Viewing Update with new Licenses

This week or so has been big in the way of new North American licences. While most of these shows are series in which I normally wouldn't watch, I'm obviously not real familiar with many of the titles in any real depth. Check out Anime News Network for some of the newest news for all of the recent licenses.

The biggest news is Viz's license of the Naruto anime. It's a shonen action, which Viz is familiar with, and Viz has been publishing the manga already. However, because of its massive size and target fanbase, I have a feeling that this series will become like its predacessor Dragonball Z before it. Dragonball Z was extremely popular in Japan and was well recieved in fansub circles, even though it wasn't enjoyed by everyone. As Dragonball Z came to the US market and was marketed to the same target audience and went through editing, it soon became the bane of existance for many fans. Nothing more than an 'entry level' show for newbies. I fear the same for Naruto if the series is handled in similar fashion. I have hopes, but since I'm not really in charge of anything, I can't make promises.

I do fear for many individual disc sales of the series. Viz is not known for its excellent per disc packaging. High MSRP compared to other DVDs of similar content with low episode counts and very little interesting in the line of extras. However, I have been pleased with Viz's boxset deals in the past, especially with Ranma 1/2, so I look forward to Naruto boxes if I decide to pick the series up, since I'm not really that big of a fan.

Another big series being licensed that really caught me off guard was Media Blasters' license of the new Aa! Megami-sama TV series. I had been watching the new series through fansubs and had been getting into it. I know that when DVDs hit the shelves, I'll definately be there to pick them up. What's more though, is that Media Blasters are wanting to either cast Geneon's movie cast or AnimEigo's OAV cast for the English dubs instead of rounding up a third cast. I like this idea, and I really hope they can get the OAV cast as I think they are the superior of the two. In fact, I've always been very fond of AnimEigo's dub and have supported it. Thought, that' simply a personal preference. I'm supporting this series regardless.

Finally, needing some new happiness in my life in the form of anime, I stopped by the mall after work one day and noticed that they had two things I had been waiting a while for - the remastered Bubblegum Crisis OAVs and the Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam TV boxests. Not caring about the $300 bucks it nearly cost for the two of them (at the time), I picked them up immediately.

I'm waiting to do the Bubblegum Crisis OAV over Spring Break when I am simply just working and catching back up with school; but since I am going out of town next week, and I'm swamped with schoolwork beforehand, I'm taking Zeta breaks to regain my sanity. There are unfortunately new opening and closing themes because Bandai America couldn't get the original themes, but the replacement music isn't bad. In fact, I really like the opening but the closing I suppose I could live without. That aside, the TV series is fully remastered and looks just as beautiful as it did during the first airings twenty years ago. A vast improvement over some grainy VHS fansubs I've had on my shelves for years. The boxset came also with some other goodies; I've not opened the minatures yet, but I plan to by the end of the week and there is a poster that I don't think is all that good. I think the MSRP of $199.99 that I paid was a little on the hefty side, but definately what I like about the set is worth close to $150.00.

In fact, I planned on watching episodes six and seven before bed tonight, but as I'm typing this, I'm also going to watch episode eight tonight. This series is absolutely awesome.

There's a few more things I want to update, but since I have another long day ahead of me, I'd better save it for later - finish this Zeta episode, and call it a night.

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Lots to update......

Anime Viewing:

As I was carousing through Media Play by accident last week or so, I happened upon the first two Flame of Recca 『烈火の炎』 DVDs. I began watching this series a few years ago, right around 1998 or 1999 on fansub, but I didn't get very far with it. I had the first four episodes and I had always wanted to see more, but was never able to actually get more of it; then it was licensed.

But now, I've gotten my hands on the series again in the updated DVD (as opposed to a first generation VHS copy). I really liked the remastering job from the Japanese LD/VHS to DVD that this series made, but when I was watching through the first volume the other morning last week, a flood of nostalgia and even some surprises came over me. First, and most notable, is the animation quality. I generally like animation styles like this as it mimics early to mid-1990s popular style of animation, but in terms of TV series, there really was some serious financial backing behind the animation studio.

The story is interesting; so far we have a mysterious princess and her ninja servant, the last of his clan, supposedly sent through time for thier own safety and are, ironically, now being hunted. There are some excellent ninja and martial arts sequences, but also Flame gains bonus points in the fantasy aspect with the use of Asian supernatural elements.

Next is the opening theme. It's amazingly catchy but amazingly forgettable. I enjoy it a lot when I am watching it, but I am not going out of my way to find a copy of The Oystars' CD or a Flame OST. The ending theme is likewise but I don't find it quite as enjoyable as the opening, "Nanka Shiawase" 『何か幸せ』.

All in all, I am looking forward to getting some more freetime in the coming weeks so I can venture into the second DVD and actually get to the episodes I haven't seen yet.

Moving onto my fansub adventures, I'm catching back up with the new Aa! Megami-sama TV series 『ああっ!女神さまっ』. I watched episodes three and four this afternoon. I must say that the in-episode computer generated and animated scenes are used sparesly and I actually think are executed quite well. The things I was most impressed with in these episodes was the debut of Holy Bell in the third episode and the introduction of the Buddhist priest in that same episode. I really liked the Priest (who is named, but I cannot remember his name at the moment) character; he had a jolly feel about him and his character sat really well with me. I'm hoping that we will see more of this character as the series progresses. I think it's honestly a shame to simply have him in only one episode.

One thing I nitpicked originally was the pacing of the series; but the pacing has been adjusted and seems to be moving at a much better pace. I also liked in episode four that they elaborated on the play between Morisato Keiichi and Mishima Sayoko. It was something that I felt went a little too under-developed in the OAV series.

And for the reading....

I've begun reading Busou Renkin a few weeks ago because I'm a fan of Watsuki Nobuhiro and his Rurouni Kenshin series. When I found out he had a new series that was more popular and running a full run, I figured I need to at least read it.

I picked up the first volume before Christmas and read it, but I need to glance through it one more time to make a serious post on it. Just shows how much of a good read this was.

Gives me more of an excuse to make a seperate post concerning Busou Renkin.

As I was grabbing dinner at Waffle House last night, I was catching up and reading one of my issues of Young JUMP; namely my more favorite stories of Koukou Tekkenden Tough 『高校鉄拳伝タッフ』 and Kuni ga moeru 『国が燃える』. Tough didn't leave me with any surprises except that the fights are paced really, really slow in this manga. I like this manga mostly beacasue it is a fighting arts manga. My only real complaint about Tough is that for readers who aren't, let's say martial arts inclined, it doesn't do a whole lot of explaining with the techniques and other various waza.

Kuni, on the other hand, has surprsied me recently. Last Autumn, the manga was suspended for publishing an unauthenticated picture of the Rape of Nanking by Young JUMP; however, the manga is back now, and is now writing chapters that appear after the end of the Pacific War. It's not like Kuni is not used to jumping around. The chapters jump all over in terms of timelines. It's a good read on a chapter by chapter basis, but nothing that really seems to go in any perticular order. I think I need to go and get the tankouban and see if they form a much more coherent and consistant story.

Up next:

Viewing Journal:
Turn A Gundam TV episodes 1-5
Touch TV episodes 6-10
Aa! Megami-sama TV episode 5
Aura Battler (Sei Senshi) Dunbine TV episode 6-9 (10?)

Manga Readings:
Busou Renkin Volume 1
Katsu! Volume 1
Varying chapters out of Young JUMP