Deb Aoki Interview – San Diego Comic Con 2010

We talked to Deb Aoki, the influential Guide of manga.about.com, after her panel about “The Best and Worst Manga of 2010” at this year’s Comic Con. It’s a short interview, where we ask just a few basic questions. Pardon the noise in the video–it was shot with an iPhone and and things were just a bit hectic after the panel!

Thanks to Deb for letting us interview her! And happy belated birthday–consider this a late present of sorts. :)

Yoshida Brothers Concert Set List

Second day of Otakon.. and my updates will be slightly off, since I won’t be able to process any of my reporting until after my the con, or when I get a steady internet connection, that I don’t need to pay $13 a night for. I was able to attend the Yoshida Brother’s Concert yesterday, and this is their set list. The reason why I think about this, is the fact that Moritheil last year did it with Kanon Wakeshima concert. I will post a more indepth feelings update maybe later, when I have that huge down time in the afternoon.

Set List

  1. Kodo Intro
  2. Aiya (w/Ippiki)
  3. Ibuki (w/Ippiki)
    MC 1
  4. Panorama
  5. Time of Sand
    MC 2
  6. End of the World (Kenichi)
    (Ippiki Solo)
  7. Saiun (Ryoichiro w/ Ippiki)
    MC 3
  8. Blooming
  9. Overland Blues
  10. Oboro-Zukiyo
    MC 4
  11. Tsugaru Jongara-Bushi
    Encore: Kodo

Japanese set list of Yoshida Brothers Concert

Comic Con 2010 Photo Slideshow

These are just the best of the photos we took this year at San Diego Comic Con! Includes some exclusive pics of the Marvel/Madhouse collaboration and some character designs for the upcoming Iron Man anime, as well as some excellent pictures of Yoshitaka Amano. Not to mention celebrity pics of Eva Mendes, Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen, Mark Wahlberg, and more!

A real photo gallery section is coming soon. Stay tuned.

Sleeper File: Eve No Jikan – The Life Positronic


1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

-Isaac Asimov, Runaround (from I.Robot 1942)

Having missed Yasuhiro Yoshiura’s indie production, Pale Cocoon upon its release in 2004, it was possibly intentional on my part to ignore the man’s works until I had a full on chance to see where he began. And to see that he had also been involved in numerous support roles in recent shows including Rebuild Of Evangelion, it only felt right to finally dive in, and see where he stood amongst other indie luminaries such as Makoto Shinkai. How little I knew how much I wold actually grow to admire his potential after finally seeing Pale Cocoon for myself. Even if it is a pretty scrappy piece of work, and offers little to grasp onto writing-wise, I was impressed by his visual style, and wish to tackle some heady science-fiction regarding human neglect and its will to better grasp the hows and whys. So finally, the chance came to explore his first full-blown series experiment in the form of a six episodes that were released as online only.(streaming for the series began with episode one in October of 2008, and streamed the finale in September of 2009)  Unsure of such a proposition, there indeed was a little worry on my part going in, but it can now be safely said that Yoshiura has himself a compelling creature in the form of Even No Jikan. And as of this writing, the series has not only completed its brief run, but has also experienced a theatrical version run earlier this year. And there are few shows today, so willing to merge the shell of anime & the thoughtfulness of good science fiction that this comes as a grand exhale of minty cool in an era bereft of anything but disparate gimmicks.


Rikuo Kikuhara is a high schooler, living with his often away from home parents, an older sister seemingly residing in the family living room, and with Sammy, dutiful home servant. Only it seems that her daily activities aside from the requisite cooking, cleaning, and shopping expected of androids of her type, has been found unaccountable over several instances of time outside the house. Shopping and errands are taking an unrealistic amount of time. No explanation forthcoming, and troubled by a bizarre message in the Sammy’s data logs, Rikuo takes it upon himself, along with mechanically prejudiced classmate Masaki to trace the servant’s steps to discover the truth behind her mysterious disappearances. No sooner do they come across a doorway in an undisclosed alley, leading the duo to Eve No Jikan (Time Of Eve) a hidden cafe especially designed for both robots and humans to co-exist calmly, welcoming new customers with a sign signifying the cafe’s singular rule: “There is to be no discrimination between robots and humans”

