The 2nd Dimension

Friday, December 30, 2005

Ed Elric jeans

I don't know if you remember way back when I had talked about Youmacon, I had mentioned meeting Vic Mignogna, who does the voice for Ed Elric in the english dub of Fullmetal Alchemist. Well, when he was at the con he was wearing these jeans with a picture of Ed on them and everyone was commenting on how cool they were and were asking where he got them.

You can now see the quasi-famous jeans below. If you are interested in seeing more of the artist's work, her stuff is can be seen via her gallery at CheshireNeko INK. (Source: Risembool Rangers)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Frank Miller's "300" movie

I know this isn't anime, but just like with Sin City, I just have to mention this because I'm such a huge Frank Miller fan.

According to ICv2, Frank Miller's historical epic 300 is going to hit the big screen some time in 2006. 300 is "a ferocious retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in which King Leonidas ... and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army. Facing insurmountable odds, their valor and sacrifice inspire all of Greece to unite against their Persian enemy, drawing a line in the sand for democracy." [Source: 300 Production Blog] And as an interesting piece of trivia, the graphic novel is actually an adaption of a 1962 movie called The 300 Spartans.

According to the ICv2 article:

Zack Snyder, director of the film adaptation of Frank Miller's 300 graphic novel, has completed nine weeks of filming and expects to have wrapped up principal photography on the movie before the end of January.

In several interviews concerning the making of the 300 film, Zack Snyder has talked about his desire to recreate the visually rich tapestry Miller fashioned for his retelling of the legend of the 300 Spartans, who held off the Persian hordes at Thermopylae in 481-480 BC, and from the looks of the early stills that have been released from the film, it will hew closely to Miller's vision.

You can view the early stills as well as a short making-of video at the movie's Production Blog. There's also quite a bit of updated info including cast and filming locale at this fan blog.

2006 looks to be the year of Miller as the Sin City 2 movie is also scheduled for next summer. I love it!

Ergo Proxy trailer -- Cool!

This one looks really promising. Gotta love that blue eye shadow. From AnimeNation News:

The Ergo Proxy website now hosts a new "Half version" trailer, and a 3:30 "Full version" trailer. The series is scheduled to premier in Japan on February 25, and in America at an undetermined future date.

Satoshi Kon interview

Home Theatre has an interview with anime director Satoshi Kon (Perfect Blue, Paranoia Agent, Tokyo Godfathers). It covers topics such as the creative process, his sources of inspiration, his favorite anime, his take on CG animation, and anime's relation to Eastern culture in general.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Viewing Journal: Live action Initial D


Being a fan of the Initial D anime, I was excited and a little anxious about seeing this live action adaption. Of course, I already knew the basic storyline: Tofu delivery boy Takumi Fujiwara has an innate talent for downhill street racing, but is more or less oblivious to his own abilities. Eventually the local street racers recognize his talent and proceed challenge him to a bevy of matches where he refines his techniques and learns the ins and outs of the sport.

The live action movie compiled storylines from the first two seasons of the TV series. With so much material to work with, you might think the story would end up being rushed or disjointed. But to my surprise it all seemed to flow pretty naturally.

That's not to say that there weren't a few deviations from the original series. The biggest changes had to do with two of the main characters: Itsuki and Bunta.

In the anime, Itsuki is an overly-energetic, but lovable goof who was obsessed with joining the local racing team. In the movie, Itsuki still has the same racing obsession but now he is the rich, arrogant, bratty son of Yuuichi the gas station manager. Although I don't think I really like how they changed him, it was probably necessary to change his character somehow since the anime-version of Itsuki probably wouldn't transfer very well to live action. All his energy -- while entertaining in the anime -- would have seemed downright ridiculous and unrealistic in live action.

Bunta -- on the other hand -- has many of the same qualities as in the anime (he's still as squinty-eyed as ever), but he now has the added characteristic of being an abusive drunk. At first I was upset by this because it made Bunta seem like such a jerk. But after a while, I realized that the physical abuse was meant to be a way of toughening Takumi up for his eventual foray into the racing world. It was the same kind of indirect training that Bunta used when making Takumi drive with a glass of water without spilling any. Not that that justifies abuse, but at least it makes his motives a bit more understandable.

