Tag Archives: news

Daisuki, a Studio-Backed Anime Streaming Service: First Look and Interview

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A new entrant into the legal international anime streaming scene has arrived—Daisuki. What makes Daisuki unique is that it enjoys the direct backing and co-production of several major Japanese animation studios, namely Aniplex, Sunrise, Toei Animation, TMS, and NAS. (In this it is similar to an analogous service launched by several major Japanese manga publishers, the now defunct J-Manga.) Launch titles include Madoka Magica, Lupin III, Gundam Seed, Prince of Tennis, and One Piece, and they have also posted a survey to help decide which titles to add next. Besides streaming anime for free, they also have plans to develop merchandise available for purchase, with a launch giveaway campaign to start.

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As of now, the streaming works smoothly and ad-free, and for Madoka it uses the same Aniplex translation and video as seen already on Crunchyroll. User registration—which is not required to watch—had some hiccups, but according to the official Twitter, the matter is being addressed. (For the record, I got my confirmation email within 10 minutes, so it’s probably already resolved.)

Interview

We got a chance to ask Eri Maruyama, Daisuki’s International Business Development representative, some questions about the service, its goals, and how it sees itself in a field that already has legal services like Crunchyroll and Funimation.

AD: Describe the genesis of the Daisuki idea—how did the decision to form this group to distribute anime digitally in America directly come about?

Maruyama: It was a kind of natural development since each of the companies started to think the same thing: one legal platform from Japan directed at overseas fans to provide their content. By the way, DAISUKI will be available world wide.

AD: Is there a monthly fee or is it pay per download? What are the proposed rates?

Maruyama: DAISUKI.net is a streaming service. Basically you can watch all Animes for free, some premium content will be fee-based.

AD: Some of the titles proposed, such as Madoka Magica and One Piece, are already available through legal streaming from Crunchyroll. Does this mean that CR or other legal streaming services that current carry Daisuke-hosted titles will lose their streaming license? Does Daisuke see itself as competing with those services?

Maruyama: No, they may continue their service. The streaming rights at DAISUKI are non-exclusive rights since our main purpose is not to get exclusive users for DAISUKI but to provide legal material. So, as long as fans are watching anime on other legal sites, that’s absolutely ok. We don’t see us in a direct competition with other sites. Rather would we wish to fight effectively together against piracy.

AD: What advantages will Daisuke bring to fans that they cannot get from other legal services? (For instance, since there is direct studio backing, will they all be immediate simulcasts without delays?)

Maruyama: We are planning to simulcast series. Moreover we are able (thanks to the direct connection to the studios and companies) to provide exclusive footage like making-of material or video messages of creators, voice actors and so on.

AD: With the goods/merchandising arm of Daisuki, is the plan primarily just to import related merchandise from Japan, or to also perhaps create overseas-unique items for sale as well?

Maruyama: we are still in the planning phase, but there will be definitely some exclusive items only available at the DAISUKI web-store.

AD: Recently an analogous digital distribution channel begun by several large Japanese manga publishers, J-Manga, folded. How does Daisuki intend to ensure the growth and success of the venture in an industry that is going through many transitions and challenges today?

Maruyama: It was a pity that J-Manga had to close down. The battle against piracy is indeed hard. At DAISUKI you can watch most of the content for free. We believe that overseas fans would pick the legal option if the conditions are the same. Hopefully, they will like DAISUKI and our service.

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Kotono Mitsuishi: not confirmed yet as Usagi in Sailor Moon (2013)

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At the Kodansha USA panel yesterday, we asked company representative Dallas Middaugh whether, in light of reports that Kotono Mitsuishi would reprise her role as Usagi/Sailor Moon in the upcoming 2013 anime remake, any of the other original seiyuu from the 1990s anime would return to their roles.

Mr. Middaugh said that this was based on a mistranslation of Mitsuishi’s comments, and that while she would like to return to the role, she was not confirmed in it, nor has any of the casting been done for voices. The only confirmation was on the theme song.