It is here that Rikuo & Masaki begin to meet the cafe’s few patrons, and within six brief episodes, explore their own feelings on a world populated by machines from those created by man, and those self-made by a society afraid of its own shadow. The social implications of a populace surrounded by subservient creations has been a staple of not merely anime, but of literate science fiction for well over several decades now, and Yoshiura’s short series is definitely another in this pantheon, but has an interesting distinction in how it treats the subject matter with an unexpected reverence for Asimov’s concerns, and places them in a more intimate setting. Watching the complete series, there are only five settings throughout the entire project, the majority of which takes place in Eve No Jikan as the undisclosed nation outside brims with a growing miasma of prejudice against the mechanical whom have comfortably nestled into every part of the societal body. Many stories have covered this material before, but to take the quiet , kuuki-kei approach is a novel one closer in tone to an episode of The Outer Limits than Blade Runner, that is, if TOL had an episode comfortable with a cup of coffee and good conversation.

Each episode centers on Rikuo’s reaction upon getting to know each patron on a new level, as the publicly mandated “haloes” are removed, and the machines take on a more relaxed, almost human form in the safety of the cafe. Among the unique visitors to the establishment are chatty Akiko, enigmatic couple Koji & Rina, playful child Chie and her elder guardian Shimei whom each bear a tale placing pre-established beliefs into question. All the while, a world less understanding in the form of the little known, but media strongarm movement known as The Ethics Committee is making moves against robot-safe regions known as Grey Zones in greater metropolitan areas. The contrast between Rikuo’s growing understanding of a changing world, as well as the building tension within the less-than receptive Masaki (who’s background makes for an interesting, albeit simplistic counterpoint) make for a quietly escalating war of notions on what it means to integrate our mecha brethren into our daily lives.

And even as these oft-told stories have indeed been a part of anime & manga for quite some time, Yoshiura’s take is a much more a thinly-veiled look at the modern japanese experience, than another robot parable for the ages. As Rikuo begins to peel past the layers of what he had once understood about his world, it is clear that he himself has long put away vital feelings in order to better align with the group dynamic. From seeing how Sammy regards her so-called owners with respect, and maybe even adoration, Rikuo starts to see the blurring of any lines that had once been placed there by a young public, unsure exactly why it felt so compelled to create simulacra capable of expressing what they themselves cannot. In the ideal eyes of cafe hostess Nagi,  empathy akin to hers  is something often placed aside in the outside world, and has helped fashion an environment where dependence on the indirect nature of the masses has no application. From the glowing haloes hovering over the heads of programmed servants outdoors in a grand means to delineate human from machine makes for an interesting look at aesthetic dependence in hopes of maintaining an image of order in a time where so many are in fact not on any grid whatsoever. The self-imposed denial of externalized feelings has been relegated to prime status, as progress marches on with a public trapped in an eternal adolescence, completely unsure of what to make of the new world they have created.

It is also telling in the series how machines are often treated with the stressful disdain of meaningless objects, while those closer with their mechanical counterparts are being seen as a social anomaly. Rikuo’s growing respect for the folks of Eve No Jikan runs counter to popular belief, and thus brings some burning dilemmas to light in what could easily have been another CG-laden blob of nonsense. Much like the id-pressure valves video games can offer us, it is easy to succumb toward objects with the same kind of general disregard, but as Eve No Jikan displays (as did sections of The Animatrix-most notably Mahiro Maeda’s The Second Renaissance), the treatment of those who share a resemblance toward their creators gives us a stark look into our disconnected natures. So just as the show helps us better see the robots as potentially sympathetic creatures with personalities & frailties of their own, it gives us a more contextural view of this dilemma than merely fiery violence, and robogore. More interested in the subtle, Yoshiura’s theme playfully shows us more than tells. Something that is also refreshing in anime series of this kind. There is even room for sly humor when an outdated pre-humanoid model shows up, demanding the treatment given to any patron, nasty glitches and all.

Despite the budget upgrade from Cocoon, the series is clearly done with limited means, and takes full advantage with some often lovely production savvy that can compete with some of tv’s strongest works over the last decade. At times it’s a lovely mix between 3D and 2D, and offers some lush images rife with a muted coffee color that invites a more relaxed atmo, perfect for the stories inherent. Also worth nothing are fine performances by Rie Tanaka, Kenji Nojima, & even Ritsuko Akagi herself, Yuriko Yamaguchi who bring an almost retro-feel to the proceedings. There are also weaknesses as the pacing at times feels a little unsure of itself early in the series, but soon after, it begins to pick up once the writing becomes a lot more comfortable with the setting. It becomes clear later on that there were characters they were much more interested in exploring come later episodes.

