Monday, April 20, 2009

Spiral Out of Print!

Welcome and hello all of you 2 followers of mine! (I very gratefully thank you for joining an unworthy person such as myself.) I'm your Navigator, the Richard J. who wishes he had a bigger bank account for all that English dubbed anime he loves to buy.

A bit of sad news today, as reported here, the Spiral anime is going out of production. It's being discontinued. It's joining that list of anime that have finally sold all they are expected to sell and is retiring from service.

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I can't tell if Hiyono is angry or just freaked about this.

Funimation did a great job with this 25 episode series. The Spiral manga, fully titled Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning, is currently coming out from Yen Press. (Incidentally, it goes far beyond where the anime went and includes scenes and characters from the beginning that were not included in the anime due to plot compression.) While the Spiral anime failed to answer the key question of the series "who are the Blade Children?" it did provide a strong story for the part of the mystery it unveiled.

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Series lead character Ayumu Narumi was played with a stoic and quiet charm by Daniel Kats√ľk. This is one of the few major roles he took on at Funimation but it is a very well played one. Ayumu is a character who suffers from a combination of arrogance and extreme self-pity. He knows he has skills and an intellect that vastly surpasses most others but at the same time, he feels like a second-rate copy of his stunningly capable older brother.

When the mystery of the Blade Children that his brother disappeared to investigate draws him into its twisted web, Ayumu comes to rely upon Hiyono Yuizaki for her remarkable ability to gather information. (A future in the Japanese version of the CIA would be a good fit for Hiyono.) Played with a wild energy and gentleness by Caitlin Glass, Hiyono does everything she can to help Ayumu after she realizes he is one of the good guys. (All in exchange for some free food!)

Of note to me and I know to some others, this is one of Caitlin Glass's roles that involves singing. Although perhaps not as emotionally stirring as her singing in Black Cat, Hiyono's cute little odd songs are sure to make you smile and happen much more than her all-too-brief singing in Shuffle!

Of course, there are other great reasons to run out now and buy Spiral before it's too late!

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It's got lots of bishonen! I mean, I'm a straight male but I can admit when anime guys are hot and I have to say, these three with Ayumu down in front, Eyes Rutherford to the left and Kanone Hilbert to the right (played by John Burgmeier and Christopher Bevins respectively) are great looking guys. Eyes is a tortured pianist with a dark side and Kanone, well, is best described as putting the "blade" in "Blade Children."

If you can believe it after seeing the series, Kanone is roughly 6.3 times as badass in the manga.

Of course my favorite reason to watch Spiral is:

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Rio Takeuchi! Adorable and sweet, Rio appears to be a far younger girl than she really is. She's supposedly 16 but looks like a loli, even wearing a classic elementary girl book bag at one point in the series. However, never under estimate her resolve or ability to kill and match wits.

Played by English voice acting goddess Monica Rial, and do I even need to point out her many awesome roles in dubs?, Rio stands out as one of the most capable of the Blade Children. In both the anime and the manga, she stands out for her abilities and is one of Ayumu's most capable opponents. Monica Rial brings her dual nature to life with skill, allowing her to sound childish in one scene and murderous in another, as well as delivering her victory speeches with a fiendish flourish.

Well, now Spiral is going into the discontinued list. (Funimation had to take a break from all of those licenses and rescues right?)

If you don't already have a copy of this anime, with its excellent English dub, it is time to get it fast before it goes into a vault. (Wait, does Gen Fukunaga have a vault like Disney?)

Here are a few places to hunt it down!: Amazon.com (for an earlier release check here.), Robert's Anime Corner Store, The Right Stuf and Overstock.com

Not that you need me to tell you where to shop for anime though right? I know you already know but just in case you don't know I'm here to help you know, you know?

Okay, enough of silliness for the day. This is your Navigator Richard J. signing off.

Bye-ni!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Photobucket Hates Me? Conspiracy!

Your navigator here, wondering if he'll ever learn how to make himself some sort of avatar for blogging.

Well, apparently Photobucket has an "issue" with the manga preview pic in my review of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya which keeps getting removed for reasons that according them them are "accidental."

Yeah, well that "accident" happened twice now since I re-input the image to put it back in the review before they restored the original. Then the second input got nuked.

Can you say conspiracy?

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Well, Misaki can! She senses a hell of a conspiracy here! How else can you explain her wearing that in Sato's room?

In case you have no idea who the hottie is, that's Misaki from Welcome To The NHK. If I had to describe the series, I'd say it's everything you knew fandom could be with mental illness involved and a lot of cynicism.

The series follows the misadventures of the NEET (Not currently engaged in Employment, Education or Training) Tatsuhiro Sato, who is also a hikikomori something fierce, as he becomes involved with the darker side of anime fandom. Still, he does meet Misaki Nakahara who pledges to save him from himself, so all bets are off as to who is really in the bad situation.

Chris Patton plays the lead Sato, in what may very well be the best proof ever that type-casting truly can be avoided. His performance is hysterical in parts yet far more subtle in it's darker and more mentally disturbed moments. A key scene is Sato's breakdown in the middle of classroom. His paranoia and fear of being rejected is so palpable it hurts to watch. Patton plays every moment to perfection in what may be one of his finest performances, which is over-shadowed only by the sheer sarcastic perfection of his work in Kanon.