Even with these changes though, I thought the overall character and relationship development in the movie fell a little flat. The most disappointing of the relationships had to be between Takumi and his girlfriend Natsuki. The movie did little more than follow what was presented in the series, but in the end wasn't able resolve the conflict between them. Maybe the director was trying to relay some deeper message by leaving this plot point untied, but regardless, I was still disappointed.

Despite how lackluster the character developments were, it all took a back seat (pun intended) to the sweet racing scenes.

When I first heard they were making a live action version of Initial D, my first thought was how cool it would be to see the drifting techniques done with real cars. And in that I was not disappointed.

The great thing was that they didn't use special effects to take the place of the stunts. They used real cars and drivers. Sure there were some transitions (if that's the right word) that used special effects, but all those drifting manuvers (like Takumi's gutter technique!) were the real thing. I heard they trashed eight AE86's in the process of performing the stunts, which to me is just more of a testiment to how realistic the racing was.

The special effects that they did add worked really worked well and paid some homage to the anime. For instance, there was one effect where the camera moved from the driver seat of one car, through the windshield, then through the back window of the next car and wound up in that car's driver seat. Simple but very effective. There were also a few parts that used the split screen effect (which was used liberally in the anime) to show both drivers on the screen at the same time. All in all the coolness of the racing scenes was more than enough to make up for the movie's shortcomings.

In summary, I would definitely recommend the movie to anyone who is already a fan of the anime. And for those who are not, you may still enjoy watching those cool racing scenes; but overall I'd say that you're better off watching the anime first.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Blog Update: Messed up template

If you've ever visited this site before, you probably noticed that the template and general structure is different and some of my sidebar features are missing. That's because I forgot to save all my special features before changing templates. Needless to say, I will eventually get back all the original features and links.

I wanted to change the template because I was getting sick of looking at all those dots and black background on the old template. I wanted to try and switch to something that was a little easier on the eyes. I know it looks kind of plain at the moment, but I'm planning on jazzing up the header (at least) to look more attractive. The new header will hopefully make the site easily recognizable as an anime-related blog. That way readers will automatically know whether or not to take interest.

Hopefully these changes will not upset all my loyal readers too please, both of you, be patient. ;)

Media Play going out of business

Well this is just no good. According to Anime News Network:

Media Play has announced that it will close all of its retail stores in January, after the holiday season. The subsidiary of Musicland has failed to turn a profit in several years. Musicland's Sam Goody and Suncoast stores will not be affected. More details are available here and here.

Where am I going to dispense all my anime and manga money now? I've been buying my stuff from there for like 5 or 6 years. I guess I'm going to have to just shop online now. Any suggestions?

Website design process as presented by anime toys

If you are into website design, love the anime toys, or are just interested in cute and entertaining things, make sure to check this out.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Richard Taylor wants to produce live action Evangelion

According to Oscar-winning visual-effects supervisor Richard Taylor of Weta workshops wants Weta to produce the live action Evangelion movie (as opposed to just doign the visual effects). Says Taylor:

"I think [Evengelion] is the great untold story to the world. It is sublime. It is arguably some of the most beautiful and poignant animation ever created, and a huge percentage of the pop culture world now know it, but only through a live-action feature film will it transcend that and receive the recognition for the art piece that it is.

"...Technologically, sure, it's doable. But at an esoteric, universe level, it is an unbelievably impacting and dramatic story concept...But we've got the endorsement of GAINAX, the original creators, and with the right director I think it could be a very beautiful movie. I think it's a story worthy of telling. And that's my big pursuit at the moment. I've put an awful lot of energy into it."

Witchblade anime website open

From AnimeNation:

The official Japanese website for the Gonzo produced Witchblade anime television series, based on the American comic book series from Top Cow Productions, is now online.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

US Newspapers to carry manga-style comics

According to an Associated Press article, several North American newspapers are going to be carrying manga-style comics in an effort to attract younger audiences.

"We thought if teens and young kids are reading manga, then why don't we get something in the paper that teens want to read?" said John Glynn, vice president at Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes comics and columns globally to newspapers. "Newspapers are being seen as their parents' medium."

The Los Angeles Times, Denver Post, Vancouver Sun and Seattle Post-Intelligencer have already signed on to carry two strips: Van Von Hunter and Peach Fuzz. Both strips are created by American writers/illustrators and are currently being published by TOKYOPOP.

