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News for the week of 03/23/2004
The Tsuburaya Channel Broadband site has added a Windows Media promotional video for their new "Neo Standard Hero", Ultraman Noa. For further details on the latest Ultraman and Tsuburaya Production's new Ultra N Project campaign, please see the 02/25/04 report on Henshin! Online.

While several Japanese horror films are being remade for the US, producers Sam Raimi (EVIL DEAD, SPIDER-MAN) and Rob Tapert (EVIL DEAD, XENA) of Ghost House Pictures are handling things a bit differently. The duo's upcoming movie THE GRUDGE will apparently be both a remake and a sequel to the Japanese hit JU-ON.

Writer/director Takashi Shimizu introduced the series in 2000 with a pair of straight-to-video releases entitled JU-ON and JU-ON 2. Two theatrical features (also called JU-ON and JU-ON 2) followed in 2003. Both Shimizu and original producer Takashi Ichise have returned to helm the US version, which is currently shooting at Toho Studios in Tokyo. The cast includes Sarah Michelle Gellar (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, SCOOBY DOO), Jason Behr (ROSWELL), William Mapother (MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II), Kadee Strickland (ANACONDAS), Clea Duvall (GIRL INTERRUPTED, IDENTITY), Bill Pullman (MALICE, ID4), Grace Zabriskie (TWIN PEAKS) and Ted Raimi (XENA, SPIDER-MAN). Of particular interest is the return of actors Takako Fuji and Yuya Ozeki who will reprise their roles as the ghostly Kayako and Toshio from the Japanese films. Sony subsidiary Columbia Pictures will handle theatrical distribution. THE GRUDGE is scheduled to be released in October 2004. Visit CHUD.com for a great "on- the-set" report from Japan.

Actors Naomi Watts, David Dorfman and Daveigh Chase will reprise their roles in THE RING 2, DreamWorks' sequel to their 2002 hit THE RING. That film was an American remake of the Japanese horror film RING (Ringu), which was directed by Hideo Nakata (DARK WATER, CHAOS) and based on the novels by author Koji Suzuki. RING was a huge success in Japan, spawning 3 sequels (THE SPIRAL, RING 2, and RING 0: BIRTHDAY), television series, and remakes in both Korea (THE RING VIRUS) and the US. Chase (LILO & STITCH, SPIRITED AWAY) played the evil Samara Morgan, the Americanized version of Sadako, the original series' ghostly antagonist. In a recent interview, the 13 year-old actress revealed that both she and Samara will return. "I will [go back to work] soon," she told Sci-Fi Wire. "They're going to start filming in March. Unfortunately, I can't say anything about it, [but] it will definitely be horrifying." Returning screenwriter Ehren Kruger's script is not adapted from any of the Japanese RING sequels, but is a new tale inspired by Suzuki's novels.

THE RING 2 was to be the feature film debut of longtime commercial director Noam Muro, but Variety recently announced that Muro has left the project. Both Variety and Fangoria reported that DreamWorks are now in discussions with Hideo Nakata, director of the original Japanese versions of RING, RING 2 and DARK WATER, to take over the directing chores. A decision will have to be made fast if THE RING 2 is going to be finished in time for its scheduled theatrical release date of November 10, 2004.

Chances are good that Nakata will sign on since plans to direct the mystery TRUE BELIEVERS for MGM recently fell through. That film would have been Nakata's first English-language movie, to which was a co-production between Bruce Willis and his business partner Arnold Rifkin for their Cheyenne Enterprises label. TRUE BELIEVERS was based on the novel of the same name by author/screenwriter Doug Richardson (BAD BOYS, DIE HARD 2, WELCOME TO MOOSEPORT), who had considerably reworked the story for its transition to the big screen. Variety reported that actor Mark Wahlberg (BOOGIE NIGHTS, PLANET OF THE APES) had been offered the lead role. TRUE BELIEVERS was expected to premiere in early 2005.Whether it will be made with a different director is unknown at this time Source: FilmForce, SciFi.com, Fangoria.com

Renowned British actor Tim Roth has joined the cast of DARK WATER, the second US remake of a Japanese movie originally directed by Hideo Nakata and written by Koji Suzuki. The American version stars Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Connelly (HULK, A BEAUTIFUL MIND) as a single mother who begins experiencing supernatural phenomena after moving into a leaky, rundown apartment building with her young daughter. Roth, best known to American audiences for his roles in Quentin Tarantino's RESERVOIR DOGS and PULP FICTION and Tim Burton's "re-imagining" of PLANET OF THE APES, will play a lawyer representing Connelly's character in a custody dispute with her ex-husband. Rounding out the cast are popular character actors Pete Postlethwaite (THE USUAL SUSPECTS, THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK) and John C. Reilly (BOOGIE NIGHTS, CHICAGO, MAGNOLIA), plus Shelley Duvall (Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING), Dougray Scott (MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II) and newcomer Ariel Gade.

The new DARK WATER will be the first English-language movie from renowned filmmaker Walter Salles (CENTRAL STATION, THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES). The Brazilian director is working from a screenplay adapted from Suzuki's novel by writer Rafael Yglesias (FROM HELL). Tony Kenny (X-MEN, BULLETPROOF MONK) is supervising the special effects, while Angelo Bandalamenti (composer for TWIN PEAKS and MULHOLLAND DRIVE) will provide the film's score. In an attempt to beat DreamWorks' THE RING 2 to theaters, Disney has DARK WATER scheduled for early November 2004. Source: Horror.com

Voice actor Kyle Herbert (DRAGONBALL, DRAGONBALL Z) has stated that Twentieth Century Fox has cancelled plans for a live-action DRAGONBALL theatrical film. On his official website Herbert posted the following message from his contact at the studio: "The DRAGONBALL Z movie? We don't have that. I've got a lot of calls about that so I called around [the studio]. We won't be making that [movie]." The film has been rumored to be in production for some time, with many reports claiming director Roland Emmerich (ID4, GODZILLA) was attached. Source: Anime News Network, KyleHerbert.com

Directors Norio Kashima (DIRTY PAIR, CRUSHER JOE) and Susumu Kudo (SAKURA WARS, SILENT MOBIUS) are currently working on t.A.T.u. PARAGATE, a 100 minute-long anime movie starring the Russian muscial group t.A.T.u. The opening title sequence will be directed by COWBOY BEBOP creator Shinichiro Watanabe.

In 1999, TV commercial producer Ivan Shapovalov auditioned hundreds of young girls at Moscow's Mostfilm Studios before choosing 14 year- old Julia Volkova and 15 year-old redhead Lena Katina to form t.A.T.u. The Euro-dance duo signed with Universal Music Russia in 2001 and quickly became an international hit. They are enormously popular in Japan; album sales in that country neared 2 million copies in 2003, making t.A.T.u. the number one musical act of the year. According to the group's press materials, the Russian name t.A.T.u. translates to "she loves her" and the group has garnered both attention and controversy by repeatedly hinting that Julia and Lena are lovers. Their first single, "I've Lost My Mind" (Ya Soshlas Uma) told the story of a lesbian affair between two young girls and several subsequent songs have continued in that vein.

Based on a plot by Shapovalov, t.A.T.u. PARAGATE will find the two girls encountering the Paragate, a "door hinged on the shadowy hooks of the human heart". The movie is a joint Japan-Russia production and is scheduled to be released in Japan in November 2004 by the distributor IMOVE. t.A.T.u. recently broke from their manager/creator; no word on what effect, if any, this will have on the production.

Less than a month after its January 17th premiere, the new ASTRO-BOY animated television series was yanked from the Kids' WB! Saturday morning lineup. Thankfully, this wasn't a permanent cancellation -- beginning Monday, March 8th, ASTRO-BOY can be seen five days a week at 5:00 pm on Cartoon Network. The series is a co-production between Tezuka Productions, Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan and Sony Pictures Television (US). For additional details, including a description of the show, an episode guide, downloads, character biographies, a game, and a video preview of the upcoming episodes, visit the official site.

According to a press release from 4Kids Entertainment, Warner Bros Pictures will release the animated feature YU-GI-OH! : THE MOVIE to US theaters on August 13. Despite 4Kids' claim that this is the "first theatrical motion picture based on the hit YU-GI-OH! animated television series," the film is actually the second film in the series. The story picks up after the Battle City Tournament, as an ancient evil awakens beneath the sands of Egypt. Centuries before, Pharaoh (Yugi's mysterious alter ego) defeated the evil Anubis; now the villain is determined to destroy Yugi and take over the world. The press release also announced several merchandising tie-ins, including Burger King premiums and a Konami collector's card that will be distributed to ticket buyers. Source: Jagged Team

GUSHER NO BINDS ME (Gusha No Binzume) is a science fiction/action picture opening this month in Japan. The Japanese name literally translates to "A Bottled Foolish Man" so who knows what to expect from such an odd title? The film is from the producer of Ryuhei Kitamura's hit VERSUS and director Hiroki Yamaguchi, a graduate of Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. Additional info is available on the Grumble 16 Pictures website and the official movie site, the latter also includes a bizarre theatrical trailer.

25 years after its premiere in Japan, and five years after coming to America, the legendary Gundam property is celebrating it's silver annivesary with the introduction of the GUNDAM SEED toyline. Based on the brand new Japanese series of the same name, GUNDAM SEED is different from many past Gundam incarnations due to its stand-alone storyline, making it ideal for new fans to discover the franchise. Currently the Number One product line for Bandai Japan, GUNDAM SEED will be coming to the US in early 2004. Beginning a year after the outbreak of war, the new series follows the Earth Alliance's desperate attempt to develop state-of-the-art mobile suits to defend against the rebel space colonists known as Zaft.

"Gundam's remarkable success is due in large part to the faithful enhancement of our toylines to bring the intricate, ever-changing storyline to life," said Bill Beebe, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Bandai America. "In this landmark year, we hope to bring even more fans on board with our toyline inspired by this brand new chapter in the Gundam saga." The new assortment features an expanded line of the popular Battle-Scarred action figures with battlefield environments, the debut of a Mega Size Gundam, and the action figure model kits that have anchored the brand since its inception. Popular characters from past Gundam series will also be released throughout the year in an array of sizes, ensuring there is something for every fan's taste. Bandai America also plans to release a collectible card game based on the property later in the year.

GUNDAM SEED will air Saturday evenings on Cartoon Network beginning in April 2004. In addition, Bandai Entertainment will soon unveil plans to distribute the Gundam Seed series on DVD home video, starting in the fall of 2004. For additional information on Gundam Seed, please visit the official Gundam website. In related news, the classic anime movie MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM F-91 will receive a limited US theatrical release beginning on May 3, 2004.

Japan's wave of horror films continues with SHIBUYA STRANGE STORIES (Shibuya Kaidan) 1 & 2. Both films opened on February 7, 2004. Director Ken Horie is a well-known genre actor who appeared in GAMERA 3: REVENGE OF IRIS (Gamera 3: Iris Kakusei, 1999) and 100 BEAST TASK FORCE GAORANGER (Hyakuju Sentai Gaorenjaa, 2001). Visit the official website for additional info on the two films, including a creepy theatrical trailer.

The classic anime character TETSUJIN 28-GO (Ironman No.28, aka Gigantor) is enjoying a new wave of popularity in Japan. A new animated series is scheduled to premiere on TV Tokyo on April 7. The director for This fourth Tetsujin series is Yasuhiro Imagawa, who handled similar duties on the lauded 1990 OVA series GIANT ROBO. For character designs and production news see the newly-opened official Japanese website.

The robot hero is also featured in the manga IRON MAN NO. 28: THE EMPEROR'S CREST (Tetsujin 28-Go: Koutei-no Monshou), which is currently being serialized in Kodansha Publishing's MAGAZINE Z. Yuuichi Hasegawa is creating the series, based on an original story by Misuteru Yokoyama. There is also a live-action TETSUJIN-28 film coming from Toho later this year. Additional informationfor the movie is available on the official site and in an October 5th report on Henshin! Online. Source: Moon Phase

The results are in for the 27th Annual Japan Academy Awards, which took place in Tokyo on February 21st. Shochiku's feudal actioner WHEN THE LAST SWORD IS DRAWN was the big winner, taking three major awards despite director Yojiro Takita losing out to LIKE ASURA's Yoshimitsu Morita. Morita's win, as well as one for supporting actress Eri Fukatsu should help Toho's attempts to interest international buyers at this year's American Film Market. Takeshi Kitano's ZATOICHI won for editing and lighting direction, and AZUMI star Aya Ueto took home the Topical Award (similar to the People's Choice Awards in the US) for "Best Actor". On the other end of the spectrum was Fuji Network Television's BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN 2. Despite being nominated in 11 categories, the record-breaking hit ($155 million worldwide to date) ended up with only a single Topical Award for "Most Popular Picture".

BEST DIRECTOR: Yoshimitsu Morita; LIKE ASURA (Asura-no Gotoku)
BEST ACTRESS: Shinobu Terajima; AKAME 48 WATERFALLS (Akame Shijuhachiryu Shinju Misui)
BEST NEWCOMERS: Naoto Fujiki; G@ME, Hayato Ichihara; THE WORST BOY, INCIDENTALLY (Guzennimo Saiakuna Shonen), Satomi Ishihara; MY GRANDPA (Watashi-no Guranpa), Masami Nagasawa;
ROBOCON, Jo Odagiri; AZUMI, Aya Ueto; AZUMI

The ArtNewspaper reports that filmmaker Kazuki Omori is leading a campaign to save the Ashiya City Museum of Art and History. Since opening in 1991, the museum has become renowned for its collection of works from the Concrete Art Association (Gutai Bijutsu Kyokai), a conceptual and performance art group established in Osaka in 1954. The Tokyo city council has announced the museum will be closed or sold if private funding cannot be found by March 2006.

Omori is best known outside of Japan for his work on the Heisei Godzilla series, which included writing and directing GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE (Gojira tai Beorante, 1989) and GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH (Gojira tai Kingughidora, 1991) as well as writing GODZILLA AND MOTHRA: THE BATTLE FOR EARTH (Gojira tai Mosura, 1992) and GODZILLA VS. DESTOROYAH (Gojira tai Desutoria, 1995). In December 2003, he delivered a petition to the local assembly requesting further debate before a final decision was made in regards to the Ashiya Museum. He has also set up a group that will work with Tokyo officials to decide the museum's future. Chief curator Koichi Kawasaki says that the museum's survival is important, "The public at large should be aware of the history and art of this area." For the full article, please visit ArtNewspaper.com
Check out the following sites for some great new theatrical trailers:




GODZILLA CONQUERS THE GLOBE: JAPANESE MOVIE MONSTERS IN INTERNATIONAL FILM ART- In recognition of Godzilla's 50th Anniversary, Columbia University's Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture is hosting a free exhibition of Japanese monster movie posters and materials from around the world. The event is located in the CV Starr East Asian Library, Kent Hall, on the campus of Columbia University at the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and West 116th Street, New York City. Considering how little respect the King of the Monsters generally receives in America, it is refreshing to see an esteemed academic institution handle the subject in such a thoughtful, intelligent manner. For further details please visit the center's official website. Special thanks to Monster Zero board member Matolen.

KIKAIDA -- 2004 marks the 30th Anniversary of the series' premiere in Hawaii, and JN Productions is celebrating with the official release of the seventh volume of the KIKAIDA DVD series on Tuesday, March 23rd (see DVD NEWS- R1 for details) followed by appearance/autograph sessions at Shirokiya on March 26, 3:30 to 5 pm, Blockbuster Pearl City on March 27, 12:30-1:30 pm and Blockbuster Kaneohe on April 3, 12:30-1:30 pm. The stores will distribute free balloons and Kikaida coloring books while supplies last.

"So many 30 - 40-something year-olds have thanked me for bringing back their favorite super hero of the mid-seventies," said Joanne Ninomiya, JN Productions owner and president. "We're planning a big 30th anniversary celebration at the end of 2004 to bring back nostalgia and re-live those childhood memories. Kikaida and other Japanese super heroes from the seventies influenced a whole generation of children growing up in Hawaii at the time." The KIKAIDA series first aired in Japan from 1972 to 1973 and then debuted in Hawaii in February 1974 on the original KIKU-TV. The show became a hit with kids, transforming Kikaida into a pop icon and retail hit for Hawaii merchants. The series proved its enduring appeal with a revival that began when Ninomiya brought it back to Hawaii television in November 2001. Source: GenerationKikaida

PACIFIC MEDIA EXPO- PMX is a trade show focusing on Asian entertainment such as anime, live-action film and TV, manga, and music. The guest list includes Yasugiro Nightow (creator of TRIGUN), Takahiro Yoshimatsu (SLAYERS, JUBEI-CHAN), Daisuke Moriyama (CHRNO CRUSADE), and musicians TM Revolution, Nami Tamaki (GUNDAM SEED), and Miyavi. The event will take place May 29-31, 2004 at the Anaheim Convention Center, 777 West Convention Way, Anaheim CA 92802. Visit the official website for further details.

SAN FRANCISCO HORRORFEST- The SF IndieFest presents ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD: 7 NIGHTS OF UNRELENTING TERROR! The festival takes place at the AMC Kabuki 8, 1881 Post at Fillmore Streets in San Francisco from Friday March 19 to Thursday March 25. Tickets are $9, Weekend noon shows $7. In addition to an assortment of movies featuring vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, and mutants, there are a few gems that should appeal to Japanese fantasy film fans:

A LIVING HELL (Iki-Jigoku) Director: Fujii Shugo 2000, 104 minutes Japanese language with English subtitles US Premiere 2/19 11pm, 3/22 2pm The Opening Night late show unleashes demented hard-core horror with mad scientists and twisted family values. Yasu is confined to a wheelchair, but a strange old woman and her mute granddaughter subject him to unbelievable mental and physical abuse. When things are looking really bleak, it takes a turn for the worse. Oppressive, claustrophobic, paranoid, nightmarish, wildly imaginative, stylishly directed, well-acted and deeply sick and twisted, A LIVING HELL takes you to the edge and throws you over. Some regard this movie as a blacker-than-pitch comedy - but you might not, so consider yourself warned.

BATTLEFIELD BASEBALL Director: Yudai Yamaguchi 2003, 87 minutes Japanese language with English subtitles 3/21 11pm, 3/24 2pm This film is so mind-bendingly alien and totally unpredictable that you will be completely entranced by the utterly baffling onscreen weirdness. BATTLEFIELD BASEBALL is the world's first high-school kung fu baseball action musical adventure comedy with zombie baseball players, severed limbs, deadly pitching, an evil coach and a strange dog.

Adapted from the popular manga, this is the directorial debut of thescreenwriter and Assistant Director of Ryuhei Kitamura's VERSUS and ALIVE. It was a blockbuster box office hit in Japan, but don't wait for an American remake because it1s never going to happen.

GODZILLA, MOTHRA, KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK Director: Shusuke Kaneko 2001, 105 minutes English dubbed 3/20 12pm Godzilla fans rejoice! Everyone's favorite home-wrecker is back on the big screen. By special arrangement with the archive at Sony Pictures, we present the only existing English language 35mm print of GODZILLA, MOTHRA, KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK!

Disregarding every Godzilla film made after the original (with the exception of a clever reference to the American crapfest with the iguana), Kaneko delivers a stand-alone, very serious giant monster epic. This is one of the best in the 50 year-old series, so grab an extra-large popcorn and savor the spectacle of giant monsters stomping Tokyo.

Visit the festival website for complete schedule and program notes.

SINCE GODZILLA 2- In 2002, Taro Okamoto Museum in Kawasaki, Japan hosted a Godzilla exhibit featuring original monster suits, props, scripts, panels, and film screenings -- juxaposed with a parallel display of post-war Japanese history. Entitled "Since Godzilla" (Gojira-no Jidai), the event was both a critical and commercial success (see H!O's 5/07/02 report) so that curator Hiroshi Ohsugi is holding another "Since Godzilla" exhibition, starting this month. Thanks to the efforts of H!O's own Oki Miyano, the event will exhibit the artwork of production designer Yasuyuki Inoue, who started at Toho on the original GODZILLA and went on to create such many famous Toho creatures and props, including Hedorah (GODZILLA VS THE SMOG MONSTER) and the Alpha from LATITUDE ZERO. Great work, Oki!

The following movies are playing in March and April:
GODZILLA VS GIGAN - a widescreen print will be shown 4/24 at 3am on SciFi.

GODZILLA VS KING GHIDORAH - multiple airings on WAM!, Movieplex and Encore
GODZILLA AND MOTHRA: THE BATTLE FOR EARTH - multiple airings on Action and Movieplex
GODZILLA VS SPACEGODZILLA - multiple airings on Encore and Movieplex
GODZILLA 2000 - 3/12 at 11pm on TNT.
MESSAGE FROM SPACE - multiple airings on FLIX and WAM!. ONIBABA - several broadcasts throughout March on the Independent Film Channel. YONGARY, MONSTER FROM THE DEEP – multiple airings on Starz Family

FANGORIA # 231- In the current issue (HELLBOY cover, Norman England provides an extensive look at the two JU-ON: THE GRUDGE theatrical films, including an exclusive "on the set" report and interviews.

CREATURESCAPE #2 - This new CD ROM publication is designed for figure kit modelers with an interest in monsters, dinosaurs, daikaiju and creatures of all types. The new issue's theme is "Destroy All Monsters" with a focus on Godzilla and Toho monster kits and collectibles. Individual issues (each with more than 400 MB of content) are available for $10.00 each and a one-year (3 issue) subscription is $24.00. For a preview and ordering information visit the official site.

VIDEO WATCHDOG #105 - The latest issue includes reviews the R2 DVDs of Japan's JU-ON film series. $7.95

US anime distributor AnimEigo has announced that the company will abandon the VHS format on May 1. From that point on, all AnimEigo releases will be in DVD only. The company's remaining stock of video tapes (including some titles that may never be released on DVD) are now on sale at discount prices. Source: Jagged Team

According to the website DVD Talk, Sony has discontinued production of their widescreen GODZILLA (1998) DVD. The Dean Devlin/Roland Emmerich movie will be reissued as a discount fullscreen disc later this year.

Bandai Entertainment has discontinued their DVD of the 2000 live- action feature from Buildup, DARK SOLDIER D.

KIKAIDA VOL 7 - The latest JN Productions DVD includes Episodes 31 - 35 of the original 43 episode series. In addition to boasting digitally remastered picture and sound, the KIKAIDA DVDs feature bilingual English and Japanese menus, five episodes fully subtitled in English, and even boast a family-friendly, "expletives-deleted" subtitle selection option. The total running time of the five episodes is two hours and five minutes.

Extras include an all-new interview with lead actor Ban Daisuke, behind-the-scenes KIKAIDA Factoids by Henshin! Online's August Ragone, cast and crew profiles, and DARK Destructoid monster profiles with sound effects. DVD is distributed exclusively by The Mountain Apple Company and is available wherever DVDs are sold and through the official Generation Kikaida website.

RETURN OF THE GIANT MONSTERS/ THE MAGIC SERPENT - Public domain label Retromedia is releasing this double-feature DVD on June 8th. Both films were original distributed by American International Pictures Television in the late 1960s; RETURN OF THE GIANT MONSTERS was the AIP-TV version of Daiei's third Gamera movie, GIANT MONSTER DOG-FIGHT: GAMERA VS GYAOS (Daikiaiju Kuchusen: Gamera tai Gaosu, 1967) while THE MAGIC SERPENT was the 1966 Toei film BATTLE OF THE DRAGONS (Kairyu Daikessen). Retromedia's announcement is surprising since the US rights to RETURN OF THE GIANT MONSTERS are currently held by MGM.

ULTRAMAN TIGA - Production delays have forced 4Kids and FUNimation to reschedule VOL 2: FUGITIVE FROM BEYOND (Episodes 14-26) for March 23rd. New release dates have also been announced for the remaining TIGA DVDs; VOL 3: GUTS HEADQUARTERS UNDER ATTACK (Episodes 27-39) is now planned for June 1st and VOL 4: INHERITANCE OF DARKNESS (Episodes 40-52) will go on sale August 10th. As with the previously released VOL. 1, each collection will present the 1996 Tsuburaya Productions series in its original Japanese language with English subtitles for a SRP of $29.95 per volume.

BATTLE HEATER - Artsmagic released this bizarre 1990 film by writer/director Joji Iida (THE SPIRAL, ANOTHER HEAVEN) on February 21st. A down-on-his-luck man named Furuchi finds an old heater in a garbage pile and decides to take it home and repair it. But the device is possessed by a demon and begins to devour Furuchi's neighbors! The cast includes Pappara Kawai, Akira Emoto (GODZILLA VS SPACEGODZILLA, ZATOICHI), Kaoru Okunuki (RING 0: BIRTHDAY, GMK), and the band Bakufu-Slump (who performed "Mythology", the theme song to GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE). The PAL disc presents the movie in widescreen and in Japanese with English subtitles. Extras include an interview with the director and cast and crew filmographies.

FULL METAL YAKUZA - Takashi Miike's (AUDITION, ZEBRAMAN) 1997 film tells the story of a bumbling gangster who is murdered then brought back to life as a cyborg yakuza. Starring Tsuyoshi Ujiki, Yasushi Kitamura, Shoko Nakahara and Ren Osugi, FULL METAL YAKUZA is presented in a digitally enhanced 16:9 anamorphic widescreen with Japanese audioand English subtitles. Special features include interviews with Miike and editor Yasushi Shimamura, a commentry track by Tom Mes of the excellent Midnight Eye website, biographies, filmographies, and an artwork show reel. Artsmagic released the PAL DVD on February 21st.

ANDRO-MELOS (Andoromerosu) - A two-disc collection of Tsuburaya Productions' 1983 vidseries is coming from Bandai Visual on April 24th. Spun off from the "Ultra Legend" pictorials in Shogakukan's TV- Kun magazine (produced by Shinichi Wakasa's Monsters Inc.), the shot- on-video series -- similar in feel and budget to DR. WHO -- features an armored team of three Ultramen and one Ultrawoman, battling the forces of the evil Gua Army in deep space! The series ran for 45 10-minute episodes. SRP is 12600 Yen.

GODZILLA - Toho Video will release its first Champion Matsuri film, GODZILLA'S REVENGE (Oru Kaiju Daishingeki), on March 26th, followed GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH (Gojira tai Hedora) on April 28th. GODZILLA VS. GIGAN (Chikyu Kogeki Meirei: Gojira tai Gaigan) at the end of May, and GODZILLA VS. MEGALON (Gojira tai Megaro), completing Toho's Godzilla DVD releases, in June. No extras were announced at press time.

JU-ON 2 - The second JU-ON theatrical feature was released in a two-disc set on February 25th. SRP is 4700 yen. A double feature of both JU-ON films has also been at a price of 7980 yen.

ULTRAMAN BOY'S ULTRA COLISEUM: BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO ULTRA HERO (Urutoraman Boi-no Urukoro: Urutora Hero Nyumon) - Premiering September 29, 2003, ULTRAMAN BOY'S ULTRA COLISEUM functioned as a way to introduce younger children to Tsuburaya Productions' pantheon of heroes and monsters. Hosted by a new character named Ultraman Boy, each 5 minute-long episode provides information on the different Ultra Heroes, monsters, and mecha -- plus, feature "new" battles by combining footage from the various series. Two DVD compilations of the series will go on sale on April 23rd, followed by an additional two volumes on June 25th. Each DVD comes packaged with a small Ultraman action figure and retails for 1800 yen.

BATTLE ROYALE II: REQUIEM (Batoru Rowaiairu 2) - Writer/director Kenta Fukusaku picked up where his late father Kinji left off in this 2003 release. Following the events of the controversial 2000 hit, Battle Royale survivors Shuya Nananhara (Tatsuya Fujiwara) and Noriko Nakagawa (Aki Maeda) have become members of Wild Seven, an anti-government terrorist group. In retaliation, the government sends the latest batch of BR recruits (exploding collars and all) in an all-out assault against them. The cast includes Ai Maeda (GAMERA 3), Shugo Oshinari, Ayana Sakai, "Beat" Takeshi Kitano (ZATOICHI), Riki Takeuchi, and Sonny Chiba. Universe Laser has released BATTLE ROYALE II as a two-disc special edition in 16:9 enhanced widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS Japanese audio with removable English and Chinese subtitles. Extras include theatrical trailers, behind- the-scenes and "making of" featurettes, photo galleries, cast and crew biographies -- all subtitled in English.

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News for the week of 01/31/2004
Due to production delays with Hayao Miyazaki's HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE (Hauru no Ugoku Shiro), Toho has moved up the Japanese theatrical release of STEAMBOY, the new anime feature by Katsuhiro Otomo (AKIRA). HOWL'S was originally intended to be released this summer, but the storyboarding of the film was only recently completed so the movie has been rescheduled for November. If the movie is released this year it will complete a 2004 powerhouse anime quartet for Toho; the studio is also distributing Production IG's highly-anticipated INNOCENCE: GHOST IN THE SHELL (Innocence: Kokaku Kidotai) on March 6th and the CG update of APPLESEED on April 17th.

STEAMBOY has been in production for nine years and has itself been pushed back on the schedule more than once (as an earlier theatrical poster shows). It was most recently scheduled to premiere on October 8th 2004 but, with production wrapping in March, it can easily be slotted into HOWL'S planned July release date. See the official site for more info on the film and two gorgeous theatrical trailers. Source: Nikkan Sports, AnimeNation

The American theatrical trailer for "Beat" Takeshi Kitano's ZATOICHI is available at apple.com The award-winning film has been picked up by Miramax and is scheduled to be released on June 4th, 2004.

The Kids' WB! Website includes a Quicktime preview for the new ASTRO BOY animated television series and a link to the show's official site. The series is a co- production between Tezuka Productions, Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan, and Sony Pictures Television. ASTRO BOY premiered in Japan on April 7, 2003 and had it's US debut on the WB! Network on Saturday, January 17th, 2004. The ASTRO BOY website features a description of the show, am episode guide, downloads, character biographies, a game, and a video preview of the next week's episode. The same materials can also be accessed on Sony's own official ASTRO BOY site. Source: Jagged Team

Variety has reported that Miramax has pushed back the theatrical release date of director Quentin Tarantino's KILL BILL VOL 2 from February 20th to April 16th. The latter date was already set aside for the US release of the Oscar-nominated HK hit HERO (directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh). HERO has been sitting on Miramax's shelf for more than a year and will now most likely be delayed once again. KILL BILL VOL 1 will be released on DVD on April 13. Source: Fangoria

Director Satoshi Kon has received international attention for his animated films MILLENNIUM ACTRESS and TOKYO GODFATHERS. His latest project is PARANOIA AGENT (Mousou Darinin), a new anime television series scheduled to premiere February 2nd, 2004 on Japan's WOWOW cable channel. An American release of the 13 episode series seems likely since Geneon Entertainment USA invested in the show's production. Check out the official site for character designs and some interesting video promos.

Ban Daisuke, star of the legendary Toei series KIKIAIDA, returns to television in BLOOD OF THE SAMURAI: THE SERIES a martial arts action show produced in Hawaii. Daisuke plays the mentor to two young warriors, Trent (Brian Yamasake) and Rob (Michael Ng), who wield magical samurai swords. The series also stars Miss Hawaii USA Alicia Michioka as Yuki, a mysterious (is the any other kind?) female ninja.

The six-episode series is a follow up to director Aaron Yamasato's low-budget feature BLOOD OF THE SAMURAI (2001). While produced by Yamasato's Hellcat Productions for only $2,000, the movie won the 2001 Hawaii International Film Festival Aloha Airlines Film and Video Maker Award, a 2002 Telly Award, and has developed a cult fan following. At a budget of $100,000 to $150,000 per episode, the series has much better production values then its predecessor. The series premiered in Hawaii on Sunday, January 25th, 2004 on Oceanic Time Warner Cable OC 16. For a special holiday greeting from Ban Daisuke, click here.

On January 16th, the SciFi Channel signed a deal with the Japanese anime house Sunrise Studios (BIG O, COWBOY BEBOP) to create a live-action television series adaptation of WITCH HUNTER ROBIN. Writer/producer Joe Menosky (STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, DEEP SPACE NINE, VOYAGER, and THE DEAD ZONE) recently told the website AnimeNation that he will write and executive produce the series with Roy Lee (the Dreamworks remake of THE RING) and Doug Davison. "There may or may not be an announcement in the Hollywood tradepapers -- which tend to wait until a pilot script is completed, greenlit for production, with director and actors attached before they consider a television series worthy of mention."

The original WITCH HUNTER ROBIN anime series, which premiered in Japan in 2002, was the story Sena Robin, a 16 year-old girl who joins of a mysterious government organization called STNJ. Over the course of 26 episodes, Sena must come to terms wither job, which is to help hunt down and eliminate anyone with a genetic predisposition for magical talents. Source: AnimeNation

The Appeal to Miramax website has announced that Miramax's DVD release of the 2001 scifi film AVALON features inaccurate subtitles. Director Mamoru Oshii (GHOST IN THE SHELL, KILLERS) shot AVALON in Poland with a Polish-speaking cast. For the US release, the studio brought in Neil Gaiman (PRINCESS MONONOKE, the DC comic book series SANDMAN) to write "additional dialogue" for a new English audio track. While the US DVD does include the original Polish language audio, the subtitles are actually "dubtitles" based on the heavily re-written English dub.

Dubtitles are generally tolerated by fans as long as the dubbing sticks fairly close to the original language version. For AVALON, the English dub changes the dialogue and even adds new lines, including a BLADE RUNNER-style narration that explains matters intentionally left vague by Oshii, that were not present in the original release. As a result, subtitles appear onscreen in the Polish version even when there is no dialogue being spoken. Anyone interested in seeing AVALON with accurate subtitles should look for the R2 Japanese DVD of the film. Source: AnimeNation, Jagged Team

Ain't It Cool News has posted 27 production designs for the live-action NEON GENESIS EVANGELION movie. EVANGELION is a collaboration between ADV Films, Gainax Network Systems, one of the original production studios responsible for the series, and Weta Workshop, Ltd., the New Zealand-based special fx studio that worked on Peter Jackson's LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. The designs on AICN came from ADV Films' DVD of NEON GENESIS EVANGELION DIRECTOR'S CUT: RESURRECTION, which was released on January 13th. The disc contains a 25-minute interview with Weta's Richard Taylor and Ben Wooten in which the two discussed their ideas for the upcoming film.

Director Shinji Aramaki (BUBBLEGUM CRISIS) and creative director Fumihiko Sori (PING PONG) are bringing Masamune Shirow's (GHOST IN THE SHELL) popular manga and anime to the screen again, this time as a completely three-dimensional, computer animated feature film. The film takes place in the year 2135. The world has been brought to the brink of destruction by war, and a city called Olympus has been built to act as a blueprint for mankind's future. But when a woman named Deunan comes to this "utopia" she learns that all is not as it seems. APPLESEED will be released to Japanese theaters on April 17th, 2004. Additional info and a theatrical trailer are now available on the official site.

The ever-popular Power Rangers are back for their twelfth season with POWER RANGERS DINO THUNDER . The new series is Disney's Americanized version of Toei's 27th Super Sentai Series, RAGING DINOSAUR TASK FORCE: ABARANGER (Bakuryu Sentai Abarenja), which started in Japan on February 16, 2003. American fan favorite actor Jason David Frank returns as his MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER RANGERS character Tommy Oliver, who is now a high school teacher. When the evil paleontologist Dr. Anton Mercer unleashes his Dino Zords, Tommy recruits three students (a rebellious basketball star, a beautiful loner musician, and a laid-back champion gamer) to become the new Power Rangers and save the world.

POWER RANGERS DINO THUNDER will premiere on Disney's ABC Family cable channel on Saturday, February 14th 2004 at 8:30 am. The first episode will also be repeated February 21st on ABC as part of their ABC Kids Saturday morning programming block. For additional details on the series, visit Bandai's website. Video promos for DINO THUNDER and several other Power Rangers shows are available on the fan site The Power Rangers Information Archive.

The Starz Super Pak of cable channels are playing GODZILLA VS KING GHIDORAH, GODZILLA AND MOTHRA: THE BATTLE FOR EARTH, and GODZILLA VS DESTOROYAH throughout January and February. The complete schedule is available on the Starz website. YONGARY: MONSTER FROM THE DEEP is also playing this month on Starz, while THE X FROM OUTER SPACE is on Showtime Beyond. The SciFi Channel will be showing Toho's 1993 release GODZILLA VS MECHAGODZILLA II at 3:00 am on February 21, 2004.

The theatrical trailer for INNOCENCE is now available on the official site. GHOST IN THE SHELL director Mamoru Oshii has returned to both write and direct the highly-anticipated sequel, which is based on a story by GHOST creator Masamune Shirow. Source: AnimeNation

The Japan Information Center (JIC) and the Japan America Society of Chicago are hosting a free lecture by acclaimed anime director Rintaro (METROPOLIS) at the JIC auditorium, located on the 10th floor of the Olympia Center building at 737 N. Michigan Ave, at 6pm on Wednesday, February 4th. The lecture will be followed by a reception.

The lecture will focus on anime's emergence in Japan and its export to the West. Considered one of the founding fathers of anime, Rintaro made his debut in 1963 on ASTRO BOY, the first animated television series created in Japan. In the following four decades he has been involved with such international hits as CAPTAIN HARLOCK, GALAXY EXPRESS 999, DAGGER OF KAMUI, and METROPOLIS. For further details visit the JIC website, call 312-280-0430 or email jicchicago@webkddi.com.

GOKE, BODYSNATCHER FROM HELL (Kyuketsuki Gokemidoro)- A 35mm print of director Hajime Sato's 1968 Shochiku scifi/horror classic will be shown in San Francisco, CA on Saturday, February 7th at 7:00 pm. GreenCine is hosting the screening, which will take place at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts located at 701 Mission Street in SF. Admission is $7.00

RETURNER (Ritaana)- Landmark's Magnolia Theatre in Dallas, TX will being playing the hit 2002 release as part of the Anime Pop Festival, February 6-8, 2004. Please visit the Asian Film Festival of Dallas website for details. Source: MG Keller

Several Japanese genre pictures will be shown at the 6th San Francisco Independent Film Festival, which is running in several Bay Area theaters from February 5-15, 2004. The list of titles include:

9 SOULS (2003) - Director Toshiaki Toyoda's (PORNOSTAR, BLUE SPRING)fourth film combines the prison break and and the comedic road trip genres. The cast includes features Ryuhei Matsuda (TABOO), Genta Dairaku (GOJOE), and Kee (ICHI THE KILLER).

GOZU (2003) - What is Gozu? The answer lies in Takashi Miike's bizarre yakuza horror comedy.

In 2003, directors Ryuhei Kitamura (VERSUS, AZUMI) and Yukihiko Tsutsumi (BLACK JACK) entered into a friendly competition to see who could make the best movie based on the idea of "two characters fighting to the death in a single location". The resulting films in the `DUEL PROJECT' are Kitamura's ARAGAMI and Tsutumi's 2LDK, both of which will be show throughout the festival (including a back-to-back screening on Sunday, February 8th).

Toshiaki Toyoda, Ryuhei Kitamura, and Yukihiko Tsutsumi are all scheduled to attend the festival. For full details, theaters, and showtimes see the IndieFest schedule.

In an article on ICv2 News, ADV Films announced that the company has acquired the rights to more than 1000 volumes of Japanese manga and Korean manwha. ADV intends to release both anime and manga versions of the same titles simultaneously in the US. Source: AnimeNation

Del Rey, a division of Random House, will be launching a new line of English-translated manga titles in May. The first wave of titles will be Ken Nakamatsu's NEGIMA, the popular GUNDAM SEED, and two Clamp series; xxxHOLIC and TSUBASA. Each volume will be 208 pages long and retail for $10.95. Future volumes of each series will be released in 2004. For more details visit Del Rey's manga website. Source: Anime News Network

GIANT ROBOT #31 includes a brief interview with Shinsuke Sato in which the director discusses his films THE PRINCESS BLADE and COSMIC RESCUE. The issue sells for $4.95.

THE RING VOLUME 2 - A trade paperback of writer Hiroshi Takashi and artist Meimu's manga is coming from Dark Horse Comics on May 12, 2004. Adapted from Hideo Nakata's 1999 horror film RING 2, the manga follows Mai Takano's quest to put and end to Sadako's curse. The black and white, 192 page collection will sell for $13.95. For more details go to Dark Horse's product page.

STARLOG #320- The February issue features an extensive RETURNER article by Norman England and an interview with KILL BILL star Uma Thurman. The full-color issue sells for $7.99.

ULTRAMAN TIGA- Dark Horse Comics continues their English adaptation of the 10-part Tony Wong/Khoo Fuk Lung series from Hong Kong. Tiga and GUTS battle the classic Ultraman villains the Baltans in issue #6, available on January 28. Issue #7 follows on February 25, #8 on March 31, and the villainous Kilieroid (aka Kilalien) returns in issue #9 on April 28. Each issue contains 40 full color pages for $3.99

VIDEO WATCHDOG #103 features a lengthy article on the late director Nobuo Nakagawa. Nakagawa created some of Japan's most famous ghost films such as BLACK CAT MANSION (Borei Kaibyo Yashiki, 1958), GHOST OF YATSUYA (Tokaido Yatsuya Kaidan, 1959), and HELL (Jigoku, 1960). The issue also includes a review of the amazing KILL BILL VOL 1 soundtrack. The full color issue sells for $7.95

VIDEO WATCHDOG #104- The next issue will include reviews of Daiei's YOKAI MONSTERS trilogy; 100 MONSTERS, SPOOK WARFARE, and ALONG WITH GHOSTS, which were released on R1 DVD last year by ADV Films. Look for it on newsstands on February 2nd.

Many years ago, MGM acquired the old American International Pictures film library. AIP's collection included a number of Japanese fantasy movies such as Toho's ATRAGON and THE LOST WORLD OF SINBAD, Gamera's third adventure RETURN OF THE GIANT MONSTERS, Shochiku's THE X FROM OUTER SPACE, and even the Korean flick YONGARY, MONSTER FROM THE DEEP. Now the website DVD Drive-In has posted a helpful suggestion on how to let MGM know you want to see these movies released on DVD: "Click here and select "MGM DVD" from the drop down box, from there type in your email address and type in your requests for future Midnite Movies on DVD." … so get to work, people!

ATTACK FROM SPACE- In the mid-1960s, Walter Manley Enterprises syndicated four movies culled from the 1957-1959 Shintoho series SUPERGIANT (Supajiantsu) to US television under the name `Starman'. On March 23rd, 2004, the budget "public domain" label Alpha Video will release the third Starman film ATTACK FROM SPACE on DVD with a SRP of $6.98. All four Starman movies are already available on two volumes from Something Weird Video that come with a nice selection of extras, including an extensive `history of Starman' text piece by H!O's own August Ragone. Given the generally poor quality of Alpha's source materials, anyone interested in seeing these films should considering purchasing the SWV DVDs instead.

GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA (Gojira X Mekagojira)- Sony has issued a promotional flier providing further details on the upcoming DVD release of Toho's 2002 entry. As was the case with Sony's GODZILLA VS MEGAGUIRUS and GODZILLA, MOTHRA, AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK, the movie will be presented uncut, in widescreen with both an English dub and the original Japanese version with English subtitles. Initial reports also claim that the DVD will include trailers for multiple Godzilla movies. GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA will be released on March 23rd, 2004 at a SRP of $24.95. For more information see the report on H!O. Special thanks to Monster Zero

IRIA: ZEIRAM THE ANIMATION COLLECTOR'S TIN - Coming from Media Blasters on March 30th, 2004 is this digitally remastered three-disc collection of the 1994 anime series. Acting as a prequel to Keita Amemiya's 1991 live-action film ZEIRAM, the anime details the alien bio-weapon's first encounter with the young bounty hunter Iria and her brother Gren. All six episodes are presented in both English and 5.1 Japanese (with English subtitles), while extras include character sketches, concept art, and interviews with Amemiya and character designer Masakazu Katsura -- all of which is packaged in a tin collector's case. The SRP for the 168 minute-long collection is $39.95. Visit Media Blasters' websitefor further details.

