Jan. 10, 2015 | 5:00 a.m.
On Monday it was confirmed that Scarlett Johansson has signed on to star in DreamWorks’ live-action adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell,” but not all fans are embracing the news that the studio is opting for a non-Asian actress to play the lead role. While some fans of the franchise were excited to hear the project is moving further along in development, others lamented or even satirized the decision. “Ghost in the Shell,” based on Masamune Shirow’s manga series of the same name, is set in a fictional Japanese city and follows protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi and members of a covert task force within the Japanese National Public Safety Commission. The task force, known as Public Security Section 9, takes on various cybercriminals in a future where the line between technology and biology is blurred. The manga series spurred Mamoru […]
July 04, 2014 | 4:19 p.m.
At Anime Expo 2014, the wigs are out, big time. Organizers had promised to push the cosplay quotient at the annual anime and manga festival, and fans have shown their approval by filling the Los Angeles Convention Center with the surreal costumes, painted faces and most excellent hair of their favorite characters. Over here, the spiked red locks of Grell Sutcliff and the V-shaped bangs of Angelina Dalles, both from “Black Butler.” Over there, the muscled face of Colossal Titan. And over there, the white eyes and bloodied forehead of Fujitora from “One Piece.” Somewhere amid all the fur, the horns, the hats, the high stockings, the Pokemon onesies, the blue-painted faces, the skeleton-painted faces and a fair amount of skin, you could even see an Elsa from “Frozen,” a bit out of place, seemingly lost on her way to […]
July 04, 2014 | 9:22 a.m.
She came to the world’s attention as a 14-year-old klutz who encounters a talking black cat with a magical brooch. The cat’s brooch transformed Usagi Tsukino, or Serena to U.S. audiences, into the manga heroine Sailor Moon, one of the most recognizable of all anime icons. More than 20 years after Naoko Takeuchi created Sailor Moon and her fellow Sailor Senshi, she’s not only appeared on countless lunch boxes and notebooks, her red-bowed schoolgirl’s uniform with the thigh-high miniskirt remains one of the most recognizable costumes at gatherings like this year’s Anime Expo. The annual convention celebrating Japanese animation and pop culture kicks off Thursday at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Saturday will be the expo’s “Sailor Moon Day.” Planned events include the premiere of the new series “Sailor Moon Crystal” as well as a panel where the first two […]
June 19, 2014 | 5:01 p.m.
North American “Sailor Moon” fans can rejoice: “Sailor Moon Crystal,” the new reboot of the classic anime franchise, will be available to stream starting July 5 on Hulu and Viz Media’s Neon Alley. Based on Naoko Takeuchi’s long-running manga series, “Sailor Moon Crystal” will retell the story of Usagi Tsukino discovering she is Sailor Moon. As revealed in the trailer below, Usagi meets Luna, a black cat that can talk, who has been searching for her. After she is given a special brooch to transform into Sailor Moon, Usagi is tasked with the mission to gather her allies, other Sailor Senshi or “Guardians,” and defeat the enemy. As in the original anime series that aired in the U.S. starting in 1995, Sailor Moon’s mission also involves seeking out the Legendary Silver Crystal and protecting it from Queen Beryl. “Fans everywhere […]
April 07, 2014 | 1:12 p.m.
The second installment in Hayao Miyazaki’s memoir is out Tuesday, offering a glimpse into the legendary animation director’s career of more than three decades, and Hero Complex readers get an exclusive sneak peek. “Turning Point: 1997-2008,” from Viz Media, traces the Japanese director’s most successful years, which saw the release of “Princess Mononoke,” the Oscar-winning “Spirited Away,” “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Ponyo.” During this time, Miyazaki’s work received critical acclaim and began to garner an international audience. The 452-page tome includes Miyazaki’s essays about Japan’s animation culture, the differing perspectives of children and adults, and his memories of youth, among other topics; interviews with various publications and panels, including one with Roger Ebert; illustrations for Studio Ghibli holiday cards and films; and even poetry, written to aid composer Joe Hisaishi. “Turning Point” is the companion second volume to 1996’s “Starting Point: 1979-1996,” which […]
Oct. 24, 2012 | 5:00 a.m.