So all in all, the world of Eve No Jikan seems ready to expand into other areas as it all ends on an incomplete note. Whether or not this comes to pass, I personally am fine with brevity. But the series does offer enchantments few shows can with such a limited budget. There is truly a large scope outside the walls of this place, but perhaps it is up to us to fill in those gaps with what it is we intend to bring to the discussion.

Curious? Eve No Jikan can be caught on Crunchyroll!

Another Stab in the Dark

The San Diego Comic Con has been around for years, but nothing draws in the media like scandal. So it is unsurprising that the media flocked to rumors on Twitter of a stabbing, complete with (entirely fabricated) gory details like blood-drenched shirts and gaping wounds. The reality of it was more schoolyard fight than slasher, more petulant than perverse. This was no Akihabara knifing or even “Apple store incident.” What happened?

Around 4:00 p.m., two adult males attending the convention got into a scuffle shortly after a panel in Hall H of the convention center. – LA Times

That’s right – a man got scratched in the face with a pen, and the police took his assailant away. There’s even video, courtesy of elguapo1:

To be sure, the attempt at violence was there. And to be sure, the police were right to identify this as a case of assault and haul the perpetrator away. All the lurid fictions, however – the tales of betrayal, of passion, of dark secrets – now appear entirely unjustified. Instead it appears that anime otaku, like all other people, are capable of losing their temper and lashing out. When this happened, the police were there and the situation was under control.

Is that truly so surprising?

Officer Stafford describes most of the attendees of this years Comic-Con as peaceful, saying “They don’t drink, so that cuts down on the fights.”
LA Times

If you’re dead set on selling an image of otaku as dangerous, antisocial, and violently out of control, perhaps it is unsurprising when rumors of a stabbing start, or surprising when they turn out to be vastly exaggerated. Viewed with some perspective, though, this minor altercation is just business as usual for a large convention. The real surprise is that people keep playing to stereotypical expectations instead of heeding the true story.

Comic Con 2010 Tokyopop Panel Liveblog

2:02 PM—Talking about Priest. Saw the Hall H movie preview for this yesterday. I find it interesting that a manhwa is the first potential breakout for TP. The same artist, Min-Woo Hyung, is doing another one called Ghost Face which TP is also publishing.

2:04 PM—Skelanimals. “Adorable and creepy”: not much of the latter if you ask me :)

2:04 PM—social media strategy on Facebook. Also, digital distribution via Zinio. I remember reading an Adobe creative magazine via Zinio magazine reader. There’s also e-books via the public library. (I should get my Sony Reader back…)

2:08 PM—Van Von Hunter DVD–that looks like a live action parody? Looks like a personal project of the staff of TP.

2:09 PM—current releases: a graphic novel based on the movie Labyrinth called Return to Labyrinth. The writer of it is a panelist and he’s been talking about it.

2:15 PM—still talking about Return to Labyrinth. It goes on sale on August 1.

2:20 PM—Another adaptation, this time for another Jim Henson property, Legends of the Dark Crystal. It’s 80s fantasy film time! Other adaptations: StarCraft 2.

2:22 PM—Hanako and the Terror of Allegory vol. 2, by Sakae Esuno.

2:24 PM—New releases: Karin (I refuse to call it Chibi Vampire!) Airmail, which is an anthology. Also How to Draw Shojo Manga, which is done from the artist of Ouran, Fruits Basket, Vampire Knight among others. It’s actually produced by the Japanese publisher of various shojo magazines.

2:25 PM—Continuation of Happy Cafe and Alice in the Country of Hearts and Ratman and Future Diary.

2:26 PMHetalia comes out in October. To much cheering, of course, from the fangirls! Also something based on World of Warcraft. There definitely seem to be a lot of those kinds of titles lately.

2:28 PMDemon Sacred “featuring super hot demon boys!” That says it all. “Cute girls, unicorns, and hot guys.”

2:30 PMSaving Life, from the author of Girls Bravo!. “A fan-service bonanza.” Hah, it got no crowd reaction…this is not a fan service crowd I see.