ONIBABA - Criterion will release Kaneto Shindo's 1964 classic on March 9th, 2004 at a SRP of $29.95. Set during Japan's feudal period, ONIBABA (The Ogre Hag, also known in the US as "The Hole") tells the story of an old woman and her daughter-in-law who lure samurai to their deaths in a pit laden with wooden spikes, then steal anything of value from the corpses. But the women get more than they bargained for when one of them recovers a demonic mask from a fallen samurai.

Criterion's DVD will feature a brand-new high definition, anamorphic transfer of the widescreen, black-and-white film. The original Japanese audio is presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 mono with improved English subtitles. Extras include the theatrical trailer, a new interview with writer/director Kaneto Shindo, rare behind-the-scenes footage from actor Kei Sato, production sketches, promotional art, and a translation of the Buddhist fable that was the inspiration for ONIBABA.

YONGARY, MONSTER FROM THE DEEP (Taekoesu Yongkari)- Alpha Video continues their recent wave of Asian scifi DVDs with the 1967 Korean monster movie from Kuk Dong Film Company, Ltd. YONGARY was initially syndicated to television in the US by American International Pictures. When AIP-TV went out of business, their film library was sold to Orion Pictures who, in turn, were bought by Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Alpha's announced plans to release YONGARY on March 23, 2003 is curious, given that MGM has stated that they still own the US rights to the film. MGM's remastered version of YONGARY is playing this month on the Starz cable channel. Alpha's DVD has a SRP of $6.98.

ZATOICHI - Through the efforts of Home Vision Entertainment, AnimEigo and Media Blasters all but one of the 26 Shintaro Katsu ZATOICHI films will be issued on DVD by the end of 2004! This is good news for Japanese film fans since the previous releases were spotty at best, with worn and tired prints that were not fully letterboxed. The upcoming releases include Media Blasters' release of the elusive 26th movie. AnimEigo steps up its own DVD releases of the remaining five of the Toho-owned/produced ZATOICHI titles, with the first already stated as "in release," while HVE will wrap up its duties on the original Daiei-produced versions with six more titles.

The remaining titles from Home Vision Entertainment are: #12: ZATOICHI AND THE CHESS EXPERT (1965), #13: ZATOICHI'S VENGENCE (1966) and #15: ZATOICHI'S CANE SWORD (1967), all to be issued on May 18th, while #17: ZATOICHI CHALLENGED (1967), #18: ZATOICHI AND THE FUGITIVES (1968) and #19: ZATOICHI THE SAMARITAN (1968) will be released in the Fall of 2004. The rights to #14: ZATOICHI'S PILGRIMAGE (1966) are unknown, although the film has been issued on DVD in Japan. All of HVE's ZATOICHI titles SRP at $19.95 each.

Katsu's final appearance as the amazing blind swordsman was in his self-directed ZATOICHI, produced for Shochiku Studios in 1989. The movie will finally see the light of laser in this country as SHINTARO KATSU'S ZATOICHI on 2/24/04. The Media Blasters DVD will be 16:9 widescreen, in the original Japanese language with English subtitles. Extras include an art gallery and liner notes by INSIDE KUNG FU columnist Ric Meyers. The SRP is $19.95 A trailer for the movie is available at TotalClips.com Source: Digital Bits, various

GAMERA: ATTACK OF LEGION (Gamera 2: Region Shurai) - ADV Films UK will release the second film in the acclaimed trilogy on January 19th, 2004. The DVD will be in widescreen and packed with extra features (presumably the same as those on the 2003 US release). ADV UK has also announced that the final Gamera movie, GAMERA: REVENGE OF IRIS, will be available in the near future. See the ADV Films UK website for more info. Special thanks to James Ballard.

GOKE, BODYSNATCHER FROM HELL - The 1968 Shochiku scifi/horror classic was initially awarded an `X' certificate and had to be edited for its 1969 theatrical release in Britain. Now the uncut film is available on DVD from Artsmagic, Ltd, presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen and in Japanese with English subtitles. Extra features include cast/crew bios and filmographies, trailers, and an artwork show reel. GOKE was released on December 27th, 2003. See Artsmagic's website for additional details.

ST JOHN'S WORT (Otogiriso)- Another Artsmagic release is this widescreen DVD of the 2001 Japanese horror film. Directed by Shimoyama Matsuo, the movie tells the story of a video game artist who has recurring dreams of an old mansion. When she inherits an abandoned house that resembles her dreams, the artist begins to experience visions that may be from her own, forgotten childhood. The DVD is in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen, in the original Japanese with English subtitles, and comes with cast and crew bios, filmographies, and an artwork show reel. More details are available on the Artsmagic website. ST JOHN'S WORT will go on sale in Britain on January 31st, 2004.

BATTLEFIELD BASEBALL (also known as "Battlefield Stadiuml")- Yudai Yamaguchi (assistant director and co-writer of VERSUS and ALIVE) directed this hybrid of the baseball, horror, action, and comedy genres… think SHAOLIN SOCCER crossed with BATTLE ROYALE. Based on Man-Gatarou's manga "Hell Baseball Stadium" (Jigoku Koushien), the movie tells the story of a high school baseball team that must play in a tournament against a team that is so brutal none of their opponents have survived to the 9th inning. A trailer for the film is on the official site.

BATTLEFIELD BASEBALL will be available in two versions. The Regular Edition presents the film in 16:9 widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles for 3800 Yen. The "Super Tornado Box" Special Edition is a 2-disc set packaged in a box with Man-Gatarou artwork for 7800 Yen. Extras includes an audio commentary with the director and cast, an isolated music track, a featurette, trailers and TV spots, a "making of" documentary, a new short film, deleted scenes, outtakes, footage from the Yubari Film Festival. In addition, one of two possible collectibles (including a Kubrick figure) will be randomly included. Both versions will be released on February 26, 2004.

COSMIC RESCUE: THE MOONLIGHT GENERATIONS (2003)- This outer space adventure from director Shinsuke Sato (THE PRINCESS BLADE) stars Go Morita, Ken Miyake, and Junichi Okada. The three are the "Coming Century "members of the popular J-Pop group V6. COSMIC RESCUE is being released in both standard and limited edition DVDs by J Storm on March 24, 2004. While both versions will include English subtitles, the limited edition also comes with a "making of" documentary, trailers and TV spots, the "Coming Century Interview", a keychain, a sticker, and a deluxe booklet.

DRAGON HEAD (Doragon Heddo)- This 2003 big-budget film was based on the post-apocalyptic manga by Minetaro Mochizuki. Special features include trailers and TV spots, cast and crew bios, and a diary of the filming in Uzbekistan. DRAGONHEAD goes on sale February 27, 2004 at a SRP of 5800 Yen. The trailer can be seen on the official site.

ONMYOJI II- The sequel to the 2001 hit will be released in a 2-disc set on April 28, 2004. The movie is presented in 16:9 widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles. Extras include a "making of" featurette, interviews, footage for the theatrical premiere, trailers and TV spots, production sketches by Yoshitaka Amano, a textless end sequence, and a deleted scene. SRP is 6000 Yen. The trailer is available at the Official Website.
News for the week of 01/02/2004
Yahoo Movies has posted a new trailer for GODZILLA X MOTHRA X MECHAGODZILLA: TOKYO SOS. It is the same as the Mothra-themed trailer currently available on Toho's website with one key exception; there is an additional shot that gives away a major plot point to the film. Anyone trying to avoid spoilers should not watch this trailer.

In related news, GMMG premiered at 3rd place in the Japanese box office behind two US films; the Disney/Pixar hit FINDING NEMO and Tom Cruise's THE LAST SAMURAI. GMMG took in $1,686,009 from 298 theaters for an average of $5,658 per screen. Source: Box Office Mojo

Rialto Pictures has begun showing a 50th Anniversary theatrical preview for GODZILLA (1954), English subtitled prints of the original, uncut Japanese version will be playing at Landmark Theaters in early 2004. The trailer is showing with Rialto's release of the French horror film EYES WITHOUT A FACE. See the Rialto website for a list of cities where EYES is now showing.

TLA Video, the American distributor of Sion Sono's disturbing film SUICIDE CIRCLE (see the EF Report for 11/05/03), has confirmed its acquisition of American distribution rights to Yukihiko Tsusumi's recent film 2LDK (the title "2LDK" is the Japanese abbreviation for an apartment with two bedrooms, a living room, dining room, and kitchen.). 2LDK is a violent satire about an argument between two female roommates that progressively escalates into a bloody battle with samurai swords and chainsaws. The film was made as part of the "Duel Project", a friendly competition between directors Yukihiko Tsusumi and Ryuhei Kitamura to make a short film about a duel between two characters set in a single location. TLA Video also confirmed that Ryuhei Kitamura's half of the Duel Films Project, the supernatural samurai swordplay action film ARAGAMI, has already been licensed for American release by a so far undisclosed distributor. Source: Fangoria Magazine

Sony subsidiary Columbia Pictures will handle theatrical theatrical distribution of THE GRUDGE, the US remake of the Japanese horror hit JU-ON. Original JU-ON writer/director Takashi Shimizu and producer Takashi Ichise will be returning to make the US version from a script adapted by Stephen Susco. Sam Raimi (EVIL DEAD, SPIDER-MAN) and Rob Tappert (EVIL DEAD, XENA) will be producing the film for Raimi's production company Ghost House Pictures, with Joe Drake and Nathan Kahane of Senator International acting as executive producers.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER actress Sara Michelle Gellar has signed on to star in the film, which deals with a supernatural curse born of resentment that spreads like a disease. Shooting will start in January at Toho Studios in Japan. For more information on the remake see the EF Report for 4/24/03. Source: Cinescape, Hollywood Reporter

Crime Magazine has published an interesting biography of the late actor Nick Adams, the American star of Toho's classic FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERED THE WORLD and MONSTER ZERO. The article covers Adam's film career and mysterious death, and includes quotes from writers Steve Ryfle and Stuart Galbraith and popular actress Kumi Mizuno. Special thanks to Steve Ryfle.

FANGORIA #223 - The current issue has two in-depth articles from Norman England; DARK WATER and an `on the set' report on BATTLE ROYALE II.
ULTRAMAN TIGA - Dark Horse Comics is publishing a trade paperback collection containing issues 1-4 of the new series. ULTRAMAN TIGA VOL 1 will run 128 pages for $15.95 and goes on sale in March 2004.

VIDEO WATCHDOG #102 - This issue contains a detailed review of the Region 3 GODZILLA X MECHAGODZILLA DVD from the Hong Kong label Universe Laser.

Let the rumors cease! Contrary to recent reports on some kaiju fan sites, the upcoming Sony DVDs of GODZILLA VS MEGAGUIRUS and GODZILLA, MOTHRA, AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK do include the original Japanese audio tracks with English subtitles. The first reviews are now online at Amazon.com and DVD review.

In response to email queries, Classic Media Home Video producer Steve Vincent has confirmed that the company is considering releasing more Toho DVDs in 2004. Classic Media took over the US rights to several Toho films when they acquired the UPA library a few years ago. The list of titles includes MONSTER ZERO (aka GODZILLA VS MONSTER ZERO), FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD, WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS, EVIL OF DRACULA, LAKE OF DRACULA, ESPY, LAST DAYS OF PLANET EARTH (aka CATASTROPHE: 1999), and HIGH-SEAS HIJACK (aka TOKYO CONFLAGRATION). While UPA released most of these films in the pan and scan format on television, Vincent stated "We hope to create new high-definition masters in the original widescreen format, however, it will depend on what is available in our UPA library vs. what Toho has/or will give...." Special Thanks to Joseph Goodman and `Baradagi' on the Monster Zero Message Boards.

RETURNER - Sony's Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment will release the scifi action movie on DVD February 10, 2004. The film will be presented in 1:85 widescreen and with Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese (with English subtitles) and English audio tracks. Bonus features include several featurettes on Action Coordination, Art Direction, Production Diary, and Visual Effects.

MASKED RIDER 555 (Kamen Raida Faizu)- Vol 4, containing episodes 13 -16 goes on sale January 21st, 2004 and vol 5 (episodes 17-20) follows one month later The first pressings come with 3 trading cards. Each volume sells for 5800 Yen. Toei Video.

MASKED RIDER 555: PARADISE LOST - The 2003 theatrical feature will be available on January 21st, 2004. Extras include theatrical trailers and TV spots. The first pressing comes with 3 trading cards. The 16:9 anamorphic widescreen film runs 81 minutes. SRP is 5200 Yen. Toei Video.

MASKED RIDER STRONGER- Vol 4 of the 1975 series contains episodes 34- 39, an art gallery, TV commercials, and an eight page booklet. The first pressing comes with a box to house the complete series. The SRP is 6000 Yen. Toei Video.

RESCUE TASK FORCE: GO GO FIVE (Kyukyusentai Go Go Fuaibu)- The DVD release of the 1999-2000 Sentai Super Series concludes on January 21st, 2004. Vols 7 (episodes 33-38), 8 (episodes 39-44), and 9 (episodes 45-50) each retail for 5800 Yen and comes packaged with a four-page booklet. Toei Video.

WECKER D-02 REVOLUTIONS EA 65-minute special on the television series about a band of female timecops, featuring an unused ending, outtakes, stickers, and more. SRP is 3800 Yen. For more details on the show, see the 7/02/02 article here on H!O and the official WECKER website.

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News for the week of 12/09/2003
The latest trailers for GODZILLA X MOTHRA X MECHAGODZILLA: TOKYO SOS are now available at the official Toho website. Each new preview focuses on one of the monsters, specifically Godzilla and the adult Mothra. A music video featuring the Shobijin performing a pop version of the "Mothra Theme" can be found here.

After multiple screenings in the west, fans in other parts of the US will finally have an opportunity to see Shusuke Kaneko's acclaimed GODZILLA, MOTHRA, KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK in theaters. The subtitled print will be playing at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA from December 25th to 30th and on January 1st, while the dubbed version will be shown at the Times Cinema in Milwaukee, WI from December 26th to January 1st.

For information on how to see GMK (and other Japanese fantasy films) in your area, see the September 8th report on Henshin!Online.

The official website cutiehoney.com for the upcoming live-action CUTIE HONEY movie has been updated with a photo gallery of the film's major characters (including a bizarre rogues' gallery) and the first theatrical trailer in a variety of sizes and formats. Source: Jagged Team

ZEBRAMAN (Zeburaman), the 100th (!) motion picture from director Takashi Miike, stars Shinichi Ichikawa as a troubled elementary school teacher. Things are going badly at work, his wife is having an affair, his kids keep getting in trouble, and he is obsessed with "Zebraman", the hero of his favorite childhood TV show. When aliens invade earth, Ichikawa decides To fight back in his homemade Zebraman costume.

Tentative plans call for a professional wrestler named Zebraman to debut close to the film's February 14, 2004 release date. ZEBRAMAN sports the tagline "[I'll make] Black and White [clear]". For more information, visit the official website.

The classic 1967 anime series SPEED RACER (Maha Go Go Go) has returned to American television. The Speed Channel, a cable station devoted to cars and racing, began broadcasting the show on November 18th. SPEED RACER currently runs seven days a week, with a 2-hour block of episodes every Friday night. Source: Anime Axess

Anime News Network has published an exclusive interview with Monkey Punch (aka Kazuhiko Kato), creator of the popular manga series LUPIN III. Source: Natsume Goushin Ryu Dojo

AsianWeek has published an article criticizing Miramax's poor handling of Asian films in the US. In recent years, the Disney subsidiary has bought hit Asian films (including SHAOLIN SOCCER and Zhang Yimou's Oscar-nominated HERO) and then repeatedly over-edited or delayed their release in this country. With the recent acquisition of "Beat" Takeshi's ZATOICHI, fans hope that articles and petitions will convince Miramax to handle these films with the respect they deserve. Source: Kung Fu Cinema

Animation studio Production IG has released five pages of screenshots from the upcoming film INNOCENCE: GHOST IN THE SHELL (Innocence: Kokaku Kidotai). GHOST IN THE SHELL director Mamoru Oshii has returned to write and direct the follow up to the 1995 hit. Toho will theatrically distribute INNOCENCE in Spring 2004. Source: Jagged Team

Nikkan Sports News has reported that a new TETSUJIN 28-GO (Ironman No.28, aka Gigantor) anime series will debut on TV Tokyo in early 2004. The rumored director for This fourth Tetsujin series is Yasuhiro Imagawa, who handled similar duties on the lauded 1990 OVA series GIANT ROBO.

In addition, the manga IRON MAN NO. 28: THE EMPEROR'S CREST (Tetsujin 28-Go: Koutei-no Monshou) will be serialized in Kodansha Publishing's MAGAZINE Z beginning with the February 2004 issue (on sale December 26, 2003). Yuuichi Hasegawa is creating the series, based on an original story by Misuteru Yokoyama.

Both series will hopefully get audiences looking forward to the Toho- distributed live-action TETSUJIN-28 film, scheduled for release in 2004. Additional information is available on the official site and in an October 5th report on Henshin! Online. Source: Sponichi Annex, Moon Phase

Unearthed Films recently announced it has acquired the North American translation and distribution rights to the 2001 "high voltage, rock and roll" art film ELECTRIC DRAGON 80,000 VOLTS. Written and directed by Sogo Ishii (GOJOE, CRAZY THUNDER ROAD), the movie reunites GOJOE stars Tadanobu Asano (ICHI THE KILLER, ZATOICHI) and Masatoshi Nagase (PISTOL OPERA, SUICIDE CLUB). Source: Kung-Fu Cult Cinema

According to an announcement on JN Productions' KIKAIDA BROTHERS: LIVE! 2003 video, the classic series MASKED RIDER V3 (Kamen Raida V3) will air on KIKU-TV in Honolulu, Hawaii starting in the Fall of 2004. Masked Rider's return was inspired by the great success of the recent rebroadcasts of the 1970s Toei series KIKAIDA (1972) and KIKAIDA-01 (1973).

INTERSTELLA 5555: THE 5TORY OF THE 5ECRET 5TAR 5YSTEM, the music video collaboration between French electronic dance musicians Daft Punk and Leiji Matsumoto (SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, CAPTAIN HARLOCK) was released in several international markets in the past few weeks. The French release went on sale November 28th, followed by the British disc on December 1st. The video became available in Japan and North America on December 2nd. For more information on INTERSTELLA 5555, see the EF Report for September 17, 2003. Source: Anime News Network, AICN

The official website for DEAD LEAVES includes a trailer for the new animated feature coming in January 2004 from Production IG. It can be accessed by clicking on "Enter the site"; a window with nine options will pop up, select the center box on the bottom row for the trailer. DEAD LEAVES has been licensed by Manga Entertainment for distribution in the US. Source: Natsume Goushin Ryu Dojo

The SciFi Channel kicks off Godzilla's 50th anniversary year with the broadcast of twelve kaiju movies in January. Up first is REBIRTH OF MOTHRA at 1:00 AM and REBIRTH OF MOTHRA 2 at 3:00 AM on January 3rd. On the 10th a letterboxed print of GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE will be shown at 3:00 AM, while the 11th sees REBIRTH OF MOTHRA 3 at 9:00 AM, followed by 1974's GODZILLA VS MECHAGODZILLA (LBX) at 11:00 AM and the SciFi premiere of 1993's GODZILLA VS MECHAGODZILLA II at 1:00 PM. A Godzilla movie marathon is scheduled for January 19th that includes GODZILLA VS HEDORAH (LBX) at 8:00 AM, GODZILLA VS GIGAN (LBX) at 10:00 AM, GODZILLA VS MEGALON (LBX) at 12:00 PM, and the two newest US releases, GODZILLA VS MEGAGUIRUS at 2:00 PM and GODZILLA, MOTHRA, AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK at 4:00 PM. And last but not least, Toho's classic DESTROY ALL MONSTERS will be shown at 3:00 AM on the 24th.

The Japan Society NYC in east midtown Manhattan (333 East 47th Street, 212-752-3015) is screening several Japanese horror films from December, 2003 to February, 2004. The event began on December 1st with Kenji Mizoguchi's 1953 classic UGETSU (Ugetsu Monogatari). Upcoming screenings will be:

Monday, December 15th at 6:30 pm:
YOTSUYA GHOST STORY Parts I and II (Shinshaku Yotsuya Kaidan; 1949, 85 & 73 min. b/w, 16mm. Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita. Written by Eijiro Hisaita, based on the kabuki play by Namboku Tsuruya. Cinematography by Hiroyuki Kusuda. With Kinuyo Tanaka, Ken Uehara, Haruko Sugimura, Osamu Takizawa, Choko Iida. Print courtesy of The Japan Foundation with permission from Janus Films/Cowboy Pictures. Keisuke Kinoshita's new interpretation of a classic ghost story takes an analytical look at what drives a ronin (masterless samurai) to murder his loving wife for a chance at marrying a wealthy woman, considering socio-economic elements as well as the weakness of human nature, Shochiku Studio's top stars Kinuyo Tanaka and Ken Uehara are joined by theater veterans Haruko Sugimura and Osamu Takizawa in this acting tour de force.

Friday, December 19th at 6:30 pm:
KWAIDAN (Kaidan; 1964, 167 min., color, 35mm. Directed by Masaki Kobayashi. Written by Yoko Mizuki, based on stories by Yakumo Koizumi (Lafcadio Hearn). Cinematography by Yoshio Miyajima. Music by Toru Takemitsu. "Black Hair" (Kurokami) with Michiyo Aratama, Misako Watanabe and Rentaro Mikuni; "The Woman of the Snow" (Yuki-onna) with Tatsuya Nakadai and Keiko Kishi; "Hoichi, the Earless" (Miminashi Hoichi-no Hanashi) with Katsuo Nakamura, Tetsuro Tamba and Takashi Shimura; and "In a Cup of Tea" (Chawan-no-naka) with Kan'emon Nakamura, Haruko Sugimura, Ganjiro Nakamura. Print courtesy of The Japan Foundation with permission from Janus Films, Cowboy Pictures and Toho. A compilation of four episodes from Yakumo Koizumi (Lafcadio Hearn)'s ghost stories, directed by Masaki Kobayashi. In "Black Hair", a poor samurai divorces his loving wife to marry for position. He realizes his foolishness and returns to her, only to discover that he has slept with her corpse. In "The Woman of the Snow", a lowly woodcutter is sworn to secrecy after seeing a friend killed by a strange woman's cold breath. Years later he breaks his promise and loses his wife. "Hoichi, the Earless" is the tale of a blind biwa player who discovers he has been singing to the spirits. Buddhist priests paint his body with holy texts to protect him from ghosts, but neglect to paint his ears. In "In a Cup of Tea", a samurai sees another man's face in his tea cup, then drinks the tea. The next night he meets the man's spirit.

Thursday, January 15th at 6:30 pm
THE DEVIL'S BALL (Akuma-no Temariuta; 1977, 144 min., color, 35mm). Directed by Kon Ichikawa. Written by Christei (pen name of Kon Ichikawa and Natto Wada, taken from Agatha Christy), based on the story by Masashi Yokomizo. Cinematography by Kiyoshi Hasegawa. Music by Kunihiko Murai. With Koji Ishizaka, Keiko Kishi, Tomisaburo Wakayama, Takeshi Kato, Akiko Nishina, Eiko Nagashima, Misako Watanabe. Print from Toho. Director Kon Ichikawa drew from Masashi Yokomizo's popular books featuring humorous private eye Kosuke Kindaichi to create a series endowed with his elaborate visual style and an all-star cast. In THE DEVIL'S BALL, the second in the cycle, Kindaichi faces a series of brutal murders taking place in a mysterious mountain village that has been forgotten by civilization. There, as the rule of mysteries says, there are always beautiful women behind the scene.

Tuesday, January 20th at 6:30 pm
JIGOKU (Sinners of Hell; 1960, 100 min., color, 35mm). Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa. Written by Nobuo Nakagawa and Ichiro Miyagawa. Cinematography by Mamoru Morita. Music by Chumei Watanabe. With Shigeru Amachi, Yoichi Numata, Torahiko Nakamura, Utako Mitsuya. Print courtesy of The Japan Foundation with permission from Kokusai Hoei. U.S. premiere. A man is manipulated by his devilish friend to accidentally kill three people. The parents of a victim take their revenge and all of them end up in hell. Nobuo Nakagawa depicts hell according to the Japanese traditional narrative and visual arts, and dramatizes the destinies of the sinful souls and their salvation in an eye-poppingly kitschy style.

Friday, January 23rd 6:30 pm:
Keiko I. McDonald, Professor of Cinema and Literature, the University of Pittsburgh, discusses how noh masks and theatrical aspects are exploited in ONIBABA.
7:30 pm: ONIBABA (1964, 103 min., b/w, 35mm). Directed and written by Kaneto Shindo. Cinematography by Kiyomi Kuroda. Music by Hikari Hayashi. With Nobuko Otowa, Jitsuko Yoshimura, Kei Sato, Taiji Tonoyama and Jukichi Uno. Print courtesy of The Japan Foundation with permission from Janus Films, Cowboy Pictures and Toho. In Kaneto Shinodo's intense psychological thriller set in Japan's civil war era, a mother and her daughter-in-law survive by killing soldiers and selling their armor. When a friend of the younger woman's husband turns up and begins an affair with her, this drives the older woman mad with jealousy. She puts on a demon's mask to scare them, but finds she cannot take the mask off of her face, since she has been taken by evil spirits.

Friday, January 30th at 6:30 pm:
THE VAMPIRE DOLL (Yurei Yashiki-no Kyofu: Chi-o Suu Ningyo; 1970, 93 min., color, 35mm). Directed by Michio Yamamoto. Written by Ei Ogawa and Hiroshi Nagano. Cinematography by Kazutami Hara. Music by Riichiro Manabe. With Kayo Matsuo, Akira Nakao, Atsuo Nakamura, Yoko Minamikaze. Print from Toho. New York premiere. Described as the Japanese Terrence Fisher, Michio Yamamoto is a cult director admired for his B-picture horror movies. In this first installment of the "Blood Thirsty" series, a young woman's spirit survives a car accident when her body dies, and she becomes a female vampire Looking for blood.

Monday, February 9th at 6:30 pm: CREST OF BETRAYAL (Chushingura Gaiden Yotsuya Kaidan; 1994, 105 min., color, 35mm). Directed by Kinji Fukasaku. Written by Motomu Furuta and Kinji Fukasaku. With Koichi Sato, Saki Takaoka, Keiko Oginome, Renji Ishibashi, Eriko Watanabe, Keizo Kanie, Tsunehiko Watase, Masahiko Tsugawa. Print from Shochiku and with permission from Nihon Shot. New York premiere. Kinji Fukasaku's dynamic and entertaining period film combines the popular "Yotsuya Ghost Story" and "Chushingura" (47 Ronin), as was done in Namboku Tsuruya's original kabuki piece. Iemon, a ronin, finally gets a job with the Asano clans, however, his lord is soon victimized by castle politics and intrigues. Then, Iemon is forced to choose between his career and love.

Friday, February 20th at 6:30 pm: LIVING KOHEIJI (Kaiidan: Ikiteiru Koheiji; 1982, 78 min., color, 16mm). Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa. Written by Nobuo Nakagawa, based on the story by Senzaburo Suzuki. Cinematography by Ikio Higuchi. With Fumihiko Fujima, Junko Miyashita and Shoji Ishibashi. Print courtesy of The Japan Foundation with permission from Toho. U.S. premiere. Japanese horror Film king Nobuo Nakagawa's last film concentrates on three characters and experiments with visual style. A young man falls in love with a married woman. Her angry husband kills the man but the victim haunts the couple until all three of them go to hell.

Tuesday, February 24th at 6:30 & 8:45 pm (two separate screenings): GHOSTS AT SCHOOL (Gakko-no Kaidan; original TV episodes! Total running time approximately 102 minutes, color, video). Video courtesy of Kansai TV and Altamira Pictures. World premiere. This special four- part program is a compilation of the best works by Hideo Nakata, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Shinobu Yaguchi and Norio Tsuruta, from the TV's drama series GHOSTS AT SCHOOL (1994 - ), showcasing their remarkable talent in the horror genre. Kansai TV producer Takehiko Tanaka introduces the program. "Something is Haunting Me" (Nanika-ni Tsukarete-iru; 2001). Directed by Norio Tsuruta. Written by Ryuta Miyake. With Chizuru Ikewaki, Saori Nara, Aya Hirayama, Yoshiko Miyazaki. Two best friends at a junior high school take different paths, and the one who felt ignored by the other begins to attract evil spirits. "The Devil's Choices" (Akuma-no Sentaku; 1999). Directed and written by Shinobu Yaguchi. With Naoto Takenaka and Kirina Mano. A misfit school teacher experiences incredible bad luck and wishes to commit suicide, but is rescued by the devil's messenger. "The Strange Story of an Abandoned School" (Haiko Kidan; 1997). Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Written by Tomoyasu Okubo and Kiyoshi Kurosawa. With Takehito Osawa, Soko Kuruma, Taro Suwa, Bengal. A high school building is to be demolished and its students absorbed by a nearby school. During their last days at the old school, a series of mysterious Occurrences prey on both students and teachers. "Video of Spirits" (Rei Bideo; 1997). Directed by Hideo Nakata. Written by Chiaki Konaka. With Yuko Masuda, Reiko Matsuo, Erika Mabuchi, Rie Kihara. High school photography club members visit an abandoned house, shoot a video and see a fiendish spirit rising from the videotape.

ULTRAMAN TIGA- VOL 2: FUGITIVE FROM BEYOND (Episodes 14-26) goes on sale February 17, 2004, followed by VOL 3:GUTS HEADQUARTERS UNDER ATTACK (Episodes 27-39) on April 20th and VOL 4:INHERITANCE OF DARKNESS (Episodes 40-52) on June 29th. Each of these collections from 4Kids Entertainment and FUNimation presents the 1996 Tsuburaya series in its original Japanese language with English subtitles at a SRP of $29.95 per volume. ULTRAMAN TIGA VOL 1: PROPHECY OF EVIL is now available as both a single volume ($29.95) and as a Starter Set that comes with a collector's box and a large Ultraman T-shirt ($34.95). See the Henshin!Online homepage for furthur detials

Sony Pictures Entertainment has changed the release dates for the upcoming DVDs of GODZILLA VS MEGAGUIRUS and GODZILLA, MOTHRA, AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK. Both films will now go on sale on January 27, 2004.

During the November 1-2 Anime Reactor Convention, representatives from Media Blasters announced that the company was considering licensing sentai series for distribution in the US, but were unsure if there was enough support for such a release. Fans interested in seeing Media Blasters import live- action shows along the lines of MASKED RIDER, SUPER STAR GOD GRANSEIZAR, and IRON ARMOR MIKAZUKI should show their support by signing the petition at PetitionOnline.com.

AVALON - Buena Vista Entertainment has provided updated details for US DVD release of director Mamoru Oshii's (GHOST IN THE SHELL, KILLERS) award winning live-action sci-fi film. There will be no English dub; the DVD will only use the original Polish language audio with optional English and French subtitles. Extras include a documentary on the film's visual effects and a subtitled interview with Oshii. AVALON goes on sale December 16th with a SRP of $29.99. The US release trailer can be accessed at the BE website.

CURE (Kyua) - Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 1997 horror film will be released on DVD by Home Vision Entertainment on January 16, 2004. CURE will be presented in anamorphic widescreen and in Japanese with English subtitles. The DVD includes the theatrical trailer, a 20- minute interview with Kurosawa, and a filmography for the director. SRP is $29.95.

KIKAIDA Volume 6 - The latest DVD offers Episodes 26-30 of the 1972- 73 superhero television series. Extras include the third part of an interview with lead actor Ban Daisuke, cast and crew profiles, DARK Destructoid Monster profiles with sound, and KIKU-TV promos. The disc can be bought at retail locations in Hawaii or ordered directly from the "Generation Kikaida" site. For a limited time, the website is offering a free Kikaida coloring book with the purchase of any DVD. SRP is $24.95.

Kung Fu Cult Cinema has published the first English language review of the new AZUMI Region 2 DVD, released on Novemeber 21st. Director Ryuhei Kitamura's (VERSUS) live- action adaptation of the manga by Yu Koyama co-stars pop star Aya Ueto and former MASKED RIDER KUUGA lead Jo Odagiri.

BATTLE ROYALE II: REQUIEM - After the death of filmmaker Kinji Fukusaku, son Kenta picked up the directorial reins for the sequel to the controversial 2000 hit. Following the events of the previous film, Battle Royale survivors Shuya Nananhara (Tatsuya Fujiwara) and Noriko Nakagawa (Aki Maeda) have become members of Wild Seven, an anti-government terrorist group. In retaliation, the government sends the latest batch of BR recruits (exploding collars and all) in an all- out assault against them. The cast includes Ai Maeda (GAMERA 3), Shugo Oshinari, Ayana, Sakai and "Beat" Takeshi Kitano (ZATOICHI). BRII will be released on December 21st and retail for 4700 Yen from Toei Video.

GATCHAMAN BEST COLLECTION 1-3 - Each volume contains three episodes specially selected from the 1972 anime series (released in the US as BATTLE OF THE PLANETS and G-FORCE). Extras include postcards and fliers. The first three collections go on sale December 17th and sell for 2800 Yen From Columbia Home Video.

MASKED RIDER ZO (Kamen Raida ZO) - The 1993 theatrical feature from director Keita Amemiya (ZEIRAM, MIKAZUKI) will be available on December 21st. Extras include a "Making Of" documentary and KAMEN RIDER WORLD, a featurette starring Masked Riders J and ZO, and more. The first pressing comes in a collector's box illustrated by Amemiya. The 16:9 anamorphic widescreen film runs 47 minutes. SRP is 4800 Yen. Toei Video.

MASKED RIDER J (Kamen Raida J) - Amemiya's 1994 film comes with a "Making Of" documentary, the background music soundtrack, teasers, trailers, and TV spots, production stills, and more. The 48-minute main feature is presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen. MASKED RIDER J goes on sale December 21st for 4800 Yen. Toei Video.

OPERATION: MYSTERY! (Kaiki Daisakusen) - Coming from Panasonic/Beam Entertainment's "Digital Ultra Series" label is the DVD release of the 26 episode Tsuburaya Productions series from 1968. Both Volumes 1 (Episodes 1-5) and 2 (Episodes 6-9) go on sale on December 19th. Volume 3 follows On January 9, 2004, with remaining volumes being released one per month through April. Unfortunately, Episode 24 is still banned in Japan and will not be included in this DVD release. For additional details visit the official Tsuburaya homepage.

POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE - The 1995 US production is being released on Japanese DVD on December 19th. The 16:9 widescreen film will be dubbed in Japanese with English and Japanese subtitles. SRP is 1700 Yen. Toei Video.

ULTRAMAN COSMOS VS ULTRAMAN JUSTICE: THE FINAL BATTLE - The third COSMOS theatrical film will be available on DVD in Japan on December 21st. The movie is in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen. Extras include the teaser and theatrical trailers, TV spots, cast interviews, and a booklet. SRP is 3800 Yen. Bandai/Emotion.

ULTRAMAN THE MOVIE ULTIMATE DVD COLLECTION 3- The older Ultraman theatrical features have been released on DVD in a series of 2-disc boxed sets. This final volume includes 1984's THE ULTRAMAN STORY (Urutoraman Monogatari), THE RETURN OF ULTRAMAN Theatrical Featurette (Kaettekita Urutoraman), the newly-produced Akio Jissoji feature DREAM FACTORY: THE SECRETS OF ULTRAMAN (Yume no Kayoji Urutoraman-no Nazo), theatrical trailers, a 16-page booklet, and a figure of the monster Grand King. The set goes on sale December 10th for 9800 Yen. Columbia Home Video.

CRADLE OF ULTRA (Urutora-no Yurikago) - A new DVD documentary on the making of ULTRA Q and ULTRAMAN will be released on December 19th. The disc features interviews with crew members from the two classic television series (including director Toshihiro Iijima, optical effects animator Minoru Nakano, art director Noriyoshi Ikeya, and Yozo Inagaki), re-creations, production material, promotional footage, featurettes, and details on how the special effects were created. The documentary comes packaged with a full color 96-page booklet in a deluxe hard case. SRP is 5700 Yen.

ZATOICHI- Takeshi Kitano's award-winning update of the classic action film series goes on sale March 11th, 2004. The DVD features the movie in Japanese with English subtitles. SRP is $35.00 US.
News for the week of 11/05/2003
A press conference for the 16th annual Tokyo International Film Festival was held on September 17. TIFF is the largest film festival in Asia and includes a feature film competition, special premiere screenings of upcoming releases, a spotlight on the best Asian filmmakers, and screenings of internationally renowned Japanese classics.

The press conference ended with a "live appearance" by Godzilla. For the past several years, each new Godzilla film has had its first public screening at the Tokyo International Film Festival and the monster has become an unofficial mascot for the event. The most recent Godzilla movie, GODZILLA X MOTHRA X MECHAGODZILLA: TOKYO SOS, premiered at the festival's Orchard Hall at noon on November 3rd.

Festival producer Rekihiko Kadowkawa and several executives were on hand at the conference to announce details of this year's event, which started on November 1st and will continue through 9th . Opening ceremonies were held at Bunkamura in Shibuya and televised via broadband to the Roppongi Hills area. 14 films are in competition for the Tokyo Grand Prix, including Isao Yukisada's A DAY ON THE PLANET, Hiroshi Suguwara's FIREFLIES: RIVERS OF LIGHT, and Ryuichi Hiroki's VIBRATOR. Yumiko Shaku's supernatural fantasy film SKYHIGH played out of competition on November 2nd, and Nov 8th will be a special "Studio Ghibli Day" devoted to the acclaimed animation company. For further details on TIFF, visit the official site.

In related news, Nikkansports.com has a page devoted to the movies playing at TIFF that includes a great new trailer for GMMG.

Disney's new English-dubbed version of the 1992 Studio Ghibli film PORCO ROSSO (Kurenai-no Buta) was screened for the first time on October 14th at the Austin Film Festival in Austin TX. Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the movie tells the story of a former WWI Italian air force pilot who (literally) became a pig and now makes a living defending ships in the Adriatic Sea from air pirates.

The US release was executive produced by Miyazaki's long-time friend John Lassetter (TOY STORY, SPIRITED AWAY) and directed by Tony Bancroft (MULAN). The English language screenplay was written by the husband-and-wife team of Cindy Davis Hewitt and Donald H. Hewitt, who had previously performed the same duty on SPIRITED AWAY. The English voice cast includes Michael Keaton (BATMAN, BEETLEJUICE) as Porco Rosso, Cary Elwes (THE PRINCESS BRIDE, THE CRUSH) as Donald Curtis, Kimberly Williams-Paisley (FATHER OF THE BRIDE) as Fio, and Susan Egan (Disney's HERCULES, SPIRITED AWAY) as Gina. The Disney DVD will be released in April 2004.

The screening was followed by a Q&A with the Hewitts. The screenwriters told the audience that they are currently working on the English language version of NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND, which will star Patrick Stewart, Uma Thurman, and (possibly) Natalie Portman. Portman is apparently pushing for a US theatrical release for NAUSICAA. Source: Nausicca.net

THE SUICIDE MANUAL (Jisatsu Manyuaru), the new film from Benten Entertainment, is based on the controversial bestseller by Wataru Tsuruma. Published in 1993, the book details 10 ways a person can die by their own hand. In 1998, it was linked to 74 suicides in a wooded area near Mt Fuji, which led to discussions that the Japanese government should have the book banned.

Osamu Fukutani directed the film adaptation, which premiered on October 4th at the Cine La Sept Theater in Shibuya, Tokyo. This is the first commercial effort from the filmmaker whose previous movie, entitled RAISE LINE, was awarded the Grand-Prix at the 2002 Michinoku International Mystery Film Festival and the Semi Grand-Prix at the fifth Indie's Movie Festival. Fukutani uses his unique style of directing to describe a mysterious wave of group suicides in Japan. The cast includes the popular race queen and gravure model Chisato Morishita and the noted television and movie actor Kenji Mizubashi. For more information and the theatrical trailer visit the official movie site. Source: fjmovie.com

The US company Toy Vault has begun releasing a line of GODZILLA ORIGINS plush dolls, starting with Mothra (based on the monster's design in GMK). The figure stands over a foot tall and retails for $19.99. "Mothra is kind of molting on peoples' shelves," Toy Vault rep Jon Huston told figures.com "They're like, 'You've only got Mothra? Don't you have the other ones?' Godzilla should have come out first. Mothra simply got approved long before Godzilla did." A 12 inch plush Godzilla ($24.99) is scheduled for release this month, with a 6 inch version ($12.99) coming in January 2004. "It really will be an awesome Godzilla plush. It's so good. Toho, the company that licensed it to us, said it's the best plush Godzilla they've seen in the 49-year history of the character. It's gorgeous and really realistic."

King Ghidorah ($29.99) will also go on sale in January, followed by Rodan in the near future. Huston added "Rodan's real neat, too, because he's got wires in the wings. You can flatten them in and pull them back out. He's very realistic-looking. He's all brown. Rodan doesn't have any variations of color... But in person, he looks really good. We're also working on plush dolls of Anguirus, Megalon, Minilla -- which is the son of Godzilla, and Hedorah the Smog Monster. We don't know which ones will come out first, it depends on what gets approved. The designers who are doing Hedorah complained it's not coming out right. That one's really iffy right now. If they're having trouble doing him but can make another one easily, we'll do the other ones first and release Hedorah last. I definitely want to do the caterpillar Mothra, but probably won't do it until we get to our third year. There are about 27 different characters we can do. There's Mechagodzilla, Mecha-King Ghidorah, Space Godzilla, and then tons of other ones like Destoroyah, Biollante... People need to know we aren't doing anything that remotely resembles the American Godzilla movie. We want nothing to do with it."

The company is also releasing miniature bobbing head figures of Godzilla, Rodan, King Ghidorah, and Mechagodzilla in January at a retail price of $12.99 each. "We were going to do a regular Godzilla bobbler, and then we did a smaller ones that were super-deformed. We stopped doing the big one because it wasn't exciting, but the mini bobblers were. You kind of know when you're halfway through a toy if it isn't working. The big Godzilla just wasn't working for me. The mini bobblers are great. They're wonderful. They're funny and when we show them to people, they really like them. The print run is going to be pretty small on these, at least the first run. We're doing 2,500 of each. They'll just be available in North America." Source: Figures.com

A special screening of JU-ON 2 (The Grudge 2) was held on September 13th at Theatre Shinjuku in Tokyo. Following the movie director Takashi Shimizu and actors Yuya Ozeki (Toshio), and Takako Fuji (Kanako) went onstage to take questions from the audience. Though both Fuji and Ozeki had terrified the viewers with their frightening characters in the film, the impression they gave in person was totally different. "He is so cute!" one attendee screamed about Ozeki, the first-grader who plays the blue-skinned ghost. The young actor said it was fun having his face and body painted for the role. Ms Fuji said she enjoyed Shimizu's style of directing, and that it was especially funny when he directed her from very close range. The three also imitated "the voice" (one of the most famous elements of the JU-ON series), much to the amusement of the audience.

