Anime Limited release schedule includes Space Dandy

Space Dandy

The Space Dandy science fiction comedy about a dandy guy in space might have only just had its worldwide premiere this weekend just gone, but the huge international effort that saw the latest series from Studio BONES (Fullmetal Alchemist, Soul Eater) and Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Kids on the Slope) premiere in North America’s Toonami block before its Tokyo MX debut has really ramped the speed of the international release the series to warp speed. UK Anime retailer anime-on-line has updated its website with the latest confirmed release dates from distributor Anime Limited, which includes complete DVD and Blu-Ray collections for Space Dandy, which are slated for release on 24th November – that’s right, an anime that has only just started airing already has a UK release date announced. The standalone DVD release will include 4 artcards, the movie and the Parallel Works, while a separate release of them on blu-ray is being considered.

Another addition to the schedule is the much talked about Gurren Lagann: Gurren-den Edition, which launches on 2nd June as a blu-ray exclusive collector’s edition that retails for a whopping £149.99 (although the included extras will make it worth it!). For those of you not willing to spend that much though, regular, barebones DVD and Blu-Ray collections of the critically acclaimed series will be released on 20th October for about half of the price. The Gurren-den Edition will be limited to 2,000 units and will include a 50-page hardback artbook and every extra Anime Limited could get their hands on, including the Nintendo DS OVA (although some extras are still Japan exclusive)

Those are the juiciest of the new updates, but the full confirmed schedule is as follows:

  • 10th February 2014: Garden of Words (DVD and Blu-Ray)
  • 24th February: Outlaw Star Complete Collection (DVD), Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning (DVD/BD Combi-Pack)
  • 24th March: Durarara!!! Complete Set (DVD), Durarara!!! Limited Edition (Blu-Ray)
  • 28th April: Nerima Daikon Brothers Complete Collection (DVD)
  • 2nd June: Gurren Lagann: Gurren-dan Edition (Blu-ray)
  • 20th October 2014: Gurren Lagann Collector’s Edition Complete Collection (DVD), Gurren Lagann Complete Collection (Blu-Ray)
  • 24th November: Space Dandy Collector’s Edition Complete Collection

Anime Limited have also announced that they will be launching a Kickstarter next week for both the United Kingdom and United States for a title that fell through the cracks. Very interesting! Also, Escaflowne will be receiving an Ultimate Edition in 2014 as well.

Will you be buying any of these?

MVM kicks off 2014 with Accel World and other licenses!

Accel World

It’s 2014! The previous year is now behind us and it’s time to look ahead to the future – and that’s what MVM Entertainment are doing, by kicking off the New Year with three new license announcements of anime goodness fans in the UK can expect this year.

The first and probably the biggest of these three new reveals is a series that comes from the same mind as Sword Art Online, which has been in the news a fair bit recently. That’s right! Sunrise’s anime adaptation of Reki Kawahara’s Accel World will be released in the United Kingdom from this June. A release format has yet to be confirmed, but as Hanabee’s Australian release is currently slated to be DVD-only, it is likely that our release will too. Hanabee’s official description of this cyberpunk action-drama series is as follows:

Are you prepared to accelerate beyond your world?

In the near future our lives will be organised and played out through devices known as Neurolinkers. Utilising it enables access to a virtual reality where there are no limits on an individual, for Harayuki Arita, this is freedom.

Neither rich, popular nor particularly attractive, Harayuki spends his time building his ideal self here. He dominates this space until it is cruelly taken away from him from his high school bullies. However salvation is at hand when Kuroyukihime, the school’s most popular girl, offers him another chance to escape and become the person he’s always wanted to be. Except this offer has a catch and it deals with his life.

Delving into the virtual reality known as Accel World, Haru will need to learn quickly how to fight if he wishes to uncover the secrets of this world and become Kuroyukihime’s knight.

Yen Press also recently revealed that they will begin releasing the original light novels in English later this year too!

