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?

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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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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MangaUK reveal three new licenses in Christmas podcast!

Today is Christmas Eve! Although Manga Entertainment UK decided not to give everyone an actual physical present (I guess to be fair, that would be expensive). However, they did give us a special treat for the end of the year – three new license announcements!

HighSchool DxD, the popular ecchi fantasy series is the biggest name of the three. Super-pervert Issei Hyodo was a normal human before finding himself tricked into a date and ambushed by a fallen angel. The next morning, he wakes up to find beautiful and well-endowed third year student Rias Gremory lying naked in his bed (as you do). Rias reveals herself as a devil, revealing that she is the reason that Issei is still alive, but he is now a devil and she is his new master. A second season of the original 2012 anime aired this past summer. MangaUK will be releasing the series on both DVD and Blu-ray in 2014.

The Devil Is A Part-Timer is the next licensed title. This comedy anime aired this Spring. When the Demon Lord and one of his Generals flees the Demon World into modern day Tokyo, the Demon Lord has to take up a part-time job at a fast food restaurant. Things get complicated however, when the Demon Lord who meets a girl…who is the hero from the Demon World that they escaped from! The series will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray next yar.

Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero was the third announcement. This harem/action series originally aired last summer. Following an international training organisation called Babel which protects young people returning from another world. Akatsuki, a wayward hero, returns from a world of swords and magic called Alayzard with the daughter of the last Dark Lord, Myuu. No release date or format have been confirmed yet.

The distributor also teased that new Code Geass news will be announced in the New Year.

Space Dandy to begin simulcast on Wakanim from 5th January

Space Dandy

Are you looking forward to Space Dandy, the brand new Studio BONES anime directed by legendary director Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Kids on the Slope)? Well, you should be. Space Dandy is a very interesting case in that its debut isn’t going to be on Japanese television – it will be on the US Toonami block, where it will air with an Ian Sinclair-led English dub a day before its Japanese debut. Below is an English trailer for the show’s Toonami premiere, which is well…dandy:

For those of us in the United Kingdom, Wakanim will have the series available to watch free via streaming or as a premium download-to-own title in both the Japanese and English dubbed languages from 4:30pm on 5th January, 2014!