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Friday, December 8, 2017

Manga DVD Sanctuary: Third Time's Not Quite the Charm...

Near the end of the first year of this blog's very existence (in the far off year of 2011...), I watched & reviewed two products released under the hyper-short-lived Manga DVD line. On October 3, 2003, a production company named Shadow Entertainment released three DVDs, with distribution by Sony Pictures Entertainment, that took three classic manga & turned them into what people nowadays would call a "motion comic". In other words, instead of actually creating full-on anime adaptations of these works, the panels from the manga would be shown on screen, alongside some minor visual effects, full voice acting, sound effects, & a musical score. Unfortunately, Shadow only ever produced three of these DVDs, and all those years ago I covered the Manga DVD versions of Kyoufu Shinbun & Ring ni Kakero. Now it is finally time for me cover the third of these products... This is Manga DVD Sanctuary.

Technically, it's done in 4:3 full-screen, but except for the credits
it's all shown letterboxed, so I'm cropping here.

Running from 1990-1995 in the pages of Shogakukan's Big Comic Spirits, Sanctuary was a political thriller written by Sho Fumimura (a.k.a. Yoshiyuki Okamura, but best known as Fist of the North Star's Buronson) & drawn by Ryoichi Ikegami (Crying Freeman, Mai, the Psychic Girl); in fact, this would be the first of many collaborations between these two mangaka. The manga ran for 12 volumes, & prompted both a Japanese live-action theatrical adaptation in 1995 & a 50-minute OVA in 1996, both of which actually saw English release by Viz Media (who also released the manga, translated by Matt Thorn). Unfortunately, no version sold amazingly in North America, so the manga has been out-of-print for decades, & neither the movie nor the OVA ever saw a DVD release (VHS only, people). Even in Japan, while both the manga & movie have seen re-releases, the OVA still remains without a DVD release. Therefore, the Manga DVD adaptation is actually the most recent version of this story, which makes it all the more interesting that it's the most obscure & forgotten. Looking back at my reviews, I was generally pleased with what Shadow Entertainment had done with the other two productions, so let's see if this third one follows in their tracks.

Friday, December 1, 2017

No Obscusion for Miss Blandish: Lucky Anniversary Number Slevin

Man, have I been doing this blog for seven years now? At this point, I sometimes start to wonder if what I'm doing is actually resulting in anything substantial, or if I'm just doing this because it's become a regular part of my current life. In fact, a couple of days ago, the author of The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers, John Sczepaniak, sent an update to the people who helped crowdfund his series of books featuring Japanese developer interviews; it got tweeted by others & made more public. In it, he laments how his work isn't being more celebrated than he feels it should be, calling the entire endeavor a "colossal waste".

Honestly, I kind of relate to that feeling to an extent, as this blog is somewhat similar in basic concept to what Sczepaniak has been doing (i.e. making more know the niche & obscure), but seeing his words makes me realize that I still do enjoy what I do here, and I've been doing this blog for longer than he has been making his books. I don't disparage those who have read my posts, I don't hate on people for not retweeting my new post tweets (which, in turn, limits how many people read them), and I don't feel bitter about starting this in the first place; granted, he got money to make his books, so maybe that's affecting him, too. Still, I understand Sczepaniak's frustration, so I'll make sure to finally buy his first two Volumes sometime this holiday season, and I say you should do so, too, if you're a fan of old-school gaming.

That being said, I can never tell when I'll decide to put an end to this blog & call it quits. After all, life moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. Therefore, I want to try to remove as many feelings of regret as possible, so for the first time ever I am dedicating an entire year to an overall concept. Yes, the year 2018 shall be "The Year of Unfinished Business"!! While I'll still be doing the usual things like Twelve Anime lists, Theory Musing, & the quarterly Demo Disc, every anime & manga review (plus some B-Sides) will either be related to something I had reviewed previously on the blog, or it will simply be something that I effectively said I'll cover (or at least wanted to cover) at some point in the future on this blog before... Because I had a massive problem with doing that. We'll be seeing the return of Kazuya Minekura's Saiyuki, Masami Kurumada's Saint Seiya, Mitsuteru Yokoyama's Mars, & the dread specter of Idea Factory anime, among other titles. In fact, to show how serious I am with this idea, up next will be me finally covering the last of the Manga DVD series, Sanctuary.

Still, I want to do something for this Anniversary post in particular, so here's a mini-review of something based on a Masami Kurumada manga (because of course I couldn't get through an entire year without reviewing a Kurumada-related product) that was released this year (because I haven't covered something truly "recent" in a while), and it's the perfect way to prepare for the Manga DVD.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Twelve Mech Anime That Deserve a (Literal) Second Chance in SRW Part 2

So around the time Part 1 of this list came about, Bandai Namco announced that there will be new information coming out regarding Super Robot Wars via a live stream on December 11. Not just that, but the company's Southeast Asia Twitter account, which posts in English, also promoted the live stream, so it's likely that the Moon Dwellers & V English translation efforts were a success. With that in mind, at least one entry in this list has an (ever so slightly) better chance for re-inclusion than before (...maybe). With that said, let's get straight into Part 2 of this list of "mech anime" (read: not all are anime) that saw a single appearance in SRW, but deserve a second moment in the spotlight.