We received a report at this point that Mitsuishi’s blog indicated otherwise, and that Kodansha USA—a manga distributor—would not necessarily be privy to such information. Then another twitterer indicated just the opposite. At that point we decided to look at the sources ourselves and translate Mitsuishi’s blog entry in question:

来年夏のセーラームーン新作アニメ!
うひゃ〜〜〜!

早く演じたくてうずうずしてる!
しかし、敵はダークキングダムではない!
あの頃のがむしゃらだった自分!

Next year summer Sailor Moon’s new anime!
Uhyaaaa!

I’m feeling itched to act as soon as possible.
But my enemy is not Dark Kingdom.
I was recklessly working at that time.

Based on our Japanese translator’s judgment, this entry appears to be in line with Mr. Middaugh’s assertion that she has only indicated a desire, not confirmation, to work on the series. Other news outlets, such as Anime News Network and io9, support this view. We thus believe that Mitsuishi-san is not yet confirmed as Usagi in Sailor Moon 2013.

The only official news says Momoiro Clover Z is singing the theme song for the new Sailor Moon. It does not mention anything about the casting of the seiyuus.

Thanks to Rome, our translator, for assisting with this story. We hope this helps clarify the situation.

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Kazuya Murata Interview @ Otakon 2011

As if the premiere of FMA: The Sacred Stars of Milos isn’t fortunate enough, I had the distinct pleasure to interview the director hours before the film. Kazuya Murata has also lent his talents to other animes including Eureka Seven, Pokemon and Gunsmith Cats. Transcript of the interview below, followed by an edited video.

The Paper: First, I want to thank you for taking the time to grant us the interview. On behalf of Anime Diet and Dragonfish Films, I really appreciate your time.

Kazuya Murata: Same, the honor goes to me.

TP: You have done a lot animes. Which one is your favorite?

KM: The most favorite work of mine is the current one, Fullmetal Alchemist: Sacred Star of Milos.

TP: Why is that?

KM: Because it succeeds in having the most interesting animation that I had in mind to entertain the audience.

TP: You have done everything from Pokemon to Gunsmith Cats, two very different animes. How do you approach a project?

KM: There are a lot of genres. But there are certain elements that ensure that the viewers always have a good time. Whether it’s something that feels good or grasps the viewers’ hearts, the basic ingredients are the same. So I like to conjure those essences that makes anime enjoyable regardless of the genre. So actually my approach is always the same.

TP: Well, That definitely explains the magic of your works because the vast majority of your work indeed are very entertaining… definitely grabs the audience. Is there anything else, any other ingredients, to use your word, that you put in?

KM: Anime characters run into a lot of situations. I want the viewers to simultaneously share the same emotional experiences that the characters are having. If the character is surprised or having fun, I want the audience thrown together into the world along with the character. I try different camera angles or rearrange plot development throughout the process.

TP: Well, I must say that you do that very, very well. Of the works you’ve done, has there been something that you like to change?

KM: Personally, I want to make a lot of changes in my animes but once shown, they become part of the viewers’ property as well. Since a particular change I want to make may be in fact an aspect very dear to the viewer, I don’t actually want to change past works I’ve done.

TP: That’s a really good answer. Is there something that you might
want to direct? Is there something that interests you?

KM: Actually, I’m already working on something that I’m interested in but I can’t reveal it here. I rather you to look forward to it than having me tell you about it right now.

TP: That’s funny because my next question was actually to ask what’s your next project but I guess I will have to skip that now.

KM: [Smiles. Chuckles.]

TP: What’s the best part about your job. The worst part?

KM: The best part is that I’m in the position to actually realize the thing that will best entertain the viewers. In turn, the worst part is if the viewers are not entertained, then all the responsibility falls on my shoulders.

TP: I was thinking since I can’t ask what your next project is, how do you approach a project?

KM: In Japan, works are constantly produced but I want to make an anime with a vista that noone has seen. Not just in terms of animation but something that’s completely new in the animation field. Rather, a new vision, a new breeze to mankind. Something really new.

