Wednesday, July 30, 2008

3,000 Hits!

I could write DAILY Blogs about 鈴木 一朗 (Suzuki, Ichiro) or Ichiro as he's commonly called...
Every time he's up to bat... it's history in the making...

On Tuesday against the Texas Rangers, Ichiro made his 3,000th total hit (1,278 in Japan, 1,722 in America) , in the first inning against Luis Mendoza.
After taking his base and having his Total displayed on the board, he received a standing ovation from the Texas fans which he acknowledged with a tip of his hat.

In Japan, only one player has reached the 3,000 mark 張本 勲 (Isao Harimoto), (Born in Hiroshima, Japan; Nuclear Bomb survivor, Baseball Analyst, Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame member, recipient of the South Korean Moko prize for excellence in sports, and outspoken Hibakusha Movement member)

Isao Harimoto, who hold 3,085 hits, praised Ichiro saying "Congratulations. As far as hitting technique goes, neither Tetsuharu Kawakami (a former pro baseball player known as a batting genius) nor I can match him. It's a marvelous accomplishment!"

"The 3,000th hit is just a passing point for Ichiro. If the number of hits can be combined in the U.S. and Japan, I hope he will aim at the 4,256 hits achieved by Pete Rose, or even 3,000 hits in the Major Leagues alone," Harimoto said.

Pre-game, Jim Riggleman (Mariners Manager) said
"That's a tremendous achievement for the short time he's been over here," "I think that’s the most (hits) anyone’s ever had in that period of time."

Currently the 34yrold Ichiro is batting a .298 Batting average (.308 at home, .288 away) with little signs of slowing down.

Really, I don't know what else I can really write...
For further reading see My last post on Ichiro , Mainichi News , Wikipedia (and their LOVELY Photo Gallery) , or just check out his stats on ESPN.

One thing is for certain... I'm sure the hopes and dreams of many school Baseball teams, have become Bigger and Brighter...

*Picture of some players from Suzuka International University (June 10th, 2006)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

50th Anneversary Lego Celebrations held in Japan

A Lego Superkids competition was held in Tokyo this week and the winners of the contest have been announced.

The theme for the competition was "life fifty years from now". Many children under the age of twelve competed to design suitable entries to meet the theme, but ultimately it was this robotic dog (right) that stole the show.
Kodama, a ten year old boy from Saitama Prefecture (left), designed the dog with a tail that he imagines can plug in and charge the dog, while a red jewel on his colar will light up during charging.

The competition was held to celebrate the 50th anneversary of the Lego company.

The English MainIchi mirror is down temporarily, but you can see more pics here.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Japanese TV: Pokemon bullet trains

For ichi!

(Via JapanProbe) 
At Ueno Station, Pokemon character Pikachu made an appearance and saw off smiling children boarding the bullet trains.
“I was surprised to see Pikachu, but I really like the character so I’m happy,” said one 7-year-old boy who was traveling to Iwate Prefecture with his family on the first day of operation. “It’s a cool bullet train,” he added.
JR East is operating four decorated trains on the Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen lines and one on each of the Yamagata, Akita and Nagano Shinkansen lines.

Japanese TV: Family gets Tokyo Disney Sea all to itself

(Via JapanProbe) For the Fukuyo family, Friday was the chance of a lifetime: They had the entire Tokyo DisneySea theme park to themselves for 2 1/2 hours, with no waits for all the rides they could handle.
Yasuhisa Fukuo, 38, his wife, Sumiko, 33, and their 5-year-old triplets were chosen by lottery from 1,609 applicants for the event to mark the Tokyo Disney Resort’s 25th anniversary.
At 7:30 a.m., the family from Shizuoka Prefecture arrived at the park and was greeted by the 150-member cast of Magic Kingdom characters.

Ridiculous Price or Piece of Anime History?

I've been made aware of this auction item on eBay.

It's for an undoubtedly rare Bubblegum Crisis B-Club booklet, priced well over USD$ 2,000!

The seller says it really should be in a museum, but I'm not sure if he/she should be in a nut house.

Thoughts? Insight?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Classics: China San no Yuutsu

Before The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, there was The Melancholy of Miss China.

This is the tale of a lesser known anime, one starring a lovely restaurant owner, Miss China, her fiance, and her neer-do-well borders who always create trouble for her. China San no Yuutsu (also licensed as Spirit of Wonder: Miss China's Ring) is an OVA released in the early nineties.

