• El-Hazard Coming to Blu-ray

    Nozomi have announced that they’re rescuing the El-Hazard franchise from licensing limbo. While they had already rescued El-Hazard The Wanderers series years ago, they’re bringing over El-Hazard: The Magnificent World, El Hazard 2: The Magnificent World, and El-Hazard: The Alternative World to DVD and Blu-ray in 2020.

    All of these were originally localized by Geneon/Pioneer decades ago. The original OVA series — Magnificent World — is a classic and still holds up really well. It’s sequel OVA — Magnificent World 2 — is pretty bad. The TV series retelling of the original OVA — The Wanderers — is also pretty bad. The other TV series — Alternative World — takes place in the OVA canon and while it’s decent, I’ve never successfully watched the whole thing.

    Kudos to Nozomi for giving me the opportunity to pick up the original OVA on Blu-ray without having to import from Japan. I can’t say the other series would be worth upgrading to Blu-ray versions, but if you haven’t seen the original, it’s definitely worth checking out. Maybe this will get people excited for that gritty El-Hazard reboot that’s in the works.

    UPDATE 5/12/21

    The Magnificent World Blu-ray set now has a release date of 8/3/21. You can preorder here.

  • Discotek Announces Kodocha Blu-ray Release

    Kodocha Sana and Hayama

    Discotek Media has announced that they have licensed Kodomo no Omocha, also known as Kodocha. Based on the manga by Miho Obana, the Kodocha TV series was directed by Akitaroh Daich and spans 102 episodes. The show follows the life of eleven-year old actress and sixth-grader, Sana Kurata. 

    The whole series will be released on SD Blu-ray in two sets. The first half will include the dub Funimation did back in the mid-aughts and is scheduled to release in Fall of this year. A second subtitle-only set will follow it; there’s no hard release date at this time.

  • Producer Victor Plank Harms on Creating The Young Greenlanders

    Victor Plank Harms is a supervising producer based in New York City, but his work has brought him to the most remote areas of the globe. He is passionate about producing bold programming that explores foreign territories while educating the public about taboo topics. Harms chose a career in television because he is passionate about creating public service programming that makes an impact on a large audience.

    “I love working in TV because it’s a mass media. In a way producing public television programming is similar to teaching a masterclass for a global audience.”

    Harms is the creator of documentary series The Young Greenlanders, one of the most prestigious documentary series produced for the Danish Broadcasting Corporation. The four-part documentary is portraying the modern Inuit lifestyle in Greenland. The series is focusing on the new generation of young Greenlanders struggling to break down prejudices about the Greenlandic society that is dealing with social issues and has the highest suicide rate in the world.

  • Apoptygma Berzerk: Nein Danke! EP Review

    You never quite know what to expect with Apoptygma Berzerk. Starting in the industrial/EBM-ish genres in the early ‘90s, they went on to help create the futurepop sound in the early aughts, before heading in a synth-rock direction. Their latest output has focused on more ambient and experimental instrumental electronica. So what’s the new EP like from the genre’s foremost electro-chameleon?

    Nein Danke! opens with its best song “Soma Coma.” Soma is the name of the drug from the dystopian novel Brave New World. In the novel, Soma is a cure-all drug for depression. This is Apop exploring the personal cost of a life made happier by antidepressants. Sonically, it’s like something right out of the ‘80s, made with the help of today’s slicker production tools, of course. It’s electroclash without the ironic wink.

    “Atom & Eve” and “A Battle For The Crown” make it clear that Groth’s new palette is retro-electro. Both of these tracks are quite catchy and highlight Apop’s ability to blend old and new into something immediately unique and grabbing.

  • The Maya Deren Collection Review

    Maya Deren Collection Blu-ray Cover

    Kino Lorber and Re:Voir have partnered to release The Maya Deren Collection on DVD and Blu-ray. Maya (the mother of us all) Deren is one of the most prominent figures in American avant-garde cinema. Does this collection do her career justice? How’s the 2K restoration? Can we finally toss those Mystic Fire Video DVDs in the trash?