TP: Last question. I am a big music fan so as a silly question, when you go into a record store, which section do you goto first?

KM: [Chuckles.] That’s a hard question because I don’t goto record stores that often.

TP: Ah but the music in your movies are really amazing.

KM: Really?

TP: Yes, like Eureka 7 or FMA.

KM: [Nods.] If I must choose, I like classical and movie soundtracks. Since childhood, I’ve listened to Beethoven, Schubert and Tchaikovsky. Those are my favorite composers and I used to listen to them a lot.

TP: Thank you so much.

KM: Thank you.

Video generously provided by Dragonfish Films.

Sendai Magnitude 8.9

Northern Japan was hit with an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale.

Image courtesy of US Geological Survey.

Amid the general panic, fires broke out, glass shattered, and the Fukushima nuclear power plant was damaged, causing radiation levels to rise.  This prompted civil authorities to order an emergency evacuation of the nearby area and the US to dispatch technicians and coolant from its nearby military base.  As if that were not enough, the offshore quake (near Sendai) caused a massive tsunami.  Internet-savvy Japanese immediately started using google services, websites and social networks to communicate and coordinate their activities.  Many credit stringent Japanese building standards with reducing the effects of the quake and its aftershocks.

Continue reading Sendai Magnitude 8.9

BREAKING NEWS: SPJA CEO Michael Lattanzio Resigns

From the SPJA’s official announcement:

The SPJA has announced that Michael Lattanzio, CEO of the organization for the past year, is leaving on good terms to pursue other projects. SPJA Chairman of the Board Marc Perez has assumed Lattanzio’s responsibilities on an interim basis.

The SPJA thanks Lattanzio for his service and the growth Anime Expo enjoyed under Lattanzio’s stewardship.

Mike’s Notes: those who have been following the anime news are probably aware that Michael Lattanzio’s tenure as head of the SPJA, the parent organization that runs Anime Expo, has been met with considerable controversy. We can confirm that our experience at this year’s Anime Expo was measurably different than in previous years under the new management, in ways both good (great press treatment, an enviable guest of honor list) and not-so-good (high fees on main events, multiple staff resignations), and no matter what one thinks of his year-long tenure, this news once again raises questions about the future direction of AX and how it will be run next year. Will many of the resigned staff return, for instance? Will prices be lowered or not? There was a point early this year when it seemed the future of Anime Expo was in doubt, but an impressive turnaround happened.

Whatever happened, the drama is likely not over, and at Anime Diet we are dedicated to convention coverage. We’ll be on top of it as it continues to unfold.

More background is available at ANN.

Tsundere Banana – Real Life Public Rape

In case you didn’t know this already, a 15 year-old-guy, a high school freshmen, (allegedly) publiclly raped a 26-year-old woman in broad daylight in Toledo, Ohio, last week (no, it’s not quite current news).

Courtesy of CNN

I just feel that I have to say something, particularly because I enjoyed Detroit Metal City Anime and its antics. But this is…Just wrong, man.

Article by Toledo Blade

Article by the Associated Press via The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC

Mary Mitchell’s column on Chicago Sun-Time page

Utada Around the World

From Utada Net.com // News

New Single “Dirty Desire” and New Tour in Early 2010

Ray’s Take: Any real fans out there? I’ve listened to maybe one of her albums in the past but to me, J-pop singers all sound pretty much similar to one another. They have similar voice range even. Of course I’d love to hear any comments on this because I can’t exactly tell singers apart sometimes. In any case, for Eva fans who just want to hear some good J-pop, it seems like she will be touring 10 cities in US.

Hokuto Musou will be RAAAPE!

From Kotaku.com and gamingbits.com

Tecmo Koei is hard at work on Fist of the North Star for the PS3 and Xbox 360.

The manga (Hokuto no Ken) debuted in 1983 and went on to spin off two animated series and motion pictures.

Dubbed Hokuto Musou, the game is scheduled for release sometime next year.

