"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

Showing posts with label Toei Animation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Toei Animation. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Toei Animation’s Bold Plans for 2015 & Beyond!

ガイキングと東映アニメーション 新たなCGプロジェクト複数企画

DVD jacket for the original GAIKING television series from 1976.

SCOOP: With the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2015, Toei Animation made its full-year announced its financial results, while strategies for the company’s medium-to-long-term plans were revealed on May 19th to the press. Concerning their plans for in-house production, they’re suggesting that CG animation will be the emphasis as the impetuous in the decade to come.

Poster for the robot sci-fi film, EXPELLED FROM PARADISE (2014).

In 2014, the smashing success of Seiji Mizushima's animated sci-fi feature, EXPELLED FROM PARADISE (Rakuen Tsuiho), attracted much attention, and is leading Toei Animation in their current planning of original CG projects to follow. While specific titles and content were not revealed, it was intimated that the studio would like to continue using the success of EXPELLED FROM PARADISE as their model in an ongoing basis. The film was screened in 15 select theaters in the United States by Aniplex USA on December 13, 2014.

Poster for Shinji Aramaki's retelling of CAPTAIN HARLOCK (2013).

Therefore, the expansion of  bigger budgeted theatrical CG animated features is also in progress, developing from the foundation of Shinji Aramaki’s CAPTIAN HARLOCK (Kyaputen Harokku, 2013; also making the rounds in select US theaters and currently available on Netflix) and Keiichi Sato’s SAINT SEIYA: LEGEND OF SANCTUARY (Seinto Seiya Rejendo Obu Sankuchuari, 2014). Currently, Toei Animation has the longest history of domestic production in Japan, and they're making it known that they aim to move towards the future in the planning and execution of CG animation productions.

Poster for Keiichi Sato's SAINT SEIYA: LEGACY OF SANCTUARY (2014).

Progress is being forged with yet another original animated film, FILE (N): PROJECT PQ, directed by Naoki Miyahara, to be released around Spring 2016. Early promotion has already launched a dedicated page on the “Yahoo! Kids” portal site (in conjunction with Yahoo! Japan), featuring a series of promotion video “dance lessons.” The theme of the film is work through dance, as a “youth dance movie,” in a story of five attractive girls coming of age.

Art for Naoki Miyahara's upcoming FILE (N): PROJECT PQ (2016).

Also equally emphasized by Toei Animation is GAIKING. Announced several years ago as a live action feature film coproduced with Gale Anne Hurd's Valhalla Entertainment (producers of “The Walking Dead”) and ANEW (All Nippon Entertainment Works). While progress on development is still actively moving forwards, Toei Animation hinted that in addition to GAIKING, multiple (Super Robot) titles are being planned for production, and it’s very likely that a surprise announcement will be made, regarding this, in the near future.

Toei Animation's mascot from Kimio Yabuki's PUSS 'N BOOTS (1969).

Toei Animation will continue with a call for investment from creators and outside studios to support their future planning and production. Now, Toei Animation’s Oizumi Studio is undergoing renovations, with the completion date set for summer 2017. Meanwhile, the studio's research and development teams are pushing ahead in expansion of rendering technology, including assessing the feasibility in producing an CG animated television series.

In supporting the development of young creators, Toei Animation claims that they are enriching and improving the production process. Specifically, in the creation of pilot films that will improve the chances of becoming hit productions.

(Translated from the May 19, 2015 Anime! Anime! Business story.)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

50th Anniversary Brings All-New Adventures


Preview art for the third anime series based on the famous manga.

The late mangaka Shotaro Ishimori's team of cybernetic warriors will return this year in an all-new animated series this year, with director Jun Kawagoe at the helm, to celebrate the heroes' 50th Anniversary. "Cyborg 009" first appeared in the pages of Shonen King magazine in 1964, which Ishimori never finished, but was completed by his son, Joe Onodera, and Ishimori Productions stable artists Masato Hayase and Sugar Sato, as "God's War" in 2014.

Recent DVD reissue of the original 1968 Toei Animation series.