Stephanie Wittels backs up his work as Misaki, who might very well have just as many issues hidden beneath her veneer of helpful concern as Sato. There's a certain quality to her that screams "issues."

Despite my sheer love for AIR I have to wonder if Misaki is a better role than Kano Kirishima. Still, this is an actress that can turn in a solid performance. Every scene Misaki has makes you wonder about her intentions and part of this comes from Wittels' light tone in this part. She delivers lines that are actually quite dark with a sweetness that belies the true purpose behind them.

Trippiest closing ever with a disturbed opening, but the character interplay is good and the twisted otaku moments make you think just a little harder about your own obsessions. Look out for Luci Christian as Sato's sempai Hitomi Kashiwa, a former conspiracy lover now firmly settled in the shadowy reality of life and Greg Ayres (hope you're feeling a lot better sir!) as Sato's best and possibly only friend Kaoru Yamazaki. The series is available in fine singles from ADV (ooh, and they're pre-WE HATE DUBS NOW!) and two lovely half seasons box sets from Funimation. Available at all fine anime retailers of good repute. I recommend: Robert's Anime Corner Store because they rock for hating bootlegs!

Anyway, bye for now and remember: English dubs allow anime fans to experience anime in our native language (assuming you're an English speaker) and thus get an experience that can be closer to our hearts!

Hmm, I seem to remember this post starting as something else but it turned into a light review. Oh well, if it proves useful to anyone. . . .

Well, I'll be shocked but happy if it does.

Monday, April 13, 2009

More Mana From Funimation Gods (Strike Witches and other licenses!)

Hello to all 1 of my current followers! I'm your navigator once again, leading you down the road of life, taking the fork of dub to the city of Fun!

Or something.

I'd have been here to throw out my woohoo sooner for Funimation's latest license announcements but, alas, my grandfather died and I had to attend the funeral and help my family out. He was a good man who touched many lives and made a real difference in my hometown. He is missed.

Fortunately, I am quick to deal with sadness, especially when it means my grandfather is no longer suffering as he was toward the end.

Enough of my problems. I'm here to talk to you about Funimation continuing it's insanely huge licensing coups!

If you haven't already heard: Funimation recently announced licenses of Strike Witches and Linebarrels of Iron, Gonzo titles both, as a follow-up to the news earlier that they had essentially entered into an alliance with Gonzo.

Oh they say it is not an evil one. Proof of all this here at Funimation's blog of goodness. (Stop in and praise Rojas for his good work there!)

For a second there, ya'll were thinking this was all a dream right? Nope. The Gonzo/Funimation alliance is just getting more awesome!

Bask in the glory of this image and rejoice for the girls of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing and please support their efforts to kick alien Neuroi butt. (Wait, do the aliens have butts?)

Here's Funimation's own description:
It's 1939 and the world is under attack by the mysterious Neuroi. To combat this overpowering force, an elite aviation task force has been assembled called the 501st Joint Fighter Wing also known as "Strike Witches." These magically-powered girls pilot their Striker Unit weapons to protect and save humanity from destruction.


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Already we are hearing the "oh, noes!" from some on the Internet because of the lack of fully clothes girls in this anime. (Long ankle length dresses would apparently be preferred.)

However, I offer this out of context Funimation image as a response:

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Oh yeah, auto-win.

Also licensed and getting far less dues angst loli is Linebarrels of Iron. This one seems more in the veing of classic mecha badassery and thus should be fun. Support it!

What Funimation has to say about this one:
Fourteen-year-old Kouichi Hayase's life has always been a mediocre one, if not dismal. However, those days of being bullied by classmates and escaping to a fantasy of being a hero are put to an end when a certain "accident" bestows on him a girl and a gigantic humanoid robot called "LINEBARREL". The extraordinary power that Kouichi obtains puts him and everything around him on a sudden rollercoaster ride of battles, intrigues and friendship! During the course of his adventure, the boy starts to learn what life has to offer; he meets new friends, bids farewell to the old ones, but most of all he now has considerable responsibilities and is forced to confront the world around him.


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So, of course, I can hear people muttering under their breath out there: why is he talking about shows without dubs?

Ah, but this is Funimation who cites actual statistics to prove their customers like English dubs and want them! They've found that 62% of their customers who sent back surveys watched anime with English dub the majority of the time. Only 25% watched in Japanese with subs the majority of the time. (Yes, by God, we have real numbers for a change! Source was a post on Funi's own blog bless their licensing hearts!)

Other awesome licenses on the way: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Rin ~ Daughters of Mnemosyne, My Bride Is A Mermaid, El Cazador De La Bruja, EVANGELION: 1.0 YOU ARE (NOT) ALONE, Dragonaut, Tower of Druaga, Blassreiter and Bamboo Blade. And unless there is one heck of a nasty disturbance in the force, I for one fully expect ALL OF THEM TO BE DUBBED IN ENGLISH!

Please check out Funimation's Video Portal for all of their delicious English dubbed and, yeah, if you must their tasty subbed too.

Also, I hope you've all bought a copy of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya light novel from Yen Press and Little Brown. It's quite good and even someone who hasn't seen the anime should be able to love it.

Also Jr., if you happen to know of a more reliable free photo linker that isn't too difficult for a tech-challenged guy like moi, let me know. (Also if any more pics get deleted by Photobucket, please let me know.)

For now, once again, I'm your navigator Richard J. signing off!

Pantsu!