The latest chapter of the hit horror series also stars Chiharu Niiyama, Shingo Katsurayama (both from GMK), and Kei Horie (GAMERA 3), with special effects by Hajime Matsumoto. Additional details and the theatrical trailer are available on the official site. Shimuzu and producer Taka Ichise will soon begin working on a US version for Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures. Source: fjmovie.com

Takashi Miike (AUDITION, DEAD OR ALIVE, THE HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS) and Takeshi Kitano (FIREWORKS, BATTLE ROYALE) had initially planned to work together on the recent ZATOICHI remake, but circumstances eventually led to Kitano making the film on his own. Now the two filmmakers are finally teaming up for a new project; Miike will direct, and Kitano will star in IZO: KAOSU MATAHA FUJORI-NO KIJIN, a period piece samurai movie scheduled for 2004.

The cast includes Cisato Amate, Ryuhei Matsuda (GOHATTO, BLUE SPRING, 9 SOULS), Kenichi Endo (VISITOR Q, DEAD OR ALIVE 2), Yoshio Harada (ONIBI, 9 SOULS) rocker Yuya Uchida (DEADLY OUTLAW: REKKA), Kirin Kiki (PISTOL OPERA), Susumu Terajima (who has appeared in many Kitano and Miike projects), Mitsuhiro Oikawa (CITY OF LOST SOULS), plus two K-1 fighters, including American superstar Bob "The Beast" Sapp. The screenplay is by Shigenori Takechi, who has written for such Miike films as AGITATOR and DEADLY OUTLAW REKKA. Source: Midnight Eye

According to Variety, Miramax will release Takeshi Kitano's ZATOICHI in North America on June 4th, 2004. Given Miramax's repeated announcements and delays for other Asian hits like Stephen Chow's SHAOLIN SOCCER (now scheduled for March 26th) and Zhang Yimou's HERO (planned for April 16th), lets hope ZATOICHI actually sees a US theatrical release. Source: Kung Fu Cinema

In celebration of Leiji Matsumoto's (SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO) 50th anniversary as an animator, the Real Japan website is hosting a selection of video clips from Matsumoto. By clicking on the image of Captain Harlock, fans can view animation and interviews from THE STORY OF GALACTIC RAILWAY, GUN FRONTIER, CAPTAIN HARLOCK, SUBMARINE SUPER 99, and GALAXY EXPRESS 999.

Gorezone.net has reported that prolific director Takaashi Miike has started production on ZEBRAMAN (Zeburaman), his 100th motion picture. Sho Aikawa (DEAD OR ALIVE) will apparently star as an Ultraman-style superhero. The idea of a Japanese superhero movie being created by Miike just boggles the mind...

Midnight Eye has posted an interview with director Kitaro Kosaka. As an animator, Kosaka worked on such classics as AKIRA, METROPOLIS, LAPUTA, and SPIRITED AWAY. He recently completed his directorial debut, NASU: SUMMER IN ANDALUSIA, which became the first anime ever selected for the Cannes Film Festival.

"The Origin of O-Ren Ishii", the animated segment in the new Quentin Tarantino movie KILL BILL: VOL. 1, was created by the anime studio Production I.G. (GHOST IN THE SHELL, BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE). The studio website has now added a page providing details on the project.

Allcinema Online has provided additional crew information for the upcoming live-action CUTIE HONEY movie. Katsuya Terada (BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE), Shinichi Sugimura (the manga ALL UNDER THE MOON), Moyoko Anno (wife of the film's director, Hideaki Anno), and Yutaka Izubuchi (RAHXEPHON) are contributing character designs. Source: Natsume Maya's Anime and Manga Webpage

Director Satoshi Kon talks about his award-winning animated feature MILLENNIUM ACTRESS in an interview on the Akadot website.

The Asian Horror bandwagon grows heavier as HBO jumps on with "Japanese Connection", a collection of the Japanese horror movies that have garnered attention outside of their homeland. The Connection will start on November 5 at 9 pm with the airing of Hideo Nakata's "RING" (Ringu). The movie inspired an English-language Dreamworks remake THE RING. On November 12 at 9 pm, HBO will air "RING 0: BIRTHDAY", the prequel to the original which tells how Sadako became a vengeful spirit. On November 19th at pm, Takashi Shimizu's "JU-ON: THE GRUDGE" will be shown. The movie tells the story, in vignettes, of a house in which a violent death occurred, inflicting horror on the building and those who enter it. The Japanese Connection ends on November 26 at 9 pm with Hideo Nakata's bone-chilling "DARK WATER", which tells the story of a newly single mother coping with her new apartment and the youthful ghost which haunts it. Full channel info can be found at HBO.com. Source: Horror.com
The GODZILLA X MOTHRA X MECHAGODZILLA: TOKYO SOS 2004 Calendar went on sale October 10th. It has eight 32 x 32 cm pages of photos from the upcoming film for 1200 yen. Ultraman fans have more options as two new calendars were released on September 22nd. ALL THAT'S ULTRAMAN 2004 features all of the heroes from the Tsuburaya Productions series on seven pages for 1000 yen, while the ULTRAMAN COSMOS 2004 Calendar (7 pages, 1300 yen) focuses on the three Ultramen from this past summer's theatrical movie.

NEWTYPE USA celebrates its first anniversary next month. Vol 2 Issue 11 includes an ANGELIC LAYER cover story, an interview with LUPIN III creator Monkey Punch, and an article detailing the history of THE BIG O. Extras include two free DVD inserts; one from ADV containing the first episodes of PRETEAR and SAINT SEIYA, and a Media Blasters series sampler. The issue goes on sale November 1.

As previosuly reported, both GODZILLA VS. MEGAGUIRUS and GODZILLA, MOTHRA AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK have been not only picked up by Sony Pictures, but will have official DVD releases in January of 2004. But now the cover art for both DVDs is viewable, first showing up on Fangoria's website and followed by a number of websites. While the quality of the artwork is debated by fans, all should be quite excited to get quality releases here in the US. GMK will be presented in remastered hi-def 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, with both Japanese and English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio and English and French subtitles; no information is yet available on MEGAGUIRUS, but it can be assumed the same specs will apply. As of now, no extras have been announced for these discs.

ADV Films has announced that the DVD of THE PRINCESS BLADE (Shurayukehime) will go on sale November 18th. The futuristic martial arts film was directed by Shinsuke Sato, with special effects by Shinji Higuchi (the 90s Gamera trilogy, SAKUYA: SLAYER OF DEMONS) and fight choreography by Hong Kong superstar Donnie Yen (IRON MONKEY, BLADE II, SHANGHAI KNIGHTS).

Yumiko Shaku (GxMG, SKYHIGH) stars as Princess Yuki, a former elite Mikado guard who now operates as an assassin. As a member of the House of Takemikazuki, Yuki is hired by the authoritarian government to kill members of a rebel group. But when events force her to switch sides, Yuki and a young man named Takashi (Hideaki Ito; PYROKINESIS, ONMYOJI) must battle against her fellow Takemikazuki assassins.

The PRINCESS BLADE DVD will present the movie in the widescreen format in both English dubbed 5.1 and the original Japanese 2.0 language versions with English subtitles. The SRP is $19.98.

According to Kung Fu Cult Cinema, on November 25th Kino Video will release a three-disc DVD boxed set of Takeshi Miike's wild crime movies (with heavy fantasy/science fiction overtones) DEAD OR ALIVE, DEAD OR ALIVE 2: THE BIRDS, and DEAD OR ALIVE 3: FINAL. Miike's the latter two critically-acclaimed post-modern gangster films have never been officially released in North America, until now.

Fangoria Magazine reported that Ventura Distribution will be releasing North American DVD versions of Hirohisa Sasaki's genre films CRAZY LIPS (a supernatural detective film) and GORE FROM OUTER SPACE. CRAZY LIPS will be released next June, with GORE FROM OUTER SPACE to follow in July.

BOUNCE KO GALS will be released on October 28 by Media Blasters' Tokyo Shock label. "Bounce KO Gals" is the term for teenage Japanese girls who sell their dirty panties, bodily fluids, and sometimes their bodies to older men so that they can to afford keep up with all the latest trends. The 1997 movie from director Masato Harada (GUNHED) follows a trio of these girls in a psuedo-documentary style similar to the controversial US movie KIDS. The DVD will be in widescreen will include the original Japanese language audio with English subtitles, and the theatrical trailer. SRP is $29.95. Source: Media Blasters

The 2002 Kadokawa-Daiei movie SUICIDE CLUB (Jisatsu Sakuru) is coming to US DVD from TLA Releasing on November 18th. Writer/director Shion Sono begins his film with 54 smiling high-school girls leaping in front of an oncoming subway train. While investigating the gruesome (and graphic) deaths, detective Kuroda (Ryo Ishibashi; AUDITION) discovers a website that described a wave of suicides.before they happened.

The SUICIDE CLUB DVD will be in widescreen and in Japanese with English subtitles. The SRP is $20.99. Source: TLA Releasing site

Geneon Entertainment (formerly Pioneer Animation) will release CAPTAIN HERLOCK, SPACE PIRATE VOLUME 1: THE LEGEND RETURNS on January 27, 2004. The OAV series marked the first collaboration between Leiji Matsumoto and Rintaro since the original SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK television series 24 years ago. THE LEGEND RETURNS features scripts by Sadayuki Murai (COWBOY BEBOP, MILLENNIUM ACTRESS), character designs by Nobuteru Yuuki (ESCAFLOWNE), music by Takayuki Hattori (GODZILLA VS SPACE GODZILLA, GODZILLA 2000). The disc runs 100 minutes with a SRP of $29.98.

Toho has announced that MATANGO (aka "Attack of the Mushroom People") will go on sale December 25th, followed by KING KONG ESCAPES on January 30th, and GORATH on February 27th.

Last week, Toho releases the classic kaiju-eiga ATRAGON (Kaitei Gunkan) on DVD. Along with the orignal mono audio track, the disc features both a remixed Dolby 5.1 audio track and an audio commentary track.

The Ultraman theatrical features are being released in a series of 2- DVD boxed sets entitled ULTRAMAN THE MOVIE: ULTIMATE DVD COLLECTION (see EF Update from 7/24/03 for details). Volume 2 went on sale on October 22nd and includes ULTRAMAN: GREAT MONSTER BATTLE (Urutoraman Kaiju Daikessen, 1979) and ULTRAMAN ZOFFY: ULTRA WARRIORS VS. THE GREAT MONSTER ARMY (Urutoraman Zoffy: Ultra-no Senshi tai Daikaju Gundan, 1984). Both films are combinations of new footage and scenes from episodes of the tv series. The set retails for 9800 yen.

MASKED RIDER: THE MOVIE BOX is a 4-disc set containing all 13 "Kamen Raida" theatrical films; GO GO MASKED RIDER (1971), MASKED RIDER VS SHOCKER (1972), MASKED RIDER VS AMBASSADOR HELL (1972), MASKED RIDER V3 (1973), MASKED RIDER V3 VS DESTRON (1973), MASKED RIDER X (1974), THE FIVE RIDERS VS. KING DARK (1974), MASKED RIDER AMAZON (1975), MASKED RIDER STRONGER (1975), THE 8 RIDERS VS. GALAXY KING (1980), MASKED RIDER SUPER 1 (1981), MASKED RIDER BLACK (1988), and MASKED RIDER BLACK: TERROR! THE EVIL MONSTER MANSION (1988). The box set will be released on December 12th at a SRP of 2000 yen. Toei Video.

The 1975 series MASKED RIDER STRONGER will be released on DVD in 2 discs volumes starting October 21st. Volume 1 contains episodes 1-11, and Volume 2 (on sale November 21st) has episodes 12-22. Each set has a running time of 264 minutes and comes with an eight page booklet. The SRP is 12000 yen for each volume. Toei Video.

MASKED RIDER RYUKI Vol 11 features episodes 41-45, trailers, battle selection, data files, and an interview with Takashi Suga, packaged with three trading cards. The disc was released on October 21st at a price of 5800 yen. Toei Video.

MASKED RIDER 555 (Kamen Raida Faiz) is coming to DVD starting this month. Volume 1 (October 21st) includes episodes 1-4, Volume 2 (November 11th) 5-8, and Volume 3 (December 5th) 9-12. Each disc is in the 16:9 widescreen format, and comes with trailers, battle selection, data files, and three trading cards. Each volume retails for 5800 yen. Toei Video.

JAKQ: BLTIZKREIG SQUAD (Jakka Dengekitai) Vol 4 (episodes 18-23), Vol 5 (24-29), and Vol 6 (30-35) went on sale on October 21st. Each volume of the 1977 television series comes with a four-page booklet and sells for 6300 yen each. Toei Video.

RESCUE TASK FORCE: GO GO FIVE (Kyukyusentai Go Go Fuaibu) is coming to DVD on November 21st. The first three volumes will cover episodes 1-15 of the 1999 Toei Super Sentai series. Each disc contains five episodes with an approximate running time of 115 minutes, and comes package with a four-page booklet. The price for each volume will be 5800 yen. Toei Video.

The 27th Toei Super Sentai series, RAGING DRAGON TASK FORCE: ABARANGER (Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger), is coming to DVD this month. Volume 1 (October 21st) includes episodes 1-4, battle selection, production gallery, trailers, interviews, and two cards. Volume 2 (November 21st) has episodes 5-8, a behind-the-scenes segement, interviews, and a photo gallery. SRP is 5800 yen. Toei Video.

INAZUMAN Vol I features episodes 1-13, a character data file, Shotaro Ishinomori design gallery, interviews, and a booklet in a two-disc set. Volume 1 went on sale Oct 21st for 13800 yen. Toei Video.

ROBOT DETECTIVE (Robot Keiji) Vol 1 is a double-disc set containing episodes 1-13 of the 1973 Toei series. Extras include an eight-page booklet, character data file, interviews, classic moments with audio commentary, and a Shotaro Ishinomori art gallery. The set goes for 13800 yen. Toei Video.

Toei Animation and Toei Video are joining with Toshiba on the SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK: 869 PROJECT, a limited edition packaging of Toshiba's new multi-drive hybrid DVD recorder RD-XS41 and the SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK DVD box set. Only 869 units will be produced at a retail price of 178000 yen each, and will only be available for sale online after 11 am JST on November 11th.

The recorder will be a special model, designated CH-869, in black with Harlock's famous skull and crossbones logo. The remote will feature a silhouette of Captain Harlock on the lower half, and the menu screens will feature the series' theme song and characters.

The DVD box set will contain remastered versions of the entire 43-episode television series, the 1978 movie SPACE CAPTAIN HARLOCK: MYSTERY OF THE ARCADIA (Arcadia-go no Nazo), creditless opening and end sequences, a booklet, and more. The set will not be available separately until the second half of 2004. Source: Natsume Maya's Anime and Manga Webpage

The Studio Ghibli website has announced that upcoming NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND DVD will come with a 28-minute documentary about the creation of the studio, a six-minute preview for INNOCENCE: GHOST IN THE SHELL, and ads for Miyazaki's next film HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE (Hauru-no Ogoku Shiro). The disc's release has been rescheduled to December 5th in order to meet the high demand from consumers. See the EF Report for 09/17/03 for more details on the NAUSICAA DVD.

The Australian company Siren Visual Entertainment released another Godzilla DVD Double Feature on October 11th. The third set pairs the 1968 classic DESTROY ALL MONSTERS with 1974's GODZILLA VS THE COSMIC MONSTER (aka "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla"). Both movies are English-dubbed, and present fullscreen in the PAL format. SRP is $29.95

The GODZILLA X MOTHRA X MECHAGODZILLA: TOKYO SOS Original Soundtrack CD goes on sale on December 3rd. Popular composer Michiro Oshima (GODZILLA VS MEGAGUIRUS, GODZILLA X MECHAGODZILLA) returns for the latest Godzilla film. The soundtrack sells for 2857 yen.

NEW VERSION! ULTRAMAN COMPLETE SONG COLLECTION (Saishin Ketteiban! Urutoraman Zenkyoku Shu) was released on October 22nd. The CD contains 20 tracks, including the theme songs to all of the Ultraman TV series. SRP is 2200 yen.
News for the week of 10/01/2003
It's Thrillville's HORROR HOST-PALOOZA, Part Two! Doktor Goulfinger, Mr.Lobo and The Thrills are joined by legendary CREATURE FEATURES host John Stanley and Japanese fantasy cinema experts Bob Johnson and August Ragone (y'know, the guys from Henshin! Online), to present the Northern California premiere of Shusuke Kaneko's acclaimed GODZILLA- MOTHRA-KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK (aka "GMK", 2001). The film will be accompanied by surprise short subjects, classic trailers from Uncle Bill, and hopefully a special appearance by Godzilla and Mothra! The event will be held Thursday, October 23 at the Parkway Theater in Oakland, California. Tickets are $8. For further details go to the Thrillville website.

The Hollywood Reporter announced that Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Connelly is in discussions to star in the US remake of the Japanese horror film DARK WATER. The 32 year-old Connelly has starred in several fantasy films (LABYRINTH, THE ROCKETEER, DARK CITY, HULK), comedies, as well as acclaimed dramas such as REQUIEM FOR A DREAM and A BEAUTIFUL MIND. The original version of DARK WATER was directed by Hideo Nakata (RING, CHAOS) from a novel by RING author Koji Suzuki and released in 2002. The story revolves around a mother and her young daughter who move into a rundown apartment building that has two serious problems: leaky pipes and ghosts.

The Walt Disney Co. is producing the film, which marks the English- language debut of director Walter Salles (CENTRAL STATION). Filming will begin in January 2004. Source: Yahoo

In anticipation of the upcoming American theatrical release of the Toho movie RETURNER, Sony Pictures has opened the official homepage for the movie. The site includes the theatrical trailer and streaming video clips of scenes from the 2002 sci-fi/action film.

Directed by Takashi Yamazaki (JUVENILE) and starring Takeshi Kameshiro, Anne Suzuki and Goro Kishitani, RETURNER has drawn positive comparisons to US films like TERMINATOR and THE MATRIX for it's big budget special effects and stunning action sequences. Sony will release the movie in conjunction with Samuel Goldwyn/Destination Films on October 17. For more details see the EF Report for 9/17/03. Source:Animenation.

On August 10, Kiyoshi Suzuki (producer of the recent ULTRAMAN COSMOS VS ULTRAMAN JUSTICE movie) announced that a new Ultraman television series will be broadcast on TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) starting in the spring of 2004. Contrary to rumors, the show will not feature Ultraman Legend or beconnected to the previous series, ULTRAMAN COSMOS, which ended in 2002 due to a scandal involving star Taiyo Sugiura (see Henshin Headlines 2002 for details). "I want the next Ultraman to be totally new, different from Ultraman Cosmos," Suzuki said. Source: Nikkansports.com

A galaxy of characters and stars from the Kikaida series headlined the KIKAIDA BROTHERS: LIVE! stage show that happened on Sunday, September 28 at the Hawaii Okinawa Center in Waipio on the island of Oahu. Kikaida, Kikaida 01, Hakaida, Bijinda, and Waruda appeared along with lead actors Ban Daisuke and Ikeda Shunsuke. For more information go to GenerationKikaida.com.

Following the successful release of his film FREDDY VS JASON, director Ronny Yu has optioned live-action remake rights to the anime feature BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE. He intends on casting an as-yet-unnamed Japanese actress in the lead role of Saya. "They call it THE LAST VAMPIRE KILLER," Yu told SciFi Wire, "You have this teenage girl. She never ages, and she always wears this high school uniform. But she carries this huge samurai sword, and she has a mission to get rid of all these leftover vampires."

The original 48-minute-long anime film was directed Hiroyuki Kitakubo And released in 2000. "It takes place right after the Second World War, so I thought that is a very interesting era, because there's so much death after the war -- all this blood created all these vampires," Yu explained. In order to flesh out the story, Yu plans to include background information from the BLOOD manga and video games. "Me and my writer, we had to go back to the origin. Where does she come from? What organization she's working for? And expand that, the past history. How does it make her come to this world?" Additional source: Filmforce

Tokyo: On August 9th, former actress Tamaki Sawa (real name: Masako Yamato) was found dead at a housing quarters for government Senators. Heart disease was determined as the cause of death. She was 66. PLAYGIRLS was a trend-setting and popular action series produced by Toei (with 287 one-hour episodes), featuring the exploits of a private investigation agency, comprised of beautiful women, who battle crime. The series spawned many imitators (it was the "inspiration" for Aaron Spelling's CHARLIE'S ANGELS), and spawned a short-lived sequel, PLAYGIRL-Q.

According to police reports, an attendant found Sawa lying facedown on the floor of the Senate Bathhouse where it appeared she had fallen while filling a tub. There were no injuries, except for some minor scratches caused by her fall, and no signs of foul play. The report noted that her clothes were folded neatly next to the tub. Sawa's secretary stated that most of the other senators had returned to their hometowns, leaving Sawa alone at the housing quarters.

Sawa debuted as a jazz singer in 1956, and went on to become a popular actress in film and television (she also sang the theme song to PLAYGIRLS). She turned to politics and, as a member of the Komei Party, won a seat in the Senate in 1998. Age requirements would mandate that she step down after her current term, so she planned to return to acting in 2004.

"I'm shocked. I just saw her on July 8th," said Sawa's friend, 54 year-old actress Yukiko Kuwabara. The two former PLAYGIRLS co-stars were planning to revive the show on the stage. PLAYGIRLS INC. was set to premier at the Ginza Hakuhinkan Theater in Tokyo in April, 2004. Kuwahara stated that "Her death will cancel the project." A memorial service was held on August 20th, a date Sawa had originally set aside to select costumes for the stage show.

Recently, a "Best Of" DVD boxset of the long-running series (1969- 1974) was issued, featuring 16 episodes, special bonus features, a 24-page booklet, a CD and more (Toei Video DSTD02232, 25000 Yen). Earlier this year, a feature film update of PLAYGIRLS was released by Toei Motion Picture Company starring future CUTIE HONEY, Eriko Saito Source: Nikkansports.com

Cast members Mansai Nomura (age 37), Hideaki Ito (28), Kiichi Nakai (41), Eriko Imai (19) and Kyoko Fukuda (20) attended a press conference in Tokyo on August 20th to promote their new movie, ONMYOJI II. The film is a sequel to the 2001 Toho release ONMYOJI: THE YIN YANG MASTER, which drew an audience of 2 million people and earned 3.2 billion Yen at the box office. The first film has been released on DVD in North America in regular and special editions from Pioneer Entertainment.

ONMYOJI II continues the mystical adventures of Abe-no Semei, a member of the imperial order of Onmyoji during the reign of the Heian Emperor. Lead actor Nomura commented on returning to the role: "Last time it was difficult preparing for the role of Semei, but this time it only took three days to get back into character." Nankai, who portrays the film's antagonist, said "I'm very satisfied with my role in the movie. Playing a villain was interesting. I felt that Nomura's performance and my own were perfectly in synch with one another." Toho will release ONMYOJI II on October 4. For additional details and the theatrical trailer visit the official site. Source: Nikkansports.com

Shingo Katori, a member of the popular boy band SMAP, has been chosen For the title role in director Masayuki Suzuki's NINJA HATTORI-KUN. Shiro Ito (age 66), Rena Tanaka (23), Yuki Chinen (10), and comedian Gori (31) round out the cast for the live-action film, which will be released by Toho next summer. Katori said "I'm looking forward to making this movie. I have a feeling it will be more than people expect."

The movie is based on the manga by DORAEMON co-creator Fujiko Fujio Which ran in GEKKAN SHONEN magazine from 1964-1967. NINJA HATTORI-KUN was previously adapted as a live-action television series in the 1960s, five animated series running from 1981-1988, and four animated films. The story follows Hattori Kanzo, a ninja from Iga who comes to Tokyo to further his training. He moves into the home of a young boy named Kenichi (Chinen) and the two become fast friends. Both Chinen and Katori are part of the same talent agency. "I'm so glad to be workng with Katori," Chinen said. "I like him!"

Gori plays Kemumaki, a ninja from Koga who is Hattori's rival. "When I was a kid, I imitated Hattori. I used to try to walk on water," he laughed. Noting that Kemumaki has been changed from a child in the manga to Kenichi's teacher in the new film, he remarked that "I'm happy to play this role, but it will be difficult since Kemumaki is all grown up."

Kenichi loves a blind girl played by Rena Tanaka in a role specifically created for the movie. Like Chinen, Tanaka is looking forward to acting with Katori for the first time. "Working together on HATTORI, I'd like to make a movie that makes people happy," she said. Source: Nikkansports.com (article #2), Akadot

A Windows Media preview of the upcoming animated feature film SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: REBIRTH (Uchusenkan Yamato Fukkatsu Hen) is now available on the official site http://www.enagio.com/yamato . The Japanese/Korean co- production is being supervised by Yoshinobu Nishizaki, who recently settled a legal dispute with Leiji Matsumoto over ownership of SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO (see the previous EF for details). Source: Natsume Goushin Ryu Dojo

On August 28th, director Tomoyuki Furumaya and actress Masame Nagasawa held a press conference in Osaka to promote their new film ROBOT CONTEST (Robocon). The movie follows four high school students as they build a robot for a popular engineering competition in Japan. "This Robo-Con has the same spirit as modern sports, so I wanted to film the movie much like a sporting event." Furumaya stated. He feels ROBOT CONTEST truly shows the competitive spirit for the 21st Century.

This is the first leading role for Masame Nagasawa. "When I first read the story, I thought it was too geeky," the 16 year-old said. "But the movie is a lot of fun, and I found operating a robot to be very interesting." A scale model of the robot Box-Hund was on display behind the actress.

Toho released the film in Japan on September 13th. For more details and the theatrical trailer visit the official site. Source: Yahoo News Japan

More casting choices have been announced for PRETTY GUARDIAN SAILORMOON, the live-action adaptation of the long-running anime series. Kaori Morikawa will play Sailor Moon's mother, Ikuko Tsukino, young actor Joji Shibue will perform the role of Tuxedo Kamen/Mamoru Chiba, and the villainous Queen Beryll will be played by Aya Sugimoto. Ms Sugimoto may be familiar to Ultraman fans for roles in the films ULTRAMAN TIGA & ULTRAMAN DYNA (1998) and ULTRAMAN COSMOS 2: THE BLUE PLANET (2002).

A TV special on the show will be broadcast on Friday, October 3, followed by the series premiere at 7:30 am the following day on the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS). A short promo video is now available at Source: Sponichi Annex

Metreon, a Sony Entertainment Center, presents the 3rd Annual Metreon Festival of Anime on Saturday, October 11 from 10am-11pm. The festival will features screenings of Bandai Entertainment's titles like COWBOY: BEBOP THE MOVIE and s-CRY-ed, culminating with the debut of WITCH HUNTER ROBIN, which fans will experience in 4-D rumble seats. Festival goers can take part in activities hosted by Bandai Shop, including a Q&A panel and autograph session with Kari Wahlgren, the voice actress from WITCH HUNTER ROBIN, IGPX, FLCL, and the upcoming production WOLF'S RAIN. Bandai America will unveil their newly expanded store on Level Two of Metreon. The Bandai Shop is increasing its offering of anime DVD titles, model kits, toys and collectibles from GUNDAM, the company's 24-year-old Japanese saga, as well as other favorite Bandai America properties, including SUPERIOR DEFENDER and POWER RANGERS.

The Festival will also include a Gundam model building contest, JAGUN FIGHTERS game demos, and a presentation by Academy Award-winning artist Doug Chiang, creator of ROBOTA. Astro Boy - the classic icon of Japanese animation - will be making a special appearance to give a sneak peek at his new series coming to the Kids' WB! in early 2004. The series is produced by Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan and Tezuka Productions, and distributed in the U.S. by Sony Pictures Television.

Tickets to the festival can be purchased online. The $15 admission includes entry to all film screenings in Action Theatre, workshops, guest appearances and tournaments, lunch specials, a gaming passport, and a Goodie Bag. For full event information, movie screening times and updates, visit the official website.
Actor Hidekazu Ichinose (who played Agent Fubuki in the ULTRAMAN COSMOS television series and movies) has joined the cast of SHADOW WARRIORS (Kage-no Gundan), a movie based on the popular 1980s television series starring Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba. Ichinose was thrilled to be personally selected by Chiba for the project. "I'm a big fan of Shinichi Chiba," he said. For his first jidaigeki, Ichinose has been practicing the fighting styles seen in such period films and said he has been particularly inspired by the style of the late Daiei star Raizo Ichikawa.

The three-part SHADOW WARRIORS series also stars Noboru Kaneko, who Starred as Kakeru Shishi/Gao Red in HUNDRED-BEAST TASK FORCE: GAORANGER and is in the upcoming GODZILLA X MOTHRA X MECHAGODZILLA: TOKYO SOS. Also featured in the cast is Hassei Takano, who played Hiroya Fujimiya/Ultraman Agul in ULTRAMAN GAIA, Miyuki Tezuka/Masked Rider Raia in MASKED RIDER RYUKI, and also has appeared in J-Horror films such as UZUMAKI. Directed by Fumuyuki Kato, the first entry of the action-packed film was released by Toei on September 20th. Source: Sponichi Annex

NHK, the national broadcast corporation of Japan, has been producing Quality "Taiga Doramas" (historical dramas) for many decades. The most recent entry is MUSASHI (Miyamoto Musashi), a year-long series that tells the story of one of Japan's true legendary heroes.

Musashi Miyamoto was born in 1584 during a period of conflict among Japan's warlords. Trained in the art of fencing by his father, he defeated his first opponent at the age of 13. He traveled across Japan in an effort to improve his skills as a swordsman, winning one duel after another. In October 1600 he took part in the battle of Seki-ga-Hara, which brought an end to the period of conflict when Tokugawa Ieyasu defeated his rivals and consolidated power in Japan.

Musashi is played by Shinnosuke Ichikawa, a stage actor known for his performance in KANJINCHO, one of the 18 classical Kabuki plays. Singer and NHK regular Masahiro Matsuoka plays Musashi's greatest rival, Kojiro Sasaki. In 1612, the two swordsmen fought a duel to the death on Ganryu Island in the Kanmon Straits between the main island of Honshu and the southern island of Kyushu. Other performers include 28 year-old former model Ryoko Yonekura as Otsu, Musashi's lifelong lover, international award-winning actress Rie Miyazawa as Sasaki's lover Oshino, comedian/director Takeshi Kitano as Musashi's father Munisai Shinmen, and popular NHK star Nishida Toshiyuki in a brief role as a ronin.

MUSASHI has been a big success in Japan. In the mid-1950s Toho told the story of Musashi Miyamoto in Hiroshi Inagaki's award-winning SAMURAI TRILOGY (Miyamoto Musashi) starring Toshiro Mifune; now that the NHK series has sparked a recent revival of interest in the hero, Toho will bring him to the theaters once again. Director Seiji Chiba's GANRYU ISLAND (Ganryujima) will be released on October 11th. Among the cast is model-turned-actress Miho Yoshioka, who will next been seen in GODZILLA X MOTHRA X MECHAGODZILLA:TOKYO SOS.

NHK's MUSASHI is currently airing (in Japanese with English subtitles)on many international channels in the US, including KSCI Channel 18 in Los Angeles, KTSF-TV Channel 26 in San Francisco, and KIKU-TV in Honolulu, Hawaii. Check your local listing for further details. Source: The official site, Sushi and Tofu

As the filming of the supernatural thriller SKYHIGH wrapped up, a press conference was held August 27th at Toei Studios in Tokyo. Reporters listened to comments from the cast and crew and witnessed the filming of a fight between heroine Yumiko Shaku (GODZILLA X MECHAGODZILLA, THE PRINCESS BLADE)and Takao Osawa.

SKYHIGH began as a controversial manga by Takahashi Tsutumu, which was serialized in the Shueisha Publishing's magazine YOUNG JUMP. In January 2003, it was adapted into a live-action television series by TV Asahi. The late-night broadcasts drew a very respectable 11.4 rating and led to the theatrical version which will be released on November 8th. "We want to make this into a long-running series," a member of the production team stated. "We are looking forward to making a sequel with Yumiko Shaku." Photos and the theatrical trailer are available on the official site

It was also announced that SKYHIGH may be remade as either a US Theatrical feature or television series. Following the success of Dreamworks' RING remake, Hollywood has turned to Japanese films, tv, anime, and comics for ideas. American producers were impressed by both the manga and television series and are now negotiating for the rights. If a deal is made, a US version of SKYHIGH may start production next year. Source: Nikkansports.com

The official website for the new ASTRO BOY series has been updated with descriptions of the show and its characters.

Yahoo!Movies has provided details on the upcoming US release of Mamoru Oshii's (GHOST IN THE SHELL) live-action scifi film AVALON. Miramax will release the film directly to video through Buena Vista Home Entertainment in 2004. Neil Gaiman (PRINCESS MONONOKE, the DC comic book series SANDMAN) has stated that he is writing "additional dialogue" for the film, but whether that is for a new English dub or for subtitles to go with the original Polish audio track is unclear at this point. The MPAA have given AVALON and `R' rating for violence. Additional info can be found at the official site.

NEWTYPE USA vol 2, issue 10 includes a feature on Quentin Tarrentino's new film KILL BILL, including an interview with actor David Carradine. SAMURAI CHAMPLOO, CUTIE HONEY, SATOSHI KON, SHAOLIN SOCCER, and NINJA SCROLL are also covered. The issue, which will be available on October 1, also includes free posters, postcards, and a DVD insert with the first episode of FINAL FANTASY UNLIMITED. Source: Newtype-USA.com.

Studio Ghibli will release an image album for Hayao Miyazaki's next film, HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE (Hauru no Ugokujou), in Japan December 3. The book (catalogue number TKCA-72620) will retail for 2,857 yen. Based on the children's fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones, HOWL'S is the story of an eighteen-year-old girl named Sophie who is transformed into an old woman by the evil Witch of the Waste. Determined to return to normal Sophie seeks the help of Howl, a wizard who lives in a moving castle which is fueled by a fire demon named Calcifer. The film will be premiere in Japan in July 2004, followed by a US release from Walt Disney Pictures in 2005. Source: Mangaoh.co.jp

The newest volume of the nine-volume KIKAIDA DVD series was released on Tuesday, September 23, just in time for the latest `Kikaidamania' stage show. "We¹re up to Volume 5, and fans keep asking for more," said Joanne Ninomiya, JN Productions owner and president. "We try our best to keep up with demand and are grateful that sales have been so consistent." "We have this steady customer base, which is made up of 'Generation Kikaida' members and their children."

KIKAIDA DVD Volume 5 includes episodes #21-25 of the original 43-episode series that first aired in Japan from 1972-1973 and in Hawaii on KIKU-TV beginning in 1974. The super-powered android battles yet another wave of DARK Destructoid monsters: Purple Rat, White Saw Shark, the Yellow Antlion Brothers, Pink Armadillo, and Orange Snail. The total running time of the five episodes is two hours and five minutes.

In addition to the action-packed episodes, the disc features Part 2 of a special feature interview with Ban Daisuke, in which the actor comments on the reported rivalry between himself and fellow Japanese action star Miyauchi Hiroshi,the catchy KIKAIDA soundtrack, and the show's stuntwork. "Pop Up" video-style clips from the series are used to illustrate Ban's points.

Additional extras include cast and crew profiles and DARK Destructoid monster profiles with sound effects, plus another set of Kikaida factoids by H!O's own August Ragone. These factods delve into behind-the-scenes production notes, point out cameos by Japanese actors, and reveal bloopers that made their way into the series. In addition to boasting digitally remastered picture and sound, the KIKAIDA episodes are fully subtiled in English and feature bilingual English and Japanese menus to help Kikaida fans navigate through the disc.

KIKAIDA DVD Vol 5 is available at retail outlets in Hawaii and through the official Generation Kikaida website.

Adness Entertainment/Ventura Distribution will bring the popular TOMIE horror series to DVD in 2004. Based on the manga by Junji Ito (UZUMAKI), the each movie deals with a murdered girl who returns from the dead to exact revenge. The 1999 film TOMIE will be released on January 27, and the four sequels; TOMIE: REPLAY (2000), TOMIE: REBIRTH (2001), TOMIE: ANOTHER FACE, and TOMIE: FORBIDDEN FRUIT (2002), will follow at monthly interval through May. The DVDs will be in anamorphic widescreen with bonus material. Source: DVD Maniacs

THE SPIRAL (Rasen), the original sequel to Hideo Nakata's horror film RING, will be released on English-subtitled DVD for the first time by the British company ArtsMagic's Eastern Cult Cinema line. Both RING and RASEN were based on novels by Koji Suzuki, and the two films were released simultaneously to Japanese theaters on January 31, 1998. While RING was a huge hit, RASEN tanked at the box office and was eventually removed from the series' continuity by Nakata's own sequel, RING 2.

THE SPIRAL DVD is 16:9 enhanced, and disc includes the theatrical trailer, a new interview with director Joji Iida, and biographies of Iida and actors Hinako Saeki, Hiroyuki Sanada, Miki Nakatani, and Yutaka Matsushiga written by British author MJ Simpson. The disc goes on sale September 26th. Source: mjsimpson.co.uk

Pixar vice president John Lasseter was executive producer of the US release of the Oscar-winning SPIRITED AWAY. On November 19, Studio Ghibli will release a tribute to the man who helped faithfully present director Hayao Miyazaki's vision to American audiences. THANK YOU, MR LASSETER: THE 20-YEAR FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN HAYAO MIYAZAKI AND JOHN LASSETER THAT LED TO SPIRITED AWAY'S OSCAR WIN (Arigato Lasseter- san: Sen to Chihiro Academy-Sho Jusho-ni Kakusareta Miyazaki Hayao Miyazaki to John Lasseter-no Niju-nen ni Wataru Yujo) is a 155 minute- long documentary -- as long as its title -­ that includes a long discussion between the two filmmakers. Source: Yomiuri.co.jp, Nausicaa.net

Impress AV Watch has announced that the stereo audio track was dropped from the upcoming DVD release of NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND (Kaze-no Tani-no Naushika). Buena Vista Home Entertainment had created the new track, but decided that the original monoaural track was superior. The audio commentaries by Hideaki Anno and Kazuyoshi Katayama will not be affected. See the previous EF for further details on the DVD. Source: Natsume Goushin Ryu Dojo

YUMIKO SHAKU IN SKYHIGH, a 40 minute-long documentary that details the making of the new movie from director Ryuhei Kitamura (VERSUS, AZUMI), will be released on October 24. As the title makes clear, the program focuses on the film's star, Yumiko Shaku (GODZILLA X MECHAGODZILLA), and includes an interview and behind-the-scenes footage with the actress. Source: CDJapan

Another Kitamura film, the scifi action thriller ALIVE, will also be released on October 24. Based on the manga by Tsutumu Takahashi (SKYHIGH), the film tells the story of Tenshu, a man sentenced to death in the electric chair for killing his girlfriend's rapists. Tenshu accepts an offer to life without freedom and is sealed in a room with another convict, where a wild nightmarish ride begins.

ALIVE will be released in two versions; a regular edition and limited edition 3-disc "initial pressing" that includes the original theatrical cut, anamorphically remastered from a new telecine master, DTS and & Dolby Digital 5.1), a longer director's cut, interviews, trailers, a soundtrack CD containing 19 tracks, and an 8-page color booklet.

ADV Music, a division of ADV Films, will release the original motion picture soundtracks to four Toho kaiju films on October 28. Each CD boasts high-end production and artwork from the original films. This will be the first official release of these soundtracks in the US.

The DESTROY ALL MONSTERS disc contains Akra Ifukube's score to the classic 1968 monster romp that starred 11 monsters (including Godzilla, Rodan, King Ghidorah, Gorosaurus, Mothra, and Manda). The REBIRTH OF MOTHRA: ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK features music composed by Toshiyuki Watanabe, additional music by Yuji Koseki and Akiko Yano, and vocal performances by Megumi Kobayashi and Sayaka Yamaguchi, the actresses who played the Elias. With the exception of Akiko Yano, the creative team is the same for the REBIRTH OF MOTHRA 2: ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK, while Misato Tate replaces Ms. Yamaguchi on the REBIRTH OF MOTHRA 3: ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK.
News for the week of 09/17/2003
Sony has tentative plans to release both GODZILLA VS. MEGAGUIRUS and GODZILLA·MOTHRA·KING GHIDORAH on DVD in February of 2004. Each film will be sold separately. At this point, it appears the DVDs will feature widescreen prints with both Toho's international English dub and the original Japanese language track with English subtitles. No word on if any extras will be included. The discs may be delayed if Sony decides to go ahead with a limited theatrical run for GMK. Henshin!Online will report further details as they become available.

4Kids has announced that ULTRAMAN TIGA will be coming to US DVD on December 9th. In a surprising move, the discs will not include the edited, English dubbed versions seen on FoxBox, but instead the original Japanese episodes as created by Tsuburaya Productions.

ULTRAMAN TIGA VOLUME 1: THE PROPHECY will include episodes 1-13 in Japanese with English subtitles (there is no information yet as to how many discs these will be on) for a suggested retail price of $34.95. The ULTRAMAN TIGA STARTER SET will include volume one in a special collector's box with a Tiga t-shirt and will retail for $39.95. The DVDs are being distributed by FUNimation Productions, who plan to issue the entire 52 episode series in four volumes.

On September 2nd, Yumiko Shaku won the Bercasio Club prize for "Most Beautiful Legs". The 25 year-old was wearing a sexy dress that showed off her legs, ample cleavage, and slim back as she received the award at a ceremony at Roppongi Hills in Tokyo. "This is so surprising to me because I have stigma about my legs" she told reporters.

Shaku explained her method of keeping her legs in top shape; " I learned when I wear pants too often my legs get fatter. I think exposing my legs in public makes them more beautiful by creating nervous tension". The model/actress recently finished shooting the supernatural thriller SKYHIGH and will reprise her GODZILLA X MECHAGODZILLA role in December's GODZILLA X MOTHRA X MECHAGODZILLA: TOKYO SOS. Source: Sankei Sports

A special premiere screening of the latest Ultraman movie, ULTRAMAN COSMOS VS ULTRAMAN JUSTICE: THE FINAL BATTLE, was held on July 13th at the Shiodome FS Hall in Shinbashi, Tokyo. After the film, director Tsugumi Kitamura, producer Kiyoshi Suzuki, and actors Taiyo Sugiura, Ichi Fukiishi, and Hidezaku Ichinose joined Ultramen Cosmos, Justice, and Legend for a special on-stage presentation. Noting that the film ends the story of Ultraman Cosmos, Kitamura said "I'd be happy if the audience remembers both Musashi and Cosmos in the future". Lead actor Sugiura added "The story initially focuses on Musashi, then shifts to Juri's point of view. I think audiences will enjoy this movie because it's like watching two films at once".

The event ended with a performance by the Kids Dancers, a group of 30 elementary school students. Each wore a t-shirt depicting the face of one of the 30 different Ultra heroes. Additional information and photos from the ULTRAMAN COSMOS VS ULTRAMAN JUSTICE premiere are available at fjmovie.com

Original ULTRAMAN actress Hiroko Sakurai has written a book that documents the making of the classic series. Entitled THE GENESIS OF ULTRAMAN, the book features lengthy interviews with cast and crew members including the long-lost Akhide Tsuzuwa (junior Science Patrol member Hoshino), whom Sakurai had not seen in 36 years, and in recent years has not been available for interviews.

Book signings with Ms Sakurai were held August 23rd at HMV in Shibuya and at the Sunshine Building at Bandai's 2003 Ultraman Festival in Ikebukuro. A book release party will be held September 14th. THE GENESIS OF ULTRAMAN retails for 1680 yen.