Ray not Rei I mean Krauser III’s take: in my spare time, I often practice making people’s skull explore with my killer music. But even the demon king from hell must pay tribute to the original hell raiser in manga and anime – Kenshiro. A strike from his fist will make anyone explode!!!!

What, you’ve read so far? Don’t you know you’re already dead? fu, fu, fu…Omae wa mo shindeiru…

Tecmo Koei is hard at work on Fist of the North Star for the PS3 and Xbox 360.The manga (Hokuto no Ken) debuted in 1983 and went on to spin off two animated series and motion pictures.

Dubbed Hokuto Musou, the game is scheduled for release sometime next year.

“Assault Girls” is rape!

From Nipponcinema.com and Assault Girls official homepage

Plot: In the aftermath of global thermonuclear war, the Earth’s surface has been turned into a desert battlefield.

Krauser III’s Take: RapeRapeRapeRapeRapeRapeRapeRapeRapeRapeRapeRapeRapeRapeRapeRape…Wow, I must say I love it from the looking at the trailer! Shit, nothing beats girls kicking asses and this movie is rape! My terrorist from hell side is rising for a full salute! Totally need to see this!

UPDATE: Kotoko sings for the movie OP. Check it out (Tokyo Tosho)

Otaku no ken

Link obtains a sword

When you take up a sword, you must feel intent on cutting the enemy.

– Miyamoto Musashi, Go Rin No Sho

The Associated Press have reported a dramatic tale of self-defense with a katana:

A Johns Hopkins University student armed with a samurai sword killed a suspected burglar in a garage behind his off-campus home early Tuesday, hours after someone broke in and stole electronics.

Continue reading Otaku no ken

The Unholy Union of Anime and Comics?

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This bombshell piece of news comes courtesy of Anime News Network:

The event organizers at Reed Exhibitions have confirmed on Thursday that New York Comic Con and New York Anime Festival will share the same weekend and location next year. Both events will take place at the Jacob K. Javits Center in Midtown Manhattan on October 8-10, 2010. While the two events will have separate guest rosters and programming schedules, they will share a common show floor and one ticket price. Each ticket will give an attendee access to both events.

Mike’s Take: I had a great time at New York Anime Festival 2008, which, in my experience, was the best-run convention I’ve attended thus far. It’s no surprise, given that it’s run by a group that actually knows how to run professional exhibitions and, at least when I went, sure knows how to give press a good shot.

This news, however, is quite bold and is almost like a big social experiment. Unlike San Diego Comic Con, which this seems to almost be intentionally rivaling, it seems Reed Exhibitions still wants to make a distinction between the anime-related events and the comics-related events. While there’s one dealer hall, and one ticket, everything else is relatively segregated. I’m not sure why they decided to do this: while I know that the fandom for American geek properties and anime/manga overlap less than one might think (based on my Comic Con experiences), SDCC always got by without any separation. Could we see a virtual “war” between otakus and non-otakus, somewhat similar to the divide at this year’s SDCC between Twilight fangirls and the rest of the geeks? (“Scream if you think Twilight ruined Comic Con!” as a memorable sign put it.) In particular, I’m thinking of competition for large halls and other main events, as well as dealer hall space, which is considerably smaller at Jacob Javits compared to San Diego.

However, I just hope that the great treatment that I received at NYAF in 2008–and that hopefully we will be getting this year–is not going to change with the introduction of many more people. (NYCC had 75,000 attendees last year, so a combined convention with NYAF would have almost 100,000.) More than any other group I’d trust Reed Exhibitions to pull it off, but sometimes scale gets the better of things. Who knows. I just want my press badge and VIP ticket with the guaranteed signing–and all the greatest footage from the front row. :)

The Philosophy of Being Otaku

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With a title like Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals, how can you go wrong? Professor Hiroki Azuma’s almost decade-old book by that title has just received an English translation, and it’s supposed to tell us something about what otaku are all about. From Japan Today:

Azuma’s work explores “otaku” production and consumption, and what they suggest about man’s search for meaning. He argues that today’s “otaku” no longer crave narratives and wider significance, but are instead gratified by reading for character “elements”—things like cute cat ears, maid uniforms and loose socks. The upside is that you can find the spiky-haired, ramen-slurping protagonist of your dreams with an online search engine. The downside is a “world [that] drifts about materially without giving meaning to lives” and “humanity [functioning] at the level of database.”