The second title announced this morning is Studio Nomad’s 2011 adaptation of visual novel We Without Wings, which will also be released sometime this year. Australian licensor Madman Entertainment’s description of the series is as follows:

Timid Takashi wants to escape to an alternate world where he is a heralded knight, but is held back by thoughts of his younger sister and his girlfriend. Part-timer and all around upbeat guy Shuusuke has a disastrous first encounter with a woman who turns out to be his new co-worker. Handyman Hayato is a hard-boiled loner that has random encounters with two gangs and a girl with a uniform fetish. Throw in plenty of fan-service, random humour, an alternate medieval world, and your narrator DJ Condor, and you get “We Without Wings – Under the Innocent Sky”.

And the third and final announcement of this slate is a post-apocalyptic fantasy series from Studio Zexcs, 2009’s Chrome Shelled Regios:

After the world has fallen into a state of disrepair, humanity has retreated to huge mobile cities named Regios. With the Earth now populated by contanimated life-forms, humanity must defend itself by using weapons called DITE. One young man trying to forget his past arrives in the Regios named Zuellini, but soon catches the attention of those who would use his considerable skills for their own ends.

So, will you be picking up any of these new licenses?

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A Ponder and an Analysis: Sword Art Online Extra Edition

SAO extra

Title: Sword Art Online: Extra Edition

Produced by: A-1 Pictures

Distributed by: AniplexUSA

Format: Stream via Crunchyroll.com

Language: Japanese with English subtitles

 

One of the biggest anime events of the last few months has to be the worldwide broadcast/simulcast of Sword Art Online: Extra Edition yesterday. The 25 episode adaptation of Reki Kawahara’s light novel series was arguably one of the biggest anime series’ of 2012, with its simulcast on Crunchyroll ensuring that it would have a loyal fanbase. The series’ main hook was hardly original though, being a scenario that has frankly, been done to death – players of a mass-multiplayer-online-role-playing-game (MMORPG for short) finding themselves trapped in the game, where dying in the game equals dying in real life. What made the series a success though, was arguably how it was executed. The story’s first story arc (known as the “Aincrad Arc”) really delved into the sociological aspects of MMORPGs and the situation the characters found themselves in, as well as the psychological effects such an event would have on a person, as well as the budding relationship between Kirito and Asuna. The second half of the series (Fairy Dance Arc), while not held in as high esteem as the first half (the less said about Suguha the better), did feature one of the few truly creepy, intimidating and despicable villains in recent times.

Seriously, Sugou was one of the most twisted villains in a long time.

Seriously, Sugou was one of the most twisted villains in a long time.

Sword Art Online: Extra Edition is a 100 minute long recap of the 25 episode series framed around two narratives – the first being main character Kirito speaking to a member of the Ministry of Internal Affairs regarding the incidents that occurred in the series and the second being the show’s female cast using the school swimming pool to teach Suguha how to swim while recalling how each of them met Kirito. Press releases before the release of this special hyped up a mission where the main characters would be going on a quest in the ALfheim Online game to show the adorable AI Yui a whale, but in actuality that was simply the last 10 minutes of the entire special (and had a really rushed and weird ending). Ultimately, I’m not exactly sure who Sword Art Online: Extra Edition was aimed for.  Usually, recaps (such as the first two Puella Magi Madoka Magica movies and Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning) are aimed at introducing new people who might have missed the original anime to the franchise while on the flip-side, specials tend to be aimed at existing fans of the property (which the promotion of this special would indicate). In respect to each of these two possible intentions, I think that Extra Edition failed at both.

