Surprise subscription boxes are the best idea for geeks, otaku, and collectors since merchandise itself. Receiving wonderful new collectable toys, treats, and sometimes even collectable treats is supremely gratifying for fantasy aficionados. Combining the pleasure of gaining new goods with the anticipatory fun of surprise turns subscription boxes into Christmas gifts all year around. The June release of the Power Up Box has a monopoly on Guardians of the Galaxy goodness.
Via some Ebay research I just realized yesterday that the hardcover Lone Wolf & Cub volume 1 manga is quite probably the most valuable of all English language manga by a very wide margin. Evidently hardcover copies of Dark Horse’s first graphic novel were a limited retailer incentive and now cost as much as $300. However, 230 copies were hand-numbered and autographed by Kazuo Koike on a bookplate featuring an exclusive illustration by Goseki Kojima. Those 230 numbered copies run $1,200 to $1,300 apiece. Mine is #98. I’ve owned it for 15 years and never realized how valuable it was.
The first trailer for studio Shirogumi’s full CG Gamba: Gamba to Nakama-tachi (Gamba & Companions) movie has appeared online. The design and animation do look attractive, and I don’t know exactly how faithful this adaptation is to Atsuo Saito’s original novel, but anyone that’s watched any of Osamu Dezaki’s beloved 1975 anime TV series adaptation knows instantly that this isn’t the Gamba no Bouken that we remember. It’s not even close.
From its very first episode onward I’ve notice that the Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo franchise isn’t an ordinary school comedy. Earlier shows such as High School DxD and Rosario to Vampire have merged high school romantic comedy and supernatural elements, so in respect to genre “Yamajo” isn’t unique. But it’s tone is strikingly different from virtually every other anime. With an ongoing television series and two OADs so far, the series is undeniably popular among Japanese viewers. So I’ve begun to wonder if it’s precisely the story’s unique depiction of high school student relationships that sets the title apart and explains its swell of popularity.
The annual “Anime Research” academic poll is open once again. Scholars from Texas A&M University, Niagara County Community College, and Renison University College have collaborated to compose the survey. This year’s questions have been completely renewed to delve deeper into fans’ psychological and sociological engagement with anime and help answer questions raised by fans regarding the results of last year’s survey. The survey is anonymous and should take less than 30 min to complete. Participants are eligible to win a $50 Amazon gift card. Chances of winning are 1 in 200; winner selection will be confidential and not associated with survey responses. The poll will be open from today, June 4, until July 4, 2015.
The results of the 2014 survey are available on the Anime Research homepage.
Studio Trigger has just released the first trailer for its Kickstarter funded short film Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade. The sequel to the 2013 OVA will get a limited Japanese theatrical release in October after its initial distribution to its 7,938 Kickstarter backers.
While creator Shoujo Kawamori’s Aquarion Evol manga continues to exhibit its quirky defining characteristics, it’s with pleasure that I report that the manga’s second volume improves upon all of the weaknesses of the first book. Uneven pacing and tone, opaque narrative, and obscured battle choreography all plagued the introductory volume of the manga. All of those attributes are addressed and improved in the second book.
Typical people receive gifts on birthdays and Christmas day. Ambitious collector, however, dream of receiving wondrous boxes of joyful toys every day. Although that dream may still be a fantasy for most people, the prevalence of monthly surprise subscription boxes has brought the dream much closer to viability for most people than ever before. Monthly subscription boxes are now available in specializations of virtually every conceivable focus, including anime, comics, snack food, survival gear, beauty supplies, and even adult novelties. Relatively new kid on the block Power Up Box seeks to out-muscle rival “geek culture” subscription boxes like Loot Crate and Nerd Block, and its premium May release goes a long way toward overpowering its competition.
Kadokawa has announced that Natsume Akatsuki’s light novel series Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o! (Give Blessings to This Wonderful World!) will be getting an anime TV series adaptation. The story revolves around a goddess who says to a Japanese schoolboy, “I’ll take you to an alternate world. You may only bring one thing you like with you.” So the boy responds, “I’ll bring you.”
Among the 22 responses to the news on the Anime News Network forum, the title is compared to Sword Art Online, Gate, Nagi no Asukara, Shinsekai Yori, and D-Frag, yet none of the responses mention Ah! Megami-sama. My first reaction upon hearing the “KonoSuba” plot summary was, “schoolboy selects the goddess to stay with him'; that’s Ah! My Goddess being combined with the traditional Leda/Rayearth/No Game No Life “transported to an alternate world” trope.
Japan, and Tokyo in particular, has developed a unique, and by American standards, odd, tremendously advanced social and technological culture of enabling millions of tightly packed humans to live and interact with the least amount of potentially embarrassing, stress-inducing, or confusing human interaction possible. While American society traditionally appreciates and values warm, personal service, Japanese culture has evolved to elevate polite and formal pragmatism that excludes as much interpersonal interaction among strangers as humanly possible. Patrons can dine in a crowded restaurant and be surrounded by evidence of social life yet can enter the restaurant, order and consume a complete meal, pay, and depart without ever having to interact with a single human being or even speak a single word out loud. The restaurant’s design even allows employees to work efficiently without having to extensively interact with their co-workers. It’s a carefully and precisely designed and manufactured routine daily experience that allows for maximum urban efficiency with zero stress caused by having to communicate with or interact with other people.
AnimeNation Forum member Old Hat has published his review of my light novel Bloody Angel. The review is spoiler-free and largely positive.
A friend living in Tokyo sent me this brief review of the latest Dragon Ball Z movie:
I went out today and saw the Dragonball Z Revival of F film. Received a wrapped copy of the script as a present. Probably won’t open it. Saw previews for Ultron, The Beast and the Boy, Tensai Bakabon and a teaser for a new Ghost in the Shell film. Happily, the film shows the most intense fighting in DBZ put to film to date. Unfortunately, the pacing and the dramatic tension of the film are off, so the middle of the film is the most exciting whereas the climax doesn’t have the natural impact it should. A couple of choices seem quite odd – there’s a big tie-in to the story with the Galaxy Patrolman Jaco, which has never been animated before; Trunks and Goten are absent entirely; and Beerus and Freeza have to know each other because of the previous film’s retcon. There are also strange gaps in the plot such as Freeza’s off-screen training and Pilaf and co. meeting Freeza’s lackeys, which seem to scream “deleted scenes kept for Blu-Ray release.” Still, there are some nice little touches to this film, like Krillin being a police officer with hair and having One Piece‘s theme song as his ringtone (Tanaka Mayumi is the seiyuu for both Krillin and Luffy), Piccolo uneasily rocking Pan’s crib, and Vegeta not wanting to teleport to Earth with Goku because that means he’ll have to hold hands with him. Whereas Battle of Gods could have been a stand-alone DBZ revival, the somewhat unsatisfying F film feels like DBZ can’t end like this, there has got to be another film…. It looks like there may not be another film yet, but at least we’re getting a new DB TV series called “Dragonball Super.” The last DB TV series with original content was GT almost 20 years ago.