The story plays out much like any H. G. Wells novel. The anime spares no moment to bend scientific principle and draw the characters (and viewers alike) into a world of unimaginable wonderment. It's a cute and campy release from reality like no other.
In the film, Jim and Dr. Breckenridge, two of the boarders who live above China's restaurant, develop a machine that can transport people to the moon. China, who only cares about getting rent from the two, refuses to believe the pair. Jim is so crushed by China's disbelief that he proves his latest invention to her all while finding a way to profess his love for Miss China.

It's a bit out there, but it's a lovely little gem of a movie. It's much different from a typical science fiction anime, taking place in early 20th century England, with an unlikely cast of characters, and making light of outdated scientific theories (ie: currents of ether). But it's well worth watching to unwind from a day in the real world.

The OVA was continued in a "not quite sequeled" second part, standalone from the earlier OVA which got its story from the serialized manga it was based upon. The second film was released as simply "Spirit of Wonder", and while featuring China and company in two shorts and a cameo in the main story, they played a secondary role to a new story following five scientists as they endeavored to reach Mars!

The latter OVA is heavy in fan-service, some inappropriate. The animation is interesting in either film as characters have normal-like eyes and both noses and lips, well-visible upon their faces, and CG elements mixed with beautifully drawn scenery all played out in a slow and steady pace.

If you are lucky to find a copy of either of these out of print titles, grab them up! There won't be anything quite like it on your shelf.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Cats galor!

Because Tokyo is such a small place, many people have small homes or appartments where you either have no consent, or have to space to keep a loveable furry bag. So what do you do if you just don't have the space, but you have the need to see some kittens or hags-of-cats?

Go to Nekobukuro!

For about ¥600 ($6) or ¥1000 per couple, you can spend an hour in the cat house, playing with these lovable (they want pets!) or angry (they have static from too much pets) creatures.

With lots of colorful walls, filled with cat scratches and even perches for the cats to hang on (or run away from you on).

So if you're ever in Ikebukuro, go to Nekobukuro!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Western World Anime Briefs: Gurren to be on TV!

A recent press release by Sci-Fi Media and subsidiaries states that the second season of the Sci-Fi's year-old anime block, "Ani-Monday" will start next week with the cult, medicalpunk hit, Blackjack. The film as you may know, is a spawn of Osamu Tezuka's studies in medicine and his cleverly twisted mind.
I nearly cosplayed as Black Jack once. Got the labcoat and everything. Totally intend to this fall.

The following week A-M will begin airing episodes of the destined-to-be-popular series Gurren Lagann, as well as the stunning, sleeper hit Now and Then, Here and There. Most programs will be show by liscensee Starz Media or Manga Entertainment and their acquired branches.
Catch the A-M block on Monday nights at 11 PM EST/PST.
I was really hoping Tiffany Grant could play Yoko...

In addition, SpaceCoyote, whom you may know as the Simpsons manga artist, will do a Death Note parody in this year's Halloween issue of The Simpsons Comic: Treehouse of Horrors.

SpaceCoyote is known already by her Simpsonized picture of the Death Note characters, but this version of the story will be based on Springfield lookalikes in a unique enough adventure.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Japanese TV? I survived a Japanese Gameshow (ABC)

Okay, so ABC has been running a program called "I survived a Japanese gameshow," where they send a bunch of American's to Japan to be on a Japanese show called Majide. The host does some funny stuff, so PW and I cut out a minute's worth for you.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Anime Kip is Watching: Slayers Revolution

Okay, so here is the storyboard for episode two of Slayers Revolution. Click for larger photos.

A wild small creature appears.

Wiser faints!

The small creature faints!

Lina uses Dragon Slave. The world loses and restarts at the last Pokemon Center.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mach Girl Preview

Mach Girl

Man that is some kind of bull crap there.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Jumped to Japan

So, in one of my last posts, I mentioned how our own Cherry Capital, USA got the traveling museum exhibit, about Japanese art forms called Jump to Japan: Discovering Culture Through Popular Art.

The exhibit was very small, but takes the visitor on a chronological journey through the art of the Japanese. Woodblock prints and scrolls were among the first topics presented. The exhibit is almost entirely hands-on and the visitor is well-involved the entire time. One can roll through one of several famous scroll prints as well as use a computer generated program to simulate the layers of ink and carvings used in woodblock print making.

