVER ANIME
NOW AVAILABLE ON THE ITUNES STORE

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) has announced the exclusive availability of its popular shojo animated series HONEY AND CLOVER on the iTunes Store (www.iTunes.com) in the US and the iTunes Store in Canada (www.itunes.ca). iTunes will exclusively offer the first episode of HONEY AND CLOVER as a free download until August 31, 2009. Plus, every purchase of the complete first season of HONEY AND CLOVER will include a free, bonus episode download. Find out more at www.itunes.com/tv/honeyandclover.

Based on the popular manga series created by Chica Umino, HONEY AND CLOVER is a romantic comedy about a group of art school students who try to find their way through college. But when an innocent and talented 19-year-old girl enters their lives, things get a lot more complicated as love triangles result.

The HONEY AND CLOVER manga series was created by Chica Umino and has sold more than 5,300,000 copies in Japan. In 2003, the series won the 27th Kodansha Manga Award, Japan's most prestigious comics award. The series was also adapted into an anime series in 2005 and finally into a live action film in 2006.

What is Shojo?….In Japan, manga comics and anime have enjoyed widespread popularity among both children and adults, men as well as women. Shojo (which means young girl in Japanese) manga and anime is widely known and embraced for its characteristic lush designs and tales of love and romance set against action, academic, or fantasy driven plots. Women and young girls in North America quickly discovered that comic books and anime are no longer just for boys. Shojo stories appeal to the desires for stories and characters that girls and women can relate to. While plots and settings for shojo vary widely (everywhere from outer space to alternate realities to the local middle school), several constants remain the themes of romance, angst and heartbreak, and ultimately finding the one you love despite obstacles and setbacks. And what young girl isn't interested in that? The fact that shojo is largely an entertainment medium developed by women for women with stories women and girls can relate to is also driving the popularity of shojo in North America.

"We are thrilled to add this endearing romantic comedy to our library of great anime now available on iTunes. HONEY AND CLOVER showcases the challenging journey that everyone must take to transform from adolescence into adulthood while balancing the demands of school, work, and love and VIZ Media is committed to nurturing the series for a new audience in North America.” says Ken Sasaki, Vice President of Strategy & Business Development, VIZ Media. “iTunes is a critical channel, providing the high quality, ease of download and flexibility that will allow fans to enjoy this captivating series however and whenever they want.”

The HONEY AND CLOVER manga and anime series are both rated ‘T+’ (for older teens). For more information on HONEY AND CLOVER please visit the dedicated website at honeyandclover.viz.com. For general information on VIZ Media and other titles, please visit www.viz.com.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

ACF 335: NANA anime now on iTunes!

VIZ MEDIA’S NANA ANIME
NOW AVAILABLE ON THE ITUNES STORE

There's been a whole slew of exciting announcements from VIZ in the last few days. I'll be putting them up as quickly as my schedule permits.

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) has announced the availability of its popular shojo animated series NANA on the iTunes Store (http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/storeFront) in the US and the iTunes Store in Canada (http://www.itunes.ca/). NANA will be exclusive to iTunes until August 31, 2009. Plus, every purchase of a NANA Season 1 pass will include a free, bonus episode download. Find out more at www.itunes.com/tv/nana.

The NANA anime is based on the popular manga by Ai Yazawa, which has sold over 43 million copies in Japan, and is published in North America by VIZ Media under its SHOJO BEAT imprint. It is considered an all-time best selling shojo title from Japanese publishing giant Shueisha, and was the recipient of the Shogakukan Manga Award in the Girls' category. Its tremendous success further inspired two live-action feature films which are available on DVD in North America from VIZ Pictures

NANA follows the adventures of two girls, both named Nana. While they share the same name, they couldn't be more different. Nana "Hachi" Komatsu follows her boyfriend to Tokyo in the hopes of making a new start, while Nana Osaki, who arrives in the city at the same time, is a punk rock beauty who has the ambition of making it big in the world of rock and roll. Although these two young women come from different backgrounds, they quickly become best friends while chasing their happiness and dreams.

Ai Yazawa is the creator of many popular manga titles, including Tenshi Nanka Janai (I'm No Angel) and Gokinjo Monogatari (Neighborhood Story). Another series, Kagen no Tsuki (Last Quarter), was made into a live-action movie and released in late 2004. American readers were introduced to Yazawa's stylish and sexy storytelling in 2002 when her title Paradise Kiss was translated into English.

“NANA has touched millions of fans in Japan and North America with its realistic portrayal of two young women coming of age in life’s fast lane in modern Tokyo,” says Ken Sasaki, Vice President of Strategy & Business Development, VIZ Media. “The anime series possesses all of the attributes that made the original manga such a smash hit and combines them with a rocking soundtrack and creatively designed characters that audiences can really root for, laugh and even cry with. We invite fans to check out NANA on iTunes and take these girls’ adventures along as they navigate their own busy lives.”

What is Shojo?….In Japan, manga comics and anime have enjoyed widespread popularity among both children and adults, men as well as women. Shojo (which means young girl in Japanese) is widely known and embraced for their characteristic lush designs and tales of love and romance set against action, academic, or fantasy driven plots. Women and young girls in North America quickly discovered that comic books and anime are no longer just for boys and shojo stories appeal to the desires for stories and characters girls and women can relate to.

While plots and settings for shojo vary widely (everywhere from outer space to alternate realities to the local middle school), several constants remain the themes of romance, angst and heartbreak, and ultimately finding the one you love despite obstacles and setbacks. And what young girl isn't interested in that? The fact that shojo is largely an entertainment medium developed by women for women with stories women and girls can relate to is also driving the popularity of shojo in North America.

For more information on NANA (rated ‘M’ for mature) please visit the dedicated website at Nana.viz.com or the VIZ Media website at http://www.viz.com/.