2:31 PM—Summoner Girl. Plus, The Stellar Six of Gingacho, which the editor compares to Honey and Clover but with younger characters. Really? That would be nice…though color me skeptical.

2:33 PM—December releases: Eensy Weensy Monster, which, believe it or not, is by the author of Kare Kano (Masumi Tsuda). I see a stick figure on the cover: is this why they went with stick figures and sketchy art in one of the later episodes of the anime?

2:36 PM—.hack light novels. Full Metal Panic light novel, following the story of The Second Raid.

2:38 PM—I see they have a BL line now called “Blu.” They publish Gakuen Heaven, Baseball Haven (incoming pitcher and catcher jokes!)…see a pattern with these titles here?

2:40 PM—There’s a new Joss Whedon movie called The Cabin in the Woods coming soon. They’re doing the graphic novel of it. That’s the first I heard about this movie…

2:42 PM—Lives, by the author of Battle Royale, which is, well, quite gory. A lot of disemboweling, apparently. (BR was too much for me. See our review of one of the omnibus editions.)

2:43 PM—LOL: Mr. Clean, Fully Equipped! An OCD clean freak saved by a girl.

2:45 PM—it’s Q&A time now. I’m not sure there were actually any new licenses after all, or maybe they just mixed them in with the upcoming releases. Seems that new license announcements are a crapshoot at Comic Con in general–I totally didn’t expect Bandai to have any this year.

Iron Man Anime Panel Premiere Liveblog

8:04 PM – we are in front row. I’m going to have great pictures up on this article soon. Panel has not yet started.

8:07 PM – today’s presenters (according to the signs up front): Kristin Adams and John Rieber from G4. Jeph Loeb from Marvel. Masao Maruyama from Madhouse.

8;16 PM – Jeff Loeb, head of Marvel TV, is up now.

8:19 PM – The stuff will be shown on G4. Subtitled in Japanese with English. They’re about to start showing it.

8:45 PM – We just finished airing. Kristin Adams is introducing the other panelists.

8:47 PM – Jeph Loeb of Marvel: they believed that bringing in Madhouse was much better than doing it on their own. “Japan for Japan.” There is a different storyline apart from the standard canon.

8:48 PM – Wolverine is the next Marvel property to be anime, then the X-Men. Then, Blade.

8:49 PM – they’re showing the character designs for the Iron Man anime designs. And now Wolverine.

8:51 PM – Maruyama on translating Western comics into Japanese style.

9:01 PM – all Marvel anime will be subbed.

Iron Man Anime Episode 1 Review

We were at the panel that premiereed the Iron Man Anime, the colloration effort between Marvel and Madhouse. Having not seen the Iron Man movie nor having not read the comic, I have limited interest in the franchise. That said, I’ll begin with the plot and the review. Those who want to be surprised, don’t read the plot part. Also see Anime News Network’s review, written by Todd Ciolek.

Continue reading Iron Man Anime Episode 1 Review

Comic Con 2010 – Yen Press Panel Liveblog

New License Announcements

1:08 PMHighschool of the Dead manga licensed.

1:08 PMHigurashi manga (sidestory).

1:10 PMBetrayal Knows My Name. It seems they are focusing on licensing shows that are either very recent or currently on anime…

1;11 PMAron’s Absurd Armada. Full color 4-koma manhwa. Are they into the slashy stuff or what? :)

1:12 PMThe Bride’s Stories by Kaoru Mori. Interestingly enough this was mentioned in yesterday’s Best/Worst Manga panel as a promising unlicensed manga. Guess it’s not unlicensed now!

News

1:14 PM – Yen Press Magazine moving online. There is a hint that a “certain green haired girl” will be making an appearance. Yotsuba?

1:15 PM – The online magazine will not be in Flash. Heh–the iPad may in fact be an ideal device for reading that sort of thing.

1:20 PM – it’s Q&A now. Will record the most interesting questions.

Q/A

1:20 PM – they feel no need to separate out their yaoi material in a separate imprint. They don’t want to “ghettoize” that stuff.

1:21 PM – the manga will be only viewable online, not downloadable. You can sign in through one login on multiple machines (within reason).

1:23 PM – no new light novels are being planned, aside from continuing existing ones. However, with Haruhi, the Disappearance novel will be coming out soon.

1:24 PM – feels that eInk is not ideal for reading manga, which is why they’re focusing on the iPad and similar devices.