If it was aimed at introducing new potential fans to Sword Art Online, then the selection of which clips to recap and which to leave out was sloppy, leaving both of the major story arcs impossible to follow. Examples include Recon, Sakuya and Alicia being included in the montages without any reference to who they actually were and in fact, despite the event being referenced, the special didn’t really explore how Kirito defeated Sugou. The majority of the Fairy Dance arc recap was focused on Suguha and her feelings towards Kirito, one of the most controversial aspects of the series – the sibling who falls in love with her big brother only to realise that they’re actually cousins (which doesn’t exactly make it better for western viewers!) and almost completely ignores Kirito’s fierce determination to rescue Asuna, which was the whole reason he entered ALfheim Online to begin with. I can sort of understand Kirito not wanting to tell the Ministry of Internal Affairs that Akihiko Kayaba still existed somewhat. If it was intended for existing fans, then the real question is why we needed to have the entire series retold to us? Sure, there were new clips, but aside from the 10 minute quest at the end, they were merely to provide a frame for the recaps.

I suppose there was another purpose behind the special though – to remind us that boobs exist. Silicia finds herself being reduced to the flat-chested girl with boob envy and Lizbeth to the pervert who is always finding an opportunity to suggest “things”. Most of Suguha’s new scenes either show her breasts bouncing around or references them (and there was even one really weird shot where she was showering and the camera was focused on her cleavage). Also, in the main series, Klein actually became well known as one of Sword Art Online‘s best players but in this special here’s merely reduced to a pervert who is severely downhearted when he finds out the female characters won’t be participating on the quest in their bikinis, which felt really out of character. There were even numerous references to Kirito’s councellor being an attractive woman and I was sat there thinking “Seriously?”. In fact, here’s a collection of images from the special:

Now, I’m not a prude – if anything, I’m probably the opposite; I’m a single young man who yes, does enjoy the occasional ecchi series (I might have even imported the French releases of To Love Ru Darkness and be a huge fan of HighSchool DxD) and as soon as the description of the special mentioning the characters going to a beach location was announced, it was inevitable that some kind of fanservice was going to exist. However, there is a time and a place for fanservice and Sword Art Online really doesn’t strike me as the show for it and the execution was so forced and out nowhere that it couldn’t really y’know…be sexy? Just the thought of hanging on the edge of a possible essay on the timing of fanservice makes me feel weird so I’ll probably leave it that, but yeah…there’s a right place and a right time and this wasn’t it.

Some credit does have to be given to how near the end of the special, when the Minister of Internal Affairs asks Kirito if he’s heard of “The Seed”, Kirito just says “Yes, of course” and closes the door behind him. Damn Kirito, you and your sass.

Personally, I would have much rather have had a 25-minute OVA focusing entirely on the ALfheim Online quest (with an actual, solid ending) and the Suguha-swimming thing as opposed to it being crammed into a rather pointless and poorly executed sequence of recaps or dedicated individual recaps of both the Aincrad and Fairy Dance story arcs (with each being around 90 minutes at least). Or why not both, just not as one thing? Let’s be honest, cramming roughly 625 minutes worth of material into 90 was never really going to work well in the first place.

In conclusion, I really wasn’t impressed with this much hyped special. I felt that its biggest flaw was that it was really confused in its execution, which dragged it down from beginning to end. They should have either went purely for the recap route, or purely for the fanservice OVA route – either would have worked, but this weird hybrid of the two didn’t. As a standalone peace, this wasn’t much and it really didn’t add anything of worth, but for people who have already seen the series and might have just wanted a brief refresher or to see a collage of some of their favourite scenes, they’ll have found it enjoyable (I almost teared up after being reminded of Yui!). As a plus, Yui is adorable as always and her riding Pina was beyond cute:

5/10

Sword Art Online II to air in 2014!

Sword Art Online II

A-1 Pictures’ anime adaptation of Reki Kawahara’s Sword Art Online light novel series was easily one of the most successful anime of 2012, spawning a fandom that spreads across the entire globe (courtesy of a simulcast by Crunchyroll) as well as numerous manga series’ and even a couple of video games in its native Japan – in fact, Yen Press have even announced that starting in April, they will start to release the series’ original light novels, something which is extremely rare in the western anime/manga industry.