Of course a trip through the pop culture history of Japanese art wouldn't be complete without an anime showcase. Visitors could try their hands at drawing their own anime character on lighted tables using sketch paper first and proceed to a miniaturized Akihabara manga shop, complete with tiny clothes hanging from a tiny balcony to dry. The manga shop, though just a scaled representation of what one might find in Japan featured an interesting array of hard to find posters, figures, and manga for the museum-goers enjoyment.

The cat bus and near-lifesized Totoro rounded out the journey. You could even watch clips of the film in a hands-on way. The whole experience was fun and unique. It made for about a good 45 minutes of clean fun in quasi-authentic animeland. There were even tatami mats one could sit at and learn about the various traditions of important Japanese holidays.

At the end you can also cut out your own paper fan (with important exhibit information on it of course) and take it with you as a memento, unless that is, you stopped at the shop on the way out and got something neater!

Jump to Japan will be in Traverse City, MI until September 9th, where it will move again to yet another museum. Maybe it's headed your way!

Plus, did anyone see the "International Cherry Pit Spitting Competition" bump on Adult Swim tonight? Yeah, that's totally us.

Pictured: Top- My guests to the museum (cute aren't they?), Bottom- Totoro holding some ball-jointed dolls that tagged along.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Manga News Brief

A bit of old manga news, so I'll be short.

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei will place one episode long OVAs in the next two volumes of the manga. Both episodes are expected feature the same voice cast.

And Kodansha will be looking to publish manga in the US this September. It is uncertain if they will print simply stand alone manga and/or produce a magazine like Shonen Jump/Shojo Beat that is found pretty popular under the Kodansha name in Japan with the company's over fifteen other serialized manga magazines.

Pictured: Kodansha magazine stand.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Slayers Revolution: The Review

Well, it's here.

Happiness is a title screen and music by Megu.

And then it all went downhill...

Let's start at the beginning:
Lina, fresh upon a pack of bandits, presents herself as the infamous "bandit killer" and promptly destroys the lot when they lovingly refer to her as the "dragon spooker" instead. Flash to Slayers opening theme!

...Well okay, that may be too far early in the series. Let's just resume where we left off in the last series.
Spoilers and whatnot.

Gourry has left behind the Sword of Light to be protected. Then the team parts ways, Amelia and Zelgadis back to Seyrrun, and Lina and Gourry off to kill bandits and plates of meat.
Though most of the series have ended with the team parting ways, rarely has it been without the key weapon of the series.

So the next series starts... with a drawn out bandit... or I should say, pirate beating spree, brought on by none other than our heroine, Lina. The stunt double for Jack Sparrow takes it for a while until he finds out the Lina is THE Lina Inverse and cowers away. This opening scene, lasting until midway through the first episode acts as an important character introduction as we reintroduce the fab four team especially to a new generation of otaku who have not seen the first seireses. Thought it seems like the whole setup could have been more to the point.

Alas, with season four, we've come to find our characters are getting set in their stereotypical ways. Lina is the tempered, flat-chested little girl. Gourry is the idiot... and swordsman... I guess. Amelia, the justice freak. And, by comparison, Zelgadas plays the quiet, straight man, pretty normal compared to the rest of the motley ensemble. The worst part is that these stereotypes shined through more than the awesome violence did, and comedy definitely took the foreground this time around to the action. And that's a bad thing. I guess there really are only so many times you can watch the same incantations and reoccurring jokes.

The whole feel of the series this time around is too cartooney. The characters are all caricatures of themselves, plus, there appears to be a pikachu that will be joining the team.

Why have a fourth season just to jump the shark? I'd have been happier with spontaneous OVAs à la Lupin style, like they had been doing. One thing is for sure, this series has the same feel as the final OVA, Slayers Premium, with a 9:1 comedy to action ratio and cutesy baddies. They must have used the OVA to test the waters for this series.

Alas, I shall watch this travesty. I only hope it gets better from here. It is SLAYERS after all!