Director Takashi Yamazaki's live-action sci-fi/action film RETURNER will have its US theatrical premier in Los Angeles and New York on October 17th. Distributors Samuel Goldwyn Films & Destination Films will then release the movie to other American cities. Sony Pictures, who had initially licensed US rights for RETURNER in August 2002, will now handle the home video release. According to Yahoo Movies, the film will be released to American theaters with its original Japanese language and English subtitles. Source: Kung Fu Cinema, Returner.net & Yahoo!Movies

A live-action version of NEO-ROID CASSHERN (Shinzoningen Kashaan), the regarded SF-Action anime series, is coming in 2004 from Shochiku Studios. The official website contains a teaser trailer for the robot-smashing hero.

The original series was produced in 1973 by the dynamic Tatsunoko Productions team, who also created SCIENCE NINJA TEAM: GATCHAMAN (1972-1974) and SPEED RACER (1967-1968). The story concerns a scientist who perfects a sentient robot that brings about the rise of the machines over mankind. The last bastion of hope is Casshern -- in reality, the scientist's son who has allowed his life-force to be transferred into android body to defend mankind. CASSHERN, along with GATCHAMAN and HURRICANE POLYMAR, were revived in updated OVAs in the 1990s and both GATCHAMAN and CASSHERN were released in North America. ADV is currently releasing CASHERN on DVD under the US title CASHAN: ROBOT HUNTER. Volume 2 goes on sale December 23rd. Source: Natsume Goushin Ryu Dojo

The Yellow Cab, an all-woman acting group famous for their huge breasts, performed a stage version of the animated show CUTIE HONEY. The play was held at Bandai's theater in Matsudo City Chiba Prefecture from July 25th to Aug 3rd. Another Yellow Cab member, Eriko Sato, is starring in the live-action CUTIE HONEY movie coming from Warner Brothers Japan in 2004. The official website for the film is online. Source: Sponichi Annex, Eriko Sato

NHK Education Channel has discarded its normally staid image to grab a greater share of Japan's young TV audience with its spring program. Channel 3 will now show a large swathe of cartoons and children's programs in the 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. bracket, including reruns of old favorites such as the newly remastered Gerry Anderson "Supermarionation" series THUNDERBIRDS (which is, of course, in anticipation of the mega-budget feature film to be released next year). In the late 1980s/early 1990s, the venerable broadcaster also tried the same with the entire catalogue of Ultraman series, to great success. The taxpayer funded broadcaster will also move forward its nightly foreign language class programs from the current midnight to 11 p.m. to make them more accessible for younger student viewers. Serving as presenters on most of the programs will be younger women seen as being comparatively trend conscious. Pundits see the unprecedented move as an attempt by NHK to secure a greater slice of the early evening market even though it has no commercials and is supposed to be immune to ratings that affect private channels. Source: Mainichi Shimbun

The lawsuit between two creators of the animated series SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO (Uchusenkan Yamato) was settled out of court on July 29th. Famed animator Leiji Matsumoto and producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki have reconciled their differences and announced plans for new YAMATO series. Nishizaki will produce on SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: THE REBIRTH (a direct sequel to the original series) while Matsumoto is working on GREAT GALAXY SERIES: GREAT YAMATO 7 VS 7 (Dai Ginga Series: Dai Yamato Hen 7 VS 7).

Article 16 of the National Copyright law states that owner of a copyright is "A person that takes charge of a production, is the supervisor of the production, one who creates film or art and contributes to the overall creation and format of the production." Previously, Matsumoto filed a claim that Nishizaki that Nishizaki was not the only producer of YAMATO. This, in turn, brought a counterclaim from Nishizaki. The first trial in Tokyo District Court ended in March 2002 with Nishizaki named the sole owner of the series. Matsumoto appealed this decision to the Tokyo High Court. In the appeal, Matsumoto claimed copyrights on the characters and of the Space Battleship Yamato as they appeared in the 1975 series. Eventually, a settlement was reached between the two creators. Through his attorney, Nishizaki said "To fight with Mr. Matsumoto over this would hurt the fans of SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO." Nishizaki recently finished a prison term for violating Japanese firearms and weapons laws. Source: Asahi.com
Leiji Matsumoto has had his plate full recently. The famed artist and animator recently launched a website for his SUBMARINE SUPER 99 series. Set in the near future, the story involves the discovery of a gigantic submarine that may be sinking ships in Japanese waters. Keisuke Fujikawa wrote the screenplay (based on Matsumoto's graphic novel), which was directed by Hiromichi Matano.

Another new series, THE STORY OF GALACTIC RAILWAY (Ginga Tesudo Monogatari) will premier in Japan at midnight on October 4th. In addition, the first episode of the GALAXY EXPRESS999 television series will be available online for free throughout the month of September. Additional episodes will be available for a small fee.

Matsumoto has also drawn praise for his collaboration with the Parisian electronic dance music group Daft Punk, INTERSTELLA 5555: THE 5TORY OF THE 5ECRET 5TAR 5YSTEM. Each "movement" of this silent film is accompanied by a track from the duo's 2001 Virgin album, "Discovery." In an interview with Billboard Magazine's James Martin, Daft Punk members Guy-Manuel De Homern Christo and Thomas Bangalter said "The project was born in 2000, when we flew out to Tokyo with an hour of music and our own script. Leiji gave us a warm reception, and after listening to the music, he came onboard immediately. Three years later, our dream has come true."

Previewed at this year's Cannes Film Festival, INTERSTELLA 5555 was released in 30 French theaters May 28th and has secured theatrical distribution in Japan, Russia, Portugal, and the Baltic states. EMI plans to release the film on DVD in December. A trailer is available at the official site. Source: Anime News Network, AICN, various

The 4th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival (October 2nd-5th), which will host screenings of RETURNER and PING PONG, are having a special presentation of TOKYO GODFATHERS. The screening of the latest film from anime director Satoshi Kon (MILLENNIUM ACTRESS) is a nice change of pace for the Festival, which normally focuses on live- action material. Source: sdaff.org

PRETTY GUARDIAN SAILORMOON, a live-action version of the popular anime series, will premier on the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) at 7:30 am on Saturday, October 4th. The cast includes Miyu Sawai as Sailor Moon, Keiko Kitagawa as Sailor Mars, Chisaki Hama as Sailor Mercury, Ayaka Komatsu as Sailor Venus, and Miyuu Azama as Sailor Jupiter. Photos and further information are available on the official Japanese Sailormoon homepage and the CBC Television Network website

Director Stephen Norrington has announced he will not be directing the live-action AKIRA film for Warner Brothers. Dissatisfied with creative compromises on THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, he intends to distance himself from "Hollywood development deals." Source: The Z Review

MILLENIUM ACTRESS has received a limited theatrical release from Dreamworks Pictures, starting September 12 in Los Angeles. The full schedule is available from Anime News Service. The New York Times film review can be read at The New York Times website.

The Giant Robot website has posted an interview with Shinsuke Sato, director of THE PRINCESS BLADE (Shurayuki Hime). The movie is currently in the middle of a limited US theatrical run from ADV Films

Marcon (Multiple Alternative Realities Convention), the Midwest's premiere sci-fi and fantasy convention, will have a Godzilla theme in celebration of the monster's 50th anniversary. Renowned Godzilla illustrator Bob Eggleton will be on hand to introduce theatrical screenings of several TBA Godzilla films. The convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency, Columbius OH from May 28th-30th, 2004. For more details see Marcon.org

Dreamworks Pictures will release the award-winning animated feature MILLENNIUM ACTRESS as a special edition DVD on October 28th. The disc features a new high-definition telecine transfer of the 87 minute-long film in the widescreen format, plus digital 5.1 Japanese language audio with optional English, French and Spanish subtitles. A bonus behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie will also be included. Source: MILLENNIUM ACTRESS Official website.

Following a limited US theatrical release, THE PRINCESS BLADE will be released on DVD November 18 by ADV Films. Check the ADV website for more details.

Retromedia will release a double feature DVD of GAMERA VS MONSTER X (Gamera tai Dai-Maju Jaiga) and MONSTER FROM A PREHISTORIC PLANET (Dai Kyoju Gappa) on January 6, 2004. This will be the US video premiere for the Gamera film, while MONSTER has been previously released on DVD by Media Blasters (as GAPPA, THE TRIPHIBIAN MONSTERS), Alpha, Navarre, and Ventura.

Media Blasters will release the 1997 JUNGLE EMPEROR LEO (Janguru Taitei) -- aka "Kimba: The White Lion" -- animated feature with a bilingual DVD on October 28th. The SRP is $19.95.

The 1956 Daiei science fiction classic WARNING FROM SPACE (Uchujin Tokyo-ni Arawaru) will be available on October 7 from Alpha Video. On November 18, Alpha will release the 1968 Gamera movie ATTACK OF THE MONSTERS (Gamera tai Dai Akuju Giron).

Starting in September, Toho has reduced the price on their standard DVDs to 4800 Yen apiece and will packing the films in vinyl Amway Cases ("Keep Cases") in lieu of plastic Jewel Cases. The first discs with this new price will be SUBMERSION OF JAPAN (Nippon Chimbotsu) and DEATHQUAKE (Jishin Retto). ATRAGON (Katei Gunkan) and MATANGO (aka "Attack of the Mushroom People") follow on October 24th, while the original MOTHRA (Mosura) arrives in December to coincide with the theatrical release of GODZILLA X MOTHRA X MECHAGODZILLA: TOKYO SOS.

A "Special Edition" version of KIKAIDER 01: THE ANIMATION, which premiered August 18th on the Sky Perfect satellite television channel, has just been issued in a deluxe boxset. The set includes the "director's cut" of the four episode OVA plus a new half-hour adventure, KIKAIDER VS. INAZUMAN (based on the Shotaro Ishimori manga, "Boy With The Red Guitar"). For wallpaper and other images visit the official site.

AZUMI, Ryuhei "Versus" Kitamura's live- action adaptation of the manga series, will be released as a limited edition double disc special edition on November 21st. Extras will include a "Making Of" featurette, theatrical trailers, TV spots, and removable English subtitles. The set will retail for 5800 yen. Source: Kung Fu Cult Cinema

Impress AV Watch has published details on the Japanese DVD release of Hayao Miyazaki's classic film NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND (Kaze-no Tani-no Naushika), which will be released on November 19th in three different editions. The Regular Edition will include a double disc special edition of the movie with a reversible sleeve, optional English subtitles, and Japanese language audio commentary by Hideaki Anno (supervisor for the giant god soldier/Ohmu attack scene) and animation director Kazuyoshi Katayama. The DVD will retail at 4700 yen. First edition copies will also include a bonus "Blue Angel version DVD soft case."

The Limited Edition will include the DVD, the bonus "Blue Angel version DVD soft case", and a ceramic figure of Nausicaa for 7800 yen. CD Japan reports that the entire print run of 50,000 copies has already sold out in Japan.

The Collector's Box Edition will include the DVD, the bonus "Blue Angel version DVD soft case", the ceramic figure, a framed print, and an Ohmu model for a retail price of 24800 yen. Source: Natsume Goushin Ryu Dojo

The Australian company Siren Visual Entertainment is releasing several Godzilla films on R4 DVD. First up is a GODZILLA/KING KONG VS GODZILLA double feature, which was released on August 9th, followed by a GODZILLA VS MOTHRA/GHIDRAH: THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER set on October 9th. According to Siren's website these DVDs feature the US versions of the films in fullscreen, though retail outlets like fbo.com describe them as 16:9 enhanced. All the DVDs are in the PAL format.

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News for the week of 07/24/2003
The absence of ULTRAMAN TIGA on the Fall 2003 FoxBox schedule has fans wondering about the show's future in America. Now 4Kids Entertainment has provided exclusive details to Henshin! Online. "As far as ULTRAMAN TIGA returning to the US, at this point it's not on the fall schedule but that could always change," a 4Kids representative said. "However, I don't look for it to air again until 2004."

The company is still moving ahead with merchandising plans for the character, including the previously announced comic book series from Dark Horse Comics. "We are talking to a few toy companies about a line of Ultraman action figures for the US but it's too early to know if this will happen." The most exciting announcement is that 4Kids will release the first DVD volume of ULTRAMAN TIGA in late 2003 or early 2004. Rumor has it that the DVDs will feature the original uncut Japanese episodes with English subtitles.

In related Ultra-news, Henshin!Online has an exclusive first look at the next ad for Variety's special tibute to Tsuburaya Productions 40th Anniversary. As reported here on July 2, the Variety issue will go on sale the week of August 4. Stay tuned to H!O for more details soon!

Ultraman has joined Godzilla on FanTasia's film schedule. The Canadian festival will show the 2001 movie ULTRAMAN COSMOS: THE FIRST CONTACT on July 27, followed by 2002's ULTRAMAN COSMOS 2: THE BLUE PLANET on August 3. These are the international premieres for both films, which will be shown in their original Japanese language with English subtitles courtesy of Tsuburaya Productions.

The Parkway Theater in Oakland, California will be the first to screen the English-dubbed print of GODZILLA-MOTHRA-KING GHIDORAH (aka GMK). The film will be shown on Thursday, October 23 as part of Thrillville's "Horror Host-Palooza." Thrillville host Will "the Thrill" Viharo has announced that he will be joined by horror movie hosts Doktor Goulfinger, Mr. Lobo, John Stanley (host of the Northern California's legendary CREATURE FEATURES), and Henshin! Online's own Bob Johnson and August Ragone to present GMK to Godzilla fans in Northern CA. Tickets are $8. For further details go to the Thrillville website.

In more Thrillville news, fans packed the Parkway theater to see GAMERA 2: ADVENT OF LEGION on Thursday, July 17. Part of the night's festivities included a personal, 3-minute video by Shusuke Kaneko welcoming everyone to Thrillville and thanking them for coming to see the movie. The director also revealed a surprising concept he used in the Gamera films that he has never mentioned anywhere else; in Gamera's universe "There are no turtles." Kaneko explained that "Turtles do not exist. So when people see him, they do not call him 'Flying Turtle'". A simple but effective way to make a serious film about a giant flying, fire-breathing turtle.

The people behind the largest anime convention outside of Japan, Anime Expo, have announced the creation of a new convention to bring the cutting edge of Asian entertainment to America. The Pacific Media Expo will feature anime, DJs from Asia, martial arts, celebrity guests, concerts, exhibitors and dealers, and an artists' alley. There will also plans for live-action programming, such as Kaiju, Japanese Horror, and Hong Kong films. The first Pacific Media Expo will be held the Anaheim Convention Center from May 29 to 31, 2004. Expo founder Mike Tatsugawa discusses the event in an interview with Anime News Network.

The Japanese newspapers Sankei Sports and Sponichi Annex have published info and photos from Warner Brothers, Japan's upcoming CUTEY HONEY (Kutei Hanii) film. The live-action production stars model Eriko Sato as Go Nagai's infamous heroine. Sato told reporters that she has been reading the original manga and watching the anime series in order to portray the character properly.

Early reports are that the movie will set a record for "cosplay" (costume play) in a Japanese film as Sato will have more than thirty different costume changes that include "Honey Kisaragi," "Cutey Honey," a policewoman, a waitress, an office worker, and a motorbike racer ("Hurricane Honey"). This news should excite those fans who remember that Cutey Honey's clothing tears off whenever she transforms. Director Hideaki Anno (NEON GENESIS EVANGELION) said to the fans "The transformation is one of the highlights in CUTEY HONEY. I hope you'll look forward to it." Source: Natsume Goushin Ryu Dojo

Toho's theatrical feature GANRYU ISLAND (Ganryujima) is the latest adaptation of the legend of Musashi Miyamoto. Born in 1584, Miyamoto is an actual historical figure who was reknowned as a master swordsman. Ganryu Island is famous as the place where he had a duel with his greatest rival, Kojiro Sasaki. In the mid-1950s Toho released the award-winning SAMURAI TRILOGY based on Miyamoto. There has been a recent revival of interest in Miyamoto, due in part to the big budget NHK "Taiga Drama" MUSASHI, a year-long historical series that is broadcast every Sunday evening on NHK (the series is also airing on KIKU-TV in Honolulu, Hawaii and KTSF-TV in San Francisco). The success of the show, and huge public interest in Mushashi, inspired Toho to return to the story to the big screen.

GANRYU ISLAND is directed by Seiji Chiba. He is best known for writing, producing, and directing four movies in the KSS ninja series SHINOBI (a "shinobi" is another term for "ninja"). He also performed the same duties for two other films, THE STORY OF MUJIN ISLAND (Mujin- to Monogatari) and TWO OF US. Model-turned-actress Miho Yoshioka (GODZILLA x MOTHRA x MECHAGODZILLA: TOKYO SOS) makes her theatrical debut in this film, which will open on October 11.

Project Godannar has launched the official Japanese website for their new television series UNITED DIVINE SPIRIT GODANNAR (Kami Takashi Gattai Godannar). The new animated sentai/super robot show, a throwback to the days of Go Nagai's super robots, is directed by Yasushi Nagaoka (CREST OF THE STARS) with character designs by Takahiro Kimura (BETTERMAN, GAOGAIGAR). GODANNAR premieres in Japan on July 20. Source: Natsume Goushin Ryu Dojo

Toho will release ROBOT CONTEST (Robocon) to Japanese theaters this September. The film is a "feel-good" tale of four high school students who build a robot for a popular engineering competition in Japan. Director Tomoyuki Furumaya used multiple cameras to film the event in real time. There is no information if there is any connection to mangaka Shotaro Ishimori's manga and television series of the same name -- ROBOCON. More information and the theatrical trailer are available at the official site. Source: AICN

Yudai Yamaguchi, assistant director on Ryuhei Kitamura's VERSUS and ALIVE, steps up to the plate to direct the film BATTLEFIELD STADIUM. The KlockWorx release is a live-action adaptation of Man-Gatarou's manga "Hell Baseball Stadium" (Jigoku Koushien), produced by Ryuhei Kitamura and starring Tak Sakaguchi (VERSUS). Inspired by the hit HK film SHAOLIN SOCCER (being released this summmer in North America by Miramax Pictures), BATTLEFIELD STADIUM is a hybrid of the baseball, horror, action, and comedy genres. The film opened in Japanese theaters on July 19. The trailer, photos, and additional info are available on the official site. Source: Kung Fu Cult Cinema

Five Japanese filmmakers have joined forces on KILLERS, a collection of short stories about guns. The stories are "Pay Off" directed by Kazuhiro Kiuchi, "Candy" by Shundo Ohkawa, "Perfect Partner" by Takanori Tsujimoto, "Killer Idol" by Shuji Kawata, and ".50 Woman" from Mamoru Oshii. Oshii (GHOST IN THE SHELL) reteamed with Nobuaki Koga (his visual effects supervisor on AVALON) for an on oddly comic chapter that features Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki (SPIRITED AWAY, THE CAT RETURNS, Oshii's upcoming INNOCENCE: GHOST IN THE SHELL). The Toho film was released on June 14. Information, photos, and the trailer are on the official site. Source: AICN

Maaya Sakamoto, a singer and voice actress known for anime titles like RAHXEPHON and VISION OF ESCAFLOWNE, has tried her hand at live-action acting. In director Hidenori Sugimori's WOMAN OF WATER (Mizu- no Onna) short film 03 CROSS Sakamoto plays a mysterious woman who helps a boy with a fear of the color black. The singer will also perform the film's theme song and is working with cmposer Yoko Kanno on the soundtrack. 03 CROSS is scheduled for Fall 2003. Source: Akadot

Screen Daily reports that Groove Corporation has filed for bankruptcy protection at the Nagoya District Court with a total debt of $42 million. Started as a video sales and rental store management company in 1976, Groove produced and distributed fifteen films, including Shohei Imamura's 1997 Cannes Grand Prize winner THE EEL (Unagi). While critically acclaimed, recent Groove titles like WOMEN IN THE MIRROR and TOUCH A DREAM had failed to make a profit. The company was also hit by the decline in prices of videos and DVDs sold to rental chains in Japan. Source: Screen Daily

Production I.G. and Studio Ghibli are co-producing INNOCENCE: GHOST IN THE SHELL(Innocence: Kokaku Kidotai), an animated film based on the manga by Shirow Masamune. Original GHOST IN THE SHELL director Mamoru Ishii has returned to both write and direct the sequel. The story focuses on a cyborg named Batou whose entire body is man-made. The only living parts of Batou that remain are traces of his brain... and the memories of a woman. In an era when humans forgotten their true selves, this lonesome "ghost" of a man struggles to retain his humanity. INNOCENCE: GHOST IN THE SHELL is a Production I.G./Tokuma Shoten/Nippon Television Network/Dentsu/Disney/Toho/Mitsubishi presentation. The film features design work from Hiroyuki Okiura and Atsushi Takeuchi, digital effects by Hiroyuki Hayashi, visual effects from Hisashi Ezura, and music by Kenji Kawai. Mitsuhisa Ishikawa and Toshio Suzuki are the producers. Toho will distribute the movie to Japanese theaters in the spring of 2004. Unconfirmed rumors report that Miramax will release INNOCENCE in the US. See the official site for more information on the film.

The Hollywood Reporter has published an article on the proliferation of American films that are based on Japanese anime and manga titles.

Director Ryuhei Kitamura's movie ALIVE has been reviewed by the Japan Times.

The official LUPIN III website has added a page with pictures and information on this year's telemovie, LUPIN III: OPERATION TREASURE RETURN (Lupin Sansei Otakara Henkyaku Daisakusen). The film will air on August 1 in Japan.

A review of BATTLE ROYALE 2: REQUIEM has been posted on the Screen Daily website

TV Asahi has launched an expanded site for their new supernatural film SKYHIGH that features a new theatrical trailer and photos of star Yumiko Shaku. The movie is based on the popular television series.

According to AICN, more than one million advance tickets for the newest "Pokemon" movie, POCKET MONSTERS: ADVANCE GENERATION, have been sold in Japan.

The official SAILOR MOON website has added a link with information on the upcoming live-action SAILOR MOON (Seeraa Muun) series from Toei.

Hajime Matsumoto (GMK) has been named visual effects supervisor of the live-action TETSUJIN 28-GO (Iron Man No. 28, aka GIGANTOR) movie. Initial reports claim that the film will climax in a battle between Gigantor and his classic foe Black Ox.

Popular Japanese model/actress Yumiko Shaku (GODZILLA X MECHAGODZILLA, THE PRINCESS BLADE, SKYHIGH) is the subject of a new set of trading cards. YUMIKO SHAKU TRADING CARD IN ITALY features 122 sexy swimsuit photos shot on location in Italy (of course) printed on glossy, gold foil cards. Each pack contains eight cards and retails for approximately $3.00.

FANGORIA #225 (on sale July 15) has a in-depth articles on GODZILLA X MECHAGODZILLA and the Japanese zombie film STACY by Norman England. England was on the set for much of GxMGs production and was able to interview director Masaaki Tezuka, star Yumiko Shaku, effects director Yuuichi Kikuchi, and Godzilla actor Tsutomu Kitagawa. Combined with his own observations and recollections, the end result is the most informative article on the film ever published in the west. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! For more details on the issue's contents go to Fangoria's website

"Newtype USA" Volume 2, Issue 8 includes features on anime legend Carl Macek (ROBOTECH), SAKURA WARS, the animation studio Madhouse (NINJA SCROLL, METROPOLIS, THE ANIMATRIX), THE PRINCESS BLADE, MANTERI LOKI RAGNAROK, and IRON WOK JAN. The free DVD insert contains the first episode of Go Nagai's MAZINKIZER (!). The issue will go on sale August 1.

Kodansha International has published "A Hundred Years of Japanese Films," the latest book from expat Donald Richie. Richie has been writing about Japanese arts and culture since shortly after he moved to that country in 1946. The volume begins with the the earliest silent shorts films, then shows the evolution of Japanese cinema thru directors like Gosho, Kurosawa, Oshima up to current filmmakers like Kitano and Miike. A HUNDRED YEARS also includes a comprehensive reference guide with capsule reviews of Japanese movies available on video or DVD. For a detailed review go to Book Reporter.com

Tom Mes, a contributor to the excellent website Midnight Eye, has written "Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike." Miike gave his full cooperation to the book, evening supplying personal photos and his production diary for ICHI THE KILLER. Mes covers the director's entire filmography, including analyses of every theatrical, video and TV production, and information on DVD availability. FAB Press has published AGITATOR as both a paperback and as a limited hardback edition of 500 copies. For more information see the report on Midnight Eye.

ADV Films has announced the release dates for two new titles from their Rubbersuit Pictures imprint. First up is YOKAI MONSTERS: ALONG WITH GHOSTS (Tokaido Obake Dochu) the final film in Daiei's classic ghost trilogy, coming to stores on September 9. When a little girl named Miyo finds incriminating evidence against Kanzo, a corrupt clan leader, she is forced to keep one step ahead of the henchmen who are trying to get the document back. The criminals murder Miyo's grandfather on sacred ground and unleash the curse of the Yokai (Spirit Monsters). Miyo sets off to find her long-lost father, who should recognize her when she presents a special pair of dice. But Kanzo takes Miyo and her father hostage and forces the girl to wager the father's life in a game of chance. It all comes down to a roll of the dice, and only the Yokai Monsters know the outcome! ALONG WITH GHOSTS will be released in Japanese with English subtitles. Extras include the original theatrical trailer and a US preview.

Following on September 30 is the DVD premiere of OROCHI: THE EIGHT- HEADED DRAGON. Known in Japan as YAMATO TAKERU, the 1994 Toho film was directed by Takao Okawara (GODZILLA VS MECHAGODZILLA II, GODZILLA VS DESTOROYAH) with effects by Koichi Kawakita (the Heisei Godzilla films). Based on the legend detailing the birth of Japan, the heroic Takeru Yamato battles several kaiju such as the sea god Muba, lava god Kumaso, and the hydra Orochi. The DVD includes both English and English-subtitled Japanese language versions plus ADV Previews.

Kino International has released several Japanese titles to DVD, including the 1999 film SHARKSKIN MAN AND PEACH HIP GIRL. Director Katsuhito Ishii's re-imagining of Minetaro Mochizuki's popular manga series featuresa wild collection of offbeat gun-crazy characters. Distracted by the sight of a handsome, nearly naked man sprinting across a winding mountain road, Toshiko (Shie Kohinata) inadvertently interrupts a mob execution by crashing her car into a limo full of assassins. Fresh from a frenzied ménage à trois, Samehada (ICHI THE KILLER's Tadanobu Asano) seduces Toshiko into a life-or-death race with an army of mob killers and a moon- walking, love-struck amateur hit man. Released on DVD July 8, the disc is letterboxed 16x9, Japanese language with English subtitles and comes with the theatrical trailer.

Also on DVD from Kino is CHAOS (Kaosu), a 1999 thriller from director Hideo Nakata (RING, DARK WATER). After a successful Japanese businessman's ravishing trophy wife (Miki Nakatani) vanishes, sadistic and taunting ransom demands arrive and the police are summoned. As the true nature of the stakes for the captor (Masato Hagiwara) and his captive unfolds, nothing is what it what it originally seemed to be. The DVD includes the original theatrical trailer, while the letterboxed feature is in Japanese with English subtitles.

Bandai Entertainment has announced several new releases for September, including LOVE HINA AGAIN, the final chapter of Ken Akamatsu's best selling anime and manga series. Keitaro and Naru have finally begun college life at Tokyo University! After a long period of studying, bizarre happenings, random trips, and misunderstanding upon misunderstanding, their dream has finally come true! However, their feelings for each other are still a little... muddled. And with a newer, stricter, manager to run the Hinata Apartments -- Will anyone survive Hinata Boot Camp? Love is in the air... Again. Welcome back. The DVD include an offer for offers limited edition statues from Tokyo Mint and goes on sale September 2.

SPIRIT OF WONDER tells the story of Cooper, Gordon, and Shepherd, young boys enchanted by the theories of life on Mars published by Percival Lowell. By forming a group club called the "Scientific Boys Club," the trio pursues their long-time dream of traveling to Mars. The DVD is in Dolby Digital Surround Sound, English/Japanese language with English subtitles and comes with a Miss China mini poster, art gallery, and interviews. Available September 2.

.hack//INFECTION and .hack//MUTATION are some of the best selling RPG's of the year. Now comes the DVD .hack//SIGN OMNIPOTENCE in both standard and limited editions. The limited edition goes on sale September 2, followed by the standard version on Sept 16.

From the original creators of COWBOY BEBOP and GUNDAM WING comes one of the most action packed anime series to hit North American airwaves! Originally broadcast in 2001, THE BIG O helped to establish an on-going presence of action anime on Cartoon Network. Now almost two years later, the series will be available as a collector's edition collecting all 13 episodes of its first season on DVD. THE BIG O COMPLETE COLLECTION offers Dolby Digital Surround Sound, English/Japanese language with English subtitles, staff interviews, voice actor interviews, production art galleries, and textless opening and ending sequences. Available September 16.

GENESHAFT: ORBIT volume 3 involves a life or death struggle will ensue with everyone's lives on the edge. Declared traitors by the I.E.O. , the heroes must deal with a terrorist is hidden within their midst. The DVD offers the following features: Dolby Digital Surround Sound, English/Japanese language with English subtitles, character and mecha galleries, and a Geneshaft Glossary. On sale September 16.

Home Vision Entertainment will release volumes 9-11 in Daiei's ZATOICHI: THE BLIND SWORDSMAN film series on August 19. The films will be Kimiyoshi Yasuda's ADVENTURES OF ZATOICHI (Zatoichi Sekisho Yaburi, 1964), Akira Inoue's ZATOICHI'S REVENGE (Zatoichi Nidan-giri, 1965) and Kazuo Mori's ZATOICHI AND THE DOOMED MAN (Zatoichi Sakate- giri, 1965). Each disc features a digitally re-mastered, 16x9 widescreen (approximately 2.35:1) print, with newly translated English subtitles and original theatrical trailers. See the report at Kung Fu Cinema for further info.

Toho's upcoming Godzilla DVDs will include some interesting extra features. Their next release is SON OF GODZILLA (Kaijuto-no Kessen: Gojira-no Musuko), available on July 25. Extras include an audio commentary by effects director Sadamasa Arikawa and the 8mm/still image feature GODZILLA: #1 MONSTER (Kaiju Dai'ichigo Gojira). The DVD for DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (Kaiju Soshingeki) has several more 8mm/still frame features; GIANT DRAGON MANDA (Kyoryu Manda), GATHER TOGETHER ALL MONSTERS (Oru Kaiju Syugo Seyo), THE MONSTER OLYMPICS (Kaiju Orimpikku), plus an audio commentary by assistant director Seiji Tani.

The Ultraman theatrical features are being released in a series of 2-DVD boxed sets entitled ULTRAMAN THE MOVIE: ULTIMATE DVD COLLECTION. The first volume will include the 1967 release ULTRAMAN: THE MOVIE (Chouhen Kaiju Eiga Urutoraman) and 1979s ULTRAMAN: DIRECTED BY AKIO JISSOJI (Jissoji Akio Kantoku Sakuhin Urutoraman). Both films are compilations of episodes from the original 1966 ULTRAMAN teleseries. Bonus features include AFTER THE DREAM: THE ULTRAMAN FACTORY (Yume-no Ato Urutoraman-no Kojo), hosted by Akio Jissoji. The set comes with a small figure of the character "Little Taro" (from THE ULTRAMAN STORY) and a 16-page booklet with series data. ULTRAMAN THE MOVIE: ULTIMATE DVD COLLECTION Volume One will be released on August 13.

Two Masked Rider DVDs go on sale on August 8. KAMEN RIDER AMAZON Volume One contains 12 episodes of the 1974-75 television series, and comes packaged with an 8-page booklet. THE MAKING OF KAMEN RIDER 555 is a behind the scenes documentary on the production of the newest Masked Rider movie.

Pioneer LDC is releasing a deluxe, two-disc set for Toho's 1983 film BYE-BYE JUPITER (Sayonara Jupeeta), directed by Koji Hashimoto (GODZILLA 1984) and author Sakyo Komatsu (Japan Sinks). The main disc features audio commentary by Komatsu, while the second disc contains all the special features: "Making Of" released originally by Toho Video (30 mins.), Video Storyboards (40 mins.), new Behind-the-Scenes documentary (50 mins.) and a slide-show of production drawings. The set will also come with a booklet that reproduces all of Studio Nue's miniature blueprints for the film's spacecraft. This Deluxe Edition will retail for 7,800 Yen (PIBD-1164).

Before the September theatrical premiere of "Beat" Takeshi's new ZATOICHI, Kadokawa-Daiei will release all 18 of Daiei's classic Zatoichi films to DVD. Toho owns the rights to several other ZATOICHI films that were produced by Katsu Productions when Daiei folded in the early 1970s.

The first DVD of the new ASTRO-BOY (Tetsuwan Atomu) animated series will be released on October 3. Based on Osamu Tezuka's classic character, the new series premiered on Fuji network in 2003. Volume 1 contains Episodes #1-#4, character bios, textless opening a closing sequences and comes packaged with a trading card.

"High Hope", the Project DMM theme song from the new movie ULTRAMAN COSMOS VS. ULTRAMAN JUSTICE: THE FINAL BATTLE, is now available on CD. the song is packaged with "Kuso Shonen" (Fantasy Boys) a vocal version of a song from COSMOS' co-feature THE KING'S JUBILEE.

The soundtrack CD to Osamu Tezuka's OUR MONKEY KING contains four tracks from singer Eriko Imai. The main theme "Butterfly" and the song "Can U Feel Me?" are available in both the original and instrumental versions.

Legendary director Hayao Miyazaki has produced his first music CD. "The New Song of Japan: A Photograph of Mother," features 16 tracks by singer Tsunehiko Kamijo, who worked with Miyazaki on the Oscar-winning film SPIRITED AWAY. Inspired by Kamijo's music, Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli's Toshio Suzuki offered to work with the singer in creating a CD not related to any of the company's anime projects. Miyazaki described the album as "Songs for adults, by adults. The future is not produced without looking back upon the past." The CD has a nostalgic feeling and a motherly theme which is described in the album's title. THE NEW SONG OF JAPAN will be released on July 30. A promotional concert is scheduled to be held this autumn at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo. Source: Akadot
News for the week of 06/29/2003
The legendary Zatoichi returns in a new sword-fighting adventure written, directed and starring Takeshi Kitano. The award winning filmmaker (known for such works as FIREWORKS and BATTLE ROYALE) is currently shooting ZATOICHI for a scheduled September 2003 theatrical release in Japan. The character has previously appeared in 25 movies from Daiei and Toho in the 1960s and 70s, a single film from Shochiku in 1989, and a 100 episode television series.

In the new film, the blind wanderer Zatoichi hopes to make a living by gambling and giving massages, but must deal with sinister gangs and a powerful samurai when he stumbles on two beautiful geishas avenging their parents' murder. Little do his enemies know that behind his humble facade, Zatoichi is a master swordsman, gifted with a lightning-fast draw and strokes of breathtaking precision. Co- starring Tadanobu Asano (ICHI THE KILLER, BRIGHT FUTURE), ZATOICHI promises "Duels, wit and a touch of zen!"

ZATOICHI is a Bandai Visual, Tokyo FM, Dentsu, TV Asahi, Saito Ent., and Office Kitano production and a Shochiku Motion Picture Company release. The theatrical trailer is now online at the Office Kitano website. Source: Office Kitano website, Kung Fu Cinema

Starting Sunday, August 31, The SciFi Channel will rebroadcast all three films in the REBIRTH OF MOTHRA series, beginning at 9 am. Then at 3pm, the US television premiers of GODZILLA VS. MEGAGUIRUS and GODZILLA-MOTHRA-KING GHIDORAH will follow (3 and 5 pm). SciFi wraps everything up with another showing of GODZILLA vs MECHAGODZILLA and GODZILLA vs MEGALON starting at 11pm.

The Oscar winning fx house Weta Workshop recently discussed their involvement in the upcoming NEON GENESIS EVANGELION movie. In an article on the New Zealand-based website Stuff, Weta boss Richard Taylor said "We are very excited to be a part of this wonderful project. The subject matter is providing a fantastic level of diversity for us, allowing us to work in the anime world ­ which is at the other end of the design spectrum from Middle-earth. Having had the privilege of working on such strong source material that The Lord of the Rings offered, it is a privilege to again be involved in subject matter that has a strong and loyal fan base." Taylor added that while production was still at an early stage, Weta and ADV Films had already formed a great relationship and there was high excitement among everyone working on the film.

In related news, the July issue of Japan's NEWTYPE MAGAZINE published the first pre-production photos and computer generated images from the project. ADV has announced more coverage to come in NEWTYPE USA vol 2, issue 7 (details below). Source: Anime News Network

Takashi Miike is well known for directing some of Japan's most surreal and twisted recent films. His newest movie is GOZU (Gokudo Kyofu Daigekijo - Gozu), scheduled to hit Japanese video shelves on July 11, 2003. Despite being a straight-to-video release, this insane, gag-filled collection of bizarre characters and situations was selected for the Director's Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival this past May. A first-rate genre-bending "yakuza-horror" film, GOZU tells the story of Minami, a virginal yakuza trainee who accidentally kills a higher-ranking gangster and begins to experience weird supernatural phenomena.

As GOZU unfolds Miike and writer Sakichi Sato (ICHI THE KILLER) keep piling up the weirdness. Minami must deal with a cow-headed demon, deranged suburbanites, a "trained attack Chihuahua", an elderly woman anxious to feed him her breast milk, a transvestite coffee shop owner, an American sake vendor who literally reads his Japanese lines from cue cards, an autistic innkeeper and his excessively lactating sister, and a mysterious but gorgeous young woman who appears to be a reincarnation of the elder gangster. While the blood count is unusually low for a Miike film, the director compensates with just about every other bodily fluid imaginable. Minami's journey ends with a jaw-dropping climax involving a pair of crotchless panties and some disgusting prosthetics.

GOZU is a Klockworx Production from Harumi Sone and Kana Koido. The cinematographer is Kazunari Tanaka, and Koji Endo provides the soundtrack. The cast includes many performers from previous Miike films, such as lead actor Hideki Sone (GRAVEYARD OF HONOR), Tetsuro Tanba (HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS), and Sho Aikawa (DEAD OR ALIVE). The upcoming R2 DVD will be in 16:9 widescreen with a Japanese language Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track, audio commentary from Takeshi Miike, behind-the-scenes footage, and original trailers. Source: Screen Daily and Midnight Eye

As the 50th Anniversary approaches for such classic films as SEVEN SAMURAI, Kenji Mizoguchi's TALES OF UGETSU, and Ishiro Honda's GODZILLA, the term for copyrights in Japan has been extended from 50 to 70 years after first release. After more than 10 years of lobbying Japan's Parliament accepted the arguments from Toho, Shochiku, and Toei on June 15. The studios had received additional support from the Motion Picture Producers' Assn. of Japan, who spearheaded a recent effort by all Japanese film-related companies to prevent their movies from entering the public domain. Source: Variety

The Asahi Shimbun reports that the recent Masked Rider series have attracted a surprisingly large number of 30-something female fans who are less interested in the action and effects than in the actors playing the heroes. While earlier versions of Masked Rider were generally hot-blooded macho men, the newer incarnations have relaxed and gentle dispositions that appeal to women. "They look like your average neighborhood spineless young guy," says reviewer Sho Negishi.

KAMEN RIDER first appeared in 1971 and has spawned numerous sequels series and films. The newest wave began in January 2000 with the premiere of the KAMEN RIDER KUUGA TV series, followed on a yearly basis by AGITO, RYUKI, and 555. Joe Odagiri, the actor who played the main character in KUUGA is among today's most sought-after stars, while AGITO's Toshiki Kashu. has won major parts in other dramas and has attracted a throng of female followers. Toei producer Shinichiro Shirakura said he decided to depict Agito as a cheerful man who likes to cook and grow plants because the hero should be a role model adored by contemporary children and accepted by their parents. "The ideal man in today's society doesn't seem to be the hot-blooded type," he adds.

"Agito looks vulnerable," says fan Chie Iwaki. "He's the type that arouses women's nurturing instincts. But once he faces up to crises, he turns out to be a brave and strong man." She finds Kashu to be "a very likable person who smiles beautifully" just like the Agito character. Like Agito, Kuuga has a a sunny disposition and a heart- warming smile. He even fights his enemies so that "people can keep smiling." 35-year-old homemaker Shizuko Sakata became an Odagiri admirer after watching the show with her sons and is now contributes to a fan website for the actor.

Hiromi Itsumura found the young actors in recent hero series so attractive that she started HERO VISION in December 2000. The quarterly magazine, published by Asahi Sonorama, focuses on portraits and interviews with actors from the Masked Rider and Ultraman shows, but rarely touches on sfx or the characters' super-powered alter egos. Such matters are of little interest to the magazine's target readers: women in their 20s and 30s. Itsumura thinks many women are likely attracted to recent TV heroes because they are men who confront and overcome hardships in addition to being kind and good- looking. "In reality, men give up too easily," she says.

For the full article, go to asahi.com

Seven years after GUYFERD, Toho returns to superhero television with SUPER STAR GOD GRANSEIZAR (Chouseijin Guranseizaa). The new sentai series will premiere in October on Japanese TV. Advance word is that GRANSEIZAR will feature 12 fighters and a giant robot.

GRANSEIZAR will be directed by Hiromitsu Muraishi (GUYFERD, ULTRAMAN TIGA) and Kenji Suzuki (GODZILLA 2000, GODZILLA X MEGAGUIRUS), and written by Toshimichi Ogawa, Hideki Sonoda, Kenji Konuta (ULTRAMAN COSMOS)and Ishi Hakase (GUYFERD). Koichi Kawakita (Heisei Godzilla Series) is Director of SFX, while Fuyuki Shinada (GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE, GMK) is providing prosthetics based on designs by Hideo Okamoto, Shinji Nishikawa (Heisei/Millenium Godzilla Series). The cast includes Ryo Segawa, Asuka Shimizu, Kouhei Takeda, Hideaki Serizawa, Maya Hoshino, and Ren Matsuzawa. Source: Hico's "Don't Be Defeated, Japanese Godzilla!" website

Go Nagai's popular manga character DEVILMAN is making the leap to the big screen in a live-action feature from Toei. Director Hiroyuki Nasu started his career as an assistant director for Nikkatsu Studios's Pink Eiga (softcore erotica) genre in 1980 with USELESS MORNING. He made his directorial debut with SAILOR SUIT: CLAN OF 100 in 1983 then moved to Toei in 1985 where he helmed the successful manga-cum-movie series BE-BOP HIGH SCHOOL. In 1996, he directed his first fantasy film, a horror opus for children called HELL HALL COMMUNICATIONS, and recently helmed the semi-documentary PINCH RUNNER (starring J-Pop group Morning Musume). DEVILMAN is scheduled for release during the Christmas holiday in Japan. Source: patrickmacias.com

Yet another live-action adaptation of an anime hit is on the way. The has posted an announcement from franchise creator Naoko Takeuchi stating that the live-action series will premiere in Japan this October. Toei, who made the SAILOR MOON anime (as well as the KAMEN RIDER and sentai series) is currently casting for the new show, which will include CGI effects. Takeuchi suggests the show may break new ground as one of the first sentai series aimed at a female audience.

SAILOR MOON will be broadcast in Japan by TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) and its Nagoya affiliate CBC (Chubu-nippon Broadcasting Company). Source: official SAILOR MOON website Natsume Maya's anime and manga webpage

Go Nagai strikes again! Fashion model Eriko Sato (aka "Sato Eri") will star as the title character in a live-action movie based on Nagai's CUTEY HONEY. The Warner Bros. Japan (the studio behind Tomoo Haraguchi's SAKUYA: SLAYER OF DEMONS) production will begin filming in July for a 2004 Japanese theatrical release.