Mike’s Take: the interview as given by Japan Today is all over the place, and I can’t quite tell if he’s being critical of otaku culture or just trying to explain how it’s different from other kinds of fandom or subcultures. The summary given above, and in the Amazon description, suggests that the point is that otakus are not so much looking for narrative or meaning in the stories of anime/manga, but rather disconnected, digestible bits and pieces like cat-ears, moe charm points, etc. This is less human than almost a mechanistic, database-like accumulation of knowledge, and is reflective of consumerism and the post-modern condition.

That certainly sounds critical to my ears, actually–and it seems like an incomplete description, at best, of otaku psychology. Not to say that he’s hitting on something that’s not really there. Yes, it is true that in recent years especially, we’ve seen more and more pandering anime whose goal is to appeal to particular fetishes. It is also true that, as he points out in the interview, that many beloved anime plots and franchises like Gundam have roots in commercial calculation, not pure artistic inspiration. And it’s also true that the “collector” mentality of many otaku, with its obsession with catgorizing and cataloguing (see the entire Saimoe tournament, the rote checklist of “types” of girls in many harem anime and eroges, etc) might suggest almost a data-like approach to fandom. I’m even willing to agree that if this is all there is–and it may be so for many–there is something degraded and unfulfilling about it.

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But hold on here. This statement here is highly problematic:

According to your book, anime narratives and coffee mugs are afforded the same kind of social status. Could you please tell us about this?

We’re now celebrating the 30th anniversary of Gundam….From the beginning, Japan’s anime culture has been based on selling toys. For this reason, there’s hardly any purpose in poring over Japanese anime or game narratives in and of themselves—they’re being produced to sell merchandise.

So the worth of a story in itself is not determined by its own merits–its narrative, characters, plot, etc.–but by its origin as a commercial project? I reject this as a blanket principle. While commercial motives can certainly bend stories in ways that are often less artistically desirable (we see this happen in popular culture all the time; it’s called “selling out”), there is no intrinsic reason why a story that may have been created initially to sell toys can’t be simply an engaging, well-told story. In fact, as far as Gundam is concerned, Yoshiyuki Tomino’s desire was not only to help Bandai sell robots, but to also tell a classic space opera in anime. Maybe it’s true that if a story begins that way, it’s less likely to be worthy of a closer look. I get that bias; it’s one I share myself to an extent. But it’s not really fair to dismiss all commercial storytelling out of hand for that reason. There have been plenty of examples of TV shows, films, and other media that have been both commercially successful and widely regarded as artistic successes, and even cited as being very reflective of the society and culture of the time. Need I mention my first beloved show, Evangelion?

I wonder too whether what he is talking about may not apply so much to what I understand current Western anime fandom to be like, as opposed to Japanese fandom. For one, he was writing about Japanese otaku in the late 1990s, before they became more widely influential in larger culture and while they were still considered outcasts. (This was the crowd Hideaki Anno was hoping to talk to and change in his Evangelion endings.) My experience of Western fandom has been a lot more social and less atomized than the kind of fans he’s describing here. Ray has told me that Asian cons are different from American cons in that they tend to be much more insular, and oriented around buying things; perhaps this is what Azuma is talking about when he speaks of “database animals.” Somebody should write a similar book but about American anime/manga fandom, and explore the what and whys they are different from their Japanese counterparts.

This looks like an interesting book, however. I might actually pick this up and give it a proper review one of these days. However, from these summaries it already seems like a mixed bag, a rather outsiderish/academic point of view, despite Azuma’s claims to have written it not for academics but for “creative people.” Seeing that it was written in 2000, I may just buy it just to see what he says about Evangelion, which was still going strong at the time. :)