UPDATE: I'm told pikachu here is actually a rip of another monster-

Little Known Infos About "My Neighbor Totoro" Preproduction

Chances are, you may have seen this poster from the iconic Ghibli film:

However, you may remember as well, that there are in fact two female lead characters in My Neighbor Totoro, Satsuki and her little sister, Mei.
The girl seen in the most widely produced form of the movie poster, became the hybrid for the two girls that you are familiar with in the official film poster, here:

Here's some information a member of my anime club dug up:

Satsuki Kusakabe (草壁サツキ, Kusakabe Satsuki)
A 10-year-old girl. Satsuki is Mei's older sister. Satsuki is the traditional name of the fifth month of the Japanese calendar, the equivalent of the English May.

Mei Kusakabe (草壁メイ, Kusakabe Mei)
Satsuki's four-year-old sister. Her name deliberately echoes her sister's, May being the fifth month, reflecting the fact that the story originally featured one girl, who was then divided into an older and younger sister. The widely-distributed promotional image for the film of a girl standing next toTotoro at a bus stop reflects the earlier conception with a single child.

Also, interestingly enough, there is a sequel to my neighbor totoro, called "Mei and the Kittenbus" it is about a fourteen minute film shown exclusively at the Ghibli Museum, in Japan.

One final bit of infos, the darkly, poignant war anime, Grave of the Fireflies, was once packaged in a collection with MNT for fear that the latter film would not be a success. MNT would also provide a comedic relief to the bitter movie.

By the way, I just came back from this children's museum exhibit (in my town now), portraying Japanese art in its many forms, from scrolls and wood block to manga and anime, called "Jump to Japan". They had a replica kittenbus there, as you can see in the picture. Photos to come soon!

More at the Totoro wiki. Thanks, Kayla.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Ever Fashionable Classic

Ahh yes. Classic Pokemon. Back in my day, we only had 150 Pokemon to catch. Those rich kids in the next town over got 151, but who wanted a Mew anyway, he made your milk turn sour and your favorite red shorts shrink in the wash, in fact I can name all of the Pokemon, we had Jiggypop and Rockman.exe and Rocksnake which was a snake that was made of rocks! I remember spending hours in the forrest just to catch a glimpse of one. That was back in the day before we had Gameboy Advanced. Now, who knows what those kids play. Them and their darned, dirty Hoot-Hoots...

I seem to have forgotten where I was going with this...

So I've recently been introduced to a new clothing line pitched to us early generations of Pokemon players who have grown up to ditch our K-mart Pikachu tees for something that doesn't insult our sensibilities as much. Hence, here is Pokemon 151.
These shirts follow a more laid-back and artsy style on the colorful Pokemon theme. Arcticuno (Freezer) with the crest embossed over him has to be the coolest design in my mind, but all of the shirts are sharp and tasteful. In fact, these designs don't even have to be Pokemon as much as they can be some nouveau fashion style.

I could see wearing this with my thin, black sport coat and my darkest blue jeans, and hitting the clubs in one variation of this trendy ensemble.

Check out the designs at the Pokemon 151 site. Only four designs yet. I can't wait to see them all.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Breaking News: ADV Verge on Close? FUN to Pickup Titles

R1 anime giant and Neon Geesis Evangelion staple, ADV entertainment, after appearing to have several distribution troubles with many of its online titles among other issues reported earlier this year, will cut the license rights to over thirty titles which FUNimation has agreed to pick up as well as several Geneon titles acquired within the year after that fan favorite licensor ended distribution plans last year.

Popular uncompleted titles When they Cry, Law of Ueki, and the Rozen Maiden series will be picked up by FUN among other titles including many of ADV's.

ADV had a downsizing early this year and has apparently had to auction off a number of its business assets as of the time of this writing.

FUN has said in an AnimeExpo press release that it will be distributing this monster license-fest of anime through download-to-own websites and its cable TV channel.

And in the latest of news, ADV has announced it will partner with another unnamed business, and will not be releasing any new manga titles. ADV has removed the lost titles from their website anime page.

The question still remains, what is left for unlicensed titles this year. Will any of the good, unexported series from Japan stand a chance with FUNimation controlling 2/3 of all titles now in play? And how remaining orders will be processed.

Visit comics news site Newsarama for more info. Stay tuned to AP for more on this confusing and baffling breaking news.

See also: Geneon Long Gone & Anime Restructuring, Schmanime Schmestructuring Parts I and II.

Lots more cool stuff here!! Continue browsing...

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