Shingo Sekine, director of Warners' advertising department in Japan, said "I hope the movie will be like CHARLIE'S ANGELS, appealing to girls" . Director Hideaki Anno (NEON GENESIS EVANGELION: DEATH & REBIRTH) called Cutey Honey 'cool' and 'silly'. According to the Yomiuri Hochi Shimbun, Anno's co-worker Kazuya Tsurumaki will direct the film. Source: Daily Sports, Anime News Network

In early 2003 TV Asahi created a live-action television series based Takahashi Tsutomu's dark and controversial occult manga SKYHIGH. Now the show has spawned a theatrical feature starring actress Yumiko Shaku (GODZILLA x MECHAGODZILLA, THE PRINCESS BLADE).

The storyline deals with the Gate of Malice, a place between Heaven and Earth, where the souls of murder victims, suicides, and those who held a strong grudge in life must make a decision before moving on to their final destination. They can accept death and possibly become reincarnated, refuse their fate and wander among the living forever, or curse one person to a horrible death.

SKYHIGH will be released theatrically on November 8, 2003. The trailer is available online at the Official site Source: Official site Akadot

Gaga Communications is teaming with Davis Films to produce a $50 million live-action film based on the popular Capcom Playstation 2 video game ONIMUSHA. Created by Keiji Inafune, the original game has sold more than 4 million units worldwide. In the film a young warrior battles warlords using the forces of darkness to control 16th century Japan.

Gaga has also announced plans to develop Capcom's adventure game franchise DEVIL MAY CRY and Namco's TEKKEN into live-action motion pictures. DEVIL is scheduled to begin filming in 2005 with a budget of $40 million. Source: Kung Fu Cinema Kung Fu Cult Cinema

Two long-running toy series from Japan-based Takara Toys are being developed as live-action films in the US. Producer Gale Ann Hurd (THE TERMINATOR, HULK) and Emmett/Furla Films have optioned THE MICRONAUTS, while X-MEN executive producer Tom DeSanto has teamed with producer Don Murphy to bring THE TRANSFORMERS to the big screen.

Takara introduced the Microman figures to Japan in 1974. Two years later, Mego Toys licensed the line and released it in the US as the Micronauts. The figures (which included Space Glider, Acroyear, and Baron Karza) were a $300 million cash cow in the 1970s and 80s that spawned a long-running Marvel Comic book. Now Hurd has entered into an agreement with current US Micronauts owner Abrams/Gentile Entertainment and Character Vision (which oversaw the line's recent comic book and toy revival) to develop the property for features and television.

In 1984 Hasbro approached Takara about developing a new toy series based on Takara's earlier Diaclone and Micro Change lines. The result was the Transformers, robots that could change into everyday objects like racecars and cassettes. The toys were a huge hit the spun off comic books, the animated feature TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE, and several television series (the most recent, TRANSFORMERS ARMADA, airs on Cartoon Network). Hasbro Properties Group president Jane Ritson- Parsons said in a statement that Hasbro "loved the creative take that Tom and Don presented to us. ... This is a franchise where the next story arc and the next destination is on the big screen."

DeSanto and Murphy plan to pitch the project to the major studios, and have reportedly had talks with high-profile directors. Murphy says that "TRANSFORMERS enjoys an amazing fan base worldwide, and we believe that we can create an incredibly fast-paced, exciting movie that will be appealing to anyone who loves action films." Source: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, IGN Insider

Director Joji Iida (ANOTHER HEAVEN , the RING sequel SPIRAL) has adapted Minetaro Mochizuki's manga DRAGON HEAD into a big-budget feature for Toho. Sayaka Matsuda, the 16 year-old daughter of famous Japanese singer Seiko Matsuda, will make her film debut in this movie, which also stars 21 year-old Satoshi Tsumabuki. Tsumabuki's credits include a 2001 Japan Academy Awards' nominated performance in the popular sports-comedy WATERBOYS.

Mochizuki's DRAGON HEAD manga series ran in WEEKLY YOUNG MAGAZINE from September 1994 to December 1999. The story is an intense apocalyptic mystery involving students who are returning home from a class trip aboard a bullet train. While the train is passing through a tunnel it runs off the tracks and crashes, killing most of the passengers. Two survivors, Teru Aoki (Tsumabuki) and Ako Seto (Matsuda), crawl from the wreakage to discover that Tokyo has been destroyed. They must struggle to survive while attempting to uncover what has caused the destruction.

With an enormous (by Japanese standards) budget of 15 hundred million yen (approximately $13 million US), DRAGON HEAD features amazing visual effects and scenes filmed on location in the Middle Eastern country of Uzibekistan. The film crews constructed huge sets and used 80 tons of ash to simulate the remains of Tokyo for the film.

Toho will release DRAGON HEAD to Japanese theaters on August 30. Additional information and the trailer are available at the official site. Additional source: Akadot

Bandai has officially confirmed that a PlayStation 2 LUPIN III video game will be released in the US on November 3. The game premiered in Japan in 2002 as LUPIN III: LEGACY OF THE MAGICAL KING (Lupin III: Majutsuou no Isan) where it was a big hit with Lupin fans. A preview in the OFFICIAL US PLAYSTATION MAGAZINE promises a "lighthearted, stylish mix of sneak-em-up action with wack, noggin-busting puzzles". Players can control Lupin and his sidekicks Goemon and Jigen as they encounter Inspector Zenigata and Fujiko, attempt to uncover clues, and steal a great treasure. The game features exclusive movie clips with voice work from the dubbing cast of the LUPIN III television series .Source: Anime News Network
From June 14 to September 7 the Studio Ghibli Plastic Arts Exhibit is open at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (4-1-1 Miyoshi inside Kiba Park, Koto-ku, Tokyo). The exhibit features life-sized 3D displays that reproduce the characters and worlds from 15 Ghibli titles, from early works like NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND to the more recent SPIRITED AWAY and THE CAT RETURNS. Among the models are a 2m tall figure of Totoro from MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO and a 5m reproduction of the castle that will appear in the next Studio Ghibli film, Miyazaki's HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE. There is also a play area for small children called the Neko Bus Fuwa Fuwa Playland and a gift shop full of Ghibli related goods.

The exhibit is open only to those who make reservations in advance, and tickets thru July are nearly sold out. Tickets can be ordered from Lawson convenience stores at: 0570-00-0403. Source: Animaxis.com Yomiuri Online Natsume Maya

Sponichi reports that former WBA boxer Katsuya Onizuka will play the operator of MechaGodzilla in the upcoming GODZILLA x MOTHRA x MECHAGODZILLA: TOKYO SOS. The 32 year old Onizuka won the World Boxing Association Super Belt in 1987 and 1994. Source: Monster Zero

Toho has launched the official GODZILLA x MOTHRA x MECHAGODZILLA: TOKYO SOS site

Behind-the-scenes footage and the newest trailer for BATTLE ROYALE II can be seen at the official website The film will be released theatrically in Japan on July 5.

Random House Publishing has teamed up with Japanese publisher Kodansha to release English translated manga in the US. The deal gives Random House the first licensing option on many popular Kodansha titles. The first wave of manga will be distributed by Random House's Del Rey Books line early next year. Source: Publishers Weekly

Studio Ghibli's commercials for House Foods are available online. The four spots were directed by Hayao Miyazaki. For further details see the EF Report for June 6.

Miyazaki's Oscar winning SPIRITED AWAY is now playing on American Pay Per View on both DirecTV and cable television services.

The International Herald Tribune has posted an excellent article about the Studio Ghibli Museum, which opened in the Tokyo suburb of Mitaka in 2001. Source: Anime News Service

The trailer for the horror film JU-ON 2 (The Grudge 2) is now available on the official Japanese homepage. Director Takashi Shimizu introduced the series in a pair of straight- to-home-video releases in 2000, then reworked the concept into the theatrical feature JU-ON in 2002. The newest chapter will open in Japanese theaters this August. For further details, see the EF for April 24.

THE ANIMATRIX contains a fun reference to Ultraman. Considering how many Japanese animators were involved with the project it should come as no surprise. The bit occurs towards the end of the segment entitled "Beyond" as is only available with Japanese language track with English subtitles. THE ANIMATRIX is available on DVD from Warner Bros. and on PPV television. Special thanks to MG Keller for pointing it out.

This year's Lupin the 3rd telemovie, LUPIN III: OPERATION TREASURE RETURN (Lupin Sansei Otakara Henkyaku Daisakusen) is scheduled to air in Japan on August 1. Source: Anime On DVD

The official Japanese homepage for the upcoming Shochiku animated film BOKU-NO SONGOKU (Our Monkey King) includes artwork, characters profiles, and info on the creative team. The movie, which is based on manga by the late Osamu Tezuka, will be released on July 12 and the theatrical trailer can be accessed fromthe menu

Toho will release ONMYOJI II in Japan on October 4. Two theatrical trailers are now online at the official site

Tokyopop has acquired several new manga titles for the US market, including Shotaro Ishimori's CYBORG 009, FRUITS BASKET, SAIYUKI, PSYCHIC ACADEMY, and PITATEN. Source: Anime on DVD

The official ICHI THE KILLER site has the trailer and an interview with Takashi Miike, in which the director answers questions about the film's extreme violence.

The 12th annual Anime Expo will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center in California on July 3-6. The event will feature live programming, workshops, and the US premieres of anime films. The amazing guest list includes Mahiro Maeda (LAPUTA, EVANGELION, the Gamera series, ANIMATRIX), Goro Taniguchi (INFINITE RYVIUS, GASARAKI, G GUNDAM), Koushi Rikudo (EXCEL SAGA), Yoshitoshi Abe (SERIAL EXPERIMENTS LAIN), Kazuki Akane (VISION OF ESCAFLOWNE, HEAT GUY J), and Nobuteru Yuuki (X, RECORD OF LODOSS WAR). Reps from such companies as ADV, Central Park Media, Bandai Ent, Media Blasters, AnimEigo, Manga Ent, TokyoPop, and Viz will also be in attendance.

Since 1996, FanTasia has been a showcase for contemporary international genre cinema, with an emphasis on unveiling films very rarely seen in North America. This year the event will be taking place at the Concordia Hall Cinema in Montreal, Canada from July 17 to August 12. According to Kung Fu Cult Cinema, the film lineup will include Korea's PUBLIC ENEMY, the Japanese action blockbuster THE RETURNER, the Chinese martial art classic 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN, and Thailand's BANG RAJAN.

The Japan Town Anime Faire will take place on September 13-14 at the Best Western Miyako Inn at 1800 Sutter St in San Francisco. The event will include screenings, panel discussions, and a dealers room.

AnimeNEXT will be held at the Rye Town Hilton in New York from October 3-5. The show features a long guest list of voice talent, including Moneca Stori (INUYASHA, JIN-ROH), James Arnold Taylor (FINAL FANTASY X, ANIMATRIX), Tiffany Grant (EVANGELION, the Gamera series), Mike Pollock (ULTIMATE MUSCLE), Jamie McGonnigal (RECORD OF THE LODOSS WAR, PATLABOR), and Kristen Nelson (BOOGIEPOP PHANTOM).Reps from AD Vision, Viz Video, IC Ent, Media Blasters, Anime Insider, Central Park Media, and Voyager Ent will also be on hand.

NEWTYPE USA vol 2 issue 7 will go on sale July 1. The issue has a cover story on Gainax, the studio behind NEON GENESIS EVANGELION, that will include the first US look at the upcoming live-action EVANGELION film. Feature articles include coverage of MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM SEED, STREET FIGHTER, WONDERFUL DAYS, DAI-GUARD, and TEXHNOLYZE. Free bonus material include the official art of BRIGADOON, an X poster, and a DVD with episodes of KING OF BANDIT JING and KO BEAST.

Digital Manga and Dark Horse Comics have acquired several manga titles including THE RING, based on Koji Suzuki's horror novel with story and art by Hiroshi Takahashi and Misao Inagaki, and Yasuhiro Nightow's space western action/comedy series TRIGUN. Both titles will be released in November with a srp of $14.95 each. The following month Kouta Hirano's HELLSING, an irreverant and witty horror about an agency which combats supernatural threats, will go on sale for $13.95.

Bandai Entertainment has several new anime DVD releases planned for August. In addition to KIKAIDER THE ANIMATION Bandai has announced the following titles:

JUNKERS COME HERE An Official Selection by the Japanese Ministry of Education, JUNKERS received great reviews during a limited theatrical run in North America. Hiromi Nozawa is a young girl whose most trusted companion is her dog, Junkers. But this is no ordinary dog! Gifted with the ability to speak and do human-like tasks, Junkers is civil enough to use the toilet and won't miss his favorite TV show for the world. When things at home start to go wrong, Hiromi learns that she needs to grow up fast but also realizes that life has a pretty unique sense of humor. Directed by Junichi Sato (SAILOR MOON, animation director of NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND). Bandai's DVD includes Dolby Digital Surround Sound, English and Japanese audio tracks, English subtitles option, an art gallery, interviews, trailer, and Pilot Film with English subtitles JUNKERS COME HERE goes on sale August 19 with a srp of $29.98.

The SABER MARIONETTE J- ULTIMATE COLLECTION LIMITED EDITION will also be available on August 19. Originally released in 1998 as part of the first wave of anime titles under Bandai Entertainment's online brand - AnimeVillage.com, the SABER MARRIONETTE J franchise has gone on to become one of the best selling and most beloved anime in both Japan and North America. The ULTIMATE COLLECTION will have a limited run of only 5,000 sets, each box set individually autographed by SABER MARIONETTE J co-creator and character designer Tsukasa Kotobuki. The set includes all three series (SABER MARIONETTE J, SMJ AGAIN, and SMJ TO X) in Dolby Digital Surround Sound, English/Japanese audio with English subtitles, plus an interview with Kotobuki, music videos, SMJdatabank, image gallery, textless opening/endings, commercial collection, exclusive MAN AND MACHINE video clip, and The Making of SABER MARIONETTE J TO X for a running time of 1400 minutes. Srp is $199.98

ARGENTOSOMA: OUTSIDE SANITY Vol. 4 One of the best selling sci-fi series of the year continues as the men and women of Funeral work diligently to repair the base after another fierce battle with the aliens. Features include Dolby Digital Surround Sound, English/Japanese language audio, English subtitles, tech files, and a character gallery. Vol. 4 will be available on August 5 for $29.98.

BANNER OF THE STARS II Vol 1 The epic sci-fi saga CREST OF THE STARS continues in this new series based on the best selling novel by Hiroyuki Morioka. The DVD includes Dolby Digital Surround Sound , English/Japanese language audio, English subtitles, production art gallery, Newsletter of the Stars, and a special reversible cover. Vol 1 goes on sale August 19.

In releated news, Bandai has announced a priced-down boxed set for THE BIG O . The collection of DVD volumes 1-4 will be available September 16 for $44.98.

The UK company Artsmagic has entered into a distribution deal in the US. Their future DVD release include Takashi Miike's FULL METAL GOKUDO, SABU, BIRD MEN OF CHINA, BLUE SPRING, KICHIKU and Shogo Ishii's CRAZY THUNDER ROAD. Source: Kung Fu Cult Cinema

Now that kaiju fans have purchased their US Gamera DVDs, ADV has released the GAMERA MINI-BUST LIMITED EDITION PACKAGE. The set includes all three films plus a Gamera mini-bust that is not available anywhere else. The set retails for $79.98. See ADVs catalog for more details.

COWBOY BEBOP: THE MOVIE was released on June 24. The Special Edition DVD features digitally mastered audio and anamorphic widescreen video, "From the Small Screen to the Big Screen" featurette, "International Appeal - What's Not to Like?" featurette, character profiles, music videos, concep art galleries, storyboard comparisons, and theatrical trailers. AnimeNation has preview clips of the DVD extras. More details can be found at the official website.

Japanese actor Ban Daisuke shares behind-the-scenes stories about the 1972 superhero television series KIKAIDA in an exclusive interview with JN Productions. The extra special feature is included on the 4th KIKAIDA DVD, which was released June 20.

In Part 1 of the interview, Ban answers some of the nagging questions that Kikaida fans have wondered about for years. For instance, did a real-life off-screen romance bloom between Ban and Mizunoe Jun, who portrayed Mitsuko, the Jiro-smitten damsel-in-distress character in the series? Ban also shares his personal recollections of the series as well as poignant sentiments on the impact the show has had on the series fervent fans

KIKAIDA Volume 4 includes Episodes 16-through-20 of the original 43- episode series that first aired in Japan from 1972-1973 and in Hawaii on KIKU-TV beginning in 1974. The super-powered android battles yet another wave of DARK Destructoid monsters: Rouge Jellyfish, Red Hornet, Black Chameleon, King Crab Maroon, and Blue Water Scorpion. In addition to boasting digitally remastered picture and sound, the KIKAIDA episodes are fully subtitled in English and feature bilingual English and Japanese menus. Other special features on the DVD include a Kikaida Personality Quiz, cast and crew profiles, and DARK Destructoid monster profiles with sound effects. The DVD is available at retail outlets in Hawaii and and through the official Generation Kikaida website

Criterion has released Akira Kurosawa's THRONE OF BLOOD. The DVD includes the original Japanese theatrical trailer, an audio commentary by Japanese-film expert Michael Jeck, and a 24 page pamphlet on the cinema of Akira Kurosawa. One interesting feature is the inclusion of two different English subtitle tracks. Translators Donald Ritchie and Linda Hoaglund provide explanations for their different approaches.

ONMYOJI is coming to DVD in both regular and special editions, courtesy of Pioneer Ent. Both versions will be presented in bilingual (Japanese & English) 5.1 Dolby Surround audio with theatrical trailers and bibliographies, while the special edition contains a deluxe booklet and 50 minutes of extras including the "Making of Onmiyoji," staff interviews, a textless ending, and TV spots. ONMOYOJI goes on sale August 12. The trailer is online at the official site onmyojimovie.com

According to a report on alt.video.dvd, that Image Entertainment has gone the extra mile for their upcoming DVD of WHAT'S UP TIGER LILY?, Woody Allen's comic reworking of the 1964 Toho International Police movie KEY OF KEYS. When originally released to US theaters the dub featured several risqué jokes that were removed or replaced with an alternate soundtrack (that used occasionally used different voices and very different jokes) for subsequent television broadcasts. Image initially only had access to the latter version, but they found the theatrical soundtrack and will include both on the DVD. A bonus feature also allows viewers to watch all the scenes with changed dialogue back to back instantly, rather than having to sit through the film twice in its entirety.

WHAT'S UP TIGER LILY? is presented in a 2:35 apect ratio, enhanced for widescreen televisions. The DVD goes on sale July 15.

THE TWILIGHT SAMURAI (Tasogare Seibei) is based on a best-selling novel by Shuhei Fujisawa. Veteran director Yoji Yamada's 77th movie is a multiple-award winning period film set in the 19th century where a poor Samurai named Seibei (Hiroyuki Sanada) struggles to support his family. The film offers a fascinating glimpse into the end of the Edo period when the samurai way started to collapse under the weight of Westernization. This limited edition DVD 2 disc set includes a 2- hour NHK behind-the-scenes special, a 40-minute featurette including deleted scenes, interviews, a 30-minute documentary shot during a film award ceremony, trailers, storyboards, and English subtitles. The set comes housed in deluxe bookcase with a 50-page (approx) photo book. Source: CDJapan www.cdjapan.co.jp

The KAMEN RIDER RYUKI EPISODE FINAL DIRECTOR'S CUT EDITION will be released on August 8. The DVD will include include deleted scenes, newly produced cuts, a making-of featurette, teasers, trailers, TV spots, and a photo gallery. Director Ryuta Tasaki's new version runs 103 minutes.

Following the Cannes Film Festival, Britain's TartanVideo has secured the distribution rights to a number of Japanese movies BATTLE ROYALE II, Hideo Nakata's CHAOS, Takashi Miike's GOZU, TWILIGHT SAMURAI and THE EYE 2. All will be released onto DVD in the UK in 2004. Source: kfccinema.com
News for the week of 06/08/2003
On May 19 at the Cannes Film Festival ADV Films President and CEO John Ledford announced that the firm has already begun development of a live-action feature-film based on the Japanese animated series NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. The project is a collaboration between ADV Films, Gainax Network Systems, one of the original production studios responsible for the series, and Weta Workshop, Ltd., the New Zealand-based special effects studio that created the effects for Peter Jackson's LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. "The three main players here represent something of a `dream-team' for a project like this one," said Ledford. "Between the quality and significance of the Gainax title, Weta's industry-leading skill in the creation of special visual effects, and our expertise in the marketing and promotion of anime and anime-related content, this project is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

The NEON GENESIS EVANGELION live-action motion picture is in the earliest stages of development and no release date has been announced. However, Ledford confirmed that the timetable is an aggressive one, and that more information on the project is forthcoming. Source: ADV Films press release

Toho released Ryuhei Kitamura's AZUMI to theaters on May 10. Based on Yu Koyama's currently ongoing manga of the same name, the film stars pop idol Aya Ueto as a female samurai warrior during the age of civil wars in Japan. The 142 minute movie also stars Yoshio Harada, Masato Ibu, and Aya Okumoto. AZUMI was specifically written and directed with the US market in mind, and Kitamura is reportedly searching for an American distributor. Further information and the theatrical trailer are available online Additional Source: Kung Fu Cinema

Ryuhei (Versus) Kitamura's second major motion picture, Alive, completed in early 2002, will hit Japanese theaters on the 21st. The official site features images and a downloadable QuickTime trailer. Source: Kung Fu Cult Cinema

The very busy Ryuhei Kitamura has announced plans to add two more projects to his already hectic schedule. The first is VERSUS ALTERNATE CUT and, as the name implies, it will be a new version of the director's 2001 hit. Kitamura wants to reassemble the original cast to shoot a new opening, climatic fight, and ending . In addition, some of the "talky parts" will be replaced with more zombie gunfights. Kitamura states the new version is not a "director's cut" because the original film is exactly the way he wants it to be.

The director also plans to shoot VERSUS 2 around a schedule that includes a theatrical film based on the supernatural television drama SKY HIGH, the Nintendo game METAL GEAR SOLID: SNAKE TWINS, and an American film for Miramax. If all goes according to plan, VERSUS 2 will be completed in 2004. Source: Kung Fu Cult Cinema

Director Yojiro Takita is now working on the sequel to his 2001 film ONMYOJI: THE YIN YANG MASTER (which just finished a limited theatrical run in the US). Most of the primary cast and crew of ONMYOJI are involved with the new film, including lead actor Mansai Nomura (as Abe no Seimei) and writers Yasushi Fukuda and Baku Yumemakura. ONMYOJI II began filming in February with a Japanese theatrical release date scheduled for October 4, 2003. Source: Onmyoji-Movie.com Additional information for the US release of the original ONMYOJI can be found at Pioneer's website

Kiyoshi Kurosawa, best known for horror films like CURE and PULSE, has turned to more mainstream fare. His newest film, BRIGHT FUTURE, tells the story of two men working in a plant that processes wet hand towels. Both struggle with a rage they can barely articulate or control; an increasingly common problem in Japan. BRIGHT FUTURE is shot in Kurosawa's distinctive style and should interest his fans, especially when they hear a poisonous jellyfish is a central character in the film. The movie premiered at the Tokyo Filmex Festival in December 2002 and played in competition at Cannes this past month. Source: ScreenDaily.com

DiC is seeking at least $5 million in damages and an injunction against Speed Racer Enterprises barring SRE from licensing rights for SPEED RACER to other companies. The two companies signed an agreement in August 2002 that gave DiC broadcast rights to select episodes of the animated series. According to Speed Racer Ent., DiC allowed the contract to expire by failing to exercise an option for more episodes by December 31. DiC contends that SRE intentionally withheld information concerning the contract option in order to get out of the deal. On April 22, Artisan Home Entertainment released SPEED RACER: COLLECTOR'S EDITION, a DVD collection of the series' first 11 episodes. Source: Anime News Network

On May 1, the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films held the 29th annual Saturn Awards ceremony at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel. SPIRITED AWAY won the Award for Best Animated Film, which should complete Hayao Miyazaki`s collection of `Every Award Known To Man`. The DreamWorks remake of THE RING was named Best Horror Film, and star Naomi Watts took home the Best Actress Award for her performance in the film. Source: Cinescape.com

4Kids has announced their Fall 2003 Fox Box lineup. FIGHTING FOODONS, BACK TO THE FUTURE, and PIRATE ISLANDS have been cancelled, and four new shows will be added. Starting September 6 the new Fox Box schedule will be:
8:00am: CUBIX
9:30am: SONIC X
11:00am: SHAMAN KING
11:30am: FUNKY COPS

Conspicuous in its absence is ULTRAMAN TIGA, which was pulled from the schedule on March 15. 4Kids has promised that ULTRAMAN TIGA will have a complete relaunch that will be coordinated with a marketing campaign and merchandising. The first of these TIGA products is a comic book series (details below). Source: ToonZone Forums

In conjunction with Central Park Media, DVD Vision Japan has posted an English language interview with Kei Mizutani. The actress is best know for her performances in the movie WEATHER WOMAN and the Sentai show GINGAMAN. The interview can be found at DVD Vision Japan (18 and over please).

Nikkansports.com reports that Studio Ghibli has produced four commercials for House Foods Corporation. Hayao Miyazaki directed the spots and provided his own original music (accompanied by vocals from PORCO ROSSO's Kamijo Tsunehiko). The series is based on the theme of family gathering at the dining table in the 1950s and 60s and uses the tagline "O-uchi de tabeyou. Hausu Shokuhin" (Let's eat at home. House Foods). The commercials, the first ever made by the acclaimed director, began airing in Japan on June 1. Source: Natsume Maya's Anime And Manga Web Page Nausiccaa.net

Nausicaa.net reports that Disney is now in the process of dubbing Hayao Miyazaki's film KURENAI NO BUTA (Crimson Pig), more commonly known as PORCO ROSSO. Actress Susan Egan, who played the character 'Lin' in the US release of SPIRITED AWAY, is working on the English dub. PORCO POSSO will be released on DVD during the 2003 holiday season. Egan's website recently announced that she was cast in a speaking and singing role in the next Miyazaki animated feature being produced by Disney (presumably HOWL`S MOVING CASTLE).

They may have pledged to protect only themselves, but the Kirin Sentai Aminonjers are fast becoming a major hit in Japan. Clad in color-coordinated uniforms resembling Toei`s popular Sentai heroes, the team is made up of the 330 lbs Taishibo (Body Fat), the skeletal Herohero (Starving), distracted Uwanosora (Daydreamer), the drunken salaryman Nonbei (Boozer), who wears a necktie headband and is armed with a take-out sushi peace offering for his irate wife, and the stylish O-Hada (Skin), the team`s only female member. The Aminonjers have appeared in soft drink commercials starring individual members of the group, as well as one featuring the entire team riding on their five-man bicycle. A television series is in the planning stages.

"They're superheroes, so their true identities are unknown," a Kirin Beverage Co. spokesman stated. "We're terribly sorry, but we can't reveal them." But O-Hada did provide some details to the women's magazine JOSEI JISHIN. "I'm 22. I used to be a kindergarten teacher, but now being a race queen takes up most of my time. I've made lots of TV commercials. When we were filming for the Aminonjers, we had to go right up to the edge of a cliff and jump. It was really scary. At first, riding the bike built for five was really hard, too. We kept falling over and my entire body was dotted with bruises. Then, again, we are the defenders of justice and that's a pretty honorable thought. Being an Aminonjer is something you can brag about to your friends and family." Source: Mainichi Daily News

Yomiuri Online reports that a live-action theatrical version of TETSUJIN 28-GO (Iron Man No. 28) will begin filming in July for release next year. The screenplay is being written by Hiroshi Saito (SECRET) and Kota Yamada (CROSSFIRE) and will be directed by Shin Togashi (BALANCE). Yamada and Togashi previously worked together on the film SORRY (Gomen). Japanese producers are currently casting for the lead role of Kaneda Shotaro, the young boy who controls the massive robot (which will be realized onscreen with CGI). TETSUJIN 28-GO was created by Yokoyama Mitsuteru in 1956. The manga series was released in installments in SHONEN Magazine and adapted as an animated series (known as GIGANTOR in the US) in 1963. Source: Natsume Maya's anime and manga web page

From the original creator of Kamen Rider and the Power Rangers; Kikaider is primed and ready to premiere on Cartoon Network's hit Adult Swim action block this summer. With an already huge fan following for the original KIKAIDA live-action series, fans across the country are set to experience a whole new look of old school action combined with new school anime. Cartoon Network will begin airing KIKAIDER THE ANIMATION on Adult Swim four nights a week beginning June 10 at midnight. The entire series (including the 4 part KIKAIDER-01 OVA) will be shown.

Bandai will release the first KIKAIDER THE ANIMATION DVD on August 5. The disc will include both English and Japanese audio, English subtitles, an illustration gallery, trailers,and info on the line of collector's statues available from Bandai Creation. KIKAIDER THE ANIMATION runs 100 minutes and has a SRP of $29.98.

The first three DVD volumes of the original live-action KIKAIDA series are also available from JN Productions/Generation Kikaida. Source: Bandai, Cartoon Network, Anime News Network

Ban Daisuke, the star of such classic Japanese television series as KIKAIDA, KIKAIDA- 01, and INAZUMAN has joined the cast of Hellcat Productions' BLOOD OF THE SAMURAI: THE SERIES. Daisuke will play the Sensei, a wise and mysterious mentor who guides two samurai heroes in their battle against the forces of evil. This will be the first American production for the esteemed actor.

The six episode series is a direct sequel to the low budget movie BLOOD OF THE SAMURAI, which won the prestigious Aloha Airlines Film & Videomaker Award for Best Hawaii-based film at the 2001 Hawaii International Film Festival. BLOOD OF THE SAMURAI: THE SERIES chronicles the adventures of Trent (Bryan Yamasaki) and Rob (Michael Ng), who come into possession of mystical swords that grant the powers and abilities of the greatest samurai upon the user. The cast also includes Colleen Fujioka and Stephanie Sanchez as their girlfriends, Brooke and Roxy, Miss Hawaii 2003 Alicia Michioka as Yuki, a mysterious female ninja, and Superbrawl Champion Egan Inoue as the fearsome Shinzo, leader of the Syndicate.

BLOOD OF THE SAMURAI: THE SERIES has been picked up by Oceanic Time Warner Cable, and will air on the Hawaiian channel OC 16 beginning in the Winter of 2003. Source: www.bloodofthesamurai.com & Bandaisuke.com

According to Sony Music's KIKAIDER: THE ANIMATION Official Homepage, they are releasing a collector's DVD box for the KIKAIDER 01: THE ANIMATION direct-to-video series which will feature a surprising extra feature: the exclusive animated film KIKAIDA VS. INAZUMAN. The 25-minute film is based on Shotaro Ishimori's original INAZUMAN manga story "The Boy With the Guitar" -- which featured Jiro/Kikaida as a special guest star!
KIKAIDA VS. INAZUMAN is directed & storyboarded by character designer Naoyuki Konno (CYBORG 009 [2001], KIKAIDER: THE ANIMATION), story edited by Ken'ichi Muraeda (MASKED RIDER SPIRITS, RED), scripted by Shinsuke Ohnishi (ULTRAMAN COSMOS, CYBORG 009 ), and supervised by Masato Hayase (production manager of Ishimori Productions). Source: Tokusatsu Planet, SME Webpage

Osamu Tezuka's manga BOKU-NO SONGOKU (Our Monkey King), based on the famous Chinese legend Saiyuki, has been adapted as an animated theatrical feature. Eriko Imai, a former member of J-pop supergroup Speed, will perform the theme song "Butterfly" and make her voice acting debut playing Son Goku's love interest. The film will be released in Japan in July. Source: Natsume Maya's anime and manga web page

As originally reported here back in March, Monkey Punch's popular manga is being prepared as a Hollywood theatrical film. Longtime Spielberg associate Gerald R. Molen will produce the film, tentatively scheduled for release in 2006. The contract for the US adaptation was signed at the end of February and the script is expected to take a year. "I hope to go back to the U.S. enthusiastic with many wonderful ideas, and begin work on the script." said Molen. "The script is important, so I want to begin filming after it is completely polished." Monkey Punch added "I'm not fussy over the original source. I want it to be a Hollywood-ish movie. I'd like it to run as long as 007." His only condition is that all five classic characters (Lupin, Daisuke Jigen, Goemon Ishikawa, Fujiko Mine, and Keibu Zenigata) appear in the film

While no director has been assigned to the project, Kristin Scott Thomas and Romain Duris have joined the cast. As far as actors go, Punch leaves the decisions to the US production team. He said "There's no actor that I say 'this is the one.' They can use new actors. I'm more curious about who they cast for Fujiko."

Lupin III has previously appeared in six animated features (most notably director Hayao Miyazaki's CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO) and one live- action adaptation, the 1974 film LUPIN III: STRANGE ESP OPERATION, starring Meguro Yuki. The new Hollywood version promises considerably higher production costs and state-of-the-art sfx. Monkey Punch added "It seems they're preparing a director's chair for me on location, so I definitely want to go and see." Source: Sports Nippon, Dark Horizons

Universal/DreamWorks have announced plans to reduce prices on most, if not all, their DVDs. The Japanese horror classic RINGU is one of the titles that will be re-released at a lower cost this August. Source: DVD Review

The American Cinematheque presents the 5th JAPANESE OUTLAW MASTERS SERIES at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, June 19-22. This year's series includes two films from Takashi (AUDITION) Miike, NEW GRAVEYARD OF HONOR and VISITOR Q; and two unnerving portraits of modern Japanese teens, SUICIDE CLUB (an unexplained wave of horrific teen suicides sweeps across Japan) and BOUNCE KO GALS (a tale of high school girls doubling as call girls). Also part of the festival are US premieres for Seijun Suzuki's UNDERWORLD BEAUTY (1958), Yasuharu Hasebe's STRAY CAT ROCK - SEX HUNTER (1970), and BLACKMAIL IS MY LIFE (1968) from the late, great Kinji (BATTLE ROYALE) Fukasaku. Source: Egyptian Theatre

The Official Playstation Magazine reports that a LUPIN III video game will be released on the PS2 in the US.

The Asian film review site Midnight Eye has published a lengthy introduction to unusual and experimental Japanese animation. The article can be found at Midnight Eye

According to Variety, Darren Aronofsky has finally secured the US theatrical remake rights to LONE WOLF & CUB. The director plans to produce an American "contemporary" live-action adaptation of the classic manga series. For additional details see the EF Report for 5/03/03. Source: Ain't It Cool News

In addition to the aforementioned ANDROID KIKAIDER THE ANIMATION, Cartoon Network has announced several more anime series will join their lineup. CYBORG 009: THE CYBORG SOLDIER will debut on Monday, June 30 at 6:00 pm, and TRIGUN follows on Sunday, July 6 at 1:30 am. The second season of THE BIG O begins on Sunday, August 3, at 11:00 pm. Source: Animation Insider

The SciFi Channel will air GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE on Sunday, June 22 at 3:30 am.

As part of 4Kids' merchandising of ULTRAMAN TIGA, Dark Horse Comics is publishing English translations of the popular TIGA comics by Hong Kong superstars Tony Wong and Khoo Fuk Lung. Each issue contains 40 full-color pages for only $3.99 The first issue is an adaptation of the show's pilot episode: In the year 2049, a mysterious meteor carrying an ominous message crashes next to GUTS headquarters, heralding the end of peacetime and the return of giant monsters that terrorized humanity many millions of years ago. Mankind's only hope is to find the lost land of Tiga and reawaken Ultraman ...but the sinister monsters Golza and Melba set their sights on destroying the sleeping guardian before he can arise to defeat them!

ULTRAMAN TIGA #1 (of 10) goes on sale August 27. Additional information can be found at DarkHorse.com where editor Jeremy Barlow discusses the series.

Kazuo Koike, creator of the legendary manga series LONE WOLF & CUB and CRYING FREEMAN, has written a Wolverine story for Marvel Comics. Koike explores Wolverine's deep-rooted connections to Japan in a tale illustrated by popular X-Men artist Paul Smith. The story will be published in X-MEN UNLIMITED #50, available on July 9 at a cover price of $2.50. For further details go to Marvel.com

Definitely NOT for kids is Tokyo Pop's English language version of the BATTLE ROYALE manga. If anything, it is even more graphic than the controversial film on which it's based. The 216 page Volume 1 was released on May 13 with a SRP of $9.99. Seven more volumes will follow on a bimonthly schedule. Source: Tokyo Pop

SUPER 7 Issue #2 is now on sale. The "Magazine of Japanese Toy Culture", includes articles on the Transformers, Hedorah, Jumbo Machinders, Kikaida, Jumborg Ace, Bandai's Ultra Monster figures, and an interview with Ban Daisuke. In addition, the issue offers an exclusive mail-away version of the Bear-Model, Inc. 10" inch Godzilla 1954 figure. Photos of the figure, and additional information on the magazine, are available at Super7's website

VIDEO WATCHDOG #95 (on sale now) contains a review of Hideo (RING) Nakata's most recent film, DARK WATER, and it's R3 DVD release from WideSight Entertainment. Issue #96 will have a cover feature on the giant monster movie REPTILICUS (which isn't Japanese, but will appeal to most Godzilla fans). Source: Video watchdog

NEWTYPE USA #6 features a look inside Studio 4°C, including their work on THE ANIMATRIX and interviews with directors Maeda Mahiro, Shinichiro Watanabe and Koji Morimoto. There is also coverage of FULL METAL PANIC!, WOLF'S RAIN, SAMURAI DEEPER KYO, G GUNDAM NATIONALITIES, and more. Free bonus materials include Girls of Newtype postcards and a DVD insert with episode one of the hotly anticipated anime FULL METAL PANIC! NEWTYPE USA #6 went on sale the week of June 1. Source: NewTypeUSA

A belated plug for RAIJIN GAME AND ANIME #15, which features a cover story on Japan's kaiju films and shows. The issue contains brief overviews of the Godzilla, Gamera , and Ultraman series that includes some nice photos of related toys and DVDs. RAIJIN GAME AND ANIME is a weekly, 18 page full-color magazine that retails for only 99 cents. Issue #15 can be found in most comic shops or ordered online at Raijin Comics

Continuing their string of Gamera DVDs, budget label Alpha Video has announced a July 22 on sale date for the 1968 entry DESTROY ALL PLANETS. This may have been of nostalgic interest to fans if Retromedia had not already released the film on DVD this past February. The oft-released MONSTER FROM A PREHISTORIC PLANET will be also available yet again in July thanks to Alpha. Source: Oldies.com

AnimEigo's Samurai Cinema is releasing seven of the classic Zatoichi movies, starting with one of the best in the series: ZATOICHI MEETS YOJIMBO (now available). In this 1970 Toho film Shintaro Katsu teams up with samurai Toshiro Mifune. The two engage in an escalating game of one-upsmanship that culminates in a tremendous swordfight. ZATOICHI MEETS YOJIMBO is presented uncut in anamorphic widescreen with English subtitles. More DVDs in the series, including ZATOICHI THE OUTLAW and ZATOICHI GOES TO THE FIRE FESTIVAL, will be on sale soon.

Also available from AnimEigo are the first two Lone Wolf & Cub Films; SWORD OF VENGEANCE and BABY CART AT THE RIVER STYX, in anamorphic widescreen with English subs. The rest of the series will be released on DVD by the end of 2004. Source: AnimEigo

On the anime front, AnimEigo will release the fourth LUPIN III movie on July 22. The 1987 film THE FUMA CLAN CONSPIRACY was originally released direct to video in Japan, followed by a limited theatrical run. The SRP is $24.95. Source: Anime on DVD

We previously covered the upcoming American DVD of VERSUS here on EF, but Media Blasters has announced additional details. VERSUS will now be available in THREE different versions: a bare-bones bilingual edition, a "Director's Cut" with trailers and audio commentary, and a double disc Special Edition that will include all of the material from the Japanese DVD release. SE Disc one features an anamorphic transfer of the film with both subtitled and dubbed audio (including a DTS track), director Ryuhei Kitamura's commentary in English and an English subtitled cast commentary. Disc two includes a subtitled making-of featurette, an English-language documentary, an interview with the editor, video clips from the movie's premiere, three trailers and the mini-movie NERVOUS. All three VERSUS DVDS go on sale July 29.

In even more VERSUS news, the film has just been released as a R2 DVD in Germany. This 2 disc Special Edition comes packed in a metal tin and features extensive supplemental material including trailers and Kitamura's first film, DOWN TO HELL. Source: Kung Fu Cult Cinema

Previously released on DVD in 2000, director Hideaki (EVANGELION: DEATH & REBIRTH) Anno's first live-action film, LOVE & POP, will be re-released in a digital video new master version on July 24 by Gainax. The LOVE & POP SR VERSION will include a new 160 minute cut of the movie, a previously unreleased promotional video, and a 16 page booklet. This new DVD will cost 3,800 yen - cheaper than the 4,700 yen price of the original release. An English subbed DVD of Anno's live-action movie SHIKIJITSU (Ritual), which stars actress Ayako Fujitani (Heisei Gamera trilogy), will also be available in July.

The GEKIJOBAN LUPIN SANSEI (Movie Version Lupin III) DVD LIMITED EDITION BOX will contain THE MYSTERY OF MAMO, THE LEGEND OF THE GOLD OF BABYLON, THE FUMA CLAN CONSPIRACY and SECRET FILE 1 & 2(a theatrical trailer collection). Also included are a booklet and pocket reproductions of the movie programs. The box goes on sale October 24 at a cost of 13,800 yen. Source: Natsume Maya's anime and manga web page.

Toho's DVD of GODZILLA x MECHAGODZILLA will be available on July 25. The disc will include theatrical trailers, TV spots, a "Making Of" documentary, a featurette on the Moscow International Symphony Orchestra scoring the soundtrack, and a commentary track by director Masaaki Tezuka and actress Yumiko Shaku (who is also starring in the upcoming US release of THE PRINCESS BLADE).

The promotional flier for the DVD also includes information on the next film in the Godzilla series. GODZILLA x MOTHRA x MECHAGODZILLA: TOKYO S.O.S. will be directed by Tezuka, written by Masahiro Yokotani (co-writer of GMK), and stars Noburo Kaneko (star of Toei's superhero series GAORANGER). Toho will release the film on December 13 in Japan.

In other regional news, Universe Laser in Hong Kong has confirmed that they have acquired GODZILLA x MECHAGODZILLA for R3 DVD. No release date has been set.
News for the week of 05/03/2003
An authorized, but small-budget featurette entitled GAMERA 4 recently had its first public screening in Japan. In the film, a more angular Gamera battles "Albino Gyaos." The film even features Yukijiro Hotaru reprising his monster-worn character Inspector Osako! Kadokawa-Daiei is seriously considering releasing the short film to DVD. Source: Uchusen, Additional information at the creator's website (Japanese only). Uchusen Scans: page 1 / page 2.

Hayao Miyazaki's next film, HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE (HAURU NO UGOKUJOU), will be coming to US theaters from Walt Disney Pictures in 2005. Following the success of SPIRITED AWAY (now the 4th highest-grossing anime in the US) , Disney is considering plans to release the new film in both English and Japanese language versions. Based on the children's fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones, HOWL'S is the story of an eighteen-year-old girl named Sophie who is transformed into an old woman by the evil Witch of the Waste. Determined to return to normal Sophie seeks the help of Howl, a wizard who lives in a moving castle which is fueled by a fire demon named Calcifer.