There have been three anime series based on the characters (1968, 1979 and 2001; the latter having its own three-apart adaptation of the conclusion, "God's War," which was then-unfinished), as well as four theatrical films in 1966, 1967, 1980, and 2012 (Kenji Kamiyama's CG animated 009 RE: CYBORG was a failure of sorts, while Ghost In the Shell's Mamoru Oshii directed a 3D short for Panasonic in 2010). This new adaptation, reportedly, is aiming to develop the further adventures of the Cyborg 009 team.

DVD art for the popular 1979 series produced with Nippon Sunrise.

Transcending decades, fans have passed the torch from generation to generation, as new adaptations have found followers who've fallen in love with Ishimori's bionic avengers, so the chances for success with a new series, as opposed to a reboot feature, are far greater. The staff will have to meet this challenge by staying faithful to the origins of the characters and the dilemmas that have made "Cyborg 009" the classic that is has remained for half a century.

Jun Kawagoe's 2001 series was broadcast on the Cartoon Network.

This challenge is being met by the return of veteran Jun Kawagoe (Mazin Kaiser SKL), who directed the critical and ratings hit, CYBORG 009: THE CYBORG SOLDIER, which ran for 51 episodes from 2001-02. Kawagoe's first go was a very faithful to the original, keeping in spirit with the original look and storyline, but updating it for a modern generation, without selling out the spirit and soul of what Ishimori created in 1964.

Kenji Kamiyama's reimagined CG feature 009 RE: CYBORG (2012).

After 13 years, Kawagoe has come back to give new life to Ishimori's creation — the first to be produced after the completion of "God's War." So, naturally, fans may have concerns about every aspect of story, the designs, and how they are integrated into this completely fresh production. While no date has been set, fans are awaiting the return of their favorite cyborg guardians, which they expect to be true and faithful to the original, although steering them towards a new horizon.

Can lightning strike a second time with Kawagoe? We'll find out later this year...

Cyborg 009 Official Site

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

MAZIN-GO! "MAZINGER Z" COMES TO U.S. DVD Volume 1 from Discotek Drops April 29, 2014!

マジンゴー!『マジンガーZ』は米国DVD BOX-1発売 2014年4月!

Discotek's package art for the US release of MAZINGER Z!

Created by mangaka Go Nagai, MAZINGER Z (1972-74) was the first anime series to feature a "super robot" — a giant automaton piloted by a human being and not run by remote control — and the dynamic series captured the imagination of an entire generation of Japanese children (as well as children around the world), spawning an entire genre of robot culture in Japan beyond ASTRO-BOY and GIGANTOR — it was not only the most influential robot series of the 1970s, but the most important of the 20th Century. If it weren't for MAZINGER Z, the TRANSFORMERS would simply not exist. It was also highly influential to a young Guillermo del Toro as a foundation in creating PACIFIC RIM, and it's about time to came to the US in its original form!

Panel from Go Nagai's original manga for MAZINGER Z!

Back in October of 2012, I reported that the original MAZINGER Z series had been licensed by Discotek Media for release in the US for a late 2013 drop — which Discotek decided to push back to the first quarter of 2014 and just announced today for a street date of April 29, 2014! Discotek has also announced that another classic Go Nagai series from 1972, DEVILMAN, will also be released under their label before the year is out! The only details we have so far are that Box Set 1 will contain Episodes 1-49 (out of 98) and will feature the original Japanese Audio with English Subtitles. Currently, Discotek has not released any further information on how many discs the first box set will have, how many episodes will be contained on each disc, or the estimated MSRP, so please stay tuned!

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!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

BEFORE "PACIFIC RIM" THERE WAS "GAIKING"! Movie Collection from Shout! Factory Out Now

英語版『大空魔竜ガイキング』米国 DVD新発売! 

Original 1976 promotional poster for SPACE DRAGON: GAIKING!

Before EVANGELION. Even longer before the announced Gale Anne Hurd production, which I reported on December 18th, there was SPACE DRAGON: GAIKING (Daimakuryu Gaikingu, 1976)! While not widely seen, some readers may remember GAIKING as one of the titles under the banner, FORCE FIVE, a package of five different Toei Animation series syndicated in North America during the '80s, later broadcast as feature film compilations on Showtime (followed by subsequent VHS releases via Family Home Entertainment).

