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Anime DVD Reviews
Millennium Actress
Millennium Actress
WOW! The second film by director Satoshi Kon and screenwriter Sadayuki Murai (Perfect Blue), this Dreamworks release is a more complex, subtle, and sophisticated work that is actually the total opposite of Perfect Blue in terms of it's tone. Using the main character's life as a metaphor for the birth, death, and rebirth of the Japanese film industry, the film weaves a colorful tapestry that blurs reality and the memories of a former film star. Kon's skillful direction and subtle use of color strengthen the intriguing story: Chioyoko's memories are rendered in shades of gray, with hints of muted color highlighting the overall composition.

Millennium ActressA key scene from Akira Kurosawa's "Throne of Blood" plays an important role in the story, and even "2001: A Space Odyssey" makes an appearance. Half the fun of this film is spotting all the references to other films. Cultured cinema otaku will find their appreciation of this shimmering, spiral narrative deepens with repeated viewings. Millennium Actress has the stylistic sophistication of Perfect Blue with the empathy, warmth and truth of a Ghibli movie. A very powerful film, and one that belongs in the collection of every anime fan.

Animation Runner Kuromi
Animation Runner Kuromi
This charmer of an OVA is rife with inside-jokes about working at an animation studio in Japan. An Otaku-fantasy come true, Kuromi learns that it's hard work and requires more self-confidence than she thinks she has. Anime fans who want to know how the magic happens will find the film, as well as the extras included on the disk, both insightful and just a little bit frightening.

Animation Runner KuromiNot since The Duck Factory have we been this pleased to see something that shows what it's like on the other side of the pencil. Kuromi deserves a spot on your shelf, right next to some books on how to draw and how to do animation.

Sakura Wars - The Movie
Sakura Wars - The Movie
It's Charlie's Angels meets The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, when steampunk mobile-suits battle it out in a Victorian-era Tokyo! This feature film, based on the Sega video game and the TV series of the same name, is chock full of excitement and not-to-be-believed action as a bevy of beauties fight invading demons and face internal conflicts within their team.

Computer and high-quality cel animation are blended against jaw-dropping, stunning backgrounds - the production value of this film is astounding. The retro sci-fi trappings are delightful, particularly in the Rube Goldberg style hardware, and clunky, World-War-1-esque robots. Extras on the DVD are plentiful, we particularly enjoyed the character gallery which highlights some of the great fashion design, and the BG gallery. Sakura wars is fine entertainment for all ages, although there's a good amount of violence, it's fairly harmless as far as most anime goes.

Lupin the 3rd - The Mystery of Mamo
Lupin the 3rd -
The Mystery of Mamo

If you read our first two Lupin reviews you can see how much we enjoy this franchise and it's great to see that Pioneer is bringing it to US audiences. Here's the first-ever Lupin theatrical film, and one of the most bizarre and certainly the truest to the original Monkeypunch manga, both in terms of the treatment of Lupin and the gang as well as the obtuse-ness of the plot in this twisted tale.

Lupin!Lupin is pronounced dead by execution and he wants to find out who did it. The object of Lupin's affection, Fujiko, has a new employer Mamo, a powerful man with a lot of resources at his disposal who has her using Lupin to steal some rather arcane objects. Lupin is out to find out who Mano is, why he is using Fujiko and what is his master plan. But in doing so he might lose his friends Goeman, Jigan as well as Fujiko -- not to mention his own life.

This is classic Japanese animation. While the animation is "vintage" the story more than makes up for it. The movie ran a bit long but it was funny and worth our time. The great story, the funny animation and Fujiko's topless scenes make this a must see.

Godzilla, King of the Monsters
Holy Psychotronic Batman, how'd we ever miss reviewing this classic? This 1956 original, directed by Inoshiro Honda gives birth to a generation of campy horror films. The greatest monster movie of all time, this flick features the best of the Godzilla-suits, the most fearsome and menacing, with razor sharp teeth, sinster, narrow eyes and cat-like ears.

Godzilla!As the film moves along, you are no longer a part of this world - you sucked into a world much like this one, only there is a giant, lizard like, mutated, atomic monster in this one, breathing his radioactive breath onto hoards of helpless citizens, while smashing toy buildings.