Miyazaki is working from adapted screenplay by writer Reiko Yoshida. Animation began in February 2003 with the Japanese theatrical release scheduled for July 2004. HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE is a Studio Ghibli, Dentsu, NTV, Tokuma Shoten, and Touhoku Shinsha production.Source: Yahoo Movies

After 10 years of anime Pioneer Entertainment is handling its first live action release; the 2001 Toho production ONMYOJI: THE YIN YANG MASTER. A limited US theatrical run began April 25 and will be followed by a Special Edition DVD release on August 12. Based on the famous novels by Baku Yumemakura, ONMYOJI takes place during a dark age of demons and ghosts. The Heian Emperor relies upon the imperial order of the Onmyoji to protect the kingdom, but as the birth of the emperor's heir approaches, political intrigue and jealousy lead to betrayal. The most talented of the order must face his master and the dark magic that threatens to destroy them all. Source: Onmyojimovie.com

ASIFA-Hollywood and Cartoon Research are hosting WORST.CARTOONS.EVER., supposedly a tribute to the worst animated TV shows of the 1950s and 60s. One of the series receiving this "honor" is the Rankin-Bass/Toei KING KONG show, the inspiration for Toho's 1967 film KING KONG ESCAPES. The screening takes place May 31 at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. For further details go to cartoonresearch.com.

At a recent Q&A at UC Berkeley, director Darren Aronofsky announced that he is pursuing the US film rights to LONE WOLF AND CUB. The classic manga by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima was first published in 1970 and has been adapted numerous times to film and television in Japan. It is currently available as a series of collections from Dark Horse Comics. Aronofsky directed the films PI and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM and has been attached off-and-on to Warners planned BATMAN movie. Source: Aint-It-Cool-News

The merchandising of the New York Yankees newest star, Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui, is in full swing. The 28-year-old power hitter has already signed deals with Upper Deck memorabilia, Japan Air Lines, Mizuno, and Majestic Athletic, with more expected soon. According to Majestic, Matsui's is among the 10 best selling Major League Baseball jerseys this year. Licensed T-shirts with "Godzilla" should appear sometime in the near future as Matsui's representatives are in negotiations with Toho about using the monster's name on Yankees merchandise. The first item using "Godzilla" is the Authentic Street Sign available online at the Yankees ShopMemorabilia featuring the ballplayer and the monster have been available for several years in Japan, where Matsui played for the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants. Matsui played himself in a cameo appearance in GODZILLA X. MECHAGODZILLA. Source: ESPN.com

Warner Bros has picked up the new Japanese ASTRO BOY show for their Kids WB! lineup. The series is a co- production between Tezuka Productions, Sony Pictures Ent, and Sony Pictures Television. No US airdate has been announced, but ASTRO BOY is expected to premiere during the 2003-2004 season. For further details see Eastern Front report for 4/24/03. Source: Variety

The Independent Film Channel, Home Vision Entertainment, and Virgin are joining forces to bring attention to Shintaro Katsu's ZATOICHI THE BLIND SWORDSMAN film series. IFC is presenting 'Seven Samurai Saturdays' ; seven consecutive Saturdays of Zatoichi films beginning with THE LIFE AND OPINION OF MASSEUR ICHI on May 3. RETURN OF MASSEUR ICHI airs on May 10, followed by MASSEUR ICHI ENTERS AGAIN (May 17), MASSEUR ICHI, THE FUGITIVE (May 24), MASSEUR ICHI ON THE ROAD (May 31), MASSEUR ICHI AND THE CHEST OF GOLD (June 7), and ZATOICHI'S FLASHING SWORD (June 14). On May 6, Virgin will be hosting screenings of FIGHT, ZATOICHI, FIGHT at their Megastore locations in Chicago and New York. The Chicago screening will be a sit-down affair with Onion film critic Keith Phipps. Limited edition Zatoichi posters will be given to the first 100 arrivals at both locations.

In addition, IFCTV.com, homevision.com, and virginmegamagazine.com are running a Zatoichi-themed sweepstakes. From April 26 to June 21, visitors can win prize packages including a 5 disc DVD player from IFC, ZATOICHI DVD packs from Home Vision Entertainment, and gift certificates from Virgin. Source: Destroy-All-Monsters.com
The Coca-Cola Company announced it has pulled a Japanese robot figurine from a Hong Kong promotion due to complaints from Jewish leaders. On April 29 spokesman Kelly Brooks said the company withdrew Robowaru from a set of plastic figurines based on the Toei television and movie series ROBOCON because the robot is adorned with what appear to be swastikas. The Nazi swastika can easily be confused with a similar Buddhist symbol common in Asia. The two are nearly reverse images of one another, with the arms pointing in opposite directions.

Both Toei and Ishimori Pro, the production house of late ROBOCON creator Shotaro Ishinomori, declined comment. At Animation International, which sells rights for ROBOCON in the region and worked with Coca-Cola on the toys, spokeswoman Jennifer Chan said the symbols were designed by the creator and "did not have anything to do with any organization or religion."

"We regret any misunderstanding this may have caused." Brooks said. He added that the figurines were "exact replicas" of characters featured in the television series. Hong Kong Rabbi Yakkov Kermaier acknowledged the figurine probably was the result of an honest mistake. "It's not simply a politically incorrect symbol," Kermaier said Wednesday. "It's an emblem that represents the wholesale slaughter of 6 million Jews." Source: Japan Today

The trailer for BATTLE ROYALE II is online at br-new.jp. Director Kenta Fukusakuâ's sequel will open in Japan on July 5.

ADV has announced that THE PRINCESS BLADE will be released theatrically in the US on August 8. The trailer and additional information are available at the official site.

WHAT'S UP TIGER LILY?, Woody Allen's comic reworking of the 1964 Toho International Police movie KEY OF KEYS, is coming to DVD from Image Entertainment on July 15. TIGER LILY stars several familiar Toho faces, including Mie Hama, Akiko Wakabayashi, Susumu Kurobe, and Hideyo Amamoto.

YOKAI HYAKU MONOGATORI, the first film in Daiei's classic ghost trilogy, will be released by ADV Films as YOKAI MONSTERS vol 02: ONE HUNDRED MONSTERS on July 15. The trailer for YOKAI MONSTERS vol 03: ALONG WITH GHOST is now online at ADV's website

KUNOICHI: LADY NINJA, based on the novel by Fuutaro Yamada, was released April 29 from Media Blasters' Tokyo Shock imprint. The 1998 film is set in feudal Japan and tells the story of seven women trained to battle the sorcerous ninja assassins known as 'The 7 Spears'. KUNOICHI stars the popular Yuko Moriyama, best known as 'Iria' in the ZEIRAM series. Source: Media Blasters

JN Productions will release the next DVD of the live-action 1970s' television series KIKAIDA on May 13. Volume 3 Episodes #11-15 of the original 43-episode series that first aired in Japan from 1972- 1973 and in Hawaii on KIKU-TV beginning in 1974. The series follows Kikaida as he continues his battle against evil DARK Destructoid monsters Gold Wolf, Silver Cat, Pink Tiger, Silver Tortoise, and Golden Bat. In addition to digitally remastered picture and sound, the episodes are fully subtitled in English and boast bilingual English and Japanese menus. Other special features on the DVD include an all-new KIKAIDA trivia game, cast and crew profiles, DARK Destructoid monster profiles with sound effects, and karaoke videos of the catchy opening and closing theme songs- complete with on-screen lyrics.

Over 17,000 KIKAIDA DVDs have been sold since the release of the first volume in October 2002. KIKAIDA Vol. 3 will be available in Hawaii at Bestsellers, Blockbuster, Borders, Costco, Daiei, Longs, Musicland, Sam's Club, Shirokiya, Tower, Wal-Mart, and through the Generation Kikaida Online Store. For for information go to H!O's Kikaida page.

More Godzilla films are coming to DVD in Japan. MONSTER ZERO goes on sale May 21, followed by GODZILLA vs. THE SEA MONSTER on June 21 and both SON OF GODZILLA and GODZILLA X MECHAGODZILLA on July 25. In a surprising note, GXMG will not be a DVD box set. Each title will retail for 6000 yen.

The British label Artsmagic has been releasing several Japanese fantasy films to PAL DVD. Of particular interest are Toho's vampire series from the 1970s, released by Artsmagic as "The Bloodthirsty Trilogy". First up was LAKE OF DRACULA: THE BLOODTHIRSTY EYES, released to DVD on August 5, 2002. The 1971 film told the story of a woman who realizes her haunting dreams about a vampire (Shin Kishida) are true. Kishida returned in EVIL OF DRACULA: THE BLOODTHIRSTY ROSES (released on September 27), a tale of vampires at a private school for girls. While both films have been shown on US television, they were dubbed and severely edited for violence. LEGACY OF DRACULA: THE BLOODTHIRSTY DOLL, released by Artsmagic on April 21.2003, has never been distributed in the US. This 1970 film, more commonly known as THE VAMPIRE DOLL, began Toho's vampire trilogy. Also awaiting a US release is PRINCESS FROM THE MOON, a 1987 Toho film starring Toshiro Mifune, Yasuko Sawaguchi, and Megumi Odaka. The British DVD premiered on December 30. The Artsmagic releases are the original Japanese widescreen versions with English subtitles and some extra material. Source: Artsmagic
News for the week of 04/24/2003
To commemorate the fictional birth of the robot character Tetsuwan Atom (aka Astro Boy), a new animated TV series premiered on April 7. While staying true to cartoonist Osamu Tezuka's original concept, the creators of the new series are endeavoring to spin an entirely new robot tale. The new Atom, who will have attributes derived from the work of young researchers in cognitive robotics, will come into the world as a robot with a human heart and start out as an innocent child.

The first episode of the new ASTRO BOY series drew an estimated 12% of the viewing market. These percentages are extraordinary for a premier episode, on par with the ratings of INUYASHA, DORAEMON, and ATASHINICHI, but not as high as the average viewer ratings for more popular anime titles such as DETECTIVE CONAN, CHIBI MARUKO-CHAN, KOCHIKAME, and SAZAE-SAN.

In an article entitled "Atom Was Born on April 7, 2003," Bungei Shunju writer Hideaki Sena discusses the effect the character has had in Japan. The article can be read at Japan Today.

The Tokyo International Anime Fair website is now hosting a 3 minute trailer for the upcoming English language ASTRO BOY TV series. The trailer is in the streaming Windows Media format. The series, to be released in conjunction with an American live-action movie and a merchandising blitz, will commemorate Astro Boy's 40th anniversary. Sources: Anime News Network, Japan Today, Natsume Goushin Ryu Dojo

The SciFi Channel will run all three films in Toho's recent Mothra series on May 31. REBIRTH OF MOTHRA airs at 11 am, followed by REBIRTH II at 1 pm and REBIRTH III at 3pm. This will be the first time the English dub of REBIRTH OF MOTHRA III will be shown in the US. American fans have been hoping for a US release because it features the return of classic villain King Ghidorah. Source: Scifi.com

The adventures of the POWER RANGERS have become much less violent recently. According to a March 5 USA TODAY report by Gary Levin, episodes of boys' programming from POWER RANGERS to SPIDERMAN on ABC Family have been "edited to remove scenes with attacks on cities, exploding high-rises, and people fleeing in danger," based on new guidelines from parent company Walt Disney. The change also dictates that new programs "make every effort to avoid realistic violence and to be sensitive to images or dialogue that might recall actual world events."

In an effort to avoid any images reminiscent of Sept. 11, plane crashes and hijackings, chemical warfare, attacks on cities (both realistic and otherworldly), bombings, buildings exploding, the destruction of national landmarks, and images of people trapped in falling rubble are no longer acceptable on Disney-owned networks.

Japan's Video Association held a press conference in mid-March to report on Japanese home video sales for the year 2002. Sales totaled 324,835,000,000 yen, the first year Japan's video sales have ever topped 300 billion yen. Sales of anime titles increased over 2001 sales by a staggering 185%, largely attributable to record breaking sales of the SPIRITED AWAY DVD. DVDs now account for 60% of home video sales in Japan, with laserdiscs falling to 0.9% of the market. 38.5% of all DVDs sold in Japan last year were Western movies from mainly America and Europe. The second highest selling home video genre was "general Japanese animation," not including children's anime. The average price of anime DVDs in Japan seems to have decreased in 2002 to 4,354 yen (approximately $36 US). Source: AV Watch, translated by Natsume Goushin Ryu Dojo

GODZILLA: DESTROY ALL MONSTERS MELEE, a one-to-four player monster- on-monster fighting game, was released to the Microsoft Xbox video game system on April 15. The game recreates the look and feel of the Toho film series and challenges players to punch, kick, stomp, throw and blast each other in massive, city-wide arenas. G:DAMM developed by Pipeworks Software Inc., is also available on the Nintendo GameCube.

In addition to the single-player Adventure Mode, the game includes four additional play styles: Versus Mode, a one-on-one epic battle royal; Destruction Mode, a timed challenge to see which player can destroy more of a city in a given amount of time; Survival Mode, the ultimate test of a player's skill, pitting him against monster after monster with the score based on the number of enemies defeated before losing a match; and Melee Mode, a one-to-four player points-based multiplayer slugfest. More than 10 licensed monsters appear in the game, including Godzilla, Mechagodzilla, Rodan, Megalon, Destoroyah, King Ghidorah, Mothra and Gigan.

New features for Xbox including a new monster, arena, new AI, Single-player Destruction Mode, Soundtrack support, Xbox Advantage Controls, Better visuals, Improved Speed and Multiple Saved Games are detailed in Infogrames' Press Release. For more information on GODZILLA: DESTROY ALL MONSTERS MELEE visit GodzillaGame.com.

Sandy Frank Entertainment, the company responsible for originally bringing the GATCHAMAN anime series to American television in 1978 as BATTLE OF THE PLANETS, has established a new corporation to focus entirely on marketing the series in the US. "Battle of the Planets Inc." will release a DVD box set this June in association with Rhino Home Video, followed by video games, toys, trading cards and apparel. Future plans include a new 53 episode TV series combining the original 1972 GATCHAMAN footage with new animation created in the US, and new BATTLE OF THE PLANETS films created by Ocean Productions, a Canadian animation studio. Source: Animation Magazine

Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures will be remaking the Japanese horror film JU-On under the English title THE GRUDGE. The original movie, which dealt with a supernatural curse born of resentment that spreads like a disease, was a hit for director Takashi Shimizu and producer Takashi Ichise. In a surprising announcement, Shimizu will direct and Ichise will co-produce (with Raimi) the US version. In related news, Lions Gate Entertainment has acquired the US rights to the original Japanese theatrical film. Peter Block, president of home entertainment, acquisitions and new media states that the company has also picked up Shimizu's two straight-to-video projects that inspired the feature film, JU-ON and JU-ON 2. "We're big fans of the horror genre and this was one of those films that we were most looking forward to seeing at MIFED last year," Block told Screendaily.com. "It's creepy, scary and has all the elements with a wonderful look and tremendous sound design. Despite the fact that it's not in the English language it works just as well." Lions Gate plans to release JU-ON theatrically, followed by a dvd release of all three films. There was no word if any of this will be timed to coincide with the Raimi remake. Sources: Fangoria & Screendaily.com

Fans of Shusuke Kaneko's GMK may want to check out VIDEO WATCHDOG #94, which features a two page review of both the Toho R2 DVD box set and Universe R3 DVD release. The issue also contains reviews of the 2 disc GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES DVD from Central Park Media and the PRINCE PLANET episodes that were included on the Something Weird Video STARMAN DVDs. (April, $6.50)

Norman England returns in FANGORIA #222 with an in depth article on director Atsushi Moroga's zombie film JUNK. Additional details can be found at Fangoria's Current issue feature (May, $7.99)

ADV's website has details on NEWTYPE USA vol 2, issue 5, which will be available on May 1. Along with the latest anime news there will be feature articles on THE ANIMATRIX, GUNDAM SEED, DNANGEL, SPIRITED AWAY, SAIYUKI, and COWBOY BEBOP: THE MOVIE. Free bonuses include a PLEASE! TEACHER poster and a DVD insert that includes an ANIMATRIX preview and episodes from BOOGIEPOP PHANTOM, SAKURA WARS TV and SAMURAI DEEPER KYO.

ADVision president John Ledford stated that preorders for the May issue have exceeded 100,000 copies, an extraordinary figure for a magazine still in its first year of publication. The first issue had a print run of 30,000 copies.

Dark Horse will publish a 248 graphic novel edition of "god of manga" Osamu Tezuka's LOST WORLD manga this July. Originally published in Japan in the late 1940s, LOST WORLD is the first of Tezuka's cycle of sci-fi stories that included METROPOLIS and FUTURE WORLD. Source: Jagged Team

The novel BATTLE ROYALE has been released in English by Viz Communications. Written by small-town journalist Koushun Takami, BATTLE ROYALE IS one of Japan's best-selling, most controversial novels and inspired Kinji Fukasaku`s infamous film of the same name. As part of a government program, ninth-grade students are taken to a small island and given a map and various weapons. Forced to wear special collars that explode when they break a rule, the students must fight each other to the death until only one "winner" remains. (Paperback: 624 pages, ISBN # 156931778X, $15.95)

An English translation of Koji Suzuki's horror novel RING has also been released and is available from Vertical, Inc. (Hardcover, 288 pages, ISBN #1932224004, $24.95)

GAMMERA THE INVINCIBLE is coming to DVD from Alpha Video on May 20. This is the original US edit of the film, which contains additional scenes with actors Albert Dekker and Brian Donlevy. DVD bonus features include a poster gallery, lobby cards and photos. Alpha Video also announced plans to release the second Gamera movie, WAR OF THE MONSTERS, on June 24. Both films have a suggested retail price of $6.98.

July 29 is the release date for Media Blasters' two-disc dvd set of the 2001 zombie splatter movie VERSUS. Disc one features an anamorphic transfer of the film with both subtitled and dubbed audio (including a DTS track), director Ryuhei Kitamura's commentary in English and an English subtitled cast commentary. Disc two includes a subtitled making-of featurette, an English-language documentary, an interview with the editor, video clips from the movie's premiere, three trailers and the mini-movie NERVOUS. VERSUS is advertised as "Freefall Ultra-Violence Non-Stop Entertainment Action". Source: Creature Corner

Buena Vista Home Video has released THE BEST OF POWER RANGERS: THE ULTIMATE RANGERS. The disc contains the 5 favorite stories, based on fan voting: The MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER RANGERS episodes "White Light" Parts 1& 2, "Countdown to Destruction " Parts 1 & 2" from POWER RANGERS IN SPACE, the POWER RANGERS LOST GALAXY episode "To The Tenth Power", the POWER RANGERS LIGHTSPEED 2-parter "Trakeena's Revenge", and "Forever Red", the tenth anniversary Red Ranger team-up from POWER RANGERS WILD FORCE. Video trailers, a CD promo and a dual-sided mini-poster are included. SRP $19.99

Pioneer Entertainment will release the first LUPIN the 3rd movie: MYSTERY OF MAMO (aka LUPIN vs THE CLONES) as a dual language DVD on July 29. The 1978 film is considered the most faithful adaptation of Monkey Punch's beloved master thief. An English dubbed version was distributed by Streamline Pictures and Orion Home Video in 1989. Episodes of the Lupin TV series are also available from Pioneer.

The Toho fantasy film OROCHI THE EIGHT-HEADED DRAGON will be released on DVD by ADV's Rubbersuit Pictures division in 2004. Source:Fangoria

The SHOCHIKU SCIENCE FICTION CUBE is a limited edition box set of 4 classic scifi/horror movies: THE X FROM OUTER SPACE (English audio track included), GOKE, BODYSNATCHER FROM HELL (English audio track included), KONCHU DAISENSO (a.k.a. GENOCIDE), and KYUKETSU DOKUROSEN (aka LIVING SKELETON.) Each film has been remastered from a new digital telecine print, 16:9/LB Cinemascope NTSC format. Special features include the original theatrical trailers, interviews, commentary, promo stills, but no English subtitles. Included in the box are figurines, a resin plate, and a press sheet. (April 25, Catalog # DA-226, 25200 Yen/approx $ 209.48)

Toei Video is releasing the limited edition SUPER SENTAI: THE MOVIE BOX SET on July 21. The 4 dual layered discs contain 21(!) films starring Toei's famous battle teams: SECRET TASK FORCE GO RANGER (July 1975), GO RANGER: THE BLUE FORTRESS (Dec 1975), GO RANGER: THE RED DEATH MARCH (Mar 1976), GO RANGER: THE BOMB HURRICANE (July 1976), GO RANGER: FIRE MOUNTAIN'S FINAL EXPLOSION (Dec 1976), JAKQ POWER ATTACK TEAM (July 1977), JAQK vs GO RANGER (July 1978), ELECTRONIC TASK FORCE DENZIMAN (July 1980), SOLAR TASK FORCE SUN VULCAN (July 1981), GREAT TASK FORCE GOGGLE V (Mar 1982), SCIENCE TASK FORCE DYNAMAN (Mar 1983), SUPER ELECTRON BIOMAN (July 1984), POWER ATTACK TASK FORCE CHANGEMAN (Mar 1985), CHANGEMAN: SHUTTLE BASE IN DANGER! (July 1985), SUPER NEW STAR FLASHMAN (Mar 1986), FLASHMAN: BIG RALLY! TITAN BOY! (Mar 1987), AURA TASK FORCE MASKMAN (Jul 1987), HIGH SPEED TASK FORCE TURBORANGER (Mar 1989), FIVE STAR TASK FORCE DAIRANGER (Apr 1993), NINJA TASK FORCE KAKURANGER (Apr 1994), and SUPER POWER TASK FORCE OHRANGER (Apr 1995). Also included are the movies SUPER SENTAI WORLD and TOEI HEROES ASSEMBLE!, theatrical trailers, TV spots, and a reproduction theater pamphlet. (Catalog #DSTD02219, Y 18,000/approx $171.43 US)

POSTWAR JAPANESE ANIME/MANGA exhibit at the George J. Doizaki Gallery starts April 6 and runs until June 1. The exhibit pays tribute to early anime and manga works, with in depth focus on ASTRO BOY, KIMBA, 8 MAN, and GIGANTOR. Producer Fred Ladd, who introduced anime to the United States, is one of the exhibit curators. The exhibit opened with a reception celebrating the birth of Astro Boy on April 6. On May 6, the recently discovered ASTRO BOY episode "Expedition to Mars" will be shown for the first time in 30 years. On May 10/11 vendors and collectors will offer a wide variety of anime and manga merchandise in the Community Gallery. In addition, clips from seminal anime works will be screened continuously during the exhibit. The Doizaki Gallery is located at 244 San Pedro St., Los Angeles, CA 90012 . Admission is free. Presented by the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center. For more info contact Hirozaku Kosaka at info@j... Source: Sushi & Tofu (April issue)

The American Cinematheque's 1st FESTIVAL OF JAPANESE ANIME will run from May 2-14 and includes the US premiere of PARASITE DOLLS, the LA premiere screenings of TAMALA2010: A PUNK CAT FROM SPACE, A TREE OF PALM, and JUNGLE EMPEROR LEO, and the classic animated films JACK AND THE BEANSTALK and ALAKAZAM THE GREAT. Episodes of AURA BATTLER DUNBINE, AHXEPHON, BRIGADOON, YOU'RE UNDER ARREST, BERSERK, DNA2, DESCENDANTS OF DARKNESS, SCI-FI HARRY, and the uncut SAILOR MOON will also be shown. A tribute to hentai producer Toshio Maeda (UROTSUKIDOJI, LA BLUE GIRL) is also planned. More details will soon be available at the Egyptian Theater website

The 2nd ANNUAL ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL OF DALLAS (May 22-30) will screen GAMERA 2 and 3, as well as 35 mm prints of six Takashi Miike films: AUDITION, DEAD OR ALIVE FINAL, VISITOR Q, FU-DOH, CITY OF LOST SOULS, and HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKIRIS.
News for the week of 03/15/2003
So many new releases, so little time:
The official title of TsuburayaPro's new Ultraman feature film is ULTRAMAN COSMOS VS. ULTRAMAN JUSTICE: THE FINAL BATTLE. Once again, there will be a short film: NEW CENTURY 2003 ULTRA LEGEND: THE KING'S JUBILEE -- focusing on Ultraman King.

According to a news release, ADV Films is releasing YOKAI MONSTERS: SPIRIT WARFARE (Yokai Daisenso), one of three movies made in the '60s by Daiei featuring friendly spirits or yokai, on DVD May 20th.

Synapse Films is looking to release DVDs of STACY and WILD ZERO (with possible participation of Guitar Wolf, the stars of WILD ZERO). No release dates are set.

Leiji Matsumoto's SUBMARINE SUPER 99 will premier on Japanese television on May 8th. Matsumoto will also write a new GALAXY EXPRESS 999 TV series scheduled to air on Japanese television this October.

Bandai Entertainment showed off its hottest Anime properties At American International Toy Fair 2003. Series included MOBILE SUIT ZETA GUNDAM, s.CRY.ed, .hack//SIGN, MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM F91 and KIKAIDER THE ANIMATION (finally)! Various release strategies and related merchandising were displayed. Bandai has also licensed the live-action Mamoru Oshii directed films RED SPECTACLES, KERBEROS, and TALKING HEAD.

Manga Entertainment is delaying the American DVD of the animated GIANT ROBO due to licensing issues.

Although the KINNIKUMAN SECOND GENERATION TV series ended on Japanese television on December 25, 2002, after 51 episodes, Toei Animation has officially announced that further episodes will be created specifically for American television broadcast. The episodes will be specifically written for, and tailored for American viewers.
The LUPIN THE III anime is currently airing on Cartoon network. Yahoo! Movies reports that Gerald R. Molen, producer of the Oscar-winning "Schindler's List," has acquired the rights to produce a live action adaptation of LUPIN THE III directly from Lupin creator Monkey Punch. Kazuhiko Kato, better known as Monkey Punch, reportedly insisted that all five standard Lupin cast members appear in the Hollywood film, but otherwise will leave creative control up to the film's American producers. (Source: Lupin Encyclopedia)

Diamond Comics has acquired the rights to produce LUPIN THE III toys. Diamond Select has announced plans to create a limited edition 6" bust statue of Lupin. Diamond will also be importing Medicom's two series of Japanese LUPIN THE III Kubrick figures. Finally, Diamond will be offering 12" action figures of Lupin, Jigen, Goemon, Fujiko, and Inspector Zenigata. It's unclear if the 12" figures will be imported Japanese toys or original American produced figures.

In the first district Supreme Court, the presiding Judge, after notiification of served sentence, has dismissed the the defendant;'Yoshinobu Nishizaki" (Former producer of SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO Cartoon) Of the weapons and drugs smuggling charges, of where he served five years. Nishizaki was charged with concealing a pistol and narcotics in his home, along with two military rifles and ammunition he had reported smuggled into the country from the Philippines sometime in November of 1998. (Source: Direct translation from Sankei News)
News for the week of 02/14/03
Artisan Home Entertainment announced the release of SPEED RACER: COLLECTOR'S EDITION. The disc, which streets on 4/22, will come in a "real rubber tire packaging" and will feature the first 11 of the 52 episodes of the series including the stories The Great Plan, Challenge of the Masked Racer, The Secret Engine, The Race Against the Mammoth Car and The Most Dangerous Race. Features include interactive Mach 5 control demonstrations, a theme song "sing along", a villains gallery and production notes. Video is the original full frame, with Dolby Digital mono audio. Suggested retail price is $22.98. Best of all comes word that if sales of this disc are good, the rest of the series (the remaining 41 episodes) will follow.

VIDEO WATCHDOG #91 has a review of the German DVD release of Takashi Miike's VISITOR Q. The Japanese language, PAL dvd includes optional English and German subtitles, photo gallery, Miike filmography and interview, and trailers for other films from the director.

VIDEO WATCHDOG #92: Cover story on the RING series of films, reviewing the movies (including Korea's THE RING VIRUS and the Dreamworks US remake) and their dvds. Plus capsule reviews of Something Weird Video's VHS releases of MAGIC SERPENT and WARNING FROM SPACE.

FANGORIA #220: Article about the Japanese horror film ANOTHER HEAVEN by Norman England.

Amazon.com is selling the english translation of Koji Suzuki's novel RING. It's a hardcover, ISBN #1932224004, and will be available in May 2003. The Region 1 DVDs for both RINGU and the American remake THE RING from DreamWorks become available March 4th.

It seems official...Takeshi 'Beat' Kitano will direct and star in a TV series based on the classic Zatoichi film and television series.

Some stats on the latest Zatoichi films to be released on Region 1 DVD, due this April 29th:

ZATOICHI: ZATOICHI AND THE CHEST OF GOLD #6: Accused of stealing, Zatoichi is pursued by friend and foe alike. In this installment of The Blind Swordsman series, Ichi must prove his innocence, expose the real culprits, retrieve the gold and reconcile his accusers' anger. And if the odds were not stacked high enough, Ichi is hounded and challenged by a maniacal, bullwhip yielding Ronin who finds Ichi's status as a low ranking blind masseur and master swordsman as an affront to his class and profession. Directed By Kazuo Ikehiro

ZATOICHI: ZATOICHI'S FLASHING SWORD #7: As the fireworks explode overhead, the blood runs under foot.Zatoichi is provoked into a fury of sword slinging by a disreputable gang leader trying to oust a rival, good-natured boss.A houseguest of the peaceful Brunkichi boss, Ichi attempts to help his gracious host fight the greedy boss Yasugoro, but as a fugitive, Ichi's honorable host must ask the blind swordsman to leave. With Ichi temporarily out of the way, Yasugoro makes his bloody move. But being a man of fairness and equality, Zatoichi makes sure Yasugoro gets what he deserves in the end. Directed By Kazuo Ikehiro
ZATOICHI: FIGHT, ZATOICHI, FIGHT #8: In a cruel twist of fate, an innocent woman is cut down in an ambush intended for the blind swordsman, turning her infant child into an orphan.Feeling responsible, Ichi vows to safely deliver the child to its father. The assassins relentlessly pursue Ichi, who must fight with ever more efficient determination now that he is the infant's only protector. In a final bitter twist of fate and plot, Ichi must add to his list of enemies the father of the child he has sworn to protect. Directed By Kenji Misumi

All DVDs star Shintaro Katsu as Zatoichi, the Blind Swordsman. All will feature newly translated electronic subtitles, original theatrical trailers and are digitally mastered from newly created film elements enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Suggested retail price is $19.99.

Already availble for the Nintendo Gamecube, it's been announce that GODZILLA DESTROY ALL MONSTERS MELEE is coming to Microsoft's X-Box with a big face lift and extra features.

According to The Kingdom, Buena Vista Home Entertainment has revealed plans to release 3 Hayao Miyazaki directed films in America in April. According to the report, SPIRITED AWAY, CASTLE IN THE SKY LAPUTA, and KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE will be released as double disc special editions with a suggested retail price of $29.99 each.

Anime News Network has published excerpted translations from a Japanese interview with Studio Ghibli Producer Toshio Suzuki regarding the infamous red tint on the Japanese Region 2 SPIRITED AWAY DVD in which Suzuki claims that the red tint is intentional and not a mastering defect, and suggests that the American DVD, though, will not have this red tint.

The Online Film Critics Society has officially selected SPIRITED AWAY as its Best Animated Feature of 2002. It also won top honors at the animation industry's Annie Awards ceremony, picking up trophies for the best feature film, writing, music and direction.

Japanese manga publishing group Coamix has confirmed plans to release a 3 episode OAV series titled SHIN HOKUTO-NO KEN (New Fist of the North Star) this spring. Early images are available from the Coamix homepage, and a short clip of MPG footage is available for download from production company OB Planning.
News for the week of 01/13/03
Fans of ULTRAMAN TIGA will be pleased with some stats we've uncovered. For Saturday, December 7, at the 11:30 time-slot, ULTRAMAN TIGA rated well for Boys 6-11 and Boys 9-14. Overall, it ranked 3rd for broadcast TV in both demographics.

Hayao Miyazaki's animated film, SPIRITED AWAY (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi) is among 17 possible nominees for the 2002 Oscar for best animated feature film. SPIRITED AWAY is up against three Disney films, including LILO & STITCH, TREASURE PLANET, and RETURN TO NEVER LAND. Also among the running are other popular films, such as 20th Century Fox's ICE AGE and Dreamworks' SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON.

The Academy of Motion Pictures of Arts and Sciences created the separate animated feature film category for the first time last year and presented that award to SHREK at the annual ceremony. About 150 Academy members will screen all 17 entries and then decide on their top picks. On Feb 11 the academy will announce the five nominees for the animation award. The 75th Annual Academy Awards will be held at the Kodak Theater on March 23.

Fans looking forward to Quentin Tarantino's kung fu fighting flick with Sonny Chiba will be pleased to see a new trailer for Tarantino's latest.

Fans of the TETSUWAN ATOM (a.k.a. ASTROBOY) series realize that 2003 was the future date he would have been born. There is a site counting down the days, hours and minutes until Astroboy's birthday. Review from Henshin! Online's Clay Holden: Very cool site, possibly the best use I've ever seen of Macromedia Flash, and easily the best excuse for installing it on your system. Also note the unique top-level-domain status (ie: no "www" and no "co", "or" or "ne").

Other cool ASTROBOY sites for your consideration include The Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum with an English version of their site.

And of course no home should be without the Atom Clock!

Even a decade ago, who would have thought fans would have this much Japanese animation available to them? TechTV, home of THUNDERBIRDS unleashes an anime block that started Dec. 30. More info at the Tech TV website.

There's also more news on The Anime Network. On December 13, 2002, ADV Films announced details about the impending launch of The Anime Network. The network will go on the air in a series of stepped-up phases, with Phase One a mid-December launch as part of Comcast Cable's video-on-demand (VOD) initiative in the Philadelphia area, delivering programs directly to viewers, at their request, at any time.

The Anime Network model is structured around four categorized content areas: Action Zone, Sci-Fi, Comedy, and Martial Arts. The mid-December launch of The Anime Network will include approximately 25 hours of available content, including both feature films and episodes from series. Titles will include SPRIGGAN, NEON GENESIS EVANGELION, EXCEL SAGA, MARTIAN SUCCESSOR NADESICO, GASARAKI, NOIT, DAI-GUARD, BUBBLEGUM CRISIS TOKYO 2040, ORPHEN and many others from ADVFilms library. Viewers in the Philadelphia area wishing to confirm availability of The Anime Network in their specific areas can do so by visiting the Comcast website.

In a story run by Variety, it was reported that Japan-based company Gaga has optioned the film rights to Capcom's ONIMUSHA. Details on the movie weren't made available in the initial report, but it was said that RESIDENT EVIL (the movie) producer Samuel Hadida is attached to develop the upcoming movie. Expect more news on this story as it develops.

ADV Films has launched the PRINCESS BLADE website. This long-awaited Japanese martial arts spectacular feature film (aka Shurayukihime), has been enthusiastically received by audiences and critics in festival screenings on three continents, and is slated for U.S. theatrical release in early 2003. THE PRINCESS BLADE is directed by Shinsuke Sato; special effects are by the renowned Shinji Higuchi (well-known for his work on the modern GAMERA series). Hong Kong-native fight choreographer Donnie Yen (fresh from his acclaimed work on the Wesley Snipes blockbuster BLADE II) handles the balletic combat scenes. The film, which combines elements of classic Japanese Samurai drama with a futuristic setting, tells the story of Princess Yuki (Japanese superstar actress Yumiko Shaku), of the House of Takemikazuchi-once a force of noble guards for the Mikado elite, but now an exiled and disgraced band of assassins, willing to take on any task for the right price. Yuki is a ruthlessly efficient member of the clan, paid by the authoritarian government to eliminate members of a rebellious insurrectionist group. But when a mysterious stranger tells Yuki the truth about her mother's death-that she was killed by a member of the House of Takemikazuchi-Yuki confronts the killer and, after a fierce battle, is forced to flee. A troubled young man named Takashi (Hideaki Ito, one of Japan's most popular film actors) comes to her aid. But Takashi is wary, for he works with the rebels whom the Takemikazuchi have targeted for elimination. Gradually, Yuki and Takashi come to terms with one another. But the threat of the Takemikazuchi looms-they will not tolerate the departure of one of their own, and they are closing in... ADV Films is currently finalizing screening arrangements for the title; initial cinema bookings will be announced early in 2003.

Kane Kosugi first appeared as a child in REVENGE OF THE NINJA and later starred in ULTRAMAN: THE ULTIMATE HERO and NINJA TASK FORCE: KAKURANGER. Son of infamous "ninja" movie star Sho Kosugi, Kane has also appeared in a number of Japanese feature films, including KABUTO and CAT'S EYE, also appeared in Jackie Chan's WHO AM I? Now, Kosugi is starring in a new Toho action movie, MUSCLE HEAT, a 93-minute martial arts yarn, that was released this past October 26th. Directed by Ten Shimoyama, who helmed last year's bizarre ST. JOHN'S WORT (Otogiriso), the film also stars Sho Aikawa (BAD GUY BEACH), Masaya Kato (OKITE), Makoto Takenaka (GOJOE), Noboru Kaneko (GAORANGER), Kenneth Lo and Ikkei Watanabe. Set in 2009, MUSCLE HEAT's action choreography was directed by former Jackie Chan Stunt Team member Sam Wong (DRUNKEN MASTER 2). Kosugi plays Joe, a U.S. Navy Seal who teams up with Japanese cop Katsuragi (Aikawa), on the trail of an illegal drug called "Blood Heat," which gives its users super-human strength and drives them to kill. The trail leads them to "Gold" a lawless district in Tokyo's old waterfront. Beneath the streets of Gold, the Hong Kong Mafia operates an kill-or-be-killed fight club, where the fighters are pumped up on the super steroids. In a senario that sounds like BLOOD SPORT meets AKIRA, Joe and Katsuragi must now go undercover to crush this organization with their own fists. Massive martial arts battles ensue. MUSCLE HEAT's official website has downloads, trailers, background music, and other cool stuff -- check it out!

News for the week of 12/13/02
4Kids announced the ULTRAMAN TIGA U.S. home video launch is planned for August 2003. Following shortly afterwards, will be the ULTRAMAN TIGA and possibly ULTRAMAN DYNA action figure launch as well as other licensed merchandise.

GAMERA, GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE is listed in the December PREVIEWS as a Jan. or Feb. 2003 Region 1 DVD release from A.D. Vision. No specs mentioned outside of the running time.

X BOMBER (aka Star Fleet, also Bomber X), Japan's first sci-fi puppet show inspired by the works of Gerry Anderson and based on the manga by Go Nagai, is being released as a 6 disc DVD Boxed Set for Region 2 on Nov. 29th, 2002 for the yen price of 30000 (approx. $239.71 U.S.) Here's the story description according to CDJapan: "In the year 2999, following a period of internal conflict, Planet Earth is placed under attacks by the Gelma, an alien race with superior technology. With the Star Fleet alone incapable of defending the planet, the responsibility of planetary defense now falls on the shoulders of the crew of X Bomber, a prototype battleship. The ship carries three fighter crafts piloted each by a young academy graduate, and the crafts joined together can form a gigantic, powerful robot, Dai X. A 16-page booklet included. Contains 'Space Quest For F-01', a 90-minute movie edited from the series with audio in English language."

The newest issue of VIDEO WATCHDOG (#89) contains a review of Manga Video's release of the 1982 ASTRO BOY series and an article on French import dvds of several films from actor/director Shinya (TETSUO) Tsukamoto.

Japanese satellite TV network AT-X has officially confirmed that BAROM-1 will premier on Japanese television on December 7th. The series is already licensed for US release by Media Blasters. (Source: Natsume Goushin Ryu Dojo)

On Saturday, Dec. 7th at 8:30 PM, Animerica Magazine editor Kit Fox and Pulp Magazine editor Carl Horn presented excerpts of the 1945 anime film MOMOTARO: HOLY SOLDIER OF THE SEA. The WWII propaganda film is the earliest example of what is now considered anime. The movie, created by the Japanese Imperial Navy, was ordered destroyed by American occupation forces following WWII and was thought to be lost until 1984. The screening at the ATA Gallery in San Francisco, California presented five existing excerpts of the film that account for over half of the movie's running time. For more information on the screening, visit Othercinema.com. (Source: Anime News Network)
The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, a jury made up of teachers, writers, actors and movie production workers, has selected SPIRITED AWAY as Best Animated Feature of 2002. However, the film was not selected as one of the top five best foreign films of the year. Awards will be officially presented at a ceremony in New York held on January 14th. (Source: Ain't It Cool News)

According to unconfirmed information published by Ain't It Cool News, Jean-Pierre Dionnet, the French producer of the not-yet-in-production French live-action CAPTAIN HARLOCK movie, is interested in developing a French live-action film based on the BOOGIEPOP PHANTOM anime series. Regarding the live action French CAPTAIN HARLOCK movie, apparently Japanese composers Joe Hisaishi and Kenji Kawai are in discussions to score the film, and French techno-pop group Daft Punk may also create music for the film. Daft Punk has already worked with Captain Harlock creator Leiji Matsumoto on anime music videos for their 2001 album Discovery.

Papercraft templates for Mogera (from THE MYSTERIANS) and Mechani-Kong (from KING KONG ESCAPES) are available here. According to Henshin! Online's friend and resident model builder Jim Walsh, all that's required is some glue, scissors, and a few hours to spare.

Slushfactory.com has published an extensive discussion comparing the popularity of manga in Japan to the market for American comics in America. The discussion includes Manga historian and expert Frederik L. Schodt, manga artist Tony Leonard Tamai, and American comic artist Keith Giles. The article includes extensive detailed information about the relationship between manga and Japanese culture, and the nature of manga itself and should provide informative reading for novice fans and knowledgeable veteran collectors alike. (Source: Anime News Network)

News for the week of 12/09/02
Toei Video has announced some Region 2 releases for the coming first quarter of 2003. These include, SECRET TASK FORCE: GORANGER Box 1, SUPER DIVINE: BIBYUUN (the sequel to AKUMAIZER 3), KIKAIDA-01, KAMEN RIDER BLACK, and the classic anime series SUPER-MAGNETIC ROBO: COMBATTLER V. Toei Video is releasing KIKAIDA-01 first, before the original KIKAIDA series. Is this to allow for JNP's Stateside Region-1 release of KIKAIDA?

Coming to DVD from Ventura Distribution are a couple of AIP Gamera films, DESTROY ALL PLANETS (a.k.a. GAMERA VS.VIRAS) and ATTACK OF THE MONSTERS (a.k.a. GAMERA VS. GUIRON) on a double bill Region 1 DVD. At this time, it is unknown if this project is an officially licensed release.

Japanese consumers in the Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures have filed a class action lawsuit against Walt Disney Japan seeking monetary compensation and corrected, replacement DVD copies of the SEN TO CHIHIRO NO KAMIKAKUSHI DVD distributed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment. The Japanese (Region 2) SPIRITED AWAY DVD was the subject of controversy upon its release when it was discovered that the film image on the DVD has a noticeable reddish tint. Private analysis of the DVD found the color balance "defective" but Studio Ghibli and Buena Vista officially responded that there was nothing wrong with the DVD. Plaintiff and attorney Tetsuyuki Ohya stated, "SPIRITED AWAY is a brilliant movie. However, some hundred thousand people including me were disappointed with the DVD version. Our purpose is to make the truth clear." Plaintiffs seek 10,000 yen (US$80) and a replacement DVD for each consumer. Buena Vista and Studio Ghibli have not yet officially responded to the suit. (Source: Anime News Network)

According to Yahoo Movies, Mamoru Oshii's AVALON may be released directly to American cable television or home video next year instead of getting a theatrical release. The official Avalon movie homepage is now located at Avalon-Movie.com. (Source: Anime News Service)

Cinescape has published a mixed review of the official American DVD version of GUINEA PIG 2, the infamous Japanese splatter film "FLOWER OF FLESH AND BLOOD," adapted from the manga by Hideshi Hino.