GAIKING was part of an explosion of Super Robot animated series during the '70s (including live-action counterparts such as SUPER ROBOT: RED BARON), which rocket-punched their way into Japanese pop culture with Go Nagai's MAZINGER Z in 1972. While Nagai was the master of the genre, creating such memorable series as UFO ROBO: GRENDIZER (1975), GAIKING became a point of contention between Nagai and Toei Animation, in which Nagai walked. Toei brought in animator Akio Sugino (Cat's Eye) to complete the development of the series.

One of the early, and unique transforming robots — including Tohokushinsha's BRAVE RAIDEEN (1975) — GAIKING begat toys that were able to transform as well, leading to the later advent of THE TRANSFORMERS. The series was also notable for featuring a mobile transport for the robot (also housing three support mecha), its maintenance and relief crews, known as the titular "Space Dragon." This conceit allowed the main cast to travel to different countries across the globe to widen the scope of the action, as well as into interplanetary space.

Threatened with imminent destruction from a black hole, the ruler of the distant planet Zela, plots to invade our world. Emperor Darius assembles the "Black Horror Corps" to defeat any resistance and allow the people of Zela to immigrate to Earth. With his first-string "Combat Force" members assassinated, Professor Daimonji puts together a rag-tag team, led by former Red Suns baseball pitcher, Sanshiro Tsuwabuki to repel the invaders. Tsuwabuki's latent psychic abilities allows him to make a neural connection with the super robot, Gaiking, to protect mankind from the hordes of Black Horror Monsters!

On the eve of PACIFIC RIM, Shout! Factory has released GAIKING: THE MOVIE COLLECTION, a three-film compilation of the 44-episode series, with English Dubbing commissioned by Toei Animation, written and directed by William Winckler (Tekkaman, The Space Knight). Because of the failure of similar compilations of the past, 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 more satisfying, coherent viewing experience.

Shout's DVD-only release contains all three compilation films on two discs, running for a total of 326 minutes (approximately 5½ hours) in 2.0 Stereo (with English Subtitles). MSRP: $19.93. Street Date: May 21, 2013. Order from Amazon.com or directly from Shout! Factory!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 IS 1973: "BABLE II"『バビル2世』
January 1, 1973 - September 24, 1973


Rodem, Roporos, and Poseidon join Babel II against the evil Yomi!

Toei Animation's 39-episode series was based on the popular manga by Mitsuteru Yokoyama, first published in 1971. A seemingly ordinary Japanese schoolboy, discovers the truth that he is the reincarnation of an extraterrestrial being, and the inheritor of latent, but tremendous psychic powers — and the command of three familiars: Rodem, a shape-shifting panther, Roporos, a flying dinosaurian creature, and Poseidon, a titanic, ocean-dwelling robot. Together, they fight the fiendish forces of Yomi. The series was remade as a direct-to-video series in 1992, and as a 13-episode series in 2001. The original 1973 boasts the first theme song from vocalist, and king of anime singers, Ichiro Mizuki.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Produced by Toei Animation & Gale Anne Hurd

Art for the original 1976 series from Akio Sugino and Toei Animation!

After being announced as in development at 2010 Tokyo Animation Fair, heralded by an exciting promo trailer that set the web on fire around the world, the production of a live action adaptation of Toei Animation's popular 1976 super robot series, GIANT SPACE DRAGON: GAIKING (aka "Dino Mech Gaiking") fell silent. Initially, it was only announced that Toei's partners were to be Americans Jules Urbach (founder CEO Lightstage & Otoy) and Matthew Gratzner (visual effects supervisor of HUGO). Until now.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the story today that the film has now secured solid production partners in the form of veteran producer Gale Anne Hurd via Valhalla Entertainment, Toei Animation, and Danny Choo's All Nippon Entertainment Works (ANEW), who are teaming up to develop the property for the big screen. Of course, Hurd is no stranger to big-budget science fiction films, having produced such hits as ALIENS (1986), TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY (1991), and is the executive producer of the AMC series, THE WALKING DEAD.