The Detroit News (my hometown newspaper) is also planning on carrying manga, but it's unclear whether it will be the same ones or something different.

"I know how popular manga and anime are among a young demographic. Go to any bookstore and there are kids swarming around the manga shelves. And by kids I mean everyone from high school into their 30s. There is even a local store devoted to manga paraphernalia [Where?], which is always packed," [Martin Fischhoff, assistant managing editor at The Detroit News] said in an e-mail. "But this trend clearly hasn't made itself felt in newspaper comic sections."

[Source: Slashdot]

The real test will come when/if newspapers actually start carrying strips that are original to to Japan, like Azumanga Diaoh. Now that would be cool.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Casting call for Cameron's Battle Angel

According to movies online, Mali Finn Casting is looking for an actress to play the lead roll in James Cameron's live action Battle Angel movie.

SEEKING FEMALE LEAD: 16-mid 20s. Any ethnicity, including Caucasian. She moves and behaves with confidence and a sense of nobility. Lithe as a cat. Athletic and agile. She is a warrior. Graceful movement and an ear for languages and dialects are essential.

One interesting thing to note is that the casting call is for the character of "Gally". "Gally" is the name used in the Yukito Kishiro's original manga. But when the manga was translated to english, the character's name was changed to "Alita". So will Cameron keep all of the original names? If so that would be very cool. But on the flip side it may confuse those who have read the US version but are not familiar with the original names. The other explanation -- I guess -- is that the writer for this particular article used "Gally" of his own volition.

Another interesting thing is that Cameron has previously said that he plans on haveing Gally's character be completely CG. So does that mean that the actress is just going to be used to do Gally's movements (like Andy Serkis did for Gollum and King Kong) or is she actually going to physically be in the movie?

Two very impressive trailers from Gonzo

Wow! Gonzo's first theatrical anime -- Brave Story -- looks to be spectacular. The trailer is now available on the movie's website. It's scheduled to be released in Japan on July 8, 2006.

Also from AnimeNation News:

Japan's Yahoo Movies has opened a website about Gonzo Studio's upcoming first theatrical anime film Gin-iro no Kami no Agito. The site features the 2:10 movie trailer in streaming small, medium, and large resolutions, a 12:25 "making of" documentary in small, medium, and large resolutions, and the 6:30 promotional music video for KOKIA's ending theme song "Ai no Melody" in small, medium, and large resolutions. The movie is scheduled for Japanese theatrical release on January 7, 2006.

Fortune article talks about live action Evangelion

Summary provided by

In discussing otaku (extreme anime fanatics) [in the Fortune article], Daniel Roth gives brief mention of the live action evangelion situation:

"Since 2003 [Ledford’s] been shopping the idea of making a live-action version of Neon Genesis Evangelion, […] Ledford signed on the Weta Companies, […] to come up with plans for what the Evangelion world might look like. But instead of micromanaging the project, Ledford had Weta answer to two Evangelion fanatics at his company."

Through badgering and extensive communication with Weta it shows that ADV are taking this film very seriously. This isn’t going to be a cheap knock off; ADV simply cannot afford to offend the great majority of their customers. And to that means it seems they want to do things right, with or without Hideaki Anno.

"Richard Taylor, Weta's co-founder, says he's never experienced anything quite like it. Twice a week he'd have a conference call with the fans at ADV, sending them renderings of his designs for things like the 100-foot-tall robots and getting in return their encyclopedic take on the interpretations. "These are people who could be considered scholars on the world of Evangelion," says Taylor. "We had to appease them and find their approval."

It follows on to mention a meeting between Taylor and a proposed producer at the San Diego Comic-Con in an attempt to ‘jump-start’ the production. Budgeting is also mentioned and it seems ADV has raised [about half of the $100m to] $120 million they need.

A fan even consulted Taylor during his meeting with the producer, asking whether or not anything was being done about the movie:Taylor turned to the producer and said, "This is why we have to do this movie."

