Casting asians as asians??? My stars!

As if it’s not painfully obvious by now with my running dialogue about terrible miscasting of anime characters, I have a special distaste in the deepest cockles of my heart for the use of sub-rate caucasian actors and actresses playing inherently asian roles (okay, you can count Spike out because he’s not asian, but Keanu is going to suck big time anyway).

Well, here comes a bit of different news for once. For an upcoming live action adaptation of Ninja Scroll, the five members of Japanese idol band SMAP are being considered. I’ve seen several Japanese films where the members have acted (granted, as is noted in the article all five have not been in theatrical releases together before but I don’t see that as having much of an effect, especially stateside where no one but the super otaku has a damn clue who they are) and they are quite good at their roles. Moreover, I’m just ecstatic to hear that there is an actual consideration that an asian can accurately play an asian role. It’s not that it’s always a big deal, but in the case of something like Ninja Scroll or Avatar, the very fact that the characters *are* asian is a big part of the story.

This is not to say that the film adaptation won’t stink. I’m quite confident that it will- so confident, in fact, that if it even succeeds in the slightest I’ll consider it a success. In fact, I don’t see a live action adaptation of Ninja Scroll thriving over here at all which will be a bit depressing considering it’s one of those classics. But hey, there’s a little hope, right?


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Next up on the big screen- Full Metal Panic

Continuing with the classic hollywood theme of not being original in any way, shape, or form, the great manga/anime series Full Metal Panic is now being

You can't seriously be considering Zac Efron...

You can't seriously be considering Zac Efron...

picked up for a live-action theatrical release by Mandalay. For those not in the know, FMP is a action/comedy about young military nut who is stationed protecting a high school girl (of course meaning that he has to go through the motions of a “normal” life in high school, hence the comedy aspect). It’s not one of my all-time greatest titles but it’s definitely up there on the list and definitively taught me the Japanese word for “ouch” (itai!). Hence my immediate dread when I read something like “Zac Efron has shown his interest in this movie”. Zac Efron? Really? I just threw up in my mouth a little. Why oh why do they insist on ruining the things I love so dearly?

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More Ace Attorney manga= 1 happy librarian

When I say I am an otaku, I mean that it all of it’s seedy, sweaty nerd forms (I kid, I kid). I’m a huge video game fan, and in particular I do my otaku best by absolutely loving many different Japanese game series. One of my all-time favorites is the Ace Attorney series, the latest addition of which just came out in Japan (Edgeworth based game, can’t wait can’t wait can’t wait!). For those out of the know——- man you are missing something great——- this is a series of point and click legal adventure games (though it’s a lot more like CSI in game form- you’re doing the investigating and the trials and the characters are incredibly indearing… you have to try it).

Last year, the first Ace Attorney casebook manga was released in NA (and I was lucky enough to score a copy at the New York Anime Festival). The volume was very true to the heart of the video game series, with all the characters we love and the humor we came to expect from any Ace Attorney installment. Well, the good news is that along with the release of the new game comes a weekly manga insallment! Shuukan Young Magazine will be publishing it starting in April, which (hopefully) means we’ll be seeing it stateside (though there is no official release date for the game in NA as of yet).

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Anime Review: Ghost Hound

I think it’s important to note up front that this is an import review- I love this show but I don’t think Ghost Hound will ever get licensed in North America because it’s just so stylized (though it did wrap up in Japan last year, so there is some hope).

Ghost Hound is Production I.G.’s 20th anniversary collaboration with Shirow Masamune. This alone should give you an idea of the feel of the show; there is a definite Ghost in the Shell vibe present (which I think is a good thing). Masamune came up with the idea for the show in 1987- there is a short manga series (2 volumes) that was published but largely this is a stand-alone anime.

Ghost Hound is primarily the story of three boys in the small, rural town of Suiten (located in a remote area of Kyushu). The story primarily focuses on Tarou, the son of the local sake brewer who was abducted along with his older sister as a young child and still suffers psychological aftereffects from experiencing both the kidnapping and his sister’s death. 11 years have passed and Tarou (now 14)  still flashes back to the incident, trying desperately to remember what his sister said to him in the days before she died.  Over the

Yeah, it's a creepy show.

Yeah, it's a creepy show.

course of his therapy, and with the help of two other boys who both experienced traumas, Tarou learns how to astrally project into what is called the “Unseen World”- the world of spirits. However, as this occurs creatures from the Unseen World are beginning to appear in the normal world and causing some issues.

This is not just another supernatural anime- I’ve been watching a lot of “spirit” anime lately (Bleach, xxxHolic, Zombie Loan) and this one is wholly different. At parts it is almost like a horror anime; there are distortions which make events very creepy and the way in which Tarou repeatedly relives his sister’s death is quite jarring. There is a great deal of talk about psychology and various forms of psychotherapy- these get much more involved as the series progresses. There is also a lot of Japanese traditional folklore and spirtuality involved here. The show has a great creepy sci-fi vibe that is perfect for an older watcher, not for young teens or anyone with a short attention span. Moreover, it may in fact give you nightmares (or at least weird dreams- it did this to me for three nights!).  Well worth a watch, even though it is hard to get your hands on. Should not be missed if you are a fan of Masamune’s work!