1:25 PM – giveaways. I think that’s it.

Sekirei Pure Engagement 03 – Kazehana get!

Yes! OH YES! Kazehana get! She totally commanded the episode and showed all her womanly charms, which made everyone else looking like girl scouts. Yukana, who we interviewed back in 07, performed outstandingly in this episode with some ass-kicking, some good ol’ fashion naked-apron loving and all the other goodies that makes a mature woman attractive – no BS, just right. As Kazehana would say, “when you love someone, you just do it.”

As ridiculous as the concept of the show is – it’s a glorified harem show – having characters with perky and fun personalities always highlights the other strengths of the show. But here’s a really important tip even for men in real life: being manly and brave even if you’re really just a powerless wuz physically really impresses the ladies. Even if they laugh at your attempts of being manly, taking charge at the appropriate times as a man should really helps. As David DeAngelo would say, women don’t feel attraction toward wussies. Constantly telling a girl how much you like her really doesn’t help. Then again, it’s an anime and it’s Sekirei, as long as you’re the main character or the right audience, what do you care? XD

Now we know Sahashi’s mom works for MBI. Interesting, so I guess of course it’s not a coincidence that somehow he gets the most Sekirei. His mom hooked him up somehow! That’s a cool mom.

The relationship dynamic between Karasuba and Musubi is quite interesting. Musubi looks very much like her minion in this episode and it seems like she’s in on some scheme that Karasuba is planning. What would it be? Is it simply just a relationship between a mentor and a student?

Man, I can’t wait to see Kazehana’s outlandish antics next episode. This show offers fun little treats every step of the way since season one and having girls that are so easy on the eyes really boosts its value. You’d have to be a harem-comedy hater to hate it.

Comic Con 2010 Funimation Panel – Live Blog

See our last panel report from AX and the licensing bonanza.

6:01 PM – Funi and the anime industry: it’s not as bad as it looks. The bad economy is a big factor. After all, AX was huge…recall the “DON’T PANIC” theme from 2008. They are committed to continunig dubs.

6:04 PM – 51% of the anime audience is older than 25. But the biggest group online is 13-17 years old.

6:06 PM – Social media strategy on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc. Stats.

6:07 PM – Simulcasting. Including this season’s stuff. See their page. Also their Video on Demand from various cable providers.

6:09 PM – Antipiracy efforts. Just one lawyer and three staff? They go after the counterfeit goods, torrent links, streaming/download, direct link storage sites. Simulcasting.

6:10 PMMy Bride is a Mermaid (aka Seto no Hamayome). Trailer. I loved this show.

6:12 PMMaster of Martial Hearts (Zettai Shogeki). I like their ad: “I can has double moe cheezburger.”

6:15 PMCasshern Sins.

6:16 PMCorpse Princess (Shikabane-hime), which they had been streaming for a while. Finally coming to DVD release. Great for the zombie fans!

6:18 PMHetalia Axis Powers (to much squeeing). Finally coming out on September 14th on DVD. I always thought this show was an excuse to indulge as much national stereotyping as possible :) They’re streaming it now. And that’s right–they hired their dub cast recently.

6:23 PMEden of the East (which I love dearly). Described as “Jason Bourne, the anime”–well, there are some similarities and one direct reference…See our interview with the creators here. Blu-Ray in September 25th. The dub voice for Juiz is actually pretty good.

6;25 PM – Contest winner for the “Fullmetal Free Ride” video contest. It’s to show how big of a FMA: Brotherhood fan you are. They’re bringing the winner, Megan Hewlett, up to show the video. Funi apparently taped the reaction shot of them telling them they won.

6:32 PMAlien vs Ninja from Sushi Typhoon, their live action Japanese cult film imprint. Also includes Mutant Girls Squad. They’re introducing the Japanese producer of these movies. They have a panel later tonight at 8:15 PM, with full screenings tomorrow night.

6:37 PM – AX Announcements: Geneon rescues: Technolyze, Ai Yori Aoshi, Armitage III, Haibane Renmei, Hellsing TV, Serial Experiments: Lain, the entire Tenchi franchise.

6:38 PMDarker than Black s2. Shana S2. Railgun and Index. Black Lagoon OVA. Hellsing Ultimate V-VIITrigun movie.

6:41 PM – Q&A section. That’ll be it for me today.