The story of players of virtual reality games being trapped in the game, with the threat of death in the game world equalling real death is not a new concept, but the series gained praise for its writing, with critics pointing out its insight on the psychological and sociological aspects of a mass multiplayer online game.

It wasn’t very surprising then, that at the end of the highly anticipated Sword Art Online: Extra Edition special that was simulcast globally today, that an announcement was made for Sword Art Online II, which would begin broadcasting in 2014. The official announcement teaser can be seen on the official website.

The original TV anime was released on DVD in North America by AniplexUSA and is currently being released in the United Kingdom by Manga Entertainment UK.

First “Soul Eater NOT!” teaser!

Soul Eater Not

The good news just keeps on coming! At this weekend’s Comiket in Japan, fans were allowed to have their first glimpse at Studio BONES’ upcoming anime adaptation of Soul Eater NOT!, Atsushi Ohkubo’s spin-off of his highly popular Soul Eater Monthly Shonen Gangan manga series. Do you remember Soul Eater? Well, of course you can! This spin-off is set in the exact same school – the DWMA, but kicks of a little while before the adventures of Maka and Soul, this time focusing on Tsugumi Harudori, a weapon who is “in love with love” who is a student of the DWMA’s NOT! (Not Overcome Target) classes which are focused more about teaching non-combatants to be able to live with their powers. Only three volumes of the manga have been released so far (two in English), but so far, the series has carried a more slice-of-life feel compared to the main Soul Eater series.

The teaser trailer can be viewed below:

I am personally really looking forward to Soul Eater NOT! as I’ve been enjoying the manga so far (especially with Yen Press’ glossy covers that are ever so pretty).

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The PlayStation Vita is actually pretty darn cool

Sony’s history with handheld consoles has always been an interesting one. The PlayStation Portable boasted much more power than Nintendo DS and had much stronger online, with full support for downloadable titles and an amazing account system, but Nintendo’s DS sold far, far more than the PSP. The same situation is happening again with the current generation, with Nintendo’s handheld being a sales juggernaut, leaving Sony’s more powerful handheld behind. Of course, there are reasons for this – and one of the biggest concerns with the PlayStation Vita has been the lack of games worth buying a console for, whereas the Nintendo 3DS has a wealth of solid first party content (such as Fire Emblem: AwakeningThe Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and of course, Pokémon). That was actually the main reason I held back on purchasing a Vita myself, because while there were a few titles that interested me, I couldn’t justify the cost of a new system for the small amount there were (which is actually why I didn’t buy a PlayStation 3 until earlier this year as well).

Then a few months ago, me and the other writers of WiiUAndMii decided to broaden our readership by writing about games for non-Nintendo platforms (hence the name of our “Nontendo” section). When writing for WiiUAndMii, I am arguably the website’s main 3DS writer – being a huge enthusiast of their handheld console (although I do own and love the Wii U as well), so the decision for me to take a closer look at the PlayStation Vita was inevitable.

In the weeks running up to the release of the PlayStation 4, Sony really did a lot to boost awareness of the PlayStation Vita, such as sponsoring Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Channel 4 with a series of brief and very clever 15-second advertisements (well, they were around that long. I didn’t time them – too busy waiting for S.H.I.E.L.D. to start). For the first few weeks, the clips shown off LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (for obvious reasons), when episodes aired around the release of Tearaway (which is an amazing game by the way), the game was changed to that and once the PlayStation 4 was released, the brief segment was dedicated to showing off Remote Play. As standalone adverts, these might not have been very good, but when airing alongside one of the hottest shows on TV right now, that means that people tuning in to watch the series each week will be introduced to a variety of different games and features during the show’s 22-week run and by being a sponsored message instead of a regular advert, it increases the likelihood of people seeing it, as the average viewer might go and get a drink or go to the toilet during a regular commercial, but if they know the PlayStation Vita sponsors the show, they’ll all rush back into the TV room the moment the advert starts.