Pictures of the new KAMEN RIDER have surfaced. Check out the photos at classichero.com. The name of the new Rider will be officially unveiled next month.

The Cartoon Network has apparently acquired broadcast rights to TRIGUN. This comes as some surprise considering that in May 2001 Pioneer representative Chad Kime stated that TRIGUN was unlikely to air on the Cartoon Network due to its "excessive use of guns." TRIGUN was part of an announcement that included the already confirmed plans to broadcast the second LUPIN THE THIRD TV series and REIGN (originally titled ALEXANDER SENKI, a 13 episode OAV series (very) loosely based on the life of Alexander the Great. LUPIN THE THIRD will air Monday-Thursday at 12 midnight (ET, PT), beginning Monday, January 13. Programming information for both REIGN and TRIGUN will be announced at a later date. The fourth Mobile Suit Gundam movie, CHAR'S COUNTERATTACK, has finally been scheduled to air on the Cartoon Network during Adult Swim on December 28th, 2002 at 11 pm. (Source: Anime News Network)

Following in the footsteps of a program FUNimation instituted months ago, Bandai Entertainment has announced the beginning of its A.ADDICT (or Anime Addict) Program to support anime fan clubs. Anime clubs can receive periodic packages from Bandai including screeners, posters, postcards, promotional flyers, special posters for Anime clubs to use to promote their events (A poster with fill in the blank sections for event date/time/location/etc), and other give away items. Anime fan clubs interested in participating in the A.Addict program should send the following information to this e-mail address: Fansupport@bandai-ent.com

For the first time ever, Dragonball creator Akira Toriyama will be visiting America to meet with American manga and anime fans. Toriyama-sensei will speak, and answer questions at the Shonen Jump America Launch Party to be held this Friday in New York City. For more information, directions and a schedule of events, visit the Dragonball Z CCG homepage. (Source: Anime News Network)

Providing further evidence that anime is legitimate contemporary art, the advisory arm of the Japanese Ministry of Education and Science released a preliminary report on November 28th announcing its plans to promote international awareness and recognition of modern Japanese art in forms including manga, anime and movies. The Japanese cabinet is expected to develop a plan for the support and promotion of manga and anime internationally from 2003 through 2008 during a meeting early this month. This new governmental backing of the Japanese anime industry suggests that at least in Japan, anime and manga are considered more than mere "toy commercials" and "children's cartoons." (Source: Anime News Network)

On a related note, ADV Films announced the creation of The Anime Network, the first television channel in North America dedicated to anime (Japanese animation) and anime-related content. The Anime Network targets the nation's estimated 85 million cable television subscribers, and seeks to capitalize on cable's increasing dominance in the world of at-home entertainment.

While existing cable outlets have enjoyed strong ratings with limited blocks of anime and anime-inspired animated programming, The Anime Network will make fine anime programming available to viewers 24 hours a day. The Anime Network model is structured around four categorized content areas: Action Zone, Sci-Fi, Comedy Incorrect, and Horror/Martial Arts. These categories are designed to include virtually the entire spectrum of quality anime, while contextualizing content for new viewers unfamiliar with specific titles. Details on the availability of The Anime Network through local cable providers is forthcoming.

Tezuka Pictures will debut the third TETSUWAN ATOM TV series on January 1, 2003. "Astro Boy Tetsuwan Atom Premium Version" will be broadcast in Japan with English dialogue and Japanese subtitles. The premier episode will air on January 1st to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the original series TV broadcast on January 1, 1963. The regular broadcast will begin on April 7th, the birthday of Astroboy. The series is also scheduled for American television broadcast next year. Read more here (Source: Anime News Network)

A new anime version of BAROM-1 is being produced by Japanese satellite channel AT-X as one of their so-called 'bring back good old classics' remake line (which includes several works created by famous manga artists like Leiji Matsumoto, Mitsuteru Yokoyama, and more). Hiroyuki Takano, the actor who played Kentaro Shiratori when he was young, will provide the voice of Barom-1 as well as narrate the show.
The new Matsumoto Series BIG SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO is well on it's way. A 6 meg video promoting the series can be found here.

Director Ryuhei Kitamura has begun production on his latest film, AZUMI, a live action adaptation of Koyama Yuu's currently ongoing samurai/ninja action manga of the same name. According to the official site, the film will be distributed in Japan by Toho on May 5, 2003. The film has been specifically written and directed with the American market in mind, and Kitamura will reportedly begin searching for an American studio distributor at the end of this month. Toho has published promotional stills of the film, and manga to live action character comparisons.

Shonen Jump, a popular manga from Japan, is now being produced in an English-language version by Viz Communications. Details can be found at ShonenJump.com.

Super 7 Magazine, the magazine of Japanese Toy Culture, is now available for order from their website it will also be available from Tower Records and Book stores as well as through Diamond Comics and local comic shops.

Henshin! Online's favorite gaijin on the scene, Norman England has a new interview with Director Shusuke Kaneko in the latest Fangoria Magazine. There is also a short article on the making of the monster suits for GMK.

The BBFC has required 11 cuts (approximately three and a quarter minutes of screen time) to the Japanese cinema film ICHI THE KILLER.

The cuts have been made to remove extreme sexualized violence. These are the most substantial cuts required by the BBFC to an 18 rated film since 1994.

The scenes cut from ICHI THE KILLER include naked women being sexually mutilated or beaten or killed. They contain images of erotically explicit violence which have never been passed by the BBFC at any classification level. ICHI THE KILLER is a live action film based on a popular Japanese manga comic. Ichi, who has unusual powers, is caught in a conflict between two rival yakuza gangs. The film taken as a whole belongs to a genre of vivid fantasy violence which has been part of Japanese cinema for many years. News for the Week of 11/09/02

Tsuburaya Productions now has an English Language website. Catch up on all the latest happenings in the Ultraman universe.

Variety reports that Warner Bros. will produce a live-action English-language remake of the Japanese 1988 anime classic feature AKIRA. Director Stephen Norrington ("Blade", "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen") will reteam with "League" screenwriter James Robinson to pen the script whilst Jon Peters will produce. This remake will follow the original story of a futuristic motorbike gang leader who must rescue his younger brother from his involvement in a secret government project.

Anime fans are already lamenting the idea as ill-concieved, according to the Monster Attack Team newsletter.
(Source: Dark Horizons)

French director Olivier Dahan (La Vie Promise, Le Petit Poucet) is gearing up to produce a live-action interpretation of Leiji Matsumoto's classic manga and anime hero Captain Harlock, according to French film site AlloCine.com According to the article, the film will be an American/Japanese co-production, featuring English dialogue and Japanese special effects. The screenplay is being produced by an unnamed English author.A composer has also not yet been named, but it's speculated that two possibilities are Joe Hisaishi and Kenji Kawaii. Harlock has been budgeted at 27 million euros.
(Source: Destroy All Monsters)

Hot on the heels of the first boxed set release, Rhino Home Video has announced the release of GIGANTOR BOXED SET SEASON ONE PART 2 to Region 1 DVD with a release date set for January 28, 2003. All 26 episodes are in numerical order by airdate and in their original black & white form from the second half of the first season of GIGANTOR. Newly transferred from original 16mm film, special features include director's commentary for the Lurks-Professor Envee Series (first three episodes on the set), photo gallery, and an article by anime historian Fred Patten from Markalite Magazine. The set's running time is approx. 525 minutes and carries a suggested retail price of $59.95.

ComicsOne, announced that they will be publishing the comic book based off of the popular Japanese Anime hit ONEGAI TEACHER ('Please! Teacher'). Volume One of Onegai Teacher is set to hit shelves in January 2003. Bandai Entertainment has also recently announced plans for the release of the anime series of ONEGAI TEACHER exclusively on DVD home video, with a street date tentatively set for May 2003. A limited special edition is currently planned with a slew of bonus material to be included.

ONEGAI TEACHER is the story about Kei Kusanagi an 18 year old high school student who dreams of meeting the girl of his dreams. One night he sees a dazzling light fall into a nearby forest. Upon investigation he discovers a strange woman, floating on a lake. Taken off guard he quickly runs back home. The next day he learns that the mysterious woman in the forest is his new homeroom teacher. Now can Kei hide the fact his teacher is an alien at the same time dodge rumors that he and this teacher are having an affair? Fans of such series as OH MY GODDESS, TENCHI MUYO, and RANMA ½ should enjoy this quirky romantic comedy. Together, Bandai Entertainment and ComicsOne are planning a very aggressive cross promotion campaign for both the anime and manga series. Further information will be forthcoming.

The Wall Street Journal has published an extensive article analysing the marketing blitz 4Kids Entertainment is generating in an effort to lure young male viewers away from Nickelodeon to their own Saturday morning FoxBox programming that includes Kirby, Ultraman and Kinnikuman. The article may be especially interesting to some readers for its detailed accounts of American profits and gross results on 4Kids anime sales. Clearly illustrating the fact that imported Japanese animation is still not widely understood or given any artistic credibility by mainstream American culture, the article refers to 4Kids anime titles as "more-violent, more-action-packed Japanese cartoons," and discusses how 4Kids edits and alters anime so that it's "better-suited to U.S. tastes." According to 4Kids President Norman Grossfeld, "The U.S. versions of Japanese shows...sometimes need a lighter touch."
(Source: Cartoon Research & Animenation)
News for the week of 10/15/02
KIKAIDA vol. 1, featuring the first 5 episodes of the popular live action series is being released in Hawaii on October 15th in full subtitled glory. JN Productions in Honolulu, Hawaii obtained the license directly from Toei. Check out Generation Kikaida for more information, including ordering. the DVD will be available for online order the morning of Oct. 15th. (Special thanks to Chance Gusukuma of JN Productions)

Universe Home Video has released GODZILLA, MOTHRA, KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK to Region 3 DVD. The disc includes Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and the original Japanese language soundtrack with English subtitles. Extras include the trailer. Some online stores, such as www.hivizone.com have it for sale at a very reasonable price.

Toho is releasing a pair of 70's Mechagodzilla DVDs to Region 2 to coincide with the release of their new GODZILLA X MECHAGODZILLA film. Preorder information can be found at CDJapan.

Also coming to Region 1 DVD from Image Entertainment and Something Weird Video: The original STARMAN! Edited from the SUPER GIANT series by Shintoho, Starman is being released in two double-feature volumes:

Starman #1: Attack From Space/ Evil Brain From Outer Space (Special Edition DVD)
Year: 1965
Length: 153 minutes
MSRP: $ 24.99
Release Date: 12/10/2002
Studio: Image
Catalog Number: ID1193SWDVD
UPC: 014381119329

Starman #2: Invaders From Space/ Atomic Rulers (Special Edition DVD)
Year: 1965
Length: 151 minutes
MSRP: $ 24.99
Release Date: 12/10/2002
Studio: Image
Catalog Number: ID1194SWDVD
UPC: 014381119428

More info can be found at the Image website.

Break out the checkbooks!

It looks to be another banner year for collectors. First off, Titanosaurus makes his debut from Bandai (see front page). Now, Sega is releasing 5 new large scale Gamera figures in Japan. Figures include a 60's Gamera, Gamera 1995, and Barugon to be released in November, and Gamera 1999 (with fire hand) and Hyper Gayos to be released in January 2003. Pictures can be seen here: Photo 1 / Photo 2

Add to that, an English-language, fan-produced Japanese toy collecting magazine, called Super 7 Magazine, featuring some of the finest collections in America is coming out. For more info check out super7magazine.com and tell 'em Henshin! Online sent you!

ADV films has named the voice actors that will form the dubbing team for their release of GAMERA 2. Their website also states that the DVD should hit shelves sometime next year.

Cast list for GAMERA 2:
Colonel Watarase - Jay Hickman (Koji in Generator Gawl)
Midori Honami - Shelley Calene-Black (Mireille in Noir)
Obitsu - Chris Patton (Gasaraki)
Hanatani - Illich Guardiola (Excel Saga)
Asagi Kusanagi - Luci Christian
Colonel Satake - Rob Mungle (Pedro in Excel Saga)
Check out ADV Films' website for more info.

The famous Lone Wolf & Cub manga will be turned into a live action Japanese TV series for the second time beginning October 14th. In TV Asahi's new version Ogami Itto will be played by Kinya Kitaoji, and his son Daigoro will be played by 3-year-old Tsubasa Kobayashi. The new series will feature slight changes to the manga source in an effort to bring greater historical authenticity to the series. The new show will be broadcast in wide-screen format. (Source: The Daily Yomiuri)

Cowboy Pictures and Janus Films are co-sponsoring a nationwide Akira Kurosawa/Toshiro Mifune film retrospective through February 2003. Here's the remainder of the dates and cities:

San Francisco , CA at the Castro 10/11/2002 - 10/22/2002
Toronto, Ontario Canada at Cinemateque Ontario 10/18/2002 - 11/4/2002
Chicago, IL at the Music Box 10/25/2002 - 11/7/2002
Portland, OR at Cinema 21 11/7/2002 - 11/21/2002
Seattle, WA at The Varsity 11/8/2002 - 11/21/2002
Berkeley, CA at the Pacific Film Archive 11/29/2002 - 12/22/2002
Los Angeles , CA at the Nuart 11/29/2002 - 12/12/2002
Vancouver, BC at the Pacific Cinemateque 1/1/2003 - 2/10/2003
Cleveland, OH at the Cleveland Cinemateque 1/16/2003 - 2/23/2003
(Source: www.destroy-all-monsters.com)

DARK WATER is going to be screened in Los Angeles at The AFI Film Festival's AFI FEST 2002 being held between November 7 and November 17th. All screenings will be at the Cineramadome and ArcLight Theatre in Hollywood. Several other interesting Japanese and Korean films are being shown, either in International Competiton or as part of an "Asian New Classics" series. Also a great documentary about jazz singer Jimmy Scott and his tour of Japan will be shown. Here is some information on films that may interest Japanese fantasy/anime fans:
Asian New Classics
DARK WATER (Honogurai Mizuno Sokokara)
Japan, 2002, 101 Minutes , 35 MM (in Japanese with English Subtitles)

Director: Hideo Nakata
Screenwriter: Yoshihiro Nakamura, Ken-ichi Suzuki, based on the book by Koji Suzuki Producer: Taka Ichise
Director of Photography: Junichiro
HayashiEditor: Nobuyuki
TakahashiMusic: Kenji KawaiCast: Hitomi Kuroki,Rio Kanno, Mireri Oguchi, Asami Mizukawa

Dread. Pure dread. That's the only word to describe the chilling cinema of Hideo Nakata. Tempering his terrors with shades of sorrow and repulsion, Nakata has an unerring knack for unsettling his audience, oftentimes using seemingly innocuous objects. ..In his previous films, THE RING and THE RING 2, it was videotape and a ringing telephone. Here, it's a child's red book bag and water—lots of water. Recent divorcée Yoshimi and her five-year-old daughter Ikuko have just moved into a dilapidated housing complex. But their new apartment has much bigger problems than peeling paint. As the rain pounds away at their windows, Yoshimi becomes obsessed with the ominous stain slowly creeping across her bedroom ceiling, while Ikuko begins playing very troubling games with her newfound imaginary friend...Boasting more disconcerting atmosphere than the most suspenseful American horror flick, DARK WATER will leave you shivering long after you've left the theater.

ShowTimes: Sat Nov 9, 10:00pm at ArcLight Theatre 12 & Mon Nov 11, 10:00pm at ArcLight Theatre 11 (admission: $10.00)

Asian New Classics
MILLENNIUM ACTRESS (Chiyoko: Once and Forever)
Japan, 2002, 87 Minutes , 35 MM (in Japanese with English Subtitles)

Director: Satoshi Kon
Screenwriter: Sadayuki Murai, Satoshi Kon
Animator: Takeshi Honda
Producer: Taro Maki
Director of Photography: Hisao Shirai
Editor:Takeshi Honda
Cast: Fumiko Orikasa, Mami Koyama, Miyoko Shoji, Kouichi Yamadera, Masane Tsukayama

Renowned anime director Satoshi Kon exhibits a respect and fondness for Japanese history and culture through jaw-dropping animated sequences in MILLENIUM ACTRESS, a compelling romance/adventure where fantasy and reality collide...A director named Genya Tachibana is hired to film a documentary about legendary actress Chiyoko Fujiwara, who 30 years earlier abruptly ended her career, vanishing from the limelight. Obsessed with this fallen star, Genya is determined to unravel the truth behind her mysterious disappearance...Breathtaking visuals propel this intricate story, creating a narrative universe of characters and places unfettered by time or space. Accessible to both anime fans and the general public, MILLENNIUM ACTRESS is a passionate, timeless homage to romance, history and cinema...

ShowTimes: Sat Nov 16, 7:15pm at ArcLight Theatre 13 & Sun Nov 17, 6:30pm at ArcLight Theatre 10 (admission: $10.00)

The Hollywood Reporter indicates Dimension has halted pre-production on the Wes Craven thriller PULSE whilst script revisions are underway and also indicates Distant Horizon has acquired remake rights to the Japanese horror flick DON'T LOOK UP from Hideo Nakata (RING).
News for the week of 09/09/02
Henshin! Online correspondents have discovered a website which contains the text of William Hope Hodgson's "The Voice in the Night", the short story that inspired Toho Studio's MATANGO (a.k.a. ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE).

Carl Craig, who played Boy scout Jim Morgan in GAMERA VS. VIRAS (a.k.a. DESTROY ALL PLANETS) has set up a website to sell autographed photos and talk about his career. You can also read the interview he did for Henshin! Online to find out more about him and what he's been doing.

4Kids and Fox have launched an ULTRAMAN TIGA page with some information on the show, as well as an announcent regarding the official site which will go up on September 14, 2002, coinciding with the launch date of the TIGA TV series on FoxBox. The new site, when launched, will be www.ultraman.tv

ADV Films has announced the release of DOOMED MEGALOPOLIS on DVD. Presented in a two-disc set, this marks the first DVD release of supervising director RinTaro's (Metropolis, Captain Harlock) seminal anime horror masterpiece. Produced by Madhouse Studios (Ninja Scroll), this English-language adaptation by Carl Macek (Robotech, Lady Death) is a chilling tale of genuine horror.
The Story: Set in Tokyo during the first decades of the 20th century, Doomed Megalopolis tells the story of the powerful mystic Kato's obsession with the conquest of Tokyo-"the greatest city on earth." But Kato's actions awaken the long-dead spirit Masakato, the legendary guardian of Tokyo. Unable to stand along against Masakato's power, the calculating Kato uses an innocent woman as an unsuspecting pawn in the hope of producing an offspring capable of challenging Tokyo's mystical protector. But Kato never counted on the effect that a team of unlikely heroes would have on his sinister plans. Nor could he anticipate the destruction his spells would cause for the millions of innocent citizens of Tokyo.

ADV's release of Doomed Megalopolis combines all four parts of the anime series: "The Haunting of Tokyo," "The Fall of Tokyo," "The Gods of Tokyo" and "The Battle for Tokyo." The DVD will clock in at over three hours. NOTE: Doomed Megalopolis contains adult content and is rated 17+; pricing details and release dates are TBA. (Source: ADV Films press release)
News for the week of 09/01/02
When Takayasu Sugiura (Musashi from Ultraman Cosmos) went through some legal difficulties, a re-edit of the ULTRMAN COSMOS 2 movie was developed in which all references to his character was removed. When Sugiura was released of charges, it was assumed the planned re-edit of ULTRAMAN COSMOS 2 would be shelved even though the revised version without Sugiura was completed. Rather than let it go to waste, the alternate version will hit the Japanese theaters on September 7th, in a much more limited release than the original. In this new version Konosuke Tokai, the kid who played Musashi in the first Cosmos film, plays Musashi.

Included here is a loose translation of the publicity flier from Tsuburaya Pro for the special 'Sugiuru-less' edition of ULTRAMAN COSMOS 2:

Musashi Haruno has now become a junior high school student. But he hasn't forgotten the promise made to him by Ultraman Cosmos and still pursues his dream of one day becoming an astronaut. Upon hearing the news that a rocket disaster has caused the space program to be cancelled, Musashi is heartbroken. Then Musashi meets up with a msyterious girl named Shau, who shows him a strange vision of the future ten years from now. He sees the wedding of Tsutomu, his friend since childhood, on the island of Saipan. On the bottom of the sea he sees an incredible world. But just then this wonderous world of the future is attacked by the monster weapon Scorpis!'

In a slightly related note, Takayasu Sugiura has announced that he wants to be called Taiyo Sugiura from now on. The kanji used to spell out his name remain the same. "Taiyo" means "sun." (Source: Henshin! Online Excusive)

Rhino Home Video will be delivering a Gigantor Region 1 DVD boxed set on 10/22/02. Suggested retail price is $59.98, will be 4 discs, 26 uncut, black and white episodes, and include an interview with director/producer/writer Fred Ladd, director's commentary, photo gallery and more! (Source: The Digital Bits)

At the recent 2002 San Diego Comicon, the late master of Japanese comics and animation, Osamu Tezuka (Tetsuwan Atom [aka Astro Boy], Metropolis) received a coveted Eisner Hall of Fame Award. Accepting the award on behalf of Mr. Tezuka was Dark Horse Comics co-founder Mike Richardson. (Source: Destroy All Monsters)
A rather interesting, cute even, promo from the National Fatherhod Initiative features Godzilla and Minya.

Nickelodeon has started airing the 1997 Japanese version of Speed Racer starting today Sundays at 4pm ET/PT. More info can be found here. Add to that the recent release of the soundtrack from the original Speed Racer/Mach Go Go Go, in Japan. Look for it at your nearest import vendor.

Having been quite a while since a decent Japanese flavored video game was produced for the video game console market, fans now have two major releases to look forward to. Nintendo Gamecube owners can obtain GODZILLA: DESTROY ALL MONSTERS MELEE on 10/29/02. For more information, check out the official website.

Also coming is ROBOTECH: BATTLECRY on all major platforms. It'll be released Sept. 23rd on Microsoft's XBox and Sony's Playsation 2, and October 8 on the Gamecube. Keep in mind, these are actual U.S. market releases, not Japanese imports. About time!

Pixar Animation Studios will host a Gala Preview of the innovative Japanese animated film SPIRITED AWAY on Saturday, Sept. 15 as part of a fund-raiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

The event includes a reception and choice of two screening times for SPIRITED AWAY, which won the top prize at this year's Berlin Film Festival, and the debut of the Disney/Pixar short MIKE'S NEW CAR.

Among the celebrities scheduled to be on hand are Oscar-winning Pixar filmmaker John Lasseter (TOY STORY), SPIRITED AWAY director Hayao Miyazaki and CHEERS actor John Ratzenberger, who has lent his voice to the TOY STORY films as well as SPIRITED AWAY.

Tickets cost $200 and include choice of a noon or 5pm screening in Pixar's state-or-the-art digital theater, as well as a 3pm cocktail reception. Dress is casual.

Tickets are moving briskly. RSVPs are required. Pixar is at 1200 Park Ave., Emeryville, CA. For more information, call Amy Gardinier at (415)977-0360 or e-mail her at agardinier@jdrf.org. (Source: Alameda Newspaper Group)
News for the week of 08/22/02
Taking TIVO and Replay one step further, Japan is now offering a new, interactive set of television networks. EP Station as it is called, offers the regular cable/satellite stations that you can get on any system in Japan. The difference being that you can also get extra, interactive programming. This is downloaded by the viewer from a main server. So far, this system is only available in Japan.

Right now most of the networks are on gardening or golf or something similar. However, Tsuburaya Productions is the first production company to take advantage of this new technology. The Tsuburaya Channel itself is structured like a WebPage where you can go and get information on upcoming releases and products. If you wanted to know about the upcoming release of the RETURN OF ULTRAMAN DVDs, you could click on that icon, get the information and see related video clips. There are also other areas where you can access interviews and messages from staff at TPC.

The one original show that is on that is related to Tsuburaya is URU BARA. URU comes from Ultraman (Urutoraman) and BARA comes from the Japanese word for Rose. In this show, Ultra Pict and his female co-host, Kaoru show kids people doing different jobs. No monsters or special effects though. Of interest to Ultra fans here is one segment where the duo visit Takeshi Yagi, the director of several ULTRAMAN COSMOS episodes. This is a regular show that runs a new episode each week.

As the system becomes more popular, other programming may be offered, however it is still a technology in its infancy and has a lot of bugs to work out. One major stumbling block will be the offering of TV series for download vs. releasing them on DVD or video. We will keep you posted as more information and developments become available on this exciting new medium. (Source: Henshin! Online exclusive)
Artisan is going to be releasing the first volume of Speed Racer episodes on DVD for Region 1 before the year is out. And if you fans buy enough copies, the rest of the series MIGHT follow next year. (Source: The Digital Bits)

RETURN OF ULTRAMAN is being released on DVD by Panasonic in 2002. The release date isn't set, we've been informed only that it's set for "the end of 2002."

There's a forthcoming CD by the Ultra Brothers Band, and there's also a book coming out called Ultraman Teaches You About Business. We'll be sure to get more details on that!

Respected genre writer and friend of Henshin! Online Norman England has a new article up at the Official Toho Studios Godzilla page regarding the upcoming GODZILLA X MECHAGODZILLA. As it's in Japanese, you''ll need translation software but go check it out here. Nice job, Norman!

The trailer for the American remake of the Japanese horror hit THE RING is now online at the official movie website. The site is a little cryptic, but click around and it can be found. It's also been confirmed that the trailer has appeared at screenings of the recent hit SIGNS with Mel Gibson.
News for the Week of 08/03/02
Yahoo has confirmed that Disney has officially scheduled the American theatrical premier of Hayao Miyazaki's SPIRITED AWAY for September 20th. The film is not being released during the traditionally profitable summertime months in order to allow more time for the completion of the English dubbing, featuring the voices of Daveigh Chase (Lilo of LILO & STITCH), Suzanne Pleshette and John Ratzenberger. While Miyazaki agreed to allow select editing for the American version of the film, Disney has decided to release the film in America totally uncut and unedited with the original score and complete 2 hour 20 minute running time intact! (Source: Yahoo)

Japanese production company Venturesoft has officially announced plans to create a 52 episode SPACE CRUISER YAMATO anime TV series. However, the new series is not based on any previous Yamato but is instead an entirely new continuity with a self-contained story distinct from the rest of the works of Leiji Matsumoto like CAPTAIN HARLOCK, GALAXY EXPRESS 999 and the former Yamato entries.

The production is currently known under the tentative working title "Dai-Ginga Series Dai-Yamato Hen 7 vs 7" (Great Galaxy Series - Great Yamato: 7 vs. 7). The story revolves around the Earth's final stand against the invading 7 fleets of the Metanoid invasion. Six of the Earth's great battleships are destroyed, leaving only the seventh, the Yamato, is Earth's last line of defense (Source: Anime News Network).

The original Japanese press release, plus a picture of the new Yamato can be found here. In our humble opinion, the new Yamato features design work of the previous Space Cruiser Yamato, as well as elements of the Arcadia from CAPTAIN HARLOCK. We like it!

Bandai has announced it's acquisition of the home video and broadcast rights in North America for the highly anticipated anime television series - GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX. Created by Production I.G. (JIN-ROH: THE WOLF BRIGADE, LOVE HINA), original story by Masamune Shirow (APPLESEED, GHOST IN THE SHELL), directed by Kenji Kamiya, and music by Yoko Kanno (COWBOY BEBOP, ESCALFLOWNE) - STAND ALONE COMPLEX is the television series sequel to the animated film that redefined Japanese animation, GHOST IN THE SHELL (1995). In the future, life between the digital and physical world has been blurred. The boundary of technology and humanity has been stretched beyond imagination with lives being led in both the electronic and physical worlds. With the melding of man and machine - a new cybernetic level of existence is being created - An existence that continues to redefine mankind. Further production and release details on GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX in both Japan and North America will be forthcoming. Production I.G. has launched the official GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX website - which can be found at the Official English Production I.G Website. (Source: Bandai Press Release)

In other release news, it has now been officially confirmed that director Ryuhei Kitamura (VERSUS) will next direct the big budget period epic AZUMI. Based on a popular manga that has sold over 8 million copies, the film will tell tell the tale of a group of young warriors trained to be Samurai and Shogun assassins. Teen idol Aya Ueto has been signed to play the titular role. Shooting is set to start in September and the film will release next summer. (Source: Ain't It Cool News)

Last but not least, according to Mike's Movies, Toei has agreed to finance director Kinji Fukasaku's sequel to his controversial hit film BATTLE ROYALE. The new film will be a direct continuation of the story from the first film, picking up one year after the end of the original movie. For more info go to Mike's Movies (Source: Mike's Movies)

Forest J. Ackerman introduced Japanese monsters to many fans through the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. Now, for personal reasons he has decided to close his 'Ackermansion' and part with a significant portion of his collection.

Forry's home, the Ackermansion (located in Horrorwood, Karloffornia [that's Hollywood, California to the uninitiated]), was a museum devoted to the world of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Filled with thousands of books, original paintings, and motion picture props, the Ackermansion had been open to the public since 1950. Visitors were given the opportunity to view Bela Lugosi's Dracula cape, animation models used in "King Kong", Boris Karloff's "Mummy" ring, Lon Chaney Sr.'s make-up kit, plus thousands of rare Sci-Fi books, posters, props, lobby cards, and photographs.

Many of these items will be auctioned on ebay over the next several months. One can locate these items by entering "Ackerman Collection" or "Ackermansion" in the ebay search engine. Proceeds of this auction will go to Mr. Ackerman's retirement fund.

Once re-located, Forry looks forward to welcoming friends, both old and new, to the new Ackermuseum to view any remaining items. (Source: Press Release)
News from the week of 07/20/02
The story thus far: AT-X cancelled its planned broadcast of the new series SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK: THE ENDLESS ODYSSEY due to Leiji Matsumoto objecting to certain production calls. The aliens in the show, who are portrayed as "the origin of evil", attack the Earth using a weapon which appears to bear the Star of David on it, raising concerns in Matsumoto of anti-Semitism, something contrary to his beliefs. Matsumoto is reported as saying that it is his motto that the hearts of those who believe in religion should not be injured and that the profaning of a religious symbol should not be allowed. According to new information supplied by Natsume Maya , VAP has made this announcement on its website stating that as a result of Matsumoto's objection, it will stop the production and sale of the Captain Harlock work all together. But........overwhelming fan encouragement for the project has convinced VAP to announce a resumption on production. Beyond fan support, creator Matsumoto has given his approval to the go ahead on production. It is apparent that this approval has applied the most weight on the move. It is not known at this time if elements he objected to which were previously mentiond will remain or be edited or completely redone. While the first episode was originally scheduled for sale on 19 September 2002, the new release date has yet to be announced. (Source: various)

Media Blasters has announced that they have licensed three additional Japanese live action films for American release. BOUNCE KO GALS, CROSS FIRE (Pyrokenesis) directed by Shusuke Kaneko, better known as the director of the 1990s Gamera trilogy, and the generally highly esteemed comedy SAMURAI FICTION. Rather just just licensing, let's hope MB actually releases some of this product this time. For the record, H!O correspondent Keith Aiken reported from Anime Expo that MB has not acquired the rights to MIKAZUKI to add to their Keita Amemiya Collection. (Source: various)

Synch Point has officially announced to retailers that the release of FLCL volume 1, originally scheduled for release on June 25th, has been delayed until August 13th. "Due to a video glitch in the master tape, this title has been delayed. Synch-Point is dedicated to put out a quality product and to that effect has delayed the DVD for a month to assure the product will satisfy the consumers." The DVD, when it is released, will include the first 2 of 6 OVAs, a commentary track from director Kazuya Tsurumaki, a reversible cover, and a bonus booklet insert with extra information about FLCL that includes over 20 pages of exclusive liner note information, background, and special manga sequence translation.

The latest Ain't It Cool News Asian-AICN includes several interesting articles including new details on 40 minutes of previously unseen original footage from Bruce Lee's GAME OF DEATH that was recently discovered "in the back of the Golden Harvest archives covered in chicken crap and half exposed to the sunlight"; and an interesting competition in Japanese cinema. Apparently top producer Shinya Kawai has convinced Ryuhei Kitamura, director of VERSUS (2000), and Yukihiko Tutumi, director of the strange cop comedy OBORERU SAKANA (2000) to both direct new short films to directly compete in box office and home video profit. The loser of the competition will have to shave his head, appear in the winning director's next film as an extra, and work on the winning director's next film as a lowly production assistant. Ryuhei Kitamura has already completed shooting his short film, ARAGAMI, a samurai zombie movie. (Source: Aint It Cool News)

Central Park Media representatives confirmed at Anime Expo that the Big Apple Anime Fest, scheduled for the upcoming Labor Day weekend, will host the American premiers of Satoshi Kon's MILLENIUM ACTRESS, the English language dub of the COWBOY BEBOP movie, and AD Vision's American debut of PRINCESS BLADE (Shurayukihime). CPM will also release a 20th anniversary "collector's edition" DVD version of the classic early 80s sci-fi anime film HARMEGGEDON this October. The film is notable partially for its character designs by the young Katsuhiro Otomo (AKIRA). (Source: Anime News Network)

AICN has published a pair of spoiler free short reviews of Takeshi Miike's latest two movies, HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS and THE AGITATOR. The report, however, is most interesting because it reveals that Miike has announced plans to re-make his most recent film, The Agitator, "using the same script but otherwise totally different. It would be an intriguing experiment by any director, but in the case of Mr. Takashi, it promises to be something extraordinary." Takeshi Miike's virtually legendary apocalyptic gangster film Dead or Alive is currently touring America in limited theatrical release sponsored by Viz Communications. (Source: Aint It Cool News)
The official Japanese Bandai Visual homepage has announced that the third Patlabor movie, WXIII PATLABOR, will debut on special edition Japanese DVD on September 25th. The DVD will include a "making of" documentary, audio commentary from the production staff, trailers and TV commercials, and optional English subtitles. The DVD will also include a 24 page full color booklet of liner notes, a book of production design sketches and storyboards, and apparently two DVD cases. (The Japanese site isn't very clear about this: "Gorgeous box which contains two tall cases and separate volume booklets of DVD.") The DVD will retail for 12,800, or roughly $105 American. (Source: Anime on DVD)

AnimEigo has announced tentative release dates for a number of titles. All of the CRUSHER JOE animation will debut on a single DVD in August. The bilingual YOU'RE UNDER ARREST TV series will premier in early October. The first URUSAI YATSURA movie will debut on bilingual DVD in late November. The fourth Lupin movie, THE FUMA CONSPIRCY, will debut on DVD this Christmas, and the DAGGER OF KAMUI and ARCADIA OF MY YOUTH movies will debut on domestic DVD early next year. The first LONE WOLF & CUB movie will premier on domestic DVD this December, and the first of AnimEigo's 7 ZATOICHI movies will debut on DVD early next year.

AnimEigo has also announced that their remastered, uncut and unedited, subtitled only DVD version of the SUPERDIMENSIONAL FORTRESS MACROSS TV series will debut to retailers and mainstream customers on July 1st. The first "mini boxed set" released on July 1st will contain 3 DVD discs and 12 episodes, the first third of the television series. The set will retail for $88. The entire MACROSS series was previously released as a limited edition DVD boxed set containing all 36 episodes, made available only to consumers that pre-ordered a copy directly through AnimEigo. (Source: Anime on DVD)

Speaking of MACROSS, Big West, the company recently officially, legally recognized as the sole owner of the Macross copyright, has chosen Japanese distributor Sunwards, Ltd. as the official international distributor of Macross Valkyrie toys and merchandise outside of Japan. This official announcement directly contradicts American company Harmony Gold's self-proclaimed status of sole American licensor of Macross merchandising rights. The result of this announcement should be two-fold. American fans should begin to see wider distribution and easier availability of imported Macross toys beginning late this summer, and American importers should see less harassment and fewer threats of legal action over market infringement from Harmony Gold.(Source: Anime News Network)

Nippon Television has announced that the 14th nearly annual Lupin the 3rd TV movie will air on July 26th. LUPIN THE 3RD EPISODE ZERO: FIRST CONTACT will recount how Lupin and Jigen first met, and summarize the introductions of other cast members including Fujiko and Goemon. (Source: Anime News Service)

According to Toon Zone, the Cartoon Network has delayed the premier of MOBILE FIGHTER G-GUNDAM from July 1st to an undetermined future date. (Source: Anime News Network)

ICv2 has published a very brief but highly informative interview with Viz Communications regarding the recent announcement that Viz would be publishing an English language version of best selling Japanese manga magazine SHONEN JUMP. According to the information revealed, the American version of SHONEN JUMP will be an original American publication reprinting select manga serials from the 20+ year history of SHONEN JUMP. At least DRAGONBALL, which concluded in the Japanese SHONEN JUMP years ago, and YU-GI-OH, which is currently appearing in the Japanese version of the magazine, will be included in the American version. The monthly American version of SHONEN JUMP will contain 250 pages, which is almost double the length of Viz's other current monthly manga magazine ANIMERICA EXTRA; however monthly manga magazines of this sort in Japan, including SHONEN JUMP, normally include anywhere from 400 to over 800 pages each month. And contrary to the previous report from the New York Post that the magazine would retail in America for $4.95 per copy, this interview states that cover price remains undetermined. (Source: Anime News Network)
News from the week of 6/22/02
News briefs from last weekend’s Asian Fantasy Film Expo in New Jersey: Representatives from Bandai said Kumi Mizuno shot her scenes for GODZILLA X MECHAGODZILLA, currently in production at Toho studios last weekend (June 15th-16th). Mizuno is one of the best known actresses from the classic Toho films of the 1960s. Her best-known role being the beautiful Miss Namikawa from MONSTER ZERO (1965). The rep also said there is a "50/50" chance Bandai will make a Titanosaurus figure in it's next Movie Monster series of vinyl toys. Special guest Shusuke Kaneko, director of the 90's GAMERA films and Toho's GODZILLA, MOTHRA, KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK, said he would be willing to do another Godzilla movie if Toho asks him.

Weekly Comic Bunch, a Japanese comics periodical, will make an English version of their popular manga available this October in the United States, publisher Coamix Inc. announced last Thursday. The U.S. version, Raijin Comics, will be the first full-fledged comics weekly in the United States, where interest in Japanese comics and animation is rising, according to the Tokyo-based publisher. According to the publisher, ahead of the U.S. release, Raijin Comics will be sold in Japan on Fridays, with a bilingual supplement for those Japanese readers who want to learn English and those English speakers who want to learn Japanese. The U.S. publication will feature author Tetsuo Hara's "Hokuto No Ken" (The Fist of the North Star) and Tsukasa Hojo's "City Hunter." Comic Bunch was launched in May last year. With weekly circulation standing at about 720,000 copies, it has been made available in local languages in Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Thailand, the company said. Publication in Europe, after the U.S., is also planned.
Source: Japan Today
Anime Expo, one of the largest gatherings of U.S. anime fans, convenes in Long Beach, California July 4th-7th, 2002. Far too many details to list here. Go to Anime Expo's website for more info. Looks to be a great show!

The American Cinematheque presents their 4th Japanese Outlaw Masters Series, featuring new films from established masters Seijun Suzuki (PISTOL OPERA), Kihachi Okamoto (VENGEANCE FOR SALE), and Kon Ichikawa (DORA HEITA), as well as the latest from enfant terrible Takashi Miike, director of AUDITION. Also scheduled are two very rare 1960's gems by maestro Kinji Fukasaku, BLACK ROSE MANSION and IF YOU WERE YOUNG, which will soon be released on DVD by American Cinematheque and Vitagraph Films, as well as an encore presentation of two of their our most popular titles from the 2nd series, FEMALE CONVICT "SCORPION" - JAILHOUSE 41 and BLACK TIGHT KILLERS. Acclaimed filmmaker Minoru Matsui will attending in person with JAPANESE DEVILS, his groundbreaking documentary about military atrocities in Manchuria during WWII. The 4th Japanese Outlaw Masters Series starts Friday, June 21st 2002 and runs through Wednesday, June 26th 2002 at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California. For more details, including show schedules and guest appearences, click here.

News for the Week of 06/15/02
NAKED! SCREAMING TERROR! Verbinski Talks RING Remake: The Ringworld fan site, a page totallydevoted to the original RING horror film franchise, has published a new exclusive interview with Gore Verbinski, the director of the currently in production, American re-make of THE RING. Fans who have seen the original Japanese language film will be impressed with Verbinski's knowledge of and respect for the original Japanese film (Source: Anime News Service)...

DENIRO CREATES HIS OWN CHAOS: According to CNN News Robert De Niro will produce and possibly star in an American remake of Hideo Nakata's 1999 crime/suspense drama CHAOS, for Universal Pictures. The film "follows a young drifter who gets involved in the kidnapping of the wife of a wealthy businessman. The woman is all too willing to be tied up and stored in the drifter's house, when the kidnapper leaves to make his ransom demand. Things become complicated when he returns home and finds the woman is dead." CHAOS is the third Japanese suspense film directed by Hideo Nakata to be optioned for an American remake following DreamWorks' production of an American version of THE RING and Pandemonium Films' option for an American remake of the director's latest film, DARK WATER (Source: Anime News Service)...

FEARFUL ONLINE VORTEX: Viz has opened its official American website for their North American distribution of the impressive and disturbing horror film UZUMAKI, based on the horror manga by Junji Ito (Source: Kung Fu Cult Cinema)...

UNDYING LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP: The third and "final" film in the TOMIE horror movie trilogy, TOMIE THE FINAL CHAPTER: FORBIDDEN FRUIT, will open in Japan on June 29th. The official site includes a streaming Real Media trailer. The TOMIE films are based on Junji "Uzumaki" Ito manga about a woman that cannot die, no matter how seriously her body is injured (Source: Kung Fu Cult Cinema)...

HORROR COMES ASHORE WITH MEDIA BLASTERS: The New Jersey-based video distributor, Media Blasters, has announced that their American theatrical premiers of Takashi Ishii's FREEZE ME and Takeshi Miike's VISITOR Q will occur at the "Subway Cinema Asian Films Are Go!" film festival in New York City April 26th through the 30th. FREEZE ME (2000) is a critically acclaimed violent and shocking rape-revenge drama directed by director Takashi Ishii, better known for his GONIN 1 & 2 and BLACK ANGEL 1 & 2. VISITOR Q (2001) is a taboo-shattering absurdist comedy about the separation and unusual restoration of a dysfunctional family when a strange young man invades their home and lives. The film is directed by critically acclaimed avant garde director Takeshi Miike...

AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS: Media Blasters has also announced that the exceptionally disturbing and graphically violent social commentary/exploitation/shock-horror film ALL NIGHT LONG 2 will premier on subtitled-only American DVD on August 27th. The film tells the story of a teenage computer and anime otaku who suffers mental, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of bullies until he fights back by slaughtering all of them in one of cinema's most bloody and horrifying displays of sadistic, graphic violence (source: Media Blasters)...

CRIMES PAYS -- IN THE MOVIES: A Yakuza Holocaust occurs in Takeshi Miike's latest film, SHIN JINGI-NO HAKABA (New graveyard of Honor), scheduled to premier in Japanese theaters this month. Miike's violent gangster saga is adapted from a novel written by BATTLE ROYALE director Kinji Fukasaku -- based on his own film series from the 1970s. Visit the film's official site, and check out their streaming Real Media trailer (source: Kung Fu Cult Cinema)...