    The Films

    All of Deren’s completed films are included in this collection:

    • Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)
    • At Land (1944)
    • A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945)
    • Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946)
    • The Private Life of a Cat (1946)
    • Meditation on Violence (1948)
    • The Very Eye of Night (1958)
    • Divine Horsemen (1977)

    I wrote a pretty deep dive into Maya Deren’s work a few years back, so I won’t go too analytical in this review. Meshes is her most well-known film and for good reason, it’s her best. Ritual in Transfigured Time is a very close second for me. Her entire filmography is important and worth watching, though many feel her earlier work is much more watchable and relatable. Her later films tend to be more academic and have very specific meanings impenetrable to those outside her inner circle.

    It’s impressive that Divine Horsemen is included. The footage was shot while Maya was in Haiti between 1947 and 1951, but she was never able to finish the film. This version was completed by Teiji ito and his wife, Cherel, in 1977. While excerpts were included in previous Deren collections, this is the first time it’s been included in its entirety with her other films.

  • Galaxy Express 999 TV Series Collection 1 Blu-ray Review

    All Aboard The Galaxy Express 999 TV Series Collection 1 Blu-ray Review

    The Galaxy Express 999 TV series has already had a full digital release in the US, as well as a partial DVD release in 2012 when S’more Entertainment released the first 38 episodes in a single set. Unfortunately, reviews of the first set said the video quality was awful and they never put out the rest of the series.

    It took another seven years, but Discotek Media just released the Galaxy Express 999 TV Series Collection 1 on December 24, 2019. It contains episodes 1-39 and is the first time an English version of the series has been released on Blu-ray. Was this set worth the wait?

    Come On, Ride The Train

    Galaxy Express 999 was originally a manga series by Leiji Matsumoto. The TV series aired from 1978 to 1981, totaling 113 episodes. From the back cover:

    After witnessing the death of his mother and being left for dead at the hands of Count Mecha, ten-year-old Tetsuro Hoshino is awakened by a mysterious woman, Maetel. In exchange for only his company, Maetel offers him the ride of his life on the Galaxy Express 999. It is said that those who travel aboard the legendary train to the end of the line can receive a free mechanical body and with it, immortality. Impoverished and alone, Tetsuro leaps at the opportunity and joins Maetel on a quest that will span the cosmos.

    The series follows Tetsuro and Maetel as they travel to different planets aboard the 999, inching their way closer to the end of the line, and Tetsuro’s goal of immortality. Each episode generally follows the duo exploring a new planet, encountering danger, and narrowly escaping said danger to make it back to the train in the nick of time before the departure.

  • My Top Five Albums of 2019

    When I sat down to write a “best of the year” list, I realized it would have to be my top five albums of 2019. This year hit me especially hard, and I wasn’t able to catch a ton of new releases in other mediums. For better or for worse, streaming means all the new music I want for the same amount of money each month. So, without further ado, here are my picks for the top five albums of 2019!


    5

    LAMB-THE SECRET OF LETTING GO

    Lamb has always been a very hit-and-miss band for me. Each of their previous albums had 2-3 tracks I absolutely loved and a lot of other tracks that I didn’t really care for. It’s with great surprise and delight that I put one of their albums in my top five this year. 

    This is by far their most accomplished and focused album. They’ve traded their ambient trip-hop for, well, less-ambient trip-hop. All of the songs here are catchy and memorable, even the slower and more atmospheric ones. The Secret of Letting Go sees Lamb perfecting their songwriting and highlighting their ability to evoke melancholy, all while managing to keep sight of what made their sound unique in the first place.


    4

    APOPTYGMA BERZERK-SDGXXV

    Look. We all would have rather had a new studio album from Apoptygma Berzerk this year. It’s been ten years since Rocket Science (does Exit Popularity Contest count as a studio album?). Anyways, if a studio album was off the table, you could do a lot worse than SDGXXV. The album is a remixed and reworked version of their very first album, Soli Deo Gloria, which came out 25 years ago this year. Get it?