That, combined with the quick succession of Vita game announcements from studios such as NIS America, were enough to place the PlayStation Vita on my radar once more, so on Christmas Day, I was very happy to receive quite an amazing bundle – A Wi-Fi Edition of the console, a 16GB Memory Card and download codes for Tearaway and Little Big Planet Vita. Back when I purchased my PlayStation 3 earlier in the year, I was given a free PlayStation+ 30 month code which I had neglected to activate, but activating it now also gave me access to games my Twitter followers had recommended to me such as Gravity RushGuacamelee and a further reduction on Sony’s already amazing 12 Days of Christmas price-slash on Persona 4 Golden. So much for the Vita having now games – as within a day, I had filled 14GB of my 16GB memory card! Sony certainly didn’t pull any punches in making sure that new buyers can get the very best out of their new console straight out of the box!

Of course, with so many games I understandably haven’t had a chance to play many of them for an extended period of time, but I absolutely love Tearaway – as well as having a charming papercraft design, it is also the perfect example of what the Vita is capable of, using the cameras, augmented reality, multi-touch touchscreen and rear touch panel in such carefully crafted ways that they all compliment each other and feel extremely natural. For every console, there is a game that truly shows off what the console is capable of and for the Vita, it’s Tearaway. I’m not going to lie though – I mainly bought the Tearaway bundle because it was the cheapest way to get a Vita (same reason I bought Grand Theft Auto V with my PS3. I guess I’m just weird like that). There are games which prompted me to finally make a purchase though, which are coming out in the early part of next year:

Hatsune Miku Project Diva f

 

SEGA’s Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f rhythm game has recently been announced to be coming to North America and Europe in early 2014, following on from the release of Project Diva F on the PlayStation 3 back in August. This is a rather strange situation as the PlayStation 3 release was actually a port of this Vita game, but I imagine SEGA wanted to test the waters for the franchise on a console with a much higher install base first? Anyways, despite already owning the PlayStation 3 port, I will definitely be picking up the Vita version at release.

 

PCSE00261_DNG1_VITA_US_Titlesheet_Packshot

I’ve written about NIS America’s upcoming February 2014 release of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc on this blog before. Despite not being released internationally, the original PlayStation Portable murder mystery visual novel had gained a substantial online following even before this year’s anime adaptation aired. I personally dropped the anime because my friends who had explored the fandom beforehand had already confirmed to me that a lot of the plot’s details had been left out, so I decided to wait until the game was released, so I could enjoy it fully without spoiling the story’s main twists.

FFX

 

Ever since the release of Final Fantasy VII on the PlayStation, Square Enix’s world-renowned RPG franchise has been one of the strongest names on Sony platforms. While the HD remasters of Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 will be sold as a bundle on PlayStation 3, they will be available separately on the Vita when released in Europe on 21st March. Some may consider this a disadvantage, but the idea of a portable Final Fantasy X kinda really outweighs it. I think Sony could just do a 5 second advertisement where someone shouts “PORTABLE FINAL FANTASY X!” and sales would skyrocket.

To add to the whole “OMG, PORTABLE!” hype, there is also another game announced to be receiving a portable port soon (in fact, shall we just shorten it to PORTable?)

minecraft

That’s right – in 2014, Minecraft is coming to the PlayStation Vita! Have you ever wanted to play the ultimate creative game (except for those who prefer circles) on a portable device, but hated the Pocket Edition? Well, Mojang have announced that the game will be coming to Vita next year! I honestly can’t wait – the number of nights I’ve spent up until 2am building underground tunnels in Minecraft are innumerable.