GIRLS WITH GUNS: Fans of John Woo's classic double-fisted gunplay will appreciate the upcoming Japanese film GUNCRAZY. The film, staring Japanese actress and supermodel Ryoko Yonekura, is a film in two halves detailing a pair of Japanese women who rely on guns and violence to exact revenge on mobsters. The film opened in Japan on May 11th. An exciting and violent trailer is available on the film's Japanese official site [www.guncrazy.jp]... Speaking of Guns, Media Blasters hasa acquired the rights to PISTOL OPERA, directed by revered yakuza movie helmer Seijun Suzuki. He returned to directing last year with this wild and bizarre live action story about a guild of professional assassins...

A CUTTING WOMAN: ADV Films has announced at Fanimecon that they will be distributing the recent live-action Japanese futuristic samurai/action movie SHURAYUKI HIME under the American title "PRINCESS BLADE"...

THE MAGNIFICIENT SEVEN AND MORE: Noah Cowan and John Vanco of Cowboy Pictures and Peter Becker of Janus Films have announced that they will spearhead a theatrical re-release of 12 classic Akira Kurosawa films to American theaters over the next 18 months. The effort will be led by an American theatrical tour of a remastered print of Kurosawa's masterpiece THE SEVEN SAMURAI. The 1954 film is hailed by many film critics as one of the greatest motion pictures ever made and is an acknowledged influence on the work of film makers including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and John Woo. The re-release will feature the first new, restored prints released in decades and an all new subtitled translation by renowned Japanese film authority and translator Linda Hoaglund. For more information, check out Zap2it.com's full article...

BLASTING ANIME: After virtually ignoring their website for over six months, Media Blasters has now re-launched their homepage with a new site design and word of several new licenses. Several of the titles have been announced before, but several, including Leiji Matsumoto's GUN FRONTIER, Mitsuteru Yokoyama's MARS and Takao Saito's VAROM ONE (aka "Barom-1") are seemingly not yet premiered in Japan. BABEL II, the recent teleseries adaptation of the classic psychic warfare action manga by Yokoyama, GENMA WARS (Genma Taisen) the currently on air series adaptation of the classic psychic/sci-fi anime movie HARMAGEDDON, by Shotaro Ishimori and Yokoyama. JUNGLE EMPEROR LEO (Janguru Taitei Reo), better known to Americans as KIMBA THE WHITE LION and ANOTHER WILD 7, another currently on air series adaptation of the classic manga by Mikiya Mochizuki, about wild and violent motorcycle police. Looks like there is some hope for anime, after all (source: Media Blasters)...

EVERYTHING'S "SPIRITED AWAY"!: The 45th Annual San Francisco Film Festival hosted the American theatrical premier of Hayao Miyazaki's SPIRITED AWAY and awarded the film the "Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature" during the 15 day film festival. Disney will release the film to American theaters nationally later this year (source: Ain't It Cool News)... Meanwhile, Disney and Studio Ghibli representatives revealed at last weekend's American premier of Spirited Away that Disney will theatrically distribute both a subtitled and a dubbed version of SPIRITED AWAY in American theaters tentatively beginning September 20th. American producer (and personal friend on Hayao Miyazaki) John Lasseter will be supervising the American release of SPIRITED AWAY, hopefully assuring the most credible and artistically sound release and support of the film in America as possible... There are plans to release two more Ghibli films on American DVD later this year and four next year. The del! ay is mandated by the Studio Ghibli requirement that particular films be released on Japanese DVD before they are released on American DVD. The forthcoming American Ghibli film DVDs will be in Japanese with optional subtitles. English dialogue tracks will be included if they exist, but Disney will not be recording new dub tracks specifically for the American DVD releases. All of the American Ghibli film DVDs will be mastered in Japan to maintain the superb image and sound quality typical of Japanese produced anime DVDs (source: Anime News Service)...

THE ARCADIA DRY DOCKED?: The first new "Space Pirate, Captain Harlock" television anime in 20 years was scheduled to premier in Japan next month. According to Anime News Service, the 13 episode SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK: THE ENDLESS ODYSSEY teleseries has been indefinitely delayed due to "circumstances in regard to production." ANS does not provide any citation regarding the validity of the news or where it came from. The 13 episode SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK: THE ENDLESS ODYSSEY was directed by Rintaro with animation by Madhouse -- the series was intended for Japanese satellite TV network SkyperfecTV AT. SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK: THE ENDLESS ODYSSEY will premier on Japanese VHS and DVD after its inital run. While Captain Harlock did appear in the COSMO WARRIOR ZERO teleseries last year, the last anime series to star Harlock was MY YOUTH IN ARCADIA: ENDLESS ROAD SSX from 1982 (source: Anime News Service)...

PIONEER'S GENTLEMAN THIEF: Although unconfirmed by other sources, Anime News Service reports that Pioneer USA has in fact licensed all of the remaining LUPIN III animation from TMS that has not already been licensed by AnimEigo, Manga and FUNimation. This includes five movies/specials and all 228 TV episodes. Pioneer is scheduled to officially announce their distribution agreement and reveal exactly what they will be distributing at the Licensing 2002 International trade show in New York City opening June 11th (source: Anime News Service). Recently, the Associated Press has confirmed that Pioneer is indeed gunning for a television airing of LUPIN III on North American television. The article states that LUPIN III will be broadcast, but does not specify teleseries, telemovies or feature films. However, the article also does not spell out exactly what and how much LUPIN III Pioneer now owns the distribution license for. Stay tuned to more news as it becomes available...

MAZIN GO!: At the fan convention Anime Central, ADV Films announced that they have secured the rights to the MAZINKAISER OVA Series. MAZINKAIZER is the newest addtion to the ongoing MAZINGER Z super robot series. The OVA features many original voice actors from the 1972-1977 series, which included GREAT MAZINGER and UFO ROBO: GRENDIZER (souce: Anime Nation)...

KIKAIDER RUNS OUT OF STEAM: Bandai announced that the American release of JINZO NINGEN KIKAIDA: THE ANIMATION has been delayed indefinitely in order to prioritize other higher profile releases. These Higher Priorities include a limited North American theatrical release for the fourth GUNDAM movie, CHAR'S COUNTERATTACK, this fall. CHAR'S COUNTERATTACK and G-GUNDAM will both premier on the Cartoon Network in September. The original 1979 GUNDAM teleseries will be re-broadcast on the Cartoon Network beginning in June. Bandai will be importing and reproducing a large amount of Japanese COWBOY BEBOP merchandise for the American market beginning this fall, including resin busts and figures, Zippo lighters, Ein dog dishes and a plush Ein stuffed doll. I'd rather have KIKAIDER (source: Anime on DVD and Anime News Network)...

IT WAS ALL FOR NAUGHT: Earlier this month the Cartoon Network announced that a second season of BIG O anime was now in pre-production, as of this past weekend Bandai America president Jerry Chu was not aware of any plans for more BIG O animation. It remains to be seen if Bandai America was uninformed or if the Cartoon Network's statement was made without factual support (souce: Anime News Network). But, now word comes from Sunrise Animation of Japan and The Cartoon Network in the United States, that THE BIG O 2 is indeed in development! Bandai Entertainment was not informeed of the production, because they are not involved in any phase of THE BIG O 2 at this time. Stay tuned...

A representative of AD Vision has confirmed for AnimeNation that the premier issue of the long delayed English language version of Newtype Magazine will debut at next month's Anime Expo convention in Long Beach California. AD Vision will be the official American distributor of the new monthly magazine, and will have a limited edition of 20,000 copies of a special premier issue available for sale only at Anime Expo. The first regular monthly issue will be available through normal retail channels tentatively in August (source: AnimeNation)...

News for the Week of 05/11/02
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA QUAKES WITH THE APPROACH OF JAPANESE MONSTERS: The Red Vic Movie House in San Francisco, California brings kaiju to the big screen in July 2002, starting off with GAMERA 2: THE ADVENT OF LEGION on July 17-20. Following on the heels of the fire-breathing turtle is the greatest monster-bashing tag-team match of the century in DESTROY ALL MONSTERS on July 25. Rounding out the triple threat is the original, subtitled GOJIRA (1954). For more information, go to the Red Vic's webpage...Not to be outdone by the city across the Bay, Oakland, California jumps into the Japanese Monster action as The Parkway Theater's Thrillville presents GODZILLA VS. DESTROYAH on August 29. Will "The Thrill" Viharo is your host for Godzilla's massive meltdown. Special guests for this show will be Henshin! Online's own August Ragone and Bob Johnson. For more information on this and other psychotronic films at Thrillville, go to their website...Bob Wilkins' immortal Capt. Cosmic will be returning to the stage of the Parkway for Thrillville on Oct. 24. Here's the scoop from host, Will "The Thrill" Viharo: "Bob wants to do a CAPTAIN COSMIC show...and he has already lined up 2T2 (his robot sidekick)to appear!! I booked GODZILLA VS SPACE GODZILLA and INFRA MAN for the show." Note: Bob Wilkins, former host of KTVU's Creature Features in the San Francisco Bay Area, donned the guise of Captain Cosmic in the late '70s to host episodes of classic Japanese fantasy; ULTRAMAN, SPACE GIANTS, SPECTERMAN and the animated STAR BLAZERS.

JAPANESE SUPERHEROES SHOW UP IN FORCE: August will be a big month for superhero fans in Japan. First up on August 3, will be the release of ULTRAMAN COSMOS 2: THE BLUE PLANET from Tsuburaya Productions. The film is a sequel to both last years movie, ULTRAMAN COSMOS: FIRST CONTACT and the just completed ULTRAMAN COSMOS TV series, which should be finishing up on Japanese television about that time. For more information, see the Henshin! Online news archives... On August 17, Toei will release a movie based on the latest Sentai series, HURRICANGER. This will be on a double-bill with a new KAMEN RIDER RYUKI feature. More details on H!O as soon as they become available.

HENSHIN! ONLINE MAGAZINE RACK: The following magazines are available now at most book, comicbook and specialty stores! ORIENTAL CINEMA #21: The current issue of Damon Foster's entertaining (and informative) magazine features an extensive filmography and biography of HK superstar Michelle Yeoh, plus reviews of GODZILLA x MEGAGUIRUS, GAMERA vs GUILLON, SUMO VIXENS, KIMBA, and various titles from Go Nagai. Last year's conventions G-Fest and Asian Fantasy Film Expo are also covered. 48 pages, $5.95; CULT MOVIES #36: Japanese Sci Fi and horror films
are regularly covered in this quarterly magazine. While the newest issue lacks any Japan-specific articles, it does include the last interview with the late Samuel Z. Arkoff. Arkoff (along with Jim Nicholson) ran American International Pictures, a company that released several Toho and Daiei films in the 1960s. 90 pages, $4.95; VIDEO WATCHDOG #82: Both the Japanese and Hong Kong DVDs of GODZILLA x MEGAGUIRUS are covered in a 4-page review. There is also a brief review of the DAIMAJIN Box Set from Toshiba. 80 pages, $6.50 FANGORIA #212: Japanese correspondent Norman England follows up last issue's excellent GMK piece with an article on the horror film UZUMAKI. Director Higuchinsky's bizarre hit will be released later this year in the US. The next issue of FANGO will cover Ryuei Kitamura's VERSUS. 82 color pages, $7.99

PARTIAL CREDITS FOR GODZILLA X MECHAGODZILLA: Reported on the Japanese section of Hico's DON'T BE DEFEATED! JAPANESE GODZILLA webpage, following is the staff of the upcoming Toho project, GODZILLA X MECHAGODZILLA. Director: Masaaki Tezuka, Scenario: Wataru Mimura, Music: Michiru Ooshima, Director of Special Effects: Yuuichi Kikuchi, Modelling: Shinichi Wakasa, Design Work: Shinji Nishikawa, Godzilla suit actor: Tsutomu Kitagawa, Mechagodzilla suit actor: Hirofumi Ishigaki
(NOTE: The above information awaits confirmation by the heads of H!O. Keep checking for more information).

4KIDS UPDATES WEBSITE. GETS READY FOR FALL: 4Kids Entertainment, the company bringing you ULTRAMAN TIGA in the Fall on FOX, has updated its webpage, including a section on Ultraman Tiga. This section is to expand as we get closer to the premier of the series in September. You can go directly to the Tiga section at 4Kids Entertainment

Watch Henshin! Online for exclusive ULTRAMAN TIGA information, coming soon!!

GIGAN-TIC NEWS FOR TOY FANS: X-Plus USA does it again with a beautifully detailed Gigan figure from GODZILLA VS. GIGAN (1972). Expected in May 2002. Limited to 1000 pieces. Solid resin and pre-painted. $120 + shipping and handling. Go to their webpage to order. This is added to their already impressive line of Godzilla 54, Godzilla 55, Godzilla 89, Angilas 55, Mothra 64 and Ghidorah 64. more are on their way and more is expected. Keep your eyes peeled!

News for the week of 04/01/02
THE YEAR OF JAPANESE HORROR: As we have been reporting, seemingly a floodgate has been opened for contemporary Japanese horror films in the US -- especially on home video. Takeshi Miike's AUDITION (Odishion) will be released as a special edition DVD on May 7th. Video Mayhem and Unearthed Films has secured the North American rights for all eight infamous GUINEA PIG (Ginea Pigu) gore films from the late 1980s. Never imagined to be released Stateside, because of their extreme violence, the GUINEA PIG series will be released two titles per DVD, starting on May 21st. Two of the films in the series, FLOWER OF FLESH & BLOOD (Chiniku-no Hana) and MERMAID IN THE MANHOLE (Manhoru-no naka-no Ningyo), are adaptations of manga by Hideshi Hino (Panorama of Hell), who also directs. Viz Communications promises a fully loaded DVD of Higuchinsky's surrealistic VORTEX (Uzumaki), based on the manga by Junji Ito, while Fangoria's own video label will handle the subtitled DVD release of J oji "George" Iida's thriller ANOTHER HEAVEN (Anaza Hebun) in the fall. Meanwhile, in another bold move, Kazuo "Gaira" Komizu's notorious mid-1980 erotic horror/thrillers ENTRAILS OF A VIRGIN (Shojo-no Harawata) and ENTRAILS OF A BEAUTY (Bijo-no Harawata) are forthcoming from Synapse Films. Lastly, Media Blasters has obtained the American theatrical and home video distribution rights to Ryuhei Kitamura's VERSUS (Bassasu). Media Blasters recently announced the DVD release of the brutal ALL NIGHT LONG (Oru Naito Rongu) films as well. The horror. The horror...

SPEAKING OF HORROR: Ryuhei (VERSUS) Kitamura's new film ALIVE has been reviewed on Ain't It Cool News. The story features a group of vicious death-row inmates in a near-future maximum-security prison, who volunteer for an experiment employing a cosmic virus. Of course, bad things happen and the men become mutant murderers! Incredible fight scenes follow, in a film that proves you don't need a plot to be fun. Or good...

DUBBING SCHEDULED FOR "SPIRITED AWAY": Disney will employ producer Don Ernst (FANTASIA 2000) and long time Miyazaki fan Kirk Wise (co-director of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and ATLANTIS), to produce the English language adaptation of SPIRITED AWAY (Sen to Chihiro-no Kamikakushi), as confirmed by Nausicaa.net. Production on the English version is scheduled to continue through July, with an as yet unannounced cast...

THE SECOND COMING OF BIG O: The Cartoon Network has announced that BIG O 2 (Biggu Oh 2) will premier on its Toonami schedule, along with G-GUNDAM, later this year. The "second season" of BIG O, according to anime fan sites, will debut in North America before its release in Japan -- causing fans to worry if the series is now be tailored specifically for a US audience, meaning watered or dumbed down for the North American market...

News for the week of 03/25/02
RETURN OF THE BLOODY BLADE! Toho Motion Picture Company has announced a sequel to the action sf thriller SHURAYUKI HIME (aka "Princess Blade"), following its successful release this past December. The film is a futuristic update of the original manga by Kazuo Koike, and not to be confused with the two more direct adaptations under the title LADY SNOWBLOOD in the 1970s, starring Mieko Kaji. For this new film it is expected that the principal cast and crew will return, including award-winning special effects director Shinji Higuchi (GAMERA 3). As well, Martial Artist Donnie Yen (BLADE 2) will return as the action director. But, because of a project signed with Miramax, Yen had to turn down the offer of playing a role in SHURAYUKI HIME 2. Reportedly, Yen has also been approached to choreograph a feature film based on the 1960s Japanese teleseries PLAYGIRLS (Pureigaru), which was later adapted for American television audiences as CHARLIE'S ANGELS...

HORROR OF HORRORS! Takashi Miike's cult horror film AUDITION (Odishion) will be released in the US on R1 DVD on May 7th. The film will be presented in Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 2.0 Japanese with removable English Subtitles and include an exclusive interview with director Miike. The flood of Japanese horror films released to North America is now building momentum...
STAR WARS IN JAPAN? Asahi News Service reports that a battle is being waged in Japanese court, as manga author and animator Leiji Matsumoto's legal action to prevent producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki describing himself as creator of the anime SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO (aka "Starblazers") has been dismissed. Nishizaki was the original author and producer of the tv anime and movie series, and hired Matsumoto as a designer for the series in 1974. Judge Toshiaki Iimura of the Tokyo District Court today held that Nishizaki's detailed participation in the creation process entitled him to be known as "creator" of the original works pursuant to Article 16 of the Japanese Copyright Act. Matsumoto's role in the creation of the movie was said to be a partial one. Matsumoto has said that the decision is unfair and that he will appeal -- without his presence, not one frame of the anime could have been produced. In 2000, Nishizaki was sentenced to five years and six months in jail for drug and illegal arms possession offenses, a matter which is presently the subject of another court appeal. There is no information as to Nishizaki seeking an injunction to stop the production of the upcoming GREAT YAMATO (Shin Uchusenkan Yamato) anime series, of which he is not involved. More information as it becomes available, right here on Henshin! Online...

FANGOJIRA! Norman England Double-Feature Picture Show: Fangoria #211 has an extensive article on the newest Toho film GODZILLA-MOTHRA-KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK (aka GMK), written by Japanese resident Norman England (who worked as a staff photographer on the film). The report reveals information previously unavailable in the West, including the project's development and comments from the cast and crew. The GMK piece also features nearly a dozen color photos, many taken on the set by England himself. Fangoria #211 is on sale now. Meanwhile, Norman has been keeping busy for those who cannot get enough GMK coverage or Norman's articles, Hobby Japan has released a special Hobby Japan Extra: Kaiju Daishingeki 2002 issue devoted to GMK. The idea for this issue sprung from the first viewing of the movie by Hobby Japan staff members, who loved GMK so much that they decided to do extensive coverage of the film. Ongoing reports have been appearing in the regular issues of the magazine, but this latest Hobby Japan Extra isa must for all fans of Godzilla. A whopping thirty-seven color pages are devoted to the movie, as well as models and toys based on its characters and mecha. The culmination of this coverage is a 12-page article on the making of GMK by Norman England, featuring close to one hundred photos he shot on the set, along with actor profiles and an interview with director Shusuke Kaneko. The balance of the issue has models and toys from Ultraman, Kamen Rider and others. At ¥1143 (around $10.00 USD), Hobby Japan Extra: Kaiju Daishingeki 2002 is a definite bargain. What are you waiting for?

Combine! Getter Robo: For those who have waited, AD Vision has issued a press release announcing that the complete super robot OVA series, TRUE GETTER ROBO (Shin Getta Robo), will be reissued July 23rd in a four disc "boxset" priced 50% less than the four currently available DVDs purchased individually. The OVA series, which began at the end of 1998, is a spin-off of the original anime teleseries and manga of GETTER ROBO, created by Go Nagai and Ken Ishikawa in 1974. The ADV set will be packaged in a single 4-disc keepcase and MSRP for $59.98
When Did He Draw? When Did He Kill? The immensely popular and beloved film series of the 1960s and 1970s, ZATOICHI, was created by novelist Kan Shimozawa and starred Shintaro Katsu (1931 - 1997) in his most memorable role. Ichi is a blind swordsman with almost uncanny supernatural senses and the ability to kill in an instant with his flashing cane sword. The ZATOICHI series spawned 25 sequels and a 100-episode teleseries -- most produced by Daiei Motion Picture Studios before their bankruptcy in 1971 (the rest of the films released by Toho and finally, Shochiku). Interesting to note for kaiju eiga fans is that composer Akira Ifukube scored a number of the films in the series. Now, ZATOICHI is finally getting the royal treatment from Home Vision Entertainment, in fully letterboxed and subtitled DVDs for North American fans starting in May.

Zatoichi: The Tale Of Zatoichi (ZATOICHI MONOGATARI; alt. title "The Life & Opinion Of Masseur Ichi"). In a role that would become the stuff of legend, Shintaro Katsu is introduced as the blind masseur/swordsman. Zatoichi is practicing his trade in a small province, which is quickly overrun by rival warlords fighting for control. Knowing Zatoichi's ability, one of the warlords tries unsuccessfully to hire his services; but by no means will Ichi be able to simply stand by. The rival warlord hires his own warrior who ruthlessly seeks to challenge Masseur Ichi, which reminds us to be careful of what we wish for. Running Time 96 minutes / B&W / DVD (Cat. #BLI020/ISBN 0-7800-2570-9/UPC 0 37429-1682-2 6) / Release Date: 05.01.2002 / MSRP: $19.95

Zatoichi: The Tale Of Zatoichi Continues (ZOKU ZATOICHI MONOGATARI; alt. title "The Return Of Masseur Ichi"). While working as a masseur for a feudal lord, Zatoichi discovers that his new master suffers from a madness that -- if made public -- would destroy his empire, the livelihood of the samurai warriors he employs, and force him to commit suicide. Pursued by samurai for the secret he keeps, Zatoichi manages to escape relatively unscathed. But in a final duel, masseur Ichi must face an infamous one-armed swordsman (played by Tomisaburo Wakayama, the real-life brother of star Shintaro Katsu). Running Time 72 minutes / B&W / DVD (Cat. #BLI040/ISBN 0-7800-2572-5/UPC 0 37429-1684-2 4) / Release Date: 05.01.2002 / MSRP: $19.95

Henshin! Online hopes that Home Vision Entertainment (who are no strangers to Japanese Cinema) will release the entire Daiei catalogue of ZATOICHI titles -- AnimEigo holds the rights to the Toho-released films of 1971-1973 -- recently, some of the films have already aired on the Independent Film Channel. For more details on these upcoming releases, check the Home Vision Entertainment website. Previously, a number of subtitled ZATOICHI titles were released (semi-letterboxed) on VHS by Chambara Entertainment in the early 1990s. For more information on ZATOICHI, check out these websites Budo Kai's Zatoichi page and a great Zatoichi guide. Only time will tell if Masseur Ichi gets his due from Home Vision Entertainment...

CD Copyguard Bombs! Tokyo (Kyodo News)-- New compact discs released Wednesday by Avex Inc., featuring a much-hyped copy-control function were found to be playable or recordable, contrary to the company's claim they would be impossible to illegally copy. The major Japanese audio-visual software maker released female South Korean singer BoA's new song "Every Heart: Minna-no Kimochi" on a CD

featuring copy-control functions in order to prevent illegal copying of the software on the Internet. The CDs bear a warning label stating the music cannot be played on certain players such as Apple's Macintosh personal computers or copied on Recordable CDs (CD-Rs) and other devices. Many buyers, however, quickly posted information on web sites saying the song can in fact be played on iMac PCs and copied on devices such as CD-Rs. Avex said many Mac PCs are still unable to reproduce the music, but a music record company official said, "Effective copy-control technology has yet to be completed." San Francisco International Film Festival Screens SPIRITED AWAY: The 45th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 18th - May 2nd) has announced that it will screen a subtitled print of Hayao Miyazaki's SPIRITED AWAY (Sen to Chihiro-no Kamikakushi). As part of the film schedule at the SFIFF, SPIRITED AWAY will be screened at the historic Castro Theater in San Francisco, on April 20th (Saturday, 6:30pm) and 21st (Sunday, 11:00am). Expect both shows to be sold out soon, because the San Francisco Bay Area is rampant with rabid anime fans, so get your tickets early. Contact the San Francisco Film Society or The Castro Theater for more details...

Rare Eiji Tsuburaya Screening! Another coup for the San Francisco Film Festival: the rarely seen 1926 masterpiece of Japanese silent film, Teinosuke Kinugasa's horror film A PAGE OF MADNESS (Kurutta Ippeiji). The delirious film is a Caligari-esque, avant-garde plunge into life in an insane asylum. It will change the way you look at silent cinema. One of the film's two cinemaphotographers was a 25 year old Eiji Tsuburaya. A PAGE OF MADNESS will be accompanied by Indie rock band Superchunk, who appear live to perform their original score for this one-of-a-kind event. Special Admission $20.00 (regular) and $18.00 (SFFS members). Castro Theater, April 23rd (Tuesday, 7:00pm)...

You Can't Keep A Good Astro Boy Down! While Columbia Pictures has the CGI Hollywood-produced ASTRO BOY film in greenlight status. Manga Entertainment has announced that it will commence releasing the 51-episode color ASTRO BOY (Testuwan Atomu) teleseries from 1980-1981. It is not known at press time, whether the series will be dubbed and subbed. The first release will be issued on May 28th. Each of five-episode VHS volumes will retail for $19.95 US-SRP. The DVD editions are scheduled for release starting in 2004.

Brutal Horror All Night Long: New Jersey-based anime video label, Media Blasters, has announced the release of the first entry in the scandalous ALL NIGHT LONG (Oru Naito Rongu) trilogy as a dual-language DVD on June 25th. The first film was originally produced in 1992, and is infamous as one of the more extreme examples of Japanese horror/splatter productions that were all the rage in the late 1980s/early 1990s, such as the GUINEA PIG (Ginipiggu) series. More effective and suggestive horror films by such talented directors as Hideo Nakata (RING) and Kiyoshi Kurosawa (CIRCUIT) have now seemingly replaced these extreme films. Media Blasters is planning to release ALL NIGHT LONG 2 and 3 as well...
Revenge Of Mechagodzilla:
Daily newspaper Nikkan Sports has revealed that after Toho's monster success with Shusuke Kaneko's GMK: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK, they are forging ahead with the next entry in the on-going Godzilla series, to be released in December of this year (and most likely will bow at the Tokyo International Film Festival in November). GODZILLA X MECHAGODZILLA (tentative title), will feature the return of guess what metallic monster? The film will see the return of Masaaki Tezuka (GODZILLA X MEGAGUIRUS) to the director's chair, while the rest of the staff has not been officially announced, Henshin! Online industry insiders say that the staff of GODZILLA X MECHAGODZILLA is looking good. We will reveal the staff and cast as soon as we are given the "green light" to do so. Meanwhile, for more information on the upcoming film, go to Monster Zero. GODZILLA X MECHAGODZILLA, like GMK, will be released as a double feature with the latest HAMTARO (Tokkoto Hamuraro) movie directed by Osamu Dezaki, best known as the director of the anime films GOLGO 13 (Gorugo 13) and BLACKJACK (Burakkujakku)... The Hamsters! The Hamsters! What? No Godzilla? Meanwhile, back in the USA, The Cartoon Network announced that it will commence broadcast of the first block of 52 episodes of the children's anime HAMTARO (Tottoko Hamutaro) this July. The "cute" anime teleseries, still airing new episodes at press time, premiered to take over the minds of Japanese moppets in July of 2000. HAMTARO is about the lives and adventures of hamsters when their owners are away. What? We don't get GMK, to balance out enduring the Terror of Hamtaro? Oh, the Humanity... Japanese Horror Is Hip: Cinescape Magazine, taking a story from Variety magazine, reports that Miramax and Dimension Films have secured the North American distribution and re-make rights to Ryuhei Kitamura's VERSUS (see story and link elsewhere on this page) and HEAT AFTER DARK (1997). They have also contracted the talented
director to helm US-produced horror projects for Dimension Films, which may be his planned projects ALIVE and THE PIRATES OF TARUTAO. "I have always wanted to fill the screen with my own samurai spirits and contribute to the immortality of film. I am so happy and excited that I have been given the opportunity to expand my directorial pursuits to the USA with the best partners, Miramax and Dimension Films," Kitamura told Variety. VERSUS created a sensation among cult movie fans throughout the world, and is a must-see crazy movie. The director is current at work on VERSUS 2... Psycho Junkie! Ain't It Cool News has posted an enthusiastic (and not-for-the-sensitive) new review of director Takeshi Miike's delirious action film ICHI THE KILLER (Koroshisha Ichi). Miike always has several irons in the fire at one time, and plans to shoot a new adventure of ZATOICHI the blind swordsman (a long-running film series originated by Shintaro Katsu) with actor/director Takeshi Kitano (BATTLE ROYAL) picking up Katsu's cane sword. Even before the cameras roll on this project, Miike has announced plans to direct a re-make of Kinji Fukasaku's 1970s yakuza shocker GRAVEYARD OF HONOR (Jingi-no Hakaba), entitled ZOKU JINGI-NO HAKABA (Graveyard of Honor: Part Two). Reports say that film will debut in Japanese theaters this summer. For those interested in ICHI THE KILLER go to the Official Website... Manga! Manga! Once again several manga titles have been nominated for this year's Harvey Awards, the highest recognition given to North American comics by the domestic industry. Kazuo Koike's "Lone Wolf & Cub" (Kozure Okami) and Katsuhiro Otomo's "Akira" have been nominated in "Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work." Both titles, and Dark Horse Comics' "Super Manga Blast," have also been nominated in the "Best American Edition of Foreign Material" category. The awards will be present at Pittsburgh Comicon's 15th Annual Harvey Awards Banquet on Friday, April 26th...
Disney Gets Spirited Away: Screen Daily has confirmed that Disney has secured the distribution rights to Hayao Miyazaki's record-breaking SPIRITED AWAY (Sen to Chihiro-no Kamikakushi) for North America, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and France. In an attempt to avoid the trouble that surrounded the North American release of PRINCESS MONONOKE (Mononoke Hime), "Disney is moving quickly to get Spirited Away released, possibly as early as July." SPIRITED AWAY is still breaking box-office records in Japan, a staggering seven months after its release, approaching 30 billion-yen ($226m) in receipts. "Shortly after the film won the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival, Toho announced that it would give SPIRITED AWAY an 'encore' release on 130 screens, starting March 9th"... Music Company to Copy Protect CDs: Avex Inc., one of Japan's leading record labels and the record label of popular artists including Ayumi Hamasaki, Dream and Every Little Thing, has announced a plan to implement copy protection on their CDs to prevent piracy. Special encoding will prevent buyers from being able to copy audio tracks from the CD to a PC. The CDs will play normally on Windows, but will not be compatible with Macintosh equipment. "According to a survey by the Recording Industry Association of Japan, the value of music CD production fell 7% to 489.5 billion yen in 2001, marking the third consecutive year of decline... due to the theft of music CD content through the Internet or by copying to blank CDs." What remains to be seen is how the use of this particular copy protection itself will effect CD sales in Japan. Major Japanese Model Company Tanks: This just in from HobbyLink Japan -- Japan's Imai Hobby has gone bankrupt. This confirms the rumors that have been drifting around the industry here since last week. This is, remarkably, the fourth time the company has gone under in the past 25 years, but this time, there will be no recovery. Japan's bankruptcy laws impose a liquidation upon a firm that has failed repeatedly to get their business back on its feet. Imai had been floundering here for years and this is not all that surprising of a development. Most of their new releases have been of items of limited interest, and they had been surviving on reissues for ages. Imai had an extensive and diverse product line, most notably in Harley-Davidson motorcycle kits, wooden sailing vessels, traditional Japanese architecture and character-related merchandise from shows like THUNDERBIRDS, UFO, CAPTAIN SCARLET, MIGHTY JACK, GATCHAMAN, MOSPEADA, ORGUSS and most recently, SPEED RACER. Bandai has already indicated an interest in purchasing some of these toolings, but we are a long way away from learning what will happen to all of the company's assets... WHAT'S OLD IS NEW AGAIN: It's a good time for fans of classic Japanese animation, science fiction, and fantasy on both sides of the Pacific. Notice the crop of classic characters of the genre making new rounds... Atom-Celled & Jet-Propelled: In a surprising and encouraging unusual cross-cultural exchange of anime between America and Japan, Anime News Service reports that NHK Television will begin re-broadcasting the MIGHTY ATOM (Tetsuwan Atomu) teleseries beginning on April 20th. But, the episodes to be aired will be American ASTROBOY episodes dubbed in English and subtitled in Japanese. Long thought lost, episodes of ASTROBOY were rediscovered in storage in a warehouse in America three years ago. This coincides nicely with the live-action production of ASTROBOY currently in the pipeline at Sony/Dreamworks. For more on this upcoming film, you can read an interesting story from USA Today ... Change! Switch On: A press release from the Bandai Entertainment website has officially announced KIKAIDER: THE ANIMATION (Jinzo Ningen Kikaida: The Animation) for home video release in the North American market. After first announcing that they had licensed the series in July 2001, Bandai Entertainment has now confirmed that they will begin to release the 13 episode cable series from 2000, on August 6th KIKAIDER: THE ANIMATION is based on both the 1972-73 live-action TV series from Toei, and the manga by Shotaro Ishimori -- creator of CYBORG 009 (which is also now enjoying a revival in Japan) and designer of KAMEN RIDER. The anime TV series was successful enough to lead to a follow-up four volume OAV series KIKAIDER 01: THE ANIMATION (Kikaida Zerowan The Animation), premiering in Japan last November, which concludes the saga from Ishimori's manga. Bandai has also announced that Kikaider toys will be the debut offering from the new "Bandai Studio Works" line of domestic releases of Japanese action figure toys based on "classic Japanese live action and anime properties." The Bandai Studio Works line of action figures will debut in America this spring... One! Two! Three! Meanwhile, Toei's original live-action series KIKAIDER: THE ANDROID (Jinzoningen Kikaida) is going through a huge revival in Hawaii on the show's 30th Anniversary -- which has been brewing for several years now. Last summer, the All-Hawaii Collector's Show, brought actors Daisuke Ban and Shusuke Ikeda (who played Jiro/Kikaider and Ichiro/Kikaider-01, respectively) to Honolulu and created a sensation among nostalgic Islanders. This spurred local KIKU-TV to bring the series back for a new generation of fans. KIKU-TV originally scored a massive hit with the original series in 1974 (titled "Kikaida" on the Islands), has begun rebroadcasting of the original series to be followed by KIKAIDER-01 (Kikaida Zerowan), complete with English subtitles. Now, more live appearances are scheduled for this April by KIKU-TV, with Ban and Ikeda returning for "Kikaidamania-02," while organizers of The All-Hawaii Collector's Show are reuniting the entire surviving cast members of the shows (Ban, Ikeda, Jun Mizunoe, Masahiro Kamiya, and Shun Ueda) for an entire tour of the Islands in July! Check Generation Kikaida and The All-Hawaii Collectors' Show websites for more details... Good Gun-Damn! According to Altered States Magazine, not only will GUNDAM 0083 be coming to the Cartoon Network, it will be joined by fourth GUNDAM movie -- MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM: CHAR'S COUNTERATTACK (Kido Senshi Gandamu Gyakushu-no Shaa), and MOBILE FIGHTER: G-GUNDAM (Kido Faita G-Gandamu) later this year. Altered States Magazine has published several photos of upcoming American release G-GUNDAM toys and models, along with word that several of the G-GUNDAM mecha will be given new names for the American release by Bandai ('natch). For more information we recommend the Official Gundam webpage and Gundam.com... The Jolly Roger Of Space Flies Again: According to Anime News Service, Rintaro (hot off the international success of METROPOLIS) will helm a new SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK (Uchu Kaizoku Kaputen Harokku) teleseries schedule to premier on Japanese airwaves this September. This follows on the heels of last year's miniseries COSMO WARRIOR ZERO (Kozumo Senshi Rei), featuring the adventures of the young Harlock. Rintaro, who directed the original and seminal 1978 teleseries, will direct the new series featuring character designs by Nobuteru Yuuki and a story by BOOGIEPOP PHANTOM (Boogie Poppu-wa Warawanai) and PERFECT BLUE (Paffekuto Buru) screenwriter Sadayuki Murai... Yamato, Cast Off: After more than a decade of speculation and two years of rumor, Leiji Matsumoto, during his 64th birthday party held January 25th, confirmed production on NEW SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO (Shin Uchu Senkan Yamato) teleseries. The new series will be directed by Tomoharu Katsumata, who directed much of Toei Doga's classic anime series in the 1970s as well as the awesome 1972 theatrical featurette MAZINGER Z VS. DEVILMAN (Majinga Zetto tai Debiruman). He also helmed the forgotten 1980s theatrical film FUTURE WAR 198X (Mirai Senso 198X). Hioshi Mori, a planner on the production of Studio Ghibli's NAUSICAA and YAMADA-KUN movies, will executive produce... Discs Over Metropolis! Rintaro is already gaining new fans as the director of Osamu Tezuka's METROPOLIS (Metoroporisu), currently in limited screenings across the US, the film has proven popular enough right now in theaters that the US DVD release from Sony/Columbia Home Video has been held back until April 23rd. The DVD release has been confirmed to be a two-disc set of the movie plus a 3" DVD of supplemental features. The $27.96 list price DVD set will feature a widescreen presentation with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio; optional English, French and Spanish subtitles; optional English and French language dubbed audio tracks; a "Making Of" special; an interview with Rintaro and Katsuhiro Otomo; a history of the "Metropolis" manga; "Multi-Angle Animation Comparisons"; conceptual art galleries, and more... Punch The Monkey: Gentleman thief Arsene Lupin III, created by mangaka Monkey Punch, is returning to North American home video in a big way. Anime Nation has been informed that FUNimation will release a number of LUPIN III OAV (Original Animation Video)s and feature films, starting with the 1996 LUPIN III telemovie, LEGEND OF TWILIGHT GEMINI (Towairaito Jimeni-no Himitsu), on VHS and DVD on April 30th -- under the title "Lupin the 3rd: Secret of the Twilight Gemini." This will be the first release in a series of at least ten announced titles from FUNimation for North America. Meanwhile, Anime News Service reports that in commemoration of LUPIN III's 30th anniversary (actually in October of 2001), a new LUPIN III OAV will debut in Japan on April 3rd. LUPIN III: THE MAGICIAN LIVES (Lupan Sansei Ikiteita Majutsushi) will be a return to the more serious, hardboiled tone of the original 1971 teleseries -- with an emphasis on wit and thievery instead of slapstick comedy. In fact, the plot of this 50 minute OAV has the magician Pical, first introduced in episode #2 of original series, returning to seek revenge for his defeat by Lupin. The DVD release will be a deluxe, three-disc special edition, making full use of the capability of the DVD format. The OAV will include three alternate endings only accessible after the OAV has been watched once in its entirety; the dialogue for each main character will be a separate track allowing viewers to choose to turn off particular character's dialogue; as well as audio interviews with the cast and creator. The second and third discs included in the 8500 yen DVD set are a CD soundtrack and a CD-ROM with interactive game and desktop wallpapers. The OAV will also be released on VHS for 9800 yen... THE HORROR! THE HORROR! Anime News Service recently announced that American Cinematheque (a video arm of the film group which programs the legendary Egyptian Theater in Hollywood), is dedicated to preserving and presenting rare and little seen underground and alternative domestic and foreign films, has announced that their current small line of Japanese cult cinema DVDs will expand to include director Takashi Miike's 1999 film, AUDITION (Odishon), this spring. The American Cinematheque line of Japanese cinema releases currently includes Koji Wakamatsu's GO, GO, SECOND TIME VIRGIN (Yuke Yuke Nidome-no Shojo) from 1969 and ECSTASY OF THE ANGELS (Tenshi-no Kokotsu) from 1970, Yasuharu Hasebe's 1966 Nikkatsu actioner BLACK TIGHT KILLERS (Ore-ni Sawararu to Abunaize), and Shunya Ito's 1972 FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION: JAILHOUSE 41 (Joshu Sasori Dai Yonju'ichi Zakkyobo). AUDITION is currently touring Stateside theaters in limited art-house theater release and is currently available on DVD in Asia, Japan and the UK. The critically acclaimed film, commonly regarded as one of Miike's best, is also widely considered one of the most disturbing and shocking psycho-sexual horror films ever created, with a final reel guaranteed to horrify even the most seasoned fright film fans... Ring Around The Roses: Director Hideo (THE RING, THE RING 2) Nakata's latest supernatural suspense film for Toho, FAINTLY FROM THE DARK WATERS (Honogurai Mizu-No Soko Kara), just opened in Japanese theaters, but the rights to a re-make have already been secured in America. According to Kung Fu Cult Cinema, the rights to produce an American remake have been secured by Fox, yet according to Ain't It Cool News, it is Disney's Dimension Films that has licensed the re-make rights. Either way, looks like a re-make will be seen in the US, for better or worse... Pearly Gates: The successful horror film from 2000, ANOTHER HEAVEN (Anaza Hebun), will be the first Japanese horror film released in America by Fangoria magazine. The film, written and directed by Joji Iida, the director of THE SPIRAL (Rasen), one of the sequels to THE RING (Ringu), will premier on American subtitled-only VHS and DVD in July... Zombie Gangsters: Ryuhei Kitamura's stunning action/horror film VERSUS (Bassasu) is currently in French theaters. A French subtitled version of the film will be released to DVD in that country later this year. The Japanese R2 DVD release scheduled for April 26th will include an English subtitle option, the disc will include audio commentary with the director and staff, a 27- minute documentary on the making of the film, a 7-minute "Versus Side Story" NERVOUS preview, and four minutes of Trailers. Check the Official VERSUS website for more details (Japanese only). According to Kung Fu Cinema, Dimension Films has apparently obtained both the American distribution rights and the re-make rights to the film. Unfortunately, in order to maximize the potential of an American re-make, Dimension has no immediate plans to release the original Japanese film in America... ACTION ASSAULT! Director Takashi Yamazaki, who helmed the surprisingly good SF film JUVENILE for Toho, is now hard at work on the SF/Action film RETURNER (Ritaanaa), to be released in Japan this August. The martial-arts laden film stars Asian sensation Takeshi Kaneshiro (SPACE TRAVELLERS). For more details and a teaser, visit the Official RETURNER webpage... Swinging Swords: Last season's popular new-wave ninja/action film RED SHADOW (Akakage), loosely based on the 1960s manga and live action series by Mitsuteru "Giant Robo" Yokoyama, RED SHADOW: THE MASKED NINJA (Kamen-no Ninja Akakage), will premier on a Japanese Region 2 special edition DVD with optional English subtitles on April 21st. A special "Making Of" All-Region disc was released last year. RED SHADOW was directed by Hiroyuki Nakano, who gave audiences the off-kilter SAMURAI FICTION in 1998.

Henshin! Online finds it encouraging to see Japanese studios are allowing their films to be more accessible to English-speaking fans, by the inclusion of subtitles on the domestic DVDs being released (if interested foreigners -- like us -- can obtain them through import/export services). It's also commendable that US distributors are taking an increased interest in Japanese cinema, such as the recent theatrical releases of METROPOLIS and AUDITION. But, it also should be noted that several American companies are launching ahead and announcing remakes of Japanese films, without distributing the original material. A comprehensive guide to Japanese DVDs with English Subtitle options is now being compiled by the staff at Henshin! Online, and will be available to our readers in the near future. Stay tuned...