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RIP- Anime Insider


This is going to be the second big loss that my YA periodical collection has suffered this year. First EGM ceases publication (leaving me with a big hole to hopefully fill assuming we get refunded for the year- not a lot of neutral ground gaming mags) and now my ever-popular, always in circulation Anime Insider. In fact, Wizard has already unceremoniously pulled it from their website- so much for the listing on my guide to anime clubs. It’s not that it was entirely unexpected given the cuts that Wizard has been making recently. It’s just that they kind of owned the anime news mag market since the demise of Newtype. Yes, I get Shonen Jump, but that does not come close to filling the slot that Anime Insider served. Plus they had some of the greatest pictures to use for decoration by my manga rack once they were ready for discard! Grrrr. I hate seeing such a high use periodical go down in flames, but I guess the people just aren’t buying. I sincerely hope we get a refund for the balance of the year, but even if we do I don’t see many good replacements. 😦

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Manga Review: Papillon

This is a newer manga (only 2 volumes released in NA so far with the third coming in May). In three basic words: just another shojo.

Ageha and Hana are twin sisters who were raised separately. Hana was raised in the city with her parents but Ageha was raised by her grandmother in a more rural setting. When Ageha was in the second grade, her grandmother became to ill to raise her and so she ended up living with her parents in the city. The two girls are totally different- Ageha is a more average tomboy and Hana is a beautiful social butterfly. Now that the girls are in high school together, Ageha finds herself excluded from almost all social

Ueda's art style is unmistakable.

Ueda's art style is unmistakable.

activities. When she is left alone to tend the classroom during the school’s fair, a somewhat mysterious man named Kyuu comes running into the class to try and hide from a group of girls (it turns out he’s the hot new young guidance counselor). He asks for coffee and flips through Ageha’s planner- finding a picture of Ageha with her long standing crush, Ryuusei. Kyuu tells Ageha to follow her heart, making her shout out that she’s Ryuusei’s girlfriend and that her life is great. Just after she does this, Ryuusei appears and recognizes Ageha from their childhood. A relationship begins to form between the two, but her beautiful sister decides to step in between them.

Miwa Ueda is best known for her work on the series Peach Girl, and to be frank I’ve seen little new in Papillon. It’s a very typical, tried-and-true (and tired) shojo storyline of the ugly duckling gaining confidence in herself and winning the guy. Appealing for those people who a) liked Peach Girl or b) like the stereotypical shojo fare. It’s not anything groundbreaking or new; this is the same storyline that has been done time and time again and it doesn’t seem like Ueda is going to really do it any differently. The one bonus to this is, as is typical with Ueda, the artwork. Her style is unique and beautiful. Unfortunately, this is a manga I’d rather look at than read unless I’m looking for a quick-and-trashy beach read. Moreover, it is exactly the type of shojo I *dislike*, reinforcing the “girl is no good until a guy is into her and she’ll be helpless when he’s gone” stereotype. A very superficial storyline.

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Anime Clubs @ your library- a resource guide

I get a lot of questions from both coworkers and outside colleagues about where they can get information or resources on anime for running a club at their library. I know that it can be hard to navigate if you’re not into the scene (or worse, if you hate it!) so I wanted to put out an annotated list of killer resources for running your club.

First and foremost- anime club organizations

There used to be three. Now there are two- small but so very useful especially when you want screening permissions. ADV used to run ADVocates, which was a seriously awesome program. Unfortunately, much like everything else these days, the budget was cut. However, I’m still working with two really great program Operation Anime and Stuf for Clubs. Both of these are great programs that will not only help you get screening rights but send you various titles and publications. No school or library anime club should be without these wonderful corporate sponsors.

Secondly, the online resources for the non-otaku

In my experience, if you haven’t done your research and aren’t putting forth a significant effort your little otaku will, in fact, eat you alive. This may be in the form of showing you Yaoi without warning (yes, this actually happened) or this may result in you being dressed up as an unseemly or embarassing anime character bit by bit (fun fact: it takes less than 5 minutes for a group of teenagers to costume an unsuspecting person). I can’t recommend Anime for Libraries enough- this is a prime source of reviews targeted at school or public librarians. Manga Blog is an unending source of manga related goodness that will help you find out what’s happening as well as reviews. Familiar Diversions is another great source of reviews, especially since she posts watch-alikes. Anime News Network is always a great place to turn to for news, though if you’re non-otaku you may get lost in the sheer amount of articles about things you’ve never heard of or care about.

Third- the print resources

I am still deeply in mourning over the loss of Newtype. Simply put, it was the single most kickass anime mag ever published. But we must move forward and thankfully there are still some awesome publications in print. I like to call it my short list of periodicals that you need to have if you have a decently sized otaku population: Shonen Jump, Shojo Beat, and Anime Insider . (this was true when I posted this on Tuesday, but no more as Anime Insider is now belly-up- OL 3/27) The first two are going to give you teen level manga chapters (great for the library on a tight budget) as well as news- might I add they circ like crazy. Anime Insider is a larger source of anime and manga news- frankly it’s the primary news resource since Newtype left us.  To a lesser extent, Otaku USA can be a good resource; it’s limited to a US viewpoint which is both positive and negative. Their website is well worth a look.

Finally- running a club!

Just some general tips for you from my experiences both in my branch and beyond.:

1. Don’t limit yourself! Anime club does not just have to be about anime and manga. Introduce elements of Japanese culture- this makes for great news events and cultural awareness.

2. Play up to otaku culture. Anime events are pretty universally high attendance once you have a group established. Things I’ve done with my club that are outside of the immediate realm of anime include suikawari, cosplay, and asian food events.

3. If you’re discussing a specific title, it is so important that you read through it fully first. The drawings are as important as the words, no less how the words are presented (as my supervisor once said, somehow “shit” is a lot worse when it’s 2 inches tall and outlined in a huge bubble). A 13+ title might not work for all 13 year olds- work with the group you have!

I’m sure I’m forgetting something, and if I remember anything else I’ll add on. Feel free to throw your own tips into the comments.

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