One of the other huge positives about the PlayStation Vita is that as it is more than a gaming system – while gaming is its focus and it has the power to boast about it, the console also has applications for social networking services like Twitter, Facebook and Skype (although I think the Skype app lacks the instant messaging feature? If it does have it, I just haven’t found it yet). These applications also don’t feel rushed at all – they run amazingly and have a look that screams that they were made specifically with the console in mind. The video content is wonderful too, featuring the ability to purchase TV shows and movies from the PlayStation Store like the PS3 and PSP and also having a YouTube app that is in all honesty, probably the best portable YouTube application barring the iPad (and how portable is an iPad in all honesty?) . The 2014 addition of anime streaming service Crunchyroll is also something I am incredibly hyped about (i-it’s not like I like anime or anything…baka!).

I’ve also been thoroughly impressed with the system itself. The Content Manager allowing me to connect to my laptop and copy music, movie and image files completely wirelessly is like something out of a science fiction movie and is incredibly convenient (all you have to do is download the Content Manager program onto your PC, no need to fiddle around with USB cables). I also experimented with the Remote Play feature and my PS3 and I was amazed at just how responsive it was – allowing me to turn on and access my PS3 when I’m in the other side of the house. The only annoyance is just how underused the feature was on that console; the only application I had that would work with Remote Play was the ITV Player. Apparently Remote Play is system-wide on the PlayStation 4 though, so if the experience is anything like it could have been on my the PS3 is more games used it, then it will be absolutely fantastic (I just wish I had a PS4 to try it out on).

After owning a PlayStation Vita for such a short amount of time, I have become absolutely besotted with it. I’ve been left wondering why Sony’s handhelds haven’t seen the huge success of those produced by rivals Nintendo, despite boasting a lot more power and features. The only answer I can think of is Nintendo’s brands such as Mario, Zelda and Pokémon will drive people to buy platforms, which is something Sony’s handheld offerings have lacked (especially as Monster Hunter has moved to Nintendo consoles). In Japan, the PSP and PS Vita have received love from visual novel games based on popular anime and manga franchises, but with the lack of those in the west, maybe what is needed is more exclusive games attached to major franchises like Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation and Call of Duty: Black Ops – Declassified (just made better, as the critical reception to both were nowhere near as positive as their home console games)? At least though, for the otaku audience like myself (and the readers of this blog), the Vita is region free – so we can import games like Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Battle Pentagram and the upcoming J-Stars Victory Vs. and play them on our non-Japanese consoles! (Although I wish there wasn’t the language barrier stopping me from playing visual novels).

I personally believe that the PlayStation Vita is an absolutely amazing console and I have been really impressed with Sony’s recent promotion of it (achieving a 68% sales boost since the launch of the PlayStation 4 in the UK alone) and I really hope that the future does improve and the Vita continues to get more AAA content, because it really deserves it.

 

Yes! Fairy Tail is returning in April!

Mavis

Who else was really disappointed when back in March, the Fairy Tail anime ended while the story was still right in the middle of the Grand Magic Games story arc? Sure, the anime ended it with the conclusion of Natsu and Gajeel vs Sting and Rogue, but considering the point the manga was at, they could have at least went to the end of the Games. Fortunately though, the much teased return of the anime adaptation of Hiro Mashima’s manga has finally been revealed – Fairy Tail will be returning in April!

Bridge will be replacing animation studio Satelight in assisting A-1 Pictures with the series and character designer Shinji Takeuchi (Gintama) will be taking over from Aoi Yamamoto, however, series director Shinji Ishihara and the cast of the main five characters are all returning. The chances are apparently being made with the intention of improving the quality of the series.

Personally, I wonder if a relaunch of the series in April might be too premature, as by the time the anime restarts there would only be a rough 80 chapter difference between the end of the previous anime and the manga, which would translate into roughly 26 episodes. The anime will most likely feature extended scenes and the occasional filler episode to prolong things, but if the intention is to have another ongoing series as opposed to one with a set episode count, we could be running into fillers again fairly soon. Personally, I’d prefer if the plan was for a 2-cour series, then another year break, then another 2-cour series (etc).

What do you think about Fairy Tail returning?

The previous Fairy Tail anime is currently being released in North America by FUNimation Entertainment and in the United Kingdom by Manga Entertainment UK.

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