    Eighteen artists contributed tracks to this re-imagined version of Apop’s EBM masterpiece. As with any kind of remix album, not all the songs here are winners. However, most of them do offer fresh interpretations of songs that we’ve all had on repeat for ages. I’m just excited it didn’t take another decade to finally get some “Backdraft” remixes. 

  • Tenchi Muyo! Fifth OVA Series Release Date Set

    The first Blu-ray disc of the fifth OVA series of the anime series Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, which was popular mainly in the 1990s, will be released on February 28, 2020 in Japan. The fifth OVA will be six episodes long. If you pre-order all six volumes, you’ll get the pilot novel as a pre-order bonus (just like they did with OVA 4).

    The Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki series started when Masaki Tenchi released a “demon”  that was sealed away in his grandfather’s shrine. It’s a sci-fi comedy that revolves around the antics of aliens who have come to the Earth for various reasons. In addition to OVA (original video animation) and movie versions, the TV versions also gained popularity. Tenchi Muyo OVA 5 will be directed by Keitaro Motonaga, who also directed Digimon Adventure Tri.

    STAFF

    General Director: Masaki Kajishima ▽ Director: Keitaro Motonaga ▽ Series Composition / Screenplay: Hideki Shirane ▽ Character Draft: Masaki Kajishima ▽ Character Design / Overall Director: Sayuri Sakimoto ▽ Art Setting: Miki Miyamoto ▽ Art Director: Miki Miyamoto ▽ Color Setting: Takuya Kawami ▽ Acoustic director: Yasunori Honda ▽ Ending Theme Song: Kaori Oda ▽ Sound Production: Pony Canyon Enterprise ▽ Animation Production: AIC ▽ Animation Production Cooperation: A-Line

    News translated and adapted from MANTANWEB.

  • What Can’t You Put On A Billboard?

    What Can't You Put On A Billboard?

    Since my time working in the out-of-home industry was recently put to an end, I thought I’d answer one of the most common questions I’d get: what can’t you put on a billboard? The answer is almost as nebulous as the question itself. Let’s take a look at a billboard that was recently taken down.

    This controversial billboard (pictured above) was recently taken down in Columbus, Ohio. It features an elderly woman in a spacesuit, holding a helmet in one hand and a gun in the other. The text on the billboards reads, “It’s my birthday, b*tch.”

    It was purchased by social media and viral video star, Ross Smith. The woman on the billboard is Ross’s grandmother, who frequently appears in his videos. According to Ross, the billboard was supposed to be a birthday present for his grandma and its intent was to mock the “Storm Area 51” movement.

    After the mass shootings in El Paso on Aug. 3rd and Dayton on Aug. 4th, the billboard company received several complaints about the billboard. It was removed immediately.

    There are a lot of opinions about removing this billboard, both for and against. Many people can’t believe it ever went up in the first place. What actually is and isn’t allowed on a billboard, anyhow? Previously, buying a billboard meant you bought from an advertising expert, so knowing content regulations wasn’t necessary. Technology now allows anyone to buy a billboard online, so it’s more important for media buyers and marketers to understand the rules and regulations.

  • From Astral Chain To Zetman: The Story Of Masakazu Katsura

    Although he’s a famous manga artist in Japan, there’s a good chance you’ve probably never heard of Masakazu Katsura – and if you have, it probably wasn’t until very recently. He’s the character designer for Astral Chain, the latest action title from PlatinumGames. In anticipation of Astral Chain’s release, we’re taking a tour through some of his previous work so you can become better acquainted with his output (if you’re not one of the lucky people who’s already a fan, of course).

    Masakazu Katsura was born in Japan in 1962. Growing up, he was always good at drawing, though amazingly, he never wanted to be a manga artist and had little interest in the medium, preferring movies and novels. He entered a manga contest when he was in high school purely so he could raise the funds to buy a stereo with the prize money; fame was not at the forefront of his mind at that time. As it turned out, he ended up winning the award and it launched his career.

    Grab a box of tissues and get ready to nurse those broken hearts as we take a look back at some of Katsura’s career-defining titles.

    This article was written for Nintendo Life. Please read the full article here.