Often copied, but never topped, this original Godzilla still stands head and shoulders above the rest. If this movie were any more fun it would be illegal.

Our Favorite Toys, Models and Gizmos
Soul Calibur II
Soul Calibur II (xbox)
Word on the street is that this game kicks serious butt. Move over Tekken, the greatest fighting game has now arrived. The gorgeously well-done characters (gasp -- Taki!) return along with some extra fun created for the game by Todd (Spawn) McFarlane.

Soul Calibur IIAs with the original, button-mashers and super-combo tricksters alike can play, as the game is forgiving, yet, also has higher level modes for those with extreme talent. Also, as before, the weapons are realistically handled. We recommend the Xbox version above all others for its killer combo of graphics, hidden extras, and characters (yes, the game is slightly different for each platform). Recommended Books:
How to Draw Manga
How to Draw Manga: Bishoujo/Pretty Girls
At least half of all anime fans are male. And of that half, most of them think that anime chicks are hot. What makes these Bishoujo so adorable? Learn the secrets of cute girls as you learn to draw.

How to Draw MangaWith detailed sections on faces, hair, eyes, bodies, clothing, etc., the book explains how to draw all the basics, and also shows different bishoujo themes like school girls, nurses, etc. One particularly cool segment is the "Out of this world" section where there's amazing examples and tips for drawing wings, mermaids, robot girls, cat girls, other animal girls plus more!

If you can draw a few circles, pretty soon you'll be belting out drawings of hot babes. And that's what separates the fanboys from the really popular fanboys!

Sey is a 16-year-old whose social predilections are in question. It doesn't help matters when she wakes up one morning to find her mother moving to Italy. This thrusts the pretty schoolgirl into a tangle of plot convolutions and character inter-relationships of a kind usually found in a Shakespeare comedy (one that includes women dressed as men, by the way).

INVUAll this and more can be found in Kim Kang Won's I.N.V.U. (Innocent Nice Vivid Unique), which is being reprinted in English by TokyoPop. This is a delightful romance manga that sports an easy going style to go with its willowy, attractive characters. Fans of the sub-genre will enjoy the slightly bittersweet tomfoolery of schoolgirls, teachers, modeling agents, and rollerbladers. The soap suds bubble with a hint of mystery in this well written, well paced comic.

Music and Soundtrack Selections:
Chobits BGM
Chobits BGM
We admit it, we think Chobits is the best thing since Video Girl Ai. Just stamp the big "L" on our foreheads and lets be done with it. In our never-ending quest for everything Chobits, Pioneer has helped us get our fix with not just one but TWO soundtrack albums for car-stereo enjoyment or fine home listening.

ChobitsFrom the bouncy opening theme to some of the more twisted tracks, you'll end up with a pretty good overview of some of the incredible music that lives behind the TV Series. And, as every character has their own "theme" (as do the various persecomms), there's plenty of music to go around. If you can't get enough Chobits, then these albums are your cup of tea.

Big O Soundtrack
Big O Soundtrack
Awesome, magnificent, powerful and earthshattering are some of the adjectives we could use to describe this soundtrack. But mere words are unable to express the sheer scale of this seminal work. Running the gamut from subtle to audacious, this is simply the greatest music made for any anime since Yamato.

Big O SoundtrackThanks to a full orchestra, the music actually sounds "big", and you feel the power in the notes. Track 4 "Name of God" will send a chill down your spine and leave you with goosebumps. Yes, it's that good. Included, of course, is R. Dorothy's "wake up Roger!" piano solo. Stick that in your alarm clock bucky. Big O rocks, and this soundtrack will rock your house.

Upcoming Events and Cool Links:
 Mac Hall
A nice anime styled comic website created by Matt Boyd and Ian McConville. These guys know how to draw!

Millennium Actress
The official website for the movie. Unlike most "official" websites this these guys included some interesting content!

Sakura Wars: The Movie
The official website for the movie. Features a nice character design section. Current Issue | Sitemap | The Anime Wallpaper Guide

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