Here's the official press release from Valhalla Entertainment:

LOS ANGELES – December 18 , 2012 – Gale Anne Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment (“The Walking Dead”) and Toei Animation have teamed with All Nippon Entertainment Works (ANEW) to develop Toei’s iconic anime property GAIKING. This marks a new push for Toei into the U.S. marketplace and the first development deal for ANEW. GAIKING follows a young man who is recruited to serve as the lead pilot for the Super Robot Gaiking.

When Earth is threatened by an alien race intent on taking over the planet, he emerges as the only one who can pilot the massive robot. Together with his fellow co-pilots he must fight off the alien force in order to save mankind.

“I’m extremely excited to be working on GAIKING,” said Hurd, “which marks a huge step forward in adapting one of the best Japanese IP for a global audience.”

Valhalla Entertainment recently announced their USA Network pilot HORIZON for Universal Cable Productions. Additional projects on their development slate include THUNDER ROAD for Discovery Channel, RECONSTRUCTION at The History Channel, JANE WAYNE with USA Network, 11th COMMANDMENT with NBC, and AREA 51 at AMC.

On the feature side, Gale Anne Hurd executive produced the upcoming Sundance Premiere film, VERY GOOD GIRLS, and is moving forward on the action/thriller THE NAMELESS with Route One. Hurd is also known for her sci-fi blockbusters THE TERMINATOR 1 & 2, ALIENS, ARMAGEDDON, and THE INCREDIBLE HULK.

ANEW, led by CEO Sandy Climan, is dedicated to partnering with Japanese underlying rights holders to develop creative content, including films, books, toys, animation, and manga, into global English language motion pictures and television. It has an initial capitalization of $80M from the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ), a public-private investment fund affiliated with the Japanese government. ANEW’s creative partners include a broad spectrum of the leading media and entertainment companies in Japan.

“ANEW’s mission is to bring the highest quality Japanese stories to a global audience in partnership with world-class producers,” said Climan, “I am thrilled that ANEW is joining with Toei Animation and Valhalla Entertainment in developing this landmark property into a major motion picture.”

Toei Animation is the largest animation production company in Japan and is responsible for thousands of hours of programming, including DRAGON BALL, SAILOR MOON, and SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK, which is being remade as a 3D CG animated feature film. Since it’s founding in 1956, Toei has produced more than 10,000 episodes of TV (191 titles) and over 200 animated feature films. Toei Animation is the original rights holder of the underlying GAIKING IP and a Co-Producer with Valhalla Entertainment.

“Gaiking has long been one of the most beloved giant robot animation franchises with a global fan base. We are very excited to be partnering with Valhalla Entertainment and ANEW to bring this title to a worldwide audience as a live-action feature film, which we hope to be the first of many more to come from Toei’s large stable of IPs,” said Yoshi Ikezawa of Toei Animation.

Gale Anne Hurd will serve as lead producer on the project. Yoshi Ikezawa of Toei Animation and Joseph Chou will also serve as producers. Sandy Climan, Tim Kwok, and Kozo Morishita of Toei Animation are executive producing. Kris Henigman, Director of Development at Valhalla, will oversee development for the company in association with Annmarie Bailey, Vice President of Creative Affairs for ANEW.

This is exciting news, and the production of GAIKING probably got a kick in the pants due to the frevor over the upcoming Guillermo Del Toro Japanese-inspired giant robot epic, PACIFIC RIM, opening world-wide next Summer — and it's about damned time.

Let's hope that GAIKING will be a huge success, so we can finally see spectacular live action adaptations of MAZINGER Z and GRENDIZER. And who knows, can we hope for a big screen versions of GETTER ROBO and DANGUARD ACE?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Go Nagai's Classic Anime Series from Discotek


Japanese DVD release package art for MAZINGER Z! ©Toei Video

Hell has officially frozen over. I thought this would never happen...