Katsuhiro Otomo, the director of the watershed Japanese animated feature “Akira,” will make a rare personal appearance at REDCAT in downtown L.A. on Saturday to receive the first lifetime achievement award from the Platform International Animation Festival and to screen his new short film, “Combustible.” Otomo, who began his career as a manga artist, has written and directed numerous features, but he’s best known for “Akira” (1988), which was one of a handful of key films that created an audience for anime in America. Based on his own manga, the film offers a dystopic vision of a future divided between the opulent towers of Neo-Tokyo and the slums beneath, where cultists and biker thugs fight brutal police officers. Like Wagner’s Valhalla, Neo-Tokyo is built on greed and corruption and is doomed to destruction, even at the height of its splendor. […]
June 29, 2012 | 2:23 p.m.
Anime Expo, the largest convocation of fans of Japanese animation and manga in the country, is now underway at the Los Angeles Convention Center — more than 125,000 are expected to attend. One of the guests of honor is Tatsuo Sato, the creator of an outrageous TV spoof of anime fan culture called “Martian Successor Nadesico,” which is a bit like inviting the Comic Book Guy from “The Simpsons” to speak at Comic-Con International. The Nadesico is a state-of-the-art space battleship (complete with crew jackets, Ping-Pong tables and vending machines) run by a crew of teenage misfits. When he’s not fighting the invading Jovian Lizards, the series’ unlikely hero, fry cook-turned-combat-pilot Akito Tenkawa, watches reruns of “Gekigangar 3,” a hilarious sendup of early giant robot shows in the “Gigantor” mold. Clips from the show-within-the-show feature a disco theme song, stilted animation, hammy […]
March 20, 2012 | 4:01 a.m.
It’s doubtful that they have Saturday morning cartoons in the police-state future of “The Hunger Games” (in fact, they probably don’t even have Saturdays in the no-fun nation of Panem), but if they did, Katniss Everdeen would see a kindred spirit in “The Legend of Korra,” the ambitious new Nickelodeon series that premieres April 14. Flinty, brave, loyal, impatient, impertinent, fierce and dangerous — Katniss and Korra have plenty in common and both live in a world that is close to our own but tilted by desperation and dark miracles of magic or science. If the pair attended the same high school, they could go out for the archery team and commiserate about how their names sound like two new lines of Ikea cabinets. For “Korra” co-creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, it’s heartening to see teen heroines get […]
March 08, 2012 | 2:36 p.m.
This post has been corrected, as detailed below. Twenty years ago this week, a new face debuted on Japanese television: ditzy, often klutzy, the 14-year-old Serena had a disdain for homework, often overslept and seemed forever hungry, especially for desserts — hardly a prepossessing heroine. But Serena’s arrival on “Sailor Moon,” based on the manga by Naoko Takeuchi, would alter the course of animation and fandom on both sides of the Pacific. The manga and the original 43-episode program “Bishojo Senshi Sera Mun” (variously translated as “Pretty Soldier, Guardian” or “Scout, Sailormoon”) spawned sequels, movies, video games, stage musicals, a live-action TV show and countless licensed products, from dolls to Cosplay costumes. “Sailor Moon” also sparked an interest in shojo (girls’) manga and anime in America. Serena thinks of herself as the ordinary girl she appears to be until the talking cat […]
Feb. 15, 2012 | 12:59 p.m.
The animated adventures of the prodigal mages Edward and Alphonse Elric came to a dramatic and seemingly definitive conclusion at the end of the television series “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” in 2009. But the characters are so popular — Hiromu Arakawa’s original manga has sold more than 50 million books worldwide — that more stories were inevitable. “Fans get emotionally attached to their favorite series and characters,” said Lance Heiskell of FUNimation, which releases the animated “Fullmetal Alchemist” in America. “ ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’ has been on the air since 2004 and its popularity is the highest it’s ever been.” Kazuya Murata, who directed the Fullmetal Alchemist feature “The Sacred Star of Milos” (link in Japanese), released last year and currently in limited release throughout the U.S., talked about the challenges of working with such a well-known and beloved property in an email interview. “We had […]