Hideaki Anno's Neon Genesis Evangelion, though itself homaging mech anime that came before it, became a massively influential anime. Yoshiyuki Tomino couldn't escape the connection with Brain Powerd, though he technically came up with the concept before Eva debuted, Masami Obari's Platinumhugen Ordian was a blatant response to it (even using Norse mythology instead of Christian mythos) and Yutaka Izubuchi's 2002 TV series RahXephon likewise was caught up in being called an "Eva clone". Detailing Ayato Kamina's battle against the Dolems of the ancient Mu civilization, while also finding out the truth of the life he's lived in Tokyo Jupiter all his life, the anime was obviously similar to Anno's tale in various ways, but it was also made to be a heavy homage to 70s mecha icon Brave Raideen, especially since Ayato & the RahXephon shot arrows & had an equivalent of Akira Hibiki & Raideen's God Voice. I remember back when I first started getting into anime fandom in the mid-00s, and RahXephon was definitely a popular series for its time, so I have always wondered why it only appeared in a single SRW... At least going off of my criteria for this list.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Twelve Mech Anime That Deserve a (Literal) Second Chance in SRW Part 1

If one can't tell, this year's Mecha Month is rather low-key; I didn't even officially announce it as such. Part of that is because I feel like I hit an end of an era last year when I covered the Matchless Raijin-Oh OVAs, which put an end to me covering that anime (& it's thematic deconstruction Bokurano) every November for the past four years. Therefore, I think it's only appropriate for me to put an end to another Mecha Month tradition that happened alongside the Raijin-Oh-related reviews.

Not sure if this is official artwork or just fan work, but it encapsulations SRW perfectly.

Bandai Namco's Super Robot Wars franchise celebrated its 25th Anniversary last year, and has remained the ultimate love letter to mech anime & the seemingly infinite potential when you combine together various giant robots from across history. Over these 2+ decades of games, more than 150 different mech anime, manga, & even games have seen inclusion in some way or another, but even then it will never be enough; there will always be content from the past, present, & future to include. Therefore, two years ago I listed twelve series (11 anime & 1 game) that had yet to make their SRW debuts, but I felt were still viable for inclusion one day (or at least I really wanted to see...); even today, only one has since debuted (Idolmaster Xenoglossia), but only for a limited time on a mobile spin-off. Last year, I flipped the script & detailed twelve titles that actually appeared in SRW multiple times, but have not returned in over a decade; again, mobile spin-offs aside, none have since returned. So, to finish this trilogy of SRW lists, let's take a look at twelve "mech anime" (read: not all are exactly anime) that were once (& only once) given the spotlight, but I feel deserve a second chance to show their stuff. I'm using the same restrictions as last year's list (at least 10 years since inclusion, no spin-offs, & nothing that Akira Kamiya voiced a major role in), so here we go!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Robotech/Voltron: ♪1+1+1+1+1... Macross! Macross!! Macross!!!♪ Wait, That's Not Right...

In the 80s, two anime dominated North American TV airwaves when they were localized & adapted in similar ways. Harmony Gold's Robotech from 1985 was an amalgamation of three separate mech anime, 1982's Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, 1984's Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross, & 1983's Genesis Climber Mospeada, while World Events Productions' Voltron: Defender of the Universe from 1984-1985 was made up of two series, 1981's Beast King GoLion & 1982's Armored Fleet Dairugger XV, but in both cases only one of the sources would become the de facto face of their own respective franchises. For Robotech it would be Macross (though, due to legal issues, Mospeada would eventually be used as the basis for future productions), while for Voltron it would be GoLion (so much so that an adaptation of Lightspeed Electroid Albegas was scrapped in favor of completely original "Lion Force" episodes). After decades of ups & downs for both franchises, though, we're at an interesting time for both of these icons of the 80s.

There hasn't been anything truly "new" from Robotech since the maligned movie The Shadow Chronicles in 2007 (yes, I know of 2013's Robotech: Love Live Alive, but that was just an adaptation of the 1985 Mospeada OVA of the same name), and after filing an arbitration lawsuit against Tatsunoko that revealed that HG's license to the three shows that comprised the series will expire in 2021, it looks like Robotech is slowly approaching death's door; while money does talk, I highly doubt Tatsunoko will renew HG's license at this point. Meanwhile, Voltron has had a couple of full-length animated series within this very decade alone, 2011's generally maligned kind-of-sort-of-maybe sequel Voltron Force & 2016's highly beloved reboot Voltron: Legendary Defender. In between those two series, though, a company called Dynamite Entertainment had the comic rights to both franchises, so it was decided to have the two cross over, which resulted in 2013's Robotech/Voltron, a five-issue American comic that focuses specifically on the Macross cast meeting with the "Lion Force" GoLion cast.

Amusingly enough, this is literally the only time these two series have ever officially interacted with each other anywhere in the world, as the only Super Robot Wars game to feature GoLion, 2007's W on the DS, did not feature Macross in any way. All this being said, was anyone even asking for this to happen, & is it any good in the first place? Let's find out...