Discotek Media, which had specialized in a number of Asian film releases on DVD for the US market, including several significant releases of Japanese live action and anime titles, such as Jun Fukuda's THE WAR IN SPACE (1977) and Rin Taro's GALAXY EXPRESS 999 (1979), recently announced that they had signed a deal with Toei Animation to issue the original 1978 anime series, SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK. And before we knew it, they actually released a complete box set for the Hayao Miyazaki/Yasuo Otsuka-helmed LUPIN THE 3RD series from 1971 (my personal favorite of the long-running franchise). Then, their balls got a whole lot bigger.

Japanese DVD release package art for CUTEY HONEY! ©Toei Video

This past Saturday, Discotek dropped a proverbial Photon Bomb when it was announced that they had secured the rights to not one, but two, classic anime titles created by the manga bad boy himself, Go Nagai: MAZINGER Z and CUTEY HONEY! The epoch-making series that launched the Super Robot genre, MAZINGER Z (1972-74), became a legend around the world (localized for the US market as "Tranzor Z" in the 1980s), and now all 92 episodes are to be issued in two box sets! Meanwhile, all 25 episodes of the original CUTEY HONEY (1973-74) will be issued in a single complete series box set. Both titles, in Japanese with English Subtitles, will drop in 2013.

With all of the other upcoming DVD/Blu-rays of Japanese genre titles which have recently hit the North American market, and those still to come in 2013, it looks like a banner year for U.S. fans, and Discotek isn't pulling any Rocket Punches, either. What's next? GETTER ROBO? GREAT MAZINGER? JEEG OF STEEL? UFO ROBO: GRENDIZER? As a hardcore Old Skool and Go Nagai fan, I can't wait — bring it on, Discotek Media, you magnificent bastards!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Original 1978 Series Now Online!


Space Pirate: Captain Harlock ©Leiji Matsumoto/Toei Animation

HOLY FLUTTERING JOLLY ROGERS IN SPACE! I never thought I'd live to see the day... All 42 episodes of Leiji Matsumoto and Rintaro's 1978 Anime masterpiece, SPACE PIRATE: CAPTAIN HARLOCK is now up for viewing (fully subtitled) on several online sites, courtesy of Toei Animation and its new partnership with Texas-based anime juggernaut, Funimation. Is this in anticipation of the all-new CGI animated film now in production in Japan, which Toei Animation hopes to distribute world wide (along with their recently announced live action GAIKING revamp)? In any case, it's a welcome and much appreciated surprise, because while the character is famous around the world, the original series was never properly presented in the US. This is the series that exemplified everything that the best of everything that Anime had to offer. The careful plotting, the layered characters, the wonderful teleplays, the dramatic animation, and the amazing score. CAPTAIN HARLOCK is a classic in every sense of the word — it's an epic, rousing and romantic space opera starring one of the greatest science fiction characters ever created!

In the year 2977, the human race has become apathetic and slothful, akin to the end of the Roman Empire, and have let the great oceans die while the Earth’s resources ran dry. So, Mankind reached out into the void only to keep the machine running, and to keep the coffers of the wealthy full. Opposed to this human decay are individuals who have not lost their human spirit, and branded by the government as outlaws, have proudly taken up the mantle of “Pirates”. They take to the stars to seize wealth from the rich and give to the downtrodden. Chief among these pirates is the stoic Captain Harlock, who sets out to protect the human race from itself. But, after a series of strange incidents and the murder of a noted astronomer, Harlock is lead to uncover an invasion plot by a mysterious feminine alien race. The Mazone, who had explored Earth eons ago, have now returned to claim their prize…

Toei Animation and Funimation are also offering several other classic shows as part of its Streaming and On Demand for English viewers, including Matsumoto's seminal GALAXY EXPRESS 999 and even the epic 1980s sensation, FIST OF THE NORTH STAR! Streaming is available to view immediately on Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Hulu. CAPTAIN HARLOCK, and the other series Toei and Funimation are offering, are also available as downloads from Amazon, with other sites to following with on-demand downloads, such as Direct2Drive, Playstation Store, Vuze, and Joost.

I consider SPACE PIRATE: CAPTAIN HARLOCK to be one of the greatest all-time achievements, not only Anime, but also in Science Fiction for television— so, do yourself a favor and visit one of these sites to join the crew of the Arcadia under their "Flag of Freedom"!