"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Friday, June 7, 2013

Movie Collection from Shout! Factory in August

英語版総集編 『SF西遊記スタージンガー』米国 DVD新発売!

Shout! takes advantage of Toei Animation's classic promotional art.

Following up on their release of the GAKING: The Movie Collection, the champion of the Japanese fantasy film enthusiast, Shout! Factory is preparing to issue another 1970s anime classic, STARZINGER: The Movie Collection, a three-film compilation of the 73-episode series (it's unknown at press time if the last nine episodes, Starzinger II, are included), with English Dubbing commissioned by Toei Animation, written and directed by William Winckler (Tekkaman, The Space Knight).

Created by anime and manga pioneer Leiji Matsumoto, who also penned the classics SPACE PIRATE: CAPTAIN HARLOCK (the subject of an upcoming and highly anticipated CGI feature from Shinji Aramaki) and GALAXY EXPRESS 999, STARZINGER was originally subtitled as "SF Saiyuki," a reference to the Japanese moniker for the 16th Century Chinese long novel, Journey to the West — better known as The Monkey King — which also inspired Akira Toriyama's DRAGON BALL franchise.

In STARZINGER, Matsumoto transposes the narrative of Sun Wukong, along with his companions, protecting the pilgrimage of a buddhist monk, Tripitaka, into the vast cosmic tapestry of infinite space. Broadcast from April 2, 1978 through August 24, 1979, the series was produced to capitalize on the Anime Boom caused by the explosive popularity of SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO for which Matsumoto served as a production designer and director, during the very height of his meteoric rise.

The Milky Way is in chaos. Precious Galactic Energy, emanating from the Great Planet, located at the center of our galaxy, grows weak — causing structural anomalies in the very fabric of the cosmos, and mutating lifeforms in its proximity. In order to restore the cosmic balance, Princess Aurora of Earth makes the perilous 30,000 light year journey with her powerful cybernetic bodyguards, Jan Kugo, Sir Djorgo, and Don Hakka. Along the way, they face many trials and encounter evil creatures who jeopardize their mission.

While not widely broadcast during it's original release in North America, some readers may remember the series as THE SPACEKEETERS, one of the titles under the FORCE FIVE banner, a package of five different Toei Animation series syndicated in the '80s by US anime pioneer Jim Terry, later broadcast as feature film compilations on Showtime (which were followed by subsequent VHS releases via Family Home Entertainment).

Because of the failure of similar compilations of the past (namely the aforementioned F.H.E. release), Toei assembled a team of in-house writers, directors, and editors to tackle the problem by allowing all of the story's major story arcs and dilemmas to be spread over three films, instead of one — resulting in a much more satisfying viewing experience. The voice cast includes Paul Oberle (Zombrex: Dead Rising Sun), Kyle Rea (The Mythical Detective Loki), and Chase Masterson (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) as Queen Lacet.

Shout's DVD-only release contains all three compilation films on two discs, running for a total of 360 minutes (approximately 5½ hours) in 2.0 Stereo. MSRP: $19.93. Street Date: August 20, 2013. Order from Amazon.com or directly from Shout! Factory!

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