Fortune Magazine covers anime and fansubbing

Fortune recently put out an article titled Anime Explosion which mainly discusses the success of anime distribution company ADV. The most interesting thing though (other than the live action Evangelion movie which I'll mention in another post) was the description of the process of fansubbing (although that may also be inaccurate for all I know):

This is open-source TV programming. "Fansubbers," as they're called, can spend more than a dozen hours collectively just to get a half-hour show ready for English speakers. The process is as orderly as an ant farm, with each fansubber having a specialized task. TV watchers in Japan start the process by recording an anime show and uploading it to the Net, typically a few hours after it airs. Bilingual fans around the world download the show and start writing out translations in text documents, which they post online or e-mail around. The first drafts have all kinds of mistakes—words are translated too literally or just wrong—and other translators make refinements. At this stage, self-appointed editors ask questions and make changes, then fan typesetters plug in the subtitles as well as the translations for words that pop up on signs or characters' T-shirts. Finally someone somewhere encodes the completed version—and here there's competition to see who can encode it with the fewest glitches and the best filters—and runs it through BitTorrent, a piece of software that allows large files to be downloaded quickly. Typically the fansubbers organize themselves in teams to make the process move more smoothly. All this is done for free.

It goes on to mention how the anime industry not only tollerates, but takes advantage of this form of piracy by considering it a type of market research. If a series generates a buzz among fansubbers then ADV is more likely to consider it for licensing. So in that way "With anime, almost more than any other medium except maybe music, the hard-core fans drive everyone else's interest."

Live action Blue Submarine #6

From AnimeNation:

In a new interview published in the first issue of Kadokawa Shoten's NewWORDS Magazine, Gonzo Digimation founder and president Shouji Murahama has revealed plans to create a new production company called "Gonzo Revolution" which will film live action movies. Gonzo Revolution's first project will be the live action Afro Samurai motion picture starring American actor Samuel L. Jackson (first announced last July). Gonzo Revolution's second project will tentatively be a live action film adaptation of the Blue Sub No. 6 anime series (itself an adaptation of a novel by Satoru Ozawa). The Blue Submarine no. 6 movie will be directed by Yukikaze director Masahiko Okura.

The Funimation Channel website now online

The Funimation channel -- a 24-hour cable channel that will be distributed by OlympusSAT -- now has its official website available.

I checked to see if it would be available via my Comcast cable service and got this message:

Congratualtions, you're lucky enough to have a cable subscriber in your area that is capable of carrying the FUNimation Channel. Now, we need your help. If you'd like to see these cable providers carry the FUNimation Channel, we need you to tell them about how great the FUNimation Channel is, and let them know that you would like to see them carry it. Simply give them a call, fax them a letter, or contact them online and PLEASE LET THEM KNOW!

I guess that means my area won't have it yet. But do I actually have the initiative to call?

A comic history of Aeon Flux

Although Aeon Flux isn't technically an anime, here's a history of the original series as told through a comic strip. It's funny and informative and a good refresher as it's been a while since I've seen the original annimation.

Blood+ Free Online Chapters

This doesn't do you much good unless you read Japanese, but at least you get a taste from the visuals. From Anime News Netowork:

Production I.G has placed the first chapters from two Blood+ manga on their official Blood+ website. The first chapter from yet a third different manga will be posted on December 5th. Each manga appears in a different manga anthology.

Interviews on the live action Evangelion

From TrivialBeing:

This past October, at Supanova, Australia's pop culture convention, Matt Greenfield of ADV Films, and Richard Taylor of WETA Workshop spoke about the prospects of Live Action Evangelion. You can download podcasts of the panels below:

Richard Taylor

Matt Greenfield

Some of the more interesting highlights:

  • The most interesting thing both panels mentioned is that Weta may (hopefully) start working on Evangelion after they're done producing Halo.
  • Richard Taylor said that he has never been more excited over a project other than Lord of the Rings.
  • Richard also said that for every email Weta gets about Lord of the Rings, they get 25 for Evangelion.
  • Richard -- just by happenstance -- bumped into Evangelion anime director Hideki Anno while visiting Gainax studios one day. They got into a discussion about their mutual facination with steam trains, and through that conversation also built up excitement over making the live action movie. So I guess Anno's on board with the project.
  • Matt Greenfield mentioned that they are pretty committed to creating a trilogy of movies.

Live action SaiKano trailer

I wasn't totally crazy over the anime, but trailer for the live action SaiKano movie looks pretty interesting. It's apparently scheduled to open up in Japanese theatres on January 28, 2006. [Source: AnimeNation]